Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Money, Meet Mouth

As promised, I’ve posted the current draft of A Penny For My Thoughts. Why? Well, I’m looking for a few things.

  • Does the in-game economy works the way I think it does?
  • Are the troublesome endgame mechanics are as troublesome as I believe?
  • Can this game be played without me at the table (i.e. is it clear how to play from the text alone)?

So, if there are any enterprising playtest groups out there, give it a try and let me know. And if you want to record your playtest sessions, that’d be even better.


June 12, 2007 - Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts


  1. Having just read your latest draft, I have to say that I think this can be played without you at the table. I say “I think” because I haven’t demonstrated this, but it feels like I know how to play.

    When you say “Does the in-game economy works the way I think it does?” (emphasis mine), how do you think it works? The same question with your second bullet. I’d like to know what you have in mind with these two elements, so that I might better be able to look out for them in play. I realize that you might not want to lead me into finding those if I naturally wouldn’t, but I will say that the rest of the playtesters I draft for this will be ignorant of your specific concerns.

    Also, as far as the text itself goes, I like the voice you’ve chosen. I have some nitpicks (naturally), but you’ve definitely got something rockin’ over here. I would heavily suggest that you have some actual play example in the book, and furthermore you could keep the clinical voice by framing it as a therapy session recording, like:

    TOMPKINS: “Session: 24 March, 3 P.M. Patients: 12, 14, and 36. Okay, let’s begin…”
    DOCTOR TOMPKINS administers the Mnemosyne treatment to PATIENTS 12, 14 & 36, hands each of them the questionnaire & memory seed slips, then walks out of the room.
    PATIENT 12 begins writing “Hunger,” “My Grandmother,” “A Child,” “Africa” and “Rule Britannia” on her slips.

    I realize it’s a bit early to suggest that, but that’s one that I had while reading your draft.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. Yeah, I want to hear more about what precisely has been troublesome about the troublesome things.

    Comment by misuba | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. I’d prefer not to say right now, so as to prevent observer bias. Just read and play the game and let me know what happens.

    Ryan, regarding your actual play examples idea, I’m all over it. I was thinking about including an extended transcript in an appendix in the final version, but examples throughout in that format would rock too.

    Comment by ptevis | June 13, 2007 | Reply

  4. Paul, I had a chance to read this today and let me tell you I found it fascinating. I think you did a great job with your idea and constructing a game around it. A few things:

    1- I had no problem visualizing the rules from the text; I think I could run this at home without consulting you except for any questions arising out of game play. I also love the voice it is written on.

    2- You have in the text that the answer is always “Yes, but/and” to a memory being put forth by a Psychopomp (extra bennies for dusting off that word), and I understand that this goes with the whole deprotagonization design principle you outline in the Behind the Curtain part, but I wonder if you could have a Traveler (hey, we share a game term!) answer “No, but,” with the caveat that the “but” must use the Psychopomp’s suggestion as a springboard. In game terms this could be that the Mnemosyne is working, but the Psychopomp didn’t get such a good view of the memory fragment, so he offers something that is partial. I guess in the end “No, but” and “Yes, but/and” are really not that different, but I wanted to posit the question outright for you.

    3- The only thing that left me wanting a bit was the questionnaire that drives the whole thing. Have these 5 questions worked fine during playtest? I don’t know I’d go for a whole bunch of them, but maybe having an option of 8 questions from which 5 are chosen? Again, this is just from reading, and maybe playtest proves these to be just fine, but after reading through the text I got to the questions and I was like, “that’s it?”

    4- Can’t comment on the endgame mechanics cause I haven’t played it, but they seem to be pretty straightforward. I guess that any problem with the economy vis-a-vis endgame mechanics would only be revealed during play…

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | June 16, 2007 | Reply

  5. Hey Paul, I just read through the game thoroughly. First off, I’ve got to say I really like the approach to roleplaying you’re going for. The therapeutic style of play is interesting, and will go really far to further you’re goal as a heavily immersive game.

    Your third goal was to encourage immersive play, but I think I would have a hard time becoming immersed in a character I knew nothing about. You may need to have people come up with a little bit about their characters before they start playing. Not memories of course, but feelings and things like that. Maybe even costuming…I know that in my experience costumes are one of the most important elements for immersion.

    The other big issue I had was that you’ve got this really unique, solid system for collaborative storytelling, but in the end the stories never go anywhere. Either they remember or they don’t. It just doesn’t feel finished to me.

    One suggestion I’ve come up with is maybe the characters all developed amnesia from the same event. With each story that gets told, the characters get closer to finding out what that event was. Maybe one person is the cause of the amnesia…which would add some inter-character conflict…

    But that may not be what you’re going for. it’s also kind of similar to interrorgation. Just a thought anyway.

    There are a couple of minor things, like I would get rid of having people say the specific phrases (like “I will help you remember”), and there doesn’t seem to be a reason for someone to give another person their penny in the beginning (unless I missed something).

    Overall I like where the game is headed and I REALLY like the writing style. In the final version I would definitely get rid of the behind the curtain section, but for the ashcan I think it was helpful.

    Comment by jhimmelman | June 17, 2007 | Reply

  6. Paul, to give you a different opinion on the Behind the Curtain bit, I’m a bit ol’ designer notes geek so if you left it in for folks like me, we’d probably really dig on it. But, that doesn’t really affect anything we’re discussing.

    Jeff, you raise some really good points here. I wonder if any of those match the points Paul’s currently being silent about.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | June 18, 2007 | Reply

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