The indie band The Decemberists has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a board game called Illimat that they helped to design, along with Portland game designer Keith Baker and publisher Twogether Studios.

The band began to design the game by accident in 2009, as part of the production of a music video for the album The Hazards of Love. They were doing what most bands do in preparation for such an event: trying out new hairstyles, inviting people to be in their band, and participating in photoshoots. They were searching about for something to do in a photoshoot when they decided to pretend to be a secret society that met in out-of-the-way places to play a strange, inscrutable board game. They tasked Carson Ellis (Colin Meloy’s wife and a renowned illustrator and artist in her own right) and photog Autumn DeWilde to make a game board for a prop. Then once they had the game board they got into games more while on their various tours and decided they should make a real game to go along with their board.

Here’s another video, of Chris Funk from the band playing through the game on an episode of One Shot:

Perhaps something in all of this sparks some podcast episode ideas or raises questions for you about games and gaming?

Pacifist Role-Playing Game

Lotus Dimension is a new tabletop RPG up on Kickstarter that explicitly frames the game as pacifist — they’ve removed all the combat dynamics traditionally included in such games:

“If you can’t kill it, get creative” is the first thing any novice D&D player would learn during their maiden venture into its world. Lotus Dimension is simply removing step one. If you know you can’t kill it from the beginning, what else can you do? In Lotus Dimension, that question underlies the whole game. As the Kickstarter states, it “[replaces] violence and weaponry with empathy and ingenuity.” You’re forced to work around combat, and in an adventure game like this, that mentality can completely change the way you play the game.

What possibilities do you see in games that attempt to foster empathy?