A Left Critique of SIGMATA

Sigmata: This Signal Kills Fascists is a tabletop RPG by Chad Walker that is up for backing on Kickstarter. At the time of writing, it’s almost hit its funding goal of $9,000, and I’m pretty certain it will hit that goal soon. I have some critiques about the game, as it’s currently presented.

First off, a couple caveats. This critique isn’t coming from a place of trying to tear down what someone else is building. It’s always a bit weird critiquing a Kickstarter, because you’re not critiquing a finished product. Essentially, I’m critiquing the idea of a product as presented by its creator. But, again, this is a thing that you are asking people to pay money for so I consider it to be fair game. Also, as a sometimes-creator myself, I can imagine times when I’d wished someone had critiqued my work a little earlier in the process before things were set in stone, so I at least had a chance to address the criticisms before the work was finalized.

Second, I think my politics probably line up with Chad Walker’s. This isn’t gonna be some right-wing screed denouncing Sigmata as “ANTIFA THE GAME HOW DARE YOU, SIR.” I can appreciate what he’s trying to do (or at least what I think he’s trying to do), even if I do think there are some flaws in the approach.

Okay. Let’s buckle in then.

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Narrativist Round-Up: Community Radio and Peter Pan

A while ago I sat down with a few friends to play a round of “Community Radio,” an improv game by Quinn Murphy heavily inspired by the “Welcome to Nightvale” podcast. It was originally brought to my attention by bankuei, and in the interest of full disclosure, my friends and I are pretty big fans of all-things Nightvale related.

When people talk about roleplaying games, they’re talking about a pretty wide swathe of playstyles and genres that are pretty fundamentally different. I’m not going to re-tread all of it, but suffice to say that I’m pretty sure “Community Radio” is a narrativist game.

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Dubious Alliance: Band of Orcs and Emergent Narrative

UPDATEDubious Alliance is now available on Kickstarter! Check it out and pledge!

Last weekend at Celesticon I had the privilege of sitting in to play a card game called Dubious Alliance with a few people and it’s creator, Brandon Raasch. I should mention that I was also on a panel on game design at Celesticon with Brandon, but I’d signed up for the playtest before I knew we’d be on the panel together. Continue reading

Doing the Casework – Out of the Blue

There’s a point to be made about focus when talking about a game like Out of the Blue, or any other story game for that matter. There’s a larger discussion around how tight a game’s focus should be. Broad spectrum games like GURPS or FATE have their own strengths, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a small, genre-heavy honest-to-god game.

Out of the Blue looks great on paper (though the preview’s graphic design might leave a little to be desired). The rules are clear, concise, and written with a purpose. The creative agenda built into the game is hard to miss; especially as the game makes a point of getting everyone on the same page before play begins. Continue reading

Precious Dark and the Judicious Application of Explosives

A couple weeks ago at ConTessa, I got the chance to playtest Stacy Dellorfano’s new RPG, Precious Dark. We had a lot of fun with it; poking around in dark caves, scaring off giant moths, and defeating a giant snail with salt. Yeah. It’s that kind of game.

Precious Dark doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. The basic set-up is that literally every apocalypse you can imagine has occurred, and humanity has been driven underground thanks to the surface of our world now being an irradiated wasteland populated chiefly by denizens of a dystopian police-state. Of course, humanity digs too greedily and too deep, and we find… “something” within the bowels of Mother Earth. “The Weird”, a strange, alchemical substance that grants otherworldly, magical properties to people and things. “The Weird” seems to be the principal resource and driving factor of Precious Dark, and for our playtest, we were sent by a talking cat to mine out some crystals imbued with the stuff. Continue reading