AquaVertigo Publishing

My Kingdom for a Design Solution!

For this singular post for the week, I share impressions of playing Wildsea and media as I struggle through the design process of revisions for Legends of the Realm.




I got to play Zeku, an Ironbound Anchored Steep (described as a kind of therapist), in a 3-hr one-shot game via the Open Hearth Gaming Community. I pictured my PC as a three meter tall shipwreck golem who could transform into a small lighthouse to signal other ships or commune with spirits, and release their companion dog-bird from a gilded cage to scout ahead. More than meets yer eye, me matey!

Our adventure began with a surprise inspection of our ship. This forced us to determine our cargo and purpose, so since one of the PCs was a cook, we decided we were spice and cooking ingredient merchants who were famous for putting on shows where we docked, similar to Iron Chef. The inspection went well, and the PCs split up and did their own thing before returning and deciding to go on an adventure.

The adventure involved a cache of books and relics somewhere, so we set sail with our lemur engine mates at full speed. We found the mystery ship with inky blackness leaking about. Further investigation revealed a slug eating the words off of books and we needed to decide what to do about this.

We decided not to kill it but instead to create a saddle and bridle and a stick with a delicious chart on it for steering it away, ridden by a brave crewmember who successfully guided the creature away from the remaining books. While doing this, we were successful in advertising our cooking show to the other ships in the sea.

Bump in the Dark

It’s a monster-hunting game using Forged in the Dark. I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to play this game in April!

The Death of the Gilded Age

This is a micro-game printed on a large double-sided sheet of paper. I bought the game from its designer, Nathan Paoletta, years ago and hope to host it at Forge Midwest. I’ve also played Vesna Thaw and loved it.

Killer-Bunnies and Codenames Games

While we played the card game of trying to keep a bunny alive while having a carrot to win and then trying to share clues with other players, my brain began to imagine a game where you play a private detective trying to track down suspects in kitchen crimes. So a silly bluffing/deductive game with a kind of Who Killed Roger Rabbit but culinary feel. I confess that one of my TV shows is also influencing this.


Third Floor Wars Podcast

Chris Spivey (Harlem Unbound, Haunted West) Interview: Before listening to this interview, I had heard of Harlem Unbound, but given its association with Cthulhu Mythos, I never pursued the book. Chris is an interesting person who loves to run games as an improv GM and has contributed content to a number of great games.

Mikey Hamm (Slugblaster, Two-Hand Path) Interview: It’s interesting to hear how designers poke and prod their ideas to become something original that captures a moment or a feeling. I believe Slugblaster has done this for Mikey, and I hope to play the game sometime soon.


Marvel Animation/Disney Plus.

X-Men ‘97: It’s back and wonderful. If you didn’t like it before, you probably won’t like it now, but who knows?!? I rewatched the show a bit ago, and there were parts that hurt, but overall, I have to say the original show has a lot of love for the source material. The ‘97 version continues where the original series left off. The first episode finally demonstrated how effective Cyclops could be and how powerful Storm was in some epic spotlight moments. With Magneto now in charge of the X-Men, who can say what will happen next? As an aside, I believe Pasión de las Pasiones would be an excellent system to run for the X-Men.

Monk: I’m working my way through the Monk TV show, and some episodes I remember and others I don’t. Part of this is because I’m curious to watch the show all the way through and also as a palette cleaner between darker shows. In case you don’t know or remember, Monk is a comedy-drama detective.

“After the unsolved murder of his wife, Adrian Monk develops obsessive-compulsive disorder, which includes his terror of germs and contamination. His condition costs him his job as a prominent homicide detective in the San Francisco Police Department, but he continues to solve crimes with the help of his assistant and his former boss,” IMDB.

The Bad Batch S3: This final season follows the found family of mostly “defective” clone troopers and their sister, Omega, post-Order 66 and the rise of the Empire. Of course, the Emperor’s project demands genetic material with a high M-count, which Omega’s blood contains.


Diagram about the six thinking hats.

Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management: This was a book written a while ago by Edward de Bono and it influenced business thinking. The writing style was very approachable, and I’m going to need to think about the premise and usefulness of the book as they apply to all my works.

Kingdom 2: I’m over halfway through reading through the game and enjoyed the example of Kingdom Legacy as an alternative structure for potentially longer games.

Monsterhearts 2: I’m a third of the way through the book, and similar to my read of the first edition, I love Avery Alder’s writing style for games. I hope we’ll see a text from Avery about game design at some point.


Legends of the Realm: I’ve been reworking the presentation of ideas for this game. Sometimes it feels like I’m moving forward, and sometimes I feel like it’s not helping.

One thing that I need to continue working on are the lists of tales. I added a list for the Tale of Origins. I need to generate four more lists. Then I can hopefully do a run-through of everything again and see what I should change before testing it at Forge Midwest.

Here’s what I have at the moment for two sets of tales.

List of Tales of Origin – Stories of New or Old

1. Knight: ____________ It began with a clash of arms with [Person] due to a misunderstanding involving [Culture]. Who has forgiven the other, or not?

2. Knight: ____________ You and [Person] were bonded for a time beginning at [Place] with one taking the lead and the other the follower. What did you give or take?

3. Knight: ____________ [Person] changed your life forever and you have vowed to act in response, using [Thing] as a tool towards the goal. What did they do and what is your goal?

4. Knight: ____________ You are not who you claim to be publicly and [Person] knows it. Who might you be, really? What [Thing] or [Culture] provides support for the disguise? What may happen when it fails?

5. Knight: ____________ Over what Quest did you learn to trust [Person]? What deed impressed upon you their true self enough for you to promise to give them the [Thing]?

6. Knight: ____________ It was at [Place] that you knew you would be a Knight of the Realm. Who, [Person], did you leave behind to pursue this? What did you last hear of them?

7. Knight: ____________ What warning did you receive from [Person] related to the Hold, Court, or Ruler? Have you heeded it? Why?

8. Knight: ____________ What’s something about a [Culture] that signifies you in a strongly positive or negative way to nobility, warriors, humans, or the magical? What [Person] has tried to recruit or challenge you as a result?

9. Knight: ____________ You are from a distant [Place]. How did you come to be here in this realm? What about your former home’s [Culture] do you prize even now?

10. Knight: ____________ What missing [Thing] holds significant personal meaning and connects you to a hidden [Place]? What plans do you have in motion to regain it?

List of Tales of Glory – Stories of Honor or Pride

1. Knight: ____________ You’re sure [Person] took [Thing] from you, and you need to get it back because of [Culture]. They probably hid it at [Place].

2. Knight: ____________ You and another [Person] are requested by the Ruler to meet and settle a dispute between two rival noble houses over who is permitted 1st courtship with the [Person in Waiting (PiW)]. One of you knows they love another [Person]. The other knows the Ruler loves the PiW.

3. Knight: ____________ You’re supposed to deliver a sealed message to Aeryn, the Captain of the Guard, directly from the Ruler but the wax seal slipped off and you spot the words, “…bring [Person] to [Place]…”

4. Knight: ____________ It’s time for the annual festival at [Place] to celebrate [Culture]. You and your rival, [Person], lways enter the same contest. They won last year. Can you take back your title and win the prize, [Thing]?

5. Knight: ____________ Last night at [Place], you had a big argument with [1st Person]. You don’t even remember what it was about, but now [2nd Person] is mad at you, too and you awoke to a written challenge to a duel to settle the matter according to [Culture], in less than 20 minutes from now in public at the Plaza of the Four Winds.

6. Knight: ____________ Saro, the Advisor tasked you with taking [Thing] to Luna the Wise One in exchange for an elixir that you must then take to [Place] before the next sunrise.

7. Knight: ____________ You and [Person] are determined to find… and perhaps capture a mythical creature as proof. It was last seen near [Place]. You need [Thing] to help lure it in and trap it — and you need to keep anyone from scaring it off or finding your trap first.

8. Knight: ____________ The Ruler has taken an interest in you and the two of you are going to [Place], where [Person] who holds a grudge against you will be, to share in a local custom [Culture].

9. Knight: ____________ You are responsible for hosting a visiting noble who went missing after visiting [Place] during [Culture]. If they are found dead it could mean war for the Realm with this allied neighbor.

10. Knight ____________ You have broken the Ruler’s favorite [Thing] while they are visiting [Place]. What will you do before the Ruler returns in two days?

Next Steps

Get through the next two weeks!


Let me know what you think. Was this helpful or insightful?


DMK, the founder of AquaVertigo, is a creatively curious artist, author, designer, educator, entrepreneur, and organizer based in the Midwest, USA.

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