Dark Well One on One Playtest

One on one with Dark Well

Last night, a friend of mine agreed to do a one on one playtest of Dark Well and it went surprisingly well. We set the game in South America in the 1970s with my friend playing a mercenary archeologist who locates and sells rare artifacts to the highest bidder.

> Dark Well RPG

Dark Well has gone through a number of changes in recent time. The most recent evolution was tested at Gamehole Con, 2018, and proved to be a big hit with the group. Since then I’ve been working to refine the game. I playtested the game with two friends during a Corridor Games on Demand Playing in Public event not too long ago and they both really enjoyed both the system and the story setting.

The core of the token system works well. It’s the character + conspiramid changes that I’m still working to test and I feel that it will require more than one-shots to do this properly.

In the playtest that we ran last night, the archeologist’s greed seemed to get the better of him and neither the player nor me as the GM were certain which was “real” to the PC and which was a hallucination. This line between the two was exactly what was needed and we both played to it, even into the epilogue.

Now I just need to test the game’s setting and tone with more people I don’t know as well and then write up the prompts and structure that reinforces how this is done.

Gamehole Con 2018 My Little Scythe

Gamehole Con 2018

I attended Gamehole Con in Madison, Wisconsin, for the first time in 2018, where I got to hang out and play a few board games with my friends, such as My Little Scythe.

Additionally, I was able to playtest several games which I have in development. See below:

Friday, 1-4PM – Dark Well: Ground Zero

The game began with an overview of related genres and influences, and introducing the four players to the eerie world of Dark Well. This was the first time that I had tested the diceless / random token-based system.

Friday, 7-10PM – Armageddon Accelerated: Miami Viceroy

The game began with an overview of the setting and with Fate Accelerated. Two had experience with Fate Accelerated; one had familiarity; one had none, but had just purchased Fate Dice.

Saturday, 1-4PM – Blood & Violence: The Road Not Taken

The game began with an overview of influences and the concept of magical realism at the heart of the game with the four players.

Saturday, 7-10PM – NightMirror: Walking Over Our Graves

The game began with an overview of the genre of gothic horror and influences with the five players.

Sunday, 1-4PM – Games on Demand Indie Grab Bag

I had table tents for six games for the four players to choose from: Armageddon Accelerated, Blood & Violence, Dark Well, NightMirror, Space Station Omega, and Vigilance. The group selected Space Station Omega (SSO).

Gamehole Con 2018 Space Station OmegaSetup: The players leaned heavily into their love for The Expanse and we built an exciting story involving space miners, a space religion, and an Earth-centric military power, with a mafia-like sub-organization and in-laws generated from the character relationships.

Story: There were a number of nice character moments in between the larger scenes and actions. Ultimately, all major factions put aside their differences, coming together and locating the terrorist cell. The game closed in a wonderful final scene the characters all contributed to dealing with the threat in their own way.

System: SSO is currently somewhere between Cortex Plus and Cortex Prime. The goal is to embrace Cortex Prime once it is more done and then tweak for the needs of the game. The creation of our Space and Station continues to really get the players excited and invested in the game. We made heavy use of complications and opportunities generated, and mostly used simple actions.

Vigilance RPG


Part mortal. Part myth. All justice.

As a Living Law, you were created to right the wrongs and restore that which the Wildstorm took from your people before it strikes again. Vigilance is a Late Bronze Age mythic fantasy tabletop roleplaying game that explores legends of loss, humanity, and justice both in a home community and in the wider fallen world ripe with Chaos.

System: Dice pools.

Space Station Omega RPG poster square

Space Station Omega

A tabletop roleplaying game about fighting for a future against The Galactic War.

Story – What Is Space Station Omega the Roleplaying Game?

Space Station Omega is a science-fiction tabletop roleplaying game of political dramatic action among the stars.

In this game you play pivotal characters who live on and work with each other aboard a space station. The station is strategically located at a focal point in time – post- or pre-war, and space – in the thick of the most critical decisions fought among the most powerful political factions who are invested in the future of the galaxy. Everyone is still figuring out where they belong and what they are really fighting for while mysterious events unfold to challenge daily life. Nothing is the same anymore.

In Space Station Omega, you discuss and map your part of the galaxy, your station (fixed or mobile, singular or dispersed), and then create your personnel built on supporting roles, conflicting values and beliefs, and opposing factions before jumping into the midst of a charged situation.

If you enjoy TV shows such as Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Battlestar Galactica, and The Expanse, then strap in and get ready for intense dramatic galactic roleplaying.

Playing Space Station Omega

Space Station Omega is a tabletop roleplaying game for 3-5 players that takes about 3-4 hours to play. The game uses Cortex Prime as a starting point and shares an origin with games such as Smallville, Leverage, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, and Firefly. As you play and follow the fiction of the story, you look for when your character’s decisions lead to interesting situations that would call for a roll of the dice with three or more traits along with one of the following Basic Actions: Command, Craft, Deal, Fight, Help, Search, or Study.

NightMirror preview


A Gothic Horror game about the search for humanity and salvation through a world of monsters and madness.

Story – What Is NightMirror the Roleplaying Game?

A DEATH! It begins with the scent of murder. A broken life, connected by sharp fractured edges to you, dear Seeker through pain and loss. The taste of blood, soot, and sweat heavy in the damp cold night as you push past what others might call fear, or dread. You step down into the dingy dark crypt under the cathedral, snapping a twig, alerting the dark thing gnawing on a bone in the corner of your presence. You steel your nerves and withdraw the small worn vellum book from an inner pocket. Opening it to the marked page and positioning it in the crack of moonlight, you read hastily. The words roll from tongue and soul and it, the slavering Agent of the Night moves closer and chatters staccato grunts with short sharp bloodied teeth. The chattering transforms into a whisper with each syllable read aloud. The secrets of its Master—the knowledge needed to complete the quest manifest through the maw of our mentor’s cursed child and murderer. And now we know its bane. The Master will come for us, and when it does, we will be ready.

NightMirror is a Gothic horror tabletop roleplaying game. It’s inspired by mid-1700 to mid-1900 fiction, which combines horror with romanticism and deals with both the unexplainable as well as new discoveries with science, religion, and industry. It is also directly inspired by the television show, Penny Dreadful.

NightMirror’s mechanics are inspired by Meguey Baker’s amazing Psi*Run game (from Night Sky Games, http://www.nightskygames.com) about amnesiacs with powers, Runners, who are pursued by mysterious Chasers. You play to find out who they are, who you are, and what happens next. However, instead of dice, a tarot deck is used to help shape the stories for the Seekers.

Every one-shot short story session or two or more sessions campaign novel of NightMirror begins with the death of someone meaningful. This is a death that draws the characters, whom you play called Seekers, together for a common purpose. All Seekers are extraordinary people who are discontent with their place in life and have burning questions that often exceed accepted social conventions, including into the private affairs of each other, esoteric topics, traumatic experiences, and the occult. Seekers are torn between the Night and the Light. In each case, this existence has created connections with the supernatural through abilities and desires. Inevitably, these desires draw the attention of others–agents of the Night or Light—Chasers, who pursue the Seekers to whatever ends that may be.

Gameplay includes shared storytelling over one or more sessions with riskier decisions determined through drawing tarot cards, placing the cards one by one into categories called Fortunes, and interpreting their results in ways evocative of the gothic horror genre and the shared tonal game space with the group.

It’s your job, as Seekers to find the Night or Light you are searching for and decide what to do with it once you’ve got it.

Along the way, the Seekers leave a Trail of information as they travel from location to location, and the Chasers pursue this trail relentlessly.

Will the Seekers learn the truth? Will the Night or Light destroy them?

Play to find out as you search for humanity and salvation through a world of monsters and madness!

Gothic Horror

Gothic Horror refers to a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. These emotions can include fear and suspense. This style of fiction began in the mid 1700s with a story titled, The Castle of Otranto (in 1764), by Horace Walpole. This story was about a doomed family and is filled with death, desire, and intrigue. This story is considered to be the first of the Gothic fiction tales, since it encompassed many of the characteristics of the genre. The term Gothic actually originated as a term belittling the architecture and art of the period, which was dark, decaying, and dismal.

Playing NightMirror

NightMirror is a tabletop roleplaying game for 3-5 players that takes about 3-4 hours to play. The game uses light rules, narration, and a standard deck of tarot cards. As you play and follow the fiction of the story, you look for when your character is risking something which could change their fortune during the game. When this happens the Host will ask the player to draw 3-5 cards, one at a time, and collaborate on the results. At times this may reveal something about the seeker or bring them closer to a direct conflict with the darkness within.

In NightMirror, players are seekers, people who are driven to look beyond normal conventions for answers to life and more. This leads them to experience the supernatural and supertechnology like that found in the stories of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde, H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Jewel of Seven Stars, or more recently from the Showtime television series, Penny Dreadful.

The World

NightMirror is set in a pre-20th century world where science and nature, industry and faith are mixed and in conflict between the old and the new world thinking. The supernatural maintains a strong presence while the microscope and telecommunications are being invented. This is a world of shadowy imaginings on top of the anxiety of an uncertain future threated by the industrial revolution, nationalistic military powers, and social upheaval like never before. In NightMirror, ghosts and artificial persons are explored by willful persons willing to defy the limits of society for their answers.

The Power of the Night & Light

The Higher Powers that manipulate events and people are known as the Night & Light. They have agendas and servants who work to execute the plans which are usually in opposition with each side, and they both prefer to have the seekers among their ranks as agents of Night or Light in the world.

Long-Term Play

NightMirror can be played as a one-shot, but is strongest when played through several sessions, as players reveal more about their seekers, the way of the Night and Light, and the beautiful eerie world that they inhabit.

Corruption & Redemption

Sometimes when seekers go too far or risk too much they become corrupted by the Night which hungers for seekers to join in union. When this happens it’s never certain that a seeker can or will be saved, but if it happens it’s usually through the work of redemption by one or more seekers.

Dark Well RPG

Dark Well

You’ve experienced something you can’t explain. Something that changed you. Something that others want to know more about, hide from the public and use for gain in the world. What are you going to do about it before they find you?

Dark Well is a tabletop roleplaying game about exploring the unknown through the relationships of life, power, and truth through fringe science and conspiracies. You play Dwellers who pursue these relationships through each other’s lives and your vision that connects you to the crisis that started it all.

Together, your group works from a set of interconnected ideas and conspiracies in the world to build your characters, factions, secrets, and more through a Conspiramap. You play to find out using a set of tokens drawn from the Well and compared to a chart to interpret what you do next, and ultimately what conspiracy your Dwellers must confront.

Dark Well creates fiction like that of X-Files, Millennium, Twin Peaks, Stranger Things, and Dark, making it fun for lovers of conspiracy fiction and fringe science alike.

System: Tokens.

Blood & Violence

Blood & Violence

A tabletop roleplaying game of magical realism travel tales with Vagrants who collect and share stories, influencing the World.

Story – What Is Blood & Violence the Roleplaying Game?

They say the World is vast and uncertain, modern and ancient from dusk to dawn. The World is connected by travelers, like you moving in and out of distant Civilizations: strange hollow lands that speak to you and remind you of where you came from—why you’re with them, fellow Vagrants, you companions of the Road, and in this World. Each day brings new Hopes, Needs, and Fears—some you share, some you steal, perhaps one day you’ll know when it’s time to leave the Road behind you for Blood & Violence.

A rare kind of people, called Vagrants, move between Civilizations along the Road searching for new Stories to learn and share throughout the World, with Hopes, Needs, and Fears as their companions. Eventually, Vagrants settle down as a Civilian, become a Legend, or wander forever as a Reaver along the Road.

Vagrants come from all walks of life and any Civilization. They are people who, for whatever reason, have decided to leave their old life behind to travel along the Road. Many take on alter egos. Few use or share their real identities. Some ply old or pick up new trades. All Vagrants share Stories with those they meet for good or ill results, changing lives and reshaping the world.

Magical Realism Travel Tales

Magical Realism

In magical realism stories, the world is still grounded in the real world as we might know it, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world with the lines between fantasy and reality blurred. This includes talking objects, dead or spirit characters, telepathy, robotic caretakers, moving landscapes, and so much more as normal aspects. As a result, the magic of the stories are left unexplained.

Also, stories in this style do not necessarily follow a typical arc of beginning, middle and end, and some magical realism stories are used to critique society, especially in parts of the world that were colonized or oppressed and exploited by outsiders.

Travel Tales

This refers to the journey stories of Vagrants’ experiences along the Road and visiting with different civilizations. Part of the game involves mapping the World on notecards and using this map to help define the goals and way that they’ll proceed.

Long-Term Play

Blood & Violence is meant to be played in an episodic format with Vagrants entering and exiting as the story or players need. The Vagrants are travelers in search of stories to learn and to share with others, and along the way the Vagrants influence the lives of those they meet. Some Vagrants decide to settle down in a community giving up their traveler ways, or become a Reaver and roam the Road forever, or possibly become Legends of the World.