Archive for the ‘good representation’ Category


Found Loot – an initiative to help game creators

July 7, 2016

I Need Diverse Games is starting a great initiative to help diverse game creators:

Found Loot is an initiative inspired by and modeled after Fund Club (created by Ashe Dryden ofAlterConf and Shanley of Model View Culture) to help fund gaming & gaming related projects by diverse creators. Funding is provided by members who agree to a $50 per month donation directly to the organization or group that we pick each month.

Found Loot is needed among a lot of other initiatives to fund gaming projects, diverse work and creators. There’s a lot of diverse, game related projects that don’t quite fit into a Kick Starter, IndieGoGo or Go Fund Me campaign.

Sometimes creators need a little extra to cross the line from idea to fruition, to make the difference between a prototype and a finished product coming to the masses. What we want to do is help those folks who need that lift to continue their work.

If you wish to donate, you can join here.

If you’d like to apply for funding, you can fill out the forms here.



Five Fires – Hiphop RPG

December 28, 2013

Quinn Murphy on the Five Fires RPG he’s working on, which you can support and get early in on the playtest work on Patreon.

 “A Hip Hop RPG?  What, Wu-Tang in a Dungeon?”

No. (not yet. Wait for it…)

Five Fires is a game about making art.  The specific form of creation are the skills and talents of those involved in hiphop culture in the late 70s and early 80s.  You play regular people with powerful abilities of expression.  You live your life, deal with problems, and make art to heal yourself and maybe, just maybe, you can heal the world along the way.

I’ve been pretty hyped about this game for over a year now.  I’m pretty excited he’s moving it forward and can’t wait to playtest it.

ETA – Quinn gave the ok to quote this part in the playtest doc which nails it:

Hip hop has been blamed for everything you can think of. Throughout its life, the culture and genre has had its enemies and those who seek to callously criminalize it. This book is not going to upset those fears. Hip hop is dangerous. It can and has literally changed the world for millions of people. It is dangerous to the status quo, opening eyes and sharing a different viewpoint to what we are commonly offered.

Hip hop is not perfect. One criticism that can be levelled at the genre is that it can be homophobic and misogynistic. If that is a concern, please know that such aspects of hip hop are not in this book. To me, the core value of hip hop is love.  It is a genre and culture that helps people know themselves and their communities, and imparts wisdom. Where it has deviated into these values is a distraction from that, and not one I wish to repeat or endorse in these pages.

There is so much to love and so much love within hiphop, that I’ll gladly sacrifice some “realism” to make a game that feels and plays safe and that demonstrates those core values.


Dog Eat Dog now printed and available for sale

July 4, 2012

Dog Eat Dog: A Game of Imperialsim and Assimilation in the Pacific Islands is now available for general purchase.

As far as teaching games go, this game does an amazing thing about showing people both how oppressive systems operate by hidden rules AND how people under those systems get twisted trying to survive under them. It’s an amazing game and I’m glade it’s finally hit print.

In Liam’s words:

Dog Eat Dog is a game of colonialism and its consequences. As a group, you work together to describe one of the hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean, defining the customs of the natives and the mores of the outsiders arriving to claim it. One player then assumes the role of the Occupation force, playing their capable military, their quisling government, and whatever jaded tourists and shrewd businessmen are interested in a not quite pacified territory. All the others play individual Natives, each trying in their own ways to come to terms with the new regime. The game begins when the war ends. Through a series of scenes, you play out the inevitably conflicted relationship between the two parties, deciding what the colonizers do to maintain control, which natives assimilate and which run amok, and who ends up owning the island in the end.



June 16, 2012

Monsterhearts is an rpg about modern supernatural horror, teen angst, and people facing their worst selves.

It delivers on the Being Human, Buffy, True Blood, Vampire Diaries kind of story perfectly and basically does everything Vampire the Masquerade talked about but never really got down.

Social Drama

As your vampire/werewolf/ghost/other freaky character deals with all the usual drama of high school and supernatural pressures, most of what the game focuses on is the emotional and social confrontations. All the good shit talking, shade throwing, goodness that makes up the sorts of young adult social status games.

When you do specific actions, you end up rolling dice and the for each type of action (Turn Someone On, Shut Someone Down, Manipulate, etc.) you get to pick a few choices of events from a list – sometimes these are things that give you more control over the person, sometimes they let you change their situation (“I give him the condition Humiliated!”).

Of course being a supernatural game, there’s room for violence, but violence is very risky, even if you must, the power-gamer way to deal with it would be to – engage with your target socially, either befriending them for the eventual betrayal or a lot of shit talking shade to get some bonuses for when it eventually goes down.

Becoming a Better Person

Monsterhearts is pretty amazing because it’s one of the best treatments of both the dark side of people and the way in which folks mature.

Each character type has their “Darkest Self” – which isn’t just about their supernatural side taking over, but more importantly, about how they emotionally lash out and at whom.

Think about all the times you’ve shut out your friends, or said the most hurtful fucked up thing to someone you care about – each character type has some way that reflects that kind of behavior as their Darkest Self.

Certain things in play kick in the Darkest Self, and you stay in that mode until you do a specific thing or conditions are met that end it… which can lead to some extended time to burning a lot of bridges and creating a LOT of damage. As the game points out – every player character becomes a villain when their Darkest Self takes over.

But what’s interesting is that after a point in play, some new options become available to the characters – “Growing Up” Moves.

Growing Up Moves are basically parallels to the basic options every character has- except these are just more socially responsible and with less drama and trouble attached – they are literally matured and better ways of dealing with people.

Instead of “Shutting Someone Down” you can “Call Them On Their Shit” – mechanically it changes from humiliating and causing social harm to someone, instead, to breaking their bonds of power over other people- a perfect counter to bullies and manipulators.

And very true to life, while these things become things your characters earn, it doesn’t mean you can’t choose to fall back into the more immature options at any point- the process of growth isn’t a simple “level up” and it’s always fun to see when, where and how characters fall.


The art shows men, women, people of color, and nothing problematic! There’s a couple of pages on the fact that the game defaults to queer inclusive. The very first image inside the book is a lesbian kiss which is looks “real people” attractive and not male gaze “hot pron models” attractive.

Overall this game looks really awesome and I recommend it!


Gaming for Understanding TED Talk by Brenda Brathwaite

April 29, 2012

Thanks to Elizabeth Sampat for pointing this video my way.

Brenda Brathwaite talks about making a game to teach her daughter about The Middle Passage

It’s 10 minutes long and completely worth watching.

Also, it says a lot about the stories we tell ourselves, and what it teaches us about the lines of acceptability.


Matriarchy Kickstarter

November 2, 2011

One of my favorite designers is making an online social game about The Kingdom of Women from historical China, called Matriarchy.

Go support!


Stars Without Number

September 10, 2011

Stars Without Number is a tabletop rpg where you travel around the galaxy to different planets and get into adventure and intrigue. (The link goes to the free PDF ebook version). It uses an old-school-ish system with some really smart updates, and great rules for generating different worlds and conflicts.

It’s not Hitler’s Future

So, you know at this point our expectations for rpgs and representation is pretty much bottomed out. SWN does the following things right:

1) Images of POC are in the book!
2) No default assumption about the cultures that you’ll encounter
3) …backed up by the name list in the back! There’s several name lists, divided by culture, with a few paragraphs about clothing or food, and the acknowledgement that odds are good that what was traditional for us in the 21st century would be a massive throwback by the 31st century. The full cultures listed include: Arabic, Chinese, Nigerian, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, English. Obviously not entirely comprehensive, but the fact that it’s not euro-centric is awesome.

Travel Space, Go Anywhere

SWN is designed for “sandbox play” which means the sort of RPG where you get a bunch of planets, put them on the map, and the players are free to go where ever they can get to, and side with whomever they want, etc. SWN gives some great advice on prepping for this kind of play, and running it, with a strong focus on exactly what you SHOULD focus on, so you can not waste time with things that will be useless in play.

The biggest highlight for me is the World Tags system- you roll twice on the chart and get two major features of the planet that are sources of conflict and drama. For example, if you know a planet has runaway AI and primarily works with heavy industry… well, you can already imagine the sort of drama that would fit there. SWN gives each Tag extra description- some possible problems, some allies, or further complications, so you have support in setting up your notes.

There’s also interesting rules for dealing with factions, factional warfare – through economics, espionage, politics, and classic military force. Factions can also grow by capturing assets of other factions or gaining experience by fulfilling goals.

The only major issue I’ve got is the assumption that you’ll want/need to build a whole sector of planets before playing – it makes more sense to make a few planets and then as the players travel, expanding the map accordingly.

Updated Old School System

SWN strips away most of the cruft and bullshit rules from Basic D&D, and adds some clean, quick features that just work better.

You still have stuff like 6 attributes, and randomly roll stats… except stats are very heavily weighted towards the center and modifiers are really small. It’s pretty hard to roll a really crappy character. When you pick your class (Warrior, Psychic, Expert), you also can bump up one of you attributes to 14, so there’s another layer of protection from rolling the completely wack character.

You choose two sets of skill packages- one representing your upbringing, another representing your training from your class – there’s no point juggling or choices over skills- you pick the package and you get it – the end.

The major old-school-ism that sticks with SWN is Armor Class, hit points, and lethal combat. The GM’s advice talks about the importance of letting players make and enact smart plans to get the drop on foes, or figure out what fights are too difficult, and, that players will probably want to avoid a lot of fights early on. I’m not sure how well this actually runs in play, until I play it, but that’s the only thing flagging for me as a concern.