Game Designer Workshop Episode 19: Ruin, Derail, and Slingstone

News: Back the RPPR Patreon for $10 to receive an enamel pin with our new logo. Check this post for details!

Synopsis: Shaun has started working on a new storytelling game called Derail. It’s about subverting cliches and tropes in movies and video games. We talk about his new game and his first two playtests. I’ve actually playtested Ruin twice and I talk about my progress with the game. Caleb has several game design projects he is working on, so he talks about them as well.

Song: Main Title by Johnny Scratch

Liked it? Take a second to support RPPR on Patreon!


  1. Very important episode!

  2. ok, I know this is backseat game design, but I want to get the idea out of my head. @Shaun. I feel your game needs a reason for the player characters to talk to each other in character. So I dearly want to fit some sort of “group therapy” scene between every act. By group therapy I mean a scene where they players characters meet and plot together in a setting appropriate surrounding. So an online group chat in a chyberpunk game, a self help group ala Wreck it Raplh in a game whre they are all minions of the evil guy, a sneaky meeting in a dark corridor of the castle in a McBeth play and so on…

    I was trying the figure out a mechanical reason for this to happen. The best I could come up with was, based on what was discussed in the episode, that one player sacrifices his action to create the self help group scene and then he gets a major (but not quite as good as normally) team help benefit for hosting the meeting and all the other players get a minor team help benefit for showing up. Extra points if the players have to navigate their cross purpose goals.

  3. Great to hear the design progress on everything! Shaun, your new game sounds really entertaining!

    I’m really happy to hear about the progress on Ruin. Sounds like you’ve finally figured out how to make the in-game character generation idea work, Ross! That’s always been my favorite aspect of Ruin’s concept. I hope we can get some playtesting opportunities for backers and “associated podcasts.” 🙂 I know Tech Diff would enjoy participating in playtests when you’re ready to see how other GMs feel running it.

  4. You know what the mechanic for Doctor Witch Doctor sounds like to me? Clue. Three symptoms that can be combined in random ways, and you’re trying to figure out what the correct combination is. That’s not a bad thing! I wonder if looking at Clue might be a good way to zero in on how to make the app/algorithmic table work.

  5. Caleb have you read The Reckoners series because that is literally the entire premise of those books. Killing super powered people cause their all crazy and turned the world into a wasteland.

    Also I know Red Markets was inspired by Rot and Ruin, so are all your RPGs gonna be based on YA novels? Not that I’m complaining cause it sounds dope.

  6. I’m super excited by the sling stone concept, I really liked the ideas behind The Reckoners. The execution… Somewhat less so.

  7. Looking forward to the games! Having gone through the archives recently, I’m glad Ruin continues. I see the need for forcing characters into one ‘plane’ but I’m a bit cautious about “You all black out and appear near Geoff, because Geoff opened the important door first”. If the environments were all internal architecture it would be easy, because you could just say that “And Dave, you climb deep within the dungeon, open the trapdoor and jump through to find yourself stood on top of a skyscraper next to Geoff. Pam, you turn around the corner and come to a dead end. You retrace your steps only to find the door now leads to a rooftop, where Dave and Geoff are standing.” But not sure how you make that work with properly open spaces, which it sounds like might be contained within the infinite spaces of the hotel,

    I like Fridrik’s idea, although it sounds like DeRailed is a short enough game to not need such scenes, I like the idea of the self-aware cast bitching about the narrative. Would love to hear some playtests of all, of course….

    Slingstone sounds cool. A much lighter kind of Night’s Black Agents I suppose, where you fight asymmetric warfare against a target that outclasses you in every way using research and preparation to overcome lack of resources and power. Not a big fan of cards but honestly that’s from lack of experience more than anything else. Another useful touchstone might be the 10 Seconders from 2000AD (home of Judge Dredd); the name comes from the average life expectancy of a resistance fighter when they come up against The Gods themselves (the supermen of this setting). Guerilla tactics and insane quests for victory in an impossible battle against not just the superhumans but also their army of Followers and their twisted augmented human shock troopers, the Disciples. Mind you Stormwatch: Team Achilles is easily the best story of this kind in my opinion, beyond Grant Morrison’s Batman and his always entertaining bullshit.

  8. @Caleb
    I wasn’t 100% where to drop this but I wanted to offer you some help or just fact checking concerning your “medical” game. I’m a Registered Nurse with 7 years of experience under my belt and I can string a few words together 🙂 So, if that’s useful in any way, do get in touch with me!

Leave a Reply