“It started with Songbirds. It was a hack of Into the Odd and was sort of well-received by folks in osr-ish circles”

“After Songbirds I immediately started work on Blackbirds. Which didn’t end up releasing (and was a completely different game) until 2021”

“But those fiddlings and workings ended up feeding back into what would become Songbirds 2e. My first original system”

“After Songbirds 2e, and after scrapping Blackbirds for a while, I did Vultures

“What I got from Vultures was the idea of “Post-Mecha.” It was something I wrote about in my newsletter back then. The idea basically being that of Hyper Light Drifter or Nausicaä. Big war machines from The Before that were lying dormant now. The world scarred by war. But regrowing”

“I dove into Blackbirds though. I might shock you to learn that there’s a whole ‘nother Blackbirds (and two adventures) that is fully laid out but that never got released”

“This came post-Troika! for me. Troika! was to me what Into the Odd had been before. A new way of looking at games. A new way of looking at what I wanted from a game”

“My Game would feature you as a mostly normal person made strange by the world. Not a strange person navigating a strange world. If that makes sense.

That’s okay though cause I played Disco Elysium like 50 times and everything changed again!”

“Disco Elysium was (and still is) what Troika! and Into the Odd were to me back then. I wrote a post on my tumblr a while ago about how DE helped me realize why I love d20, why I love skills, and why I love rolling dice”

“DE recontextualized the importance of a skill list for me. I had always believed that a skill list was world building, but what DE says is that a skill list is Your Job. It is what you do. It is, in essense, what a cop (in DE’s case) does. And choosing your skills determines what kind of cop you’ll be”

“But while I was figuring it out, I wrote Blackbirds. The one that actually got released. The one that was self-described as post-mecha. The one with sam’s amazing cover art. The one so heavily influenced by Disco Elysium that I look at it as a mess now”

“being an artist is a lot about assimilating things into yourself, rejecting others, and coming out of the process a little more You. Or, at least, a changed you. One that you can be proud of.

We add to that canon by creating. We add to this communication. We become assimilated. Parts of us, at least”

“Sometime last year, early on, I read Red Giant. Afterward I immediately messaged Cory Burns of Rookie Jet Studio and was like, “yo, this is amazing.” Some talking ensued and I eventually said, “I’m going to make a hack of it.””

“I opened a new Google Doc and named it Blue Moon and started futzing for a few hours. It had been a year since Blackbirds. Several years since Songbirds 2e. I had dong .dungeon, The Wizards & the Wastes, My Body is a Cage. Arguably all the games that I’m known for. There was a large gap of learning, experimenting, and playing with the form”

““What else started as a hack? When’s that last time you wrote a hack? This isn’t a coincidence. You’re just writing the same thing again.”

I renamed the doc.

Songbirds 3e”

“It only got shelved because Lilancholy jumped into my head and demanded my attention. And I’m happy for that. Because, even if the Red Giant hack would have been fun and good, the dough wasn’t quite ready to come out of the oven yet”

“While working on Lilancholy I also started talking about a reprint of .dungeon”

“It wasn’t long looking at the OG google doc for .dungeon that I had another gdoc opened next to it titled .dungeon 2e. I started editing the early text and realized I was just rewriting the whole damn book. Then I thought about how .dungeon was a hack of Songbirds 2e and I had spent a lot of time on Songbirds 3e, so I went and looked at it to figure out what I’d do differently for .dungeon 2e and all of this stuff was just circling my head like a tornado. Editions, remasters, google docs. It was a mess”

“It truly feels like I was digging down and uncovering things, not creating from nothing. But like I had it in my head and just needed to find the right tools, the right language, the right inspiration to pull it up in one piece”

“Stephen King talks about writing a story much the same way. He says that it’s like a house buried in the ground. And your job is to be an archaeologist and unearth it. Slowly. Without breaking it too much”

“Snow Hack came about because I was about to run a new game for new people I never played with before and I wanted to finally write down all the rules for my own game. It was a moment of frustration that led to clarity. “Just write the shit down,” I thought. And so I did. I referenced other books flippantly. I straight up copy/pasted text from other stuff. It was for my home game. I didn’t care”

“The response to it was great too, which I didn’t expect. It was that response that made me think, “oh yeah, I did it. I made songbirds 3e.””

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