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Thomas Manuel

A member registered Dec 22, 2018 · View creator page →

Creator of

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Hello, arcene! I'm working on the game still slowly but surely. I don't want to give a clear deadline because things are too unpredictable but once I'm in the homestretch I'll do a devlog update with a date.

I saw a minor typo in page 20 & 21 - both the checklists basically. It says "!+ Vampire Lords". I'm guessing it should be "1+"?

Also, the writing credits (Page III) deadnames one of the writers. Could you fix that?

Yeah, that will definitely be there in the next version.

Thanks for your question! Do you mean in print? Currently, it's just a digital game but when the final release comes out, I'll try and figure out what print options I can offer.

It's still in playtest currently, yes but I'm looking to release the full game in 3-4 months. Thanks for asking!

This is a really neat idea. Excited to take it for a spin.

Love the premise of this game and Viditya's blurb is increasing the hype by 1000%.

Thank you!

Hello, Gabriel. Yes, you can definitely use any of the text in this pamphlet in your game.

If you do, please put this text in the copyright page of your game, "... based on The Magic of Names by Thomas Manuel which is itself based on Trusted with Its True Name: An Ethical Approach to LeGuinian Magic for Games and Stories by Victor A. Gonzalez and is licensed under a CC BY SA 4.0 International License."

Thank you!

I really enjoyed reading this game and tweeted some thoughts about it:

Rearguard is a rare occurrence - a third-party supplement that transforms the game that it is based on. It's both kickass gaming material and kickass games criticism.

Beam Saber is a game that has war as its backdrop. Rearguard brings some of that backdrop into focus. Each of these playbooks introduces different kinds of war stories into your Beam Saber game. Introduce more than one and you will probably tilt the entire genre and tone of your game. I'm really excited that this exists. Loved reading it and excited to get it to the table at some point.

This is a wonderful game that does a great job of building on its premise to deliver sad, nostalgic experiences every time. Highly recommended for people who like storytelling games.

Great ideas! I'll definitely add them to the finished version of the game. Thanks for the suggestion!

And done. Added a print-friendly moves PDF!

Thanks! And I'll get print friendly sheets up in a few days! 

This is great. Love the focus, ideas, and the table. It's been a long time since I "prepped" for a game - it's not my style anymore. But I definitely am piqued by this system and if I ever need to generate a setting, I'll come back to it.

That's an excellent idea! I'll put it in on the To Do list. I was actually thinking of doing a Heart fanzine at some point - maybe this could be a part of it.

Thanks for all the kind words!

I was thinking that the third step could have a roll to decide if the spell succeeded or failed - because I think players will find it hard to just decide and tell another player that their spell failed. But I couldn't figure out what the probability of success should be without knowing the scale of the effect, etc. In the end, I punted and didn't mechanize that part - though I may update this if I figure out a nice way to do it.

There are none that I know of - but if you start one, I can direct people there. You could also post a link here!

So I mod the r/pbp subreddit so I'm very interested in this topic.

My best answer is to link to the entries in the Play by Post Jam and the Correspondence Jam (70 games!) - both feature a bunch of cool games that were designed for asynchronous play. All of them by indie designers, I believe.

If you want a D&D version built for pbp, check out D20 Go - I've heard good things about it, though no personal experience. Of course, many ruleslite OSR games work well but they're not specifically designed for the medium.

I like your definition and that does clarify things - then all my design conversations are theory conversations. I think most people think of theory as somehow more abstract than that - and would be happy to know that its not. So to answer the post's original question, design conversations are doing fine - wherever they happen. It's just they're usually focused conversations about systems - and rarely get more abstract than that. Does that make sense?

My understanding is that in the Forge, there was a lot more High Theory - more Theoretical Physics than Aerospace Engineering. I don't think I would've enjoyed those conversations very much.

(And yeah, the historic split in "system design" or "adventure sign" seems irrelevant to modern indie games. But the difference between invisible and visible rulebooks is still relevant - analogous to system and "play culture".)

My personal experience with theory discussions online is very limited. I've heard that they can get really toxic - which isn't a surprise. I do think there's a particular kind of toxicity to twitter that applies to all kinds of conversations - theory is just one of them. So I've chosen to mostly avoid those kind of conversations on twitter. Whether this matches your point about Status Quo Maintenance, I'm not sure.

I do think talking theory can be fun. To me, it's the kind of "back bench of  a classroom" conversation that nerds have when they're more interested in a topic than 99.9% of a population. I don't see it as different or superior to similar conversations about video games or fandoms, etc. While they might make you a better designer, they're not essential - and definitely not decisive (because there are so many other things).

I do think a lot of people are simply not interested in theory. Which is understandable. Not everyone enjoys the aesthetic laboriousness of "academic sounding" conversation. I'm not particularly interested in that either. I don't think of theory as some elevated search for truth - it's just one kind of conversation I have about games. I'm not particularly sure what counts as theory and what is 'just design' either.

I don't think it's as simple as that. Very often even small games from indie creators have price tags on them - at least, that is the trend that I'm seeing. I think choosing only free or PWYW games would eliminate a large number of excellent games and excellent creators. That said, I aree with all your points. So I think free, PWYW and playtest kits should not be ruled out. But at the same time, I think designers could submit free copies of their games to the book club for distribution to participants.

But this does open up the question of how we'll choose which game to read. I see two options:

1. Voting. 

Pros: Democratic. People are also more likely to participate if they can choose the game.
Cons: Popular games will be chosen. Games from less popular creators will always lose.

2. Lottery (suggestions are solicited and then you roll dice to see which one is read this week, same suggestions are rolled on next week)

Pros: Gives every game an equal chance of being chosen.
Cons: The counterpoint to choosing a small game is that the number of people who might participate is low.

So I'm not sure how to decide between these options. I think that Lottery is more fair but Voting is better if we want more people to participate.

I love this idea and would 100% participate, Dan. We can also attach an open voice/video call to the beginning or end of the period. I would recommend we make it to a month or 2-3 week period though. A week would be too short for me and most other people!

I agree with everything you're saying, Aleks. It would only be worth doing if we believe that a  better kind of conversation is possible - due to the long-form nature of the medium itself and the moderation that's possible. And while people should be able to discuss bad actors, I was not thinking of that kind of stuff when I proposed the idea - I was thinking of design conversations.

Examples are hard but let me give it a shot. Right now, there are some discussions I'm seeing on:

1. alternatives to kickstarter if you're interested in crowdfunding
2. critique in ttrpgs - thinking of the video on zedeck as a great example of something I'd like to see more of (

What do you think?

Hello, Aleks! I'm not sure if this is a good idea or bad one but we could use twitter to get a sense of what's "the topic of the week". Usually someone has a hot take and everyone chimes in. Maybe we could use that to test if forums do lead to better conversations? Obviously the topic needs to be worth discussing. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe we could do "the topic of last week" and lean into the slowness of forums.

Fixed! Thank you, Skylady!

Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks! It's one of those ideas that comes to you when you can't sleep so you scribble it down and submit it to Refraction Jam. :D

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Hello, everyone! So the game I'm making for #NaGaDeMon2020 is a cyberpunk hack of Ironsworn. It's going to be designed to be played solo with a shared "universe" with other players. You're all in different cities a la Heroes or Sense8 but you can talk to each other online through an in-world messageboard. Ironsworn is a nice fit because the idea of Assets works great for Augmentations because they're literally modular additions to your character. Of course, the huge change that I'm making is Burning Questions instead of Iron Vows. The idea is that you're a Seeker and these Questions drive play.

Hello, Black Cat.

I like your debt moves. I think they're interesting. There's a neat loop there thats really well-formulated  I don't really have much constructive to say because I think I have different tastes. There's some tension between making something realistic and making a game. The choices you made were probably not the ones I would've made. 

I like your idea of turning On Kings into something gameable. I haven't read the book but seems like something that could be done.

I was thinking about Graeber's anarchism more than his anthropology (I realise they blend). I'm sometimes a bit queasy about using real-world anthropology to inspire the fantastical because I still don't fully grasp where erasure and appropriation begin. I'm sure there's a way to do it but not for me right now. That said, I think you're right that there's so much wonderful anthropological work that could be injected into our understanding of the medieval part of medieval fantasy. And it's definitely more gameable than the anarchism, haha.

This is so wonderfully and thoughtfully put together. Thank you so much!

Have you seen Barbara Ehrenreich's Dancing in the Street? It is a book about the history of public joy and resistance. It talks about Carnival a lot.

Nothing about Graeber work feels game-y to me so I like that the jam has space for pretty much anything inspired by him. Though I definitely do want to make a game, heh.

I don't have an idea yet but I'd like to contribute something. A discussion might help!

You probably need to make some more changes to Spire to make it work with Blades. So here is where we can talk about what those changes are!

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Thank you! You start with the maximum, i.e., 8. Will make this more clear in the next update.

Edit: The Char Sheet now makes this clear!

Wonderful, thank you for this. Though I'd probably suggest a less violent term more than "meat grinder". :D

I have goofed! Thanks so much for letting me know. I've fixed it now.

Thank you so much! Made both these changes in the v1.1 which I've uploaded now. Hope you have fun playing it!

I'm really keen on making something for this jam but I'm not sure what it could be. Glad you extended the deadline.