Category Archives: Hillfolk

If Game of Thrones was Your DramaSystem Game

My booth pitch for Hillfolk describes its rules engine, DramaSystem, as emulating the structure of serialized cable TV shows. So let’s take an example heavily watched in geekland, “Game of Thrones.” Here’s a scene breakdown of the first episode of the fifth season with an eye toward identifying the petitioner and the granter and seeing […]

Abandoned Idea Clearinghouse: DramaSystem Scene Intention Grid

Like most designers, when I get a stray idea for a game mechanic I try to exercise the discipline to make a note of it. Here’s where I can’t speak for other designers: I almost never use them, because they are misconceived by dint of their very nature as stray ideas. Mechanics for their own […]

Chuffa In Hillfolk

A relatively new entry in scriptwriting jargon owes its secret origin to notoriously uncooperative movie star Bruce Willis. Kevin Smith recalls the moment, during their unfruitful collaboration on fore-doomed project Cop Out, when Willis started ripping out pages of dialogue he deemed irrelevant to the main action. This was chuffa, Willis said, and he wasn’t […]

See P. XX: Going Full Caliban

a column on roleplaying by Robin D. Laws Looking for a new way to spark ideas for your next player character? Consider stealing a dramatic pole from classic literature. As Hillfolk players know, a dramatic pole is the essential opposition that defines a character tuned for, you guessed it, dramatic storytelling. It allows the character […]

Free Downloads and Resources for DramaSystem

DramaSystem Resources   Articles The DramaSystem SRD – A reference document for writers and game designers to create their own products derived from DramaSystem Supporting Characters as Foils – Robin D. Laws uses GMCs to manipulate a PC’s dramatic poles The No-Response Response – Robin D. Laws on pacing scenes to maintain suspense Going Full Caliban – Robin D. Laws […]

Supporting Characters as Foils

In fiction, supporting characters often function as reflections of the protagonists. As we know from DramaSystem, main characters in a dramatic story can be defined as torn between two competing impulses. In the game we call these Dramatic Poles. In Hamlet, our title character is torn between Action and Contemplation. And wouldn’t you know it, […]

The No-Response Response

When you watch the typical serial cable drama that DramaSystem, the game engine underlying Hillfolk, in large part emulates, you’ll note that the scenes tend to be short. Occasionally you get a change of pace episode structured more like a one act play. Mostly you see a large number of two-hander scenes in which the […]


DramaSystem series pitches do not typically describe particular Game Moderator characters. They are better invented during play than set out for you in advance. This allows you to tailor the GMCs to the player characters, ensuring that act as foils rather than drivers of the action. However in Hillfolk one-shots, I do find myself returning […]

See P. XX: Alternate Procedural Resolutions for One-Shot DramaSystem

A column on roleplaying by Robin D. Laws When I run Hillfolk in a single session demo, I downplay the procedural resolution system. In the mode of play DramaSystem is tuned for, the extended campaign, the procedural system does the job set out for it. (For those who haven’t played yet, a procedural scene is […]

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