Nexus: As Above, So Below

I have perhaps alluded to my first rpg system, Nexus, in previous posts. It was a universal RPG with stats derived from Legend of the Five Rings and point-based traits like Tri-Stat. It lasted a summer before getting supplanted by Savage Worlds as a ruleset for me, but the setting itself lives on in all of my games. It also features heavily in my greater design philosophy, so this is as good a time as any to address some of my long-range goals.

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Breaking the Mold with One Shot Gaming

If you have been taking a look at the sorts of games I run or attend at conventions, or have taken a look at the Adventures page here on the site, then you know I enjoy telling contained stories. (If you haven’t been doing those things, then hi, welcome to Nerdhaus Games. Most posts in the Convention category have that in common) The appeal of one shots for me is twofold: scheduling and variety. Somewhere between those two points are significant benefits to you as a player and your existing game group, if you have one.

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When Tropes Attack: Genre Conventions in Tabletop Games

Genre considerations in a tabletop game are tricky. On the one hand, playing to expectations and including elements from the wider genre is necessary (to an extent) for it to qualify as an example of the “thing.” On the other, playing too close to type can make the game boring or predictable. Where do you draw the line between staying faithful and being original?

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Co-GMing in a Shared World

We all want to play. That has different meanings for all of us, but the joy of settling in and letting the game wash over us as a PC is a different experience than building the session and guiding everyone into the thick of it. Some players end up trapped in the perma-GM role, and they (and let’s be clear, I also mean I) sometimes wish it weren’t that way. To help combat that, and spread the weight of running the game around, a group I played with had a novel solution: we would all run the game.

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Why Stories?

It’s in the slogan. But why?

I’m trained in theatre. I got a college degree in directing, the craft and planning of stories. I also write: plays, short fiction, adventures, campaigns. Stories.

My wallet (a gift from my wife) has a quote on the back from Dr Who: “We are all stories in the end.” And I agree with that. Storytelling is an essential human activity. more “Why Stories?”

Writing Heist

I pushed through and wrote a new card game in about a week (ignoring years of pondering the idea and sketching out some earlier builds that are lost to time). Rulebook one day, and then about a third of the cards each over the next few days. It helps that I sit on this stuff for a while, because it means I’ve already sorted out the flow of the game in advance. This one, however, had some help that previous ones did not: It came to me in a dream.

Literally. I hadn’t pondered doing a faux-70s Ocean’s 11 heist card game until I woke up one morning and jotted down some notes from a vivid dream where I was in a friend’s garage and we were playtesting my new game. There was a card table covered in cards and a Twister-style vinyl playmat where we had just finished a getaway driver minigame after one of us completed a heist where other players were the pursuing cops and we had escaped successfully. We debated the merits of the getaway sequence, whether it added to the overall game or brought the pace down, how it interacted with the existing heat mechanic for drawing attention to your crew… It was very specific and my dream friends had a lot of good thoughts on what worked and what didn’t. By the end of the dream I was confirming my hunch that the getaway sequence was either a separate game or better served as an optional expansion or add-on than being integrated with the base experience of managing your criminal network.

I still fight a bit with myself as to where or how this game fits into my existing worlds, which doesn’t exactly feature a Batman: The Animated Series-meets-Archer sort of faux historical look at crime and the international masterminds who commit it. I considered moving it forward to fit with Cabal’s dystopian cyberpunkness, but it got real techy and didn’t fit well enough. I considered shifting it backward to competing steampunk air pirates in Steelheart Skies, but that felt even more forced. Ultimately, it seems to have settled somewhere in the orbit of my Captain Excelsior golden-era comic book setting (created for a murder mystery, complete with professional comic book art) and that works for me. We’ll see next week how it plays and if dream-logic translates to game logic. Who knows, there might even be an Incredibles-influenced supers vs. criminals playset next.

KantCon 2016

Last weekend was KantCon in Overland Park, KS. Last year, KantCon was the first tabletop convention I had ever attended and my first convention ever with a game in tow. I have quickly come to appreciate the unique opportunity that tabletop conventions provide: fans ready to mingle, play, and challenge each other, and GMs who are offering their take on settings and rules all over the place. For gamers of most any stripe, it’s hard to turn down the opportunity to be surrounded by a few hundred of your peers, especially when “real life” has interfered with one’s ability to get a game going. For me as a designer, it’s invaluable.

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Why Nerdhaus Games?

A question that needs an answer early in the conversation: Why start my own studio?

The short version: To see if I can and because I want to see stories told in their own way, at their own pace.

I’ve joked with overzealous GMs that if their cutscenes and monologues are so important to them that they should just write a novel. I feel the same way about writing games. more “Why Nerdhaus Games?”

Nerdhaus Games: Online

Woo! Nerdhaus has been a lot of things: a home, a dream, a project. Now it is one step closer to being a reality. Thank you so much for starting this journey with us. We literally couldn’t do it without you.

While we’re breaking in the new site, there will be changes. But as with everything in Nerdhaus Games, that’s part of the process. So have a look around at the Worlds we’re dreaming up for you and see if any of them strike your fancy. Let us know what’s exciting and what we should focus on next as we get Cabal up to speed. We’re going to tell some excellent stories together, I can see that already.

See you across a game table soon, everyone!

-Jamie Lindemann