Showing posts from February, 2012

Get Off The Rock [New T-Shirt | Creative Commons Download]

I'm a big supporter of science and technology, especially teaching both at a young age. There are plenty of good general reasons to pursue science, but I think the ultimate goal should be space colonization. To put it bluntly: Get off the rock. Get as many humans off the planet as possible, as long as possible, as soon as possible. Take a look at this time-lapse video of the milky way . It breaks my heart how much closer those stars could be now. Sadly, I'm not going to go to space any time soon, but here's my tiny attempt at promoting space travel – Four simple words to keep it on top of mind. Clearly, I'm not as tactful as Neil deGrasse Tyson or Carl Sagan. :P UPDATE: Want to use this graphic in your own stuff? Good news! It's released to the Creative Commons. Download the vector EPS below... » Get off the rock (CC-BY-NC)

Mismatched Theme and Mechanics: Future Plans for Belle of the Ball

Hey, you remember Belle of the Ball , right? Well, to be honest, I was never entirely satisfied with how the game turned out, but I couldn't pin down what my problem was exactly. Over time... a long time... I figured out that there was just a mismatch between the theme and the mechanics. In essence, the mechanics are an abstract tile-laying game, which is totally fine on its own. The problem is, I gotta think about the target audience here. Is someone attracted to the Jane Austen theme going to enjoy a slightly layered abstract strategy game? Would they prefer a lighter game that specifically uses cards as, well, cards? Yeah... So, my distant future plans are to retheme this tile-laying game mechanic. That will leave the "Belle of the Ball" theme free for a light card game. Here's the basic outline I have marinating in my head for that new incarnation. Players each have a hand of guest cards. The card shows what this guest is doing: Drinking, eating, flirting,

More James Stowe Art for Pop and Locke's Last Heist

Here's some more art from James Stowe for Pop and Locke's Last Heist ! See his last couple pieces for the game here and here . The main direction for these two pieces were to show Pop and Locke on an actual heist, using the magical household objects to help out in their tasks. Last time, you saw Pop doing the grab and Locke on the assist. This time, I wanted to show Locke in the foreground with Pop in a bit of trouble. (You can spot him in the security cameras.) Locke is using the pocket watch that puts dogs to sleep while grabbing the facility keys off the security desk. She's gotta be careful, though! The watch only works on dogs, not goons. I'm really glad we were able to get James on this project. When your game is about heists, it's hard not to veer into Mission: Impossible, Ocean's Eleven, or Leverage. James' light, cartoonist style was a perfect way to show that this game has a much more goofy kind of atmosphere. Hopefully it makes you want to

Meeple Earrings and Jewelry

Megan is making earrings and other jewelry from meeples! They're real meeples assembled with high quality materials and unique beads. Perfect gift for the gamer who likes to show off some pizazz! Watch the video above to see her at work. Check out her wares on the Hard Boiled Megg Etsy store.

Talk Find Make: Punch-Proof Problems for Peace-Loving Adventurers

This is a simple system for "pacifist adventure" role-playing and storytelling games. Here the heroes find non-violent solutions for a big dilemma. The heroes might follow a code of peace, the antagonists could be physically invulnerable, or the heroes are just outnumbered. No amount of punching will help. It's up to you and the other heroes to Talk, Find, and Make a solution. Inspiration Doctor Who, Nancy Drew, Dora the Explorer, Columbo, Daniel Jackson (Stargate), Lyra Silvertongue (Golden Compass), MacGyver, The Question (DC Comics), Veronica Mars, Agent Scully, Penny (Inspector Gadget), Dorothy Gale (Oz), Hermione Granger. Stuff You Need One six-sided die for the whole group. One player (the GM) will take on the role of the antagonists and secondary characters. The other players each need a hero to play. The whole group needs problem scenario for the heroes to solve. The whole group needs twenty stones (or chips, or other small objects). Place nine of th

A quick roundup of current and upcoming projects.

Current Projects as of February 22, 2012 Layout The Play's The Thing by end of February Design Spirit of the Century imprint logo by end of February Layout Zeppelin Armada by end of March-ish Writing next draft of Pop and Locke's Last Heist to Tom Cadorette by Mid-March Writing next draft of Rulers in the DMZ to Will Hindmarch by end of March On the Horizon, Pending Kickstarters Prismatic Art Collection with Tracy Hurley and others Layout School Daze from Tracy Barnett Layout VELOCIRAPTOR! CANNIBALISM! from JR Blackwell, Jenn Rodgers, et al Want to do, but isn't immediately paying Graphics for Pebble Rebel Playtesting my own games The next Kickstarter for one of my own games Designing graphics for Kill Your Darlings with Jared Axelrod Layout the Board Game Calendar with Justin Jacobson and Chuck Wendig Design T-Shirt for this quote And this is all "by night." If I ever look dog-tired, this is why. :P

New Art for Pop and Locke's Last Heist from James Stowe

Thanks to Evil Hat Productions, we have a bit of an art budget to hire James Stowe again to create more art for Pop and Locke's Last Heist . The one thing I really wanted to see (as did many others) was Pop and Locke actually pulling a heist. Here is my actual art direction to James. --- I want to show Pop and Locke actually in a trouble during a heist. The game mechanics require you to incur a degree of trouble in order to achieve the best ending. However, most heist movies reflect these troubles with violence, showing heroes pinned down and exchanging gunfire. For example. That's not how Pop and Locke work. After all, part of their advantage is that they are an unlikely heist team. Pop, Locke, and the Target all have access to the weirdly powered Objects, which usually make traditional weaponry impractical. Instead, the Targets use a combination of high-tech surveillance and hired goons to protect their treasures. Meanwhile, Pop and Locke use their Objects' powers t


My good friends Jenn Rodgers and JR Blackwell and their gang of vagabond game designers are kickstarting a card game with a fun little theme. They call it a "inspired by a crude and inaccurate understanding of natural selection." If the kickstarter is successful, Jenn and I will tag-team the visuals. she will be illustrating all the adorable foods and the fearsome predators. Including giant squids why not. So if you want to see the designer of Shelter In Place, illustrator of the Dresden Files RPG, and layouter of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple forming a reptilian Frankenstein monster, back this project!

Simple Doctor Who Story Game Rules for Kids

A parent of a Doctor Who fan wanted a Doctor Who story game with ultra-simple rules. If you have recommendations, please post them on this thread . For my part, I took a quick pass at a system. Hopefully it kind of fits the bill. The Problem The game begins with ten stones on the table. This represents the problem on the new world you're visiting. When you land on the world, you don't know what the problems are. How You Solve the Problem Each turn, the Doctor can do one of three things to help: Talk, Search or Make. When you Talk, this means you're making friends with someone or trying to scare someone. When you Search, this means you're finding clues about the problem. When you Make, you're creating a new gadget or helping to repair an existing one. Describe your character doing one of these things to solve the problem. After describing what the Doctor does to help, roll d6. If the result is 1-2, add that many stones to the table. This means something you

"Hey Girls of the Flying Temple!" A letter by Lyndsay Peters

Lyndsay Peters wrote another letter for Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . She's a big fan of writing her own letters for her games. This time, the letter was inspired by a video with NSFW language . Glad she kept this letter G-rated so I could share it with you. :) Hey Girl!! I live in a little town, just a quiet village. Every day, like the one before? I hate this town. ANYWAY. Here's my problem, girl. Tonight they're having a ball. It's pretty much the only interesting thing these people do. So I need my dress to look amazing, to show those girls always talking about me that I CAN HEAR THEM! Problem is, this town sucks. There's Bernice with her wigs, but other than that it's just sheep and pigs. I am not wearing a matching sweater to this ball. So here's what I need you to do. Make a good impression for me. Of me. Because girl, I'm special. And after the ball, nobody should forget it! If you need inspiration, make it like pretty in pink, b

Affordable Success: Why I'm Postponing the Kickstarter for Utara Dice Game

I've decided to postpone plans for kickstarting my dice game Utara. Here's why. Utara's biggest problem is that it calls for so many custom dice. I thought I could manage it as a small outfit thanks to new tools like Kickstarter. That opened up opportunities for high engagement and distributed costs. Those would compensate for high up-front production expenses of custom dice. That expense was just from the relatively affordable option of laser-engraved dice. Each of those would cost $1.10 to make at a quantity of 2,000. Pricey, but at least it followed the model of similar novelty products like Mathematician's Dice and Writer's Dice. We figured a goal of ~$4,000 would get us where we needed to be. The trick would be focusing on the novelty and flexibility of individual dice, rather than the game Utara. We'd need to develop more properties using one, two or three Utara dice, but at least it could be done. As I sought feedback on the tier rewards, it beca

A Taste of Storytelling at Labyrinth Games & Puzzles in Washington DC

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles in Washington D.C. just hosted a big event called a Taste of Storytelling, featuring Happy Birthday, Robot! and Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple . The store owner was very kind to host my wife and I over the weekend and give us a tour of the city. We saw lots of cool schtuff and there was way more to see than we could fit in one Saturday. We'll return soon! But the main event was on Sunday and it was awesome. About thirty attendees played six different sessions of either Do or HBR. It was my first time actually being in the room while others taught and ran my games, which was a surreal and exciting experience. Probably my favorite moment was when everyone fell quiet at the same time, long enough to overhear me ask "So... what could possibly go wrong with using a sword as a baseball bat?" During short one-shot games like these, I've been trying to relax the writing requirements of Do . Upside: It speeds up play quite a bit when pe

Some Party Games from Megan and Daniel

Megan and I just came back from a game trip to Labyrinth Games in Washington D.C. (more about that soon!) And now Megan is vibrating with game ideas of her own. She's always been more into party games than my gamer-type games. So, this was a fun little experiment. We came up with two games with a similar charades-like theme, with some elements of games like Cranium, Quelf, etc. So here are the two games. Both are co-op party games that make players act silly, but with a touch of strategy in the choice of how you do so. The first game is inspired by that scene from Arrested Development where the each member of the Bluth family has their own very weird chicken impression. (The photo above is of some silly people doing the Bluth chicken dances.) Bluth Family Chicken Dance Game There is a deck of cards, each one with the subject of an impression. There is also a 30sec timer. Everyone draws one card. If you don't like the card you drew, you may discard it into the game box

[In the Lab] Towers of Battle as a Card Game?

One last thought on Towers of Battle . It's much more economical to make it a card game than a board game, but that still requires a LOT of cards. Perhaps if each card had two letters and you could form a word with either letter on a card? Bonus points if the word is formed from letters in the same row. Bonus points if both rows make a word? You could even include in the mercenaries on the cards with the sword and shield symbols. Hm!

[T-Shirt] If you see the Buddha, kill the buddha for his treasure and XP.

Years ago, Kevin Allen Jr. and I had an exchange that went something like this. K: if I ran into a wood elf we would not have chatted. I would have killed him for his treasure and the XPs. Duh. D: I think that's an old Buddhist proverb. If you see the Buddha, kill the Buddha for his treasure and the XP . K: I'm gonna get that engraved into a prayer wheel. The joke is based on an old zen koan: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." Interpretations vary, but the gist is that while you are on the path towards enlightenment, you will sometimes externalize the image of enlightenment into some kind of ideal form. You must banish these images from your mind, because they are just distracting byproducts of material perception. True enlightenment comes from within oneself. Deep. Now here's a shirt ( and other illusions of the material world ) for those of us who aren't quite so enlightened just yet.

[In the Lab] Towers of Battle

As is often the case, a twitter discussion led to some fun game ideas. Initially the discussion was about some hybrid of Scrabble and Battleship. My thoughts soon drifted to a totally different theme set in the days of ancient Babylon. Ancient builders compete to create the tallest tower, hiring mercenaries to pick off each other's towers brick by brick. Somehow scrabble figures into this. Above you see a veerrry loose mockup of something in my head. On your turn, you draw up to seven letter tiles at random. Then you can do one the following basic actions... Build: Then you may play a word on your side of the board along the lowest row of unoccupied spaces. You may build more than one level at a time, building one row on top of the other as a rising "tower" of words. You and your opponent may each only have one word in the same row. Your words may not run into each other. There must always be at least one unoccupied space between the words. In the example above, the

5 Tips for Crowdsourcing Content as a Kickstarter Reward

Folks asked if I could share some best practices on crowdsourcing content as a part of a Kickstarter campaign. Ooh boy, yeah. Crowdsourcing is a very fun way to engage your backers in the project. It's like a giant mad libs. I've incorporated crowdsourced content into Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple (letters, characters), Happy Birthday, Robot! (examples of play), and soon Utara (island names). There are a few basic tips I've learned. 1: Survey your real estate. "We're releasing a role-playing game with a random citizen generator. Want to be listed as a resident of our world? Pledge now and join up!" What are you offering and how much of it can you offer? If you can, offer examples of the context in which your offering will appear. For example, if you wanted to include a d100 random citizen generator in your game, you could offer space in that list for high-level backers. Limiting the availability increases the value of that space. As the spaces ge

Real Estate of Utara: Kickstarter Reward Tier Planning

We're gradually refining the reward tiers for the upcoming Utara kickstarter campaign. We're gathering estimates from various vendors and comparing them to the hard costs of our last dice run. You might recall the last update on these plans, and now some stuff has changed based on the rising costs of postage, manufacturing, etc. Here's the basic rundown so far. Description Explore a new world with Utara compass dice. These custom dice show either North, East, South, West, a sun or a moon on each side. They can also be used as normal six-sided dice by counting the stars on each side. Use these dice in "Lost in Utara" for unexpected trips in your role-playing games. Roll them in board games like "Tides of Utara." When you back this project, you also help create the world of Utara. Small pledges create an island, while big pledges create whole archipelagos. Explore the World of Utara with Utara compass dice. Goal: ~$5000 in 30 Days Given our experi

Case Study: Iconography of Race to Adventure

Click the images above to embiggenate! We're wrapping up the final design for the cards in Race to Adventure . You can see a sneak peek at an early draft in this earlier post. I want to give you a light overview of some of the process. At the top of this post, you can see how the icon language evolved over several rounds. The images from that last post were from around Round 4 or 5. Since then, we got some really useful input from the gamma test team. They're all avid Euro board game players. Since there are long-term international hopes for this game, we wanted a global perspective. Mostly the direction was to err on the side of minimalism and simplicity, like a Euro or German game. In Euro terms, this seemed to mean no high-texture or three-dimensional rendering anywhere near the icons. We went back and forth on that point for a while. We settled on the side of three-dimensionality, with some constraints. The essential silhouettes of the icons are still clearly visi

[In the Lab] Notes on Dead Weight

A long time ago , I came up with an rpg premise that seemed to resonate with a lot of people. There's one tower sanctuary left after a zombie apocalypse. Parkour runners loot the surrounding ruins while trying trying not to get weighed down. If you're too slow, the zombies get ya. John Harper came up with a cool Apocalypse World hack for the setting and it's been dormant since. People still ask about it occasionally, though. I'm just not a role-playing game designer, so if I were to revisit this world, it'd have to be as a more tactical board or card game. So here are some thoughts on Dead Weight as such! At it's core, it's basically a hack of Bomb's Away! Everyone begins with one runner card. There are three decks of cards on the table, containing either DISTANCE cards or ITEM cards. On your turn, you roll one die and strike that result from your runner's card. Then, you can draw a new card from the first deck. You can keep rolling as many