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DKNY Update

By Uncategorized

It’s a hellscape out there. After doing a swath of online United States of Play events for all my gaming friends over the first year of Covid, I took some time off. Now, dusting off the old noggin and carving some new dice and soon we shall ride again. I’ve been working on an improv game for the past couple of years that I’d like to see released; and with luck a return to irl tabletop gaming for some more RPG Roulette.

Unless WWIII intercedes.

RPG Roulette:The United States of Play, Season 1

By RPG Roulette, United States of Play

As we were broaching what would be Season 4 of RPG Roulette, the world lockdown came to visit for the Covid-19 event.  With many people isolated and yearning for things to do that would lighten and occupy their time… the online gaming communities ramped up their efforts.  In light of this, I wanted to adapt the existing format of RPG Roulette for online play.  Beginning in a couple weeks we will do a modified Roulette-style of online play on an every other week basis.

Where RPG Roulette exists as a lab and game day, United States of Play will focus on the play but also retain some of the blind elements of the original format.  Each event will take place on a public, free multi-platform software (currently Zoom seems to be leading the pack), on four Saturday nights (730pm EST).  One Ref and up to 5 players, or as the game system dictates.

The online USoP Roulette format is as follows:
  • Announce the event and Request that interested Refs submit proposals for games.
  • Refs have to attended one prior Roulette for consideration.
  • Refs should email me: some keywords for the type of game and a short 200 character synopsis of the event.
  • After about 72hours i will randomly draw one of the games and notify the ref of their selection. After which, I’ll send out a general call for rsvps.
  • RSVP for players. Once a game is selected, RSVPs will open through an Eventbrite regsistration. Generally, games will be limited to 5 players, but that is at the Ref’s discretion and limitations of the game system.
  • Notifications. Eventbrite will notify you a couple of times about the coming event. The Ref may reach out to you with any specific requirements. It is quite possible that you may not know the ref or which gaming system you’re playing in for the game day. Which is “so Roulette”.
  • Play. All games will be played on cross-platform free online software. The go-to at the moment seems to be Zoom. This is at the Ref’s discretion. You will be notified of platform and password in advance.
  • Next. After the event, I will send out an announcement and RFP for the next event and the process repeats. If your submission wasn’t selected the previous time you are welcome to resubmit. I will TRY to not have the same Ref run back-to-back, if that’s an option.
  • Can you bring a friend? Yes. If you’re already registered for a game, you can forward the event invite to them and let them register, if available. We want people to be able to play and play with their friends. Obviously there may be space limitations.
  • What if i need to cancel my RSVP. Contact me as soon as possible so that I can let someone else get into the game!!! However, If you cancel during the final 24 hours before the game or no-show you will be placed in the doghouse. There will be a sub-game about how to get out of the doghouse and at least one of us will find it amusing. Multiple no-shows and you should probably start your own gaming event.
What’s different? If this is your first time then: Nothing. If you’re an old Rou’er then the “lab” element of the original Roulette will be taken off the table. But the focus on showing up for fun and everyone responsible for play will still be shored up.
If you would like to submit a game to run, you need to have already attended at least one RPG Roulette event or one United States of Play event.
If you’d like to run a game. Send the following to me when the announcement has gone out and RFPs are open. For example: Now. I will try to make my selection between 48 and 72hours after announcement.
  • email me the following:
  • Subject: RFP – (date)
  • Game: use keywords here rather than the game system. eg. Fantasy, silly, hard-edged space, gonzo, chivalrous, animals, heartbreaker, etc. Describe the system and the type of game you’re invoking.
  • Description: This is the game event description. Limit it to about 200 characters. This is your pitch to the players about the evening that they will be participating in.
  • Format: note what platform you’d like to run the game on. Default for Season One will be Zoom. Use what’s best for you so long as it’s free and available for mac and pc.
CAVEAT on Content
Our real lives are not A LOT of fun for many of us at the moment. These games don’t have to be purely light-hearted escapism. But for the first season I’m going to ask that anyone refrain from anything that sits hard by wallowing in the realm of apocalyptic or plague based. Touching on some of those themes is part of the genre but nobody right now wants to play 4 hours of Children of Men the RPG or your home brewed LARP of Pandemic. I often enjoy games that encroach on the territory of a poorly phrased sociology thesis, but now is not the time for it. Save that for your home group or the Second Season.

Unfortunately, United States of Play homebase won’t be able to fully cover all the gamers wanting to play all the games all the time.  Hopefully you like this model and you are welcome to take this format and run with it yourself.  Or if you find yourself enjoying online gaming, please consider running a game with your old friends and some new ones.

Season Two of RPG Roulette, a recap

By RPG Roulette

RPG Roulette (aka ROU) season two has finally completed with four episodes of regular season and a super-sized Christmas Spectacular “+X” which just happened a few weeks ago.

The original format seated well and a few new things were tried for season two.  The Catbird Seat was added with mixed results.  Physical Aids for review and play expectations were added to keep comments on point for goals.  The comment cards are a universally good idea.  The last major addition was the Xmas special which was a nice break for the holidays and sat in a pocket of time where a lot of great players needed a distraction.

Season Three is months away but I have some ideas for some new experiments and minor adjustments to the existing format.  We had some great new additions in Season Two and I hope that we can continue to add to the Play Lab moving forward.  If you or a friend is in New York and looking to try something different, don’t be shy.


This season we played:


Cthulhu Dark

(unnamed alpha test for sci-fi game)

Into the Odd

Bluebeard’s Bride

Montsegur 1244

Roughhouse, alpha

Everyone’s a Suspect, beta

Ruyataama, hack

The Skeletons

Top Secret, reboot

Blades in the Dark

The Ward


My greatest thanks to all the players that come together to try this thing out and continue to make Rou the premiere adult anonymous gaming experience.

Transatlantic, Going Down with the Ship

By Fiasco, Transatlantic

Rather than continuing to add additional posts on my age old Transatlantic play set for Fiasco, this will serve to warehouse notes and callbacks to Transatlantic out in the world.  Updating periodically when i’m feeling particularly vain and have too much time.


•  Transatlantic has a page on Boardgame Geeks.  Plenty of links and overviews.  Leave a rating if you like it.

•  Jaime Lawrence leaves warm comments about the joys of Transatlantic, the AP session summarized on Boardgame Geek,

“Transatlantic was the first playset for Fiasco that I played which was not found in the main book. It was a play-by-forum game and sadly petered out, but the setup was fantastic and I suspect that in real life, it could be excellent.

The style of the playset is outstanding; it begins by demanding that the most aristocratic person at the table read out the opening. This further sets the tone for the rest of the game. The elments are a cunning mix of the outrageous (Intrigue: Who are you and why are you in my closet?) to the seemingly mundane (Need: To Escape: From prying eyes). Wrapping them together is enjoyable and easy. It also results in a feel not dissimilar to the films on the movie night list – Titanic, with its odd and over the top subplots; the Posideon Adventure, with an unlikely group thrown together by fate even Duck Soup, with the Marx Brothers’ wackiness, is acknowledged.

Transatlantic was also the first playset I knew to use flashbacks in its setup, with locations like ‘Sweethearts’ first meeting’ referencing events before the game by design. It also contains such gems as the requisite homage to Lovecraft (Object: Sacrificial dagger with engravings of the loathsome Sea God ).

Transatlantic still stands as a clever and original setting for Fiasco two years on. Despite my failure to complete a game of it, I feel confident that it is a solid addition to the game and desire to play it again. It scores eight icebergs out of ten.”

•  BGG has an interesting Play-by-Forum Fiasco thread including Transatlantic.  Interesting to see Fiasco unfold over forum as the narrative shifts a bit.  This particular session is notable as being the most boat-y of the Transatlantic sessions I’ve encountered.  It may be that the text element is conducive to fleshing out the setting; in a similar way that verbal trends towards ‘character’.


Earlier threads on Transatlanctic, including AP and summaries can be found: here.

The Catbird Seat, RPG Roulette

By RPG Roulette

New for Season Two of RPG Roulette is the Catbird Seat.

Though the lifeblood of Roulette is people wagering their time to come together in the spirit of adventure, there are from time-to-time reasons to believe that there could be an exception.  Like spouses.  Or visiting friends.  Or people that want to show up and support the day but have schedule conflicts that prohibit them from prepping to run a game.  Hey, life is complicated.

If then there’s going to be a VIP seat at the table; there’s going to be a cost to it.  Hey, lunch is on you.  Literally.  Typically Roulette is two pizzas and some beer, but if you want to cook an entree and side enough to feed six people we can talk about that too.  You’ve chosen to participate in another *aspect* of Roulette.

Select One and inform your host:

  • I just won the lottery and I’m bringing two six packs of beer.  It was a small lottery.  #drinkthewinnings
  • I get my chauffeur groomed before he takes my cat to be groomed. I’ll be taking care of pizza.
  • I’m a dandy pirate!  I’m bringing a fifth of some sipping whiskey for me fellow gamers. Argh.  No, it’s not a wooden leg.


Or, you know… all three.  It’s just an option.  All of those things enrich the table and the gaming environment.   If you don’t want to run a game, you now have the option of feeding us.  Contact your host to arrange the details.

RPG Roulette

By RPG Roulette

RPG Roulette is an attempt to address and resolve a bunch of issues that are inherent in tabletop rpg gaming:

• Inspiring new people to run (GM, Ref, etc.) games.

• Elevating everyone at the table as responsible for the “fun”.

• Exploring new games, new ideas and new settings.

Living in NYC, it became obvious pretty quickly that people move in and out of this metropolis at an alarming rate.  Coupled with families and life issues, it’s difficult to enjoy real life gaming with regularity let alone breaking out of the mold of familiarity to try new things with new people. Gamers are, by and large, a comfortable lot having long ago decided what type of “fun” they like and how they like it.  That sort of staid precept isn’t conducive promoting and endorsing the widely enjoyable plethora of gaming that is available to us these days.  The discussion of trying to break out of those norms often founders on hemming and hawing about “who does the thing”, “where it gets done” and the system that it gets done in.  It gets bogged down in a swarm of indecision and then either nothing results or everything defaults to what was done before comfortably.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this pattern repeat.

To address a bunch of these issues, I came up with the idea for RPG Roulette.  A play-date that asks everyone interested to commit to playing on a date; once the table is filled up with rsvps, two names are drawn from the attendees and each of those people are responsible for running a convention length one-shot game (3-4hour slot), for what would be a two-slot game day.  Those two people are immediately notified so that they have enough time to prepare material to run.  The other participants/players are notified only that they are players and that they are required to show up on the agreed date and play two games.  They are not informed of the other players, the selected referees or the games they will be playing.  The day itself is turned into a game.  All attendees are enjoined in a wager that they will be ‘participating’ and that they may be called on to lead an time block.

The double-blind is set up so that there is no pre-judging or pre-playing of personalities or systems.  There aren’t expectations about what’s going to be done for you.  Everyone is showing up on that date to contribute to having fun with a group of people.

“But do I have to ‘run a game?'” Is perhaps the question most asked by either novices or habitual ‘players’.  In Season 2, I invented the ‘Catbird Seat’ which is a VIP class of ticket that allows someone to buy-in to the event and bypass the roulette.  Because, it was important to acknowledge that some people may want to participate but not have time to prepare or that some folks might want to introduce somebody to the concept with a firewall of opting out.  The concept of RPGR is that everyone is participating.  The Catbird Seat attendee is participating by either bringing some refreshments or buying the pizza.  That person is a different type of contributor.  Check out “Catbird Seat” for additional information.

At present, I have completed [nearly two full seasons and counting] (4 sessions, with about 8-10 weeks between dates.)  It’s been a crazy mixture of OSR, Story Games, d20 variants, rules light and pre-release Kickstarter projects that have crossed the table from an array of very well-seasoned to novice GMs, including: Ashen Stars, Blazing Hearts, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Everyone’s a Suspect, La Puerta de Ishtar, Paranoia and Dragons (Advanced), Roughhouse demo, Storytelling, Traveller (Semi-Classic hack), Top Secret NWO, The Ward, The Skeletons, and Whitehack.

We sit down, have some fun, kick the tires on a variety of systems and ideas and help each other with the rules.  It’s not the easiest elevator pitch but so far the gaming seems to be working.  Commit to play.  Wager your responsibility, but ultimately we are all responsible.  Pull the trigger.  RPG Roulette.

RPG Roulette… good old-fashioned anonymous fun.  You can trust us.  Most of us.  Well, not Dave. (Dave not pictured here.  …typical Dave.  See?)

Kubasik presents my recent Classic Traveller and Alien Legion hack

By RPG Roulette

Long-time Classic Traveller fan and deconstructivist, Christopher Kubasik has begun to host overviews of people running Traveller as a framework for setting and not an end result.  My recent Alien Legion hack for the season finale of RPG Roulette caught his eye and he asked me some follow up questions at the CT G+ community.  He unpacks all of that a bit at his Tales to Astound here:


Using Original Traveller Out of the Box – E. Tage Larsen’s Alien Legion Inspired Setting


RPG Roulette, s01e03: Ashen Stars w Mel White

By RPG Roulette

As Autumn takes foot here, I’m making final preparations towards the grand finale for RPG Roulette’s first season with a three game event this coming weekend. In looking over my notes, I came across the audio link that Mel White (Virtual Play podcast) sent me of the session he ran. Myself and two other players took a long stroll through his Sci-Fi-Noir module for the Ashen Stars game system.

The file is longish. Play runs from about 0–3.5hrs. The last hour or so is part of the RPGR breakdown session that discusses the module proper and rolls off to a larger discussion about games and my somewhat overstated disdain of Gumshoe system games.

Others in the game: Dave Tee; and Ngo Vinh-Hoi (Appendix N Book Club podcast)
GM: Mel White (Virtual Play podcast)

RPG Roulette, Session 2

By RPG Roulette

The second session of my gm-full rpg experiment RPG Roulette went off yesterday without a hitch.  We ran at full capacity with a waiting list for two game slots.  Steve Melis ran an experimental hack ‘Advanced Paranoia and Dragons’ in the morning slot; Jeff Goad ran the new DCC module ‘Gnole House’; and as that wrapped up quickly with a tpk, Dave Tee offered a cooperative scifi tv themed game ‘Hearts Blazing’.  In all, it took us to about 8 hours of gaming.  Also in attendance, Laurence Koret for the first two games.

Mr. Goad arrived late due to kitten issues but he more than makes up for it by not only being extremely genial but also for name-checking us and the event on his podcast ‘Spellburn, Episode 54‘ (7m15s), where somewhat coincidentally he co-hosts with one of my oldest friends, Julian Bernick.

The format continues to do what I want it to do: engage players with a place to promote running games, engage players with the idea of playing games not playing systems, and lastly creating an environment that promotes risk taking in mechanics, themes and experience.