Salve of September

September! September! For this update, we are writing you straight off the heels of a game convention roadshow. Over the last two weeks, we were at Indiecade 10 and Big Bad Con: two fantastic conventions on opposite sides of California that do right by games. Here’s a still life from our display for Sign in the Indiecade gallery: 

 Sign + Succulents = Magic

Sign + Succulents = Magic

Add the din of design conversations and the dog days of Los Angeles summer and it’s like you’re right there with us. Along the way we got to play with new and old friends. It’s been energizing to feel inspired, especially in these strange times.

Progress: Layout

Let’s cut to the chase. After a headsdown month of writing and editing, Dialect and Sign were delivered to layout in September. HAPPY DAY. We are thankful for this milestone because this means we are now at the cusp of getting the game into your hands.

Layout is a very rare art and layout for games is even more esoterica. Thankfully we’re working with one of the best to make sure it’s masterfully done. Brennen Reece has designed layout for many of the most notable games in the genre. The samples we’ve seen make us very happy and give us conviction that well-crafted layout will elevate the game.

Next up: PDF delivery of Dialect.

Once layout is complete, we’ll be delivering the PDF of Dialect to you. We expect that to be within the coming weeks and when it’s ready, you’ll be the first to know. Backerkit will continue to be open through the month. Soon, friends, soon.

Backdrops: A bonus two

We have finalized the Core Backdrops. They are complete and we feel deep satisfaction in their final state. Feast your eyes on:

  • Martian Outpost. The first expedition to Mars after communications from Earth break down. 
  •  The Compound. A reclusive compound in 80s rural America. 
  • Thieves’ Cant. The secret slang of thieves and scoundrels. With inspiration from our mash-up of Dialect and Blades in the Dark. 
  • Our Mechanical Keepers. A group of robots left on Earth with a job to do. (A hat-tip to Wall-E). We playtested this to resounding success at Big Bad Con. Many tears were had. Turns out robots are sad!

In addition to the treasure trove of 10 backdrops from our contributing writers, over the last month we decided to commission two more. We were looking for a touch of whimsy and wonder that could stand true with the rest of our backdrop collection. Stephanie Nudelman, an NYC-based tabletop designer, delivered in stripes.

The two new backdrops: 

Wolf Pack. A dialect among a pack of wolves as they make their way in the wild. Aworrooooooo! Note: this backdrop uses techniques from actual wolf pack communication. 

Toybox Tales. The toys in a child’s bedroom and the change that comes with aging. With a nod to The Brave Little Toaster and The Velveteen Rabbit.

We playtested Wolf Pack at Big Bad Con, also to a wonderful experience! It turns out Big Bad Con attendees love their games high on emotion, so many tears were had in this game as well, but we feel this backdrops support a wide variety of tones according to the group's preference.


Behold this lovely box.



This is a prototype, but it’s a physical promise of what’s to come. More on this soon.

Game Convention Roadshow: A whirlwind recap

We were at Indiecade and BBC both as invited guests and boy did we make the most of it. We ran multiple scenarios of Dialect, Sign, a slew of other fantastic games, and shouted about Language and Design in both official and casual forums. As you do!

Here are some games and ideas we encountered at the cutting edge:


  • Winterhorn. A card-based larp where you learn how governments take down resistance groups by attempting to take one down yourselves. Both a game and an activist tool. Coming soon by Jason Morningstar and Bully Pulpit Games.
  •  Feast. An eating story game based on flavor, memory and alien parasites. Clever, lovely, and tasty. Also, Indiecade award winner! Such an inspiration that so much good thoughtful play can fit in 200 words.
  • Where the Water Tastes like Wine. A gorgeous indie video game about Americana, the road, and stories to be found there. 
  • Rosenstrasse. An RPG about the Rosenstrasse protest and the experience of Jewish-Aryan couples resisting in 1943 Berlin. 
  • Attention Passengers. A live action game of introspection and uneasy suspense during a subway ride gone awry at 3am. Set to a soundtrack. Available soon by Banana Chan!

Next On The Stack

Stay tuned for PDFs of the game and updates on our GLORIOUS MYSTERY LANGUAGE BOX.


K+H @ Thorny Games and the mathy cats