AquaVertigo Publishing

Nearing the End of the Winter Break

The break is never long enough to do everything I’d like to accomplish. Last winter break, I poured through my physical books of Fate games while working on Armageddon Accelerated.

And now, here I am, contemplating the return of the RL work schedule as I prepare for the semester to begin. Here we go with a single post for this week.

Reading Is Fundamental

Covers of Unknown Armies 3rd ed., Eden, and Agon 2nd ed.

Most gamers I know read lots of fiction, with some non-fiction thrown in for variety’s sake. It always makes my head spin when they tout how many books they’ve read in a year, and it makes me feel unworthy as someone with a degree in English literature.

That being said, most of what I read is practical in nature, and this applies to my career and for fun. I read to learn, often how to do something or do it better, so that I can share that with others.

Here’s my list of books at the moment:

  • Design Is a Job by Mike Montiero from the A Book Apart publishing house. I thought I would read it cover to cover for once, and so far it’s holding up.
  • Discussing Design by Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry is published by O’Reilly, and I just got it in the mail and have been enjoying it so far. I plan to use it both in the classroom and during playtests.
  • A Project Guide to UX Design is by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler from New Riders, and it’s a text book for a course I’m teaching again this year.
  • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud is from William Morrow (HarperCollinsPublishers). This title has come up repeatedly when people talk about design. And I like comic books too.
  • Unknown Armies 3rd ed., by Greg Stolze and John Tynes from Atlas Games. I’ve been reading the first book, Play, and had to pause. I feel like the crunch of the system, along with the tone of the game, are both wearing me down. I’ve played this version of the game once, and as a player, I don’t recall feeling this way. I believe I am going to have to talk with some friends about the game to get their take before I can return to it.
  • Eden by Marc Hobbs from <3Games is on the opposite side of gaming from Unknown Armies in tone and mechanics complexity. It’s a no prep, no GM game that uses a map and asks, “What kind of human will you be?” The art is fun and inviting. The book itself is short.
  • Agon (2nd ed.) / Paragon SRD by John Harper and Sean Nittner from Evil Hat Productions. I’m returning to this game to get my hack of the Paragon SRD, Eye of the Magi, in early playtest form for the upcoming convention season around here.

Don’t Cry for Me Fellow Gamers!


I finally got into a game of Pasión de las Pasiones. We chose our playbooks, defined the characters and relationships, and it all looks like a great setup for melodrama, when my work schedule changed and now conflicts with the sessions beyond this week. So I will play this week and then need to drop out of the game. The GM has been very understanding and I wish all the best for the group.

Playtesting Updates

Found was postponed by a week, and I hope to play our first full session tomorrow. I sent out modified Love Letter prompts as well.

Dark Well is going well and the last session revealed some things that weren’t working according to the rules, which was great to see. Afterwards, I made changes that I can’t wait to try this week.

Here’s my thoughts on it:

In Dark Well’s playtest I noticed a shortage on two things last night.
1) Shortage of tokens for the Chronicler to use.

2) Less tension or pressure for the Dwellers to go to the Well. In the fiction the desperation and risk wasn’t as sharp.

Mechanically, it seemed to stem from a recently added set of options for Dwellers to spend tokens on.

The Dwellers were not going to the Well as often and could mostly do what they wanted without risking any consequences.

So I reduced the costs for advancing the conspiracy segments to make it easier for a Chronicler to do something.

Removed the spending of two tokens on actions Dwellers would normally do during the game. Revised the outcome matrix to also include a free option for the Chronicler to advance the conspiracy on a Tragic result and restored giving Dwellers a token for hitting a Tragic result.

The free options for the Chronicler may be an overcorrection.

Looking forward to testing next week.

Scheduling Games for Conventions

Speaking of the convention season, I am slowly making up my mind on what I want to offer at cons, namely: Games on Demand Online (GoDO), Gamicon, and Forge Midwest (FMW).

I have no idea at the moment for GoDO and FMW. I’d like to offer at least Legends of the Realm at FMW.

I’m mostly sure for Gamicon, with Eye of the Magi and Dark Well as options for the Indie Game Grab Bag events. And offering Found (Primed by Cortex) for a scheduled event. Also, planning to help facilitate a playtest workshop on Sunday and participate in a couple RPG theory and design panels.

Mail Call

Games photographed by David MK.

Santa brought me Fall of Magic for the holidays, and I can’t wait to play it some day.

I also received a copy of Monster Hearts 2nd ed. from Indie Press Revolution after confirming with others the edition was worth the investment.

Next Steps

Planning and staying organized in spite of RL’s agenda.


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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