A downloadable game

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Ex Novo is a playable city-building generator to construct fictional villages and towns. This physical game can be played alone or with up to 3 friends. Playtime ranges from 1 to 3 hours. 

Meet with your friends and collaboratively draw the map of your city as you explore the conditions that led to its founding and the events that shape its development. 

Our aim was a generator that builds settlements that are useful for further creative use. For example in narrative endeavors or as preparation for pen and paper role-playing games.

Please share your cities with us using the hashtag #exnovo.

Created by Martin Nerurkar and Konstantinos Dimopoulos.

Playing Ex Novo

You (and up to three friends) take on the role of the guardian spirit of a freshly founded settlement. Its founding just brought you into existence. And with it it brought you your purpose: to witness its growth, shepherd its development and remember its stories.

As you play you will make sense of the events happening as you draw and plan on a collaborative map of the settlement and its changing shape. In the end you will have created an interesting fictional place with a sense of history.

Sequence of Play

Play begins with a brief discussion phase. Here each player shares their assumptions and expectations. You will also determine city size and age in this phase.

Then we move to the founding phase. Taking turns, each player defines some of the basics of the settlement, such as its purpose or the surrounding terrain. Whenever a feature is determined the acting player will draw it onto the map. By following the predefined sequence of turns you will end up with an interesting starting situation.

After this you enter into the development phase. Here each turn adds an interesting event that needs to be interpreted by the active player. During this time the settlement will grow, change or even shrink. This is where the exciting history of your city is played out, its shape evolves and the map grows.

The final phase is the topping out phase. Here a few quick turns are all that's needed to wrap up the development of the city and tie off all loose ends.

And finally you'll be left with an interesting settlement that you can enjoy or use as a jumping off point for something else, like a role-playing campaign.


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

Ex Novo 12 MB

Development log


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just sent a link to my friend! we're trying to find a map generator thing for a universe we're creating and this might help especially since we can play together :D

Happy to hear that! If you run a session, let us know!


Excellent game... Actually it's more than a game :-) Tested, and truly enjoyed!


Thank you! Very happy to hear it. I just ran another playtest session and collected a lot of cool and useful feedback. An update will be incoming in a few weeks. Want to collect more stuff!


I posted a picture of our settlement on Tweeter. I might create a polished map of it on Inkarnate. If you are interested in my feedback I could give it via e-mail...

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Man! That looks super dope! Please do send your thoughts! Did you run Ex Novo solo?

I've already collected a bunch and as said, we're planning to revisit the rules later this month. Just want to collect some feedback first.


Hi Martin, thanks but it's just a humble first try! :-) No I didn't go solo: we were with my wife and her daughter (15 yo). They are not found of indy/board-games like I am, but do appreciate some 'mainstream', classical or simple/middle complex board-games (Mah-Jong, Takenoko, Scrabble to name a few). The interesting thing is that they both appreciated the process of creation, despite the fact that the game is rather low paced and that there are no competitive goals. All in all, we had a great time building this together. I'll write you an email with my thoughts. Again, congratulations for this great piece of work!


Oh, this looks absolutely brilliant! Thank you !


You're too kind :-). As I said in the post above, we had a great time with ExNovo. I surely will experiment further with the rules. Congratulations! And thank you for this great work.


We really do aim to further develop the whole concept. Give you more stuff to experiment with :)