Last Era Develog 7: Storytelling and the start of the Bloated Toad

Last Era Develog 7: Storytelling and the start of the Bloated Toad

Recently Gianni gifted me a copy of For the Queen, a card-based storytelling game, and I was hooked.

I quickly got immersed in the stories we told that night. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I had been searching for, I just didn’t exactly know it! The ways that each of the tales organically got started without us knowing what to expect on our expedition was engaging.

The typical mechanics and restraints in most other storytelling or roleplaying games aren’t present. Instead, it felt like 100% of our attention was on the story, not keeping track of the rules.

It was extremely refreshing to experience For the Queen in the way that we did it, and it was a lot of fun.

After that night I looked up more info about the game, as I had never heard of it before. That’s when I stumbled upon the open license system associated with the game.

I was excited to make a heist game finally! For years I’ve wanted to make a game that captures the same feeling as the opening of The Dark Knight. The cold open of robbers performing their various roles and then getting blasted by their comrades (to increase their cut) was a theme I haven’t seen yet in a game format.


You see, in most any other game format other than strictly storytelling, the robbers blasting each other away poses several design problems. How do you keep them from killing each other at the very beginning is a pretty good start to the problems that comes with that. 


In a game that was purely storytelling, it could be integral that getting backstabbed progressed the story, and was fun. One could hope!

I quickly got to work adapting the system to being heist themed, but I realized the missed potential if it weren’t set in the Last Era setting. My personal goal is to try and keep all new titles within the setting to build out the world in many different flavors!

So the heist theme became a fantasy heist theme, which quickly became a fantasy-quest theme. That’s the way the cookie crumbles when you’re making games.

The idea would eventually blossom into Tales from the Bloated Toad. Using the FTQ system as a foundation, I was able to quickly create a fully-fledged storytelling system in a way I never have done before.

The idea of the game is that you play as a group of adventurers having a round at the Bloated Toad, recounting a previous quest that each of you have embarked on.

The tavern is a special place for me, and the setting as a whole. When my escape room-board game cafe combo opens part of the set will be based on the Bloated Toad. I have never been in a physical location from a game before, and I’ve been to Comic Con! It would be a cool experience and a nice touch to the cafe to have it be set in the world of our games.

Anyway, I was able to quickly build out my ideal quest-generating game and was able to invest my effort into other areas of the game. I’ve grown to love making games that don’t really on an overwhelming amount of illustrations to make them fun. It takes a long while to make and can be quite costly. I’ve had enough projects be canceled or put in the freezer due to the amount of needed art!

Though the game would mostly be text-based, I wanted to ensure what little visual components were present were nice to look at. I wanted to have different locations for the quests to take place in, and offer a broad enough canvas for as many different kinds of adventures as possible. For the budget restraints, and limitations on the number of cards I can use, I decided to produce 10 different full-art locations of various scenes across the setting’s realm.

I found an illustrator on Upwork who had a really visually captivating style that jumped out from the other freelancers I was looking at. He applied and we talked briefly about the project. Once it was apparent we had a similar vision for the art direction of the game he set out to design rough drafts of each. He quickly followed with full-colored renders, and the project was done! Overall, it was very satisfying to work with a professional artist. Would recommend.

In less than a month I was able to get an idea from the concept stage to a physical prototype. This has been the quickest turnaround for us; it’s largely due to the game “engine” already being engineered for us, and a talented artist made things that much easier to produce.

I’m excited to get to play this game when the prototype arrives, it’s been a concept for a game I’ve been thinking about for a while, and it’s nice knowing that all those years of thinking amounted to a few weeks of effort and a completed game!

I think this game will do especially well. It has a nice hook for RPG characters to create new playable characters, or develop a backstory for their current character. If a ttRPG group meets and their GM wants a night off, this is a great option for everyone to participate at the same level.

It also allows us to explore more of the world of Last Era, which is always a neat goal to hit. I included 10 locations with the intention of each of them showcase a different set of potential goals or obstacles that the players may encounter during their quest. Some I wanted to be intense and require immediate action like the Pillaged Village card, and others I wanted to offer a peak into the different lives of various characters throughout the realm, like the namesake Bloated Toad and the Lordely Gala cards.

To add further variety to each game session, I included 10 Theme cards. Themes like Love, Revenge, and Redemption and pretty typical and included, but to give a wide depth I wanted to include more exotic themes such as Treachery. (This was once called Betrayal, but as Gianni pointed out it’s too good of an opportunity to reference our other works.)

I think it’s going to be a unique storytelling experience that I’m excited to share!

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