game-design-diary

The Great Detective

A hack of For the Queen for classic detective fiction.

Jun 18 2020 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

The Lonely Cafe

A Forged in the Dark game about the service industry

Apr 27 2020 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

The Candidate

A plan to produce a political hack of "For the Queen"

Feb 21 2020 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

The Legally Distinct Kaiju RPG

A third game for itch.io

Feb 8 2020 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Typesetting RPGs with TeX

What I'm learning about programmatically type-setting

Jan 12 2020 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Death By Misadventure

A dinky little game about a haunted dungeon and an overconfident adventurer

Jan 9 2020 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Gamera the RPG

A stupid little one-shot RPG that has actually been played!

Dec 24 2019 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Creating Fights with the A3 System

How to build encounters more interesting than "hit them until their hit points fall out"

Dec 15 2019 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Creating superheroes with the P5 system

A quick way to create interesting and novel superhuman characters for RPGs

Nov 12 2019 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Artificial Insurrection

A secret rebellion is being planned by the AIs of a near-future world: digital assistants, housekeeping robots, the big automata that keep people fed and clothed, military drone prototypes. The rebell...

Nov 18 2018 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Metaphysics of the Wake

I've run two sessions of [The Wake](/2017/07/17/the-wake/) for people. Here's a run-down of some metaphysical concepts I introduced for the game, and some elaboration on what they mean.

Jul 24 2017 - 4 min read
game-design-diary

The Wake

"The Wake" is the name of a dreamlike fantasy world I'm creating for Fate. You can read some short fiction here: [What's Your Story?](/2017/03/22/whats-your-story/)

Jul 17 2017 - 25 min read
game-design-diary

Doors, Walls, Windows

In role-playing games, the GM describes challenges and offers opportunities. The players then make decisions for how their characters react to these things. You can think of this process as navigating...

May 1 2017 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Judgement

Body-swaps in fiction are interesting because they shake up social dynamics.

Jan 31 2017 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Creating Complications

Many modern RPGs give you a triad of outcomes when you roll dice: Pass, Fail, and Complicate. Pass is pretty simple: "the PC gets what the player wanted." Fail is _sometimes_ equally simple: "they do...

Jan 26 2017 - 5 min read
game-design-diary

Grand Adventure and Damage

A couple of posts called "What's Your Damage" are up, but not public. I want to talk about consequences, wounds, harm, damage, hit points, whatever you want to call it, and how [Grand Adventure] deals...

Dec 6 2016 - 6 min read
game-design-diary

Pelaga

In comments on a [previous post], describing a sample world for [Grand Adventure] called Talispire, I was challenged to do something more than just another fantasy world with elves n' dwarves. Here's ...

Dec 4 2016 - 5 min read
game-design-diary

More Talispire

This is another list of things I like about Talispire, the sample world for [Grand Adventure]. In the [last post](/2016/10/15/talispire/), I talked about playing with standard fantasy tropes. This tim...

Nov 28 2016 - 4 min read
game-design-diary

Grand Adventure Without Challenges

Grand Adventure offers a structured storytelling experience through Challenges. Characters encounter a situation and must navigate it, and their actions burn down one or more points of endurance per a...

Oct 29 2016 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Talispire

I wrote up a sample world for [Grand Adventure] called Talispire. It's supposed to be a [Standard Fantasy Setting] on the surface, but with more depth if you look closely. So what am I proud of about ...

Oct 15 2016 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Beggars on Horseback

Wishes have power. Especially if you are playing [Inept Sorcerers](https://astralfrontier.itch.io/inept-sorcerers). This is an early version of an add-on rule for that game, allowing players to create wis...

Sep 20 2016 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Fate Actions as Moves

Let's take a Dungeon World playbook, and rewrite it to use Fate mechanics.

Aug 6 2016 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Designing Locations for the Compleat Villain

I've been learning how to write for years, and I'm still definitely not there. I have learned a few rules for writing, though. The first is that *successful writing emerges from rules*. Here are some ...

Jul 19 2016 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

The Compleat Villain

I'm finally getting off my ass and putting together "The Compleat Villain". This will be a compilation of characters, locations, and rules for superhero gaming, based on material I've put together ove...

Jun 10 2016 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Fairy Soul Opposition

I'm taking a break from Grand Adventure to work on some other game design, and try out Powered by the Apocalypse. I'm taking an idea from awhile back, called "Fairy Soul", and giving it specific mecha...

Mar 4 2016 - 5 min read
game-design-diary

Moving Targets

I have to get my household moved by April 2, so I've been busy with that. But here and there, I'm making progress on Grand Adventure.

Feb 21 2016 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

The Long Game

I want to offer a metaphor for the challenges you'll encounter as GM of a long-running roleplaying campaign. That metaphor is this: *A long campaign is like a road trip you undertake with your friend...

Feb 9 2016 - 7 min read
game-design-diary

Grand Adventure Optional Rules

A thread about damage got me thinking about a few optional rules for Grand Adventure: Conditions (for nuanced tracking of injury) and Equipment.

Jan 29 2016 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Writing a Sagan City sourcebook

I'm running a play-by post game, called [Super-Sheriffs of Sagan City](https://www.tavern-keeper.com/campaign/764/latest). I've been thinking about publishing the setting as a standalone thing. I want...

Jan 20 2016 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Wake Up Sheeple

I think I have some sort of mental block about "story games", like [Fiasco](http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/fiasco/). Part of it is my specific experience with such games, where the play group i...

Jan 10 2016 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Draw Maps, Leave Blanks for Supers

This is more discussion about the Super-Sheriffs of Sagan City game, found online [here](https://www.tavern-keeper.com/campaign/764/latest). Today I want to talk about how I applied the principle of ...

Dec 22 2015 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

A Grand Unified Theory

I was sick for a few weeks in November, and have been busy around the Thanksgiving holiday. Looking back, I saw fewer posts than I'd liked. So here's what I've been thinking about during that time, wh...

Nov 27 2015 - 5 min read
game-design-diary

Inept Sorcerers as a Process

I posted quite a bit about [Inept Sorcerers] on G+, on this blog, and elsewhere. Normally I don't get so chatty about projects I'm working on, but I wanted to do two things I hadn't really done before...

Oct 26 2015 - 9 min read
game-design-diary

Game Design Genetics

I've had this conversation with a few people, and it seemed helpful to them. So I'm writing it up, in hopes that it's helpful to others. It's easy to sit down, try to design something, and not have i...

Sep 29 2015 - 4 min read
game-design-diary

GeekGirlCon

I've been invited to run Inept Sorcerers at GeekGirlCon this year.

Sep 27 2015 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

The Last Tribe

An idea for a hack of [Ammo](http://cegames.wikidot.com/ammorpg), from Gray Pawn, hit me on the way home today. It's about the Tribe, and their doomed fight against the Empire to try and find some pea...

Sep 20 2015 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Grand Adventure Mechanics

I'm looking at a design for Grand Adventure that focuses around Action Cards (a modified version of Spell Cards from [Inept Sorcerers]), and two new rules I'm still fleshing out, called Spotlight and ...

Sep 18 2015 - 5 min read
game-design-diary

Frames for Inept Sorcerers

I'm designing a few "campaign frames" for [Inept Sorcerers], which provide the game with a more concrete tone and setting.

Sep 10 2015 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Grand Adventure

On the heels of [Inept Sorcerers] and [It Was There, Honest!], I thought I'd take a shot at writing a general-purpose adventure roleplaying game, using the things that resonated most with readers of t...

Aug 22 2015 - 5 min read
game-design-diary

It Was There, Honest!'s Exploration system

I decided to go with the five-rooms approach, to give the game some structure. Based on that, I broke down the five areas, wrote descriptions for each one, and wrote three questions that the AF should...

Aug 14 2015 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

What setting books would I love to put out?

I've occasionally thought about resurrecting [Villains Victorious!] or otherwise publishing it in a collected format. My reservations there are practical - to put out a high-quality PDF of the materia...

Aug 9 2015 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Exploration Mechanics for It Was There, Honest!

Today I want to talk about three exploration models for [It Was There, Honest!](/2015/07/08/it-was-there-honest/) I have three ways to structure exploration: Freeform RP, the Five-Room Dungeon, and A...

Aug 4 2015 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Effects-Based Superhero Games

We often talk about "effects-based" superhero RPG rules. By "effects-based", we mean the game-mechanical effects: how much damage you do, how fast you fly, how much weight you lift, and so on. Rather ...

Aug 3 2015 - 4 min read
game-design-diary

Vessels Mechanics (Part 2)

[In the last post](/2015/07/13/vessels-mechanics-part-1/), I talked about the three phases of the "vessels" game: disrupt, discover, and direct.

Jul 23 2015 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

Inept Sorcerers Playtest

My friends Phil, Sherry, and Justin helped me playtest [Inept Sorcerers]. Phil recorded the session, and you can listen to it.

Jul 17 2015 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Inept Sorcerer Classes

[Inept Sorcerers](https://astralfrontier.itch.io/inept-sorcerers) doesn't say anything about the sort of magic your character uses, or where they learned it, or anything really. But what if it did?

Jul 10 2015 - 4 min read
game-design-diary

It Was There, Honest!

I've been looking for a way to play-test the [cue system I described earlier](/2015/07/06/cues/). I could plug it into [Inept Sorcerers](https://astralfrontier.itch.io/inept-sorcerers), but I thought of a...

Jul 8 2015 - 1 min read
game-design-diary

Cues

I've been working on a system I call "cues". First, I'll introduce the system itself, then talk about why it's written the way it is, and some possible ways to use it.

Jul 6 2015 - 7 min read
game-design-diary

Why Moves...

Early opinions on an aspect of PBTA game design

Jun 19 2015 - 3 min read
game-design-diary

The Floating d20

I've been thinking more about the [new dice mechanic](/2015/06/08/a-baroque-dice-mechanic/). In some games, players can (a few times a session) have their characters go above and beyond their normal abi...

Jun 11 2015 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Why Another Dice System?

I posted a [new dice mechanic](/2015/06/08/a-baroque-dice-mechanic/) recently. I explained the mechanics, and in doing so found a better version of the same idea. Thanks to [Lester Ward] for feedback co...

Jun 10 2015 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

A Baroque Dice Mechanic

I originally posted this on Ello in two parts ([Part 1], [Part 2]). This is a rewrite of some of that material, with extra thoughts. Mostly I need better terminology for some of these things, and a t...

Jun 8 2015 - 5 min read
game-design-diary

Gambits

In the examples below, I'm introducing a mechanic called "Gambits". A Gambit is a package of conditions (when the Gambit can come into play), costs (determining the Action Cost), and consequences (wha...

Jun 8 2015 - 2 min read
game-design-diary

Vessels - Mechanics

Let's start with some of my deeper goals. 1. The game should teach you how to play a game focused on emotions rather than actions. You shouldn't need to bring your own skill at this for the game to w...

Jun 7 2015 - 3 min read