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.