Zedeck Siew Profile picture
Writer of small fictions.
Dec 31, 2021 27 tweets 5 min read
Two weeks ago I ran a roleplaying game for a teenager. Somebody totally new to RPGs.

Context: this was the evening Sharon's #ilikethisplace / #sayasukatempatini exhibition flooded. Sharon, Audrie (the show's producer), and I were wet, tired, and somewhat in shock.

We had to cancel the film screening we'd planned for the evening. (Sharon wanted to show "Princess Mononoke". Given the circumstances "Ponyo" would've been more on the nose.)

Lisa, our 14-year-old neighbour, was pretty disappointed.

May 16, 2021 26 tweets 6 min read
Playing #AThousandThousandIslands in #dnd5e :

Here's the house-rule document, in PDF- athousandthousandislands.com/download-5e-ho…

And that post *already* has long-ass notes. But talking shop about game design is fun, I guess? So, thread:

1/ My fave RPG rule texts are ones that trust players.

Games like Knave and Troika! set their ethos by what they *don't say*, as much as the rules they provide:

"You are sharing a cool experience with friends, here's a scaffold, climb all over it and build something together"

May 15, 2021 5 tweets 4 min read

Some light hacks of 5E for #AThousandThousandIslands. This is basically the first time we've thought about RPG-system stuff for the zines.

Yeah yeah, it's D&D -but hey, *I* play D&D, okay?


I'm pleased with the tweaks to xp and skills. (These may seem like trivialities, but I'm the opposite of a rules-design guy, so ...)

Also: Mun Kao made a character sheet, inspired by the flow-chart-y excellence of #MothershipRPG . (Note the "Allies & Pets" column!)

Mar 20, 2021 19 tweets 4 min read

This has always been the most obvious thing to me:

"TTRPGs are a conversation; how you get people into the conversation is design. How you describe a particular place, how you’ve drawn a particular character are as important as mechanical rules."

"TTRPGs are a conversation", particularly-

It feels like a useless thing to point out; every instance of RPG play (that isn't solo play) is obviously "people, talking".

But I've come to realise that this simple observation underpins everything I want do, re: RPG design.

Mar 18, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read

" Gul and others's mistrust [of vaccinations] stems from a much more sinister source ... hunting for Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, the CIA organized a fake hepatitis B vaccination program to aid in their search. " " ... though the White House announced that the CIA would no longer use vaccination programs as cover for espionage, Pakistan moved from being a country that had almost eradicated polio to one whose polio cases accounted for a whopping 85 percent of the global share. "
Mar 18, 2021 13 tweets 4 min read
To contextualise my thoughts re: incentivizing ethical decisions in RPGs:

Yesterday I played in a game, running through @DonnStroud 's "The Isle of the Plangent Mage". At the start of the adventure, a scene of townsfolk slaughtering beached whales.

The parent whale had already been killed; its three children were still on the beach, breathing.

The bulk of our session became: "How do we save these whale babies???"

Mar 18, 2021 10 tweets 2 min read
This is my main problem with mechanically rewarding pro-social play: a character's ethical choice is rendered mercenary.

"Being good for a reward isn’t being good - it’s just optimal play. " Bear in mind I'm not saying that pro-social play can't have "rewarding" outcomes for players:

Any decision should have (diegetic?) consequences in the fiction. The townsfolk are thankful; the goblins remember your mercy, etc.

But extra XP tickets for ethical decisions stinks.
Mar 15, 2021 19 tweets 3 min read
Tried reading Lancer RPG several times now. (It's been on my bedside table for a month.)

And it is *genuinely* difficult for me to see its setting's central polity, Union, as anything but an analogue to imperial US America. Union:
* centralised polity with clear metropole worlds
* absolutely intertwined with megacorporations
* "safeguarded" by a secret intelligence bureau a la the CIA / KGB
* foreign policy against its "periphery" is expansionism / corpocratic brush war
* sure of its moral rectitude
Feb 1, 2021 19 tweets 4 min read

Authenticity begins with the stories old people have told you, and ends at the tips of your own skin.

In other words:

Authenticity is only ever lived experience.


"Authenticity" is not "truth", or "art".

From a bedrock of lived experience, with the details you've gleaned from the world around you, and the empathy you exercise in your heart-

The artful and truthful things you can make slip the confines of the earth.

Dec 15, 2020 13 tweets 2 min read
Modern cyberpunk's problem isn't dystopia. Cyberpunk fiction has always had dystopia. Punks need a bad world to resist.

Modern cyberpunk's problem is tone. Feels like there's more stories of surrender / evil-ultimately-wins cynicism now. We've stopped resisting the bad world.
Maybe this is natural:

As we slip further into dystopia, cyberpunk begins to dress in the costume of realist fiction.

In real life, as we discover the insurmountability of the corpo-state; as we realise that evil wins not because it is ruthless but because it is convenient;

Apr 4, 2020 22 tweets 8 min read

Another weekend under quarantine. This morning there were sirens, where I am.

I'd like to leave the house for a bit. Come with me?

Drop me an object-themed emoji? I'll write you a place you've seen before, and long to see again. 1:⛽️At home, with your husband carrying your crying son; your mother on the phone, chattering-

You miss the rig.

It was no less of a pressure-cooker: sixty crew in a football field crammed with gear, crude, a gas flare.

But there, on the deck -wind on an open sea.

Mar 28, 2020 102 tweets 37 min read

Week 2 of quarantine, where I am; no walks, no meeting friends. Even I, hermit as I am, worry about going stir-crazy.

So- was thinking we can embark on journeys, together.

Drop me an emoji? I'll write you a prompt. An adventure, just beginning. 1: 🥐 The sandwich comes to you via delivery. You unwrap the foil as the quadrotor buzzes away.

There's something in your sandwich, between tempe patties -an oil-stained slip of card. "Come alone," it says. There is a street address.

Jan 25, 2020 12 tweets 3 min read
My grandmother often rode on the North Malayan train alone, when she was twelve, buying goods & supplies for her family.

She did it because her ticket cost 23 cents. (It would've cost 46 cents for her father.)

Other passengers often jokingly threatened her with abduction. 1/? "We'll grab you and sell you!" they'd say.

"I'll *grab* you and sell *you*!" she'd reply.

She remembers a kindly train conductor, an Indian gentleman with a massive mustache. "Girl you tell me who is threatening you, I'll come whack them." 2/?
Feb 2, 2019 8 tweets 1 min read
Hello! Alternate-reality Zedeck here. As some of you may know, for the last year or so I've been working on a medieval fantasy epic drawn from the cultures and myths of the Far West, tentatively titled A TALE OF PALE ALE: 1/? Listen: beyond the edge of most good maps lies fabled, mysterious Angleland- where the winter chills are interminable, and folk huddle in steepled inns, sipping mulled wine from toby jugs ... 2/?