The Posthuman Doorways

Here is my submission for the 2013 Game Chef contest. It was a great experience as usual, though I was under a heck of a crunch to produce this year. I am currently finalizing Spark in to fulfill my Kickstarter and, along with a convention last weekend, my time was at a premium.

While it could use a strong editing pass, I think the text expresses the underlying ideas well enough. I would love any feedback in the comments.

The Posthuman Doorways – GameChef


Edit: And apparantly I am a finalist for GameChef 2013. I am very surprised and equally pleased. Thanks for reading!

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!

Spark RPG at Metatopia 2012

I have just returned from Metatopia 2012, the amazing convention run by Double Exposure over in New Jersey each November. This was my first experience at Metatopia, but it has absolutely stolen my heart. Not only was Vinny amazing as usual in organizing the event despite the minor inconvenience of a Hurricane, we even managed to get the critical mass of game designers necessary to have 2 parallel game design seminar tracks going and a vast number of playtest sessions.

Critical mass is absolutely the correct description of Metatopia. The brain trust in those rooms was phenomenal, and it’s evident when listening to the recordings (say, GM’less play) that the discussions were at a high level of sophistication.

Whereas I have found many GenCon panels are by necessity, collage, or undergraduate level in complexity, I found Metatopia panels were closer to Masters or Doctorate level. Perhaps less useful for the budding designer, but absolutely priceless to those of us with a enough of a foundation to participate. Pity there wasn’t enough time to participate in all of it, or spend some time gaming with more of these fine ladies and gentlemen.

On the topic of panels, I recorded a large number of these and have coordinated with others (including Fred Hicks and Jason Morningstar) to get more coverage. I will be starting up a podcast feed shortly, specifically for the purpose of distributing RPG Game Design seminar recordings. My current working title on that is “The RPG Design Panelcast”, and I expect to have at least one episode drop within a week or two. You should be able to find them here on my site, or on Itunes.

The underlying reason why I was attending Metatopia was to determine if Spark is ready to go forward. The first of the playtest sessions was full of experienced Jeepform and Nordic Larp pros who tested the hardcore version of the game, diving into play while dealing with highly-sensitive subjects and beliefs that were personally meaningful to the players. The feedback was that the mechanics of the game pulled out of immersion enough that there was little *Bleed*. The described the game as being an interesting intellectual exercise, but not one that is inherently transmitting emotion to the player. This feedback gave me an incredible amount of comfort, as it meant that my game was less emotionally risky to any potential players, and that it encourages the kind of philosophical introspection I was looking for.

The second playtest was originally intended to be targeting experienced Burning Wheel players, but strangely enough, I didn’t get a large group of those fans. Instead, I got a lovely playtest session with two masters of the system: Jeff and Emily. These two were kind enough to playtest Spark _twice_ at Dreamation, then joined me once more for my Metatopia test. With their assistance, I tested how a 2-player game worked and cleaned up the Influence economy. They even helped me test out a proposed change to my scene framing rules, which I wound up rejecting due to their excellent feedback.

The fundamental thing that came out of both sessions was a sense of confidence. This was one of the first times that I tested the game and the experience of play felt natural. I feel that I am ready to finalize the text, to get a final editing pass done, and to start planning for my kickstarter.

Thank you all.

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.