Master Mines

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Thinking about the next draft

As previously stated I had an extrordinarily productive playtest of KoN at Gencon. I’ve got some major additions I want to add to the mechanics. Some of them I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to do. Others I’m not so sure right now. Here’s a few changes I’ll be making, partly based on the feedback I recieved, partly from random thoughts that have occured to me:

-Collaborative setting creation. During character creation, when everyone was passing around the secrets sheets, there was always one person who had no sheet to work on because the Judge didn’t have one to give them. Judd suggested that this person should take a new piece of paper and make up a location. When everything gets passed around the next person will add another one. Its similar to giants, but I think it works for my game in a very different way.

Something else mentioned along these lines is having all the players vote on a starting location and narrating for themselves how they got there. This avoids the problem I’ve been having lately of every first game being about how the players get together. An alternative to this suggestion was that every player starts with a scene focused around their character, with the other players acting as narrators or NPCs. In this scene they’re confronted with some element from their past right off the bat, and it serves to pull them into the story immediately

-survival mechanics. As mentioned before I am going to write a chapter about surviving on the street. I want to add some mechanics to this effect. My thinking now is that characters will have to take some flaws based on how much despair they have.

-player created connections. As it stands, all the characters have connections in their backstory (like the TV show Lost). Before the
Judge was finding these connections when he got all the secrets back. Now, during character creation, the players take some responsibility in connecting elements of each characters backstory, rather than the Judge doing this on his own. I’m not quite sure how to do this yet,
but I don’t think it’ll be too hard to figure out.

-Attacking the backstory. This one is throwing me, and its what I’m going to need feedback on the most. Hands down, the strongest aspect of this game is the character creation. Time after time, every character generated is really interesting and has tons of conflict built in before the game even starts. The issue that was brought up to me was that it is entirely in the hands of the Judge when and where information about the backstory is handed out. This isn’t great. The players need to be able to agressively go after their own secrets.
All of this stuff about gatherings, powers, echoes and cobwebs is (or should be at least) secondary to the main focus of the game, which is finding out what happened to you. Players should be able to force scenes in which they confront their past either by asking or sacrificing. I need a way to make the mechanics relate to the chargen a little more smoothly.

That said, I have no idea how to do this right now.

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August 24, 2007 - Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing

3 Comments »

  1. This avoids the problem I’ve been having lately of every first game being about how the players get together.

    I have this with some games of Don’t Rest Your Head that I run — I call it Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (though I can’t remember who actually named that term), since the session is about them dealing with the weirdness. Not quite the same in yours, but the idea still sort of applies.

    Now, during character creation, the players take some responsibility in connecting elements of each characters backstory, rather than the Judge doing this on his own.

    How much player input are we talking here? Like, would two people say “We share an old man with a cane in our past”, and the judge figure out who that person is to both people?

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | August 24, 2007 | Reply

  2. Possibly just because I was reading it yesterday, this post really makes me think of an old Forge thread: Silent Railroading and the Intersection of Scenario Prep & Player Authorship

    Downthread a ways, Ron Edwards has an enlightening, if not yet fully formed into grab-it-and-go design tools, breakdown of the different kinds of authority over the fiction that players have in games. It sounds like you’re dealing a bit with content authority (“backstory” control) coming into conflict with other forms.

    Comment by misuba | August 24, 2007 | Reply

  3. wow, that thread was really appropriate. I’ve gotten through the first page and it’s got me thinking. I can tell I’ll need o keep coming back to this. Thanks.

    Ryan, I was thinking more along the lines of when a player gets a sheet, they need to make a connection to a secret they wrote on the sheet they had before it. This is a really nebulous idea in my head, but it’s something I’m going to work at fully forming in the coming weeks.

    Comment by jhimmelman | August 24, 2007 | Reply


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