Tabletop


Showing and Telling in RPGs

It’s true. I’m obsessed with storyworlds and world-building. I’m also a huge fan of tabletop RPGs. And while these things go together like whatever “two things that go together” cliche you like (I prefer “like peanut butter and bananas” myself), mashing them together does raise some challenges. Me: “Hello, gaming friends! I have picked up…


Faking It – The Art of Game Master Improvisation

Ack! How is it December already? How is December half-gone already? How is next year right around the corner? WHO AUTHORIZED THIS?! No time for deep thoughts on conflict and word-building today (though I’m not quite done beating that particular dead horse). Instead, here are some quick tips for all you tabletop game masters out…


Adventurers in the Tower of Tomax!

A couple weeks ago on Facebook I expressed my excitement for the updated version of Adventurers! that’s currently up on Kickstarter. Adventurers! is a universal tabletop RPG system that manages to fit everything you need to play into just two pages. Oh, those pages are densely packed, but still, it’s quite the feat. The core…


The Big Payoff

As the days get shorter, the air turns colder, and natural generally transitions into “contemplate your own mortality” mode, I find myself avoiding thoughts of the grave by focusing on something cheerful, like tabletop game design! Today, for instance, I’m having some thoughts on the concept of “payoff” and I’d like to share them with…


The Ecstacy and Agony of Playtesting

It’s been a crazy week, and the craziness shows no sign of letting up, so I don’t have time for an in-depth discussion of, say, ghost-punching as a political metaphor, or the role of awkward 1980s teen comedies in today’s transmedia world-building. All the same, after a great playtesting session last night, I do want…


Spider Plan

Weeks ago, I promised to work up what the Spider Siege board game looks like from the perspective of the spider player. It’s got to be different from the human players, right? While those two-legged meatbags scurry across the board trying to gobble up resources like iron, food, and population in order to create and…


Advanced Factions & Actions

Happy Independence Day to all my American readers! And happy “Putting Up With Americans Day” to everyone else! Before I dedicate myself to the over-eating and celebratory explosions for which our founding fathers fought, I’d like to take a few minutes to revisit the economy of the Spider Siege board game. (The founding fathers have…


The Cost of Killing Spiders – Part 2

“So we’re spending these ‘points’ of resources on units,” says my hypothetical reader, picking up the conversation from where it dropped earlier this week. “What does that get us? How many points is each type of unit worth?” It’s at this point I admit that early prototyping is as much art as science. Ideally, there’s…


The Cost of Killing Spiders

In today’s episode of “Turning Spider Siege into a Real Game,” we’ll be looking at the intersection of board resources, unit value, and econom — wait! Where are you going? I promise, it’s not nearly as dull or confusing as I’m making it sound. Okay, let’s try this again. This is a war game, right?…


A Unit of Awesome

I’ve been spending some time this week pondering how to put the war into the Spider Siege war game. As I mentioned on Monday, it’s complex because combat and economy are (not unlike the real world) totally connected. Okay, yes, better units should cost more, but in order to do that, I need to know…