Category Archives: Games

I write about games! I write a LOT about games! Everything I do about games is here, in this tab, in some way.

Totally Normal Excitement About Talking About Drug Regulation in Cobrin’Seil

DRUGS!

We’re going to talk about DRUGS! in Cobrin’Seil!

In case you think you’re getting into something else, this is going to be a conversation that talks neutrally and nonjudgmentally about DRRRRRUGGGS! If you don’t want to read me talking about that, with the energy of someone storming into a room and sweeping things off a desk and slamming his hands on the bare space to exposit about it, you should go!

I think this constitutes a content warning enough? Good good, okay!

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Game Pile: Lysen Co

Hey! Hey guess what?

This is a Game Pile about a game I made, not about someone else’s game! And I’m going to talk about it because I made it so you can play it!

A card back for the Lysen Co cards. It depicts a corporate logo showing an apple in a pair of green hands, on a golden circle, with the not unmenacing corporate catchphrase "Where nobody doesn't belog."

This is the print and play of my game of corporate beaurocracy and obscure sorting algorithms, the Stalin Sort game, Lysen Co! It’s a trick-taker game in which you’re trying to make sure whatever it is you do, it’s in some kind of order, even if it messes with anyone else.

First up, here’s the downloadable print-and-play file. Printable on an A4 sheet. There’ll be a Letter sized eventually. And below the fold, here’s the rules!

This is an Alpha! If you play the game and have rules questions, let me know!

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Pokemon Choose Expressive Identities (To F*ck)

Since we’ve already established well and thoroughly that the nature of the creatures we call Pokemon is one where there’s an intentionality and a sapience to their reality that breaks a lot of the conventional rules and assumption of a modern realistic understanding of evolution, and therefore that evolution as a form of genetic distribution across a population based on reproductive fitness and —

oh yeah we’re talking about Pokemon and bodies and the fundamental relationship to society and bodies but it’s all filtered through, again, Pokemon bodies, and we’re going to talk about the ones that people draw porn of, so like, get out that’s got nothing for you —

Art of a Lucario. Official art from Bulbapedia.
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4e: Having A (Weapon) Type

Surely I’ve written about this already.

The 4e weapon system is one of its strongest points and it’s strength is directly linked to the ongoing attempt to make ‘person who uses a weapon’ as someone who can do cool or good things and not just being there to hold the wizard’s bags. The fundamental design of melee weapon-wielding characters’ powers is that the powers tend towards a generic set of effects, doing damage, pushing people around, pulling them, repositioning you – all that kinda jazz. But then, through feats, the powers that checked for weapons would be able to check the weapon you were using and add on special effects.

art I drew of a bunch of weapons
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2025 Custom Magic WIP Thoughts Pt 1

You know what, let me put my notes out there this time.

It might not surprise you to know that the daily Custom Magic cards I have are, already, done for this month. In fact, they’re done for this whole year. All the posts are made and scheduled, and if I die abruptly in March, this article will still go up! Nonetheless, it is the tail of February (start of March, now) and I am working on the next custom magic set. It has my interest. I am playing with mechanics, rotating them in my head. I am thinking about what I disliked about 2024’s magic sets, and what I want to do going forward.

You won’t see any new custom magic designs here, Wizards employees. No images either so nothing shows up in the previews.

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3e: The Missing Step

Okay, so it’s a known piece of gamer lore that in 3e D&D, the wizard, cleric, druid and technically-splitting-the-fare sorcerer were all head and shoulders above every other class as a Primary Spellcaster. The argument about which of these four is the best comes down to questions of usability and access and whether or not the real weirdo outliers get to show up like the Archivist and Artificer (which can famously do everything the wizard can do, with pre-planning, making it the Batman of the 3e set).

These four classes represent a polarising point of power in the game system they’re from, and you can tell because every player book had a whole chapter of new spells for them, whereas say, melee characters could sometimes get as much as a new page of possible weapons, of which none would be any good.

They even deformed the way their own player options worked.

an image of a goblin wizard
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How To Be: Tsubaki Yayoi (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

This month we’re doing something I don’t normally do, which is – no, I do fight game characters all the time, but what makes this one special?

She’s got a hat.

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Game Pile: Murdle

At its core, Murdle is just a little daily puzzle game in the same vein as Wordle. It’s a game where an investigator gets a bunch of simple logical clues and you put them all in a grid and then you arrive at a solution for the murder mystery that’s coherent, compliant with the clues and often enough, wrong. It’s great fun. I want to talk to you about how much fun I have with a pencil and a tiny silly murder mystery a day.

The banner for the game Murdle
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MTG: Rotating The Roots In My Mind

A new set has come out, Standard has changed, and with it a whole host of new cards that may or may not matter for my beloved Insidious Roots deck.

What am I gunna do?

 Insidious Roots {B}{G}EnchantmentCreature tokens you control have “{T}: Add one mana of any color.”Whenever one or more creature cards leave your graveyard, create a 0/1 green Plant creature token, then put a +1/+1 counter on each Plant you control.The roots of Vitu-Ghazi allowed Trostani to reach every crack and crevice in the city.

The notes for this article wound up over a thousand words. I just put them under the fold. It’s hard to work out what I’m gunna do. Here are my thoughts on it, regardless of how good or how meaningful it is as a thought process.

Here’s the lesson up front; three year long standard, with our current landscape has created a niche benefit for me, as a free-to-play Magic: The Gathering Arena player. Decks are changed, a little, with each new release, rather than being overhauled and overthrown by each change. When Insidious Roots rotates out, I will have to change the deck, but at exactly this point, it’s fine. My mono-red deck is fine, and when individual cards go, I can replace them with newer, similar cards in newer sets.

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Vox Maxima Story Spotlight 4 — Deepest Truths

What follows here is a discussion of what, if I had the means and writer tools to make my Custom Magic set have proper story spotlight material, it’d look like this, it’d be built out of this. This is basically about story mechanics underlying a game system, and I want to present it to you so you can have a handle on what it looks like when I’m trying to explain game narratives for the presentation of conventional narratives.

This fourh section elaborates on the revelations of the third; and it also directs the heroes on to the final arc, to possibly come to understand what the Necrocalypse is, was, or will be.

Vox Maxima is a custom magic set created by Talen Lee. It’s composed of 187 cards, with 71 commons, 60 uncommons, 41 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Vox Decima is a custom Magic: The Gathering set, with at least one card spoiled a day, on Cohost, Kind.Social, and the r/custommagic subreddit.

WOTC Employees: This post in full presents unsolicited custom Magic: The Gathering card designs, which I understand current employee practices forbid you from looking at unsolicited. You shouldn’t be here!

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Vox Maxima Gallery 4: The Jatku Outcasts

What would you give up, if it meant you had one more day? What would you consider an acceptable surrender in the name of salvation? What is it about your fundamental assumptions about your own ability to exist, your own continuity of life?

The Iacon have stitched steel to their skin. The Kraivh turn bones into machines. There are worse and older things hiding in the deep. What the question lingers, what would you do to live, survive, and thrive in a world where the air itself can become poison?

Thus is the question of the Jatku outcasts. The Jatku who stand outside of the Emperor’s forces. The Jatku whose Process is considered heresy, and whose very name is considered a swear. The Jatku who the Emperor refuses to refer to as a faction, claiming they befoul the name of his daughter and her mother – the great mage researcher Jatku herself. The faction that calls itself The Million Eyes.

Vox Maxima is a custom magic set created by Talen Lee. It’s composed of 187 cards, with 71 commons, 60 uncommons, 41 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Vox Decima is a custom Magic: The Gathering set, with at least one card spoiled a day, on Cohost, Kind.Social, and the r/custommagic subreddit.

WOTC Employees: This post in full presents unsolicited custom Magic: The Gathering card designs, which I understand current employee practices forbid you from looking at unsolicited. You shouldn’t be here!

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Custom Magic: Whybrid

Time to time, we will see in the custom MTG community, a card that is hybrid, pulling together effects that are out of type for one of the two colours in the cost. This is a real tricky challenge to explain conveniently because at its heart, it’s an idea that once you get it, is very obvious, but before you get it, it’s opaque. What makes it okay for some cards to be hybrid when they seem the push the colour pie for one of their colours?

 Push {1}{W/B}SorceryDestroy target tapped creature.
Pull {4}{B/R}{B/R}SorceryPut up to two target creature cards from a single graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. They gain haste until end of turn. Sacrifice them at the beginning of the next end step.
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How To Be: The Animorphs (in 4e D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

One way or another, I’m going to find a way to make a build for How to Be that involves the druid, and if this is how we do it, this is how we do it. See, I can’t tell you who these characters are, or where they’re from. All I can tell you is that we’re going to do our best to make builds for them, and one of them is definitely going to be a druid.

A D&D book cover that also looks like an Animorphs book cover. It has the text 'THE RPG' and "A Guide to Complex PTSD, for kids'
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The Laewaes Dramaturgists

Arcane magic represents the most important discipline available to us in which people across all the world can come together to share our notes and experiences in order to construct a vision of how this system functions that is coherent and precise and replicable and also probably in some way, fundamentally wrong.

Archmagus Laewaes I

Look I just want to tell you about a cool adventure site and backstory hook from Cobrin’Seil that’s about something I care about a lot recently, which is a university system in-setting. It just takes a bit of a walk to get there because it involves understanding Arcane magic and how it differs from Divine magic, Primal Magic, and Psionics in the setting.

Art from the Wizards of the Coast Wallpaper pack from Strixhaven. it shows students hanging out in a library.
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Well What if I Was In Charge Of Pokemon If I’m So Bloody Smart?

No matter where you are on the internet, whatever the fandom is, someone is always going to ask about what you’d do if you were in charge of it. For example, a lot of Bible fans are very convinced that their fanfiction is actually factually true. Whether it’s fantasy Wrestlemanias or ideal outfit compositions in Pretty Little Liars, there’s always an urge to take a thing you already know and make your version of it.

Also, people who like Pokemon routinely talk about what stupid idiots the designers are and how they could do a better job of running the game. I don’t think I could, because I know there are competing factors and I think that everyone who opens their mouth to talk like that sounds like a tool.

Still, if I think those people are silly, it’s easy to say that if I don’t put myself out there, right?

Here! A bunch of opinions about what I think should be done in Pokemon as a game franchise. Nothing like ‘open world matters’, I think the game should always be a competitive 2v2 Bo3 format and the rest of the game can follow from that. I also don’t think that this would make the game better. It’s very important that I put it out there, on my sleeve, that none of these changes are based on deep insight into the game or the way that it should be. No. This is a centering of myself, as a designer, and as a player of games. This is how I want it done. Also note that none of these changes are simple or oblative, like, this isn’t all that I think should happen, there would need to be specific changes and fine tuning for all these pushes.

There, preamble done, here’s how and where I’m right.

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3e: Objection to Formula

When I started on this article, the plan was to talk to you about the magic item system in D&D 3rd edition, and let’s put a pin in the word ‘system’ there. But engaging with it meant looking at a place in history and a realisation of how I’m not just talking about stuff from an earlier edition of D&D I’m talking to you about an earlier version of myself.

As long as there has been an online, it seems, I have wanted to make things and put them on there.

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Game Pile: Gazillionaire

In 1994, the videogame company Lavamind released the game Gazillionaire, which was in its purest form a sort of spreadsheet software with a random number generator built in. A bunch of trading companies kick off at the same point in time engaging in transport and trade. You go to a planet, which has its own weirdo economy and its own current supply and demand of goods, buy what you want, sell what you want, and head off to a new location to make a profit on those goods. There are all layers of complexity here, with things like warehousing and random events along the way, and every planet has its own specialised services and its own stock market you can use to invest in.

And it looks

like

this.

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Wip Assessment 1

I keep my files organised in directories on my hard drive, which is a thing the youths don’t do any more, because of woke. I even use silly tricks to handle how they’re organised. Did you know you can put a ! on the front of a directory name, which will ensure it’s always sorted to the top of the list, so if there’s some sort of universal toolset or template directory you want, you can use that to keep it up the top for easy access? These are useful tips for if you want to run the Windows version of Xtree Gold, which they call ‘Explorer’ to manage your files.

A banner showing several of the card backs of my games.

I keep my games in progress there. Hypothetically, that’s also where completed games go. I haven’t completed many games this year. Or last year. Or — look, it’s been rough since basically 2020, that’s when I can say for sure things got difficult. There have been a lot of reasons to slow down production, not the least of which is just money. Making games is a hobby and it costs money and I’ve just not had as much to play with lately. Shipping costs have changed, production costs have changed. I’ve talked about this before.

But those are why the game doesn’t get pushed to a product that I can sell you.

As of this moment I have 34 directories in my GameDev directory, with components of games of some degree or another, that are all labeleld as, in their own way, ‘WIP.’ Works in Progress. What are they waiting on? What is keeping the Works In Progress as In Progress?

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CoX: Bael

This is an explanatory writeup of one of my Original Characters (OCs). Nothing here is necessarily related to a meaningful fiction you should recognise and is shared because I think my OCs are cool and it’s cool to talk about OCs you make.


A piece of art of my OC Bael, from City of Heroes. He is a shirtless demon with runes on his upper body, white hair, and curled rams horns.

So he’s an incubus? Is that the word for a boy one?”
“Succubus and Incubus refer to ‘bottom’ and ‘top’, you know.”
“Whoah, really? Then which one is he?”


“I’m RIGHT HERE.

Bael really doesn’t like the word ‘sidekick.’ It hovered over him too long – first as a Demon Prince’s human-world emissary, then the caged pet of a Thorn mage, and finally as the protege of one of Paragon’s heroes. It was a tightly-packed few years.

Now the leader of the Young Spartans, Bael makes it his job to get the best out of his entire team.

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MTG: Black, Enchantments, and Black Enchantments

Bit of a two parter here, folks~! Since I’m playing more Magic: The Gathering thanks to Arena, I have decks I play around with. I want to think about the decks I’ve been playing with later, I want to look back and see what I thought of them, and that means, yep, using the blog as a history of my life. Like some kind of web-log. Anyway, what that means is I’m going to talk about a thing that I’m thinking about in Magic: The Gathering, then I’m going to talk about a deck I’ve been playing that reminds me of it the idea! Cool? Cool. Cool!

Anyway, I don’t like black enchantment hate.

In Magic: The Gathering, to be specific.

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Vox Maxima Story Spotlight 3 — The Million Eyes

What follows here is a discussion of what, if I had the means and writer tools to make my Custom Magic set have proper story spotlight material, it’d look like this, it’d be built out of this. This is basically about story mechanics underlying a game system, and I want to present it to you so you can have a handle on what it looks like when I’m trying to explain game narratives for the presentation of conventional narratives.

This third section indicates the midpoint of the story and the collapse of a lot of hopeful ideas; this is where the party meets with the Jatku Outcasts in their jungle fortress, and learns the horrible truths about the Necrocalypse, the Emperor, and the truth of the dead woman Jatku, mother to one of the Princesses.

Vox Maxima is a custom magic set created by Talen Lee. It’s composed of 187 cards, with 71 commons, 60 uncommons, 41 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Vox Decima is a custom Magic: The Gathering set, with at least one card spoiled a day, on Cohost, Kind.Social, and the r/custommagic subreddit.

WOTC Employees: This post in full presents unsolicited custom Magic: The Gathering card designs, which I understand current employee practices forbid you from looking at unsolicited. You shouldn’t be here!

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Vox Maxima Gallery 3: The Iacon Colleges

The Iacon Colleges represent the coalition of the finest magewrights, researchers and technician in the Kraivh Empire. The Empire is a place of faith and trust, but it is to the colleges they turn when they want to make their vaulted cathedrals and also sick sky skimmers. The Iacon Colleges represent a drive to understand the world that the Emperor is keeping safe, and the Iacon Colleges do so through rigorous study, abandonment of the unnecessary, and a kind of focus that could drive a mushroom through a solid concrete slab.

It is the Iacon College who first spoke of the coming disaster, it is the Iacon College that can find murky shards of lost history, it is the Iacon College whose great towering spires, near to the heart of the Empire, most closely align with the needs of the empire. Where a billion are lost, many of them are lost in the Colleges, and all they have left behind are parts and notes. The Iacon Colleges seek to remake their history, even if they have to time travel to do it.

Vox Maxima is a custom magic set created by Talen Lee. It’s composed of 187 cards, with 71 commons, 60 uncommons, 41 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Vox Decima is a custom Magic: The Gathering set, with at least one card spoiled a day, on Cohost, Kind.Social, and the r/custommagic subreddit.

WOTC Employees: This post in full presents unsolicited custom Magic: The Gathering card designs, which I understand current employee practices forbid you from looking at unsolicited. You shouldn’t be here!

Continue Reading →

Why Is Druid?

Say that like ‘where is Wizard Hut?

I love the 4e Druid. This is a marked change from how much I liked the 3e druid, or how often you might see me playing a druid in a Baldur’s Gate game. Back in 3rd edition, the druid, despite being very powerful, never really engaged me, in part perhaps because I was always trying to find something exploitative and powerful rather than merely accepting the juggernaut of a toolkit the game just left in the Player’s Handbook. You couldn’t get clever with the Druid, you just had to pick it up and use it, like some sort of society of creative anachronisms where one of the anachronisms available to the players was has gun. Valid, but hardly sporting.

The Druid in 4th edition is different. Wildly different. Weirdly different, and different in one of those ways that shows what I think of as a seam in the design between 4th and 3rd editions of D&D.

Art from the Magic card Bloom Tender, by chippy. It depicts a horned elf touching a flower in a midnight scene.
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3e: Sticks and Stones

Alright I’m up late and the thing I was working on didn’t work and I don’t want to fall behind on my schedule so let’s just belt out something about the ongoing grievance I have in how 3rd edition D&D treated spellcasters as a better class of people with their own higher standard of living because being able to rewrite reality at will is by no means a perk enough to justify not feeling bummed out.

Let me talk to you about sticks and stones powers.

An illustration of some Power Stones from the Expanded Psionics Handbook
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