A light-hearted romance emulating dating sim video games/visual novels. Letter writing inspired by Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, and Animal Crossing. A bond between a pilot and their AI-linked mech. A theatre performance covering up a heist. Building super-powered characters and settings. Trying to find unused wishes in a world where everyone gets three, and you’ve already used yours. Sounds like an RPG anthology, right? Not quite. These are the six games, the six Possible Worlds, featured in Tyler Crumrine’s RPG subscription box.
CH: First of all: why a subscription box instead of, say, an anthology? What does this way of delivering the project do for you on the designer’s side of things, and what do you think the benefits are on the back side of things?
T: “The subscription model lets me have some flexibility here too! I’ve been working on some of these games for as long as three years, so the vast majority of the games’ mechanics and assets are ready to go. The fact that no one game is locked into a specific month, though (with the exception of leading off with Grandpa’s Farm), lets me prioritize the games with the most assets and playtesting and give my collaborators any extra time they need to finish up additional art and editing. The fact of the matter is, though, that after theatre work disappeared during the pandemic, selling and fulfilling Beak, Feather, & Bone became my full-time job by default, and thankfully sales got me through 2020. Possible Worlds is my way of leaning into my RPG success as a career path instead of being surprised by it, and this Kickstarter funding means I’ll continue to commit a full-time job’s worth of attention to these games—not just evenings and weekends.”
T: “One of the biggest things is always being aware what common elements of RPGs are foreign to folks outside the hobby. Polyhedral dice are a great example—is anything REALLY pick-up-and-play if it requires a d20? And if it requires any dice AT ALL, can they be bought at the corner store? A number of these games don’t require anything beyond pen & paper, but I’ve limited additional materials to six-sided dice and decks of cards because it’s safe to assume that most households either have them already or can easily get them. Another key thing to keep in mind is vocabulary! What terms or abbreviations only make sense to people inside the hobby?
Now, that’s the idea of the project in general, but I wanted to get a look at something a little more concrete, and Tyler was gracious enough to give me a look at the text for Grandpa’s Farm, the closest-to-completion game on the list.
CH: What’s your favorite part of Grandpa’s Farm? What was the biggest challenge in designing the game?
CH: Let’s say I’m someone who has never played a letter-writing RPG before: what do you think would be the best advice you could give me?
CH: What’s in the future for Possible Worlds Games? Any other projects lined up? If this one works out, think we’ll see more RPG subscription boxes?
T: “This first subscription’s success (and level of success) will dictate a lot, but my plan is not only to put out more subscription boxes but also to add additional designers to those boxes! I’ll still be a part of the subscription, but once people trust my curation, I’d like champion work by early and mid-career designers too. Ideally we’ll get to the point where 3 games are mine and 3 are by other creators whose work I’m publishing through the subscription before adding to our catalogue and distro. Eventually I’d like to get creative with licensing and larger-scale collaboration too. I’m not interested in vying for the next Lord of the Rings RPG, but as someone who’s worked in indie publishing for a long time, there are a number of speculative fiction writers self-publishing or on small presses whose work I think would bring a lot to the TTRPG scene.”