Game systems

August 1, 2005: 9:57 pm: Game systems

Seen at The Forge:

We’re using Primetime Adventures filtered through Amber Diceless Roleplaying, because I’m totally fucking insane.

Edit: There’s a followup thread here.

July 31, 2005: 8:54 pm: Game systems

There’s a new announcement about The Mountain Witch posted over at the timfire publishing website, and there’s also a picture of the very nice cover art for the book.

(7/30/05) The book is DONE!!! As we speak, the file is in the hands of RPI, a fine POD printing servie. The books will be in my hands in about 2–2.5 weeks, just in time to premier the game at GenCon. If anyone is going to be there, you can stop by the Forge booth (#1332), meet the designer, and check out the game.

The book is going to be a 162 page 5.5 x 8.5 softcover with color illustrations. The book will retail for $24 from IPR. There will also be a PDF version for $18, and a print/PDF combo for $35.

Though I was originally planning on releasing the PDF ahead of the print version, due to the vagaries of layout, formatting, and scheduling, I’ve decide to hold off on releasing the PDF until GenCon, to time with the release of the print version.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the printer coming through as planned, and I’ll be looking forward to ordering my own copy of The Mountain Witch after GenCon.

May 31, 2005: 8:45 pm: Game systems

All of the entries for the Game Chef 2005 competition have been posted! Now I just need to find the time to read through a few of them….

May 25, 2005: 9:12 pm: Game systems

After looking through the forum for this year’s Game Chef, here are some of my favorites:

Hundred Flowers is probably my favorite entry right now, because it has both some great color and an interesting system (which you can find out more about by reading the associated forum thread).

Hundred Flowers

Philosophical Intrigue in China’s Warring States

Warring States China (475-221 BC)

Wine, which is one of the ratings for philosophical outlooks
Invincible, which describes the aura of invinciblity that you have obtained through your philosophy.
Companion, your one student, fiercely loyal to yourself and your school of thought.

Rules Limitations:
Primary: Novel decks of cards
Secondary: Hand gestures have mechanical effects. Colors used in resolution.

Welcome to the New World has an excellent idea, but, so far, not a lot of system to back it up. Guess we’ll see if that changes.

Welcome to the New World

Welcome to the New World is a game about the horror of survival in monochrome. You and your fellow players are prisoner colonists, scrambling to pull an existence from the rock of a planet whose entire population you know by sight.

It’d be hard enough to live on Binary Five if it was just a matter of colonization, but even a billion miles from home, no one wants to see you loose in society. Prisoners are watched, punished and sometimes executed by semihuman Wardens who know enough not to let you gang up on them. The Wardens get most of the water, food, comfort and joy.

But there’s one resource they can’t synthesize no matter how hard they try–one thing for which everyone is desperate, Wardens included: color. The occasional scrap of red toilet paper is worth a week in solitary. A green bottle is worth your life.

No one here should be able to see anything other than white, black and blue, but somehow these bits of visible color show up. Trash heaps, cot frames and pocket fuzz. A dead man’s finger. A puff of smoke. Wardens get most of the color too, of course, because they have the power to take it. But no Warden can make new color, and no Warden has found the way to release the hope that burns in these scraps.

This is your desperate secret: the color is the psychic expression of the prisoners’ suffering, loss and death. It’s the ephemeral currency used to pay pain against the debt of a second chance. Against a third. Against as many chances as you can stand.

In a Grove strikes me as a really good idea, and it’s already pretty developed, but I don’t know how well it’s lack of a firm ending would work in actual play.

In a Grove

A Role-Playing Game Based on the Short Story written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa and popularized by the film Rashomon

Historical Period
12th century Japan.

Accuser: Each player will accuse another player or themself of murder.
Companion: A husband and wife are travelling as companions when the crime occurs.
Wine: A sake jug is found at the scene of the crime.

Rules Limitation
Pre-Designed Characters: This game has the pre-designed characters of the husband, the wife, the bandit, and the woodcutter.
No Character Sheets: Established facts are recorded in a general ledger, and any given fact may or may not be related to one or more of the characters.

First draft of how the game will work:

General Design Concept
The game involves players taking turns telling their attempting to explain the events surrounding a murdered husband and missing wife by directing the actions of their fellow players. Subsequent players must build off of certain facts established by previous players, but may otherwise alter the events as much as desired.

There is no dedicated GM, although each player adopts a high level of authority on their own turn.

There is only one resource, consisting of a list of established facts. Certain of these facts are pre-established by the game rules:

The Husband has been murdered
The Bandit was at the scene and has a history of murder
The Woodcutter finds a body in a bamboo grove
The Wife is missing
The following were found at the scene of the crime: A rope at the base of a tree, a comb, and an empty sake jug.

Other facts must be established by each character on their turn according to the following criteria:
1. Must consist of only one fact. No compound facts.
2. Facts can not be a direct or even an indirect indication of identity the murderer.
3. Facts can not be a direct or even an indirect indication of what happened to the wife.

Starting Play
Each player takes on one of the following players (this game requires exactly four players):
The Infamous Bandit Tajomaru
The Wife
The Woodcutter
The dead husband, a samurai, whose spirit is channeled by a psychic

Next, each person rolls a 4 sided dice to determine who they must blame for the murder of the husband. The woodcutter is the exception to this rule. The woodcutter does not need to decide who the murderer is until the beginning of his turn.

Finally, the woodcutter declares three new facts as per the rules on establishing new facts.

Ongoing Play
Players take turns in the following order: The bandit, the wife, the husband, and the woodcutter.

A turn consist of the following:
1. The current player declares who the murderer (according to how he rolled during game preparation) is and what happened to the wife (he is free to determine this as desired).
2. The current player creates an explanation which is congruous with all established facts.
3. Any players has the right to challenge this explanation as incongruous with any given fact so long as they have one additional player to back them up. This negotiation continues until there are no more valid disputes.
4. All players act out this explanation together following the current player’s explanation. Players are free to embellish and add new details to the explanation, but the current player has absolute veto authority. A veto means that he can void any given action from the narrative, but he can not dictate an alternate course of action to the person he has vetoed.
5. At the end of the turn (with the exception of the woodcutter’s turn in which case this step is skipped), each character other than the current character creates one new fact based on some detail of the scenario that played out.

After the woodcutter’s turn, the game ends.

Conflict resolution is handled by attributing near absolute authority of the player whose current turn it is via unlimited access to the veto mechanism.

I don’t know if any of these will actually win, or if they’ll end up eventually being released as fully developed games, but I like how they’re starting out.

May 15, 2005: 9:27 pm: Game systems

There’s a thread over on the Forge about what sounds like it was a truly excellent Wuxia-themed one-shot using The Shadow of Yesterday rules. It’s definitely making me think about how the flexibility of the TSOY rules could be applied to other genres and styles.

May 10, 2005: 11:13 pm: Game systems

From Timfire Publishing:

(5/10/05) Well, the 9th has come and gone. Producing a book is hard work! Things have been moving a little slow as I’m still working on my undergrad and got up in all that end of the year stuff. But that’s OK, this is going to be a great book, and I definitely want things done right.

Right now I still need to put the finishing touches on the text, and then the book will need to go through layout. I’m pushing real hard to finish the book within the next two weeks. In the next day or two I’ll post a mock-up of the first chapter, so everyone can have a preview of what I’ve been working on!

Since I’m not running my Mountain Witch game until the end of June, I’m still hoping the PDF of the final version will be out in time for me to use it, but, if not, I think I can still pull it off using the playtest rules. If the delays result in a better final product, I’m all for ‘em.

May 8, 2005: 8:37 pm: Game systems, Playing

As I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to play in a Dogs in the Vineyard game last weekend. We were GMed by Michael Croft, with Ginger, Jennifer, Kevin, Deb and I as the players, and I’m pretty sure everyone had a darned good time. It was an interesting mix of Dogs experience, with Michael having played (but not GMed), Ginger having GMed (but not played), my having read the rules through a couple of times (but never played), Jennifer having given much of the rulebook a quick read, and then Kevin and Deb not having had much exposure to the game at all.

Since about half of us knew the system to some extent, it didn’t take too long to get started. My character was Brother Virgil, a reformed gunfighter who’d found the King of Life and was trying to learn not to settle every argument with the gun. Having the game start off with everyone going through their initiations is definitely the way to go, both for getting to know the characters and getting to know the conflict resolution system. At the suggestion of one of the players, Michael let some of the PCs be a part of each other’s initial conflicts. That worked out pretty well, and helped to get the relationships within the group of Dogs going.

We ended up playing Saddle Ridge, the town the GM had created, over two sessions (and still not finishing it), both because it was a big town with lots of deal with, and because we were overly shy about getting into conflicts during the first half of things. When the NPCs got coy about whatever was troubling them, we’d do the usual PC/NPC dance, instead of pushing things to conflict. I think this was just something that most of us had learned to do as players in lots of other RPGs, and it took us some time to get out of those habits, though by the second half of the weekend the dice were hitting the table on a regular basis. That really got the pace of the game going, and the system made every conflict, whether it involved talking, fighting, or both, a lot of fun to play through.

There are probably more details I could talk about, but those’d come to mind easier if I hadn’t waited a week to write this. I guess I’ll know better next time, and at least take better notes. Ginger has posted about the game and about our mix of characters, so you can check those out if you’d like to know more.

Now that I’ve had a chance to actually play DitV, I can tell you that all of the hype is true. Get this game, and get your friends to play it. You’ll be really glad you did.

: 5:18 pm: Game systems

Ain’t it great when Vincent gets all passionate about Dogs in the Vineyard?

There’s this thing that happens sometimes when people see Dogs. They go “holy FUCK, the characters are effective! I gotta put a stop to that! How can this possibly go well if the characters run around accomplishing all their goals all the time?”

It’s nonsense. The meaning of the game, now look I’m talking about the MEANING of the game, depends on the characters being effective and accomplishing their goals. Your job as a GM isn’t to keep them from accomplishing exactly what they want to accomplish, it’s to design good towns and then play the townspeople fully and with passion. I promise, the Dogs can win every single conflict easily and the game still works, it’s still challenging morally and it’ll still engage you and your players. Losing a conflict once in a while is a spice, not a staple.

It makes me want to just shout amen.

: 4:36 pm: Game systems, Miscellaneous

Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue, the guys behind Evil Hat, best known for FATE and the upcoming Dresden Files RPG, get interviewed over at RPG Blog. They have plenty to say about the future of FATE, about how things are looking for the Dresden Files game, and about how one of the games that has infuenced them the most is the Amber Diceless RPG….

May 6, 2005: 10:11 pm: Game systems, Miscellaneous

This year’s Iron Game Chef (now called simply Game Chef) competition has been moved off of The Forge, in hopes of getting more games from people other than the Forgites who usually comprise the majority of the entrants.

Design a tabletop roleplaying game, complete or as close to complete as possible, within just over one week. Make good use of the “Ingredients” provided, which will usually be a few concept words, a sentence, a genre, a theme, or a combination of all of the above (these will be provided on the first day of the contest, listed above). Work alone. At the same time, people will be posting about their game ideas on the Game Chef forums. Feel free to use those forums to post and refine your own ideas, while at the same time looking at other peoples’ ideas and providing feedback for them. Peer review and critique is a big part of the fun and challenge of this project.

The results will be completely read, reviewed and judged within six weeks of the close of the contest. The games will be judged solely on the text (not by layout, pictures, etc). The winner and runners-up receive a big round of kudos from their peers. This contest is fun, it’s challenging, and it’s filled with opportunities to give and receive warm feedback about your ideas, polishing them up as the week progresses.

The contest will run from May 21st-May29th, with the theme “ingredients” getting posted on the evening of May 20th.

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