Archive for the ‘Cosmic Patrol’Category

Back on Patrol

After some much-needed medical leave, I’m back on the job and getting back into the swing of things. While I was out of action, I spent a lot of time reading through my collection of pulp sci-fi stories and got to thinking about our concept of scale.

I’m a big fan of the space opera, naturally. E.E. Doc Smith’s Lensmen series is by far my favorite of that genre. It’s hard to get much bigger than the adventures of the Galactic Patrol and the Kinnison family. Massive ships, huge (and I mean huge) interstellar wars, universe-wide plots, you name it and Smith’s covered it. From space axes to weapons that can dim an entire sun, it makes for fantastic reading and had a huge impact on the creation of Cosmic Patrol, obviously.

But like I said, as I was sitting in the hospital and then recovering at home, I got a lot of reading done. It was mostly short stories and one of them was H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in the Darkness.

If you’ve never read Whisperer, (seriously? The hell? Shame on you!) it’s one of Lovecraft’s best stories. It features all the hits: cosmic menace, ancient tomes, horrors which should not be names, cultists, a Nyarlathotep cameo; it’s simply a classic. But as I was rereading the story, I began to think about Lovecraft’s view of the solar system and universe.

In Whisperer, the main enemy is the Mi-Go, a race of space-insect-fungi things that menace a retiree and his dogs in rural Vermont (that sounds silly but it works, trust me). We also learn in the story that the Mi-Go hail from Yuggoth, a planet on the edge of our solar system. Though it’s not specifically stated in the story, Lovecraft would later tell a friend that Yuggoth is, in fact, Pluto. This makes sense, Lovecraft was an avid, if amateur, astronomer and Pluto was discovered in 1930, the same year he wrote Whisperer.

That made me stop for a moment. Here was one of Lovecraft’s coolest baddies and they were from our own solar system! How cool is that? Most of his big baddies are truly cosmic, pan- or other-dimensional beings that humans can barely conceive of without going insane.

Aliens native to other planets in our home system is nothing new of course. Everything from the Tharks to the Europans have native origins. But really, it’s not something you see much of anymore in modern science fiction. Back in Lovecraft’s day all the way through the 1960s, “local” sci fi was fairly common and it’s not hard to see why.

Back then, we as a race didn’t have the experience we do today and that was reflected in our creations. Now we know about hundreds of exoplanets and it’s a lot more fun to dream about visiting them than visiting, say, Venus. Anyone writing about a trip to Venus would have to deal with the widespread knowledge that Venus’ atmosphere sucks and you’d be more likely to melt than meet a race of Golden Amazons.

Obviously, one form of fiction isn’t better than the other, but it was refreshing to think about our own, small corner of the universe as a hotbed of cosmic adventure. I’m glad I populated the Cosmic Patrol home solar system with everything from Neptunian Mind Plants to Automen to Cometarians. Zooming in on Sol can be just as rewarding as traipsing around the universe, all it takes is imagination, of course.

One more thing

So, yeah, the whole medical leave thing knocked me for a loop and put me behind on my Cosmic Patrol duties. We at Catalyst also have a few other things going on that will eat up a bunch of time in the near future. That said, I’m still plugging along at development of The Moon Must Be Ours, which I promise I’ll talk more about next blog post.

In the meantime, the core rulebook got another great review! Also, Cosmic Patrol will again be part of this year’s Free RPG Day awesomeness.


03 2013

Through N-space on the Teh Axis

In the last blog post, I had asked what other themes would work with the Cosmic Patrol ruleset and, man, there were some really great ideas. Everything from a retro video game world to gangsters to the wild west to time traveling – they were all great.

The brainstorming of ideas made me think of Robert Heinlein’s “The Number of the Beast.” I’ll be honest, it’s not an easy novel to get through ( has it listed as one of Heinlein’s worst novels) but it was so packed with supremely awesome ideas that it’s on my shelf alongside Brackett, Burroughs, Pratchett and Cook.

To summarize real quick – Heinlein has a character create a continua device that allows the protagonists to travel on all six dimensions of the universe, including to fictional realities like Barsoom and a world exactly like the “normal” one except that the letter “M” doesn’t exist. The number of realities/parallel universes/alternate worlds is (66)6 which is a Very Large Number. Google says it equals 1.0314425e+28.

I love that idea. And it’s probably why I love RPGs so much. Visit a different world, do cool stuff and have a lot of fun. The ideas you guys threw at me really reinforced my belief in a flexible, non-crunchy game and I wanted to say thanks!

The Moooooon

Development on the next book is going pretty well. In about two weeks I’ll start the Design-A-Moon-Room contest and post the rules. We’ll be putting two rooms up for grabs, so start brainstorming now. If you need a little guidance, think of each room as a short, open-ended Mission Brief. The Patrolmen should get in, deal with a threat and be given a choice of two or three exits.

A little R&R

On a personal note, I’ll be on a secret mission for the next two weeks and probably won’t be around the forums much (or the web at all, actually). Just an FYI.

If you like Cosmic Patrol and haven’t checked out the forums, you really should. Lots of great ideas and discussions going on there.

Thanks and see ya next time!

P.S. Please, someone, write a TV show about the lawyers at Brackett, Burroughs, Pratchett and Cook. It’s a guaranteed hit!


02 2013

This Must Be Said!

For me, the one aspect of publishing a new role-playing game book that took the most getting used to was actually getting feedback. I figured from the outset that Cosmic Patrol would probably be a love-it or hate-it book. While the rule set has some hallmarks of traditional RPGs, it lacks a lot of their crunch. Focusing hard on a really cool setting and story-driven mechanics isn’t for everyone, and I was fine with that.

Still, I was incredibly nervous when the Cosmic Patrol Core Rulebook released at Gen Con 2011. Working on games like Shadowrun, BattleTech and Leviathans is great and I take a lot of pride in those products, but this was totally my own idea and that scared the crap out of me. Thankfully, many folks really liked the game and some great reviews started rolling in.

The biggest honors by far were being on the shortlist for the 2012 Origins Awards and being nominated for the Best Game Ennie Award. We didn’t win, but man, what an honor! I’m still shocked, to be honest.


And now for something completely different…

Last week I promised I’d talk about the upcoming Cosmic Patrol adventure book, The Moon Must Be Ours. I’m pushing that to next week, sorry. Instead I wanted to ask a quick question: What other genres/themes would work with the Cosmic Patrol rule set?

I’ve been scribbling notes for a fantasy-themed world called Goblin Patrol, where the players are goblins stuck in an adventurer’s world. In one awesome Cosmic Patrol review from Idle Red Hands, they played a 1970s funk version called Soul Patrol. What are your ideas?


01 2013

Digging into the Moon Dungeon

Well, 2013 is upon us and I’m doing steady work on The Moon Must Be Ours (TMMBO).  At this point of development, it’s all about outlining and specifications. For other game lines, like Shadowrun or BattleTech, this can be pretty in-depth process. Line developers have to weigh considerations like target page count, writing budgets, art budgets, playtesting and the general target release date, to name a few.

Thankfully, by design, Cosmic Patrol books are relatively simple. Each book is targeted at 136 pages and feature the basic sections: intro fiction, rules, gazetteer, characters and missions. Given the flexibility of the rules, a lot of the real effort goes into world building and mission creation. And surprise, that’s the most fun, too.

Lunar Engineering

In the Cosmic Patrol universe, the Moon is one giant Moon Man fortress. It’s been tunneled out from the surface all the way to the core. Any Patrol invasion of the Moon would have to navigate these rooms and tunnels to complete the mission.

Knowing how the Moon would be framed, I then made two goals:

  1. a choose-your-own-adventure mechanic for moving from room to room
  2. a mechanic that offers easy, normal, hard and insane difficulty settings

I didn’t want a lot of variable monster strengths and trap tests (that’d lead to too much referencing, IMO) so decided that difficulty tracks would be based on the number of rooms players would have to clear to successfully complete the adventure.

With those prerequisites in mind, I turned to a RPGer’s best friend: charts! Flowcharts, to be exact.

EasyNormal Hard Insane

Now these aren’t in the actual book, but are used in the dev process to assign exits for each room. Each room takes the format of a Mission Brief with the room’s challenge or threats and a choice of exits based on what difficulty you want to play at. If you want a quick adventure, go with the Easy track. Want a bigger challenge? Use the Hard track. And then you can mix and match as desired, creating your own custom adventure.

Over the next few weeks I’ll go into more depth on how the room structure works, but I do have one cool announcement to share now!

Create-A-Moon-Room Contest

During the development of Into the Cosmos, we held a contest for players to create a rocketship and mission for inclusion in the book. We’ll be doing the same thing for TMMBO, reserving two or three rooms for player-created entries! I’ll have more info on the contest later. Good luck!


01 2013

New Year, New Post, New Forums

Happy almost 2013! The new year will be the Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar, it’s the 400th anniversary of Galileo discovering Neptune, my birthday falls on a Tuesday and NASA’s MAVEN Mars orbiter will be launched. And while we at Catalyst have tagged 2013 as The Year of Shadowrun, there’s another Cosmic Patrol book on the way!

The Moon Must Be Ours!

In keeping with out general schedule, The Moon Must Be Ours (TMMBO) should publish around late July and be available in time for Gen Con and is a new type of the book for the game. Where Cosmic Patrol was the core rulebook and Into the Cosmos a setting expansion/sourcebook, TMMBO is a plot book taking players through the Patrol’s invasion of the moon.

If you’re familiar with the Cosmic Patrol universe, you know that our nearest neighbor is the home of advanced humans, the Moon Men. These guys are mysterious, super intelligent and possess the power of dynamo-psychism (mind powers). They’ve also forbidden any human landings on the Moon, claiming it as their own private world.

With no other choice, the Patrol had to accept the ban and went about its business exploring the cosmos at large. As more threats to human existence were encountered, it also drove home the fact of a major, mysterious threat right at humanity’s doorstep. For Cosmic Patrol Director Dyson, that won’t stand. And let’s just say the ensuing invasion doesn’t go well.

TMBBO takes a choose-your-own-path structure that I’m excited to put together and playtest. I’ll get more into that mechanic in a later blog post. For now I just want to get back into the habit of blogging every week or so.


Yes. They’re new, stronger and prettier. Go sign up now!

The last iteration of the forums was based on phpbb, and it was a headache to maintain. Then it broke during the busiest time of the year and I finally just wiped the thing out. The new version is based on Simple Machine Forums and should work much better. For now, new memberships have to be admin approved (there’s still an issue with emails and the hosting service, working on that) but that shouldn’t be a big hassle.

So there we have it! New year, new forums, new book!


12 2012

Cosmic Patrol At Pax Prime 2012

Catalyst Game Labs will be attending Pax Prime 2012, where you can find the Cosmic Patrol on sale!

Read Full Article.


07 2012

GeekDad Reviews Cosmic Patrol!

Hed geekdad

There’s a fantastic review of both the Core Rulebook as well as the recently released Into the Cosmos sourcebook over at

Check it out!

Huge thanks to James Floyd Kelly for tackling our little red book and for providing such a thorough sneak peak/review!


07 2012

Cosmic Patrol Nominated In “Best Game” ENnie Awards Category

For those who haven’t heard the news yet, Cosmic Patrol has been nominated in the Best Game category for the 2012 ENnie Award.

There’s some fierce competition in this category…and it’s fantastic that our little red book finds itself in such company. Congratulations to all the nominess…do yourself a favor and check ’em out.

If you’re just finding out about us now, don’t forget to check out the free quick-start rules! It’ll give you a nice taste of all that Cosmic Patrol has to offer…wetting your apetite to take a look at Into the Cosmos, the first sourcebook!


07 2012

Cosmic Patrol at Origins Game Fair 2012

Make sure you’ve got your atomopack on and rayguns charged, because there’s Cosmic Patrol action at the Origins Game Fair 2012.

If you’ve wanted to play to see what all the excitement’s about, come check out a game! (All games are at Franklin D / Table 6)

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm (6180)
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm (6276)

8:00 am – 10:00 am (6419)
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm (6575)

8:00 am – 10:00 am (6682)
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm (6870)

We hope to see you there!

Catalyst Game Labs


04 2012

Cosmic Patrol & Free RPG Day

We’re super stoked (like blazing, twin-atomorockets excited) to have Cosmic Patrol participating in Free RPG Day this year, June 16th.


Don’t know what it is? Well check the Free RPG Day website out for more details.

If your interested, make sure your local retailer knows about Free RPG Day so they can sign up and you can get your hands on the Cosmic Patrol Quick-Start Rules on that day.

Hope to see you all participating!


04 2012