News / Bastard System

Lucus Palosaari Q&A LIVE Tonight (7 pm - 9 pm CST)

Lucus Palosaari Q&A LIVE Tonight (7 pm - 9 pm CST)

Hello All,

Tonight, Thursday July 28th, 2016, at 7 pm Central time till roughly 9 pm Central, I've been invited to participate in an Q&A session -- which you can link any time to the chatroom here: or if you're finding this out after the fact, read the collected chat here on The Hardboiled GMShow's Office.

What follows is a "brief" introduction to me that I'll pull from for that chatroom....

YOU MISSED THE CHAT? Don't Fret -- read the transcript here:

Lucus Palosaari -- Tabletop RPG Writer, Editor, Developer, and Designer

"My name is Lucus Palosaari, and I'm a game designer" sounds like the kind of thing you'd start off by saying at a meeting with the word "Anonymous" in its name, but here it's just a statement of what and who I really am.

I should likely follow this up with all the normal qualifiers I need to blurt out when I am introducing myself to someone -- I specifically am a freelance writer of tabletop RPGs <insert a comment about "Do you know what D&D is? Like that, but not that one">, that is fortunate enough to work as an Editor and Project Manager for Fat Goblin Games

My first published piece was "Weapons of Renown," an article in the now defunct Open Gaming Monthly #5 magazine from Publishing. "Weapons of Renown" was a brief article, ~2,200 words or so, written in support of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and it was all about weapons having mundane bonuses for being well known, on a five-tiered system from "Named Weapon" to "Deeded Weapon" to "Renowned Weapon" to "Legendary Weapons" to "Weapon of Lore." and granting them gave various benefits.That was released August 8th, 2013, just about 3 years ago.

My first real publication was Call to Arms: Axes & Picks with Fat Goblin Games and was my rebooting of the Call to Arms line in support of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game by Paizo Publishing. CtA: Axes & Picks had an awesome review, that highlighted its flaws but also happily came after Endzeitgeist got to "know my work" and so its humbling to go back and read it and have him even note my growth since then.

That standalone book was released October 6th, 2013, but I had started writing it back when I had turned in my draft to OGM in the summer of '13. Like so many in writers, I had really been "writing" RPG stuff for quite awhile with hopes and plans to self-publish a book with a friend called The Artisan's Workshop. The books not likely to come out, but I spent nights and weekends and downtime etc working on that book and learning about the "biz" and its made me a much better freelancer today in this industry as it exists.

Since that time, I've worked my charms on the Fattest Goblin Himself, Rick Hershey, and found myself as one of the main editors of Fat Goblin Games (with The Janitor as my counter-part, Troy Daniels), and I've had a chance to work on many different projects as lead or writer, such as:

You can see a "proper" preview of vs. Ghosts here.

Now, trying to promote vs. Ghosts was the impetuous to getting the chance for the Q&A, but I am able and willing to discuss any of my projects for Fat Goblin Games or otherwise. I also like to get all deep and philosophical about things related to the tabletop RPG industry in general. I've also had the chance to work with Flaming Crab Games on a few projects in their Letters of the Flaming Crab line and I can talk about that a bit too. 

Lucus Palosaari on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & LinkedIn

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Rules-Light and Busting of Ghosts with the vs. M Engine

Rules-Light and Busting of Ghosts with the vs. M Engine

Hello All,

So I keep seeing an, what is feeling like, age old argument about "Pathfinder vs. D&D 5th ed" (linked article is just the most recent I've seen, but there are others) and in the discussion I keep seeing two phrases, one of which I agree with and the other I cringe at: "rules-light" & "streamlined".

5th Edition is often described as being more "streamlined" in gameplay and mechanics compared to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and I can agree with that. It does "smooth over" some of the rough spots, but this "streamlining" is also some of what is lost in the change over, kind of like how these two cars are technically "the same" but one is more "streamlined" and for me, has lost most of its characters:


... but you know what, to each their own. (and if you don't recognize the top image, I feel sorry for you ;) )

What 5th Edition is NOT is "rules-light". It's maybe "lighter" than Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook (clocking in at ~575 pgs), but really when the basic book (the PHB) is ~320 pages (with the DMG being another ~320), but only just. Streamlined, sure; light, no.

While an exception rather than the rule, I will present you a "rules-light" game:

THAT is a complete game, written onto a "GM screen" type document. It uses the vs. M Engine, which was originally designed by Philip J Reed as part of a 24-hour Design-a-Thon which produced vs. Monsters (available FREE on, an original tabletop RPG that used cards instead of dice and was about -- you guessed it -- fighting monsters!

Now that original document was, of course, far from perfect. There were unclear rules, and it used a few problematic terms, but it was a playable game all in 20 or so pages. They released a few books in support, for instance a reissue as vs. Monsters Deluxe, which filled in many of the missing bits, and a vs. Monsters Additions for the GM, providing a few optional rules and some different monsters, NPCs, etc.

Philip J Reed is an accomplished designer of RPGs, with even his own company, Ronin Arts, having a vast array of products in support of many system, and himself having worked for companies like West End Games, Privateer Press, and Steven Jackson Games. 

Now, rather than "discuss" vs. Monsters, I'd sooner suggest you just go and get your own copy -- you can literally read about it, for free, in likely fewer words than I would ramble on. But if you must, read what Mr. Reed has to say about it himself, or its review on RPG Review here. And, best part -- it's been released under an OGL!

vs. Ghosts

And so my real point -- Fat Goblin Games will be releasing a new book -- vs. Ghosts. It's a book all about the busting of ghosts, and completely written by our very own Fattest Goblin of Them All, Rick Hershey!

.vs Ghosts is a roleplaying game in which players suit up to battle strange hauntings in their neighborhoods while dealing with the mundane non-believers that try to prevent you from doing your job. Be it hotels, art museums, or even the classic haunted house, ghosts need busting and to be contained.

So, whom do you call when things go bump in the night? Ghost hunting with vs. Ghosts will make you feel good!

To play vs. Ghosts you will need at least 2 players (but more players equal more fun) and a person to be the Ghostmaster (isn’t that clever).  You also want some paper, pencils, and at least one deck of playing cards (take out the damn Jokers).

As you can likely pick up from the 'tone', vs. Ghosts is a less-than-serious take on the matter inspired by a classic of cinema getting a reboot very soon but it also pulls from other popular tropes of ghosthunting.

The final product is going to The Janitor tomorrow for a quick spit polish and then we'll be laying out over the weekend -- so it might be out in time for even the Fourth of July!

I've enjoyed working on it, having a bit of break from more "rules-heavy" development, and its given me clear ideas of how and where to keep development and tone of the Bastard System.

Happy (early) Fourth of July everyone!

Lucus Palosaari, Editor & Project Manager at Fat Goblin Games (Like us on Facebook!)

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