Survival of the Able – An Interview with Jacob Wood (Accessible Games)

Jacob Wood of Accessible Games reached out to share the press release for his RPG crowdfunding project, Survival of the Able. We talked briefly which led to this short interview about the project.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project?

JACOB WOOD (JW): You’re a person with a disability living in a Medieval almshouse when the Black Death comes to your village. People who are dying of the plague are rising again, and they’re hungry for flesh. It’s up to a handful of you to make your way out of town and away to safety.

You may not be the biggest, the strongest, or the fittest, but you’re determined to survive.

At its core, Survival of the Able is a game about empathy. You’ll play as someone with a disability tasked with surviving a zombie plague, but the real villains of the game are injustice, inaccessibility, and ableism. You won’t have modern protections like the Americans with Disabilities Act to offer you protection against discrimination, and you won’t have modern technology to make your life easier. You will have your wits, your guts, and your determination.

Our hope is that by putting yourself in your character’s shoes, you’ll start to feel angered and incensed at the way they are treated. You’ll see the injustices that still impact people with disabilities to this day. You’ll also feel a great sense of accomplishment when you overcome the odds and survive grueling challenges despite the setbacks you face. Finally, you’ll recognize how to translate this experience to the real world.

EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?

JW: Survival of the Able is built on the bones of the Fudge System, but it was 100% written from the ground up to include only the elements which are essential to the experience.

I’ve written in the past about how Fudge is inherently one of the most accessible RPGs in terms of game mechanics. Fudge Dice are tactile and easily read by blind players, the Trait Ladder is great for people who are math-minded and people who aren’t, and the system as a whole is simple enough for newcomers to understand with little difficulty.

Fudge is also customizable to an incredible degree. I have used it for crunchier cyberpunk games (such as Psi-punk), print-and-play board games (Monster Kart Mayhem), and now a survival horror game. Mechanics can be picked up, set aside, and altered to taste. Using it has allowed me to build precisely the experience I wanted for the game without sacrificing anything that makes the system familiar to so many players.

EGG: What is the reward that is the best value?

JW: The $50 tier gets you a PDF, a code to purchase the print-on-demand book at-cost, and an online game session with me. After that game session, I’ll stick around for a Q&A to help players and GMs learn how to run the game for their own groups. That’s 4 to 5 hours of my time plus the game for a pretty reasonable price.

The other great value is the $60 accessibility consulting tier for other developers. It’s the $20 print-on-demand tier and two hours of my time as a consultant for your project. Typically I charge $25 to $30 per hour, but through this tier it’s effectively $20/hour.

EGG: Assuming there are stretch goals, which one are you most excited about?

JW: I’m excited about the opportunity to deliver the game in an audiobook format. I know it isn’t the best way for a lot of people to learn a new game, but for some people having that audio transcription of the book will be invaluable. It’ll also be handy for people who want to learn while commuting to work or a gaming convention.

[Author’s Note: Here’s the description of the audiobook format from the campaign.

Audiobook: We’ll partner with Russel Collins of Robot Claw Entertainment to develop an audiobook format for the game. This accessible audio file will be completely DRM-free, so you can copy it to as many devices as you need. It’s great if you have trouble reading printed material or like to listen to books in the car.”]



EGG: What other projects have you worked on?

JW: My first release was Psi-punk, a Fudge cyberpunk RPG, in 2013. Since then I have worked on many other games for myself and others.

I’m most proud of my work on Infestation, an RPG of Bugs and Heroes (by Third Eye Games) and Baby Bestiary 1 and 2 (by Metal Weave Games). These were ENnie-nominated and ENnie-winning titles, respectively.

I’m also currently contributing to A Kid’s Guide to Monster Hunting (Third Eye Games), and I can’t wait until it’s out. This game is going to be stellar.

EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?

JW: If you back the Kickstarter, you’ll get updates delivered straight to your inbox. There’s no better way than that.

You can also follow along on my website, Twitter, or Facebook. The website is a great resource for links to our other interviews, podcast appearances, videos, etc.


[Author’s Note: I did not ask Jacob about himself so I decided to paper over my laziness by quoting some of his Kickstarter bio:

“I began losing my sight in my mid teens and had difficulty adapting. Accessible computer software wasn’t the norm at the time, and as my condition worsened it seemed like I would never get to achieve my life goals. All I had left, it seemed, was tabletop gaming. As more of my time became consumed with games, I realized I was spending a lot of time adapting them for low vision play or struggling with inaccessible PDFs. One day my vision became clear: I would make it my life’s work to design and promote accessible games.”]

Survival of the Able by Accessible Games

End Date: Mon, November 18 2019 10:00 PM EST.

“A Survival Horror RPG about People with Disabilities”

Want to try before you buy? Try out Survival of the Able Beta from Accessible Games for free at DriveThruRPG.




NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have a product you would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.

PRESS RELEASE: Survival of the Able Now Infecting Kickstarter

Survival of the Able Now Infecting Kickstarter 

The Black Death has come to your village. Everywhere around you people are succumbing to the plague. Quarantines are doing little to stem the tide of decay that is coming your way. Worst of all, you and the others in your almshouse have been left to fend for yourselves. 


Oh, and did we mention plague victims are rising as zombies? 

In Survival of the Able you’re a person with a disability living in a European almshouse when the Black Death arrives. Little is known about where the plague originated or how to stop it, but those who die from it are rising again—and they’re hungry for flesh. Since everyone else has succumbed to the plague, it’s up to a handful of you to make your way out of town and away to safety. You may not be the biggest, the strongest, or the fittest, but you’re determined to survive. 

What is Survival of the Able? 

Survival of the Able is a tabletop RPG about empathy. In this game, you will play as a person with a disability in the Middle Ages. The world isn’t very hospitable to you and your kind, and that’s before plague-ridden zombies started rising up to devour everyone around them. As you struggle for survival, you’ll get a feeling for what it is like to endure discrimination, tstruggle with inaccessible surroundings, and to overcome adversity. This isn’t a game about heroic people and their heroic deeds. It’s a game about ordinary folks who have no choice but to challenge the stereotypes that keep them down. It’s a game about overcoming 14th Century plagues and 21st Century discrimination. 

About the Campaign 

Accessible Games is raising $8,000 in 30 days to fund production for the book. The game is already written, but it needs art, editing, and layout to be complete. You can contribute to get a PDF, a printed book, a custom illustration, or an online game with the game’s designer. 

Survival of the Able was developed by Jacob Wood, a blind game designer, and is being produced by other disabled and marginalized contributors. 

Scramble over to the Kickstarter campaign to get your copy today.  


About Accessible Games 

Since 2010, Accessible Games has been advocating for people with disabilities in the tabletop games industry. Originally a board game review blog focusing on the accessibility of game mechanics and components, they eventually branched out into making their own RPGs. 

“I was getting frustrated over the inaccessibility of RPGs in electronic formats,” said Jacob Wood, owner of Accessible Games. “I knew the technology was available to make PDFs accessible to screen readers, but most companies weren’t taking advantage of it. I realized I needed to learn how to make usable products so I could teach others how to do the same.” 

In 2013, Accessible Games released Psi-punk, their first complete RPG, after raising funds on Kickstarter.  The game uses tactile Fudge Dice and straightforward mechanics to showcase how complex games can be simplified without sacrificing fun. Perhaps just as importantly, the PDF was designed to be screen reader friendly so it can be read by people with a variety of print disabilities. 

Since then, Accessible Games has produced several other products, including two educational resources for other publishers. “Game Publishing Lessons” and “Accessible Guide to RPG Layout” have both reached hundreds of publishers and game designers, several of whom have directly credited these titles for helping to improve the accessibility of their games. 

After making an impact on the publisher side of the hobby, Accessible Games is now reaching out to players to continue the quest for inclusion and representation. With Survival of the Able,” on Kickstarter from October 19th to November 18th, 2019, their goal is to foster empathy and understanding for people with disabilities. Using a version of the Fudge System tailored for the job, the game is designed to give players and unpleasant taste for what it’s like to experience discrimination and injustice. 

“We want to make you feel discomfort,” said Jacob. “I’ve learned that people don’t bother to change unless they are uncomfortable.”  

Learn more about Accessible Games and follow what they’re doing at 

Join the quest for inclusion and representation at Kickstarter  




Survival of the Able by Accessible Games

END DATE: Mon, November 18 2019 10:00 PM EST.

“A Survival Horror RPG about People with Disabilities”