IndieHangover was recently at PAX West from September 1st through the 4th. We’ve got a lot of indie games and developers to spotlight over the next week or two, so make sure to stay tuned!
In a flurry of screens and flashing lights, tucked away deep, down in a basement level room of the Washington Convention center, I found an Indie MEGABOOTH dedicated to tabletop games, many of which were headed to Kickstarter.
One hilariously innovative and very memorable game I found was called Someone Has Died, a morbidly funny card game that brings all the joys of will arbitration to your living room, but with absurd twists that force the players to build outlandish characters and tell weird and hilarious stories.
The game itself is simple enough to play, there is the game master who plays the role of the will arbitrator, and 2-5 other players. The other players draw cards that assign them unique personalities like “robot” or “spiderface,” who is literally just a person with a face full of spiders. Each round, the players must state their claim to the deceased’s fortune and try to thwart their competitors.Someone Has Died is a beautifully clean tabletop game that uses whimsical art and hilariously weird elements to promote creative storytelling and fun character building. By giving the player strange, but broad concepts that they must then incorporate into their character, Someone Has Died fosters the art of storytelling and character building.
While at PAX West, we got a chance to speak with Liz Roche and Adi Slepack from Gather Round Games and learn a little bit more about their game.
Indie Hangover: “Can you tell me a little bit about your studio?”
Adi: “It’s a small studio, it’s essentially just us and our friend Ellie Black, who we made the games with. This is our first and only game right now. It’s called Someone Has Died, and it is an improvised will arbitration.”
Liz: “So yeah, we’re newbies to the game design world. We were at PAX East earlier this year and PAX West now, but we’ve gotten such a good response from the game and have honestly met such incredible people in the gaming world that it’s been a pretty fun ride so far.”
IH: “So, where did this idea come from?”
A: “So actually, me and Ellie created it as part of a class, we were assigned to make a social party game. And the kind of examples we had to work with were Werewolf and Mafia, where people are dying each round. And so we decided to start with a dead person, and the idea of a will arbitration followed shortly after that.”
IH: “So you’re the lead game designer?”
A: “Yes, I helped create the game, and then when I graduated from school––well, it was received pretty well in the class, and our professor was very encouraging––so when I graduated, I decided to take it more seriously, I started going to play testings. I kind of took on the role of getting the word out there, getting us to conventions. So, Ellie does all the sketching for the art on the cards, and I’ve been bringing them into Photoshop and doing some of the graphic design and the layout for some of the posters and buttons.”
L: “Adi is the lead game designer, and I would say also the graphic designer. She digitizes and finalizes the art. Our other member is one of the original creators and mostly does concept art at this point. And I’m kind of extra hands, I help out at conventions, I do press and outreach.”
A: “She’s also the reason we have a recess round, that was entirely her idea.”
IH: “So is the game out now?”
A: “The game is out as a print-and-play version. We are actually launching on Kickstarter this coming Thursday, September 7th. So we hope it will be out within the year, and we’re hoping to seek some help funding that so we can make it a little more professional.”
L: “Yes, so it starts this Thursday, September 7th and it goes for 30 days.”
IH: “So is there anything else you want to say about the game? It looks great.”
L: “Our goal was to create a really accessible game for storytelling, because we’re both big fans of tabletop RPGs but we also know that they are such huge commitments and they can be very intensive and intimidating. And our idea was, ‘How do we create a game that makes it as accessible as possible to tell really weird stories and build really interesting characters?’”
A: “Yeah, because we have the element of the party game with the judge and the pitching, in a sense, but we do keep the characters consistent over four rounds, so it really gives the players a chance to––rather than to make a joke and move on––to build a joke and take it to a higher, different place.”
One of our favorite things to see is when playing is when people forgo the win condition entirely and just lean into their characters, like that’s when we know we did something right, is that people prefer to do that than to win the fortune.”