I will admit it, this is in part a blatant attempt to win a membership to a site that has intrigued me for some time.

Skillshare is an online learning site, focused on helping people learn real life skills through project-based learning. While I was a great student back in the day, I find I learn best today through projects.

I haven’t tried Skillshare yet, but you can bet I will if I win a membership.

End of commercial.


The 90 Days of Summer-ish

I’m trying something new starting today.

Theory says that it takes 90 days to turn an action into a habit.  So, I’m committing to spend at least 30 minutes a day working toward completing a game/setting for publication. 

To help keep myself honest, I’ve started a Google calendar to track the activity. If you are interested in playing along, let me know and I will send you an invite to watch the calendar.



Important Locations in Paris, MI – Dans La Roux

Landsharks. On the surface, a gourmet surf’n’turf restaurant owned by the gluttonous Hutch Phukh, a massive D’Jinkie able to swallow a child whole. The basement of Landsharks is home to a private supper club where Chef Anne Barbell challenges herself to serve ever more exotic and illegal dishes to Phukh’s ‘special’ clients.

Ratt and Louie’s. An upscale retro diner where customers are served by D’Jinkie rats with roller skates and bad attitudes. Closed on Monday. Specialize in exotic burgers and adult milk shakes. At least once a month, the owners host an invite-only ‘adventure dining’ experience. Every one of these special seatings is unique in terms of cuisine, location, and entertainment.

Iceberg Lanes. A traditional bowling establishment. Serves cheap beer and bar snacks. The staff is largely composed of penguins who occasionally get used as replacement pins when the boss gets angry. Building is always cold. An unusual cast of D’Jinkie regulars can be found here, including: Nigel “The Dawg” Jokowski, Harvey “The Snoz” Lanmana, and Wallie Urschak (a high-strung ex-mercenary).

Jepor’s Parking Garage. Several of the interior floors have been removed to accommodate Jepor’s ever-increasing bulk. Jepor is a gigantic, lethargic D’Jinkie. No one has ever seen him leave the garage, he just keeps growing there. He has developed his own ecosystem including the mischievous Vum Vums and the minuscule industrious Foquods. He is fed scraps from Ratt and Louie’s and rumor has it that he is also fed ‘trouble-makers’ from time-to-time.

The Satine / Kori’s Place. The best hotel in town, owned by Kori Kavemon. Kori was a child star on a prehistoric sit com. On the show, her shocking red hair was the source of a running gag regarding her parentage (neither of her on-screen parents had red hair – but the neighbor did). As an adult, her exotic looks enhanced her desirability as a fashion model. Now later in life, she is still quite attractive and the very definition of a cougar. She invested her income well and now owns the Satine. The rumor is that if you know who and how to ask, nearly any desire can be fulfilled here. Naturally, the more ‘unusual’ the request, the more it’s going to cost you.

The Flotson Family Home. The Flotson family are one of the few families that have been a more-or-less permanent fixture in Paris. Currently led by Allen Flotson, the Flotson’s are just normal D’Jinkies trying to live a normal life… what ever that means.  Mona is Allen’s wife and their children are Bret and Jenny.

Mr. Sampson’s Office. Mr. Lynn T. Sampson played a number of B-movie monster roles in his youth, but is most famous for the grumpy title role in “Mersog Versus the Christmas Elves.” He retired to Paris with his beloved lap dog Hunk. He is pushed around town in his custom, gothic-styled wheeled throne by two indistinguishable large but generic D’Jinkie monsters. His nurse is an attractive human female. He makes high interest loans from his office and therefore owns most of the poor D’Jinkies in town.

Romero’s Penthouse. Romero Rabbit is a short, scruffy humanoid D’Jinkie rabbit who played a series of typical funny animal lead roles. A notable exception is his portrayal of a small knight in the cult classic in The Dark Labyrinth. Incredibly egotistic in person. Owns a lot of property. He keep a penthouse which he will lend out to other “famous” people when he’s out of town – which is often the case as he travels along doing appearances.

The Old Abandoned House on the Edge of Town (TOAHOTEOH). Every town has a house like this. Most have rumors of being haunted. Toahoteoh is no exception. Except it may actually be haunted. Unless those are ghost D’Jinkies (as opposed to D’Jinkie ghosts). Or maybe there are criminals trying to scare away curious kids. Or maybe all of the above.

Paris, Michigan – In The Roux

Paris, Michigan was built in the 1930s for a few dozen thousand more people, erm, beings than ever actually lived there. An Art Deco-style concrete jungle surrounded by a suburban ring of identical pre-fab houses set smack dab in the thumb of the Big Mitten.

The first generation of Parisians were the poor slobs who had gotten suckered into investing in the development. They raised their families there, watched their children move away to real cities, and most of them died there, forgotten people in a forgotten would-be city.

Just before Paris closed permanently, it underwent its first resurgence as an artist community. Open-minded humans and djinkies alike flocked there like it was a modern day Bohemia, reveling in free love, experimental music, and an essentially non-existent legal structure. 

But as these things tend to go, the artists were followed by the speculators. The business people drove the original artists out but attracted a huge influx of investment to the would-be metropolis. Retail development was rampant with venture capitalists touting the value of the retro-urban aesthetics to anyone who would listen.

And then the Bubble burst.

The would-be neo-royalty left Paris in droves in search of barely existent jobs that would support the lifestyles to which they had become accustomed. Fortunately, at the same time, djinkie musicians and actors were rediscovering the former artist community. Work for djinkies had largely dried up in the era of reality television and corporate-manufactured boy bands and girl groups. So a handful of individuals who had saved liberally and invested wisely at the peak of their careers returned to Paris and bought up varying amounts of available property. The appeal of their former fame attracted others to Paris, giving the city a third chance at life.

As a part of this most recent resurrection, two different investors opened private supper clubs in an effort to leverage the burgeoning foodie craze. Their competition to serve the most exotic delicacies attracted not only wealthy diners, but also members of the Canadian food syndicates. In turn, both groups attracted humans and djinkies alike who were willing to cater to individuals with other, more questionable tastes. 

Now, the inhabitants of Paris, Michigan struggle daily to carve out a portion of the new American dream without sacrificing too much of what is left of their souls.



La Roux – Colors vs Flavors

Originally, I wanted to map the Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) approaches onto six colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple). In turn, a D’Jinkie would be the color associated with their strongest approach.  But then, a number of people came together to inspire a better idea. (Thanks Jessica!)

Characters in La Roux will use a set of six of the following seven tastes to define them: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent, Astringent, and Umami. (Holistic sites suggest the first six, Wikipedia suggests the first four plus Umami.)  Much like approaches in ‘standard’ FAE, characters would choose a taste that describes how they approach a task. 

How might that work?  Lets consider some examples:

  • Sweet: You might sweet talk someone into doing something for you. In combat, you might use sweet to apply non-damaging aspects.
  • Sour: You might attack someone out of anger or bitterness. You might commit a crime of passion – murder, vandalism, or theft.
  • Salty: You might add salty language to any action.  You might seduce someone in a particularly naughty or risque way.
  • Bitter: Similar to sour, but perhaps with a bit more sorrow or moroseness thrown in. Behaving in a petulant manner.
  • Pungent: Scathing or sharp. Useful for biting comments or fighting with sharp objects.
  • Astringent: Similar to Pungent. More stern and hostile than scathing. Might be useful for shaming someone or generally being hostile.
  • Umami: A pleasant savory test, Japanese for delicious. A mild but lasting aftertaste. Umami is most valuable when combined with other tastes, making it useful for setting up aspects for others to leverage. Also valuable for pleasant behaviors. 

(Looking at these examples, it looks like Pungent or Astringent could be removed. I’m leaning toward Astringent, but I’m open to opinions.)

Hopefully, based on these examples, you can see that you can use a taste based on motivation, approach, or literally. Someone suggested using a “candyshank” as a sweet approach to combat.

Thoughts or comments?



La Rue / La Roux

Inspired by The Street by Paul E Cooley, Chew by John Layman, a throw-away quote from Get Lucky from Cheap Ass Games, and Ratatouille from Disney. Characters struggle to survive the dark culinary underworld of a fictional Paris. A (Dark) D’Jinkies setting.

As the world economy falls prey to the whims of the wealthy few, the D’Jinkies find their particular forms of entertainment falling out of favor. Some find new art forms through which to support themselves, but many fall by the wayside, scrabbling just to make due. In Paris, D’Jinkies find themselves in one of four camps: supporting one of two underground restaurants, obtaining and selling contraband food items to the highest bidder, or just trying to keep your head down on the long street that runs between the two.

Lardporks is an underground restaurant owned by Lardpork the Glutton but run by Chef Angelo. The Rats from the Show and the related movies have opened their own underground restaurant called Ratatouille. Both restaurants are illegal, exotic, and highly praised by French gourmands. Due to the questionable staffing techniques and even more questionable ingredients, both restaurants could be legally shut down at any time. However, they are so popular, and so free with bribe money, that neither appears to be under any real threat. And if they should get closed, it is only a matter of time until they open up somewhere else along La Rue. Both restaurants are a source of employment for D’Jinkies, but that employment is nearly always demeaning and transitory. Only the most talented or most loyal D’Jinkies find themselves with coveted, and permanent, position. It doesn’t hurt if they had a degree of popularity before the crash.

Olive and her team make a healthy living running questionable and outright illegal ingredients for both restaurants. Neither the management of Ratatouille nor of Lardporks like the smugglers, but they recognize their importance to their business. Both the Glutton and the Rats would love to force Olive into an exclusive relationship, but so far, the green furry monster and her people have remained independent.

The rest of the D’Jinkies on the street do whatever they have to get by and stay independent. Those with some money set aside when things went south invested in property. But most do or sell whatever they have to just to survive. And given some of the depraved fantasies of the most extreme D’Jinkie-Philes, that can lead to some pretty dark things.

How will you survive in La Rue?

A Belated Update

I’ve been working on a couple of tangential projects lately.  Yes, yes, I know – mayfly designer. But some of them are pretty cool.

(1) I’ve been working with my daughter (and the rest of the family) to build a ‘fairy garden’.  There are a number of small planters, about half have been hung on a tree in our yard. We’ve added four handcrafted ‘doors’ for the fairy guests and will soon be adding a number of signposts to fictional locations.  

(2) A project I’ve codenamed #Monop4D – it’s a time-travel add-on (or potentially a set of add ons) for a ubiquitous property-trading board game. Go back in time and buy a property out from under your competitor!  As part of the design, I will be adding alternate win conditions which should shorten play time. When I get the alpha prototypes done, I will release PDFs for Print-and-Playtesting

(3) A lot of my time has been focused on my face-to-face (or on-line) games. I really thrive on prepping situations and then watching players run through them, so the ratio of entertainment value to time investment is high for me here. A plus side of this prep has me thinking about an additional deck for the “Quick and Dirty Heroes” line – Amerythica.

Imagine jackalopes grazing near roadside vegetable stalls and tourist destinations along Route 66. Children running lemonade stands and selling newspapers on street corners.  Johnny Appleseed’s Genius Bar and the Thunderbird Casino sit next to a drive-in burger shop on Main Street. Suburbia is filled with little pink houses, white picket fences, and pillar-porches houses with red-white-and-blue circular banners. Model Ts racing with muscle cars. And the Badlands are populated with bow-and-arrow wielding reptoids, robotic cowboys on cybernetic horses, and various species of dinosaurs. President-for-Life Teddy Roosevelt rides a stegosaur and Confederate terrorists constantly threaten public events.

Amerthica is the America that never was and will always be. I can’t wait to start fleshing out the deck.

Raven, Wolf, and Cow

Several years ago, I wrote a quick draft of a game for a Story Game competition called “Raven, Wolf, and Cow: Tales from the Murderland Cafe” (RW&C).  The game was judged as “half-baked” and I’ve not really done anything about it since.

But this week, as I’m thinking about laying out the Quick & Dirty Heroes deck for printing, I find myself reconsidering RW&C. The game was originally built around a standard 52-card deck, but I am considering a simplified re-cast that would use a custom deck with “raven”, “wolf”, and “cow” as suits.

As a quick synopsis, in RW&C three players play three waitresses in an isolated dinner who just happen to be manifestations of the triple-goddess. A customer comes in for a meal and the waitresses entertain themselves telling stories about the customer. Each round, one of the waitresses successfully divines the truth and by the end of the meal, one of the waitresses has ‘won’ their story-telling contest and gets to set the customers fate.

The game is designed to be quick and easy, and could still be played with a standard deck, but I am considering a free print-and-play version of RW&C. Is there any interest in me putting this together?

This Week’s Thoughts

One. Last week, my daughter roughed out the first draft of a fairy-tale inspired deck for “Quick and Dirty Heroes”. The aspects need work, but it was a solid first pass.

Two. I am considering adapting the concepts I used for J.D.’s birthday puzzle to learning applications. I’ve thought a lot over the last few years about ‘gamification’ of learning and the success of the birthday event has me thinking more about how to do more of that. How can I bring puzzle-like clues, multi-media messages, and geo-caching together to engage an audience in learning a traditionally un-engaging topic?

Three. I still haven’t gotten a business plan for “Quick and Dirty Heroes” together. I’ve been waiting to bring a team and some data together, but as time hasn’t been my friend on this front. I may have to build a straw-man and then modify based on additional inputs.

Four. I’m also going to rough out the layout for the card sheets. This is a challenge. A twenty card deck is one 18-card sheet plus 2 – which is two sheets for a single deck. So what should I include to fill things out? One page of how to use this deck? Yes. A list of kickstarter backers? Sure. Card based-versions of the micro-character sheet? Possibly. Between those two, that takes  12 cards – leaving four. Setting information? Alternate uses of the deck? Do you have any ideas? How much should the “extra” cards vary from deck to deck?

Thanks, as always, for your support and interest.


The Week That Was and The Week That Will Be

In addition to birthday wonderfulness (the kids’ birthdays are three days apart) and associated house guests and fun, I had THE COLD last week. I was out of work for two days – and spent most of that time in bed trying to sleep between coughing fits. The rest of the week I went into the office but that sapped pretty much all my energy as the coughing continued to keep me up at night. I powered through the various activities associated with birthday week and am thankful I did so. 

But all that is behind me. I was only woken by one coughing fit of note last night and while still quite tired, feel the best I have in ten days. My outside commitments have been discharged. And J.D. is on Spring Break this week. 

So… what is Applied Geekery Studios working on this week? I hope to put the business plan for the Kickstarter to paper this week. We are preparing a TARDIS tool kit (I will post pictures of the process) for our murder mystery weekend. I need to schedule and prepare a couple of games. And I am working with a colleague to plan and prepare a special surprise for his wife’s birthday. I am trying not to get distracted by some ideas J.D. and I kicked around for a setting inspired by Wreck It Ralph and Re-Boot called “Cloud Central Station”. That’s for development after the Kickstarter gets kicked off and needs to stay in line behind Djinkies.

A couple of questions for you: 

(1) I am pondering “Quick and Dirty Heroes” as the title of the character generation system. It could be sub-titled with the setting/genre.  For example, the original deck of 20 archetypes would be “Quick and Dirty Heroes: Rukswyld”

(2) We’re always looking for artists to partner with. I have and will be calling on artists I know personally, but as we get into more projects I would like a pool of options. If you are interested (even if you are already a friend), please let us know. Applied Geekery Studios is going to be trying to do a wide-range of things. We have ideas for more card decks, possibilities of mysteries like I prepared for JD, and even a custom comic book.