Friday, March 29, 2024

Armello: The Board Game

It’s March 29, 2024, and I’m in the kinda unique position of reporting that a game I had a blast designing has already made a treasure-trove on Kickstarter and still has about a week to roll. It’s Armello: The Board Game, a deckbuilding adventure board game of furry animal heroes with swords questing to take the throne from their corrupt King . . . over each other’s (temporarily) dead bodies!

Armello: The Board Game is being published by friends at King of the Castle, aka the wonderful creators of Campaign Coins. I’ve been writing occasional design notes you can find in the Kickstarter page’s updates and the game has just hit a stretch goal where I’ll loop back into the game to design two fistfuls of magic Amulets. It’s time I stepped away from an all-out push to finish 13th Age Second Edition’s next playtest packet to talk about the game that’s already being crowdfunded!

This board game version of Armello inherited a huge trove of goodness from the earlier digital game from League of Geeks. The digital game originally featured on Kickstarter and was supported with new cards and hero clans and game expansions for many years. Hundreds of beautiful cards, cool custom dice with magical symbols, and cutthroat anthropomorphic animal heroes on a quest to usurp a Corrupt king has translated into a competitive deckbuilding quest-and-combat boardgame . . . though ‘translated’ isn’t the right word. I aimed to create a game in a new medium that captured the spirit and evoked the feel of the original.

Digital games can do a lot of things that aren’t repeatable on tabletop. Then midway through the design, I turned the digital game’s more traditional style of cardplay into a deckbuilding experience. Partly that’s because I love deckbuilding games. And partly it’s because deckbuilding felt like a great metaphor for character growth and experience. Each hero has their own unique starter and experience decks as well as cards they can buy from the market or win as treasure.

There are six days to go for the Kickstarter, plus some time in the post-crowdfunding phase. I’m not sure I’ll be designing for more stretch goals, but I do know that the design note I just wrote talks about a possible expansion.

If you do nothing else, check out the cool Kickstarter video! When you play the digital game, you’ll recognize the narrator as the voice of the King.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Jonathan Sells Tekumel

We're still working on the Beta Playtest Packet for 2E, as well as arranging art and helping set up the 13th Age Second Edition Kickstarter. . . details to arrive soon!

But in the meantime, Jonathan Tweet has a simpler fund-raising effort in progress, and it involves Tekumel. And Planned Parenthood. So I'm giving his effort a space to live in blog world. He's including notes on the Tekumel campaign he ran a few years ago, about 6 years before we began working on 13th Age.

If you are interested in this treasure trove, contact Jonathan through his Facebook author-page:


Jonathan says . . .

Here’s my third game collection that I’m selling off to raise money for Planned Parenthood ($150 raised so far).

TSR’s Empire of the Petal Throne by M A R Barker was the first culture-based, world-centric RPG. In 1977, when my dad took me to the college where he taught so I could see the students playing RPGs, they were playing Empire of the Petal Throne. Over the decades, this setting has reappeared repeatedly with different treatments and rules sets. It’s like nothing else: an ancient, stratified culture with malevolent gods whose worship includes orgies & human sacrifice; an oppressive empire with traditional clans of various status; haunted ruins of the world’s ancient past; and a planet where most of the sentient beings, animals, and monsters are decidedly alien. Humans on Tekumel are descended from space-faring earthlings, but science collapsed long ago after a cosmic catastrophe separated the planet from the rest of the universe. There are no stars in the Tekumel’s sky because its star system is alone. Now humans are stuck here with the alien inhabitants of this world, plus numerous bizarre sentient being that likewise descend from space-faring species. Some ancient tech remains, but it’s treated like magic. Many sorts of beings, including humans, cast spells through psychic power.

As a teen, I played a little Empire of the Petal Throne, then I collected Tekumel works over the years, and finally around 2005 I ran several sessions using my own custom rule set. My rules used the d20 system for combat but an all-new system for character generation and powers. These rules were the first time I had spellcasters casting spells so powerful that they took 2 rounds to cast. The super-simple rules were inspired by the virtually unknown RPG Conrad’s Fantasy, by “Red” Rahm. (Conrad’s Fantasy and Rahm’s other inimitable RPGs are another collection slated for a later charity sale.) My rules, campaign notes, and character sheets are part of this package. You can also see more at

Raymond Feist’s Riftwar books are based on his alt-D&D campaign, which featured an invasion (through interdimensional rifts) from Tekumel. Feist changed the invading planet’s name, but his “Kelewan” is clearly Tekumel with the serial numbers filed off.

This set ranges from a reprint of the original game rules to the most recent game sets that I know of. The Tekumel hardback in this set sells for over $100 these days, and the Mitlanyal volumes go for $200 to $300 each. This collection includes a bunch of great resources that I would have loved to have had back in the day when my teen game group played in this intricate and highly alien setting. The art, for one thing, is far better than it was in the ’70s! Included in this collection are dozens of official Tekumel miniatures, as Tekumel is a setting for minis battles as well as roleplaying. This collection is for someone who loves Tekumel or for someone who loves Planned Parenthood, and I’m asking for a $500 donation plus shipping. If you know any Tekumel fans, please let them know. You might also want to acquire this material on behalf of a good game library.