Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Play Deck, redux

So, after the playtest on Monday and in preparation for trying to demo it this weekend, I re-did the Play Deck. It’s linked on my project page.

Here’s how figuring out rooms works now. First, an underlying change: each player is telling a separate story, so the character’s don’t co-exist currently.

So, when a new scene is done for a character, here’s what happens: (1) The Play Deck is shuffled by the person to that player’s right, known as the Stage Manager or Scene Framer. (2) The SM/SF draws the first card and reads that card’s Room value. (3) He draws the second card and reads that card’s Adjective value. (4) He draws the third card and reads that card’s Noun value. (5) Taking a moment, he begins framing the scene — taking into account the scene “Name” as a whole — and any existing characters & action in that scene, but does not interact with the character. (6) He hands off narration to the Active Player & Foil (the person to the player’s left, who manages the adversity & conflict) by saying one of two ritual phrases: “And that’s when you say…”or “And that’s when you think…”

The player responds with their Impulse line, the single motivation they remember at character set-up — like “Where is my sister?” or “I will have my revenge against God.” But that gets into another subject.

Here are some sample scenes I just drew:

Zoo of Spontaneous Temptation
Dungeon of Righteous Oath
Garden of Misguided Betrayal
Grove of Rewarding Beauty
Battlefield of Contemptuous Need
Sparring Grounds of Bitter Omen
Gym of Excessive Wrath
Courtyard of Traitorous Strength

So, I’ve taken multiple Sharpies of different colors and wrote down all these elements on a regular deck of playing cards, so that play isn’t slowed down & hampered by chart lookup. That was an issue in previous playtests. I invite ya’ll to take a look at the document and tell me if anything stands out as a weak element, an odd-fitting element, or any general responses you have to this idea. By the way, the math yields 132,600 combinations.

With those charts, you can try with a regular deck of cards, so if you have the impulse to do so, I’d like to hear your responses to that as well. If you do, try to think about framing the scene you just pulled. I also plan on having some text to illustrate that these should be interpreted as tightly or loosely as one feels, as long as every element is present. A “Dungeon” could easily be a modern-day prison or a brig. A garden could be a fancy walk or a trip to that section of Home Depot.

And yes, the Play Deck still also handles conflict resolution & memory definition. It’s the workhorse here, and I think that’s strong. I also think that’s going to be a royal pain to produce as a physical element of the final game (or even the ashcan).

Edit: Oh, yeah, and I also added another element to the physical cards, but this isn’t a change from the draft.  I added “Guilt,” “Goal,” “Triumph” and “Defeat” — the four colors of memory — to the card to save looking that up on a table.


June 21, 2007 - Posted by | Know Thyself


  1. It sounds like you found a great solution, Ryan. The draft hasn’t been updated, right? I’ll see if I can commandeer one of the decks lying around and put together a prototype to test out.

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | June 21, 2007 | Reply

  2. Nope, not updated yet. I’ve been hammering it out as I have time.

    I also just updated this post to mention the other element I wrote down on the card — the four colors of memory.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | June 21, 2007 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: