Games Mythology and Folklore

I wrote another game

These are really fun! To write that is. I have no idea if these are playable or even Role Playing Games. They’re certainly storytelling games and you play a part in them so I guess they are, but they’re a far cry from XP and d20s.

This game is called Flesh of the Gods, it’s a way to collectively create a pantheon and mythology. A way for Gods to get involved in the affairs of Man both vital and petty, and for them to end up with strange combinations of domains (Behold! It is I! The God of Sunlight, Poetry, and, er.. Plague).

A pantheon of Gods tell tales of their attributes and patronage.

Each player writes a:

– Divine domain (e.g. Storms, Agriculture, Cats)
– A treasured possession
– Body part

Players randomly select one domain, possession, and body part to create their God.

Players also write three prayers (i.e. requests of a God), these are shuffled into a deck. Prayers can be as grand, solemn, trifling, or selfish as you like.

The starting God is whoever last ate an apple. The player opposite is the Village Elder this round and draws a prayer. They beseech the God for aid, the God must use the powers of their domain to answer the prayer. The God to the Elder’s left jealously intrudes and adds a complication. The God to the beseeched God’s left uses their possession to help overcome the complication. The beseeched God now gains an additional domain based on the prayer and the next God is beseeched.

Second time around it is the Gods to the right of the Elder and beseeched God rather than the left.

On the final round no other Gods intervene, the beseeched God must sacrifice their body part in order to answer the prayer.

Games Me

Never Say Die

I decided to write a role-playing game.

It was actually really fun. I’ve been throwing around game design ideas for the best part of two years now but am yet to actually create any sort of playable protoype. The challenge of writing a complete, playable game in only 200 words was quite liberating actually.

The name (the title of this post) was a bit of a last minute throwaway if I’m honest, though looking at I think I quite like it. The game is designed to encourage using storytelling and teamwork to overcome challenges, I didn’t necessarily have a ‘world’ in mind but a band of plucky kids taking on traps and the mob to find long lost pirate treasure evokes that pretty well I think.

You can read the game below.

Each character is represented by three characteristics: Guts, Smarts, and Heart. Players assign a value to each from an array of 1, 2, 3. Each player starts with one help token.

Players agree on a goal and a number of successes required to meet that goal (e.g. Find One-Eyed Willy’s Treasure, 10 successes).

One player starts as the narrator, they describe a complication encountered by the player to their left. To overcome the challenge that player describes how they use one of their characteristics and rolls a d6. A roll equal or under their chosen characteristic is a success. Once rolled the player describes their success or failure then takes on the role of the narrator for the next turn.

Players other than the narrator can expend a help token to add additional dice to the roll before it is made. Players earn help tokens by using their weaker characteristics to attempt challenges: 2 for their weakest and 1 for their middle characteristic.

To complete the quest, players must achieve the chosen number of successes. If they accrue that many failures, or fail three times in a row, they fail to attain their goal.

Games Me

Ergodic reading

These are books, like digital literature, computer-generated poetry and MUDs, where a “nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text”. And they are more common than you might think, especially in geek culture. Game books that allow you to “choose your own adventure” are ergodic, as are fantasy novels with extensive maps and world-building notes. But the RPG handbook pushes ergodic reading to its limit.

From ‘The joy of reading role-playing games’.

I have a fair-sized collection of RPG books: the Advanced Fighting Fantasy books (Dungeoneer, Blacksand!, Allansia, Out of the Pit, and Titan), Savage Worlds, D&D 4E Players Handbook, Mythic, the full set of D&D 5E Manuals (plus some others I’ve forgotten about, no doubt), but I’m yet to really play one.

I once convinced a friend to start an AFF quest, we must have been about 11 or 12, but our story didn’t get much further than one night. More commonly I’d spend hours meticulously constructing characters (on the slim chance I could ever get someone to play) and reading and re-reading the quests and background lore to imprint the worlds and stories in my mind.

Since I bought 5E I’m pretty much back there 20 years on, rolling characters and questing in my imagination.


What is a Roleplaying Game?

Outstanding. The text reads:

The GM describes the scene for the other players and adjudicates the results of their actions, often by throwing some dice. So, it goes something like this:

Player: I open the door into the next room.

GM: You see an orc armed with a battleaxe guarding a chest.

Player: I enter into a frank and meaningful dialogue with the orc, validating his right to guard chests but not pigeon-holing him into a stereotype, in the hopes of restructuring the traditional adventurer/monster antagonistic relationship into something more positive and mutually beneficial.

GM: Roll 1d20 against your Charisma skill.

Player: I succeed.

GM: The orc is moved by your rhetoric. Casting his battle-axe aside, he sits down on the chest and invites you to join him in a brain-storming session about ways to revitalise the decaying subterranean infrastructure and society of the dungeon, perhaps with a —

Player: While he is distracted, I stab him with my sword.

Art Games

The World of Imagination

The world of imagination is the world of eternity; it is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation is finite and temporal.

William Blake, spotted in an article about D&D that’s worth a read. I’ve never played D&D but I really really want to. Years ago I picked up the 4e Player’s Handbook and it was a fun enough read but I didn’t take it any further. More recently I’ve caught up with Acquisitions Inc, watched a buttload of Tabletop and I’m the slightly excited owner of the 5e Player’s Handbook (and Monster Manual). I have nobody to play with but I’m holding out hope.

Talking of Blake there’s an exhibition of prints on at the Ashmolean this Winter to which I’m definitely paying a visit.

Books Illustration

Fighting Fantasy

Danger lurks in every corner of Port Blacksand — infamous city of evil-doers!

YOU are an apprentice in the Thieves’ Guild of Port Blacksand. Tonight is the testing time, the climax of your training. Your mission is to find and steal a priceless gem, the Eye of the Basilisk, and the special skills you have learned will be tested to the limit!


I honestly can’t remember how many times I took this book out of the library. Competition was pretty fierce for Fighting Fantasy books and this was one of my go-to options when the only books available were those I’d already read.

My other go-to was also my first Fighting Fantasy book: Deathtrap Dungeon. I have such vivid memories of it. It was vol 6 in the FF series, the front cover was a many-eyed Bloodbeast (though in reality only two of the eyes were real, the rest blisters), and YOU, the hero, were taking part in the Trial of Champions in the titular dungeon of Fang. As well as the Bloodbeast there was a Pit Fiend, a Manticore – my strongest memory is dying of poison but I can confidently say I died many, many other ways too.

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 is in London on 7 Sep, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone will be there but £50+ is a bit rich for my blood (between FF and 40K they’ve done fairly well out of me over the years!). Though I was almost swayed by the artist line-up including John Blanche and Russ Nicholson. Russ Nicholson’s art really captured my imagination as a kid, I like to think I could still do a fairly accurate sketch of his Rhino-Man from Citadel of Chaos from memory but it’s probably better for everyone if I leave you with his.