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Today we talk to Sean and Mel, game designers from Meldar16. You can find them at

Let’s hear from Meldar16!

How did you get started in RPGs?

Sean: When I was a kid, all the RPGs I played were video games. I even played a few based on tabletop games, like the old Baldur’s Gate on the PC, or Shadowrun on Sega Genesis. I was also really into the Dragonlance novels. Even though I had all these interests just adjacent to it, I didn’t actually play a pen and pencil RPG until I was in my 20’s. A good friend who was in the same boat was listening to the podcast Nerd Poker. When the podcast made the switch to 4th edition D&D, he figured he could figure out how to play, DM’d a game where I was a player, and I’ve been hooked since.

Mel: I only started actually playing RPGs after meeting Sean, but I grew up watching sci fi and fantasy shows/movies, and attempting to play video games. After we moved to South Philly, we found a good group of friends that also wanted to play and the obsession began. Now we have two groups that we co-DM.

How did you decide to go from playing games to designing games?

Mel: Like many of us, Covid allowed for more time to play RPGs. Our group had just finished Curse of Strahd and we all wanted to try out running our own one shots and give the forever GMs a break. I decided to try my hand at running a homebrewed one shot inspired by the movie Tremors. After writing 70 pages of notes with maps and character designs before we even played I knew it was going to be much more than a one shot. It ended up becoming our first adventure release for 5e “Our Lady of Chaos” and sparked the creation of our Atera Redux zine series and adventure books.

Sean: Mel put together Our Lady of Chaos, and as her spouse, I was her de facto editor. She put together a few more Meldar16 releases solo, but then I also caught the bug when I helped her write our game, Beans Beans The Flammable Fruit. I mostly just designed the game system on that one, but I knew I wanted to get more involved. Mel has been gracious enough to indulge me.

What’s your favorite game or game product you’ve created?

Mel: I gotta say Beans Beans the Flammable Fruit. It’s a silly little dungeon crawl about using the power of farts to escape a dungeon, and the evil bean lich that resides in it. Who doesn’t find farts funny? I enjoyed using every bean pun I could think of and writing the big bad’s speech to be terrifying yet goofy.

Sean: My favorite so far is I Got A Knife. Putting together a pulp detective game was in my mind since I first started helping Mel with Beans. By the time we got around to making it, the whole concept was pretty much fully formed. The game design, writing, and Mel’s art & layout all hit the nail on the head for me.

Besides writing, Mel does the art and layout, correct? Do you have an art background? Do you prefer writing or design?

Mel: Yes, I have a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Tyler School of Art with a major in photography. Funny enough, after graduating I seldomly picked up my camera and began doing more illustration. I’ve always loved drawing and painting, and actually worked on comics on and off for about a decade. Fantasy and sci fi have always been inspirations for my art style so stepping into RPG art was an easy move. Art and design are definitely my favorite part of the game making process. Writing is fun but I do end up using it as a tool for the art.

Aside from your own games, what is your favorite RPG?

Mel: So D&D 5e is the game I tend to play the most but that’s sorta out of ease. Troika! is probably my favorite indie RPG because it’s easy to understand and the art is super trippy! They do a good job of taking over-used creatures and character types, and adding a new flare to make them brand new again. You also end up having more character types to play in the long run which is always fun.

Sean: Fate is the game that I keep coming back to. I love how the narrative defines the rules and vice-versa. I also love the huge focus on group storytelling instead of just a GM running their story and that’s it. Even when playing other games, I use Fate’s session zero rules whenever I can to get past the “you meet in a tavern” trope.

How has your career path influenced your game designs?

Mel: After years of illustration and comic design, I learned how to create a narrative that flows well and how to use imagery to tell stories.

Sean: Years of office work has instilled a need to poke fun at bureaucracy, and I never want our games to feel like a chore or math homework. So I tend to put hints on how to wing it when you hit the edge of the rules I’ve written, rather than type up a giant tome with charts for every little detail. I’m not sure if I’d ever write a game as crunchy as D&D even.

What other hobbies do you have other than RPGs?

Mel: I love to cosplay and I am a pretty big Star Trek nerd. I also spend a lot of time hanging out with our cat Turtle.

Sean: Mel and I are pretty big Trekkies (we met at a Trek film fest!). We also dabble in most of the usual nerdy hobbies: comics, video games, anime, etc. I also love cooking, and am always trying new ingredients and recipes.

Where can people find you and learn more about what you do?

Mel: My instagram @meldar16 is where I post most of what we are working on. We also have a website, where all our physical products are located and our and DrivethruRPG stores have all our PDFs available.

Sean: All the places Mel said, and I use Mastodon on the instance.

What upcoming projects do you have that people can look forward to?

Mel: We are currently working on the sequel to Our Lady of Chaos which will be called Our Lady of Order. It will be another full length adventure with original gouache illustrations, and will continue to follow strange events happening in Harcourt. We pull in our DIE versus DIE magick system with the titan-like gods known as the Koloso and the struggle between their new magick and the only surviving old magick, chaos. Guaranteed to be filled with twists and turns, crazy monster encounters, political intrigue, and loveable NPCs. We plan to turn this series into a trilogy and have a special edition box set in the next few years!

Sean: While Mel works on Atera Redux material, I’m plugging away at our DIE versus DIE game system. Beans was kind of a prototype, we’ve had a fantasy playtest out in the wild for awhile, and used a variation of the rules for I Got A Knife to be more of a murder mystery. We’re going to wrap all the rules together with some new variations (sci-fi! Cthulhu mythos! more!) into a core rulebook. The rule variations will be plug and play, so we can have a game system ready for any type of adventure we want to write.

Thanks, Sean and Mel!

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