Worlds Without Master Issue 10 cover web

The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku

Published late last night, the 10th issue of Worlds Without Master holds within its covers the weird fantasy game The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku. The game is blend of horror and sword & sorcery, inspired in part by the works of Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance. You are skalds and half-scholars under the geas of Duke Vulku and compelled by witchery to adventure with him at the command of the seventeen sages. This game is also a glimpse at what Dread may have looked like if I had waited until today to write it.

It has been over 15 years since Dread was first conceived and over ten since it was born. When the first game ever of Dread was played, there was still an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The litany of changes to the design and structure of tabletop roleplaying games and to the methods of production and distribution since then is staggering. Pile upon that my own personal journey through gaming this past decade and a half, and you have a recipe for a new take on a familiar game.

The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku has all the elements of classic Dread.

  • There’s the Jenga tower, though now it is called the Spire.
  • Characters still die when it falls, but now there’s stuff to do once you’ve crossed over.
  • Characters are created through questionnaires, though much shorter ones and now the Host has their own questionnaire to fill out.
  • Fighting amongst yourselves is still bad news.
  • The heroic sacrifice option is still there, but with a couple twists, including the right to demand of your companions “Which among you will sing of this?”

The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku has a much sharper focus than Dread. It is a single scenario. One that can be played over and over without fear of spoiling the mystery, but it does not have Dread‘s scope. In its stead, you will find specific rules tailored to the scenario. This is the marriage of Dread and Apocalypse World with moves built around the pulling of blocks. Among the list of new wonders to be discovered by fans of classic Dread there are:

  • Custom moves for each character, inspired in part by some of the designs in Dread House, where each player keeps a cache of blocks that can be used in lieu of pulling from the Spire.
  • Each time the Spire falls, one of the surviving characters will learn new moves.
  • Those sinister enough to set their will against that of Duke Vulku’s must make their pulls with their off hand.
  • Those that have died can still mete their petty vengeance upon their former companions by forcing them to push blocks back into the Spire.

And more!

If you are all curious, I urge you to surrender yourself to the Duke’s will today. Pick up your copy of Worlds Without Master issue 10. Regret will be the least of your torments in Duke Vulku’s service.


This 42-page issue of Worlds Without Master contains:

  • “Because I Clasp the Clouds As Mine,” a tale of a shifting identity byOsmond Arnesto.
  • “The Hoard of Yengra,” a tale of commerce and justice by Epidiah Ravachol.
  • Illustrations by Wendy MartinVlada Monakhova, and Tiffany Turrill.
  • Another installment of Bryant Paul Johnson‘s comic Oh, the Beating Drum!
  • The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku, a game of horror and wonder based on the game Dread by the original author, Epidiah Ravachol.
  • A miscellany of delays and distractions for any journey.
  • And full-color cover art by Jabari Weathers.


Get your copy of the issue at the Worlds Without Master bazaar, at the Dig a Thousand Holes Payhip store, or at DriveThruFiction. You can also read “The Hoard of Yengra” as well as all of Epidiah’s other sword & sorcery fiction for free at

And as always, you can stand with the Patron Horde, lend your sword to the cause while guaranteeing your share of the spoils.


Let’s Chat About Games

Hard Working Game Designers Enjoying Their Mid-Morning Coffee Break

For the most part, I try to use this blog for official announcements and the like. Occasionally I’ll chat a little about this game or that here, if it is specifically pertinent to one of my games. But on the whole, I try not to gum up the signal here with too much noise.

That, of course, is of no help to those of you who, in fact, yearn for all that delectable noise. For you proud few, I present this Quick Guide to Chatting with Eppy:

  • Over on Google+ I shoot my mouth off about all sorts of random game stuff. If you do swing by there, be sure to let me know you’re interested in hearing about games, so I can put you in the proper circle. Otherwise you might just get an eyeful of lazy vegan cooking tips.
  • While you’re over on Google+, check out the Design Matters community, which is not only frequented by myself, but a number of other great designers. It’s a great place to go if you a question about a specific game of mine.
  • I’m not as active on Twitter as I used to be, but if you watch my feed there very closely, you’ll get the occasional pithy nugget or poop joke.
  • Finally, if you ever find yourself in the Western Massachusetts area, drop me an email. Who knows, we might be able to meet up for some coffee and game talk.

Epimas Returns!

The Epimas promotion is back again this year. Buy a game (including Time & Temp and Dread House) for a friend or loved one and get that same game for yourself!

Read all about it on the official Epimas website.

Charity Auction: Signed Copies of Time & Temp and Dread House

The auction is over. Congratulations to the winners and thanks again to Chris Roback of We Xogo for putting this all together.

Chris Roback, the gentleman behind We Xogo, was at PAX East this past weekend and took it upon himself to put together an auction to benefit the Child’s Play Charity. And he’s been gracious enough to allow me to include some games.

So if you’ve been waiting for a good excuse to purchase either Time & Temp or Dread Houseto indulge yourself while still helping a worthy cause–here is your excuse. Or if you’ve already got the games and you’re

looking to get a copy for a friend, you know what to do (buy these signed ones and give your friend your ratty old copies). Or if you just like helping kids in hospitals and want to make a couple small press game designers look like big shots, here’s your chance. Bid the hell out of these puppies.*

* Puppies not included.

Fresh from PAX East 2011

Well PAX East was a roaring success, definitely something I plan to return to many times over. It was an absolute pleasure meeting the lot of you. The times were crazy and the conversations were regretfully short. If we didn’t get a chance to finish our discussion, please feel free to start it up again on my forums over at the RPGCrossroads.

Also, I sold out of almost everything I had. So if you didn’t get to the booth in time, here are some links to get you to the games you were looking for:

Time & Temp:

  • Unbound Edition (the print one in the file folder) can be bought here.
  • Paperless Office Edition (the PDF version which comes free with the print) can be bought here.

Dread House:

  • Print Edition can be bought here.
  • PDF Edition (which comes free with the print) can be bought here.


  • Print Edition can be bought here.
  • PDF Edition can be bought here.

The Time for Talking Is Now!

I am a fervent babbler. And given enough air time, I’d strangle myself. I don’t know how, but trust me, it’d happen.

In any case, today, as luck would have it, you have not one, but two opportunities to listen to my incessant rambling.

The first is a quick little interview about Epimas past and present over at Canon Puncture.

The second is a not-so-quick little interview over at the Jennisodes about Time & Temp, Dread, Swords Without Master, and Dread House and the crazy rollercoaster of my design process. Featuring the world’s longest one-minute-pitch!

The Time for Talking is Over

Now begins the Era of Typing.

Thanks to the folks over at the Neighborhood the RPG Crossroads, Dig a Thousand Holes now has a semi-official forum. Stop on by. Say hi. Tell us about your adventures in time or haunted houses. Ask rules questions. Share a vegan recipe. Post a pic of your gaming collection. Whatever tickles your fancy, neighbor.

The Dig a Thousand Holes Forum

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Epimas

So you say you want a Time & Temp PDF. And you want a Dread House PDF. And you’re thinking to yourself, “You know, I have this friend who is so very dear to me and who wouldn’t mind PDFs of these fine games as well.” Plus, we’d probably want ten more games. And I’m not willing to spend a dime over $40.

Well my friend, you’re in luck. Tis the season for Epimas miracles, and this year, we have a crazy big miracle for you. Eleven different designers, 12 different games, all organized into a affordable PDF bundles which you can buy for a loved one, and get the same one in return for free. Including all 12 games for just $40!

Check this out now!


The Colour(ing Book) Out of Space

Idle hands are the Devil’s tools, as they say. Best to put those Devil’s tools of yours to work coloring all the delectable art from Dread House.

The Dread House Coloring Book is available for free as a PDF right here.

For a Limited Time: From now until Halloween, anyone who orders a print copy of the Dread House game will recieve a print copy of the coloring book as well.


You no longer have to take my word for it.

The Hopeless Gamer reviews Dread House:

We managed to snag a copy at GenCon before they sold out, and we were excited to give it a spin when my 12-year-old niece came to stay with us for a week. She really got into describing the scary stuff we encountered in the rooms, going so far as to get up and flicker the lights at one point, and went to town developing her “athlete” character into equal parts fearless hero and total ditz.

Dread House is available here and as a PDF here. Or you can find it in the Dread for All Ages Bundle.

And there’s a Time & Temp review up at RPGGeek:

I actually laughed out loud several times reading the game. It’s like McSweeney’s, Kate Beaton, or Jackson Pubick of the Venture Brothers wrote a game. Plus there’s an off-hand Borges reference in there and that pretty much makes it a winner for me.

Time & Temp is currently on sale celebrating it’s nomination for the Golden Geek Game of the Year Award.