Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

Recent Posts

June 2022

Posts by Date

Posts by Category

Tip Jar



Recent Comments


Top Posts & Pages

Follow me on Twitter

Waters Rising

A D&D 5th edition combat encounter for Tier 3 characters.

At the final confrontation with the Arch-sorcerer Esunell the Blue
(Ess OO nel), the party must disrupt his ritual to create the Chaos Knife!


Stephanie Bryant is a writer, game designer, bassist, knitter, and scrum master for Roll20. You can also find her on twitter: @mortaine.

Background of the PDF is by Sarah Le @sarahle on Unsplash.

Map created by Stephanie in Dungeondraft.


Special thanks to my playtesters for this encounter!

  • Alethea Martin
  • Crystal Grundhoffer
  • Minx
  • Raven stiffler
  • mohitmax

Downloadable Maps

Download VTT-ready maps (with and without grid) here.

Waters Rising encounter map

Exploring the Kingdom

Inspired by the GameChef 2015 theme and ingredients.

This is a competitive physical game for one or more players.

You will need:

  • A note-taking device (notebook or cell phone with notepad app)
  • A path or trail in a natural space (woods, wetlands, park, lake, field)
  • Optional, but useful: A field guide

Take a walk or run, in a natural place, preferably with a friend or two.

When you spot an animal (insect, bird, mammal, lizard, turtle, fish, etc.), point it out to your companions– they cannot claim that particular specimen for their list, although they could claim the same species (even if the animal is in a group). Identify what type of animal it is, as far down in taxonomy as you can get. Keep in mind where you are walking; you probably won’t see a dragonfly in the Sunset Dunes desert landscape, but you might see one at the Wetlands Park, just 10 miles away.

Write each unique species of animal you find on your list and mark 2 points. If you get down to the genus, but can’t identify the specific species, you score 1 point. You only get points for any species one time. You can only take the 1-point genus score once per genus.

You have thirty minutes to get more points than the other players.

Restless: Holiday Palette

Restless: A Very Special Holiday Horror

This is a palette for J. Walton‘s game Restless (PDF). This palette is, in essence, a pre-defined apocalypse to use to tell your stories.

3106128994_94dc2c576e_zNon-Survivors: The non-survivors are Santa’s Elves, driven mad with obsessive toy-making. They have broken free of the Workshop, overthrown their tyrannical master, and are now turning all the boys and girls of the world into toys. The  adults are gone– turned into Elves or just “disappeared.” The Elves are sweeping the world to turn every child into a toy. Their legions of marching toy soldiers and dolls who wet themselves are growing.

Survivors: All survivors are children, lost in a world where the adults have disappeared or turned against them.

When starting a card, choose a thing you might carry:

    • A baseball and bat
    • A box of art supplies
    • Enough blankets to make a blanket fort
    • A Swiss army knife
    • A doll… who did it used to be?
    • A storybook
    • Three pieces of clothing, all hand-me-downs.

Using these constraints, play Restless as normal, with the survivors and non-survivors building a story along with each card drawn at random.

200-word Game: Escape Pod One Launching

pdf-download-iconDownload as PDF.

pdf-download-icon 日本でのダウンロード (Download in Japanese). Translation by Django.

pdf-download-icon Español (in nanoludoteca: el titulo es Cápsula de Escape Uno). Translation by Juan Manuel Avila.

September, 2015 Update: I wrote a blog post for Contessa about the process of designing a quick game!

Winner of the 200 Word Challenge

Developer Statement: I woke up after a bad dream and decided it would make an interesting game. I wrote during my lunch break, and playtested at a local game store in the evening. We playtested several times, hammering it out and injecting some fun into it. 24 hours after the dream, it was down to 200 words and I sent it in. Escape Pod One Launching is a tense, cruel little game where you play astronauts with thirty seconds to get to the escape pods, or die. The problem? Not enough pods for everyone, and time is running out!

Escape Pod One Launching

By, Stephanie Bryant

License: Creative Commons: By

“Self-Destruct activated. Escape Pod One launching in 30 seconds….”

Objective: Be in the pod, alive, when it launches.

Set out one Escape Pod token per player, minus one. Pick a starting player.

Everyone starts with 4 Oxygen Tank tokens; hold only one Tank token in only one hand at a time.

On your turn:

  1. Set a timer for 30 seconds, then hide it.
  2. To take an action, throw a Tank on the table and narrate the action:
  • Move to a pod (required to escape).
  • Get in the pod (required to escape).
  • Launch the pod early.
  • Overcome an obstacle.
  • Destroy one Tank from a living player.
  1. If it’s not your turn, you may interrupt the current player to add an obstacle (costs a Tank).
  2. When you have no Tanks, you can’t take actions.
  3. When the timer sounds, the pod launches, with or without you.
  4. If the pod launches with you inside it, you win! Take a Pod token and select the next player.
  5. If it launches without you, you die. Play passes to your left, skipping anyone dead or who’s already gone.

Escape Pod Two launching in 30 seconds….”             

Tiny Dragons/Epyllion Hack

2015-04-13 09.49.28-1This is a hack to use the solo Tiny Dragons RPG and Epyllion together. Your entire Epyllion group must agree to the Tiny Dragon off-table game.

Note: Tiny Dragons is a solo game. Epyllion is a group game. This hack attempts to reconcile the two games so you can play them with the same character.

Character Sheet Conversion:

Epyllion Stat Tiny Dragon Stat
Courage Virtue
Cunning Lore
Moons (only increases with level-up) Magic
Epyllion Moon Tiny Dragon Magic
Stone Force
Storm Lightning
Void Acid
Spirit Ice
Liberty Fire

Note: House and Virtue are entirely narrative in Tiny Dragons, although both should be considered when deciding on your Tiny Dragon’s favorite hoard and diet.

Note: Although Charm is not used in Tiny Dragons, you can use it for any time a Tiny Dragon interacts with other dragons, other creatures, or even non-hypnotized giants.

All new drakes start with a breath/voice that can be used for all the types of magic. When you level up in Epyllion, you lose one form of your breath magic, but you gain +1 Moons/Magic.

Between Epyllion sessions, you can play Tiny Dragons with your character. In your Tiny form, you are not as mighty as in your full draconic glory. Thus, you cannot trade 5 Hoard for a +1 to a stat in Tiny Dragons. Instead, you can trade 5 Hoard for 1 XP in Epyllion. When you level up in Epyllion, your stat increases transfer over to your Tiny form.

To gain food, have your giant take a photo of you with your meal and post it to social media. This is a magical spell known as foodblogging or Instagramming, and the giants seem to love doing it.

In your Tiny form, you are also not as concerned with the Darkness– merely staying alive is a feat! Indeed, your giant will handle all Darkness-related quests while you are in Tiny form. Note that you might find Darkness-related clues and lore in your Tiny form!

End of Epyllion Session Move:

Your Friendship Gems at the end of your Epyllion session are converted instantly to Hoard. Have your giant collect enough hoard items to reflect it (using your friendship gem tokens for hoard makes this easier).

Start of Epyllion Session Move:

You may trade 5 Hoard for 1 Epyllion XP before the start of the session. You must narrate your adventures from your Tiny form to explain how you acquired your hoard. If your group doesn’t have time for your Tiny story, you can write it down or share it at the end of the session.

Encountering Other Dragons and Creatures:

Other dragons, perhaps from your Epyllion group, may be about in your Tiny form! If so, you can give each other Hoard if they do something that meets your virtue! If you encounter new creatures, you never know if they are a possible friend, an enemy, or someone neutral. Try to make friends, though– even if they’ve succumbed to the Darkness, most creatures are good inside and want to be nice.

Attributions: Tiny Dragons RPG is by Paul Beakley. Epyllion is by Marissa Kelly and published by Magpie Games. This hack is permitted by the creators of both original games.

200-word RPG Supplement: Moon Mage Compendium Class

pdf-download-icondownload as PDF.

Developer Statement: I ran an Epyllion campaign in 2014 for some friends of mine and their daughter. When the campaign ended, we picked up Dungeon World and decided to play it in Dragonia, but thousands of years later. Most magic is the human kind, but when our heroes encountered a dragon, we started to learn about Moon Magic, and the possibilities began to open up. This is a compendium class to bring the two settings together.

Moon Mage

CC:By, Stephanie Bryant

A Dungeon World Compendium Class for non-dragon characters’ use in Epyllion’s Dragonia setting. For the 200-word Challenge.

When you form a Bond with a dragon, the next time you level up, you may take this move instead of one from your class.

Moon Speaker

Choose one Moon and Virtue to revere. Any spell or magical effect that you cast may have the cosmetic features of that Moon, with no additional effects.

  • Stone: Honor
  • Storm: Bravery
  • Spirit: Creativity
  • Liberty: Independence

Once you’ve taken Moon Speaker, the following moves count as class moves for you; you may choose from them when you level up:

Friendship Magic

When someone you have a bond with demonstrates the Virtue you revere, gain +1 Friendship. The target of your bond decides if they demonstrated the virtue. You can spend Friendship (max 3) to add to any magic roll.

Moon Spell

When you power your Moon magic with Friendship, describe an effect which you wish to come to pass, and how it fits the Moon or Virtue. Roll+Friendship spent.

On a 10+, pick 2. On a 7-9, pick 1. The magic is:

  • powerful.
  • as noticeable or stealthy as you want.
  • without physical cost.
  • directed where you will.

Are You Sheriff Dullard? A Mafia Hack

Last year, for my 39th birthday party, I threw a “Red and Wild” birthday party, inspired by To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. In the movie, Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo are drag queens who get stranded in middle America, where they teach others to let their freak flags fly.

The movie is beautiful and still hauntingly relevant today, 19 years after it was first released.

At my party, I decided we should have a party game, which was perhaps not the best idea, since I tend to have upwards of 30 people at my parties, and we were all more than a bit tipsy. But party we did, and the game was “Are You Sheriff Dullard?”

It’s a variation on Mafia and Are you a Werewolf, in which the players try to deduce who is a hunter and who is prey, and systematically eliminate each other until one side wins.

My variation can be played with 8 or more players, and has two files– the rules PDF and cards for drawing who will play each role.

The images are all CC-licensed or public domain.

Investigate a Scene: A Dungeon World Hack


When you investigate a mystery, rolll+….

A Dungeon World and Gumshoe hack to add mystery investigation stories to your Dungeon World games.

TimeWatch Adventures!

Hannibal Crossing the Alps (2/4/14)

TimeWatch has detected an anomaly in the continuum! It doesn’t sound too serious, but we’re pretty sure Hannibal wasn’t riding a triceratops over the mountains. Can your team fix it, rookie?

Recruitment Drive (3/15/14)

“Beware the Ides of March! No, I’m serious, guys– March 15th is, like, seriously a bad-luck day.”

“Maybe it’s just bad luck for you, Julius.”

“Nah– that’s the day I got recruited by TimeWatch. It’s still a bad mojo day, though. Listen, as long as we’re talking recruitment…”

“…. Yes?”

“I’ve got casefiles on a few good men. You guys locked and loaded and ready to rock and or roll?”

“I wish we’d never gotten you that DVD player.”

Little Boy in the Snow (4/7/14)

TO: Dariya
FROM: S. Connor
DATE: August 16, 2098
SUBJECT: Don’t Follow Me

D– Got caught in 2098. Underground bunker. Miscalculated Judg Day. Not sure, but I hear rumors that weird aliens are responsible. Don’t know– surface too hot to investigate. Stuck here till my autochron works again– radiation interfering. The machines aren’t smart enough here. Something went wrong. Fix it before 2075 when the bombs go off. –S.C.

Stop the Zombies (8/14/14)

It’s the zombie apocalypse, & humanity’s survival is hanging by a thin thread. Only you can stop the extinction of our species! Are you up to the task, TimeWatch Agent?

Zombie Dinosaurs? Oh, No! (8/14/14)

TimeWatch just solved the temporal anomaly that nearly destroyed humanity with flesh-eating zombies. Now we have to deal with zombie t-rex, too? What’s next? Trilobyte terrors?

Corporate Zombies (8/15/14)

Having solved the zombie apocalypses threatening Earth, TimeWatch is now struggling against the zombie threat within its very own walls! Can your team resolve it once and for all?

Vikings (8/29/14)

The agents are standing on the site of a salvage operation near Labrador, Canada, observing or working on a crew that is currently salvaging an ancient ship, dating back to <1000 BCE, just before the first known Viking settlement in the Americas. As the vessel is lifted, one of the agents recognizes its shape as being a German U-Boat, and sees the German designation on the side.

Moments later, time ripples. The agents are recalled from this operation by their TimeWatch superior, a sophosaur (previously a human named Lt. Fred Daniels). In fact, most of TimeWatch is operated by sophosaurs, and would the lowly pinks like to come back to the agency and get back on the serious work of bug-hunting the ezeru?


Glass of Sands

The Glass of Sand

An island for Inverse World which I will release here just as soon as my players are done messing with it!

The Musketgears

MusketgearsRPG  v. 1.0D'Artagnan_(silver)_rv

This is The Musketgears, a steampunk RPG  set in mid-19th century France, during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III.

The players take the roles of Codenames: Athos, Aramis, Porthos, and D’artagnan, the espionage successors to the original Musketeers. Now dedicated to protecting the weak and ushering in the Republique, the Musketgears are a force for the Emperor to reckon with… if only he knew who they are!

This playtest packet is being released in “alpha playtest” stage, which means everything might be wrong and broken with it. Try to have fun with it and let me know what’s really broken, what works, and what you think would improve.

Submit playtest feedback here!

Kings and Queens


A deck building game for 2-4 players, ages 10 and up. One game lasts 15-20 minutes.

Materials: 2 decks of cards with the same backs.

Object: To purchase the most queens before the end of the game.

Tip Jar

© 2022 Mortaine's Blog All Rights Reserved   

Theme Smartpress by Level9themes.