Archive for My Games

Mystery Town

Mystery town logo

Mystery Town is a simple little freeform game I made for my daughter’s 9th birthday, inspired by Gravity Falls, Thimbleweed Park, Maniac Mansion and other funny, weird, mysterious fiction that she and I enjoy together.

(Mechanically, it’s a straightforward hack of A Town With Pep! by Epistolary Richard, which is itself derived from Swords without Master by Epidiah Ravachol.)

[200 Word RPG] Gambling on the River Styx

Written for the 2017 200 Word RPG challenge. This started as an offhand joke, but became a real game.

Gambling on the River Styx

To cross the river Styx, you owe Charon two pennies. Penniless ghosts play mahjong on the riverbank to win passage.

Place a skeleton nearby. That’s Charon, waiting for you.

Place six matching pairs of coins into a bag. Pass the bag around. When you get the bag, draw one coin and explain why you fear the afterlife. If your coin matches a coin you already have, instead return it and don’t explain. Repeat until the bag empties.

Place the mahjong tiles in the bag. Each player draws five tiles.

Each round, everyone antes a coin into the pot. Draw one tile. Play one tile. Reveal simultaneously.

The highest numbered tile wins the pot. The winner recalls a memory of their life, based on suit:
-Dots: selfishness
-Bamboo: cruelty
-Characters: tragic mistakes

Ties: Split the pot evenly (randomly), leaving the remainder in the pot. Include the other tied players in your memory.

If you play a un-numbered tile, you lose the round. Tell a story about redemption.

If you ever match a pair of coins, you must approach Charon and cross to your afterlife. None know what comes after.

If you have no coins, you shiver on the riverbank for eternity.

[200 Word RPG] Squamous

Written for the 2017 200 Word RPG Challenge.

Squamous

You are each eldritch abominations, taking human form for nefarious purposes. Your human vessels are… weak. Disgusting. Meat. Always sweating, defecating, desiring. How do humans tolerate this?

Each abomination has a secret eldritch Goal. Write down a noun and a verb. Give the noun to your left-hand player and the verb to your right-hand player. Combine the noun and verb you receive for your Goal. Take 15 d6s. You succeed at your Goal when you have no dice.

Describe your human appearance and identity.

Each player has authority over a human Need. Things like hunger, hygiene, sexual desire, romance, social acceptance. Name yours.

Take turns framing scenes where you perform tasks to achieve your Goal. Other players roleplay NPCs, describe scenery, etc.

When they describe how their Need complicates your task, they offer 2-5 dice. Roll one die.

If you roll higher than the number of offered dice, the Need causes problems. Take the offered dice.

If you roll lower, you resist the urge. That player takes back their dice and the die you rolled.

If you roll equal, then you succeed at your task even while still succumbing to the Need. Discard all rolled and offered dice.

The Imposters anthology

My microgame LOVEINT has been expanded and revised to be included in The Imposters anthology, currently on Kickstarer. If you like any of my games, or any weird little games about conspiracies and paranoia, then you should consider backing it.

Silent Film Larp

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For my wife’s birthday this year, I created a silent film larp, where the players are part of a failing movie company during the silent film era. And in the process of playing, you actually create your own silent movie, the “original” lost version of a more recent, more popular movie we’re all familiar with. You can see our “premake” of The Little Mermaid here.

You’ll need these cards to play.

The Divided House and other stories

divided-house
The Divided House and other stories is a game I wrote for Giacomo Vicenzi’s Spooky Design Contest 2016. It’s a loose, freeform narrative game, inspired by “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbus Tertius”, The Twilight Zone, House of Leaves, Archipelago III and the board game Power Grid.

Tricks and Treats!

tricks-and-treats

Tricks and Treats is a simple little hack I made of John Harper’s Lasers and Feelings. You play Halloween-ish creatures that are horrifying but also somehow cute and/or loveable. The one night a year you can interact with others without problem is on Halloween night. But something is threatening to ruin your one pleasing day a year! You’ll have to do something to put a stop to that.

Star Level 10!

star-level-10

Star Level 10 is a simple little freeform larp I wrote in collaboration with my daughter Madeline. It was initially created for the 2016 Golden Cobra Challenge.

It’s a heartwarming tale about being dead, and about the pain of stepping on a d4.

The chronicle of the downfall of the evil emperor Terenghast at the hands of his many wives, as related in an obscure 12th century Alsatian herbalism text recently translated into English for the first time

The chronicle of the downfall of the evil emperor Terenghast at the hands of his many wives, as related in an obscure 12th century Alsatian herbalism text recently translated into English for the first time

(A game for the 2016 200 Word RPG challenge.)

Emperor Terenghast conquers many kingdoms, forcing noblewomen to marry him against their will. You are these women. You are, naturally, plotting to assassinate him. But the palace has many guards, spies and inhuman dangers. You must appear innocent at all times, or be executed.

One player plays Terenghast and his entire empire. The other players play Terenghast’s wives conspiring to assassinate him.

Ladies, your trust level starts at 6.

Decide:
How does the emperor oppress your friends and family?
What factor complicates your assassination plans?
What skill have you mastered?
What’s your part of the assassination plan?

When you attempt something risky or sneaky, Terenghast’s player names a potential negative consequence, and so do you. Roll 3d6.

When you use the skill you have mastered, you may reroll any 1s you choose.

0-4 Failure
5-7 Success, but two consequences
8-10 Success, but one consequence
11+ Flawless success

For each die that rolls equal to or higher than your current trust level, lower your trust by 1. If you reach trust level 0, then the Emperor has declared you a traitor. He has you executed.

You can, instead, choose to discard any dice you rolled, and accept the lower die total.

Al Amarja Today!

al amarja today logo
I wanted to GM a short campaign of Over the Edge, the classic rpg of surreal conspiracies. The biggest problem with the game, I figured, was that there was no clear core activity for the PCs to pursue as a group. So I decided to frame the game with the PCs as journalists, working for Al Amarja Today! (the island’s leading newspaper). this gives them a good reason to work together, and a good reason to go poking into every weird conspiracy and event on the island.

Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I rewrote the actual rules from scratch. Again. This new version bears basically zero resemblance to the last time I rewrote Over the Edge. I borrowed significantly from tinyFate, Archipelago III, Itras By, Gumshoe and Small World to make a totally new system:

Al Amarja Today
Al Amarja answer cards

So far, playtests indicate that seven is too many players for me to handle with this game, but not much else. I’m really unsure on the number of traits people get, the number of available answers, the ratio of Yes and No cards, etc. These all could be off wildly, but only further playtesting will let us know.