Emerald City Comicon: Attack of the Story Games!

Going to Emerald City Comicon? Want to play some story games? Well, once again, we’ve got you covered. Our team of crack facilitators is setting up shop in WSCC 208 to bring the fun. Straight from the schedule:

Story Games

Come play story games! Build a world or epic drama together… and then watch it burn. Try games like Fiasco, Microscope, Downfall and Fall of Magic. Never played a story game before? No problem! We have skilled facilitators on-hand to show you how. Everyone is welcome. No experience necessary.

WSCC 208 is the second floor of the main convention center, right off from the central escalators. We’ll have sign-up sheets for the games for each slot. Start times are:

Thursday 3 pm, 7 pm
Friday 11 am, 3 pm, 7 pm
Saturday 11 am, 3 pm, 7 pm
Sunday 10 am, 1 pm

That’s when games *start*, so if you want to play you should come earlier and reserve a spot. Look for our big green sign:


I’ll also be giving a talk to dig into what’s so great about all these GMless games anyway:

Secrets of GMless Role-Playing Games

Role-playing games without a GM? How is this possible?!? Good game masters are awesome but you don’t need a GM to play an awesome game. Join game designer Ben Robbins and explore the world of GMless RPGs like Fiasco and Microscope. Whether you’ve never played a GMless game before or you’re already an expert, come learn what makes them tick and expand your gaming horizons.

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM, Thursday March 2nd, WSCC 210

Yep, that’s two doors down from the gaming area. Come chat and afterwards take a short stroll and sign up for some games!

Since my talk is on Thursday, I have no idea if anyone will even be at the con yet, let alone the gaming area, so it might be a very quiet room. If so, that just means the people that show up get to have an intimate fireside chat. Which actually sounds kind of great.

Ben Robbins | February 18th, 2017 | events

The Scarlet Letter: Microscope in the Classroom

Keenan is killing it bringing story games to the classroom. His latest post is about using Microscope scene structure to explore the Scarlet Letter. The kids’ feedback is stunning, once again.

Scarlet Letter: Microscope Scene Building and Reflections

Other educators are starting to share their experiences on the new “games in the classroom” G+ community, like this post about adapting Mars Colony to large groups. These first-hand reports are so informative. If you’re bringing games to the classroom, or gaming with kids in other capacities, jump in and share your experiences!

Ben Robbins | December 19th, 2016 | microscope kids

Lord of the Flies: Kingdom in the Classroom

Over the past few years, I’ve heard from a lot of different educators who have experimented with Microscope, Kingdom and similar games in the classroom. They were each trying different approaches, but didn’t have a common forum to share what they’d learned.

So when Keenan Kibrick contacted me and we talked about creating a new G+ community for story games in the classroom, I was all for it. He just posted the results of using Kingdom to have students explore Lord of the Flies. Kids role-playing Lord of the Flies? That is about as daring as it gets.

Kingdom: Lord of the Flies in the Classroom Reflection and Quick Start

How’d it go? Read the feedback the kids gave. It is spot-on.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the cross-pollination of ideas we can get going between educators. There’s a lot of exciting and unexplored potential for story games in the classroom.

Ben Robbins | December 12th, 2016 | kingdom

Follow Early Access

If you backed Follow, today is your lucky day, because the early access release is ready for you to download and play it.

My original plan was to just do some minor cleanup on the latest playtest draft so that backers could start tackling quests as soon as possible, but once I started digging into the text the design-fire overcame me. I did a lot of cleaning, streamlining and clarification to make everything flow even better.

There are twelve quests, including three brand new ones: the Siege, the Show and the Raid. I’m working on a bunch more, but I didn’t want to hold up play while I finished them, so they’ll drop later. Quests also got a major format revision, and sample wants and needs are now included in every quest to make it easier to quickly come up characters that fit the setting.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out and I’m looking forward to people taking it for a spin and playing some games.

As a side note, it turns out I was also grossly understating the number of playtesters: when I said over a 100 people, I really should have said over 200 people. Over 200 awesome playtesters, putting Follow through its paces and making it the game it is… Thanks everybody!

Ben Robbins | December 5th, 2016 | follow | 2 comments

Follow Races to the Finish

The Follow Kickstarter is closing as we speak! I dug into a lot more detail about how the game works in the updates, so here they are in case you missed them:

If you want even more, check out the interview I did with Brie Sheldon. It covers Follow, comparisons to Microscope and Kingdom, and even digs into the X né the Veil at Story Games Seattle.

Three hours to go! Thanks to everyone who has supported Follow, and an extra special thanks to all the playtesters who have helped make it be the game it is.

I’m looking forward to getting the early access version to backers so you can all start tackling quests!

Ben Robbins | November 16th, 2016 | follow | 2 comments

Heartbreak at Suicide Ridge

I already talked about the Follow Rebellion where we (luckily) failed to awaken the elder god Kanaguk and destroy the world.

I played another Rebellion at Story Games Seattle just a few days later with a totally different group, half of whom had never played Follow before. Playing two Rebellions in a row was chance, not planning. They picked it through the classic process of elimination – including a finger-vote after we’d gotten down to the last two choices – then we brainstormed a setting.

Our choice? A Mad Max-style struggle to overthrow the warlords of Suicide Ridge, one of the few communities fortified enough to hold fast against the roving bands of waste-raiders.

How’d it go? We won the quest! On paper anyway. But we lost, well, just about everyone in the fellowship. After our most idealistic characters went down going mano a mano with the warlord, the community was left in the hands of a scheming defector from the warlord’s council (uh, my character) and a religious fanatic who had knowingly sacrificed mobs of the faithful in a classic suicide attack diversion. Only the terrible people in our fellowship were left to take over. So: the new Suicide Ridge, maybe not so much better than the old one.

But even in the midst of all our dirt and treachery, we had a great romance subplot. Kyron, thug-enforcer for the warlords (and secret rebel) was smitten with Helcat, a wild gang-runner in the wastes. The waste-gangs naturally raided Suicide Ridge – and just about anybody else – any chance they got, but we were trying to get some of the gangs on our side to help muscle out the warlords.

Their would-be romance reflected the tenuous but potentially game-changing alliance. Could the raiders be trusted? Was it true love, or was she just using him? When the quest was over, would they run off together to start a new life far, far away from here, or would she give him a shiv in the ribs?

Spoiler alert: it was a shiv in the ribs.

He forgot that true love has no soil to grow in the barren wastes. And that’s how you find heartbreak at Suicide Ridge.

Ben Robbins | November 6th, 2016 | follow