«How can the flux of ions and electrical currents in little specks of jelly the neurons in my brain generate the whole subjective world of sensations like red, warmth, cold or pain? By what magic is matter transmuted into the invisible fabric of feelings and sensations?»
–    Ramachandran, Blakeslee & Sacks: «Phantoms in the Brain»


“Qualia” is about



Download the rules here.


(Thanks to Ole Peder Giæver for inspiration!)

The Bechdel Test: A roleplaying poem

This is a simple roleplaying game to be played in about 15 minutes.

1. Decide on a movie you all know pretty well. Preferably a mainstream movie, at least the first time you play.

2. Pick two or more female characters from that movie.

3. Roleplay a scene – one you create yourself! – where they talk together about something other than a man.

Repeat 1-3 with a different movie.

This game takes its name from the Bechdel Test. It’s a fun exercise in fleshing out characters, and – hopefully – in creating believable female characters in any medium.

Old Dogs

You lift the iron, feeling the weight of it in your hand. Familiar but distant, dusty memories starting to stir.

The air tears at your lungs, the forest rushing past, feet and arms pumping as the skis carve the snow; muscle remembering, but protesting after all this time.

Your arm describes a wide arc; eyes rushing over the surface, measuring, placing. A bit of wobble in the line, but every new stroke is a little more confident.

Why did you even stop doing this to begin with?

Oh, yes…

In this game poem, you portray old friends who have come together after a long time. You used to meet to do something. You were good at it, but as time went by, you stopped. Now it is time to shake the dust off your old skills.
You can choose any skill; cricket, art photography, nuclear physics, highway robbery – anything goes. But it helps to have at least one player in your group who knows one or more aspects of the skill in reality.

Start telling each other how you prepare. Roleplay how you greet each other, unpack your equipment, making small talk.

What you have come together to do takes about 15 minutes. Play out the conversation taking place while you do it. At any time during the game, a player can point with two fingers on one of the other players. That means that the other player’s character has made a mistake; he can try to excuse it by blaming the equipment, or admit that his skills are a bit rusty, that he might have forgotten some parts of how this is done.

The game is over whan you have:

-Found out why you stopped doing your thing
-Found out why you are meeting again
-Failed or succeeded in the task you came to accomplish.

Optional bonus rule: If a player gives another player a double thumbs up, it means that the other player’s character has displayed a glimmer of old greatness.

A pebble

This is a role-playing poem that takes on the issue of abortion. If that’s not something you want to read, please don’t.

A pebble

For a man, a woman and a small group of co-players – one to three, at the most.

The man plays a woman; the woman plays a man. They’re in a relationship. The woman in the relationship is pregnant. This is signified by a little, black pebble the player puts under his shirt. The playing area is a nearly-empty café.

The man and woman are discussing an abortion, trying to be rational about it. The players should follow the motivations and emotions that appear in them along the way.

As the man and woman talk, the other players – one by one – can tap the table, quietly, to indicate they want to speak. They will speak as a potential future of the child. Five years old, or an adult; successful, joyful, in pain, in horror.

The man and woman should pause while a child player speaks, but then go on as if nothing had happened – the characters are not aware of the presence of the future children in any way; only the players are.

After fifteen minutes, the man and woman rise and leave the restaurant. The other players remain for as long as they want or can.

Two poems

Two role-playing poems today, because it’s just that kind of day. They’re quite different in tone – the first one personal and potentially disturbing; the second grotesque but silly.

Matthijs Holter

A poem for two players. An audience is okay, but they have to be quiet. The players should know each other quite well.

The players portray themselves, as 80-year-olds. They’ve lived a long life. Now they meet by chance, two old people in an undefined place. It’s snowing. The snow grows deeper as they talk. They talk about themselves, each other, their lives, their situation. The snow.

During the fifteen minutes of this game, each of you (the players) should do the following at some point:
Give the other player a loss. During their life, the player has lost something very dear to them, something they thought they could never do without. A wife. A child. Their memory. Their ability to do something they love. You will decide what they lost, and bring it into the conversation.
Example: “Freddie told me Greta passed away. Was it long ago?” “I read about the accident the other day. I was wondering why you didn’t play the violin anymore.”
Give the other player a gift. The other player has achieved, gained or been given something wonderful, something they thought might never happen, something they’ve secretly – or not so secretly – longed for. A huge fortune. The ability to bear children. A mission in life. You will decide what they gained, and bring it into the conversation. (I’m guessing this might be even more of a sensitive issue than the loss). You’re not a mind reader, so don’t worry if you don’t hit the thing they want the most; but try to make it something you think they’d really, really want to happen.
Example: “Kinda surprised to see you without your wheelchair. Guess the doctors fixed you up, huh?” “Rita told me the weirdest thing, said you had a vision or something. So you got religion now?”

After fifteen minutes, the game is ending. The snow is so deep it’s impossible to move. Stand in it for a minute, face up towards the sky, feel the snowflakes covering your face.

Good night, darlings
Matthijs Holter

This is a game for two or more players in a space with boundaries – a room with doors, a circle on the floor or similar. One player is a creative person – game designer, writer, film maker, composer, whatever; pick something that all players can understand or relate to. The others are darlings – parts of the creator’s latest work – parts that she really liked, even loved, but that she now sees have to go. There should probably be at least three darlings.

Start the game by having the creator gather all her darlings. Each of them will introduce themselves. “I’m that REALLY COOL opening scene with the car chase!” “Hello, I am the fabulously complex dice pool system.” “My loving creator, I am the silence between the three last notes, the ones that make everything doubly dramatic”. The darlings all think they’re great, important and wonderful.

Then the creator must kill them, one by one. She will explain to them why they have to die, and then kill them by her method of choice. Softly? Brutally? Coldly? While crying? Of course, they don’t want to die! They plead for their life. Maybe they try to hide or run. The creator has one special power: if she shouts “STAND STILL WHILE I KILL YOU” at one of the darlings, the darling can’t move. It can still cry and accuse and plead, though.

After all the darlings are dead, the creator will walk around the room, petting each of them on their head and whispering soft goodbyes. After that, the game is over.


Anders Nygaard
We know almost nothing about the druids. The Romans wrote, and the
Celts did not.

But the name “druid” is associated with oak trees, kingmakers,
prophecy and magic. Druids taught that the soul wanders from body to
body, and that death is not to be feared. They are said to have been
so respected among the people that they could stand between two
armies, and stop a war.

This game is written for three or five players. Read the roles one by
one, and wait until one player has chosen a role by raising his hand
before you proceed to the next role. If you are three players, discard
one of the kingmakers, and one of the seers.

  • The first druid has created the king from the north.
  • The second druid has created the king from the south.
  • The third druid has seen what will happen if the battle stands tomorrow.
  • The fourth druid has seen what will happen if the battle does not
    stand tomorrow.
  • The fifth Druid is the guardian of the grove where you are meeting.

Tomorrow at dawn you must decide whether it is right to stand between
the two armies or not, and who should do it. Only one who knows that
he is right, that the gods are on his side, and that he can not die,
can do it and survive.

The Guardian of the Grove determines when speaking is permitted, and
who can speak, when to take breaks, when the talks should resume, and
when it is morning. During the breaks each player must tell the other
players something only his role knows. Apart from this, the other
players decides what happens during the breaks and the Guardian’s
player decides what happens during the speeches.

The game begins as the Guardian’s player describes the grove, and
welcomes the other roles. When morning comes, the player gets to tell
what happens when the druid stands between the two armies. Thereafter,
or if no one intervenes in the battle, each player narrates one of the
consequences of what has happened.

Going Galt

Anders Nygaard

Ayn Rand was her nom de plume, and she had Opinions. This author from
the interwar years has become a popular source of slogans for the U.S.
right. Presumably, Jesus had finally had enough, and wouldn’t play
with them anymore. Some are fond of calling her a philosopher (among
others, Norwegian politician Siv Jensen, who refers to her as a
favorite), but on this subject, scholars differ, sometimes with
unscholarly intensity.

One of the more recognizable lines of her followers is the slogan – or
threat – of “Going Galt”. For the uninitiated the nature of this
threat may seem somewhat obscure. However, for our purposes it is
sufficient to know that Rand uplifted the lone wolf, the free,
creative genius, as society’s real producer of value, and explored the
consequences of this idea in a series of novels. So: When the world’s
Galts decides to take the ball and walk away, the rest of us will be
left foundering, directionless and alone. What kind of society Those
who Move the World could conceivably build has most recently been
explored in the computer game BioShock.

In the following game sketch, players may explore what the acts
involved in cutting off all dependency on their fellow human beings
may entail. Apologies and the Obligatory Generic Parody Disclaimer
go out to the Objectivist purists, if you have stayed with us this

You need at least three players. One of the players are Mr., Mrs. or
Ms. Galt. The player can choose a first name, or use their own.

The game has five rounds, one for each of the steps in Maslow’s
hierarchy of needs. The other players can challenge Galt once each for
each step of the hierarchy. This is done by setting a scene where Galt
is dependent on someone else for his needs. Galt then gets to narrate
how he frees himself from this dependency using any and all of the
means available to him. When each round is finished, Galt can explain
how he or she can make do without other people helping to meet the
need currently under consideration. Remember that after the events in
the scenes you played trough earlier, no one can – or wants to – help
Galt with that particular need anymore. But as a superior human being
it is his moral right to use all of the assets available to him to get
what he wants. Because he is one of those rare people who creates and
brings something new to the world, it is, after all, in everyone’s
best interest that he gets what he wants. Incidentally, Galt’s player
also gets to decide what Galt’s assets are.

The steps of the hierarchy of needs are:

Self-realization: Other people often hold the key to the achievement
of your full potential. In what ways can you lose opportunities to
grow as a person?

Recognition: Most people feel a need to have the respect and goodwill
of others. People who do not respect you will often prevent you from
getting what you want. In what ways can you lose others’ respect?

Social needs: to listen to and participate in a group, to love
somebody, to be accepted, is necessary to stay alive and in good
health. Friends and acquaintances are the first safety net you hit
when society can not or will not help you. In what ways can you get
rid of this support?

Security: The true, creative man is strong enough to stand on his own
without other people, or government intervention like health care, law
and police, but supports himself as a free agent in a perfect free
market. How can you release yourself from the basic compassionate and
civic bonds that ordinary, non-productive people fall back on when
disaster strikes?

Physical needs: Everyone needs maintenance – air, food, water and heat
– to exist. Throughout human evolution, those who move the world have
been dependent, forced to submit to other people, to waste effort on
the needs of unproductive parasites to gain access to these
necessities. In what way can you make others keep these essentials
from you, so that you can truly live a life of freedom?

When Galt has found a way to meet this last requirement, leaving no
way in which those who are lower on the intellectual pyramid can deny
him anything, Galt has won, and the game is over.

Surrealistic Causality

In all games, there are specific systems that kick in when specific things happen. «When one character tries to hurt another, use the Combat System», for example. Or «if a character falls into the water, they have to roll vs their Swim skill».

I want to see what happens when these systems are completely disconnected with our perception of the real world. Here’s a game to test that.


Matthijs Holter





Chris Enger


This game was the winner of the 2010 R.I.S.K. competition.

A game about mankinds willingness to sell his own soul for immediate satisfaction. And how to push them into doing just that.

The role you are to assume is a minor devil or demon from hell, sent up to the surface and the kingdom of man to catch a soul for the amusement of the inferno. While you do possess some supernatural powers to assist you in achieving this goal, then you most of all need to rely on your own cunning and guile to triumph in this hunt. Trust too much in your magics, and you will discover that there are far more powerful things out there than you.