Game Design

Monday Terrain Corner

Tabletop Gaming News - 11 December 2017 - 11:00am
I survived the Snowpocalypse here in Atlanta. And I’m one of the lucky ones that never lost power (for more than just a flicker, anyway). I’ve got some friends that are still without. Hopefully they’ll get it back soon. And I hope all of you had a chance to enjoy the winter wonderland (if it […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Skirmisher Publishing Releases Coldblooded: A Player’s Guide to Lizardmen

Tabletop Gaming News - 11 December 2017 - 10:00am
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with playing a character in an RPG that’s an elf or a dwarf or a human or a halfling, but, for me, I always liked getting a bit more creative with it. Minotaurs, goliaths, and such like that. Well, if you want something a bit more scaly, Skirmisher Publishing has […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Dream Pod 9 Running New Heavy Gear Blitz! Kickstarter

Tabletop Gaming News - 11 December 2017 - 9:00am
Giant robot alert! We have a giant robot alert on the screen! *loud buzzing and beeping while red lights flash* Dream Pod 9 is running a Kickstarter campaign for their giant robot miniatures game, Heavy Gear Blitz!. With the Kickstarter, they’re looking to create new core army miniatures for the Peace River and NuCoal factions. […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: A Far Cry From Wizard-Sniffing

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 11 December 2017 - 8:55am

This week's top game articles/videos include the story behind Far Cry 5, a wizard-sniffing text adventure, the hillbillies of Grand Theft Auto Online, and lots more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: A Far Cry From Wizard-Sniffing - by Simon Carless Blogs - 11 December 2017 - 8:54am
This week's top game articles/videos include the story behind Far Cry 5, a wizard-sniffing text adventure, the hillbillies of Grand Theft Auto Online, and lots more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Z-Man Games Previews Solo Mode For Gaia Project

Tabletop Gaming News - 11 December 2017 - 8:00am
Solo rules for games open up entirely new opportunities for play. Sometimes you want to game, but nobody’s around. Having a game that’ll still work with just one player means there’s always enough to play. In Gaia Project, Z-Man games has created a variant of the rules for solo play. So even if your entire […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Make games while traveling the world: A true story - by Marco Mignano Blogs - 11 December 2017 - 7:04am
Is it possible to make a game and traveling around the world? Yes but is not easy. Here my story where I'm traveling across Asia but continuing doing what I love most: Make games. Or at least I'm trying!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The deceptively simple deep gameplay mechanics of Muffin Knight - by arne neumann Blogs - 11 December 2017 - 7:01am
A look at the mechanics of Muffin Knight, a relatively small game, that offers variety through intrinsic game mechanics instead of large amount of assets or procedural generation.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Latest Releases for X-Wing Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 11 December 2017 - 7:00am
It’s two, two, two waves in one! Fantasy Flight is giving you a double-shot of X-Wing releases, with both Wave XII and Wave XIII now available. That’s a total of 5 new ships to add to your squadrons. You’ve got some classics, some new, and some new-classics. A little bit of everything for everyone. From […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

New Dark Angels Available To Pre-Order For 40k

Tabletop Gaming News - 11 December 2017 - 6:00am
Back when I was playing 40k regularly, my two main armies were Orks and Dark Angels… I guess I have a thing for green armies. Hey, when you buy green paint in bulk, you save. Well, the Dark Angels are getting themselves updated for the latest edition. A new Codex, as well as army bundles, […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Tabletop vs Larp Embodiment

Gnome Stew - 11 December 2017 - 3:35am

viking fun!

“I don’t really feel comfortable a lot of the time in LARPs,” a friend confessed after playing my run of The Inheritance, a viking family drama LARP by Luke Crane.  “I dunno it’s just like, extra nerdy? Nerdier than tabletop? And there’s costuming? It’s like, harder for me to separate the game from what I’m doing I guess? I don’t know what it is it just feels weirder somehow. I was nervous before I played!”

I nodded along, listening. I’ve actually heard a similar story from lots of people about LARP. Some people are more nervous about “parlor larps” or “emo larps,” games that have emotions, romance, or touching. Some people are nervous about wearing costumes. Others just aren’t really sure what to do when walking around instead of sitting. LARPing has a completely different set of social cues and rules that maybe they’re just not used to.

All of this is completely perplexing to me, since a lot of my entry into gaming was through vampire larps and goth clubs, both places where moving around and costuming ridiculously were a huge part of the fun. I’m also very comfortable at house parties! So when my friends tell me this stuff, my ears perk up with curiosity and I try to learn what makes them so darn nervous about larping. Here are some of the things I’ve found.

The Body Problem

Embodiment is something I pay close attention to. I think that being genderqueer, a studier of human behavior, and having an obsession with body modification gives me a bit of an edge sometimes. I like to examine how people embody themselves, how they hold themselves, how they perform gender in their body movements, how they lounge. Embodiment is a huge part of LARPing. The joke is that LARPing is just gaming standing up. That’s true, but some of us are more comfortable in our bodies than others. With a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it’s actually harder for me to sit for many hours than stand and move around in a LARP, so I can empathize.

There’s also the fact that moving your body around brings your mind closer to your character in many ways and that tabletop is more of an abstraction. Do you want to talk to someone? Move over and stand next to them. This simple action can actually cause a brain to believe the fantasy a little more. I’m reminded of the third hand illusion, where a fake hand is put in front of you while your real hand is hidden. After some sensory stimulation, your brain begins to believe the fake hand that you see is so real that you flinch when it’s stabbed. Our body movement is very closely related to our reactions to things, and a LARP can intensify that, even if there’s no simulated sword fights and you’re just moving around a room.


I’ve heard that some people have amplified feelings when they’re embodying characters in a LARP. There’s been some discussion about this before from Lizzie Stark and other prominent LARP writers, but a lot of it has to do with Alibi. Alibi is basically the mask that you wear that is your character. You put it on, your character takes actions that are not entirely you, but definitely driven by you. When you’re roleplaying at a table, there’s more abstraction between you and your characters actions. A player might describe these actions, or even just roll for them. In a Larp there is gesturing, dancing, sitting, standing, falling down, etc. So the distance between the player and the character can shrink, therefore leaving less alibi in its place. With less alibi, a player can feel closer to their character.

That closeness can lead to bleed, where a player feels what their character feels. This type of crossover can be as simple as “my character is an outsider, and I feel that way sometimes too and understand it” or as complex as “I just broke up with my boyfriend and so did my character and now I feel extra sad”. This type of bleed can happen in any game, really, but in a Larp where the alibi is much smaller and all the embodiment makes it feel more real this can hit close to home.

Sometimes this is really fun! Other times it can feel super intimidating.  It really depends on the people involved and what their preferences are. I love feelings and often play close to home as a kind of experiment with my own feelings about issues in my life. But that’s me. There’s also Larps that play heavier on emotions than others. I’d put Inheritance as a dramatic Larp, but not a feelings-heavy Larp that’s meant to pull on your emotions. So in my experience running this for friends, it helped them get more into a Larp type environment with low emotional bleed risk.

viking postures

Lady Vikings

A neat thing happened in this run of the game was that most of the players were ladies, while the gender of characters were split pretty evenly. This is where many gestures, postures, and gendered movements become highlighted! In Inheritance the gender of the characters needs to stay as it is written because of gender roles in Viking culture and their relevance in the setting of the game (a long house, where women have a lot of social sway). I loved seeing a house full of mostly lady vikings shouting and toasting to Odin, it was a delightful scene I wish could exist in all of our games and viking media.

I love seeing what happens when people embody a different gender, or people who aren’t cis men get to be in leadership roles within the game. It subverts a general dynamic of spaces where cis men typically are in leadership roles, and the space becomes more welcoming for other genders. I definitely recommend doing this in LARPs if at all possible. The space surprisingly transforms from one of unsure nerdery to one of liberating roleplaying.

Overall I think this approach to introducing people to LARPing has been successful! Taking a less emotional game, with clear boundaries, in an all gender welcoming space really helps people experimenting with embodiment within LARPs. Transitioning from ttrpgs to standing up and roleplaying might be weird and new for some people, but I hope to share with more of my friends how much I love it, and how cool it can be to embody a character a little bit more.

What LARPs have you played recently and loved?


Categories: Game Theory & Design

In the Company of Giants Revised (5E)

New RPG Product Reviews - 11 December 2017 - 2:56am
Publisher: Rite Publishing
Rating: 5
An review of the second revised version

The second revision of the 5e-conversion of „In the Company of Giants“ clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.

Now one of the definite strengths of this series, should you not be familiar with it, lies in immersion - like most Rite Publishing books, the "In the Company of..."-series is defined by being simply pleasant to read, which is a pretty big deal for me. How does it achieve that? Well, know how some crunch-supplements read like telephone books? Rite books employ a cool strategy here - they are written from the point of view of actual characters. Thus, this pdf begins with Owain Northway, one of the sages of Questhaven, receiving a letter from a member of the Jotunnar race, who then proceeds to explain the basics of the race.

If Jotunnar does sound Norse-flavored, you wouldn't be wrong (their names sport the Icelandic suffixes of -son and -dottir, denoting "son of" and "daughter of"), but neither would you get the totality of the picture. Far beyond what other product lines offer in either 5e or PFRPG, we receive an in-depth look at culture and mindset of the race - which begins as Medium-sized and only slowly unlocks the true potential of their heritage. Philosophy-wise, the race similarly does take an unconventional stance - there are two dominant ways of thinking, with the first being called Vird.

Vird would be pretty much a philosophy steeped in Norse morale - i.e. cherishing the value of bravery, being forthcoming and true, but this does not extend to traditionally "good"-coded concepts like mercy. Courtesies and proper behavior still are very important and the elaboration of the concept is enticing and well-presented.

Osoem, then, would be the path of embracing what one could construe as the base giant desires - they are not necessarily evil, though their actions would be considered as such; instead, they very much behave as one would expect from the more unpleasant real world giant mythologies, rationalizing it as part of their nature. The scorpion on the turtle crossing the river comes to mind.

Racial trait-wise, the race increases Strength by 2 and they increase your choice of either Constitution or Wisdom by 1. On a basic level, Jotunnar become older than humans and favor a regimented society. At the start of the game, you are Medium and gain proficiency with Intimidation and Persuasion. You do count as one size category larger for the purpose of determining carrying capacity, pushing limits etc. and when you fail a Strength or Constitution saving throw,, you can reroll the save, but must keep the new result. You can use this feature only once per rest interval, requiring a short or long rest to use it again.

The main meat of this book. Crunch-wise, would be the jotun paragon class, which is exclusive to the jotunnar race and gains d10 HD, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, one artisan’s tool, Strength and Constitution saving throw and you get to choose proficiency in two skills, chosen from Athletics, History, Insight, Nature, Perception, Performance and Survival. Nice: Beyond quick build advice, we also get equipment choices and ability-score requirements for multiclassing purposes. While not wearing armor, the class has a natural armor of 10 + the greater of either Strength or Constitution modifier + Dexterity modifier and you may still use a shield in conjunction with this AC boost. The jotun paragon class also gains a slam attack that inflicts 1d4 + Strength modifier bludgeoning damage, which increases to 1d6 and 1d8 base damage at 6th and 11th level, respectively. RAW, it does not note that the jotun paragon is proficient in slams, but I assume so, analogue to other class features.

At 3rd level and 15th level, the jotun paragon gains a mighty cool ability – as an action, you can grow in size (so yeah, you still can adventure with your buddies), increasing your size at 3rd level to Large. Equipment changes size with you and your weight increases by a factor of 8. Items out of your possession regain their size after 1 minute. Now, 5e’s size-increase rules are brutal – in order to maintain balance, the usual rules for size increase are NOT applied for the jotun paragon class. Instead, weapon attacks deal an additional 1d4 damage, which increases to +1d6 or +1d8 at 5th and 11th level, respectively. You may resume Medium size as a bonus action. The upgrade at 15th level allows you to use a second action to grow to Huge size, for a further size and weight increase. Damage boost while Huge is +2d8…and before you ask: No, you can’t be affected by enlarge/reduce while thus grown. Big kudos for balancing this…and for explaining the interaction with e.g. a giant’s sword in a sidebar.

Starting at 5th level, we get rock throwing, which scales based on your slam attack; 7th level lets you swat rocks etc. out of the air as a reaction, protecting your puny allies. Also at 7th level, you gain temporary hit points equal to 10 + number of Hit Dice extended + Constitution modifier whenever you complete a short rest, but only when you actually spend Hit Dice, so no cheesing here. They btw. vanish after a long rest. While you have these temporary hit points, you ignore the effects of the frightened condition – note that you only ignore the effects – you’re still subject to it! Interesting ability!

At 9th level, you gain advantage on all saves that affect humanoids, but not giants. At 11th level, you may execute a crushing blow in melee, which inflicts of +2d12 damage and the target must succeed a Strength save or be knocked prone. The feature may be used twice before requiring a short or long rest to use again, +1 use at 14th and 17th level. 13th level nets perhaps the most hilariously epic ability of the class – at this level, you can take grappled creatures and use them to beat up their friends or throw them. Yes, you are proficient in using other folks as weapon. Yes, it’s cool, and yes, you can smash grappled foes against walls, floors, etc. At 15th level, you double your damage versus objects and structures. At 20th level, you increase your Strength by 4 points to a maximum of 24, gain +10 speed while Large and +20 speed while Huge. Ability score improvements are gained at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level. Minor complaint: You have to deduce that and Extra Attack from the table, but that remains a cosmetic complaint.

Now, as far as player agenda goes, we get a Jotun Lineage, which is chosen at 2nd level and grants abilities at 2nd, 6th, 10th and 18th level. A total of 6 different lineages are provided: Cloud giant, fire giant, frost giant, hill giant, stone giant and storm giant – the classic ones, basically. The respective lineages are pretty flavorful – some abilities tie in with the mythological components associated with giants: Jotun paragons with a cloud giant lineage gain, for example, gain a kind of wildcard Charisma skill proficiency that may be changed upon finishing a long rest, representing their mercurial temper; at higher levels, these jotun paragons gain the ability to treat clouds etc. as solid and may even create duplicates from cloud matter. Fire giants can make nonmagical weapons temporarily magical and fiery, with the option to use Hit Dice as a resource to further enhance the weaponry. And yes, there is a hard cap on the number of weapons you can prepare thus…and having access to a forge increases the duration. When suffering normal fire damage, high level jotun paragons may draw some heat into their armors and at the highest levels, we have the ability to temporarily negate fore resistance or decrease immunity.

Jotun paragons with the frost giant lineage are not simply carbon copies of the fire lineage in cold; instead, they can fortify themselves against cold, gain Constitution-based limited spellcasting (representing runic lore). Really cool: At 10th level, grapples may inflict escalating negative conditions on failed saves, even including temporary petrification! Cool! Hill giants gain a necrotic bite and may regain Hit Dice by consuming flesh, but only once per long rest interval, and only as part of a short rest. Tapping into the cliché of the stupid, tricked giant, you can waltz towards foes if you succeed a save versus charms, illusions, etc., and you gain a thunder damage stomp that deals damage in a small cone and may push foes back on a failed save. Stone giants get a further AC bonus when not wearing armor, proficiencies and some adaptation to the deeps…which comes with a cool angle: Life aboveground feels less real, allowing you to use your reaction to declare one attack incurred in such environments as less real, halving its damage. Finally, the lineage of the storm giant nets you both resistance to thunder and lightning and some storm-themed, limited-use spells – the only lineage that I consider a bit less interesting than it could have been.


Editing and formatting are very good, both formal and rules-language has been kept pretty precise and well made. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s nostalgic, old 2-column b/w-standard with its rune-borders. Artworks are mostly stock and b/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Rite Publishing must be congratulated here; The 2nd revision of the Steven D. Russell’s original playable giants, handled by Brandes Stoddard and developed by Dan Dillon, is finally what fans of 5e wanted. Another company perhaps would have moved on after the failed 1st revision, but Rite Publishing is devoted to making things right…and that’s exactly what happened here. You get the evocative size-increases and can still adventure with your buddies; you get the option to become Huge without wrecking balance…and better yet, the lineage abilities are evocative and cool, at least for the most part: I absolutely adore the somewhat fairy-tale-ish flavor that suffuses even brief descriptions of the crunch, how the respective lineages offer different, cool options…in short, I do consider this to be the conversion that the file deserves.

This is, in short, a great little pdf. While I was slightly underwhelmed by the storm giants, the 0ther 5 lineages are pure amazing and this pdf, in short, is very much worth getting. Flavorful, fun and well-made – the second revision gets well-deserved 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Heavy Metal (II)

RPGNet - 11 December 2017 - 12:00am
Fuzzy mecha.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Music Composers: New VR Headphones - by Winifred Phillips Blogs - 10 December 2017 - 11:58pm
How does headphone technology impact a virtual reality experience? Video game music composer Winifred Phillips discusses three headphone models targeting the VR marketplace, to see what new technologies are being proposed to facilitate VR audio.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Developing a game in pursuit of untainted strategy - by Gabriel Wink Blogs - 10 December 2017 - 4:13am
Producing a full-on strategy game, from management of space to psychological mechanics.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Strategy RPGs that Inspired Sword Legacy: Omen - by Arthur Protasio Blogs - 10 December 2017 - 4:11am
Developers of the upcoming indie tactical RPG, Sword Legacy: Omen, explain why they chose the turn-based strategy genre and analyze five specific games of great inspiration to the project.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Sword Legacy: Omen's Developer Blog - #1 The Strategy RPGs That Inspired Us - by Arthur Protasio Blogs - 10 December 2017 - 4:11am
Developers of the upcoming indie tactical RPG, Sword Legacy: Omen, explain why they chose the turn-based strategy genre and analyze five specific games of great inspiration to the project.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

8 ways to avoid going crazy while developing your indie game - by Kade Dunn Blogs - 10 December 2017 - 4:11am
Developing indie games can be a harrowing experience--check out a few things to keep in mind while developing your indie title and trying to remain sane!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Postmortem: Making Boss 101 and living our dreams - by Tim Donley Blogs - 10 December 2017 - 4:03am
Boss 101 was our first game as a team but not my first game in the industry. I take a look at what got me to Boss 101. The ups and downs, going from big games to indie. Mostly though - I'm living my dreams!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Lessons Learned From Two Game Launches - by Ryan Sumo Blogs - 10 December 2017 - 4:01am
Despite getting front page exposure on Steam, our launch for Political Animals did poorly. Academia : School Simulator's launch sold almost 3x more units without a Steam feature. I explain why I think this was the case.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


Subscribe to As If Productions aggregator - Game Theory & Design