Tag Archives: sci fi


22 Aug

SKEW 8 20

Last RSG we game SKEW, the new surreal science fiction story game by Ben Lehman a spin. Two spins, actually, and great spins they were!

I confess that reading the text itself did not leave me super excited to play. I was curious, I like the genre and flavor, and Ben’s games are some of the best anywhere. But, as soon as we sat down to play things really kicked into gear.

SKEW takes place in a sequence of Phases that guide the story into, and possibly out of, misunderstanding. Players take turns narrating what happens to the protagonist and their world (unlike many role playing games, there is only a single protagonist shared by the table in SKEW) in one or two sentence turns. This is very reminiscent of one of Ben’s earlier games, Hot Guys Making Out.

A simple token economy paces the encroaching weirdness, and eventually, one player at a time will speak for the weirdness of this bending reality. The short turns keeps the pace of the game brisk, which accommodates for a large group of players. This also allows for a steady stream of creativity. Since things change so quickly you have to listen attentively to your fellow players. This prompts very functional play, and may be one of the chief reasons we had such a good time.

Our first game took about an hour and a half, and the second took about an hour. The second game was facilitated by one of the players who had no experience with SKEW beyond the first game.

Clearly, SKEW is very accessible. After the game we reflected on our play, and many of the players commented on how this would be a good game to play with non-gamer family members, or in one players case, how it might be used in her classroom.

For our plays the early Phases were the most fun and exciting, and while the later Phases didn’t drag, they were not as poppin’ and the first few. In one of the final Phases the players ask questions of the GM (the player who speaks for the weirdness) as they try and figure out what is going on with reality. Both of our games slowed during this Phase. In our second game we distinguished between asking questions about the details of the established narration, and asking questions about the nature and workings of the weirdness. This was a critical distinction for our play, and is something I will mention in my future plays of SKEW. The text itself isn’t terribly explicit on this, but I feel this approach is likely in the spirit of the rules.

Our first game saw a postal worker attempt to deliver a non-euclidian package to a superspace processed cheese factory only to become a kind of sentient metaphor for certain elements of Greek mythology via a Hero’s Journey quest against a implicitly nihilistic minotaur while on an errand to replace Hermes.

Our second game was the story of Napoleon, a ukulele playing islander who got caught up in a rock ‘n roll battle of the bands with Nordic Gods, Satan and the miserable souls of hell at sea after sounding the lowest pitch possible given the diameter of the physical universe which happened to free an entangled titan. Napoleon successfully (?) re-created God from the kindness in his grandmother’s soul by way of a strange parent-child paradox (“it’s complicated”).

I have no doubt that each player would sum up these games differently, but hey, that’s SKEW. You don’t tell just one story, you tell a spectrum of possible stories, and each is as crazy as the last.

Read more about SKEW here: http://www.tao-games.com/skew/. Enjoy!


Open Play 51: SKEW, Tremulus & More!

19 Aug

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, August 20th

Guardian Games

345 SE Taylor St

Wow guys, sorry for the delay! I’ve got to get caught up.

Welcome, again, to Ready, Set, Game PDX Open Play!

Ready, Set, Game PDX is an easy story gaming event. All you have to do is show up and play a game. You don’t need to bring anything other than the desire to play and the willingness to try something new. Absolutely everybody is welcome! No experience necessary! You are free to invite anybody and everybody; just make sure you RSVP. That helps us make sure everybody has a good time.

A story game is a game where the players create a narrative as a product of play. You might recognize a few things from other tabletop games, but the difference here is that you spontaneously make a collaborative story with the other players. There are always several different ones to choose from, so odds are good there will be one that’s just right. A description of each of the scheduled games will be posted as comments, so check ’em out!

At 6:00 we kind of loosely gather in the “Blue Area” of Guardian Games and socialize for a bit. Please, just relax and chat! At 6:15 we all come together as a group and the facilitators introduce their games. At that point players sign up for whichever game they want and get down to business.

Technically we have the space until 10:00, but we try to get games wrapped up around 9:30 or so. After the games, all who wish to do so go out for drinks and banter at a nearby establishment – which this time is the Speakeasy Tavern on SE 6th & Taylor St. As usual, everybody is welcome!

Here is what we have this week!


This is SKEW. It is a role-playing game by Ben Lehman.

“when we play this game we will create
a science fiction short story
a protagonist is struggling to understand
a world that is beyond understanding”


Tremulus is a storytelling game of Lovecraftian horror where you take on the role of a person who has been destined to live an interesting life, one touched by blood and bile, dark revelations, and horrible sacrifice.

The weight of the world is upon your shoulders as you strive to drive back the darkness threatening to drown it out.

For four erstwhile investigators.


Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more athttp://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

Open Play 45: Spione, NanoWorld, Microscope, Monsterhearts

20 May

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, May 21

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

The Breakdown

6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:10pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets.
6:15pm – Game on!
10:00pm – Any and and all who wish go out for drinks and/or banter, at one of the nearby establishments. Let’s talk about it.

And for the games!

It’s pronounced “shpee-OH-nuh” and means “spies” in German. It’s a book about spies in Berlin during the Cold War. It also presents Story Now, a new way to author and enjoy spy-fiction.


NanoWorld is a game about clones on the day things go wrong.

You are one among Nano’s vast workforce. You are a clone; will you discover yourself in the dystopian world of Nano?

NanoWorld is one of the new wave of nano ga-es and is based upon the Apocalypse World game system.


Humanity spreads to the stars and forges a galactic civilization…

Fledgling nations arise from the ruins of the empire…

An ancient line of dragon-kings dies out as magic fades from the realm…

These are all examples of Microscope games. Want to explore an epic history of your own creation, hundreds or thousands of years long, all in an afternoon? That’s Microscope.

You won’t play the game in chronological order. You can defy the limits of time and space, jumping backward or forward to explore the parts of the history that interest you. Want to leap a thousand years into the future and see how an institution shaped society? Want to jump back to the childhood of the king you just saw assassinated and find out what made him such a hated ruler? That’s normal in Microscope.

You have vast power to create… and to destroy. Build beautiful, tranquil jewels of civilization and then consume them with nuclear fire. Zoom out to watch the majestic tide of history wash across empires, then zoom in and explore the lives of the people who endured it.

Mock chronological order.
Defy time and space.
Build worlds and destroy them.


Monsterhearts lets you and your friends create stories about sexy monsters, teenage angst, personal horror, and secret love triangles. When you play, you explore the terror and confusion that comes both with growing up and feeling like a monster.

Based on the Apocalypse World engine, this is a game with emergent story, messy relationships, a structured MC role, and a focus on hard choices.

It’s designed to evoke stories like True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ginger Snaps or The Twilight Saga. If you like supernatural romances, or stories of monstrosity and personal horror, or if you just like watching sexy people ruin their lives, then you’ll love this game.


Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

Open Play 43: Dirty Secrets, Fanfic, InSpace, Hot Guys Making Out

18 Apr

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, April 23

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

The Breakdown
6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry, be humans at each other.
6:10pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets.
6:15pm – Game on!
10:00pm – Any and and all who wish go out for drinks and/or banter, probably at the Green Dragon.

The Games

Dirty Secrets:
Sure, your home town’s a great place to live. Crime rates are low. Employment is high. Everyone is happy, successful, and filled with civic pride. I’ll bet your city has spent a lot of money telling you it’s true.

Don’t believe it. Scratch the surface, and you will find the truth. That businessman’s cheating on his wife. That politician’s snorting cocaine. That cop’s taking bribes to look the other way. No one is clean. Everyone has a secret, and most will do anything to keep their secrets safe. Even murder.

But secrets have a way of getting out, and bodies don’t stay buried forever.

Welcome to the game of Dirty Secrets. In this game, you and a few friends will create stories of corruption, betrayal, deception, and murder, all set in your own home town. Together, you will guide a single investigator through a complex web of lies, corruption, and murder as he pursues that most elusive prey: the truth.

Fanfic is a game for collaboratively creating erotic “fan fiction,” naughty fan-created stories inspired by existing works of fiction, and it aims to do it badly. You will explore the deepest sexual desires of characters from your favorite books, television shows, movies and video games. Fanfic strives to emulate everything that is quirky and ultimately endearing about fan fiction: bodice ripping; stilted dialogue; awkward turns of phrase and improbably coupling.What better way to learn to do it right than to do it oh-so-wrong?

Beyond man’s small blue world a vast cosmos awaits. What wonders of the universe are yet to be discovered? Is space more grand or terrible than we even imagine? Are we alone?

This supplement for InSpectres let’s you explore the mysteries of space and play games in the style of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Contact, Ringworld, or Forbidden Planet. It is not necessarily a humorous or even action-packed escapade–it can be a thoughtful and serious examination of the mysteries of the universe and humanity’s place in it.

Hot Guys Making Out:
Hot Guys Making Out is a passionate role-playing game, set in the Spanish Civil War, in which a tormented nobleman and his young ward attempt to resist their forbidden love for each other, and fail.


Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.


Session 40: Shock: Social Science Fiction, Hellcats & Hockeysticks, A Penny For My Thoughts

6 Mar

6pm – 10pm
Tuesday, March 12
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St


Shock: Social Science Fiction:
Shock: Social Science Fiction is a fiction game of culture and future shock. Based on the works of Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Philip K. Dick, the game pushes the players to make stories that matter to them — stories about politics, philosophy, love, and death.

At the core of the world-creation system is the Grid, a method of world creation that uses social concerns and Shocks, to build a fictional world custom-built for the type of story the players want to experience. It cross-references concerns of the players with Shocks to create characters devised to confront those issues.

Players are responsible for both Protagonists and Antagonists, principles with motivation and resources: they represent what you care about as a player and act in a way that highlights and questions the things you care about.

Our Shock: death is cured.

The future is upon us: http://glyphpress.com/shock/

Hellcats & Hockeysticks:
St Erisian’s school for girls has stood for over a hundred years and survived war, plague, famine, demonic attack, strange explosions in the science block and countless attempts to get it closed by the government. However, to be fair, not all of these disasters were the fault of the girls who study there.

Hellcats and Hockeysticks is a Role-playing game in which your characters are among the most feared and disreputable creatures of all – Schoolgirls! At St Erisian’s the girls are taught to be curious, forthright, inventive and above all, what they want to be, and to give hell to anyone who tries to stop them. The game is designed to be fast paced and fun, with plenty of opportunities for chaos and destruction. Characters come from one of 9 ‘cliques’ each with their own special ability and selection of skills. The system uses only 6 sided dice and is both simple and innovative.

Hellcats and Hockeysticks is a stand alone RPG of chaos, anarchy and decidedly unladylike behavior. It includes rules for all kinds of mayhem, from falling out with your friends, to creating weird science devices to using magic and summoning demons and zombies. Are you ready for school adventures on the bad side of the tracks?

Welcome to St. Erisian’s: www.corone.co.uk/mainsite/hellcatsindex.htm

a penny
A Penny For My Thoughts:
Two women and a man, all dressed in white jumpsuits, sit around a table with a bowl of pennies in its center. Each of them has a small stack of pennies and a printed form. In front of the older woman sits a scrap of paper with the words “a taffy stretching machine” written on it. “… and my father looked down at me and said, ‘If you don’t want to ride the roller coaster, you don’t have to. You can wait here in the candy shop while your brother and I go,’” says the older woman. “I was scared.” As she speaks, the remembered terror creeps into her voice.

Her expression suddenly goes blank. She turns to the man. “What did I do or say then?” she asks, offering him the single penny in front of her.

The man considers for a moment, his brow furrowed. Staring at her, he replies, “You said, ‘No, I want to come with you.’”

She turns to the younger woman. “Or was it…” she begins, offering the same penny.

“You stayed there in the candy shop, chewing your taffy,” the other woman says.

She pauses before speaking again. “Yes, I remember now. I said, ‘No, I want to come with you.’” She hands her penny to the man. “And I had a fantastic time. It was so thrilling, so wonderful. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. And that is what I remember.”

She smiles as she writes on her sheet of paper, “When I think of taffy stretching machines, I remember how I discovered what I wanted to do with my life. I’d never felt such a sense of purpose before.” After she finishes, she takes a penny from the bowl.

“A penny for my thoughts,” she says.

Do you fear what you might find?: http://www.evilhat.com/home/a-penny-for-my-thoughts/

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

Session 39: Durance, Sagas of the Icelanders, Cthulhu Dark

18 Feb

6pm – 10pm
Tuesday, February 26
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

durance big

On a remote planet far from civilization, the worst criminal scum from a dozen star systems have been dumped, charged with building new lives under the watchful eye of Authority. Within a brutal hierarchy of savagery and servility, convicts and guards alike must make hard choices. Every colonist has their own code of conduct and their own aspirations—aspirations that invariably come at the expense of others. This dangerous new world is too small for everyone to succeed. In fact, it may well be too small for anyone to succeed. Only the shrewdest, the toughest and the luckiest will get a chance to find out. Will you be among them?

Durance is the latest game from designer Jason Morningstar, author of the award-winning game Fiasco. It is a fast-paced, low-prep, highly collaborative game designed for 3-5 players and one or more sessions of play and includes a detailed, engaging science fiction setting.

Did you hear the news: http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/durance/


Sagas of the Icelanders:
Sagas of the Icelanders is a game about the lives of norse settlers in Iceland, 10th century A.D. The game deals with the trials and issues that the norse people had to deal with on the icelandic frontier. It takes a more accurate historical approach to vikings and their culture than is common in most games, but avoids excessive minutiae of attack rolls or damage, focusing instead on the turbulent relationships and strict cultural norms that make up their original sagas.

Listen to another time: http://www.indiegogo.com/soti-rpg


Cthulhu Dark:

Cthulhu Dark is a rules-light Lovecraftian game. (It gets its name because it’s essentially Cthulhu Light, but you can’t call a Cthulhu game that, so it’s Dark.)

The rules are fun and incredibly minimal: they fit on one sheet of paper. You don’t need a character sheet to play, so you can start playing after two minutes of prep.

Can you handle the truth: http://www.yog-sothoth.com/threads/20390-Cthulhu-Dark

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.


16 Oct

What to say about GHOST/ECHO? The game is so minimalist that it is difficult to pinpoint specific details. This game plays to a certain kind of skill set. You have to be ready to dive in deep with no assistance at all, fictionally nor mechanically, and just start cramming pieces together to make it work. It’s feels rather like jury-rigging some strange contraption, with an even stranger tool that changes every time you look at it.

See, writing a bullshit sentence like that is almost what playing this game is like. You just have to be willing to roll with it and capitalize on the tropes of your unconscious as you rush past them.


The story we made was pretty cool, and equally confusing at times. Sometimes things go so phenomenally bad for the players that a simple situation spirals into a deep crisis in a matter of minutes. This is part because this game is simply brutal, and part because it resolves so quickly and so smoothly that a whole chapters worth of narrative can speed by in just a few minutes.

Our game managed to hit existential issues in the first hour. By the end of the third hour the crew had confronted an infoweapon that targets the nature of intelligence itself, and one character had effectively become an oversoul god of sorts. It took only three hours to get as epic as it comes. That is, effectively, a whole campaign.


The rules themselves are super open. They begin with a series of questions to which just about any answer is suitable. The setting consists of nothing more than evocative images, a list of words, and a dare to take them wherever.

The conflict resolution seems to be a proto-Apocalypse World application of the Otherkind system. This allows players to choose how they succeed or fail, which is a vastly more engaging means of handling conflict.

The rules themselves work flawlessly. But you’ve gotta have guts to delve into the unknown with no hand rail to hold onto. If you can do that, then this game is everything you could want it to be. But if you cannot get over the initial feeling of free fall, then you may not feel comfortable enough to really get to the juicy bits of this game. This is true for the players and doubly true for the GM.

One player put it aptly: “This is what I would use to play Shadowrun instead of Shadowrun.”

Session 29: Remember Tomorrow, World of Dungeons

3 Oct

6pm – 10pm
Tuesday, October 9
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

Remember Tomorrow:
Remember Tomorrow by Gregor Hutton is a role-playing game set in the near future. Look at the world today, now flash it forward twenty minutes into the future. Sky Cars: Check. Memory Couriers: Check. Everything Else: Slightly Changed, huh, how about that?

Remember Tomorrow is set in a place called Somewhere. Maybe it was once Glasgow, Milan, Reno, Auckland or Hong Kong. Everywhere in the world is Somewhere. Are you Ready, Willing and Able?

It’s a quick and dirty near-future “cyberpunk” game that features: easy character generation; an ensemble cast of PCs and Factions; goal-oriented stories built in play; GMless, scene-based resolution.

Find the truth at: http://gregorhutton.com/boxninja/remember/index.html.

World of Dungeons:
World of Dungeons, by John Harper, is a complete short roleplaying game that answers the question “If Dungeon World was the latest version of a classic roleplaying game, what would the original look like?”

Looking for that classic high-fantasy adventure role playing experience but with a streamlined, fast paced modern design? This is it.

Adventure awaits at: http://mightyatom.blogspot.com/2012/06/world-of-dungeons.html.

Session 28: Ready, Set, Game PDX One Year Anniversary Extravaganza

16 Sep

5pm – 11pm
Tuesday, September 25
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

That’s right. There will be cake. Yeah, that’s a cake. No, that’s not our cake. Our cake exists in the future. How could I take a picture of a future cake?
So, uh, anyways come kick off a second year of story gaming with us! This special event will feature extended hours (a huge thank you to Guardian Games for this!), and a handful of games too large for the usual slot! Stay tuned for cake related details.
The games this week are Metrofinal Transantiago, FreeMarket, and a Dog Eat Dog/Bhaloidam Super Combo! That is to say, Bhalodam will follow Dog Eat Dog.
The Assassin has murdered the world of suffering, garroting it with the crimson thread called desire. As the world dies, the poarts worth saving depart along the Night Road, which pours from the fatal would toward the World to Come.

Since mortal minds cannot rightly conceive of the end times, we choose to imagine the hustle and bustle of those departing as a crowded day on the metro in Santiago, Chile.In these twilight hours eight chosen saints and bodisattvas – Those Who Tarry at the Door – scour Santiago’s subway stations, searching for those who will birth the next world and expose the mechanations of asuras and demons.Find enlightenment at: http://corvidsun.com/2011/11/05/metrofinal-beta-released/ImageFreeMarket by Jared Sorensen and Luke Crane is a transhuman science fiction game set aboard a space settlement in the Saturnian system. Several generations are living on FreeMarket Station: the sons, daughters and grandchildren of the Originals; immigrant travelers from elsewhere in our solar system; and designed-to-order humans fabricated in 3d matter printers. It’s a world without death, without poverty, without sickness and without any need for laws.

What will you do with forever? You could spend your days in blissful torpor browsing a universe of entertainment via your neural interface, oblivious to pain and hardship. But you’re not one of those baseliners, are you? You have hopes, dreams, fears, needs and passions. What will you do with forever?

Start a cult? Create new technologies or living creatures? Express yourself through art or violence? Make friends or Make enemies? Be human or become something else? You have more than a lifetime to discover who you really are.

For infovores: http://projectdonut.com/freemarket/

Dog Eat Dog by Liam Burke is a roleplaying game where you play out the colonization of a Pacific island, with the players taking on the roles of the Natives, while one embodies the Occupation forces. It’s designed to be fun and thought-provoking for experienced roleplayers, but easily accessible for people new to the hobby. A token economy tracks your decisions and determines whether you’ll go out fighting, assimilate, keep hold of the island, or lose it forever.

Explore: http://rpgkickstarters.tumblr.com/post/20167485265/dog-eat-dog-a-game-of-imperialism-and-assimilation

Bhaloidam by Corvus Elrod is a time, a person, a feeling. Bhaloidam is a language, an idea, a place, and a memory. Bhaloidam is a modern expression of three timeless cultural forces: bha to tell, loid to play, and dam the tribe. In other words, Bhaloidam is where Story, Play, and Community come together.

Bhaloidam is also an independently-published tabletop storytelling platform. With it you can spin character-driven stories and weave them together with the stories of your friends. Bhaloidam lets you exert your influence upon the storyworld you create together, shaping its future and controlling your characters’ destinies as you perform their successes and their failures.

Share the story here: http://zakelro.com/bhaloidam

Session 27: GHOST/ECHO, Ninja Burger

2 Sep

5pm – 9pm
Tuesday, September 11
Guardian Games
303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

While hunting for loot in the ghost world, your crew was sold out. You’ve walked right into an ambush, with hungry wraiths on your heels.

Questions you will answer as you go…
Why does your crew need loot?

What ghost powers does your particular crew member possess?
What is the ghost world?
What are Echoes?
What are Wraiths?

GHOST/ECHO by John Harper is presented as an ‘oracle game’. It provides only a starting point and a resolution mechanic. You and your friends fill in the rest of the details as you play.

Curiosity got the best of you? http://www.onesevendesign.com/ghostecho/

Ninja Burger:
Ninja Burger was founded in 1954, and soon became the world’s predominant undergound ninja-run fast food delivery service. We would be happy to tell you more about the company, but since we’re ninja, we would then have to kill you.

However, we can tell you about the Web site.

The Ninja Burger Web site was developed in 1999 by the honorable Kenshiro Aette-san and Miyoko Aenomi-san in the traditions of their honorable ancestors. Their solemn mission: to defend the downtrodden, fight for the honor of Ninja Burger, and to deliver hot and fresh food to Ninja Burger’s customers. Somewhere along the line it all went horribly wrong.

Ninja Burger’s customer list is quite impressive, although since we respect the privacy of our clientele we cannot release any names. However, we can say that our customers include many powerful, respected, influential and important people. No questions asked.

Currently, Ninja Burger is looking forward to doing business with its One-hundred-millionth customer in the very near future (of course, Ninja Burger cannot prove this number, but are you going to argue with them?)

Maybe it could be you! Whether you are a customer or a future employee, we welcome you to the world of Ninja Burger, and hope you enjoy your visit!

Visit the Ninja Burger website and place your order today! http://ninjaburger.com/