John Laviolette

Out of Frame: An RPG of Cinema Escape

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

It’s the 1950s. Or is it? You have the eerie feeling that you are being watched, that you are really a character in a B-movie.

And you don’t like the way the Directors look.

It’s time to find the Producer and get some answers.

It’s the ‘50s. Oddly, you can’t quite remember the year. You’re a pretty ordinary person, maybe just a tad better than the average joe, with a pretty exciting life. You’re a jungle explorer, a gangbuster, a private detective, a heroic scientist.

There’s just one problem: you swear you’ve seen this all in a movie.

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but reality just doesn’t seem to add up anymore. Maybe it’s the gaps in your memory; you don’t feel like you have a real past. Maybe it’s the way you suddenly “remember” someone you feel you’ve just
met. Maybe it’s the occasional moments of lost time. Or maybe it’s the way you can sometimes predict what’s about to happen, because it seems to be part of the “plot formula”.

There’s also more eerie evidence. The feeling you’re being watched. The way everything seems to be connected. The way the universe seems to conspire against you any time you try to “break the plot”. And those strangers in the shadows…

Whatever it is, you’re going to get to the bottom of it. And you know Keeton hasthe answers…

Raiders of the Ruins of Kanthe

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Raiders of the Ruins of Kanthe is a solitaire dungeon crawl RPG, in response to a challenge issued by Jeff Moore.


Ages ago, the magnificent cities of imperial Kanthe dotted the landscape. Kanthe was the most advanced culture of the world, the greatest builders in stone, the makers of the best arms and armor, the most educated civilization. Civilized Kanthe discovered how to manipulate magical forces and bred specialists in sorcery, alchemy, conjuration, and enchantment.

But Kanthe felt threatened by barbarians. Its people, wanting to feel secure and feeling that mere walls were not enough, began building elaborate underground fortifications, tunneling deep into the earth, protecting their dungeons with clever traps, some of them magical. There were even some who built portals of endless generation which spewed forth strange beasts to prowl and protect.

Ironically, it didn’t protect them. A massive earthquake in the region leveled the magnificent cities above ground and sealed many of the entrances to the underground. The survivors, thinking that the gods were angered, fled the land and later founded the Nine and Thirty Kingdoms, a pale shadow of ancient Kanthe, but still the envy of the barbarians.

For another irony is that many barbarians, far from wanting to destroy the remnants of civilization, want instead to share in its wealth, become civilized themselves. Kingdom folk are prejudiced, however, and rarely accept strange newcomers as equals. But kingdom folk also envy the knowledge of lost Kanthe and wish to regain it. Too fearful to return to the ruined cities or descend into the underground, they are grateful for any outlander rogue willing to risk the dangers and reclaim the treasures of Kanthe.

Outlander rogue. That means you.

Serpentine Thunder

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005

Serpentine Thunder is a game about dragons facing the arrival of guns in a Late Medieval world. it is a submission for the November 25 Ronnies.

You are a dragon, a creature of awe and fear. Men have tried to kill you, but it takes guts to try, since even in sleep, your breath is deadly and your scales are thick. Your kind has also insinuated yourselves into human society to better control these dangerous mammals; it’s not just a matter of metaphor that leads monarchs and emperors to use the dragon as a royal symbol.

But a new era has come, and brings with it something new. The Gun.

Serpentine Thunder is a roleplaying game set in the age of the early gun. Men fear dragons and would kill them if they had the chance ? and with a cannon crew or a band of men armed with muskets, they have that chance. Dragons can no longer rely on the awe they inspire in men bred over generations to fear their power; they must decide how they are going to face this new era.

John Laviolette

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

John Laviolette has lived in many places while growing up, but has settled in California. He grew up watching ‘5s and ‘6s sci-fi, reading swords & sorcery fiction, and studying surrealism, occultism, and historical cultures; this has had a profound impact on his roleplaying game designs.

When not working on RPG design, John composes music for his experimental music project kristal marimba lounge and writes lyrics for the ridiculously huge project known as Interr'bang Cartel. He also occasionally does tech support.


The Court of 9 Chambers

Last Breath

Saturday, October 8th, 2005

Last Breath is a game in which the players take the roles of the last few people on earth after a devastating plague. To survive, the characters must avoid losing their will-to-live and struggle against creeping despair. Searching for other survivors aids them in not losing all hope. Last Breath was created as part of the October 25 Ronnies, using the terms Fight and Pain. The tone is grim, the setting is modern day and realistic.

It’s the end of the world. Or it sure as hell feels like it.

You sometimes wish you knew what white-coated expert tucked away in some biological warfare lab had come up with the idea of the superplague. But it doesn’t really matter much; he’s probably dead, like the rest. Once the superplague broke out of the Level Four facility, it spread too fast for anyone to ask for a government investigation.

Darling Grove

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

You and your best friends have moved to the suburbs. Life is better there, and you can concentrate on fulfilling your dreams and sharing your good fortune with your girlfriends. Who will get married first? Who will get their dream job? And will you help each other, or let your own desires get in the way of your friendship? All of this drama will play itself out in Darling Grove.