Actual Play – Thieves’ Cant (3/23/2017)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Hakan Sayalioglu, Karen Twelves, and Kathryn Hymes
System: Blades in the Dark (mash up with Dialect)

Our second and final episode of Thieves’ Cant. We picked up from the first session (where we played Dialect) and continued the story with Blade in the Dark. Playing the Grey Cloaks (for reals this time) we saw one of their early scores on the docks as they were still trying to find their footing in the Doskvol underworld.

Our Language

Here’s our Thieves Cant!

Our Characters

Since we had a short session we made up our characters before hand, they were:

Usa Waydrind – A petite Severosi ex-soldier who thought she could use her skills to better ends on the streets of Doskvol.

Aiz Anserekh–  A disgraced Iruvian noble who still keeps him mustache perfectly groomed despite other effects falling by the wayside. When he arrived in Doskvol he joined the Bluecoats (and gained many scars in the process), which he left alongside Nessa and Hutch.

Vond Comber – A natural born street urchin, tall and guant, but very much at home on the docks. Vond still carried a coin with the symbol of the Weeping Lady to remember where he came from. Vond used to do work for Long Strangford (one of his many street level agents) but run afoul of Needle, a vicious Bluecoat

My Prep

Prep, what is this thing? What is it doing in Blades in the Dark?

Well, I knew we had two hours to game and I wanted to make sure we weren’t spending all of it just figuring out what score to go on (very easy to do). I also wanted to make sure that the Grey Cloaks were surrounded by people at all times, so they would need to use their cant to communicate if they didn’t want others to overhear them.

We talked some online about possible scores and settled on “lets’s mess with people on the docks”, which still wasn’t very specific but it game me a start point, so I started jotting down notes about what was going on at the docs, both the status quo, as well as the scores that other factions were pulling off, which some enterprising scoundrels might pick up on. First, the status quo:

  • Chief Helker runs the docks. From his warehouse office perch he can see across nearly all of them and with a constant stream of reports from his clerks as well as other informants, he keeps pace with the hundreds or thousands of transactions that happen daily at the docks. Diamond, a tough old wold who hires day laborers to fill in and do the work that the union dockers don’t want to do.
  • Lord Strangford‘s leviathan hunter, the Nightbreaker, is in dock getting repaired from it’s last hunt. A bevy of Bluecoats and dockers alike stand around near the boat doing security and making sure only the right people make it on board. Eager to abuse his power whenever he could the rough Bluecoat Needle paraded around the docks as though he owned the place (which wasn’t entirely untrue).

Crime aplenty. Here were the various scores happening on this sunless day:

  • The Red Sashes, disappointed with their share of the extortion rackets the Crows allocated them had sent members to fleece merchants on their way off the docs. If they could get to them before they paid their bribes to the Crows or the Lampblacks, they cold cut in on the action. And if someone was foolish enough to pay them, they got what they deserved. Zora Hakar, a Red Sash who is dangerous but looks authoritative enough to get people to cough up bribes, was on the dock, pilfering from whoever she could!
  • Strangford’s Bluecoats were intentionally interrupting the transport of leviathan blood, and blaming everyone else for their delays, so that they could sneak it into a warehouse and dilute it. The Nightbreaker didn’t bring enough to make it’s quota, so they were covering up for it. Needle as in charge of keeping this operation secure.
  • The Grinders, eager to derail imperial supremacy have a plan to get on-board the Nightbreaker as “workers” and sabotage the repair operation, while also trying to rob from it’s coffers if they get a chance. Derret, tough, smart, and willing to take risks, got in line with the other day laborers to get himself work so that he could get close to the Hunter and find out how to get his crew on board.

I figured with four accessible characters (Diamond, Needle, Zora, and Derret), each representing larger forces (Dockers, Strangford, Red Sashes, and Grinders respectively) we’d have plenty of opportunities to interrupt other scores or plan one of their own!

The Play is the Thing

In short things went well for Aiz and Usa (they made off with Zora’s take) and very poorly with Vond (he was last seen entering a boat house and Needle following after him. Gunshots were heard, Needled walked out and Vond didn’t).

But for all the juicy details, I recommend checking out the show. I’m pretty proud of the production quality this time:

What Rocked

We used our cant, it was so cool. Derret was trying to figure it out and didn’t get it. Needle knew what it all meant but wasn’t close enough to overheard. I loved it.

This group was great, they honed in on place they could rob the robbers and went to town. I love that it ended in a duel.

Poor Vond. I wonder if it was bugskot for him or if he made it.

Having the prep for a short game like this was definitely helpful. It’s not my style normally, but I was glad that we had lots of low hanging fruit to pick from.

What could have improved

Oh, several things, some more important than others.

I thought it was novel and fun to have the scoundrels take actions just to get day work, and it did offer a lot of opportunities for me to reveal the setting to them through complications. I just felt bad that we spent the first hour with them just trying to earn a few slugs for carrying boxes. It was about the lowest stakes I’ve ever seen in Blades and I was concerned both for the players and the the audience that patience for it might have been wearing thin.

At the end, because we were well over time, I asked them to wrap everything up with fortune rolls and then that determined the outcome. The trick there as that when I assigned consequences to the results, chat (correctly) suggested that they could resist those consequences. Which normally would be totally true but I wanted these fortune rolls to reflect the sum total of all the actions. It didn’t matter that much in the end but I think that when doing one roll resolution, I may elect not to allow resistance rolls and abide just by what the fortune roll tells us.

Ship names are hard.

Someone said something offensive in chat, which I wish I just deleted, but I was caught off guard enough that I just said it out loud. This was clearly the case of me needing to hone my chat moderation skills and not be as quick to blurt out something I read. We were pretty quick to move past it. Next time hopefully I’ll catch it before I open my mouth!

Actual Play – Thieves’ Cant (3/11/2017)

GM: Kathryn Hymes
Players: Hakan Sayalioglu, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Dialect (mash up with Blades in the Dark)

This game was like woah. So many new things. A mash of of Blades in the Dark and Dialect. Playtesting a new backdrop. Streaming on Twitch! Woah!

To make this happen we coordinated a fair bit ahead of time to suss out:

  • The Doskvol Setting
  • What events we’d set the game around (we chose the forming of the Grey Cloaks)
  • Our three aspects (see below)


To define our community we picked three aspects that were very particular to our crew.

Bluecoats, because that’s what we are. But the aspect has a lot of nuance to it. It stood for keepers of the peace and the legalized thugs. We are a cogs withing a system of oppression, being shit on, and shitting on those beneath us.

Crushing Debt, a few weeks ago our patrol had gotten in a fight with a few sailors and pushed them around. We took it too far, and then only realized after the fact that they worked for the Leviathan Captain Lord Strangford. He might night have noticed under other circumstances but we slowed down his launch date and found who we were. After that, we were constantly having to pay up to him to keep him from making things official. And the payments due, they just keep growing!

Extortion, because, of course. I mean, this has always been our livelihood, but now it’s more important than ever. We’ve had to step up our graft to pay our new debts!


Claive aka “Needle” – Our zealot leg breaker who believed above all other thing that extortion is what we we’re here to do. Needle doesn’t even make a pretense of doing his job as a Bluecoat. He just cleans his coat on a daily basis (we’ll be defining that in a bit)

Stev Templelton –  Our oracle who had been in Blue for a decade and could see the writing on the wall. Stev believed that our extortion racket was going to be our downfall.

Braeden Vale – Our healer both literally and figuratively. Vale’s temperate and enduring nature frequently put him in the position of patching us up. Of all of us, Braeden identified the most with being a Bluecoat, and believed our extortion rackets were causing us pain and misery.

Syra “Bug” Haig – Our jester and ne’er-do-well believed that calling ourselves Bluecoats was a joke. She was always happy to run down a business for money, but hoped people would see that we’re no better than any criminals on the streets… we are the criminals on the streets.

Our Language

In Dialect we create a language, and our language was a thieves cant. So cool.

The rule we made for our game was that our language has to use common words that wouldn’t draw attention that would mean other things. That way they could be used in front of our watch commander Krop or other Bluecoats without raising suspicion. This was a great justification for twisting words around and making cool phrases. Thanks chat for helping us out with them!

Here’s our Thieves Cant! Since we’re going to try and use it in a follow up Blades game, and we may develop more, here’s the living google doc.

Our Story

I’m keeping this short, because I really want people to watch the VOD because it’s my first VOD ever! Woot.

We were terrible Bluecoats under the thumb of Lord Strangford. To get out of his crushing debt we tried ever more extreme actions (starting with extortion, then stealing from our own coffers, then trying to stick up one of Strangford’s Leviathan Blood caravans) until we finally burned down the that had evidence against him and blamed Nessa and Hutch, our fellow Bluecoats, for the fire.

The end result was that we earned Strangford’s favor, became his cronies exacting his will, and Stev was promoted to watch commander and took over command in the new barracks. This was a big twist for us as we expected to play the Grey Cloaks, but it turns out we were the assholes that created them!

Here’s the VODs:

What Rocked

Oh my, this game and these words were so great. Bad Weather. How’s your coat? Strange Devils. I loved how the language we made formed our story and the larger narrative of what our scoundrels did with their lives.

The twist at the end was huge. We walked into the game expecting that we would play the characters who eventually became the Grey Cloaks and then in between the third and fourth hour, Karen pointed out that what made more sense is if we were the group that framed the bluecoats and burned down the watch tower ourselves. I mean, afterall, we had a flamethrower! There were a few mininutes of hesitation, we were all holding onto the the original idea, but once we went for it and killed our darlings, the story was so much better and make so much more sense. Plus that allowed for me to have a…

Great scene with Needle and Hutch. In the third act you can bring in NPCs and since Bug was dead, I framed my scene with Hutch trying to overpower Needle but failing terribly. One detail was his blue coat covered in grey ash. I loved getting to put that bit in!

One top of the game and the streaming, we were also playtesting a new backdrop for Dialect, which is also great because it means Kate and Hakan got to take back some good playtest results to boot!

Without really planning for it, we ended up fitting our story into the fiction perfectly. It wouldn’t have made much sense for Krop, who hated our rag tag group, to frame the Nessa and Hutch, but it totally made sense for us to do it. So when Stev was made watch commander, that was even better. Also, I didn’t realize that the Grey Cloaks had there HQ in the old watch tower (I could have just read it, but I missed that part) so it was doubly good to have the confrontation with Needle there!

Talk about killing your darlings. I respect Kate so much for letting Stev change fundamentally. She started out as the one who tried to get us off the path of extortion and ended up the watch commander running a precinct of Bluecoats entirely dedicated to carrying out Strangford’s dirty work. I am genuinely scared of the Bluecoats in the Docks now!

Chat. Thanks chat for both helping me with some technical issues, letting other folks know

What could have improved

The big one is video quality. Because our bandwidth at home is really poor, and because both Karen and I were using the same connection for Zoom (plus streaming) the dropped frames were massive. I had set the bit rate way down (400) which helped but it was still choppy. Thankfully the local recording is much smoother. We order a faster U-verse plan which hopefully will improve performance in the future.

Other thing (thanks Jon Edwards for catching some of these): Our audio levels were off for a while. I thought I had the all dialed in but then I leaned back and was too far away from my mic, and Kate was coming in louder than I expected. I couldn’t label the stream while it was running. I kept getting a language error when I tried to set it, despite selecting English. Luckily I was able to name it after the show.

I didn’t have any bots installed so there was a lot of repeat copy and pasting of links. Moobot is installed now.

Mostly I was just nervous about it all coming crashing down and the performance being intolerable. Thankfully everyone in chat was understanding and we got through it fine. I was exhausted by the end though!



Actual Play – Hastings 52 (1/7/2017)

Facilitator: Hakan Seyalioglu
Players: Karen Twelves, Nathan Black, and Sean Nittner
System: Dialect
Backdrop: Worcester School, 1950 (by Graham Walmsley)

After many rounds of Doodle polls trying to sort out when the Computer Age would arrive, it was finally Tea Time!

First game of the year and what fun. Getting together with Nathan, Hakan, and Karen was delightful, if somewhat tricky from the technology perspective. Our setup at home doesn’t work great for having both Karen and me on at the same time, but we persevered and played a great game.

The Backdrop

Graham Walmsley is writing a backdrop called Worcester School, 1950. Somehow we missed the name of the setting and so ended up calling our school Hastings, but I think we got the rest correct. Our remote school, a few hours walk from the nearest town, was not only a place for children to become productive members of society, it was also the place where the first computer in England was being built (at least in our alternative History it was).

Fresh out of World War II and still shaken by it’s affect on the world, every student in Hastings looked to the creation of the first computer as the sign of a new ere, of a Computer Age!

The Characters

Harold St. James (Nathan), a highly regimented young man with a silver spoon neatly tucked and polished in his breast pocket. Harold was a strict enforcer of keeping a tidy life and following the rules to the letter, or at least the rules that he approved of. (Leader)

Lind Grassley (Hakan), a young woman from a rustic family. Her understanding of technology was more intuitive than studied, though she had great aptitude for computing, as well as a love of animals. (Protector)

Catherine Barlde (Sean),  a young Jewish refugee who had been adopted by the computing class professor Ms. Bardle. She had spent the last few years since the war, in the presence researchers and scientists and had a fine analytical mind herself. (Oracle)

Florence Rogers (Karen) attended Hastings though she always knew there would be more to life than just civil service. She was fond of taking long walks in the brushes and by the bog, because from there it was easy to slip out of sight and make the long walk to town where she could procure supplied that were in great demand at the school (Scrounger)


Regimented – Not only were classes on strict schedules but as students we were also privy to national secrets (or so they told us, in truth students were rarely trusted with more than bread crumbs).

Drive to Succeed – Each of the students were only allowed into the school because they showed a strong aptitude for computing. They were expected to seek a life in public service after they graduated.

Mr. Bardle’s Computing Class – Though we took many other classes the most important of them by far was the computing class, in which we would write proto-bits of code on punch cards, that would eventually be the core programming.

Our Language

A few of the words that we defined and came to define us…

Dr. Hughes – A jovial greeting that started when Florence sneaked up behind Harold in a pub and said “Hello Dr. Hughes” to scare him. That greeting became a common jibe between students, much to the confusion of the actual Dr. Hughes.

Final Stack – The last punch card entered before the computing engine was engaged. When Lind made a last minute correction on the punch card and handed it to Catherine on their first class presentation, they each said “Final Stack” to each other, wishing one another good luck before pulling the lever.

Computing Age – Our dreams of both the the next era, when England would have it’s first computer, and the world would change. It was also, for the students, the age of majority. The age when we would be adults and enter civil service. Catherine thought it would mean peace for humankind, Harold thought the Computer Age would herald the next weapon of war.

Tea Time – Third eighth when we had tea, it meant a time to look forward to.

False Stack – In their final exams, Harold stole the punch cards from Lind and Catherine and replaced them with gibberish card that did not compile. A False Stack. A betrayal!

What Rocked

Since my last playtest I see there have been a number of refinements to streamline the game and simplify or reduce options, which I think is REALLY good. Given limited choices people will do amazing things.

The conversations were great, probably the strongest part of the game (besides the actual playing out of scenes) because they were sheer world building, and by extension language building. They were all about how we as players envision our characters relating to the world. I loved them.

When we were talking about how to define the the word for traitor Nathan stepped up to be the False Stack! I was leaning towards this myself but didn’t want to shoehorn him into it. When he volunteered it made my day.

What could be improved

What I’d still like to see is strong direction on each of the steps (Make of Connection, Build a World, Have a Conversation). We talked about this somewhat during play with the idea of reference cards that told everyone the steps to take, but I’d also like to see the rules take firm hand in that.

We intended to play through our high school career and did so but it was heavily weighted toward the beginning (age one) and the end of school (age two and three). My suggestion for this particular playset is that the school year be divided a bit more evenly. Age 1 was start of school, and Age 2 and 3 were both end (or near end). I’d suggest moving Age 2 to be closer to the middle and making Age 3 about the final exams and the fallout from them.

I’m a stickler for rules. There were several times when folks where jumping form meaning to forming a scene without first connecting the meaning to an aspect or creating a word. I think it’s fine to be flexible with your conversation but it’s important not to forget about important steps before finishing.

Actual Play – From Linky to Linker (5/29/2015)

Dialect-flyerFacilitator: Hakan Seyalioglu (with observation from Kathryn Hymes)
Players: Devon Apple, Sean Nittner, and Liberty Frederick
System: Dialect

Dialect is a game about language and how it dies. Or, in my experience the stories that surround and form the language and watching them both come to an end.

This was a delightful game that turned out to be much more emotionally satisfying than I expected. I walked in thinking it would be more of a curious intellectual exercise than a roleplaying game, but I was wrong, it’s both, and that is really rad.

Of note, because we were playing in a three hour block, Hakan accelerated each of the three acts to we could make sure to complete the story. I didn’t feel like we missed out on anything, but if you played the game and are comparing notes, we had less words than you would in a full game.


Character and setting creation happened as part of one combined effort. We started with a prompt for an isolated community. In our case that community were Mars frontierspeople in 2046. 2000 people sent to Mars to prepare it for a colony ship that never came. Five years later they had become a society of their own. This was the story of those people, their language, and their end.

The setting is defined by aspects and problems (I believe one problem and n-1 aspects, where n is the number of players). As part of a new playtest, Hakan and Kathryn had created some sample aspects and asked us to use some of those as well as create others of our own. Here’s what we chose:

Aspect: We waste nothing – On a planet that is constantly trying to kill us, utilizing everything we could was the least we could do, and even that wouldn’t ensure our survival.

Aspect: Separated by necessity – Like truckers connected only by their shortwave radios, our isolation was spread all across Mars so that we could operate the extensive terraforming machines, however this meant that nearly all communication was done over the vids.

Aspect: Running from the Past – The kind of people that go to Mars for life are usually those who don’t want to stick around on Earth. The the old world was falling apart, it was still much safer than this red planet. We all had skeletons in our closets.

Problem: Emotional Desperation – The separation created a deep longing in the people of Mars. Vids and texts could not replace physical touch. Further, our stay here was precipitated by disaster as the communication array that allowed us to talk to earth had been destroyed in an explosion when we first began to colonize. We were all alone, even among ourselves.


The character creation process (and really every process from here out) required us to make use of the aspects and problem to define the salient issues at hand. If it went into our story it was related to one of these four elements. In the case of characters we picked two!

Demme Fern was a meteorologist who helped navigate necessary travel as well as preparation for the inevitable dust storms on the planet. Because he had to connect with so many people he had become the shoulder for people to lean on, to tell their sad stories to. He cared more about people than rules, an issue for Clove the security officer [Demme represented Separation by Necessity and Emotional Disparity]

Loretta was a trans woman who always felt out of place on earth. They came to Mars to get away from people but found they were lost without human contact. Though an engineer by trade Loretta signed up to be a supply transporter as it was the one role that allowed them to have physical contact with others. Because Loretta could supply goods, people came to them for personal effects and creature comforts. [Loretta represented Running from the Past and Separated by Necessity]

Nadine was our communications expert. Though comms with earth were crippled, she was the one that designed and maintained our short wave planetary transceivers. Nadine desperately wanted to come to Mars, so much so that she arranged “accidents” that crippled or killed the other, more qualified, applicants. In fact, when she arrived on Mars and knew that her crimes would eventually be uncovered on earth, she destroyed the communication array to earth. People came to Nadine for all technological needs as it were her skills that kept our existing tech working (I might have that wrong). [Nadine represented Running from the Past and We Waste Nothing].

Clove Burkshire, our security enforcer was the one trying to keep us all from descending into chaos. Clove monitored the communication, was constantly antagonized by Demme’s subtle but effective efforts to embolden people to seek out their own happiness, and generally thought everything would be fine if everyone just did exactly what he said. People came to Clove when justice needed to be enforced [Clove represented Running from the Past and Emotional Disparity].

2016-05-29 13.36.00Act I

With each player dealt a small hand of cards that had prompts on them like “death”, “bad open”, and “celebration”, we took turns doing the following:

  1. Associating a prompt with one of our aspects or problem.
  2. Telling a short story about how that prompt was connected to the story.
  3. Creating a new word or phrase based on that word.
  4. Framing a scene to two characters to play out where they have to use that word.

The words we made:

  • 5×5, 10 Point was initially a call and response handshake initiating that systems were good to go, but for us just became something we said when you part ways.
  • Linky, a person you spent time linked up to, especially so if the communication wasn’t officially authorized.
  • Staysix, a bad omen or reminder of unlucky times, from when Station Six, which housed our freon supplies was lost and because of it our personal quarters are often insufferably hot and humid.
  • Wearing my souls thin, an ironic phrase about the souls of shoes wearing out from heavy labor, but hardly every the case as few people walked, and when they did they were wearing space boots!

The story that unfolded around these words was that of Demme making it possible for Nadene and Loretta to connect, and for Clove to be infuriated by it.

2016-05-29 14.14.51Act II

In the second act a major event occurs which causes the language to evolve and change. We did a lot of the same steps as Act I but we also had the option to use our new cards (which had different kinds of prompts) to:

  • Change an existing word by giving it a new meaning.
  • Create  new character that was emblematic of a word (which we didn’t do, but we did eventually make a word based on Nadene, see below).
  • Do the things we did in Act I.

I our case, Nadene revealed that she was the one who destroyed the communication array, and from that we got:

  • Mars Food, the death sentence, as someone was interred into a recycling plant.
  • Linker, the pejorative derivation of Linky, used to describe people who break the laws governing authorized communications.
  • Frequency 82, the light at the end of the tunnel, which came from our discovery that there was a signal we could send to earth.
  • Touching Metal, the hyperbolic expression of “souls wearing thin”. Literally, I’ve been pushed as far as I can go.
  • Dean, to make a terrible mistake, or suffer horrible misfortune. Slang. Like “I really deaned this up.”

The stories that accompanied these words were a moment of hope from Demme as he believed that contact with earth might ameliorate Nadene’s sin, followed by the rest of us trying to hold our fragile world together and knowing we couldn’t.

2016-05-29 14.17.39Act III

In the third act we tell the story of the how the isolation dies and the language dies along with it. We did this by all nominating a scene that would show the end of our story, ordering the and then playing them out:

The earth colony ship, now aware that we survived, did arrive, and they stripped Clove of his authority before he could execute Nadene. Yeah, given that it would probably take years to get a ship from Earth to Mars, that probably didn’t make sense, but we went with it.

Lorraine and Nadene said their sorrowful goodbyes, interlocking fingers as they said 5×5, 10 point.

Clove, feeling betrayed by Demme got into a physical altercation with him that ended up compromising both of their EVA suits while outside and dying. Yep, toxic masculinity, FTW.

In the end we put cards into the center of the concentric shapes that resonated with us the most as a final farewell before the ship with 25,000 people descended and assimilated our community taking only what it needed and leaving our personal effects behind.


These are questions they asked each of the players along with my answers:

Your name: Sean Nittner

Notes about the game: See above 🙂

What is your impression of the game. Be brutally honest: I loved the experience. As I mentioned above I expected an intellectual exercise. This was so much more. Our game was a beautiful one and I was very compelled by our characters and their stories.

Areas I can see room for improvement:

  • The question “what function does your character serve in the isolation” seemed disconnected from everything else. It was one of the thing s we wrote on our table tent card so it’s presumably important, but it never comes up in game (unless someone makes a point of it) nor is it tied to the elements. Since you want the characters tied to two elements, it may work to tie their identity (transporter, security, meteorologist, etc) to one aspect or problem, and their function in the community (shoulder to lean on, provider of creature comforts, etc) to another one.
  • There are a lot of steps (most, but not all detailed above) and considering how many of them are collaborative I could see this taking quite a while to play out a full game. I’d look at either:
    • Giving individual players more autonomy when making certain word creation choices.
    • Restricting the scenes to one per player per act (as we did).
    • Using Fiasco and the Fiasco Companion as a reference for quickly framing and resolving scenes. Perhaps if you initiate it, the other person gets to close the scene, etc.

Did you enjoy defining new language? Did you feel like using the language was satisfying? I enjoyed our new language but wasn’t always sure we were doing what was intended. I didn’t know if we were creating words, idioms, or both. For instance Staysix was as word that had been formed by two other commonly associated words “Station Six” getting smashed together over time, but “Frequency 82” was just the two words which took on new meaning given their circumstances, and Souls Wearing Thin meant the same thing it would anywhere else, it was a just a phrase to show our exhaustion. Were those all the correct use of the mechanics? If not, how should it have looked. If so, perhaps clarify the kind of language that we might create with some examples or loose outline for both the facilitator and the players.

Were you satisfied with how much the story progressed? Very much so. I expected the scenes to be disparate excerpts forming a nonsensical potpourri of life on Mars. Instead he had single through line, with each scene following and building on the last. As the scenes progressed so did our character’s relationships, the timeline of the isolation, and our sense of impending doom.

What did you think about the conversations? As a whole I loved the little scenes, but I did notice a difference between some of them based on the way they were framed. The ones where we weren’t trying to accomplish anything felt much more natural. For instance, when we just decided that Nadene’s secret had come out and we were playing out the aftermath of it, I felt like we had a powerful change in the story and the characters. However, in the end when proscribed the outcomes of our last scenes before playing them out felt forced, like we were suddenly on a script and it required more acting out the part than playing to find out.

What were your rose and thorn of the game (favorite and least favorite parts)? Rose – definitely the requirement to tie everything (characters, words, stories, etc) to our aspects. It kept the story concentrated around our central issues rather than spinning off into tangents and it meant that the language we made reinforced those issues as well! Thorn – As noted above, I had some cognitive dissonance when we were making new words because a lot of them were idioms (“wearing my souls thin”) while some were customs that went from specific to broad (“5×5, 10 point”).  All of that made sense in the context of making new language, but I was getting a bit tripped up around the word “word”.

What other roleplaying games do you play? Lots. See for my play history through 2007.

May we acknowledge you as a playtester? Would you like to know when we release open testing / Kickstarter? Yes and yes.

Many thanks Hakan and Kathryn for sharing this beautiful game with us, and thanks to Devon and Liberty for going on the journey with me.

Epilogue: Strange Dreams

I was writing this report late into the night and then went directly to bed. I dreamed of an Orwellian future that controlled language by executing people that knew forbidden words. I wasn officer overseeing an execution and rather than feeling pity for the terminally sentenced man I felt a curiosity to know his secrets and a sorrow that they would be lost. Upsetting to the waking brain, but seemed normal in the dream.

I also saw X-Men: Apocalypse last night and had dreams of standing on a beach where the water was filled with giant timbers and debris that started flying over our heads. My first reaction was to pull out my phone and take pictures. To my credit, I did get some pretty sweet snaps!

So yeah, pretty impressionable dream brain I’ve got some times.