by Anna Urbanek

There have been things happening, and as I really didn’t have the time to blog over the last months, I struggle to even find a good place to pick up.

First of all, we did the big step: Double Proficiency is now a registered company, not just two freelancers trying to make a living. Wages, pension, insurance, all the jazz. For us, it makes a massive difference, and the tax office agrees. Also yay, accountants, which means I don’t have to worry about messing up the taxes.

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Looking to scratch that hard sci-fi strategy itch? Well, the projectaphelion.com is up and running!

We’ve just added some basic world lore and the mechanics, including a nice and slick, fully laid out PDF of The Absolute Basics. It looks great, we’ve made it.


What’s gonna be there? Oh, let me just quote:

It’s been almost two years since the work on Project Aphelion has started. Now, after writing the rules, the setting, a novella, and a full-sized novel, the universe of Project Aphelion is ready to be explored.

In the coming weeks and months we’ll be talking about the lore and the mechanics of this hard sci-fi strategy roleplaying game, sharing the science behind it (both the astronomy and the game design bits!), and making sure that the experience of Project Aphelion is as fun for the players as it is to us.

Project Aphelion: Phase 2 blog post

In short: go check it out, we’ll be doing tons of quality things over there, and we’d love to hear what you think!

by Anna Urbanek

Imagine that: I’m 20% done.

Well, not really – but I’ve finished twentieth plant entry from the planned hundred, and I think it calls for a celebration. Or, at least, for noting it in a blog post for future reference.

If you haven’t heard of the project, Herbalist’s Primer is my pet project: an illustrated guide to real-world magical plants. It’s a guide for beginner herbalists, magicians, witches, and alchemists. It’s an exercise in whimsy: a mix of honest-to-science botany, even more enjoyable ethnobotany and folklore, the modern occult, and a completely fantastical resource for tabletop roleplaying and writing fantasy novels.

I like my hobbies eclectic.

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We’ve been extremely busy in the past month. We’ve jump-started several projects, moved houses, wrote and designed a ton of things, started Aphelion’s playtests, set the ground for a couple of exciting new things, drew some plants, and cleared out a part of the garden. Not that the last one has any bearing on you, but it’s definitely keeping me happy and grounded.

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Our hard sci-fi tabletop RPG is finally in the play-testing phase! Jakub has been hard at work for months writing and polishing the rules for Project Aphelion, and now they’re ready to see the light.

What is Project Aphelion?

If you haven’t heard about the project before, here are the basics. It’s an tabletop RPG introducing elements of a 4X strategy (EXplore, EXpand, EXploit, and EXterminate, see here). It’s clear, streamlined, efficient, and easy to learn.

We’ve play-tested it last Saturday in a team of four; some of us never played RPGs before, some mostly know D&D, some play RPGs for years, some (me) have been with Aphelion since its beginning. Nevertheless, it was the first time any of us played it, and it took barely any time to start using the system intuitively.

It’s based on d10 only and has zero exceptions, yet manages to stay easy and complex at the same time. Crunch? Yes. Three days of character creation? No. (I’m looking at you, Shadowrun).

The alpha rules and the recording of the first play-test (explaining exactly how to play the game and use the interface) are for now available for our Patrons. Why not join them?


The featured image is in Public Domain: The planet Jupiter from the Trouvelot astronomical drawings (1881-1882) by E. L. Trouvelot (1827-1895). Original from The New York Public Library.

If I was ever glad I became a freelancer, it’s in the middle of the global pandemic.

It’s been quite a ride these last couple of weeks. As I write those words, watching Mary Popping Returns with half an eye (the movie really doesn’t warrant a whole eye on it), it’s been over four weeks of Finland on lockdown. Working as a full-time freelancers was a bit of a challenge for both of us, between two preschoolers running around and me catching the virus and being definitely worse for wear for almost a month.

Regardless, as I’m sipping on strawberry milkshake, I’m happy to declare that the spring has finally arrived in Finland. No snow for a week, almost! The cats are delighted, the dog less; she likes digging in the snow. The things are looking brighter already, especially as I can finally breathe like a human being should be able to do.

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We’re seriously behind on the blog. (This is not news.)

Both Jakub and I have been working lately on about a dozen of projects, all of them cool, exciting, and board game- and roleplaying game-related, but about half of them is still covered in NDAs, and most of the other half is still on my pile of ‘need to write a portfolio entry about that’.

Between the writing, designing, and pushing pixels around for other people, we’ve been hard at work on Project Aphelion, Incitatus novel (Jakub is just finishing the second chapter of the second draft, and the plot very much thickens), our Shadowrun campaign, and a new zine for a fantasy RPG audience.

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Hello!
So far, we’ve talked about the general idea behind PA, and the technologies that made everyday life in the Solar System so vastly different than it is today. I decided to make those vlogs with a bi-weekly theme, swapping lore related topics with closer looks on the gameplay and rules each time. So, our today’s video will cover the gameplay of Project Aphelion, to give you an idea of how will the game function.

Gameplay

Gameplay in Project Aphelion happens on multiple platforms, both during the session and between them. I’m designing it to be a perfect game for a long, immersive campaign using more than one format of play, but also to fit nicely for a play-by-post, convention setting, or even as a board game without any classic TTRPG elements and character-based play. I think the best way to describe PA is a roleplaying game mixed with a 4X strategy game and games like Europa Universalis or Risk. How is that going to work? Well, this is where the fun begins.

The game will “run” on three interconnected playing fields, with a varying degree of focus and importance depending on how you want to play the game.

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Hello! I’m Jakub Wisz, the author of Stars in Our Sails and Project Aphelion, and this is the next development blog for the upcoming TTRPG Project Aphelion.

We covered the basics in the first vlog, so now we can get to the good stuff.
In this vlog, we’re gonna go over what makes the world spin – technology.
To make the Solar System of Project Aphelion as immersive and realistic as possible, I did more than just put people in spaceships and go talk with people with weird eyebrows. I went over every layer of society and tech and figured out how the major scientific and economic shift would influence the world in every aspect.

Human society in Project Aphelion survived a revolution that could be compared; I think only with the invention of internal combustion engine and flight – and I did my best to reflect that thoroughly and indiscriminately throughout the entire of Project Aphelion.

Trade, warfare, communication, culture, religion – everything changed when humanity took the first serious steps into space.

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Hello! I’m Jakub Wisz, the author of “Stars In Our Sails” and Project Aphelion, and in this first blog, I’m going to explain what the hell even is that I’m writing. This post is an introduction to the world of Project Aphelion and the setting, so I’ll keep it short – I’ll write about the details later.

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