All posts by epistolaryrichard

What’s Hot in Indie RPGs 2018

What’s Hot in Indie RPGs 2018? – Dragonmeet 2018 seminar (47 mins) Download
An annual lookback at 2018 and some of the games and trends in indie rpgs.

Ric moderated this seminar at Dragonmeet on 1st December 2018. The panel was Rob, Eunice Hung, James Mullen and Lloyd Gyan. (Read the hand-outs, including popular con games, biggest kickstarters and themes in the year and a list of games released in 2018)

Please note: this was recorded at a busy convention and so there is considerable background noise and microphone pops and clunks. Please be cautious if listening using earphones.

0107 Rob Carnel on The Clay That Woke (2014) and Minotaur World
0410 James Mullen on Spire (2018)
0702 Eunice Hung on Fall of Magic (2015)
1304 Lloyd Gyan on Legend of the Five Rings 5e (2018)

1700 Rob Carnel on better Powered by the Apocalypse Games and second editions of indie rpgs
1940 James Mullen on a return to solid mechanics in indie rpgs
2133 Eunice Hung on the representation of marginalised groups within indie rpgs
2735 Lloyd Gyan is sick of using numbered dice

3200 Q&A: Please destroy unnecessary crowdfunding stretch-goals
3308 Q&A: Which rpg mechanic or aspect best delivers the designer’s intent?
3950 Q&A: The greatest misuse of PBTA?
4235 Q&A: What makes an rpg well-suited for Twitch / performing in front of an audience?

4550 What games are you looking forward to?
Rob Carnel: Thousand Year Old Vampire
James Mullen: Over the Edge
Eunice Hung: Dream Askew / Dream Apart
Lloyd Gyan: Bastion

Other games mentioned
#Feminism anthology (2016)
A Cosy Den (2018)
Alas, the Awful Sea (2017)
Blades in the Dark (2018)
Conan (2017)
Dread (2005)
Dungeons & Dragons (1974-2014)
Fiasco (2009)
Follow (2017)
Genesys (2017)
Kult: Divinity Lost (2018)
Lady Blackbird (2009)
Masks: A New Generation (2016)
Microscope (2011)
Monkey (2018)
Never Tell Me The Odds (20??)
Nibiru (20??)
Ribbon Drive (2009)
Scum & Villainy (2018)
Sigmata (2018)
Starcrossed (20??)
Storied Yarns (20??)
The Quiet Year (2013)
The Shadow of Yesterday (2004)
Vagabonds of Dyfed (2018)
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e (2009)
Weave (2017)
Winterhorn (2017)

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What’s Hot in Story Games 2017

What’s Hot in Story Games 2017? – Dragonmeet 2017 seminar (45 mins) Download
An annual lookback at 2017 and some of the games and trends in story games and narrative rpgs.

Ric moderated this seminar at Dragonmeet on 2nd December 2017. The panel was Rob, Becky Annison, Elizabeth Lovegrove and Lloyd Gyan. (Read the hand-outs, including popular con games, biggest kickstarters and top patreons and a list of games released in 2017)

0100 Rob Carnel on Fair Verona Burns: A Tragedy In Three Acts (2017)
0300 Becky Annison on Bluebeard’s Bride (2017)
0753 Elizabeth Lovegrove on Dialect (201?)
1110 Lloyd Gyan on Tales From The Loop (2017) (and Hood: Adventures in Sherwood (2017))

1622 Rob Carnel on blurring the lines between mainstream & indie design and whether some rule systems liberate or constrain their hacks
2130 Becky Annison on non-violence
2700 Elizabeth Lovegrove on rpgs in education
2845 Lloyd Gyan on Irish rpg conventions

3218 Q&A: Games with mechanically supported courtly intrigue?
3548 Q&A: Games using Augmented/Virtual Reality?
3645 Q&A: What stakes can you use without violence?
4000 Q&A: How to get into indie rpgs in London?

4200 What games are you looking forward to?
Rob Carnel: The Sword, the Crown & the Unspeakable Power (201?)
Becky Annison: Winterhorn (2017)
Elizabeth Lovegrove: Good Society (201?)
Lloyd Gyan: Katanas & Trenchcoats (201?)

Other games mentioned
1001 Nights (2006)
6016 (#Feminism anthology (2016))
Alas, the Awful Sea (2017)
Bedlam Hall (2017)
Court Whispers (not yet released)
Death is the new Pink (2017)
Dread House (2010)
Dungeons & Dragons (1974-2014)
Freemarket (2010)
Golden Sky Stories (2013)
Grunting: the Race for Fire (2007)
Home By Dark (2017)
Houses of the Blooded (2008)
Legend of the Five Rings (1997-2010)
Love in the Time of Seið (2010)
Monsterhearts (2012-2017)
Lovecraftesque (2016)
Reign (2007)
Rise & Fall (2016)
Route Clearance (2017)
Seven Wonders (2016)
Shadowrun Anarchy (2016)
The Black Hack (2016)
The Burning Wheel (2002)
The Romance trilogy (2005-2008)
The Quiet Year (2013)
The Sword, the Crown & the Unspeakable Power (not yet released)
The Warren (2015)
Threadbare (2017)
When the Dark is Gone (2016)

Other links
200 Word RPG Challenge
Gaelcon
Gauntlet community (for online gaming)
Gauntlet podcast (cast on GauntletCon)
London Indie RPG meetup & facebook group
RPG Haven
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Darmok
Stranger Things
Augmented reality/technology in larp examples
http://www.larping.org/articles/augmented-larp-press-release/
http://elsewherenightly.com/p/the-new-tech-of-larp-augmented-reality/

Rob Carnel is a game critic, zine editor and one of the most prolific game-runners at London Indiemeet.

Becky Annison is the award-winning designer of the critically acclaimed games Lovecraftesque and When the Dark is Gone, and is one half of the small press publisher Black Armada games. Becky has been in love with gaming for 26 years and likes to write, run and play games that give you intense feels. She also speaks and writes about RPG design and inclusivity and diversity. When not gaming, Becky likes knitting and detective stories. Becky is relentlessly cheerful, ridiculously creative and so modest she had to get someone else to write this.

Elizabeth Lovegrove is the designer of Rise and Fall, a story game about dystopias, and part of Indie Game of the Year the Seven Wonders anthology. She’s a regular on the Fictoplasm podcast, about turning books into games, and an academic who’s trying to sneak roleplaying into her teaching.

Lloyd Gyan is a lover of indie and story games and also a GMing phenomenon.

The origin of the term ‘story games’

A lookback at the origin of the oft-used and oft-rejected term of ‘story games’.

Earlier this year, the website of a mainstream British newspaper cited ‘the emergence of the “story-game” movement’.

Many, including those outside and inside the ‘movement’, intensely dislike the term, finding it unnecessary and divisive. However, despite this and a bevy of alternative suggestions over the years, it’s clear that the term has stuck.

As such, it seems as good a time as any to have a look back at where the term was born.

The term “story games” became popularly associated with tabletop roleplaying games because of the Story Games web forums.

These were set up by Andy Kitkowski in January 2006 as, in his own words:

Andy tells how he came to name the forums here (from a post in January 2012):

I don’t know which specific threads triggered this, but here’s an example of this kind of discussion from 2004 about what is a roleplaying game, specifically referencing My Life With Master:

And here is Clinton’s post to which Andy refers:

We can see that Clinton was brainstorming different combinations and most likely offered ‘story game’ as a shortened version of ‘Story Now game’, however there was an earlier mention of ‘story game’ in a review in 2002 of the very game that Andy – ten years later – wrote wasn’t a game in which you played a role.

So, that’s a little of where the term ‘story game’ came to become associated with tabletop rpgs.

It’s worth mentioning that – just as roleplaying means different things in the fields of tabletop, computers, theatre, corporate training and sex – the term has ‘story game’ been used in other fields as well:

To describe Choose Your Own Adventure games

To describe particular styles of computer games

To describe play-by-forum writing games

If you came here looking for a definition, then sorry to disappoint. There is no generally agreed-upon prescriptive definition and it can be be variously considered as a synonym for tabletop rpgs, a website, a subset of tabletop rpgs, a separate category of games with some or no overlap, or a playstyle.

At its best, I consider it communicating a focus or priority of a game or a gaming session. The phrase as a whole may have no fixed or useful meaning, but the words themselves have power to evoke and inspire.

Best RPGs for Beginners (Part 2)

Best RPGs for Beginners (Part 2) (31 mins) Download
Ric, Rob and Joanna Piancastelli conclude on this king-sized episode with their pick for the best rpg for beginners

0000 GxB (2011) by Jake Richmond
0800 Kingdom (2013) by Ben Robbins
1730 Witch: the Road to Lindisfarne (2012) by Kevin Barthaud & Richard Lacy

To read replays (transcripts) of a session of the above games which Ric organised see:
GxB: Momoko the Hero
Witch: The Witch & the Rosary

From Concrete Cow: Neil on Inspectres (2004); Elina on Witch: the Road to Lindisfarne; Lloyd Gyan on Fate Accelerated (2013); Nick Reynolds on playing with those you like and trust

Best RPGs for Beginners (Part 1)

Best RPGs for Beginners (Part 1) (61 mins) Download
Ric, Rob, Joanna Piancastelli and assorted British roleplaying luminaries share their thoughts on the best place for beginners to start

0000 What were our criteria?
0342 Lady Blackbird (2009) by John Harper
0721 Twenty Four Game Poems: Slower Than Light (2010) by Marc Majcher
1219 #Feminism (2016) by various

1650 From Concrete Cow: Lloyd Gyan on Dungeons & Dragons 5e (2014); Matt Nixon on Dungeons & Dragons 5e (2014); Amy on Firefly (2014); Mike Mason on Call of Cthulhu (1981-2014); Ian on Cthulhu Dark (2010-17)

1919 Always/Never/Now (2013) by Will Hindmarch
2448 Microscope (2011) by Ben Robbins
2940 Fiasco (2009) by Jason Morningstar

3400 From Concrete Cow: Lloyd Gyan on Dungeon World (2012); Paul Fricker on Dungeon World (2012); Ralph on Beyond the Wall (2013); Andrew Burbage on Traveller (1977-2016); Matt Nixon on BRP (1980-2008)

3639 Love in the Time of Seið (2010) by Mattijs Holter & Jason Morningstar
4125 Questlandia (2014) by Hannah Shaffer & Evan Rowland
4409 Monsterhearts (2012) by Avery Alder

4812 From Concrete Cow: Lloyd Gyan on Mutant Year Zero (2014); James Mullen on Fiasco (2009); James Torrance on Microscope (2011); Scott Dorward on Primetime Adventures (2004-15); Piers Connelly on Intrepid (2013)

5053 Psi*Run (2007) by Meguey Baker

5725 From Concrete Cow: Lloyd Gyan on Masks: A New Generation (2016); Steve Ellis on Monsterhearts (2012); Abstract Machine on Left Coast (2011-13); Cat on Best Friends (2007); Michael on Cheat Your Own Adventure (2012)

200 word rpg playfest

Ric & Rob at the 200 word rpg playfest (30 mins) Download
Ric and Rob try to play (and discuss) as many 200 word rpg entries as possible at the 200 word rpg playfest

0031 Shuffles & Skeletons by Carlos Martins
0525 Build Your Own RPG by Andrew J. Young
0710 Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Jenni Sands
1050 Demon Dare by Daniele Di Rubbo
1457 Time To Run by Sanchit Sharma
2427 Fair Verona Burns by Adam T. Minnie

Acquiring IP licenses and designing genre in rpgs

UK Games Expo seminar: Acquiring IP licenses and designing genre in rpgs (48 mins) Download
A panel seminar from UK Games Expo led by Michael Duxbury and including Darren Pearce on writing the Judge Dredd rpg, Ed Jowett and John from Shades of Vengeance and Ric talking nanogame design of specific shows and books

0000 Introductions
0510 Ed Jowett on Acquiring a licence: estates, companies, individuals
0720 Darren Pearce on How to work for a publisher with a licence
1535 John on Being a professional writer and expectations of writing for a licensed work
1840 Michael Duxbury on Creating a genre game by hacking another
2625 Epistolary Richard on Four approaches to creating a genre game as a nanogame
3605 Darren Pearce on writing licensed games and fan expectations for The First Doctor sourcebook
4000 Epistolary Richard on Fan enthusiasm and criticism with Scythes of the Emperor
4250 John and Darren on dealing with a blank page

Games mentioned
Judge Dredd rpg (2017)
Doctor Who (2009)
Savage Worlds (2003)
Hunter: The Vigil (2008)
Memory Ball (2015)
A Town with Pep! (2017)
Girls from Gilmore, Boys from the Dwarf (2017)
Star Wars (West End Games) (1987)

Media mentioned
Riddick
My Little Pony
Supernatural
Men in Black
The A-Team
Inside Out
Riverdale
Veronica Mars
Gilmore Girls
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Scythes of the Emperor
Star Wars Rebels

Epidiah Ravachol and Swords Without Master

Epidiah Ravachol and Swords Without Master (28 mins) Download
A detailed discussion with Epidiah Ravachol about the design of Swords Without Master

0000 Why has Swords taken so long?
0125 What has pro-wrestling to do with the Perilous Phase?
0209 How each phase shares responsibility for the narrative
0333 The Rogues Phase and Playing your character in the face of demands that go against your vision of the character and framing demands
0650 The Discovery Phase as driver of the game
0820 The Phase for ending the game
0933 The design origins of the Phases
1335 The Overplayer’s sense of wonder in the Discovery phase
1437 Stymies and “Just call it failure!”
1636 Morals and amoral tales
1810 Mysteries and the world is weirder than you think
1840 Motifs, echoes and chapter breaks
2242 Motif reincorporation and ending the game
2439 Epilogues and hopes for multi-session play
2643 Changes to the finished version

Games mentioned
Sorceress Bloody Sorceress (2014)
Apocalypse World (2010)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1998)
The Black Hack (2016)
Annalise (2010)
Invisible Empire (2015)

The development of the rpg design of Epidiah Ravachol

The development of the rpg design of Epidiah Ravachol (38 mins) Download
A profile of the rpg development history of Epidiah Ravachol with contributions from the Tableplay, Tell Me Another and Independent Insurgency podcasts

0053 The origins of Dread
0444 The Dread tower
0550 The Dread questionnaires
0616 Publishing Dread
0728 Time and Temp
0928 Epimas and the success of the pdf
1023 Playstorming
1130 The Games in a Jiffy: Trial & Terror and MonkeyDome
1350 MonkeyDome, tonal resolution and Sword & Sorcery
1510 Dread House: refining and developing Dread
1828 The direct lineage from Dread to Vast & Starlit via a horror convention
2222 What is a roleplaying game? the game
2410 Vast & Starlit and the essential core of roleplaying games
2700 The development of Swords Without Master and Worlds Without Master
3015 Wolfspell – powered by the apocalypse
3140 Swords Without Master: tones, phases and its mini-games

Games mentioned
Dread (2005)
Time & Temp (2009)
Trial and Terror: SVU (2009)
MonkeyDome (2009)
Dread House (2010)
The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku (2015)
Spaceknights (2012)
The Final Girl (2012)
What is a roleplaying game? (2013)
Vast & Starlit (2013)
Doll (2013)
The Sundered Land (2013)
Nanoworld (2013)
Cheat Your Own Adventure (2012)
Swords Without Master (2014)
Wolfspell (2013)
Apocalypse World (2011)
Invisible Empire (2015)

Media mentioned
Worlds Without Master
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
The 200 word rpg contest
The works of Clark Ashton Smith

Epimas 2016 – Epidiah Ravachol

Epimas 2016 – A conversation with Epidiah Ravachol (16 mins) Download
Ric & Rob talk with Epidiah Ravachol about Epimas 2016.

See the Epimas bundles on the Worlds without Master website. Bundles can be bought and gifted until 23 December 2016.

0046 Read Epidiah’s interview with Brie Sheldon about the history of Epimas.
0053 Why he does Epimas
0245 How Epimas has changed
0633 Playing favourites in The Romance trilogy
0822 Playing favourites in this year’s Epimas
1255 Epimas games he wishes he’d designed
1320 Hidden gems in the Epimas bundles
1515 The bundle to get for the friend with whom you have a difficult relationship

Games mentioned
The Holly & The Ivy (Playing Nature’s Year)
The Romance trilogy (in the Love bundle)
Beast Hunters
By Crom (in the Mirth bundle)
The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze (in the Comfort bundle)
Our Radios Are Dying (in the Love bundle)
Wizards of Three Moons (in the Mirth bundle)
Apocalypse World 2e (in the Good Will bundle)
Flavortown (in the Warmth bundle)
#Feminism (in the Love bundle)
The Good Will bundle
The Joie bundle