What are you working on right now?


#1

Tell us about your current game design project. Choose just one, even if you’re working on more than one. Choose the one you most want to tell us about, whether it’s currently at the conceptual stage, final polishing, or anything in between.

Tell us whatever you like, but definitely these three things:

  • The elevator pitch
  • Why you’re excited about it
  • What your hopes are in relation to it

Thread rule: no unsolicited critiques or “that sounds a lot like this other game” posts.


#2

Imagine you found an old stack of Heavy Metal magazines you forgot your had. Ones you’d never read before even though they’re from the early years of the magazine, the best weirdest musings of artists like Enki Bilal, Jean Giraud (Moebius), and Phillipe Druillet. The Soft Horizon project is a series of games using a single custom system that represents the best strip in each of those lost magazines.

I’m excited about this for many reasons. First, the setting is at once constrained insofar as it’s all psychedelic often political fantasy and also wide open: each game is a plane in the multiverse of the Soft Horizon. Then there’s the system which is designed to ease my anxieties and meet my needs as a ref. They are specific needs and not everyone’s but I’m hoping there are others like me and therefore an audience. It’s also entirely playtested by text chat which is the only way I can play these days, and so the system has a minimum amount of friction with that medium. It asks the ref to ad lib in places that it’s fun to ad lib and it provides a slim structure of cues to minimize prep. It’s also my break from designing for Fate, so it excites me to be doing something different and, I think, better than what I’ve done before.

I hope it finds an audience. It doesn’t need to – it’s really for me – but I really hope there are others that will find the structure of it exciting, novel, and soothing to ref. I don’t need it to replace my job, but I hope it pays some bills.


#3

My current big project is Get Ready 2 Rock, a game about a band preparing for a big show while dealing with stupid rockstar drama. Inspired by things like This Is Spinal Tap, Flight of the Conchords, and VH1 Behind The Music. It’s my first major project that isn’t about animals (though I suppose I could write an Emmett Otter-inspired scenario for it). It’s not an Important or Serious game, and in fact I consider it a sort of admission that I will never be able to write anything like that – my lane is zany/wacky. The system is a GMless PbtA variant. I’m hoping to kickstart it this coming spring.


#4

PITCH: BARDSONG is a game about the bardic tradition of lionizing the heroes tale through poetry and song. It’s a competitive improvisational story telling game where a group of bards try to write an epic about a hero through the art of ludicrous embellishment.

“I heard he arm-wrestled a bear and won…”
“Well, I heard it was two bears and he bear-ly broke a sweat!”

So fearless our man and so cool under pressure
protecting the people from harm
that once when his home was invaded by ursine
he wrestled one bear with each arm!

What I hope to achieve: You start with a vague idea of a moderately heroic character. The first bard at the table begins by spinning a yarn about one of that heroes daring deeds. The next bard either concedes the point to the last speaker or embellishes on the tale. If they concede (by saying “Hear hear!” and raising a glass) that part of the story gets written into a couplet or some other type of verse.

In the end you have should have an absurdly hyperbolic poem or song about a hero.

I’m excited about this because I like the idea of games that leave you with a keepsake. Finding old campaign notes is something I’ve always loved and I wanted to capture that feeling with a mechanic. The poem/song is something you’ll have forever.

Also, I’m not the funniest person but I feel like real funny people would end up with hilarious epics.


#5

Thread rule: no unsolicited critiques or “that sounds a lot like this other game” posts.


#6

Any chance of a Bill and Ted stretch goal @Stentor_Danielson? Potentially topical.


#7
  • A stacking advantage 2d6 system that strives to feel like D&D where what’s happening better informs the dice rolls and ability mechanics while also a more flexible character development system.
  • I believe I have ideas that don’t quite fit in both OSR style games and in PbtA style games. I really love how much it feels like a character that knows how to do something feels like they aren’t just a 25% chance away from failing their specialized task despite having prepared for it their whole lives, while also reducing how ridiculous minmaxing can get in some games.
  • The world I’m building is an attempt to create agency even in death and to give players a way to be useful even in death so my game can be a bit lethal without being frustrating. I’m also excited about the implications of how ghosts and extraplanar creatures function as a result. I’m also excited about producing decolonized fantasy species as playable characters with how my heritage system works.

#8

I used to read Heavy Metal for years so this is for me too now. Excited to see and help support you financially with it!


#9

Wonderful! I hope you dig it!


#10

“What the water gave me.”

This is a ghost story which tells two stories in parallel. There is a Millpool which has ensured the wealth and prosperity of the village of Whitmere for hundreds of years - for a tithe of bodies.

The first story is set in 1600s England in a stereotypical pastoral village setting - exploring the relationships of a set of villagers in the constrained social and religious mores of the era. The second story is set in modern times amongst a group of friends on holiday - a group of friends with pretty messy relationships. Players have a character from each time period. In the modern time they can remember their past lives in the earlier time and feelings, relationship and events will bleed through from the 1600s into the Modern scenes (it will not happen in reverse). Both time periods are about to experience another spate of unexplained deaths at the pool - that is the broad backdrop for the scenes.

The system is based on a deck of cards, which you customise (by writing key words, events and phrases on them) as you play to frame scenes and to foreshadow events. Scenes in the 1600s will be reflected, mirrored and re-played in a paired scene in the modern era. This scene framing mechanic interacts with the players own hand of cards to determine at the end of the game who will die in the pool.

I’m excited at the idea of creating an artifact of play. Especially because at the end of the game you keep the deck, and use it in future games - the ghosts of those earlier games informing and foreshadowing future games.


#11

I’ve actually never seen Bill and Ted. But I’m planning to get a bunch of folks to write scenarios dealing with different genres, so maybe we’ll get one.


#12

The thing that’s taking up the most space in my brain right now is Space Post, a tabletop roleplaying game about delivering the mail to various hardscrabble colonies along the sci-fi equivalent of a rural route. It explores fun design concepts like de-prioritizing conflict, and Dosmukhamedov-style character agency, and a single shared protagonist. You know the thing in Dogs in the Vineyard where you return to a town you “fixed” and see what’s changed? Space Post has very rapid cycles of that satisfying dynamic.

Also the postal agent’s sidekick is their intelligent spaceship.

I’ll be releasing it to my Drip backers and then eventually to the world. It’s a small, gentle game and I hope people embrace its smallness and gentleness.


#13

The main thing that I’m working on at the moment is “A Cool and Lonely Courage”. It is a story game about the heroic women spies in occupied France in WW2. It is designed with simple rules to promote complex emotions.

I had been inspired by the feelings that Grey Ranks generated when I first played it, and I wanted to create a game which helped the players experience emotions while playing. I’m excited because both in the early playtesting and the subsequent blind playtesting which has taken place, it has definitely met that goal.

My earnest hope is that people will play it, love it, and be inspired to find out more about the actual women whom it is based upon and intends to honour. I’d especially love it if this game could be used in some educational contexts, to help people think about one of the lesser known roles that women played in wartime.

Cheers


#14

Hexen - 3 Factions of Supernaturals vs the Overlord.
Rebellion themes, help your loved ones, resist the Overlord (and his militia), struggle with your humanity/hungers, three rebel factions with competing goals. Lycans, Vamps, Magi, Geist PCs.

I see it has much potential, but also many potential areas to fail. Hope people enjoy it, though it is a darker tone. Will try several rpg systems to see what is the best fit, want to nail down the concept first.


#15

I’m currently dusting off Schism Song, an old design of mine.

The pitch: a game about a lone wanderer finding their place in a burned-out world, inspired by the rambly, homey, post-apocalyptic feel of the game Bastion.

Why I’m Excited: it’s GMless, with all the players giving input on the story of “the Drifter”, and I’m trying to emulate the structure of a musicians’ jam session for the game, passing the flow of the story back and forth. Also, I cooked up a funky idea of letting players take up playbooks which limit their scope but also give them different actions within the narrative, a bit like how the different GMing sheets in Dream Askew work. The mix of playbooks that eventually assembles determines what type of game is happening, which is a really cool idea! Finally, I use a method of interpreting the dice that treats the results as non-numeric symbols with different meanings, and I really think it lends to a unique flow.

My Hopes: that it becomes a fresh take on game narrative, and that it reflects the spark of its inspiration material.


#16

Pitch: A pbta Star Wars-style space opera from the droid’s perspective

Excited about: It’s my first game, and I think it has interesting power dynamics. You’re hyper-competent droids, but you’re ultimately subservient to the human crew.

My hopes: That it’s not completely awful or incredibly offensive. (I’m trying to keep my expectations low.)


#17

Working on Awoke with Kate.

Teenage pbta cyberpunk with a focus on care and community, with dark and terrible magic.

It is a love letter to CyberGeneration minus all the baggage that comes with the game.

I am excited in the ways we decided to move away from some of the pbta stuff. Base mechanic is still the same but after a frustrating play test we did away with harm, and xp. Same with tech, I am super excited because tech is present but doesn’t become something that takes over.

My hope is that it ends up something that people feel good playing.


#18

A Cosmic Year, a hack of Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year, about collectively drawing up a cosmology.


#19

A PbtA inspired, OSR adjacent adventure game that you make with your players as you play. Imagine that you just heard about RPGs. Not bought and read a book, not played it with a friend of your older brother - just heard, read about it or seen it shown on an episode of a TV show. Now imagine making your own game based only on that info and playing it - this is what I want to capture.

What excites me the most that the game manages to be about “discovery” both on the narrative and rules side:

  • On the narrative front, the game is seeing how the world that has changed (the world went “weird” for few generations, and now has returned to a relative normalcy). Everything outside of players’ home town/city and few is created as the game progresses.

  • On the rules front, the game starts with a single WoDu-like move. As you play and encounter new things, you will add more “moves” to the rules.

  • Both types of discovery have procedures/guidelines for how to add new things to the game.

I am also making it as much sight impaired friendly as possible. I have never thought how much of a hassle keeping track of numbers on a character sheet can be to a blind or sight impaired players, until a played with them.

Lastly, my elevator pitch above is exactly how I got into RPG. I have heard about it, then seen an episode of Dexter’s Lab about DnD. After that I made a “game” inside a cardboard “GM screen” and “run” it for my younger brother and his friend. I wish I still had that tri-fold piece of cardboard.

As for what I hope? I just hope that someone outside of my group will enjoy it. I hope that people can use it to introduce new people to the hobby (because in my experience, without the baggage of DnD and other trad RPGs, the creativity flies high) and also hope I will not be “stoned” by people when they discover that there are numerous blank pages and empty spaces in the book (left so you can write your own stuff into the rulebook).

C&C Welcome :slight_smile:


The first RPG you ever made!
Designing PbtA without Harm or HP
#20

Origin Story, an explicitly self-contained one-shot superhero RPG where you play out the first appearance of a cinematic blockbuster superhero in under 4 hours, optimized for play over Hangouts and convention spaces (like Games on Demand). One player would portray the hero in question and everyone else would rotate between supporting cast, with the GM taking care of pacing and ancillary characters. You could play several sessions to assemble a hero team to port into another system for long-term play, with explicit rules for teasing potential other/future heroes and villains in the post-credits, and stuff like that.

I love superhero games, and there’s a crap-ton of generalist titles, even some that drill into the genre, but I really want one that’s aimed at focused single-session play that emulates cinematic supers of the last decade or so, as opposed to comics or cartoons.

My hopes are that I can get over myself and my constant insistence I have no business thinking about stuff like this because I’m ‘not a designer’. Ideally it’d be ashcan-sized and I’d have a stack of them on my table alongside all the other games I carry at cons. It’s still just an idea right now, with a different outline every couple of of weeks.