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Howdy, I’m Martin Ralya (he/him)!

I've been running RPG-related websites since 1999, including Treasure Tables (2005-2007), Gnome Stew (which I co-founded and ran from 2008-2016), and my personal blog, Yore (, 2012 onwards).

I also worked in the RPG industry as a freelancer (2004-2018) and publisher (Engine Publishing, 2010-2019).

I miss (really, really miss) Google+, which was a huge part of my gaming life. I'm hoping Mastodon can grow into something just as vital and useful.

As to why I entered, I don't have a complex reason: It sounded like fun.

I guess I also thought kicking those tires might get me more deeply into game design, and in hindsight kicking those tires helped show me that designing longer games probably isn't for me.

Part of that is pretty cynical: I have no idea how, in this golden age of RPGs with its bazillion options and fractured communities and sub-hobbies, anyone succeeds at getting people interested in playing their RPGs.

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Three out of the five short-form RPGs I've designed were produced for design contests/challenges:

The Thief, for the 2015 200 Word RPG Challenge, is the best of them:

I designed Signal Lost for Game Chef 2013, and it's fun but needs some work:

In some ways Eaten Away was the most fun to design, way back in 2012 for the RPGGeek 24-Hour RPG Contest:

I'm doing about as much gaming as I can handle these days: two weekly game nights with two different groups. That's been the case for several years now, and I feel incredibly fortunate.

Shorter sessions are the key here. Three hours with one group, two hours with the other.

I do miss Go Play NW, which I attended every year pre-pandemic. Convention gaming scratches different itches. (There's an online alternative, but I don't need more online gaming.)

The d12! It's my favorite die, it's criminally underused, and the dodecahedron is just such a pleasing shape.

My brain loves that it automatically suggests a mechanic where 1 and 12 are special, leaving 10 other results in between.

And here's a link to the page that creates fifty characters for you.
(I still see Merowingian names in there and I don't know whether I should approve or not, or whether I know anything at all, actually.)
Humans (fighters, thieves, magic-users) still use the names from the Zürich birth registry of 2012 I grabbed a long time ago. It works for me. 😃

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Oh helllllll no. I wouldn't wish the job of managing D&D 6th Edition on anyone, and I certainly wouldn't want it myself. It's too large and too divisive.

I'm not dialed into the world that's helped D&D explode as a brand since the launch of 5th Edition, notably streaming and actual plays. Everything I love about D&D is done better by older editions, DCC RPG, The Black Hack, and Dungeon World.

I'd love a chance to create a Broken Rooms PbtA RPG, though.

Episode 4 of Spelljammer Academy is up on D&D Beyond, featuring two of my maps, one of course being a redraw of the Hammerhead Ship!

(Image Copyright 2022, Wizards of the Coast)

The more I write about the flora and fauna of the Unlucky Isles, the more I want to write a book all about cooking in Godsbarrow.

Not necessarily a cookbook per se, since many of the ingredients don't exist in the real world, but something kind of like a cookbook.

Writing about food is great for worldbuilding, and even just passing mention of evocative fantasy cuisine during play can really ground players in a setting.

1. Describe yourself with a word that’s actually a backronym made up of TTRPGs you’ve played or games you want to play. Like:

I’m a CoMMaNDo
Cold City
Mouse Guard
Marvel Heroic RPG
Night’s Black Agents
Dogs in the Vineyard


I want to be S.T.A.T.I.C.
Apocalypse World
Cortex Prime

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The Prompter Hawk is a giant magical bird which, according to legend, cannot see those who answer its probing questions, so that is the safest way to avoid being devoured. The Prompter Hawk will present discussions here on Mastodon each day of August. This post shows the first ten, there will be daily posts for each one. Reply to individual posts or use the prompt-specific hashtag. (Feel free to re-use any images, and it’s OK to miss days, jump ahead, catch up later, etc.).

Each Monday, everyone should share their favorite move they made or witnessed in a session from the previous seven days. Use your own criteria: coolest, funniest, most creative, most clutch, whatever. Don't sweat how it stacks up to anyone else, it's just an excuse to talk about what's happening in your games. We'll call it Mondays.

Blades of Barsoom!

I've been posting about using the Cepheus Engine system as the core of a OSR-like design community. I decided to try to lead by example by starting work on creating my own RPG using the Cepheus Engine system.

Here's the beginning of my design:

#CepheusEngine #ttrpg

This is also the first time I've broken out my magnifiers.

I need reading glasses, but not NEED-need (yet), so on days I paint in my regular glasses I just take them off for detail work and hold the figure right up to my face.

But that doesn't work in contacts. Adding magnifiers solves that problem -- and I think I like them enough to just use them all the time for painting details.

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I've been up since 4:30 and it's hot as fuck, but I resisted the temptation to just melt into goo today.

I almost finished Meskmur's country write-up for The Unlucky Isles, putting me within several hours of having the whole first draft manuscript done.

And then I wrapped up all the primary painting on these two 40k terrain pieces -- and I think I still have enough energy to work on their final steps before date night.

I've finished my first draft of half the countries in The Unlucky Isles!

I also have about 60% of each of the other three countries written up, awaiting all the new material and restructuring I've done with the first three, as well as a good chunk of the introductory elements.

It's clocking in at around 20,000 words so far, which is already more than I expected when I started this book.

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I've spent most of the weekend working on The Unlucky Isles, and my initial sense that I was about 75% done was way off.

The more I dig into my existing material -- a series of blog posts -- the more I find it needs revising, fleshing out, and restructuring to be book-ready. Which is fine!

My goal is to make this the best book I can make it, and the time I'm investing now will pay off when I start on the next book and have the foundation and workflow already in place.

Today I started Halfbeard Press, my first RPG publishing venture since 2019 (when I sold Engine Publishing).

My plan is to publish material for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, starting with The Unlucky Isles, a gazetteer of that ill-fated region. That short sourcebook is about 75% done.

I'm keeping things barebones for now, and trying to do everything myself (a fun challenge!).

1. I would 100% play this RPG

2. This is a better cover than a good 10-15% of gaming books

@nickwedig I feel compelled to post a link to my 200 word RPG "Wittgenstein's Monster", which is partially a joke about Frankenstein and TTRPGs.

Lovely to see folks using and enjoying Context, Cool Shit & Consequences as a way of taking notes or pre-game brainstorming.

Added a PG version - Context, Cool Stuff & Consequences in case you have to use it in a school or professional setting.

#TTRPG #DungeonMaster

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A Mastodon server for RPG folks to hang out and talk. Not owned by a billionaire.