Celebrate with us and donate to future of literary education and arts with #LEAF

To celebrate Glacier Peak’s success, I am going to match 100% of donations to the Literary Education & Arts Foundation (LEAF) from now until the end of March. (Up to a $1,000 total. We’ve been successful, but we’re not wearing hats made of money. Yet.)

LEAF is a 501(c)(3) organization registered with the IRS. All contributions to LEAF are tax deductible and nonrefundable. All the directors and staff of LEAF are strictly unpaid volunteers. 100% of all donations to LEAF go directly to supported programs.

You have several choices for donations to literary arts and education through LEAF:

  • You may contribute to the fund which supports the Northeast School of the Arts’ Creative Writing program. This money is earmarked for the award-winning Literary Magazine and is part of the program that helps these young writers get college scholarships in literature at a higher rate than anywhere else. All surplus funds every year are invested directly to the NESA CW Literary Magazine Endowment.
  • Directly to the LEAF operating fund which supports all LEAF activities, including youth writers programs and other literary foundations and programs. All surplus funds every year are invested directly in one of our endowments.

Please donate to LEAF and the future of literary education and arts.

Modernity: What’s the lesson?

A couple of you in the early access playtest community have looked at the Glacier Peak motto “Better games make better people.” and our mission, and asked me how that is reflected in the most current tabletop game project, a contemporary occult noir affair. Fair question. Glad you asked!

On the surface, the premise of Modernity is that there are terrifying things hiding behind, underneath, and around our reality that most people would like to pretend don’t exist. What if it’s all true?

The actual moral quandary underlying what I’m exploring with Modernity and its companion products is the nature of heroism, especially in the face of implacable evil and overwhelming odds. What price are truly unsung heroes willing to pay in order to do the right thing? What is the real cost of protecting society as we know it when the natural order of things is entropy, decay, and oblivion?

The most difficult question that has surfaced as part of the game design and development effort is: How can you make that fun? We do!

With the aid of the exemplary Fate game engine, I think Modernity strikes a balance that is unique in the niche of noir and horror. Modernity is different from most other noir in contemporary setting. It is different from Call of Cthulhu, Delta Green, Dark Conspiracy, and others in the horror genre in its focus not on the eldritch elements of the evil and the grim nature of the investigators demise, but instead on the heroes’ story and the personal cost to the individuals and those that they love. Modernity can also be played without any occult influence at all, if that’s your preference.

In Modernity, you can enjoy a good story about YOUR great heroes without focusing unduly on a panoply of metagame minutiae and mechanics while exploring the 50 shades (or more) of moral gray that surround and define the true cost of heroism.

If you haven’t joined the ranks of the early playtest access heroes and given us your valuable input on what will make Modernity a great game for YOU, please do!

Give your players decisions to make that matter…

One of the unfortunate parts of the current state of game design in our industry is that “decisions that matter” and “shades of moral gray” seem to be reserved exclusively for M-rated titles. (OK, maybe one or two Fables, etc, might be exceptions, but…)

Those players who experienced the game believing that their decisions mattered, who made ethical decisions with the long-term social structure of the game in mind, have unknowingly partaken in a grand experiment. Bioware is teaching ethics and civic education on a spaceship—intentionally or otherwise—and might be making the world a better place in the process.
Civic Education on a Spaceship < PopMatters

There are two benefits to designing great critical decisions for your players:

  1. The game is more fun, more meaning and more memorable.
  2. Playing the game will help make them better people by practicing the act of making good, moral decisions.

This does mean that you must provide them with the opportunity to choose “bad” option or options for any decision point – and the consequences must be more meaningful (but not necessarily immediate) than moving the character a few bars to the left on the evil-good HUD indicator. The key is tying the consequences back to the originating choice when the proverbial chickens come home to roost (without getting preachy).