#58: RPGs as Websites 📲

I. Dear Reader,

This is something that people have been talking about for a while: the idea that if you’re reading an RPG on a digital device, a website could probably be a lot nicer than a PDF. I think this is a popular opinion now. PDFs can look really great but they’re often inaccessible or just not fun to read. If you have an iPad or other tablet, I think it becomes a lot nicer but I’d guess most people read them on a computer or a phone.

So why not a website instead? It could be interactive, responsive to your screen’s size, could link to things easily and nicely (you could embed a video!) - there’s lots of cool stuff that would be possible. For example, Downcrawl is an RPG that’s just fully available on a website. It’s super easy to navigate and probably works great with screenreaders. If you’re going to make your game free, why not like this? People do this with SRDs all the time. There’s the Fate SRD (a sponsor!) and the Trophy SRD.

But it’s not particularly clear how to make your own site like that. You could just put your rules on a site like carrd. Errant is probably my favourite example. This is super easy but functionality is limited by whatever carrd is willing to let you do. The Platen project started by Michael Lombardi is trying to walk that line of customizability and simplicity. It’s still early stages (example site) but when it’s done, it hopes to be something you can can easily edit and publish while still giving you cool features like autorolling on random tables.

Of course, the issue is you can’t sell a webpage easily but Dee Pennyway’s Beyond the Rift is a cool example of a game that uses itch.io to do just that. I’m just happy this is a space that games are exploring!

Yours digitally,


II. Listen of the Week

On the Party of One podcast, Jeff Stormer played Volleyboys!!, an RPG about the inter-personal drama of sports anime, with designer Kevin Nguyen. It was a really great episode that shows how fun a No Dice No Masters game can be.

Bonus: An older talk by Fiasco designer Jason Morningstar about how to make games and why you should. It’s a lovely talk and definitely something to listen to if you want or need a little pick-me-up.

III. Links of the Week

  • On the Play Fearless newsletter, I learned about how the One Ring does treasure and it’s nice compromise between completely random treasure and specifically chosen treasure.

  • Kotaku wrote what I thought was a well-balanced take on D&D and why you should play other games if you’re chafing against 5e’s idiosyncracies.

  • The Ennies announced their winners - Alice is Missing and Heart: the City Beneath were both big winners.

  • The IGDN also announced their Groundbreaker Award winners (video): Lutong Banwa, Karunduun, Slayers, this discord has ghosts in it, and Crescendo Giocoso Ritornello all went home with awards.

    • If you’d like to links to these games and my best attempt at a blurb, you can see this previous newsletter.

  • GenCon is going on right now and there’s lots of reasons not to have attended the physical convention, there were panels that streamed online. I didn’t catch many but I enjoyed this one from Tom McGrenery and friends about how to organize a drop-in RPG meetup.

IV. Small Ads

All links in the newsletter are completely based on my own interest. But to help support my work, this section contains sponsored links and advertisements. If you’d like your products to appear here, read the submission form.

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Hello, dear readers. This newsletter is written by me, Thomas Manuel. I’m half-man, half-beast, half-journalist, half-game designer.

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