Creature Feature: Dustin Patrick Winter

Creature Feature: Dustin Patrick Winter

Meet Dustin Patrick Winter, Scryptid co-founder and creator of the new game Filling an Empty Breath.

Dustin (he/him) is a writer, editor, artist, and game designer living in the woodsy ‘burbs near Baltimore, MD. He created his first role-playing game at 8 years old: X-Men, the RPG (unpublished). It was a real hot mess. These days, he is interested in creating games and stories about found family, polyamory, and casting rad spells. He can be found on social media @NeverSayDustin.

Dustin, what cryptid do you most relate to?

I think my favorite cryptid is the Squonk. The Squonk is a wrinkly little pig creature that goes around feeling bad about itself and will sometimes dissolve itself in a pool of its own tears. But personally I think the Squonk is really adorable and sweet! So that weird little guy reminds me not to be too hard on myself. I'll say, “Dude, are you squonking right now? Cut it out!" Even wrinkly pig creatures have someone out there who thinks they are sweet and cute.

But I also like the Albatwitch because it's just a smaller Bigfoot and it will steal all your apples for no good reason and then throw the nasty bits back at you. I can relate to that.

What will people love about Filling an Empty Breath?

I think that Filling an Empty Breath will be unlike anything people have played before. It's more ritual than game, so I think that if people come to it with that in mind, they might have a really cathartic experience. Is it weird to say I hope people cry about it? It's a game about grief and death and sacrifice and letting things go. It could be a way for people to mourn someone or something they didn't give themselves a chance to mourn before, or else just enjoy a darker, more serious game.

I hope people are enchanted with its point of view. I was kind of tired of seeing this binary way of approaching undeath: the undead are either romanticized, like in many vampire stories, or treated violently, a boogeyman to be destroyed. But if you think about undead as beings, as people, I don't think the only choices are to cut something's head off or to fall in love with it. I wanted to create a game that encouraged compassion for monsters, even when our aims or needs are in conflict.

There's real, actual magic in that game. I hope people find it. I hope they like it.

What will people love about playing Psychic Trash Detectives, the first release from Scryptid Games?

My favorite part of Psychic Trash Detectives is the worldbuilding. I really love building towns with other people. There's this additional layer because I think at first most people are thinking like a human, building a human town, but then you have to think about what all those places hold for trash animals, how there are ecosystems on top of ecosystems. And I've seen people come up with some really creative ideas. I don't think I've created a place yet in Psychic Trash Detectives that I didn't want to go back to. Hillsville. Barnchurch Beach. I love those places.

What’s your earliest TTRPG memory?

Tracing the monsters in my older brothers' 1st edition D&D and AD&D books. I love the art in those early editions. It was just illustrations of weird little monsters and bad things happening: little grubs boring into your skin, your brain being fried to goo by some weird squid-man, getting stuck in a pile of angry, sentient jelly. I started to be like "Hey, good for you, jelly. You get that jerk."

And then I found their miniatures and dice. I had no idea what to do with them, but I knew I liked to play with them, to roll dice. So I would just roll the dice and narrate whatever I wanted to happen regardless of the result. So, really, not that different from how some people play now!

Which new games by indie creators have caught your eye this year?

Not nearly enough. Things that have caught my eye are Oops, All Draculas! which really just speaks to me on a soul level. I'm curious about the Buddy System in that game. And If I were a Lich, Man which just looks fantastic.

You can check out Dustin’s Filling an Empty Breath, along with four other excellent games by the rest of the Scryptid team by purchasing the Scryptid Games Creature Feature Bundle on

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