Essays Warriors of Eternity

Episodic Play

WoE is a game made up of scenes.  This essay proposes that those scenes can be arranged in a manner that leads to the creation of different “episodes” of your game.

Embrace the Cartoon

The biggest inspiration for WoE is He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a toy-line and cartoon from the early 1980s.  Episodic play, as contemplated herein, embraces this inspiration and asks the Players to view their play sessions in the form of episodes of an ongoing television show.  By embracing the cartoon foundations of the game, we are able to provide structure to a free-form game of world-building and adventure.

This does not mean that each session of play should be one episode of your “show.”  Instead, episodes should be dictated by the plot points introduced and resolved by your players at the table.  Some groups may finish two or more episodes during a session, while others will complete only one episode at a session.


The Four-Scene Episode

An episode of play will typically consist of four scenes: 1. The Opening Scene, 2. The Exploration Scene, 3. The Reveal, and 4. The Conclusion.  Each of the four scenes is discussed below. Additionally, each episode should have an Epilogue wherein the episode is recapped, the next thing is teased, and each of the PCs receives a Bond Point for starring in the episode.

The Opening Scene

The opening scene sets the Players up for adventure.  Often it will recap what has occurred in prior episodes, but it does not have to.  What is important in an opening scene is that time, place, and characters are established for the episode and that there is some call-to-action that gets the characters moving away from comfort zones and toward trouble and adventure.

A good opening scene gives the Players room to give their characters some personality, or to explore some of the downtime activities in which the characters invest their time when they are not adventuring.  Once this is established and all of the Players have had their fill chewing on the scenery, a good opening scene will present a strong call-to-action.  Some disaster should befall an ally or some mystery should present itself.  A villain can make themself known to the Characters or a Maguffin could be requested by a quest giver.

In any event, it is important that the conclusion of the opening scene sees our characters leaving their present space in order to go accomplish something in the greater world.

The Exploration Scene

The exploration scene grants the Players the power to establish working theories about the causes and ramifications of the call-to-action. Some exploration scenes will involve investigation.  Some exploration scenes will have the characters traveling great distances to confront the causes of the call-to-action.

A good exploration scene will provide the Players ample opportunity to describe the world and its inhabitants.  A ton of world-building can be accomplished during the exploration scene.  As a GM, don’t be afraid to say “yes” to the other Players’ thoughts and ideas as they try to make sense of the mysteries they encounter.  More specifically, don’t be afraid to say yes to ideas that seem to contradict with one another.  The truth is not meant to be revealed in the exploration scene.  Instead, the exploration scene provides the Players with the information necessary to act in the forthcoming scenes.

Sometimes combat occurs in an exploration scene.  This combat often takes the form of random travel encounters or clashes with a villain’s scouts or goons on patrol.  Combat should not be the focus of the exploration scene, but can be a method through which the characters are clued in on what is really happening in the world around them.

The Reveal

The reveal is a pay-off to the exploration scene.  In the reveal, the Players and their characters learn something new that progresses the story forward in a major way.  Sometimes the reveal can actually be a red-herring, although GMs are cautioned not to rely on this old trick too often.  The reveal will show the Players which theories are correct and what information can be trusted.  Often, the reveal includes a maniacal monologue from whatever villainous personality was behind the original call-to-action.

The reveal will often involve combat. The characters are powerful heroes with fantastic resources at their disposal.  Putting their powers to work to stop the villain’s plan should be a focus of the reveal. Of course, if the characters can find non-violent solutions to the issues presented, then all the better.

The goal is to work toward the reveal in both the opening scene and the exploration scene.  The reveal should make sense to all of the Players who have paid attention to what happened previously in the narrative. There are many different ways to achieve an internal consistency between scenes, but the main thing to remember is to listen to the Players and then cater the reveal to the fiction that has been established at the table.

The Conclusion

The final scene is the conclusion.  The conclusion resolves the actions of the reveal and leads our characters to learn something new about ongoing plots, characters, locations, technologies, magics, items, or anything else that makes its way into this fantasy world.

The conclusion is a great opportunity for the Players to do some character development.  They can discuss the strategies employed, what worked and what didn’t work, or how their teamwork saved the day.  Be on the look out for class prompts and other less-utilized prompts during the conclusion.

The conclusion doesn’t necessarily wrap everything up.  In fact, it probably shouldn’t. A good conclusion resolves the pending concerns and issues that were made manifest in the previous scenes while preserving some new or greater mystery for the next episode.  Sometimes a conclusion can be a cliff-hanger, though you’ll want to save your cliff-hangers for big events and season finales.

The Epilogue

At the conclusion of a He-Man cartoon, the audience would be treated to a brief lesson to be learned from the episode. Similarly, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the audience is treated to a quick scene after all of the credits have rolled.  These epilogues should be used as inspiration for your gaming table.

Include an epilogue at the conclusion of your episode.  Highlight the play of your Players and recap what they learned.  Alternatively, tease the next big thing in the campaign.  The epilogue should be almost entirely controlled by the GM.  Keep it short and make it snappy.

Importantly, award the entire table of PCs a Bond point for starring in the episode.  The epilogue is a fun way to keep some of you administrative tasks in-world and on-brand.


Essays Warriors of Eternity

The WoE GM

So you’ve read Warriors of Eternity and you are ready to gather some friends and have a go at playing.  Awesome! Here are five ways that you can prepare to have fun as a WoE Game Master.


1. Be prepared to move the other Players forward.

Warriors of Eternity presumes that all of the Players will work together to craft a story.  This is a baseline assumption of many different RPGs, but the process is unique and essential to WoE. Players may need direction and assistance in acquiring Prompts.  Be prepared to provide that direction and assistance.

This role of a WoE GM is very similar to the role and expectations of a GM in many other systems. The GM sets up scenes and plans for conflicts and mysteries, setting the pieces on the board for play.

Players may be attracted to the idea of pursuing some of the mysteries or resolving some of the conflicts set up by the GM. If so, the GM should guide and direct the other Players in a way that allows them to discover truths about how the world works. Whenever the Players make a discovery, the GM should point it out and suggest a General Prompt that may be applicable. The GM should have the Player record the General Prompt in their Prompt Journal and add a Bond Point to their Character Sheet.

Anytime the story stalls, the GM should be prepared to offer a new clue or lead or hook for the other Players to interact with. Think of it like a kick-start. The other Players are sitting and waiting for something to do. They want to dig into the next thing with their Powers or their personality. The GM should use this opportunity to introduce something new, bring back something overlooked, or provide a new light on something taken for granted.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Prompt charts and point out when the Players have opened a Prompt naturally through the narrative.

2. Be prepared to listen to the other Players.

The GM should always be listening to the other Players. The things the Players say at the table are often the things the Players want to do at the table. The GM should not interrupt the Players when they are speaking.  It is rude and the next thing they say could change the campaign forever.

If none of the Players were very interested in the hooks and pieces the GM set up at the outset of play, then the GM should be extra careful to listen to what the other Players are discussing at the table. The GM should be prepared to move the other Players forward in the direction that the Players wish to travel based upon the story that is starting to emerge from the interactions at the table.

Listening to the other Players, the GM should keep an eye on the Prompt charts and point out when the Players have opened a Prompt.

3. Be prepared to make decisions.

Warriors of Eternity is written in a manner that presumes good faith rules interpretation, as well as equity and fair play. This means that all of the Players are expected to work together to decide how the rules of the game interact with the rules of the story. Notwithstanding such expectations, the GM should be prepared to make rulings and decisions based upon their interpretation of the rules.

Often, the GM will be asked questions by the other Players that focus on clarification of rules and what is or is not acceptable for their PC to be able to do within the boundaries of the rules or the story being told. It is helpful to discuss the ramifications of decisions with the other Players, but really more fun can be had if a decision is made so that play can continue.

The GM should be prepared to respond quickly and decisively to questions that come up in order to facilitate more story-telling and less rules discussion. A good rule of thumb for a GM making decisions is: “Do the thing that makes the PC more awesome.”

The GM should reflect upon these decisions after the game and feel free to revisit or revise any rulings made.  The GM should remember to listen to the other Players and take into account their desires and the potential effect on the culture of the table when reflecting upon their rulings and decisions.

It is nice when the whole table agrees on a thing, but this does not always happen.  The GM should be prepared to keep the Players moving forward in the story by making rulings and decisions in a timely manner when appropriate.

4. Be prepared for Powerful PCs.

Warriors of Eternity is a game of Power, Magic, and Technology.

The “Power” is emphasized in many different ways in the game, from Power Points to Power Swords, but the most pervasive emphasis is in the expectation that PCs will be Powerful heroes.

Level 1 PCs in WoE are quite capable and should feel like they are a cartoon hero showing off their abilities on a Saturday morning. By the time the PCs gain a few levels, or spend some Bond Points to acquire new companions and equipment, they will be able to stand up to even the scariest threats.

More than this, a WoE GM should endeavor to make rulings and decisions that make their Players’ PCs feel more powerful. A good rule of thumb for a GM making decisions is: “Do the thing that makes the PC more awesome.”

The GM should be prepared for strange and Powerful shenanigans from the PCs. Listening to the Players, the GM should allow for creative solutions to even the most intricate of their plans.

Do not misinterpret this rule to mean that the GM should make things easy for the Players. The PCs will be able to perform powerful feats. They will pull off the unexpected. The GM should be prepared to offer fun and challenging obstacles that enhance the story being told and allow the PCs to grow as characters.

5. Be prepared to be the table’s historian.

WoE is a game that emphasizes Table Canon. (Read a bit about Table Canon here).

This means that the truth of the world in which you play lives in the moment it is created. The characters, plots, and locations that make up the story’s world exist only as expectations prior to play. These ideas are “born” when they are made a part of the story through play at the table. Thereafter, the ideas exist only as memories shared by the Players at the table.

Players will be recording Prompts in their Prompt Journals as the story progresses. This will help everyone remember the history of the shared world as established by the Players through Play. The GM should be prepared to begin each session with a discussion about the Prompts that were acquired in the previous session. This brief discussion about the truths recorded in the last session will refresh the collective recollection of the table and provide a solid foundation for the new session of play.

Despite the recording of Prompts and the pre-game discussion of last session, many details will be lost. The human mind is a wondrous apparatus that has a penchant for meandering in a manner that leaves its host guessing as to what exactly it was on about in the first place. The memory of the in-story events will become vapor in the minds of the Players.

The GM should be prepared to act as the table’s historian in moments of missing memories. This does not mean that the GM is expected to never forget anything that happens. It means that the GM should be prepared to answer a question no one can remember the answer to whether that answer is correct or not.

In Conclusion…

You may notice that all of the above advice for the WoE GM is advice to be prepared. However, it is not advice that the GM must prepare. In fact, too much preparation can leave the WoE GM unprepared to do the things highlighted above.

Being a good GM is not about memorizing names, numbers, or places. Being a good GM is about listening to the Players and making decisions that lead the Players into fun.

Build trust. Be kind. Listen to the Players.

You’re gonna do awesome.


TTRPGS – Table Canon

Expectation fuels excitement, but truth is determined by playing the game. Preconceived notions of plot, story, or character do not over ride the narrative that emerges at the table.

This is Table Canon.

It exists only in the very moment of time in which it was created.  Everything before was expectation.  Everything after is memory.

For that one moment, the table shares a discovery, a surprise, a response, laughter, tears.

Each Player’s interpretation, and therefore their memory, will be unique.  This is true even though the experience was shared with others in real time. This is the game.  The memories are the reward for play.

Predetermination robs the table of the game. The shared surprise and emotional response does not include everyone at the table when one of the Players “wrote the story.”

We should all be the writer. We should all be the audience. We create the thing we consume and become an engine of imagination.





The immediate and visceral reaction to the two words placed together and joined via hashtag was euphoric. I had no idea what it was, what it meant, whether or not it was something I could attain, but I knew that I loved #SwordDream.

So what is SwordDream? Well, as a matter of function, it is a hashtag that sprang forth in response to a desire to describe a community of creators making table top role playing games with old school aesthetic and design. Specifically, the hashtag was made manifest by creators who were uncomfortable gathering under the banner of the OSR. To these creators, myself included, the work being done was aesthetically similar to, or philosophically inspired by, the games and systems traditionally labeled OSR, but always with a caveat… not *THAT* OSR.

There was an obvious problem with the identity of the OSR community. There was a need to separate the DIY aesthetics, the rules-light modular design approach, and the emergent narrative structure from a community beset by gatekeepers, bigots, trolls, and abusers. The goal of SwordDream, as far as I could tell, was to prune out the disease in order to allow a more healthy community of creators to grow.

A set of core principles were fashioned and refined by members of the movement. The Principles are set forth below in the version most current as of this blog post.

Of note, the SwordDream may not be a SwordDream to everyone (others may have a FireDream, a SpaceDream, a SnailDream, or an EggDream), thus the “splat” character is often utilized as a placeholder in these discussions & *DREAM is the term utilized in the guiding principles of the community.


1. *DREAM stands against hate & prejudice in all forms. We seek to actively oppose bigotry & harassment in gaming communities. We create kind spaces.

2. *DREAM works to be radically inclusive. We seek support and encourage creators, GMs, Players, and organizers from marginalized groups. And we seek to get better at this all the time.

3. *DREAM encourages the use of sensible tools for communication and consent.

4. *DREAM opposes harassment and strives for non-toxic discourse. We value best intentions, we call in before calling out, and we start discussions before we make accusations. We seek to empower everyone to curate their spaces.

5. *DREAM values creators & their work. We support equitable pay for professional creators and fair treatment for hobbyists.

6. *DREAM values a DIY approach to creation. We question gatekeeping, we take alternative approaches when traditional publishing models fail, and we believe anyone can make great games.

7. *DREAM values experimentation in game design & world-building.

8. *DREAM isn’t defined by, but is interested in: anti-canons, emergent story, generative worlds, kitbashing, non-violent play options, and more. And it is fine if some of these things contradict each other.

9. There is no one *DREAM. Anyone who commits to these principles is *DREAMing.

SwordDream is exciting. The energy it brings with it is one of hope. It is an energy of creation. It is an energy of acceptance and of love and of support. It allows for disagreement. It allows for variation. It allows for experimentation and failure and success and the entire big, messy, unknowable process of creation. It facilitates kindness, empathy, imagination, and wonder.

The SwordDream is real. It has energized a group of creators and a community is beginning to emerge. Games are being created. The DreamJam is on the horizon (over on I cannot wait to see where this Dream takes us all!