A downloadable map-drawing game

Buy Now$15.00 USD or more

Crowdfunded with over 1,000 backers!

This is a game about boundaries, how we mark them and who we include or exclude from them. While inspired by the Common Ridings festivals in the Scottish Borders, this game can be about any community, and take place at any time, in any setting.

Border Riding explores how arbitrary borders can create real long-lasting divisions between communities, and how petty village rivalries can turn into full blown conflicts. By following these communities and their border rituals over time, you will also explore how, in seeking safety from perceived threats, communities can vilify and warmly welcome those that fall outside of a drawn border.

At a glance:

  • Collaborative map drawing game. 
  • 3 to 6 players (solo and duo modes also included.)
  • Played over rounds, with each player taking turns to lead each round. 
  • Invent a community, and watch it face challenges over the passing years. 
  • Create a series of maps that stack atop one another. Hold them up to a window at the end of play to see redrawn lines shine through onto the present.
  • Requires 2D6, pens, 10 to 20 sheets of paper, 1 to 2 hours to play.

Its touchstones include Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year, Everest Pipkin’s zine-game The Ground Itself and Iman Tajik’s project Bordered Miles.


Sketchy illustration of a an map unfolded on top of sketchbooks and pencils. The sketchbooks display half-completed hand-drawn maps filled with mini icons.


What’s Inside?

  • Fold out Map PDF. A full 1000mm x 890mm layout of the rules, map and resources. Exported at 144DPI - perfect for digital perusal.
  • Map JPG. A 144DPI cropped image of the map and resources, for easily slotting into VTTs.
  • Booklet Edition PDF. The rules from the fold out map, laid out as a traditional A5 booklet. Includes accessibility tags for screen readers and bookmarks. Exported at 300DPI, and paginated for at home printing.
  • Free Bonus: 'On Common Riding'. An essay on the history behind the tradition of Common Ridings in the Scottish Borders. Explores the tradition's roots, how it has changed over the centuries, and its modern form of social pageantry. 
    Unlocked through the original crowdfunding campaign.


How do we play?

This is a GM-less map drawing game. You'll collaboratively draw maps on blank pieces of paper for a community that you will invent with your friends, recording its landmarks, its boundary, who the community thinks of as "Us", and which neighbours the community thinks of as "Them".

You'll need 3 or more players, pens, a d6, and a lot of paper. Each game takes 1 to 2 hours to complete. You can play on any Virtual Tabletop that allows you to draw (like Roll20). You can trace the large map to quick-start your game, or invent your own maps from scratch. 

Players take it in turn to lead each round, introducing events for the community to resolve. A new map is drawn with each round, laid over a growing stack of maps as the game progress. Years pass with each round, and your community will face challenges across multiple evolving storylines.

At the end of the game, your community will have grown over generations. Hold your maps up to a window, and see the faded lines of villages past shine through to your town into the present. At the game's end, you'll jump 500 years into the future, and compare how your community might have changed, and examine if any of the original challenges (and their resolutions) ever mattered.


Sketchy illustration of a series of map icons. There are tres, mountains, stone walls on winding hills, towers and wooden houses and fields of sheep, amongst other ragged icons.


Community safety

This game is a love letter to Common Riding festivals. They take place every summer in the Scottish Borders, and are are a tradition founded in war, where communities had to reassert their borders from land-stealing lords and encroaching armies. They've evolved over centuries into small town pageantry, central to each village's unique identity.

When creating a game about boundaries, it is important to recognise the real life violence and discrimination they create. We consulted with Romani TTRPG creator Penny Blake when writing this game, with the aim of not reproducing harmful tropes.

Among its many themes, Border Riding is intended to explore how arbitrary borders can create real long-lasting divisions between communities, and how petty village rivalries can turn into full blown conflicts.  The game includes advice on how to handle topics like xenophobia at your table, and directs towards existing safety tools which may make your game more comfortable for all players involved.


Convention Edition

A new abridged legacy version of Border Riding was developed for Now Play This, a roleplaying game exhibition hosted at Somerset House in London.  You can download it for free!

Different groups of players sit down to a shared community, play a single round, and then leave a legacy for future groups to play with. Across a one or more days, attendees will create decades and even centuries of history for a single shared space.

This version of the game touches on many of the themes from the original game, and also explores a different dynamic to community building; one where the different generations of a single village can only leave limited legacies and histories for one another.

Image of different play materials floating and overlapping one another. These include hand drawn maps with annotations, a sheet with written notes, a play mat, and an X-card.


About the team

Author - Jo Reid is a Borders-born writer. She currently lives in Glasgow, working as an gallery assistant at the Burrell Collection. She has worked in Scotland's film industry for the past 3 years, helping support Scottish Queer International Film Festival and Regional Screen Scotland. She’s passionate about community development, and examining how tradition changes with every iteration. She most recently screened her  film, The Freedom Machine, at Glasgow Film Festival 2023.

Illustrator - Eli Spencer is a fantasy and nature illustrator based in Glasgow. She shares a love of creatures, mythology, maps and more, and creates her work digitally, and through analogue printing media such as screen and riso.

Sensitivity Consultant - Penny Blake is a Sapphic, Romani TTRPG designer who has worked in the industry for over 16 years. As well as offering writing, editing and sensitivity reading, she also supports creators with interviews and reviews. Find her best-selling games and supplements on DriveThruRPG, Itch & the DMG.

Editor - Roz Leahy is a game maker, goblin enthusiast, and one half of Two Rats Press, a risograph micropress based in Edinburgh. She authors her own games and adventures, and is an established editor, having worked with Melsonian Arts Council (Troika), Cubicle 7 (Warhammer 40,000: Wrath and Glory, Vault 5e), and a number of small and independent publishers.

Designer & Accessibility - Brian Tyrrell is an ENNIE award winning games writer, graphic designer and illustrator. He lives in Edinburgh, and runs Stout Stoat Press out of his flat.  


Sketchy illustration. A scene focused on a walled village, broken into two halves. On the left half it is daytime, and riders on horseback with hunting dogs chase a deer out of the illustration and onto the bottom of the previous page. On the right half it is night time, and riders on horseback patrol the outskirts of the village with torches raised high, sending dramatic shadows and trails of smoke.

Image with logo and text, reading: USA distro now available at Indie Press Revolution.

StatusReleased
CategoryPhysical game
Release date Sep 11, 2023
Rating
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(20 total ratings)
AuthorStout Stoat
Tagscollaborative, Drawing, Fantasy, GM-Less, Historical, map-drawing, mapping, Multiplayer, Tabletop role-playing game, world-building
Average sessionA few hours
LanguagesEnglish
AccessibilityBlind friendly

Purchase

Buy Now$15.00 USD or more

In order to download this map-drawing game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $15 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Border Riding v1 (SEP23).zip 66 MB
Border Riding - Convention Edition V1.zip 37 MB

Exclusive content

Support this map-drawing game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Reviews for Community Copies!

Reviews help games get seen! For every review or rating left, I'll add a free community copy for anyone who can't afford the game normally to claim :)

Last updated: 13/05/24

Download demo

Download
Border Riding - Convention Edition.zip 37 MB

Development log

Comments

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Wow! This game looks very interesting. I look forward to a chance to get to know this material. Very beautiful indeed. Congratulations!

Thank you!

(+1)

We need more games like this one : telling tales about community and borders is old as humanity history. 

(+1)

wow that map design looks incredible. will you have more community copies up sometime?

Thanks for the kind words! Eli Spencer illustrated this gorgeous map, so you should definitely check more of her stuff out if you like it - https://elispencershop.bigcartel.com/

As for community copies, I put more up as we get positive reviews. They get snapped up pretty quick, so I recommend checking back often if you can :)

(+1)

A very beautiful and meticulously crafted game with a historical element that's much needed in today's time.

(+2)

This is a really beautiful game in content and presentation. Highly recommend picking up the physical edition too - I really loved learning about the historic element of Border Riding as we played. Easily one of my go-to's now for introducing map drawing games.

This seems very interesting. How big is the duo game? Same as or shorter or?

It's a small change in the rules, aiming to replicate the effect of having multiple players at the table. 

Instead of passing the map drawing responsibilities from player to player, solo or duo players instead roleplay as different perspectives from their community :)