Free & Final Professional RPG’s for Game Designers

I’m in the midst of layout for my game, and I was pleased to see the release of Always/Never/Now by Will Hindmarch. It’s part of a trend of excellent professional game designs that can be played by a gamer on a budget, or examined in detail by any budding designers out there. This blog post is meant to be a repository of sorts, with links to where you can find these gems. If you know of other professional games that should go on this list, add them in the comments!


Lady Blackbird

by John Harper of OneSeven Design. This is a Steampunk Fantasy, of magic wielding nobles, rogue airship captains and warp-blooded goblins. It’s one of the most elegant game designs I have seen, with remarkable amounts of rich setting detail crammed into a mere 16 pages. It won the 2010 ENnie Awards for best Free RPG, and deserved all the praise. You can find it over at


Old School Hack

by Kirin Robinson. Take a classical Red Box version of D&D. Add in some of the best innovations from 4th Edition, story game principles, OSR expertise and excellent graphic design. It won the 2011 ENnie Awards for best Free RPG for a reason.



by Ryan Macklin. It’s a roleplaying adventure game about stabbing gods in the face and falling to divine corruption. This is a crunchy, epic game with the best of modern design principles.  If you want to examine a game that creates a certain mood through the use of components/mechanics, take a look at Mythender.


Archipelago III

by Matthijs Holter. This is one of the games inspired by the Nordic Larp tradition, and has some different divisions of GM responsibilities. If you like The Wizard of Earthsea or Fiasco, definitely take a look at this!



by Will Hindmarch. Cyberpunk stories, based on the framework of Lady Blackbird and including some novel adventure-design mechanics worth your attention. Chock full of goodness and worth your while.


Fate Core

by the folks at Evil Hat, will soon be available over at

I know there are more out there, so please post the info in the comments and reshare this blogpost!

GenCon 2012 Seminar Recordings

I always love to attend GenCon and record as many seminars as I can. This year is no exception, and I had the honour to speak on two separate panels. While I still have to work on my presentation skills, I feel like people got a great deal out of those panels.

This year, the most excellent Jason Morningstar of Bully Pulpit fame was on six different seminar panels and recorded each of them. With his permission, I provide them here for your listening pleasure.

Here are the recordings in no particular order. I will try to link to the presenters websites whenever possible.

Introduction to Indie RPG’s

Special thanks to “This Just In from GenCon” for some editing and posting this in their feed.

Event Number: SEM1230671


Jason Pitre (

Kirin Robinson (

Kit La Touche (

Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat (Regrets) (

Link to the Recording


Introduction to Playtesting RPG’s

Event Number: SEM1233486


Jason Pitre (

Adam Koebel (

Link to the Recording

Secrets of RPG Editing

Event Number: SEM1232354


Paizo Managing Editor F. Wesley Schneider (

Paizo Editor Judy Baur (

Paizo Editor Chris Carey, (

Paizo Editor Patrick Renie (

Link to the Recording



Jason Morningstar’s Recordings

These raw recordings have been taken directly from a post by Jason Morningstar on, with the files uploaded to my own site for posterity.


Introduction to GMless Play

This is me by myself rambling about GMless games for an hour. Link to Recording


The International RPG Scene

This is me and Dominic McDowall-Thomas . I spend a lot of time being excited about Japan. Link to Recording

Introduction to Nordic Larp

Me, Emily Care Boss , Lizzie Stark , Aleksi Airaksinen , Ville Takanen and Joonas IIvonen . As the least clued-in guy in the room I took the role of questioning moderator. Link to Recording


Volatility in Game Design

Me and James Ernest . Or, really, James Ernest’s well thought out and useful lecture on volatility with an occasional unhelpful comment from me. Link to Recording

History, Panic and History Panic

Me and Kenneth Hite talking about how to love gaming in history and still not be a total dick. Link to Recording

From Indie Cradle to Indie Grave: Making Independent Games

Me and James Ernest, mostly talking about business-y stuff. Link to Recording


GenCon 2011 Seminar Recordings can be found Here.


The Intrigue Engine – A First Draft

Hey all,

Sorry about the delays in getting the latest version of Spark out the door, but that should be ready in about a week or so. Until then, I bring you a free little mini game called the Intrigue Engine.  It’s a little thought experiment inspired by Rob Donoghue’s Mighty Brain.

Feel free to take a look, to comment and to pilfer any clever bits.  It’s mostly Amber and Durance smashed together with a light sprinkling of Polaris in there.

The Intrigue Engine First Draft


P.s. The GenCon seminars, including the “Intro to Indie RPG’s” one, will be up very soon.