AquaVertigo Publishing

Surviving Fall Convention Season

I’m amazed and thankful to have the opportunity to create and share stories with others, and while preparing and then doing so takes an immense amount of time and energy, it can be rewarding. First some old business, and then on with the cons!

Playtesting Starfall and Time & Tempus Updates

Starfall Playtest, Series 1

Ended Starfall Series 1 playtest with four out of six sessions with three players.

Due to RL challenges we weren’t able to play the final two sessions.

Here’s a preview of what I’m planning to share in detail:

  • Session 1: Basically, session 0 was where we focused on setting and character creation: The Bloodhound, The Lawmaker, and The Harrier.
  • Session 2: Characters dealt with the start of session moves and into the session with a day-in-the-life following around the characters, leading to danger, distrust, and two PCs fighting for their lives while the third convinces the town to believe in a lie.
  • Session 3: The Lawmaker and the Bloodhound deal with the consequences from the prior session as wants increase for the characters, and a stranger claims that The Bloodhound is the one who can save the world by going back in time and preventing Starfall from happening. The Bloodhound and The Lawmaker decide to travel with the mystery person from Atlantis to the Old Town to get more information and maybe go through with traveling back in time, while The Lawmaker has plans to possibly redo Starfall with intent instead of the xenoforming accident.
  • Session 4: The Lawmaker, The Bloodhound, and the Stranger arrived at Old Town, where many hoped The Bloodhound would save everyone. The Harrier extracts a piece of the Starsoul that begins to activate a mutation within himself and shows up at Old Town. A series of difficult choices leads to a dramatic cliffhanger about the future and past of everything!

Time & Tempus Playtest

I’ve been able to reschedule the original playtest for Tuesday, Nov. 21, with the same three players. I’ll need to finish preparing the cards and reviewing the revisions I plan to test.

After recently playing For the Queen, I’m excited to get this playtest back to the “table” and see how it can be improved.

Cortex Con Online 2023

Based on what I’ve heard so far, I feel like the convention was successful.

  • We had about 25 events over the course of three days.
  • We had about 95 registrations; however, I believe actual participation was closer to 60.
  • Several of the events were not completely full, in part due to having so many GMs volunteering.
  • Of the complaints I’ve heard, some are due to the limitations of the platform we used, Warhorn (free to use but not very flexible or robust), some are due to normal differing play styles and expectations, and some are due to not being able to accommodate the needs of all gamers.

There was plenty of commenting on the Discord server. Several people mentioned their interest in gaming more with Cortex. LOTS of first-time experience with people either who had only read rules or who had no idea what it would be like. At least a handful of people outside the US, such as in Europe and Asia, I believe we did alright, showcasing what the system was good at doing and sharing a variety of combinations of how it could be used to tell different stories.

I had a great experience running my seven events; for my events, I:

  • Facilitated an intro to Cortex Prime with three people, all from diverse gaming backgrounds: 5e, Traveller, Call of Cthuhlu, and Brindlewood Bay; after covering the basics of Cortex and modules, we quickly made a game about characters who solve murder mysteries in a far future transhuman space with a definite Knives Out/Glass Onion meets the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy vibe, and it seemed to work for what little we had time to test.
  • I was able to make some significant changes to Found and test during two sessions—there was huge demand for this to be run again as a series.
  • For Aethernity, I ran two sessions, each with one player, with the first as a murder-thriller or crime drama; the second session focused on the as-yet-not-visited-in-game World of Powder and Heralds in Aethernity while having a light-hearted philosophical slacker coming-of-age comedy about Truth; and I realized I’d forgotten a mod rule I created until the player reminded me about it near the end of the game, which was actually helpful to remind me to test next time.
  • It helped me to consider an alternate way to possibly handle location relationship traits in Space Station Omega; there were lots of wonderful action and drama moments for the scenario I ran for two sessions.


Loud and clear, there is passion for Cortex and a desire for more of it.

I’m considering what I could do with an AquaVertigo server on Discord to help address the interest in my games.

  • If you’re interested in being invited to my Discord server, please let me know, and I’ll send you an invite once it’s ready.

Corridor Con 2023

Corridor Con is Corridor Games on Demand’s now-and-then longer-form game day returned. We’re still getting comfortable running games in public and hope to offer a 2- or 3-day event when ready.

  • Attendees: 5
  • Sessions: 2, morning and afternoon
  • Games per session: 1
  • Games offered: Sentinels of the Multiverse run by James; City of Mist and The Shape of Loss (playtest) run by Nick; Indie Game Sampler run by David composed of Fiasco, Lasers & Feelings, Psi*Run, For the Queen, and The Quiet Year
  • Morning Session Game Playtest: The Shape of Loss, by Nick
  • Afternoon Session Game: For the Queen, by Alex Roberts


While we weren’t able to get a larger crowd it was a great intimate experience of sharing indie games and socializing in one day.

We are looking forward to participating at Gamicon again in February, 2024.

Shared Hearth Fall 2023

Facilitated Legends of the Realm with one other player (Danny) for Friday and Sunday evenings.

Friday’s Session

We reviewed the materials after deciding to do the GM-less play style. We began with setting creation for the Hold and Ruler before moving on to the Knights with more setting details (origin, people, places, things, and culture) before finally engaging with the Quest, Tales, and Journal.

We ended the first session after the quest part of Part 3—The Journey—and will begin Sunday’s with Part 3’s Tale before hopefully completing Parts 4-6 and seeing what effect it may have on the realm with the final epilogues.

Sunday’s Session: After reminding ourselves where we left off, we continued on with the tale before moving through each quest, tale, and letter in the journal through to the finale with a successful quest and a changed land more full of nature than before, while the ruler’s health declined, a great knight sacrificed themselves, and a young knight came into his own.


The revisions to the game worked well and a wonderful story was shared. Streamlining the flow and use of the character keeper will enhance play for the next playtest experience.

Next Steps

Along with revision work for the mentioned games, my plans include preparing to run them for online and upcoming in-person events such as Gamicon.


Let me know what you think. Was this helpful or insightful? What’s been your experience with any of these games?


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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