The endlessly entertaining scenario generation tools of

The “cookbook” in TSR’s 1991 classic, The Dungeon Master’s Design Kit, is a legendary cheat sheet for rapidly conceiving remarkably fleshed out RPG scenarios by rolling dice and consulting tables. Donjon automates the template-and-die-driven scenario generator contained in TSR’s text, enabling visitors to spin up a near infinitude of compelling D&D scenarios simply by hitting F5. But the “Adventure Generator” is just the tip of the iceberg at donjon, as the site provides an unequalled wealth of RPG map, character, and worldbuilding generators, all of which are designed with a great deal of thoughtfulness and elegance. Even if you aren’t into RPGs, donjon is worth a visit for its many clever takes on the random story generator and the procedural generation of narrative artifacts and spaces.

See also: RPG Athenaeum.

# Jul 17, 2014

“[A] man is always a teller of stories, he lives surrounded by his own stories and those of other people, he sees everything that happens to him in terms of these stories and he tries to live his life as if he were recounting it.”

Jean-Paul Sartre, The Words

# Jul 10, 2014

“[There] are many games where what the player brings to the table is not “choice” of using a tiny set of verbs on a tiny set of largely irrelevant props, all aiming in the end towards the same predetermined authorial lesson. Systems can be designed for authorial imposition — Wordsworth’s or Horace’s intent to educate and illuminate — or for players to express, create, and even innovate. It is here where games like The Sims, Eve Online, Minecraft, Universalis, Dwarf Fortress, and even less “free” designs like Core Wars lie. And there is a case to be made that in that space are things that only games can do.”

Raph Koster, Interactivity

“It was one of the most interesting fads of the night, or at least the early part of the night.”

R. A. Lafferty’s crisply-written short story, “Slow Tuesday Night” (1965), envisions an oddly-familiar world of frenetic hustle where up-to-the-second “trend indicators” chart the fates of fads, fortunes, and families. A mini-masterpiece of time distortion science fiction, this classic short story (along with the rest of Lafferty’s delightful oeuvre) is not to be missed:

Freddy rented an office and had it furnished. This took one minute, negotiation, selection and installation being almost instantaneous. Then he invented the manus module; that took another minute. He then had it manufactured and marketed; in three minutes it was in the hands of key buyers.

It caught on. It was an attractive module. The flow of orders began within thirty seconds. By ten minutes after eight every important person had one of the new manus modules, and the trend had been set. The module began to sell in the millions. It was one of the most interesting fads of the night, or at least the early part of the night. (

Read the whole story at Baene Books, or download a .pdf copy here.

# Jun 30, 2014

“If there is but one world, it embraces a multiplicity of contrasting aspects; if there are many worlds, the collection of them all is one. The one world may be taken as many, or the many worlds taken as one; whether one or many depends on the way of taking.”

Nelson Goodman, Ways of Worldmaking (1978, 2)

# Jun 23, 2014

“The distinction between creative and empowering cybersituations vs. (pseudo)interactive and disempowering spectacle is . . . often difficult to make, but we believe that some such distinction is necessary in order to provide critical perspectives on and alternatives to the forms of interactive spectacle now evolving. While pseudo-interaction provides escape into an ersatz (virtual) reality, constructing cybersituations enable individuals to create and interact more productively with others in their everyday lives and to struggle to transform culture and society, generating new spaces of connection, freedom, and creativity. Constructing cybersituations thus provides potential articulations between cyberworld and the real world, while pseudo-interaction merely entangles one ever deeper in the matrices of escapism and corporate entertainment.”

Steve Best and Douglas Kellner, “Debord, Cybersituations, and the Interactive Spectacle”