Master Mines

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An Unpleasant Breakthrough

So, in talking with one of my playtesters last night, we mentally hit me over the idea by talking about the fiction that deals with amnesia — movies like Memento, The Bourne Identity, Paycheck, Total Recall, movies like that.

Thinking about those movies (and most of them are on their way from NetFlix as we speak), I realize that there are two major element in those movies:  one amnesiac, one story & many people seem to know the memoryless protagonist.   Given the issues I have, I have to ask myself:  am I trying to do too much in Know Thyself with four separate stories?  Should I consolidate the game to one amnesiac (or maybe one group, but not 100% of the players) & one story, and have the players play multiple times if they want everyone to have a turn at being an amnesiac?  I suspect it would produce a better play experience that what I have right now per session.

Also, maybe-related-maybe-not, I had a conversation with Paul the other day about the way the single, scene-ending conflict system wasn’t working because it was causing some really not-great play.

What this leaves me with is a dilemma:  am I just looking at change for change’s sake?  Furthermore, am I not as ready for the Ashcan Front as I thought I was a month ago?  I’ll be doing a lot of game-cranking & soul-searching this weekend as I figure out what it is that I need to do.

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July 5, 2007 - Posted by | Know Thyself

5 Comments »

  1. How important to you is the fiction that deals with amnesia? Have you been trying to do Bourne all along? Because it certainly doesn’t feel that way. None of the titles you cite have the same sort of explicitly dreamlike stuff going on as you have in the Know Thyself cards.

    We have all these games about lost memories, and I’ve been thinking on and off about the support in these games for the notion that, since nearly all amnesia you hear about is fictional, the real cause of amnesia for all these game characters is that they’ve become fictional themselves. Which suggests that you should maybe read some Grant Morrison… which you should probably do anyway.

    Comment by misuba | July 6, 2007 | Reply

  2. It’s less important to model that fiction and more important to have a sense of consistent gameplay. For that, looking at said fiction is one avenue that I haven’t explored yet that I should.

    I’m not sure how “meta” I want to get, though talking with one of my local crew who thinks I’m doing too drastic of a solution, I said that trying these new ideas might lead me down a middle-of-the-road path.

    I’d hate to lose the dreamlike-ness of the cards, but the play is just showing that it doesn’t work well. That’s really regretful, but in a shared narration state if you can’t quickly come up with what the “Zoo of Unrequited Strife” is, that bogs down the play. A neat experiment that ultimately, I think, didn’t hit the mark.

    But I did learn a lot from it about what similar ideas may very well work.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 6, 2007 | Reply

  3. I don’t feel like your game is about memory loss so much as it’s about finding yourself. You may need to solidify in your own mind what it is that you want your players to get out of your game…it’s something I’m struggling with right now but it seems like you may be a little unsure of that as well (I may be wrong). Once you know what you want a game session to be like, stick with it. Add things and take things out based on that.

    Comment by jhimmelman | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  4. I have a better idea, based on my playtest group who is currently revolting in unison at one of my more drastic ideas. They each love the “this feels like a fever dream or a nightmare” element, and after my first two playtests, the element I knew I wanted to keep was that unreal nature of the game — it encouraged unreal characters. My first playtest involved someone being an incarnating of Dawn — that’s when I felt like I had something.

    I was unsure previously because I could never replicate the awesome of that first playtest. But, I’ve learned a lot about what isn’t working, and after churning on this for weeks, I think I have something that’ll work.

    I’ll be testing that idea tonight, after talking with a couple players who will be showing up early.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  5. Hey Ryan…how’d the playtest go? If you want to have a conversation about alternatives to one-roll-and-done scenes, just say the word.

    Comment by paulczege | July 11, 2007 | Reply


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