Creature Feature: Nat Mesnard

Creature Feature: Nat Mesnard

Meet Nat Mesnard, Scryptid Games co-founder and creator of the new game Adventurer’s Respite.

Nat (they/them) is a writer, game designer, and teacher based in New York City’s East Village. When Nat isn’t writing POV-bending literary fiction or drafting queer TTRPG zines, they can be found doing pull-ups on the monkey bars at Tompkins Square Park. Find Nat’s games on and connect with @natmesnard on Twitter & Instagram.

What cryptid do you most relate to?

We actually started doing a bunch of research into obscure cryptids when we founded Scryptid Games, and I found out about an Indiana cryptid called the Beast of Busco. It’s a giant snapping turtle originally sighted by a farmer near Churubusco, Indiana, in 1898. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, but the legend of another gigantic snapping turtle, seen by my mom in the creek that bisects my parents’ suburban acre, haunted my childhood. It never occurred to me that this beast, whose size has become bigger and bigger across retellings of the original encounter, might have been a lost cryptid until now.

I am also a fan of the cryptid mythology in the video game Disco Elysium, which I played last summer. There’s a subplot in the game where you meet, and have the opportunity to build a friendship with, the wife of a semi-famous cryptozoologist. Later, you meet her husband and if you agree to believe in his project, you can help him try to catch a cryptid in a series of traps. In my playthrough, I went hard on believing in any and all cryptid legends and was very happy with where those choices took me in the end. The idea of a “fictional cryptid” is itself a mind-bending notion that I want to think more about.

What will people love about playing Adventurer’s Respite?

My game, Adventurer’s Respite, imagines a detailed story set in a place like Tolkein’s Rivendell. In the original epic, this locale serves to provide a lull in the action. But in my game, it’s where all the action is set. I actually wrote the first draft of Adventurer’s Respite on a Scryptid Games retreat, sitting on a grassy hill in the dappled sunlight and thinking about what it means to renew oneself—and why it’s sometimes hard. I wanted to create a set of storytelling tools that let people explore what healing can mean to lots of different kinds of characters, including moments of narcissism and refusal as well as scenes of harmony. I also wanted to investigate stories where characters may choose to further deplete themselves in order to heal others. Players will enjoy playing Adventurer’s Respite because the situation is ostensibly cozy, but conflict and trouble are within easy reach. This inherent tension, plus a simple d4-based system I designed, makes storytelling funny, meaningful, and easy for an experimental one-shot game.

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

My favorite thing about Psychic Trash Detectives is how it builds collaborative storytelling around a creative act that fractures the magic circle, bringing real life stories into the fabric of an imaginary world. At the beginning of the game, players are asked to describe “a memory of being discarded” as a real piece of trash. This reminds me of a term in fiction writing called the “objective correlative.” Originally coined by T.S. Eliot, this term refers to the technique of writing a concrete object into a story that symbolizes or evokes a particular emotion. Rather than simply stating a character is experiencing sadness, lust, ennui, or ambition, we focus a scene or an entire story on an object representing one of those states of being instead. In Psychic Trash Detectives, players write their own trashy objective correlatives, creating a powerful autofictional prompt that underwrites goofy anthropomorphic gameplay with a serious, even therapeutic, core. In my opinion, this strikes the perfect balance of tone, because most TTRPG games, especially one shots, resemble a bunch of gloriously weird animals tossing trash (bad puns) around anyway. The way Brigitte’s writing guides this situation toward intimacy and discovery is nothing short of brilliant—one of the most interesting designs I’ve seen in years.

What’s your earliest TTRPG memory?

I was homeschooled until college, so my earliest memory dates back to a short-lived D&D game run by a guy in my Richmond-area homeschooling group when I was a teenager. We held it in the afternoon after our weekly writing group, where my mom was one of the facilitators. I was very excited about the prospect of putting together play and creativity with other teenagers, and at the time obsessed with all things nerdy and high fantasy—though I had uncomfortable feelings about the misogyny and patriarchal weirdness of book series like The Wheel of Time that I didn’t know what to do with yet. Anyway, our game didn’t last long because it was boring. The DM tasked us with crawling a graph-paper dungeon mostly filled with rooms containing goblins. Having concocted countless scenarios of pretend throughout my childhood that were way more fun and creative, I knew there had to be a better way. I wouldn’t figure that out, though, until I healed my relationship with nerd stuff—which had been a source of hurt and violation throughout my teens and twenties—after finishing graduate school.

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

I taught an eight-week online creative writing course in late 2022 called Writing & Publishing Tabletop Roleplaying Games, and I was excited by almost every game designed in that community—including one called Hero Catastrophe by Mark Kennedy that debuted during this year’s Zine Quest to massive success. I’m also eagerly awaiting the publication of my student Sylvia Gimenez’s game Hauntrification, which casts you as a group of ghosts who must scare away new, living arrivals into your ancestral home. In addition to channeling anti-colonial themes and riffing on Beetlejuice, which is awesome, that story situation also evokes the one in my aunt Jennifer O’Connell’s delightful children’s book Ten Timid Ghosts. As far as games by people I haven’t met yet, my dear friend Austen got me Himbos of Might & Mettle at PAX Unplugged in December, which is very much my vibe. In the digital space, I had my life changed forever mid-2022 when I played NORCO. It’s a point-and-click narrative adventure game set in Louisiana. The cultural specificity and weirdness of that game is flat out incredible, and in form and impact it accomplishes so much of everything that, as a multimedia artist, I am trying to do.

You can check out Nat’s Adventurer’s Respite, 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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