Archive for May, 2005

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 22, 2005: 8:05 pm: Game theory (or close enough), GMing

Forge regular Mike Holmes posted an in-depth explanation of the concept of bangs. It’s well worth a read.

May 21, 2005: 11:05 am: Cons

Here’s my schedule for The Black Road 2005:

Slot 1: From the Ashes [Amber using modified Otherkind rules]
GM: Kris Kunkel

Slot 2: Dogs in the Circle [Yep, Amber meets Dogs in the Vineyard]
GM: Bryant Durrell

Slot 3: GM – The Mountain of the Sorcerer-King [Mountain Witch with a bit of Amber flavor]

Slot 4: Le Cygne: Ghost Ship [Amber+Everway=Amberway]
GMs: Ginger Stampley & Michael Croft

Slot 5: GM – The Puppies of Tijuana [kill puppies for satan with recast Amber Elders]

Should be a fun time!

: 10:50 am: Miscellaneous

This morning I upgraded Flaming Monkey to WordPress, which, in theory, should fix a few minor bugs that made it into the 1.5.1 release. Hopefully it didn’t introduce any new ones.

May 16, 2005: 9:12 pm: Cons, Game theory (or close enough)

Okay, this is the kind of thing that makes me sorry I’m not going to GenCon:

So I called the Justice League of Indie Game Design together and came up with a rough outline for the Workshop. Everyone got on board and planning began. The initial idea was to do a hardcore workshop with a catered lunch, group projects, presentations…but alas, this didn’t come together for a variety of reasons. The current plan is to set up a series of four seminars on the Friday of the con, with each running between an hour and 1.5 hours — with a lunch break in between sessions 2 and 3. If it goes well, maybe next year we’ll do something even more ambitious. Buy-in is $5 per session ($20 for the whole thing). I don’t have the exact write-ups of each seminar with me, but the details are:

Session I: Theory of Roleplaying, hosted by D. Vincent Baker (kill puppies for satan, Dogs in the Vineyard)

Session II: Game Design, hosted by Yours Truly [Jared A. Sorenson] and Luke Crane (Burning Wheel)

Session III: Worldbuilding and Mythic Storytelling, hosted by John Wick (Legend of the Five Rings, OrkWorld, Thirty, etc.)

Session IV: Print & Electronic Publication, hosted by Clinton R. Nixon (Paladin, Shadow of Yesterday) and Luke Crane

For those who will be at GenCon that weekend, the actual event code is apparently WKS00018: Roleplaying Game Design Workshop.

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.

: 5:16 pm: Miscellaneous

There was apparently a bug in WordPress 1.5.1 that disrupted my RSS feeds after the upgrade, but I think I’ve fixed it now. I hope.

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 9, 2005: 8:40 pm: Miscellaneous

I just upgraded Flaming Monkey from WordPress 1.5 to 1.5.1, and apparently I managed to do so without breaking anything.