Doctor Venn’s circle strike

•January 20, 2019 • Leave a Comment

via Doctor Venn’s circle strike


•January 5, 2018 • Leave a Comment

via Why So Many Men Hate the Last Jedi But Can’t Agree on Why

Tastes a bit gamey.

•August 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

With the broad number of tactical-fighty RPGs out there, and tons of monster books, you’d think there’d be a pretty good understanding of creating variety in monsters and combat, right? Well… aside from a few status effects and a changes in turning a dial up or down in terms of numbers, it can get pretty […]

via Variety in Monsters — Deeper in the Game


Got a playtest event coming up.

•June 2, 2017 • 3 Comments

Got a playtest event coming up. Pondering rebuilding this game exclusively with card mechanics. More notes to come perhaps.

Super bad — Comics Madness

•October 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It took a lot of working out the context in my mind, but I’m finally ready to look at a very interesting species of comics villain.

via Super bad — Comics Madness

Marvelous, meet miraculous

•October 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Superman, Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel, Marvelman. Marvelman, Captain Miracle. Marvelman, Marvelman reboot. Marvelman reboot, Miracleman. Paralleled by a completely different Captain Marvel too, …

Source: Marvelous, meet miraculous

Hm. If there’s only one player, does the second axis of the Loyalty grid just not matter?

•July 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Hm. If there’s only one player, does the second axis of the Loyalty grid just not matter?

Objectives, Short term and Long term.

•July 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Objectives, Short term and Long term. Having zero military/survival experience, I’m not 100% sure what these should be.

1. Inventory

2. Secure the LZ or escape immediate danger

3. Obtain sustenance

4. Establish direction of Mothercall

At each stage, cooperation is optional, do you hoard resources or share them? Each should put pressure on the Loyalty grid somehow.

This post is mostly a placeholder while I give this some more thought, but feel free to chime in. Cuz that’s a thing.

I was thinking about how to tweak the ratios of the Resolution deck, and also tie it in more to the Loyalty grid.

•June 26, 2016 • 2 Comments

I was thinking about how to tweak the ratios of the Resolution deck, and also tie it in more to the Loyalty grid.

Maybe the Res deck is built for each draw, with Success cards equal to the value of the Loyalty you’re following and Failure cards equal to the value of the Loyalty you’re challenging, and then any bonuses or penalties.

This would require a bit more handling time per draw, so I’d probably want to make draws rarer overall.


This is a great checklist for game publishing.

•June 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This is a great checklist for game publishing. I’m mostly putting it here for my own edification, but it’s a great read.

This is a great checklist for game publishing.

•June 26, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This is a great checklist for game publishing. I’m mostly putting it here for my own edification, but it’s a great read.

So. Cards.

•June 24, 2016 • 2 Comments

So. Cards.

After rebuilding the Inventory Protocol from the ground up using cards instead of dice and lists, I just kinda kept going.

What if everything was cards? The deck-as-compleat-game aesthetic is super hot right now, including everything from party games to tabletop rpgs to full on larps, and I kinda dig it, in the same way as I dig the “d6s for everything” aesthetic. Gimmicky, maybe, but cool when it works.


So, here’s my idea for a card based resolution system:

The Resolution deck has 6 cards, numbered from 1 to 6.

When you challenge a Loyalty, shuffle the Resolution deck and draw a card. If the result is greater than the value of that Loyalty, you succeed.

That’s the core. Now for the interesting bits.

All the bonuses a PC can invoke (Capabilities, Equipment, Bioaccelerants) are also on cards with the same backing as the Resolution deck. When invoked, those cards go right into the deck before it gets shuffled, and if the player draws a bonus card, they succeed regardless of the target number. What happens to the card they drew depends on the type, as outlined in the spreadsheet below.

All the penalties the GM might invoke; hunger, exhaustion, significant obstacles, illness or injury, hostile aliens, etc. are represented by Setback cards. These also go into the Resolution deck before shuffling. But, when drawn, they do not count as Failure, rather, they are set aside, and the player draws again. For each Setback card drawn, regardless of success or failure, the GM will describe a complication appropriate to the fiction.

This decouples the success/failure axis from complications in a way similar to Otherkind, which is, for my money, an even better kernel of the roleplaying experience than PbtA (I still give Vincent Baker all the credit, I just need a break from the ubiquity of PbtA is all).

I still have to figure out how the Loyalties get applied to the game, and that will be the trickier bit, but this felt like a breakthrough to me.

Now, go ahead and tear it apart ;)


•June 24, 2016 • 3 Comments

So. I was fixated on d6s, because I loves me some d6s, and “everything is based on d6s” comes up a lot in my designs. It was appropriate to this design in many ways, but…. well, let me back up.

Someone, either Willow Palecek or Mark Delsing, suggested that rather than have everyone cross off from a list of Equipment, maybe there’s just a single set of Equipment to share, which the Eves have to divide up amongst themselves. I was resistant, because I really love the bit where players see all the cool gear and then lose it. I know some of the earlier playtesters liked that too. I was trying to figure out how to keep the same feeling but make it mechanically smoother- everyone rolling and rerolling d6s and crossing things off is a bit clunky.

So I was thinking about cards. A single deck of Equipment cards, one each of 6 pieces of really cool, useful (but not gamebreaking) gear. The GM shuffles them and draws one, then puts the rest in the middle of the table for the PCs to discover and divvy up. The GM shows the card they drew and describes it as ruined or missing or whatever (there’s a picture of it in the kit, so they’ll always know what it is).

This leaves the Eves to divvy up the equipment amongst themselves, which replaces some of the “half our shit is trashed” tension with “who gets to carry what” tension. Also the number of pieces of gear is stable, which preserves the gear-to-Eve ratio I wanted to make things a little easier on smaller groups who won’t benefit from teamwork as much (or the lone Eve who will absolutely need all that shit to survive).

I think this keeps the tension of the Inventory phase, but simplifies and streamlines it significantly. Also it’s inherent that the Eves will have to decide who gets what, so it’s another source of pressure on the Clutch.

I was happy enough with this concept that I ended up extrapolating it out to encompass the whole resolution system, but I’ll save that for another post.


So, the playtest on Game Day revealed that this game still needs a lot of work.

•June 24, 2016 • 3 Comments

So, the playtest on Game Day revealed that this game still needs a lot of work. This isn’t really news, but the more important point is that I need to reevaluate my design goals, and push harder in the appropriate direction, whatever that is.

I got really good notes from all of the playtesters, including random guy Tim (Mark Delsing, did you get his G+ by chance?)

I’ll be going over those soon, but I had a brainstorm today at work while thinking about one of the suggestions about how to handle Equipment, which led to restructuring the whole mechanical framework of the game, so I’ma post about that first.

Too close to home, too far from safety

•June 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Deeper in the Game

A few years ago, groups of people organized harassment campaigns aimed at trans game designers.

Long before bullets go flying like the horrific tragedy in Florida, the intent and dehumanization is built up over time by people “just saying words”, over and over.

You don’t have to step up and catch a bullet, but you can stand up and push out the hatemongers and bigotry and not let it flourish in your hobby.

Or, if you can’t do that, don’t be surprised that the seeds of hate eventually bear fruit, while you stand by and do nothing.

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In the Bloodlands, revisited

•May 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

In the Bloodlands, wishes can come true… for a price.

Julia envied the birds, so she lured them to her windowsill with nectar and seeds, caught them barehanded, and ate them, still wriggling and shrieking, until she found she could raise her arms and lift herself from the ground. Not flight, exactly, she could never quite break the shackles of the earth, but something like it, something close. She kept this secret, floating only at night; and the birds feared her like a god, and told her things they overheard listening at windows and in the fields, and she became known in the village as a wise woman. Many came to her for advice or to bargain for the secrets of their enemies. She took to wearing a cape patterned with feathers that draped beneath her arms like wings.

While hovering among the rooftops one night in the village, she saw Matthew with his new wife Maria. Crouched on the neighboring thatch, she watched them making love through the window; watched the strong muscles of Matthew’s back flexing in the moonlight, and wanted him for her own. She resolved that when either of them came to her for advice, as they surely would, she could find reason to separate them. She set her spies to watch them, when she could not return to their window.

Time passed, and Maria swelled with child, but neither Matthew nor Maria never came to Julia. The birds told her they had no secrets- they were simply happy. Julia, privy to the petty spites and furies of the whole village, was bewildered at the simplicity and wholeness of their love. But she was not one to be denied her desires. She could be patient.

One Spring morning, when Matthew was at home with his new son, and Maria was walking home along the cliff-side with a satchel of ripe plums at her hip, a flock of starlings flew at her face and pecked at her until she lost her footing.

Julia waited, sure that when Maria failed to return to him, Matthew would come to her to find out why, and she would reveal with endless sympathy how Maria, unready for the burdens of motherhood, had run off with a passing traveler from another land. Julia would be there to comfort him in his grief, to welcome him and his child into her house, grown luxurious with the offerings of the villagers.

Only, instead of tumbling into the sea, never to be found, Maria’s satchel caught on a root and broke her neck, leaving her there for Matthew to find – dangling, but accessible, with the marks of a hundred tiny beaks pocking the skin around her eyes.

Matthew’s grief festered within him until it turned to rage. He dug a grave for his wife in the garden behind their house, and, with a whispered apology, laid his son, quietly sucking on a piece of whiteroot, beside her. When his labor was finished, he fell, exhausted, and slept beside the fresh turned earth. When the next morning he found a stalk growing from the grave, with a single blood-red plum dangling from its end, he ate it without questioning, and immediately succumbed to a fever that lasted for three days.

He awoke alone, tied with hempen rope to a tree far from the village. Snapping his bonds as if they were rotted vines, he stumbled back toward his home. As he knelt beside a clear stream to slake thirst deeper than he had ever known, the face he saw in the water was that of a monster, as much reptile as man.

Matthew lurks at the edge of the woods by night, watching the silhouettes of the houses in the village. He longs to return to his old, happy life, but knows this is no longer his home. Then he sees a strange shape, hovering about the rooftops, surrounded by smaller, flitting forms that alight on its shoulders as if whispering in its ears. Forgetting the safety of the woods, he draws closer, just as the shape touches down by Julia’s door. Unhampered by darkness, his eyes show him her feathered cape, and her winged servants. And he knows.

Bellowing a roar that wakes the whole village, Matthew charges toward Julia, his clawed feet churning up the moist earth. She barely has time to lift her arms, five feet, ten feet; but he is faster than a man now, and he leaps up to catch her legs in a crushing embrace.

Suddenly, they are soaring, above the clouds, the moonlight blinding, the wind deafening in their ears, spiraling across a sea of white foam, her avarice and his rage forgotten in this unexpected moment, her exaltation and his fear.

When again she swoops down, through the clouds, across turbulent waters, it is to a coast neither of them recognize. Their speed is still great, and Julia cannot quite veer away from the stand of strangely upright trees. His body weighs her down, her legs numb from his unfailing grasp. They careen wildly toward the straight boles, but Matthew swings his legs out and the boughs shatter under the impact of his armored shins.

On the other side of the trees, they crash to the ground and tumble apart, to lay on the wet grass, both exhausted beyond measure, they stay there, unmoving, for a long time, listening to one another’s breathing.

So I’ve basically got the tentative flow down, except for the endgame.

•April 29, 2016 • 3 Comments

So I’ve basically got the tentative flow down, except for the endgame.

Short version, the surviving EVEs find the Garden, which (to them) is full of bizarre alien lifeforms unlike anything they’ve seen so far, and meet their Motherseed, EVE 0, and advise her on whether the planet is suitable for colonization.

In the version I envisioned, the PCs each give their brief report, and vote Yea or Nay on colonization.

Then the GM rolls 1d6, adding 1 per Yea and subtracting 1 per Nay, producing a random result weighted by the PCs recommendations.

Then, EVE 0 activates the EDEN Protocol (which is a tie for the final name of the game itself).

The “6” version of the EDEN Protocol begins with igniting the atmosphere and scouring the planet with a huge nanite cloud that kicks off the Terraforming process, and activates the subspace beacon that will call a Colony Ship.

The “1” version eradicates all trace of Concordat interference on the planet, including the Garden and all of the EVEs.

The 2-5 versions are still a bit undefined, variations on coexistence, going native, rebelling against the Concordat, whatever.

After that, each player writes a brief Epilogue, puts them in the hat, and the GM draws one and reads it.

The End.

ALTERNATIVELY, each player just writes their own version of the EDEN Protocol, throws them in the hat, and the GM draws one and reads it.

ALTERNATIVELY ALTERNATIVELY, everyone gets a chance to contribute to the finale.

I’m honestly not sure which version A) seems most mechanically satisfying, B) seems most dramatically satisfying, C) best suits the themes of the game.

Choosing to defy the Concordat should not be a done lightly or without consequence. Or maybe it should. Maybe the Concordat is long defunct. Maybe the entire terran race is extinct by now. Maybe they’ve been replaced, or conquered, or evolved. Maybe they’re more enlightened now, or more warlike, or split into factions. Maybe they have way more advanced technology now, or maybe the empire is in decline.

Basically the final choice should have some emotional weight. Maybe the EVEs are all in agreement. Maybe they vehemently disagree. Maybe they have to fight it out to see who will make the final call. Maybe they try to kill their Mother.

Maybe the emotions don’t matter that much. Maybe it’s just a cool story about exploring and strange stuff happening.

I dunno. What do y’all think?

In thinking about potential future publishing for my games, I’m wondering if the static medium is the way to go.

•April 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

In thinking about potential future publishing for my games, I’m wondering if the static medium is the way to go. I mean, I’ll happily offer a printed book, but I think I’d rather sell “subscriptions” to a living document- if you buy one of my games, you always have access to the most current version, no need to worry about later editions or any of that crap.

I’m a long way from publishing anything, if I ever get there at all, but these are my thoughts.

Latest version of the Sister Sheet.

•April 20, 2016 • 1 Comment

Latest version of the Sister Sheet.

Newest Loyalty grid.

•April 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Newest Loyalty grid. Still haven’t actually playtested this, but at least it will look nice when I finally get around to that.