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The Tulpa Role-Playing Game - Guide V4.4


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The Tulpa Role Playing Game is an experimental project I devised to help tulpamancers kill some time in the wonderland and hopefully help out with the development of their tulpas a little. In short, the game is your run of the mill tabletop RPG. It's as basic as I could make it, and I'd never claim that it's anywhere near as good or detailed as the classics of the RPG genre. My goal here wasn't to revolutionize the genre. It was to help popularize tabletop games as a fun way for tulpamancers to bond with their tulpas and to provide a gateway into more advanced tabletop games whose detailed rules are harder to digest, but potentially a lot more rewarding.


A small warning: I didn't design the game with novice tulpamancers in mind. The game requires a decent level of skill at visualization and on-demand wonderland building, and if one tries to play with a tulpa who isn't vocal yet, it could be more of a chore than fun. I'm not trying to imply anything definite though, just a possible risk that I wanted to point out.


Disclaimer: Portions of this guide are based on the original thread this game was inspired by. Huge credit goes to NED for writing it. The link to the original thread is available at the bottom of this post.


In the beginning, my wonderland got boring very fast. Talking to the tulpas felt easier via imposition, and maintaining a prolonged, detailed image in my head took a toll. I became very interested in finding a more entertaining way to practice active forcing in the wonderland. Looking for engaging activities or games became a regular thing for me. Usually, my searches didn't come up with much. Useful tips were scattered around here and there, sure, but there wasn't much that caught my eye. Then, I stumbled on a very interesting post about a turn based game which you can play with any number of people using nothing but your wonderland, and my horizons expanded. The game was very easy to pick up, and progress on the tulpas really picked up, too. Most importantly, we really enjoyed ourselves playing the game. Unfortunately, the original thread has since become inactive. As a side project, I began trying to refine the game, specifically by incorporating a D&D-esque style of gameplay into it, and this is the guide I decided to write. Suggestions are highly appreciated.


The Philosophy of The Game

The Tulpa RPG revolves around the concepts of actions in the wonderland and the risk of consequences. For every action, there is always a possibility of failure. For every kind of success and failure, there are numerous degrees of severity. For every degree of severity, there are numerous possible outcomes. For every outcome, you have a dynamically shifting wonderland, constantly impacted by the consequences of your actions and always ready to simulate more. And so long as the game is played, the cycle of actions and consequences will continue to repeat.


I named this game 'The Tulpa RPG' for a simple reason. It was designed for the sake of tulpas, by a tulpamancer, with the input of his tulpas. It was crash-tested by said tulpas, edited with the help of said tulpas and it would not have reached its current state without their suggestions. Thanks, guys.



  • Campaign - a session of the Tulpa RPG.
  • The GM (game master) – The one who manages a campaign with the assistance of what I like to call their 'tools'. They can be the host, a non-system member or a tulpa (preferably well-developed because the GM role demands a great deal of quick thinking). It is recommended that the GM not play the game themselves.
  • Game Master's tools - a die (if desired, multiple dice), roulettes or a coin.
  • Players – Everybody besides the game master. Tulpas, hosts, friends, everybody. Players do not require any tools. In theory, any number of players is acceptable, but any higher than 4 players sounds convoluted to me, so my personal limit is 4 players per campaign.
  • Archive - something like a piece of paper or a computer file to record the campaign. The details of the creation of and any long term changes to their characters- e.g. injuries, new clothing or scars- can be recorded here. Really, anything that's hard to remember, from NPCs' personalities to every plot point that's happened in the story so far can be recorded in the Archive for convenience. If you're really determined, you could even go as far as to record every piece of dialogue and action here. It's up to the players and GM, after all.


Character And Setting Creation

To begin a campaign, the GM describes the initial environment to the players in great detail, describing everything noticeable in the area. In return, the players inform the GM about their character. They decide whether or not they'd like to use their actual body as their in-game appearance. They can choose anything to be a substitute body, anything or anybody from Jessica Alba to slenderman to a talking brick, the GM just needs to confirm if they can comfortably imagine the substitute.


Players can choose to make their characters more detailed if they like. There are all sorts of personality typing systems and character roles out there. My go-to's are things like MBTI, Enneagram, D&D moral alignments and basing roles on video game RPG roles (yes, I rip off other RPGs a lot, but I can't make my game excessively basic, now can I?).


The Actual Game

The players then perform their first actions, thus officially starting the campaign. Interaction with the environment, even looking around, is an action. Interaction between players isn't usually considered an action, but if said interaction will somehow affect the environment, then it will be considered an action (like pretending to argue in order to trick an NPC or one player pushing another player at an enemy). So much as talking to an NPC, however, will be considered an action.


The GM is the one who decides whether or not the requested actions are allowed to occur. If the GM feels that the requested action is too powerful or too convenient, then they can reject it and ask for a more acceptable one. Examples of actions: walking, conjuring items, brewing potions, searching crates, swimming, opening doors, shooting a gun, riding a dinosaur and head-butting a camel.


The Tools

To insert the element of probability into an action, the GM may choose to use one of the following tools. Just to clarify, using a tool is not mandatory every time the GM accepts action. The GM can choose to allow the action without a tool, guaranteeing its success.

  1. Coin: If the GM gets heads, then they must allow the players to carry out their actions with minimal alteration. If the GM gets tails, they can either deny the player outright, or do something more interesting. They can bring absolutely ANY challenge to the player in the case of tails, although for the sake of fairness, the challenges should be beatable.
  2. Dice: The higher the number that is rolled, the more the GM is allowed to screw with the players. The lower the number, the better the outcome. The guide further below provides more detail. This mode is more complicated in execution than the coin flip mode, but it can be very enjoyable with a GM who knows what they're doing.
  3. Roulette: Placing different options on various values on the roulette could be used. E.g., 'denied with no alterations', 'allow action but provide an additional obstacle', 'allow with no repercussions', etc.
  4. Rock-Paper-Scissors: Yes. I'm serious. This is for the most desperate of circumstances, where you play a game where you never expected to play a game. No coins on you, no dice, just a couple of people who are willing to play. That's when this comes in handy. A completely "tool-free" experience. The player and GM play a round of rock-paper-scissors. If the player wins, the outcome of the action goes in their favor. If the GM wins, they decide the outcome of their own volition. If the GM's hands hurt after all those rounds of RPS (mine sure did), then the player requesting the action and another player could do it instead, with the other player representing the GM.

Invocation of The Gods: This is the most powerful action possible. To Invoke The Gods is to ask the GM directly for help, pushing the acceptable limits of the requested action's power. Remember when I said the GM may choose to use a tool? That's not applicable here. A tool must be used when Invoking The Gods. If the tool decrees that the GM must help, then a solution is provided to the current problem, right out of the GM's mouth. It's recommended that the GM's solution not be too convenient, so as to not spoil the game. It is, however, a gamble. If the tool fails the action, then the GM must provide punishment equal in magnitude to how relieving their help would have been. Since Invoking The Gods is a last-resort action, it means that the punishment is usually massive.


Gameplay Styles

This section essentially goes into detail about playing the game with multiple players. The two basic game modes I've come up with are:

  • Unlimited Actions
  • Round-Based Gameplay

Unlimited Actions

There are no limitations on the number or order of actions. A single player can perform a dozen actions in a row, or perform no actions for an hour. It's entirely up to the GM whether to restrain a player's action streak or to encourage a player to act at all.


Round-Based Gameplay

In this style, the game is structured in the form of rounds. Each round, every player has a limited number of actions, and are allowed to pass their turn if they don't want to act. Round-based gameplay can further be categorized based on the order of players.

  • Ordered Rounds - there is a fixed order for players to carry out their actions. The order is decided before the game starts. If you have players A, B and C, and you decide that the order is A, B and then C, then throughout the game, every round will start with A's action, then B's action and then C's action. This style can help save the time and trouble of deciding an order every single round.
  • Loose Rounds - there is no fixed order of players. In the case of A, B and C, if C wants to go first, then C goes first. If both A and C want to go first, then the order's decided by a mini-game. Rock-paper-scissors, for example. Or maybe the GM decides, either by themselves, or with a tool. This style can ensure that players act based on whether they want to act or not, rather than a preconceived order.

Loose rounds are my personal go-to. Unlimited actions can lead to a very unstructured experience, but fixed rounds can force a reluctant player to act before a willing player whose idea might not be usable once the reluctant player changes the wonderland with their action. I find loose rounds to be a nice compromise.


The End-Goal (Or Lack Thereof) of The Game

The game only ends when the players decide to end it. There are no pre-required tasks I built into the game, there is no inherent win condition and there are no limits beyond the GM and the players' imaginations and the basic framework I outlined above. My personal "end goal" of the game is to find the most creative solutions to any problems the GM throws at the players, and to weave the most entertaining story possible.


Skills Required & Potential Benefits From The Game

First of all, the GM should have a good degree of skill at visualization. They should have practice rapidly constructing and deconstructing wonderlands. The game will require them to think on their feet, even more than players, and quickly conjure new challenges and outcomes.


As for hosts, this game could help build creativity because quick, lateral thinking is encouraged by playing. Bonding with tulpas would be expected since a feeling of companionship develops in teamwork campaigns. This is especially true if the scenarios are very challenging or turbulent, which forces a high level of cooperation between players. The arrangement of host as GM and tulpa as sole player was always very appealing for me because it sounds like it could really help hosts gain a deep understanding of their tulpa. The constant back-and-forth of problems and solutions between host and tulpa really sounds like a fantastic opportunity to build intimacy and learn the nuances of a tulpa's personality.


The development of participating tulpas is encouraged by the game because they are exposed to various types of actions and decisions. The game can help flesh out their personalities based on how they approach the game, their style of speech, their interests being incorporated into campaigns, etc. Parroting's an option in the case of an undeveloped tulpa. It should, however, be noted that it is rather difficult to play with an undeveloped tulpa in the first place, and it should also be noted that such parroting effectively becomes a form of narration rather than a full-fledged campaign. The game could also help reduce the social anxiety that some tulpas may develop because they get the opportunity to interact with people who are not part of the local system. Like I mentioned above, the constant back-and-forth of problems and solutions between host and tulpa is a great place to build friendship, so both sides are plenty benefited.


Double Dice

In short, my principle is as follows: the higher the number is, the worse the outcome. Double dice rolls are my personal recommendation since they provide a good number of outcome severity levels. The following is an outline of the outcomes under a double dice roll.

  • Snake eyes: the GM provides the best possible (reasonable) outcome, even better than what the request action requests. The GM will be forced to shower you with golden rainbows.
  • 3-5: the GM simply accepts the action.
  • 6: Failed action with a positive outcome.
  • 7: Neutral. The GM can choose to re-roll or create an outcome themselves (preferably not a very significant outcome).
  • 8: Successful action with a negative outcome.
  • 9-11: the GM simply fails the action.
  • Box cars: Destruction imminent. Brace yourselves, players. A 12 effectively means that the GM is now allowed to bring hell on earth. Probably best for the GM not to ruin things too much if the action under consideration isn't particularly major

In short, 2-6 are positive outcomes, 8-12 are negative outcomes and 7 makes it the GM's decision. The probability distribution is a normal distribution. Snake eyes and box cars are the rarest outcomes, while a 7 is the likeliest outcome.


Multiple Coin Flips

These are some ideas that can be fun to incorporate, but I should mention that I haven't extensively tested it. A shout out to Sands who largely inspired this.


Multiple coin flips could be used in appropriate cases like the following.

  1. Asking the GM for help could require multiple heads. Double heads gets help, a head and a tail means that the GM is not required to help or punish you, and a double tails means that the GM is obliged to rain hell on you.
  2. The number of flips and number of required heads could be decided by the GM based on the character's skill. As an example, let's picture the process of baking a loaf of bread. A character who cooks casually could take two flips with only a double tails resulting in failure, and a single heads would be enough to cover it. A chef character who has been cooking for their whole life could take three flips with just one head required. A character who's trying to bake for the first time would, by this logic, do a double flip with double heads needed to succeed.
  3. When there are varying levels of intensity in consequences. For example, imagine you're trying to shoot a crazed man running at you. Two flips for three levels, i.e. as "miss shot", "shot grazes leg" or "shot hits leg directly". TT gets you 'miss', HT or TH gets you 'graze' and HH gets you 'direct hit'.

Tips For The Game Master

The GM's role, in my opinion, can be difficult for two main reasons. First, deciding whether to accept an action request is often a complicated judgement. Secondly, it can be difficult to conjure spontaneous challenges to the players in the event of a failed event. This section should hopefully help.

  • Try to account for the characters in the request when deciding whether or not to accept an action. A 6'5" battle-maiden is likely to be able to lift a boulder and throw it off a cliff. A pet seahorse is not.
  • It can be helpful to use a 'buff' system. Players can get 'buffs' at certain points in the universe. E.g., strength buff at a gym, the ability to build bombs at an underground resistance army, etc. They can then perform these actions without needing the GM to use a tool. Note, however, that the GM can still use a tool if they choose to.
  • The GM's goal is to shake up the story and keep it interesting. If, however, the story is going in a good direction, then it's best not to interfere with the players very much.
  • Using a tool for simple actions is tedious, and deciding to use a tool for all actions, even the easiest ones, makes the game unrealistically based on chance. I'd recommend saving tools for actions where the fun would be enhanced by luck. For example, 'defuse bomb', 'snipe target' or 'knock out target by bashing shield against head' are actions that could go either way because they are heavily affected by factors external to the players (unknown bomb model meaning the wire you cut is based on chance, wind speed changing the course of the bullet and whether you can hit a good spot on the dude's head, for example). These are good places to use a tool, in my opinion.
  • Another place to use a tool is on characters whose personalities are undecided. For example, to bribe a bartender, a coin could be flipped to decide the action, and as a side consequence, the bartender's honesty, greediness, wealth, etc. are also decided. If the action fails, some of the bartender's personality traits are decided along with the consequence: the bartender is either honest (bartender rejects bribe) or avaricious (bartender demands more money). If the action succeeds, the bartender's personality is fleshed out in other ways: they accepted the bribe because they're maybe dishonest, greedy (but not so greedy that more money is demanded) or poor (but maybe otherwise moral), so they accept the bribe. These qualities will remain in the bartender for the rest of the game, and the important thing to note here is that the tool played a large role in deciding the bartender's personality, not the GM alone.
  • You might want to pause the game for a little while if you need time to think up a development in the game. No shame in not immediately coming up with something to put behind that giant door that the players spent half an hour trying to open. It's better to make sure their efforts weren't in vain by taking some time to work on a great idea.
  • I know I said that the game has no fixed end goal, but that doesn't mean that it should have no goals. Goals are those little packets of dopamine that keep players interested. Short-term and long-term goals should be set by the GM. They keep players feeling rewarded for their efforts and prevent the game from feeling aimless and stale.
  • Have a sense of humor. Often, one of the best ways for a GM to make the game interesting is to just make a cliche story funny. Even in horror and drama films and books, there are jokes. They keep things fresh. An endless onslaught of seriousness can get stale. Humorous breaks between missions in a zombie overrun apocalypse can really bond the players and the GM. Obviously, drama is powerful and engaging, but jokes can go a long way, too.
  • There are plenty of great articles online for further advice on the topic with authors far more experienced than I am. Going through them would definitely be very helpful. After all, that's how I got started myself.

Tips For The Players

Though I have a personal bias towards the GM roles since that's what I usually like to play, no RPG would work without the players. Here are some traditional tips that are customarily taught to players to help even the most novice RPG players enjoy themselves more and make the overall experience better for everyone. I'll try to add links to articles I got these tips from, since the authors deserve their due credit for helping my sorry ass when I was starting out.

  • Try to be proactive. This is the classic tip. I can't even count how many articles I've read that said this before me, and begin to fathom how much people swear by it. All I know is that it warms my heart as a GM when a player has a good idea and goes for it, and it usually makes the game a lot more interesting. Help the GM out by making things happen and serving the story. When it comes down to it, the players' decisions drive the game.
  • Try to fail. No joke. Failing over and over again is one of the funniest and funnest parts of the game. Failing in hilarious ways over and over again can make the build up to victory all that much more intense, leaving an immensely satisfying taste in your mouth when victory finally arrives. And it's surprising how powerful, immersing and affecting a genuine, "once and for all" failure can be. Failure can really remind you how much you've ended up caring about your character and the game, and though it can be really bitter, it can also be a very "real" experience.
  • Tying into the point above, don't make perfect characters. Real people aren't perfect, and yes, I know it's called role-playing, but is it really believable role-playing if your characters consistently win with the classic combination of Hollywood-esque flawlessness, snarky wit and endless one-liners? Personally, I think that's boring, much more boring than a character that does dumb things from time to time and makes things interesting. Link to the article that taught me this (it also happens to be my favorite article about RPGs to date).
  • Be a team player. Be accommodating. Place value on others' fun, as well. Have a sense of humor. It heightens the experience for everybody around. Don't forget that your own happiness and enthusiasm is just as contagious as others'.
  • Just to reiterate the point from the GM tips section, there are a vast catalog of articles out there that really help players out. The points I made in this section, in fact, are greatly inspired by things I've read. Check out everything you can.

Example Scenarios

Here are some examples of starting scenarios to help illustrate how the game can be played.

  • A murder mystery in a European Mansion (some foresight on the GM's part really helps)
  • A snowy forest at night, auroras in the sky
  • A cave in a mountain
  • Deep in a copper mine
  • As a soldier in a medieval army
  • On the moon, looking down at earth
  • A windy desert at night, a full moon in view
  • A blank, white world that the players fill up themselves
  • In a locked room that players have to escape
  • A haunted house
  • As vampires in a coven
  • Buried alive in a coffin
  • Getting revived as a ghost in a previous campaign where the player died so that they get to haunt everybody they met in the previous campaign!

Text Based Gameplay

I sometimes play this game with a friend online, and we developed a notation system specifically for that purpose. If multiple people from the same system or computer are playing, then use initial: or name: to differentiate. The rest of the notation is as follows:

- action

: speech

[GM announcements]


For example,

U - offer the shopkeeper three acorns in exchange for the goods we tried to steal.

NaVi: Guys, we need to find some shelter for the night.

[Tails, you fail to convince the shopkeeper, he shouts, "Get out before I call the guards!"]

[Twelve, an asteroid randomly falls on the city, destroying it without leaving a trace. You must look for shelter elsewhere.]


I plan to post a sample campaign here, but I most often play exclusively in the wonderland, so it's going to take me a while to get used to recording everything down.


Final Notes

This is a link to the post that inspired mine. I must express how much grateful I am to the original author for thinking this up. Some of the campaigns the tulpas and I have played were among the best bonding experiences we've had, and it'd be an understatement for me to just describe the game as 'fun'. Here's to hoping you guys feel the same once you've given it a try!


Thanks for reading, and happy playing!


Changelog & Future Plans

System Members: NaVi (Host), Clarissa, Lily, Aoi & Haru, As of Yet Unnamed aka "U"

Familiars: Northern Goshawk, Raven, Genet, Clouded Leopard, Siberian Husky Pup, Chimpanzee

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Ooh, this looks like something I can do that incorporates all of my tulpas!


Should probably go in the Submissions forum for Tips and Tricks.

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Should probably go in the Submissions forum for Tips and Tricks.


There's just one submission board, we figure out where the submissions should go as we review them.


The last gaming guide was in Resources, so I'd put this one there too. It had the Forcing tag, so it might fit here. If not, then Misc.


Overall this one's fine. Few odd phrases and stuff:


Can be human or a highly developed tulpa.


Creepy implication. Say host rather than human.


Hosts will have greatly enhanced creativity…


Why? When? What is the basis for this claim? I think you might want to look at this paragraph again and rewrite it to be a bit more like the tulpa one right after it.


Tulpas who are not fully developed can much more quickly gain independence…


A bit of a wonky sentence. "Tulpas who are not fully developed can quickly gain independence…", perhaps?



Choosing one pronoun to use for an unknown person is fine, though often "they" is used instead of he or she as a gender neutral option in English. Up to you if you want to use that.


For the dice section, usually in PnP games it's nice to also have a great success that has better outcome than expected, not just a normal success. Right now your d6 has 1/6 chance of succeeding without any issues in any case, too. Is that too harsh?

The THE SUBCONCIOUS ochinchin occultists frt.sys (except Roswell because he doesn't want to be a part of it)

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+Sands Thanks for the advice. I was feeling the same about the dice portion in all honestly, and I plan to get back to it later. I'll edit the other portions you mentioned. Also, I hadn't realized that there were gender specific pronouns at all. I suppose I missed a few while editing, because I actively avoided them. Thanks for pointing that out.


To Beatles and Lumanatrix, I'm glad you found it interesting!

System Members: NaVi (Host), Clarissa, Lily, Aoi & Haru, As of Yet Unnamed aka "U"

Familiars: Northern Goshawk, Raven, Genet, Clouded Leopard, Siberian Husky Pup, Chimpanzee

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The dice part got me thinking. As you know, in most RPGs the players roll for their own success, and usually use a twenty sided die.


The first thing I noticed, is that higher numbers were worse instead of better.


I immediately thought that what I would do is have one and six be critical failure and success respectively, with the numbers in between being success or failure depending on a 2-5 arbitrary difficulty rating selected by the DM. If the roll lands on the exact difficulty rating, then you throw in a complication, as I imagine it would actually get rather boring to have a complicated plot twist or frustration nine times out of ten.

Host comments in italics. Tulpa's log. Tulpa's guide.

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Well, not sure if I'd say most of them use a d20 and most of them don't have higher being better, either. Though usually it is the case. You get to use a wide variety of dice if you play plenty of systems.


Did make me think... About your coin flip method. You could have an alternative where depending on how good a character is at something, they get to flip the coin multiple times and count the heads as successes which are then compared to a target number. A bit more interesting than a 50% chance, in case they don't have a die on hand. Could also be throwing more than one d6 if you want more outcomes. Could have the fabled snake eyes and boxcars be something extra special failure and success wise. You wouldn't need something different for each possibility, though.

The THE SUBCONCIOUS ochinchin occultists frt.sys (except Roswell because he doesn't want to be a part of it)

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  • 2 weeks later...

This isn't a new idea, couldn't anyone just re-purpose DnD rules? Seems like this guide just exists for the sake of existing, anyone that was already interested in a tabletop game experience with tulpas could look at thousands of other resources.

We're all gonna make it brah.


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