I’m fascinated by other systems for games than using rolling. Rolling is great but other ways of determining the element of chance are also interesting. Cards are a popular one, I think I’ve seen dominoes done, coin-tosses and rock-paper scissors (Mind’s Eye Theatre) was great for impromptu play when you didn’t have your other materials with you. There are also resource management systems too with beads and limited resources to be spent.

I’ve tinkered with bits and pieces of different things around this, sometimes keeping the dice but getting rid of the numerics, sometimes losing the dice. Irrepressible! uses what I – humbly – think is a great system where you draw beads from a bag until your luck runs out. The Description System uses words instead of numerical statistics, even though it does use dice.

I love The Description System because it works really well for modelling narrative importance. The bigger and stronger the description, the bigger and stronger whatever it is in the story. It directly reflects narrative significance in a way that reflects fiction (unless it’s Game of Thrones).

I got thinking, after The Description System and after another – currently aborted project using poker – about other ways to do it. What I like about The Description System is that rather than maths/probability skills being primary it was English skills. I’ve been thinking, purely on a theoretical basis, about other ways to set game rules that work on non-mathematical skills, specifically English. Games can also be great educational tools and again, this has largely been in the mathematics arena. How great to ‘gamify’ vocabulary?

So, what’s a good option?


How could you define a character?

A few defining words that – if used – could count as bonus letters.

Difficulty determined by score or word-length (I don’t think I’d use the board though).

Synergistic words could give extra bonuses. A fire mage using the word ‘hot’ as their play for an action would get extra score or letters. A swordsman using ‘strike’ or ‘hit’ would get the same.

Of course, making easy plays would leave you with difficult letters still in your rack, which makes ‘exhaustion’ and other issues build over time.

Best of all it would be very, very difficult to min-max or game the system and it would include a measure of player skill.

Of course… that might put some people off.

The Description System – Unleash the power of words

The Description system is the system powering the Neverwhere fan RPG and recent release ImagiNation.

Role-playing has long been credited with improving mathematical and social skills in tweens and teens but the ways in which it can improve English skills, descriptions, narrative and so on have been less championed. TDS is a system that encourages creative use of the English language.

Not that I want to put you off by making it sound all educational…

The Description System uses descriptive paragraphs to define powers, challenges, monsters, characters and everything else in the game world and minimises the mathematics involved to a single dice roll and some simple addition.

A powerful system and a good introduction to roleplaying, TDS would work well for off-the-cuff games and quick conversions of favourite settings as well as for more developed games.

This system is completely open. Do what thou wilt.

Download HERE

If you like and enjoy TDS and ImagiNation and want to encourage future free, fan-based or charitable projects, please consider supporting us by buying some of our other work or donating to our current fundraising campaign.

With the release of TDS as an entirely open system, my final obligation to the ImagiNation fundraiser is discharged, so hopefully that’ll show I’m a closer!

A Postmortem Update

I have been very busy, beavering away on my novel, which is almost complete and should be finished by the end of next week. This has taken time away from games writing quite a bit and as I’ve been busy two weekends in a row and have had a bit of a bout of depression things haven’t been proceeding entirely according to plan. Please bear with me!

I’ll be posting some more ImagiNation previews, everything is now done save for a few pieces of art so, fingers crossed, ImagiNation should be out by the end of the month. This will be released FREE on PDF and AT COST via Print on Demand. I’d like to get as much press as possible for this game – since it deals with depression and is intended as an aid/boost to fellow sufferers as well as a game. If you’d like to help me out with that, please get in touch.

I’ve received proofs of all the board/card games I have made – apart from Lady Bexington’s Home for Wayward Zombies on The Game Crafter (links in the side) and I have to say I am very, very pleased with the quality and results. I can’t recommend purchasing outside the US unless you’re willing to spend over the odds but if you are a US customer and want a shiny, awesome copy of Steamed, Final Straw or Cthentacle then go buy! If there’s enough interest there I’ll work on more board and card games.

When the novel is finished, because ImagiNation has been slightly delayed, I will put together the generic version of The Description System (that powers both Neverwhere and ImagiNation) and get that out ASAP.

The last bit of news is that myself and Satine Phoenix will be going ahead with Machinations of the Space Princess but as a FULL game, derived from the Lamentations rules set and aimed at providing fast, furious, simple, Sci-Fantasy adventuring weirdness in a Metal Hurlant style. Sexy, Sleazy, Swords & Sci-Fi. You can get some ideas on where my thinking for the game is going by looking at the Maksa-Jazra blog posts here (though those are more fantasy than SF). This will be an IndieGoGo fundraiser aiming for $1,000 to go to Satine for art. We’re still working out the details but look for a proper announcement sometime next week. Excess money will go to stretch goals, more art and some money going to me for the time it will take to write. It’ll be a ‘whatever amount is raised’ fundraiser.

After that, it’ll be on to a second novel and I hope you’ll all be as supportive of that endeavour as you have been of my games writing!

If you want to check out my already published short stories, you can get them at Amazon or Smashwords (just search for my name on the Nook, iBook etc stores).

ImagiNation: Dev Diary 3

When I write games – or fiction – I always start with an outline to tell me what needs doing and to construct the ‘skeleton’ of the book and make sure everything is covered. This is the ‘content skeleton’ for ImagiNation. If you think anything is missing or should be included that isn’t, please let me know and I’ll think about revision. Not shown is that there will be little bits of fiction distributed throughout the book along with the art that has been commissioned.






Postmortem Studios

Piracy Plea



Depression & Creativity

The Description System


Example Adventure

A Choose Your Own Adventure Introduction

The Disaster

The State of Play


The Islands

The Blockade

Base Foxtrot


The Government

The Dream Trade


The Monad

Dreams & Nightmares



You Have to be Crazy


Who are you?

Describe Yourself

What can you do?

What Have you Got?

What did you used to do?

Character Profiles

The Arts





Painting & Drawing




Chemical Imbalance




Imposter Syndrome



Obsessive Compulsive Disorder






Doing Things

Rolling Dice

Opposition & Assistance

Hurting Each Other


Playing Other Ways

The World Gone Mad




Playing the Game

What do we do?

Adventure Seeds


Living Game World