I’ve started doing #Sprawl23, in which I create a Cyberpunk Sprawl over the year. It’s inspired by #Dungeon23, of course–if I’d noticed the hashtag #City23, I might have used that. All of those hashtags are active in Twitter and Mastodon and there are heaps of resources out there to help you with writing prompts and randomisers and the like. Check out Linda Codega’s Gizmodo piece for some links and discussion.

I started with Caro Asercion’s i’m sorry did you say street magic as a framework. I’m aiming to make a Neighbourhood each week and fill each details of that neighbourhood over the week. My current process is that I roll a random prompt each day from the following list, then write a short entry about a zoomed in aspect of the neighbourhood.
1. Landmark
2. Resident
3. Community
4. Event
5. Corporation/Corpofucks
6. Mission/Cyberfucks
7. Breakdown/The Fan Disperses Excrement
8. Matrix/Virtual

1, 2, and 4 are from i’m sorry did you say street magic; 8 seemed an appropriate addition; 5 and 6 are from a prot-project that I batted around with Jacqueline Bryk in the pre-Covid times that might yet happen; and 3 and 7 are suggestions from folks on social media (h/t Eli and Rob).

It’s week two now, so I’ve completed the first neighbourhood, Little Europe–containing a mission (The Artemis Warrens), a matrix feature (The Corpse Nodes), a breakdown (Crisis at the Canals), a resident (Quinn Cheung), an event (Ancestor’s Day) and a community (Kakushin-Smash Residents Association).

Today I’m moving downtown, to the Towers…


As usually happens, the two Kiwi-focused panels at Big Bad Online 2021 arose from a series of behind-the-scenes email conversations between the eventual panellists. The excellent vibe of those discussions and the panels gave us all the sense that we wanted to continue those conversations and our general collaboration. A number of us were already part of the active Wellington gaming scene and had been gathering regularly as part of Wellington’s GameHive design collective, but aside from personal connections, there had been little attempt to make broader connections around the motu.

Thanks in large part to the energies of Liam Stevens and Morgan Davies, the general collaborative energies have been focused into a new community: KiwiRPG, Kēmu Whakatau O Aotearoa.

KiwiRPG is a community of people in Aotearoa New Zealand who create tabletop roleplaying games, actual play experiences, or other game paratexts: game designers, podcasters, streamers, and theorists. Check out the website for a statement of our community kaupapa and to browse the designers and shows involved.

Look out for our hashtag #KiwiRPG on itch.io, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube and especially for our official launch event, KiwiRPG Week 2022, in the first week of May.

History and Games

A lot of my game design processes and cycles flow along the rhythm on attending conventions. The Sprawl was conceived on the drive home from the first Big Bad Con in 2011 and much of my design and playtesting for the game took place at and around the Los Angeles Strategicon conventions, Origins and Gen Con in the Midwest, and local conventions in Los Angeles, San Diego, the Pacific Northwest, Wellington and Christchurch. I could trace a similar pattern around my development of Dinosaur Princesses, Kratophagia, and Another Day to Love at local conventions in Maine and at Metatopia. I like the concentrated sense of a game’s mechanics that I get when I run 4 or more sessions of a game over a few days. This rhythm also helped refine my thoughts on how to run The Sprawl as a one shot, much of which appeared in various ways in The Downtown Dataheist and The Mission Files. The role of this rhythm has become especially clear over the last couple of years as Covid has dampened the convention scene and international travel. I mention the international aspect because in 2019 I moved back to New Zealand from the US where I had been based since the mid-2000s. That move and the international situation has seen my thinking about games refocused in an academic direction.

I had already begun to think about the relationship between games and ancient history in my previous academic job and it has only increased since taking up my current position. The rest of this post contains a few examples of my thinking along these lines.

First, a recording of a talk I gave remotely for the Chau Chak Wing Museum in Sydney, Glory on the Plastic Battlefield, which considered how the ancient Greek world is represented in board games.

Glory on the Plastic Battlefield (Chau Chak Wing Museum, 2021)

Next is a recording of a panel I participated in at Big Bad Online 2021 alongside Liam Stevens of Toa Tabletop, Tof Eklund of AUT and moderated by streamer Josh Arthur. The panel focused on the relationship between history and games, especially in the colonial context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

History, Colonialism and Games (Big Bad Online, 2021)

The organising conversations around that panel and the other Aotearoa panel at Big Bad Online resulted in a number of rich collaborations. Liam and I, joined by anthropologist and historian Shawn Rowlands, continued our conversation about history and games on his podcast, Toa Tabletop. In the first episode we discussed how history has influenced us as designers and GMs.In the second, we gave advice about how you could use history at your table in thoughtful and intentional ways.

The other collaboration that arose from that Big Bad panel will be the subject of my next post. Stay tuned!

Dinosaur Princesses Stomping Into the ENnies!

EDIT: We won a silver ENnie!!

I’m very happy to announce that Dinosaur Princesses is a nominated finalist in three categories of the ENnies Tabletop RPG Awards! We’re up for Best Electronic Book, Best Family Game, and Product of the Year. We’re in amazing company, with some fantastic games nominated in each of those categories, and in many others.

Finalists in for the ENnies are nominated by judges and then the winners are decided by a fan vote. Voting is now live, so please spread the word about Dinosaur Princesses, take a look at the list of nominees and vote for your favourites here: http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/2019/

The ENnies’ award ceremony will be livestreamed from Gen Con on August 2nd at 8:00 PM EDT. If we win one of those, I think you’ll like the song we chose…

Magic bursts into The Sprawl!

Touched Prime is the second of a series of stand-alone settings introducing magic into the world of The Sprawl.

Spray your sprawl with rift energy and step into the magical world of corporate espionage.

“Two generations after the rifts opened, the majority of the world now accept common definitions of Troll-kin or Wild-kin based on physical and magical differences. However, what I find truly fascinating is the emergence of a sense of shared culture within these kin-groups; one that is deeply influenced by the historical culture of the individual or family unit but which is clearly cut through by a newly awakened sense of commonality and community. There is much we do not understand about the role of magic in transmitting knowledge and ways of knowing.”

—Dr. Sara Abigail, Head of Kin Studies, University of Atlantis – Lake Eerie

It’s 2050 and magic rules everything around you. Just kidding–cash still rules, but magic makes a great scapegoat.

Touched Prime is a cyberfantasy setting for The Sprawl. The rifts have been open for a couple of generations. The magic has seeped into the very fabric of humanity, splitting it into multiple kin groups: Dwarf-kin, Elf-kin, Human-kin, Troll-kin and Wild-kin. Magic has also been seamlessly absorbed into the corporate system–huge divisions and subsidiaries are devoted to exploiting the rifts and their magic. Down on the streets, magic users come in many forms: the highly educated Mages, the indebted Thrall and the warrior Adepts. Then there are the Horror Bane, normal folk scarred by a Horror whom they have sworn their lives to destroy.

Touched Prime is the second installment of the Touched settings, advancing the world established in

A Darkening Alley and putting magical abilities in the hands of the characters. All players choose a kin group and have access to four new playbooks: Adept, Horror Bane, Mage, and Thrall. Players may also choose the Antiquarian playbook from A Darkening Alley.

Take on the corps with powers from a magic dimension. Discover the learned craft of rift magic and the costly arts of fate manipulation. Sow the seeds of your game in this magical earth or plant them in the garden of your choosing. Your cyberfantastic dystopia awaits!

The cover art is a second piece by Toma Feizo Gas, creator of the cover from the main rulebook.

Going hot...

You can read about the production history and future of the Touched line in this backer update. In particular, there are no plans for a PoD version of this product, but it will eventually be included with other Touched products in a future combined PoD book.

Dinosaur Princesses!

When trouble strikes the kingdom, how will you and your friends save the day? Through teamwork, that’s for sure! Dinosaur Princesses is a story game about friends who are dinosaurs who are princesses solving problems together and its now available in PDF format on DriveThruRPG! (Print on Demand coming very soon.)

  • Decide what type of Dinosaur you are (a t-rex, ankylosaurs, or platypus perhaps!) and what type of Princess you are (maybe an aquanaut, zookeeper, or chef!).
  • Draw and colour your Dinosaur Princess.
  • Gather your friends, build up a group dice pool, and overcome all the obstacles and problems that the Palaeontologist throws your way!

Dinosaur Princesses is a story game of collaboration and cooperation for 2-5 players of all ages. Designed to be enjoyed by kids, kids and adults, or just adults. The only prerequisite is an imagination! We all remember a time when we loved dinosaurs… embrace it!

Cover and interior art by J Wahl: check out J’s work at deepseagaylien.com.


When Corporate Hell is not a Metaphor

Touched: A Darkening Alley is the first of a series of stand-alone settings introducing magic into the world of The Sprawl.

The cyberpunk future is already a horror show. Now it gets supernatural…

“The shit-holes are getting shittier, and no one wants to talk about it. The town that disappeared, that video of a lady giving birth to what looked like an octopus, or the leaked corp files about a continuous human scream emanating from Jupiter. Why aren’t the news feeds talking about this? What are the corps hiding?”

—Antonio Alverez, editor-at-large THE CANT

It’s 1985. Ever since Nixon privatised the Vietnam War, we’ve been an a downhill slide into corporate hell. We all thought that was a metaphor, but maybe we were too optimistic. A Darkening Alley is a low-magic, dark horror setting for The Sprawl. Rifts in the fabric of space are starting to crack, opening portals to strange new worlds filled with beings and energies far beyond our understanding; humanity is beginning to feel the effects. Strange happenings are becoming more and more common. The street-side prophets are starting to sound a bit reasonable. The corporations smell power and have started pouring a lot of money into investigating and documenting these occurrences—that’s where you come in.

A Darkening Alley introduces the new Antiquarian playbook, a Trauma system by DYMPHNA, and several magical abilities available to players through basic advances. Because players do not start with magical abilities, you can easily merge this setting with an ongoing campaign.

And check out Dawn Carlos‘ awesome cover art…

Walk into the light...

You can read about the production history and future of the Touched line in this backer update. The most important takeaway is that there are no plans for a PoD version of this product, but it will eventually be included with other Touched products in a future combined PoD book.

Chroming Your Con Play

If you’ve played in a convention game with me over the last year or so, you might have noticed I’ve been using cut-down and mostly pre-generated playbooks. I made these so that I could run 5-10 minute 1-2 player demos for the Fall 2017 Great Falls Comic Expo in Lewiston, ME. I streamed the process of making these on Twitch; the video is now on YouTube:


Those playbooks are now available here (and on the Download page).

Generally I use these with The Downtown Dataheist (PWYW on DTRPG).

Ms. Singh wants you to steal a data file from a downtown research facility. Easy in, easy out, right? It’s all fun and games until the street hears what you’re planning. They’ll find their own uses for you.

A few days ago, a fixer asked you to recover a file from this facility. Who is the fixer and do you trust them?

A corporation is leaning on you to sabotage the mission. Which corporation? What leverage do they have over you?

You are keeping this job secret from your Ecuadine handler. Why?

The Downtown Dataheist is a two-hour quickstart mission for The Sprawl. This mission uses pre-generated corporations and individual mission briefs to entangle the characters, a cut-down version of character creation, an abbreviated Legwork Phase in which the players will quickly create the facility they are about to infiltrate, and a timed planning phase. Then it’s all Action.


The Mission Files

The Mission Files was originally funded as Stretch Goal 001 of the Kickstarter (backer update here) and is now available in PDF and Print on Demand from DTRPG.

Missions are the lifeblood of The Sprawl. Better lay down the plastic.

The Sprawl: Mission Files is a collection of ten new cyberpunk missions for The Sprawl. Infiltrations, extractions, heists, recovery ops, wetwork, investigations, hunts, pursuits, shakedowns, Mr Smith has them all… and more.

Ready to run. Each mission includes a brief summary of the fictional setup and details on the people and places involved, as well as all the clocks and directives you need.

Hack them into your own shape. Each mission also takes you behind the scenes with design notes on its structure and ideas for hacking the mission to make it uniquely yours.

Between the lines and beyond the missions. The Sprawl: Mission Files is also filled with MC advice and tips for how to handle tricky situations and how to tweak familiar features of the game to enrich your play experience.

With excellent cover art by Alina Shutko!

A somewhat belated update here. The PDF was released in August and after a comedy of proofing and shipping errors, the Print on Demand dropped in October.


Dinosaur Princesses Kickstarter Campaign

Here is the link to the kickstarter campaign!

The Dinosaur Princesses celebrate saving the day!

The Dinosaur Princesses celebrate saving the day!

Have you Heard About Dinosaur Princesses?

Dinosaur Princesses is a rules-lite play-heavy collaborative tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) about friends who are dinosaurs who are princesses solving problems together!

Decide what type of Dinosaur you are (a t-rex, ankylosaurs, or platypus perhaps!) and what type of Princess you are (maybe an aquanaut, zookeeper, or chef!). Remember that, just like your type of dinosaur isn’t limited by strict definitions of “dinosaur”, your princess isn’t limited to being a girl—everyone can be a Dinosaur Princess! After you decide what your Dinosaur Princess is like, you then start the very important step of drawing and colouring your Dinosaur Princess. Now gather your friends, build up group dice pool, and overcome all the obstacles and problems that the Palaeontologist throws your way!

Dinosaur Princesses is a story game of collaboration and cooperation for all ages. Great for new TTRPG players and experienced players alike.

Did we mention the rulebook is also a colouring book?

Get notified of future Kickstarters by following Hamish: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/ardensludere

Or keep an eye out on Twitter: @ArdensLudere  |  @peregrinekiwi  |  @DAYtheELF


Featuring art by J Wahl (portfolio)

Dinosaur Princesses Cover

Dinosaur Princesses Cover

Dinosaur Princesses Character Sheet

Dinosaur Princesses Character Sheet

Dinosaur Princesses Play Sheets and Map

Dinosaur Princesses Character Sheets and Map