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Emily Care Boss
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Emily Care Boss

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This was such a blast to do! Thanks to +Jason Pitre for recording these conversations at GenCon. So many good questions, and discussion of beloved games. :)
Episode 95 of the #RPGDesignPanelcast , Gearheads, is now up. This GenCon seminar with +Emily Care Boss had a discussion of a ton of excellent games and their beautiful mechanics. This episode was an amazing discussion of shiny mechanics, and the show-notes are absolutely full of links to the various games mentioned. Have fun!
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Emily Care Boss

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Watch for +Jason Pitre's series of panels from Gen Con 2016!
Intro to RPG Design

Episode 91 of the #RPGDesignPanelcast  is now up, where i speak on a panel with +Emily Care Boss +Shoshana Kessock and +Dustin DePenning as an introduction to RPG Design.

Fresh off the presses, and recorded a bit over a week ago at GenCon 2016!
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At long last the Romance Trilogy is for sale! A few copies will be for sale at GenCon, and the PDF is available now.

It's been a very long journey to get to this point. From playing games with friends in the 90s, to talking about games in the aughts, to getting the crazy idea that I could write them in 2005 with Breaking the Ice. The world has changed, so it's been wonderful to have this chance to update and re-visit them in light of so much amazing design that has happened since 2005.

Hope you enjoy!


Pre-orders for the Romance Trilogy are now available on Gumroad. Find advance print copies at GenCon, Indie Game Developer Network Booth #2311, from August 4-7, Indianapolis Convention Center.
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+Emily Care Boss​ Please do signal when you find a distributor in Europe. Shipping from the US doubles the price, not including customs. And I'd love a physical copy of your book.
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Fastaval Scenarios proposals are due this summer, in August 2016. Consider submitting a game for this lovely Danish convention. Highly recommended to take a look at past games:
Fastaval is early! Not literally (Easter 2017 is kind of late), but the submissions deadline is earlier than usual this year, and it just occurred to me that it might be a good idea to shout this from the Anglophone rooftops. The deadline for submitting roleplaying game proposals to Fastaval 2017 is August 12th. 2016, that is.

Make games and come play them with us! It's a blast!

Here's what the scenario coordinators have to say:

Here's what +Lizzie Stark had by way of highly useful advice:

Also, please spread and shout and dance about.
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What Ole Peder said.

Also, you don't have to be intending to go, but it's better, especially for your first time. You'll get more out of it, and your game will have better support.

The "premiere scenarios" thing means that if you bring a game that you've used elsewhere, what you present must be a substantially different version at least.

Also, especially first-time game writers get great support from right out of the gate, all you have to do is ask and the scenario coordinators will provide you with a sparring partner to help you get your proposal ("synopsis") ready for submission.
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JiffyCon is on!

JiffyCon West MA - June 11, 2016
Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College
Amherst, MA 01002

We're a small local convention, dedicated to showcasing independently published and small-press role playing games.

We've been doing this in east & west MA since 2006, and always have a great, laid-back time playing rpgs, board games and enjoying the flavors and color of the area.

If you'll be there in June, we hope you'll join us: (pre-reg) (bid a game)

Be well! 
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I understand.  I just worry... it's a slippery slope. 
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Episode 93 of the #RPGDesignPanelcast  has been released, discussing Emotional RPGs! Despite the poor sound quality, there is a ton of good content in it. +Emily Care Boss +Shoshana Kessock share a ton of wisdom on the subject, and it was a ton of fun. I also got a chance to plug Headspace, which is an excellent game in that domain.

Have a listen, and enjoy!
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What do you love about tabletop freeform games?

Chances are good that if you're in my feeds, you've played one. Whether it's Fiasco, The Quiet Year, Microscope, Misericord(e), Swords without Master, Firebrands or what have you, these are (in my opinion) tabletop role playing games where the resolution of dramatic questions and problems, or events where the outcome is in question--is done by a variety of techniques that do not involve stats and die rolls that refer to them.

Say and it happens - quintessentially demonstrated by Polaris, this is a staple in MonkeyDome descended games (like Swords without Master, Vast & Starlit). Should we think of this as player fiat?
Token prompts - Quiet Year and Dream Askew use these, with contempt tokens and hard & soft moves that give you currency to spend on fictional outcomes later on. This is an underlying mechanic in the Apocalypse World engine that is married with a fictionally focused traditional mechanic system (stats, modifiers, die rolls, resolution) which hides how much player fiat/fictional positioning comes in. Fiasco allocates scene resolution and gives players dice as tone prompts.
Fiction prompts (often questions) - Cards, questions, procedures that get the players asking themselves and others things that invest themselves and each other in the events as they play out. Itras By, Swords without Master, Heart of Bronze, The Sundered Land, Misericord(e)--which lifts the question mechanic from 1001 Nights--for examples. Games like Fiasco may have a currency that matches character outcomes with fictional prompts at the end of the game. I do this a ton in the Romance Trilogy for Breaking the Ice and Shooting the Moon particularly--though those games I see as more traditional in terms of using dice to provide fallout and outcomes. Probably needs more thought there since the systems don't function on a task-by-task or even scene-based conflict resoltion basis. More like long-term conflict resolution that feeds into overall game-wide outcomes.
Voting - the fall-back resolution system in Microscope, the scene-ending resolution in King Wen's Tower. I imagine this is more used than I realize, but those are the games that come to mind.

This is by no means exhaustive!

What do you like about these games? How do you see them functioning? What other games would you group with these?

For +J. Walton.

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Collaboration. We're building something together.

Focus on interaction player to player. Again, to build together.

Lowkey, personal. A different view compared to our everyday life.

All outcomes are interesting. Default state in roleplaying games is failing (roll to succeed). In some freeform games, you sometimes want the characters to loose (Psychodrame, Montsegur 1244, Fiasco, Kagematsu).
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Can it be only a few days until GenCon? There are a few more GenCon pickups available for the #RomanceTrilogy , ( and there are quite a few more games I've worked on that will be at the con! Here's where I and all these games will be:

IGDN Social and Indie Groundbreaker Award Ceremony, Wednesday August 3, 7-9pm, Loughmiller’s Pub and Eatery, 301 W Washington in Indianapolis. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges for the inaugural year of this award. It was a very strong field. The social is free and open to all, with a raffle and announcement of the award winners. Congratulations to all who took part in the Indie Groundbreaker Awards for all your hard work on games pushing rpgs in new directions!

Diana Jones Award Party, Wednesday 9pm on at the Cadillac Ranch. The annual award for excellence in gaming, free and open to folks in the game publishing industry. This is a fun time to rub elbows and enjoy a free drink. Another, different group of games, endeavors and even an individual in this short list!

IGDN Booth #2311
Along with the many awesome games from Indie Game Developer Network members, I'll have three of my games:

Romance Trilogy
There are 10 copies set aside for pre-order and pickup at the IGDN Game HQ in the Marriott at GenCon (7 are spoken for as of this morning). Then I'll have 40 copies for sale at that IGDN Booth proper. All of these are a special signed, edition for GenCon.

SpyFi Bundle
Over-the-top high-tech espionage & action, in the manner of everyone's favorite British secret agent, Melissa McCarthy in Spy, SpyKids et al. But deconstructing some of the underlying -isms of that genre of books & films.

Pick-up-and-go progressive fantasy storytelling adventure. Written for play with new gamers. Uses a Tarot deck and freeform resolution. My favorite game to run for conventions, bar none.

IPR Booth #2330
Bubblegumshoe from Evil Hat
This teen detective game was a blast to work on with +Kenneth Hite, +Lisa Steele and the whole crew! So excited to see it get into people's hands.

Pelgrane Booth #419
The Book of Changing Years, companion volume to +Kevin Kulp's brilliant TimeWatch. This is a gorgeous volume, full of story seeds for your TimeWatch campaigns. It was a real pleasure to be among this group of contributors. 

Thursday, August 4:

Title: Heartwrenchers; Emotional RPGs
Date & Time: Thursday at 9:00 AM - 10:00 am
Location: Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Ballroom A
with +Shoshana Kessock and +Jason Pitre 

Industry Insider Panel
SEM16100200 Beyond Combat Thursday 1pm Room 241 What do you do in rpgs when you're not fighting? We'll talk about games that focus on what happens in between fights, or drop them all together. Come hear tips for play & find new games to try.
With +Kathryn Hymes, +Hakan Seyalioglu  and Harrison Pink

Industry Insider Panel
SEM16100233 State of the LARP & How You Can Be A Live Action Role Player! Thursday 6pm Room 241 What's new in the world of LARP games? Curious about LARPing? What to improve your game? Get the 411 on all things Live Action Role Playing has to offer!
With +Alex Roberts and +Eddy Webb 

Friday, August 5:
SEM1691627 Gearheads: Clever RPG Mechanics Friday 11am - Crowne Plaza : Room Conrail
Roleplaying game design is a hotbed of innovation, & this panel is a place to talk about some of the latest & greatest mechanics for games.
With +Jason Pitre 

SEM1691628 Introduction to RPG Playtesting Friday noon - Crowne Plaza : Room Conrail
Playtesting RPGs is a difficult process. In this panel, sponsored by the Indie Game Developer Network, we will teach you how to effectively test games as a designer & as a player.
With +Jason Pitre and +Mark Richardson 

At Games On Demand in the Marriott Downtown
RPG1687627 Friday 2-3:30
Romancing the Dungeon
Play people on their first dates, seeing if they find love. In this adaptation, we'll explore a classic dungeon and see whether sparks fly. Sometimes romance starts in the most unlikely places.
2-4 players 18+

SEM1688878 Dramatic Interaction Master Class Friday 4pm Crowne Plaza Grand Central Ballroom A
+Robin Laws & guests teach structures & techniques to turn emotional confrontations between PCs from frustrating roadblocks into rich moments of human drama.

Larps On Demand at Games on Demand
Friday 6-8 pm
The Other Place (4 players) - by Banana Chan, Two children play in an attic and find two children trapped in an old mirror. Who will walk away?
Dream Bear (alternate game - if more players than 4) A group of dreamers comes together to share their dreams of a Bear and what it means to them.

Saturday, August 6:
Industry Insider Panel
SEM16100202 Cooperative Storytelling: The World-Magic of Games Saturday 11am Room 241 Every game, no matter how simple, has a shared narrative. Come discuss how to enhance the storytelling magic in your own games-whether you're a player, a gamemaster, or a designer.
With Brian Cortijo and +Mark Diaz Truman 

Games on Demand
Versus Nature - a hack of Shooting the Moon from the Romance Trilogy.
The natural world present some of the greatest challenges: to explore, overcome, survive. Play Seekers on a quest, companions, people of those lands and even Nature and Death itself.
2-4 players 18+ Saturday 2-3:30

Industry Insider Panel
SEM16100228 Right There On The Kitchen Table: Sex In RPGs Saturday 5pm Room 240 Sex is a part of life - & it can be a heck of a plot device. Learn how to integrate sex & sexuality into your game's story, in a way that feels safe & fun for everyone. With +Katherine Cross and +Alex Roberts 

Hope to see you there!
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My monograph, Pocket Guide to American Freeform is now available in paperback format!

<this post public and shareable!>
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Remembering that fateful Intercon 2012 conversation with more clarity with each passing day! :-)
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Publish an indie RPG in 2015, or love a new game that came out last year? There are two indie rpg awards that they can be submitted to for consideration. But hurry up, time is running out!

Indie RPG Awards - Submission Deadline May 30

Check out what is registered so far:

Indie Ground Breaker Awards from the Independent Game Developers Network (IGDN) - Submission Deadline June 2

The Indie RPG Awards is a long-running award that has recognized many great independently published games, games are judged by a group of designer peers. It is also a great catalog of the indie games released, year to year. I've missed it a couple of years and really regretted it.

The Indie Ground Breaker Awards is a brand new program created by IGDN to provide a spotlight for games and designers who are doing innovative work. I am one of the inaugural judges and am looking forward to seeing what people have done this year.

Thank you and good luck!!!!!
Registration for the next Indie RPG Awards is now open for any games published between January 1 and December 31, 2014. The Awards will be presented in the summer of 2015. If you have any questions, please tell us via the Contact Us page.
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After some delays from two convention weekends in a row, I've updated the Indie RPG Awards with a bunch of submissions that have been coming in. There have been a ton of great RPGs released in 2015 - check them out regardless of who wins in August.

Today was technically the deadline for getting in submissions, but if there are even more games that you think should be in there, please submit them and I'll stretch things a little.
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Are you going to Help us get a good head-count (and you can get a discount on the entry fee!) GMs please pre-reg as well as sending us your game info. Thanks!

JiffyCon West MA
June 11, 2016
Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College
Amherst, MA
8am - 7pm

Great gaming in a jiffy! Friends, food, farmland and local, independent games.

JiffyCon West MA Pre-RegistrationPre-register for JiffyCon, to be held Saturday June 11, 2016. For directions and information about games and schedule, visit: JIFFYCON.COM Entrance Fee if pre-registered: $10 (age 12 and under $5; under 5 no charge) Entrance Fee, if you register on the day of the event: $15 Pay at the door! Please note that all attendees are asked to abide by the code of conduct (see website). Please see this page for accessibility information for the venue...
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The 2015 Golden Cobra Anthology and a clean new version of the Golden Cobra website!!! In time for your Origins, GenCon and other spring/summer con gaming pleasure.

Thanks so much to +Jay Sylvano and +Jefferson Lee making the truly gorgeous anthology. They did heroic work putting together Appendices A & B which provide easy-to-use info about the game to help you pick what to read & run.

Great thanks to +Ben Francis for your help getting the website up to speed!! It's still our simple streamlined site, but clearer, more elegant and easier to use.

Thanks to cobra team +Whitney Beltrán +Jason Morningstar +Evan Torner +J Li +Sara Williamson for all your hard work last year, and to all the designers for their insight & creativity.
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All fixed! Thanks for noting that error +Tiburce Guyard 
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