Erfworld Games

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By balder Comments (48)

Right. Now that I have your attention...


It's the final day of the Erfworld Bicycle® Playing Cards project. We have one of our only two stretch goals left to hit. This post is about why that goal is important.


Why do we need to raise $12,000 for Gametable development? It's a long story, but the short version is:




I haven't done a great job of explaining the Erfworld Gametable. I know it's a weird idea, but it is something I have wanted to do at this site for a really long time.


We've got tens of thousands of tabletop gamers coming here to read the comic every day. I want you all to be able to play and develop card and board games in the browser. This pool of interested, experienced gamers should be sharing ideas and having fun together. You should be collaborating and playtesting each other's games.


We've implemented an instance of Tabloro, which is an open source engine for doing exactly that. Unfortunately, it still needs a lot of development work. We wanted to debut it with some playable games, but found that even simple card and dice games were too much of a hassle to be fun. We can see what it needs, and it's not too complex, but developing in node.js is not something the current web team has much experience in or wants to tackle.


So we're going to have to hire some talent, maybe out of the Erfworld crowd, maybe out of the small Tabloro community, to get Gametable to do the kinds of things we want it to. Here's what functionality we expect $12,000 will get us:


• Taking ownership of a table
• Owners seeing a player list
• Owners being able to kick players
• Set table maximum players
• Assigned table positions when game begins
• Dealer marker/button option, including passing the deal
• Automated dealing based on stored game parameters
• "Keep your hand" option on redeal
• Improved (functional, really) deck shuffle
• Allow players to rearrange cards in their hand
• Scoresheet or shared scratchpad object
• Option to see card count in other players' hand
• Push cards up or down a layer


There are quite a few other things we want this thing to do, but that's the stretch goal list. We see it as the minimum necessary to play something like Uno, Cards Against Humanity, or Go Fish. Beyond that, there's a lot to add, and we'll see where it goes.



Yes, so...the other big reason that we want Gametable is so we can organize the development and playtesting of eventual, EVENTUAL Erfworld games.


We. Intend. To. Move. Very. Slowly. And. Carefully.


But we are finally moving on it. That's where this other new thing comes in. Today, we are rolling out Erfworld RPG.


This is a collaborative volunteer effort to get our gamer fans to work together, and agree on a system to represent Erfworld combat mechanics with rules and dice. Erfworld superfan 0beron is going to lead this project, and we need lots of volunteers. If you've got ideas about how the battles and magic we've shown in the story so far would actually work as a game, now is the time to jump in and put those to the test. You can find it at


And this is also why we need Gametable. We'll be able to write up notes in the wiki, and test these systems in realtime in the browser at the Gametable. We can do that right now, to a limited extent. With more development money and time, we'll be able to create a fairly incredible Arkentool for Arkentesting games.


So that's where we stand on the last day of another successful Kickstarter. I want to thank all of you who have pledged so far, and I hope we'll be able to pull this off and get to $46,500 raised by the end of it. If not, we'll regroup and come at it from another angle. We try things.


  • Omnimancer (Tipped by 2 people!)

    I don't know if this is planned for the game table or not, but I would be very interested in turn based games that can be played over the course of hours or days. I rarely have time to sit down and play a live game for an extended period of time, but I would like something that I can check in on whenever I have a free moment. It would be great if the game table allowed things like assigning turn order to players, issuing action points, and other options like that to support asynchronous games.

  • rstoffel (Tipped by 1 person!)

    Just upped my pledge on the Kickstarter! 

    What an amazing concept.  I'm pretty illiterate when it comes to developing/testing, so I doubt I would be much help on that end, but I'll support the project in any way I can!

  • rstoffel

    Might be too early to access that thread, but it looks like it is locked for mods only.


    But thanks for the link.  I might not be able to do much, but I'd love to see what's available to help out.

  • balder

    Bad link. Let's try again.

    0beron has created a stickied thread here, to begin identifying and organizing volunteers:

  • explicatorrenter

    Interesting project, and I do wonder if the final destination for this project is Fated to be as an in-browser project? Might it not also do well to stand alone?

  • jkbreuer

    @balder, You are proposing spending money to develop the functionality that you want/need to build a compelling Gametable game.  Have you considered making the project open source, and appealing to your tech readers to contribute and build that functionality?

    Contributing in that fashion is something that your many engineer readers like myself could off back.

  • jkbreuer

     To double down on my comment above.  Some people like to code AIs and the like for fun.  Take as an example.

  • Lor


    Hopefully I'm just missing something, but a CTRL-F on all the KickStarter pages yields nothing.  There was talk of an add-on for uncut sheets, and an assertion of 'before the KS was out'. 

    Has this been forgotten?  Did I overlook something?



  • ArtyD

    May I pledge all my current shmukers and future production to this happening?

  • falcore51

    If I could say shut up and take my money and be able to afford rent I would.  

  • TruckRockpec

    Just pledged $100. Good luck Team Erfworld! 


    Not very familiar with Kickstarter. I already asked on the other news post but I'm just wondering how I would go about adding the $5 bonus to my order? Would I just select the tier I want and add 5 to it? And how do I let you know what account to associate with it?

  • zolexic

    the game tabletop simulator on steam does all of the things you listed and more, and (probably) isn't coded in shifty javascript

  • bobgdotnet

    @balder Have you tried looking at already available tabletop solutions?  I've used "Tabletop Simulator" from Steam and it has nearly (if not) all the functions you listed.  You would only need to upload your 'cards' or 'minis' and the rules for the game.

    This seems like a lot of work to redo something they've done already far better. What do you get for this Tabloro? exclusivity?  Doesn't seem worth it.


  • Redarmy

    Honestly Gametable seems to be a horrible waste of time and effort.

    As previously stated by others, Tabletop Simulator already exists.

    And then on top of Tabletop Simulator, there's the free to use OCTGN. Which is extremely customizable to where someone has almost completely made all of MtG rule enforced.

    This just seems like a horrible idea and the money could be better spent by taking a lighter to it and using the fire to give a tiny bit of heat to the homeless up North.

  • Knott

    @zolexic & @bobgdotnet: Tabletop Simulator, afaik, isn't embeddable into a web-based platform. It is a piece of software that each and every user needs to purchase. The end goal is something everyone can use regardless of platform and starting capital.



    It is misleading to call the project "Erfworld RPG" when its initial long-term purpose is not to create an RPG, but a Tactical Wargame á la Mordheim and D&D Chainmail.

  • Arky

    It seems a bit odd to make a pitch for this when the Kickstarter is for an entirely separate product. You want people to put money in for the card deck if they want to fund the game platform instead of just having a Kickstarter for the game platform. It seems a bit, well, ass-backwards. 

  • OneHugeTuck


    Already backing/get a dorly.

    Can we get more than one dorly? I'd drop $10 each if I could stack a few more.

    (I bet that would get you over the next mile$tone.)

  • CrazyIvan1745

    Anyone considered making something on Tabletop Simulator instead? it wouldn't be browser based and people would have to pick up the base game, but the options for it are fantastic mod-wise. I know people make RPG campaigns with it already, but it takes a lot of scripting. At the very least it could be used to make a rough concept for an erfworld game until we have someone with the talent to make it in browser.

    I am not trying to promote Tabletop Simulator, but it has a lot of the basics coded for you to get a head start.

    I would love to help in the future, currently a little tied up trying to save up to move (Ironically to VA not far from Roanoke). I don't have a lot of experience with tabletop games, but I do have a little in game development.

  • CrazyIvan1745

    Whoops now I see people beat me to mentioning Tabletop Sim. I still don't think it should be an end goal, but it couldn't hurt to use it for a prototype game. That way you can code the erfworld website version to focus around what you need and not a platform on which to make it.

  • udat

    Tabletop Simulator is a bit proprietary.  Tabloro is open source at least.  Have you also looked at VASSAL?  I know that fairly complex games like Descent and Imperial Assault are already implemented in VASSAL.  That's open source too.

  • CDS

    Will the units collected be visible via the gametable? I don't imagine in 3d mode but the 2d sprite of them. 

  • Anomynous 167

    What are bicycle cards? Is that a tool to keep bikes from reaching their max possible speeds?

  • balder

    Re: Tabletop Simulator (which I have owned for years), I think Knott had it right. It's not just that TS won't integrate into a browser (which is what I want). TS is a commercial product on somebody else's platform.

    We want every reader to be able to build, test, and ultimately play some of these games. With TS we'd have to restrict participation to people with the technical and financial means to buy TS on Steam. Then we're dealing with the limitations of working there instead of here, in terms of organizing feedback and testing. I'd like to be able to give each game its own testing thread in the forums, for example. We'd like to build custom reporting for creators to track the statistics of people who play or test their games. Top ten games made by Erfworld fans...just a whole host of other stuff we'll just never be able to make it do.

    Relying on someone else's platform is a quick and easy route, but the key word there is "relying." It carries the risk that Tabletop Simulator will change policies, or Steam will.  It could be discontinued, they could decide they have a problem with how we're using it and tell us to stop, etc. etc.

    We weighed these things very carefully. Tabletop Simulator has a lot going for it. We probably will use it in some phases of game development (such as testing whether our games are playable among people who don't read Erfworld). But our use-case with this is weird, and as usual we need a custom solution.

  • balder

    @Omnimancer The idea of a long-play, asynchronous site game is fantastic. That's exactly why we wanted to do this as an open platform, because it's the kind of thing that Erfworld readers would think of, but I probably wouldn't. It sounds like a lot of fun.