Adventurer! Award-winning tabletop roleplaying game designer John Wick presents the John Wick Presents Bundle (is there an echo in here?), featuring diverse indie RPGs by the creator of 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings. This bargain-priced collection brings you many fine, startlingly original games -- Wicked Fantasy, Houses of the Blooded,Wield, and many more -- that John published through his imprint John Wick Presents (there's that echo again).
For just US$7.95 you get all five titles in this offer's Starter Collection (retail value $42) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
Wicked Fantasy (retail price $10): Brilliant reimaginings of ten Pathfinder fantasy races, from elves and dwarves to kobolds and ratmen.
Houses of the Blooded (retail $10): Intrigue, passion, and forbidden delights in a decadent culture obsessed with Romance and Revenge. Includes Josh Roby's expansion Coronets But Never Crowns (retail $6), which adds what you might call "family values."
Wield (retail $6): You play an ancient, powerful weapon, and the heroes you wield are disposable hit points.
Play Dirty 15th Anniversary Edition (retail $10): The controversial columns of dishonest and dastardly gamemaster advice from Pyramid magazine.
And if you pay more than the threshold price of $18.25, you'll level up and also get this offer's entire Bonus Collection with eight more titles worth an additional $58:
The Big Book of Little Games (retail $13): A dozen small gems about everything from spies to soap operas. Includes Cat, where you protect your human owner from menaces only you can see.
Wicked Fantasy Companion (retail $8): A massive expansion of the Wicked Fantasy races with conversion advice for Savage Worlds and Dungeon World.
Blood & Honor (retail $8): A new way to play Houses of the Blooded -- as samurai in Old Japan.
The Wield Companion (retail $5): New settings and domains for your super-weapons to exploit.
The Shotgun Diaries (retail $3): John Wick's zombie survival horror RPG -- fast, easy to use, and horrifying.
The Aegis Project (retail $8): An epic science fiction game played across three eras that span five centuries.
NEW!Wilderness (retail $8): Frontier adventure for companies of low-caste veth who seek to join the ruling Blooded.
NEWER!Play Dirty 2 - Even Dirtier (retail $10): A sequel book with still more gamemastering advice to make your characters' deaths all the sweeter.
...But you pay just $7.95 for this offer's Starter Collection of five complete .PDFs, including Wicked Fantasy, Houses of the Blooded, and Wield. And if you pay more than the current threshold price ($18.25), you'll level up and also receive all eight titles in this offer's Bonus Collection, including expansions for Wicked Fantasy, Wield, and Houses of the Blooded, plus The Big Book of Little Games.
Bundle of Holding titles are always absolutely free of DRM, so you can move and copy them freely among all your tablets, laptops, and smartphones.
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Designer(s): John Wick, Gillian Fraser
John Wick Presents, 300 pages
Retail price US$10
John Wick says
Wicked Fantasy is a Pathfinder setting book that imaginatively re-creates ten "generic" races found in most fantasy roleplaying games -- humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, orks, gnolls, ratmen, goblins, and kobolds -- all with a wicked twist, along with dozens of new archetypes, feats, and prestige classes.
For instance, Wicked Fantasy portrays humans as self-determined, bound by neither fate nor destiny; they are their own masters with no gods, only a deep belief humans can be greater than they are. Wicked Fantasy makes elves romantically tragic, gnomes true spirits of the earth, and halflings James Bond.
"Gillian and I did that," says John Wick, "because we wanted to create a world and races that we wanted to play, and we also wanted to add some fresh ideas into the mix -- to throw a brick through the window -- to get the Pathfinder community [...] to think differently about what Pathfinder could do."
"This book is simply dynamite! Wick's unorthodox reimagining of these beloved (and often stale) races is a breath of fresh air. The ideas he presents can become your new understanding of each race, or you can do what I did and treat the racial genesis story as a local genesis. So maybe not all orcs are 'orks,' but on this island they are. I haven't been so impressed with a supplement in a long time." -- Alex L., RPGnow
"When I read through it, back as a series of articles in Kobold Quarterly, [Wicked Fantasy: Reign of Men] struck me as something that despite not fitting into my setting (modified Golarion/Oerth), it was going to be fit into my setting. It was that interesting, unique, and compelling." -- Kain Darkwind, Paizo.com
Thousands of years ago the ven ruled the world. They were a passionate people, obsessed with romance and revenge, opera and theater, and all the forbidden delights their decadent culture provided. In the end, that which made them beautiful was also the key to their own destruction.
An early, influential classic of indie RPGs, Houses of the Blooded (2008) is a game about tragic obsession. Set in the fantastic world of ven myth and legend, players take the roles of powerful characters bent on conquering their world, destroying their enemies, and possessing all they desire. Welcome to the world of the ven.
Systems for The Duel, Warfare, Romance, Revenge and Art
A huge Narrator chapter, filled with advice for new and experienced gamemasters
"Seasons": a system for long-term goals
Both "friendly game" and "cutthroat" modes for players who enjoy a quiet game with friends and those who love destroying their favorite enemies
Coronets But Never Crowns (86pp, retail $6): The family and politics expansion by Josh Roby (Sons of Liberty, Smallville), Coronets But Never Crowns shows you how to loose your powerful, passionate ven on the world of feudal politics. This expansion's rules modules -- Family, Peers, Fealty, The Senate, Vashna, and Horse -- can be added singly or in any combination.
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From the Introduction
In Houses you play a noble. A character with a past. A character with a family, with vassals, responsibilities and duties. The Law is an ever-present factor in your life. Because you are a noble, 'treasure' really has no value for you, and problems such as 'wandering monsters' are problems for someone of lesser status to handle. Someone you can hire. Someone expendable. And rather than living in a bubble immune to the effects of political scheming, your character lives in a world that looks like a bastard child of Tanith Lee and NiccolÃ² Machiavelli. [...]
This game is about tragedy. Specifically, the kind of tragedy found in the literature of the ven. It is about their style of storytelling, their culture, their obsession with romance and revenge. In it, you take on the roles of ven nobles struggling to survive in a deadly and duplicitous culture.
But you won't just play a single character. You have the opportunity to play many. Your noble will grow older as the years pass, transforming from a young noble to an adult, and then finally, to an ancient aristocrat looking for an heir. You may choose to play that heir, or you may choose to play another character. You can also take the roles of your noble's various vassals. Master spies, valets and maids, roadmen, masters of the sword: these are all characters that fill the pages of ven pillowbooks and populate the stages of the theater and the opera.
More than that, though, this game is about passion and the price it carries; the implicit moral behind all ven literature. My game creates a sense of ven tragedy by embracing their culture and mindset like a knife through the heart. Right up to the hilt.
Who was the wielder, Elric or Stormbringer? Did anyone ever really master Sauron's One Ring, or was it the master of all who carried it? Orna, the Sword of Tethra, tells the hero who picks it up the stories of all its murders -- thousands upon thousands. Claiomh Solais, the Sword of Irish Kings, always seemed to have its own agenda, regardless of who held it.
Tales of "willful weapons" are rife in fantasy literature. Wield is your chance to play one. You play a vatcha -- an ancient, powerful magical weapon -- and the heroes you wield are disposable hit points. Select from over 100 powers you can bestow on your Wielder. You have character sheets for both the weapon and its puppet-hero -- but while you play your own vatcha, you play another player's puppet-hero.
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From the Introduction
In this game you tell the story of an ancient, powerful, magical, and sentient item called a vatcha. You may be a sword, a dagger, a coin, a necklace, or even a sentient gypsy caravan. Whatever you may be, there are a few things you should know.
First, you are ancient. You've been in existence for thousands of years. You've watched empires rise and fall. Second, you are powerful. You can destroy entire cities, burn forests to the ground, raise up the earth to swallow armies. Nothing in the world compares to your might. Third, you are not alone. There are others like you in the world. Other vatcha. And they have plans, just like you.
As a vatcha, you have incredible power. Unfortunately, you can't use it. Only a mortal human can unleash your power on the world. Humans call these people 'heroes.' You call them 'pawns.' Yes, it's that kind of relationship.
With this game, you tell the stories of the vatcha and their pawns, the self- styled heroes. Your vatcha has a goal, and in order to obtain that goal, you will need to undertake an epic journey. You may go through a pawn or two to obtain your goal -- in fact, you probably will go through many -- but the prize will be worth it.
However, in order to obtain that goal, you need to surrender some of your power to your pawn. Thus, your relationship with your pawn becomes a balancing act. You must give him power to achieve your goal, but the more power you give him, the less control you can exert.
In fact, some vatcha have lost all control over their pawns, becoming little more than batteries of power for petty mortal humans. You must never allow this to happen. Never.
John Wick's gamemaster advice column in Pyramid was the most controversial in the magazine's history. Seen by some as revolutionary, "Play Dirty" was dismissed by others as outright dangerous. This book collects all 11 articles full of the worst, most despicable, dastardly, and downright dishonest gamemastering tricks, traps, and tactics. Includes a new introduction, "Hit 'em Where it Hurts," and closing statements by the author.
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"The advice in Play Dirty works. After reading the book, I couldn't wait to try out Wick's ideas, and I found that they could be recycled with minimal effort. I listened as my gaming group chattered on about Villain Dice, the Laws of the Table, and changes to Experience; furthermore, I realized just how much more intense the game became. This is the point of the book, and it serves that point well. [...] A reader can revisit this book time and time again and take something fresh from it. I want to give this book a 10 out of 10 because I so rarely find one that deserves it. " -- Todd Cash, Flames Rising
"I think this book is one of the reasons people develop irrational love or hate of the inimitable author. [...] The undercurrent of the whole thing is that awesomeness can occur by the GM taking off the kiddy gloves and crafting an experience that makes the players feel for the characters and their sacrifices. [...] I urge folks that rankle at the whole idea of making your players twist, to still think about reading this book. Without some negative or low points in your game, you run the danger of being bland and having players feel very little investment. Even if you don't go full-bore, there are a few techniques you can add to spice up your game. I read this book in part based on wanting to hear from a 'firebrand' personality in the pen-and-paper industry, and while the author has a message, it's much more measured and helpful than the buzz suggests." -- Whit Mattson, A Game of Whit's
For years John Wick has been designing small, personal roleplaying games for conventions, friends, and family. The Big Book of Little Games presents ten of these gems, both new and revised out-of-print classics: Byron Falls, Eldritch High, Enemy Gods, The Flux, Sexcraft, Wicked Heroes, Wilderness of Mirrors, Yesterday's Tomorrows, All the Days of My Children Hospital, and the famous Cat.
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The Flux: All worlds are the same world -- you just don't remember. A meta-RPG that links all RPG worlds as the same world -- with the same dangers.
Enemy Gods: Take the roles of both hero and god as rival deities slug it out using their mythic heroes as the ultimate weapons.
Cat: "A Little Game about Little Heroes" casts the players as housepets protecting their owners from monsters only cats can see.
Byron Falls: In the lonely town of Byron Falls, beautiful and lonely high school girls fall in love with beautiful and lonely monsters.
Wicked Heroes: In a world where superpowers are a curse and not a gift, the "blessed" find their worst enemies are themselves.
Sexcraft: An urban fantasy world where the ultimate weapon is not a sword or a gun, but the power of sex.
Wilderness of Mirrors: This fast and ruthless spy game gives you everything you need to play a master spy, and nothing more.
Eldritch High: Alexander Circe's Academy of the Eldritch Arts has prepared your class schedule -- but are you prepared?
Yesterday's Tomorrow: John's classic game of Retro Science Fiction, a game of Action!, Mystery!, Romance! and Science!
All the Days of My Children Hospital: A Game about Romance, Betrayal, Deception, Dynasties and Soap Commercials.
The Wicked Fantasy Companion vastly expands your Pathfinder or other fantasy campaign with 30 new archetypes, racial traits, alternate classes and prestige classes -- three for each of the ten races in the original Wicked Fantasy. Love Beyond Death, an epic adventure, pits your adventurers against the unique Estevere Lich and Estevere Vampire. Learn about "the Uz," the dreaded Enemy, and "The Hassja," the Whispering Darkness.
The Companion includes conversion advice for Savage Worlds and Dungeon World, stories set in the world of Wicked Fantasy by John Wick and Matt Forbeck, and a GM chapter with tons of advice and tricks.
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"In Wicked Fantasy, the traits of each of the races are intertwined with their origins, their legends, their history and most importantly to play, their cultures. This is a game about cultures, and characters who emerge from these cultures will be extremely fun to play with each other. That's really what it comes down to. Wicked Fantasy is still about being adventurers -- still about going into dungeons or across wildernesses -- still about battling monsters and bandits -- but the motivations of the characters become more fleshed out by a choice that normally just adjusts a few ability scores (death to ability scores) and changes your appearance." -- Jason C., DriveThruRPG
Blood & Honor adapts the Houses of the Blooded system to tell stories of honor and steel in Old Japan. This complete, 188-page standalone rulebook presents rules for creating both clans and characters; task resolution that allows player narration; a new system for duels and war, and a streamlined Seasons system for long-term goals; magic and religion from old Japan; and player and Narrator advice. You don't need Houses of the Blooded to play Blood & Honor.
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From the Introduction
This is a game about warring Clans. In samurai literature the heroes are fragile. Always four feet from death. They die to serve the Clan. Every decision a samurai makes is about his Clan. To reflect that attitude, you'll find characters in this game are just like their literary counterparts: They are fragile. Don't get into a fight unless you know you can win. Also, the mechanics reflect the sentiment that the characters are all bit parts in a much larger machine. Identity is almost smothered by duty. Not entirely -- and certainly less than if this were a historical game -- but players will find that their characters are truly tiny parts of a larger machine. Your character's personal identity is far less important than his role in the Clan. Character creation takes a few moments of consideration. Clan creation, on the other hand, is something the entire group should consider carefully.
Finally, a friendly warning. Samurai literature is filled with stories of men and women forced to choose between love and duty, duty and honor, honor and honesty. These are the kinds of choices you find in this game. If you'd rather play a game where your character always makes the right choice, always increases his skills, always comes out smelling like a rose -- put this book down right now and buy something else. Don't say I didn't warn you.
This 271-page supplement for Wield (in this offer's Starter Collection) offers new settings and domains for your vatcha super-weapon characters.
Jack in to Dark Chrome, where vatcha are sentient cybernetic transplants. Visit Old Japan, where the _kami_ spirits inhabit all things, and Old Smoke, a dark shadow of Victorian London. The Princesses of Ellysial live in a world far beyond our own where flowers are always in bloom, whereas the Big Dust, a wild and lawless place, attracts all manner of thieves, murderers, and ruthless outlaws. In Sentient Frames, the vatcha help Frame Pilots compete in the Mecha Games; in the demon-haunted world of Whispering Shadows, spirits can possess a mortal shell with a single touch.
The Wield Companion also includes two new short stories and rules for using the principles of Wield in Fate Core.
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Excerpts from the Wield Companion
"Do you want a better smile? Better skin? Better eyes? Better hair? Then Companion Cosmetics is for you. We specialize in the best augmentations to your body to make you a better you. Customize yourself with our patented full body facade technology. Companion Cosmetics. You. Just. Better."
"Dark kami and vile humans created something else few humans had ever experienced, an unnatural pairing of human and kami. Unlike the succession of Tenno, who were the direct descendants of both kami and humans, evil humans and dark kami joined in unnatural and horrific rites. They became terrible monsters, or oni. When an oni appeared, disaster, calamity, and death were sure to follow."
"All the things the Victorians believed were true are true. Within the city are many secret societies dedicated to uncovering the truth about the world around them. At least, that is what they tell lesser members. The true purpose of these societies is to capture and control the synesthesiactical fineins, known to you and I as the vatcha. All their ritual and promises of magickal power are just smoke and mirrors."
"I am the Princess of Beauty. I stand against the darkness with my whip by my side. My domain is not empty and vapid. Beauty comes from a pure heart. I am the grace and poise that forces monsters to fumble in my presence."
"Pilots constantly work toward winning the current season of the Mecha Games, and the AI are happy to oblige, sometimes even suggesting certain modifications for their Pilots. These Pilots win more often, but the public sees them less and less. The increasing need of privacy of the Pilots is because the vatcha have taken over the Mecha Games and made it a Bliss Farm. Bliss is the term for merging with a human body and overwriting the human consciousness. The vatcha want a biological body of their own, for reasons only they can conceive."
"Around the campfire of many settlers, whispered tales of the vatcha can be heard. Cursed items that make men and women do things against their character and against their will. Ranchers and miners wander off in the middle of the night for no reason, and whole towns dry up because of some item."
"In truth, the vatcha spirits are new. They come from the other side of the mirror. From the other side, they watched enviously the world of the light. After millennia of plotting, the vatcha spirits broke the mirror. It shattered into twelve pieces of sunlight, shooting towards like ground like falling stars. Gray fogs heralded their arrival; blocking out the sky. The world of light grew dim as the vatcha went to play."
Contributors to the Wield Companion include Charlotte Bethel, Gillian Fraser, Mark Diaz Truman, Alan Venable, and John Wick.
The Shotgun Diaries is John Wick's zombie survival horror roleplaying game. Using all the tropes of zombie horror as game mechanics, it is fast, easy to use, and horrifying.
You play survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Why the zombies are here really doesn't matter, does it? We know what happens to those who try to find a cure. We know what happens to those who study the zombies. The only choice here is to survive: find a Sanctuary, increase its Security rank, and build its Supply Pool.
The Shotgun Diaries isn't a philosophical game. It isn't a game about the existential dilemma. This is a game about zombies eating your brains. They're right outside the door, and they're going to get through any second now. So run, run, run!
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"This exceptional game is very simple, very fast-paced, and brings something new to the zombie RPG genre. [...] The most innovative mechanic is the Zombie Clock. Every ten minutes of real time that goes by, the survivors' supply rating goes down by 1, the Zombie Clock goes up by 1, and approximately a day passes in the game. The higher the number on the Zombie Clock, the more zombies the Narrator can unleash on the characters. Zombie Clock points can also be used to introduce complications (the RV battlewagon is out of gas, the water in the faucets dries up, etc.) into the narrative. This mechanic, the core of the game, provides a solid and visceral way for the players to realize just how bad things are getting, and how bad things are likely to get when the zombies finally do attack.
"This is not a game for beginners. There is no guidance at all as to how to set scenes or who says what when. However, if you know what an RPG is, and you like the tension and suspense of zombie movies, you really owe it to yourself to read this excellent game." -- Jason C., DriveThruRPG
"It offers a simple enough mechanic that you could play a one-shot pretty easily, or even do a full campaign along the lines of Resident Evil or The Walking Dead. So dust off your favorite zombie movies, figure out some plots, and get ready to torture a few 'survivors' for a night or more. [...] A quick, easy-to-learn game with infinite possibilities for your favorite zombie apocalypse." -- Brian Fitzpatrick, Gamerati
In the mid-30th Century, the discovery of interstellar travel allowed humanity to reach the stars. At the end of the 40th Century, humanity made first contact with alien life. By the beginning of the 50th Century, humanity was an endangered species.
Inspired by a request to make a "gritty '80s mech game," The Aegis Project is an epic play across three very different eras, each with a distinct tone and rules, that span five centuries:
The First Era: Humanity develops "Aegis Armor" to defend itself against an alien enemy bent on human extinction.
The Second Era: A brutal civil war threatens to destroy everything humanity has achieved.
The Third Era: A dark covert war against an AI enemy who will either uplift humanity or destroy it.
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From the Introduction
We never learned their language, and so, we called them 'The Enemy.' Their technology was greater than ours. Their bodies were stronger and faster. And they seemed bred to destroy. We had no chance, no hope, no future. Mankind was doomed.
They marched across our planets with machines as tall as buildings. All our weapons smashed harmlessly against their armor. We were helpless. We were doomed.
But chance smiled upon us. After the recovery of a wrecked craft -- nearly intact -- humanity's ingenuity was enough to crack the code of the Enemy's technology. We could not steal everything, but we stole enough. And that is when the Aegis Project was born.
Aegis allowed us to build machines large enough and strong enough to destroy the Enemy's machines. The press called it 'living armor,' but it was more than that. Aegis Armor changed everything. It changed the momentum of the war, changed warfare itself, and changed the direction of humanity.
Finally, after years of bloodshed, the Enemy was repelled from our planets. Humanity was saved. The Aegis Armor was retired from use and mankind entered a new era of peace. At least, for a while....
It only took one hundred years for the Federation to shatter. Civil war erupted across the stars, and again, blood was spilled -- this time human blood alone. With the Federation undone, the planets turned to the Aegis Armor to battle their fellow humans.
Again, a generation passed. A generation of war. One planet eventually won over the rest and established itself as the seat of a new Empire. That Empire lasted for four hundred years. And then the Enemy returned....
These are the stories of the Aegis Project: three eras of war, each era with a different story to tell. These are your stories.
Wilderness, a supplement for Houses of the Blooded, presents a different take on the ven and a different way to play the game. Written by Jesse Heinig (Fallout, Mage: The Ascension, Kindred of the East), Wilderness imagines "the ven adventure novel," where young, unproven peasants fight for the right to become Blooded.
Wilderness provides new Holdings (the Caravanserai, Furrier, Game Reserve, Gemstone Quarry, Glassblower), Regions (deserts, jungles, taiga, volcanos), Resources (furs, gemstones, glass, incense and the mysteriously sorcerous obsidian), Vassals, and a system for playing "Adventuring Companies" of unblooded veth. A chapter on orks presents a ton of ork traits and two ork races: the thrunin and the serpent men.
"The Wild Places" shows how to travel through the uncivilized regions of Shanri. A new veiled House, the Blooded of the Boar, are mountain men who have given up on ven society and gone native, living with the uncouth orks of the wilderness. And a whole chapter devoted to "Trouble" discusses how to use it, how to turn it into stories, and introduces a new mechanic called The Trouble Well.
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"I'm a huge fan of the Houses of the Blooded universe/setting/concept, etc. and this book, in large part, lives up to the high standard set by the base book and continued through Coronets but Never Crowns. The ability to place Provinces on the edges of the civilized world is an interesting one, and I think it could add to the intrigue/politics of most games, especially given the new Vassals and resources the wilderness Regions and Holdings make available. I also particularly enjoyed the idea of un-blooded adventuring groups and how they tied into 'polite' Ven society. More than just adding a new way to play the game, it also adds a new dimension to noble politicking and provides vicious new options for dealing with troublesome Blooded neighbors." -- Brian H., DriveThruRPG
John Wick's first book of gamemastering advice, Play Dirty, took the gaming industry by storm. Some called it monstrous; others refused to read it. Now John is back with Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier to keep your players guessing and your table humming. This book's 12 all-new chapters give you new tools for any game system at any table. Make your villains infuriating, your dungeons deadly, and your characters' deaths all the sweeter.
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From Episode 3, "Power to the Players"
"How do I keep my characters getting too powerful too fast?" [...] This assumes the GM has an antagonistic role. But most folks misinterpret that term. They don't understand what an antagonist is. He isn't against the players; he initiates changes in the characters and the world around them. [...]
In my experience, players generally do not want to change anything about their characters. OK, that's not right. Generally, players want their characters to get better. Experience points. However, having designed a few games that reward characters for changing rather than just advancing, I've seen a bit of a shift in that attitude. [...] If you look at the characters' âpower levelâ as a guide for what kind of challenges to throw at them, you're moving away from the target. What the characters can do is not important here. What you and I are concerned with, as GMs, is what the characters will do. [...]
Batman won't kill. So, put him in a situation where he can kill or let someone else die. If you put Batman in a situation where he must choose whether or not to compromise his principles, all the Batgadgets in the world won't help him. That's why putting a gun in Batman's hands has such an emotional punch. Put your players in dramatic situations that challenge what their characters believe. And then you've got yourself a game.