Wednesday 10 February 2010

Play Unsafe

I've just read an interesting and inspirational little book called Play Unsafe by Graham Walmsley. The premise of the book is that using improvisation can change the way you roleplay.

This book is about finding the Zen of roleplaying. Cutting away the rules and 'work' until you are left with improvised play in its purest form. This isn't to every gamers taste, some feel safe within their framework of rules. But even if you only implement a few of the ideas in this book your roleplaying (and GM'ing) will become more spontaneous and open up unexpected possibilities for fun.

For example, in the chapter Play, Walmsley says don't plan ahead. "The stuff you make up on the fly is better. When you invent on the spot, we see the excitement on your face, hear the urgency of your voice...Without a plan, you lose control. Anything could happen".

Most of the ideas in this book are common sense but have been overlooked or pushed aside by traditional game styles. Some suggestions may go too far for some readers - such as running a game with no notes, no rulebooks and no story - but there are plenty of little gems of advice that can be incorporated into your playing style.

The Quote on the cover says it all "Quite, quite brilliant... there are few roleplaying games which wouldn't be better of they tore up a hundred or so pages of rules and replaced them with the text from Play Unsafe" (Source: RPG.Net)

This 82 page paperback is a little expensive at £12.99 from Leisure Games but must be measured against the fact that its self published (a feat in itself) and packed full of useful hints and tips.


  1. The latest episode of the Voice of the Revolution podcast includes a brief interview with Graham about self-publishing.

  2. Once again thank you for the heads-up. I'll look out for this book, but any chance of a more detailed review or explanation of how the procedure works?

    For some time I have believed that rule books have become more and more complicated, not necessarily to make the game easier or better - but really to add pages and increase the complexity (and the cost).


  3. In his case, he was talking about self-publishing with no money. Essentially, the procedure he advocated was to write up your text, iteratively edit my giving the work to free contacts to comment on, layout in MS Word/Open Office and sell through

    He mentioned a free and a $10 layout program, but I don't remember what they were.

  4. Thanks, Lee, I really appreciate the kind words.

    The $10 layout program was Serif Page Plus. And Play Unsafe is much cheaper here:

    And it's available as a PDF, too.



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