Hey gang, just letting you know that Omniurge is still very much alive.  Iterating an alpha prototype over and over and over again, and all the grunt work involved, like a million small card edits and rule changes, notes in margins etc, doesn’t make for very riveting reading, so I’ve spared you the burden.

For the time being, the big news is this shiny new facebook page for Excision Games.  Go ahead and give ‘er a like and share! I’m considering dropping this blog in favour of the facebook page.  It’s more easily updated, and there is a higher degree of interaction with my followers.  Would you folks make the move?  What are your thoughts?

So Much News!

The good thing about being so sporadic with this blog, is that my long silences are usually justified by Brobdingnagian amounts of progress!  So much progress, in fact, that I’m not sure where to start.  Let’s just jump in.

All the cards are mechanically alpha-ready, meaning as soon as I’m able to put together a prototype ($$$!!), it’ll be ready for all you lovely alpha playtesters to break and abuse.  Right now, I’m iterating on cut-to-size index cards.  They have an annoying habit of sticking to each other, but they shuffle decently, are cheap as hell, and leave lots of nice room for notes.

2015-07-13 23.35.10
That’s 750 cards right there, folks!

I was planning on having the cards measure in at 80x80mm, but these 70x70s feel so nice in the hand, and it will save a lot of table space!  The smaller size will mean that I’ll have to ensure that prints are of the highest quality, so everything is nice and legible.  I’ll probably also have to cut out a fair bit of flavour text as well, which, frankly, is going to be heartbreaking.  Case in point, my worst offender for cramped real estate:

Hate Gland
Is this too cramped at 70? At 80? I think so.  Chime in below, and let me know what you think!

Apropos prototype building, check this bad boy out!  (Stack of car tires for scale.)

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Soooooo many tokens!

I’m currently waiting on a handheld puncher set from Amazon, because I got about 100 tokens into this monster with boxcutter and scissors, and my hand just cramped up and said “No, fuck you, dude!”  Once these are punched, I’ll be applying a matte sealant to each token, letting them dry, and then getting to work on the tiles.

In other news, I’ve been fiddling with board cleanliness.  I’ve applied a much cleaner font to the cards, and reworked some of the effects so that I won’t need a bajillion tokens of excruciating specificity in order to track them.  This is another point on which purity of mechanical theory has, necessarily, acceded to table practicality.  I’d rather see some weird balancing issues than see frustrated players pushing around dozens of tokens just for upkeep.  The former can always be fixed.

Meanwhile, I’ve been in touch with the fabulous Chainsaw Pixiepuff about box art.  Exciting stuff!  More to come on that later.

And finally, I’m just gonna leave these here…

Sissel Olsen!
Sissel Olsen!
Sissel Olsen!
Sissel Olsen!
Hieronymus Bosch
Hieronymus Bosch
Sissel Olsen strikes again, with this weird fish-dude!
Sissel Olsen strikes again, with this weird fish-dude!
The art here is one of my own pieces.  Not bad, eh?
The art here is one of my own pieces. Not bad, eh?
Sigrid Ystanes!
Sigrid Ystanes!

Right, I think that’s it for now.  I’ll be going on parental leave in a couple of weeks, so if any of you are in the Oslo area and feel like popping by for some pre-alpha fiddling, or just a coffee and a chat, hit me up on twitter @omniurge

Until next time,


Generous Artists

I’ve unabashedly asked a few different artists for contributions to Omniurge, and I’ve gotten great response!  (Let it be noted that I would never ask for freebies on a for-profit project; their contribution to Omniurge is an indirect, good-faith contribution to Doctors Without Borders, as a shinier, prettier game without added cost means a larger profit margin for donation.)

First up, the multi-talented Mark David has allowed me to use a piece of his photography for Clay Temple.

Clay Temple

Next up, M. Schuetze of Projekt Wort:Rausch has generously allowed me to use two of his pieces.

Bloodworks Obsidian Arches

Sissel Olsen, a Norwegian artist with a serious talent for depicting weird animals, has opened her entire collection to me.  Here’s what I’ve done with it so far.  There will be much more Sissel Olsen on these cards, I’ve no doubt.  I wish I had a link to share, but she doesn’t have an online gallery.

Varg, Who Subsumes

Finally, Sigrid Ystanes, a young Norwegian artist with some serious chops, has given me a nice cross-section of her work, to use as I will.  Sigrid doesn’t have an online collection either, but you might see her name on some indie games and VR projects in a few years.  I have no doubt she’ll go far, if she stops being so generous!

Astrolabe Augmentation Dark Matter Dryad

I have one point of concern, and I’d like some input from you guys.

Having lots of good art is great.  Having lots of good art for free is freaking amazing.  But when all the art is coming in from different sources, does it create too much thematic clash?  Do the uniform graphic design on the cards, and the objective quality of the art, outweigh this clash?  I’m not sure what I’d do without artistic input, as I’m starting to run out of public domain sources that fit my needs.  I am loath to shell out for a single artist to do the whole package, as this would be a big chunk of money carved right out of the profit margin, and I’m not sure the expense would generate enough extra sales to justify itself.  So ideally, everyone says “Noooooooo, doesn’t clash AT ALL, bro!”  But, you know, be honest.

We Gots News

Item 1:  Dead-tree Spam

So I was rocking some digital ccg action over on kongregate instead of working on Omniurge as I should have been.  The game being rocked was War of Omens.  Pretty good stuff, somewhat pay-to-win, but you can still have a lot of fun playing free.  Anyway, I did one of those free thingies for premium currency, and ended up ordering business cards, of all things.  I designed them as promotional cards for Omniurge and for this blog, and I plan to scatter them around various FLGSs and gaming locales around town here.  Here’s a blurry pic, just for you!  (And yes, that is a baby bottle top and a piece of bread on a purple plastic plate behind the cards.)

2015-05-16 12.40.14

Item 2: Rules and Layout

So Omniurge has a lot of parts that rely on each other, (something that I think qualifies it as an “elegant” game, in the more rarefied design circles).  This means that in order to understand x, you need to grok y first, and y requires a touch of and æ, but a full appreciation of æ can’t be achieved until you’ve understood z in the context of x and… yeah, lots of that.  So when putting together the rules doc, I feel like I have to front-load a metric ton of information, which is a horrible idea.  (This is also why I’ve been stingy with rules exposition here on the blog; I simply don’t know where to start, given the blog format.)

To alleviate expository crunch, I’ve been experimenting with different 2-page spreads to include early on, with lots of image-heavy snazz.  And in that process, I’ve also stumbled across the perfect image to represent the Omniurge Herself, which is something I’ve kind of been putting off in hopes just such a miracle.

table anatomy

The image of the Omniurge is manipulated out of some very early “spirit photography” by William Hope, who pioneered the field.  Very cool stuff!  The table is my own dining room table, and the rest of the graphics are mine.  Please let me know what you think!  Does the colour-coding work?  Does it all make sense?  What’s missing?  What would you want to learn about next, upon turning the page?

World Malaria Day, and Game Music

2 posts in 2 days is against my modus operandi, but today is an important day. As I mentioned in a previous post, the profits from Omniurge will be going entirely to Doctors Without Borders. However, seeing as it’ll be a while before that actually means anything, if you feel like lending those beautiful, wonderful people a hand now, today is a fitting day.

Music for Eras

Only 1 Era card is in play at a time, and each Era card has a big impact on the flavour of the game. To further enhance that flavour, I’m working on loopable soundtracks to go with each Era card. Here’s the soundtrack for After the Bomb, complete with spooky geiger counter clicks, ominous rumbles, evil synth fx, and nuclear winds.

After the Bomb

Card Showcase: The Keepers of Chalk and of Blood

The Keepers of Chalk and of Blood

This card is one of the more powerful wards in the game.  It can keep 2 of the 4 Chthonic powers at a nice arm’s length (2 squares away); usually, nothing denies these powers for long.  It’s also got decent enough health to withstand an attack from most Mortals.  It’s a Unique, meaning there’s only 1 copy in the box, and it costs a Fade (labyrinth symbol) and a Denial (gates symbol) to put into play.

I was especially pleased with the artwork.  For the base image, I used John Collier‘s depiction of the Priestess of Delphi, shown below.  Some footwork in GIMP, and voila: 2 spooky sisters, watching in silence over the dark places of the world.

John Collier-priestess_of_Delphi


In other news…

I’ve reached 100 finished cards!  Depending on cuts and alterations, I’ve got about 100-150 more to go.  So that’s fun.  I doubt I’ll be ready for general playtesting by the summer, so I’m sorry, followers!  I hope these tidbits and showcases can keep you pumped about the game until we get there.

I’ve done some new work on the rarity icons.  I realized that Horde cards would need their own special rarity, somewhat visually removed from the common-rare-unique scale.  While there are 9 of each Horde card in the box, only 1 is available in the pool for drafting, thus making them more like Uniques than Commons.  So here are all 4 rarity symbols, from common to Horde:


What do you think?  Drop a comment!

Card Showcase: Winter’s Agent

Winter's Agent

Winter’s Agent is a Stirring.  Stirrings are, after a fashion,  spell cards.  They are played for immediate or long-term effect, and fueled by mortal failings.  This card uses Grief, and will therefore earn the player Æther if played on a Mortal with Grief tokens on it.  It is also attuned to Maw, the universe’s relentless, eternal force of oblivion and entropy.  Both a Grief and a Maw token will have to be sapped on the player’s character sheet in order to play this card.  These tokens can be replenished with Æther.  A clever player uses his Stirrings to create a feedback loop of wealth, earning Æther off of playing them, and using that Æther to buy and play more of them.

Normally, a Mortal that is killed is left to lie on the game board, and can be recovered by way of necromantic abilities.  A Mortal with the Ghoulism ability sends its kills to the nearest Nirvana pile, instead of letting them lie in their deadpile.  This means that they are much harder to recover.  A Mortal enhanced with Winter’s Agent can make things very difficult for an enemy who has put his resources into constructing a reanimation cycle.

I’m particularly pleased with the fluff text on Winter’s Agent.  It gives some exposition to the function of Ghoulism in the Omniurge world, and it’s kinda creepy to boot.  Yay me!

The artwork is a painting entitled Pyramid of Skulls, by Paul Cézanne, ca 1909.

That’s it for this week, folks!  As always, feel free to drop your thoughts.  I have few enough followers at this point that I’ll be really nice and responsive.  🙂


Oh, hey there

I’m not updating this blog nearly as often as I thought I would be.  But hey, twice a month is enough for a design blog, amirite?  I’m currently enjoying one of those quiet moments in the dead of night (3 am here), starting to get some pleasantly rosy sleep deprivation visuals, etc.  Good times.  The kids are happy, and that’s the main thing.

Anyway, maybe I’ll take this opportunity to let you guys get to know me a bit better.  Here’s me.Photo on 2014-02-12 at 13.43

Father of two, gamer, budding game designer, teacher’s assistant at a kindergarten, electronic music producer, wannabe DJ, ummm… I can make this weird squeaky noise with my ear, I might be the only one.  But this blog is about item 3 in that list, so ONWARD!

Here I smugly brandish the current draft of the rules.
Photo on 30-03-15 at 03.04

Here are two of a few hundred pages of asinine scribbling from the idea stage of the game, circa September 2014.

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Here is the graph I use to track the number of cards in different factions, with different effects, etc, for balance.  It’s a mess too.

Photo on 30-03-15 at 03.05

Here are some tokens.  At some point, I’ll be clipping them out and spray-gluing them onto picture board, then coating them in enamel.

Photo on 30-03-15 at 03.03

Soooo many tokens…

Photo on 30-03-15 at 03.01

And to finish off the post, here’s a little Mindscape tile I did the other day.  It allows you to wield the power of the Glare and do physical damage to enemies a whopping 2 tiles away, which is pretty badass if you know the game (which I do).  Mmmhm.ChromescapeBye!

The State of the Game

So it’s been a while since my last post, mostly on account of me wanting to make the most of the limited computer time I have these days. I’ve gotten a lot done! A summary of changes and developments these past 2 weeks:

  • 1/3 of the digital card images complete. WOOT!
  • 2/3 of the digital board tile images complete. DOUBLE WOOT!
  • In the interests of component reduction (ie money), the playmat has been sacked in favour of modular tile construction. Rules have been tweaked to accommodate former board fixtures as manipulable tiles. This has led not only to component reduction, but simplification and increased depth of strategy (I hope).
  • Also in the interests of component reduction, I’ve begun fiddling with a rarity scale for cards. Common cards, either more generally applicable, less powerful, or both, will have 5 copies. Rare cards, often specialized and slightly more powerful, will have 3. Unique cards will be quite powerful, and will make up about a sixth of the card total; rare enough to foster excitement on drawing a couple of good ones, common enough that the game isn’t thrown off balance just because Bob has 2 of them in play.
  • I’ve also realized that there is a ton of restrictive niche-building in this game; like, “I’m gonna go for this faction, but that means this and that card is useless to me”. I won’t be sure if this is at problematic levels until some  playtesting, but as a preemptive measure, I’ve been working on a series of factionless utility cards that can help players put some flow into their decks. The theme for these is a sort of divine intervention/cosmic warping thing.

Here is a sneak peek at the cards

Heartworm Coven

This one’s picture is taken from the public domain, namely a still from an old Macbeth film.  Love it!  Heartworm Coven enables a strategy of mass-slaughtering lots of little minions, and bringing them back for multiple waves.

Pelagic Symbiote

This Unique card allows you to hand-pick any creature in play and say “when he bites the dust, he’s mine”.  Flexible, with a nice resource boost to top it off.  The picture is from an old natural sciences journal.


This ugly mug works by ODing an enemy with Lunacy (a resource) and then sending it packing to oblivion and stealing its powers.  I cobbled the pic together out of a microphotographic shot of some weird carbon I found on wikimedia commons; a bit of layering and texturing, then two eyes, and it looks… well, not human, but.  Something.

Uranium Soul

The players can steal more from their enemies with this nasty little rare.  The painting is Bastien LePage’s depiction of Diogenes, with a bit of uranium green, and a repetition of the signature Sanctum yellow and black stripes.  Sanctum are a kind of post-apoc power cult society, the dominant group on the irradiated surface world I call the Glare.

Loathfly Swarm

This is the first “Horde” card I designed.  Though Horde cards are common cards, there is only 1 of a Horde card available in the card pool, and 8 set aside.  Each Horde card will have a different prerequisite for shuffling more of it into your deck.  Should be fun!  Artwork modified from some free stock stuff.

After the Bomb

An Era card!  Eras are very central to the game.  There are only a few of them, and only one can be in play at a time.  They produce drastic, universal effects on the gameplay, and the plan is to make player strategies revolve at least partly around manoeuvring these Eras into play at the right moment..  It’s difficult to put an Era into play, and a whole bunch of stuff happens when you do.  A game will consist of 6 Eras (though I might cut that down to 5, I dunno).  I’m also currently in the process of building a loopable, ambient soundscape for each Era, for players who have a penchant for dramatic mood.  Artwork from a photograph taken during trials with the Manhattan project.

…and the tiles 

(which will be 2x the length and width of the cards, about 16cm to a side)


A player’s deck goes here.  I’ll be improving on this base as I decide where and how things like initiative and turn phases are tracked.


The Bleed.  There will be multiple Bleeds, with different effects.  Owning adjacent tiles will give a player the advantages denoted on each side.  In the centre, a pile of cards that players can trade with and interact with in different ways.


Nirvana, where all good (and bad) cards go to die.  Same drill, without the trading.

…and finally, the deck utility spells

(one of which my more perceptive readers might find familiar)

Robs the Veil

The base image with the red nebula cloud is from Hewholooks on wikimedia commons.  On top of that I layered my own hand along with the card back and Æther token I designed.  Basically, this card allows you to steal from beyond the graaaaave!

The Quickening

…and this one boosts your resources, and allows you to play a card and ignore its faction cost, making your deck more flexible the smaller it is (ie, the more times you can cycle the Quickening).  The artwork is also featured in the banner.  It’s just a shot taken at the technics museum in Oslo on my cell phone.  I put my hand on one of those static-generating glass spheres.  Fun stuff.

Welp, that’s it for now, kiddos!  Please share the blog onwards if you know people who might enjoy what I’m doing.  It’d be nice to have a hefty following when this thing eventually hits kickstarter.  The profit is, after all, going to something that really matters.  Until next time!