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I've been fascinated with tabletop roleplaying ever since inheriting my older brother's 1st Edition D&D box set at the tender age of eight. Over two decades later, I'm a seasoned gamer and GM, always looking for ways to liven up a campaign. Here are some of my contributions.

I can now also add "game designer" to the mix, with two finished games in various stages of progress toward publication.

Baxil's Games

Deathbird Black

Winner of a 2011 Ronnie award for game design!

I will continue updating the game based on testing/contest feedback. If you're interested in helping me improve the game through playtesting, drop me a line!

You're a hard-boiled man (or woman) in a gritty, corrupt world. Lust, greed, vengeance, jealousy - one of these is the bitter taste in the back of your throat. Some might call it a sin. You call it a mission. And you're not going to let anything stand in your way (except maybe your own flaws).

Meanwhile, the city is seething around you. The night is steamy, and ready to boil over at the slightest provocation. And in the shadows, steely eyes glint from above a demonic black beak, silently driving people into ever greater acts of desperation ...

Waiting to unleash chaos and hell ... with one mighty CAW.

Deathbird Black is a comedy game in the film noir genre. Tongue-in-cheek, dice-flinging, bird-screaming fun.

Download: Current Version - 2011/08/02. (PDF, 20 pages, ~250kb)
Ronnies '11 Alpha Version (PDF, 14 pages, ~200kb)

Playtest reports: First game


With your magic, you committed an act for which you were exiled - not just from your home, but from reality itself. Now, in this cursed world of your own making, you have found companions, and a deserted city. You all must discover the city's secrets, and decide its fate, before your subconscious manifestations drive you over the edge.

Egregore is about characters' journey toward redemption, and plays like the bastard child of Sorceror, Universalis, and Wraith: The Oblivion. Its setting is drawn from the underside of The Tomorrowlands Universe, but the game is trivially adaptable to any setting with active magic.

It is currently playable, but in need of major streamlining, and should be considered an early draft.

Post-Game Chef Version 1.0 (PDF, 31 pages, ~750kb) is available as a free download. If you wish to play the exact edition submitted to Game Chef 2010, that is also available, but is uglier and more error-ridden. (The mechanics of both versions are identical.)

A revised and expanded version is planned for some time in the nebulous future - including rules for City Scenes, theme conversions (such as a "Groundhog Day" Egregore mod), and improvements based on playtesting.


This is a game about harsh mistreatment of a man chasing his dream.

What "Beholden" is:

  • A two-page, diceless solo RPG.
  • An entry in the April 2011 Ronnies, using the terms "chains" and "queen".
  • A ______ of Ben Lehman's game "Beloved". Choose your preferred term from the list: recontextualization; inversion; retelling; pastiche; critique. The draft of Beloved that Beholden is based on can be found at The Forge. Also, good discussion of it here.
  • A direct response to Beloved, and a dialogue starter.

What it is not:

  • Original. I wrote it, but it would not exist without Ben's game.
  • An "expansion" or "mod". Beholden is fully self-contained.
  • A challenge to the value of the source game.

Download (PDF, ~30kb).


Creative Commons License
All works below this line are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Please share and enjoy.

Baxil-Created: Game Utilities

Character Initiative Cards — Strips of paper to hang over your GM screen to track initiative order in combat (and a few other things). See this write-up and the original d20 cards at HappyJacks for more. (All included art is public domain.)

Available cards (all are in PDF format):
Generic PC - Game-system independent.
Generic NPC Ally - Has cards for individual named NPCs and allied mobs, with shield icons on front.
Generic NPC Enemy - Has cards for individual boss enemies and enemy mobs, with skull icons on front.
Condition Hangers - For tracking bonuses and statuses. Contains blanks (make your own).
Fireborn PC - Fronts are blank.
Fireborn PC Dragon - Fronts have an attractive dragon silhouette. Otherwise identical.
Fireborn Nobility Hangers - For tracking bonuses/penalties from the Nobility power (which are, let's face it, easy to forget).

If you'd like to edit these for your needs, or craft system-specific PC cards, e-mail me and I'll send you the relevant source files. (In OpenOffice ODP format - I recommend NeoOffice for Mac users. Both are free.)

Baxil-Created: Essays

10 Reasons To Use Minions In Boss Fights — Having trouble providing your players a challenge with allegedly epic one-on-one encounters? Learn how to even the odds.

Baxil-Created: Game-Specific Resources

[Fireborn cover]

Fireborn — An out-of-print game about reincarnated dragons struggling for their identity in the modern era. (Oh, and also about elegantly cinematic combat.)

Resources include: Dice mats, character sheets, campaign handouts and multimedia, etc.

Gaming Stories and Miscellany

I regularly discuss roleplaying topics over on my Livejournal. The best stories from my sessions are archived there for posterity, too, under the tagline of "Epic Gaming Tales". Some highlights:

The 2-CHA Motivational Speaker: The worst morale booster ever - with an extra costuming twist.

Hack-And-Slash Hell: Enduring a spectacular mismatch in play styles.

Story Dice: The rare and magical phenomenon where Fate herself is an active participant in your game.

CSI: Luvine (Ep. 5): SHORT STORY. Caught between the church and the Thieves' Guild, a constable struggles to protect his city and his job.

CSI: Luvine (Ep. 4): SHORT STORY. The truth behind an outlaw sorceror's attack on a camp of human slavers. Contains scenes of torture.

CSI: Luvine (Ep. 1): SHORT STORY. An abusive father's death by forbidden sorcery leaves his brother in a dilemma.

Mars Needs Llamas: Illustrating the utter chaos that can occur in a game of TOON.

Rikchik The Mighty: Stalling for time as an art form.

Random Encounter: SHORT STORY. Some LARPers (in the urban-fantasy setting of TTU) discover an unexpected participant in their gaming session.

A few others, offsite:

Be careful with PC death: In which writing a departing player out of the campaign goes awry.

I just murdered my first PC: A play report of a climactic moment in my Dogs In The Vineyard campaign. If you've already played the game, here's a version with a little more system crunch in my explanations.

Designing believable waterways: Make your fantasy-world maps a touch more realistic by understanding a few simple principles about gravity.

The Deck of Mini Things -- a non-lethal version of the infamous artifact that has been scaled down for first-level parties.


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Page created Apr 5, 2010. Design © 2006 Tad "Baxil" Ramspott.