What have I been up to?

I’m glad you asked, headline! It’s been busy here at Many Words Press World HQ for a number of reasons.


The big one, of course, is RPJ. Over the past six months or so, but over the past two or three months especially, I wrote or rewrote about 80,000 words of RPJ rulebook. Granted, that isn’t the kind of writing you come to this part of the Many Words empire for, but it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing.

RPJ also received a promotion to its own subdomain at rpj.manywords.press, with an eye toward expanding those product lines in the future. (RPJ Skypirates, maybe?) And, despite that RPJ is and will always be available for free, I do intend to do some productizing, too, selling via DriveThruRPG.

Pendulum/Libra Cervisiae

Over at the Soapbox, I’ve documented some of my work on a project for measuring beer fermentation. I hit some obstacles a while back, and haven’t managed to get back to it with RPJ on the table, but it helps to explain why I’ve been behind on my writing.

The Soapbox

I’ve been writing a weekly-ish feature at the Soapbox, a Wednesday roundup of news stories of interest to our milblog readers over there. I’ve also been trying to involve myself more in the goings-on over there, since, baldly, it’s much more successful than Many Words Main.


Owning a house has also kept me busy with various projects and repairs, which has cut into my evening writing time.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing. I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, evidence here notwithstanding, and I will eventually get back onto my normal schedule.

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RPJ Updates: Sci-Fi Release, Core Updates

You probably noticed that I missed Friday’s update. This is why—another RPJ release, owing to some changes required by further RPJ Sci-Fi testing.

Speaking of which, RPJ Sci-Fi has been released into beta! It’s up to 1.0.0-beta3 now, after two quick revisions to fix some typos and other rules issues. RPJ Sci-Fi is near to my heart. It was the first RPJ game where the rules were more or less written prior to the start of play, and the first RPJ game where the rules were well enough written to support relatively pain-free play. They’re even smoother now, thanks to tuning, input from friends and family, and a good bit of that most important of tasks, solo playtesting and working through various scenarios governed by the rules.

I also decided to put together some helpful resources for play. The character sheet, for instance, is easily printable, but it’s also a spreadsheet which does a good deal of the required math automatically. There are also three cheat sheets available: one for combat, one for psi, and one for general topics. (The latter is a bit light right now.)

There’s more to do in the RPJ Sci-Fi rulebook, but most of it is theme, and none of it is required. It’s a complete product as-is, although I do want to add some appendices providing examples of combat. What’s still missing is the Gamemaster’s Guide, in which I plan to put some further detail on themes, some example battlefields and other maps, and some tables for random generation. The Gamemaster’s Guide being primarily an aid for other gamemasters, and the only gamemaster of which I am aware being me, it’s lower on the list than writing a one-shot for some actual playtesting, and also lower than work on some other projects.

Still, it’s playable, the theme is fun, and the combat seems to flow nicely. If you’re looking to give it a try, now is a great time.

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The Continuing Adventures of Sif No. 46

“Good,” Leifsson said. “You may go. Not you, Sif Hrothgarsdottir. I have other business to discuss with you, while you’re here.”

Lilja stood, smiled tentatively at Sif, and turned to walk away. Einar, too, rose, dipping his head to Leifsson with an ill-concealed look of suspicion on his face. “You’ll keep us up to date?” he said. Sif wasn’t sure if he was talking to Leifsson or to her.

Leifsson answered. “I will.”

Einar didn’t seem reassured, but nodded to Sif and followed Lilja away from the table.

Leifsson watched them go, then turned his gaze back to Sif. She shifted in her chair. “You aren’t planning to leave it alone, are you?” he said.

“What makes you say that?” It was worth a try, anyway.

Leifsson shook his head. “You’ll have to try harder than that. As your master here, I ordered you to leave this alone, and you aren’t going to. Yes or no?”

Well, maybe honesty would work, Sif thought. “I’m not going to leave it alone.”

Leifsson half-smiled. “As I expected.”

Silence descended. Sif shifted again. She liked to think she was difficult to get to, but evidence was piling up against the idea. Eventually, she hazarded, “Am I in trouble?”

“No,” Leifsson said. Honesty for honesty, Sif thought. “If you were a student on the traditional path, maybe, but a luftsmagiker ought to be independent, and you don’t have very much time to learn that lesson.” He tilted his head to one side and gave her a close look. “Although it doesn’t appear you need very much prompting.”

“I have a good reason,” said Sif. “I think it’s important that I keep at it.”

“Is it your diviner friend?” Leifsson said. Sif didn’t reply. Leifsson nodded. “Be careful putting too much trust in him.”

“He’s a good man,” Sif interrupted, a little more loudly than she had intended. One or two pairs of eyes turned to their table, then turned away again.

“He may very well be,” Leifsson said, leaning forward and speaking more quietly. “Even the rare diviner who is a good person usually has an ulterior motive. Do you think of yourself as a good person?”

Sif blinked, then nodded.

“If you could end the war, let’s say, by sacrificing one of your friends, would you?”

Of course not, Sif thought, but then she thought a moment longer.

Leifsson interrupted her brief reverie. “Exactly. That’s the choice before a föraningsmagiker every time he sees the future.”

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RPJ Core, Police Cops: beta releases and more

If you were paying close attention to the other-stuff portion of the site last week, you might have seen RPJ Core and Police Cops 1.0.0-beta1 releases. I was up to my elbows in other RPJ work, however, and decided not to write up a little news post about those releases.

Now, though, the time has come, as have 1.0.0-beta2 releases, with the promised changelogs. (Hit the RPJ link in the menu bar for links.) More exciting, at least for me, is the imminent prerelease availability of the next RPJ module: RPJ Sci-Fi.

One of the two original RPJ-based games, Sci-Fi has always been dear to me, and last night I completed a full revamp of the rules to match modern RPJ standards. I have a few thousand words of theme to write and some light playtesting to work through, and that’s enough for prerelease. Expect it in a few weeks at the outside.

In the interim, story posts here might be light; as always, I am fickle and easily-distracted.

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The Continuing Adventures of Sif No. 45

“The Shining Hand failed,” Leifsson replied. “Before they even began, really. A loyalist to the throne learned of their plan, and the Akademier put a stop to it. The mundane authorities never knew; the Akademier never told them. It was thought to be a bad bargain. The conspirators were executed, the loyalty of the magiker assured. There was nothing, the thinking went, that the throne could do that had not already been done.

“That is what the Shining Hand means to magiker: rebellion against the Rike, usurpation of power which is not ours to take, and death for treason against the throne. To most of us, at least. If there are magiker out there showing the palm and making the sign…”

Sif sat back, head spinning. That was just about the worst case scenario, in her mind. The Shining Hand was a conspiracy after all, almost certainly. “If there are enough of them that they can meet in the open, then they must be pretty far along. Do they want the same thing as last time?” she wondered.

Leifsson lifted a shoulder and went back to the informal register. “I don’t know. There are people I can talk to about this.” He tapped the table. “I haven’t known you for very long, Sif Hrothgarsdottir, but I know you want to dig deeper. Don’t. Leave this alone. If you happen to cross paths with the Shining Hand again, bring the evidence to me.”

Lilja half-raised her hand, then blushed and lowered it quickly. “Why not just tell the mundane authorities this time?”

Leifsson shook his head. “The Thanes’ Moot would take it as evidence that the Akademier foster disloyalty and push to bring us fully under their control.”

“Aren’t we fostering disloyalty, if we’ve had two conspiracies, now, to overthrow them?” Einar asked.

“I suppose,” Leifsson allowed, at length. “They have no real understanding of what we do, though. They would send us all to the front, and we would either fall to the ontr or tear the world apart. If we magiker don’t stand apart from the thanes, we’ll all fall. Not just us; the Rike altogether.”

“That’s good enough for me,” Sif said. Einar and Lilja turned in unison to look at her. She endeavored to put on an honest expression. The other two exchanged a glance, then nodded to Leifsson.

“I guess it’s good enough for all of us,” Einar said.

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The Continuing Adventures of Sif No. 44

Leifsson closed his eyes. Sif watched the poster. It remained resolutely ordinary. She looked up at Leifsson searchingly. “Is it broken?”

“No,” Leifsson replied, removing his hand and rolling the paper. “I saw it.”

Quickly, Sif glanced down at the poster. “It didn’t—”

“Twelve, no. If anyone were to see it…” Leifsson shook his head and rubbed his temple. “I should burn it.”

Sif looked to her friends. They watched Leifsson, wide-eyed. “Not over your candle,” she said, facing Leifsson again. “Here.” She held out her hand. Leifsson hesitated, then passed her the scroll.

She slipped it into her sleeve and stood. Across the hall was a cask of the Akademi’s small beer. She headed in that direction. As she passed the hearth, she twitched her hand toward the embers and scratched her wrist. The fire flared for a moment as paper lit and burned.

She paid it no mind, pulled four mugs’ worth of beer from the tap at the cask’s base, and returned to the table. She passed the mugs around, and raised her eyebrows at Leifsson.

He half-smiled, then addressed Einar and Lilja with considerably less cheer. He spoke in the formal register again. “Be that careful. You have uncovered something terrible.” He took a deep breath. “In the days of the jötnar wars, magiker were not so tightly bound to the Rike. We took den Holm back from the jötnar. We built its walls. We were deeply convinced of our own power, and our power independent of the mundane authorities. It was these conditions which bred the Shining Hand.”

“But—” Einar said.

“The original Shining Hand.” Leifsson held a finger up. “Let me speak. The magiker watched the wars from their citadels in den Holm. Joar King did not go to them for help. He chose steel and grit.”

“And death,” Sif put in.

“And death,” Leifsson echoed, giving her a look. “Joar King died fighting. Halfdan II took the throne. He would shun the Akademier, too. That was the last straw. The Shining Hand was a conspiracy of magiker, highly placed in each of the guilds, who aimed to usurp the mundane authorities and conduct the war according to their own designs. Weave-working would bring the jötnar to their knees, and the Norrman people would not have to buy their end with blood.”

Sif frowned. “I’ve been reading Geirsson’s history,” she said. “He doesn’t say anything about that.”

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Empty week update

You may have noticed there was no story post yesterday. I’m not planning on a Friday update at this time, either, for two reasons:

  1. I’m at a key point on my Libra Cervisiae homebrew-tracking open-source project. I plan to run some tests this weekend, and I need to be sure I’m far enough along to do so.
  2. I’m cranking out a lot of RPJ stuff, and should have beta versions of both RPJ Core and RPJ Police Cops posted this weekend, and a prerelease version of RPJ Sci-Fi sometime in the next few weeks.

Given that both of those projects reflect on Many Words to some degree or another, I’m going to take the week off to get them as squared away as I’m able. We’ll be back next Tuesday.

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The Continuing Adventures of Sif No. 43

She descended the staircase to the great hall. As usual, it was nearly empty at this hour, and the fire on the hearth had burned down to a man-sized pile of glowing embers.

Einar and Lilja sat near the fire, engaged in conversation which struck Sif as a bit too innocent. Nobody talked so eagerly about studying.

Leifsson had a table to himself on the far side of the hearth, away from the tafl boards and the late-night readers. He had a candle and a book of his own, which he flipped through at a pace Sif thought was incompatible with paying the words any attention.

She approached him. He waved her to a seat, closing the book without marking his place. “Sif Hrothgarsdottir.”

“Herre Leifsson.”

“Do you have the poster?”

Sif paused. “No,” she said. Leifsson’s raised eyebrow demanded an explanation. “I wasn’t alone last night,” she said.

“Goransson and Orrisdottir?” Leifsson guessed.

Sif nodded. “Is it that obvious?”

“It isn’t that it’s obvious,” said the elder magiker. “It’s only that I can’t think of anyone else you’d get into trouble with.”

Sif inclined her head, allowing that this made sense. “Einar has the poster. He and Lilja wanted to be included. I don’t think it’s a good idea, but they insisted.”

Leifsson gave her a level look. She didn’t know what to make of it. Eventually, he said, “I can call them over, demand the poster, and send them away. Do you want that?”

“I was hoping you would decide for me,” Sif said. Leifsson snorted, but said nothing, waiting for her answer. “That’s what I want, but I promised I would talk you into bringing them in.”

Leifsson’s eyebrow rose again. Sif wondered if he practiced, or if anyone else got the same number of searching looks.

“That was an odd promise to make,” he said. She shrugged. “I’ll tell them you were very convincing.”

Sif wasn’t sure if she appreciated that or not. She turned in her chair, caught Einar’s eye, and waved. Nonchalantly, Einar and Lilja joined them. Einar took a brace of chairs from the next table over and set them down to Sif’s right.

“Well?” said Leifsson.

Einar blinked.

“The poster,” Leifsson said.

“Right.” Einar withdrew the rolled paper from his sleeve and passed it to Leifsson.

Leifsson unrolled it. It was blank. He weighed down the top edge with his book and the bottom edge with his candle, then placed his hand on the center of the page.

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