Hello World

It's been a while since I've posted any sort of update, and I thought it about time for a check in.

Strands of Fate 2e development continues, if at a bit of a slower pace than I would like. The realities of this world continue to obstruct progress, but I promise we're still at it. 


In addition to VSS' tabletop RPG products, we've begun to explore the digital realms a bit. And it should come as no surprise to Nova Praxis fans that VR is the tech platform we're most interested in developing for.

It's still in its infancy, but we have a Nova Praxis VR game aimed at Oculus and Vive currently in the works. This is our first serious look at video game development, and we're diving into a market that is itself little more than a technological fetus. So when I say NP:I is in its infancy, know that I'm not exaggerating.

I'm still working in a sandbox state for the most part, working in Unreal on the Oculus Rift to dial in VR interfaces, inverse kinematics for body and arm animation, working out weapon interaction, building AI, etc. It's R&D that's spinning out of my day job responsibilities, and it's coming along as time permits.

The game is tentatively titled Nova Praxis: Infiltrator. And if forced to, conceptually, I'd describe it as Deus Ex meets Hitman 2016 in first person VR.

Tact-Tiles: Discounted Defects

As mentioned in my previous post, we were able to find a small number of Tact-Tiles that have some minor defects. These defects are entirely cosmetic, and should not affect their usability.

We are making them available now, at a 25% discount.

And that's it folks. After this, they're gone.

Update: As of this update, there is only a single set of 6 Tact-tiles left.

Strands 2e Playtest and Tact-Tiles Stock

Strands of Fate 2e Playtesting

Development of Strands of Fate 2e continues at a pretty good pace, and as of today, we're opening up another round of playtesting. To join the playtest, simply go here and fill out this form. That'll get you added to the mailing list, which in turn gets you access to the latest playtest version of Strands of Fate 2e. 

You've got a little over a week to sign up (deadline is Saturday, April 29th), and we'll be sending out the newest version of the playtest doc on May 1st.

Also, there are now two official places to discuss Strands 2e and give playtest feedback. The first is our Google+ Community. The other is Reddit, were we've set up a subreddit for this purpose. Feel free to use either or both to give us feedback, as questions, or just let us know what you think!


We are officially out of Tact-Tiles, and currently do not have any plans to do another run. However, we still have a few that were put aside due to minor defects. We're planning to go through those and pull out the ones where the defects are only cosmetic; meaning they might have some minor discoloration, some scratches or dents, etc. but are still perfectly usable.

Once we do that, we'll be making them available at a discounted price.

Stay tuned for more on that.

Strands 2e Playtester Signup

If you are interested in getting an early look at Strands of Fate 2e, and getting an opportunity to provide feedback and potentially shape the game's development, now's your chance.



Application acceptance for the first round of Beta testing has come to a close.

Keep an eye on this website, or our Facebook page, to be notified when it opens up again for phase 2.

Thank you!

Playtesting Strands of Fate 2e

You might have heard that, when it comes to writing, it's "hard to kill your babies". It is. It's damned hard sometimes. But the casualties are necessary.

Strands2's development is like any other project I've worked on. It left little bodies in its wake. Ideas, ranging from "bad" to "okay", lie scattered on the trail behind us. But this one, Strands of Fate 2e, has been particularly murderous. I've got early design docs that go back 4 years. I never delete anything, so I'm left with dozens of folders that resemble nothing so much as a digital cemetery. There are entire drafts of the book that have been discarded almost in their entirety.

It's evolution. Or maybe they're sacrifices to the muse. But in any case, they've led us here.

On Jan 23rd we're going to be putting out the call for Strands of Fate 2e playtesters. Those who sign up will be given the latest version of the playtest doc and a chance to provide feedback.

For more info, keep your eye on this site, or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.


Strands of Fate Second Edition

It's been a while! A year ago I posted about the need to take something of a sabbatical. And I did, sort of. But as it turns out, I'm not really good at sabbaticals. So, in the time I should have been spending making myself a better person, I've instead been working with a small team of freelancers and playtesters to lay the foundation for the second edition of Strands of Fate.

So let's talk a little bit about that. What is Strands of Fate 2e?

The original Strands of Fate was a labor of love and one of my proudest achievements. And yet, it was way too ambitious of a project for someone who had, at the time, never really published anything before. It was designed to be a massive toolbox, created to empower you to use the Fate game system to play pretty much any sort of adventure game. And while I think it largely succeeded, it did it by sheer brute force and page count.

A Solid Core

With Strands of Fate 2e, we're taking a different, more focused and clear, path to the same destination. Strands 2 is designed around a central core set of rules. These rules, Skills, Aspects, Fate Points, Stress.... the Fate classics; they're all there in the core. They make up a solid foundation upon which all Strands of Fate campaigns are built upon, and remain pretty consistent regardless of genre, power level, and other options.

Is it a Fate Core game? No, not really. Fate was first introduced in Spirit of the Century. The first Strands of Fate was born out of a desire to take what was in SotC and create a generic core rule set. And since that time, Evil Hat has gone on to create their own version of that. 

This left Strands of Fate to become something of a diverging branch of Fate. And Strands 2 continues along that line. It's core rules borrow heavily from the work we did with the Fate version of Nova Praxis; which served as our starting point early in development.

Strands of Fate 2e certainly shares a lot of DNA with Evil Hat's Fate Core, but we are not branding it as a Fate Core game. Strands of Fate is its own distinct version of Fate.

Strands and Schemas

So what's beyond the core?

Branching out from the core rules are Strands, distinct rules modules added to, or layered over, the core rules to create a more refined experience. It includes Strands that make Aspects play a larger role in the game, and Strands that make Aspects play a smaller role. There are Strands that up the PC lethality of the game, and Strands that make it safer. There are multiple character advancement options, different initiative options, sanity rules, miniatures rules, and much more. 

And unlike Strands 1e, where the variant rules were sprinkled all throughout the book, the Strands in Strands of Fate 2e are clearly noted and confined to their own section of the book. This makes it easier to read and understand the core of the game system before muddying the waters with a tidal wave of options.

And to further help GM's and players tailer their experience, we're introducing Schemas. A Schema is a sort of blueprint for your campaign, and there is a chapter in the book devoted to walking the GM through building his campaign's Schema. It asks lot's of questions; questions like: "How lethal to the PCs do you want the campaign to be?" "How much narrative control do you want players to have?" "How big of a role to you want wealth and equipment to play in your games?" And depending on your answer to these questions, it suggests which Strands you should consider adding to your Schema.

And of course, we provide some sample Schemas. In fact...

"Strands of Cthulhu"

One of the Schema's already in the Alpha version of the book is entitled "Strands of Cthulhu". And as you've probably already figured out, its a Schema that provides advice for using Strands of Fate 2e to run a campaign in which your PCs investigate and confront alien horrors from beyond.

This particular Schema currently clocks in at four pages, in which we provide an overview of Lovecraft's setting, advice for the sorts of characters the PCs should create, some sample Campaign Aspects (which can either be simple flavor, or provide mechanical effects, depending on the Strands you choose), a discussion of the setting's Tech-Level, the character's starting Power and Experience Levels, what Races, Skills, Perks, and Powers are available, and what Strands are required, recommended or expressly not recommended.

It then goes on to introduce the special Mythos Lore Affinity Skill, Mythos Tomes, and some advice about ancient rites and how the GM can use them in the game, as well as how PCs might access and use Mythos Sorcery.

Other sample Schemas will get the same treatment, and cover classic fantasy, modern super heroes, and a few other common genres.


One of the things players seems to love about Strands of Fate is the vast array of powers available. And on that front, Strands of Fate 2e once again delivers.

But one of the biggest differences is how Powers are obtained and activated. In the original Strands, each Power had a built-in assumption about how it was activated and/or what the costs where (though most had modifiers that allowed you to change this.)

In Strands 2, the Powers are much more agnostic in that regard. In fact, their write-ups don't even mention how they are activated. How a player gets their Powers, and how they activate them, are explained by special Perks called Aptitudes.

For example, let's look at Arcane Apprentice. When you take the Arcane Apprentice Aptitude, you gain one rank in the Arcana Affinity Skill, gain the Cantrips Meta-Powers, and you may choose one Power with the Ritual Activation Limitation. You may then learn additional Powers as you gain Experience and take additional Perks along the path to becoming an Archmage.

Development Status and Playtesting

Right now we're in the final stages of the Alpha testing. Soon we'll be opening the game up to a semi-public Beta test, in which you'll get a chance to check it out before the Kickstarter launches in March.

Look for more on that near the end of the year!

Ghosts in Darkness Beta and 25% OFF Sale

It's been too long coming, but today we're releasing the beta of the Savage Worlds version of Ghosts in Darkness to our Evolved and Transcendent Kickstarter Backers.

Ghosts was originally released in Machinations, the GM supplement for the Fate version of Nova Praxis. When the SW version of Nova Praxis was released, we folded all of Machinations into the SW core book, except Ghosts in Darkness

This scenario is written with new GM's and players in mind. It begins with the PCs' restoration from backup, awakening with no knowledge of what happened to them. They died, presumably, but how? Why? Where?

Their quest to uncover the truth takes the PCs from the Lunar city of Asola, to the Earth-orbit station of Vantage, to witness the beginnings of revolution on the Icarus Hub near Proch, and finally, to a mysterious outpost in a long forgotten corner of space. There they will face a familiar foe; one who knows all of their strengths and weaknesses; and who will stop at nothing to see them dead and deleted.

Ghosts in Darkness also features new rules for Mission Frameworks; guidelines that empower the GM to run complex missions and action scenes without the need to prepare elaborate maps or pages of NPC stats.

The beta version of the document is complete, but may still contain some errors. Over the next few weeks we will be collecting feedback from our beta testers; after which we will release the final version in PDF format on DrivethruRPG.

25% OFF the original Fate version of Nova Praxis

Ghosts has taken a lot longer to release than we'd initially expected, and we'd like to thank you all for your patience. To do so, we're offering a coupon for 25% off the already discounted printed hardcover copy of the Fate version of Nova Praxis.

This full sized, full color, 268 page hardback book comes with a full color poster map of the Nova Praxis setting (the same as found on pg 54 of NP:SWE standard edition), and is fully self contained. The book contains the complete Fate system, and you do not need any other books to play.

To get your discount, simply visit our web store, and enter coupon code NPFATE25 at checkout.


Taking a Sabbatical

If your email account is anything like mine, you probably get a half dozen pieces of snail mail, emails, texts or phone calls every day from companies telling you how much they appreciate you.

"Just for you, valued customer #74563!"

"Dear loyal customer, or current occupant."

And you know, because you're not brain dead, that it's all just another example of the high quality bovine excrement that marketing departments churn out daily.

Void Star doesn't really have a marketing department. That's one of my responsibilities. And I suck at it. So I don't have some fancy marketing plan or strategy engineered to try to retain your loyalty or interest while VSS goes dark for a little while.

All I can say, with utmost sincerity, is that I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

It wasn't long after I discovered RPGs that I fell in love with the idea of writing my own game and having others actually grow to care about it too. The first part is easy. Anyone can write a game. It may not be a good game, but anyone can throw together something that can entertain you and your friends for an evening. The magic is in making something lasting, that others not only care about, but talk about, and share with their friends.

You people made that happen for me. And it means the world. Pretty much anyone in this business will tell you that you don't do it for the money. The money sucks. You do it because you love it. It's a creative addiction, and the money (if you're lucky enough to make any) just helps you feed it.

But every now and then there comes a time when we need to take a step back and reevaluate. That's what I've found myself doing over the last few months. The last year or so was huge for Void Star. We launched Tact-Tiles, the Savage Worlds version of Nova Praxis, and Machinations.

For many game companies, that's not much. But for us, it was huge. And as awesome as it was, as much fun as it was, and as pleased I am with the results... it took a toll.

Like most game designers these days, I have a day job. Very few can do this full time and take care of a family. And a couple of months ago I got a new position at a new company that is, in many ways, a dream job. I can't get into specifics, but I've been given the opportunity to dive into the world of military training and simulation. And if you've read Nova Praxis, you're probably not surprised to hear that something like that would appeal to me. But unfortunately, it requires much more of my time and attention than my previous position did. And working on military computers means that I'm very limited in how much I can be active on social media or support VSS during the day.

Normally I could still manage the day job and VSS together. But this is hitting at a time when I'm also starting to experience a number of health issues. It's nothing major, but it's several things that are really adding up. And it makes committing my evenings and weekends to anything other than R&R pretty difficult.

So what does that mean? More specifically, what does it mean for VSS?

Void Star is my baby. It's not just a job, it's a passion. Nova Praxis in particular has been, for years, something that I can only rightfully call an obsession. Researching and writing for it has challenged and changed me in ways I never could have predicted.

So it's not going away. It can't. Closing up shop simply isn't an option.

But I've got to take some time off. I've got to step back and focus on getting settled into this new day job, a new routine, and taking care of my health. I need some time to make some much-needed adjustments, in both my work and personal life. And hopefully, with a little time, I'll be able to get back in the groove.

We've still got a lot of work to do.

A Brief Update

Hello everyone. I thought I'd take a moment to talk about what's going on here at Void Star.

Bye Bye Messageboards

To put it simply, it's a lot of effort to hit so many different social media sources on a regular basis. And I've been letting the messageboard slip.
I don't think that's fair to you guys. So, in an effort to be more efficient in terms of time, effort and attention, we will be shutting down these message boards as of the end of the month.

Please be sure you save any information posted here that you would like to keep.

As always, if you want to get in touch with me for questions about Nova Praxis, Strands of Fate, Tact-Tiles, or anything else, you can still hit me up through the following:

Google+ (my personal account, and where I am most active)
Google+ VSS Community
And I'm @Mechalus on Twitter

We've also got a Nova Praxis subedit over on Reddit. Check it out!

Nova Praxis Updates

Lot's going on. The Augmented version of the Savage Worlds Edition of the Nova Praxis setting book has been released and the response has been tremendous!

So what now? Well, we've got three products in the works:

Ghosts in Darkness: SWE

Ghosts in Darkness was a scenario originally published in Machinations. We are converting it to Savage Worlds. Most of the content is the same, but we're going to be replacing the original art with new art and/or new "blue box" bits. 

Hatchet Job

This is a new scenario written by Jonathan Killstring. It'll be released for both the Fate and Savage Worlds versions of Nova Praxis. The text is finalized. And now it gets in line behind GiD for layout and art.

Work Hazards

We've had this on one the back burner for a while now, but I'll be meeting with James Townsley tomorrow to discuss the project's status and see if we can get it back on track. Work Hazards focusses on introducing new antagonists to your Nova Praxis campaigns. And like all of our future products, it's for Fate and Savage Worlds.

Strands of Infinity

Strands of Infinity, the spiritual successor to Strands of Fate, is coming along nicely. The system has evolved to the point that we can start making characters. And it won't be much longer before it becomes playable!

Shortly after we hit that milestone, I plan to do an open beta test. So stay tuned for that!

Tact-Tiles Live Shipping

At long last, Tact-Tiles are now shipping "live" instead of for pre-order. If you place an order now, you can expect your tiles to ship within 7 working days.

We also got the Premium Cases and packing material for them in, and we expect them to start shipping early next week.

Tact-Tiles was by far our largest and most complex product launch to date. It has been extremely frustrating at times, facing delay after delay from suppliers, the ever-rising cost of shipping, etc.. 

But we finally got here! It has certainly been a learning experience; and I want to personally thank everyone for their patience and support!

I especially want to thank Steve and Kristan, who have been instrumental in managing the distribution and customer service side of things. Thank you! We couldn't have got here without you.


Tact-Tiles and Nova Praxis: SWE A-PDF Update


Our distribution team reports that all of the Expedited Kickstarter tiers have been shipped, and we're now starting to dig into the non-Expedited orders. So we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the Kickstarter orders.

We're running low on tiles from the screen printer again, so that may put us a few days behind. But if things continue at this pace, we should be getting into the website orders in just a few weeks!

The Premium Case

I received a sample of the Premium case a few days ago, and it looks good. We placed the order for the rest, and they're scheduled to ship tomorrow to us tomorrow. Hopefully we'll be able to get those turned around pretty quickly.

Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition (Augmented PDF)

I can finally report some progress on this front. It's been slow going, but you can click on the preview image below to download an early sample. Just note that this sample has not been optimized yet, and doesn't include any of the actual functionality that the final version of the A-PDF will have.

The Tact-Tiles are landing. The Premium Box issues are (hopefully) resolved.

We have reports of Tact-Tiles landing in the hands of the Kickstarter backers! Frankly, the processing and shipping is going slower than we'd like, but we're shipping as fast as our printer can get them to us.

Website orders will start shipping after the Kickstarter orders, which will take another 2-3 weeks. 

We apologize for the delay. We'd really hoped to be able to get them all out by now, but a steady stream of delays from suppliers have cursed this product from the start. Speaking of which...

We finally have the first Premium Boxes on their way. Apparently, when you order 1-2 boxes, they use a water jet to cut the foam. But when you place a large order, they want to die cut the foam. The problem is, our design can't be die cut. So we had a lot of back-and-forth trying to figure out how to resolve this.

The last word I got was "We figured it out and your first order is on the way." Now we just hope the "fix" is a good one.

For a more detailed account of where we are in shipping, I recommend you keep an eye on the Kickstarter comments section, even if you weren't a Kickstarter backer.

So what's going on?

We've been very busy here at VSS over the last few months, so I thought it was past due time to give you guys a consolidated update.

Tact-Tiles - 12.png


After a very frustrating series of delays, we're scheduled to pick up the first set of Tact-Tiles from our screen printer on Tuesday. We may be able to get some shipments out by the end of the week, but I expect next weekend to primarily consist of a long hours of box packing and stacking.

Those who backed an "expedited" tier on the Kickstarter will have their shipments prioritized. And if possible, we're going to try to process the retailer orders at the same time. After that will be the other Kickstarter backers, and finally, the website pre-orders.

I'd expect the Premium Boxes to arrive within 1-2 weeks of your tiles.

This has been a very long process for all involved, and we really appreciate everyone's patience. We're going to do our best to get you your Tact-Tiles as fast as possible.

Nova Praxis (Fate and Savage Worlds)

Print copies of Machinations, the GM's Companion for the Fate version of Nova Praxis, will be shipping out to Kickstarter backers on Monday.

This weekend I'm planning to spend some more time working on the Augmented version of the Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition PDF. I don't want to speculate on a release date yet, but the Augmented PDF for the Fate version became a platinum best seller on DTRPG, and I'm looking forward to getting one out for the SW version.

Very soon we will also begin working on the Savage Worlds version of Ghosts in Darkness. Ghosts is a pre-written scenario originally released in Machinations.

We've also began work on Work Hazards, a book designed to cover dangerous alien creatures, drones, post-human aberrations, and antagonistic NPCs. As with all future NP releases, Work Hazards will be available for both the Fate and SW versions of Nova Praxis.

We're also working on a fiction anthology, but that's still a ways off.

What's what, and where can I get it?

Due to a shift in capabilities, direction and technologies, VSS' products are available from a number of different sources. I thought it might be time to post a consolidated overview of our products and where you can get them.


The modular dry and wet-erase play surface. Tact-Tiles are available for order on the VSS Web Store, as well as a carrying case, and premium carrying case. You can learn more about Tact-Tiles by visiting it's Kickstarter page.

Strands of Fate

Strands of Fate was our first product, born out of a desire for a complete core book for the Fate system. Since that time, Evil Hat has released Fate Core, but Strands of Fate still stands on its own as VSS' take on the Fate system.

Strands of Power is a supplement for Strands of Fate that greatly expands upon SoF's Advantages and Powers system.

Where to get Strands of Fate:

PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Hardcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Softcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Where to get Strands of Power:

PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Hardcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Softcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Nova Praxis

Nova Praxis is a sci-fi setting originally released for Fate. More specifically, it was released as a self-contained, stand alone, game built on a version of Fate best described as a hybrid of Strands of Fate and Evil Hat's Fate Core. Nova Praxis has been a huge success for us. The Fate version also has a GM's companion supplement called Machinations.

Machinations contains a greatly expanded look at the shadowy secrets of the Nova Praxis setting, as well as dozens of plot hooks, four ready-made campaign outlines, and a complete pre-written scenario called Ghosts in Darkness.

Nova Praxis was later released for Savage Worlds as well. The SW version requires the Savage Worlds core book from Pinnacle Entertainment, and includes all the setting information from both the original Fate version, and Machinations. The Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion is not required to play Nova Praxis: SWE, but is occasionally referenced and highly recommended.

Going forward we plan to release products for both the Fate and SW versions of Nova Praxis.

So far we have released the following Nova Praxis products:

Where to get Nova Praxis (Fate): 

Print - VSS Web Store, Amazon and Indie Press Revolution

PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Augmented PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis GM Screen Inserts PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Machinations (Fate)

Print & PDF - DrivethruRPG

Where to get Nova Praxis (Savage Worlds Edition): 

Print (Hardcover and Softcover) & PDF - DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis SWE Custom Action Deck

Print & PDF - DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis SWE GM Screen Inserts PDF - DrivethruRPG

Cost Saving Bundles

Nova Praxis Print + Basic PDF + Augmented PDF - VSS Web Store

Nova Praxis (Fate) + Strands of Fate + Strands of Power PDF Bundle - VSS Web Store

Strands of Fate + Strands of Power PDF Bundle - VSS Web Store

Nova Praxis (Fate) + GM Screen Inserts + Machinations PDF Bundle - DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis (Fate) + Nova Praxis Augmented PDF (Fate) + GM Screen Inserts + Machinations PDF Bundle - DrivethruRPG




Machinations and Nova Praxis: SWE Print Release!

Better late than never! I came home this evening to find that Jolly Ol' St. Nick had finally got around to dropping off a few presents under a rather withered and dusty Void Star-topped tree. :)

It's been a long time coming, but we're very proud to finally release the print versions of...

Machinations: The Nova Praxis GM's Companion [Fate]

Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition

The Nova Praxis: SWE Action Deck

All of these books are available exclusivly via print-on-demand through DrivethruRPG.

Oh, and we're also ready to start shipping Tact-Tiles next week! We're looking at a bit of a delay on the Premium Cases though, as we made a last minute design tweak.