Game Design

Introducing: The Workshop!

Hello, and welcome to the Philippine Gamer Workshop! Over the past years, Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer has grown from a hobby blog to dispensing GMing advice and most recently a home for the extensive Let’s Study series of game reviews.

With my current state as a parent and the inherent additional financial strain of providing for my son, I’m looking for new ways to earn though my enjoyment of the hobby.

Today, we’re looking at a new angle of growth for the Philippine Gamer, where I’ll be putting up small tabletop RPG games with a minimal development budget. These projects will will grow and evolve with the inputs and suggestions of the people who play them.

At the end of each year, the Workshop’s outputs will be collected, edited and polished up as a collection of mini games available for purchase. Crowdfunding might be an option to be able to afford artwork and layout to spruce up each volume further.

It’s a crazy idea, but I’m looking forward to giving it a shot.

I’ve got a small handful of ideas bouncing around in my head, and I’ve been meaning to resurrect some old concepts that have never seen completion. I guess it’s time to put them to work!

Nice! How can I help?

I’ve had a Patreon account for a while, but it was initially keyed to charge whenever I put out a complete Let’s Study review series. You can place you pledge there, and I’ll charge whenever I finish an RPG game for public consumption.

Don’t worry, each game will be complete and playable, no half-baked projects here!

[Game Design] Alternate Basic Mechanics for 7th Sea, second edition Quickstart


To follow up on the article I wrote about my first impressions of the 7th Sea Second Edition Quickstart, I’ve gotten it in my head to design a lite version of it, perhaps something that might address some concerns I’ve had.

What follows is literally something that I came up with in the shower. It’s not meant to replace the stuff from 7th Sea but address the stuff that bugged me when I played.


I wanted to do the least amount of change to the character sheets in 7th Sea, so I decided to retain the fact that Traits and Skills operate off a scale of 1-5 dots.

However, instead of the whole roll a dice pool of Trait+Skill+Bonus and add up sets of 10, I figure we can actually tweak that to work a little faster.

Instead, roll a number of six-sided dice equal to your Trait score. Any dice that come up equal to or less than your Skill rating are considered a Raise. Rolling a 6 is always a failure.

If attempting a skill that you have no dots in, 1’s still count as a Raise, but rolling a 6 means you Botch.


In addition to declaring your Intent, you also declare an Approach. Approaches determine what you can spend Raises on for this round.

– Physical: Allows for Brawn and Finesse Actions
– Mental: Allows for Wits and Panache Actions

Player who rolls the most Raises goes first and applies Raises to their Actions. After resolving that, play moves on to the next character with the highest number of Raises.


When targeted by a hostile action, a character may attempt to negate Raises spent to harm them by spending an equal number of Raises. This is a reflexive action, and must be justified within the context of the same Approach chosen at the start of the Round.

Again this isn’t meant to be a true replacement to the system as it is now, but a small exercise in figuring out how to patch it based on my understanding of the games goals.

Heck if there’s any interest in this at all maybe I can develop it as a lite take on it like Qwixalted did for Exalted 2nd Edition!

[Heroes of the Falling Star] Firsthand Feedback

I had an opportunity to share what I had so far with Heroes of the Falling Star to the 13-year old daughter of a friend of mine for feedback. It didn’t take long for her to get back to me with positive feedback on it. I have to admit that I was pretty nervous handing it out for scrutiny since this was my real target market. In this day and age of electronic devices, I needed this game to be good enough to hold their attention.

At this point I’m waiting for feedback from several Playtest groups and just one or two more art items in time for my crowdsourcing page launch. I’m incredibly excited, I’m this close to making this a reality!

[Heroes of the Falling Star] Developer Diary 3: Aiming For More Than Just Play

I’m probably going to sound pretentious for doing this post, but here we go.

I started Heroes of the Falling Star because I wanted a means to convey lessons to my son in a fashion that would be entertaining. Going beyond the usual academic lessons that you gain from exercising simple math and figuring out puzzles in game, I wanted to go one step further and work on values formation.

This meant that I would need mechanics that reinforce certain core values but I don’t want the game to come off as preachy.

Because of this I opted to choose a list of virtues that were cornerstones of Wuxia literature:

  • Kindness
  • Loyalty (and Filial Piety)
  • Courage
  • Respect
  • Honesty

I feel that this is a solid foundation of positive values that kids would benefit from.

The mechanics used for this is a simple feedback loop: when Heroes display behavior that coincides or demonstrates a given virtue, the Narrator notes it down.

At the end of the session, The Lady of Love and Mercy debriefs the Heroes on the adventure, and recounts the times when they showed themselves to be virtuous. This earns the Heroes “Stars” a rough analogue to experience points. Once a Hero has accumulated enough Stars, The Lady then takes these Stars and puts them together as a Constellation illustrating their heroic deeds.

The key here is to stress that it was the virtuous deeds that they did that would become Stars… and that these deeds are the substance from which the Falling Star Treasures are made. Good deeds are magical, and their prior heroics will continue to help other kids become Heroes as well.

I’m on the last stages before launching the crowdfunding campaign for this game. I’ve had some incredible luck finding people willing to help me and I’m excited as heck.

[Heroes of the Falling Star] Developer Diary 2: What Do The Heroes Do?

Hey there,

While I’m still in the midst of firming up the test of the game, I figure it would be a good time to talk about the structure of the game.

Unlike sandbox RPGs, a game aimed for kids should have some form of supporting structure. This is because kids do well with having a pattern to stick to. Once they’ve got the hang of things, then the Narrator should feel free to start improvising.

Heroes of the Falling Star starts off with a tried-and-true method used in a lot of RPGs: The Voice on High.

The voice in question is The Lady of Love and Mercy. As a magical figure from the Celestial Heavens, The Lady is a being of benevolence and goodwill, who hears the wishes of those in trouble and empowers Heroes to help out. It’s a simple device, but one that works out well as it does a few things:

  • Introduce the central conflict of the scenario
  • Provide a trusted NPC who can provide trustworthy information
  • Enforces the idea that the player characters are Heroes

It’s a quick way to get the players into the action by hitting all the bases. They know what’s at stake, and that they’re being asked to go help out.

The next phase is the granting of the Falling Star Treasures. These are magic items from The Lady of Love and Mercy, who fashions them from stars that she causes to fall from the sky. It’s a wonderful image, and a great way to play up how special these Treasures are. A fun little fact is that none of these Treasures are weapons. They’re all meant to be fun “cheats” or “hacks” through an obstacle, but are never meant for outright violence.

And so equipped with the Treasures, the Heroes are sent to go investigate the matter, and hopefully fix it. I feel that having this kind of structure would be great for parents as well, as they would have something to follow in the first few sessions with their kids, at least until they’ve gotten their sea legs in being a Narrator.

If you’re curious about Heroes of the Falling Star, do check out the Beta document draft over at:

I’ll be working on a crowdfunding campaign for this game soon to get more artwork and layout for it, so watch this space!

[Game Design] Sometimes The Pain Is In The Waiting… and the Funding

I am occasionally an impatient person.

With three mini projects in my plate right now (Heroes of the Falling Star, Son of BADASS! and Fight Class) I find myself at the point where I have to take some time to wait for material from the people I’ve contracted to work on art and layout. Don’t get me wrong, these are some of the best people I can afford, and I have absolute faith that they’ll deliver.

My issue here is the fact that I’m now looking for something else to do. At this point I might revisit Fight Class’ draft and go over it again to make sure that it works. Among all three of them, Fight Class is the most mechanically involved, with a powers creation system baked into it, so it’s the one that seems to be taking the most time.

That said I’ve received a few very fun updates, with the biggest joy being that I’ve seen the initial roughs for the cover of Son of BADASS, and I’m really excited to share it with you as soon as I can.

On Funding

At this point, I’m starting to feel the strain of funding my games. While I have enough to purchase a few key pieces (like a good cover, for instance) getting someone to lay out the books for me is another hurdle.

I would love to put these three games up as a single crowdfunding campaign, but I’m worried that might be putting all my eggs in one basket.  AT the way things are shaping up, I’m seeing a release of either Son of BADASS! or Heroes of the Falling Star first before I finish up with Fight Class, as that’s the game that needs the most attention at this point.

[Heroes of the Falling Star] Developer Diary 1: From Idle Musing to First Draft

Hello everyone,

As I announced yesterday, I’ve put together a fairly solid first draft of Heroes of the Falling Star, a Wuxia RPG for kids. Honestly at this point it still feels a little surreal to me as the idea came to me while I was watching my son while he was asleep in his crib.

I’m not really a very good craftsman. The most complicated thing I’ve put together was a Gundam model kit, and that doesn’t really say much for my chances at making something practical for him.

And so I decided I would do something that I was good at, and dedicate it to him instead.

That’s how Heroes of the Falling Star came to be.

False Start

Heroes of the Falling Star began as a very, very different game. Originally called Meteor Kids, it was a post-apocalypse game about children that have been released from cryogenic sleep chambers by their well-meaning but barely functioning AI caretaker. These kids were meant to go out and scavenge for lost technology that could be used to repair their home enough to restore the functionality necessary to thaw out their still sleeping parents.

Yeah, it was pretty bleak.

So I figured that it wasn’t the kind of game that kids would necessarily enjoy. There was a dark undercurrent on it that would probably frighten kids instead, and they don’t exactly have the life experience to really understand what a post-apocalyptic existence entailed.

That said if this idea does appeal to you, do go and check out Mutant Year Zero. It’s awesome.


With that idea set aside for another day, I refocused on what I wanted an RPG for kids to do. This game was going to be a love letter to my son, a work that would ultimately reflect the things I would hope he would learn while growing up. I reached to the core of my identity, the things that made me who I am.

I wanted him to gain an appreciation for his Chinese heritage. That made the decision to go for a Wuxia setting easy.

The second thing I wanted, was for him to grow up as a good man. That was going to be a little more difficult.

I went to my research of wuxia literature and came upon the virtues of the xia, the wandering knight-errants that were often the protagonists of wuxia fiction. It was a surprising fit with the model of behavior that I was gunning for, and so I incorporated it into the system as well.

Writing and Rewriting

At this point I’m heavily into the writing / rewriting cycle for the manuscript. I could easily say that the game was complete, but I’m certain that once I get back to it there’s going to be a ton of things that weren’t immediately obvious to me and I’ll be kicking myself in the butt for missing them.

If you’re interested, Ive got the draft up on Google Drive so if you’re interested in seeing it develop:

1 2 5
%d bloggers like this: