Road Trip! – solo dice placement game

The open road calls…the luggage is packed, the car is (mostly) fuelled up, the kids have scribbled on
the road maps, and the theme park, scenic canyon, party town, museum, or whatever destination

Get the Road Trip! rules (1 page rules, 1 page example, and a game sheet)

I’ve never made a solo game until now, so this was a neat new experience. I have also wanted to work with dice placement some more after playing Dicey Dungeons (computer game) and Sagrada (board game). This is a quick (~10-15 minutes…even less if you lose!) casual game meant to be played when you have some time to kill. I think you can really imagine the journey based on what happens each turn (like losing Fuel from getting lost, and everyone being hungry, but you have a terrific CD playing and the music cheers everyone up). I would have liked to fit Weather in as some kind of mechanic, but I just couldn’t squeeze that in there.

I could see making an extended version of the game for multiple players, perhaps with everyone being someone in the car, and trying to juggle all the needs of the passengers and relationships, just like a real road trip.



Distant Adventures v1.0 release!

DA-PreviewWell it didn’t take as long as some of my games, but I’ve finalized my light RPG Distant Adventures into v1.0! I’ve run lots of playtests with different groups in different settings, as well as being a player of the game. I’ve made some tweaks and changes, and most importantly really focused on having the rulebook be clear, concise, and ensure the game I intended to make is the game that gets played on the table.

The exciting link: Distant Adventures v1.0 (PDF)

If you haven’t been following the development, the biggest features are characters all work towards a shared Momentum goal, instead of having individual Hitpoints or whatever. Resolution is simple: roll 5D6, keep-and-reroll if a “Thing” from your character applies to your action, and look for Streaks, which are dice faces in a row, such as 2, 3, 4. The “Things” of your character are features, defining qualities, abilities, cliches, tropes, archetypes, etc.

So a very flexible system, where every character concept can contribute equally, and there are tons of solutions and approaches to any situation. Allowing any setting/theme is a plus as well.

Distant Adventures v0.9 after feedback

I got feedback from some blind reads of Distant Adventures, and I’ve now integrated it into the rulebook, which bumps the version up the v0.9. I think the rulebook is quite clear and the system is practically there.

What to Playtest
One big “hmm” decision that I need to playtest more is whether Streaks should move to numbered Momentum or stick with the named Momentum. What this means is using a numbered Momentum goal (let’s say 8) and Streaks giving 1/2/4 Momentum (for 3/4/5 length Streaks) instead of the current approach of a named goal (like 1 Perfect) and Streaks of Slight/Average/Perfect. The math one makes a bit more sense in my head and is cleaner and removes the need for a specific tracking sheet (big bonus).

The other upside is I could potentially bump the numbers to 2/4/8 (more obviously shows the doubling) AND maybe introduce a mechanic of +1/-1 Momentum depending on the action that is tried, sort of like an advantage/disadvantage.
So yeah, that’s my biggest thing to playtest, but that’ll be slowly over the next month or so, considering Christmas and all.

Speaking of which, Merry Christmas!

Rules and Feedback
Download the Distant Adventures v0.9 rulebook (PDF)
EDIT: Full version released, see Distant Adventures page for the latest rules

The consolidated feedback from Reddit and other sources:

  • Setup the Adventure section note that Referee + players are working together to tell a fun story, not competing
  • Add a description paragraph before example of play, mentioning the terms might not make sense, and that more examples are later in the rules
  • Clarify initial example text, with special terms stripped out or clarified parenthetically, aka: “The Referee sets the goal (1 Perfect Momentum) that the players and opponents are racing to reach.”
  • Initial example of play has the same dice roll (1, 2, 5, 6, 6) for both the character and enemy, which should be changed
  • Error in Situation Example #1 (Lance driving), enemy needed a roll of 2, 6 instead of 1, 6 to get a Perfect
  • Clarify Overtime, it needs everyone to agree, shouldn’t be used as a punishment or “second chance to win”, is purely a safety net, etc.
  • Expand on how to apply Streak length, Slight = “yes, but”, Average = “yes”, Perfect = “yes, and”
  • Need example under Momentum section to demonstrate how the storyteller sets Momentum goal
  • Clarity rewrite for Spending Fate, “This can be done at any time the player rolls dice.” instead of “can be used with a Thing or without a Thing”

Distant Adventures v0.8 preview


Well, I slightly missed the Nagademon deadline for Distant Adventures, with my original intent being finalizing the rules before the end of Nov. I’m going to cut myself some slack, maybe take a note from big corporations and blame Covid, or how hard it is to organize dice RPGs with friends in their mid-30s, or something.

Current rulebook is v0.8, and got a bit bigger (8 pages, although only 4 are really needed by players).
Download the Distant Adventures v0.8 rulebook (PDF)
EDIT: Full version released, see Distant Adventures page for the latest rules

Either way, I’ve trimmed down the feedback list from my playtests, consolidated a big list, and applied all those changes to the rulebook. There’s still some formatting/spacing to do, but I didn’t want to fidget around with fitting everything properly until I was at v1.0 and done rewrites. Which I think I’m very close too! I’m going to post the rules a couple places to get some blind feedback. Then maybe get one more playtest with a new group in the next week or two. After that the rules should be wrapped up. Then I might continue on my streak of finishing projects, and revisit Fickle RPG for the ~4-7 or so changes I want to do there.

Progress on Distant Adventures

EDIT: Full version released, see Distant Adventures page for the latest rules

I want to get Distant Adventures wrapped up this month, primarily because I’m trying to do the Nagademon event with it. Which is basically Nanowrimo (which is a novel writing challenge where you write 50,000 words in November, or 1,667 a day). Nagademon is making a game in the month of November.

Anyway so far I’ve run 3 sessions – 2 with the same group to wrap up the story, and 1 with a similar story/setting but a different group (which we’ll also be wrapping up next week). The setting involved was Pirates of the high seas. The players were assembling pieces of a map that their deceased pirate parents left them, then they follow the map to treasure (cursed, of course, to make them age rapidly [like a year a day]). They break the curse by throwing a golden monkey head from the treasure into a volcano.

The game played very well, and once everyone got used to it flowed quite naturally. There were some complaints about player agency (given that losing a situation is akin to a “party wipe”, but that’s hard to grasp when your character has resulting non-combat outcomes they don’t like). I also found I needed a way to extend situations in the cases where someone reached their Momentum goal, but we still had more story to tell. Such as “the navy ship is closing, what do you do to prepare?” and the scene is over before the actual confrontation. Some of that comes down to me learning what kind of Momentum goals to set. I also am tending towards being a bit freer with Fate, as in players get 4-5 to start instead of 2. Anyway all these ideas will be integrated into the next revision of the rules, which I think I’ll try to do before my last session of the month next week.

Raw Feedback Notes
+++ From Playtest on Nov 8 2021 +++
– Overall went well, used the Pirate theme/setting. Situations felt a bit like a coin flip sometimes, and also player agency was sometimes missing
– Expand Character Creation section, sort of like FU Universal system, to include some guidance on what “things” can be, like mentioning archetype, cliches, careers, etc.
— Also mention just choosing 3 “things” to start, and add 2 more after the first situation or two, once you have a feel for the game
– Way to regain Fate on other roll results? “Go for a Fate roll” and try to get Doubles or something instead of a streak?
— Unlikely downside but might lead to stalling a “safe” situation to stock up on Fate?
— Also throws the math off if a player intentionally takes a turn off from generating Momentum
– One piece of feedback was each situation felt “like a race”…not sure if good or bad thing
– Have a way to remove Storyteller Momentum instead of generating your own?
— Seems like it’d only be useful RIGHT before the Storyteller is going to win the situation
— Likely just indicative of other problems with player vs Storyteller Momentum pacing, that more reasonable solutions will fix
— Using a reaction to a Dud for this could be a good middle ground
– Having a “thing” to not is too big of a swing on dice odds? 25% to 55% Dud
– Players help setting up the story and locations worked well
– Rules need to have a section on situation “scope”, to talk about how broad it can, such as our 1-month long voyage vs arguing with a bouncer to get in
– Note that after a failed Decisive roll that’s the end of it, the players have to find a different avenue to approach the situation
– Mention that you can permanently lose “things” as well, like equipment, or from removing a phobia, or change them in a campaign (instead of just adding new ones)
– Storyteller should use less “things”? Or balance another way, since no thing is pretty punishing, especially if Duds are going to hurt even more
– Duds didn’t feel impactful enough – losing a “thing” didn’t matter with 5 in even long situations, and Storyteller seemed to have an unlimited supply of “things”
— Reacting on Duds instead? Person targeted by the roll can do something back? Like do a flat roll for the best streak they can get, which then removes Momentum from the other group (could be cool!)? Or just adds Momentum to their own group?
— Definitely want a Momentum change on a Dud, but should still always remove a “thing” if it was used
– Other uses for Fate?
— Force Storyteller to re-roll a result (basically means it’s SUPER hard/unlikely for a Storyteller to get a Perfect as most players would spend to prevent)
— Also arguably more powerful than the current use of getting a re-roll
— Challenge a narrative outcome that a player doesn’t like, or lessen the effect of it, such as being paralyzed which the character really isn’t interested in working through, so they spend Fate to “Challenge” and…do something? Turn it into a Decisive roll off?
— Or does allowing the forcing of a full Storyteller re-roll achieve the same thing with less cruft?
— Could have 1 Fate = 1 re-roll, and 2 Fate = force Storyteller re-roll, to balance the effectiveness?
– Storyteller goal should almost ALWAYS (like 90%+ of the time) be bigger/longer than the players. Remove the note about “lower goal = favorable situation” too
— This is because the Storyteller has a lot of narrative control and things to throw at players, that they just react too, so to balance it out in the players favor overall they should generally have a lower Momentum goal
— Example from play had 7 situations: players won 4 and lost 3. Some were quite close though, and with the other changes (like Fate = force Storyteller re-roll) could already balance it enough
– Make a title page with picture (maybe that old one from my Java Traveller game?), author name, website, version number
– Add more examples and help for each section, kind of like FU Universal does
*- Don’t worry about page count or formatting/fitting perfectly for now. Just get content fleshed out then do that later

+++ 2nd & 3rd Playtest in mid Nov +++
– 4 Fate is a good number (maybe even 5, to make it easy to match “choose 5 things, write 5 Fate”)
– Spend 2 Fate to force Storyteller re-roll is good
– Dud = Slight to opposing group Momentum is good
— Mention the person the roll was against gets to describe what happens, like a reaction
– Longer Storyteller Momentum was okay-ish, but doesn’t need 80-90% of the time, maybe half the time
– Mention “wrench” concept in rules, of throwing in obstacles and difficulties
– New sheet for tracking Momentum that doesn’t require writing/crossing off items/printing paper works well
— Still include old sheet, for those that don’t want to gather a bunch of tokens/dice/markers for the new sheet style
– Situations sometimes end before the story is resolved, which is a huge problem
— Add a concept of “Overtime” that can be done by the Storyteller to lengthen a Momentum goal
— Keep the current Momentum score, so if you’re ahead you stay ahead? Resetting gets confusing because do you get your things back?
– Need rules for what happens on a Decisive roll if BOTH players roll a Dud
— Worse Dud loses? What even is a “worse” Dud?
– Players can get a “Cascade” which is when a Slight combines into an Average and combines again into a Perfect
— Let them change the entire scene/environment, sort of like how the Storyteller adds wrenches
— Change is not specific to their character, and is more a thematic element that can be utilized (potentially by both sides)
— Example would be “pirates spill out of the nearby tavern to help us against the navy”
– Rename Storyteller role to Referee (or something), to encourage the idea that all the players tell story elements too

I bought my dream dice

Goblin-Brain-DiceYou’d think after all these years of slowly adding to a dice collection I’d have everything I need. Then again those people likely can’t relate to this meme:

Anyway a couple years ago I bought some Gamescience precision dice. They were…alright. Ink quality was a bit poor, having to hand file/sand the sprue bit off felt like it defeated the purpose, and they felt way too light to roll and easy to chip/damage. I’ve also dabbled in casino dice, but as some people know, their sharp edges don’t roll much and are truly meant to be thrown on a craps table, not rolling 3+ of them in your hand at once for a game.

THEN I learned about precision backgammon dice. These dice are milled/cut from a cube, instead of tumbled into shape (a cheaper process which results in imperfections). They also have flat faces instead of indented pips and each face is weighted evenly. And they’re a standard 16mm size. Oh and the weight is terrific. So after much consideration (because they are pricey) I picked up some from a Canadian based Advanced Squad Leader website:


I couldn’t be happier, and can’t wait to use them for Fickle RPG, Distant Adventures, and whatever boardgames I need.

Distant Adventures – new RPG for remote play


I think we were all hoping Covid would be over by now, and yet it drags on and on. I’ve done a few sessions of Fickle RPG remotely over Discord, and although they were fun, the system is clearly designed for face-to-face play. So I figured I’d put together an even lighter RPG that performs better remotely with mics and webcams.
The result is Distant Adventures (get the name pun?). It’s a few pages of rules and no specific character sheet. Describing the game will probably take as long as just reading the rules yourself: Distant Adventures v1.0 rulebook (PDF) or check this page for the latest rules.

But a brief summary of what makes the system stand out:

  • Characters are defined by “things”, which could be personality traits, features, quirks, or even equipment and gear. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator could have “big muscles, great shot, inventive, military training, M16 rifle”. Bruce Robertson from the book/movie Filth could have “alcoholic, degenerate, weak willed, manipulator, policeman”.
  • Situations have an overall Momentum goal/threshold set for the players and any opponents. All people in the group contribute to the same chunk of Momentum, and reaching the goal first means your group achieved what they wanted in a situation.
  • Momentum is generated by performing actions, which are resolved by rolling 5D6 and looking for “Streaks” (numbers in a row, like 3, 4, 5). There are Slight/Average/Perfect Streaks, and some re-rolls if a “thing” was involved, or session based Fate is used.

I’m excited to playtest it more in various settings! Once the game is finalized I’ll make the whole page setup for it on the blog here.

If you want to see the progression of the rulebook here’s the first pass from Nov 04.