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.

Velocity in King of Tokyo

Look, normally I’d treat this as a thing in a whole Game Pile Article, but it doesn’t seem worth it to me, not at this point, especially when the game is so similar to one I’ve already written about. The game is King of Tokyo, but the new information this time is the mechanics presented in the Dark Edition of the game.

I have played more editions of King of Tokyo than I have of most board games. Setting aside long-hauler games like Magic: The Gathering where the rules are changed every time a new card gets designed, I have played at least four versions of King of Tokyo and own one. I like this game, and as a game, the version I own has some problems.

They’re not huge problems, mind you, they just are problems. Some cards you can buy introduce powers that are a little weird, and can create odd rules interactions that don’t work. The rules stated in the version I own are a little ambiguous about timing, things like when you enter Tokyo in the turn. Those are things that can be treated as refinements of what’s already there, ways to make the system work better, but which is just the kind of things the system has right there.

There are two big problems with King of Tokyo, and those problems are tied to one larger problem: A lack of velocity.

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Asset Brainstorm #5 — Some Phantasy Robots

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.


Wow this one was a story. How I got here isn’t important, what’s important is the assets, and what ideas they inspire. For this month, I grabbed Ansimuz’s Phantasy Tiny RPG Mobs Pack.

Disclosure! I haven’t bought this pack yet. These are made using the preview images from itch.io. The reason I haven’t bought this pack yet is because Ansimuz has a lot of assets available and I am considering buying up big blocks of packs. Since I don’t want to spend another dang week planning ahead about what I’ll purchase, I’ve grabbed this preview image to work with and hopefully it’s okay.

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MTG: April 2022’s Custom Cards

I like making Magic cards. It’s easily my favourite way to engage with the game. In the name of discipline, in the name of getting cards done I will sometimes make cards I’m not wildly happy with, but largely, I like my cards. Since my normal theme of April is to try and focus on me and on being indulgent, it can be challenging to really nail down what makes a me month worth of cards. After all, many of them are my precious babies.

What can the cards be about then, in this context?

Warning: Wizards employees, this post contains primarily custom magic cards.

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Game Pile: Beneath A Steel Sky

I have said, in the past, that the work of Sir Terry Pratchett is ‘funny, witty, satirical and as serious as a heart attack.’ There’s this particular period of oh I dunno, immediately post-Thatcherite Britain which seemed to bring out people who were very good at making you laugh about things like how immensely and completely screwed you all were in a surveillance state with a corrupt media apparatus, I wonder why.

One such work was 1994’s Beneath A Steel Sky, a game that came out in that time when spoken audio and cutscenes were a special feature that would sell the CD-ROM copy of a game. The game fit without those scenes on a few disks, which were comparatively easy to pirate, and it was also relatively easy to play without much in the way of copy protection problems, which meant that the CD-ROM version, with its illustrated comic book pages, backstory on the manual file, and gosh-wow-sugoi cutscenes of 3d rendered helicopters was a thing that you went to someone’s house to watch like it was a special movie event, and the disk version was the one you got swapped in the playground.

Beneath A Steel Sky tells the story of Robert Foster, an outsider from the wilds of the Outback, who is captured and taken to Union City, whose spires and towers hold and contain a worker population that one day dream of earning enough money to be able to get down to ground level. Workers and their work are kept up high, meaning that to travel down towards the ground requires elevator access, and through these spires, large, dense populations are kept under control. The closer you are to the ground, the more wealth you have, until eventually you can get down out of the towers, reach the soil of the actual world, log off, and perhaps finally, touch grass.

Foster gets kidnapped from the Outback at gunpoint, his home is destroyed with a nuke, and then the helicopter he’s arrived in crashes, leaving you to escape into the bowels of this dreadful machinery, seeking answers for how you got here, why they wanted you, why this world is the way it is, and what now now that your life has been destroyed. You have a circuit card that holds your only friend left in the world, an AI named Joey, and that’s… it. There’s a guard down those stairs and he’ll kill you.

Work it out.

Normally I don’t do this when I talk about games old enough to vote then get sick of trying to vote because all the politicians are the same, man, but I’m actually putting up a Spoiler Warning here. Beneath A Steel Sky is free on GoG and Steam, and if you’re at all interested in this kind of game and you’ve never played it before, I do recommend you try it out. Get a guide so you can refer to it when you get frustrated trying to work out the game’s sense of logic, but otherwise, just soak in the mood of one of the great cyberpunk videogames of the 1990s, and come back here after.

I’m not a believer in spoilers ruining a work, but I do think that Beneath A Steel Sky is much, much funnier and cleverer than my explication of it could be. I’d rather you get in the choir so I can preach to you.

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April Game Project — House Advantage

Every month of 2022, I am trying, as part of both my PhD project and my all-purpose general game development, develop if not a whole game for game development, a project start, such that I can make playtest prototypes. This is a sort of report of the process throughout the month.


In 2016, I made a game playable with a deck of playing cards, a single session tabletop roleplaying game that was designed to get everyone in the experience of being a DM. I made it and did the graphics myself – these four pictures of the four types of character, Hitters, Fitters, Grifters and Lifters.

I’ve wanted to make a game based on this for a while now, something small, something that plays with pieces I didn’t get to play with for a while. I wanted to make a game you could slip into a little bag, which came with some tokens and some cards, and let you play out the fantasy of The Suits in a different way. Rather than telling a story, though, the idea this time around was something tactical, something about robbing a casino.

And something about poker.

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MTG: Inflexible

It’s a rare kind of custom magic design that has its own nickname.

There is, at the moment, no single card that on its own, has indestructible, hexproof, and flying. Closest you can get is [c]Angelic Overseer[/c]. Two creatures can gain hexproof and indestructible through paying some additional cost, [c]Elusive Tormenter[/c] and [c]Fleecemane Lion[/c]. This combination of keywords, for making a card resilient, is extremely obvious and absolutely nowhere in the game as presented.

Doesn’t stop the custom crowd from breaking it out on the regular, and that’s where we get the nickname INFLEXIBLEIndestructible, flying and hexproof.

You shouldn’t make these cards.

This article contains no unsolicited card designs.

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FFXIV: Karash

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


You might have met Karash Ejinn wandering around Limsa Lominsa, or perhaps out by Ul’dah, Idyllshire, or Radz-at-Han. It’s not like he doesn’t stand out – he’s the largest Au Ra you’ve ever seen, large even by their standards. If you’ve spoken to him, you’ll have heard the deep, rumbling voice, which speaks with a deliberate care in what is clearly his secondary language. While he’s obviously very dangerous — nobody his size would be seen as helpless — he seems to mostly do trade with people, bodyguarding work, and travel along riverways as a strange kind of nomad.

On the other hand, you might have met him on the battlefields, or in the trenches against the Garlean Empire over the past few years. You might have seen him, clad in black armour, repurposed from Garlean war machines, that made him seem even more massive and dark, as he walked through rivers of blood in an unflagging wall of violence pushing deep into the heart of the empire. You may have heard the rhyme the soldiers said about him.

It doesn’t think
It doesn’t feel
It doesn’t laugh or cry
All it does from dawn to dusk
Is make the soldiers die

There shouldn’t be anything that counts as a story spoiler below.

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Final Fantasy XIV Is Alt-Hostile As Hell

I play a lot of games where you get to make characters. Sometimes it’s TTRPGs, sometimes it’s MMORPGs, sometimes it’s single-player CRPGs, and sometimes it’s just for the other games I design. I like making characters, I think it’s a fun exercise and I like it as a way to create the elements of a story, or express new ideas or give a characterisation to mechanics. It’s something I really enjoy, and if the regular posts about different City of Heroes characters isn’t giving it away, it’s something I really enjoy doing.

Playing Final Fantasy XIV, I thought I might wind up doing the same thing – after all, it’s a world with a big creative space! There are lots of different ways for your character to look! There’s glamours that let you change your outfit and they’re tailored to interact in interesting ways! So many classes, so, similarly, so many different ways to express a different kind of character. A fighter with an axe is not a fighter with a bow, after all! There’s so much here, and you have a lot of slots so – you could make all sorts of alts!

That didn’t happen, because Final Fantasy XIV is a dreadful experience for making alts.

I guess to back that up I need to explain to you what I mean by an alt.

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How To Be: Minfilia Warde (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.

In deference to this being Final Fantasy 14 Week, a sub-theme in Talen Month, I figured it was time for us to give the fan, singular, what she wanted, and finally write an article about her favourite character, and how I’d go about playing her in a game that she doesn’t play and has no reason to care about.

It’s also an opportunity to talk about negative space and harmonisation.

Let’s talk about Minfilia Warde.

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4e: The Elan

Look, don’t let the way I talk about 4e D&D (which is the best edition of D&D) leave you thinking that I think the game is flawless. It’s just much better than 3e and good enough that I don’t care to look at 5e. That excellence however doesn’t mean that the design within it is flawless, especially in those surprising incidents where I could find something I could do in 3rd edition that was more satisfying than when I tried to do it in 4th edition. Some ideas translated across really well, like making werewolf, werebear, and wererat characters into themes, allowing players to add that element to their character without it being an overwhelming drawback but also designed so that it was a meaningful cost.

There’s a place where I really miss the way 3rd edition handled things, or at least, I feel that 3rd edition did a better job than 4th did, and it was with the eerie little niche culture of The Elan.

(Art Source)
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Game Pile: The Dig

The 1990s is a compressed period of time when a lot of very interesting things happened very quickly, often on surprisingly small budgets when we talk about videogames. It can be hard to grapple with but Street Fighter II, Doom, Aladdin , King’s Quest VI and Super Mario Kart all released in the same year (1993), and even though the games are all clearly contemporary, they don’t necessarily feel it. Similarly, if you look at the videogame releases of 1998, you’ll find a deep seam of industry-shaping bangers and first-releases of important developers, a sort of world-shaking year of releases, only to find that the next year, 1999, more and possibly bigger releases happened.

This is just what happened in the 90s: Shareware, CDs, existing distribution software and an exploding marketplace meant a lot of stuff happened. One thing that happened was that Steven Spielburg pitched a videogame to the people who made Star Wars, and they got a Hugo-And-Nebula Award winning science fiction writer to write the game’s script.

It starts with an asteroid on course with earth, which we nuke – of course – and the expedition in a space shuttle to go check it out. They send a scientist, a journalist, and a Protagonist, who find that the asteroid was not just a rock, but an alien artifact that, with the wrong poke-and-probing, suddenly takes the characters away. The story becomes about doing the hypothetical science of xenoarchaeology, of asking the question about what alien life we find would even look like, what their intentions might be, and how we could even deduce that.

By the way, if you’re still looking for ‘gaming’s citizen Kane,’ this is definitely one of the examples. It’s a game that wanted to be taken seriously and to tell a serious story about serious adults and big, philosophical questions. It’s a science fiction narrative about first contact, about life and death in the face of eternity, and whether it’s our place to break the chains of life and death, or if maybe it’s best that we let the world we live in behave the way we’re told it does. You know, classic science fiction stories of What If We Improve Things, But Too Much?

I really like The Dig, even if it always feels to me, in hindsight, the loser in a duel with Beneath A Steel Sky, but Beneath a Steel Sky is about how it’s a good thing to fuck over capitalists, surveillance states, and shoot cops in half, while The Dig is a game that mixes in questions of existential realities with one of the most frustrating turtle-related puzzles in all of narrative adventure.

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Buried Gods: Reconcepting Dragonborn

I have spoken already about the challenge of integrating the Dragonborn and Dwarves into the setting of Cobrin’Seil. These two extremely strong, heavily supported character heritages, so I don’t want to take them away from players, but they’re also hard to integrate into the world the way I want it to be. For dwarves, the problem is that they didn’t bring anything to the world that humans didn’t, and I solved that problem by reconcepting them as what I’ve called a ‘pocket heritage’ – small communities whose biological oddness is explained by a feywild origin.

Dragonborn’s problem is a little more tricky. They provide some things I do want (mechanically robust heritage that can be used for a variety of classes in interesting and distinct ways) and some things I don’t care about (fuckable dragon people). They also bring with it some worldbuilding questions, which the default setting answers with a shrug of ‘a God Did It,’ and what’s more that god is Bahamut, against whom I will never not have a grudge. I know these days he’s changed his names and now he’s a monk, no, really, he was always a cool guy, but Bahamut is still always going to be a Lawful Good God who’s meant to be Super Powerful but Doesn’t Fix Things because That Would Be Hard.

He’s also very much defined by his Faerunian depiction, and that world’s gods are awful.

Dragonborn can’t just be transplanted wholesale into another species group, or remade as like, bear people, because their mechanics have all been very good about reinforcing the flavour of being ‘a dragon that’s like, a guy.’   That means they have wings, breath weapons, bites, specific references to elemental energies through their scales, and relationships to other species based on ‘being a dragon.’ Whatever I choose for the dragonborn still has to be possible for any given player to grab their existing dragonborn character art and, more or less, plonk it into the world without feeling like they can’t ‘be’ the way they want to be in the world.

Also, there’s an added problem: Kobolds. Kobolds are an extant heritage in Cobrin’Seil, and they’re popular, and they’re useful for showing something about dragons and the world as it is. I like Kobolds a lot, and when looking at the world as a whole I had to answer the question: Why Aren’t Dragonborn Just Big Kobolds?

That was a thought, for a while there. I did seriously consider Dragonborn as like, Kobolds who had been selected to be defenders or guardians and were changed somehow, but that process seemed something I didn’t want in the world as something common enough entire heritages got it. Plus, it did open a balance door, of like, well, why can’t dragonborn and kobolds share feats? That seems strange, and lords I didn’t want to give dragonborns more options.

Here then are the parameters for defining the Dragonborn of Cobrin’Seil:

  • Allow players to feel like existing Dragonborn work,
  • Open up to more options that are more appropriate to the world
  • Don’t make Bahamut a requirement
  • Have a new, clear hook as to why a player might want to play one
  • Not Just Big Kobolds

Let me tell you about an empire of the sun.

Let me tell you about the children of the scale.

Let me tell you about the Dragonborn of Cobrin’Seil.

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Celestial Fury

A long time ago, on the Baldur’s Gate 2 newsgroup, one Westley Weimer remarked about the weapon Celestial Fury something to the effect of:

If Demogorgon dropped Celestial Fury when he died, I’d pick it up and go ‘oh, that seems about right.

— My fuzzy memory, sometime around 2002

Demogorgon is one of the most powerful monsters in that game. Demogorgon is an optional boss optionally fought at the bottom of an optional dungeon which has two rewarding optional alternate defeats and gives you a huge pile of experience and no loot. Demogorgon is one of the hardest fights in the game, and he gives you, in return for that difficulty, dick nothing.

But if he’d given you Celestial Fury, that would be a pretty reasonable drop.

So what the heckadilly is Celestial Fury?

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Iori Yagami

In the story of King of Fighters, there’s very little you can say is ‘important.’ Fighting is important. Grudges are important. A tournament that gets interrupted every single time by several different world-ending megalomanics is important. A human cloning project that may or may not also be connected to the soul of the Phoenix is important. The Orochi, an eight headed serpent and the people whose blood it taints is important.

Oh, and Iori Yagami and Kyo are probably gay and that’s important.

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3.5 Memories: Fighting Backwards

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition was an interesting system with a lot of good ideas. In a big, top-level mechanistic way, it had some good ideas, like making standardised rules for how categories of things worked. Some abilities were spells, some were spell-like abilities, some were supernatural, some were extraordinary, and if it didn’t fit that category, it was generally unique, but by making these categories meaningful there were a lot of rules that just got tidied up. Things were complicated, and the rules system wanted to cover very complicated things. 2ed had some very complex monster abilities, and 3ed wanted to be able to run things that looked a lot like them. Not quite compatibility, but certainly to carry some of that same ‘oh, this can fight like this OR it can be a spellcaster OR it can teleport at will,’ kind of design.

Thing is, this kind of top-down design idea was done as a half measure, and also didn’t preclude the system from bringing in some real problems of its own, like the way that all the melee classes were garbage and the wizard and druid were overpowered. There had to be a big balance enema, and that enema was called 3.5. It was an opportunity to get you to buy all the books again, but also a chance to do some really comprehensive, holistic errata, onboard new players with the better rules. This could address those balance problems, too, by reigning in the wizard and druid and maybe the cleric as well, and then giving a good shot of power to those weakest classes, Everyone Else.

How’d that work out?

Uh.

Well, the Druid got Natural Spell in the core books, so it became even more powerful. The cleric didn’t get the slightest bit of reigning in. Wizards lost one of the most powerful spells they had and were still otherwise completely as busted as before. The bard, ranger, barbarian and Paladin all received improvements that didn’t really address the categorical problem of how they worked, but certainly made them less boring. What about the fighter…?

Well, and this is going to sound unbelievable, they made the fighter worse.

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The Fairy Type Sucks

I mean, not like any given fairy type sucks. Every Pokemon, big or small, is someone’s Ya Boy, and it’s not like your favourite being a fairy makes it bad or not. It’s not that I think the Pokemon that are fairy type pokemon suck, it’s that the fairy type itself sucks, and I dislike it, and how it was implemented.

The problem derives from what fairy does, and what its presence changes.

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Asset Brainstorm #4 — Casino Cards

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.


I did spend a long time today – when I wrote this – picking out possible assets to buy for this project this month. I also thought about maybe just using art assets I knew I couldn’t buy because the point is the brainstorm, not the product. I looked at a lot of stuff today, and I tried very hard to come up with something that felt interesting

But I kept getting pulled towards a mechanical idea I’ve been thinking about.

This time, we’re going to look at an idea I’ve been toying with that wants to use, at least to start, ordinary playing cards.

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Game Pile: Total Annihilation

Generally speaking, I am ‘good’ at games I care about. I can play first-person shooters, platformers, exploration games, card games, and in most cases, I am aware of how those games play, and I as an adult, have become better at those games over time. It is, in general, not the case that a game I care about is a game that I know I am terrible at playing.

But real time strategy games?

I am dire.

Which is a bit of a problem when you consider how many hours of my life have been spent playing the various different iterations on the formula that started for me with Dune II and Warcraft: Orcs Vs Humans. It’s a model of gameplay that I felt was perfected in the late 90s not by Starcraft but by the dueling Australian releases of Auran’s Dark Reign and Cave Dog’s Total Annihilation. These two games were months of my childhood afternoons — and I am absolutely abysmal at playing both.

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March Game Project — Sky Islands

Every month of 2022, I am trying, as part of both my PhD project and my all-purpose general game development, develop if not a whole game for game development, a project start, such that I can make playtest prototypes. This is a sort of report of the process throughout the month.


In January, I started late and didn’t get it done. In February, I had four game ideas. One of them became focal, and I spent some time this month actually making a physical prototype. My plan this month is to have something that at the end of the month can be treated as a thorough plan for not just a prototype, but a game that’s ready to go.

That proved very stressful, with the whole design write-up being week to week, and publishing just before the end of the month. Instead, I’m going to talk to you about what the idea is and focus on the core ideas, rather than on every step of the process.

Let me know if you prefer the week-to-week explanation or this style of simplified version.

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CoX: The Wild Hare

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.


Juniper Jacks thought she was pretty boring. She thought she wasn’t special. She thought that if the time came to step up, she wouldn’t, not really. Oh, sure, she had a drive to try – but… like, everyone had that, right? Everyone could see things they’d do, and just lacked the power to do them, right?

Then she became the host for the BOUND symbiote, from a mysterious Praetorian-Primal science project. and found, to her surprise, that when she had power, she absolutely wanted to do something with it. Stepping up, acting, fighting and finding evil and battering it unconscious: She was here to spring into action.

Oh, sure, she’s a rabbit girl – but she’s a loud, brash, brawling, rabbit girl who gives 10,000%.

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How To Be: Zelgadis (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.

There’s always going to be a challenge when you translate a character from a game into a different medium. These How To Be articles are about the process of taking a character represented in a fictional form and move them across into the game so that you can connect with their concept in a mechanical space. What, though, if the character started as a mechanical expression and then became part of a fiction?

What is it like to make a D&D character out of a character who is, in a lot of ways, just someone else’s D&D character?

Let’s talk about Zelgadis, from Slayers.

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MTG: Neon Nights

I had what I thought was a complex relationship with the Kamigawa block. It was the first block to come out when I had a job, at a point where I literally didn’t have enough basic lands to make multiple decks, and so, Fox and I bought a box of sealed decks, to build a land collection of beautiful, beautiful lands. We broke those boxes open and played some sealed with our friends and had a great time making terrible decks and losing immensely and it was fun and it was exciting and since then I became a person who, for some inexplicable reason once I fell unemployed, read all the Kamigawa novels and became Very Versed on the setting.

I have said a lot about Kamigawa over time, and if you’d asked me say, six years ago, when I was on Twitter talking about it, you’d find me saying something that summarises as ‘Kamigawa was a great idea, failed by development,’ all said with the comforting certaint that I would never come back to Kamigawa, and never have to grapple with the issues of how that dead end would ever be addressed.

I would never have expected Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.

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Asset Brainstorm #4 — Floating Islands

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.


This month the asset I want to look at is Moon Tribe’s 2d floating island asset pack.

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3e: ‘The Exotic’ Weapon

Dungeons & Dragons is a game about creating a shared, temporary, fictional, consensus reality with your friends and ceding authority to manage the apersonal elements of that reality with one of your friends who can be trusted to use that trust in order to direct a narrative that provides satisfying engagement for the whole of the group, as I’ve always said. Part of that consensus reality is therefore the idea of managing what is and what constitutes normal, which is, overwhelmingly often, done with literal no rules or insight into how reality functions on an intrinsic level. You do not need rules for gravity (check flying rules, p56), you do not need rules for what dying means (check the head-in-a-bucket rager, p114), you do not need rules for why a culture wants a rightful king in power (check bend-at-the-knee page 1312). The fictional reality does not have a different set of mathematic rules underpinning their reality (though you can make a case that that’s what a D20 is if you’re very meta and boring), light and vision do not behave differently, planets whirl and matter can be touched.

Rather, the reality of D&D is a collection of signifiers of the very small set of differences between our reality and theirs, and that is, in part, established with rules that recognise the conventional vision of what is or is not normal, most often represented by the tools that are of interest to adventurer player characters. It is in this regard that the weapon proficiency system tells you what is normal and what is other.

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