The Glorious Butt System

At long last, #Greenwoodnesday finally brings us around to #LincolnGreen‘s much vaunted Butt System. So, let’s talk about butts.

Here we shall consult that most sage of the merry folk, Maid Merriam-Webster for the third and fourth definitions of butt:

(3) butt


Definition of butt

  1. : a large cask especially for wine, beer, or water
  2. : any of various units of liquid capacity; especially : a measure equal to 108 imperial (see 1 imperial 4) gallons (491 liters)

Origin and Etymology of butt

Middle English, from Anglo-French but, bout, from Old Occitan bota, from Late Latin buttis

First Known Use: 14th century


(4) butt


Definition of butt

  1. a : a backstop (such as a mound or bank) for catching missiles shot at a target
    b : target
    c butts plural : range 5c a shooting butt

Origin and Etymology of butt

Middle English, partly from Middle French but target, of Germanic origin; akin to Old Norse būtr log, Low German butt blunt; partly from Middle French bute goal, target, mound, from but target

First Known Use: 14th century

14th century is a bit anachronistic for the original Robin Hood tales, but so is Prince John, King Richard, Maid Marian, and Friar Tuck, really.  So I’m not going to worry too much about that, especially when so delicious a phrase as “Robin Hood won a butt of stout ale by shooting a butt in the sheriff’s tourney” can be used.

The Butt System in #LincolnGreen is all about competitions, be they wagers, contests or tourneys. It is a way to resolve those moments when one of the merry folk tests their mettle against some other champion or boastful traveler. These events are so very common in the folklore. Modern adaptations like to use battles and action to feature Robin’s legendary ability with the bow, but it could be argued that originally, aside from hunting the king’s deer, the focus of Robin’s prowess was archery as a sport.

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Crosses, Piles & Saves

Continuing my efforts to rescue #Greenwoodnesday posts about #LincolnGreen from the depths of G+’s not-very-searchable archive, here’s one from March of 2016 about throwing and saving. A chunk of this has been rewritten to reflect changes in the system since then and edited for format.

#LincolnGreen is turning out to be quite an extravagant game to play. It recommends that everyone bring one to two days’ wages to the table to use as randomizers. Assuming, of course, that everyone playing is a medieval master carpenter.

Coins, Crowns & Crosses

Every player should have about six pennies on hand to play. They can make do with just one, but it’ll be a bit easier with a few more. Instead of dice, you throw pennies and count the crowns and crosses. For most cases, crowns are what you’re looking for, but not always.
I’ll get into some of the fun bits regarding saving throws soon, but let me just take a moment to say how much I love the binary power of yea-nay questions. I’ve got a question-based character creation system that lets you either answer each question with your heart or by throwing a coin and treating crowns as yeas and crosses as nays. Allowing for completely random builds, completely deliberate builds, and everything in between, all at the player’s whim.

UPDATE: A little bit of research has revealed that the face opposite the cross on a coin was known as the pile, and that this name may be a reference to an arrow or spear. I refuse to ignore such apropos symbolism: Crosses & Piles is it.

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Gests & Experience in #LincolnGreen

This #Greenwoodnesday I’m going to talk about the Gest of #LincolnGreen and how it fits into advancement, resolution and pacing.

But first, what you need to know about The Gest of Robyn Hode:

↣ It’s one of the oldest written records of the legend of Robin Hood, but nowhere near the oldest tales told of gode Robyn.

↣ The G in gest is pronounced like the G in gif.

↣ Gest does not mean guest, but rather a noble deed or exploit, or a story told of such a deed or exploit.

And what you need to know about #LincolnGreen:

↣ It’s my Robin Hood-inspired game.

↣ In it, the term points refers not to numbers or tallies, but to facts in the game fiction. Much like a point in an argument.

↣ Points Established are points previously agreed upon in the game to be true.
↣ Experience Points are not an ongoing score of how close you are to the next level, but rather a specialize form of Points Established that describe your experiences and grant you certain benefits. More on this below.

↣ Game Warden or Warden is the term for GM.

↣ In the game, you don’t accomplish things with rolls, you accomplish them with points. To hunt the king’s deer, you tell the Warden how you plan to do it. Then the Warden takes in all the points and decides how successful you are. If there’s danger afoot, you might need to make a saving throw or two, but you won’t throw anything to find out if you managed to hunt a deer. Read More

#Greenwoodnesday Retrospective: Rescuing #LincolnGreen Posts from the Depths of G+

For a social network product from a company most famous for its search engine, G+ has rather lackluster search capabilities. As the good folks of the Internet have pointed out to me, whatever its merits are as a place to discuss and journal my design efforts, it is an unreliable archive. In the hopes of better preserving my progress on the #LincolnGreen game, every Wednesday I make a #Greenwoodnesday post on G+, I’ll re-post it here along with a companion post from the past (with some edits to update the design). Today, let’s stroll in the Greenwood back to September of 2015, wherein I stumble upon a mechanic found in the typesetting of Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood:

Hey, it’s #Greenwoodnesday!

I have a version of Howard Pyles The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood much like the one pictured below. I’d like to do your eye a disservice here and draw it away from the gorgeous Pyle illustrations and towards that square of italicized text on the lower right. You probably cannot see it from here, but it’s a spoiler. The text is crammed full of them. Little notations on what is happening or just about to happen in the story.
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Catch Eppy at Breakout Con 2017

Update: Due to an unforeseen illness, I will not be attending Breakout Con this weekend. I promise, Canada, I will return as soon as I can!

This weekend I’m heading to Toronto, Canada, for around the clock gaming at Breakout 2017. And I’m not alone. Check out this illustrious guest list and the jam-packed event schedule.

I’ll be running The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku and a little #SundayAMSwords there, as well as talking about horror and games with these fine folks. And who knows, maybe I won’t be allowed back across the border. It’s an adventure!

Epidiah at GenCon 2016

To play Swords Without Master, or The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku, or some other pickup game, or just to say “Hail, fellow traveler in the lands of wonder!”

If you find yourself at GenCon this weekend, swing by Games On Demand in Ballroom 6 at the Marriott Downtown (the Marriott attached to the convention center). There you will unearth a trove of games to play and you might sight the rare Epidiah Ravachol. He will not submit to your cursed Poké Ball, but he will be running occasional games of Swords and The Dread Geas at Games On Demand throughout the weekend—including the traditional #SundayAMSwords early(ish) Sunday morning.

If you are traveling from afar to Indianapolis, why not pick up an issue or two of Worlds Without Master to read on your journeys?

The Return of Worlds Without Master!

Allow me to celebrate this the triumphant return of Worlds Without Master!

Behold, issue 11! A glorious 40-page PDF including:

(You may also seek out another tale of Kassmamon in issue 7 and the first Wolf Neighbours in issue 9.)


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 Shape of the World” 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.

For Whom the Bells Jingle

Tis the Epimas season, once again. And once again, you get the unique opportunity to give the gift of games to friends and loved ones, and receive that same gift for yourself!

This year, each bundle has at least one issue of Worlds Without Master in it, which means each issue has at least one game from Worlds Without Master in it: Swords Without Master, Enter the Avenger, Wolfspell, A Scoundrel in the Deep, Sorceress Bloody Sorceress, Invisible Empire, No Longer With Us, Masks of the Mummy Kings, and The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku!

Epimas is a yearly celebration of gaming, a holiday tradition that stretches back to the dawn of civilization, and one known the world over. And the mainstream media has done everything in their power to erase it from the season. These eight pissed-off reindeer aren’t having it anymore.

This year, Epimas fights back!

Each bundle listed at is a trove of indie tabletop roleplaying games and supplements. Individually, each bundle is worth an excess of $20. But you can gift any bundle below to a friend for only $12. And you get that same bundle for yourself, for free! Here’s how it works:

  • When you click on an Add to Cart button, you will be asked for a recipient’s email address.
  • As per tradition, your gift recipient will receive an email on Epimas (December 24th) with instructions on how to get their PDFs.
  • Meanwhile, you will be able to download the PDFs at the moment of purchase.
  • That way you will have time to read the instructions so you can play the games with your friends on Epimas.

What’s more, if you purchase 2 or more bundles at once, you can use the coupon code ReindeerGames to get a 10% discount. If you purchase 4 or more bundles at once, you can use the coupon code SquadGoals for a 25% discount. And if you got for the whole lot, you can use the coupon codeWholeTofoose for a 50% discount. That’s over $200 worth of games for you and your friend for just $48!

Sale ends on the morning of December 24th!


Specialist Dasher


Specialist Dasher


Specialist Dasher


Specialist Dasher


Specialist Dasher


Specialist Dasher


Specialist Dasher


Specialist Dasher


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.


Wolf Neighbours, Mummy Kings, and Three Dozen Crypts

Worlds Without Master Issue 9 has just been released, and it is the second largest issue we’ve ever done. Losing out to issue 3 by only 8 pages.

Wolf Neighbours

Featuring the debut of Rachel Kahn‘s new comic Wolf Neighbours

This 40-page monstrosity barely contains:


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 “High Upon the Table of the World” 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.