Goat Song Publishing
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The Angelical Life is a two-player TTRPG about cats, horror, and existential dread. It runs on the GRACE engine which allows it to take elegant dance battles and imbue them with a sense of stakes and tension. The City is a fearsome place, ready to feast on the hearts of the unwary. Only the skilled and the daring may survive in this purgatorial nightmare.
The Angelical Life, a two-player game of cats, horror, and existential dread, is now live! It uses the brand new GRACE Engine, which models the elegance of dance into high stakes competitions.
Sorry about the confusion! Some non-binary people identify as trans, but not all of them do so. Trans non-binary characters are covered under trans characters, while cis non-binary is separated out to make it clear that they also relevant and they are also valid.
A collaborative storytelling game about the space between the living and the dead
What Dreams is a collaborative storytelling game in which characters take on the roles of a lingering spirit, the will of the living world, and dreamers attempting to mediate the conflicts between the two. It delves into the smoke-filled liminal space between dreams and death and explores our relationships with the angry dead. What Dreams uses a playing card deck to help drive narrative and show the shifting balance of power between the forces at play.
It's a really cool mechanic, in how much agency it gives to the players. Letting the players choose when and where to spend and gain their resources gives them a lot of control in how they interact with the system on a mechanical level.
I am definitely very deliberate when it comes to thinking about the political nature of the themes in my games. The most prominent and recurring one is "marginalized people exist and should be allowed to exist" which is sadly a contentious issue sometimes. I also tend to lean very pacifist in my works, seldom presenting violence as the primary mean of conflict resolution, and in many cases not even having it as an option at all. The engine I'm working with primarily, the Objectives Engine, also stresses scarcity and economics and making wise decisions about resource allocations, from the somewhat fantastical point of view that the characters actually have control over their resources.
I personally don't like to think of plot structure as a fiction writer or a game designer, as I feel that tends towards a sort of Campbellian simplification that erases the rich complexities that occur naturally in stories. Also, so many of these plots exist around the idea of conquest, of triumphing over a foe, which is so often an unsatisfying arc, compared to the idea of living and breathing in a world. These plots also forefront a single protagonist, a chosen one, over the value of the group and the community, and I feel like RPGs in particular have an immense power in creating community-focused plots, which is something that rarely emerges from traditional narratives.
A mechanic that I see a lot in narrative games is what I refer to as an "oracle." Basically, the game proposes a question and then you perform an action (typically drawing a playing card or rolling a die and consulting a chart or just drawing a tarot card) and use the result of that action as the prompt to answer that question. It's a fairly low key of driving the conversation, providing thematic nudges without denying the power of interpretation and extemporization from the participants.
Today, I put up a post introducing a new model that i'm using to think about my design that might be useful for thinking about your design!
You know, the idea of explicating the narrative elements at work in depth is something I've never considered. I like to list the themes, I like to have those themes and motifs resonate throughout the text, and I like to have mechanics that create the desired narrative structure. The idea of including bits that say "and you do this thing because it'll create this effect" is not something I've ever really thought about. Part of me thinks it's like explaining how a magic trick or a joke works, that in providing that autopsy, you kill the spontaneity and the life of the narrative.
And yet, there's been plenty of examples in this thread of why I'm wrong! It's definitely something I'll need to be more considerate about in the future.
This is definitely an interesting model to look at game design from! I can definitely see some value in looking specifically at the end user experience, even if I don't believe that to be the be all, end all. It can absolutely be a lens to use amongst many when examining a design.
Breaking Down, Breaking Through
A game-poem of despair, depression, and holding on.
An exploration of the emotional moment when things begin to fall apart, when the night is too long and too dark and it weights too much on the mind. It is a single player guided experience and comes with heavy content notices for depression and negative self talk.
Hello and greetings. I'm Meinberg (they/them pronouns), queer agender, disabled, white anglo. I mostly do weird stuff that makes a lot of sense mostly to me under the Goat Song Brand. You can my storefront here on itch and you can my blogging over on wordpress, and I'm sure if you're interested in finding my twitter, you can dig around a bit from those.
I've been playing rpgs for about thirty years now and I am getting very old, but I try not to be set in my ways. I love weird, experimental stuff, I love pushing the boundaries of play. I'm also a big fan of serious games, as I feel that collaborative storytelling is a medium that has a lot of potential to do good in helping folks to figure out the world and themselves in ways that other media are not nearly as effective at.
It's a bit embarrassing to admit, but I'm a regular over on the Something Awful forums (yes, they continue to exist). I know that community has a bit of a reputation online, and it's largely deserved. The tradgames sub-forum generally tends to be chill with a more progressive edge to it, so it's definitely not as bad as some parts of Something Awful.
For me, the real crucial different between PbtA and FitD is that FitD tracks some mechanics for the entire group. In Blades, you have your terf and your heat, in Scum and Villainy, you have your ship. Meanwhile, PbtA only tracks mechanics personally. Sure, the town you're in may have some scarcities, but that really only matters for the people in charge and not for the wandering gunlugger. This means that FitD games tend to focus on intra-group dynamics to a degree that PbtA does not have to.
Hello! I'm Meinberg, they/them pronouns, I've played a variety of games, from nordic-inspired American Blockbusters to franchised boffers. These days, I mostly do freeform con larps, but I'm always eager to learn about more new innovations in the field. My design also leans towards the freeform, favoring rules light systems with character creation on site and aiming for very specific, guided emotional experiences.
Right now, I have a handful of Golden Cobras under my belt and Gender Repeal Party which you can find right here on itch!