Tag Archives: RPG

Underwater Adventures in Dungeons & Dragons

The Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual all provide great resources for underwater or ocean-based D&D campaigns. Today I’ll run through the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook to help you dive into your underwater adventures.

underwater adventures
Photo credit: Ryan Loughlin


Many of the classes presented in the Player’s Handbook can be customized to suit an ocean campaign. Druids can choose creatures with a swimming speed for their wild shape ability from 4th level, while rangers can choose appropriate animal companions to suit to underwater adventures.


The following backgrounds work well for an ocean campaign:

Acolyte. Many of the deities of the Forgotten Realms are worshiped in their ocean aspect by seafarers and fisherfolk or given offerings in hopes of a safe sea voyage. A character with the acolyte background may have served in a seaside temple or as a ship’s chaplain. Amphibious characters might tend to the needs of an underwater community or maintain sunken temples and shrines to ocean deities.

Criminal. A character with the criminal background might be a pirate or an escapee from a prison ship. Many criminals find their way into shipping ports, in the hopes of finding a ship to take them to wealthy cities. Amphibious characters are much like their land going counterparts.

Guild Artisan. A character with the guild artisan background might be a cartographer, a shipwright, or a traveling artisan from a port city or island town. Guild merchants are particularly common in port cities and aboard ships. Amphibious guild artisans might be jewelers working in pearl and shell, coral carvers, leatherworkers, skinners, or scrimshaw carvers, besides a host of other occupations.

Hermit. Hermits can be found inhabiting ocean caves, beachcombing along coastlines, and on remote islands. Some hermits are castaways who’ve come to enjoy their life away from the stresses of society.

Outlander. A character with the outlander background might be a fisherman, a pearl diver, a seafarer, or even a pirate with a love of adventure.

Sailor. Both the sailor and the pirate variant backgrounds are excellent options for an ocean campaign.


The Mounts and Vehicles section of the Equipment chapter includes a list of waterborne vehicles. The Services section lists a ship’s passage as costing 1 sp per mile.


Strength (Athletics) checks are used for swimming in stormy seas or raging rivers, or if you’re struggling with a creature while in the water.


The Special Types of Movement section covers swimming, while The Environment section covers suffocating, vision and light, and food and water. The sun’s light only penetrates so deep below the water, and ocean water is undrinkable, meaning that characters must find a source of fresh water or rely on magical means for survival.


Alter self, create or destroy water, any spells that create light (light and daylight), water breathing, and water walk are particularly useful spells for underwater adventures.

Many spells have uses that might not be obviously apparent at first, such as using forcecage to create an air bubble. Rope trick, because of the opening it creates being at the bottom of the space, creates a very functional refuge that won’t flood.

Spells that often see use in a land-based campaign might be less useful in a water-based campaign, while spells like fireball might have little effect underwater, but can be devastating if hurled at a wooden ship.


Appendix D contains a number of fitting creatures for your sea campaign:

Consider the constrictor snake (which could double as an eel with a faster swimming speed), crocodile (saltwater crocodiles can use the same statistics), poisonous snake (with water breathing for sea snakes), and the reef shark.

Skeletons and zombies might be drowned sailors, cursed pirates, or undead merfolk (with the addition of a swim speed).

Next week we’ll look at the Dungeon Master’s Guide as we continue to build our ocean campaign for underwater adventures.

underwater adventures
Photo credit: Sagar

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Are You Painting Enough RPG Minis?

There’s something great about playing with miniatures you’ve painted yourself. Even if you’re more a “theater of the mind” type GM, having a few miniatures on hand is useful. But are you painting enough of them?

Storytime folks (or a thinly veiled reminiscing, really).

My Life with Minis

I got into Warhammer 40K about twenty years ago. That led me to Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing, which was when I first bought a box of beastmen and a paint set. I painted up one of the beastmen and the chaos warrior that came with the paints, but most of my roleplaying was with grey plastic.

Painting RPG Miniatures
The first miniature I ever painted is a testament to suckage.

Over the next twenty years I bought odd miniatures to supplement my game: some hobbits, an elf, the nine companions from The Lord of the Rings, and some figures I found at second-hand stores. If I did paint any of them, they remained unfinished. Most are still grey metal or plastic.

Painting RPG Miniatures
My chaos warrior, the second mini I ever painted. This week I gave him a black wash and varnish. It really improved the old paint job.

Then came pre-painted, blind-box miniatures. I bought loads of the Dungeons & Dragons miniatures, and have nearly completed the War Drums set, with 9 rares left to go. Now I didn’t need to paint, I could just throw miniatures on the table.

Then a friend and I got into the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Boardgames, and started painting up minis from the boxes. When I moved back home from living in Japan I discovered that my paint set, now two decades old, was still good, and kept going. Suddenly, the bug had bitten, and I was hooked.

Getting into the Mind for Minis

What changed? I figure it’s a mental switch that made the difference. Now, when I paint RPG miniatures, I have a few tenants I follow:

  1. Painted, even badly painted, is better than grey plastic.
  2. Simple paint jobs are perfect for gaming.
  3. Start it and finish it, then move on.
  4. Keep it cheap.
  5. Try new things, but not all things at once.

I reckon that most of us have mountains of unpainted minis because we get discouraged at some point. We know our minis won’t be Pinterest worthy, or that it’ll take too long to finish a figure, or we’re just not excited about what we’re painting anymore.

For me, having to fork out money for two pots of grey paint kept me from finishing my gargoyles. When I figured I could mix acrylic paints I had around the house there were no excuses left — and I was done in half an hour. It was a really silly thing, but I saw a roadblock and let it derail me.

Painting RPG Miniatures
This guy just needed an undercoat, two shades of grey, and a good flocking to get him ready for the gaming table.

Point 5 touches on something that can also discourage you, especially if you’re new to painting. It’s tempting to want to try every new technique you’ve learned, or to play it safe and only use techniques you’ve mastered. Trying a new thing every now and then lets you learn and explore, while keeping the process exciting. The flock on the gargoyle above was an experiment that I very nearly scrapped, but it worked in the end.

Get Motivated

Other things motivated me to get painting RPG miniatures again too. I recently deep-dived into Warhammer Age of Sigmar, which I’ll talk about in another post, and I started watching some excellent YouTube channels.

Luke’s Affordable Paint Service (YouTube Channel) is excellent for terrain and scenery, and, like me, Luke loves finding a bargain. Luke also has a great contest on right now for his range of speed-basing materials.

Miniac (YouTube Channel) is an awesome painter, and like Luke has a great sense of humor. His level of detail is way above what I’m going for, but Scott does an awesome job of explaining the basics well. PAINT MORE MINIS!

Tabletop Minions (YouTube Channel) feels like chatting about the hobby with someone who knows the ins and outs of the hobby intimately. Atom Smasher, the channel’s presenter, has loads of great tips, presented as opinion pieces that are a joy to watch.

YouTube has plenty to offer for painting and miniature conversion besides these three, but they’re channels I keep coming back to.

The Rule of Three

Another thing that’s making my painting easier is that I work in sets of three. Three zombies, three wraiths, three whatevers. This lets my paint go further once it’s on the palette, and gives me a chance to try different things with each figure. For bigger miniatures, I’ll work on one at a time, but for short painting sessions, three figures usually get done in 30 minutes of painting, and I can let the others dry while I work on one. Three is also a good average when painting RPG miniatures for most encounters.

Painting RPG Miniatures
Two of three wights, done together. Skeletor, with the yellow face (right), came from me messing around. I’m very happy with these.

Paint More Minis!

In the words of Miniac, “Paint More Minis!” Keep it fun and free and you’ll work through that heap of plastic and metal in no time.

Painting RPG Miniatures
Some ghouls I painted for Part 3 of Doomsday Dawn. I painted six undead in my spare time, over a few weeks.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Pathfinder Playtest – Session 1

The Pathfinder Playtest is here, and this past weekend my players and I took our first dip into the new game.

Pathfinder 2 Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook

The first session of the Pathfinder Playtest was brutal. It might be more a factor of encounter design than the new rules, but two of my three PCs fell dying at some point, as did the third PC’s animal companion. Fortunately, all the characters survived, thanks to our overworked cleric.

The party left the dungeon twice during the session to get a full rest, and by the end of the session they had five rooms left to explore.

While the players liked the three actions a round mechanic, we often didn’t use the third action for a third attack, it was just too risky. There were plenty of critical failures without taking a –10 on the roll.

As a GM, I felt that I had more options with my NPCs, though this might be because I haven’t played Pathfinder for a while and have learned so much since I last ran a game. PF2 monsters are certainly easier to run, with stat blocks that aren’t more complicated than they need to be.

It did take lots of work to digest the Core Rulebook, but once I’d gotten something down, it proved easier to recall than in PF1. My wife, a PF1 regular, said that she found character generation much easier in PF2. Character gen took about 3 hours for us, on average.

I’m looking forward to playing more of the Playtest and I’m excited about Pathfinder’s future.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Sale

We’re running a 30% Off sale on all our Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible products, including maps. Check out the sale on Drive Thru RPG.

Flaming Crab’s Culinary Magic is Hot Hot Hot

Endz has named The Culinary Magic Cookbook as a potential top 10 book for 2018. Congrats to all our friends at Flaming Crab Games!

The Culinary Magic Cookbook for Cooking with Magic
The Culinary Magic Cookbook: Everything you need for cooking with magic!


Till next time, may the dice of fate land in your flavor favor.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

The Minimum Viable Product — Devlog 4

Extra Credits has this great video about making a Minimum Viable Product (video embedded at the bottom of this post). Basically, you build the simplest version of your game possible, before getting into all the features that aren’t vital to your game.

It's the quest for the minimum viable product!
Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life. You can find our other devlogs here: Devlog 1, Devlog 2, and Devlog 3.

Building the Minimum Viable Product

I caught myself designing POD cards for Outrun before I’d nailed down the core mechanics. What a waste of time that’ll be if my core game changes and I need to update the cards.

But what does Outrun’s MVP include? Here are my design requirements:

  1. A challenging solitaire game involving choice, with a low level of randomness.
  2. That’s it.

Here’s what the bare-bones version of Outrun looks like:

Outrun — A Solitaire Card Game

Use a standard deck of 52 playing cards. These represent gas in your fuel tank. Shuffle the cards well, then place them in front of you, face down.

Draw a card face up from the top of the deck. If you draw a red card (Hearts or Diamonds), stop drawing. If you draw a black card (Clubs or Spades), draw again until you have 3 cards face up in front of you or until you’ve drawn a red card.

You can take 1 even card and place it to the side. Queens count as 12, so they’re even. Each even card represents 1 hour of driving, and your goal is to drive for 24 hours by collecting all 24 even cards. Place the other cards, if any, in your discard pile.

Repeat the process of drawing cards and taking an even card, if any show up. If your deck runs out of cards, you’ve run out of gas and you lose the game.

Refueling: If you take a Queen from the cards in front of you, you can immediately shuffle the remaining face-up cards and your discard pile into your deck.

The Pale Rider:  The King of Clubs is the Pale Rider. Whenever you draw him, discard 2 cards from the top of your deck into your discard pile. Shuffle the Pale Rider back into your deck. You may then take an even card if any remain face up in front of you. If the Pale Rider is the last card to be drawn from the deck, you lose the game.

All the lazerpunk goodness builds on top of this minimum viable product. Give it a go and tell me what you thought.

Lazerpunk – A Definition

I’ve thrown around a few definitions in my earlier Devlogs, but here’s one worth defining clearly.

Lazerpunk: Cyberpunk with an 80’s retro aesthetic.

Outrun’s look is what I call lazerpunk — cyberpunk with an 80’s retro feel. It’s Hotline Miami and Satellite Reign smashed into one.

30% Off Pathfinder

We’ve got a huge Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible sale on. The sale’s going for a few weeks, then it’s gone.

Till next time, live awesomely.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Here’s that Minimum Viable Product video I mentioned:

Funding Outrun – Devlog 3

Making games is awesome, but keeping your projects funded and in the black is just as important as having fun. Today I’ll look at some of the ways we’re funding Outrun. I’ll also look at sourcing and creating cheap assets.

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Status Report, Scottie

A load of playtesting’s done and written up, so the core mechanics are in. Next, I’ll be focusing on additional mechanics and fluff. The bones are there and just need fleshing out.

Games assets got some love over the weekend, so let’s take a look at those.

Art Makes a Game

Great art draws you into a game. It’s also the one aspect of game design that hobbyists frequently get wrong, not through bad art, but through poor design.

Design is about unity and the thoughtful application of elements within the product. I’m starting to get technical, but my point is that, by applying design principles, you can turn a collection of assets into one unified whole.

I’m always scouring the Internet for useful assets, so I already have a library to pull from. For the rest, I make whatever I need or find an artist.

For Outrun, I’ve done 12 different page backgrounds. Here are two of my favorites so far.

Retro & Lazerpunk Boarder Samples
Retro & Lazerpunk Border Samples

I’ll be offering these page boarders off Drive Thru RPG, as a way of funding Outrun.

Page Background Set - Funding Outrun
Page Background Set

Photos and Filler

The rest of the book will be filled with emotive photos that bring the world of Outrun to life, similar to what I did with How to Plan a Murder — one of my best layout jobs yet, IMHO.

I’ll create my own design elements to fill in the gaps. I spent a lot of time researching the look and feel I want for outrun, so now it’s just a matter of making everything. Yay, Photoshop!

And the Cover?

My beautiful wife will bring her design talent to Outrun’s logo and cover, but you’ll have to wait and see. There’s a chance that the cover will be heavily inspired by Philip Summers’ design, below, but adapted to an RPG book format.

Wouldn’t it be awesome, though, if the PDF was formatted to look like a TV screen running a Famicom game? I think buyers might want to fling their keyboards at me for that one, but I like interesting ideas.

Rushing Drive, by Phillip Summers - Funding Outrun
Rushing Drive, by Philip Summers

No Tip Jar Here, Friend

If you like what you’ve seen please consider checking out our other RPG products. If you like something in our catalog, the team and I will always appreciate making a sale, and the money keeps us going.

Check out our Products

By the way, we’ve got a 30% Off sale on all our Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible products, starting tomorrow, in celebration of the Pathfinder 2 Playtest that just kicked off.

Join the Conversation

I’m sharing our progress here, but the conversation is happening at our dedicated progress thread at itch.io. Come along and say hi, or leave a comment here. Comments are moderated, so your comment won’t go up until a mod has had a chance to approve it (we get a LOT of spam).


Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Outrun, Driving Beats – Devlog 2

Driving beats and hand brake turns, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal!

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Base Mechanics – Driving, Part 2

Last time I talked about driving mechanics, but there are two parts to it — distance driving and skill driving.

Driving Beats Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev
Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev

Distance driving uses the rules I mentioned in the last post and covers the exploration part of the game.

Skill driving is all about shifting gears, hand brake turns, and gunning the engine. The rules were inspired by Tokyo Drift Racers, a 200 word game by Martin Killmann.

Disclaimer: These rules are in development and very likely to change. I’m sharing them so you can give them a try and tell me what you think.

You start with a pack of regular playing cards and 6d6. Shuffle and draw ten cards, face down, to make your challenge deck. Take 2d6 to make your starting dice pool. An extra dice or note paper is useful for tracking damage.

Driving Beats Sitting Around
Skill Driving Playtest, Underway!

Follow this process:

  1. Before a card is revealed you can shift gear, adding or removing 1 die from your pool.
  2. Reveal a card from the top of the deck.
  3. Gear shift up or down 1 die (remove or add a die).
  4. Roll the dice. Your aim is to equal the value on the card. (Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings = 13, Aces = 1)
  5. You can hand brake turn to remove 1 or 2 dice from your pool after you’ve rolled. These dice don’t come back magically, you have to add them back to your pool by gear shifting up again (step 1 and 3).
  6. You use your brake to subtract 1 or 2 from the total value of the remaining dice pool.
  7. The difference between your target score and the final result is damage to your car. Your car can take a total of 6 points of damage, anything over that wrecks it.
  8. Rinse and repeat for each card in the deck.

Give it a try. A few plays should lead you to a winning strategy.

Driving Beats

Is music a key part of your play sessions? Shouldn’t it be?

In my last post I promised to fill you in on Outrun’s secret sauce. Nightrun and outrun retro wave music captures the heart and soul of Outrun. It’s in the friggin’ name!

But what’s outrun anyway? Time to get your laserpunk on!

There are a few musical RPGs out there, but not many that include music as part of the game’s mechanics. Ribbon Drive uses mixed tapes to direct the narrative flow and Waxing Lyrical uses song lyrics for the basis of character creation and world building.

So how else can you use music as part of a game’s mechanics?

Tracks have a variable length, differing beats, and moods. Outrun turns that into a core mechanic that makes up for the lack of a GM with driving beats. More on this, later down the line.

The AGBIC Game Jam

Want to know a little more about the #AGBIC jam? Here’s a great video that tells all.

See you on the flip side.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Outrun – Devlog 1

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG inspired by Rushing Drive, a cartridge cover for a fictional Famicom game, created by Philip Summers (on Instagram). I’m developing Outrun as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Core Concepts

Outrun is a blend of stuff I love: night run synth music, cyberpunk, fast cars, solo gaming, retro aesthetics, mutants, and post-apocalyptic wastelands. I’ve been kicking ideas around for this game since November 2017, and it’s finally starting to come together. Thanks, game jam deadline!

Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.
Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.

Base Mechanics

So it’s a game about driving, and it’s solo, and it’s an RPG. Outrun is all about the driving — think Drive and Baby Driver. Because it’s solo, a lot of the adventure has to come from the mechanics or the fluff supporting the mechanics.

Junk’d, a hot new game by Runehammer Games, has some great mechanics for simulating road-rage induced highway combat, and is perfect for a board game. Outrun’s “road” needs to be just as tight, but with plenty of adventure, choice, and replayability packed in.

Outrun uses a deck of cards, with each card keyed to a specific encounter. To drive, roll a d3, which tells you the number of cards to draw. Each card has two entries: what you see up ahead and what you find when you get there. You get to choose which locations to drive through, and your aim is to beat the deck in a number of turns — before the sun sets.


Why do you need to beat the sun? It has something to do with vampires. Mutant vampires. Because, of course, vampires.

Pedal to the Metal

If you want to make RPGs, you have to make RPGs that really spark. We’re lucky to have a great line of products that have sold well, but Outrun is all about pushing the game design envelope. I’ll talk more about Outrun’s secret sauce in future posts, stay tuned.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Player Options: Druids and the Divine

Druids and divine characters rejoice! Two new books from our friends at D20PFSRDPublising.com are jam-packed with player options to help you build the characters you’ve always wanted to play.

Forces of Nature, Book 1: Druids

This first one’s for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition and written by Ed Kabara.

Player OptionsFrom the marketing blurb:

Forces of Nature, Book 1: The Druid is the first in a new series of roleplaying game supplements for 5e from d20pfsrd.com Publishing focusing on wilderness oriented classes, this one focuses on the Druid.

“When nature calls, I reply. When nature speaks, I listen. And when nature angers, I destroy.”

This book introduces tons of new options for druids including:

  • 10 New Circles: Circle of Decay, Circle of Fury, Circle of Green Knights, Circle of Swarms, Circle of the Beast, Circle of the Ley Weavers, Circle of the Pack, Circle of the Stalker, Circle of the Trees, and Circle of the Winding Journey
  • 16 New Feats: Animal to Augment, Art of the Kill, Companion of the Wanderer, Designated Survivor, Hardy Wild Shape, Fury of Nature, Focused, Hide of the Forest, King of the Forest, Nature Provides, Oaken Skin, Powerful Friends, Powerful Summoner, Practiced at the Hunt, Preternatural Senses, and Sought Summoner,
  • 5 New Magic Items: Cloak of the Harvest, Mystic Moss, Staff of the Gatherer, Staff of the Pack, and Whistle of Command
  • 1 New Playable Race: Wilderlings
  • 6 New Companion Plant Creatures: Flowering Moss, Gasping Flower, Giant Flytrap, Grabbing Seaweed. Spanking Spruce, and Tumbleweed
  • 21 New Spells: Call of the Earth, Change Race, Cursed Provision, Dust to Dust, Fingers of the Forest, Forest Defenders, Harmful Growth, Heart of Winter, Limb Rot, Nature’s Bounty, Nymph’s Hideout, Overgrowth Armor, Remove from Nature, Return to Nature, Return to the Land, Supernatural Focus, True Power of the Land, Unnatural Growth, Walk with the Beasts, Wild Aegis, and Wooden Guardians

All this AND MORE await you in Forces of Nature, Book 1 – The Druid


Manifest Destiny, Book 2: Cult & Clergy

The second book of player options is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is written by Beth Jones.

Player Options

The marketing blurb goes like this:

Manifest Destiny, Book 2 – Cults & Clergy is the second in a new series of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game supplements from d20pfsrd.com Publishing focusing on those in tune with the gods and this one gives a general use to anyone with a deific bent.

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”

This book introduces many new options for these types of characters including:

  • 1 New Domains: Inspiration
  • 1 New Mysteries: Transformation
  • 13 New Archetypes: Avatar of Freedom (Skald), Ayurvedic (Druid), Celestial Druid (Druid), Chosen One (Cleric), Clan Champion (Ranger), Divine Herald (Bard), Dune Dancer (Oracle), Exemplar of Faith (Inquisitor), Holy Protectorate (Warpriest), Inspired Conduit (Inquisitor), Outback Oracle (Oracle), Sneak (Oracle), and Truthsayer (Oracle)
  • 7 New Spells: Debilitating Diatribe, Greater Guidance, Inspirational Sermon, Mantle of Martial Prowess, Serpent Strike, Siphon Infidel’s Strength, and Terrifying Aura.

All this AND MORE await you in Manifest Destiny, Book 2 – Cults & Clergy!


I was the copy editor on both projects. We worked hard to deliver useful, balanced player options. I hope you enjoy them.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

We are the Stitched!

They came in a deadly whirlwind of steel and spell, annihilating all within the catacombs. In the aftermath, you awoke, gaining sentience from residual magic they’d left behind. Battered and frail, you creep forth.

Last week I wrote about flexing your game design muscle, which is where Stitched comes in. In Stitched, you play the reanimated remains of long-dead corpses, eager to feast and grow in power. The game is my entry into this year’s 200 Word RPG Contest. This month’s RPG Blog Carnival’s theme is “What Scares You,” which gives me the perfect opportunity to share the game and talk about it.

Before we jump in, a word of thanks to Reckoning of the Dead for hosting this month’s carnival.

rpg blog carnival logo


They came in a deadly whirlwind of steel and spell, annihilating all within the catacombs. In the aftermath, you awoke, gaining sentience from residual magic they’d left behind. Battered and frail, you creep forth.

Stitched is a game for 1–5 players and a GM. You’ll need 8d4, 4d6, 2d12, and 1d20. The GM uses a pile of counters.

The Stitched

You are undead, weakened but sentient after tomb raiders invaded your dungeon home. You begin with 1d6 to represent your abilities. As you hunt, you’ll gain dice, allowing you to attach them to your growing form by spending two similar dice: 2d4 = 1d6, 2d6 = 1d12, and 2d12 = 1d20. Each die represents a different amalgamation of necrotic flesh with a shared consciousness.

Playing the Game

The GM sets the scene, then players take turns describing their actions. Roll the dice. A 4 or more indicates success. A 1 is an injury: split the die or remove it if it’s a d4.

The GM can increase the difficulty by 1 by giving a player a token. A player can spend 2 tokens to gain 1d4.

Reap the Flesh!

The Design Perspective

So that’s the game, in all its 200-word glory. The core of the game is the dice mechanic, which I first built to emulate oozes splitting and rejoining. Playing an ooze, even a sentient one, didn’t sound like a fun session at the table, so I changed ectoplasm into limbs and got the Frankenstein’s monster-like stitched, undead that can sew more body parts onto themselves.

I hope you enjoy it.

For more games I’ve designed, check out 3 Stone Stories (free) and Claustrophobia!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.


Children of the Fall — Design Insights

In this edition of Write – Design – Program we’re chatting to Gareth Graham of Frenzy Kitty Games about his latest Indiegogo campaign for Children of the Fall.

The cover of Children of the Fall.
The cover of Children of the Fall.

Rising Phoenix Games: Hi Gareth. First up, can you tell us a little more about Children of the Fall?

Gareth Graham: Hi Rodney. Thank you for inviting me to feature on the blog. Children of the Fall is an apocalyptic story game for 3–5 players. In the game, the players play as the sole survivors of a terrible apocalypse that has turned all the adults on the planet into evil, bloodthirsty savages. In addition to portraying their characters, the players will also need to manage their tribe and haven — fighting off the terrible atrocities that exist in this broken new world. It is a GMless game and has an improved system that is built on the mechanical skeleton of my previous big design, KARMA. Each session is framed around a mission and the world is built collaboratively by all the players through an extensive session zero. Children of the Fall also offers support for campaign play as well as one-shots. There is a huge variety of different missions and characters which are all customised every time they are used, meaning the game has a lot of replay potential.

RPG: You’ve already achieved some of your stretch goals. Where is the campaign currently sitting and what can fans expect once the next stretch goal is met?

Gareth: The campaign got off to a bit of a slow start, but we have successfully funded and unlocked our first stretch goal. Future stretch goals include new character playbooks, missions, and improved quality of the printed materials.

RPG: Frenzy Kitty Games has several apocalyptic survival horror titles, including Dusk, Downfall, Unchained, and a few of the modules in KARMA: A Roleplaying Game About Consequences. What is it about the genre that inspires you?

GG: There is something about this particular genre that excites me from a gamification perspective. What’s great is that it is rich with opportunities to create narratives that are dripping with tension, drama, and high stakes. It also allows the players to get into the action straight away, starting scenes or sessions in-media-res. In my opinion, the best stories are those of characters overcoming truly terrifying and seemingly insurmountable challenges (or seeing them die trying).

RPG: As a designer, how has Children of the Fall allowed you to dig deeper into apocalyptic survival horror? What can fans of the genre expect from the game?

GG: One of the design goals I had with COTF was to really emphasize the struggles that these characters face as children in a deadly and dangerous new world, and the scarcity of resources that are slipping through the character’s fingers as they and other tribes fight over supplies. The engine was mechanically designed from the ground up to tell these kinds of stories — stories of desperate measures in desperate times. The complication system has been weighted to make characters succeeding in difficult complications something rare and truly worth celebrating. The players also have story points which serve as a metagame currency to allow the players to possibly affect other player’s scenes — and this resource is limited and invaluable — emphasising the scarcity and helplessness that these characters must be feeling as children in a world hell-bent on wiping them out. It’s not all hopeless though — players also each get one Determination and Helix point which allow them to flip a result on its head and add great twists in the tale.

RPG: The art from Vincent Sammy really fits the theme and the mood of the game. Can you tell us a little more about their involvement with the project?

GG: I’ve known Vincent for years — we worked together on DUSK and in my opinion, nobody does dystopian art like him, so when it came time to make Children of the Fall he was my first choice. One of the things I love about Vincent is that we are both on the same wavelength — something I’m not extremely good at is writing up briefs for art commissions, so I explained the setting to him and told him to let his imagination run wild — and the images he has created for COTF are better than I could ever have hoped for. He’s also from Cape Town, so it’s great to have a product that is proudly South African.

Click here to see the image in full screen.

RPG: This isn’t your first Indiegogo campaign, following the fully funded KARMA: A Roleplaying Game About Consequences. What, if anything, did the past campaign teach you and how has it influenced the Children of the Fall campaign?

GG: The two main lessons I learned from KARMA was to set a more achievable goal and to make the campaign only 30 days (as opposed to KARMA’s 60-day campaign). Setting a lower target allows you to fund quicker and to get into that delicious stretch goal territory which is why people really decide to back crowdfunding campaigns in the first place.

RPG: You’re from the “Mother City” of Cape Town, South Africa. What’s the gaming scene like there?

GG: The gaming scene in Cape Town is great. It’s grown exponentially over the last 5 years, with gaming stores, cafes and conventions becoming more and more commonplace. One thing about Cape Town’s scene is that it is still a little more fragmented than I would like. Hopefully, as the conventions become bigger and more popular they will help to solidify connections between different gamers and game groups.

RPG: And yourself? What are you playing, what’s inspiring you as a designer, and where can folks find you and Frenzy Kitty Games?

GG: I’m diving into John Harper’s stuff a lot at the moment — Blades in the Dark and Lady Blackbird are absolute masterworks. There are lots of indie RPGs that just get me excited — I love the whole DIY mentality of indie game design. I’m also very interested in a lot of the OSR stuff that’s been coming out over the last few years — that feeling of nostalgia with modern design sensibilities is hard to beat.

Thanks Gareth and good luck with the campaign.

If you’ve got questions for Gareth then put them in the comments below. Be sure to check out Children of the Fall on Indiegogo and Frenzy Kitty Games on Drive Thru RPG.