Gigacrawler board prototype

I haven’t been doing much on Gigacrawler–partly because of my business, and partly because I’ve been doing another section of My Name Is John Carter for Cirsova magazine.

However, I have done a prototype of the board for playtesting.

The shaded hex in the center is where you start.

Because the game’s locations are different each time, the board is laminated. You write in the details of each hex as you roll them, and then wipe the board clean for a new game.


Zak Smith got back to me, and asked for a post summarizing what I’ve done of my Gigacrawler game.


It is the last age of the universe. There is no such thing as a planet, a star, or space. The universe is filled with tunnels of stone, glass, metal, and stranger materials. This may be because of hyper-urbanization and eons of alchemical warfare. It may be that our ancestors uploaded themselves into software, and what we call the universe is produced by a now-corrupted computer. It may be that God is senile.

To some, the repeated cities are the surest sign of the madness of the world. These are identical copies of settlements from Earth’s past, which appeared apparently all at once and throughout the entire universe: the 19th century frontier town of Black Creek Wyoming; the first city, Ur, with its alien ‘gods’; Atlantis at the height of its power; and the greatest city of the Age of Three Suns, Telelee.

Gigacrawler is a single-player adventure game. It works in a similar way to the Choose Your Own Adventure series and other gamebooks: players will choose from a number of decisions, which direct them to different paragraphs in the game. Unlike most gamebooks, the universe is different every time, and the best decision will be different depending on the player’s character. This means that the game doesn’t lose its interest after a player has won. The players will explore the setting, winning the game if they find true love for themselves and their companions, gather enough wealth, or uncover the true origin of the state of the universe (which may be different in each game). They might bargain with the Devil, become their own lover or their own arch-enemy, or freeze themselves for a thousand years and hope things get better.

Gigacrawler is a setting by multiple Ennie award winner Zak Smith, of the D&D With Porn Stars blog and the video series I Hit It With My Axe. The game is written by James Hutchings, creator of the online game Age of Fable.

The game’s system is a simpler version of the one on Zak’s Gigacrawler page.The classes are different (and your character’s class is decided by their highest attribute), there aren’t any high-tech body modifications, and magic is mostly used to move around the board. Combats (which are very rare) are decided with a single roll rather than having a round-by-round combat system.

There are two main ways to win the game. Firstly you can work out which of four groups who claim to be angels are telling the truth. This is done using a similar process to ‘knights and knaves’ logic puzzles. The clues and the answer are different each time, so you can play again after you figure this out once.

The second way to win the game is to find companions, help at least three of them find their true loves, then either find your own true love or perform a major act of heroism. The companions are named characters from literature or history such as Conan.

I’ve currently written just under 50,000 words.


Playtesting a game usually goes through three stages: playtesting oneself, having others test it but being there to help them, and finally giving the rules to people for ‘blind playtesting’ ie testing without the designer being there.

I’ve done three short playtests (all of which I blogged about). My girlfriend is going to test it with me there to help. After that, I want to open it up to blind playtesting. There should be several rounds of blind playtesting, as I make changes and add new material (I’m aiming for about 100,000 words in total).

The playtests that I’ve done are linked below.

First playtest (vampire character):
Part 1
Part 2

Second playtest (Atlantean character):
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Third playtest (robot character):
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My game: next stage of playtesting.

I’ve been holding off on publishing, because Zak Smith was going to plug my game, and I wanted my previous post to be the thing that people saw. However, it now looks like he’s not going to do that (edit: he did).

So this is to let you know that I’ll be giving what I’ve written to my girlfriend to test ASAP. After that I’ll make any changes needed, and hopefully be able to start an open playtest early in 2018.

Happy Xmas everyone.

Gigacrawler draft – third playtest – part 3 and summary

As the third month begins, my robot character is close to losing the will to live and nearly crippled (current Willpower and Agility both 2).

I decide to look for a loan. Since I’ve got a high Charisma (thanks to the cuddlon bombardment) I try to negotiate rather than just taking the standard terms. It turns out that the roll is actually based on Willpower and Intelligence, but I’m still able to get a better deal. I borrow 200 shells, with 5% interest (ie 210 shells) due in a year.

Negotiating the loan took the rest of the month. I decide to “live as well as a prosperous citizen” this month, which costs 55 shells. Unluckily, this doesn’t do anything to raise me out of my near-despair.

I decide to try to find some adventuring companions. This time my high Charisma is useful, as I meet a sullen-eyed barbarian named Conan. I decide to take the rest of the month off, live as well as I can, and then leave the city in search of adventure.

This brings my Willpower up to 8.

I decide to go north, towards the temple of one of the groups of supposed angels. Before setting out on my journey I buy 3 months’ worth of human rations and 3 months’ worth of robot rations for myself. This uses up all of my loan except for 2 shells.

The journey actually takes only 2 months. We end up a new city, one far more hostile to wandering adventurers. I’d prefer to move on immediately, but I don’t have the money to buy more rations. I decide to turn to crime. Through sheer luck my burglary is successful, and we gain 150 shells.

This leaves us ready to set out again, and in the following condition:

Agility 3/7
Charisma 16
Willpower 8/16
Physique 14
Intelligence 11

Year 1 Month 7.

152 shells.

Loan: 210 shells due in Year 2 Month 3, at starting city.

Companion: Conan

Rations: 1 human, 1 robot.

KW4 [am a robot]
KW10 [have encountered cuddlon scientist]
KW17 [have met Conan]

The system seems to be working pretty well. I’ve found a few things that I reworded, but I haven’t changed any actual rules in the last playtest. This doesn’t mean that I’ve added everything to the game that I want to add–far from it. But I’m ready to have someone else play it and give feedback; first my girlfriend (with me able to clarify things if needed), and then ‘blind’ playtesting ie testing by strangers without me to explain anything.

I’d like to know what people think of these playtest posts. Does it sound like a game you’d be interested in playing? If not, why not?

My ultimate plan is to publish this as both a printed book, and possibly also as an ebook. In the ebook the paragraph numbers will be links–so if it says ‘turn to 20’ you can press the number and it takes you to paragraph 20.

Gigacrawler draft – third playtest – part 2

Having rolled up my robot, I’m ready to start adventuring.

(side note: I’ve gotten a different character type each time I’ve rolled one, but this is a happy coincidence–I haven’t fudged any of the rolls)

For the first month, I try to increase my mediocre Intelligence (which, if successful, will allow me to improve Magic or Technology). My studies lead me to a book, owned by a scientist who offers to let me read it, in return for being bombarded with cuddlons, the particles responsible for cuteness. I agree.

The cuddlons make me more attractive, increasing my Charisma to 16. Reading the book increases my Intelligence by 1.

At the end of the month, I have to decide how much to spend on food and board (in my character’s case it’s fuel rather than food, but the mechanics are the same). Since I’m so poor, I have to live on the street and eat waste. Luckily, as a robot, I’m able to roll against Intelligence to avoid any bad effects, and do so successfully.

In the second month, I decide to try and get some more money. I’m offered a job as a professional mourner, but turn out not to have the right build for the job. I’m fired after earning only 5 shells, which lowers my current Willpower. I decide to work as a laborer instead, which earns me 15 more shells but lowers my Agility and Willpower, to the point where I’m almost crippled and suicidal.

In the hope of keeping my Willpower up, I decide to live in a hovel and buy food, the best option I can afford. This costs 15 shells, and results in me losing 2 points of Willpower–still in the game, but obviously very low.

At the start of the third month of the game, the situation is as follows:

15 shells.

Month 3 Year 1.

Agility 2/7
Charisma 16
Willpower 2/16
Physique 14
Intelligence 11

KW4 [am a robot]
KW10 [have encountered cudlon scientist]

This is the map. M18 is my starting city (where I still am). M29, M30, M31 and M32 are the ‘angel’ cities.

Gigacrawler draft – third playtest – character creation

Having rewritten the ‘logic puzzle’ element of Gigacrawler, I’m going to test it further.

Rolling for abilities I get the following:

Agility 7
Charisma 10
Willpower 16
Physique 14
Intelligence 10

Once again I don’t have to raise or lower an attribute.

My highest attribute is Willpower. This means I’m a robot, with Magic 1 and Technology 9.

My starting hex is M18 (“A city which is tolerant of wandering adventurers such as yourself”), with movement number 3.

KW4 [robot]

Follow-up question about Gigacrawler

The ‘logic puzzle’ element of Gigacrawler seems to be too easy.

I had a couple of ideas of how to change it:

i) Have 5 cities instead of 3: 2 always lie, 2 might lie or tell the truth, and 1 always tells the truth and is the one you’re after.

ii) Don’t have set locations for the temples: instead you have to wander around and find them.

Obviously I could always abandon the logic puzzle idea altogether.

Please let me know what you think.

Gigacrawler question.

Looking again at the ‘logic puzzle’ element of Gigacrawler, I wanted to know if people found this too hard, too easy, or what.

The situation is essentially this:

There are three people, A, B or C. One always lies, one always tells the truth, and one might lie or might tell the truth.

Both A and B tell me that C is the one who might lie or tell the truth.

What, if anything, is it possible to work out from this? Answers in the comments.

None of this is a spoiler btw, because the angels are different each time.