Friday, April 7, 2023



Anirac is a board game for two players.  You'll need a reversi set to play.

Players are trying to build a chain of pieces of their color connecting opposite sides of the board.  Black is working to connect the top and bottom of the board, while white hopes to connect the left and right sides.

Each turn, a player can place one of their pieces on the board or flip two adjacent pieces as long as one is black and one is white.  For example, a player could flip A and B in the top diagram to begin forming a path made of white pieces:





The first player to build a continuous path of pieces connecting their edges of the board wins.  Pieces can connect diagonally.

Note:  sometimes I get stuck when coming up with names for board games.  Anirac is Carina spelled backwards.

Prime Rummy

Prime Rummy is a game for two to four players. The object of the game is to create sets of cards whose total values equal prime numbers.

You will need a French-suited deck with no jokers. For a two-player game, the dealer gives each player ten cards. Each player receives seven cards if three or four are playing. After dealing the hands, the dealer places the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table and turns over the top card to start the discard pile.  

Play follows the general rules of straight gin rummy.  At the beginning of each turn, a player can draw from the deck or take the exposed card at the top of the discard pile.  Players end their turns by discarding a card. 

Players are trying to create hands in which the sums of values of the red and black cards are prime numbers.  The color totals are counted separately.  Aces are worth one, and face cards are worth zero. 

For example, player has these cards in their hand:

♢A, ♤4, ♡9, ♢8, ♡Q, ♢4, ♧K, ♡10, ♡3, ♤J

Grouping them by color, the player has 

♢A, ♡9, ♢8, ♡Q, ♢4, ♡10, ♡3 for a red total of 35.


♤4, ♧K, ♤J for a black total of 4.

When a player has prime numbers in their hand, they can go out by discarding a card and revealing their hand.

A player who only has cards of one color in their hand can go out if the value is prime.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

The Tower and the Oracle

In the Tower and the Oracle, players race to create a connection between two arcane pieces.  You will need an 8x8 board to play, eight stones of one color along with a taller piece of the same color (the tower), and eight stones of another color along with a matching oracle piece.

In the diagram below white is playing the oracle and black is playing the tower.  The game begins with the tower and the oracle in opposite corners and one stone of each color placed near the center of the board.  The remaining stones begin the game off the board.


On your turn, you can place a stone of either color from the reserved pieces, or move a piece of your own color that is already on the board (including the tower or oracle).  Stones, towers, and oracles move one space diagonally or orthologically.  They can jump over pieces of either color, and can change direction as they jump.  Pieces are not removed after jumps. 

The first player to create a continuous path of stones between the tower and the oracle wins.  The path can include stones of both colors.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Dream Ticket

Dream Ticket is a playful art project.  You and your friends will need to gather several small slips of paper.  On each one, write a short blessing, prophecy, or cryptic message, such as:

the faceless brood sings for you.

the bone tree remembers

whither the abomination of the sands?

meet me at the cenotaph, oh darling blue eyes

Try to write inscriptions that are weird and arcane, and avoid violence and vulgarity.  If you're looking for inspiration, the generators at Seventh Sanctum are a wonderful resource. 

Divide the prophecies among the players and stash them in your pockets.  Over the course of the day, randomly pull notes from your pocket and leave them where others will find them.  Slip one between the pages of a library book.  Hide some in the pockets of clothes as you go shopping for a new cloak.  Leave one tucked away with the camping gear at your local sporting goods store.  Follow your heart.

I'd like to offer a special chant of gratitude to Bucky Cutright, who helped birth this game during a lovely spring drive along I-79 and who suggested that I write the words "dream ticket" on a small scrap of paper.

Friday, June 26, 2020


My two best friends and I spent the summer between kindergarten and first grade collecting things.  Actually, we spent the summer collecting and caching things.  We buried bottle caps, bullet shells, bits of glass, and anything else that caught our eye.  Our little hoards dotted the landscape, but over the years they have been overgrown and forgotten.

Hoard is a story game about the childhood urge to collect things.  Four players take turns introducing items, describing them from the perspective of the child who gathered them and discussing their history before a final round that explores the notion that some of the items might be a bit more special than imagined.

As the game begins each player should find three small items to bring to the table.  These can be odd knickknacks from your house or apartment, or things that caught your eye on a walk.  The objects are the artifacts your young character wants to add to the hoard.

When the group meets, the players should decide where the children are hiding their hoard.  Where would six, seven, and eight-year-olds hide their most valuable treasures?  The players can pick a real location they know--a particular old barn or clump of bushes, for example--or work together to create an imaginary hiding place.

Each round, the players each introduce a new item.  The player should describe it from the perspective of a young child, giving a grand account of where it was found, its possible origins and uses, and an overview of its most appealing traits.  

After everyone has introduced an item the players go around the table and narrate another facet of the object's history.   For the first item, the player to the left of the player who brought it to the table describes an episode from the artifact's history from the perspective of the item itself.   A player could describe waiting on a shelf in a store, for example, or the experience of jostling around in someone's pocket or purse.

The players then introduce the next objects they chose, again describing them from the perspective of the child who found them.  For the second object, the player to the right narrates a scene from the point of view of the artifact.  After the third item has been introduced, the player across the table creates an episode from its history.

The tokens and knickknacks the children have gathered aren't just bits of forgotten rubbish or shiny trinkets that caught some child's magpie eye.  Whether through some process of creation or the value ascribed by the children, some of the items in the hoard have magical powers.  During the final round of the game, each player picks one of the items they brought to the table.  The player across the table then describes some wondrous effect of the talisman.  Perhaps touching it as it was being hidden in the cache sparked some bit of luck, or years later an adult dream featuring the artifact had some prophetic value.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Show & Hell

A sunny Monday morning finds students beaming with excitement as they wait to share childhood treasures. This morning’s show and tell, though, is a bit off.  Unsettling photos, strange artifacts, and items best left in a police evidence locker wait to be displayed.

One player serves as the teacher, who opens a photo from a random image site at the beginning of each player’s turn.  The player then launches into an excited discussion inspired by the photo she has received, going on and on with all of the wondrous excitement of a first grader as her macabre tale unfolds.  No matter how innocent the image seems, it always inspires some gruesome memory or anecdote from the enthusiastic student.
The teacher and the other students get to ask questions about the object.  Does the teacher try to glean the shocking truth about the object or desperately try to find some way to shift?  Are the other students overly enthusiastic and curious, or do their innocent questions show that they are just on the cusp of understanding the full horror of the object?
The game goes on until all of the students have had a turn sharing with the class.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Or Best Offer

If your characters frequent yard sales and flea markets, they might encounter some of the following items:

A jar of water from an old well where a voice cries, “Where is my body?” on the night of the new moon.
A mantel clock.  A drop of blood appears on the dial each night at 11:11.
A tarnished silver ring with a spider engraved on the inside along with the date 7/9/1992.
A 1961 yearbook in which the eyes of every other picture have been blacked out with a pen.

A shoebox full of railroad spikes.  Anyone who sleeps in the room with the box dreams of riding a train on a foggy night.

A cigar box full of pennies with strange runes gouged into the tails side of each.

An hourglass full of nail clippings instead of sand.

A photo album of polaroids showing piles of clothes.  A red candle rests on each pile.

An old grade-school dictionary.  A torn medical file has been tucked between the pages.  It describes a patient with geometric scars.

A high school varsity jacket found draped over a grave.

A framed photo of a family smiling while standing around a child tied to a tree.

An old teddy bear with one ear that sighs when the first traces of sunlight appear each morning.

An unlabeled LP of someone reciting poetry in Hittite while pigs grunt in the background.

An old VHS tape recording a group of middle school students rehearsing a skit.  A pale face peers through the window behind them.

A program from the 1954 county fair that includes the Incantation of the Cairns in the list of events.

An old metal protractor that is 1d6+3⁰ off in each measurement.

A cast-iron bank shaped like a wood-belly stove.  Inside are coins dating from the 1910s through the 1960s and a note reading, “I am a prisoner here.”

A baseball bound in human skin.

A postcard showing a picture of Main Street during the 1950s.  The back bears the address of a house that was torn down years ago along with the message, “See you at the weeping tree.”