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MxKit (they/them)

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I recently released They howl and grow claws for the belonging outside belonging jam, a game where you play as a group of queer friends who have just graduated and are taking one final vacation together at a cabin you've been to often, before you all move apart and go your separate ways. It takes place on the final night of your trip and there's a monster in the woods. If you make it to morning you'll all be safe, but some of you might also decide to join it, or its presence might solidify your life decisions, or change them...

  • Players: 2-6
  • Type: One-shot
  • Playtime: 1-2 sessions (half the game outside the cabin, half the game inside the cabin)
  • Required: Group character creation, including discussing out loud among players. Some drawing on the maps. If some players are uncomfortable with or unable to do this, it's recommended that other arrangements be made for them. Also, something to use as tokens, but those can really be anything.
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They howl and grow claws

You're a queer group of friends, you're on one final vacation together, and there's a monster in the woods; 3-6 players.

They howl and grow claws is my attempt at making a Belonging Outside Belonging game that's meant to be played as a one-shot, over the course of only one or two sessions. You play as a queer group of friends who've just graduated either high school or college, and are all about to move away to different places and go your separate ways. It's the last night of your last vacation together, to a cabin in the woods that you've all been to plenty of times before, absolutely love, and feel at home at! Except this time there's a monster.

The game is meant to be played in two halves: One outside, around the campfire/bonfire at sunset, and one after the characters have retreated inside the cabin to get away from said monster. The monster isn't actually dangerous, though; this game has no combat and no risk of death. By the end of the game, some or all of the characters may even wish to join it and become like it. Because this game was also my attempt at capturing that feeling of wanting to embrace feeling inhuman...

Play as one of six playbooks:

  • The Fool, who is heading semi-blindly but optimistically off to the big city to follow their dreams
  • The Empress, who is pooling resources with some other like-minded people and getting a cabin to homestead
  • Strength, who is struggling with an injury, mental illness, or something that is holding them back, but persevering
  • The Hanged Man, who is staying here at home because this is where they're needed, and they're okay with that
  • The Devil, who is dropping everything to move long-distance and live with someone they love
  • The World, who feels fulfilled by their graduation and is taking some time off for globetrotting

(This game was made for the belonging outside belonging jam; go and check out everyone else's games, too!)

Wonderful Service

By user: PoppysMic

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The motel is in a beautiful area, and is itself very clean and nice, which would have earned it three or four stars even if the staff hadn't impressed me so much! But they were incredible. The shower wouldn't run hot at first, but as soon as I called they sent someone to fix it, and everything worked like a dream after that. I didn't try room service but the service at the hotel restaurant was friendly and quick. At night they played this soothing choral music over the sound system, from about... I want to say 10pm onward (I'm not sure when it stopped but when I woke up at 7:30am it wasn't playing anymore), which was quiet and muffled enough to be soothing instead of keeping me awake. And the pool actually had a lifeguard, which I haven't seen at any other motels this price! She was incredibly attentive. Though I saw some other reviews mention the pool being open all through the night, but when I tried to go for a late-night swim the gate was locked? Maybe they changed their policy after receiving complaints.

The only complaints that I could possibly have were my problems with the shower (promptly fixed), it being surprisingly humid in my room (which I'm loathe to actually blame on the hotel; it's a humid city!), and an odd experience when I was packing my bags into my car at the end of my stay. The bellhop tried handing me a soaking wet pair of flip-flops! He insisted that they were mine, and that he had seen me drop them, both of which definitely can't have been true. He was obviously confused but very insistent (I suppose he'd been trained to make sure guests didn't leave anything personal behind, so I couldn't be too irritated), and I had to eventually give in and take them with me; I pulled over about five minutes later to throw them away at the nearest gas station.

Still, these are all very minor complaints. All in all it was a wonderful stay, not only a great location but wonderful service, especially for the price. Check this place out if you can!

Mine'll be coming up shortly!

Oh man, I hadn't heard of Big Bad Con before, and now I wish I could go this year! I'll have to try to save up for it next year, it looks like so much fun. Good luck getting there!

That is awesome, I had a very beta version of my game ready to submit but I welcome a couple more days to add and tweak a bit more!

Well, I was going to toss in an idea I'd been poking at, but trying to write up my thoughts on it gave me a little inspiration and now I think I might be able to do it after all... Whoops!

I do have something I want to put in here, though. I own Ten Candles and I really, really love it, but almost since I got it I've been trying to figure out if there's some way to make a game with a similar use of candles but where loss and death isn't inevitable? Maybe something where candles can both go out and be re-lit, so the goal is to protect and rekindle the other characters' hope in a very literal way and try to make it to the end of the game with enough light still there to drive away the darkness? I'm not sure how to implement a re-lighting thing, though, or how to figure out whether the number of lit candles are "enough" in the final scenes.

Belated but I'm super pumped!! :D

Am I imagining things or did the due date change? Have we gotten an extension for our projects? Because I might add in a couple more playbooks if we have an extra week... (Playbooks I am, appropriately enough, FUCKIN PUMPED for!)

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Go to a Holiday Inn instead!

By user: M4rkusS


Or some off-the-highway no-name motel. At least then you'll know you're getting exactly what you pay for.

I'll agree with other reviewers that the Eternal Panorama seems fairly priced, but that's as much as I can say for it and believe me, you'll find it would be a ripoff at half the price. It looks beautiful at first glance, and the location itself is beautiful, I'll give it that, but the hotel has nothing to do with the sea air and the night skies. The hotel being beautiful is just surface-level and I believe hides major problems that the owners don't wish to spend money on looking into. Their plumbing is a mess, the water in my room wouldn't run above tepid no matter what I tried, and the pipes rattled so badly I expected something to break. There's something slimy about the pool, and from my one brief visit I'm almost sure they don't bother to chlorinate; it's amazing the whole thing isn't completely overtaken by algae. The hotel restaurant mixes a good drink, but even that can't make me give them more than a pity star, since the food was almost as tepid as the water and incredibly bland, though at least it didn't make me sick.

And I feel I should give special negative mention to the staff. I don't know the hiring guidelines this place has, but if you want to half-*** your job I guess you should apply at this place. About half the staff was cold, dismissive, and seemed to go out of their way to ignore and avoid me, and the other half was what I could only describe as clingy. You'd think prompt service would be a good thing, but the number of times room service checked to see if I wanted anything, the number of times housecleaning tried to visit my room (once they walked right in while I was reading in my room and started trying to clean while I was still right there!), even the woman at the front desk, who I initially appreciated for how quickly and cheerfully she got me my room key, kept trying to engage me to advise me on what tourist activities I should try in the area, what I should order at the hotel restaurant, etc. I'd take that over, say, the restaurant staff being almost impossible to flag down or the help desk never answering the phone (and I swear they told me to my face that a bellhop would help me with my bags checking in and checking out, but I never even saw one), but it was more than a little offputting!

Seriously. If you're in the area, just stay somewhere else. Anywhere else. I'll certainly never be coming back.

Alright, mine'll be up in an hour or two!

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I haven't looked into Alone on Silver Wings, but I've read through Undying and I'm a fan of quite a bit of what it does! It's neat, and kinda feels like someone took Urban Shadows and added even more World of Darkness flavor and elements into it. I think it definitely doesn't drift too far away from the core elements of what most people think of as Powered by the Apocalypse games, though, and while it adds things it doesn't take away much. There's a GM, there are basic moves, there are debts that tie characters together that they can use on one another, there are playbooks that all have playbook moves -- even the Status Moves and status feels a little like an alternative to Corruption. It definitely adds in some awesome new things, but I can see why it calls itself a PbtA, since it sticks very close to the recognizable framework as well.

(I also think this way about City of Mist, which takes out playbook moves entirely, takes out stats and changes how statuses work, and adds in the tags system, which I absolutely love, and has you build your own character out of choosing multiple playbooks and combining them, which is just a super neat concept to me. It's still got so much of the Powered by the Apocalypse that it's still very recognizable as such, imo, even despite the pretty extensive changes it makes! So this can also obviously be pretty subjective and depend entirely on the individual game and the person "judging" whether it fits the framework enough or not.)

As it is, I think both your game ideas still stay really close to the Belonging Outside Belonging framework! From what you're saying, one adds a slight change to what tokens can do by adding in one more thing they can do? And the other adds in dice only during certain moments but otherwise goes back to the "standard" BoB gameplay. Of course, you're talking specifically about working on these for the game jam and the guy running it talked about staying as close to the basic framework as possible (in which case I'd say your vampire one might indeed be more suitable for the jam), but that's more "what this specific jam is looking for" and less "what would be fair to still call Belonging Outside Belonging." The latter might be wider than the former for any given jam.

Hmmm. Late answer, but I think it depends. Not even on what kind of rules or crunch is added, but how much and how many different kinds?

Looking at the Designing New Games section of the Dream Askew/Dream Apart book, it actually addresses this at the end. It even gives some suggestions on how to add in new elements, advising that you need to remember that any changes will ripple through the whole design and so need to be thought out carefully to figure out how to make them integrate smoothly. But then it notes:

"The other thing to keep in mind is that as your game drifts farther from the line established by Dream Askew and Dream Apart, it’ll also be drifting closer to the design space of other games. And that’s great! That means you have new resources to contemplate and borrow from. Look to other games for ideas about how to execute your goals."

Even this isn't saying it'll become not a Belonging Outside Belonging game or that you can't call it that. But it does have a good point that you drift further away from BoB, and it does start becoming a little less that and a little more something else. I don't think there's a solid line where it would stop "counting" or you'd be absolutely wrong to call it that. Belonging Outside Belonging is, as the book says, "about marginalized groups establishing an independent community, just outside the boundaries of a dominant culture... [that has] a hopeful, precarious, vulnerable quality to them." I'd say that if there's a core quality your game might have to have to be BoB, it'd really just need to have that "hopeful, precarious, vulnerable, independent group creating their own space and coming together outside of larger society" element to it. But even then I'd argue that if your game had literally every other element but was just about a club at a college and didn't really separate the characters out from the rest of the school or town, it'd still be fair to call it that, since it's so 100% the BoB system.

But I feel like if you adjust multiple elements, add multiple things and take away other things and otherwise tweak it to greater degrees, it becomes fair to call it more its own system inspired by BoB/with BoB elements. I think if you make a game with a GM, or add in dice rolls, or change/take out tokens, or take out playbooks and shift to a different character creation system, I honestly think any of those changes individually wouldn't make it not Belonging Outside Belonging. Even a couple of them wouldn't. But if you tweak it so that it's a game with a GM, you create characters without playbooks and roll dice, and there are no tokens, I think it's changed enough in mechanics that "inspired by" becomes fairer to say. Which is very cool, because then it's kinda evolved into your own game system.

I want a lot of other stuff in this thread too, but holy shit.

Lovely Staff, with a few damp spots

By user: WraysburyRaspberry

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Absolutely beautiful! My room was nearly right by the pool, only couple minutes walk, it had great colors and decorations (all these light blues and greens), the temperature was perfect (I find hotel air conditioners usually runs way too cold) and the bed was the softest I've ever experienced at a hotel. I didn't have much of the food, but I liked it a lot.

I'm deducting a star for only two reasons, both staff related:

•For one, there were people sneaking into the pool after hours EVERY night I was there, splashing around really loudly; it sounded like they were having water fights and doing cannonballs out there. I let the staff know after the first night thinking they'd want to do something about it, but they said some vague stuff about there being no security cameras at the pool area so there was no way to know who'd done it. They said to let them know if it happened again, but when I told them the next morning they said they'd "look into it" but I got the feeling they were kind of writing me off. It kept happening every night for a week, I just stopped complaining about it after that!

•One of the housecleaners must have knocked over one of the flower vases and tried to refill it, and didn't do a great job. Came back after dinner on night four and found a big wet patch on the carpet near the dresser beside the beds, and when I went into the bathroom there was water on the sink counter and some on the floor. I let the staff know, and to their credit they didn't treat me as a nuisance or anything for complaining after my complaints about the noises at the pool, they apologized and asked if I'd like someone to come and clean it up (I already had) and said it wouldn't happen again. Unlike the pool this was a one-time problem, it hadn't happened before and it didn't happen again. I wouldn't have deducted a star just for this, but I thought I'd mention it since it was such a surprise.

Other than the above problems, the staff was completely lovely, very friendly and quick to handle things. It was a pleasure to stay here. They might just want to consider security cameras around the pool area or something, or better locks on the gates at night. I would still absolutely recommend this hotel and I'd definitely stay here again!

From the looks of it, the turn order is Zargo Games, BJKWhite, ContrarianQueen, then you, then me!

No, not at all! I wouldn't have minded if you guys had started without me, I totally get it, I disappeared for a long while. No shade meant :(

Children of Water and Land

A softly Lovecraftian game hacked from Honey Heist (@gshowitt), in which you play as Deep One hybrids, with lives and families on land but a family and home waiting for you beneath the waves as well; by the end you will decide whether to balance your life between the two, or disappear into the water forever.

The game itself is 2 pages long, with a 3rd page consisting of random tables for any GM and players who want a little help figuring out what kind of game they want to play. The framework should be suited for any kind of game, from slice-of-life all the way to heists, high-speed chases, and battles. It should be playable with as few as 2 people (one GM and one player), but can support as many players as the GM feels like running the game for. You can download the txt file for free, or get the somewhat prettier and easier to read pdf for $3.

I don't mind waiting for you, personally, so you can give us an idea of how it might start! And maybe we can figure out some kind of easy to remember order so that we always know whose turn it is? Like whoever starts, we go in alphabetical order by username after that?

I'm sorry I disappeared for so long, RL and sick conspired to hit me at the same time. I see everyone's still working stuff out, and I'm def still interested, so if no one minds I'm definitely still up for playing and will be around from now on!

Also checking in! :D

(C'monnn, join us, guys! This game looks like so much fun.)

Yeah, this makes too much sense. In a way, I think this is already one such move; "Lite" is going to be unattractive to most people, they might as well just go with Ko-fi and not lose 5% of every tip, and the +3% fee increase for Pro is going to hurt those smaller donations most. It almost feels like one of their biggest goals here is to discourage new users who don't already have an audience, and to discourage donators who only want to donate a little, since why would they want to pay a dollar for only about $.75 to actually make it to the person they're wanting to support?

The problem is there's not that many good alternatives to Patreon. The only thing I can think of is Ko-fi, honestly, and even that's not the best option for newbies because it started off as a tip jar service first, and to get the ability to let people make monthly pledges and access "supporter-only posts" and other basic-for-now Patreon things you have to join Ko-fi Gold for $6 per month. Drip doesn't seem to be open to anyone without an invite and they already seem to be going "we're going to be abandoning Drip, we're partnering with another company to make something different in a bit" so I'm kind of leery of that. While both sther and look really interesting, but not many people seem to know about them... And SubscribeStar keeps getting brought up as an alternative, but I've not heard about that, either.

Does anyone know of any good alternatives to Patreon, or have experience with any of the listed platforms? I did make sure to have my Patreon set up so I can get grandfathered in, but I'm worried they'll keep making changes that'll make it necessary to jump ship. Hell, would ever be willing to set something Patreon-like up on the site where users can pledge to creators and get early access to games, access to private posts, extras, etc?

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...good lord I'm sorry that reply was so long. tl;dr I find safety tools to have improved my own experiences drastically and while they're imperfect I'm bothered by them being called "bad and harmful" just because they can be abused, because abusers will use anything to abuse and not using them certainly doesn't make it harder for them, it just makes me more wary of the table.

Mm, I don't know. I mean, I get your point, but I feel like this is like... saying safewords are bad and more harmful than not because bad Doms will take it as encouragement to push hard until they make their sub use their safeword, and that as long as they stop when the safeword's called any other behavior is fine, and if the sub didn't use the safeword and says afterwards that they were uncomfortable then they should've just used their safeword at the time and don't have a right to feel uncomfortable now...

Like, any type of tools can be pounced on by the abusive to abuse further. Some GMs will use lines and veils and the X card to purposefully push right up against their players' triggers, and some players will do the same, there's no doubt about this. But those are awful GMs and players, and the only real solution with those sorts of people is to not play with them or (if you're the GM yourself) kick them out of your game and let everyone know that crap won't be tolerated at your table. There's not going to be anything that helps with people like that. If they hear that something bothers you and light up and go "oh, now I can poke and prod at this thing and get their hackles all raised, lol u triggered?" they are also the sorts of people who, if safety tools aren't being used, will note discomfort in your expression or body language, or when you try to speak up without the use of safety tools, and do the same thing.

I get that safety tools are definitely not a panacea; like I said above, really what it comes down to is that some people just... need to be told they're not welcome at our tables. GMs especially need to be very clear about what they will not put up with. And you talk about it putting the onus on the marginalized person to speak out, and like, I won't lie, to some degree that is true. But there aren't real ways around that that I can see. An alternative might be for DMs to just say flat-out that certain things aren't allowed at the table, but what if I'm bothered by something that they don't include in that list, which they can't reasonably be expected to know I'd need them to leave out? Another alternative might be the DM or other players asking me if I'm uncomfortable and if the scene is okay if they feel like they notice me looking or acting uncomfortable, but that feels like a really iffy option to me; the onus is still on me to say "yes, I'm uncomfortable," and being put on the spot like that might make the feeling worse, or I might not have been uncomfortable in the first place and then there's a well-meaning but frustrating "but we can definitely leave out X if you don't like it" "no, X is fine" "are you sure?" back and forth.

I am marginalized, on several axes, and have some stuff I definitely am uncomfortable with and would rather avoid happening in games, and would be super happy to have a way to discreetly say "nope" to a scene without having to explain myself. In my experience, all versions of the safety tools stress that no one need explain themself, that no one is grilled about it, that no undue attention is even brought to it. And in my experience, all the tables I've been at that have used this system have felt a lot safer for me to play it. The GMs who use it and the players who don't get argumentative about it being used are communicating just by its use a willingness to listen and respect if I do need to bring up a problem. And they might be lying! They really might be. But people can lie about anything using anything, and I'm glad a simple method exists these days where I can look at a table and relax a little and go "ah, if I get uncomfortable with a scene, these people won't expect me to bottle it up and keep quiet lest I ruin their fun."

Sorry for the tl;dr, basically what I mean is that while you're right that yes the community itself needs fixed, I don't think it's right to say that a method of making the community as it is safer to navigate is bad because it's not outright fixing the community itself. I'm not sure there is a way to fix the community itself, and if there is, it'll be a slow process. In the meantime I feel like these tools make it feel easier and safer for me to say if something is bothering me, or to make sure things that I know will greatly bother me will never come up in the first place, and I think that's incredibly valuable if not vital. So it feels unfair to frame it as "bad and in most cases harmful" rather than "imperfect and there will always be other things necessary on top of it."

Yeah, I'm super late to the party, but I came here to suggest this! I'd love to be able to look for one-player games, two-player games/duets, etc. It might also be good to have tags for "GM-less" and "GM-full" games!

Oh, that would be excellent. :D

I'll be keeping an eye on this here subthread to see who else is interested! :D

Hey folks! I'm Kit, aka MxKit or mx_kit basically everywhere on the internet lol, and I have been so into TTRPGs for so many years now, and only recently have had a "wait, I could make my own? I could take systems I love and hack them into my own games? :o" revelation!

My tabletop experience started ages ago (okay, like 17 years ago, back when I was in high school), playing with a friend of the family using systems I'm not even actually sure about they were homebrewed so much. I know we used The Blood of Heroes at least once, though. Then a year or two later a few friends roped me into playing a single session of D&D 3.5, and the rest is history.

I was hooked, and I've been collecting and reading and playing as many TTRPGs as I possibly could for the past decade and a half. Over the years I've discovered and loved simpler and simpler and simpler systems, until in the past couple months I discovered micro rpgs and my mind was blown. While I have a ton of love still for D&D (especially 5e now), d20 games, Call of Cthulhu, and White Wolf stuff, I have utterly fallen for the PbtA engine, Belonging Outside Belonging style games, and hacks of microrgps like Honey Heist and Lasers & Feelings.

My style of games are usually light, both system light/easy to make characters and pick up and just run with, and lighter with less of an emphasis on physical combat. I'm bi and nonbinary trans (they/them pronouns) so queer themes definitely tend to crop up in all my stuff, including embracing non-human and monster identities as a sort of metaphor. I also have a Thing for Soft Lovecraft/Cosmic Fantasy, basically taking all the themes and creatures in his work that he went "eeevil and scary!" about and going "what if they aren't bad?" in my own stuff; I'm working on a couple of games that lean heavily on this.

I honestly don't do much there, but you can find me on Twitter as @mx_kit all the same. c:

I'd be interested in this!

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I really love this idea and I'd definitely join it; I've more than once considered taking games that are in systems I find too complicated and/or find the base game problematic and reworking them into an engine that's a lot lighter and simpler. I agree that Dungeon World is kinda a "cover" for D&D, and Urban Shadows is one for the World of Darkness, and that's the sort of thing I'd be really into.