Geeking Out About the Dice in Wolfspell

If you aren’t a part of the Patron Horde, you may not know it yet, but the latest issue of Worlds Without Master includes my latest game: Wolfspell, a game about hard-bitten adventurers taking on a grim, perilous task that they can only accomplish by becoming puppies.

Or something of that nature.

I’m going to geek out about the dice in the game now, and if you’d like to read along at home, you can get issue two of Worlds Without Master right here.

Wolfspell is something of an amalgamation of design elements from the two most important post-apocalyptic games of our day: Apocalypse World and MonkeyDome. But all of the innovation stolen from these two games pales, pales I tell you! What really matters is that I finally found an excuse to use the dice mechanic from the Time Lord roleplaying game. This is a die trick I’ve been admiring for-almost-ever: roll two six-sided dice and you subtract the lower die from the higher die.

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I’m On Theory from the Closet!

Theory from the Closet

Over at Geeky & Genki, I’m on the latest episode of the illustrious Theory from the Closet podcast chatting with Clyde Rhoer and shooting my mouth off about all things Words Without Master, Swords Without Master, PatreonVast & StarlitWhat is a Roleplaying Game? and probably a lot more. I mean, I go on and on for just over two hours. Whew. I simply will not shut up.

The Post GenCon Debrief

IMAG1153I have returned, broken and filthy, from my adventures in the land of GenCon; but I have returned triumphant!

And not so broken, really. It was actually quite a healthy GenCon for me.

And the filthy part is a lie as well. Why do you people trust me?

I didn’t have a booth at GenCon this year, but I did participate in some amazing panels (one of which may have been recorded–I’ll link to it when I find out more) and in some delightful games of Vast & Starlit and Swords Without Master. One of which involved a flying saucer that was operated by touchscreens that required full-body contact and another which involved someone being seduced by a 10,000-year-old serpent goddess. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which was which.

I also managed to get copies of What is a Roleplaying Game? into the hands of . . . more than a hundred people, I think. Wow. (Even more impressive is that fact that What is a Roleplaying Game? is now available in Portuguese!) And I’ve handed out slightly less bookmarks for Words Without Master, but drummed up quite a bit of interested from potential writers, artists, and editors. (If you’ve been drummed, you can find the submission guidelines here.) Look to see the first issue by the end of next month!

My own personal haul was a bit slim this year, but I did snag one of these handy little dice rings. I got the one pictured above: two six-siders in rainbow. It’s like a mobile Swords Without Master platform with a Glum side (the one with the blue and purple edge) and a Jovial side (the one with the blue, purple and gold edge). They’ve even gone through all the trouble of shading all die results of three or less, so spotting Threads is a snap!

And I also got a super exclusive roleplaying game entitled Red Ones Go Faster about fast cars, illegal racing, and risky driving that you totally don’t have. Expect me to post more about that one once I get a chance to play it.

Eppy’s Guide to Eppy at GenCon

Warning: I failed at reading a spreadsheet. My Games on Demand schedule has be updated below to reflect my real schedule.


GenCon’s less than a week away and I’m about to head out on my annual pre-GenCon vacation in scenic Central Wisconsin.

But before I go, let me tell you about where to stalk me at GenCon. You know, in case you were into that sort of thing. Stop by, say hi, talk to me about Words Without Master, grab a free copy of What is a Roleplaying Game? and maybe game with me for a while.

The Panels

Sci-Fi RPG Designer Roundtable: Challenges in Crafting Original Settings & Systems

Friday, 11:00 – 12:00 pm
Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Bllrm A/B
What makes for a great SF RPG? How do designers find the right balance between scientific realism and fun gameplay? Which is better: space broccoli, space koalas, space octopi, or space business cards? Game designers Rob Boyle (Eclipse Phase, Shadowrun 4e), Epidiah Ravachol (Dread, Vast & Starlit), Jared Sorensen (FreeMarket, Schism), and Brennan Taylor (Bulldogs!) talk about the art & science of making kick-ass sci-fi games.

GM-Less Play in Indie Roleplaying Games

Sunday, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Bllrm D
Curious about playing without a Gamemaster? Jason Morningstar, Emily Care Boss, Mark Diaz Truman, and Epidiah Ravachol answer all your questions about how to make GM-less play work at your table.

The Gaming On Demand

I’ll be at Games on Demand running* Vast & Starlit and Swords Without Master on Thursday from 4:00 to 8:00 PM, on Friday from 2:00 to 8:00 PM, and on Saturday from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. But you shouldn’t just stop by Games on Demand just to see me. You should probably game, too. I mean, I’m not saying anyone’s going to judge you, but these are the kind of people who would probably look down on you if you didn’t game. Just saying.

The Booth

No booth! That’s what you get. No stinking booth this year.

* Ha, ha. “Running” them. Like they don’t run themselves.

I Keep Shooting My Mouth Off About Things

Thanks to Pete Figtree over at Ruthless Diastema, I have the opportunity to go into way too much detail about the temporal and game mechanics of Time & Temp.
(Spoilers: The surprise ending is that Time & Temp: Paperless Office Edition is now only $2.99.)

And then, over at the Ontological Geek, Bill Coberly interviews me about . . . well, about everything else, practically.

Check them out when you’ve got the time. Or, while racing against the clock in some sort of high stakes thriller. Either way’s fine with me.

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.

More Endless Chatter From Epidiah

This time I’m on the Penny Red Podcast where I discuss more topics than I could possibly list. It’s a tad on the long side, so I recommend a cup of coffee before hand and a long car ride to enjoy it on.

The Shield & The Ring

If you look closely at the tiny, tiny rogue illustrations in “The City of Fire & Coin,” you may notice that both Manyara and Snorri carry shields. In fact, both have helmets, Manyara is almost fully armored, and Snorri seems to be well protected by a couple of fur-covered life-preservers, while Muaphet is all but naked. Clearly Muaphet’s the most badass, right? Running into battle next to these chumps who hide behind their shields?

The current pop culture image of Conan is a bare-chested man who depends solely on the strength of his sword arm to protect him. But this is not Robert E. Howard’s Conan. In the original fiction, Conan wasn’t a fool. If he knew he was heading for a fight, he’d gear up and get some appropriate armor on. Because that’s how you survive a fight, by being prepared.

Conan wore armor because it made no sense for him not to. This should be reason enough for your rogues to do the same. But there is another, deeper reason that Howard dressed Conan in his armor. A reason that holds true for your rogues as well. Conan’s armor exists to be dented, scratched, torn, cracked open, rended from his body by some of the most impossible foes in all of Hyboria. He wears armor to cede glory to his foes.
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Prep & Lore

One of my design goals going into Swords Without Master was to make it prep-flexible. MonkeyDome is a game that requires only the slightest bit of preparation, all of which can be done by the group sitting at the table in the half hour leading up to the game. This is absolutely lovely, but I wanted to push that boundary out in both directions for two reasons:

  • What’s “low-prep” to some, is prep-intensive to every other reasonable person in the world. You know how if you’re not really into cooking, your gaming group orders out for game night? That’s exactly how the non-gaming world sees even just 30 minutes of prep. Why plow through this if someone else is willing to do the work for you?
  • You know how if you’re into cooking, you start to look forward to game night as chance to share a new recipe with all our friends? That’s exactly how I see prep work when I’ve got the leisure time to do it. Why plod along in someone else’s dreary creation when I’m perfectly willing to create for myself?

So Sw/oM had to have a prep dial, and it had to start close to zero as possible.
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Hoops & Sorcery

Now that the free preview is finally out, I can start digging into the specifics of Swords Without Master in these posts. So let’s start by talking about this:

Our objective is to toil and struggle together to craft an enthralling sword and sorcery short story.

This is the most important sentence in all of “The City of Fire & Coin.” There’s a ton of things packed in there that may require some unpacking, and I’ll probably get to all of that in future posts, but right now I want to focus on the fact that it is an objective. Like a boardgame or a sport, Swords Without Master has a win condition.

The goal posts for that win condition are set by the participants in the game. I can give you some idea of what sword and sorcery is like. And I can give you some idea of what a short story should look like. And I can even give you some idea of what makes one enthralling. And you can bet your bonnet you won’t be able to shut me up about all these things and more. But ultimately, what qualifies for a win here will be up to you.

In this way, Sw/oM* is a bit like a triathalon. There are people who enter triathalons to be the first across the finish line. There are those who are just trying to beat their previous time. There are those who just want to finish or to prove to themselves they can overcome some personal difficulty. Each person is in that race for their own individual reason. And their reasons must be a compelling reasons, because each and every one of them is going to piss themselves while competing. That’s World of Warcraft levels of commitment right there.

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