2017-08-09 : Shays' Rebellion

Here's another quick transplant from Twitter. Meg and I went to Hiftory Camp and...

Friends, I learned such timely and relevant things today about Shays' Rebellion! Here's the shortest possible summary.

1) Revolutionary soldiers were paid in "continentals," paper currency issued for the purpose.

2) Continentals devalued rapidly and almost completely, and speculators bought them for pennies on the pound.

3) One such speculator was James Bowdoin, later to be governor of Massachusetts. He and 2 friends bought up 40% of the continentals in MA.

4) As governor, he enacted legislation to redeem continentals at face value. To pay for them, he raised taxes to six times what they'd been.

5) The farmers who now had to pay 6x their taxes to pay for his continentals? Many of them were the same veterans he'd bought them from!

Isn't that amazing?

The outcome was armed rebellion, and who can wonder. The kickoff action was to shut down the county courthouse in Northampton and free the prisoners from debtors' jail.

Sam Adams wrote of Shays' Rebellion, "in monarchy, the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death." Sam Adams can stuff it up his nose.

2017-08-01 : Apocalypse World is In Print Again

You can buy it in hardcover or paperback at

Even if you have the book, though, go download the landfall marine playbook. It has some cool new stuff in it. It was made possible by my Patreon supporters, so if you dig it, consider signing up!

2017-07-25 : #rpgtheoryJuly: Violence In My Games

Transplanted from #rpgtheoryJuly:

1. At heart, I'm a horror game designer. Violence against fictional characters is a crucial part of almost all of my games.

2. I think that this is fine. "Violence" against game pieces or characters isn't real and shouldn't be taken for it.

3. ...To the point where I don't see how we get from combat systems in games to any consideration of real violence at all.

4. I mean, identifying with our characters (or game pieces) provides a small link, but only a small one...

5. ...As violence against your character MIGHT constitute social violence against the real you, but doesn't automatically.

6. It totally depends on the game. In @PaulCzege's term, on the game's social architecture.

7. Play violence, in other words, doesn't and shouldn't require you to hurt anybody. The opposite!

8. So in my games, I always try to design ways for us, the real people, to have fun with play fighting.

9. Like, collaborating enthusiastically with one another to commit pretend violence on our characters/game pieces.

10. In all of my games, you can let your character suffer violence, without making the real you a chump or a victim.

11. ...In various ways, for various purposes, with various outcomes, game by game.

12. This always includes ways for you as a player to choose how much you're risking or willing to have your character suffer.

13. ...But it doesn't always include an out or a veto. In some games, it's "you risked this, and it came true, so it stands."

14. Because in some games, gambling big and losing is part of the fun!

15. So the design task is, divorce play violence from real-world social violence, aggression, hostility, between the players.

16. Keep the players enthusiastically in the game, collaborating, while their characters try to hurt and kill each other.

17. This isn't like a big challenge, it's just a task, but you can get it wrong. Have a plan! Design on purpose!

18. Oh, I want to add, about emotional violence.

19. If you're designing a game that features emotional violence against characters, even moreso.

20. You shouldn't have to bully me as a player in order for your character to bully mine. Gaslight me to gaslight mine. No!

21. Play fights should be fun for the loser too, even emotional play fights. Gotta divorce that play violence from the real!

22. That's basically it. Characters & game pieces are disposable, friendship & trust aren't. Take care of each other, yeah?

2017-06-24 : Roleplaying is a Conversation?

"Roleplaying is a conversation," Apocalypse World says, to its GM. But what I'd say to someone designing a game is different. To them, I'd say that conversation is the medium in which a roleplaying game plays.

Chess isn't a chessboard with its pieces; a chessboard with its pieces is the medium in which Chess plays.

2017-06-07 : Failure in RPGs (by Paganini)

Quoth my old friend Paganini:

It used to be like this:

DM: The plot is behind that locked door.
Fighter: I pick the lock.
DM: Ye can't pick ye lock, you're a fighter. Bring a rogue next time.
Fighter: *goes and does something else, missing the plot*
- OR -
DM: Roll!
Rogue: *rolls 100 or so times over the course of the next 3 days, fighting off concomitant wondering monster attacks, until one of a few things happens:*
1. He finally rolls that 20
2. The party gives up and leaves, thus missing the plot
3. The wandering monsters wipe out the party
4. The DM gets bored and has his Precious Favorite NPC, Dios ab Mechanicos, briefly poke his head around the corner and wave his Wand O' Knockin' at the door, leaving the party wondering why good ol' Dios doesn't just finish the whole adventure for them.

Click in for more!

2016-12-12 : Love, Warmth, Good Will, etc.

2016-11-20 : Butt Trumpets

2016-07-26 : Amazons!

2016-06-07 : Core Tension

2016-05-31 : Fallen London Again

2016-04-26 : A Quick & Dirty Outline

2015-12-21 : AW:Fallen Empires

2015-11-11 : Playing Nature's Year

2015-10-29 : Freebooting Venus Playtest Document

2015-09-08 : Threeforged Challenge: Public Voting