Master Mines

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Nailed it.

So its been two weeks since I realized I need to completly retool my system. The mechanics have gone through a lot of transformations since then, but I really feel like the dice are doing what I want them to, and the system is saying what I want it to. You can tap Despair to help your temporary situation, but it completely screws you over in the long-term. Every conflict you enter you need to invest part of yourself into. The more you invest the easier it is to win, but the more you stand to lose. Its using some elements of craps, but from the feedback I’ve received its pretty easy to pick up and understand.I’ve played the system a few times now in this incarnation, and its holding up pretty well. It takes some time before the roll goes down to figure out the penalties and bonuses, but this has heightened the drama of the roll itself. Also the fact that other people can help out by Sparing Some Change really keeps everyone emotionally invested in what’s going on. Having Coins representing Survival and Lucidity that you can stand to lose or win gives the conflicts more weight. In short, all the frustrations I went through in tearing everything down and starting again left me with a system that mechanically works better and speaks volumes more to what the game is about.This is the last draft I’m posting before I head to the printer. I have a few friends editing it for clarification and spelling. Two weeks ago I wasn’t sure I’d have a draft ready in time for Gencon, but I’m really glad I went through all the crap I did. I can’t thank you all enough for all the advice and help I recieved on this forum. Its where it is in a large part thanks to you guys.Its still not done though. I’ve got a very clear idea of what I want it to be doing and its closer than its ever been before to achieving that goal. It was essentially written in two weeks though, so there’s going to be a lot of adjustments I’ll have to make. Please take a look at it and feel free to tear it apart. Here’s the draft


July 31, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing | 8 Comments

NGHB Activity

I know my post count was low last week, but in lieu of a ping, I wanted to post real quick.  I’ve started doing my brain dump, but that stalled due to some RL issues (including an educationally disasterous session of another game I am playtesting…)  However, I am going to try to put pen to paper today and have those notes on here ASAP.

July 31, 2007 Posted by | Mecha | 2 Comments

About to finalize the draft

Hey, guys.  I’m about to finalize the draft for layout & printing.  I know a couple of you mentioned in IM or elsewhere that you had some comments for me, so if you could get those to me by the next day or so, I would appreciate it.  For those who haven’t had a chance to sit down with the draft, don’t worry about it — it’s right before GenCon, and we’re all crazy busy.

In either case, thanks a lot for being here, helping me out with my draft, spurring me on.  Ya’ll are freakin’ awesome.

July 30, 2007 Posted by | Know Thyself | 1 Comment

Map Creation stuff

Ok, I’ve been working on bits and pieces here and there. So here is the near done map creation section of the book.

July 29, 2007 Posted by | Giants | 4 Comments

Getting down to the wire…

So with Gencon looming it’s ugly deadline-ey head in the near future, I’m going to need to set this stuff in stone in the next week so I’ll have ample time for printing.I actually had a really productive phone conversation with Ryan tonight where we hashed out a few holes changing the dice mechanic had created in my system.I have a ton of disparate elements left over from the way the system used to be:

-coins (formerly tokens, but I think coins is more appropriate. I’m going to call the mechanic where you can invest in someone else’s roll “sparing some change”)

I know what I want my system to do, I just need to figure out how to make it do that by the end of this week.   One of the main topics of conversation was how betting was going to work. I want the system to factor into the backstory like I mentioned before. The conclusion we came to was that the coins were going to be used to buy memories (the image evoked was a gambler in the hole struggling to buy back his memories). When you buy a memory, the other players at the table play an NPC in a scene centered around that character (or so the train of thought went).I feel like this concept gets across the struggle to pull yourself out of obscurity pretty well. I also wanted a way to have players invest in other players die rolls (sparing some change), but I have nothing specific at the moment.

I just need to concern myself with how to make it work. The thought process right now is that players will have to wager a certain amount of coins when they enter a conflict. Their survival and lucidity will act as a ‘stand in’ bet. i.e. If the Judge is calling for the player to wager 4 on a physical conflict and the character has survival of three, they will only have to put up 1 coin to roll. They’ll be able to put up more if they want, which will allow them to do the task better (not make it easier) but the more they invest the more they stand to lose (not sure what they’re losing yet). I have no idea what the Hope and Despair stat will do right now. Before they determined your die step, but I don’t have die steps anymore. I’m tempted just to toss ’em, just keeping hope and despair DICE, but I liked the struggle that came out of having hope and despair at war within every character. Also I liked their connection to Cobwebs and Echoes (the more powerful your hope was, the more powerful your echoes, same with Despair and Cobwebs). Maybe they’ll help determine difficulty…

I think that’s most of what we talked about. My notes are at home and I’m at work, but that’s the direction the system is going. There are some exciting things happening, but I’m really nervous about hitting my deadline. It’ll get done in one form or another, I just really want to get the best book I can out there for Gencon so I’m not getting feedback on things I already know I need to change.

July 26, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing | 2 Comments

Know Thyself v3: Finally, a Draft

So, uh, clocking it as nearly 9250 words (564 of which is title & TOC) is my latest draft of Know Thyself: (347K Word doc, thanks to me not shrinking one image)

I put the asides I’m likely to include in the marginalia in orange boxes for now. I’m not at all looking to stick with the format. But here’s what I need from you folks who are willing to read through my 26 pages (of which the first 2.5 are title & TOC):

  • Does my text make sense?
  • What do you find difficult to understand?
  • Does the game sound interesting/fun?
  • Could you run my game?
  • Would you want to?
  • What could I cut?
  • What do I need to flesh out?

You know, just your basic call for “Okay, so, I just wrote this. Please rip it to shreds and light it on fire so it’ll be a better document.” Fire away.

Also: I’ll be including an Appendix that I mention in the first section later, but ya’ll have basically already seen it if you’ve looked at my spreadsheet of card values.

Thanks a lot, guys. Your help has been very appreciated, and will continue to be so. I hope to get feedback in the next week so I can revise the draft before printing it, but I need at least a couple days off from it right now, since I’ve been working on this game every night for the past couple weeks.

Edit: And I think I should move to the Polishing mode now.

July 25, 2007 Posted by | Know Thyself | 2 Comments

Another good playtest & almost a new draft

We had another good playtest of Know Thyself last night, finally testing out the endgame rules. I originally half-wrote four potential endings to the game, and my two players said the ideas in them were weak. We agreed to play out three rounds of memories and then trigger endgame to see what would happen, and I’m happy to say we figured out how to do a single endgame that makes every memory feel important.

One of my desires was to avoid making a memory meaningless, and I felt that if you had a “good” or “bad” ending depending on how many memories you had (i.e. “If more than half of your memories are Drive memories, you win!”), it would kill the game partway, just like in a board game when it’s obvious who’s going to win because it’s statistically impossible for them to lose (or vice versa), but you keep playing anyway.

We also thought that making the endgame come down to something like a single card draw would be anti-climatic.  One of my players proposed playing out the Endgame Scene like a Dream Scene rather than the pure narration of a Memory Scene, and playing until one side got a certain number of successes based on the memories.  With the two types of Memories in the game, Drive & Pain, if there are more Drive memories, the Amnesiac needs two successes and the Chorus needs 2 + (Drive-Pain) successes.  The converse is true if there’s more Pain than Drive.

We also completely tossed out Talent Effects, which I haven’t explained to this group anyway.

In further news that lacks context: After removing the designer’s notes sections & doing some trimming, I’m back down to 6K. My target is no more than 8K for the final draft, and I still have new sections to write. I’m planning on finishing it up tonight.

Last night fixed a lot of miscellaneous crap, but I’m not doing a good job or re-writing my draft since I’m writing this up instead. 🙂

I’m so looking forward to doing something on Monday nights other than playtesting my game. I’m getting some serious game fatigue here, and my patience is wearing a bit thin. Our group needs a break, though I think we all are on board for one final game before GenCon.

July 24, 2007 Posted by | Know Thyself | Leave a comment


Having been at a loss of what to do with the dice system for a while, I decided I needed to get started on layout if I wanted to get this thing done by Gencon. In doing the layout I finished the cover and two-page spread that follows immediately.

Here’s the cover, here’s the finished spread

I dropped a Jabberwocky in the background as a throwback to wonderland (there are some wonderland-esque elements to the game setting)

Just thought I’d share.

July 23, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing | 2 Comments


so I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing with the dice mechanics in kon. I’ve realized that diesteps and modifiers are throwing things off so I’m focusing my attention on auto successes and failures.

Here’s where I’m at currently:
I’m doing away with modifiers in exchange for numbers that will generate automatic successes and failures. I’m also sticking with 2d6, with a hope die and despair die.

You roll hope vs despair for every challenge, but the difficulty adds numbers that will act as automatic successes and failures.

I have two variants of this current idea. Each of them have a range of difficulty; 0 difficulty in both of them is just hope vs despair. Past that, you add any positive modifiers from skills or other statistics, and you subtract any negative modifiers based on difficulty, enemy stats, etc.

The first variant is based a little more on craps, but I think its a little clunkier. Here’s the range:

+2: 7,11 auto success
+1: 7 auto success
+0: no auto successes or failures
-1: 2 auto failure
-2: 2,3 auto failure
-3: 2,3,12 auto failure

The second variant is a bit more balanced in my opinion, but not quite as colorful. Its based on the fact that 7 is the most probable number to come up when you roll 2d6 because it has the most combinations. 12 and 2 are the least likely follwed by 11 and 3, and so on. The difficulty scale will look something like this:

+5: 12,11,10,9,8 auto success
+4: 12,11,10,9 auto success
+3: 12,11,10 auto success
+2: 12,11 auto success
+1: 12 auto success 0: no auto successes or failures
-1: 2 auto failure
-2: 2,3 auto failure
-3: 2,3,4 auto failure
-4: 2,3,4,5 auto failure
-5: 2,3,4,5,6 auto failure

So there’s that. Basically I just want a system where your rolling hope vs despair with some kind of difficulty modifier without things getting too complicated or clunky. I’m not looking to do something different just for the sake of being different. So my question to you, my fellow mines, am I heading in the right direction with this? Its hard to tell from my vantage point whether I’m making things way more confusing than they need to be.

July 23, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing | 13 Comments

Draft update before the weekend

So, it’s almost 3am here, and I’m at 5,138 words. (I’m not happy with my progress, but I can’t change the past.)  I think the draft will clock in at around 8K.

Recent additions: Ending a Dream Scene, much of Triggering Memories, a bit more on designer’s notes (notably how I have some false memories and how that’s made it into the design).

This game progressed a lot when I dropped the “This game could be used for character creation for another campaign” idea. Sure, it still could be, but I’m no longer allowing that as a design goal, so I’ve become free to experiment. I’m really liking what I’ve got here, though it’s become a lot more specialized since its origin. I have to wonder if I’ll be able to find ten people who like the idea & game play.

July 21, 2007 Posted by | Know Thyself | 2 Comments