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ALAS VEGAS is an RPG miniseries about amnesia, sin, horror and gambling, by 'the godfather of indie-game design'.
ALAS VEGAS is an RPG miniseries about amnesia, sin, horror and gambling, by 'the godfather of indie-game design'.
1,164 backers pledged £24,061 to help bring this project to life.



I’m pleased to announce that with this update I’m releasing the document containing the Fugue system of game-narrative mechanics under a Creative Commons licence, as promised in the game' stretch goals. You can download it here: 

This version of the Fugue system is broadly similar to earlier versions I’ve made available – it hasn’t been completely rewritten – but it has been extensively tweaked for mechanical balance, narrative building, and to make it more suitable for running games that aren't specifically Alas Vegas. I am extremely pleased with Fugue. I think it’s the best set of RPG mechanics I’ve ever designed. Being able to throw it out to other designers to go wild with is a fantastic thing, and I owe all the backers of Alas Vegas a debt of gratitude for making it happen. 

 The Creative Commons licence is at the end of the document, but it boils down to: anyone can use or reuse these rules, including in their own published games, as long as they (a) give appropriate credit, (b) note if they’ve made any changes, (c) make any changes available under the same CC licence, (d) include the licence or a link to it; and (e) don’t impose any additional legal restrictions on what people can do with the material. 

The document itself is Layout Test 2 for the Alas Vegas core book. Actually it’s more like layout test 1540, my desk is inches-deep in test prints of different settings and formats, but this is only the second one that I’ve put in front of you. After a number of false starts and new directions that turned out to be dead ends I went back to the idea of making a book that looks like it was published around 1970. Specifically, I’m trying to make it feel like the first edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Not to look exactly like it, I’m not creating a facsimile, but I am borrowing its style and tone. 

 The problem is that I’ve never seen a first US edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and I don’t have the considerable amount of money I'd need to acquire one. I do own a first edition of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, released a couple of years later, but that’s set entirely in a standard weight of Times New Roman. I’ve nothing against Times New Roman but it was designed for the needs of newspaper layouts, and its use as the default serif face on most computers has stripped it of any sense of place and time. 

However, thanks to pictures on bookseller websites, I’ve deduced that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was set in a variant of Century, probably Century Expanded. Century is an American face from the turn of the 20th century, an ideal body font for books with overtones of mid-century Americana, and it works really well here. Fear & Loathing doesn’t have many section headings and paragraph headings, it’s a novel, so I can’t copy that aspect of its design, and the font it uses for its chapter heads is pretty horrible. But the original front cover uses Avant Garde Gothic, a very 1970s font, for the author’s name and the subtitle, so I’ve used that – except I haven’t, I’ve used Century Gothic which Avant Garde Gothic was largely based on, and which complements Century Expanded slightly better. Body is set 10/12 to balance the face’s x-height. 

I’m pleased with it. Unless someone gives me a very good reason why I should go back to square one, this will be the look of the finished Alas Vegas layout. Plus tweaks.

Please share the Fugue PDF with anyone you think might be interested. I hope you enjoy it.

I'm hoping to have a completed manuscript of the book to show people at Dragonmeet (5th December). Fingers crossed.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Shannon on

      It's been almost a year. Is this still happening, or are the Fugue rules all we get?

    2. Missing avatar

      Ian Watters on

      'You know, it's not delays that bother me, it's disappearance.'

      For me, it's seeing someone regularly post elsewhere about other stuff they're doing without updating here. For eleven months.

      I get that stuff happens, I get that you want baby to be perfect. But eleven months...

      What's happened with this in the past eleven months? Any answer would be better than nothing.

    3. Micah Rose on

      I'm with Xavier. No word for 8 months is no good at all.

    4. Xavier Aubuchon-Mendoza

      You know, it's not delays that bother me, it's disappearance.

    5. Vexing Vision on

      I'm still eager to eventually play the game. I even got myself a Tarot deck and practiced shuffling appropriately.

      Now I'm eagerly waiting for an update!

    6. Joe Bianco

      November... Update....
      December... nothing....
      January.... Nothing.....

      well.... It IS a Leap Year so James has an extra day to get a February update in... so who knows, maybe we'll get a miracle now that he's handed in a "Complete" version of Paranoia?

    7. Missing avatar

      scott jenks on

      Perhaps less time worrying about fonts and more time writing? I'd be happy if was done in comic sans if it meant I got my book before 2017.

    8. Joe Bianco

      So it wasn't a jam update. That's good.
      And it had a download! That's better!
      Soon, hopefully, a status on editing will be posted and that'll be great! Assuming of course that editing is done... which hopefully it will be, right?

      This is the kind of update (and to a lesser extent follow ups) we could have used all along. Now if James can just manage to keep this up, he might be able to win back some good will from the backers he alienated over the years (yes, years) it's taken to hammer out this project.

      As always I'm here till the end. Hopefully Alas Vegas ends well.

    9. James Wallis Creator on

      Thomas: wow, okay, there's a font-history website out there that's just making shit up. Wish I could find which one it was. I'm very fond of Avant Garde Gothic, it was the display face for a magazine I was editing in the late 1980s, the paste-up days. If it and not Century Gothic is the original then I'll happily swap it back in. (Also it's an excuse to upgrade my slightly crusty and ligature-lacking Adobe Type 1 files for the proper ITC cut.)

    10. Julian Tysoe

      Hi James.
      Yes, that clears everything up, cheers!

    11. Thomas Phinney on

      Hmmm. You wrote; “...I’ve used Century Gothic which Avant Garde Gothic was largely based on...”

      No, that is not at all true. Avant Garde came out in the 1970s, and Century Gothic in about 1991.

      Its history is somewhat amusing. So, the first “geometric” sans serif was Futura, in 1927. Every other type foundry wanted to get in on the mega-popular geometric sans serif trend. Monotype’s Futura imitation was called “20th Century.”

      Avant Garde, circa 1974, being a geometric sans serif, owes the general concept to Futura, and nothing in particular to 20th Century.

      Fast forward to 1991. Monotype is being asked by Microsoft to provide widths-compatible equivalents for the Adobe/Linotype core PostScript fonts, including ITC Avant Garde. Monotype adapts their existing Futura imitator 20th Century to match the widths of ITC Avant Garde and name this new typeface Century Gothic.

      So, it's an imitator of one typeface, redrawn in 1991 to imitate another.

    12. James Wallis Creator on


      Many thanks for that. I've fixed the typos and will upload an uodated version soon. (I swear I searched for every XX in the book before locking it, but somehow two sneaked through.) Interesting questions too. I'll clarify a couple of these points when I update the rules, and in the printed version.

      You're right on the number of new abilities per session. A persona can get two from their player, one or more from other players, one each time their Signifier comes up, and more in special circumstances. It usually averages around 3-4 per session.

      I may add a section about the Dealer's persona, but it's deliberately backgrounded and de-powered to stop Dealers from mary-sueing the session. You'll find a couple of interesting uses of the Dealer's persona in Alas Vegas itself.

      Aces are low. I'm going to tweak the 2-12 range back to 3-12 in a later draft (I've switched it back and forth a few times during development, settled on 2-12, and have now changed my mind), so there's two fail-cards at the bottom and two auto-successes at the top of the range.

      SImpler this way: you don't have to use the cards to create narrative for everything, because usually the players and Dealer will be fine on their own. Any time the cards come into play is meant to be stressful--the sort of situation that might trigger a flashback--whereas a persona breezing through a task because they have an ability is less potentially interesting. Anyway, it's an optional rule: you can use the cards if you like.

      Hope that's what you needed.

    13. Julian Tysoe

      Looks great. I'm looking forward to seeing the rules in action in Alas Vegas.

      A few of queries:
      A persona can only give themselves 2 abilities per session, but they can gain more than 2 abilities in a session through the other methods, right?
      Should there be a section on the dealer's persona? It seems the dealer's persona can't progress during a session.
      Are aces low and an ace always fails, or aces high and always succeed? I assume that aces are low due to 2-12 range (so ace always fails and king always succeeds, but see below), but since to ace something usually means you succeed, wouldn't it be good to have aces high?
      The 2-12 range. Suits in tarot have 14 cards. Does this mean queens and kings always succeed?

      Simpler this way - Due to the narrative effect of cards and the chance of turning up a signifier, isn't it best to assign 2 (or 1 if aces are low) to the action and turn a card anyway?

      Pg 11 thaem
      Pgs 17,19 references to page XX

    14. Jim Jacobson on

      Looks great! Well done.