Wednesday, September 5, 2007

George's Children AP

Players: Aaron, James, Joel, Jim, jim, and Richard

I ran a 6-player session of GC last night for players who are usually enjoying D&D Iron Heroes or Mutants and Masterminds. The session, for all it's hic-cups, was pretty good and one of the players offered a lot more than expected. It was interesting to see them wrapping their heads around the idea of no GM and competing for "attention" (which is essentially what complications are).

Aaron opened the story with 12-year old Mike (who hated being called Mikey). He lived in an old subway bathroom and ventured out for food every morning. A lone six-year old had fallen through the dilapidated ceiling a pack of three dogs were circling him like food. Mike grabbed a massive rock to smash one of the dogs with, but a fourth dog approached and scared Mike. Thinking the situation a distraction, the six-year old fled down the tunnel and the pack of dogs chased, mauling and feeding on the child. Mikey failed to get food.

Morris (11-year old played by Richard), slept in a catwalk above the tracks, miraculously spared from the collapse of the ceiling. Morris worked his way down and sneaked away from from the chaos to get a ho-ho out of a vending machine hidden deep in the subway. His shoes were worn and Richard spent a lot of time describing the environment around him. Morris was able to get the last ho-ho out of the machine without it closing on his hand.

Jim played a 10-year old named Johnny who woke that morning from inside the trunk of a parked car. He walked the streets, looking for food, uneventfully. He would prove to be a huge thorn in Morris' side all game long.

Joel played a 9-year old (named Zeb) with a simple desire to stand out from the group and eat ice cream, which he never discovered. He was a pampered child who lived inside his parent's home, even though the parents were long gone. He fell during breakfast trying to get to the last box of cereal at the top of shelf of the kitchen.

I played an 8-year old (something I hadn't done before) named Tommy who wanted to kiss a girl, but suffered from delusions. He lived in an orphanage and escaped into the city wearing a labcoat from the orphanage.

James played Cletus, a 7-year old boy with a penchant for fun.

Highlights of the game include:
Morris was an absolute bully to all the kids.
James grabbed a fistful of quarters from the ashtray of a parked car and some big kids chased us off. James later used those quarters to ride the helicopter ride outside the Wal-Store.
Finally finding a shoe store that only had women's shoes.
The realization that Tommy wasn't from an orphanage but a mental ward. He fell asleep on the ground next to a dead dog at the end of the story.
Jim broke the social contract and had Richard's character die.
The strengths written on the character sheets were extremely creative.

This one a really strong demonstration of the game, overall, but the play style was VERY VERY different from what everyone was used to. Jim expressed interest in playing again sometime and Aaron and I had fun, as always, playing the game.

The size of the group did limit our ability to play to five glory (we stopped at three) in a short amount of time and I'm sure a second playing of the game might change everyone's ability to relate to a game that is so different from the standard non-indie paradigm.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Gateway 2007

A few more friends picked up copies of the books. Thanks, everyone.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

GenCon 2007

Artwork by Daerick Gröss

I am releasing Stranglehold XSW: Impact (tr)ashcan edition at GenCon. Only 50 Copies.

You can read about that here and here.

I will also bring a few copies of George's Children with me, for those interested.

I'll be at the Rogue Games booth (1535) for some of the show and you'll be able to pick up either (or both) games there.

See you in three weeks.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

An Overview

George's Children is a shard-experience roleplaying and storytelling game that allows the players to take on the roles of children in a post-apocalyptic world, devoid of adults. It draws heavily from Stand by Me, Lord of the Flies, A Boy and His Dog, Akira, and Mad Max. The children and their point of view is everything.

Adults have been dead long enough for the world to slip into crisis, but short enough that some children remember them.

Played without a gamemaster and told in three acts, the players take turns in age order (oldest first) detailing each of the following stages of the game

Act I: Breakfast
Act II: Gossip
Act III: The Journey
Act IV: The The
Act V: Bedtime

During Act I, the children get one turn to introduce their character. They can either succeed or fail at the end of the scene, determining whether or not they eat. The oldest child is expected to take an action that brings all of the children together in one place.

Act II can be played one of two ways (although most everyone prefers the first version). Co-op or competitive rumors. Each child reveals a rumor about THE THE, being as convincing as they can about something that must be overcome. This is essentially how the plot of the game develops. But it changes every time you play. The only rules about the rumor is that it must be told as a THE. Children do not go to A park, they go to THE park. Therefore if a child says there's a monster in a forest somewhere, he is referring to THE monster in THE forest. In our first ever game, it was THE itchy. In the competitive version, the person with the most successes convinces everyone to go after his/her goal. In co-op, everyone votes or agrees.

Undoubtedly, it always becomes about safety or luxury. Children want to get somewhere safe or fight some bad guys. OR, they want to reach a place where food is plentiful.

Act III is the journey. It plays like Act I, but continues around the table over and over again until one player reach give glory, which immediately starts Act IV. If anyone accumulates five worry, he or she ages one year and is out of the game. If the child is 12, he/she dies. The player still plays the game, but the child is not part of the story any longer. Act III does not have to be a journey. If the goal is to build defenses against an incoming gang of kids, then game play is still the same, but the players do not walk somewhere, but instead take turns preparing for the end.

Act IV is THE THE. This is free-form again. Although instead of gaining successes, the players spend the successes they have received so far, one at a time, revealing more and more about the climax.

Act V is Bedtime where the players discuss the fate of the other children at the end of the day based on the amount of Worry they have amassed.

Gameplay is about 3-5 hours depending on the number of players and the complexity of the story.

Character creation is a two-step process, pick a name and an age (between 7 and 12). No two children can be the same age.

Your Memory score is equal to your age. This represents a child's reality and how he/she interacts with it. Your Imagination score is 15 minus your age. This represents a child's perception of reality and ability to expand it.

Children have one goal each, to help frame the character. This has no mechanical value.

Children have strengths, which can be used once to reroll a failed die roll. Basically luck or hit points with names.

Determining success is a simple 50/50 ratio, with children bidding their attributes to determine how many dice they roll. The other children can increase the difficulty of a trial by spending their own imagination or memory. The more people spend, the harder it is for a child to get passed their objective.

Children either forge independence (gain Glory) or forge bonds (reduce the worry of others) during their turn. Since it is (sort of) a race to be the first child with five glory, the game can get a little competitive. Which is good. In the Lord of Flies version of the game, children play to last man standing, not a set number of Glory.

I think that's the easiest way to describe everything in the game.

Game Review

We received a not so glamorous review of George's Children over at Story Games. And while I appreciate all constructive feedback about anything I write, two things strike me about this review.

One. We did this book for charity. That means we worked for free.

Two. Story Games is unforgiving and certainly not looking to extend any olive branches to me. So while any news is good news normally applies, I'm not sure anyone is going to race to my defense.

Anyway. I'm looking into doing some edits on it and maybe have a nicer edition out.

Who knows.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

George's Children: Getting Started

One of the alternative ways to starting George's Children is by having the players answer the following questions. This should help to give everyone a more clear vision of the world.

1. Where did the all parents go?

2. How long have they been gone?

3. Do children live in cities?

4. Are there gangs of other children to contend with?

5. When was the last time the children ate?

Either the answers become a concensus OR the most popular answers rise to the top. Either way, it shouldn't take more than five minutes to answer these questions before the game begins.

And this should help draw newer players in quickly.

Also, I've found that players prefer DICE to TOKENS.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


After reviewing the first copies to come off press, I have made some corrections to the layout of this book. The newest version on lulu is the same size, but is easier to read and has some corrected text.

Nothing major, but I feel better having made these changes.

Monday, May 28, 2007

George's Children Demonstration Report and Updates

I ran two more demonstrations of George's Children (at Kubla Con) this passed weekend.

One good. One okay.

The good one was amazingly strong. Overtly dark. Emotional. Important. Great game. Everyone involved (Mark, John, John, and Amanda) really got into the environment and worried less about the "crunch" of the rules.

The second group was fun. No doubt. But I had trouble translating ideas into abstract rules. That's mostly my fault. I usually get a little lazy running the game after having such an amazing time with it. A few people really got how the rules worked and how dark the game was.

Davi and Alex were great players. In fact, everyone was great, in a vaccuum. But it is -- admitedlly -- a difficult game to pull strangers together to play. And when a couple of strangers know each other, they can easily fall into routines. Couple with that my expectations and the fact that I wasn't playing... only observing and guiding... and you have a recipe very different from the first session.

But, everyone had a good time and the game was very different from previous sessions. So I'm happy.

One player promised to buy a copy and another one did.

And I got some great advice out of it.

We've now brought in over $200 in donations as well, in just under a month, and I presume that within a few weeks, we'll have even more purchases -- unless people lied.

So. I want to thank everyone that purchased a book.

You rock.

Look for more updates this week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

George's Children Demo

I will be running a demo of George's Children at Kubla Con this weekend. Anyone interesting in playing, should come out to the con and sign up.

I will also have five copies available for sale at the show.

All proceeds still go to charity.

Monday, May 14, 2007

George's Children Update

We have made almost $200 for charity so far. Which is great, but we'd like to see more people playing this game.

I know this takes time, but tell your friends about George's Children.


Saturday, May 5, 2007

George's Children Preview

Here's a sample spread from the game.

And here's the character sheet spread.

Please contact me for a pdf. Until I figure out how to post one on here, that's the only way to get one.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

George's Children Releases

Today is National Child Safety Day and Jon and I are proud to release this game.

A Print on Demand copy is available for $20 on lulu.

Please feel free to also make a donation to the charity of your choice if you are so inclined.

Monday, April 30, 2007

George's Children, 11th Hour

George's Children releases on May 2nd as a POD book, through

Once everything is completed and the book is uploaded, I will announce the game here (and probably a few more places).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stranglehold Update

I recently developed a great system for naming moves in Stranglehold.

The game is almost done, believe it or not... I just need to type it.

I have tag team matches and special match types to design, but the general flow of the game works... and CAGE matches generate a lot of points, quickly.

Looking forward to another round of playtest.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stranglehold Playtest, Round 2

The first two playtests of Stranglehold were done with Aaron and Josh G., at which point we realized this is most likely a FOUR player game, although THREE is doable. Last night, I played with Colin, Judson, and Mark (Josh B was absent) and everyone had a great time.

The random tables seemed to really capture the game play for everyone. So I certainly need more of those. And midstream we realized that TWO cards need to be flipped at once, rather than ONE at a time, for TURNS.

And I know all of this sounds obscure to you because you don't know much about the game yet, but I promise you will.

Anyway. We had a great playtest and I'll report more when I can.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Related News


A close friend in the industry is going through an ordeal at the moment, I wanted to raise awareness by posting this link.

Back to work on GC.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Stranglehold Cover

My GenCon release (if Daerick gets the art done).

I might also have Murdercycles ready to post soon.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Game Design Update

The following games are in development.

George's Children (releases May 2nd)

Stranglehold (releases at GenCon)

Cookie Jar (releases at GenCon)

Relics of Power (releases by the end of the year)

MurderCycles (still in development)

King of Storms (still in development)

Coil (still in development)

The Hallow (still in development)

Born from Hate (just an idea at the moment)

In the meantime, I'm working on art direction and graphic design for AEG, Green Ronin, Z-Man Games, Rogue Games, Zietgiest, and Strategicon, as well as advertising firms in Orange County and Los Angeles. I'm also doing copywriting for a few companies here and there, including Mattel and of course, the projects mentioned above.

And yet, I still wish I had more to do (or at least more money for what I am working on).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Release of GC Approaches

Our release date is May 2nd.

All proceeds from the sale of George's Children are going to charity.

As soon as the game is available, I will post information here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

For the Record

It's jim pinto.

Not Jim Pinto.

I hope that clears things up.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Relics of Power III

Our playtest of Relics of Power did not go well. Because of the open-ended nature of the game, the PCs took the DAGGER OF POWER and used it to their own aims. Well. One PC anyway. At present their doesn't seem to be a smart enough system default for getting the PCs to share the relic and once someone has the relic, he/she bulldozes over the other players.

I originally wanted to create a GM-less game about PCs tempted and corrupted by absolute power... but gamers aren't easily disuaded... and I think the desire to drop the hammer on the kingdom with their very own BOOMSTICK is too difficult to pass up.

What am I missing?

Playtesters: Aaron, Josh, jim

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Relics of Power II

I am getting way ahead of myself on the design of this game, but Jon's cover art makes me want to design eleven ways from the full moon and then back again. I'm trying to avoid the typical game company pitfalls of overly complex and textured logos, as though the logo says more than the art.

It's tired.

This cover is so simple and elegant, that a simple logo design is in order.

But that doesn't stop me from trying a bunch of ideas... good or otherwise.

Below are six different ideas for the same game. Enjoy.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Relics of Power

The game is chaning shape. The title is different. The mechanics will be more D&D-like in their presentation. The game will not play like it, but the rules will be curt and concise.

I'm also working on notes for three other RPGs at the moment (bringing the total for 2007 to FIVE). King of Storms as you know... and two more when I feel comfortable sharing.

George's Children draws closer to completion as well.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ring of Power III

While still working on George's Children, Jon Hodgson and I have plotted two more games for ourselves to design.

Without giving too much away, the second game is called the Ring of Power and the theme is shifting right in front of my eyes. What was initially a game about DESTROYING the ring is now becoming a game about dealing with the power of the ring. Coming to terms with what must be done.

Judson came up with some interesting mechanics for temptation tonight and I'm still wrestling with what you DO in the game at the moment.... what was very LINEAR, may become an open ended game.

My connundrum at this juncture is this... if the game is about a RELIC of power (set in any era), the risks and rewards become obvious. And the implementation of mechanics becomes easier.

However, does this sound like a game that needs deliniated structure (go from point A to point B), or could I steal a page from Lacuna and design a smart game (well, as smart as I can) with no guidelines on what to do with it?

I realize this breaks the format for posting to getting started, but I'm at a crossroads here on where to go.

Any thoughts... on here or in private will be rewarded with cookies.


Ring of Power II

Okay. So Judson and Josh didn't like my original "concept" for Ring of Power. I may need to change the name and rethink the scope of this game.

I know what I want, it's just going to take some work to get there.

George's Children releases on May 2.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

ring of power

Hodgson and I are going to do a second game together. And I'm already working on it, even though GC isn't done.

I've got TONS of ideas for it, too.

It'll play similarly to GC, but with a LOT more rules... and a potential for variable length. Lots more competitive than GC.

I'll post the character sheet after the first playtest.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

King of Storms Cover

Artwork by Jonathan Hunt. Art Direction by jim pinto.

I'm not convinced that this is the final version of the graphics, but this picture IS the cover.

Other options include:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

OrcCon 2007

The premiere of George's Children last about three hours. It wasn't a very dark game session and it revealed a kink in the armor of this game.

Carla was easily the best player at the table, really getting into the role of a child without being a disruptive element. Wayne was also extremely potent as the oldest child trying to keep everyone in line.

Although, he later revealed that this was probably why he didn't like the session as much as the first playtest of the game six months ago.

A few people didn't get it, and that's okay. Not having a printed version of the game and trying to remember every nuansce was partially my fault. In all, I think everyone enjoyed the game, but in the future, I'm going to run a five-player game and play the oldest child myself.

This game will be done and ready for POD in under two months, I promise.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

King of Storms

I am presently designing a second RPG called, King of Storms.

It is no where near finished, BUT we had our first playtest and I'm pleased that it sucked as much as it did... it gives me some direction.

Seeing people playing it, puts into perspective what it is that I want from this product.

Anyway. I doubt anyone is reading this, but if you are... just know that I intend to release at least one, and maybe two games this year.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

George's Children

George's Children is an original game design by Jon Hodgson and jim pinto.

I've now playtested this game four times, and it's really taking shape. We had a great game on Friday, but I'm still having trouble with the economy of the tokens.

In George's Children, the players take on the roles of children (ages 7 to 12) in an apocolyptic world devoid of adults. The true cause of the apocolypse isn't important, but the tone of the game is determined by the way the players narrate the game. Told in five acts, this GM-less game is run with no prep-time and very little paperwork. The events take place over the course of ONE DAY in the life of the characters... who do not need to know each other before play begins, but who find cause (during Act II) to journey together.

To Play: You need only four colors of tokens and a method (perhaps pennies) of flipping coins. Tokens with two different sides are ideal.

The Act structure is as follows.

Act I: Breakfast
Act II: Rumors
Act III: Hero's Journey
Act IV: Finale
Act V: Bedtime

In each act, the children must embellish different details of the game, narrating and advancing the story as little or as much as they can within the confines of the rules. Using their two stats (memory and imagination), the children can either Forge Bonds (reduce worry) with one another or Forge Confidence (gaining glory for themselves). When a child forges a bond with another character, he reduces the worry of both himself and the target player. When a child forges confidence, he sets a challenge for himself, that the other players can complicate by expending Memory or Imagination. If he succeeds, a point of Glory is gained (regardless of how complicated the act becomes).

Worry is gained each time a child fails at anything and each time a child "refreshes" his token pool (memory and imagination).

In Act I, the children must forage for food, each player narrating in Initiative order (youngest to oldest). In Act II, the children each tell a rumor (in reverse Initiative Order) of some THE that they have heard about. The THE is the thing that poses some sort of obstacle of the group and sets the plot for the story that session. There are two methods for determining which plot is most likely... spending Imagination... or voting... which is determined before play begins. Once the plot is determined, the children begin their quest while on their way to face the THE.

Act III is where the children take turns (in Initative order) either Forging bonds or confidence, progressing the story as they go. Once a child gains five worry, he is out of the game (although the player may still be involved in Act IV). When a child reaches five glory, Act IV is entered and the child who gained the last glory begins telling the tale of the finale.

NOTE: In the Lord of the Flies version, play continues until all but one child has five worry. In the Extended game, play continues until everyone has either five (or more) glory or five worry.

In Act IV (during the finale), each player (in turn) details one fact about the conclusion for each point of Glory gained. They do not spend it all at once, but rather detail one each, before play passes to the left. The player who gained five glory (in the standard version) gets to tell the first and final details of the finale. While it is inappropriate to maim or kill a player's CHARACTER during the finale, players that know one another well enough can embellish as much as they like. A fact (in Act IV) cannot advance the story to the point of no-return, but once a fact has been uttered, it cannot be undone by a successive player's embellishment, either. The facts should have something to do with the THE and should further the aims of the story. Beyond this, there are no hard and fast rules for how glory is used. Because there is no chance of failure, however, Glory is immensely more powerful than Memory or Imagination.

In Act V, each player is allowed to detail one aspect of the character to his left (in Initiative order) for each point of Worry accrued during play. Each player takes a turn detailing ALL of the aspects of the character to his left... as they would affect the child THAT EVENING.

During my most recent playtest, the story we told was incredibily entertaining, extremely dark, and (I hope) well-received. The hard-line difference between Imagination and Memory has finally been established thanks to this playtest. Because Aaron and I know each other, I was able to kill his character during Act IV and Vasco's detailing of my character during Act V was brilliant. Aaron's explanation of Josh's character's fate was equally brilliant.

I think I only need to play this a couple more times before I'm ready to publish everything.

Playtest: Josh, Vasco, Aaron, jim