Tuesday 20 October 2020

The Ancient Rule of Cool

The “rule of cool” is a phrase some Online RPG People use, referring to the idea that if a player comes up with something interesting and fun, it should go into the game without question (i.e. without rolling dice).

The idea that people should put things they like into their game is so banal and tautological that it barely warrants repeating, which is of course why the internet repeats it constantly. Also because it rhymes.

But! Since you lot love people telling you what you can and can’t do so much, I have delved into the musty dragon-hoards of academia, studied the ancient and sacred roleplaying texts and found that the original rule of cool actually refers to the entire act of GMing - it is not a mindless mantra after all, but a proper Rule by which games may be governed.

(Which is to say that, as with any Rule in an RPG, it should be largely ignored until deemed necessary, like baking soda or a pneumatic drill. But don’t tell the nerds about all that, you’ll frighten them.)


The true, actual, Ancient Rule of Cool is as follows:

The GM first sets up a fictional situation. There may be cool things already happening. The other players have characters who find themselves in that situation. The game is those players suggesting cool things for their characters to do and the GM responding. Repeat.

Sidenote A: characters should therefore be constructed with the potential to do cool things through play. This takes precedence over a character being cool (optional, largely subjective) or, crucially, characters being able to do cool things separate from play - play in an RPG being the conversation and imagination provided by players. A character with a rope, torch and flask of oil has play potential. A list of die-roll responses to obstacles in the game state exists separate from play.

The GM then rates all player suggestions by the Rule of Cool.

If an idea is Not Cool at All, the GM’s response is No. The idea is not added to the fiction/ game state.

Sidenote B: This largely occurs only as a result of simple miscommunication, but if malice is involved the player is ejected from the game (note: this is a people problem, not a game problem, and therefore warrants no further discussion here).

If an idea is Not Cool Enough, the GM’s response is Yes, And. The table comes up with ways to make the suggested action and its consequences cooler before it is added to the fiction/game state.

If an idea is Cool, the GM’s response is Yes. The idea is added to the fiction/game state.

If an idea is Too Cool [for School], the GM’s response is Yes, But. The idea is added to the game only upon the players achieving certain prerequisites. (Eg: a player wants to ride a laser dragon into battle. The prerequisite might be journeying to a far corner of the world to steal a dragon’s egg.)

Roll dice if you get stuck or don’t want to make a decision.


Now then, that’s enough academia from me, I’m off to actually play some games. Why quibble over coastlines with cartographers when you could be having fun at the beach?

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Jack Rabbit JAM: Battle Roulette

Hey folks,

Paradice Arcade is my side project for making non-RPG tabletop games. Each minigame costs just £2 for a digital download with gorgeous art from a variety of talented collaborators, and only needs two ordinary dice and some spare coins to play. No crafting, no components.

The Kickstarter for our latest minigame, Jack Rabbit JAM: Battle Roulette just went live! I’ve got an incredible team on this one, and have been working on the project on and off for well over a year now, in between everything else I’ve got going on. I’m super happy with the mechanics and the art we’ve got so far, so I thought a KS would be perfect to finally get this thing finished and in your hands, ready to play.

You can support the KS for as little as £2, getting you the game at launch!

I know this is a little different to what most folks come here for, but if you like my stuff at all then this is the best way to support me right now. Backing the project helps pay me to finish development on this game, but could also free me up to get cracking on some other games too. If the game’s not your thing or you can’t spare the money right now, consider sharing it with your friends!

Thanks x

Sunday 4 October 2020


 A small game of fantasy adventure

You will need: 1 set of polyhedral dice.

How to play: Pick characters, communicate clearly, be good friends.


Everyone has one flaming torch and one packed lunch. Destroy items after they’re used for something cool.

Fighter (d4), 4d4 HP: When you attack, roll your die instead of doing 1 damage. You have 4 Protection Points. When you or an adjacent ally takes damage, either spend a Protection Point or forfeit your next action to roll your die and reduce incoming damage by the number rolled. You can spend multiple points at once for multiple rolls if you want.

Thief (d6), 2d6 HP: Before an adventure, roll your die on the Tool Table twice and get those items. If you use an item for something cool or useful it will probably be destroyed (same as with any character), but you can keep items that don’t get destroyed to use on your next adventure.

Tool Table: 1. Tinderbox, candle and mirror. 2. 20ft of rope and a giant fish hook. 3. A convincing disguise. 4. A pot of grease and a pot of glue. 5. Ball bearings and a clockwork mouse. 6. A spyglass and a knife.

Cleric (d8), 3d8 HP: You can roll your die, immediately lose half that much HP (rounded down), and then use healing magic to restore that much HP from yourself or others. You can split the number between multiple targets. Healing magic has the reverse effect on undead, dealing damage.

Wizard (d10), 1d10 HP: To cast a spell, pick a target and say the spell’s name out loud, then roll your die on the Magic-o-Meter. If the number you roll is equal to or higher than the number of the spell, it works. If not, you cast the spell whose number you rolled instead, at the same target.

Magic-o-Meter: 1. Bright Light. 2. Fireball (damage equal to die roll). 3. Handy Heal (3 HP). 4. Goose Grease. 5. Goblin Glue. 6. Frightening Lightning (loud, no damage). 7. Transform-a-Toad (turns animals to people and back). 8. Teleport. 9. Sudden Death. 10. Magic Wish.

Barbarian (d12), 1d12+12 HP: Any time you want, you can frenzy - roll your die and deal that much damage exactly, spending damage first on enemies, then allies, then yourself. You take half damage (rounded down) from weapons and traps, excluding your own.

Dungeon (d20): Make up a fun adventure for your friends and see what they do. Give them magic treasure if they do well.

If they get into a fight with monsters, let everyone involved take a turn doing one important thing, then keep doing that until the fight ends. Roll your die to see how much HP a group of monsters has, and tell your friends how scary they look based on that number. Your friends’ attacks do 1 damage. When a monster attacks, the person they’re attacking rolls their die and loses that much HP - same with anything else that would hurt.

If you’re not sure what happens next, roll your die. Use the Dungeon Decider to come up with ideas for monsters and stuff to use in your adventure, or make up your own.

Dungeon Decider:

1. Skeletons, one is wearing a crown and giving orders, they’ll all obey whoever wears the crown.

2. Zombies, very slow and stupid, hate fire.

3. Rats, roll your die to see how many, each attack kills one.

4. Skeleton Rats, same as rats.

5. Mosquito Bats, attracted to light, or whoever has the most HP if there’s no light.

6. Goblins, clever and mean.

7. Skeleton Goblins, less clever.

8. Troll, smart and greedy, roll your die each turn and restore that much HP, unless it was hurt with fire.

9. Dog People, easily become friends.

10. Cat People, easily become indifferent.

11. Pit Trap, big hole that’s hard to cross.

12. Spike Trap, very obvious, spikes come up from the ground if you step here.

13. Arrow Trap, very obvious, shoots arrows at head height.

14. Fake Carpet, nice carpet, comes alive and attacks if stepped on.

15. Jelly Cube, big transparent cube of jelly, tall and wide as a corridor, bits of old adventurers inside.

16. Armoured Ghost, each time it takes damage it takes 1 less than it would, wear it if you beat it, each time you take damage take 1 less than you would.

17. Vampire, all the normal rules about vampires work.

18. Ancient Wizard, can cast spells like the wizard but can’t cast Sudden Death or Wish and uses your die.

19. Many Eyed Beast, if it does damage to someone they turn to stone on an odd number of HP.

20. Dragon. Can’t be beaten, might be tricked.

If you want to use a map to show everyone the dungeon layout, use another set of polyhedral dice to mark where everyone is.