Creating your game

Ok, if the core mechanic caught your attention and you feel like giving it a go and making your own game using it, here's my step-by-step guide on how to do it.

The Pitch

The majority of the world-building happens during play, so you don't need to worry about it too much right now. There's no need for a comprehensive lore of the world, with cosmology, history, locations, factions, events, geography, all intertwined and cohesive. In fact, your game benefits from the blank spaces you leave. That's where gameplay will breathe.

For now, all you need is an elevator pitch. A short paragraph that conveys what kind of world that is, what the major conflict is, and how characters take part in it. If you can, show what makes this world unique. Something like that:

"In a galaxy divided by the Robot Wars, there's little space for joy. You are The Pierrots, a troupe of android comedians devoted to bringing laughter to the outer planets, and constantly entangled in conundrums they never signed up for."

"The Narrow City coughs up smoke and crime. You are members of the Eternal Family, the vampire mafia that runs its shady business throughout the centuries. Will you rise to the top of the organization or work to bring it down along with this damned place?"

Even with just a couple of sentences, you can imply factions, historical events, and a major plot point. It doesn't matter if you don't even know what those names mean—that's exactly the point, you're not supposed to. Keep it vague, keep it short. If it fits on a single tweet, you're doing it right.

Throughout this chapter, I will create a game of my own as an example. Let's go with a vanilla fantasy setting so it is really easy to do. Here's the pitch: "After the fall of Queen Nahlet, the Just, Danoria was seized by Korlax, the Crimson Wizard. You are The Prestige, the remaining heroes of the fallen kingdom, that swore an oath to retrieve the Lost Relics and restore peace and prosperity to the Danorian."

The Themes

With your pitch ready, spend some time listing the major themes one would come across while playing your game. This serves two main purposes:

  • A guide for you. On the next steps, when you are further defining the aspects of the world, you can go back to your list every time you need to check whether the elements you added are aligned to the themes you envisioned for the game. If they are not, adjust accordingly (either the elements or the themes).
  • A safety tool for the players. An upfront exposition of themes helps potential players decide if that's a game for them. In this section of your game, I recommend you also introduce a safety tool of your choice. My favorite is the Script Change RPG Toolbox by Beau Jágr Sheldon ( But feel free to suggest others or create your own. Just make sure you include one.

Your list of themes doesn't need to be comprehensive but should cover the main and most sensible ones. I'd recommend you also include what the game is not about, and the things you expect players won't use your game for.

For Relics of Danoria (that's the name of my theoretical fantasy game), the themes I listed are:

  • Fantasy
  • Exploration
  • Battles (mild violence)
  • Magic rituals
  • Occultism
  • Mild horror

I've also included a link to script change and the following orientation: This is not a game about "killing monsters and taking their stuff". The only enemies are the spawn of Korlax, the wizard. All species you find across the lands of Danoria belong there and are intelligent, even if your limited perspective might not understand their reasons. The characters are heroes with a noble cause, despite their flaws.

The Characters

Characters in Push are unique, competent, adventurous protagonists. They don't have stats, but they do have Traits. Character creation is just a matter of choosing a number of traits from different categories and you're done!


Traits in Push are organized into categories. When creating your game, I recommend you start with the six standard categories and customize them if you need to. Here they are:

GIFT: things you were born with. Includes talents, innate abilities, heritage, bloodline, powers and magic acquired by birth, singularities.

UPBRINGING: things you were raised with. Includes cultural backgrounds, prophecies about you, ethnicities, fantasy and alien species, social status, families.

EXPERIENCE: things you went through. Includes training, studies, occupations, professions, life events, journeys taken, paths chosen, challenges faced, skills acquired, decisions made, twists of fate.

MARK: things that shine through. Includes peculiarities, mannerisms, beliefs, instincts, values, personality traits, looks.

CHARM: things you cherish. Includes artifacts, gadgets, weapons, armor, vehicles, mounts, trinkets, outfits, pets, familiars, animal companions.

BOND: things you are attached to. Includes missions, obligations, family ties, affiliations, debts, personal goals.

Now you should provide a few example traits for each category. I'd recommend going for 3, 6, 12, 18, or 36 traits because then the player could roll for a random one using one or two d6. For a one-page, one-shot game, go for three. For an average length game, I'd say 12. I wouldn't go beyond that unless you're super inspired by all these cool options you want to give your players.

More important than the quantity, though, is the quality of the traits. Remember I said not to worry about preloading your game with lore? Well, now you can inject some more implicit world-building in the trait options you create. Come up with names, factions, kins, events. Make them unique and evocative. Again: you don't need to know what they mean, as long as they spark the players' imagination. Want to have "Shadow Keeper" as an Experience trait but you have no clue what a shadow keeper is? Perfect! I bet your players would love to play and find out.

I'd also include these three instructions for players on picking their traits:

  • Choose. Roll. Create. Look briefly over the traits available and go with the one that catches your eye. If you can't decide, roll for it. If no option interests you, create your own and share it with the group for validation.
  • One player by trait. Characters are unique, so two players shouldn't choose the same trait. If more than one player is interested in the same trait, come up with variations (someone picks the "Storm Tiger", the other creates "The Flaming Lion", and everyone is happy).
  • Fill in the gaps. Players are invited to share their interpretation of their traits with the group. Make up stories. Create connections between the characters through their traits. Discuss how they see the traits coming up in play.

Relics of Danoria will be a shorter game, so I’ll come up with six traits for each category. Let’s see:

Table 02 - Character Traits

Fire whispererRaised by Moon WolvesBlade dancer
Star blessedThe last MohtakaZyox war veteran
Ancient soulThe winged elvesStorm bringer
One with the nightDragon touchedSurvived the Diamond Desert
Bear strengthLord of QuarunaDisciple of The Silver Tongue
Purple eyes of SohriaThe Iron FolkSandstone Bearer
A poem for every occasionA snow hawkThe Black Sea Guild
A cup of Nuna tea solves most problemsThe Sapphire SwordRestore the Faith of the Lost Tree
Always carries a hidden daggerThe Shapeshifting ScrollFind my real mother
The truth is overratedA white dragon’s toothBring down The Tempest
Reflexes of a silver catThe Amulet of JonarisThe Forgotten Folk
Never takes off their hoodA clock of cloudsRecover the First Song

And that's all you need to define concerning characters! No HP, weapon damage, armor class, attributes, skills, nothing. Remind players that characters have all the mundane equipment and provisions they need to live their adventures. Push-powered games are not about survival or resource management. Scarcity may be a plot device in your game (like for a group of scavengers in a post-apocalyptical world), but it is not a mechanical device. Remember, you can reinforce the themes of your game through the complication list. Magic corruption, mind-shattering events, loss of abilities, exhaustion—all the pushbacks of your world can be represented through the narrative prompts offered by the list of consequences you customize.

After players choose their traits, they’re invited to share their vision of their characters with the group, along with their name, description and pronouns. That’s an opportunity to further define and weave their traits together, establish truths and expectations and really bring their characters to life. This is also a moment to practice sharing the spotlight and actively listening to your peers. Be a fan of everyone’s character. Celebrate their uniqueness an d show your excitement to learn more about them during play. It’s OK to leave blanks. Maybe they don’t know yet the meaning of every single trait they chose. This is great! That is yet another opportunity for them to enrich the world as they play.

The Quest

Push-powered games are quest-oriented. That means when you're creating your game, you're actually creating adventures by filling out the Quest Sheet. There is no world-building (and game designing, really) outside of quests and characters. Let's see how you do it.

The Mission

The first thing you need for your Quest is the mission. Think of an inciting incident that requires immediate action, so the characters are set into motion. If you need help, try following the structure below. Start with this sentence:

A foe wants to A + B so you must A + B otherwise C + B

Now you can roll 1d6 or pick from the table below for each entry.

Table 03 - Missions

A - ActionB - TargetC - Consequence
1. Find (explore, discover)1. Entity (person, faction, creature)1. Loss (failure, cost)
2. Destroy (defeat, overthrow)2. Knowledge (information, secret, idea)2. Domination (opression, influence)
3. Protect (defend, save)3. Value (reputation, power, wealth)3. Destruction (ruin, extinction)
4. Conquer (captivate, dominate)4. Location (path, community, place)4. Harm (death, sabotage)
5. Overcome (survive, escape)5. Resource (object, ingredient, element)5. Change (shift, corruption)
6. Capture (recover, imprison)6. Event (phenomenon, incident, legend)6. Dispute (disturbance, strife)

Refine it a little bit, throwing in some mysteries and world-building elements, and your mission is done. You can even provide this table in the end of your game if you want to give a tool for your players to come up with their own missions later.

I’ll use the suggested structure to come up with my mission. Let’s say:

"A foe wants to DESTROY + RESOURCE, so you must FIND + ENTITY otherwise CHANGE + KNOWLEDGE."

I think I can work with that. Let’s refine it:

"The Brothers of the Beast learned the location of The Serpent Scepter. If they destroy it, the Lizard Folk won’t believe in the return of the Cobra King anymore, and will then join the sinister brotherhood. You must find the king's lost daughter, the only one who can wield the scepter and avoid this disaster."

The Matrix

OK, now for the core of your quest: the Matrix. The Matrix is a table of 36 prompts on which players will roll every time they need to create a new scene, define what happens next or add extra color and meaning to their storyline.

These prompts are the most direct way to communicate what your game is about. When creating them, think of the moments you want your players to experience, what kinds of scenes they will be able to build around them and what kind of feelings and situations they evoke.

In practical terms, those prompts can be:


You should create prompts that are evocative enough so players are invested in experiencing it, but that are not too prescriptive as to not leave room for players to interpret and expand upon. A good prompt sits in that sweet spot between vague and precise. And since they are randomly selected, you shouldn’t expect them to come up in any specific order.

There is no better way of explaining it than showing one, so let’s jump to my example.

Right, I have a clear vision in my head, so it’s time to fill out my matrix. While I do so, I should keep in mind the mission I just created, the main pitch and themes of my game, as well as the character traits I came up with, so my prompts call back to those elements.

Table 04 - The Matrix

1. A ferocious Drakon sleeps1. A lost amulet
2. The steep Mylantha Mountains2. The caves beyond the frontier
3. A nest of purple snakes3. Thunderstorms are early this season
4. Traces of a recent scuffle on the sand4. Shared stories around the fire
5. The Beast Hunters approach5. Milo, a gecko innkeeper
6. The Crystal Moth has a message6. The energy field of a Relic is felt
1. An audience with the Rainbow Bird1. A possible heir to the throne
2. The Bone Bridge on a windy sunset2. Korlax's spy bats
3. Olara, the sunken witch3. A merchant brings a gift
4. The Reptile Council is summoned4. The Cinder Knight stands in your way
5. The teahouse on the treetop5. The whispering forest
6. The Cursed Compass6. An omen among the stars
1. A marble tower far on the horizon1. Coral, the cobra King‘s cousin
2. An ancient scripture challenges beliefs2. The Lonely Willow
3. The depths of the Pearl Valley3. The Battle of Quaruna
4. Brothers on the run4. The Narrow River holds a secret
5. The prophecy of Sul-Mahat5. An enigmatic carved door
6. A flower, a book, and a duel6. The orb in the trapped ruins of an observatory

I'm repeating myself, but just to be clear: you don't need to know what any of those prompts mean. They should be compelling and flavorful, but it'll be the players who will bring them to life during their adventure.

The Agenda

Excellent, the meat of your game is done! Now all is left to do is the Agenda.

The Agenda is a series of smaller achievements you expect your players to chase during your adventure. Achieving them will grant rewards—namely, character advancement.

Think of the agenda as your way to reward the players for specific behaviors. If through the traits and the matrix you expressed the themes of your game, through the agenda you reveal its tones and intentions.

The agenda is formed by a list of imperative statements called Goals— six of them should suffice. It's the player's job to bring them into the narrative or bend the story to their direction so they get a chance to accomplish them. They're group goals, so if one character manages to complete one, the whole group benefits from it.

Here is the agenda for the quest I'm making:

  • Make a new ally
  • Learn one of Korlax's weaknesses
  • Show mercy towards a creature
  • Commune with nature
  • Reveal a secret of your past
  • Be gifted with a magical item

And that's your game! If you're feeling fancy, you could add a map and some art, but it's not mandatory. If you're aiming for a more robust game, you could also create more Quests, maybe some more character options (such as "advanced" traits), and custom-made rewards. If you want to give players more freedom, you could provide a long list of prompts and missions so they can come up with their own Quests!

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