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She explains that the hated king has dispatched his champion. They await outside the sacred site of bones, at the edge of the Gray Hills. The champion has drawn a circle and is challenging you to single combat. 

Sent in my email (from a account, so you know it's me). Thanks again for this jam. I think the rating system was a great idea, definitely motivated me to play and review games when I otherwise wouldn't, and found some really great stuff as a result.

Spooky Action at a Distance is a single player tabletop role playing game about humanity’s first contact with alien life. You create a character, called the envoy, who will attempt to interact with the alien. You’ll write about First Contact, what the envoy discovers about the alien, and define the alien as you play.

  • Players: 1
  • Playtime: 1-2 hours
  • Requires 2 six-sided dice and a journal to write in (printable journal sheets are provided with the game)

I made this for the Me, Myself, and my RPG Game Jam, and I'm really proud of it!

100% Agreed. I've found some fantastic games and creators through this jam and I'm looking forward to seeing more from them in the future.

The pig latin is a very nice detail, a simple thing that does a great job of showing the colonizer's disdain and disconnect from the native population and their culture.

Spooky Action at a Distance

A single player role playing game about first contact with alien life.

Contact is my favourite film. I've always been a fan of these kinds of stories where we struggle to understand the alien and see what happens to humanity as a result. The recent release of Arrival and Annihilation furthered my interest, and got me wondering how to distill the similarities and differences in these stories. So I made Spooky Action at a Distance, my entry to the Me, Myself, and my RPG Game Jam, to explore these stories and ideas.

It is always a treat to play these sorts of fantasy games where you aren't the adventuring party, but the monsters and people the party is usually killing. Having to find clues before you reach new levels means each part of the tower is dense with history and details. I really enjoyed how a single player can put together a unique setting and story.

I played as a fire-breathing dragon whelp named Zed, who was looking for their family who either fled or died in the tower some time ago. Zed discovered what remained of their kobold followers, and the magical protections that ancient wizards had used to imprison Zed and their family in the tower. 

Great stuff.

From The Sprawl:

  • Driver playbook: Hot Shit Driver, generates hold you can spend to outrun pursuers, avoid explosions, or keep your ride safe. What a move, I love when the crew hits the getaway and everyone looks at the driver and just starts praying that they get a good roll on this. 
  • Hacker playbook: Console Cowboy, generates hold when you start hacking. Much like Hot Shit Driver, the results of this move pretty much sums up how a run is gong to go. The one-two punch of this move when you Compromise Security or Manipulate Systems feels so good when you roll well, and makes everything get real tense real fast if you don't. 

From Dungeon World:

  • Barbarian: Outsider, a racial ability that lets you define where your character came from as you play. This move is why the Barbarian is one of my favourite DW playbooks. That slow trickle of information about what they left behind is a great way to start each session.

From both Dungeon World & The Sprawl:

  • Fighter/Killer: Signature Weaponyou get a cool weapon that is better than everyone else's. I love that this move creates space at the table for everyone to listen as the player describes their awesome sword/gun/whatever. Also as a GM I love this move because it draws attention to something that I can threaten to take away.

A simple game that can tell a somber story. Works really well as a single player experience.

I admit I was slightly puzzled by the relationship between the Empire and the Exiles. Were the exiles pushed out because of who they were, or was it more that the Empire were colonizers who stole the orichalcum and the Exile's land? Did the exiles choose to leave? Did the Exiles and the Empire share any heritage? I suppose this kind of thing can change from game to game, and if that's the point then awesome, but I could have used some specific guidance there. I was never sure if I was remembering an oppressor or just a culture the Exiles left behind. The tone of the game feels both somber and triumphant, but I wasn't sure if that was right due to the ambiguous history between the Empire and Exiles.

But aside from all that, at the end of my game I had created two very distinct worlds. I played as The Resplendent, and imagined a culture of orators and singers. While the Empire had amphitheaters shaped like colossuems, the Exiles had tall solitary stairs where great speakers could share their performances with the whole island. Where the Empire had libraries of long stone tablets, the Exiles lay their histories at the foot of their theaters, so that every speaker remembered where they came from, and could draw inspiration from their history. And where the Empire had cemeteries of oblique stone blocks to store their dead far away, the Exiles had one platform where the birds of the sea could be fed by the deceased, and thus the dead could return to the land and be forever close to the living.

This game lets you create a beautiful contrast between a dead empire and a living society set to thrive after being forced to the margins. Bravo.

What a fantastic idea! Unique from anything else I've seen in this game jam. 

Doesn't quite fulfill the jam's design goal, but it's still a great game. I want to play this with more of my friends, and I'd love to see more details. Maybe something like some templates for the warrior that make the game easier for those without artistic ability. 

When I played we made a warrior named Ezekiel who served as a soldier for a theocratic empire. Ezekiel made coin on the side hunting monsters, and bared several scars from those hunts as well as tattoos he got as trophies. By the end he had been tattooed by slavers and holy regiments, scared by arrows, swords, and magical fire, and in the end he received arcane tattoos that allowed him to cast spells so he could hunt the most dangerous of game.

Fantastic work, the game does a great job of giving you enough tools to make an interesting character and have a unique world grow around them. Reminds me of games like Microscope and Dungeon World.


I'm really happy with how my game went. Honestly really impressed with myself that I managed to put this together in about a week. It was gratifying in several ways, I've wanted to tell stories like the ones you can tell with One Trillion Years for a while now and it feels nice to get that creative energy off my chest. I don't know if I would have gotten the chance if not for this game jam and its theme.

I'm also really looking forward to playing these games. Already got myself a few, including Orichalcum! It looks great so far.

Hey! Thanks a lot!

I just released One Trillion Years, a roleplaying game about humanity’s survival in the far future. You create a human diaspora, a collection of people who have left Earth in an effort to survive as the universe disintegrates. You’ll lead them through trillions of years of space and time, play star-faring guilds as they address different obstacles, and inhabit your own characters from the far future.

Submitted for the Mapemounde game jam.

  • Players: 1-4
  • Playtime: 1-2 hours
  • Requires a deck of playing cards & drawing on a map

In a few million years our solar system will be uninhabitable. Earth will have suffered any number of calamities, both natural and man made. In 1 billion years our sun will begin to die, expanding and consuming the terrestrial planets and reducing Mars and Earth to barren cinders. A few billion years after that, our galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy. And one trillion years from now the entire universe will begin to die as every star burns through its fuel and all light is extinguished.

We cannot survive here. For humanity to continue we will need to leave our solar system, our galaxy, and eventually this universe.

One Trillion Years is a roleplaying game about humanity’s survival. You will create a human diaspora, a collection of people who have left Earth in an effort to survive as the universe disintegrates. You’ll lead them through trillions of years of space and time, play star-faring guilds as they address different obstacles, and inhabit your own characters from the far future.

  • Players: 1-4
  • Playtime: 1-2 hours
  • Requires a deck of playing cards & drawing on a map

It lives! Thanks for the support folks! 

My map sheet for players to draw on. I'm not much of an artist, but luckily I want each point of interest to be general enough to allow players to imagine whatever they like when they encounter different things in each era.

And here's the first draft of the Legacy Sheet, where players can record characters when they make a significant contribution to the human diaspora, and where players can record summaries of important scenes played out at the table.

My game is going well! I've finished my first draft of the rules & sheets needed for play. Now I just need to make a map sheet, tidy up the rules document a bit, and spend any time I have left testing the game. I'm really happy with how this game turned out and I'm so excited to release it. 

The game I'm submitting for this jam, One Trillion Years, is one of 3 I'm working on at the moment. I'm also working on a game for the Me, Myself, and My RPG Game Jam called Spooky Action at a Distance. That one is a game about first contact with alien life. Before I joined these jams I was also working on a hack of Blades in the Dark called Neon Black. I'll be getting back to work on that once I'm finished with these. I wanted to take a break from such a big design project to finish some smaller games, and I'm glad that I did.

I'd say the design goal is definitely within my reach, but I was already thinking of a game that crossed multiple times or ages before it was announced. I think the jam's theme overall was a good one. I've heard about games like the Quiet Year and Fall of Magic, but never had a chance to play them. After participating in this jam, I really want to check those games out to see other approaches. 

Can't wait to see what everyone else puts together. I'm trying to save up some cash so I can splurge on them all, as well as titles from the #AloneGameJam 

Here's a draft of one of the guild sheets

A little preview from the first page of the game:

This sounds really cool! Excited to see it develop.

Work continues. Changing and fine-tuning the mechanics. Have most of the special abilities for the different suit guilds locked in. Hard to find a balance when you want the game to be difficult. Right now whether or not humanity survives past the Dark Era is mostly based on luck of the draw. But that does feel fitting in a way.

Made some notes about how to play the roles of the different suits during play, including lists of names for the guilds (The Guild of Spades, Union of Workers, House of Diamonds, etc.). Next I think I'll write everything up into rules text so I'm not keeping it in my head or on random notes. Also do some additional research to colour the different epochs and give each guild, challenge, and era of the map some flavour for the storytelling aspect of the game. 

Still going strong. Had a roadblock where I couldn't balance out the mechanics. By the end of the game you either ran out of cards or had far too many to make it challenging. I'm borrowing mechanics from cooperative games like Pandemic, where there are lots of ways to lose but only one way to win, and I knew I wanted one of the losing conditions to be when you ran out of cards. In my mind this represents entropy,  where the human diaspora are unable to fight against the dwindling resources of the universe and fade into obscurity.

As you can see I've gone through a few different layouts with the map. I settled on a landscape format with the earth in the far left side and humanity's uncertain future on the right. It brings to mind a timeline, which fits the theme nicely, and also makes the last few eras much more difficult to traverse since they can be longer. When players navigate the human diaspora they play a card, move that many spaces, and end up at a Point of Interest (a star, galaxy, black hole, etc.). The players can then draw their route on the map in any way they like. Maybe it's straightforward, maybe it's time-consuming, maybe they use jump gates.

Now I need to create special abilities for each of the suits, balance the game for 1-4 players, and test some more!

I've always been fascinated by the idea of humanity's survival on a galactic time scale. How will we survive in a hundred thousand years, in a million, billion, etc. 

So I'm making a game based on that. I was already thinking about something along these lines before the theme was announced, so it was a pretty happy coincidence. Humanity leaves Earth and tries to survive in the solar system, in multiple solar systems, in multiple galaxies etc. As you move further away from Earth you move further in time to different epochs, as entropy breaks down potential resources and it becomes more and more difficult to survive. 

The game uses a sheet of graph paper to mark the human diaspora's journey, as well as a standard deck of playing cards. The cards represent different things (hearts are people, diamonds are food and fuel, clubs are ideas and culture, spades are technology like weapons and tools) and the players use them to move the human diaspora, overcome challenges, and role play scenes that occur during each turn. Each player has a playbook that represents one of the guilds in charge of the operations of the diaspora which give them special abilities based on their suit. For example The Spades guild is better at addressing challenges with spades cards, etc.

So it's basically a GMless role playing map game about humanity's survival over the next trillion years. Right now I've got the basic rules, a rough draft of the map, and I'm making the playbooks so I can start testing the game.

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A Forged in the Dark game where you play a crew of thieves who go on heists to take cultural artifacts back from the museums and private collectors who stole them. You take jobs from government officials representing colonized countries and shady rich oligarchs. Inspired by this article about Chinese art heists in GQ.

But at the end of the day I'm a white dude with imperialist ancestors. I would love to play this game, and for someone who isn't like me to make it.

How could you forget the name of your father?

No gods watch over you.

This sounds like a neat idea and I would definitely check out a few episodes. I've just starting exploring the world of solo RPGs and I'm really enjoying them as a writing exercise, so I can see how this could create an interesting story with all sorts of twists and turns.

I'll echo the above concerns about quality. That's the first thing that kills my listening experience and makes it unlikely I'll bother with a podcast, even if the content is something I enjoy. But I also have no experience with producing a podcast so *shrug* can't offer insight there.

I have yet to finish my first play through but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I'm not enough of an anime fan to get all the references and tropes, but it nevertheless give great prompts, twists, and opportunities to push your protagonist's narrative interesting ways. It gives you a lot of freedom with few moving parts, and constrains you just enough so you're never left with a bank slate wondering what to do next. I think it pretty much sold me on solo journal RPGs and I'm looking forward to playing more.

Very hyped for this. I'm hoping to get to my next milestone in my primary RPG project at the end of the month, so this will be a nice respite. I recently picked up plot ARMOR and I'm really excited to explore single player journal type games. 

Mutants in the Night, a hack of Blades in the Dark, does something very interesting in this regard. The rulebook talks about the Facilitator using terms like zooming in and wide shots to paint a picture of each scene. 

For example when the crew is getting ready to execute a score, the Facilitator can use a wide shot to frame the building, the guards, the time of day, and then zoom in to show the characters approaching int he shadows. Then the Facilitator can hand off the camera to the players to let them know they are in control of what's happening next.

It's such a simple thing but I think it gives a familiar language to who is in control of the narrative and what is possible when you hand off and hold the camera. More and more, as I run games, I imagine them as television shows, something Blades in the Dark actively suggests you do as well. I use establishing shots and crane shots to look over the city to get a sense of what the mood is, to see current events play out. Also this sort of cinematic language gets people thinking about how scenes look between their characters, and what the NPCs look like. Are the character's listening to music? Can you hear crickets? Does this bad ass cyber ninja who is hunting you have their own musical theme that takes over the soundtrack?

Specifically calling out that there is a camera and a lens through which we view the events of the game is a great narrative mechanic, I find.

Good question.

My first design moment I felt good about was using 9 actions rather than 12. I'm making a cyberpunk hack, and try as I might I couldn't figure out where to put the hack action. Attune made no sense to include, and putting Hack in the same attribute as all the social actions made no sense. Try as I might I always ended up with an odd number of action per attribute, which would've messed up how resistance worked, and aesthetically I hated it. Then I thought, 'Screw it, let's just collapse these actions as much as possible' and I ended up with 9 I feel really good about. 

Also seeing how Scum & Villainy has 3 ratings for each actions inspired me to use the same limit, and instead of using gambits to make up for that potential, let players acquire 4th action or attribute dots by getting cyberware.

Changing what the actions were called took some doing too. I've changed a bit of vocabulary in my hack (Traumas are Glitches, cohort gangs are teams, etc.) and that was just a lot of time spent on Ditto for what to call the playbooks.

Some of the biggest changes came straight out of Blades in the Dark, in Chapter 9: Changing the Game. I was tying myself in a knot trying to figure out how to design mechanics that Poor Beginnings and Tier Tied to Lifestyle already cover. These are important components for me as they highlight the fact that the players start as poor freelancers, desperate to try to get an edge, and the only way they can make significant progress is by the accumulation of wealth, to buy into the system, to hustle.

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Neon Black (working title)

In the year 21XX freelancers struggle to survive in a city-state controlled by corporations, underground gangs, and artificial intelligences.

You can find updates on the project, links to play test documents, and short fiction inspired by the world of Neon Black on my Patreon.

I've been hacking away at this game for over a year now. It started as a basic reskin of BitD and has grown into it's own beast as I learn from other designers and study games like Scum & Villainy and The Sprawl and see how different FitD and PbtA games can look and feel. Currently working on v 4.0, hoping to have it done by the end of the month so I can get back to testing.

Here's the bullet points for major changes:

Current Character Playbooks:

  • Ranks: dangerous and intimidating fighters
  • Hackers: software and ‘Net experts
  • Splicers:  gifted mechanics and chemists
  • Suits: charismatic and influential speakers
  • Synths: radically augmented operatives

Current Crew Playbooks:

  • Punks: activists and anarchists who steal and sabotage corporate assets.
  • Mercs: bounty hunters and extraction specialists.
  • Start-Up: entrepreneurs looking to compete for a share of Prime City’s wealth.

Misc. Changes:

  • Cohort's edges and flaws all have mechanical benefits. For example a cohort or expert could have "Adept: The cohort is especially helpful in their role. They can suffer a level of harm to assist a character when they make a suitable roll" and "Distinct: The cohort has memorable features and is easy to recognize. Take +1 heat when used any number of times during a job." This is to cover the fact that a cohort could be anything from a group of thugs, a swarm of drones, or an autonomous vehicle.
  • Integrated the Poor Beginnings and Tier Tied to Lifestyle optional rules from Blades in the Dark. There is no rep track for crews, you increase in tier when the crew advances and each character has stash greater than or equal to the crew' next tier.
  • Heat is tracked on the faction sheet. Similar to Scum & Villainy, except heat is accrued against the three major corporations and their subsidiaries, as well as the various underground factions of Prime City.
  • 9 Actions rather than 12:
    • Clout
      • Command
      • Connect
      • Spin
    • Intellect
      • Analyze
      • Hack
      • Tinker
    • Prowess
      • Assault
      • Move
      • Sneak
  • Cyberware. You can acquire various augmentations if you have a contact, character, or asset who can perform the surgery and you've already acquired the chrome. Cyberware grants you a 4th dot in an action or attribute rating and some other special abilities depending on the flavour of cyberware.
  • Crew claims and turf are going to be replaced with something like crew connections or assets. Not sure about this yet, but each crew will only have 4, and each one will cost 1 cred to keep around (paid during the payoff after a job). They will each grant significant mechanical or fictional benefits to offset this cost.
  • Traumas changed to Glitches. I love the trauma system in Blades but I felt it was a bit narrow, and thought I could represent a greater field of character development that would still create problems in a crew of cyberpunk freelancers. Current glitches:
    • Arrogant: You are uncompromising in your beliefs and actions.
    • Cold: You’re not moved by emotions or social connections. 
    • Greedy: You don’t share with others and deny others your time and resources. 
    • Idealistic: There are morals or principles you will not betray. 
    • Obsessed: You’re enthralled by one thing: an activity, a person, an ideology. 
    • Open: You are empathetic and unwilling to keep secrets from anyone.  
    • Reckless: You have little regard for your own safety or best interests. 
    • Vicious: You seek out opportunities to hurt people, even for no good reason.
  • Changed Devil's Bargain to Selling Out. Mechanically works the same way, but puts the pressure on the player to offer something help for the extra die, and highlights the fact that it should hurt.

There's probably more, but I've got to get to my day job soon.

Ooph, where to start. Ultimately I like how well it capture being an underdog. You are constantly outclassed and poorer than everyone else. The tier system captures that really well, and how that factors in to the quality of items and assets you can attain. 

I like how the dice system means you're more than likely to get complications rather than just straight successes or failures. It does a great job of creating fluid sessions with tension and release. 

Also the trauma system creates organic and satisfying character arcs. 

The crew feels like a real place that grows and adapts with the characters and starts to feel like a part of the city as the game continues. 

The details about the factions and the world feel a bit too vague at first. The biggest challenge getting into the game for me was trying to figure out how to use the factions properly. But eventually you figure out that it's like a set of Lego bricks. There's a prescribed way you can put them together, but really it's up to you to put the premade pieces together in a way that's fun for folks at the table. The factions and world are well-designed with just enough details to let you know what they're about without forcing everyone to use them in their campaign in the same way.

Hey everyone,

Michael here (he/him). I've been playing ttrpgs for about 10 years now. Started with 4th ed. D&D and soon after started making custom character classes and rules. I'm currently working on a cyberpunk hack of Blades in the Dark (my current favourite system) called Neon Black. You can follow development of Neon Black on Twitter.

2:03 MFers!