Game Chef 2016: Let’s Go Camping

Let's Go Camping game cover

Let’s Go Camping is a role-playing poem or a parlor game or a combination of both. It’s a game about the building overall alarm you have at the progress of technology taking over your annual camping trip.

Designed for Game Chef 2016

  • Theme: Technology
  • Ingredients: Alarm, Sunlight

Download: Let’s Go Camping

Quick and Dirty Battle Born

You are one of the few remaining immunes (from the Pacification Virus) and belong to the misfit Squad 76, known as the “Spirit of Baltimore” (of 100 squads with #1 being the best and #100 the worst). Battle Born, part of the League’s Military Assault and Combat Expedition (MACE) or as the troopers say, “Most Anyone Conscious and Expendable,” are equipped with an overly-complicated, mech-style battle suit. In a poker game, Sarge managed to win a Resolution Class dispatch ship, the Dauntless Perisher. Your job is to carry out the League’s orders to the best of your ability (command’s expectations are very low, very very low) while keeping the pacified and unarmored (affectionately known as squishies) safe (usually from your malfunctioning EE suit or poorly aimed kinetic shells).

How will you complete your orders?

Download: Quick and Dirty Battle Born

Design Notes

CoverMini01Back in the 1990s, Space Gamer Fantasy Gamer under Red Rahm published a freestyle game each issue. The first issue published by Red included a game called Battle Born. I always enjoyed the game and the setting and wanted to play it again sometime. With time short, I wanted a simpler system and then ran across Lasers & Feelings by John Harper. I decided to mash Laser & Feelings and Battle Born to get a simple system that still felt like Battle Born. Lasers & Feelings is brilliant and I’m not sure if this mashup is as good as either original game, but what the heck.


Open the Pod Bay Door Playtesting

Five player game which means 10 turns and two rounds. Playing without the B.I.L supplement. But with the changes that put success or failure at the end of the wait instead of at the same time the player says the character will attempt it. Two players have never played games like this before. This is how the story unwinds:

Lt. Commander Michelle decides that she’s going to work with Ruhan on a solution to hack into the Appleseed’s computer so that they can dock without issue. She’s tied up for three rounds.

Meanwhile, Janya the Navy Seal and Akio the unpaid intern are in engineering trying to rewire the computer to help hack into the Appleseed’s computer as well. The unpaid intern tries to rewire and causes a fire which forces Janya to attempt to put it out. It’s going to take one turn before we know whether or not the fire extinguisher works.

Meanwhile, Kirima the engineer decides to try and pilot the pod close to the Appleseed, which he believes he can dock, but he isn’t trained in piloting, so it’s going to take 4 turns before we know how that works out for him.

Therefore, with the fire out and Kirima trying to pilot, the unpaid intern decides to run to the bridge to get Ruhan the computer expert to help him and Janya. Because he’s an unpaid intern we decide that he might fail at getting to the bridge, but since its an unpaid interns job is to fetch coffee, we decide that it’s part of his job. It’s going to take one turn. We also find out that Michelle successfully found a way to hack into the Appleseed.

Meanwhile, the intern fails to get to the bridge and tripped. On the bridge, Ruhan is going to use Michelle’s hack to get into the Appleseed via a backdoor. It will take two turns.

But air is running out, so Misa the exobiologists, who made first contact with aliens on a nearby planet contacts the aliens to talk to them about bringing O2 up so the pod doesn’t run out of air. It’s going to take two turns.

Meanwhile, Kirima finishes and rolls for success and fails, and because he was piloting the ship and it crashes into the Appleseed. Everyone must roll to see if they die….

….the entire crew perishes in the crash.

Playtest notes: it’s too deadly, so we change it to 50/50 chance of life/death. We would have had a few characters alive after the crash if we had played with that rule.

We also discovered that it’s much harder to track the success/failure with the rule changes. We liked the suspense that it created, but it’s much simpler to roll for success when you roll for the time that action will take.

Open the Pod Bay Door


While investigating a distant star system, the cryogenic, terraforming, colony starship Appleseed became infected by a computer worm. A planetary scouting team was caught outside on the unarmed, short-range pod, the Snow Day. The ship’s infected robot killed everyone awake on the Appleseed and locked the team out. The pod’s air supplies are almost gone…

a story game for 2 to 5 people

Find the latest version here: Open the Pod Bay Door Story Game

DownloadOpen the Pod Bay Door – Game Chef Version

WordOpen the Pod Bay Door – Game Chef Version

Extra Turn Tracking SheetWorksheet

Open the Pod Bay Door Supplements

free rpg

SupplementB.I.L Homicidal Robot – Game Chef Version


SupplementLockheed Vortex Short-Range Pod


1) You can play the Open the Pod Bay Door rpg with the original rules or use the following revision for resolving actions. The revision is recommended. In the revision, you don’t find out if your action worked until after it’s completed. It adds tension, but eliminates the feeling of impending doom that comes with knowing that failure is certain at the end of the long wait. A minor change makes actions related to a character’s job succeed faster.

If you try both versions, I’d like to hear your opinion about which works better for you and your friends. And why.

Resolving Actions

When a character wishes to do something, roll a d6 (six-sided die). The result determines the time taken. If the action relates to her job, it takes 1 (1-3­), 2 (4-5­), or 3 (­6) turns.

If the character attempts something not related to her job, it takes 2 (1), 4 (2), 6(3), 8 (4), 10 (5) or 12 (6) turns.

At the end of the required turns, roll a d6 to determine success. If the action was related to her job, it succeeds on 1-4, otherwise it succeeds on 1-3.

Track the number of turns that pass on the Turn Tracking Workshop. The character cannot be brought into a new scene until the number of turns pass that were required for the action. If all characters are tied up at the end of a round, all actions fail and Something Desperate happens.

2) In the Game Chef version, death came easy and brutally. In the first playtest, all the characters died due to a piloting error in one turn. This rule change to Failure gives the characters better odds of surviving a disaster.


When an action fails, pick a player to tell us what has gone wrong. If there was potential of death, roll a die. On a roll of 4-6, the character dies. Tell us how. If others were also in danger because of the action, they also roll.

3) B.I.L is deadly and there wasn’t enough time to counteract its actions, so that’s been revised to address the problem.

Resolving Robot Actions

A reaction to stop harm succeeds on a 1-4. This turns any one character’s action into a possible deadly failure. A complication succeeds on a 1-5, and will harm the crew or a member of the crew in 3 (1-2) or 4(3-5) turns or 5(6).

The Worm in the Apple: Red Box Edition

Eons ago, the overlords tamed the lands, vanquished the ghouls, gods and ghosts, and built a mile-wide, 36-level tower to govern the world – a place that allowed them to see everything and know everything. Around the tower grew a culture of supplicant monks whose only goal in life was to climb the 36 levels of the tower and receive the growing awards, powers and comforts of each higher level.

Cloisters and Wrong in the World

The monks live in small cloisters, because there’s less competition from peers when there are fewer peers. Small cloisters of the first three levels grow apples to distribute to the countryside. During the day, the monks when not out righting wrongs, tend the apple orchards. During night, they bunk with their cloister on the appropriate level. Cloisters span multiple levels.

When there is wrong in the world, the overlords assign a cloister a task designed to fix the wrong, and the best performing and most loyal monk from the cloister is rewarded a higher level. During all tasks each monk must deliver 10 apples, one of their sacred duties. Failing to force the 10 subjects to eat one apple each when on tasks results in banishment, death or worse.


Those that die during a task are demoted to level one and resurrected using resurrection magic, the only form of magic allowed by the overlords. A monk can only be resurrected six times before the flesh gives out and transforms to sticky mush.


You are a monk. Your name consists of two words that describe your worth in the world; you were given this name when you joined the cloister. The first word is an adjective, such as: dirty, hairy, homely, little, fat, yellow and windy. The second word is a noun, such as: ground, snow, hair, sky, wind, tree, moss, rock and dirt.

You are good at three practices from this list: awareness, heal self, blankout, gentle touch, climbing walls, finding and removing traps, moving silently, hiding in shadows, hearing noises and whispers, reading secret languages and opening locks.

Although armor and weapons are outlawed, monks don’t use them anyway, so you would never use any armor or weapon at the risk of vanquishing. And no monk worth his name would ever use forbidden magic even if the gods were alive to grant that power.

As a child, you were given to the cloister by your poor parents as a gift to you to allow you some level of comfort in your life.

You have six resurrections left and you live on level one.

Your goal in life is to become The One, the Holy Overlord of Level 36.

Gods and Magic

The gods don’t exist; they were vanquished by the overlords.

The gods are worms, and the gods are alive and present. They live in apples. When ingested, they control minds. Only those that are strong in mind can resist, and those that can resist, can use the magic granted by the worms.

The gods are divided into three factions: dogmatists, wildernessists and wizardists. Each faction wants to control the tower and thus the world, but they have slightly different goals and methods and spells. All the monks are infected, including you (but, luckily, you can resist their mind control. Don’t tell anyone, because resistance is punishable by banishment). The worms of your own kind know if you’re infected and know how you should act, so you better act the part and don’t use magic when another monk can see you. Reporting magic use is a way to rise in level. Only you can know what type of worm infects you. Because you can resist the worm, you can’t tell what kind of worms infect other characters.


Goal: To enlighten the world through the dogmatic following of dogma.

Methods: Spread the word through scripture.



Level 1

Charm Person

Hold Portal

Protections from Evils


Level 2

Continual Light


Locate Object


Level 3




Protection from Missiles




Goal: To return the world to nature.

Methods: Reduce civilization. Move subjects from cities to the country. Plant trees. Teach subjects to live in harmony with nature.



Level 1

Detect Magic


Read Ancient Languages


Level 2



Mirror Image

Wizard Lock


Level 3

Dispel Magic


Invisibility 10’ Radius

Water Breathing



Goals: Total control over the subjects through magic.

Methods: Cast spells, put subjects in chains and dungeons, use magic to threaten subject and make them grovel before you.



Level 1

Floating Disc

Magic Missile


Level 2

Detect Invisible


Phantasmal Force

Level 3


Hold Person

Lightning Bolt



Although, you can uses spells granted by the gods – worms – you can’t select which one you want to use. The worms still are able to grant only those that they wish to give you, and they do so grudgingly, which makes the spells likely to backfire. At the start of an overlord’s task, you will know which spells the gods will grant you.

Monks of higher levels can use more spells.

  • Level 1 Monks can use one level one spell.
  • Level 2 Monks can use two level one spells and one level two spell.
  • Level 3 Monks can use two level one spells, two level two spells and one level three spell.

Spells work once per task. If you gain a level during a task, the gods will give you new level appropriate spells you can use during the task – even if you already exhausted your allotted skills.

Guilds and Societies

When the overlords vanquished the ghouls, gods and ghosts, they outlawed the guilds and societies. All trades are trained by the monks and everything that is is from the tower. There are no guilds and societies. Anyone suspected of being part of a guild or society that doesn’t or does exist is subject to banishment or death or worse.

The five biggest guilds and societies are: the Thieves’ Guild, Mercenaries’ Guild, the Secret Society for the Destruction of the Worm (DoubleSDW), the Government in Exile and the Liberation Front. Each society has different goals and methods.

Your parents were part of a guild or a society and immune to the worm. They gave you to the cloister to help infiltrate the tower. Tell no one your guild or society. When the overlords assign you a task, your guild or society will contact you with instructions.

Thieves’ Guild

Goals: Accumulate wealth and power.

Methods: Blackmail, theft and assassination.

Mercenaries’ Guild

Goals: To return wars to the realm, so they can get paid again.

Methods: Cause conflicts between villages and the tower.

Secret Society for the Destruction of the Worm

Goals: To destroy the worms.

Methods: Destroy the apple orchards, stop the distribution of apples and deworm people infected with the worm.

Government in Exile

Goals: Restore the government of the people to the land.

Methods: Subvert any action taken by the tower and install representatives of the Government in Exile in every village.

Liberation Front

Goals: To liberate.

Methods: Mixed and confusing.

Weapons and Armor

Weapons and armor are outlawed, so you would never use them, but those that do use weapons and armor have an advantage in any physical conflicts that might befall them. The overlords have forbid physical conflicts unless carried out by tasked monks with special permission. No one dies in the realm to physical conflicts.

Armor: shield, leather, scale, chain, banded, plate

Weapons: Axe, blackjack, club, hammer, mace, staff, dagger, spear, sword, blowgun, bola, rock, sling, whip

Making a Character

To play this game, you make a character by doing the following. Record this on a sheet of paper or index card.

  • Write your character’s name.
  • Pick three practices.
  • Pick an armor to wear or not.
  • Pick one weapon or not.
  • Pick a worm type (keep hidden by writing it on the backside).
  • Pick a Guild or Society (keep hidden by writing it on the backside).
  • Draw six empty circles and write “Resurrections Remaining” by them.
  • Draw ten empty apples and write “To please the overlord, I will promote health by providing one apple each to 10 subjects when on task.”

Playing a Character

When playing a character, you will do anything and everything to gain a level including killing other characters. You will act in accordance to your worm’s type and attempt to accomplish its goals in order to disguise your resistance. You will complete the task assigned you by your Guild or Society. You should avoid an assassination attempts. And you should always obey the overlords and carry out their instructions perfectly because if they find out that you disobeyed you will be banished, killed or worse.

During the game, you say where your character goes, what your character does and how your character reacts. When you say that you’re going to do something, it happens successfully, unless you’re trying to harm someone, use a weapon, cast a spell or do something that directly relates to any task. If you’re doing either of those, you’ll roll three six-sided dice. One will tell you if you were successful, one will tell the overlord (GM) what the gods think about your actions and what your guild or society thinks about your action.

You will die during a game and you may die often. Sometimes within just a few minutes of when the game starts.

The Basic Game Mechanics – Conflict Resolution

When the overlord asks you to roll the dice, you will roll three dice. A 1-2 on a die means that the action failed or the gods, guild or society disapproves. A 3-4 means that it only half succeeded. 5-6 means a total success. Rolls of 1 may mean death and triple 1s always means death.