The Rickety Stitch Tabletop RPG

The Rickety Stitch RPG: Design Goals

Welcome to the first in a series where we share the design process and development of the Rickety Stitch RPG for our Patreon! We’ve been working on the game on and off for the past few years, and are now hunkering down and making a concerted effort to have a playtest document later this year.

A Rickety Stitch RPG has always been something we’ve wanted to make, practically from the comic’s inception. So much about Rickety Stitch is rooted in our love of TTRPGs, which we’ve been playing together for the last 25 years (since 4th grade!). And we knew it’d be a fun way to build out the rest of the world of Eem, as well as allow us some unique ways to tell more stories through adventure modules down the road.  

Above all else, we want to capture the tone and feel of Rickety Stitch, and let players play and explore in the world we’ve created. We also want to tap into the way we’ve played RPGs for years, which tends to favor creativity and storytelling over hardcore rules and tactics. 

In the indie RPG design scene, there’s a set of three questions floating around that folks say you should think about when designing your game. So, here goes: 

What is your game about?

The Rickety Stitch RPG is about telling stories and roleplaying in the world of Eem. It’s about having the freedom to play creatively to better build a shared narrative with your fellow players. It’s more about roleplaying, exploring, finding lost treasure and lore, than it is about fighting monsters--though that’s still a part of the game.

How does your game do this mechanically?

The core dice mechanic allows for partial successes and failures that push the narrative forward no matter the result. And the onus is on the GM and players to decide how that happens. 

Class abilities are centered more around ways to help you be creative and bend the normal rules with your imagination, rather than only stats and combat. Procedural rules and random tables for traveling the wilderness and exploring dungeons also help make that the focus. Magical loot is primarily designed to give you new powers to help you creatively problem solve instead of better stats to kill monsters. Also most monsters can be socially engaged, and conflict rules prioritize talking and doing before fighting.

How does your game encourage and reward this for the players?

Players gain XP, not from killing stuff, but from completing quests, exploring locations, finding loot and lore, getting heroic titles, and from showing up and playing.

The Core Dice Mechanic

We’ve always felt the d12 was criminally underused in TTRPG’s. So just on that deeply held conviction alone, we wanted to make a d12 system. 

Inspired by Star Wars Edge of the Empire and PbtA (Apocalypse World) games, the idea of partial successes and failures is incredibly compelling and fun. You’re less likely to get stuck if you just fail, and adding complications to the story is always more fun. But a whole slew of dice with unique symbols is fiddly, and the bell curve of rolling 2d6s just didn’t feel right. So the d12 allows for more randomness than 2d6, and gives a smaller variance than, say, a d20. 

So here’s what you do for just about any roll, in one form or another.

Roll a d12 + skill:

1-3: Complete Failure
4-6: Partial Failure
7-9: Partial Success
10-12: Success
13+: Complete Success

Complete Failure: 

Failure with a hitch. A negative consequence or mechanical penalty on top of a failed action.

Partial Failure: 

Failure with an advantage. A positive consequence or mechanical bonus that aids the PC even when the action taken has failed.

Partial Success: 

Success with a hitch. A negative consequence or mechanical penalty that hinders the PC even when the action taken has succeeded.


The action taken by the PC succeeds.

Complete Success: 

Success with an advantage. A positive consequence or mechanical bonus on top of a successful action.

Boggle Sketch.jpg

And that’s it for now, with much more to come in the future! Make sure to visit and pledge on Patreon for an insider's look at the Rickety Stitch RPG in development, as other amazing rewards!

Or if you haven’t got started on the series yet? Binge it! Book 1 and Book 2 are available today on Amazon, or you can ask for it anywhere books or comics are sold in North America, Russia, and Israel.

Rickety Stitch Book 2 Drops June 26, 2018

We're super pleased to announce Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Book 2: The Middle-Route Run. We've been hard at work on Book 2 for over a year and can't wait to share it with you all. 


Here's a peak at what to expect for the the second volume of our fantasy graphic novel series...

"Determined to find the legendary kingdom of Epoli, Rickety and Goo discover the only way forward is the most dangerous road in the world of Eem—the Middle-Route Run—a zany, mad dash through a gauntlet of bandits, monsters, and fiends.

With heart-pounding action and humor to boot, The Middle-Route Run tells the story of what it takes to truly be a hero."

Rickety Stitch: The Middle-Route Run has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection and is available for pre-order today from Penguin Random House, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon Prime.

School Library Journal Gives Rickety Stitch: The Road to Epoli a 4th Starred Review

Our fourth starred review has us reeling. We can hardly believe how much people are enjoying Rickety Stitch: The Road to Epoli. So kind! Here's the whole review.

Rickety Stitch is a skeleton minstrel who travels throughout the fantasy realm of Eem with Goo, his jiggling cube of a sidekick. Unlike the other reanimated skeletons in this world, Rickety retains his personality, but he has no memory of who he was when he was alive, and the only key to his past is a song whose fragments come to him in a dream. So in true buddy fashion, the duo venture on an epic quest to find the plucky troubadour’s origins. Drawn in stark black-and-white lines with somber gray shading, the dream sequences contrast beautifully with the lurid colors and chaotic art style of the rest of the book. The art brings the story to life, making the characters believable and adding dimension to personalities. The plot is an exciting blend of creepy and humorous, with a truly amazing amount of world-building and history, making the setting every bit as captivating as the characters. VERDICT Conjuring up an entertaining bard’s tale, this adventure is sure to appeal to anyone who loves high fantasy punctuated with comedy, especially older fans of Jeff Smith’s “Bone.”
— Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT
Rickety Stitch: The Road to Epoli

Rickety Stitch: The Road to Epoli

Shelf Awareness Reviews Rickety Stitch

We love the call outs and praise from this latest review from Shelf Awareness. Check it out!

Rickety Stitch lives in a world of imps, unicorns and gnomes, but as a skeleton with a soul, he’s the odd one out. Other skeletons are passive “workin’ machines,” but he’s prone to dozing off, cracking wise and “inciting a mutiny with song and dance” in a way that makes corporeal humans nervous. After these and other bad habits lead Rickety Stitch and his friend the Gelatinous Goo to be unceremoniously fired from their job of de-rusting the iron maiden and cleaning the gut-wheel in the torture chamber of Subterranean Pits and Lairs LLC, they begin a quest to find out who Rickety was when he was alive. With little to go on but vague scraps of music, Rickety and Gooey are thrust into the vivacious and unruly world of Eem in search of Epoli, a place they know only through Rickety’s dreams. The unlikely pair confound everyone they meet—both being the only one of their kind—including a tricky imp who offers to guide them. When the Goo is held hostage by “Ogre-Spawn of Gordak, Glutton King of Grimly Wood,” Rickety must head out on a rescue mission that tests his devil-may-care temperament—the first in what could be a lengthy saga of self-discovery.
— Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)
Costa and Parks have been creating Eem together for years online, and the solid world-building strengthens every panel of Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli. Though Costa’s full-color, jaunty illustrations may appeal to younger readers, due to a healthy dose of cartoon violence and adult humor (“I still have, like, six days of PTO left”), the book is definitely meant for teens and adults. The book is most compelling when the text and visuals balance each other out. From the start, with its first scene in the corporate torture chamber, it uses the interplay between the two to shift effortlessly between fearful darkness and upbeat irreverence. The goofy jokes leavened with existential musings recall Terry Pratchett and Patricia Wrede, and well-read fans of fantasy will appreciate the loving homage to the genre. “You are someone, Rickety Stitch. That much I know,” the skeleton is told toward the end of the story. Rickety and his readers will have to wait for the second installment to find out who, and they’ll likely be impatient to see the next steps of his journey.
— Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

Shelf Talker: Ben Costa and James Parks launch their skeleton bard and his gelatinous buddy on a grand graphic adventure that's just the right mixture of serious and silly.

Source: Shelf Awareness

Children's Book Week Special Release


Brand New Rickety Stitch Mini Adventure

We're thrilled to be a part of a special digital and printable activity comic release from The Children's Book Council. They were nice enough to invite us to create a new, Rickety Stitch mini-adventure: The Goo's Great Escape, a Rickety Stitch Activity Comic.

In Goo's Great Escape, readers will get a change to choose their own adventure and fill in a story told by Goo himself!

About Children's Book Week

The Children’s Book Week Comic is a free anthology comic featuring short stories from some of the biggest children’s graphic novel creators. The comic is distributed for free online to celebrate Children’s Book Week. This comic promotes visual literacy and supplements under-resourced schools and libraries.

Complete list of contributors include:

Ben Costa and James Parks
Jeffrey Brown
Mike Cavallaro
Norm Feuti
David Gallagher and Steve Ellis
Charise Mericle Harper
Keith Knight
Falynn Koch
Laurent Linn
Mike Lawrence
Matt Loux
Mike Maihack
Matt McElligott
Chris Schweizer
Tillie Walden
Gene Luen Yang and John Patrick Green

The comic is available in two formats. Digital for reading on your computer, tablet, or smart phone, or a version you can print out and assemble.


Click the link to download the digital version

Print & Assemble

Follow these instructions to print out and assemble your own Children’s Book Week Comic.

  1. Click the link and download the Print & Assemble File
  2. Open the Print & Assemble File
  3. Print

Recommended Printer settings:

It is recommended that you print in landscape orientation on standard 8.5 x 11” paper. Select Fit to Page and print double sided (Flip on Long Edge)

  1. Do not reorder the pages as they come out of the printer. When the comic is finished printing, fold the stack of pages in half along the dashed line. The number 14 should be folded onto the number 15 on the top page
  2. Turn the comic over and staple along the crease to secure the pages in place.

Source: Children's Book Week Comic

Have fun with this comic! Color! Share! We're honored to be in such great, creative company and look forward to doing more for Children's Book Week in the future!

Teach a Gnome to Fish, or Legend of the Great Windowsill Robber

Found! An ancient relic of Eem's comics past! Ben Costa's Teach a Gnome to Fish is a mini-comic from our college days. You'll see some similarities too, an early exploration of the hero-gnome L. Nerman Fuddle in The Road to Epoli. The comic was originally created for an independent literary magazine that Ben and James help found as college roommates. Enjoy!

Written and Drawn by Ben Costa, Colors by Svetik Petushkova.

Written and Drawn by Ben Costa, Colors by Svetik Petushkova.

The Road to Epoli Book Trailer

We are so pleased to share the official book trailer of Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli. What better way to kick off a series of fantasy graphic novels than with a sweet, new trailer forged by a band of our buddies.

Narration by Logan Cunningham (Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre), Music by Evin Wolverton (The Road to Epoli, The Midnight Hour), and Editing and Animations by Luke Sharkey.

Behind the Scenes

Logan Cunningham, Narration

Logan Cunningham, Narration

We had lots of fun making this beauty for you folks. You may recognize some elements too. We were fortunate enough to partner with Logan Cunningham, who we've been friends with for nearly two decades. You'll remember Logan as the brilliant narrator and voice of Rucks in Bastion, the debut action RPG from Supergiant Games. Logan also plays the sword in Transistor and we are eagerly awaiting his performances in Supergiant Games' new title Pyre, releasing this year.

Evin Wolverton, Music

Evin Wolverton, Music

Additionally, fans will immediately recognize the melodic instrumentals of Evin Wolverton, the man behind the magic of the official Road to Epoli song that accompanies the first book of Rickety Stitch. Evin is a supremely talented singer/songwriter and we have been both friends and fans for many, many years. You can listen to more music on Evin's Soundcloud, and we encourage you to follow him. He's great.

And of course, the brilliant editing and animations were done by another long-time friend, Luke Sharkey. Luke is a true-as-the-north-star renaissance man. An editor, animator, sound mixer, actor, and dancer (yes dancer!) that appears magically on his ten speed cycle to work wonders with footage and sound. 

We couldn't have made this book trailer happen without a great team. And we're over the moon to have worked with not only great talents, but great friends.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

We're so pleased to read this amazing, starred review of Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli, from Publishers Weekly. So, great to hear critics enjoying our fantasy graphic novel as much as we enjoyed making it! Here's to fantasy comics!


Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say:

Rickety Stitch is a skeleton bard who can’t keep a job; his dreams hint at who he was in a previous life, but he remembers little upon awakening. After getting fired from a dungeon, Stitch sets out for answers in Epoli, a place that surfaces in his dreams. His blob of a sidekick, Gelatinous Goo, accompanies him, and their adventures throw them into contact with imps, gnomes, trolls, and other creatures; some befriend and help him, while others have less benevolent plans in mind. The kaleidoscope of characters is complemented by the full-color artwork, which establishes a rich fantasy landscape and contrast starkly with the barren b&w eeriness of Stitch’s dreams. Amid many slapstick moments, gross-out gags, and edgy jokes—“You’re lucky you didn’t rip my blouse,” wails the skeleton after getting stabbed during a bar fight, “this thing’s vintage!”—Parks and Costa impressively evolve their tale into a compelling epic quest with deeper themes than the initial chapters hint. This trilogy opener is ideal for Nimona fans looking to see tried-and-true fantasy tropes get hilariously upended. Ages 12–up.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Fan Art Giveaway Winners!

Hey folks! We got some awesome, awesome new Fan Art from the give away. And we're so happy to announce the winners of the drawing.

Congratulations to our winners!


Check out the collection of fantastic Rickety Stitch Fan Art!

If you want to share your art, you can! Visit our art submission page here.

The Kirkus Star

We are stunned and delighted to have learned that Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli has received a glowing review from Kirkus and was awarded with the Kirkus Star!

Here's a brief expert from the review, but you can read the whole thing here.

Costa and Parks’ script is imaginative and laugh-out-loud funny, unafraid to crack a well-timed, verging-on-naughty joke. Costa’s art is unfalteringly, vibrantly buoyant, with many sight gags that effortlessly turn the profane into something adorably laughable. A cliffhanger ending leaves readers poised for the sequel—they will be clamoring.
— Kirkus Reviews

We're so honored they enjoyed the adventure and can't wait to release it to the world on June 6th, 2017. If you're eager to secure a copy, you can actually pre-order Rickety Stitch today. Just visit this link