Master Mines

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Know Thyself outline

So, in preparation for writing the draft this weekend, I’ve written up my outline.  Actually, I’ve written & re-written it, since I often write by hand in my journal before writing on the computer.  I’ve posted up the outline at:

Those of you who have played in my earlier games or have a grasp on what the new version of the game does, what do you think?  Am I leaving something out?  Feel free to point out anything — don’t assume I’m going to cover it and just didn’t put it on the outline.


June 30, 2007 Posted by | Know Thyself | 3 Comments

GT: The Big 3

So I finally got around to answering these! Next step, first draft.

  1. What is your game about?
    Grand Tour is a game about travel: getting a group together, planning a tour, taking the trip and reminiscing about it afterwards.
  2. How is your game about that?
    Grand Tour includes phases representing the stages of a trip as described above. Character generation results in the Travelers, who then cooperate to create a Tour, who then engage in shared narrative to describe the events of the trip itself. During this phase, players can narrate, add facts or throw in complications, seeking to rack up Memorability while avoiding Burnout and/or arguments that could make it a trip to forget.
  3. What behaviors will your game reward?
    Grand Tour rewards a shared narrative experience where different players all combine to tell one story by awarding Memorability points to a scene based on the initial narration, and any added facts and/or complications thrown in. Players are encouraged to work together towards the creation of a memorable trip, which always include some good and not-so-good times, and penalizes players who try to hog the spotlight, or set out to create a narration where everything goes wrong, by awarding Burnout points.

I’m not entirely convinced with what I wrote, but it does give me a clearer vision of what I want to achieve. Have at it.

June 28, 2007 Posted by | Grand Tour | 6 Comments

Some reward system musings

The greatest roadblock for me right now, by far, is the reward system. There’s a lot of other things I need to define, like cobwebs, echoes, etc, but that’s just a matter of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it were). The rewards system really has me stumped.

I may have come up with something. It’s not fully developed but I figured I’d take it to you guys to see if there was anything to it before I started to really define it. What I’m thinking is that each player is given a number of tokens at the beginning of game. By the end of game, they need to hand off those tokens to other players at the table based on roleplaying, introducing new plot elements they think are cool, etc.

At any point, players can spend tokens they received to raise their Survival and/or Lucidity, similar to how I had it before. When they max out their Survival or Lucidity (or maybe it’ll have to be both) they gain a Hope die-step (again, just like before).

Here’s where things change up. Your hope directly corresponds to how many echoes you have and how powerful they can are. For example, If you have five hope, you can have five kinda punky echoes or one really bad-ass one. I’ll need to come up with some sample powers you can get from echoes, but players will be free to make up their own too.

I’d expressed before that I wasn’t happy with players having to spend experience to recover survival (heal), but that’s not as much of an issue for me anymore. What I decided was that people will be able to heal back up to their base stat in Survival or Lucidity either by resting or spending time in a Forgotten hospital/holy place. They can’t go above their base number except by spending tokens on it, but one of the abilities echoes will be able to give is adding to your base stat.

I also had this kinda weird idea (it was actually me and my friend John) about betting on dice rolls similar to craps, which is what the system is loosely based on. Players at the table can take tokens they received and bet them on another player winning a die roll, only when the despair die is higher. By betting, they add a +1 modifier to the players roll. If the dice roller wins, the player who bet gets their token back plus another one. If the roller loses, everyone who bet loses their tokens, and they share some of the consequences of the character who lost the challenge. the in game explanation is that Gatherings all have a kind of connection through fate or the nothing. They all have some common element in their past which is why the Nothing brings them together. Because of this connection, they can lend their hope to help others in their gathering.

I’m well aware that this betting system isn’t going to work as written. The odds are too much in favor of people always winning, but it’s an idea sprout I thought might pan out to be pretty interesting.

Feedback in any capacity is welcome of course

June 25, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing | 4 Comments

Defining Goals

So, on my last post, I said that rather than having a draft ready immediately or being silent about it, I would declare a goal of having the draft done by Saturday. This seems like a good idea to put in the Rules category, so that folks checking this out can see this idea as well.

While it’s not required, publicly declaring a goal with a time frame — such as “I’ll have another draft done by Saturday” — is a good motivator for me (and hopefully you) as well as a good indicator for others about where you’re at. I think short-term goals, in the “two weeks or less” range, are helpful for us.

There isn’t much to this post other than to let ya’ll know that there’s now a “Goals” category, and to put the idea in your head that this might help keep the motivation going and better support the slow-burning, long-haul form of collaboration that I think will be awesome.

(As an aside: Some of us have goals that are currently a bit longer, like those of us who will be at the Ashcan Front, but that’s a bit too distant and too all-encompassing to serve the purpose I think these smaller goals will. I’m not saying those goals aren’t still good to have, but there’s something to be said for breaking up a task.)

June 25, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | Leave a comment

This Is Why Playtesting Is Good

This weekend at Go Play NW I had two rockin’ playtests. The first worked a lot of kinks out of the system and pointed me in the right direction with regards to changes that needed to be made. The second confirmed the wisdom of these decisions. I’ve got some changes to make, which I’ve outlined here, and the feedback I got this weekend was both positive and useful. I’m hoping to get a new draft finished by the end of the week.

June 25, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 4 Comments

To sleep, perchance etc.

So, I really don’t know what the next step is for OM, and I keep having ideas for new games (and even a complete draft cooked up in a couple hours at Go Play NW after playing Sea Dracula, the most awesome game ever cooked up in a couple hours). To me, this says that it’s time to lie fallow and let things germinate for a bit. I’m gonna take a few weeks off, maybe work on some music. I am still reading and commenting.

Speaking of digging around in Vincent’s old stuff, I found this thing on journeyman games. I thought of it this weekend when I flashed on a game idea so huge and terrifying that I am not even going to think about mechanics for a good long while. I’m just going to pick up some books, do some research, and plant that stake in the ground somewhere out in the future, a game I’m going to do when I’m ready.

June 25, 2007 Posted by | Outside Men | 5 Comments

In lieu of a draft, a goal

So, after the Go Play NW playtest of Know Thyself and the discussion afterwards (some even extending into lunch the next day), I have many more notes on what needs to be worked on as well as several suggestion on how to do so.

Since that means I won’t have a draft this week, it instead means that I’m could to declare a goal of having a draft by Saturday night. I’m also cutting up Master Plan #10 this week, so it’ll be a tight fit but I’ve got to press on.

This is my idea: if we make short-term goals for ourselves and declare them, it’s something that everyone else give feedback on — like asking me how things are going if by Monday next I don’t have a new draft up. Also, it’s a good way to let people know where you are. This isn’t one of The Rules, but I think just fits into our support network. I won’t stop commenting on others, either, so no worries there. (Jeff, expect comments tomorrow — I’ve got post-con exhausting right now.)

Also, see what I did there? I set another goal publicly. Maybe there’s something to this idea — voluntary, but I think that makes it better.

June 24, 2007 Posted by | Goals, Know Thyself | 5 Comments

A lot of steam, then *poof*

At least that’s how I feel right now about my first week here and this one just concluding. Last week I was spot on, offering comments and putting up stuff of my own; this week, I’ve certainly offered comments, but I have not done anything on GT, for various reasons: work taking up my day time (not usual), editing and laying out a product that needs to come out next week, stuff at home (nothing serious) and the great bit of news I got yesterday, I’m being laid off as of July 1st (so the time I had yesterday, which was a nice chunk, was spent doing the resume/job hunt thing). Bleh.

Anyway, I did start working on my Big 3/Power 19, and aside from getting the latest issue of my magazine out this week, doing a first draft of GT is my top (game-related) priority for the week. My goal is to post, by next Friday the latest, a first draft of the rules for GT for us to pick apart.

June 22, 2007 Posted by | Grand Tour, News & Updates | 3 Comments

New Character Sheet

I put up a new character sheet on Know Thyself’s project page.

The short run-down of the elements:

Impulse: This is the single thought & motivation that survives the memory loss, like “Where’s my sister?” or “I must have my revenge on God.”  It should be so vague that many questions can be asked about it, but still strong enough to be a motivation even without the rest of your memories.   This line also serves as a ritual phrase in the game.

Success & Failure track: This determines endgame.  When you hit the number of successes or failures set for the length of the game (between 2 & 7), then you hit endgame.   If Success fills up, your Impulse is resolved.  If Failure fills up, your Impulse is not resolved.  I’m thinking about being able to add a number of “Yes, but…” statements depending on the number of the other track is filled.   I haven’t come up with a good term for this number yet.  You’ll check off one box per scene, depending on if you succeed or fail that scene’s conflict.

Redraws: Instead of the draw one-two-three method, the idea of making the number of times you can redraw a non-renewing currency.  The number of redraws is double the number of successes/failures needed to hit endgame.

Attachments: This is identical to the original draft

Consequences: This is the other side of the coin of Memories.  Whoever narrates the Outcome declares some new fact about the current situation.  So, either you’re writing down a Memory or a Consequence — and someone else is taking your character sheet and writing the other down.  I had a problem when one guy wrote down what someone else said, because he shortened it in a way the narrating player felt lessened the point.  So, character sheets will move around the table.

Endgame: The questions should be obvious, though I don’t have a solid “What exactly happens during endgame” setup yet.

I’ll see some of ya’ll at Go Play NW tomorrow.

June 22, 2007 Posted by | Know Thyself | 2 Comments

Concepts are people too… wait, I may have that backwards

So, that thing of Vincent’s I read yesterday, which somehow got me to realize what should have been obvious: that every time you build a game mechanic, you should be thinking solely about the people at the table and how they’re going to interact as a result. I’m thinking about that a lot, and at the same time, I’m trying to write the next bit of my next draft of Outside Men. And I’m stuck.

I had this idea for what I jokingly referred to before as “character advancement:” what I was calling Goals. The idea was inspired by the Dharma Paths in Jonathan Walton’s Avatar game, and it went along vaguely (and I mean vaaaaaaguely) similar lines. The idea is you’d have two things on two different index cards, one of them a goal that the Alive side of you would want to achieve and the other a goal for your Dead side. Mind you, the game’s fiction doesn’t really allow for people being partly Dead and partly Alive; the idea was that which side you’re really on would remain a Schrodinger’s-cat deal, “secret” (really just open to future determination) until revealed. Which Goals you went for was supposed to be dependent entirely on story, except that whether you had achieved more Alive goals or Dead ones affected how well you’d do when rolling on Alive or Dead difficulties. (Elements were going to have two different difficulty tracks to bid up, yes. I am killing the hell out of that idea, don’t worry.)

I feel like I’m talking a lot and not saying much, here. Which is fine, because this is what it comes down to: I want the players of Outside Men to take strong actions that are ambiguous. I want them to conceal their intentions, have conflicted (and conflicting) allegiances with the other players, to switch sides and fight with themselves and maybe be unaware of themselves, but finally to show their true colors in gloriously horrible moments of self-sacrifice or mere self-destruction.

But I don’t know how to make the game make people want that. You know?

Rewards, baby. Hard stuff. I feel like there’s some simplest-thing-that-could-possibly-work hanging right in front of my face but I can’t see it right now. I certainly don’t think the Goals mechanic I envisioned is going to serve.

June 21, 2007 Posted by | Outside Men | Leave a comment