A player’s introduction to Immergleich

This is the blog post where I will keep the new player things for Immergleich. Old players may of course refer back to it. It may be useful for them. It may please them.

What kind of game is this?

It is a very particular kind of game:

  • There is a pool of active players, there are game sessions as and when (GM availability is probably the main constraint), and there is a city waiting to be explored.
  • There is no plot. The story is about some people who went to Immergleich (or were born there) and happened to things or had things happen to them.
  • By all means roleplay your character as you see them. But I’m not going to target your character’s stories by e.g. setting up events that challenge their beliefs — you’ll have to make your own stories using the world as you find it.
  • I won’t scale encounters to the party, and I won’t fudge die rolls to save you. You’ll need to learn about the city and its dangers, and make sound judgements.
    • NB there is no straightforward resurrection magic
  • I will, however, strive to make it possible to read situations, to learn the nature (and risk level) of different areas, and to know when you’re getting into real trouble.
  • I may fudge rules for speed of play, particularly near the end of a game session.
  • The campaign will run for as long as it does. There won’t likely be an explicit “end”. It will just stop, like an old light bulb on a windy night.

Continue reading “A player’s introduction to Immergleich”

You can be a police

Did you know you can become a Watch Associate? Well, you can.


  • You have to pick a district to commit to. (Every district has a separate watch)
  • You have to pay a 50sp “recognition fee”.
  • You must be at least 3rd level, and have demonstrable combat skill. (They don’t need low-level bumblers — each district already has dozens of them)
  • You can’t previously have been a Watch Associate and been debadged


  • You get a watch symbol to wear on your chest
  • You’re no longer bound by the weapon and armour laws
  • Bonuses to influence the watch, as long as you have plausible grounds for something being a law-and-order matter
  • Can accumulate Favours with the watch for upholding the law, and trade them for watch assistance when perhaps you shouldn’t get it


  • Criminals and the underclass are less likely to trust you
  • If the watch (any watch) ask you for help, you have to do so – or lose a watch Favour
  • If you’re arrested for any crime, you lose two watch Favours
  • Hit -3 Favours and they’ll have that badge back


Notes on a game design philosophy – player motivation

There’s been some discussion of my previous post at Storygames and on reddit. One request was for a  “200 word elevator pitch” version. So, after some thinking and revision, here is such:

Players judge RPGs (rulesets, sessions, campaigns) based on the pattern of rewards they experience or anticipate. To design good games, you need to design for these rewards. The whole picture is incredibly complex, so you need to focus mostly on individual rewards and only a little on their interactions. The two most powerful types of reward are social (e.g. approval of your resourcefulness, creativity, or just fun-causing) and game-experiential (e.g. feeling fear, power fantasy, wonder at the imagined environment). Other rewards include the technical (e.g. rules mastery and enjoyment of applying procedures), and the game-external (e.g. learning to lead a small group, learning to converse better).

All of these rewards can be immediate (they are just enjoyable right now) or meaningful (they are rewarding because they have value for some larger aim beyond the game), or both. Meaning rewards are powerful, because of that link to larger aims and thus to the goal of “living a good life” as the player defines it. Meaning rewards are harder to arrange than immediate ones, but if you can tap into meaning, you can piggyback on the power of all our evolved drives. This is maybe where the most powerful games come from.


  1. As the title says, this is part of my “Notes on a game design philosophy”. It’s not meant as a comprehensive theory of all players; it’s meant a model I can use to think better about design.
  2. My main motive for writing about design is to expose my internal model so that it can be criticised. One corollary of this is that I’m only going to talk about stuff I understand — I’m not even going to mention things that don’t (yet) fit.
  3. I’m pretty sure that the above is right, as far as it goes. I may, however, have missed something important. Exception — note the “maybe” in the last sentence. That is something I conjecture, but am not convinced of.
  4. Edit, about 10 hours after first posted: added “beyond the game” to first sentence of second para. Adds clarity, and brings it to exactly 200 words.

What happens in RPG sessions? How the fuck do they even work?

Here, I am trying to externalise my mental model of how and why rpgs “work” — “why people, including me, play them and want to play them”. I don’t think the below is startlingly original, nor do I think it’s complete. But by writing it down I can expose the insides of my mind to the criticism and commentary of others, which is useful for learning.

I’ve written this in a way that can apply to GMed and GMless games. Details will differ, but the space of rewards is basically the same.

What do we do?

We do banter-like storytelling


Continue reading “What happens in RPG sessions? How the fuck do they even work?”

Shop til you pop

Immergleich Bleak Herald (dawn edition), 9 March 936

“… one reason for these higher prices is a shortage of metals. Aggressive raids by Vuur is the line coming from High Towers, but word on the ground is that the miners in The Crease dug too deep and woke things best left sleeping. …”

There is a new Immergleich price list and a version of the LotFP price list with the price-changed items blacked out. Some lower-end items, especially weapons and armour, are now somewhat more expensive. On the plus side, there are many fun new things to spend money on.

“… this claw-scarred veteran notes that many would-be adventurers underestimate the advantage that better equipment could give them. Of course, he observes, the best items are hard to come by, and indeed often illegal. “But when did that ever stop anyone?”, he chuckles … “

Note that items marked as Rare or Very Rare on the new price list require specific in game action, or a whole downtime action, in order to buy or sell. And prices are less stable than for Common items.

” … but she doesn’t buy it — “the one thing I’ve found in life is that you can never know when you’re about to make a breakthrough. You can think “This is a plateau. This is as good as I’m going to get”. And you can start to get dispondent — “maybe 12 is just my physical limit”. But if you keep pushing anyway, you might go to train one day and find you’re eating 15, maybe 18 pies in a hour.”” … “

If you look at the latest house rules, you’ll see that I’ve rejigged the xp table some. Generally, progression is faster. I’ve also made explicit that level 6 is top of the ladder – progression beyond is possible, but xp won’t do it. I’m also planning to offer a retirement option that gives some benefit to the player’s future characters.

You may also notice that Thieves have been moved to the regular xp track, leaving you all wonderfully unified. I have some ideas for compensation which Thief players can try out next session.

If it bleeds, it leads

The Immergleich Panick, 28 Feb 936


Three MURDEROUS THUGS were tried today in the Court Physical for MURDERING Deela Cribzin with an ARROW. She was a Court Runner, and only EIGHTEEN. They were the CRIMINALS Crursa Fell, Pockridge Bolut, and Nob Pouring. They had no bow, so they FORCED the arrow through her head WITH THEIR HANDS. They claimed they were innocent, that someone else had fired the arrow, but with their TERRIBLE CRIMINAL HISTORIES no-one believed them. After a trial by combat against the Judicial Champion Urzzzz Urzzz, a cave troll, Judge Crinthia Srebs told the survivor that they were WORSE THAN A MONSTER and sentenced them to be hung.


Pitside is “like a WAR” said Toftman Phile Ward yesterday, after his barge was SET ON FIRE. Gangs of ANGRY YOUTHS knife each other in alleyways, while old women are TAKEN FROM THEIR HOMES and EATEN. Notorious extortionist Bolls Cornut, who has a HORRIBLE MOUTH instead of a hand, leads one gang. Kylissa Ept, who is suspected of two MURDERS, leads another. And the MAD WIZARD “Joke”, who is NEITHER A MAN NOR A WOMAN and who NEVER SMILES or laughs leads a third gang, who may not be people but be SOMETHING ELSE.

No-one has heard from The Queen, the CRIMINAL MASTERMIND who some say rules Pitside, but sources in the warzone say she is probably behind all this.