The Best and Worst of Times

This is a guest post by Camdon Wright, one of the winners of the IGDN Metatopia Diversity Scholarship and designer of the RPG, One Child’s Heart, about his experience at Metatopia 2017.

Trigger warning: Childhood depression and suicide

I have loved gaming since I first stole my cousin’s expert Dungeons and Dragons blue box (sorry, Steven). I never played the game but I spent hours reading through everything it contained. I have obsessed over characters, stories, moments of sadness and joy, and how to create honest moments at a gaming table for most of my life.

I’ve lived all over the west coast but spent most of my childhood in Alaska. When we moved to Denver, Colorado 8 years ago I discovered a substantial and supportive gaming community. I began to seriously focus on my writing and game design five years ago, and in the last year that work has borne fruit. I’ve finished my first game, Madness and Desire, and sold my first adventure to a publisher.

When I submitted my application to the IGDN Metatopia Diversity Scholarship, I didn’t really consider the possibility that I might win. Everything I put in that form was as authentically me as I could make it. I thought that was enough to ensure I would never win. Continue reading

NerdBurger Games News!

Nerdburger Craig Campbell 2017One year ago this month, NerdBurger Games published its inaugural RPG, Murders & Acquisitions, following a successful Kickstarter earlier in the year. Time to celebrate our one-year anniversary. In a whole bunch of ways.

First, Murders & Acquisitions is on sale (in all its physical and PDF forms) at DriveThruRPG. Grab a $12 PDF. Or grab a physical book for $5 off and get the PDF with it for free.

Second, we’ve published a short, PDF-only supplement for M&A. Holiday Bonus is a 10-page smorgasbord of office mayhem all themed for the holidays. There’s a bunch of new player options, a brand new company backdrop (an evil law firm), and a bunch of other cool stuff for GMs. Some of the options are a little on the goofy side, but we think that’s okay.

Capers Nerdburger 2017Third, the CAPERS Preview Edition PDF is on sale for half price. Until the end of the year, just $2 gives you a chance to give this super-powered game of 1920s gangsters a spin. The preview contains setting information, rules, a handful of superpowers, pre-generated characters, and an introductory adventure.

You can find all this game stuff here:

Finally, a reminder to everyone. The Kickstarter for CAPERS will begin on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. If you’d like to receive an email when the Kickstarter goes live, go HERE and sign up:

Game on,
Craig Campbell

Welcome to the Ottawa Game Publishers Podcast!

Everybody dreams about becoming an author, artist, game designer, or some hybrid of the three but few aspire to become publishers. The 21st Century has become an age of self-publishing and has open so many creative doors than ever before. Independent publishing has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades with digital publishing tools, online distribution, and so much more. Yet these are still long, winding roads to master… unless you have a guide.

The Ottawa Game Publishers Podcast is a monthly podcast discussing the ins and outs of indie RPG publishing from the POV of our five co-hosts, each of them approaching these topics from their own experiences and successes in their fields. And did we mention most of them are current members of the IGDN? Because they are.

If you are an aspiring designer/publisher working on their first game, launching a Kickstarter project, or an long-standing publisher with a catalog a kilometre long (sorry, we’re Canadian and only deal with the metric system), the OGP is a podcast for you. Be sure to check out recent episode, Get That Sucker Out There!, for guidelines on choosing distribution channels, pricing, ever the hurdles of inventory taxes and join the discussion on our G+ community.

IGDN at PAX Unplugged!

Pax Unplugged 2017

Some members of the IGDN have headed off to Philly to take part in the first ever PAX Unplugged. With its emphasis on tabletop fun, the IGDN decided to get a booth as well as participate in panels, run games, and see what all the excitement is about.

The IGDN booth is #343, and will include such games as: Synthicide, Dreamchaser, Catthulhu, Murders & Acquisitions, and the CAPERS preview edition. There will also be GM screens, dice, and other accessories for some games. Pete Petrusha will be at the booth throughout the con, and will have a matching word game for people to try out. Other IGDN members you might spot at the booth or around the convention are Craig Campbell, John Kennedy, and Jack Berberette.

The Indie Game Bazaar booth is #414, and will be selling Emily Care Boss’s Romance Trilogy, along with her other games. They will have other small press indie rpgs as well.

The Magpie Games booth is #442, and will include new releases like Bluebeard’s Bride, Pasión de las Pasiones, and The Ward. They’ll also have copies of Urban Shadows, Masks: A New Generation, Epyllion: A Dragon EpicVelvet Glove, and more!

Make sure to catch Danielle at her GMing panel at noon on Saturday in the Dragon Auditorium. If you miss her there, drop by the John Wick Presents booth (#438) to say hi!

Joel Sparks will be running his new board game at Unpub on Saturday, CRUISE — The Game of Competitive Tourism!. Craig Campbell will be running both CAPERS and Die Laughing while Pete Petrusha will be running Dreamchaser and the Whispering Road over at the Games on Demand room, so be sure to check out these games.

And don’t miss Marissa Kelly’s Small Talk: Proper Game Mastering at 1 pm on Sunday! She’ll be sitting down with Luke Crane at the Kickstarter booth, #740.

Have a great con!

Women of Color – Khepera Publishing Needs You!

This post originally appeared on Black Girl Nerds. You can read it here. We reprinted it here with Jerry’s permission, but strongly encourage you to visit and support the Black Girl Nerds site & Twitter feed, through both your views and reshares. You can also find their Patreon here:

Khepera Publishing Jerry Grayson 2017

I publish small independent tabletop roleplaying games and have done so since 2002. Whenever the subject of diversity comes up, a handful of people of color are invoked as part of the community. If the RPG industry is the Peanuts Gang, I’m the Franklin, the black guy.

There is never a lot of us, and it’s usually the same people. Occasionally, a new guy will pop up, but it’s just that, a new GUY.

Where are the Black, Latina, Native American, Indian, and Middle Eastern women game designers, writers, artist, and publishers?

I know that women of color play roleplaying games, I see them at conventions and game gatherings. Sometimes they sit at my table and play. I know there are more than I’m seeing but I want to be aware of you all. I want to know you, be mindful of you, follow and support you.

Continue reading

IGDN Scholarship Winners Games at Metatopia

Metatopia 2017 Double Exposure, Inc. 2017

We announced our winners for the Metatopia Scholarship earlier, but now that Metatopia weekend is here you can go check out their games at the convention!

​Mike Espinoza​

Mike is running five sessions of Nahual. A Mexican role playing game Powered by the Apocalypse set on the universe created by the comic book artist Edgar Clément, started in the graphic novel Operacion Bolivar. In Nahual players are angel hunters, descendants from the powerful brujos nahuales that fought against the invading angels that came with the conquistadores. They have the dormant gifts that allow them to touch the gods and their harbingers, but their memory is lost, impoverishing the greatness of these wonders. Many angel hunters just struggle for survival, some crave power, others look for answers at the end they all agree in one thing: A nahual lives to hunt down angels.

You can find the game at one of these times.

R164: Friday, 11:00AM – 1:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.
R287: Friday, 4:00PM – 6:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.
R514: Saturday, 11:00AM – 1:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY. This is a HI-TEST session.
R631: Saturday, 4:00PM – 6:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.
R804: Sunday, 10:00AM – 12:00PM; Serious, 18 & Over ONLY. ***ONLY ONE SEAT LEFT!***

Jessie Yaternick​

Is running two games in three slots. The first game is Capodecina, a gangster card game where players try to build themselves a crew to successfully pull off heists. You can choose to work with other players to complete the crew and share the rewards of a job. You can help other players out of jail or the hospital but you also have the choice to rat them out, shoot them, or steal their crew members. The first player to obtain enough reputation becomes the new “Boss” and wins.

You can find Capodecina at these times:

B177: Friday, 2:00PM – 4:00PM; Fun, All Ages. This is a HI-TEST session.
B813: Sunday, 12:00PM – 2:00PM; Fun, All Ages

The second game is Quarantine Heroes which is a cooperative card game where the players must keep themselves and civilians alive against the threat of disease. Your team must handle exposures and control infections by finding and equipping gear, managing resources, and sheer luck. If anyone player or a civilian dies, then the game is lost.

You can find Quarantine Heroes at this time:

B540: Saturday, 2:00PM – 4:00PM; Fun, All Ages. There are 2 seats left.

​Justin Rogers​

Justin is running three slots of Family Without Values. It’s a dysfunctional family comedy RPG built off the mechanics of the game Swords Without Master by Epidiah Ravachol. In it, each player will choose a playbook a la Apocalypse World and answer some questions to create their scheming, narcissistic, and foolish family member, then begin playing out scenes as creators, actors, and audience. Dice are rolled to determine the overtone of the scene and the tone of each action — will they be “Cheeky and Fun,” or “Tragic and Cruel”? Players slip and struggle against the manipulations of other family members and their own inadequacies until, presumably, nothing is accomplished

You can find it during these times:

R219: Friday, 2:00PM – 4:00PM; Fun, 18 & Over ONLY.There are 3 seats left.
[FILLED] R627: Saturday, 4:00PM – 6:00PM; Fun, 18 & Over ONLY.
R841: Sunday, 12:00PM – 2:00PM; Fun, 18 & Over ONLY. This is a HI-TEST session. There are 2 seats left.

​Victoria Cana​

Victoria is running six slots of Gladius, a betting game about guts, glory, and gambling! Over the course of five rounds, players bet on teams of gladiators and play influence cards to alter the outcome of each event. Your goal is to make sure you’re on the winning end by any means necessary. Can you outwit your opponents to profit off of the gladiatorial games, or will you be left empty-handed?

B246: Friday, 4:00PM – 6:00PM; Fun, All Ages. There are 4 seats left.
B321: Friday, 8:00PM – 10:00PM; Fun, All Ages. This is a HI-TEST session. There are 4 seats left.
B531: Saturday, 2:00PM – 4:00PM; Fun, All Ages. There are 5 seats left.
B583: Saturday, 4:00PM – 6:00PM; Fun, All Ages. There are 5 seats left.
B823: Sunday, 12:00PM – 2:00PM; Fun, All Ages. There are 5 seats left.
B858: Sunday, 3:00PM – 5:00PM; Fun, All Ages. There are 5 seats left.

J​acqueline Beckwith​

Jacqueline is running two sessions of Cobblestone,  A gothic horror PbtA game where the mundane walk among the monstrous. How do you handle being powerless in a world of strange power? How do you make your own empowerment? Manage the delicate balance of your mind and emotions as you seek to understand, destroy, or simply cope with the supernatural. In the end, maybe the true horror is in how we handle it. Take up your lanterns and walk the Cobblestone. Both are filled, but with the way the convention goes someone might need a last minute spot so be aware of this anyway.

[FILLED] R406: Friday, 10:00PM – 12:00AM; Fun, 18 & Over ONLY. This is a HI-TEST session.
[FILLED] R750: Saturday, 10:00PM – 12:00AM; Fun, 18 & Over ONLY. There are 0 seats left

​Jeeyon Shim​

Is running two games with one slot each. The first is In the Vein a game where your last year at Fog Mountain’s School of Magic feels as though it will never end – not least because you managed to land yourself, yet again, in advisory review. You and your other unfortunate peers must pass the school’s most dangerous professor’s tests of your knowledge – even if it costs you your life. In this Trackers Earth LARP, intense interpersonal drama intertwines with herbalism and our Curriculum of Shadows, Trackers’ unique method of teaching stealth and tracking. Players will learn an introduction to the vast array of medicinal – and poisonous – plants that grow in California as well as camouflage with natural materials. Be prepared to get dirty!

L450: Saturday, 9:00AM – 11:00AM; Fun, All Ages. There are 6 seats left.

The second game is Hellboy LARP. Have you ever wanted to work alongside Hellboy as an investigator in the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense? Dark Horse Comics joins forces with Trackers Earth to bring you the only officially licensed Hellboy LARP in the country, a truly unique exploration of the supernatural and real world survival skills. Be the first to workshop this exciting collaboration!

L746: [ALPHA TEST] Saturday, 10:00PM – 12:00AM; Fun, 18 & Over ONLY. This is a HI-TEST session. There are 3 seats left.

Camdon Wright

Camdon is running two slots of One Child’s Heart.  There are moments from childhood that alter the course of a life with their weight. Science has given you the chance to enter the memories of a child drifting toward life’s darkness. Can you, and the rest of your team, support, nurture, and protect a stranger when they need you the most? A heart is a fragile object that contains the power of humanity. Content warning: This game explores traumatic childhood issues like poverty, neglect, malnutrition, and bullying.

R356: Friday, 8:00PM – 10:00PM; Very Serious, 18 & Over ONLY.
R634: Saturday, 4:00PM – 6:00PM; Very Serious, 18 & Over ONLY. There are 4 seats left.

Jefferson Lee

Jefferson is running three slots of The City. A game where the COMPANY barely tolerates operations by The OPPOSITION, even if they all act under the same OATH, but sometimes national security requires their special brand of graceful brutality. So when something terrible happens and The Opposition shows up in your city, you know that there will be very little room for Traitors like you. You have to do what you can to protect your secrets, your future, and in the process, maybe do some good in the city that you love. The City is a Poker card based game that takes place in Portland, OR. It is a rules-lite storytelling game that has its heart in noir, but borrows some of its style and class from an espionage thriller.

R296: Friday, 4:00PM – 6:00PM; Fun, All Ages. This is a HI-TEST session.
R413: Friday, 10:00PM – 12:00AM; Fun, All Ages. There are 5 seats left.
R712: Saturday, 8:00PM – 10:00PM; Fun, All Ages. There are 5 seats left

CAPERS Preview Edition Available!

Capers Nerdburger 2017

Heads up, Macs and Janes. The CAPERS Preview Edition is available at $4 PDF. $10 softcover. Grab a copy, throw on your fanciest duds, and take a stiff shot of hooch cuz CAPERS is the bee’s knees.

Capers Nerdburger 2017CAPERS is a super-powered game of 1920s gangsters. Players portray gangsters and bootleggers looking to make their fortunes in illegal alcohol, gambling, prostitution, and racketeering. And they have superpowers. But so do the feds. It’s the Jazz Age with Tommy guns and eye beams!

This 44-page preview edition of CAPERS gives you everything you need to give the game a whirl. Full rules, some setting info, a smattering of powers, an introductory adventure, and some pre-generated characters. This version features simple layout and b/w artwork. The final version of the game will be much fancier and 150+ pages of full color super-powered gangster fun.

The game uses playing cards rather than dice as the randomizing element. Each player has their own deck, as does the GM. For each trait check, you will be able to flip a limited number of cards, stopping at the card you want to keep. The card describes success vs. failure (the pip value) as well as degree of success/failure (the suit). So, you might succeed, but barely, and choose to gamble for a better success by flipping another card…only to fail in the end.

You can learn more about CAPERS and NerdBurger Games at

Nerdburger Craig Campbell 2017

The Blog page is full of info on how the game has progressed, from initial inception to current efforts. There’s info on their first game, Murders & Acquisitions, a bunch of free, 1-page micro-games, the lead designer’s upcoming convention schedules, and more!

CAPERS will go to Kickstarter on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 to fund final artwork, layout, and a few other things. So stay tuned!

CAPERS is the second RPG from NerdBurger Games, the game design imprint of Craig Campbell.

Grappling with Game Mechanics

Domstollinn Gaming Ballistic 2017Douglas Cole (me) of Gaming Ballistic, LLC spent over an hour on the air with ever-welcoming host James Introcaso on Episode 40 of Table Top Babble.

James and I have chatted before, once on The Firing Squad on the Gaming Ballistic Blog, and another session during my previous Kickstarter, Dungeon Grappling.

James had heard that Gaming Ballistic was launching another Kickstarter, this time for a 5e adventure, and wanted to chat with me about lessons learned from the process coming in as a relative newcomer.

The discussion started with a chat about grappling in games, and why one of the oldest forms of combat, and the one featured prominently in the first known recorded epic tale (Gilgamesh), has gotten the short end of the proverbial stick in most game systems.

Dungeon Grappling Gaming Ballistic 2017

The discussion covered how grappling can (and in the author’s opinion, should) utilize the same basic game mechanics as the primary striking system, and achieve very dynamic and fun results with perhaps even a decrease in felt complexity at the table. Plus, it enables great storytelling when the mechanics an enable some of the more visceral fears: being eaten by an animal, or carried away helpless by a giant monster.

From there, James smoothly pivoted to the Kickstarter process, and had me walk through both my first kickstarter and the upcoming one for the new adventure Lost Hall of Tyr.

We discuss what to do ahead of time (everything that physically and financially can be done), as well as how much to plan in advance (everything that can logistically and reasonably be planned!) in order to fulfill the First Rule of Kickstarters, which to paraphrase Mal Reynolds: “You do the job on time, and then you get paid.”

Oh, and of course the other Big Rule of writing: I don’t care how good a writer you are, you need an editor. Hire one. RPG writing shouldn’t be dry or boring, but it’s also in many cases writing an instruction manual for fun, rather than writing fiction.

We discussed the importance of “doing your homework” by examining existing products for what went into them, as well as working out business arrangements before a Kickstarter goes live. Finally, making sure you set expectations clearly, and then ensure you meet them.

The discussion talked about a few fine points such as ISBN acquisition, and what all of the different roles that must be filled – even if the same person does all the rules – in order to bring a product to reality.

After all of the general Kickstarter chat, we got into some details about the upcoming adventure, Lost Hall of Tyr, which is designed around 4-8 players of roughly level 4 in the 5e rules. It uses the same setting (in this case implied) that is used in the eventually-forthcoming Dragon Heresy RPG, and strongly supports (but doesn’t require) the Dungeon Grappling alternate rules, including a two-page Quick-Start to cover the basics.

It’s a fun chat, and covers a lot of ground. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much I enjoyed recording it! You can listen to it here:

2017 Metatopia Scholarship Winners

Becoming a successful game designer and self-publisher is not an easy task, one each of us struggles with on a daily basis. Getting your foot in the door to start a burgeoning career designing board games, card games, and tabletop roleplaying games can be daunting for many and some traditionally have a harder time than others. It’s for this reason the IGDN, in partnership with Double Exposure Inc., created the Metatopia Scholarship program.

The goal of the program is to help expand the diversity of talent in the independent market by providing them with travel expenses, accommodation, and badges to this year’s Metatopia, an annual game design and publishing conference located in New Jersey. You can learn more about Metatopia on their website.

Thanks to donations from people like yourself and our 2017 partners (Ottawa Story Games, Big Bad Con, Nerd ABQ, and Games To Gather), we’re extremely pleased to announce this year’s eight Scholarship winners. That’s right – eight brand new faces are going to Metatopia! It’s the most we’ve ever been able to assist with the Scholarship and we want to thank all of our donators and the committee members who sifted through the 30+ applications to make these difficult final decisions. Continue reading

Just Got Real: Own it now on DriveThruRPG!

Just Got Real Saddle Shaped Games 2017

Don’t let the movies fool you.  Being a hero is hard work.  When stuff gets real, it takes the right person, in the right place, with the right skills.  It’s a hard, long fight to save the day, no matter whether you’re fighting with words, stealth, brains, speed, or big guns – or even all of the above!  Then just enough time to catch a good night’s sleep and probably do it all again tomorrow.  It takes a special kind of person to fill those shoes.

That’s why they hired you, isn’t it?

An INTERPOL monster hunter.  A hacker who never shows her face.  Two-finger Tess.  An urban dryad.  A electromagnetic cyborg.  A living lava man who carries part of the soul of the Earth.  A psychic crystal lifeform.  And yes, even Jet Law, a guy with two .45s and an endless supply of wisecracks.  Anyone can be an action hero.  Who will you be when the chips are down?  Will that be enough to save the day one more time? 

It will be.  But only if you step up to the plate.

Just Got Real is a collaborative, rules-light, action movie roleplaying game that plays in about as much time as it takes to watch an action movie.  Quick, collaborative scenarios and setting agnostic rules mean you can bring what you watch to the table in minutes.  Just watched John Wick?  Play as a circle of professional assassins.  Wonder Woman?  Be a kickass, fish-out-of-water superhero and her team of companions.

Get Just Got Real on DriveThruRPG in digital PDF and in print-on-demand softcover digest formats today!

Just Got Real features:

  • Collaborative, zero prep scenario generation – who do you want to be, and where do you want to go?  The table can figure that out together instead of putting it all on the GM.
  • Quick character and challenge generation keep prep time between acts to mere minutes.
  • The Element Trio, a customizable set of traits that reinforce who you are and what you can do, setting up narrative callbacks to earlier action at the same time.
  • Mechanics for scene framing and economy, including Montages, Challenges, and Character Scenes, ensure a tightly focused experience where no screen time goes to waste and the spotlight keeps moving.
  • With pacing-forward design and beginner-friendly GM tools, you can experience an entire three-act action scenario in under three hours.

Just Got Real makes use of a simple six-sided dice pool system to determine the results of important actions – but if that’s not enough to save the day, your powers, talents, and quirks can save you from disaster in the nick of time!  If you’ve watched action cinema or television of any subgenre, you’ve got the knowledge to set a scenario in Just Got Real:  Rush Hour, Underworld, MacGyver, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and more.

It’s time to get real.  Just Got Real: collaborative, rules-light action movie roleplaying, coming soon to a gaming table near you.  Own it now on DriveThruRPG: