Archive for March, 2006

March 30, 2006: 11:42 pm: Cons

This evening was the beginning of Ambercon US, and therefore it’s also the official start of the first ACUS I’ve missed since I started going in 2001.

It definitely seems weird not to be there, the same way it felt odd not to be starting the first leg of the long drive to Detroit yesterday, but I find myself wondering if I’m ever going to be going back. There are some very cool people that I’m going to miss seeing, and a couple of games that I wish I was there for, but I’m not sure it will be enough to motivate me to spend time and money on next year’s con rather than maybe going to my first Gencon. I guess this is why con organizers worry when regular attendees “take a year off.”

March 22, 2006: 10:47 pm: GMing

Joshua BishopRoby has an interesting piece up about how to deal with some of the problems that arise during an open-ended game:

For a lot of gamers, “roleplaying game” is synonymous with open-endedness, a developing experience that can go on and on indefinitely, accreting details and significance and personal resonance. While the open-ended nature of roleplaying games does have some distinct advantages, especially in terms of investment and immersion, those advantages come at a cost. Somebody has to keep the flywheel moving, and that is not always the easiest thing to accomplish.

There are some good insights and ideas in there, and it’s worth reading if you’re running (or planning to run) a long-term campaign.

March 20, 2006: 9:41 pm: Game theory (or close enough), GMing

Starting with only Ron’s definition of Situation and material from The Cheap and Cheesy Adventure Generator, Vincent does a great step-by-step explanation of creating situation.

Dynamic interaction between specific characters and small-scale setting elements; Situations are divided into scenes. A component of Exploration, considered to be the “central node” linking Character and Setting, and which changes according to System. See also Kicker, Bang, and Challenge.
from Ron Edwards’ Provisional Glossary

There’s the definition, and here’s what we’ve got to work with:

* Locations: The secret central shrine of a temple to forgotten gods. (Magical)
* Characters: A hermit priestess, practicing obscure deprivations. (Wilderness)
* Threats: An order of magician-monks who punish blasphemers. (Magical)
* Threats: Field-vipers, wild dogs, loose bulls, and a variety of spiders. (Countryside)

How do you take these things and make a situation out of them? I’ll walk you through it.

It’s well worth a read, and, unlike some of the stuff Vincent posts, it’s immediately useful for people who aren’t especially into rpg theory or game design. Check it out.

: 9:28 pm: Miscellaneous

Clinton R. Nixon, co-founder of The Forge, game designer, and the guy who created FindPlay, now gives us The Cheap and Cheesy Adventure Generator!

March 19, 2006: 3:53 pm: Game systems

On Friday I received my shiny new copy of The Shab-al-Hiri Roach. It’s very shiny indeed, with a nice layout, art that’s exactly right for the game, cards that are quite well done, plus my very own roach. I need to give it all a thorough read, as I think the last set of rules that I saw was one of the early playtest versions, but I’m already looking forward to playing. Right now I’m planning a game for TBR, but maybe I’ll be able to get something together sooner.

If you still haven’t checked out the Roach, despite all of my gushing, you should download the preview PDF.

March 13, 2006: 10:16 pm: Game theory (or close enough)

After letting the Game Chef theme and ingredients percolate in my brain for a couple of days, and looking at a few of the threads on the very busy official forum to see what other people are doing, I’m still feeling pretty uninspired. Given my schedule for the rest of the week, I think I should skip stressing about coming up with something and just accept that I’m not even going to make it out of the starting gate for this year’s contest. I think my major obstacle has been the time theme, as I don’t tend to be especially good at judging session length even when I’m just GMing, so I’m finding that requirement to be especially intimidating. Ah, well….maybe I’ll look at the next round of the Ronnies at The Forge, or maybe I’ll just stick with being an interested spectator when it comes to game design.

March 11, 2006: 12:02 pm: Game systems

I just ordered my copy of the Shab-al-Hiri Roach (Special Edition)!

Now I shall eagerly await its arrival….

: 11:49 am: Game theory (or close enough)

The theme and ingredients for the latest Game Chef have been posted:

The Theme is TIME.

That is not to say that your game will actually involve any time-travel, history or anything like that. No, rather your game must be completely playable within a certain time limit. Pick up a board game or a computer game and they tend to tell you how long it takes to finish “one game”. How long does it take to finish a “campaign” of your game? That’s what you’ll have to decide. And you will have to build a game that plays out with that time limit in mind.

Time will be represented by SESSIONS and HOURS. You will choose one (and only one) of the following ranges for your game:

1. Your Game is completely playable in 4 Sessions of 2 Hours each.
2. Your Game is completely playable in just 1 Session of 2 Hours.
3. Your Game is completely playable in 3 Sessions of 3 Hours each.
4. Your Game is completely playable in 10 Sessions of 1 Hour each.
5. Your Game is completely playable over any number of sessions, but lasts exactly 8 Hours total.
6. Your Game is completely playable in 2 Sessions of 6 Hours, with exactly two weeks passing between the first and second session.

Decide your time range from the list of six above. Build the game so that it takes both session count into meaningful consideration, and build it so that it’s a completely playable experience within that timeframe (it can be played again afterwards, but it will be a completely different experience, like in board games).



This year’s Ingredients are in two “packages”. Choose the package that you want to work with. Within that package, pick THREE of the ingredients listed. You must use these ingredients somehow in your game.




Again, simply choose one of the packages above, and from that package choose three ingredients.

Currently….I’ve got nothing. I guess I’ll need to stare at it all for a while and see if inspiration of some kind strikes, then decide if I have the time to both write a game by the end of March 19th and then also review and score 4-5 other entries in the two weeks after that (which is a new requirement this year).

March 7, 2006: 10:15 pm: Game systems

The more I learn about game theory and game design, the more I think that the Amber DRPG is really a giant pile of suck as a system. Good Amber games are good in spite of it, not because of it, and bad Amber games don’t get any sort of support that can help them be less bad. I know a lot of people who enjoy playing Amber, but I can’t remember any of them ever saying that some aspect of the ADRPG rules made their game better. No wonder so many Amber DRPG games seem to basically go freeform at some point after character generation.

I don’t know why this feels like a revelation, considering how long I’ve had nothing but bad things to say about the ADRPG.

: 8:18 pm: Game systems

Finally, a game about both drowning and falling!

Drowning and Falling

And it’s for charity (seriously)!