Sami Jarbouh:

And I'm also Syrian. I'm most known for being an English major and passionate lover. I'm Sami by the way.

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Dylan Assed:

Hi, I'm Dylan, a Syrian animator, writer, and game designer. My firm handshake exudes confidence.

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Our odd brand of tabletop roleplaying games came about one summer in high school when we were visiting family in Syria. The idea of an imagination-based game where you could tell collective stories with your friends always sounded appealing to us, but we’d never found the right opportunity to try it until we were in the middle of a tiny, internetless town in Southern Syria with absolutely nothing to do. We had no internet to help us figure out the rules, no place to purchase proper dice, and as a result, had to improvise.

It was decided that Sami would extrapolate the rules as best he could from what few videos he’d seen on the subject which resulted in a simplified and customized ruleset focused on roleplay and storytelling. Meanwhile, Dylan was tasked with designing and running the very first game. Being a fan of books like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the show Doctor Who, Dylan used these as inspiration to develop an absurdist SciFi mystery called The S.S.O.S.

After weeks of creating graph paper maps, figuring out how rules worked, and writing out story notes, we finally brought our friends and family together to play this odd game... and it was luckily a big hit! When we returned to America, the two of us continued making our own strange, SciFi homebrew games with the main goal being to entertain our friends.

Over the years, we’ve formed a collection of these off-beat homebrews. That’s when we had the idea to use what we’d learned to refine these games so that we could compile them together into an anthology series of books. The idea was that every book would come with two weird little games with SciFi-based genre twists and simplified rules.

As far as the name of the series, it comes from an item in The S.S.O.S. game called a Universe Ball. Universe Balls are palm-sized orbs made of compressed planets which we realized perfectly encapsulated what our book series was going to be... a compressed collection of strange worlds. So with a name stupid enough to fit our absurdist tone, Universe Ball Anthology was officially born.

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