Waypoint Tabletop Game Design Thread! (No Experience Needed ;3)


well Implementation is always the tricky bit isn’t it?
It’s the sort of thing videogames are naturally better at because a computer can easily track every event that happens and progress you accordingly, kick a lot of things and get better at kicking, it’s easy because this computer is counting every single time you kick something.

Translating something like that to a tabletop setting… the easiest way is just to have a GM who has the savvy and confidence to homebrew that sort of thing into the game. so maybe the trick is to just build a system that encourages that sort of thing. offhand I’m thinking maybe something that treats what DnD calls feats more like items, most systems will have a list of example items but only the most literal-minded GMs will stick to that list exclusively.

offhand I’m thinking something similar to magic items except that they become intrinsically part of the character and can’t be easily shed or taken away and rather than looting them from monsters or chests they’re earned or unlocked by accomplishing the sort of things that are already sort of naturally occurring stories within the game. like when a player makes an incredible roll at a pivotal moment, or fails skill they should be very good at, or succeeds at a roll they really have no business even attempting. what if instead of picking it when you levelled up you gained the feat Alert by winning a spot check the rest of the party failed or, even more interestingly, by missing a spot check and paying dearly for it?

another advantage I could see from something like this is that it would encourage role playing. you can’t just level up and take burglar if you want to be a clever thief, you need to get in there and start stealing things until you pull off a good enough heist to earn burglar.

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I have no experience in tabletop but I’ve gone 2-ish seasons of FatT and I’d love to design/re-jigger Apocalypse World into an espionage themed tabletop game. How no one I know of has seen Ronin and thought tabletop before I just have no idea.

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For folks interesting in board game design, I heartily recommend checking out The White Box (in full disclosure, my girlfriend is having some of her essays appear in the collection). It has a lot of cool bits and bobs that seem like they’d be very useful for prototyping stuff.

I currently have waaaay too many abandoned projects sitting on the back burner. But that’s just my life.

My current project is a freeform, parlor style LARP with some worker placement elements. It’s keyed into a larger multimedia thing that I’m currently working on, and so I like the idea of having these specific, albeit somewhat abstract, mechanical goals as something to key the players into. By having these specific goals, it’ll help drive play even for those who don’t want to deep dive into the setting.

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I just submitted a tiny game to the 200 Word RPG Challenge the other week, about engineers on a dying vessel, that spun out of a PbtA move I made for modifying electrical systems (and I did THAT because I’m self-indulgently writing my job into my next campaign)

Right now I’m working on an RPG where you use twitter polls to determine your stat ratings (roll a pseudo-percentage die under the stat’s share of votes for success)

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Noelle I think that’s a really good point about slowing the game down. I definitely agree that really focusing on what your game wants to do is a good strategy for dealing with that.

In Toils and Troubles (linked in the doc if you want to read it, but it’s been at the center of my mind so I reference it a lot) there literally is no mechanic except for what I want the game to explore. So in that case, the mechanics are: how do players escalate tensions with each other, how do players set the tone and feel of a scene together, dynamically, and how do players resolve tensions to move forward. Everything else isn’t even touched.

The explanation in that game is that witches have magic and can do whatever they want. When a player says something happens, it does (to the extent that the other witches don’t try to stop them). All the Referee is allowed to do is introduce Complications that put the witches in increasingly harrowing emotional situations, and ask pointed, difficult questions.

So like, anything outside of that is left to the players to negotiate amongst themselves. I think there are things I want to add, but nothing about the core mechanics of gameplay. There’s something really nice and freeing about picking only the extremely specific mechanics you want to work with, and doing fun stuff with them.


The Sprawl is a game about cyberpunk agents working for and running from massive corps in a mission structure that feels reallllllly espionage themed. I think you could pull a lot of interesting concepts from the Sprawl and make it oriented to a different genre if you wanted to (and I would be really interested in seeing what you did with it >:3).


Here’s the catch: I vehemently hate cyberpunk and I would love a tabletop game that let’s you make characters in a completely normal modern (or in my dreams for this, nothing after 2008) setting.


Right, so taking the good ideas from that game (countdown clocks to represent big organizational threats coming after you, mission structure that focuses on legwork into action, creation of the Big Players in your espionage game by all players at the start of the game) and mixing them with your own genre expertise (different moves, tight focus on the genre fiction, new mechanics to represent things that the Sprawl) to make a new game sounds like it would be really great! That’s what I was trying to get at haha.


a lot of that particular flavor can be stripped out of The Sprawl with some effort imo, the playbooks would lend themselves very well to run/heist-based espionage and aren’t explicitly cyberpunk themselves.

the most obviously cyberpunk bit would be the hacker playbook and all the cybernetics, but my gut says that most of the cyberware would be perfectly fine for modern spycraft if reinterpreted as Bond-type gadgetry

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I want to say that this really means a lot to me, and I’d be interested in hearing how it went.

For that matter, if you are interested in playtesting games that people talk about or share on here, there was some interest in the waypoint discord (which also has a game design thread :sunglasses:) about doing some one shots of the games listed in the sheet linked in the OP, so if you are interested in seeing your game played by real live human beings who can tell you how it went, maybe consider putting it in there (and/or joining the discord to play :sunglasses: :sunglasses: :sunglasses:)

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the sprawl’s concepts of Gear and Intel in particular (generic bits of knowledge you can earn and make specific at a later point) strike me as v v good for running a spy game that won’t get bogged down in “what gadgets should I requisition” or “here’s a lot of information about shipping manifests but who knows if it’ll come in handy later”.

cashing in these things lets you skip all that and go straight to the A-HA moment, which you conjure out of thin air like a fucking wizard

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Will do! I thought I had written myself into a corner, because the PC’s just sat down to table with a cannibal god, and I was like “Oh gosh, where do I go from here? who are they eating?” etc, and this seems so perfect.

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I think [gear] and [intel] work really well at exemplifying how moves are supposed to work in PbtA games. There’s a direct link from the fiction to the mechanics by way of having to describe what gear or intel you have to solve the problem at hand. It’s really interesting because gear or intel don’t give you a bonus to a roll or anything, so they’re really more like a link between the fiction and the fiction itself.

I need to go find that D.Vincent Baker article from his website about the way that mechanics link to fiction, and fiction links to fiction. He drew nice pictures that made it much easier to understand.

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Okay, I think I found the listing of of D.Vincent Baker’s thoughts on this cause and effect relationship between mechanics (or dice as he is talking about here) and fiction. I would highly recommend it if you are interested in rpg theory, especially in a way that you can connect concretely to games.


Oh my god I love it! When I wrote that game I thought it was feasting in the sense of having dinner together and company, and Your Honored Guest was the person you mourn. But it totally works as cannibals eating someone and telling stories about them holy shit. That’s SO COOL. I hope it goes well! :3

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I have no idea what you guys are talking about but I like cannibalism.

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I mean… isn’t the best way to mourn someone to… enjoy what they left behind? :wink:

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Your Honored Guest is a game I wrote for this year’s 200 Word RPG contest. I wrote it thinking about group mourning of a person or your relationship to a person, but it 100% reads like a group of cannibals gathering to chow down on a dude. Which is cool as fuck! I love when games get interestingly reinterpreted.

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This made me spit my water out, I hope you’re happy with yourself.

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Do NOT describe Their flesh.

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