Category Archives: Announcements

Goodbye, Sweet G+!

With the demise of Google+, the online indie roleplaying community has lost its home. I’ve been supplementing my online reading with good, old fashioned blogs and Paul’s Indie Reading Club Slack channel. But I’ve also resolved to write a little bit more here on my blog, which has fallen by the wayside since G+ became my primary place to talk about longer material (Twitter being for short comments).

I think I’ll start by finishing up the last four posts in my criminally incomplete 12 Principle series for Mars Colony. It’s only been a year and a half! … Yeeeesh. The good news is that I already have three of the final four posts outlined in my notes. So look for those starting next week. Let’s finish this thing up!

After that, I think I’ll write a bit about the current state of development on my next roleplaying projects. Here’s to blogging again!

Last Thanksgiving

A few months back I made available a small game titled Last Thanksgiving. It was a personal project, and proof of concept, but it also stuck with me. I’ve been sort of stalled on my latest design project. Nothing was coming together in the way I wanted it to. What I’ve come to realize is that, in designing a bare-bones game, Last Thanksgiving, what I was actually doing was subconsciously working past my designer’s block. You see, I’m a theme first type of guy. Hero’s Banner didn’t come into focus until I had a theme. Same with Mars Colony and 39 Dark. Every single time I come up with an interesting mechanic or provocative setting first, I start designing — but end up designing myself into a corner because the game has no soul. It’s not until I get a strong handle on what I want to say with a game that I can really make progress. For my latest project, that theme is becoming clear, and that theme is memory.

Specifically, something that has been on my mind of late is the notion of memory loss. (And now we’re getting personal, watch out!) My grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s disease before passing away. I watched my two grandmothers suffer from memory loss in their old age as well. At the same time, as I age, the notion of reliving past events through memory is becoming more relevant while at the same time more fraught. Not all the memories are good ones, and, good or bad, I wonder if I can really trust those memories as “accurate.” This is tied up with my study of memoirs (see especially Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home), and the way an author fixes a memory in time by writing it down in a particular way as a story. Hell, I’m sure even Roy Batty’s last words in Bladerunner are serving as inspiration.


My point is that all these thoughts about the value and peril of memory are rattling around in my brain, and I’m looking for a way to say something about it all. Enter my latest project. Both Last Thanksgiving (now revised) and the brand new extension, Lost Thanksgiving, tackle the theme of memory in a hyper-focused, two-player format. The players are presented with a limited situation that seems simple at first, but hopefully expands into something larger. This isn’t a “big” game, but it is a personal game (both for me and for anyone who plays it). The main character could be an elderly grandparent in a contemporary drama or a young protagonist in a sci-fi/horror story. The choice is yours, but the theme remains: how does memory betray us, and what power does memory have over us?

The first and base game, Last Thanksgiving, is simple in its presentation, but leaves room to take the story in whatever direction you please. The extension, by comparison, is optional, but highly recommended. It ups the ante and the elements of horror such that memories become corrupted and even malevolent.

I hope you enjoy them, and I’d love to hear your feedback. Neither is a “finished” game in the sense that I’m ready to put out a commercial production, but they are complete and fun to play. I have ideas for at least two additional extensions, and if they work out, this whole thing could see a professional production in a year or two, complete with artwork, examples, etc.

Download Last Thanksgiving (the base game).

Download Lost Thanksgiving (the first extension).

Black Friday Anti-Sale (aka Free Game!)

TCK Roleplaying Black Friday Anti-Sale

Without getting preachy, I’ll just say that I’m not a fan of Black Friday here in America. It’s all just too much.

So I’m making a simple offer. If you email me ( on Saturday, November 28, 2015, and pledge that you did not shop on Black Friday, then I will send you any one of my games for free (PDF only). That includes Hero’s Banner: The Fury of Free Will, Mars Colony, and Mars Colony: 39 Dark.

And that’s it! Free game. All you have to do is not shop for one day.

Small print for the rules lawyers: Yes, this is on the honor system. Keep the spirit of the challenge in mind. If you need to, for example, take a taxi to get home, that’s fine. But try to plan ahead and purchase what you need beforehand. You can do it!

This is an individual challenge, which means a few things. First, if your spouse buys something, that doesn’t affect your ability to get a free game. Likewise, if you have two other family members, and neither of them buy anything, everyone can get a free game. However, if you tell your spouse to shop on your behalf, then you’re cheating — no game for you.

The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund Auction — 2014

I have tried to donate every year to the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund Auction. So far I’ve only missed one. This year, in addition to a few other games, I’m donating a print copy of Mars Colony: 39 Dark. The high bidder gets a copy shipped to him or her. If you’re in the U.S., shipping is free. Otherwise, I pay the first $5. Please bid generously as all of the proceeds go to the Memorial Fund.

In case you’re wondering what the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund is, here’s a description from the board:

The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund was started in April, 2011, in memory of Jack Vasel, son of Tom Vasel. Tom is an influential voice in the board gaming hobby, and the community rallied around him in his time of need. Amazed by this generosity and kindness, Tom was determined to help others who might undergo similar tragedies. The purpose for which the Fund is formed is to collect and provide financial assistance to members of the public who are part of the gaming community and who have suffered personal hardship. It is our hope and prayer that the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund will provide Jack with a legacy to help out the entire gaming community. The Fund is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

I also recommend reading a few of the stories posted by people who have received help from the Fund. I assure you, they will tug at your heartstrings.

Fringe Cards

I was surprised at just how difficult it was to come up with 32 different fringe groups for the 39 Dark Kickstarter reward. It wasn’t that there was a lack of groups. Rather it was difficult to choose 32 groups that, as a whole, represented a sufficiently multi-national swath. I also wanted to amass a collection of groups that represented both the right and left, extremist and peaceful side of protest. I’m sure I’ve failed on at least one front, but I’m nonetheless happy with the collection. What I realized was that it’s impossible to capture the spirit of protest around the world in a simple deck of cards. But I also realized that I can make some pretty darn interesting combinations from the deck I did create. Available now for purchase.

Fringe Group Cards

Mars Colony Available in the New Bundle of Holding

As of yesterday, Mars Colony, along with some other great games, is available as part of the latest Bundle of Holding. Here’s the deal. You set your own price (min. $3), and you get the following games as DRM-free PDFs:

  • Mars Colony
  • Annalise
  • Dust Devils

If you pay more than the average going rate (currently a mere $12), you get three additional games:

  • Dog Eat Dog
  • Our Last Best Hope
  • The new annotated edition of Sorcerer

And if there aren’t some super secret additions coming soon to the bundle, then you can call me crazy. Personally, I think you’d be crazy not to at least check out the bundle. Even if you already own a few of the games, this is a great chance to pick up the rest for cheap.

What’s more, 10% of your payment goes to charity: Heifer International and War Child International.

The bundle ends seven days from today, September 3, 2013.

Mars Colony: 39 Dark in Development

I have been hard at work on my new game, Mars Colony: 39 Dark. It is a sequel to the original Mars Colony set at some unspecified time after the events surrounding Kelly Perkin’s attempt to right the Colony. This time, the Savior is a new character, Lane Perkins, who is the leader of an underground protest movement fighting against the growing corruption in the Colony government. I think you’ll like it. I know I’m excited about the project.

For now, here’s an excerpt from the game’s introduction:

A solar day on Mars is 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than on Earth.

You, Lane Novak, are a native Martian, born and raised. Once a trusted government insider, you have been tapped by the Martian uprising. A group calling themselves “39 Dark” is protesting for change. They are in need of a talented leader with a history of making the voice of the people heard. The current system is broken, and the everyday citizens that have joined the ranks of 39 Dark are looking to you for guidance and strength. You are obviously in over your head, but you have the potential to make good on the promises you have already made. You must calm the schisms that threaten to divide the movement, guide the loyalty that is fomenting in the streets against the Colony government, and force Mars Colony to change for the better before apathy and entrenched interests doom it to its current path. This is no easy task. You will probably fail, as has everyone who has tried before. But for now, you are the hero to be. A traitor to some, but a beacon for many.

Mars Colony Reprint

Mars Colony has been out of print since December. Due to my busy schedule, I wasn’t able to organize a reprint until just last week. One reason for the delay is that I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to comb the text for any lingering typos (finally, the glaring error on the back cover will be fixed!). The other is that I was debating whether I wanted to keep the glossy cover or switch to a matte finish (I went with matte).

Well, the good news is that the reprint is on the way. I anticipate receiving the books within a week or so. When I do, I will ship some of the books off to IPR, and keep the rest for direct order sales. Thanks everyone for making the first print run a success.

Indie RPG Awards

The Indie RPG Awards were announced at Gen Con this weekend. First of all, congratualations to Vincent Baker for his commanding first place finish. Apocalypse World won both Game of the Year and Most Innovative Game of the Year.

I am also happy (and flattered) to see Mars Colony listed as a runner up in the same categories, with some kind words no less.

Runner Up for Game of the Year:

[Mars Colony is an] insightful game that embraces difficult real world political issues under its sci-fi trappings.

A tight and thoughtful two-player RPG, that doesn’t pull its punches. It leaves room to let the story breathe but dares you to push your luck.

Mars Colony brilliantly delivers a two-player experience, something we will see more of in the future. But those future games will always reference this one, because it is elegant, fun, and first.

Tight, focused, and remarkably re-playable.

Runner Up for Most Innovative Game of the Year:

Distilled down to its absolute core, Mars Colony is a welcome antidote to the bloated, sprawling mess of systems past. Sweet, short and to the point.

Games with social/political rulesets should also not still be innovative 35 years into the art form, but they still are.

If you are looking for a list of great games from 2010, check out this year’s awards.

Sight for Sore Eyes Charity Bundle

Elizabeth Shoemaker has very generously put together a charity bundle of RPGs in an effort to raise money for her friend Karla. Karla is a young mother who was recently diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Long story short, Karla is going to be blind by the time she reaches her 40s or, if she’s lucky, her 50s. You can find out more about Karla at the Two Scooters Press website.

All proceeds from the the charity bundle will go to Karla, and it’s a very nice bundle indeed. You can get six games for $10. The games include:

  • Mars Colony, by Tim Koppang (that’s me)
  • Polaris, by Ben Lehman
  • Remember Tomorrow, by Gregor Hutton
  • Murderland, by Elizabeth Shoemaker
  • Perfect, Unrevised, by Joe McDaldno — along with all the reference sheets
  • Geasa, by Jonathan Lavalee
  • And a special, bundle-only Apocalypse World character class: THE HOARDER, by D. Vincent Baker

Please consider making a donation. Any one of the games listed above sells for around $10 on its own. You can get them all for that same price, and help a worthy cause while you’re at it.