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
13+: Complete Success
Failure with a hitch. A negative consequence or mechanical penalty on top of a failed action.
Failure with an advantage. A positive consequence or mechanical bonus that aids the PC even when the action taken has failed.
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.
Success with an advantage. A positive consequence or mechanical bonus on top of a successful action.
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.