independent games & design by Nathan D. Paoletta


About The Game

Annalise is a game for making Gothic horror stories. You and your friends take on the roles of a shadowy creatures lovers, allies and enemies. What is watching you from the darkness? Why is is attracted to you? How will the story end? Answer these questions for yourself with this game of pain, hunger and redemption.

Game Features

  • No-prep. Sit down and start playing immediately!

  • GM-less. Every player has a protagonist character.

  • Satisfying. The rules of the game create Gothic horror fiction.

  • Annalise's Journal, a 24-page illustrated short story dripping with atmosphere.

  • Six ready-to-play Guided Play Scenarios showcasing the diversity of the game.

More Information

Annalise is a no-prep, GMless table-top roleplaying game for 2-4 players. Each player takes on the role of a protagonist in a Gothic horror story - a creature, whether a literal or metaphorical Vampire - is the central pivot around which your characters revolve, and the rules of the game guide you in discovering its' nature and eventually confronting it. The game is designed for short-to-medium turn play (3-6 session), but one-shot and convention play is facilitated by the included Guided Play Scenarios.

Players take turns discovering and showcasing their character, being the Scene Guide for another character, and being active audience members when they are neither. The system of "Claims," pieces of the fiction that you take control of when other introduce them, gives everyone the ability to influence any scene regardless of their role at the time; the "Moment" resolution method introduces different paths for the story to go down, and then creates a tension-filled decision making process to figure out where it actually goes.

The rules of the game guide you and your friends in telling a story revolving around sympathetic characters of your own creation. These characters are tied together by the malevolent creature, lurking in the shadows and biding it’s time. Why is it so attracted? What does it want? How will you stop it?

Purchase Now

Annalise Final Edition is available as a 122 page PDF. It was released in 2010. It is been translated and published in Italian by Narrattiva and published in French by La Boite à Heuhh.

The 9x7 Annalise Final Edition softcover is out of print.

The 6x9 Annalise In Perpetua softcover is available as a print-on-demand option at DriveThruRPG. This 120 page print edition features color art and matches the Final Edition PDF text except for minor copyfitting and layout-driven edits. It also lacks the "Annalise's Journal" fiction entries

Direct From ndpdesign

Due to EU VAT remittance laws, I cannot fulfill PDF ONLY orders directly to EU residents. If you live in the EU, you must purchase the PDF through one of the outlets below. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Other Outlets

Free Downloads

Guided Play Pack

This is a pay-what-you-want printer- and tablet-friendly PDF full of play material to aid in your game of Annalise. In addition to consolidated reference sheets and printable playsheets, it includes six Guided Play Scenarios. Each scenario contains four ready-to-play characters enmeshed in a volatile situation, and  are suitable for learning to play the game, one-shots and convention scenarios. The Scenarios are:

  • The Voyage of the Auspicious

  • Dracula Reloaded (written by Kat Jones)

  • The Wake of Zenas Quantum (written by Jared Axelrod)

  • At The Crossroads of Sanctuary and Salvation (written by Jesse Burneko)

  • Viva L.A. Revolution(written by Kira Magrann)

  • In the Shadow of the Mountain (written by Sam Zeitlin)

Reviews & Remarks

K. Wyler, Player "My weekly gaming group has played two very long Annalise campaigns...Our gaming group is dedicated to playing as many different RPGs as possible (especially indie RPGs), so please understand that it's extraordinarily rare for us to run any RPG twice, much less an ongoing campaign. We're discussing playing a third Annalise campaign this year...Since my first Annalise campaign, it's consistently been one of my top three favorite RPGs (along with Tribe 8 and Blue Planet), and it's the only one that's my favorite because of the mechanics rather than the setting."

Women Write About Comics (11/2014) "This is a subtly competitive game, and the closer you push the other characters towards the vampire, the more motivation they have to drag you with them...There’s a lot of emphasis on how your character has changed throughout the game... This is a game focused on the internal."

G*M*S Magazine (4/2012) "[Innovative elements] such as claiming traits, situation, elements of a scene, emotional responses… A lot of elements that, in our routine life we don’t really notice. However, Annalise makes us think about them, and makes us use them in creative ways to develop a story. Fantastic! ... with a bit of effort (not a lot) this game could be the most incredible tool for anyone wanting to write or develop a story. Any type of story...5 Stars to this gem of a game that everyone should know about!"

Transneptune.net (11/2011) "Thursday night was Annalise, a near-perfect game of Gothic horror. This was the best game I’ve played since Apocalypse World...The game says that it’s “written in the tradition of role-playing games, but works in different ways”, and that’s true. It’s pretty deep in post-Forge indie-brain-damage land, but if you’re the audience for that—and we are—it delivers a play experience you won’t want to let stop. So, the game is good in part because, at every level, it reinforces unity of effect...The coin mechanic is, as John put it, the best coin mechanic he’s ever seen....Claims are just beautiful. Completely wonderful. I want to use them in everything now." 

Geekbuffet (7/2010) "In effect, Annalise is a game about finding a response to the external demons who threaten you by coming to terms with the internal demons who haunt you. It is (in this respect) the closest gaming equivalent to the experience of reading proper literature I have ever experienced...What else can I say, other than this edition reads easily, references itself quickly and looks beautiful? Annalise exemplifies how RPGs should present themselves and how they should organize the information contained within their highly sculpted pages."