Over the weekend, I got to playtest Constellation Cards at a small local gaming event. The results were pretty good! I think the biggest problems actually came from my own failure to use my prep.

But I upheld one promise. “This game will be unlike anything you play here.”

Read more "Constellation Cards playtest" »

The Arise playtest is out, but there’s only a handful of GMCs - GM Characters, or “monsters” - available. Let’s work out some principles to make more, and then create a few

Read more "Principles of Arise GMCs" »

Arise is different from other tactical games in a few key ways:

  1. Maps are of fixed size (8x8 or 12x12)
  2. There’s emphasis on three-dimensional movement, similar to video games like Final Fantasy Tactics
  3. Domination of a quadrant of the map gives the dominating side attack bonuses

What does this mean when it comes to designing original maps?

Read more "Principles of Arise Map Creation" »

“The elements of life and the makings of our world, they have intent. Fire burns, sure, but is it a cozy campfire or a roaring inferno eating away at a forest? Water flows, but is it the gentle brook or a drowning tidal wave?”

“You see, the old time wizards, they thought they had everything figured out. They thought, oh ho, we’re so smart and clever, what if we strip away that intent? We can just have, you know, the essence of fire, and then we imbue it with our will. Presto, a fireball!”

“We shapers know better. You don’t hobble the element by stripping it of something. You empower it, by giving it more.”

Read more "What if spells were like Poke'mon?" »

I made a lot of progress on the game recently. This includes finishing up work on an optional deck: City construction. A new addition as of tonight is a set of Personality cards.

The idea is that you deal a set of Neighborhood cards to represent different parts of the city, then Dynamic cards to connect them. The goal is to create a city that will serve as a good basis for drama.

Read more "The Constellation Cards City Deck" »

I’ve been working on Constellation Cards (formerly “flip-a-card”, my branding is crap) for the better part of 6 years. Recently, some positive encouragement motivated me to bring it back to life and try to get it ship-shape.

You can try the Tabletop Simulator version of the game by subscribing to Constellation Cards on Steam.

I want to talk about the technical aspects of how I created the cards in their current form, and what my next steps are for the game.

Read more "The Stars Are Right" »

I started a tweet with these words: “I’ll never be off superheroes in some form”. And it’s true!

I’ll talk about why, and what “superheroes” means to me, starting with this reply.

Read more "The Superhero Buffet" »

The Quantum Ogre is a concept in TTRPG encounter design. The basic idea is that the game facilitator has decided the PCs will encounter an ogre, and regardless of what choices they make or which paths they take, they will encounter an ogre.

There are debates about whether this is good or not, and I’ll leave those to other people. Instead I want to look at how to put this power in player hands, because players can be excited about things happening, only for them not to happen because of how the facilitator has structured things. What if we could reward player excitement, and take some of the weight of encounter design off the shoulders of one player?

Read more "When players want quantum ogres" »

Shows like “Supernatural” and “Lucifer”, as well as older stuff like “Forever Knight”, gave us the Occult Detective: a character with some kind of magical or divine connection who solves crimes and fights mystical bad guys. Sometimes they know a little magic, sometimes they’re actual gods, but whatever the case, they’ve got a gun (or something as good), a friend (or partner) on the force, and a ton of unresolved sexual tension with some hot supernatural supporting cast.

Easy win, right?

Read more "Reinventing the Occult Detective" »