Back from GenCon!

22 08 2008

Hey! Shreyas and I are back from GenCon, and wow, it was a truly amazing experience. I’m so glad I got to put faces to names, and meet all kinds of new and amazing people– plus spend a little extra quality time with already-close friends. The whole experience of working a booth and selling my game was overwhelming and humbling and cool, and I especially owe Vincent and Ben big time for that. The highlight, for me, was probably Ryan Dancey coming over and buying a copy of It’s Complicated, probably with money he got by developing D&D 3 or inventing the OGL or doing something else equally amazing.

Meeting the people, though, man. I made so many friends that I am now bummed I don’t get to see every day. Our “little” community is huge and diverse and wonderful, and there’s not a single person I met that didn’t make my day a little brighter. I’m so glad to be in it with all of you.

That said! Two Scooters Press did amazingly well. I came home with a single copy of It’s Complicated to my name, and Shreyas came pretty close to selling out of Mist-Robed Gate, as well. Now, if you’re interested in some wuxia fun, you can go bug Shreyas for a copy over at summerbird— but if you want a copy of It’s Complicated, you’re in luck. I should be ordering a second print run next week, and you can order your copy for $16 (with $5 shipping) here.

Other things!

Two Scooters Press should be launching our website soon, along with a forum on The Forge. Also, we’re so jazzed and energized from the con that we’ve got a bunch of projects which are swiftly gaining steam..

DexCon fun

16 07 2008

Shreyas and I are headed to DexCon tonight! We will be running:

  • It’s Complicated on Thursday, 7-16, from 2-6 PM (R171)
  • Mist-Robed Gate on Thursday, 7-16, from 8 PM-12 AM (R182)
  • It’s Complicated on Saturday, 7-19, from 9 AM-1 PM (R249)

We have to HURRY back to Western Mass after that last round of IC, so if you want hangout time, find us before then. Also, we’ll have a bunch of the sweet promotional bookmarks for Mist-Robed Gate to give away. If you’re not going to be at DexCon, one comes with every copy of It’s Complicated, and with every preorder of Mist-Robed Gate.

The bookmark doesn’t look exactly like this, it’s prettier. But it’s close:

It’s Complicated is available for preorder

3 07 2008

Preorders are closed. If you would like to order a copy of this book, you can do so here.

Cashier: How are you?
have them a week or two before GenCon. You can preorder <a
Customer: Do you want the honest answer?

Cashier: Yes.

Customer: I feel like the business end of a donkey. I am extremely hungover and did a mountain of cocaine last night. Now I have to make dinner for a 68-year-old gay artist who is trying to fuck me.

Cashier: I’m… sorry.

Customer: And the woman I love is in another state pregnant with her ex-boyfriend’s baby, and I wish the baby was mine. And I’m sleeping with a dominatrix. And it’s all true.

-From “Overheard in New York”

Do you like stories about happy, functional, well-adjusted people who fall in love with the right people, say the right things, and live happily ever after?

If so, this is definitely not the game for you.

It’s Complicated is a about personality quirks, secrets both dark and embarrassing– but most of all, it’s about convoluted, messy, compelling, and occasionally one-sided relationships. This game is designed to facilitate play in the style of movies like The Royal Tenenbaums, and television shows like Ugly Betty and Pushing Daisies.

It’s probably going to be around 40 pages, 4.25″ x 7″, with color interiors. Art by Shreyas Sampat, layout by Nathan Paoletta, and game by me!

I’m really excited. I hope you are too!

(Also, Shreyas and I may be running a couple games of this and of Mist-Robed Gate at DexCon. Stay tuned!)

JiffyCon and other awesomeness

23 06 2008

JiffyCon Greenfield was this weekend! It was so great. Things got kicked off here at the farm on friday night, when our house was invaded by a ton of cool people. We ate nachos and drank iced tea and watched our favorite movie fight scenes, and a good time was had by all.

The Saturday sessions were great– I played Brennan Taylor’s awesome game called “How We Came to Live Here.” It’s set in a flavor I’ve never really had the taste for, but the structure of the game made it such that I’d love to play it again, and I was actually really drawn in by the color. (Although that night at Meg’s, I talked to him briefly about how great it would be to play a game of it with some Celtic color, because it’d work really well. Shreyas threw up a little in his mouth at the suggestion, but whatever.) I ended up winning a copy of Caper! for the JiffyCon superlatives contest– “Best character name: She Births The Dead.” (My character was known for having stillborn children.)

In the afternoon, Meg, Don Corcoran, and Nathan all joined Shreyas and I for a game of It’s Complicated. Nathan said it best: “Worst. Moon Festival. Ever.” It was a ridiculous game about virgins and unicorns that was a cross between Shakespearean comedy and porn. It went really well though, and I learned that although you might only be able to get through a round of play a session online, you can get through an entire gameboard in 2-3 hours in person. I really enjoyed it, and everyone has expressed a desire to play it again sometime, which makes me really happy.

On Sunday, we playstormed my new game Homecoming: One Soldier’s Story. The premise is something I came up with when Shreyas and I were driving to visit my family in Ohio, since my nephew just got back from a year and a half of bouncing between Iraq and Afghanistan. Meg, Emily, and Nathan were my playstormers, and holy crap, those Imagination Sweatshop people know what they’re doing. I’ve got more than enough material for a first draft, and thanks to Nathan, a super-hot conflict resolution/resource management system I’m really excited about.

It was so great seeing every single one of my favorite people! I wish every day were JiffyCon.

Oh right! I said “Other Awesomeness.” It looks as though I’m going to be doing some photography for one of the versions of Nathan’s amazing game Annalise, which is way exciting! I’m also doing the art and cover for Emily Care Boss’ highly-anticipated, much-beloved Under My Skin. Yay for projects!

Slowly but surely

2 04 2008

So, a couple nights ago, Shreyas and I are over at JACN’s house, and Joshua shot me a pointed look from across the room.

“Hey,” he says, “So this awesome thing happens to me, ever since I published Shock.”

“Oh?” I venture.

“Yeah. See, when you finish a game, and publish it, sometimes you go
to PayPal and there is money in there. Because people buy your
game. So I guess what I’m saying is, when you publish a game, you get money.

In case I missed the aural italics, Shreyas decided to help. “So you’re basically saying Elizabeth needs to finish It’s Complicated.

“Yes. Yes I am.”


It’s going pretty quickly, considering the fact I get access to my computer maybe once a week, tops. (Stupid lack of monitor.) I’m going to overhaul the art (awesome illustrations by the illustrious Shreyas Sampat will be forthcoming), and I need to get talking to the fine printers that JACN has put me in contact with. But someday soon and very soon, once I have a rough cost for my book worked out and a likely pagecount, I’ll be starting pre-orders.

I wasn’t entirely sure if I had the Thatchers to pull off pre-orders, but Sean is running a game of IC at Kubla Con, and in the event listing, he mentions that Complicated is going on pre-order “soon.”

Well, poops. It’s time to get to work.

Secrets of the City: a hack of It’s Complicated?

1 03 2008

So, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to express setting for It’s Complicated. Currently, it’s going to be represented by a haphazard photo album in the back of the book, but here’s the intial idea I had for setting. It turned out that it altered gameplay in a fundamental way, taking the emphasis off of the interpersonal interactions and emotional issues of the characters and putting it on to the wackiness of the setting. I think this is an awesome game, but it’s also not the game I’ve written. So here’s the hack.

Secrets of the City

The City is under quarentine; no one can enter or leave. The reason for this is up to the players; there can be some sort of exotic contagion going around, or maybe no one ever leaves and it’s not for any particular reason. Any reason is an acceptable reason.

The City has issues. These issues include Oddities and Dysfunctions! If you’re playing a Buffy-inspired game, a Dysfunction would be something like “Corrupt Government officials” and an Oddity would be “Hellmouth.” Or for a more realistic game, a Dysfunction would be “very little petty crime,” and the Oddity would be “Extremely powerful organized crime family.”

Instead of the last person to frame a scene placing their traits and line first, the City always places first. The City can be run by a GM, or if a group prefers, the City’s traits can be decided by consensus. When you cross the City, your character declares feelings towards it– The City never declares relationships. When you touch one of its traits, you become involved in some of the City’s intrigue– in the previous examples, you get absorbed into the crime family, or get blackmailed by a corrupt official.

Other than that, play is as normal.

It’s Complicated: cover in progress

29 01 2008


Art by George Cotronis

Let’s talk setting

26 01 2008

I’ve gotten a lot of advice in the last two days from people who think it would be a good idea to include a standard setting for It’s Complicated, instead of explicitly making it a settingless game. It’s interesting to me, because some of these people are friends who told me early in development, “No! This game doesn’t need a setting!” Anyway.

Reasons not to do a standard setting:

  • The game doesn’t need it. The concept is of a genre that isn’t tied to a time period or a particular place; it’s all psychological and emotional.
  • It really lends itself well to all kinds of wacky settings. We’ve played modern day to Mushroom Kingdom, a pulp-action thriller to burnt-out superheroes.
  • There are games that do well without settings: Breaking the Ice and Primetime Adventures are two, and both share roots with It’s Complicated (romantic comedy and television).
  • Example scenarios in the back of the book could easily provide hooks for people too overwhelmed by possibility.

Reasons for a standard setting:

  • Settings sell books. Who doesn’t like setting? I don’t know, but it’s probably the same person who hates puppies and rainbows and ice cream.
  • Settings make books easier to understand. Rules make more sense when they’re in the context of a specific world.
  • There aren’t a lot of settingless games that are popular beyond Breaking the Ice and Primetime Adventures.
  • People love to hack and tinker. Adding a standard setting won’t stop people from coming up with their own: just look at Dogs in the Vineyard.

So, yes, I don’t know. What do you think, dear reader?

Game progress: mine and others

17 01 2008

I’m currently working on the latest (and hopefully final) draft of It’s Complicated, complete with shiny new layout. Page numbers! Table of contents! It’s going to be crazily easy to follow! And the long-promised sections on scene framing and sample scenarios will be there, too.

Also, work on Thousand-Leaved Grass (which needs a new title; we named it after the wrong species of yarrow) is going amazingly well, and I’m so very excited about that game. We’re almost done with character generation and setting up the adventure. But since there’s not really any new content here, I want to talk about the things my friends are working on, that I find particularly exciting.

Over at Thousand and One, Jonathan’s working on his own ancient China game (and unlike me, he really knows what he’s talking about!). He’s hacking Vincent Baker’s new fantasy heartbreaker, In A Wicked Age, to play stories based on The Water Margin. I’ve been playing my share of IAWA lately, and I’m really excited to try out Along the Water’s Edge once it’s out of Jonathan’s head and on the page.

And Shreyas is working on a game that, in my opinion, will change the way people look at storytelling games forever. Keep an eye on his hugblog, summerbird,  for a post about this game. It’s based on a series of stories he’s written called The Water-Seller, some of which are viewable on his fiction blog. He’s got the good pitch, but let’s just say it covers every single thing that I feel makes art important and special and beautiful. While you’re waiting for him to get around to writing about it, you might as well check out Mist-Robed Gate, which is in playtestable form. Just make sure you have a sharp knife..

The Mushroom Kingdom is a constitutional Monarchy? Well, It’s Complicated..

4 01 2008

We had a totally great playtest of It’s Complicated tonight in #indierpgs. Players were JR, Liam, Sean (Robostrife from The Forge), and myself. We decided it was an election year in the Mushroom Kingdom, and time to choose a new Prime Minister. This was probably the smoothest, most fun playtest I’ve seen for the game yet! What follows is the In Character log. It’s only about four scenes long, and well worth the read.

Dramatis Personae:

Kara Koopa: Naive, long-suffering aide-de-campe for Dr. Lakitu
Dr. Lakitu: Former rebel leader, currently running against Mario for Prime Minister of the Mushroom Kingdom
Queen Peach: Bitchy monarch figurehead
Luigi: Violently unhinged Minister of Defense

Read all four deliciously dysfunctional scenes after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »