Tag Archive for untested

[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.

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 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.

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.

A Shadow Among Shadows

Here’s a game I made over the summer, inspired by but not entered into Game Chef, but I never got around to posting it here. It’s a mashup or Archipelago and some boardgame mechanics, where you explore an abandoned space ship.

A Shadow Among Shadows

Anomalistic Extrasensory Techniques for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Anomalistic Extrasensory Techniques for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a radical new technique for dealing with mental illnesses and stresses. Or may it is just another 200 word RPG I wrote about psychics in group therapy invading each other’s minds to heal their mental wounds.

Yeah, like Psychonauts.


LOVEINT (noun) 1. The slang term used by the NSA surveillance analysts to refer to the misuse and abuse of intelligence capabilities to observe the activities of romantic rivals, potential or former lovers. 2. The 200 word RPG I wrote about the same.

[13th Age] More monsters

These were more things I created for my _13th Age_ campaign but never got a chance to use them. Maybe someone else will find some use for them.

1st level kenku necromancer
Initiative +3

AC 12 PD 11 MD 14.
Hollow Bones: Critical threat range for attacks against Contarius is expanded by 2.
HP: 12

Black dagger Melee basic. +3 vs. AC; 1d4+2 negative energy damage and Contarius gains temp HP equal to the escalation die.

Ghostly Swarm: Ranged spell, at-will. +5 vs MD; 1d4+4 ongoing negative energy damage. The subject has to take a standard action to swat away the spirits, allowing them to roll a normal save (11+). Miss: 1 damage.

Summon Undead: Daily, creates 1d3+1 crumbling skeletons

Deathknell: Enemies nearby Contarius die if they have 5 hp or fewer, and Contarius or a nearby ally heals 1d6 HP.

Flock Together: Allies attacking an enemy engaged with Contarius add 1 to their critical threat range.

Sorta Dead: Contarius chooses whether to count as undead or not for spells and effects. Contarius gets one ‘get out of death free’ card per PC level.

Missing Leg: Is stuck unless the escalation die is even.

Ritual Caster

Cantrips: Contarius can cast most basic wizard cantrips, but not mending or light.

Death Priest: Contarius can spend his Icon relationship dice to speak with the dead. He has two points in the Lich King (ie, any dead person) and one in The Emperor (anyone associated with the Empire)

Find shiny things +7
Reluctant necromancer +7
Trickery and mimicry +6

Dunstan, badly wounded commander
1st level leader
Initiative +1 (but allies gain a +2 to initiative when following his advice)

Longspear +5 vs. AC; 1d8+4. Miss: 1 damage. Even hit or miss: One ally adds the escalation die to their next attack (an additional time if they already gain it.)

Shortbow (ranged) +4 vs. AC; 1d6+2 damage. Even hit or miss: One nearby ally gains temporary HP equal to 4+escalation die.

Try Again! Interrupt action when an ally misses with an attack while the escalation die is even. Reroll the attack die.

Never Say Die: Once per battle when an enemy scores a critical hit against an ally, increase the escalation die by 1.

Missing Leg Dunstan is considered stuck unless the escalation die is even.

AC 15 PD 13 MD 13
HP 27
8Recoveries (1d8+2)

Seen too many wars +7
The Emperor’s Investigator +7

Demon bred hydra body
Level 3 Wrecker
Initiative +3

AC 19 PD 17 MD 13
HP: 45

The body of the hydra stays in its pool of brackish, disgusting water. Enemies in the demon tainted water take 5 necrotic damage if they end their turn in the water. And probably have to roll a background check (DC 15) to stay swimming and still fight. If they fail, they they spend their standard action simply staying afloat. Most of the time, you’ll have to get in the water to engage the hydra body, but you might swing on ropes or float on wooden rafts or come up with some other clever plan.

Crushing Claw +8 vs AC. Hit: 10 necrotic damage. Any even hit: The target is knocked into the brackish, disgusting water. Miss: 2 damage

Hold Under Water: If a target is in the water at the start of the hydra’s turn, it will hold the target under water as its standard action. The target takes 6 damage per turn and has to make last gasp saves to keep from drowning. (Ie, the target only gets one action per round, and the have to roll a hard save to keep from getting worse. On a success, you shake off the condition. On a failure, you are unconscious and have to start making death saves (16+). 16+ means spend a recovery and regain consciousness, 20 means you do that and can take your turn as normal. After four failures, you die.)

All One Being: When the Hydra Body is hit by a status effect, it can transfer that effect to one surviving Hydra Head.

Regrow Heads: Each round, roll a d4. If the result is equal to or lower than the escalation die, the hydra grows a new Hydra Head. After the hydra has grown a new head through this ability, use a d6 from there on, then a d8 and so forth.

Resist energy 12+. Attacks with an energy type that roll a 11 or lower do only half damage to the hydra body. (The heads are normally vulnerable.) For necrotic and poison damage, resistance is 16+.

Hydra Heads
Level 2 mooks (blockers)

AC 18 PD 15 MD 13
HP: 9 each

Clamping Bite +8 vs AC. Hit: 3+escalation die damage and the jaw clamps down on you. Until you disengage (at a -4 penalty), you cannot move away from the hydra head, you cannot make opportunity attacks and a -4 to hit any enemy that is not a Hydra Head biting you. Hydra Heads biting you get a +2 to hit you.

Tear Apart: If two Hydra Heads are biting you, they can both work together to try to tear you apart. This is the attack for both Heads. +8 vs. PD (+10 with the bonus from Clamping Bite); 6 damage and 5 ongoing damage (normal save ends).

Mass of Whipping Heads: Once per round when an attack targets the hydra body and the attack roll is odd, a hydra head gets in the way and takes the attack instead.

Mooks. As mooks, they share a pool of HPs. Kill a head for every 9 damage the heads take.

The Hydra’s Secret Weapon: When you kill a hydra head and the attack die result is odd, the hydra heads regrows two new heads.

Death Frenzy If the Hydra Body dies, then all remaining Hydra Heads get a +2 to hit for the rest of the battle.

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.