Magpie Games


Magpie Games
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Mar 13 2021


Eastern time
9:30 am - 6:30 pm



Magpie Games Design Festival

Welcome to the Magpie Games Design Festival! This one-day event is designed to teach the parts of Powered by the Apocalypse design and theory as we understand and practice them. Attendees will join two 90 minute seminars on PbtA design, participate in playtesting, and wrap up the day in a peer lead discussion group. 

What You Get
Attendees will experience an in-depth discussion on some of the fundamentals of Powered by the Apocalypse design, feedback on their own games, a chance to playtest their game or playtest the game of another designer, and join a group of peers for a guided discussion. 

Ticket holders will receive access to exclusive Magpie Games Design Festival Discord channels, where they can discuss their designs, offer feedback to others, and engage in conversations on their perspectives of Powered by the Apocalypse. They will also be given a guide on playtesting their game and being a good playtester. This handbook will include a schedule for the day as well as tips on making the most of each activity. 

The Schedule
9:30 AM eastern – 10:00 AM Eastern: Opening ceremonies
10:00 AM Eastern – 11:30 AM Eastern: Basic Moves with Brendan Conway
11:30 AM Eastern – 1:00 AM Eastern: The Fruitful Void with Mark Diaz Truman
2:00 PM Eastern – 5:00 PM Eastern: Peer playtesting
5:30 PM Eastern – 6:30 PM Eastern: Designer lead discussion 

Opening Ceremonies
9:30 AM Eastern – 10:00 AM Eastern
Join us for opening ceremonies in which we welcome you to the design festival with a special message from the Magpie Games Team, including Marissa Kelly, Mark Diaz Truman, and Brendan Conway

The Seminars
10 AM Eastern – 11:30 AM MST
Basic Moves with Brendan Conway

When building a PbtA game, one of the first building blocks to set up, consider, and examine is its “basic moves.” These will be the bedrock of the game, the things the characters do regularly, and the key points of uncertainty for the design. Join Brendan Conway for an examination of basic moves—what they are, what they are used for, and how to set them up. 

This seminar will be 90 minutes total in length. The first 60 minutes will be a tutorial, with the last 30 minutes being a Q & A session. Questions will be held until the end. 

11:30 AM Eastern – 1:00 PM Eastern
The Fruitful Void with Mark Diaz Truman

One of the most enduring concepts to emerge from indie game theory is the idea of “the fruitful void,” a portion of each roleplaying game that is beyond the game’s rules and yet somehow central to play. Join Mark Diaz Truman for an exploration of the fruitful void in Bluebeard’s Bride, Masks, and Cartel to learn about how to balance directing your players toward a topic and ensuring that topic still has the room required for a fruitful void to flourish.  

2:00 PM Eastern – 5:00 PM Eastern

A selection of submitted games will be scheduled for Playtesting. Each attendee will complete a form and be assigned a game based on their answers. Attendees are expected to participate in playtesting.

Each attendee will have the option to submit one Powered by the Apocalypse game for review using a form emailed to them. All games must be submitted by March 2nd. Designer tickets are $30 and are limited in supply.

A small selection of submitted games will be chosen for playtesting based on attendee numbers. All games submitted will be read and reviewed by Magpie Games, with limited feedback provided upon return. If your game is chosen, we will email you on March 7th to inform you.

To qualify, a Powered by the Apocalypse game must have:
– Basic Moves (or equivalent)
– Playbooks (or equivalent)
– Be designed by you or you and a team/co-designer
– Be in a document we can read

If your game is not chosen, you will be assigned to a playtest based on the information you complete on the form. We ask you to engage in any game you’re assigned to with the goal of having that game succeed. Attendees who engage in bad faith will be asked to leave and may be denied entrance to events in the future.

All attendees are expected to participate, either as a designer or a playtester.

Designer Lead Discussions
5:30 PM Eastern – 6:30 PM Eastern

Each attendee will be randomly sorted into a small group of peers for discussing their experience at the festival. Each discussion group will be led by a peer designer or mentor affiliated with Magpie Games, such as a staff member, Curated Play GM, or one of the Ashcan designers. They will focus the discussion on the seminar and playtesting, as well as on the participants’ overall experience. 

If you are unable to afford purchasing a ticket for the event, but would still like to participate, please email our community manager, Kate, at to get sponsorship to the event.

If you have any questions, please contact our community manager, Kate at


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