Roleplaying

Ten Lessons From Playtesting Our Torchbearer Expansion

A scientist helping an inventor by making their invention transparent.

Arr, me hearties, after a mere four years of development, Rising Tide is finally released for sailors and officers alike to enjoy. The time we spent on this Torchbearer expansion involved a lot of writing, rewriting, and of course, playtesting. So much playtesting. Looking at … read more »

Rising Tide: Our Dark Seas Expansion for Torchbearer

Steampunk sailors battle a sea monster

After the Island Empire fell, the seas were lost. Sailors whisper that the ocean air glows and tears open, releasing titanic leviathans that slither out into the sea. They say the very fabric of reality shifts with the wind, sending the crew falling into the … read more »

Learning From Successful Combat Systems

Three figures fighting a duel in Victorian London.

In this series’ first entry, I looked at how RPG combat can serve the story. Next, I talked about why the vast majority of RPG combat doesn’t. In this final entry, we’ll consider how RPG combat can do better. For our purposes, “combat” refers to any … read more »

Why RPG Combat Is Broken

A painting of Viking Age warriors engaged in battle.

Gather round, all ye game masters, designers, and RPG enthusiasts: it is time for part two of this series on extended conflict-resolution rules in roleplaying games. We refer to these rules as “combat” for brevity’s sake, even though they often include rules for car chases, … read more »

How RPG Combat Can Help the Story

A classical painting of two women fighting a duel.

If your RPG upbringing was anything like mine, you were taught from a young age that combat and story are eternally opposed to each other. You were raised to believe that players are either obsessed with combat to the point of ignoring the narrative or … read more »

How Should I Handle Players With Jerk Characters?

questions and answer talk bubbles

Over the last few years, I’ve been making a gradual transition from hack-and-slash based campaigns to more story focused play, and one problem I’ve encountered is that many players don’t seem to get that their characters are allowed to grow. I’ve now had 2 specific … read more »

Scum and Villainy Shines Despite Flaws

Cover art from Scum and Villainy showing two ships flying through a warp gate.

The best part of being an RPG reviewer is that I have a constant excuse to research the cutting edge of roleplaying design, and today that research leads me to Scum and Villainy. Published by Off Guard Games and Evil Hat Productions, this space opera … read more »

Six Unstated Expectations for Roleplaying

Women in elaborate carnival mask and custom puts a finger to her lips

When new players are introduced to roleplaying games, they are usually encouraged to do whatever their characters would do in the narrative. If only it were that simple. While getting into character is a great thing, the best roleplayers balance it against what their group expects … read more »

Why Mouse Guard Handles Failure Better Than Any Other RPG

A mouse watching as fire spreads.

I’ve written about Mouse Guard’s qualities before. It’s one of my favorite systems, from its core dice mechanic to its setting and flavor. But some things are better appreciated with a bit of perspective, and so it is with Mouse Guard’s failure rules. After years … read more »

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