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rpgs being designed by women

Started by Emily Care, April 01, 2005, 12:47:56 PM

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Emily Care

Hey there,

I just took a gander at John Kim's bigass list of games and looking back year by year I was struck by how few women's names I saw.  There are of course notable exceptions: Cynthia Celeste Miller, Annie Rush, etc. but I thought it might be nice to take a moment to highlight any design going on right now by women and discuss what might make the difference in bringing these ideas into reality.

So, women: what games are you working on? Which is closest to being done? What would you need to publish it this year?

I'll go:

What games am I working on?
5 games.  Three for a game compendium called 3 Quick Games about the Human Heart: Breaking the Ice (a two player game about a couple's first three dates), Shooting the Moon (a 2-3 player game about two characters vying for a third character's heart), and Under My Skin (a 3+ player game where friends explore polyamory).  The other two projects I've got on the back burner are Sign in Stranger (alien first contact game) and Rise Up (slavery rebellion).  And far in the back of my mind Enlightenment (monastery).

Which is closest to being done? The 3QH compendium.  I've got system for the first two and am working on the third.

What would I need to publish it this year? Time.  Time to write out what I've already got. Time & people to playtest them with. Also help with layout. I think I have artists lined up, but when I get the text written I figure I'll be posting to the Pub forum. (I'd ask you NinjaJ, but I think you've got your plate full.) Or maybe check out the links Clint put in Shadow of Yesterday about open source layout programs. SoY is very inspiring.

Anyone else? I know Meg's got a game brewing.

Emily Care

(I toyed with putting this in the Publication forum, but thought our discussion might center more on design, so here it is. Hope it fits.)
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Emily Care

Very quiet. Interesting.

Perhaps the first question is the place to start.
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games


I'm working on Mythophany, which is basically a complete retooling of Kathanaksaya.  I've also designed X-mas and something I'm calling the Drama system (not really appropriate now).  I have no idea when I'll be done with Mythophany, but X-mas is available here.


I just released Neiyar: Land of Heaven and the Abyss.  It's available at currently and will be listed with Amazon, B&N, etc by the end of April.  I've spent over three years on this game.  First as just an alternative setting for my personal circle of gamers, then I started writing mythology for it and all the sudden it became this major project.  

It's weird.  When I talk to gamers about the book, I either get a look of surprise like they're thinking "WOW!  A chick that games AND creates games.  Cool!" or I get a look of confusion like they're thinking "Oh, a chick who thinks she can design games."  I don't know why some guys think it's so bizarre.  One of the greatest campaign settings of all time, Dragonlance, was created by a woman, after all.  Fortunately, I haven't come across too much of that in the forums I frequent, but I get it a lot in game shops and at conventions.

Home of Neiyar: Land of Heaven and the Abyss, RPG and writer resources, fiction, contests, merchandise, and more.


People don't know that Dragonlance was designed by a woman.
"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker

Frank T

Regarding female designers, Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance designer) is male afaik. One more notable female game designer certainly is CJ Carella.

Emily, I am really looking foreward to your next works. I still have a printed version of Breaking the Ice on my table, but no one willing to play, unfortunately.


Actually, I think you'll find the opposite - anyone who DOES know the Dragonlance setting will know that the bulk of the work was done by women. Margret Weis? Laura Hickman? Yup.

Feel like I do need to add something meaningful...for the sake of discussion and maybe a little insight, what in womens work in writing and gaming differs from that of a guy's work? In the aforementioned Dragonlance, I didn't pick up any differences in approach, characters, setting or the like.
Given several AP posts specifically on the subject of women and gaming there *appears* to be different approaches to gaming between the two sexes. Is there a difference in approach to design? Can anyone share something from their system to illustrate that?
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!


I'm working on a murder mystery roleplaying game.  My biggest hangup at the moment is working out a system for character creation that isn't too dice-heavy yet isn't "anything goes."  I'm aiming for characetrs who fall within general human parameters without being pitably boring.


Among my circle of friends, I don't really perceive a different approach to gaming between the girl and guy gamers.  (With the exception of two girls who ALWAYS have to have beautiful characters--drives me nuts)  If there is a difference, the guys tend more toward a straightforward hack-slash-kill approach, whereas the women often resort to underhanded, sneaky, and manipulative tactics.  But even there I don't think it's a general difference.  I think it's just that my girlfriends tend to be like me:  underhanded, sneaky, and manipulative ;)

With Neiyar, I set out to create a female-dominated society.  Not to present it in terms of being better, but just as being different.  In gaming, how many matriarchal societies are there, besides the Drow?  And we all know how the Drow are portrayed.  I think it presents a different roleplaying environment than most gamers are accustomed to.

Home of Neiyar: Land of Heaven and the Abyss, RPG and writer resources, fiction, contests, merchandise, and more.


What games am I working on?

Two games currently. The first, Abeo, is a game of dark wonder we started working on a few years ago. The second is Anointed, is a moral fantasy of sorts that was absorbed into the company last year.

Which is closest to being done?

Tough call. I am heading both projects and pushing to make sure they both keep up with one another. If I had to choose I'd say Anointed, since we have two extra writers working on it.

What would I need to publish it this year?

I'm going with the big three: time, a couple more reliable writers, and experience with the entirety of game development/publishing.

As far as gaming/developing differences go between women and men I can't think of any. Women are still rare in the gaming community - which is a step above the endangered species they were a few years ago.

There's my two cents.

Insomnium Games

Kat Miller

My husband Michael Miller designer of With great power... pointed me to this thread and suggested I should post to it, because I designed War Story, and I've been very helpful on WGP.

What games am I working on?

There are three I'm tinkering with.  One called "Fragile Gods" about being A.I. Machines after winning the war against humanity.  One Called "Alley Cat" a game about gang warfare as cats.  And One called "3 Penny Opera" a soap opera game.

Which is closest to being done?

"Fragile Gods" I was inspired just last week about a mechanic problem I was having that should fix the system.  

What would I need to publish it this year?

A clearer rewrite, about six character templates,  a logo, a couple of pieces of art and some playtesting, and then it should be ready for print.

"3 penny" is my oldest idea and still haunts me to finish it.  From what Ive learned about "Task" vs "Conflict" resolution recently, I may be able to fix this game.

kat Miller

Paul Czege

One more notable female game designer certainly is CJ Carella.

C.J. Carella can be seen in the fourth photo down on this page:

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Emily Care

Hi Green,  Bardsandsages, Jennifer, Margaret and Kat,

Thanks for responding. It's good to know hear about your games! Those are some impressive designs.

Thanks, also to all the other folks who have responded.  General discussion & responses are welcome--but let's keep on track.  For the purposes of focusing this thread, let's hear about our processes of designing & publishing, rather than getting into issues of differences between what men & women might design.  I'm more interested in understanding what has helped women who are designing & publishing do so, and what might have held them back.  

This is a good diverse bunch of games. Neiyar is complete & available on, Kathanaksaya,  X-mas and War Stories are available online.  Margaret & my games are still in development.  Jennifer's seems like the largest--how many people are you working with on Abeo?   Kat, is it possible to get War Stories on it's own? Sounds like you are very close with Fragile, too.

Quote from: BardandsagesIt's weird. When I talk to gamers about the book, I either get a look of surprise like they're thinking "WOW! A chick that games AND creates games. Cool!" or I get a look of confusion like they're thinking "Oh, a chick who thinks she can design games."
It's a degree of magnitude up from being a woman gamer, which as Jennifer pointed out is not as uncommon as may have been perceived to be in the past.  I haven't run into that too much, but I don't run in regular gaming circles & am looking at self-publishing. Has it been an issue for you? How about everyone else?

My own internal insecurity has been my major obstacle, which isn't based on feelings of inferiority as a woman, but which are, I suspect, enhanced by the gender differentials in our society.  Getting a complete system for Breaking the Ice & doing a preliminary write up helped me feel as though I'd be able to finish a game, which was a major break through for me. Also, taking part in one of the Iron Game Chef threads here on the forge was formative for me since I got to be part of a group of folks starting the process at the same level.  Like doing a marathon, I gained confidence that I could do it since I was not alone. And getting feedback from Mike & others on the game was invaluable.  Feedback here & in person from friends has helped a ton.

Glad you're looking forward to the games, Frank! I've gotten that feedback about BtI, that it's hard to find co-players. Having the two other games with it will loosen that up a bit.  I think Shooting the Moon (the competitive game) will be the one that gets the most play.  

Emily Care
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Kat Miller

Thanks Emily,

You should be able to get a copy of War Stories, through Mike at his Incarnadine Website.  

It's rather new to me to think of myself as a game designer.  Ive been a GM forever, and I'm a natural tinkerer.  This game would be so much better if X was removed and Y was changed...House Rule time.

My husband had to actually point out that I was just as much a designer as he was.  

Like Gaming, Designing is pretty much a mens club, but again like Gaming the men who have the most to offer, are generally gender blind in my experience. There is a lot more emphasis on CAN you design amung the self published designers rather than...oh your a girl. (Of course I live a pretty sheltered life that way.  I've always had lots of support in Gaming.)

I have felt intimidated during the different Cons, when The FORGE guys get together, but its not because I'm a girl, but rather because I'm just a gamer and these guys are Publishing "Real" games.  That goes away as I do more and get more exposure.

I'm looking forward to your relationship games.  Shooting the Moon looks really interesting.
kat Miller


What games are you working on?

The one that refuses to die: ElfQuest, started easily a dozen years ago, when the EQ:RPG came out and was just *wrong*.

The one that might ever see the light of day: 1001 Nights, which was born sometime four or so years ago, and talked about for the first time on the ride home from GenCon '03. Premise: the characters are people in the Palace of the Sultan, not all servants, but all unable to leave by the politics of Court. Even the Traveling Merchant from Afar is stuck here till given leave to depart. So lots of tension and sublte in-fighting to get favor/make aliances.

To pass the time, the Court engages in story-telling, asking for a story from one member. That member accepts (of course), and becomes the GM for the Story, in which roles are assigned to expose or advance or diffuse the Court-level tensions and in-fighting. So, if the Storyteller decrees that the Merchant and the Sultana's Favorite play the star-crossed lovers in the Story, it's very different if they are in fact lovers, hate each other, or are neutral.

Then there's lots of other stuff. Universalis helped point me where I wanted to go, but I want to reward good GMship instead/as well as good playing.

Which is closest to being done?

1001 Nights, definately. In that something has been writen, and other folks have even given good critique already.

What would I need to publish it this year?

Time, going back and using all the good critique, time, inspiration, find a good mechanic that works, time, re-write/finish writing, play-test, etc. Not gonna happen. If I'm lucky, I'll get the "Time, going back and using all the good critique," piece.[/b]