Little Games, on Buried Without Ceremony

edited June 2013 in Directed Promotion
Hey friends. Over the past week I've redesigned my website, and spent a lot of time reworking the Little Games section. I wanted to share a link with you:

Free little games for you to download and play! More to come!

The section currently includes:

Teen Witch, a solo game of immersion and self-discovery.

Simple World, a framework for designing your own Apocalypse World hack in about twenty minutes. Streamlined and ready-to-tweak-and-play! I designed this in response to seeing people throw nigh-countless hours into their AW hacks before they ever saw the light of play.

Keep It Sunny, a game about douchebags who own a bar together. Hilarious, inappropriate, speedy.

Deserting Paradise, a game about supernatural punks on the run.

The page also links to two hacks for Ribbon Drive. You'll probably need to own/buy a copy of the game to make sense of them, but the hacks themselves are free:

Slashed to Ribbons, a hack that models slasher movies.

Radion-Accelerator Drive, a hack that models Firefly and other spacerpunk westerns.


  • (and... whoops. Simple World has been updated with a version that includes the MC Prep Sheet and the Character Sheet.)
  • Rad! You are the gift that keeps on giving, Joe.

    I'm also, incidentally, pleased that you managed to find a use for the old MH Witch skin picture, which I really liked.
  • Joe, thank you. I've been using an older capture of an HTML version of Simple World to try to inspire a "weird carnival" hack, and the laid out version has already increased my mojo by 132%. You're a real hero, just in general and to me in particular.
  • Simple World was a really helpful starting point when putting together my *World/Bunnies & Burrows hack!
  • Simple World was a really helpful starting point when putting together my *World/Bunnies & Burrows hack!
    I'm more excited about it now that I've laid it out. I'm going to pitch it at the meetup next week.
  • I can personally vouch for Deserting Paradise being really cool and Teen Witch being one of the most courageous and brilliant games ever written.
  • We will be playing our Origins copy of Abnormal this week. Will that ever appear on this site, or was that just our own special game for us to hoard?
  • We will be playing our Origins copy of Abnormal this week. Will that ever appear on this site, or was that just our own special game for us to hoard?
    The print copy is your own special game to hoard. The PDF is apparently going to be made available for sale via IPR. Now finished, that game is actually entirely in their hands.
  • Joe's a friend and he's designed a lot of cool games and whatever.

    But Teen Witch is the first and only story game that's actually dangerous.
  • I have played Keep It Sunny and it is great.
  • But Teen Witch is the first and only story game that's actually dangerous.
    @Orlando_Wilson: In what way? Or was that not serious?

  • In the way that you (in a sincere, private and real way) get into being: a teenager, a girl, a witch. Odds are that you are not already a teenage witch.

    And Joe, for all his soft wording, is not fucking around here.

    What Joe is asking for you to do is believe in the fiction with all your heart. To literally live it; without any ironic distance that games usually provide to keep us affectively secure.

    He's asking you to be kind and vulnerable to the fiction.

    Try playing it sometime.
  • And to build on Orlando's answer a little bit: Teen Witch is my most sincere effort at dismantling patriarchy through art.
  • Oh yeah!

    That! Sometimes something is like really obvious to me that may not be to other people.

    Teen Witch: transgressive as all hell.
  • I'm trying to work out whether adding The Charge of the Goddess to Teen Witch (probably on the final page facing Secret Beauty) would add to it and make it both easier to play and that much more intense (and thus more dangerous), be borderline-blasphemous, or both. And I don't think, from my understanding of Wicca and The Goddess it would be blasphemous. And details matter.

    And adding rites and rituals to get yourself in the right frame of mind really adds to the immersive effect. I'd therefore add the following invocation when creating any sort of circle.
    Whenever ye have need of any thing, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of She, who is Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will She teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in Her praise. For Hers is the ecstasy of the spirit, and Hers also is joy on earth; for Her law is love unto all beings. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop you or turn you aside. For Hers is the secret door which opens upon the land of youth and Hers is the cup of wine of life, and the cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of immortality. She is the gracious goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon earth, She gave the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, She gives peace and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor does She demand sacrifice, for behold, She is the mother of all living, and Her love is poured out upon the earth.

    She who is the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man, calls unto thy soul. Arise, and come unto Her. For She is the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. from Her all things proceed, and unto Her all things must return; and before Her face, beloved of gods and men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let Her worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And thou who thinkest to seek Her, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, then thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, She has been with thee from the beginning; and She is that which is attained at the end of desire.
  • edited June 2013
    Let's not confuse things, ok?

    "Teen Witch" is a cultural archetype.
    Joe's game talks about casting spells. Magic is a non-religious practice. You don't need to be a Wiccan, Pagan, or even religious at all in order to practice magic or witchcraft. Witchcraft is not the same as religion of Wicca.

    What you're suggesting is purposefully adding religious content and having the player pretend to be a member of that religion and perform a religious ritual.

    I don't think it wouldn't be blasphemous; I honestly haven't seen any Pagan use that word. I think, however, that it would be cultural appropriation.

    Wiccans, witches, Pagans and such are already often treated like a joke (when they're not treated like people needing hospitalisation, or a danger to society). They don't need their religion to be made into entertainment. Just because Wicca has been exploited by unscrupulous hustlers of thrash spellbooks doesn't mean you have to treat it in the same way. Wicca is not the same thing as Teen Witches.

    Would you write a game (that is likely to be consumed mostly by white Christian/Atheist men), in which the players get to pretend to be a Native American, include instructions of their actual ceremonies, and instruct the player to honestly attempt to perform those ceremonies? I hope you wouldn't. There is a game on a similar subject, "How We Came to Live Here", and it doesn't give you quotes from Hopi ceremonies and instructions to perform them. If you really have to make a game about Wiccans (as opposed to Teen Witches), please treat them in the same way: with respect.

    What makes this even more explicit as cultural appropriation to me is the clear difference in status and power between people whose culture would get exploited (teenage Pagan women) and people who would be benefiting (as above, in my experience gamers often tend to be Christian/Atheist men and many of them are adults). That does not sit right with me.

    By the way, in the game text Joe is explicitly distancing himself and the reader from the fictional young woman, with a wink. Here's what the game says: "Before we move on to describing play, a mention must be made. We know, perfectly well, that magic doesn’t exist. We aren’t stupid." There's a "we" and there's "them"; young spell-casting women definitely aren't a part of the "we". It's the same principle as sticking an undressed sexily posed woman on the cover: you show, indirectly, who your intended audience is, and also who you don't expect to ever read it.

    The more real elements you would introduce, the more you would make this sentence sound like "Wiccans are stupid because they believe in magic". (And anyway, I don't think that describing people with less social status/power in a derogatory way, with a wink to the reader, is transgressive).

    I'm speaking up because I'm a Goddess-worshipping woman. (I don't have to play the game, I can just remember or read some bits of my diaries from when I was a kid. I'm definitely not part of Joe's "we".) I guest-lectured on the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland on the subject of Wicca, I'm the author of one of top Polish websites on Wicca (, and I'm a part of neopagan society in Poland and UK. I'm ready to provide more information should you need any.

    As a positive suggestion, if you want to include religious-looking elements, use an invocation to Manon from "The Craft". That's complete fiction, it's already linked with a Teen Witch image and it already cannibalised what's popularly available on the subject of Wicca. Here are some relevant quotes, along with a commentary on how the movie differs from the actual religion:
  • I withdraw my suggestion. All excellent points.
  • Hey 3Jane,

    I'd love to talk with you more about Teen Witch. I'm thankful for what you wrote here, though am unsure in some places about whether you're speaking to Neonchameleon or me. If you'd like to share more thoughts on Teen Witch, including challenging the validity of a person like me (male-bodied, non-witch) writing and releasing it in the first place, I'd love an email at

    You can obviously keep posting here too, but I don't find that public forums are the most appropriate environment for critique and response, and would love to get into some critique and response with you if you're interested.
  • I think she was repremanding me for my utterly idiotic and insensitive suggestion I think. Which I apologise unreservedly for making. (Damnit, I don't like eating crow. But it's good for me.)
  • edited June 2013
    Since I introduced the term 'transgressive' into the conversation, let me define just what I meant by it.

    So, transgression is always a crossing of boundaries. If you find yourself already a teen witch, or having been a teen witch, then this game is not transgressive for you. It's probably not even really a game or something all that interesting. It could be a fun way to remember being young, maybe.

    If you find yourself not a teen witch (not young, not a women, not a witch) then this game is asks you with all the sincerity you can muster to transgress your current iteration of identity by suspending it for that of a fictional young women who's into nebulously defined magic.

    While most story games ask us to pretend to be people we're not, I can't say that I've ever seen one that accomplishes it with the same real emotional depth. Why I call it transgressive is that it asks much more of the player than every other game I've read. Thus, it's both transgressive within its local culture and within the larger structural social relations.

    The sticky topic of cultural appropriation aside, the introduction of specific rituals is a terrible design choice. Joe leaves the specifics of the ritual elements relatively open, so that when I play teen witch I use spray paint, whiskey and clove cigarettes. Tools I'm already familiar with, which helps with the empathy and familiarity of the fiction. So, I've more energy to invest in the difficult part of the game for me: being a teen, being a woman, doing magic.

    And let me tell you from a life-time of abuse (verbal, physical, social) being male-bodied and doing anything associated with femininity (a walk, a piece of cloth, a gesture, fucking men, kindness) with any sincerity, is extremely dangerous. I have fractured bones which attest to this.

    When I call Teen Witch dangerous and transgressive, this is what I mean.
Sign In or Register to comment.