Category Archives: Critiques

Sanity Systems and Emotional Beats

More Horror Week! Now that we have the beginning of a foundation for talking about emotional beats, let’s talk about one of the darlings of horror gaming: Call of Cthulhu‘s Sanity system. I’m only been a RPG player since 1995, so Call of Cthulhu predates my history with the hobby. Still, I know the history

Timing Text Meant to be Read

Since I was asked last week to take my critical eye toward things I’ve worked on, I’ll talk about something in A Penny For My Thoughts that has been on my mind for over a year: text that’s meant to be read that takes too long to read. To be fair, it’s been on Paul’s

Observations on Back Cover Copy

I’ve had many discussions about back cover copy over the last few months. Having spent quite a bit watching which books did and didn’t see at Indie Press Revolution, seeing books that were and weren’t confusing at convention booths and game stores, I have a vague sense of some principles. I don’t have a perfect

Lady Blackbird and Implied Setting

Today, I’ll talk about something that I bring up frequently in conversation: John Harper‘s[1] ENnie Award-winning Lady Blackbird, a beautiful, free 16-page role-playing game. It’s a treatise on implied setting. This post is going to assume that you’ve read one of the best things you can download on the Internet.[2] So, you know, do that.

The Purpose of Your First Page

For a while, I’ve been figuring out how to write a post about constructing your first page. This is key — how you introduce your entire idea will make or break interest & understanding of your game. But without examples, I’ve be talking in useless abstracts. Thankfully, Brennan Taylor offered up an early draft of

Critique: The Need for Context

A few weeks ago, I checked out Graham Walmsley’s new rules-light Lovecrafting horror game engine, Cthulhu Dark. I was immediately intrigued by it, but in reading it I did notice an issue that I’ve seen in many other texts — insufficient context that causes reader confusion. Today, I’ll talk about that, using Graham’s game (which