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The easiest way to play in google docs is probably just a blank page that all your players can edit, with different indentation for Neighborhoods/ Landmarks/ Residents, but if you want something with a bit more polish:
If you want to play in google sheets, Kurt Refling has made two templates that are super easy to copy over — one that you can modify manually, and one that generates formatting using an automatic script.
If you want something with more of a flowchart quality, Miro and Coggle are two mind mapping/flowchart apps that I've found work alright for online play. If you want something that’s a little more structured than a flowchart but not as linear as a google doc, I’ve heard of folks playing in Gingko and Trello. I haven't played a session in either firsthand so I can’t speak to their quality, but they seem like sensible options.
Hope this helps!
Chess 2 is a joke with an exponential punchline. The first punchline comes in reading the title. The second punchline comes in reading the rules.
The third punchline comes when you and your friends are all gathered together on a discord call for two and a half hours, crowding around a virtual chessboard like a bunch of grade schoolers playing trading cards at recess, goading your friends on the best strategic approach they ought to be taking, and you’ve all been arguing on whether the pawn ought to ride the king like a horsey for so long that you completely forget that you could have just gone ahead and taken the opposing queen three moves ago, using regular chess rules, you clown.
In this way, the biggest punchline of all is the one that this game places upon us. Chess 2 is a masterstroke, and we are all its fools.
We, the City is a deceptively simple riff on the Belonging Outside Belonging framework with clean mechanics and a really elegant layout. The game paints with a very broad brush: rather than focusing on specific factions or districts within the setting, the game has its players narrate the city’s movement in terms of political ideologies and social motivations.
The competing political ideologies at play here are designed specifically for a contemporary setting and it really shows, but this game could very easily be re-skinned or transported into another genre without too much effort. I’d love to play We, the City as an interlude in a longform campaign set in one particular place.
Thank you for your interest! Easy streets is well underway — some of the contributing writers have been dealing with health concerns so we've had to push back the PDF release to aggregate all of the work in one place, but I've been formatting and laying out all of the finished decks so far. I'm aiming for an intended release as soon as we receive the final text; barring any drastic upheaval it should almost certainly be finished by the end of the summer.
Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad that you found it an enjoyable playbook. :)
I'm mostly making a joke about the prevalence of samurai games written by white people, moreso than any of their actual quality; that being said, most games that fall under that umbrella, at least ones that i've experienced, are misguided at best and appropriative or outright racist at worst)
This game is sad and gay and I recommend it for anyone who wants to have a good sad gay time. I got to play an existential robot, which, ideal tbh. I did die at the end but hey thats just how it goes sometimes. Great times to be had all around. 5/5 stars.
there is no such place as an empty field is a thoughtful, generative worldbuilder that supports its players while simultaneously demanding from them the active process of decolonization. Where its companion game, all we know are the things we have learned, asks its players where their ingrained beliefs and biases come from, no such place is more forward-facing—asking how we can move beyond them for a more just society. Both of these games succeed as standalone entities but the two speak in tandem, each complementing the themes of the other intrinsically. These games are gentle but firm, unrelenting in their insistence that we can build a better world—but in order to do so, we must first confront ourselves and each other.
With Where There's Smoke, Abe Mendes takes the gritty, high-intensity stakes of Forged in the Dark and refines them, both mechanically and narratively, smelting and reforging a completely new narrative structure. To call this game a "softened" FitD system would be a disservice—it is still dangerous, in the way that children's stories are dangerous, but the the mechanics are streamlined in a fresh and enticing way, and the lore of the text balances the rubble of this sundered earth with tantalizing whimsy (the creature, worldbuilding, and plot hook tables in the back of the book are worth the cost of purchase alone!) A fantastic game, in every sense of the word.
I adore the flexibility of this larp setup. Geostatonary paints the tone—lush, ostentatious—with a few choice descriptions, and then places the burden upon the players to drive the plot forward with razor-pointed leading questions. The built-in layers of player embodiment (Character, Narrative Voice, and OOC) flow naturally, but the additional specific voices (the commentary of the beloved, society's collective opinion, and the arguments for and against love) add an extra sweeping and melodramatic flair: a perfect fit for the style of the game.
Justin Quirit's ORICHALCUM is a thoughtful examination on legacy in the aftermath of colonization. The literal unearthing of pillars of empire—revealing the context of oppression, followed by the ways in which the Exiles have subverted that oppression on both a communal and an individual level—is a powerful means of reclaiming and recentering the narratives of an erased community. The mechanics for exploring of the land (a mixture of tile placement, narration, and drawn detail) all fit together in a satisfying confluence.
In Alone in the Ancient City, designer Takuma Okada translates the melancholy, No Man’s Sky-esque galaxy-wide wandering of Alone Among the Stars into a more humble joy, one of discovering a city on your own. Ancient City captures the feeling of traveling through a place with a history and weight belonging to others, but wholly unfamiliar to you. Okada eschews the oft-trod territory of metropolitan tourism and spectacle in the pursuit of a more intimate exploration. This game is Urban Pastel at its finest.
You Will Destroy Something Beautiful is, in itself, a beautiful game. Disarming in the simplicity of its voice, the connection between mechanics and story is a seamless example of substance without unnecessary weight. Elegant, fiction-driven, and rife with narrative potential.
Designer Matthew R.F. Balousek frames each of this anthology's titular Interstitials as a game to be played only under specific circumstances; in doing so, Balousek leans into the reflective and ritualistic nature of these meditations, tying the character to the player to the action to the word. The writing is sparse but quippy, suggesting the broadness of a full world using a mere handful of evocative prompts. Though it is framed as a companion to Blades in the Dark, the games are system-agnostic and translate well to other settings. Doskvol Interstitials is an elegant, delightful tool that should be in every player's back pocket.
In many ways, Spindlewheel is more of a scaffolding than a single game with a rigid set of rules—and this microgame compilation is a shining example of the breadth and depth that the scaffolding has to offer. The generators and maps offer an immediate and easy avenue for new players to learn the flexibility of the Spindlewheel deck, whereas more sophisticated spreads like Detective and The Mountain provide players the chance to exercise more lateral storytelling connections. The collaborative nature of these games makes them approachable for veterans and newcomers alike.
In Home Again, designer Nell Raban has taken the Powered by the Apocalypse engine—a framework predominantly grounded in individual power and control—and re-centered the entire system to rest on a foundation of community. This design choice is reflected most overtly in the communal stat pools, but the values permeate the design of the entire game, in the favor pools between characters as well as the very nature of the stats themselves.
Though Home Again confronts the real violences inflicted upon the diaspora, this trauma is not at its core the point of the game; rather, the game acknowledges this trauma and asks its players, "how can we heal and move past these—together?"
A great game, and one that supports its core thesis every step of the way.
If I may ask—do you find a significant amount of carryover from your drama background into your tabletop experiences? Speaking as someone who also comes from a theatre background, a lot of my friends lean really heavily into the embodiment of their characters during emotional moments, not just in the overt ways (character voices, body language/gesticulating) but also trying to grapple with the interiority of their character—trying to perform both for their fellow players but also for them to understand the character as best they can.
I know some of my theatre-adjacent coplayers place themselves heavily in the method acting sphere of trying to stay in-character as often as they can, whereas others are a lot more directorial and inclined to break out of the character's headspace in order to think about it from a narrative-driven perspective (e.g., "what needs to happen in this scene in order for the plot to advance"). Obviously neither of those is the end-all-be-all, and it's not like this is a binary system, but I'm curious about the degree to which the performativity of a game tends to skew it one way or another.
I'm really interested in exploring how the notion of performance informs and shapes gameplay in the tabletop space. There's the extremely literal idea of play as performance in the form of Actual Play podcasts/VODs/streams, but I think there are some really interesting questions to be explored, in play-by-post games in online spaces (where performativity is already such a pervasive facet of the medium) or in playing singleplayer games for an audience of one.
For people who have participated in or run Actual Play games—how do the principles of play change when you're running a game solely for yourself, versus for a closed group of friends, versus for an external audience? To what degree do elements of "traditional" performance (directing/acting/improv/etc) make their way into your games? For people who are running those games, or for those who just watch/follow them—how does your notion of play change or morph when your audience is following the game live, versus engaging with it after-the-fact?
I came up with a Forged in the Dark hack for my FF2k19 game jam submission, but I realized pretty early on that I wanted to streamline the mechanics of the system—partially for ease of play (to make the game easier for one shots/making it extremely low prep on the GM side), but part of that was also because I was on a time crunch and didn't want to overextend myself at the time.
The biggest leap for me, mechanically, was changing the success metrics—instead of 1-3/4-5/6/crits, I gave players a pool of dice in every stat, and made success based on the number of matching dice you get. It skews the probability way different from your typical FitD game, which I find kind of a fun challenge.
(I also changed it because I have a friend who rolled snake eyes all the time during our Scum and Villainy sessions, so that was kind of a nod to him and to those players who consistently roll poorly)