Category Archives: Kickstarter

Dragon World Hack 0.4

dw cover new

Dragon World is a Powered by the Apocalypse RPG for fantasy comedy adventures in the vein of classic anime like Slayers and Dragon Half. The game has been in the works for a while now, and we’re now gearing up to launch a Kickstarter some time in the next few months.

Dragon World Hack 0.4
Dragon World Playbooks

I had the idea for Dragon World when I finally got my hands on the Dragon Half manga. (Which BTW is finally getting an English language release from Seven Seas.) In anime there was a weird trend in the early to mid-1990s of making short direct-to-video adaptations of much longer manga, which in turn sometimes wound up being the only versions that made their way to the English-speaking world. Dragon Half started as a 7-volume manga (later re-released in a 3-volume “omnibus” edition, which the English version is based on), which could’ve worked nicely as a full 26-episode TV series. Instead it got a mere two OAV episodes, and plans to do two more episodes got scrapped. The Dragon Half OAVs had a little bit of a cult following in the early anime scene, and I devoured the manga once I got my hands on it. It shows its age and anime-ness with a lot of fanservice (our heroine pretty much only wears a metal bikini), but the zany humor, flagrantly ridiculous take on the fantasy genre, and Ryusuke Mita’s energetic art make it worth your time.

That wasn’t too long after I’d discovered Apocalypse World, and as I made my way through the manga, I kept seeing it in terms of different AW-style moves and their outcomes. This was before the term “Powered by the Apocalypse” came about and while it was still the thing to have those “AW hacks” end with “World,” so “Dragon World” was born. A certain portion of anime and manga, especially from the 90s, used “dragon” in titles to essentially signify “fantasy,” probably a result of Dragon Quest being so massively popular and influential, plus it was a tongue-in-cheek nod to Dungeon World. (And I did talk Jonathan Walton into making a game called “& World.”) From there I watched a ton of Slayers (probably the single most popular comedy fantasy anime), and a bunch of others, giving me a wider palette of ideas to draw on. Dragon World most blatantly shows its influences in the selection of classes, ranging from the likes of the Explosive Mage and Dumb Fighter (which have Lina and Gourry from Slayers at their core) to the Angsty Shadow Warrior (for whom Dororo from Sgt. Frog was an inspiration, but also a bunch of fantasy tropes) to the Shiny Paladin and Ruthless Warlord (who come from silly takes on D&D classes). One of my favorites is the Chosen Visitor, which is a Japanese teenager sent to this fantasy world and given weird powers, echoing shows like Magic Knight Rayearth and El Hazard.

This is the fourth version of Dragon World that I’ve shared with the world, and it’s generally been through a lot of revisions as I did a bunch of playtesting and figured out what did and didn’t work, and thought of new stuff to add. The game started considerably closer to Apocalypse World, but I dropped things like highlighting stats and marking experience. On the other hand (although I refined it a bit), the concept of replacing Harm with “falling down” remained a core part of the game from the start. I changed the selection of classes a little, adding the likes of the Ruthless Warlord and changing the Useless Bard into the Foolhardy Bard (which was how people had been playing the Useless Bard for the most part anyway).

It’s not in the Hack, but the final commercial version is going to have a setting chapter for the land of Easteros. (Not the only Game of Thrones reference in there, but there’s copious anime nonsense regardless.) It was generally an opportunity to put together a bunch of toys and plot hooks, plus some dumb humor (like a pun-laden list of 100 slime names).

In any case, I’m looking forward to finally bringing this game fully to fruition in a nice book with actual artwork, and possibly putting together some supplements and alternate settings. I’m also planning a Creative Commons release, in the hopes that (not unlike with Dungeon World, though presumably in much lower quantities) people will take the opportunity to design and publish their own Dungeon World weirdness.


Channel A Returns!

Back in 2012 I designed my first ever card game, Channel A: The Anime Pitch Party Game. In 2013 Asmadi Games published it, bringing it to Kickstarter backers and then game stores. It’s been well-received, but once the original print run sold out, Asmadi was never quite able to get it back in print. While I’m still a fan of Asmadi Games and Chris Cieslik–and the other Asmadi Games offerings are well worth checking out!–I’m very pleased to be able to announce that Evil Hat Productions will be taking up Channel A as part of their line of board games. It’ll be their first real foray into both anime-inspired games and party games, but Channel A still has some heady company given that it’ll be alongside the likes of the Dresden Files Cooperative Board Game.

EHP is launching Channel A with a Kickstarter, and the game is getting an upgrade in the form of new art (by Dawn Davis, the same artist, who has improved her skills considerably over the past 6 years or so) and around 70 new cards (with Clay Gardner doing the logo designs for the new Title Cards). We’re calling this new version the “Alpha Genesis Edition,” and hopefully new and old fans of Channel A will find a lot to like in what we’ve changed and added. (Also: more normal cardstock!)

If you want to give the came a test drive first, Evil Hat has some cool stuff for that:

There are also stretch goals! The first is a set of stickers of chibi characters, and the second is an expansion called “Channel A: Second Season.” And we have more waiting in the wings! Kind of a lot more!

The Evil Hat folks have generally been great to work with, and their huge enthusiasm about the game has been pretty inspiring to me. Fred is a fan of the game and it really shows!

channel a ehp
Continue reading Channel A Returns!

Catching Up

There’s been a bunch of stuff going on that I haven’t quite gotten around to posting about here, so here goes.

Kagegami High

The game is finally out! Well, the PDF is up for sale on DriveThruRPG. Getting the POD versions set up has been unusually difficult, since there have been some weird file conversion issues with CreateSpace, and DTRPG’s system for setting up POD titles is apparently messed up at the moment. Update: But it’s now up on Amazon at least!


The last push took a lot of energy, and I’m still kind of marveling at having written a 168-page book that’s so dense with references and setting info. I haven’t done all that much with setting in my games (though Dragon World is going to have the setting of Easteros in it), but this book is bursting with details about the school, and has 72 NPCs. My only regret is that I didn’t put more Utena-inspired stuff in.

Also the custom Weird Dice (and Spooky Dice for Spooktacular) are now available from IPR. Getting custom dice made through Chessex was pretty fun and easy, and definitely something I’ll do more in the future when I can find good excuses for it.



I have not one but two Kickstarters in the works.

Golden Sky Stories: Twilight Tales is the title we finally settled on for Mononoke Koyake, the first Japanese GSS supplement. We’re going to be properly publishing it in English and getting a print run of physical books, plus doing some nifty stretch goal stuff, albeit not nearly as much as last time (three books’ worth and then some was a bit much, not to mention the battle to get all the physical stuff printed and shipped). I was originally planning to do the Dragon World KS first, but Twilight Tales is closer to being ready, but really we’ll see how it all shakes out.

MK Cover.png

Dragon World is also going to be Kickstarting. I need to nail down some final planning stuff, and I’m waiting on the finished cover art (which is going to be elaborate, pretty, and very anime) before I launch. We also have quite a few stretch goals lined up, including some pretty cool stuff I’m looking forward to.

dragon world art sample

For both we’re going to be including wall scrolls from among the rewards. We did that for GSS, and we were generally really happy with the quality and service.

DriveThruRPG Stuff

DTRPG has a thing where you get awarded a certain amount of Publisher Promotion Points, and I noticed that both the Yaruki Zero and Star Line accounts had accumulated kind of a lot, so I decided to make an effort to try using them. In addition to getting featured product impressions, I’ve tried having Golden Sky Stories, Kagegami High, and Maid RPG as Deals of the Day. The amount of sales that resulted wasn’t world-shattering, but it was substantially more than those games got without that extra promotion behind them, especially for Kagegami High (which hasn’t already gotten into the hands of quite so much of its potential audience).

Combined with the GM’s Day Sale, this is already one of the best months for RPG sales I’ve had in a while, so I’m thinking more about how to promote my stuff and reach more people, even though it’s potentially kind of a lot of work.

Other Randomness

  • I got inspired to check out the Savage Worlds version of Rifts. While I’m not really a fan of Savage Worlds, I was nonetheless really impressed and ended up buying all three books. (Though if I play an actual game with them I’ll probably use FAE or Strike! or something.) They managed to create a take on the world of Rifts that’s oriented towards having exciting adventures in that setting, where Palladium’s own books too often felt like an assortment of random stuff, which was cool but didn’t really cohere into a basis for stories. Each archetype is super-enthusiastic, and sells you on it being awesome to play, and in many cases makes changes that make it way more interesting.
  • A while back I designed Duel Questers, a mini-RPG thing for Millennium Blades, and it’s now available in the MB artbook. MB has a wonderfully bonkers setting, and it was a lot of fun to play around with it.
  • Jessica Price (PM at Paizo) has been posting some fascinating and insightful stuff about geek culture on her Twitter. Here’s a storify, and here’s another thread of note.
  • Nekomimi Land, a messed-up dystopian novel I’ve been working on for way too long, is nearly ready for publication, once my editor finishes with it. It’s raw and weird and imperfect, but I want to finally get it out into the world. It’ll also be my first self-published work of fiction, and I want to do more, albeit something a bit lighter next time.

Channel A is Funded!

BF-w7lCCEAAHVT2It would be a bit much to try to make some kind of Easter metaphor, but some time within the final 24 hours of the Kickstarter, Channel A hit its funding goal of $10,000. It wasn’t looking good for a while there, but things really turned around when the creator of Superfight!, another promising party game (there wound up being like four party games kickstarted at the same time), was kind enough to give a shout-out to Channel A to his 1,200+ backers. It’s normal for a Kickstarter to lag in the middle and pick up towards the end, but the difference before and after that Superfight! update is night and day, so that game’s team has my gratitude. That Asmadi Games added some new reward levels with some promotional items and such from their prior titles definitely helped us ride off of that boost, as did some targeted promotion.

I’m really grateful to everyone who made it happen. To everyone who pledged, to the people around the world who pledged despite paying insane amounts for shipping, to all the friends and family who pledged to support me, to all the friends who helped playtest the game and make it as good as it is, to Chris Cieslik for publishing and believing in the game in the first place, to Mike Stevens (my RPG publishing partner in crime) who did such a great job demoing it, to Clay for making the game look just gorgeous, to Dawn for providing great art and signing up to do even more for our Director’s Pack backers, to everyone who helped spread the word on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/G+/forums/blogs/etc., and I’m sure I’m leaving someone out but you get the idea.

finishedSome people pledged simply because they came across a game that they felt they’d enjoy. Some people because they’ve enjoyed Asmadi Games’ other offerings. Some were my friends and family and other people supporting the game on general principle even if they might not play it much. A few people said they were fans of my work, which to me is the most amazing thing. I’ve been making and posting gaming stuff for ages now, and it seems like I’m finally hitting critical mass and getting somewhere. I mean, I made a game that got over $10,000 in Kickstarter pledges, and there were actually a few people to whom my weirdly pronounced name was a selling point. I can’t even wrap my head around that, and I guess mostly I’m just glad people are enjoying this stuff I make.

Of course, this is an important milestone for Channel A, but it’s more a beginning than anything. Chris is aiming to have the first production run of the game ready in time to sell at Anime Boston (and if things work out I may be able to sell it at FanimeCon, which is that same weekend), which will mark the beginning of the convention season, during which Asmadi Games will be aggressively promoting the game. It’ll also be going into retail distribution, so I’m looking forward to seeing it show up at local game stores. And of course there’s the matter of getting into working on expansions, for which I already have far too many ideas.

With this, and the Yaruki Zero book, and the Golden Sky Stories Kickstarter coming up terrifyingly fast, I think I’m going to remember 2013 as the year that all my messing around with making games finally bore fruit, the year things really began.

Thank you, everyone. :)

More on Channel A

As I write this the Channel A Kickstarter is nearing the halfway point funding-wise. It’s still achievable, but things will need to pick up a bit. On the plus side, Asmadi is fully committed to making the game happen regardless. Either way, I’m really grateful for all the support we’ve gotten.

One thing that’s been on my mind lately with Channel A is how it’s in some ways a result of my involvement with Maid RPG. I’ve become increasingly interested in “interpreted chaos,” where random elements form a picture and it’s up to you to complete it. Rolling up a Maid RPG character gives you a lot of information, but it leaves a lot open too. If (as is becoming my cliche example) you roll a chainsaw-wielding cyborg mermaid who became a maid for bridal training, you still have an awful lot to work out yourself in terms of personality, history, and so on. What makes it so interesting is just how much of a boost that kind of randomness can give. Creative constraints make creating easier, whereas a blank page can be pretty amazingly hard to turn into something. Without all the Title and Premise Cards, all of Channel A could fit onto an index card, but instead of the amazing results it does produce, even from people who aren’t usually given over to creativity, you’d probably end up with a lot more of people staring at each other.

I’ve posted up some photos of my Game Crafter prototype (the “OAV Edition,”) before, and now I can show off some of the designs for the final version with Clay Gardner’s fantastic graphic design work. While my own work is at least non-terrible, I’m still really happy to have Clay on the project. Collaborating with people can have difficulties no matter how well-meaning you are, and Clay has a certain knack for not only getting what I want, but doing the stuff I didn’t know I wanted. Below are some of the revamped Title Cards he did:

channel a cards

The Future!
Needless to say I’ve been prematurely thinking about possible expansions, because that’s how I roll. The ridiculously easy thing (on my end at least) is adding new Title Cards. (It’s quite a bit harder to come up with new Premise Cards though.) Looking at my files and doing some math, I literally have about 350 extra Title Card ideas. Some people are inevitably going to want some more (and suggest title words I haven’t included), and I don’t mind giving it to them. On the other hand I don’t want to just go crazy making new Title Cards; I’d like to try some things that mix up the gameplay a bit.

  • Chaos Blitz would be a set of “Chaos Cards” that mess around with the rules each round, ranging from funny accents to instituting rules variants. It’s kind of like what I was doing with the special actions on cards in i.hate.everyone.
  • I have a few different ideas for themes for expansions that are mostly Title Cards. The one I especially want to do would be called something like “Japanimation Fever,” and purposely be a collection of stuff aimed at bad Western imitations of anime. The mascot/chibi character for that would be a catgirl with cyan hair, with the most overdone, busy design possible.
  • I had the idea for “Star Cards,” Title Cards that let you drop in anything from a given category (fruits, planets, numbers, etc), but in play they fell a bit flat. The notable exception was the “Duplicate” Star Card, which put in another of the word before it (so you could change “Love Revolution” to “Love Love Revolution,” say), and I’m interested in playing around with similar elements.
  • Another of my experiments that still needs work is A-Soft, which rewords the game to be about pitching video games, and comes with a deck of 40 “Genre Cards” that list different kind of video games (dating sim, FPS, RPG, etc.). It seems to work okay so far, but I definitely need to refine it and nail down the rules more.
  • A few times people have suggested some kind of bidding/business type mechanic. That’s a strong candidate for an expansion, though with the game as it is now you could pretty much take a Channel A set and use it with the rules for the old Cheapass Games edition of The Big Idea with no particular changes. Making something similar that’s reasonably easy to manufacture (instead of asking players to provide play money, chips in six different colors, and a d6 themselves), fun to play, and distinct from TBI will be a major challenge.
  • Another random idea I had was a “Q&A” expansion where you can play something more in the vein of Cards Against Humanity, using Channel A cards to answer questions/fill in the blanks.
  • Since Asmadi Games is publishing Channel A, I’d like to try making some kind of crossover thing with We Didn’t Playtest This At All (though Chris already has “We Didn’t Playtest This Channel At All” among the Channel A stretch goals). I’m not sure how to approach that myself, and I think I need to start getting more into WDPTAA to really figure it out.
  • Blank cards are a definite possibility too. It’s not the kind of thing I would readily think of (being the guy who gets to decide what goes on the professionally made cards), but Chris has told me that people have asked for it. Hell, last year at APE some friends of mine who had a booth got a bunch of index cards and markers and improvised their own deck. Not unlike with my RPG stuff, I’d like to see what people could come up with.

Another random thing is that I’d like to do something with the chibi art from the game. There are the 8 characters I commissioned Dawn to do, and if the Kickstarter goes through there’s be several more for people who pledged at the $65 level (16 so far!), which could make for a really awesome poster or T-shirt.

Channel A Kickstarter!

pic1088575_mdI’ve got some really, really big news. Channel A has a publisher! Specifically, Asmadi Games, which is probably best known for We Didn’t Playtest This At All, but has put out a number of other games, including 2010 Golden Geek Award winner Innovation. It’s difficult to find a publisher willing to take on a project in general, and there aren’t too many board game publishers that really know anime either, but Chris Cieslik (the main guy behind Asmadi) has been great to work with and gets what I’m trying to do with Channel A. (The publisher of Whack a Catgirl definitely knows more about anime than your average board game publisher.) He’s also highly dedicated, and you can expect to see him and his cohorts from Foam Brain Games offering Channel A at quite a few conventions.

Asmadi has just launched a Kickstarter to fund Channel A too! The base goal is $10,000 to cover an initial print run, but we’ve got a bunch of bonuses and stretch goals lined up. Also, if you’d like to try a demo before the Kickstarter ends, Chris & co. will be at TotalCon, Genericon, MomoCon, WPI Gaming Weekend, and PAX East running demos. If you’d just like a quick look at what the game is like, the Kickstarter video does an excellent job of showing a typical round of Channel A.

ChannelA-Box3D-FinalThe new “TV Series Edition” of Channel A will feature new title cards and premise cards, a spiffy box that actually fits the cards properly, and a total of 300 cards (maybe more depending on stretch goals and such), all for a mere $25. Chris managed to innovate a new scoring system that doesn’t require voting cards (see the video for a demonstration), so this new version will feature additional premise cards and title cards. Clay Gardner is updating the look of the game too, so you can expect the kind of slick design work he’s provided for Minion Games products like The Manhattan Project and Tahiti (not to mention his excellent layout work for Golden Sky Stories). The Kickstarter features some other goodies, including buttons, custom chibi characters, and the chance to get a custom fake DVD case for your own made-up anime series, complete with a theme song!

This also means that I’ll be discontinuing the “OAV Edition” from The Game Crafter. It was always meant to be an interim thing until I did exactly what we’re doing now, though needless to say I’m grateful to the six people who bought it. The free Manga Edition will still be available, though it will continue to be a basic, no-frills version of the game.