Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs


Hi everyone, my name is Chris Perrin and I am acquainted with many of you on this group in one way or another. After hearing Ryan’s passion when he talked about Master Mines, I decided that I wanted to sign on to this group. I home hoping for the tough love that you guys are going to dish out and I only hope that I can repay that tough love with a little of my own.

I am working on a game tentatively called Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade which will be based on a number of mecha anime series that I have watched, most notably Robotech/Macross/Southern Cross/Invid, Gundam Wing, Neon Genesis Evangelion, with some influences from Big O, Dominion:Tank Police and Ghost in the Shell.

The game has a number of design goals:

  1. Straddle the line between traditional and story game to provide an enjoyable synthesis between the two styles.
  2. Be an outlet for my fanboy love of mecha
  3. Explore the nature of a character’s “arc” within an anime series as each character blossoms into the role destiny has chosen for them.

I have not fleshed a lot of the mechanics, but there is one idea that has gripped me: archetypes. The anime I have watched, especially as the artform has matured, tends to have characters that are strongly typed. In a lot of ways Scott from Invid Invasion and Max Stirling are the same person. Rick Hunter and the main character from Evangelion are very similiar. I think that it is safe to say that anime uses familiar types like most classic works (how far removed are Rick Hunter and Luke/Duo and Han Solo/Roy Fokker and Obi Wan Kenobi?) Thus each character tends to have his/her archetype which he/she plays out.

Players will chose an archetype that they would like to play out which will determine their starting stuff (be it Traits, Skills, character points, etc.) The archetype will also determine how the character advances (I intend to use something like Keys for this.)

Ryan has already asked if the game needs advancement. I tend to think that it does. I believe that the improvement of a mecha pilot’s abilities and their familiarity with their mecha are two of the central tenets of mecha.

I have some ideas that are flowing around in my head including:

  1. Backgrounds. I think part of chargen will be tracing out a character’s background, how they became a mecha pilot, etc.
  2. One of the archetypes will mandate that your character die at some point. A lot of very important mentor characters die in the middle of the series leaving their prodigy to go on. I was thinking about a archetype that starts off more powerful, but must die in the middle of a campaign and is replaced with a rookie-type character.

Problems I will face:

  1. I want to use this game and this group to really immerse myself in what is for me still a new style of gaming (that being the more story game-like format.) I’ve stood on the edge, I sipped, but I’ve not drunk the Kool Aid. Part of my personal growth will be to tap into this style of game to determine what parts I want to use in my game design.
  2. How to make the game unique. Ryan already brought up BESM. I don’t want to make a game that’s BESM, only different. I want to have a game that stands on its own awesomeness or I will write up a proposal for my next idea.
  3. My first big challenge is to determine more about chargen. I feel myself wanting a more gritty, almost Burning Wheel type game, but I am not sure if that is ultimately the right choice for the game.

Thanks a lot everyone!


July 11, 2007 - Posted by | Mecha


  1. Welcome to the fold.

    So, you mention “I feel myself wanting a more gritty, almost Burning Wheel type game, but I am not sure if that is ultimately the right choice for the game.”

    Can you go into more detail on why you do?
    Can you tell us why you feel that might not be the right choice?

    By articulating these answers, you might get some more understanding on both sides. I know I tend to when someone forces me to write or speak what I’m chewing on mentally.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 11, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hey, Chris. Welcome. Now for the promised tough love.

    You wrote that one of your goals is to “[s]traddle the line between traditional and story game to provide an enjoyable synthesis between the two styles.” What do you see as the defining characteristics of each? What do you hope to borrow (and avoid) from each style?

    Comment by ptevis | July 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. RE: archetypes – Tony Lower-Basch is doing some incredible work on this at, in the course of designing his Misery Bubblegum. Have a look and see what you think.

    Comment by misuba | July 12, 2007 | Reply

  4. Ryan/Paul,

    I think I am going to throw out a long post pontificating on both posts as I think there are clear differences between trad, indie, and story games. The disharmonies between the three and what players are looking for in each group drives a lot of my feelings about writing a Burning Wheel-type game.

    misuba, thanks for links. I will review tonight.

    Comment by commondialog | July 12, 2007 | Reply

  5. Wunderbar. I look forward to seeing it.

    Comment by ptevis | July 12, 2007 | Reply

  6. Hey Chris, welcome!

    Your third design goal is the one that interested me the most. I think if you stick closely to that idea I can see some really interesting things coming from it.

    One thing I’d caution you on (based on my own experience) is letting the things that inspired you overtake your design. Somewhere in the middle of my design process when I was doing research into other games and media, I ended up borrowing a little too much from things I wanted my game to be like. Ultimately I strayed from the original vision and the game became a mish-mash of stuff I thought was cool. I’m at a point now where I need to take a step back and redefine a few things about my game.

    Just wanted to throw that out there.

    Comment by jhimmelman | July 13, 2007 | Reply

  7. misuba,

    Thanks for that link. Some of those discussions blew my mind. I need to find a copy of Alshard. I like that character creation scheme a lot.

    I’ve gotten a lot to chew on. Thanks for that!

    Comment by commondialog | July 14, 2007 | Reply

  8. I know this is an old post, but I see that you haven’t come back in other posts to the topic of the strong archetypes, and I had some thought here.

    Firstly, don’t hurt me for saying this, but a good way of promoting strong archetypes is to use a class-based system. No matter what you may have to say about d20 and its ilk, classes==archetypes.

    Now I am not suggesting that you should implement a class-based system, but rather to consider class-based mechanics and how they may be able to guide players in recognizing the archetypes.

    One system I know of (and my experience in RPGs is admittedly narrower than most of the people posting here) that uses archetypes is Hollow Earth Expedition. This game, however, doesn’t seem to incorporate the concept of archetypes into the mechanics of the game. Choosing an archetype is one of the first aspects of character creation and, as I understand it, is meant to guide the rest of chargen in creating the type of character imagined by the player.

    I can see, however, taking an archetype or class-like system to a mechanical level, allowing a chosen archetype to play into the story in a more structured way.

    Look at Spirit of the Century and consider, if you will, that the archetype for a character is defined by the sum of his/her aspects. Now turn that around and you have aspects that a character can tap defined by the archetype chosen and the current point in the story.

    A mentor-type was mentioned. Consider that this mentor can “tap an aspect” of “Gateway Guardian” (to use the Campbellian). This can only happen at a pivotal point in the story, but allows other characters to unlock new aspects of their own archetype in exchange for the death of the mentor.

    Or consider the “Hot-shot pilot” archetype (I haven’t read your current project doc yet, just your posts, so this example may not fit your setting well, but bear with me), who has an aspect of “Always gets the lady.” at the beginning of the game. At some point, however, this archetype is scheduled to trade that aspect in for “Reluctant Hero”, triggered by the “Damsel in distress” archetype actually falling for him.

    Events like this, spread throughout the game, allow characters to progress through the story arc as well as through their own character development in a mechanical way. Just make sure the archetypes have freedom to be interesting and fun to play rather than boring, cookie-cutter characters.

    Comment by btaggart | July 25, 2007 | Reply

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