What is Play Dirty?
Fifteen years ago in the pages of Pyramid Magazine, I challenged the standard format of "GM advice columns" with "Play Dirty." Instead of advocating for fairness and honesty, I told GMs to lie, cheat and steal. Do anything and everything to entertain your players. Stop at nothing. Pay any price.
The advice was both the highest and lowest rated column in the magazine's history, creating division among its readership. But most importantly, it made everyone think about how they ran their games.
I collected those articles in a book and it has simultaneously become one of the most famous and notorious GM advice books in gaming history. Now, fifteen years later, it's time for a sequel.
Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier continues the trend its predecessor began. PD2 presents even more nasty, underhanded and deceitful tricks to get your players emotionally involved in your characters and your world. John pulls no punches, using everything from new technologies and old conman tricks to give you all the tools you need to get your players to care.
If you're unfamiliar with the Play Dirty philosophy, let me sum it up in one sentence:
You should stop at nothing to make sure your players are having fun.
I advocated cheating. Misreading dice. Taking away character sheets. Conspiring with players to act against other players. In short, taking the old advice of "be fair and arbitrary" and throwing it out the window.
In the chapter Killing Characters, I talk about the example of "Dire Peril," a mechanic I use in most of my games, introduced to me by the amazing Jess Heinig. The idea is simple: in my games, player characters cannot die unless their death is meaningful. It's just that simple. Conan doesn't get killed by a stray slingshot bolt from a kobold. That's the very definition of absurd. So, generally, I say characters can't die without their players' consent.
But if I invoke "DIre Peril," that means "Your character is about to take an action that can kill her without your consent."
At my local Houses of the Blooded live action event, Jessica Kauspedas decided she was going for revenge against another. So, when she showed up, I walked behind her with a "Dire Peril!" sign held over her head. Everyone knew that if they messed with Jessica's character, there was a chance their own character would die without permission.
Jessica told me she had no intention of killing anyone at the game, but the other players didn't know that. Adding the threat added a unique tension to the game. The threat was all she needed.
If you want to see more examples of what Play Dirty looks like, check out the Play Dirty playlist on my Youtube channel. Here are a couple of examples.
In the chapter The Kobold and the Beautiful, I took a standard dungeon adventure published by my friends at Super Genius Games and turned it on its head. Instead of playing the adventurers, I had my players take the roles of the kobolds in the "dungeon." They knew the adventurers were coming and had to figure out a way to stop the dirty humans, dwarves and elves from stealing their well-earned goods.
In The Dirty Dungeon, I introduced the idea that the players can make their own adventures, complete with a map, history and everything else. It's a system that rewards their creativity and takes all the work off the GM's hands. Its a system that works with any game.
For those who help us bring Play Dirty 2 to life, we have some special rewards!
At the $10 Minion reward level, you receive PDFs for Play Dirty and PD2.
At the $20 Scoundrel reward level, you get the PDFs plus a hard copy of PD2.
At the $40 Villain reward level, you get the PDFs, plus hard copies of Play Dirty and PD2!
At the $60 Mastermind reward level, you get the PDFs plus Play Dirty and PD2... plus a set of PLAY DIRTY DICE! These are... ahem... "special dice" just for the GM. They look just like your normal dice, so they're easy to smuggle in. Comes with instructions on how to use them!
At the $80 Custom NPC reward level, you get all the benefits of the MASTERMIND level (PD, PD2, PD Dice), plus, after consulting with me, I make an NPC for your campaign. The NPC has a full list of goals and motives, custom made for your players to utterly despise!
At the $100 Featured Article reward level, you get all the benefits of the MASTERMIND level (PD, PD2, PD Dice), plus, John writes a custom-made Play Dirty article just for you in Wicked Words Magazine! Of course, you get a digital copy of the magazine.
At the $250 Dirty Dungeon reward level, you get all the benefits of the MASTERMIND level (PD, PD2, PD Dice), plus, John designs a "dirty dungeon" for you and your players. This custom-made adventure will drive your players crazy! INCLUDES A MAP!
Finally, we have the $500 WICKED ADVENTURE! You get the PDFs plus Play Dirty and Play Dirty 2 books, Play Dirty Dice AAAAND.... John designs a complete adventure/campaign for your group. Included: NPCs, setting, secret agendas, plot map and relationship map. Custom-tailored to your specifications.
We also have the special $30 Retailer reward level: you receive 3 copies of Play Dirty 2!
We're gonna make Play Dirty your invaluable GM resource. You'll want a copy of the book on the table at all times. Why?
Because in the margins of each page, our beautiful and talented layout artist, Jessica Kauspedas, has suggested we have two things: dice and NPC traits.
Flip to a random page and you get a random roll. We'll have a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20 on each page, set in the margin. You pick a d-type, flip to a page and you've got a roll.
Also, in each margin, we'll have an adjective: "loyal," "friendly," "deceitful," "envious," "courageous," etc. When your players meet an NPC, just flip to three random pages and you've got three adjectives to describe that NPC.
Random dice rolls and an NPC generator RIGHT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS.
What's more, WE'RE DOING IT FOR BOTH BOOKS!
Risks and challenges
The risks for this Kickstarter are simple: writing the book, printing the book and shipping the book.
The book has already been written, so we have that covered. Printing the book is something we've successfully done with three other Kickstarters as well as shipping the book.
We want this to be a quick, in-and-out project. We receive the funding, send the book to the printer and send it out to backers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)