Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope…

Help me Obi Wan
A picture of me impersonating Obi Wan, in order to justify the ridiculous title of this post…

Hi everyone! November is sooo close right now I can almost smell it!

I received an email recently from a fan of NagaDemon asking if they could help out in some way. It was a really nice offer and one I took them up on. You may or may not be aware that this website and the social media accounts and all the stuff associated with it is a one-man show; not so much by choice, but simply because I am not very good at asking for help or delegating! So here is me being brave and putting it out there – if you would like to help out in any way, let me know!

There are two areas in which I feel I need help the most. Firstly, I need enthusiastic participants (or non-participants, if you don’t have time to create this year) to be active on social media, talking to other participants, asking questions about their game designs, answering questions about the event, and generally encouraging everyone to “just keep going”. Talking about games and the game design process has always been an important part of NagaDemon, however my ability to cover all the various social media platforms on a consistent and thorough basis is limited. Google+ is one platform in particular that I just have not delved deep into, so I often miss mentions or questions there. I encourage everyone to be open and active on social media and engage others often. Perhaps we need a hashtag to make it easy to find discussion….

The second area of assistance relates to this site (and the newsletter). I would like to post regular content, particularly throughout November. What do you want to read / learn about? Do you want reviews, interviews, game design advice / tips, encouragement, resources, or something else? If nothing else, let me know what would make this site more useful to you. If you have an article (or an idea for an article) you would like to write for the site, that would also be awesome – if I have to write everything, the amount of material will be limited. I can’t offer you much beyond my eternal gratitude and the fame (or infamy!) of having an article on the site, as I run NagaDemon purely for the joy of the experience.

I think interviews with game designers (aspiring, part-time, professional, retired or otherwise) would be a good starting point. A simple Q&A style interview that gives some insight into the designer’s background, their games, their design process, and perhaps a handy tip or two. If you would like to be interviewed, or there is someone you think would be awesome to interview, let me know!

Thanks so much for your time and enthusiasm. If you can help out in any way, let me know, either by commenting below, or sending me an email.

Cheers,
Nathan Russell

5 Questions with… David Pidgeon

This interview was written by Andrew Smith and originally appeared at TheStockade.net on April 24th, 2011. The Stockade was a website dedicated to encouraging Australian game designers to get up and create their games, much like NaGa DeMon! The Stockade has been “finished” for a very long time now, and its web hosting expires very soon, so I thought I would share some of the still-relevent articles here.

We turn our attention back onto Australian shores for this FQW… One of Australia’s most chatty RPG designers is David Pidgeon, font of many game ideas. He’s been working on Dirty Princesses for a little while, and has recently started a fiction blog.


What do you consider when writing setting material?
I consider whether it would be interesting to me if I was new to the setting. I want it to be evocative, informative but also to leave enough gaps to make the setting my own.

Which games impress you, and why?
I’m impressed by a lot of games, but more specifically by games that tightly tie the themes of the game to the system. Games like Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World, Polaris, Freemarket and Burning wheel (with its toolkit ruleset) do exactly that.

Tell us about the first game you made, published or not.
The first game I made was called Arena and was a miniatures game about gladiatorial battles in a fantasy setting. It was fun at the time and very simple. One friend still wants to play it!

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on the same game I’ve been working on for quite a while now, which is Dirty Princesses, the game of adventure, growing up, and kickass princesses with swords. It’s been giving me troubles but I feel like I’m getting there.

What’s in your design notebook that you just haven’t finished yet?
The main game haunting me is Ghost Road, which is an RPG/tabletop miniatures hybrid about post-apocalyptic car action. It’s going to be light, fun and encourage people to customise little toy cars.


David’s work can be followed at the Dirty Princesses blog, as well as the Obscura Fiction blog. And for extra chattiness, he’s on twitter.

5 Questions with… Fred Hicks

This interview was written by Andrew Smith and originally appeared at TheStockade.net on May 8th, 2011. The Stockade was a website dedicated to encouraging Australian game designers to get up and create their games, much like NaGa DeMon! The Stockade has been “finished” for a very long time now, and its web hosting expires very soon, so I thought I would share some of the still-relevent articles here.

Forgive me if I have a little fanboy moment here. This FQW is with Fred Hicks, designer of one of my favourite games, Don’t Rest Your Head. But that was from many years ago, and today he’s the Co-President of Evil Hat Productions and the Art Director for Hero Games. On with the interview.


The Evil Hat approach to customer interaction is notable for being transparent. While you’re developing games, even just the ideas for games, how do you decide what to publicise and what to keep close?

There are things which aren’t ready for people to run with out-of-context. That’s the key thing to remember with transparency. When you put a fact out there, it’s able to and even likely to take on a life of its own, independent from the context in which you present it. So I try to ask myself, “Will this fact intrinsically shed a positive, constructive light on the project?” Sharing the stuff that excites you and is likely to excite others is a good way to go, here.

That’s not to say we can’t admit to our failures. I think that’s important too, when you’re adopting a posture of transparency. Admitting to your failures gets people in your corner; it humanizes you, and creates an opportunity where your fans can help you out. But that takes careful consideration, too; sharing a failure has to be done in a way that recognizes those opportunities and acts on them. You can’t say, “We’re pushing this back by six months. The writing isn’t ready,” and just leave that hanging there. You’ve got to go further. Talk about what sucked and why you’re torpedoing it (the fans will hear, “We’re being saved from crap. These guys are committed to putting out something of quality.”), and talk about how the decision connects to your overall vision for the product (“We’re failing short-term, but here’s how that rocks long-term”). Whenever possible, give the fans a way to help you get back on your feet, too. Helping creates a sense of investment, of stake. Plus, it’s help!

You can’t go this alone. You’ve gotta connect to your customers, to form a relationship, and to make that relationship strong, constructive, and positive. Transparency is a means to that end.

(Also I can’t help myself. I’m predisposed to evangelism, to bringing folks into the tent and making them a part of the show. It’s fun!)

As a designer, which games impress you, and why?

I gave myself a few days to think about this one. I’ve realized, for one, that roleplaying games rarely impress me. Part of that is — funnily enough — I’m crap at reading, at least when it comes to RPG texts. I can be impressed by a clever rule or a smart strategy for getting people excited about the game, but I still feel that RPGs have a big leg up over other games in that their experience lives so much outside of their rules. (There, I’m impressed by players and GMs more than anything.)

Certainly, some RPGs are more rules-dominated than others (and the extent to which they’re perceived as rules-dominated is different for each and every player there is), but the fact remains there’s plenty of space for someone to play around in that isn’t bounded by that stuff. How many times have you heard (as one example), “We had an incredible session last night. We never rolled the dice!”? That’s what I’m talking about. With an RPG, the rules get us started, but it’s the interaction that carries us along and brings us home. RPG rules can ride shotgun to the rest of that stuff, can enhance or impede that experience, but they’re one of those hobbies where the great stories usually come from coloring outside of the lines rather than in them.

That’s not to say something like Fiasco or Dungeons & Dragons 4th Ed can’t knock my socks off. These games and others have excited me, and it’s centered around some aspect of the rules. I’m a gearhead, in that regard. I like looking under the hood and checking out the engine. Whenever possible, I strip it for parts.

Which is what brings me to the stuff that really impresses me, more regularly: board games. Board games don’t give you as much room for coloring outside the lines, so those lines have to do their job particularly well. Good board and card games — Shadows Over Camelot, Pandemic, Forbidden Island, Dominion, and others — have to come out the gate really well-tuned for performance. As a designer I recognize the balancing act that goes into creating something like that, so when I experience the game I’m also vicariously experiencing the process of designing it, just a little. It’s like a person well-versed in CGI being impressed by the work done on a Pixar film.

Thinking about the interaction of board game elements makes me smarter as a designer for RPGs, too, I think. For example, Shadows Over Camelot was weighing in my mind heavily when I took to refining the design of Don’t Rest Your Head. Rob Donoghue had said to me, “Take away all the story stuff here, and show me an interesting dice game, then bring the story back in,” and that’s what got me over the hump to create the dice mechanics seen in that game.

Anyway, I’d like to see more RPGs designed with the lessons of board games in mind. Looks like you uncorked a bit of a rant there. :)

The Dresden Files RPG went through significant play testing. How did you structure that phase? Would you do it that way again?

A: Well, there were the years of writing and internal play testing, some of which involved jettisoning the whole revised Fate chassis and starting over. That story’s found on the dresdenfilesrpg.com website, so I won’t dig into it here.

We grabbed several largish groupings of game groups (a dozenish groups in each, I think) and split them out into two or three stages, getting access to the rules as we iteratively factored playtest feedback into the design.

To me this just seems like the standard way to do these things. Is it remarkable? You tell me. I think it’s what you should do, though likely not on that scale (we were able to use dozens of groups; you don’t truly need more than a handful, and shouldn’t break your back trying to find ‘em).

What was unusual, I think, was that we were deliberately anti-non-disclosure with our play test groups. We actively encouraged them to blog or forum-post or podcast or what-have-you about their play test experience. This was a risky thing — it meant a lot of info could get out there, not all of it positive, and we wouldn’t be in direct control of how that message traveled. We did our best to frame our pro-disclosure agreement with our play testers in a way that would get them to provide context with their posts: this is an unfinished thing, not necessarily indicative of the final product, etc, and also to make sure to focus on constructive and positive stuff when sharing — which may sound familiar to folks who’ve read the answer to the first question above. It was a risk worth taking, though, especially given how long the development process had run. We needed to get some good signal out there on the interwaves, and that needed to come from folks who weren’t us; while we had plenty of folks who were willing to trust us, we also had plenty who were skeptical due to the time we’d taken. Letting the playtesters talk about the product, to confirm that it was as far along and as fun as it was, meant there was third party confirmation of anything we were saying about it. That, was gold.

Would I recommend a pro-disclosure orientation with your play testing? Of course. Why suppress enthusiasm from your alpha fans? Why minimize awareness of your game?

If you could work with anyone else on a game, who would it be?

That list is way too long. I’ve already started in on it, post-Dresden (and a little during, since we got some Ken Hite going on there) — that’s why we’re working with Jeff Tidball on Zeppelin Armada (our first card game), and will be working soon with Cam Banks and Jeremy Kellar, among others, on another project. Ever since Don’t Lose Your Mind, I’ve wanted to work with Benjamin Baugh again, and that’s in the works right now too. We’re getting to bring Jess Hartley in on a Dresden supplement we’re working on; I’ve wanted to collaborate with her for a while too.

Rather than get into the entirety of the list of folks I haven’t worked with yet, I’ll mention a few names — folks I’d like to do Something with, whatever that is, in no particular order: Will Hindmarch. Chuck Wendig. Jason Morningstar & Steve Segedy from Bully Pulpit. Kevin Allen Jr. Hal Mangold. Steve Kenson. Robin Laws.

And if we succeed at growing Evil Hat into something bigger over the next few years — that’s our goal, now — maybe we will.

Lastly, will we ever see a published version of Escape or Die, or did it meet its doom under an avalanche of other projects?

It’s been on the back burner for a while now. I’ve hit upon something I want to add to the rules, to provide a little more regulatory framework on getting people to narrate more than too little, but less than too much, but I think if I can do that and — importantly — find the time to write it up, I may turn it into a little $2 or $5 PDF product.

But it’s Evil Hat, so of course I’m not going to put a date on that. :)


Thanks to Fred for fitting this into his hectic schedule. Don’t forget to check out Fred’s blog and also the ever-growing game catalogue of Evil Hat.

5 Questions with… Michael Wenman

This interview was written by Andrew Smith and originally appeared at TheStockade.net on April 10th, 2011. The Stockade was a website dedicated to encouraging Australian game designers to get up and create their games, much like NaGa DeMon! The Stockade has been “finished” for a very long time now, and its web hosting expires very soon, so I thought I would share some of the still-relevent articles here.

This is a new feature for The Stockade, called Five Questions With… Our first guest is Michael Wenman. As you’ll see from this interview, Michael is a game designer based in the Sydney area and has been designing in one way or another for a few years. So without further ado, here’s the interview.


Tell us about the first game you made, published or not.

There’s a gradual decline into game design. When I was in high school, I played a few games with my friends, AD&D, Ars Magica, Cyberpunk 2020, TMNT, Shadowrun, Rifts, the early releases of White Wolf’s World of Darkness. I was the group’s fall back GM, because I wasn’t afraid to jury rig the elements I iked from different games to produce a specific play experience. If I wanted a game with a certain combat style, and another style for magic, I’d flat out tell people that we’d be mixing and matching system X with system Y. So I guess the first games I designed were those frankenstein beasts.

The first full game I designed rom scratch was called “Platinum Storm” in the mid 1990s (1994 I think). I guess it was a bit of a heartbreaker, with elements I liked from a few systems, cobbled together and attached to a basic percentile system, then refined to make the odd bits integrate a bit more smoothly. It was a pseudo-japanese setting, basically L5R before L5R became popular; a lot of people at the time told me that no one would be interested in a Japanese styled game. It was 32 pages, black and white in a simply printed red outer sheet, with thirty copies run off at the local Officeworks, these days they’d probably call it an “Ashcan”. I ran a few sessions of it at SAGA (Sydney Adventure Gaming Awards, a now defunct convention), and at $10 a copy I sold out most of my stock over the course of the weekend. I’ve looked back at one of my last copies recently and I can see what a hideous monstrosity it was, but I thought it was good at the time and I still know a few people who’ve kept their copies after all these years.

What do you consider when writing setting material?

There’s an old writing adage that every page should have a hook. In my setting material, I try to produce evocative paragraphs; each containing an element that could form the basis for a story (or at east a scene). Every paragraph may not entice every reader to plunge deeper into the world, but hidden within the words there should be a subtle siren’s call. Within a few paragraphs, most readers should find something interesting to latch onto.

Good setting materials don’t provide static locations that have already been explored, nor do they retell specific events. They offer starting points with directions for players to explore on their own. They prompt exploration and ask more questions than they answer.

I think this is one of the reasons why I’ve never really liked prewritten modules. One of the only times I used a prewritten module for a game, I let all of my players read through it. With that knowledge in place we ran a loose game based on the concept that the module had been completed as written a few weeks earlier, and now the player characters had to sort out the mess left behind by the earlier adventuring party.

What’s important to you when you design the connections between the rules of your game and the story it produces?

I’ve aways thought that three factors contribute to the production of story within a roleplaying game: Players, GM and Rules. These three pull at one another in an eternal tug-of-war, and different styles of play emerge depending on which if these elements has the power. If you really want to tailor the story experience from a game, you need to consider all three of these elements. Designing a bunch of mechanisms that infuence story will only go so far toward the whole experience; the same mechanisms will produce very different results under the control of very different GMs and players…some combinations will take on a life of their own, others will die horribly. As a point of fact, I’ve run exacty the same scenario, with the same GM (me) and different player groups at conventions, the change of one element can make or break a game. The same applies to a change of GMs, I’ve played the same game system with the same players and different GMs, ony to see dramatic changes in the way things resolve themselves. Using the same GM, the same players, but different rules sets can also produce differences in the final story type.

In my mind, a good set of rules should address all of these concerns. It should give the GM a guideline on how to run the game (like an automotive mechanic’s manual describing the various mechanisms, their inputs and how to keep them running smoothly), it should give the players some ideas on what to expect and how best to achieve those results (a drivers manual on how to use it best advantage, and the expected outputs from the mechanisms), then it should provide those mechanisms in language as clear as possible, showing plenty of play examples.

In the old days, games just provided you with the mechanisms; they expected you to work out how best to apply them to generate a story. Instead of providing play advice and GM notes, they just give you a bunch of extra rules and mechanisms, or a few pre-written scenarios. These are the tools of story generation in the context roleplaying, but they need a proper user guide before a consistent story outcome is possible. A lot of newer games are better in this regard, describing meta-mechansisms such as scene framing options, division of narrative control and general explanation of how things should resolve in play.

Which games impress you, and why?

I love B-Grade movies, and films where the main producer is the director, and this one person has the creative drive to produce what they want rather than kowtowing to a faceless corporate committee (Quentin Tarantino, Zac Snyder, Darren Aronofsky). In the same way I love the games turned out by contests like “The Ronnies” or “Game Chef”. Contests like these don’t make pretty games tha are flavouress clones of every other product on the shelf…instead they are always pushing the envelope of design. Some games produced are beautiful trainwrecks, absoutesy savage beasts that you wouldn’t want to play in their competition state. But in every contest I’ll find an idea or two that makes me reassess what gaming is about,or consider new approaches to my existing projects. I’ve often found that in polished game products, these innovative ideas are usually the ones that get filed away when the production committee decides that the edges need to be smoothed out. Every time I see a contest I fall in love with another new idea.

One of the few ideas that has consistenty impressed me know for amost two years is more of a quirky mechanism than a game in it’s own right, and that’s Vincent Baker’s “Otherkind Dice”. I first saw them and thought about how eleganty awesome the concept was. So simple, yet capable of such complexity and story drive. I love the concept of Otherkind Dice so much that I’ve tweaked and twisted them for my game FUBAR.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m building a steampunk/art-nouveau foosball table.

But I’m guessing you’re actually referring to game design here.

In that regard, I have a few projects on the go. Firstly, I’ve actually started to see some decent turnover of my game FUBAR, with over 1000 downloads from various websites, and a slow but constant rate of sale for the first supplement “High Plains FUBAR” (switching the genre from cyberpunk to cowboy western), I’m working on updating the core rules and producing a series of monthly supplements for that game range…”All for One and One FUBAR” (pre-revolution French swashbuckling), “Faeries and FUBAR” (fantasy and dungeonbashing), “Close Encounters of the FUBAR Kind” (Conspiracy Theories and Aliens), “Feathers, Fur and FUBAR” (Lycanthropes), etc.

Secondly, my Quincunx project. This is one of those projects where I want to make sure it’s done right, and the first release in 2009 just wasn’t right. This project is linked in with a parallel graphic novel while has taken precedence for a while, as I think about better ways to sort out the game mechanisms.

Thirdly, the goblin labyrinth braunstein. This is project harkens back to the origins of roleplaying. It’s a miniatures game for ten or more players, where each player has a number of their own agendas for the session (some of which involve combat, others trade, negotiation, investigation, or something else). Players interact by moving figures around a cast resin city designed in the style of the movie Labyrinth, they may only interact with one another when their figures are in close proximity (whether that interaction is talking, fighting, healing, or anything else). Since everything in this game plays out in real-time, the thing that slowing down this project at the moment is trying to develop a real-time combat system capable of handling players who control a core character with an entourage of a dozen or more barely competent goblin lackeys (while maintaining a feeling of freewheeling goblin anarchy). Hand sculpting the city is taking a while as well.


Thanks to Michael for his time. If you’d like to see more of his work, go to Vulpinoid Studios or his RPGNow webstore

5 Questions with… Daniel Solis

This interview was written by Andrew Smith and originally appeared at TheStockade.net on April 17th, 2011. The Stockade was a website dedicated to encouraging Australian game designers to get up and create their games, much like NaGa DeMon! The Stockade has been “finished” for a very long time now, and its web hosting expires very soon, so I thought I would share some of the still-relevent articles here.

We’re quite fortunate to have as an interviewee, Daniel Solis. Daniel is the author of games such as Happy Birthday, Robot!, Split Decision, Sagefight! and the recent Kickstarter sensation Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. He also hosts the Thousand Year Game Design Challenge, if you’re up for a tough design goal. In between working, designing games and riding the wave of success that is Do, he’s found time to be part of Five Questions With… Daniel Solis.


Which part of producing a game do you have the most confidence with? What gives you that confidence?
Because I am a graphic designer and art director by day, I feel most confident in being able to present a game visually. I can hire the right artist to reflect a game’s mood, supplement the text with informative and evocative layout, and create promotional and marketing materials for the game’s branding.

What do you consider when designing the connections between the rules of your game and the story it produces?
I like there to be a synergy between the physical components of play and the themes that the game intends to evoke. These can be small things, like how the first player in Pandemic is supposed to be the last person who was sick or how Agon asks you to roll dice in your left or right hand if you’re attacking or defending, as if you’re holding a sword and shield. Then there are more overt ways to create those connections, like the use of a Jenga tower as the central mechanic in Dread.

In the case of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, I wanted to create a metaphor for karma in a very classical sense. Not that you have “good” or “bad” karma, but simply that every decision affects those around you. So Do uses black and white stones in a bag. On your turn, you draw three and decide to keep some and throw the rest back into the bag for the other players. The stones you keep affect your pilgrim’s fate at the end of the game. Meanwhile, you’ve also changed the odds for the other players to draw stones they wanted.

What’s been the most useful play test feedback you’ve received?
A while back, a friend of mine named Mark Sherry created an AI program that could emulate different strategies of play in Do. He ran thousands of simulations with different mixtures of player strategies to find the right number of stones to use in play, the average length of a game, the average number of turns for players in a certain group-size, all sorts of stuff. That was really valuable just to get the basic mechanics sorted out. I learned then that cooperative games require really tight refinements of algorithms, which is something I need a more mathy person to figure out. Thankfully, many smart and generous people like Mark Sherry are willing to help artsy-types crunch the numbers.

Tell us about the tools and software you use for writing, art and layout.
I write in Word or Google Docs, depending on if I’m collaborating with an editor in real time. Once the text is settled, I bring it into InDesign to format and style it. You can see that process in this video.

For any illustrated art support, I use photoshop to adjust colors, contrasts, etc. For vector elements, I use an old program called Macromedia Freehand. Most folks use Adobe Illustrator, but I learned on Freehand and I kinda stuck with it even though it’s not supported any longer.

Who would you like to work with on a game?
Many times I come across an artist who I’d love to use in a game. Or rather, an artist for whom I’d make a game just to have an excuse to use their art. Let’s see, the wishlist includes Kelly Hamilton, Claire Hummel, Steph Laberis, Tom Bancroft and Jen Wang.


Daniel maintains a fascinating blog, in which he talks often and in detail about his game design projects. It’s well worth your time subscribing to that feed. He also has a Cafepress storefront.

Demon Hunter: Andrew Smith

Demon Hunter is where we grill a NaGa DeMon participant about games, their goals for November, and more. Read on to meet today’s Demon Hunter, Andrew Smith!

Hi Andrew! Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Andrew Smith: blogger, mini-con organiser, amateur photographer and collector of too much Star Wars Lego. You can check out more about my gaming thoughts by going to Tabletop Manifesto. And while you’re there, download Siege. It’s my first story game and it’s all about running out of resolve and patience and ammo just to get what you want.

Which games impress you and why?

I adore Don’t Rest Your Head by Fred Hicks. The setting and rules mesh together in just the right way to drive the story forward and then get out of the way to let you make more story. And the same is true of Poison’d and Apocalypse World, both by Vincent Baker. Vincent’s model of gaming follows the same concept, and in many ways takes it even further. Good rules push you back into the fiction so that you make more story.

How are you participating in NaGa DeMon this year?

Last year I only managed to contribute a Scrabble variant to Naga Demon. This year I’m indulging myself a lot by writing about Lego and by building on the deceptively simple innovation of FU to make Lego FU. This will be a game about creativity and building on the other players to make an adventure in the Lego universe. And if I have enough time I’ll add some paragraphs on how to Lego-fy your other games. Hmm. Don’t Rest Your Brick? 🙂

What are you expecting to be a challenge over November?

The challenge for me is to find a way to encapsulate all the good values of Lego into a story game. It’s such an upbeat and relentlessly positive setting, especially in the face of opposition. Our hobby tends to produce a lot of games with destruction and angst, so I’ll need to invert much of that thinking to make it fit Lego.

What are you looking forward to over November? 

I can’t wait to play this game. Story games plus Lego? Doesn’t get much better for me. The other thing I’m keen for is the chance to work with John Reid on the layout for this project. I’ve had the immense joy of gaming with him at conventions for a few years as well as having his feedback as a play tester. I was over the moon when he agreed.

Who would you most like to play a game with?

I think I’d play Fiasco with Shaun Micallef, Bill Bailey and Stephen Fry. If I win Naga Demon, do you arrange this for me? There’s a winner, right?

Thanks for participating!

Demon Hunter: Mike Bilter

Demon Hunter is where we grill a NaGa DeMon participant about games, their goals for November, and more. Read on to meet today’s Demon Hunter, Mike Bilter!

Hi Mike! Tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Mike, AKA ElfIRL.  I have been a gamer my entire life and was blessed in the 80s with parents that didn’t think D&D was the devils work.  While I find most games interesting and will play anything I can get my hands on, my favorite gaming has been in RPGs.  So many hours have been spent writing, making maps, and telling stories over the last 24 years of my GMing, and I wouldn’t change any of it.

My day job is spent building communities, and I decided to take this experience and start a community for gamers of all tabletop games.  We provide forums, blogs, and groups to help gamers schedule and plan with their current groups, find new groups and places to game, and share gaming experiences to introduce each other to new games.  We are also working with publishers to bring new and exciting titles to our members and help the gamers voice reach the publishers.  Feel free to come by and join – http://www.TabletopGamer.net

I’ve been a creative force most of my life, but have never sat down and tried to make a full game.  When I found out about NaGa DeMon I knew I had to get involved.  This November will be very busy and I can’t wait to get started.

Which games impress you and why?

I have spent a lot of time lately with non-collectable card games.  Games like Cutthroat Caverns, Ascension, Poo, Epic Spell Wars, and Chez Geek to name a few.  I find these games to be a ton of fun.  They’re fast paced, the rules are simple and they provide hours of entertainment, and that is why they impress me.

How are you participating in NaGa DeMon this year?

As a wanna be designer, I will be using my first year in NaGa DeMon to work on a non-collectable card game idea I was joking about a few weeks ago.  The game will be silly like Poo, and it involves pickles.  I don’t want to give too much away yet.  =)

I will also be on the sidelines trying to help spread the word, and providing gamers a place to share in discussion on our site – http://www.TabletopGamer.net.

What are you expecting to be a challenge over November?

As far as my game goes, I have an idea on the rules and I think that is one of the hardest parts of a new game.  My challenges will be with art, both the pictures on the actual cards as well as the card itself.  I am no artist and intend to ping my friends to lend a hand.  I mean, how hard can it be to draw silly looking pickles?

What are you looking forward to over November?

Aside from actually making my own game, seeing the reports of all the other participants on their projects.  I can’t wait to see what sort of challenges come up and learning about new resources for things like art, print on demand services, etc. as the community shares what they find.

Who would you most like to play a game with?

My wife.  She doesn’t play games at all, so if I could convince her to play something with me, it would be a huge step towards her understanding why I love these games so much.

Thanks for participating!

Thank you for having me.  Best of luck to everyone out there taking a step to make their very own game.

Demon Hunter: Ben Gerber

Demon Hunter is where we grill a NaGa DeMon participant about games, their goals for November, and more. Read on to meet today’s Demon Hunter, Ben Gerber!

Hi Ben! Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Ben Gerber. I’ve been running the multi-author blog Troll in the Corner since September 2008. It’s dedicated to all things table top with a hefty side helping of other geek related stuff. I’ve been publishing my own RPG content through DriveThruRPG since mid-2010. I started with Pathfinder expansions and have been gently working my way into my own mini-RPGs.

My first really successful product was Argyle & Crew, a base game of extremely light RPG rules for kids, where rather than worrying about a character sheet with all sorts of numbers and explanations scattered over it, you have a sock puppet, called a Soppet. The players are limited only by their imaginations and a very loose set of rules, although there is a basic dice mechanic available for those who want to do a little more with it.

I’ve since published Encounters ~ Plots ~ Places, a 60 page, system neutral source book for just about any fantasy RPG. It’s full of detailed NPCs, items, places and encounters. I’ve also developed Something Went Wrong, a mini-RPG in which every player gets a turn at being the GM and it’s a race to the last surviving character. SWW takes about 5-10 minutes to set up and plays in an hour or two.

Which games impress you and why?

I’m really enjoying story based games right now, things like Fiasco, School Daze, and whatnot. I’m interested in how they use game mechanics to facilitate story, rather than dictate it. Although I’ll always have a soft spot for the games I played as a teen in the mid to late 80s as well.

How are you participating in NaGa DeMon this year?

I’ve got three projects currently in the works. I plan on using NaGa DeMon as a push to finish at least one of them

First is Aruneus – the setting that started this all for me. It’s a high fantasy, zombie apocalypse setting that utilizes the Pathfinder rule set. It’s been 100 years since flesh eating zombies have decimated the world. Now things are starting to come back from the edge, but the undead are still a huge, environmental threat.

Next is Upgrade Wars, a deck-building, tactical combat game I’ve been working feverishly on for the past few months.

Lastly is a game who’s setting I’ve mapped out but the mechanics are spotty at best. It’s tentatively called No Spill Blood and takes place on an earth far in the future, when humans have up and left or otherwise vanished.

What are you expecting to be a challenge over November?

Time. It’s always time. I’ve got a day job that can get fairly intense, my wife who I enjoy spending time with, two fairly young kids that I love. That basically leaves the times when no one is awake but me to work on these things.

What are you looking forward to over November? 

American Thanksgiving and having an excuse to need to work on these things.

Who would you most like to play a game with?

I’d love to gather together a contingent of folks who are in the public eye and know what Dungeons and Dragons is and then play something completely different with them – say Fiasco or SWW.

Thanks for participating!

My pleasure!