Archive for the ‘ Rakehell ’ Category

On Being Interviewed

My main job, right now, is line managing Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and SpacePrimeval and The Laundry for Cubicle 7. The new, Matt Smithier-edition of DWAITAS is out soon (well, it’s out now in PDF), so I made a tour of the podcasts (Dirty Who-ers and Jennisodes).

Being interviewed is wonderfully fun, and it’s something I must do more often, assuming I remember to stop talking with my hands. That, or only do video podcasts with puppets. (Actually, there’s a video interview between myself and Jon Hodgson about Tales from Wilderland lurking out there in the wilds of the internet, but that won’t go live until the book hits the shelves. Also, it has no puppets.)

Listening to interviews afterwards makes me cringe, but that’s the Cork accent, like.

There’s a brief Rakehell mention around 41.30 in the Jennisodes podcast, which serves as a public guilt engine for me to get the damnable thing done. Things are progressing in stolen moments between C7, other freelancing and writing. Before the turning of the year, I hope.

Rakehell Progress

While the playtest draft of the Rakehell rules isn’t ready yet, I’ve started my own test campaign with my usual playtest group, hardened on the battlefields of The Laundry, Mongoose Traveller and many other playtests. So far, they’ve fought vampires in burning ships on the Thames, ruined any number of lives, and participated in an elaborate kidnapping scheme at Vauxhall Gardens. The campaign’s highlighted what works about the current rules (most of the Aspect/Compel/Infernal Power triangle), what’s on the right track but needs work (the skill list) and what needs a lot of development (I need to delve deeper into research, and boil maps like Horwood’s plan or Carey’s survey down to their game-relevent pieces.

The work continues.

In other news, the Gaelcon scenario blurb is up. It’ll be available for download here after the convention – once I actually write the damn’d thing, of course…

Rakehell: The Chimneys of Whiteham

As promised, here’s the Warpcon scenario for Rakehell, The Chimneys of Whiteham (3.4M pdf), breaking new ground in the genre of occult Georgian chimney-sweeping horror. Download, read, play, give feedback!

The previous scenario, The Highwayman’s Lament (2.4M pdf) has also been tweaked slightly. If you haven’t seen it already, please take a look. Both scenarios include five pregenerated player characters and a brief synopsis of the FATE rules. Having a copy of Spirit of the Century to hand might be helpful, but is not strictly required.

There’ll be another Rakehell game this year, probably at Gaelcon. After that, we’ll push towards actually producing a rulebook. These free downloads are explorations of the Rakehell concept – The Highwayman’s Lament was the proof of concept, and The Chimneys of Whiteham tried something other than highwaymen and hellfire. The third scenario will focus on building campaigns and episodic play, as opposed to the occult blood opera of the two previous games.

(The blood opera has been tremendous fun, though. Every Rakehell game so far has involved murder, passionate arguments, stabbings, damnation and emotional compels by the dozen.)

We’ve also overhauled the look of the site, adding shiny new widgets that will make future updates smoother and (hopefully) more frequent.

A Serpent King & A Milky Fish

As was announced last week, I’ve joined Serpent King Games, a new company set up to keep the classic Dragon Warriors in print. There’ll be another annoucement along related lines in the next few weeks, and I’m also regularly freelancing for Pelgrane, Mongoose, Cubicle 7 and other companies. Most of my time is taken up with gaming material for other companies. That doesn’t mean Milkyfish is going anywhere, though – we’re keeping Milkyfish as a separate imprint for projects by Edel & Gar. The lack of significant progress on Rakehell and Anomaly One is unfortunately due to time constraints on both of us. Edel’s in the middle of her college course, and I’ve been freelancing to pay the bills as well as working on some fiction. We’re both fighting for time, but the ‘fish is dear to both of us. It may be seem to be a poor neglected fish, but it will see its day.

Rakehell got another outing at Warpcon – the scenario this time was an experiment in pushing the boundaries of the concept, to see if the game could support something other than highwaymen and running around with pistols. The player characters in the Warpcon scenario, The Chimneys of Whiteham, were a bunch of orphaned chimneysweeps aged between 8 and 15, with not a single flintlock among them. The game worked very well, and got some excellent feedback from players (check out the Adventuring Party podcast, for example – the Rakehell discussion kicks off around the 28:55 mark).

The Whiteham scenario will be made available for download soon.

Rakehell At Gaelcon

Using the FATE system for Rakehell started out as a marriage of convenience. I’ve loved parts of FATE since I first played it – Aspects are a wonderful piece of game design, some of the stunts are very creative, and the whole game is nicely simple yet comprehensive – but I had intentions of writing up an original system for the Rakehell setting when I first started. After Gaelcon, I’m now committed to using FATE for it.

Admittedly, one of the reasons is nakedly commercial – FATE’s got an established userbase and is very popular. (Dresden Files is a huge success, Strands of Fate is sitting right on top of Drivethru as I type). What really sold me on the system for Rakehell, though, was the use of Compels. In my previous experience with FATE (primarily SOTC), Compels only got used once or twice a session, and even then mostly on NPCs. We were all playing Pulp Heroes, so there wasn’t much scope for conflicted emotions and self-destructive drives.

In the Gaelcon playtests, Compels were flying all over the place. All the characters had really passionate, conflicted goals, and coupled with the downward-spiral mechanic of gaining Infernal aspects, Compels meant the characters were tempted to embrace more and more damnation to pursue their goals. Half the time, the players were compelling other players, hitting True Loves and Desires for Revenge all over the place. At my table, Jack rode into Hell to rescue Jane, while Timothy tried to Compel Elizabeth to come with him and flee England. She refused, and his True Love got swapped out for Broken Hearted. By the end of the game, two of the PCs were in Hell, two more set off on a quixotic quest to find Heaven, and poor Tim Kestrel was last seen setting fire to Eden House.

A challenge in future development will be encouraging this sort of operatic, tragic, compel-driven play.

Free Download: Rakehell

or, The Highwayman’s Lament.

It is the closing years of the 18th century. England has sold its soul. The burgeoning industrial revolution is, in secret, an infernal revolution. Aristocrats bargain with devils, souls are traded in the financial markets, and dark satanic mills belch sulphurous smoke over the blighted countryside.

Wealth breeds thieves, and the highwaymen who prowl by highways and byways of London Town are driven by more than greed. They are damned men, bereft of the greater parts of their souls. Through black criminal deeds, they seek to reclaim that which they lost – or had taken from them. Folklore calls them rakehells – they rake the coals of hell by their misdeeds, making their eventual fate all the worse through their defiance.

If a rakehell could steal back his soul, if he could reclaim that which he lost or squandered before it is carried away into Hell, then perhaps he could redeem himself…

Rakehell is a FATE-powered game that’s been knocking around my head for several years. I finally used Gaelcon as a deadline to get the basics of the setting and gameplay down on paper, and that scenario is available for download here. It’s a one-shot game, complete with five player characters, and should take 3-4 hours to play.

Depending on feedback, Rakehell may get developed into a full setting and maybe even released commercially. If you do play it, let us know at