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#AprilTTRPGMaker: Days 3 and 4

Day 3: How did you start?

I made campaigns for my D&D groups. Sometimes, they were good. Usually they were terrible. I still have several binders and folders of them, and this map I was working on for one campaign (Tabula Rasa– the PCs wake up with lots of history, but no memories), which ended when the players stopped enjoying it.

The more recent delve into making games really started about 7 years ago when I decided to start learning how to make games. I started a self-driven apprenticeship in how to make games, with reading lists and blogs to follow. It’s one reason my circles in Google+ include some people who are problematic, though not the worst of the bad actors, thankfully– I’ve paid attention to what happens in OSR as a part of my learning process.

Day 4: Describe your work.

One thing I love in creativity is that mashing two things together can be very fruitful. “Post apocalyptic Toy Story” is a good mashup, and kind of describes Threadbare. I’d say as a game creator, I like to do mashups of genre and ideas– it’s not just “a dungeon where nobody sleeps,” it’s “an adventure where nobody sleeps, and the town is plagued by clowns and other carnival-esque nightmares.”

Gamex 2016 (Strategicon): What we played!

This weekend, I went to Strategicon, as I do two or three times a year. Memorial Day weekend is Gamex, and it’s usually well-attended and of course a lot of fun.

brehahaFriday night, I’d pre-registered for a game called Brew Ha Ha from UNCORKED Games! It has 24 left in its Kickstarter right now, and I highly recommend it!

The premise of the game is like Apples to Apples, Funemployed, or Cards Against Humanity, with a judge and each player submitting cards to tickle the judge’s funny bone. In Brew Ha Ha, however, each round starts with a 1-ounce beer tasting, and you pick cards that describe the beer. The judge awards a point to the “most accurate” description, and one point to their personal favorite, which may or may not be accurate, or maybe just funny.

In the course of a few rounds, we drank about the equivalent of a single beer, but had a lot of fun doing so! Really fun game, and one of the few “drinking games” where the point isn’t to do irreparable liver damage!

Saturday was a good day for kicking around, going to the vendor hall, and catching up with friends. I ran Threadbare at 2 and 8 PM, so I didn’t want to get too overtaxed beforehand. My 2 PM game was in the “family hall,” which was poorly marked, but consisted of a set of tables in the hallway. When only adults showed up to play, we moved over to an empty table in one of the gaming rooms. I ran the first run-through of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” a new adventure where you’re a scouting group for your community. For the 8 PM game, I had 7 players, and was reminded that 7 is just a bit too many for PbtA games (I never learn!)

Sunday morning was beach time, which was lovely! I took my kite out and we had a  great time flying it at Venice Beach. Lots of fun, lots of people working out (I guess this was the area known for lots of gyms and such!)

Sunday afternoon I played in Dave K’s new game, Bedlam Hall. It’s a (PbtA) cross between Downton Abbey and Edward Gorey. Wonderfully dreadful, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop it. I think it’ll be a very fun game once he’s ready to release it.

In the evening, I played in Toby’s game Jinkies! Also PbtA, Jinkies is a Scooby-Doo inspired adventure where you play the Scooby gang, solving a mystery and having adventures on the way. I playtested a new playbook that didn’t really fit in with the other archetypes. He’ll be revisiting that playbook as he continues to develop it.

Monday morning, we busted out Yellowstone, an Avalon Hill game about the national park. It’s basically Chinese Checkers with predators, and although we had fun, this was definitely our “bad game for the con” experience. It didn’t help that this was the game I personally brought to the con, and which I now own. Ah, well. It was fun anyway, and I got to play a herd of elk!

While I was out of town, Threadbare hit $9K in funding, and continues to go well. The Kickstarter has 8 days left, and I’m excited and hope it hits its next two stretch goals before it finishes up!

Threadbare is LIVE! (And some behind-the-scenes marketing talk)

As of last Wednesday, Threadbare is LIVE on Kickstarter!

If you don’t know, Threadbare is my role-playing game about broken toys in a broken world. It has a stitchpunk/maker aesthetic, but focuses on creating and building, rather than tearing things apart.

I’ve written about it quite a bit here in the blog, and I’m very excited that the game is finally live and funding.

But let me chat a little bit about one of the things I’ve done to promote my Kickstarter. Aside from telling everyone I know, and being a little shameless about podcasts and interviews, of course.

As you might or might not know, many years ago, I wrote a fantasy world-building guide, and then later I wrote a 30-day guide for world-building. For several years, I’ve had an “ad box” on those pages, quietly drawing revenue from Project Wonderful, which is an ad-share service largely focused on the webcomic and geek markets. It doesn’t do popups, and  I used it to promote Handknit Heroes a bit, but found that it was just a nice trickle of revenue that I left in my Project Wonderful account. Over the years, that has accumulated to a small sum in my account, money which I didn’t have to actually put into the account.

On Sunday, I posted an ad for Threadbare on the site and started spending what’s in my account. I’ve already had one sale due to the ads, which have been shown over 130,000 times (click through rate isn’t great, though). I was able to target them somewhat towards games/gaming, crafting, and writing sites. Most importantly, though, this didn’t cost me anything right now, when I’m trying to promote this Kickstarter without breaking the bank.

Metatopia 2015: Experiences and brain-dump

threadbareThere were a lot of experiences– both amazing and not-so-amazing– at my first Metatopia last weekend, where I brought Threadbare to playtest among strangers and other professionals. Totally not intimidating, right?

I went with my friend Toby, and we practiced the buddy system quite a bit all weekend. This meant I was less likely to go insert myself into groups the way I normally do, but also meant that we always had someone watching out for each other, making sure we ate and hydrated, and going to bed at reasonable(ish) hours. Also, having someone split a bar tab with you is always nice.

There was a meet-and-greet with other female and non-binary designers on Thursday night, which was fun and exciting and involved a lot of arts and crafts. I was exhausted, having been up since about 2:30 that morning and having spent 3 more hours than I was capable of spending at the Newark airport before we finally caught a ride and got into the hotel. Nonetheless, not having any overly structured things on Thursday really helped us settle in.

Continue reading Metatopia 2015: Experiences and brain-dump

Two Free Microgames

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about games, and reading games, and wanting to design games.

A couple of years ago, Wil Wheaton issued a challenge to “just make stuff.” It was limited in scope– for one day, just make something, and then release it for others to enjoy.

I make stuff all the time, of course. Between knitting and gaming and writing, I’m in a state of pretty much nonstop creativity. My shower should really have a whiteboard in it… and now I have a product idea…

But I digress. “Make something.” What came out of Wheaton’s challenge was Threadbare, a stitchpunk RPG about broken toys in a broken world. It’s still in beta, but I’m getting excited about the possibilities. Threadbare is a cool setting and an interesting world. If I were going to release/publish it, I would definitely make a variation that is powered by Apocalypse World and/or a Fate setting (if not a blend of both). The setting and concept are far more interesting, in my opinion, than the clunky mechanics that I come up with.

As a result of all the time I spend thinking and writing about games, I’ve started to write some games. One great way to practice writing games is to enter game design contests, like the one for The Dungeon of Lost Coppers hosted by Dyson Logos, or the Night of the Barrel on that ends tonight, by Matthew Bannock. The ConTessa convention was a great source of inspiration and contests. For that one, I wrote this little microgame called d3 GUM: Generic Universal Microgame.


It’s a universal tactical RPG that uses a d3, with an optional rule for using a fudge die instead of a d3.

It’s actually not that robust of a game, but I enjoyed making it. I describe it as “Gurps as a d3 microgame” because it’s super-crunchy for such a small game.

It fits on a quarter piece of paper, double-sided. I’m considering having it printed up as postcards, because I think that’s hilarious.

I also  made this little game:


It’s another microgame. This one fits on a 4″ coaster, and is a story game about beers conspiring against each other, for glory. This is my entry into the Night of the Barrel contest– the other entry as of today is a really neat game, also pub-themed, that reads like a crossover between The Hangover (the movie) and Baron Munchausen (the game).

This is the third game I’ve made, like, ever, aside from writing countless adventures to run my players through as a GM. This week will also challenge my creativity as I am running two games online– one is the first adventure in a new Dungeon World campaign (The Five Shores), and the other is a 2-session arc of Timewatch for the Wednesday night D&D group (you may remember them as the TuesdayDnD group… we had a scheduling change).


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