Category Archives: Hillfolk

Hillfolk

In the shadow of empires, an epic saga of ambition and desire! In an arid badlands, the hill people hunger. Your neighbors have grain, cattle, gold. You have horses and spears, courage and ambition. Together with those you love and hate, you will remake history—or die. With the Hillfolk roleplaying game, you and your group […]

DramaSystem Askew: Planning a Game of Queer Strife Amid the Collapse

When a friend asked me to run an RPG for their group of friends—all of whom were queer, and most of whom had never played an RPG before—I gave her some options to choose from. Horror? D&D-style fantasy adventure? When I mentioned DramaSystem, her eyes lit up. The rules are very light, there are no […]

Building Bombs Into Your DramaSystem Relationships

When seeking structural inspiration for DramaSystem play, you’ll find the purest sources in literary fiction and realistic drama. With no genre conventions to process, the bones of relationship-based storytelling clearly show through. The satirical literary novel Startup, by Doree Shafrir, features an interconnected group struggling to stay afloat in NYC’s tech world. You could easily […]

Hillfolk Limited Edition

In the shadow of empires, an epic saga of ambition and desire! Only 100 copies of this faux-leatherbound limited edition Hillfolk exist. 50 are available to customers in the U.S. and Canada, and 50 are available to customers outside the U.S. and Canada. The books are faux leather with foil, and each one includes a sticky-backed bookplate signed […]

Running DramaSystem at Conventions

Some of the most powerful roleplaying experiences I’ve ever had have come from running DramaSystem games. Starting with the Hillfolk roleplaying game, and continuing with Blood on the Snow and Series Pitch of the Month, DramaSystem offers a wealth of setting options for players to inhabit, and create compelling stories of interpersonal conflict and emotional […]

Surprise Outcomes in DramaSystem

In my last Page XX column I promised a rule for a rare instance of procedural resolution. This occurs when the caller of the scene wants to be surprised by the outcome of an external event. I admit to being surprised that people want this, but it turns out that a few groups do. It […]

Those Two Pesky Cards (A Variant Hillfolk Procedural Rule)

Some Hillfolk players report cognitive dissonance over an edge case in the game’s procedural resolution system. Success in a standard procedural scene with the players on one side and the GM on the other depends on matching a target card. When the GM spends a green procedural token, at least one of the player’s cards […]

Dramatic Poles of “Better Call Saul”

In a world where it’s impossible to watch enough great TV shows to declare any of them the greatest TV show now in production, I’m still gonna call “Better Call Saul” one of the best shows going. (And I still haven’t made it all the way through “Breaking Bad”, which might suggest some kind of […]

Can We Have the Room, Please?

Although DramaSystem, the rules engine underlying Hillfolk, builds game sessions that feel like episodes of serialized TV dramas, differences between the two mediums do sometimes lead to somewhat different results. One device you see all the time in TV shows rarely appears in DramaSystem. Very often on a TV show the writers emphasize the emotional […]

How to Be the Teller at the Hillfolk Memory Bank

In Hillfolk the GM acts as the custodian of the overall narrative. You mostly do this when calling your own scenes. You use these to heighten tensions, add new fresh developments, and picking up previous ones that got dropped along the way. Less evidently, you can also intervene during player scenes. This requires utmost subtlety. […]

Series Pitch of the Month 3 – Honor Among Thieves

The default DramaSystem setting is Hillfolk, but you can easily play DramaSystem games in a wide variety of settings beyond this. Series Pitches are 2000+ words of setting material, which uses the core DramaSystem rules to enable you to play in completely different worlds, times, and genres. In Honor Among Thieves, John Wick (Legend of the […]

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