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How to Create Factions: Part 1

Starting with…

The World ready!

The easiest way to determine factions would be to simply split them by location, or world history.

Then, the conflict could revolve around gaining or maintaining territory, and that could include groups being pushed out of their original territories and then trying to take them back.

You can also split it by the each of the area’s history, using previous conflicts to shape the factions, i.e. political ones.

The Characters ready!

Build your factions around your characters’ core beliefs.

What do your characters care about? What is their worldview? What about the opposite?

With a focus on the characters, the creation of the factions can become integral to your OC’s story. Will they need to grow out of the faction? Will the faction grow and change as the character does? Will they leave one for another as their story moves forward?

And conversely: what does being in that faction say about the character? What does a monster being in a Hunter’s faction, for example, say about the monster? Are they guilty? Do they doubt their identity, or are they a wolf in Sheep’s clothing waiting to strike?

by Abby Zarakovich

Castle Flipper

Castle Flipper is a Building and Decorating Simulator for medieval castles!

This game isn’t just castles, either: it also includes the surrounding land, and  sheds, barns, huts, houses, mansions, palaces and even pirate ships!

This game takes place in the 16th and 17th centuries, so in addition to the usual Medieval buildings, you will also find some Baroque and Renaissance elements that add variety to the gameplay and give you more options for interior decoration.

To be released May 27, 2021 on Steam, Castle flipper looks to be a fun simulator, including both rampant destruction and detailed creation.

It has lovingly rendered wooden details, and goes from the basics of building (frames and pillars) to the furniture and placement of decorative elements like suits of armor and fur rugs.

Images from their STEAM site

Ancient Board Games: Royal Game of Ur

A game like this, from 2600 BC, is full of intrigue. This delicately carved block of stone, with flowers and markings etched into the rock, sings to played again.

A 4×3 board is connected to a 2×6 board with 2 squares. There are 4 d4’s, with dots on 3 of the points. And there are 7 Tokens per player, with one blank side, and one side with 5 dots

We have the board, the dice the pieces, and the question remains: how do we play it?

Rules have been found for advanced versions of the Royal Game of Ur: the sweet irony of which is that the base rules are speculation. All we know for sure about the base game is some of the markings’ meanings, and that the goal is to get all your pieces across the board. Even the exact route is unknown.

Because of that, there are a few different sets of rules floating around the internet.

One of several points of argument is whether rolling a Zero on the dice counts as a zero, a four-space movement, or as a “roll again”.

Another point of argument is when/how pieces may be moved onto the board. On Some of the boards, the pieces are numbered, and one guess is that you must roll that exact number to play them. Other rules have suggested that you have to roll a certain number (either 4 or 0) to bring out any piece, and some discard that notion entirely; you can bring a piece onto the board at anytime.

I suppose that if you wish to play it, it’s like any game of UNO: the rules are decided by players agreeing (or acquiescing) to them.

Basic Map making – the absolute minimum

As a DM, you lead your fellow players in the adventure of a lifetime! And you can’t do that without a setting for your adventurers to traverse!

There a Few ways to do this, like always!

Base it off of a real-life location

You can simply pick a point on the globe and lift the terrain and cities wholesale. This way, you can point your focus towards the plot and characters of your campaign.

    • Pros:
  • Makes your life easier
  • Can use history for flavor
    • Cons:
  • Expectations of Culture and mannerisms that come with a person’s knowledge
  • There will be history here, and the players might expect use of it

Create your own from scratch

Use map generators or craft a map from your own imagination to craft the most individualized map

    • Pros:
  • You can have whatever you want wherever you’d like
  • Create your own world history
    • Cons:
  • You have to make it yourself
  • Create your own world history

Custom maps can be made multiple ways.

  1. Decide on a central or key location, and build what you need around it
  2. Make a legend, and drop dice (signifying different physical objects) over a piece of paper
  3. Random generator

Use a Mix of both!

You can use a real-life map as a base (for terrain or city placement), and then edit it to fit your lore/characters/villain’s actions

Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator

With an art style taken straight out of middle-aged engravings, this game is a fun twist on the recipe-style order games that litter both the mobile market and early 2000’s PC games.

In it you can create your own recipes, help the town, and interact with the customers going through your shop.

The game offers customization of your shop and an art style that immerses you entirely in your role as town alchemist.

The demo is free to play on Steam

How to Build a Big Bad Villain

There are a few ways to create the ultimate evil for your DnD (or other media) game!

The Standard

Choose from the prototypes of any popular mass media for the skeleton to build your villain off of!

The common tropes in media range from Evil boss to Mass-murdering maniac. The general tropes for a simple villain include a sad backstory, a tendency for murder, and a longing to take over the world by violent means.

The way to impart your generic villain’s actions is to really expand on the scope of their evil deeds. Don’t just mention the widespread destruction, but show it and its aftereffects. Have the village that your players were going to head to be torn apart, have the most trusted villagers mention their hatred of the Big Bad, and how the villain affected them and their livelihoods.

The Foil

Examine your player characters and their motivations. Pick what drives them, and craft a villain that wants something similar, but does it in a completely different way than your player characters.

You can craft a foil from characters the player(s) already know, and they don’t even have to start as antagonists. With the foil, you can also grow their powers/abilities/fear-factor along with the players, to help with scaling their end-game “badness” level.

Worldly type

This is a villain built out of the world you have created. What would mess up the world you have created? What ideology would cause the collapse of the society you have? What is the worst case magical/supernatural/scientific scenario?

Say your world has a heavy dependency on a particular resource: the villain can hoard it, or they could seek to destroy all of it.


Setting the Stage: How to prep for your first DnD session

Your Stuff

Ready by session One:

Basic World building: Major locations and the breadcrumbs that will lead your players there.

Some starter quest for your players to introduce them to the world or situations you want them to face. This will also serve as a way to help your players figure out the beginnings of where they want to take their characters.

Your Players

Ready by session One:

Character sheets– These can be done as a group (as a “session 0”), or individually with the DM

Backstory– Informed by the world, they can intersect with those of other characters. It might be good to remind your players that the backstory is essentially a “Prologue” to the campaign.

Your Vibes

Ready by session One:

Prospective playlist for encounters: the specifics of which will be up to you. Some DMs like background music, others prefer the actual sounds that could feasibly be on the journey. For music, Video game OSTs can provide what you need. For Sounds, there are YouTube videos with things like 10 hours of ship noises, or failing that, you can look at customizable ambience sites.

Playlists helps your crew get in the mood, and can help with immersion in the story, depending on how you play it.

No art skills? No problem! Part 2

Part 1 here: 

In part 2, we’ll be using Excel, and the updated version of MS paint (Paint 3d)

Paint 3D

Open up paint 3d! You want to go to the Canvas tab, and switch the sizing from pixels to percent. Type in 30 for the width. Or you can put in the exact pixel size for your card. Pokemon cards are 718 x 1000 pixels.

Step 1

Next, click back to the brushes, select your color and use the bucket (fill) tool on your canvas!

Step 2

To help figure out what you want, and where, it’s helpful to outline with rectangles! Go to 2D shapes, Pick the rectangle option, drag a corner to grow to the size you want. Then, adjust your line thickness and color to your preference! If the rectangle is a whole shape, you can change it to an outline by changing the fill option to none.

Step 3

Instead of repeatedly clicking on the 2D shapes, you can use the clone tool. Click the left-most option, and drag the new shape to modify it as you wish!

Step 4

Next, play around with the text options! Make sure to click on the letter “T” in the option bar before clicking where you want to place the text.

Step 5

Adding the Image: Go to the Sticker tab, and click add sticker. This uses the images on your device, so you’d have to download the applicable images.

Alternatively, you can also copy + paste an image from online using your keyboard shortcuts.

Step 6

Save to your computer!

Step 7


Open up a new tap, and put in what text you want first! Make sure you have some space between the text. make sure there are two rows before the first line.

Step 1

Next, use the numbered and lettered rows and columns to adjust the sizes en-mass. Make A and skinny- this will be the space between the edge of the card and the text.

Step 2

Select A2:C8, and use the bucket tool to fill the whole block in! This will be your base color!

Step 3

Next, select your text, and use the square button (it’s between the U and the bucket tool), and select the thick, outlined border.

Step 4

Select your card, and copy and paste it as much as you’d like! Then, select the lettered columns that correspond  with the space-filling areas. Adjust the size of one, and it will affect the other highlighted columns.

Step 5

Repeat for the horizonal rows, including the text and description boxes.

Step 6

Fill in and Print!!!

Step 7

No art skills? No problem! Part 1

No art skills? No problem! If you want to create a card game, and you can do everything except draw, this is for you!

One thing you can do is use other cards as an example, like pokemon cards, Magic cards, or any other game who’s aesthetic you like. If you have physical cards that you no longer care about, you can use white-out on individual lines, or white paint to cover the card.  That way, you can write out the information on the cards!

I will show some ways to design cards on your computer!

Let’s start with two classics- MSPaint and Microsoft Word!


Step 1

Open up a new canvas. Use the bottom right corner to drag to the size you want. Use the Bucket to fill in with a color you want.

Step 2

Use the box-drawing tool to map out where you want the different parts to go (title, image, description). Save a copy of this so you can make as many cards as you want from this base.

Step 3

Write what you want in the boxes you’ve made using the text tool. make sure to click the bottom option if you want the back ground color to show through.

Step 4

If you can’t make an image, find one! Search for what you want, and make sure to select “transparent” in the color options if you wan the background to peek through. If you plan on selling the game, click “Usage rights” and select “creative commons”.

Step 5

Copy and Paste your image onto the card using the left click options.

Final Product

Save your image and admire it! Make as many as you’d like!


Bored in your at-home office? Use your work tools for play! Open a new document and follow along….

Step 1

Click the “Insert” tab. Click on “Smart art”, then choose the kind of diagram that best fits what you want on the card. Hit “Ok”

Step 2

Fill in the cards with the information you want! You can also play around with colors +styles.

Step 3

For a card outline/aesthetic: Go to the insert tab, hit “Shapes”. Choose any of the rectangle options (I recommend the rounded kind). Then, adjust the size to fit over what you’ve done.

Step 4

Click on the “Shape format” tab.  You can play around with colors here! Click “Shape fill”, select “No fill”. This will give you the outline of your card! Then, if you want a different thickness for the outline, select “weight”, and then click on the number you want. Then, copy and paste your new shape, and move it over to the other Smart-art section.

Step 5

Go to the “Home” tab, and find the “Select” options. Select the drop-down, and hit “Select All”.

Copy the selection. Click below the cards you have and find the typing cursor ( I). Hit the Enter key until there is space after the cards. Paste your selection!

Step 6

Adjust your new cards until you’re happy, and then Print!


How to make a card game with tokens and extended gameplay

Step 1


Decide on a theme, idea or concept that you want to explore.

Step 2

Decide on a Game end goal/ how one wins the game.

This is where counters come in. How many does one need to win? Are they part of winning, or do you use them to retrieve other cards?

Counter examples: Health points in  Pokemon, a way to get assets in Netrunner, A way to count round victories (and bets in general) in Mahjong.

For the game I’m creating as an example, A certain number of each kind of token (Division and Romance) is needed to win the game.

Me trying to figure out the end goal + playstyle

Step 3

Balance in these kinds of games can be tricky.

I suggest using existing proportions from other things as a guide. For example, using the way currency is divided as a basis for card-to-token ratios. Nickels to Dimes to Quarters (20:10:4), as token type 1: token type 2: total cards, if you don’t mind having numbered tokens (or just a whole pile of them).  For the Example, to figure out how much of each type of card I wanted, I played off of the  average number of fic tags on any one work, and decided that balancing between 7 and 12 might do me good. Again, there’s no need to worry; play time with the game will help figure out the kinks, or even talking about the design with other potential players.

Handwriting,,, ugh
A look at me trying to figure out what I wanted the proportions to look like, with some name brainstorming at the top

Step 4

Design the cards.

The key to games that require reading is to make sure your font is legible for all your players. Using Dyslexic-friendly fonts, and making sure that the text is at a good size, especially if your players are on the older side.

Color-coding your cards can help distinguish them. Since tokens are involved, it can help to add any symbols on the tokens to the corresponding cards.

I used excel to help me with this step!

Color coding

A sampling of card names + some descriptions-in-progress

The ruler on the top of this page was especially helpful in designing these