Mushroom Kingdom Stories

Posted on November 2, 2011


I wrote a draft for a game called “Mushroom Kingdom Stories” for Jonathan Walton’s Stage One design invitational. Per the rules of the invitational, it’s short, a mere two pages, one of which is taken up almost entirely by a random table that you roll dice onto.

Read it here.

I had to squeeze it to fit it into two pages, as, like I said, the rules and how-you-play of the game are actually only on one page. As such, it’s got all the info you need to play, but no advice or expanded explanation. For example, if one were to be inclined to play this alpha draft, I’m assuming in the text that you’re familiar with Mario & co. and their games, such that I don’t explain what a Goomba or a Boo is, or even who Big Bertha is.

If you’re playing this game, you’ve played Mario games before. If I were to expand the text, I might add a little bit about the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom, though, because I don’t like to make assumptions when writing games.

Clearly the audience for this text is gamers and especially design-folks, since it’s for an invitational, and as such doesn’t say anything about how to roleplay. If the game gets accepted into the invitational, I’ll likely write up these first three rules, which have become my favorite way of describing what a roleplaying game is–and they wouldn’t be under a “so what’s roleplaying” heading, they’d just be the first three rules of the game.

  1. In this game, you portray a fictional character
  2. Whenever you speak as your character, that’s what your character says
  3. Whenever you describe what your character’s doing, that’s what she does


It’s too early to talk design influences; here I’m talking straight inspiration for the game. As I was writing it, I began to realize that I was making a mashup of SMB 1 & 2 mostly, with a little of 3 thrown in. SMB 1 & 2 are surely the Mario games I’ve played the most in my life–or at least in my childhood.

What surprised me, though, was that I realized I was also writing the game based on this big book of Mario comics I read to death when I was a kid:

Many of the characterizations of the Mushroom Kingdom denizens come straight from this book (or my memories of it). The comics were silly, but way fun, and the whimsical worldbuilding of their stories really drew me in–I read this collection over & over & over.

When I played the Mario games as a kid, the challenges felt deadly serious–Bowser was no joke in SMB 1. But this collection opened up the Mushroom Kingdom to me, and its stories are really the basis of my game (though my design goal wasn’t to emulate them). If you’ve read these, or are intrigued, give Mushroom Kingdom Stories a shot, and tell me what you think. It’ll only take 40 minutes or so, maybe less (another thing I couldn’t fit into the text!)

Blog Stuff

From here on out, I’m switching to a bimonthly posting schedule. I enjoyed writing weekly, and I’m glad doing so for a couple months got this blog some momentum, but right now I want to caution that I don’t burn out. I want to have the freedom to explore more topics that every-week-oh-shit posting hasn’t allowed me, and I think my writing will improve if I’m not trying to make deadlines so furiously. Occasionally I may post in off weeks.

Anyway, [AD&D and me] is still walking along, slowly but surely. Writing here has become ingrained in my weekly rhythms, and I’m happy for it to continue. Feedback is always a huge boost–I’m writing because I want to write this stuff, but I also want people to read and talk about it, so if you’re inclined to, please do. See you soon!

Posted in: Game Drafts