Enter the world of Normality – how long can you stay sane? What IS sane, when the world is mad? Is madness supposed to be an excuse for those things you did?

began life as a fairly standard post-cyberpunk post-apocalyptic science fiction game. However, that version of the game only exists as a hand-written copy buried in some back corner of a room in a shared house somewhere in New Zealand. What happened next is what matters.

The two authors began on a two-year journey of rage and frustration at the state of the world, and the reactions of those around them to their concerns. We became filled with hatred toward the roleplayers we encountered at local games and conventions, and so we set out to hurt them. To make them cry. We very nearly succeeded.

Emerging from the wreckage we had wrought, we revisited the loosely-bound stack of papers we had used to bludgeon people into submission, and found that (despite what we had thought) there were strong veins of sense concealed in the babble – that with patience, patterns emerged.

We carefully reassembled the hand-typed pages (often pieces of scrap paper – with other text on the opposite side) in what seemed the most logical order. We then edited the book by hand, with marker pens.

From this was born Normality – the world’s first Dada/ergodic roleplaying game.


The best way to use the book is to consider it as a) a product of the setting it attempts to describe, warped by the twisted nature of the world that produced it or b) the way an actor considers a mask – looking for the shards of meaning that will tie the whole thing together. Certainly, read it all (at least twice) before you dismiss it as mere rambling. Take the introduction seriously. We did.

To make a character, copy the headings we used on our sheets (“Name” “Hit” “Historia” “Good thing/Bad thing” and “Stuff”) then fill them in using the first sentences you see every time you open a book from your bookshelf at random. Look carefully at the resultant sheet, and you will see quite clearly the kind of character you have just created.

There are pre-generated character sheets about halfway through (you’ll know them because they have names on them) as well as a guide for the structure of an adventure. Whether you make use of these is up to you.

Hugh Dingwall and Vishãla Jekic

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20 Responses to “Normality”

  1. Crass Majesty Says:

    Reading this is…thouroughly engrossing. It has the feel of a poorly Xeroxed culm manifesto…the ravings and disjointed writings of a Lovecraftian Arkhamite.

    I love it.

    My only rear is that I might not be intelligent enough to explain this revolution (revelation?) to my group…and I am afraid it will collect virtual dust on my hard drive.

  2. Hugh Says:

    Generally, we have avoided trying to explain it and simply visited it upon people. However, with a group of people you regularly gamed with, that might be a bit much. Try downloading the GM’s Guide and see if that helps at all.

    Good luck :)

  3. suicidepuppet Says:

    I was wondering if there is a way to contact you guys (i.e. email). I had a few questions about your work. And no, it’s not for an explanation. :) I got it the minute I read it. Long story of dealing with a similar type of text.

  4. Hugh Says:

    My email is Go for your life.

  5. JessicaRabbit Says:

    I am simply confused. There’s nothing in here even vaguely resembling a game even despite the warning that this isn’t your typical rpg. I downloaded the pdf and was greeted by pages of text, all in various stages of legibility. Those that I could make out were confusing and only led to further frustration in deciphering this mess when attempting to read sentences that were too faint or not quite all there.

    There’s so much more I want to say, but I have neither the time or will to continue reviewing this piece of garbage.

  6. Lazlo Toth Says:


    I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the full PDFs yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion that your reaction of anger, to nothing more comsequential than a RPG that confused you a little, is exactly the reason the Normality RPG exists and exactly what the designers were going for.

    Real artists, famous and respected artists, have been doing the same sort of thing for sculpture, painting, and literature for almost a century now. (HINT: THEY ALREADY DESCRIBED THE GAME AS DADAIST, AND IF YOU’RE OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL YOU REALLY SHOULD KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.) This game is like the RPG equivalent of Marcel Duchamp mounting an ordinary urinal in an art museum — and it got about the same reaction from people who Just Like Art That Looks Like Pretty Stuff.

    You don’t have to like it, but it does have a useful and thought-provoking purpose, and I wish you’d taken five minutes to consider what that purpose might be before you dismissed it as a “piece of garbage.” If it’s garbage, yanno, it might at least be garbage for a REASON. Sheesh.

  7. JessicaRabbit Says:

    #1: Yes, I am out of high school, but I still had to goodle Dadaism. I don’t know what class I was suppesed to take, but I’m pretty sure they never covered it.

    #2: I’m using your reply as my character sheet.

  8. Malkav Says:

    Good one with the character sheet! :)

    Anyway, I just downloaded the book an hour ago and skimmed it with a friend. All he had to say was: “All hail Dagon.”

    So yeah, I think I’ll be using the book as an in-setting thing.

  9. Irkutsk Says:

    I’m trying to download the PDF but it’s not working. I get a white screen. The Guide for Prospective GMs opens just fine but the actual PDF gives me nothing. I really want to read this and it seems like it will be forever lost to me. Which, based on what I’ve heard, seems appropriate.

  10. admin Says:


    It’s most likely an issue with your .pdf program or maybe your browser. It’s downloading and working for me, but the file is pretty big. Try opening it on another computer if you have one available to you.

  11. Hugh Says:

    Another option (if you’re OK with reading off the web rather than downloading) is to go to my wee vanity site: and use the Isuu version of the game there. Isuu generates clever page-turny web-readable pretend books out of PDFs and might give you a way to scan through without needing to download if that’s a problem.

    The size of the PDF is a result of me scanning it from 80 physical pages, and having very little experience making PDFs in that way at the time. Sorry for any inconvenience and all that…

  12. Jay Says:

    Gotta say, this is beautiful. Haven’t played it but the txt alone seems like if Hunter S. Thompson had become a tinfoil hat type who typed and photocopied furiously the prophetic dreams of the interzone. Not sure if I’ll ever be able to play it, but reading it leaves me with a sense of strange fulfillment that you get from dealing with true weirdness. Thanks for letting us have it for free.

  13. Anders Says:

    People whose minds were irrevocably altered by this literary hallucinogen also had their minds irrevocably altered by:

    Scorch Atlas, by Blake Butler

  14. randumb person Says:

    After reading the main PDF, I was convinced that I had glimpsed into what the modern day considers Insanity.

    After reading the GM PDF, I have decided that this is how I’m introducing my friends who want to do a PnP RPG into the genre.

  15. matt nobrains Says:

    this whole thing is punk as fuck. reminds me of all the scrawled poetry i brought with me out of the asylum i had been sent off to for a suicide attempt. at the time i thought i had written a book, but i was so doped up there upon my release it was just a couple of half coherent pages. all i really remember from my stay there (other than some guy crapping himself) was telling my keepers i was vegetarian so theyd have to make me special food different from everybody else.

    im gonna go down to kinkos and get all 98 pages of this printed out n try to play it.

  16. Tony Says:

    Having read the GMs guide (as the other PDF seems to be nothing more than a collection of nothing important or interesting, arranged in a manner to attempt and deceive those who witness it to believe some nonexistent meaning or purpose for even glancing through it exists), this seems like this only qualifies as a role playing game by the loosest and most generous of definitions. It’s presented in the words of a writer who cannot be taken seriously or can be seen as anything but a pseudo-intellectual with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, eliciting such wonderful imagery as an unemployed Washington twenty-something who thinks there’s depth in their choosing to not be of any use to anyone least of all themselves.

    I must thank the creators wholeheartedly for making this free to read, as if I had paid for this garbage I would be too busy regretting the loss of my money to laugh at this terrible production.

  17. Hugh Says:

    Hi Tony,
    If you’d like to do that (regret the loss of your money) and have a physical copy to annoy your friends with, we can organise that for you. Last time we did it, printing physical copies of the game cost about $10 NZ each (I’ll let you convert that into your local currency yourself) but that was before we wrote the GM’s Guide so it may be higher now, plus postage of course (I need *something* left over to buy my biscuits and pornography).

  18. Vishala Says:

    “a pseudo-intellectual with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, eliciting such wonderful imagery as an unemployed Washington twenty-something who thinks there’s depth in their choosing to not be of any use to anyone least of all themselves”

    This is now my CV.

  19. Hugh Says:

    Yeah man – but my degree was in Classics (and I failed).

  20. suicidepuppet Says:

    Yes, still around and dealing with the exact kind of people that Hugh warned me about. You were so right my friend. It is very hard to create games for people you despise and that seems to be the case in modern gaming.

    This game is pure genius. Ground breaking is only the half of it. If not for a disastrous hard drive crash there would have been many extras I had hoped to provide for Hugh on this project (sorry for losing touch man. The whole Google/Orwellian thing has chased me away and I LOATHE G+.

    For those who call this garbage sleep well with the knowledge that this document of truth was intended especially for you sweet hearts.

    And thank you Hugh. This truly changed my life and I wish I could have been more involved. I’m attempting to make other types of games based around the concepts of Normality. My favorite thing to do is list components that are not included in the game and make references to places that don’t exist.

    Keep’em crying :)