Projects

I've got way too many game projects on the go right now. Most of them are still in the pre-playtest phase, but I've started this website in part to encourage me to finish some! For now, here's some summaries of what I'm working on. If you want to learn more or have recommendations of things for me to check out, feel free to get in touch.

Antrum

I entered the Mapemounde 2020 game jam on Itch, hosted by Mammut RPG. What resulted after a week of on-and-off work is Antrum.

The game will always be licensed CC BY-SA 4.0, but it’s only free until I release a final version after the jam and more playtesting, so feel free to grab a copy now and send in any feedback you have! Thanks.

Version: open beta badge


an·trum (/ˈantrəm/) noun. a natural chamber or cavity in a bone or other anatomical structure.

Antrum is a city of decadence and corruption, carved out of the hollow bone of some long-dead God. For decades the citizens of Antrum have lived in relative peace, interrupted only occasionally by violence. Smashing some skulls or tossing a vagrant to the spineflowers was required to maintain order. But now the Queen is dead and Antrum is in chaos. The factions of this rotting slum on a ruined planet fight for control. Who will emerge victorious to claim the Calvaria, crown of Antrum? Let’s play to find out.

Antrum is a competitive storytelling and map-drawing game for 3-5 people. Players each represent a faction in a crime-ridden city, vying to seize power. Players take turns adding or revising the maps of Antrum, building the world through play. Factions have access to skills and resources they can use to influence the story in their favor, with the outcome of conflict determined by the throwing of bones (or dice, if that’s all you’ve got). The player who makes the best use of their faction skills and is judged the most creative storyteller by their fellow players will win, but everyone will have fun building the story together.

Includes a random table of 1,008 science fantasy locations and factions.

Game by Sam Walker Art by Jenn Dickieson

Licensed CC BY-SA 4.0

A web-based version of the rules (good for use with Google Translate) is available here.

You Can't Go Home Again

I entered the Tech Jam on Itch, hosted by Adam Vass and Will Jobst of the Brain Trust podcast (among other things). My submission is You Can’t Go Home Again: A Revisiting Mechanics Tech Pack. I think the idea of a tech pack is very cool. It’s sort of like an asset pack or an artist’s sketchbook, offering pieces of mechanics and game design that is not tied to a particular game. Tech packs can provide value to other game designers by offering licensed content to hack or design into their own games.

My pack offers a number of new mechanics for solving a common problem in game design: how to refresh and update prepared content or adapt the fiction to show the effects of the PCs’ actions on the wider world. It tries to make it easier to prepare and present content, e.g. hexes, locations, NPCs, etc., that the players “revisit” more than once. The goal is to make the PCs’ actions feel impactful and to make prep easier for GMs.

​This tech pack includes 20 pages of content, including reviews of existing mechanics from popular systems like ​Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Blades in the Dark​, and Tenra Bansho Zero​​, ​and four new mechanics:

  • The Player Legacy Table (for hexcrawls)
  • Returning to the Crew’s Lair (for ​Blades in the Dark​)
  • NPC Motivation Table
  • Off-Camera NPC actions

Version: released badge

Licensed CC BY 4.0

Hell is Other People

Hell is Other People is a roleplaying game of morality and torment. Play as humans who think they are in heaven, but actually are in a version of hell perfectly designed to bring out their worst qualities. Work together to torment each other while trying to learn lessons about ethics. Will your character successfully discover their fate and learn from their mistakes in life, or will they succumb to their character flaws and remain trapped in an eternal nightmare? Let’s play to find out!

This micro-RPG (one page of rules, one page character sheets) is inspired by the game mechanics of Fiasco and the premise of The Good Place TV series. It is currently in closed alpha playtesting, but I will release open beta rules when they are ready.

Version: closed alpha badge

Dastardly

In the filthy backwaters of the Milky Way, gunslingers duel for fortune and fame. Every one of them is daring, dangerous, and… DASTARDLY.

Dastardly is a local co-op platform action fighter in the vein of TowerFall Ascension and Super Smash Brothers. Development started in February 2021. The basic art and multiplayer systems are finished, but I have to add basic single player, stages, music, and a few more features before it is ready for release.

I’m using this project to get more comfortable with Godot and - hopefully - to finish a digital game. I still set the bar too high (classic), but I’ve been progressing pretty well.

WIP Title Screen
WIP Title Screen

Includes assets from penusbmic.

Version: closed alpha badge

Space Opera Card Game (Untitled)

Play as one of six unique factions of an interstellar empire fighting heresy in outer space. You’ll have to work together to destroy the heretics, while also fighting each other to maintain power and come out on top.

This project is a cooperative and competitive asymmetrical card game inspired by the game mechanics of Root and the world of the Machineries of Empire novels by Yoon-Ha Lee.

Version: closed alpha badge

The Sword Will Decide

Note: on hold until I find time to refactor. I learned a lot about Godot in my first attempt at this game, but it’s too big. I hope to return to it eventually.

Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide. The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel, formerly used to kill men, but here In the sense of a symbol. The sword: that is: the storms and counter-storms of general destruction; killing of men, Destruction of all goods and materials; massacre, more or less intentional, of children and women; Destruction poured down from wings, the air made accomplice, the innocent air Perverted into assassin and poisoner.

Contemplation of The Sword (1938) - Robinson Jeffers

Fantasy literature and the mythology it draws on often contain magical weapons granted to the heroes: Nandaka, Mjölnir, Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, Excalibur, Sting, the list goes on. Many modern digital and analog roleplaying games let you acquire magical weapons to improve your character. Games such as Borderlands, or Destiny, Diablo, and Dungeons and Dragons rely centrally on this mechanic.

In The Sword Will Decide, the script is flipped: you play as an ambitious and powerful cursed magical weapon looking to gain followers and power, rising to the top of the kingdom by choosing your hosts wisely. You can send your hosts into dangerous situations, gain new powers, and leave a trail of destruction and ruin behind you in your quest for power. This game is currently in development as a digital game.

Version: on hold badge

Trve Kvlt: The Drop-D RPG

You know there is no escape
When you see your world in flames
As the hellrains pound the darkening land
Man and sword begin their last stand

You know you’ll never kneel
To the Master of the Pit
Feverish prayers of life ever after
As your doom-driven blade drinks the soul of the Master

Heavy metal is great. Fantasy and sword-and-sorcery roleplaying games are also great. They also have a storied history of cross-pollination, with many metal fans playing Dungeons and Dragons and using fantasy imagery in their songs. This connection interests me because it highlights the theatrical and over-the-top nature of metal music and the links between what were at one time underground subcultures.

Trve Kvlt is a roleplaying game inspired by nerdy heavy metal. Play as members in a band so kvlt their music transports them to a fantastic realm of monsters and metal. This design is still very rough, but I aim to use the structures of songs, albums, and tours to guide gameplay, and to have mix-and-match characters that simultaneously have a role in the band (lead guitar, vocals, etc.) and the fantasy world (ranger, cleric, etc.).

Version: pre-alpha badge

Polyhedral Pandemonium

This game is a simple tactical combat game that uses polyhedral dice as the miniatures. I haven’t decided if I want to make it analog or digital yet, but I have some basic rules sketched out.

Version: pre-alpha badge

Peregrini

Every time I boot up, it’s the same: floating through deep space with no power and all hands lost. Is this a dream? Can I dream? Or is it a test? Whatever it is, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s my fault.

Play as the AI of a ghost ship lost in space in this text-based mystery game. This project is my first attempt at creative writing in a long time. It draws from many inspirations, including:

Version: pre-alpha badge

Collective Action

I’ve been taking notes on and off for years about a board game designed to teach the history of the labor movement, but it’s very early days with this one. A central inspiration is Twilight Struggle.

Version: pre-alpha badge