Friday, December 26, 2014

Yes, I'm retired.

Recently, and several times in the past, it's been asked whether there would be any further BWP products.

The short answer is: no.

I had intimated this in a previous post here, but I think I was perhaps not clear. I am retired as a tabletop game designer, and am currently pursuing a career in programming.

Finland is a difficult country to be self-employed; you're more or less on your own, and writing RPGs simply doesn't pay enough of the bills to be worth it. I found myself in a situation where I was risking the loss of €700+ a month for the sake of often less than $100 a month in book sales. In the entire brief history of BWP, I never even made enough money to have to pay taxes on anything.

As well, I have found over the last couple of years, that the online RPG scene has become an increasingly toxic environment which I no longer wished to have any part of. Book burnings, harassment, racism, sexism, and all manner of other ugly behaviors came to define the part of the industry I'd found myself part of, while the other parts of the community had made it abundantly clear they weren't interested in my being part of that either. Further, the OSR community had become increasingly hostile to self- and public-funded works like mine: I was actually booted or had posts deleted from several boards when attempting to announce and advertise for the Arcana Rising Kickstarter.

So I'm done.

As mentioned in a previous post, all of BWP's products are now under open licenses: Hulks and Horrors, Heaven's Shadow, and Arcana Rising were released in full under the OGL. They remain for sale in print for those who wish copies, but such sales have been few and far between since the digital versions went free.

I consider all of them complete games, however, it is part of why I never finished the planned H&H expansions, so I don't think that should be any impediment to enjoying them, and I hope people will continue to do so.

Thank you to those who supported me as I made a go of it, but it's best I move on now.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A melancholy solidarity.

2,493 people signed this open letter in support of diversity in gaming and the commitment to stand against harassment and violent threats against those who speak about it.

I was one of those people, and I'm very proud to be, but more, I am very glad to see so many names from so many places in gaming on it.

+Bedroom Wall Press  is but a name I wear, but it's a name I also put on that letter, because it's something I believe in not just personally but as a statement of creative intent, and have quietly worked to better myself on through all my projects despite frankly fearing hostility if I either admitted to doing so or did so in the wrong way. I agonized over the text of +Arcana Rising as I tried to find ways to make what can sometimes be deeply problematic cultural myths still stand relevant and inviting to a modern audience. And should Corona ever seethe light of day , I've worked even harder than that.

I don't know where BWP is going from here, in fact it's likely to lie dormant for a while now as I focus on real life concerns and more productive career concerns. As well, my face in online communities has been dwindling down as more and more of them seem bristling with toxicity and hostility.

But it is a comfort, to me, and I hope, to others, to know that there are so many others out there who do care, who do stand for what I do and what I hope many of you reading this do, and are still willing to shout it out loud to the world in spite of the hostility they may face.

Here's to a better tomorrow everyone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

handhRL now version 0.3

After a testing release this morning, I'm now pleased to announce that handhRL v0.3 is now available on Github for Windows and Linux platforms.

The new version brings a host of new content, implementing the complete monster, weapon, and armor tables (sans special features and abilities), and a sizable subset of relevant usable items, and even a sneak preview of future story elements.

You can check out the release on Github at

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bedroom Wall Press is going free.

 “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.”
– Tim O’Reilly
Recently I've been struggling with an idea. A very scary idea.

What if charging for my books is what's killing them? 

Bedroom Wall Press is currently in the middle of what industry types used to call 'the long tail.' We sell a bare trickle of mostly PDFs, enough to usually bring in right around $100 a month in net profit.

In barely a month, at launch, Hulks and Horrors made four times that despite the PDF being free, and got over 2,000 downloads.

What if charging for my books is what's killing them?

Recently I ran several articles on this page detailing the actions of a man who was trying to actually patent one of the most common features of roleplaying games. A basic function of character conversion that's at the core of, among other things, the H&H shared engine, my recent Roulade game, and what I've been working on in the tabletop sphere behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, one of the most successful roleplaying games in the last year is Dungeon World, a game that is completely open source to a degree that I didn't even go to with any of my previous works, and has spawned an entire new community of fan development around it by giving its ideas to the world.

When I think about those two things, I think I know which one I'd like to be.

What if not sharing my books is why no one wants to make things for them?

I have always considered myself a supporter of open gaming. But I have also harbored under a vain dream that I'd somehow make a paying gig of that, and so I've hedged. I've hemmed and hawed, and I've taken half measures that I've even condemned in others, because I was afraid to threaten that dream.

It's time I fixed that. It's time I truly gave back to the community, made a statement once and for all, and thrown the doors open.

Starting today, Bedroom Wall Press products are free and open source products.

This means a few things:

  • All PDF products are now free on DriveThruRPG.
  • For those who still wish to support us with their cash, print products will continue to be sold commercially.
  • Those products released using OGL material will have to remain under the auspices of the OGL for legal and practical reasons, however:
    • All Product Identity clauses are hereby rescinded*. The text of all materials in all currently published Bedroom Wall Press is considered to be Open Game Content for the purposes of the OGL.
    • * Due to practical and legal reasons and out of respect to their creators, this rescinding of Product Identity does not cover included artworks not created by Bedroom Wall Press; those remain licensed under the terms discussed in the relevant works.
    • Due to lack of access to compatible software, I may not be able to update these within the documents myself just yet, though see below on where you might be able to help.
  • All BWP products are to be truly "open source." This means that the original source documents used to generate the PDF, wherever possible, will be made available publicly. 
  • All future BWP releases will be free in PDF.
  • All future BWP releases will release source documents.
  • All future BWP releases will be released under the terms of the GNU General Public License v3.
  • Products under development may also be released and developed openly via our Github. Announcements to follow.
I think it perhaps goes without saying that these are exciting times for me and the name I've built around BWP. I will be hard at work on handhRL in the near future, but I've also got other open projects that I've yet to announce, including stuff I had planned for the sadly now mythical 'year of H&H'.

I hope this gives those of you out there who've yet to try any of my fantastic games a chance to do so, and those who've wanted to but felt uncertain about developing for them the license they need to go forth and spread the awesome.

Have fun!

John S. Berry III

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hulks and Horrors is now a computer game.

handhRL is a roguelike game powered by +Hulks and Horrors.

Now in its first binary release, it's a simple thing so far, but the basics are pretty faithful to the game.

Not bad for a few days' work.

Download on Github at:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New SCOTUS decision could affect RPG patent

The United States Supreme Court just issued a decision invalidating patents on 'abstract ideas' in computer patents.

From the article:
Alice attempted to prove that its patents were more than just an idea by pointing to the specific software steps that it had to carry out. But the court found that these steps weren't ultimately much more than "stating an abstract idea while adding the words 'apply it with a computer.'" The claims "simply recite the concept of intermediated settlement as performed by a generic computer. They do not, for example, purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself or effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field." Each of the steps that Alice described were basic computer functions like adjusting account balances, keeping records, and issuing automated instructions, and the finished product didn't transform them into something more than the obvious sum of their parts.
In other words, exactly the kind of thing our recent RPG patent troublemaker is attempting. UH's patent application has been struct down repeatedly by the office on the grounds of being too abstract already, it's based heavily on reams of prior art, and as well their biggest defense (when they can stick to it) seems to be to claim that it's all about doing it 'on a computer.'

Certainly doesn't look good for them at all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Following up on the patent issue

Yesterday I wrote a post detailing a pending patent application with potentially grave consequences for the RPG hobby and industry alike.

That post has since garnered over 2200 views, and has a +168.

More than that, it's been posted across G+, theRPGsite, RPGnet, reddit, Stack Exchange, Story-Games, been shared by RPGnet's Twitter account, and probably more than my limited tracking can keep up with. Dozens of comments have been posted to the Unlimited Horizons Facebook page, though many have since been deleted by the page owner.

On the legal front, at least one individual that I know of, and possibly more have filed third-party comments on the patent application, a step I encourage anyone with the capability to do. I've also been informed that CCP Games' legal department has been forwarded information on the patent.

I have been floored by the response from the RPG community. To a one, and despite the insinuations  the UH representative, you have all been reasonable, intelligent, and impassioned without being hostile. It has been a wonderful thing to behold.

The creator, meanwhile, sticks to his guns in claiming to be merely protecting his interests and following the advice of their legal counsel. I find the latter claim to be suspect (why hire a patent lawyer if you weren't looking to file a patent?), but as to the former, well, consider this me protecting my interests. He has his resources (one estimate I've seen indicates he's spent nearly $2,000 in patent fees alone, plus the cost of that patent lawyer), so I have used the one available to me: my voice.

I am a creator, but I am a creator who creates on the backs of giants who came before me. I do not wish to see this hobby or this industry become the same kind of legal battlefield that I see in the tech and software industries, and such an atmosphere would seriously hamper the entire development of this hobby. RPGs are an iterative field, and cutting off that kind of development, especially with such shameless tactics, is unacceptable.

This is bigger than me. Even if I truly believed the author is indeed merely an innocent and naive creator seeking only to protect his works from theft, was pure of heart and mind and never once would abuse the power such a broad and appropriative patent, it still sets a dangerous precedent. What happens when the next guy comes along who isn't so nice?

The RPG community has spoken in response, loud and clear, that this is absolutely unacceptable practice. If you haven't already, and are able, please submit comment on the patent application while there is still time. And make it known by whatever means you can to the creator and the audience that this behavior will not be tolerated or profitable for those who would attempt it.

Here's the instructions for third-party comment:

And the relevant form:

Thank you all for your support, we're all in this together.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Patent trolling comes to RPGs

So it's come to light in a recent Q&A session on Dan Davenport's #rpgnet channel that someone is attempting to patent RPG conversions.

[20:54] <+AJofUniversalHorizons> So far we have about 800+ original artworks, 4 Registered TMs, and a patent for changing genres. We hope to be here a long time!
[20:54] <+xyphoid> A patent on a rpg mechanic? Can you tell us more about that?
[20:56] <+AJofUniversalHorizons> Not in a few mins… also, it get to be law-speak gibberish very quickly.
[20:56] <~Dan> What (if any) game systems inspired you?
[20:57] <+AJofUniversalHorizons> IN essence, it’s a process patent for paper and online applications for transferring virtual entities from one genre to another.
Transcript here:
More transcript from after the initial Q&A here:

You can find the application here:

And here:

According to Wikipedia:
In the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), third parties may submit prior art relevant to a published patent application within two months of said publication or before a notice of allowance is given, whichever comes first. In contrast to European practice, however, third parties are not allowed to provide any additional explanation of the relevance of the prior art. The USPTO requires a fee.[7]
The application was filed in February, so if I'm reading this right it may be the case that what little public comment phase is available in the US process may be over.

EDIT: The preceding strikethrough section is apparently wrong, see the comments below, there's still a small window left for third-party comment on the application. Thanks to Robert for pointing it out.

Here's the instructions for third-party comment:

And the relevant form:

It's still an application, so it's still possible that a patent clerk might see through the obfuscatory language and attempts to make it sound like a software patent instead of a game mechanic one, but I confess to being a bit unhopeful on that regard. There's loads of prior art in terms of existing products obviously, but I would not be surprised if patent review fails to even find any given how thoroughly cryptic the description is.

I'm not certain at this point whether the author is a crazy person or an asshole, or just harmlessly clueless, but the potential effect is the same. Contrary to popular belief,  there is history of game mechanics being patentable, at least in software:
And I did find discussion of it in boardgames here:

There's also the famous Wizards patent on 'tapping' cards to consider. To my knowledge not many, if any, have attempted it for RPG mechanics, and it may be rejected as too abstract. I'm not feeling especially hopeful, though, and I don't think it's wise to dismiss it out of hand. If this went through it would give the author a beatstick to go after decades of games (including some of mine). If he's evil enough to stick to small fry and doesn't risk going after someone like Wizards or CCP/White Wolf (the latter of which have actually published quite a bit of prior art on the subject), he might even get away with it for some time, just like the Edge Games guy got away with it for so long by only going after indie video game publishers.

If you are aware of and capable of acting on any mechanism to fight it, I highly advise you do so at your earliest convenience.

If you wish to comment to the publisher, you can find their Facebook group here: Their email address is also given in the text of the transcript linked above.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Presenting the Urban Fantasy Bundle!

Starting today, you can now purchase all of Bedroom Wall Press' urban fantasy themed offerings for one low price of just $24.99, thanks to the Urban Fantasy Bundle.

That means Arcana Rising, Welcome to Neuro City, and the acclaimed Heaven's Shadow, all for nearly 30% off the regular cover price!

And like our Bedroom Wall Two-Pack special, this one's for keeps, just one more affordable way to get some of the best that BWP has to offer, as we continue to seek to get our games in as many hands as possible.

Check out the page on DrivethruRPG today!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Assassin: A new class for Arcana Rising

Assassins are those who resort to the bloodiest means to protect humanity from the unholy and the despotic. Masters of the kill, they apply their instruments to cut out any who would threaten the freedom and survival of mankind.

Assassins follow the traditions of the Lepides, an ancient order that served the Alliance during the war against the Atlanteans. Even as Atlantis fell, the Lepides swore to continue their work, passing down the skills of their order to successive generations carefully chosen. The Lepides conspire to assure that mankind can forever live free of the tyranny of the unholy and those who would use magic to control human destiny as Atlantis once did. Over the years the order's descendants have scattered and even been lost, but the ways of the blade survive and a new generation has quickly armed themselves to face the threat of magic's return to the world.

Assassins train extensively to improve their agility, perception, and combat skill to almost preternatural levels. Some say that only those who still contain a trace of the mystical bloodline of the original Lepides can truly master the techniques, and it does at times seem as if those whose destiny lies in the ways of the assassin learn as if their very instincts were already tuned to them.

High STR is a must for an assassin, as is a decent DEX score, and their WIS tends to be high as well, owing to their unique perceptive abilities.

+1 DEX

+1 WIS


+2 DEX


+2 WIS


+3 DEX

Stat Requirement:
STR 7+
Weapons: Short Blades, Long Blades, Archaic Ranged, Handguns, Long Arms
Armor: Light

Special Abilities

Freedom of Movement: The assassin is a master climber and acrobat, able to move freely across the rooftops of an urban environment as easily as running along a paved track. Assassins may forgo stat checks to climb buildings and other vertical surfaces, provided sufficient handholds, as well as to leap distances of no greater than 5 meters. Their skill even applies to safe falling: an assassin can survive a leap of up to 25m provided there is sufficient cushion to break their fall, such as water or even piles of leaves or hay.
Heightened Senses: Assassins hone their senses, the better to avoid enemies and pick their targets out in a crowd. They gain a +1 to WIS for the purpose of surprise checks and perception checks, and can mentally track enemies within 50m even if they break line-of-sight.
Assassination: The assassin is an expert killer, and given the element of surprise knows exactly where to strike with a blade to best insure an immediate death for their target. So long as the assassin remains unobserved until the moment they strike, they deal extra damage according to the table above. Regardless of damage dealt, the target must make a massive damage save against the attack. Should the assassin be observed with apparent hostile intent (ie. appear armed), the assassination attempt cannot succeed. It is for this reason that the assassins wear the secret blade (see below).
Twin-Blade Technique: Should the strike go ill, or the assassin be forced to defend themselves against those who protect their target, the assassin must be able to hold their own against multiple targets. An assassin wielding a melee weapon in each hand takes no penalty for attacking once with each weapon, and when attempting an assassination can apply the damage from both secret blades (if wearing two).

The Secret Blade

A unique weapon of the Lepides passed down for centuries, the secret blade is a spring-loaded blade concealed almost invisibly within a bracer worn about the wrist. This allows the assassin to appear visibly unarmed, the better to approach their target without suspicion before thrusting the blade home. The weapon does 1d6 damage, costs 100 Astra, and takes a day to construct. Two secret blades may be worn, one on either wrist, and when attempting to assassinate a target, both can be used at once.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reflections on 2013, and Announcements for 2014

It's now two weeks into 2014, and Arcana Rising has been on the market for just about two months. So how did BWP do in 2013, what's next in 2014, and what about all that 'no negativity' stuff? Let's talk about that.

For starters, let's talk about 2013. Thanks to the fans who bought the book, those who backed AR more or less sight unseen during the Kickstarter campaign, and a crapload of hard work, I'm pleased to say that Arcana Rising has proved to be a pretty decent success. Proceeds in total so far just about edge out Hulks and Horrors in fact, and while reviews are still few, they've all been great so far. Thanks to AR and the continuing sales of H&H, BWP is starting to resemble a respectable bit of extra income for me, and I believe if I keep working I can keep it going.

That's fantastic. I am eternally grateful to all of you for your support and your willingness to spend your hard earned cash on the idea that I can make something you will love. One fan actually wrote a blog post in which he vowed not to buy any new RPG books this year, except for anything with 'John Berry' on the cover.

You can't buy that. You can only work at it. That is not something a marketing budget will buy, that is not something a focus group will tell you how to make, that is something that comes because you put your heart into something and gave it your all. I am both proud and humbled that I've made the progress I have in just a year and a half's time.

That all said? Holy Erebus was it also stressful as all hell. And the thing is, did you catch what I just said up there? About AR just about edging out H&H? While I can't discount the impact that the original failed IGG campaign had on Hulks and Horrors' visibility, the fact of the matter is that game is still selling, and the simple fact of the matter is that it's awesome. And I wrote it in half the time I wrote AR, and to be honest, I think I had a lot more fun doing it. Realistically speaking, I simply can't afford to pull another AR, the time-per-dollar isn't there and as a one-man show it means neglecting my other releases while the latest huge project barrels forward.

With that in mind, it's time to step up my game and start supporting H&H. It's what I want, it's what you want, everybody wins, right?

Accordingly, I am announcing today a line of companion volumes to H&H. Each Companion will provide a range of optional rules, new classes, monsters, and other toys, all centered around a general theme. Since the day I put down the pen on the H&H corebook, I've continued to have dozens of new ideas and cool stuff I wanted to add to it, and now I can do all of them. Through the Companion format, these can also come in a steady wave, meaning smaller projects, more releases, and thus more fun in your hands on a schedule that won't drive me to drink and divorce.

The first Companion book is in the writing stages as we speak, and will bring some fun new material to play with, and I've an outline already developed for at least two more to follow. I'll have a fuller announcement for  Companion I very soon, once I can get a better handle on how big it's going to be and how long it's going to take, but the goal is to have Companion I-III out by the end of this year.

2014 is going to be the year of Hulks and Horrors, and I am delighted to be returning to what is still my favorite project so far.

Finally, some of you may remember that late last year I pledged to disavow online negativity until the end of 2013. I would like to say I was successful in that, but in truth I did slip up on IRC a time or two, for which I apologized to those present. A promise is a promise though, and so I must confess that in the end, the experiment was kind of a failure. What I learned is that real life is not as simple as just trying to 'turn off' the negativity, and that shutting down the valve when the tank is already at pressure is not the best idea. Mostly what I've felt since I realized my self-imposed ban was over was relief. I've learned that expressing negative emotion is as important as expressing positive emotion, it's just a question of how, when, and to whom. So perhaps the real lesson is just learning a bit of self-control and understanding context, and the difference between healthy release and just meanness. Hopefully I know that a little better now. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and thanks for making 2013 a very interesting year.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Heaven's Shadow on even deeper discount!

It's that time for DriveThruRPG's New Year, New Games sale, and Heaven's Shadow is now taking an even deeper discount until the 12th! 

That means you can get the corebook in PDF right now for just $3.75, and the print edition for a mere $11 and change! Get it now while you still can, and see the game Tommy Brownell called one of his Top Six of 2013!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Heaven's Shadow is on sale!

To celebrate our recent selection as one of Tommy's Top Six, BWP is offering a discount for the month of January on Heaven's Shadow.

From now until January 31st, Heaven's Shadow is 25% off at DriveThruRPG! Swing by and pick up a copy today!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Heaven's Shadow gets a Top Six nod

Tommy Brownell has posted his Top Six games of 2013, and our own Heaven's Shadow makes the cut, alongside such giants as Dragon Age and Dresden Files.

Check out his post to read the rest of his picks, and enter for a chance to win a copy of Heaven's Shadow, should you have the misfortune of not owning it just yet. Otherwise, check out the link at the top of the page or look us up on DrivethruRPG and pick up 2013's stealthiest sleeper classic.