My first RPG competition!: Put Away Childish Things

Hey everyone! I entered the 200 Word RPG Challenge 2018, which is for designers to submit games of no more than 200 words (hence the name). It’s the first RPG game design competition I ever entered, but I’ve had fun with it and will probably do it again!

I’m also pretty happy with my entry, which is called Put Away Childish Things, and which you can all check out on the Challenge website here: Put Away Childish Things!

Finalists are announced on 14 June, and winners on 1 July. I don’t expect to place, but I’m obviously hopeful, for myself and all my friends who submitted games as well.

One of the reasons this was so fun, and also so rewarding, was because a small group of my friends made it an event. We wrote games, shared them with each other, provided feedback and encouragement, etc. So if you have time, maybe you’d like to check out their games too:

  • Alberto Muti (who prompted us all to take part) wrote Keep It Casual
  • Michael Duxbury wrote Rhea (and, being Michael, also a second game available on his blog)
  • Emily Savidge wrote Day at the Planet (an excellent idea she’s had for ages, so it’s great that it’s out there now!)
  • Talisa Tavella wrote House Hunt-ed-ing (which I love for the authorial voice as much as the gameplay)

If you read Put Away Childish Things or any of these others, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them! And if you play any of them, then come on you have to let me know! If you submitted a game too, send me a link to it and I’ll check it out. I’ve found a lot of cool ideas just by reading other submissions at random, and I look forward to reading the finalists and winners, which I’m sure will be awesome. Exciting!


Terminator: Runners, a Psi*Run hack

Screenshot from The Terminator

For Day 2 of RPGaDay this year, Michael Duxbury said that the RPG he’d most like to see published is an RPG based on the Terminator franchise, particularly the first few movies about unstoppable time-travelling killer robots in disguise, in which the only way to survive is to run away. Alberto Muti suggested a Psi*Run hack and, well, I went and made one.

Presenting Terminator: Runners.

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Hubris Box: A draft

Hubris Box is a diceless roleplaying game that I wrote based on a core mechanic created by Paul Richardson.1 In a game of Hubris Box, players collaboratively tell the story of a protagonist whose ambition spurs them to greatness before they are destroyed by their own flaws.

I posted about Hubris Box before, in a three-part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) that presented the rules I developed for the game and an example of play that depicted the musical Hamilton as a session of Hubris Box with three players. Hamilton made sense to me as an example because it fit the narrative structure I was aiming for, but it turns out that a lot of people avoided reading those blog posts because they hadn’t listened to Hamilton yet.

Therefore, here are the rules for my version of Hubris Box with the play example removed. If anyone gives it a try, please please please let me know how it goes and what you think. This is a first draft and will almost certainly need tweaking, and I’d appreciate any feedback I get. Thanks!

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Hamilton and the Hubris Box, Part 3 of 3: The World Turned Upside Down


This is the third and final part of a blog series modelling the musical Hamilton as if it was a session of the (work-in-progress) roleplaying game Hubris Box, which is about the rise and fall of tragic heroes.

What’s going on?

In theĀ first blog post, I introduced the idea behind Hubris Box and introduced the fictional characters who are playing the game. In the most recent blog post, I showed an example of the game’s first Act, in which the Protagonist wrote several cards and posted them to the Hubris Box in order to chase his ambition and accumulate power and glory.

The example game is played by three roleplayers (Lin, Manuel, and Miranda), and it set in a fictional land called America. Lin is playing the game’s Protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, who rose from humble beginnings to be a war hero and is now Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington. Manuel and Miranda are playing everyone else, taking the role of the game’s Antagonists.

You can listen to the musical Hamilton at the link if you haven’t already. Some people who haven’t heard it yet seem to think it’s a barrier, and have avoided reading the blog post. Instead, I think it’s an opportunity for you to listen to an amazing show, even if musicals aren’t usually your thing.

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Hamilton and the Hubris Box, Part 2 of 3: Rise Up!

Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and his allies Lafayette, Laurens and Mulligan. Set photo from the musical

This is the second part of a blog series modelling the musical Hamilton as if it was a session of the (work-in-progress) roleplaying game Hubris Box, which is about the rise and fall of tragic heroes.

What’d I miss?

In the previous blog post, I introduced the idea behind Hubris Box and introduced the fictional characters who are playing the game. Three roleplayers (Lin, Manuel, and Miranda) have set up a game in a fictional land called America, just before the Revolutionary War that frees the country from the tyrannical British. Lin is playing the game’s Protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, an orphan immigrant with a brilliant mind and a hunger to prove himself. Manuel and Miranda are playing everyone else, taking the role of the game’s Antagonists.

Before you continue, consider listening to the musical Hamilton if you haven’t already. In this blog series I’m only hitting the beats without the melody. It’ll make more sense if you’ve heard it before.

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Hamilton and the Hubris Box, Part 1 of 3: The world is gonna know your name

Theater-Hamilton Cast Album

Hubris Box is a roleplaying game by Paul Richardson that is designed to emulate classic stories of tragic heroes, especially ones with great ambition who do incredible (if often villainous) feats and are later destroyed by the consequences of their past actions.

The game’s structure mirrors Aristotelian tragic plot structure. In Act One, as the protagonist takes actions to achieve their ambitions, players write on index cards (or scraps of paper) phrases that reflect the way that the protagonist has influenced the world. These cards are then posted into a box, the eponymous Hubris Box. Eventually, there is a Turn leading into Act Two, in which the players take cards out of the Hubris Box and use them to frame scenes that tear the protagonist down. For example, in Act One a card may say that the protagonist has defeated an enemy; when this card emerges in Act Two, perhaps the defeated enemy’s people return for revenge.

It’s a very cool game. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t exist yet.

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Monster Mash Meets the Martians: It’s TinyFate Adventures, come and join the fun

Yesterday, I finally introduced some of my non-gamer friends to roleplaying. It was a long time coming. They’d known I played for a while and they were excited to try it out, but I felt a fair amount of pressure to make their first roleplaying experience fun enough so that they’d want to play again.

I think I can say that my mission was a success, and that we’ll definitely be playing again. In fact, I’d recommend the game we played as a great introduction to new roleplayers.

This is Monster Mash Meets the Martians, a TinyFate adventure.

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Racers Without Master: A Fast & Furious hack

Cast of Fast & Furious 7, from

One week ago, Ryan Macklin launched the Furious Game Jam on his blog. The idea is to hack an existing tabletop roleplaying game to be like the Fast & Furious franchise.

I wasn’t planning to participate. I’d never seen any of the Fast & Furious movies. Michael Duxbury got excited about it since a mutual friend of ours had suggested (ages ago) a cool, feminist Fast & Furious hack of Psi*Run. (Said hack can be found here (link updated 19/02/2016)) Michael pitched two games… then he went and wrote a third completely different game. (Check it out here.)

Basically, I’m stealing the only one of Michael’s unused ideas that is based on a game that I have actually played: Swords Without Master.

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The “I Have Never” drinking game as character creation

i dont alwaysLast year I was at a houseparty with a lot of roleplaying type people, and among other things we played the drinking game “I Have Never” (also called “Never Have I Ever” and other names). For the small fraction of my readers who have not played this game, it is a turn-based party game. Each turn, someone announces something that they have never done (in the form “I have never X”), and anyone who has done that thing must take a drink. If nobody has done the thing, then the player who announced “I have never” takes a drink instead.

Since the houseparty was full of roleplaying types, some of us thought how to apply this idea to roleplaying games. “I Have Never” is a really good game for getting to know interesting, strange and often intimate things about other people. Could the mechanics be used to flesh out RPG characters?

The first idea was to just include a drinking game within a session of the game, to be played in character. That’s a fine idea in a campaign that is already in full swing, but it leaves open the possibility that characters playing the game will lie and cheat, and also that they won’t make the most interesting “I have never” statements.

To me, “I Have Never” seems much more powerful when used as character creation.

(I do not recommend using alcoholic drinks if you try this at home. In fact, the best kind of drinks to use might be metaphorical ones.)

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