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This is the blog of Larcenous Designs, LLC, through which I (Nathan Rockwood) will be publishing thoughts and ramblings related to my business' projects, which may include anything related to games, game design, and the use of gaming in education. 

Comments will be moderated without mercy.

Literature is Strange

Nathan Rockwood

Dontnod’s Life is Strange is my current favorite example of a game as literature--and as one can probably tell from the tattoo that now covers my forearm, I have invested a considerable amount of thought into this. Too much thought, in fact, to fit it all into a single blog post or essay.

That said, I figured I have to start somewhere! First, in this post, I’m going to go through rundown of LiS’s most prominent theme and how it gets delivered through both narrative elements and game mechanics. If I can find the time, I’ll get around to other things about the game--its complicated relationship with the presentation of mental health issues, a discussion of the endings, situations it handles well or poorly, etc--in other posts.

So, why do I have this tattoo (image after the cut) on my arm? Read on to find out!

(And here's a video for a closer look at the tattoo!)

Note: Spoilers abound, and I’m not going to be simply reiterating the plot here, so please: go play the game before reading further! Or, at least, watch the amazingly complete playthroughs and theorycraft videos of Geek Remix, which I watched to help refresh myself on the game while writing this!

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GMA Fantasy Deck Kickstarting August 8-September 4!

Nathan Rockwood

I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I am under no delusions about the size of my blog's readership... 

I'm running a new Kickstarter! As of posting, we have funded, and now are expanding the community reward (a Deck of Many Things-/Wild Surge Table-esque list of random magical effects) with each new backer!

From a design standpoint, I think this is my favorite deck. Thanks to the inestimable Max Johnson's excellent graphic and technical design work, I was able to include a new field: a set of 120 fantasy images, one on each card. Several backers of the first Kickstarter mentioned that they would have appreciated something like this, based on their use of Rory's Story Cubes, so now there are 20d6 worth of images!

The images themselves are drawn from the excellent resources at, which are CC-licensed; for the full credits of the ones I used here, check out the Quickstart Guide via the KS page!


Design Notes: CyForge

Nathan Rockwood

I've been running Numenera for a group of 9 high school students every week for this past school year, and I've started running into a problem: I'm often not happy with the cyphers I'm providing.

I love the long random lists and the cypher deck that I have for the system, but now that I've got the hang of the rules, I find myself constantly altering the results to tailor them better to fit the current situation, setting, and characters. I could, of course, just make a new list, or design specific cyphers however I want, but neither of those options are appealing to me. For not only "fairness" but also longevity, I want a solution that produces cyphers which are both partially random and intended to be altered to taste.

The CyForge deck was my solution to this problem. Drawing on ideas from both The GameMaster's Apprentice and the Deck of Tales, I used images (thanks again to the amazing folks at!) and text to provide three keys that let me hammer out a functionally endless number of cyphers (or artifacts, or powers...).

I am, of course, always considering the best way to balance iconography against text. If you have any thoughts on that, please comment below!