Tag Archives: tabletop rpgs

Fusion Time Released!

I’ve put out a new game! It’s a GM-less tabletop roleplaying game where the players are a team of people with special powers defending their home. When their interpersonal clashes grow strong enough, an opponent attacks, and the players will have to Fuse in order to fight back and protect their home.

I’m calling this a “playtest” version, a sort of early-access thing. It’s fully playable but I haven’t done pretty formatting or figured out illustrations or anything. I’d like to see if I’ve missed any issues and if anyone’s even interested in the game at all before I do work to lay out the book in detail.

There’s more on mechanics and acknowledgments on the game’s store page, so check it out! There are even free community copies there for queer folks and/or people of color who don’t feel able to afford the game. Additionally, if you’re in media (including being a streamer) and want a review copy, or would like me to facilitate a game session for you, let me know!

Check out Fusion Time!

You may have noticed that I’ve released several tabletop things lately and relatively few video games. One of the main reasons for this is that it’s simply less work: both media need design and testing, but I find it quicker and easier to write up and format a rules document than to code up and create material for a video game. That said, I’m still working on stuff over at Future Proof Games, and you can keep an eye on this space for more.

Oh! And for more on my thoughts around the concept of fusion in media, check out my post on one of the game’s major influences, Steven Universe: “Everyone Should Watch ‘Alone Together’“.

Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver

We’ve finally completed the most recent campaign of my actual play podcast, Tabletop Garden. In “Ego Driver“, a group of misfit killers participate in a postcolonial road war in a postapocalyptic world. It draws from Mad Max: Fury Road, Trigun, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and Wacky Races. I’m super proud of how the campaign turned out, despite an embarrassingly long hiatus in the middle while I struggled with my own mental health issues.

I’d really love it if you checked it out, and if you like it, shared it with your circles. You can start with the first episode:

If you’d like more insight into how I planned the campaign, or how I feel about it looking back, you can sign up to support my Patreon, where I’ve just published over an hour of postmortem retrospective discussing things like how the players shaped the narrative and how I now feel about the extensive Michael Jackson references:

Become a Patron!

I’m real pleased with the story my players and I put together, and I’m looking forward to sharing the next campaign with you soon. It’s currently in recording and editing, and if you want a sneak preview, check out the end of the postmortem above!

Actual Play Podcasts Do Not Portray Actual Play, Actually

Actual play podcasts are not what the name suggests. They’re a form of podcast that purportedly serializes a recording of a group playing a tabletop roleplaying game. The listener hears the dice rolls, the out-of-character discussions, and the social interaction that surrounds the in-character story being told at the table. The apparent appeal is the fun of hearing the “actual play” occurring when creating an interesting story.

But actual play podcasts are a lie.

Continue reading Actual Play Podcasts Do Not Portray Actual Play, Actually

Tabletop Garden: New RPG Podcast

I’ve started a new podcast! It’s called Tabletop Garden, and it’s an “actual play” show where a rotating cast plays tabletop roleplaying games and talks about them.

Tabletop Garden is an actual-play podcast where we collaborate on short, self-contained stories about interesting characters, and we do it with an agenda. Throughout each campaign we discuss values, techniques, and how to play with intention.

Our first pilot campaign uses Mechanical Oryx by Grant Howitt to tell a tale of looming violence in the solarpunk postapocalypse. During each campaign, episodes will release weekly. Check out the show at tabletop.garden.

Helping RPGs Play Themselves

Rosette LogoA big secret of tabletop RPG design is that roleplaying games play themselves. Get the right group of people together and they’ll have fun telling a good story, regardless of which edition of which game they’re playing. The hard parts of RPGs are things the designer can’t control: social dynamics.

What good are rules at all, then? Rules serve two purposes: to enable and constrain the play. The rules of an RPG serve to make the creative process easier by enabling story, and they constrain the scope of the story to keep the group within a manageable narrative space.

In my role as lead designer on Future Proof Games‘s upcoming tabletop RPG Rosette1, I’ve made tons of decisions regarding how the rules work. By the request of one of my patrons, I’ll go over that process from a high level.

Continue reading Helping RPGs Play Themselves

  1. Formerly LORE.

The Fall of Stronghold

An image of an unfinished RPG terrain board with some miniatures, walls, and craft toolsIn tabletop roleplaying games, it’s often tough to provide backstory and broader setting information to the players. Reciting a summary or printing handouts is seldom effective; even if players pay attention, they’re less likely to remember events in which they did not participate. In the Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition campaign I’m currently running, I ran into this problem, and addressed it with the Cutscene technique.
Continue reading The Fall of Stronghold

Dream Project 5 – The Battle for the Fortress

This is a summary of my ongoing Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition game, played with some friends from college over the internet using MapTool and Teamspeak.

When we last left our game, the citizens of Meersha had fled a dragon, Zekleinenezzar, who had taken over their town. They took refuge in an abandoned fortress overlooking the abandoned city of Decolay, which has been taken over by kenku, goblins, and possibly other forces. They returned from a trip to the dream world to find kobold worshipers of the dragon making advances on the fortress.

The party consists of:
Etzlojek, kobold rogue and lover of fine things, adopted by the town’s general store owner; he is branded Etzlojek the Traitor by the attacking kobolds
Eva, student of the local ritual mage and magic shop owner, who seems like a perfectly normal human wizard with a penchant for shapechanging spells
Donaar, dragonborn warlock and enemy of dragons, who ended up in town after his home city was overrun by undead
Diesa, stalwart dwarven fighter grossed out by bugs, who was visiting family in town and seems to have vampire heritage
Sully, formerly-retired half-elf paladin of Erathis and party NPC, who ran the tavern in Meersha.

This is level five.
Continue reading Dream Project 5 – The Battle for the Fortress

Dream Project 4 – Attacks on Two Cities

This is a summary of my ongoing Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition game, played with some friends from college over the internet using MapTool and Teamspeak.

When we last left our game, the citizens of Meersha had fled a dragon, Zekleinenezzar, who had taken over their town. They took refuge in an abandoned fortress overlooking the abandoned city of Decolay, which has been taken over by kenku, goblins, and possibly other forces. The fortress itself has the power to transport them to a dream world where a scholar named Sampa seems to be guiding them from the past.

The party consists of:
Etzlojek, kobold rogue and lover of fine things, adopted by the town’s general store owner
Eva, student of the local ritual mage and magic shop owner, who seems like a perfectly normal human wizard with a penchant for shapechanging spells
Donaar, dragonborn warlock and enemy of dragons, who ended up in town after his home city was overrun by undead
Diesa, stalwart dwarven fighter grossed out by bugs, who was visiting family in town and seems to have vampire heritage
Sully, formerly-retired half-elf paladin of Erathis and party NPC, who ran the tavern in Meersha.

This is level four.

I’m curious about something before we begin. Are these adventure summaries interesting to anyone except me and my players? I’ll probably keep posting them regardless, but I’d like to know if any readers not involved with the campaign enjoy these.
Continue reading Dream Project 4 – Attacks on Two Cities

Dream Project 3 – The Kidnapped Farmer

This is a summary of my ongoing Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition game, played with some friends from college over the internet using MapTool and Teamspeak.

When we last left our game, the citizens of Meersha had fled a dragon who had taken over their town. They arrived at their theoretical refuge to find the city of Decolay in ruins, and camped in an abandoned fortress overlooking the town. The fortress seemed to be able to transport people into long-lost dreams in their sleep, where the party was guided by a tiefling scholar named Sampa. The next morning, the party made an alliance with a kenku tribe, the Ravencrows, living near the southern edge of the city, and explored an old botanical laboratory.

The party consists of:
Etzlojek, kobold rogue and lover of fine things, adopted by the town’s general store owner
Eva, student of the local ritual mage and magic shop owner, who seems like a perfectly normal human wizard
Donaar, dragonborn warlock and enemy of dragons, who ended up in town after his home city was overrun by undead
Diesa, stalwart dwarven fighter grossed out by bugs, who was visiting family in town and seems to be developing vampiric tendencies
Sully, formerly-retired half-elf paladin of Erathis and party NPC, who ran the tavern in Meersha.

This is level three.
Continue reading Dream Project 3 – The Kidnapped Farmer

Dream Project 2 – Exploring Decolay

This is a summary of my ongoing Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition game, played with some friends from college over the internet using MapTool and Teamspeak.

When we last left our game, the citizens of Meersha had fled a dragon who had taken over their town. They arrived at their theoretical refuge to find the city of Decolay in ruins, and took refuge in an empty, abandoned fortress overlooking the town. The purpose of some of the strange structures there was revealed when the party found themselves sharing a dream, where they encountered the private demons of a long-dead eladrin noblewoman and saw echoes of a tiefling scholar named Sampa.

The dream was experienced by five people:
Etzlojek, kobold rogue and lover of fine things, adopted by the town’s general store owner
Eva, student of the local ritual mage and magic shop owner, who seems like a perfectly normal human wizard
Donaar, dragonborn warlock, who ended up in town after his home city was overrun by undead
Diesa, stalwart dwarven fighter grossed out by bugs, who was visiting family in town
Sully, formerly-retired half-elf paladin of Erathis and party NPC, who ran the tavern in Meersha.

This is level two. Note that I began doubling experience at this point.
Continue reading Dream Project 2 – Exploring Decolay