Tools to Keep Your Table Emotionally Healthy


Gaming should be fun. Metaphorically crawling out of a session of gaming feeling horrible usually isn't fun if that wasn't the intended result. When we're roleplaying, emotions can run high, things can get too difficult to deal with, and unpleasant past traumas can be triggered in our memory by the fictional circumstances we're in during a game. We have to give our players and GMs tools to play games without doing serious emotional harm to themselves. Pre-Game The first time I saw someone … [Read more...]

To Make Nightmare Fuel, We Must Consume It

The Path

Nightmare Fuel: a catchy phrase for the kind of horror that lingers to traumatize its consumers for years. It's so common as a descriptor to have its own page at TV Tropes, and it's the bread and butter of people who want to create the same kinds of lingering terror. To be the grand masters of fear, whether you're running a game or designing one, you have to mainline some Nightmare Fuel before you start making it.   Nightmare Fuel Master (Online) Classes There's a mind boggling … [Read more...]

Dramatic Mortality: Pandemics In Your Game


We use them in our games and see them hit our households every year. Diseases can be the driving force of a game (Pandemic),or a life-altering condition in a world controlled by corporations (HMHVV, Shadowrun). You don't have to be a Ph.D in microbiology to toss the threat of disease into your game, but doing a little digging into the real world of epidemiology and crisis management can bring new dimensions to your tale of danger and disease. I'd highly recommend that one of your first stops … [Read more...]

In The House of Little Fears: An Interview With Jason L Blair

LF Nightmare Ed

Jason L Blair is currently a writer at Volition Inc, the developers of the Saints Row series. But his career as a game writer and designer began over ten years ago, when Blair created the award-nominated tabletop roleplaying game Little Fears. In the world of Little Fears, players take on the roles of pre-adolescent children struggling against terrible monsters they know are real. Through their imagination and belief, these young children stand center in a story of surviving unimaginable horror, … [Read more...]

Everlove: Rose Is Devouring My Free Time (And I’m Okay With That)

Screenshot of an Everlove:Rose puzzle Picture provided by Silicon Sisters.

Everlove: Rose Silicon Sisters. iOS and Android I have been playing Everlove: Rose on Android, because E knows how to send me the best time devouring things to review.  My life involves plenty of waiting for things. Examples include waiting for my bus to arrive, files to finish compressing, and my favorite: waiting for Photoshop to stop its' eldritch shenanigans inside my laptop. Mobile games are appealing to me because I can suddenly switch tasks quickly and leave the game with little … [Read more...]

Play Your Way Through Fall

Image of two cards on dark background. Gameplay pieces from the game Deadbolt.

IndieCade October 3-6, Los Angeles, California IndieCade (International Festival of Independent Games) released their finalists list earlier this week, of games nominated for the various awards IndieCade and its attendees bestow each year. (Think of it like the Sundance Film Festival.) Among an array of mobile and computer games are three finalists working with tabletop as their game medium. Deadbolt, a boxed game about showing your true self to others, by Elizabeth Sampat (They … [Read more...]

On Playing Game Demos

I was at PAX Prime this past weekend, and had the chance to demo two games; one tabletop, one video game. Though some of the logistics are different between the two in terms of presentation, I want to unpack some of my feelings about demos. Ideally, a demo is a positive experience. Even if the game isn't for you, you can walk away from that demo saying "It's not really my bag, but if you like ____ you would dig it!" Because the experience was positive, it isn't as likely that you'll have a toxic … [Read more...]

Gamer vs Brain

Two months after having a stroke, I was celebrating my 27th birthday.

I have a problem brain, and I know that I'm not the only gamer with one. There's a number of us that have mental illnesses, brain injuries, and neurological conditions that can make not only life but our hobbies incredibly difficult at times. There isn't a lot of public chat about gaming with neurological disabilities, and very little about trying to keep playing games after a stroke. Three years ago this fall, I had mine. Brain vs Gamer When I was 26, I had a stroke. My family doctor … [Read more...]

Gen Con: The Games I Saw


Fate Leonard Balera, Brian Engard, Jeremy Keller, Ryan Macklin, Mike Olson Evil Hat Productions Purchasable online My introduction to Fate was a two hour gonzo affair, where three people present had worked on Fate, and two of us had never played before. I think I fell in love  with Fate during the session, and I'm looking forward to playing it more in the future. The Aspects really helped me keep my character in mind, the Fate points didn't feel like a resources management mini-game, … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, H.P. Lovecraft

It's the 122 birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, and 76 years since his death. Lovecraft has influenced a number of tabletop games, and his cosmic horror has left a mark on a number of game designers, writers, artists and gamers. In honor of his birthday, take a foray into the life and works of the man who put the names of the Elder Gods on countless lips. His Horrific Cosmos In the world of Lovecraft's works, humanity is largely ignorant of the horrible truths of the Universe. We are surrounded … [Read more...]