Tag Archive for freeform

Silent Film Larp

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 7.12.35 PM

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

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.

Interstellar Diplomacy

Interstellar Diplomacy is a freeform-ish game I wrote as an entrant into the Golden Cobra Challenge. You play alien diplomats, meeting on earth to decide whether or not war will destroy the galaxy. I’m voting against it, but you might have other concerns.

The formatting for the game is just whatever raw text output that Google Drive created, because Scribus crapped out on me several hours into working on the game. Stupid Scribus, I’m beginning to really hate you. Juan Manuel Avila was kind enough to make some nice looking cards that should be helpful if you choose to play.

Nameless Horror version 0.2

nameless horror

I made an update to my old nameless horror game. In the process, I expanded the rules several times over. But it plays much better now!

Nameless Horror 0.2 core rules
Nameless Horror Scenarios
Yes / No cards and Questioner card

I haven’t substantially changed the oracle deck, so that’s still cool to use.

[Game Chef] Afterlife, Incorporated final draft

I think that my Game Chef entry is about as done as it is going to get. So here is Afterlife, Incorporated.

Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut

Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut is a little game I wrote about Russian fairy tales as a quick game design refresher. This version of the game is still pretty rough, but it playtested pretty well. (as always, there is a lot I’d like to tweak about the game.)

I’m still using a modified Deck of Many Things for my fate deck. Mostly, this is because I didn’t spend as much time crafting this game. You could easily substitute various Tarot and Tarot-like decks or the cards from Once Upon a Time.

[House of Masks] New playtest version

House of Masks 0.3 is the latest revision of my (award winning) 2008 Game Chef game. The idea with this one is that it is a series of cards to be read out loud as you play to explain the entire game. (The last few pages are the backs of the first few pages, and act as a FAQ/commentary track.)

I’ve been using a modified version of the Deck of Many Things for the tarot-like cards in my playtesting. That deck may change eventually over time, but for now it seems to work pretty well.

Here are the sheets for the player characters.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. The art is copyrighted by the fine artist Dale Horstman and Wizards of the Coast.

Return to Maniac Mansion

Return to Maniac Mansion is a game I made for Johnathan Walton’s Stage One. It’s a fictional internal memo among some unnamed Lucasarts employees, and also a playable roleplaying game.

Once I Was a Warrior

For my brother’s 30th birthday, I made him a roleplaying game. It’s a meditation on fate, growing older and how people change over time.

Once I Was a Warrior

The Alchemists of Pwang


The alchemists of Pwang commit soul staining sins in an effort to cleanse their souls. Unfortunately, no one in Pwang can be sure what the gods approve of and what they do not, at least while they live.


Take a tarot deck, separate the minor arcana from the major arcana. Shuffle both decks.

Each player writes on a card one miracle that alchemy can perform. Place a random minor arcana under the miracle’s card.

The recipe for the miracle will require doing something immoral and something illegal.

(Miracles can’t give eternal life, but they can save you from death by restoring a spent life token.)

Each player writes a sin on a card next to their lefthand miracle. Place a minor arcana facedown under the sin’s card.

Each player writes something on card next to their righthand miracle that the tyrant of Pwang has declared illegal. Place a minor arcana faceup by the sin’s card. Larger values = more severe punishments for the crime. Face cards mean the death penalty.

You must commit that sin and that illegal act during a scene to perform the miracle.


Draw a major arcana and interpret it to explain why you hate the alchemist on your right.

Draw a major arcana to explain why you need the help of the alchemist on your left.

Every character starts with a life token on their character sheet.

Name you alchemist something grandiose.


Starting with the oldest player, you’ll take turns framing scenes where you are pursuing one of the miracles. The player on your left will describe opposition and problems along the way.

When you reach the climax of the action in a scene, draw a major arcana card. If you were working to harm the alchemist you hate (their call) or if you were given assistance from the alchemist that you need help from, you get to interpret the tarot card to describe how the scene turns out. Otherwise, the player on your left interprets the card as negatively as possible.

If you drew the Death card or if the interpreter thinks you were in danger, then you experience a brush with danger. You can remove the life token from your sheet to survive. If you don’t spend a life token, then your alchemist dies.

If you’re dead, then you can frame scenes for NPCs, such as the Tyrant’s Secret Police or the Mawgwamite Church’s witchhunters. NPCs hate your right and lefthand players.


Write down any sins you commit in play, or any miracles you perform.

When everyone has died, turn over the sin and miracle cards. For your sins, discard all Cups and face cards, then add up the numerical total. For your miracles, discard all Swords and add up the numerical total (face cards are worth 12.) If your miracle total is higher than your sin total, then the gods welcome you to paradise. If your sin total is greater than your miracle total, then you are sent to eternal torment.