Binomial Game Jam: The Results

Binomial Game Jam: The Results

Inspired by our newest game, Bones Deep, my wife and I launched a quick and dirty design jam via We called it the “Binomial Game Jam” and encouraged other designers to make content inspired by real-world creatures. You can learn more on the contest page, but in this post we’re going to take a deep dive and look at all the submissions.

Submissions will be reviewed in the order they were submitted. My aim is not to critique these entries, but rather to celebrate what they’ve created and encourage the reader to check them out.

Osprey Fishing


Created by Pandion Games.

Available as a free download.

Osprey Fishing is a fast, simple dice game of survival. You are trying to catch fish to feed your hatchlings. The one who catches the most fish has the strongest next generation. Whoever has caught the most fish after three generations, wins.

The layout is beautiful, with all the text centered around an osprey catching a fish. It evokes the theme of the game.

The dice game itself is straightforward and creates a tension right away. While there are some catchup mechanics at the start, the winner of each round gets significantly stronger. I could see this creating a huge gap between the lead players and the rest of the group. Survival of the fittest indeed!

Notably the game includes a business-card version of the rules, which is the perfect format for a clever little game like this.

Barbaric Animal Generator for Sword and Sorcery Settings But a Barbarian Couldn’t Understand It


Created by Marshall Hiatt.

Available as a free download.

Roll some d6s and get ready to face big, scary, colorful beasts. But do you know your Latin? Includes over 60 animal bases. Totally compatible, and highly recommended for use with my rules-lite RPG called Pit Dive on my

After laughing ourselves hoarse at the title we actually settled down and took a look.

It’s a generator! Yay! I love these. This one is compact and clever. Three tables:

  • Base Animal (2d6 x 1d6) Roll twice for fusions.
  • Color (1d6 x 1d6)
  • Size (1d6)

The clever part is that the base animals are ONLY listed by their binomial names. So in this instance I am the barbarian who doesn’t understand. What does a “Haliaeetus leucocephalus” look like when combined with a “Nanger granti”?

I don’t know. But now I’m going to look them both up on wikipedia, start imagining how they might mix together and BOOM I’m not only learning about biology but I’m doing game design.

Very clever table that encourages players to learn and use their own imaginations.

Mudskipper Dragons


Created by Lindsey Bonnette.

Available as a free download.

This short document presents the mudskipper dragon in the various stages of its life from the young wyrmling to the ancient predator and provides an idea of its lair and the regional effects it imposes on its domain. The statistics provided are compatible with the 5th edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game.

I don’t know much about 5e, but I was still able to appreciate the clean layout and innovative ideas being displayed here. These creatures are WILD.

  • Wymrling: Feirce jaws aren’t it’s only weapon. It can use a water trap to knock enemies prone, and then SWALLOW them. Awesome.
  • Young: Gains a powerful jet of water and sharp claws.
  • Adult: A true beast, it reminds me of Jyuratodus from the Monster Hunter video games. It’s got huge claws, powerful fins, can create water jets, swallow enemies, and can even fly!
  • Ancient: I shudder to even think of a creature this large and powerful.

In addition to the stats are two pages about their environment, treasure lairs, common traps inside those lairs, and how a mudskipper dragon warps the surrounding environment.

This is SO COOL that it almost makes me want to play 5e. Almost. I’m definitely inspired to use these creatures in a future game.

Tokugawa Kaeru


Created by Cat War Games.

Available as a free download.

The way I see this world unfolding is very much like an Akira Kurosawa film, but in a swamp or lake at the scale of a field mouse. This is a continuing project. For now, I have released one pocket-fold zine with three backgrounds as an introduction. Once there is sufficient content, I’ll put a base price on the project. So, grab it now for free future updates.

A collection of 3 backgrounds with BEAUTIFUL artwork. It lies somewhere between a shonen anime and ghibli, the action is palpable in this zine. Let’s take a look at these system agnostic character concepts:

  • Frog / Dryophytes japonicus. Survivor of a destroyed village, you were trained in dark arts for one purpose: vengance. Also you can jump three times your height! You wield a blade of grass and are basically a ninja. Your only flaw is a haunted mood and laziness.
  • Drunken Brawler / Andrias japonicus. Combat bonuses while intoxicated, you are never far from a clay jar of rice wine. I like how you’re an expert in one esoteric science, that’s a nice touch!
  • Sneaky Bureaucrat / Calotes versicolor. A combination thief + accountant you are a straight-up coward. That isn’t something we see a lot in RPGs, but should be a far more common trait for backstabby thieves.

And the zine ends with a short promise that more content is coming. I, for one, cannot wait to see whatever Car War does with this concept. The art alone is inspiring and engaging.

Camalote the Capybara


Created by Ezakur.

Available as a free download.

Camalote the Capyabara is a cryptic NPC for your Mausritter games.

That art is just adorable! I love it! Camalote is a capybara who lives in a nearby river and promises to answer your deepest questions. I like the implication that she never leaves the river and might just be a floating head. That’s cute. The concept of a fortune-teller that few people believe is a really solid NPC for quest-giving and intrigue. I will definitely use this.

To go along with Camalote we also have…

Pichi the Pink Fairy Armadillo


Created by Ezakur.

Available as a free download.

Pichi the Pink Fairy Armadillo is a messenger NPC for your Mausritter games.

These blind burrowing creatures make great messengers because they promise not to (and can’t) read your mail! The only catch is that you have to catch them while they’re tunnelling underground; quite the obstacle. I’m enraptured by the aforable artwork and even more by the concept. A messenger NPC doesn’t usually offer much engagement, but having to intercept them underground could be a quest in and of itself.

Between both of these character Ezakur has enchanted my brain and warmed my heart.

The Warg


Created by Brendan McLeod.

Available as a free download.

THE WARG is a shapeshifting player option for HEART: The City Beneath, the tabletop RPG by Rowan Rook and Decard. A master of survival, a protector of the wild, a kindred spirit to plants and animals: the Warg is all this and more.

By far the most detailed entry coming in at 19 gorgeous pages. I don’t know much about Heart, the game this is written for, but I’ll do my best to engage with the content anyway.

A shapeshifter, you start with two forms available to you. Shapeshifting is risky, and failing the roll can result in your turning into other creatures, confusing friend for foe, or losing the ability to shift altogether.

There are 10 forms included, each one with skills, equipment, and special abilties. There is a LOT of variety here, and lots of neat concepts to choose from. Here’s one form, for example:

Bird of Prey
Eagle, Owl, Osprey, Falcon, Vulture
SKILL: Hunt or Kill
EQUIPMENT: Razor talons (Kill D6 Brutal)
Skyborne: You can fly through the air. When you use flight to your advantage against a target that can’t fly, your damage becomes Brutal.
Hunter’s Sight: Once per situation, if you observe a target for ten minutes or so, you roll with mastery to hunt them down.

Includes over a dozen minor abilities, 5 major abilities, and 3 zenith abilities. The quality does not slow down in any way, shape, or form (hehe). Some of our favorites:

  • Circle of Life: After you kill something you can make sure all its parts are used to receive a bonus.
  • Chlorokinesis: move vegetation at will. Can be upgraded to talk with plants or allow them to hide you within them.
  • Chimera: create and combine existing forms into brand new ones.
  • Primordial: shift one last time into something majestic and horrible.

We were blown away by the quantity and quality of ideas in this submission. SO much cool stuff we barely covered it all.

Microbial Magic

Created by glaucus.

Available as a free download.

Magic spells for Old School Essentials.

These three spells are wildly inventive, not only inspired by real-world creatures but also evoking their magical elements.

  • Kleptoplasty. Devour a creature to gain an attribute it had. Neato!
  • Pilus. A body-horror spell virus. Enemies affected by this spell can learn it for themselves and different strains compete with one another. It’s gross and horrible and cool.
  • Pyoverdine. Secret a weird slime that glows, corrodes metal, and dries into a hard amber-like crystal. There’s a TON of weird interactions here and a creative wizard will accomplish some crazy things with this spell.

I really like how well glaucus picked examples that interact with the world in unique ways and encourage wizards to engage in a different way.


Thanks to all the participants who submitted entries. We hope games like this continue to inspire other creators to look at some of the REAL magic in our ecosystem (instead of making yet ANOTHER dragon).

As for Bones Deep, we’ll have some updates coming later this month.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to support these cool creators with an itch rating and shout-out on twitter!