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.

Epimas is coming! After the year we've had, maybe we could all use some good straightforward holiday cheer.

Here's what's up with Epimas:

• You buy some game PDFs as gifts to be delivered to your friend, family member or assorted loved one on Dec. 24th.

• You immediately receive copies of the game PDFs for free so you can read them over and be prepared to play them with your friend, family member or assorted loved one on Dec. 24th.

This year, Father Epiclaus (that is, Epidiah Ravachol) has put together 8 bundles of games to choose from. Check them all out here: Epimas Bundles - Worlds Without Master.

If you're looking for Apocalypse World 2nd Ed, it's in the Good Will bundle.

Happy Epimas, and to all a good game!

2016-11-20 : Butt Trumpets

Click through to download for free!

2016-07-26 : Amazons!

My newest game, Amazons, is out! It's in Worlds Without Master Issue 11, available now.

Amazons is a Sword & Sorcery rpg for two players and two or more GMs. The two players play two Amazons, devoted friends and traveling companions, and the GMs share responsibility for the troubled and perilous situation they find themselves in.

Last time we played, the amazons fought off a sea monster's spawn, yelled at some Vikings, and placated the dawn-goddess of an otherwise forgotten pantheon.

I created the game to celebrate Tanith Lee and the essential point of view that her stories brought to the Sword & Sorcery genre.

Check it out if you want, and if you like good new Sword & Sorcery stories, comics, and games, you should be following Worlds Without Master anyway.

As always, I'm happy to answer any questions you have. If you've read the game, what do you think?

2016-06-07 : Core Tension

In Chess, the object of the game is to checkmate the other king, but you might not be able to do it. This is because you can move your pieces only in certain ways, arranging a checkmate requires some pretty complicated coordination, and your opponent is not only actively resisting, but is trying to checkmate you too, the whole time.

This is the "core tension" in Chess. "The object of the game is to __, but you might not be able to do it, because __."

What's the core tension in your game?

From this point of view, you can say that "a game" is an elaboration of its core tension, and that when you enact it, "gameplay" spills out.

You can compare games to see whether they have identical, similar, or different core tensions, and also how they elaborate their core tensions into similar or different games. You can see how small differences in core tension and elaboration can create large differences in gameplay, and how similar gameplay can spill out of radically different core tensions, if that's how they're elaborated. Examples: Chess vs Tafl, Hearts vs Spades vs Knaves, Eat Poop You Cat vs Pictionary.

You can peer into a core tension to see the lines across which it's tensed. Some games are easy or inevitable, some are impossible. Some call for gambling, some for patient problem-solving, some for the right strategy, some for followthrough. Some are easy if you approach them one way but impossible if you don't realize the trick. Examples: jigsaw puzzles, Eat Poop You Cat, High Five the ISS, Golf (the card game), Are We In the Game?, Perplexus.

You can examine and judge how well a game's elaboration suits its core tension. In some games, the winning way to play isn't the most fun way to play; in other games, it is. In some games, the winning way to play isn't the intuitive way to play; in other games, it is. Examples: Roborally, Go, Pandemic, Mobile Frame Zero, Kodama.

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

2015-08-31 : This August Past

2015-07-04 : The Object of an RPG is to...

2015-06-27 : A Small Western Binge

2015-05-23 : Fury Road vs The Homesman