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BLOG Octo: Games Of Spring

Duane O’Brien has brought together eight of the best RPG designers working today and given them a fascinating, and very difficult, task; fit an entire roleplaying game onto two side of a piece of A4 paper. There’s no endless supplements here, no granularity of combat scene or vast skill list, because there doesn’t need to be. These are eight polished, precise, highly unusual games fitted into a very small space by some of the best, most innovative designers working in the field today; Filamena Young, Tracy Barnett, Niki Hammond, Jackson Tegu, Renee Knipe, Hannah Vietmeier, Robert Bruce and Ross Cowman.

In Octo: Games Of Spring , the games are all built around concepts like rebirth and thawing, life returning and growing, which is pretty interesting ground to design a game to encompass, and pretty challenging ground when you remember that game is only two sides of A4 long. Duane’s plan is to sell 1,000 print copies, folded like an old-fashioned zine, because, despite the vast amount of digital RPGs doing the rounds, as he puts it, ‘“t’s still cool to get something in the mail.” Even better, the price tag of $20 is entirely a charitable donation to one of the charities Duane supports:

AIDS/LifeCycle 11 benefitting the SFAF and the LAGLC
Napa Valley Tour de Cure 2013 benefitting the American Diabetes Association
A Crowdrise Fundraiser for the Against Malaria Foundation
Donors Choose benefitting the School and Project of your choice

AIDS/Lifecycle is a charity bike ride that raises funds for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Centre. They run outreach programs to help combat the spread of HIV, assist people living with AIDS and HIV are active internationally. It’s also a really fun, tough bike ride for those who take part.

The Tour De Cure is another charity ride that does similar work, raising funds for the American Diabetes Assocation which helps research and provides services for those living with Diabetes. The Against Malaria Foundation purchases and distributes malaria nets around the world as well as reporting on, and helping to track, the impact of distribution. It was one of Give Well’s top ranked charities in 2012/

Finally, Donors Choose allows people to buy school supplies for projects in schools across the US. You can choose which project, and school, so you can target your donation to do the most good.

On top of that, Duane’s taking on all the printing and posting costs but has said anyone who wants to chip in for shipping is welcome and he’ll try and throw something extra in for them.

This is about as selfless an idea as you can get. Duane’s got together eight of the best, most interesting game designers on the planet, set them a challenge and is using the results to not only put these people’s work in front of a wider audience but raise money for some incredibly good causes. If you’re a gamer, and you’re interested in trying something new, why not try eight new things at once with Octo ? Besides, like the man says, it’s cool to get something in the mail.

Octo can be ordered from

Alasdair Stuart