Master Mines

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Passion Trading

So I have decided that characters are going to have passions in NGHB which are pretty much the same thing as Passions in Mortal Coil.  My general idea is that a passion is some goal or desire or aptitude that can work their way into a roll (for instance “I am the best mecha pilot”, “I will do anything to protect my little sister”,”The Galactic Empire must be toppled.”  Each will have a level associated with them which is a number starting with 1 and reaching to probably 10 or perhaps infinity.

If a passion can be applied to a roll, the player gains one dice to his pool no matter the level.  However, if the player is willing to give up on that passion, they may dump all their dice into their pool for one roll at which point they have to select a new passion which is somehow related to their original goal.  So if I really need to do well on a mecha piloting roll and I have “I am the best mecha pilot ever” (3) I can add all 3 dice for one roll but at the end, my character will change.  He or she will become less cocky and perhaps take “I will be more cautious when flying” (3) or “I will learn to solve problems without fighting.” (3)

 The new passion becomes like a flag to the GM who can see on the character sheet where the player is taking her character.

My questions: 1)  Does this make sense (I don’t its particularly groundbreaking) 2) More importantly, does anyone see any pitfalls in the 1 for 1 trade?  Note in the example “I want to be the best mecha pilot” (3) becomes “I will learn to solve problems without fighting” (3) and not (2) or (1).

Note that through advancement, players will be able to increase their passions and perhaps decrease them in favor of more advancement points.



September 27, 2007 Posted by | Mecha | 21 Comments

Figuring out what my game’s about

So, I’ve been chewing on what Know Thyself is really about. On my blog, I posted that I think it’s less about an amnesiac and more about someone traveling in time who becomes an amnesiac in the process of going back in time. I came to this conclusion because the game centers around a bad event that happened to you that you want to change and that during the process you learn about the future of that event.

This doesn’t mean much mechanically, except that it gives me the context many of my questions need, like the issues I’m having with Attachments not quite having a place in the game.

Anyway, here are my initial notes:

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Know Thyself | 5 Comments

The Siren Call of Cool (after Ryan’s episode on Master Plan)

So I’m coming back to the design of Grand Tour slowly after a (practially) 3-month hiatus, and I’m already running into a bit of a problem.

Grand Tour is a weird concept in that, while I have the theme down, I am still struggling with figuring out the meat of the game. In essence, right now, it is nothing more than a glorified storytelling session with a Travel theme limitation. I’m not saying that’s bad, but I can’t say that it is good either; at least it doesn’t feel good to me yet.

While at Gen Con I got into a couple of games (aside from all the ones I had a chance to look at/through), one of them being Primetime Adventures (the Star Wars Episode LV game run by Judd). I LOVED that game. I read it on the flight up to Indy, and while it sounded cool, it didn’t make much sense. Once I played it, though, it really zinged for me, and the very simple card-based mechanics really impressed me as a quick way to handle conflicts. The fact that it uses cards appeals to me too, because one of the design restrictions I have decided to work under is that the game needs to be travel-friendly, and cards are something that are cheap, can be packed away easily in a backpack and are available virtually everywhere in the world.

Cut to later, when I start thinking about Grand Tour again – now I can’t get out of my head the card-based mechanic of PTA as a very viable way to handle conflict between Travelers in Grand Tour. In essence, Grand Tour has become in my mind this very specialized thematic hack of PTA that can be played with the same rules. That sounds cool at first glance, but I am double-guessing myself here thinking, am I just taking the easy way out? I mean, this wouldn’t even count as system hacking; it’s be PTA with a thematic template on top.

I’m not necessarily opossed to Grand Tour being a system hack of PTA, but I don’t necessarily want to go for that option right off the bat without exploring other choices. For that, however, I need to better define what I want my game to be like, and about, which will be my next step.

It’s good to be back.

September 25, 2007 Posted by | Games in Development, Grand Tour | 9 Comments

A Procedural Question

I have not had much occasion to work on Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade the last two weeks because I decided to undertake the Sight and Sound design challenge.  I have not posted any of my issues with the challenge to this group because I was not sure that it was appropriate.  But I talked to Ryan and he said I should post to you, fellow Master Miners, to see what the group thinks about posing thoughts/questions/issues relating to game design for games that are not listed next to our name over there on the right. 

I would think that next April, there will be a number of us participating in Game Chef and I would hope that we could lean on each other for extra support and advice.  I know there’s another game contest in October I am interested in participating in and I would like to be able to ask questions to the group.  Any thoughts?

September 21, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Playtest Blues

So I’ve been debating posting this because I think it makes me sound whiney, but I am just wondering.  I’ve written two games that I have gotten playtested and the experience for both has pretty much been:

  1. Write for a while
  2. Playest
  3. In the process of playtest, scrap everything I did.
  4. Delete everything but title page and a few main headings.
  5. Write again

Is that pretty much everyone’s experience?  Right now I’m 0/2.


September 20, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Master Mines logos

a while back Ryan had mentioned coming up with a logo to put on our books once they’re published. I know not everyone was into the idea, but I thought I’d take a shot at making something. There’s two versions. Let me know if you guys have any ideas besides these or if you think I should tweak them:

click here

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Some loose mechanics with a few game related ramblings…

I’ve been playing with a way to lend more narrative authority to the players when it comes to unveiling their backstories. I want them to be able to force the Judge’s hand in revealing their own secrets. So far, the idea I’ve got revolves around the players being able to buy certain scenes with Coins (my xp system). It’s not perfect, but here’s the gist:

The three scene types are Street Scenes, Dissonance Scenes and Remembrance Scenes

Games consist mostly of Street Scenes, which are framed around an external conflict, but deal with a character’s Flaws*. These are used by the GM to get across how difficult life is for the Lost. Mechanically, these offer players the opportunity to gain Coins and explore who their character is by being put in situations that put them in direct opposition with their own shortcomings.

Once a character gains some Coins, they have the opportunity to buy a Dissonance Scene, in which they face one of their cobwebs in order to overcome it. Other players are involved in this scene, but it is focused on the character who bought the scene. These have one of two outcomes: the character defeats their cobweb or doesn’t. If they don’t, they gain a despair and it’s harder to get the next scene. If they do defeat it, they trigger a Remembrance Scene.

A Remembrance Scene is a flashback in which the other players at the table play an NPC. It revolves around the revelation of one or more of the character’s secrets. They gain a Hope at the end of it.


I’m thinking I’m going to add a mechanic in that you have to take a number of Flaws equal to whatever your current rating in Despair is. This is going to come to full fruition when I write the chapter on surviving on the streets.


On a side note; taking a break, while probably necessary, has been a little detrimental. True, I couldn’t have continued at the pre-gencon pace for very long, but my brain feels lazy at the moment. I’m not happy yet with the solution I came up with, but I think the important thing is that I start stabbing this thing again, and eventually I might hit another artery

…kind of an unnecessarily violent metaphor, but you get the idea.

I did get a little feedback from someone who read the draft and another person asking for advice for their upcoming playtest, which is good of course.

I also began a non-internet feedback group with a few friends who got inspired by my ashcan to create their own games. Basically we all meet up at a trendy coffee bar in queens every month to talk about what we’re struggling with and give each other homework assignments. We just had the first meeting this past friday which went pretty well. I’m in a completely different stage than they are, but it’s still fun to help them along with all the stuff I’m picking up from my experiences so far. It’s also a good motivator.

Speaking of motivation, I’m going back to Active. Time for the final push!

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Games in Development, Kingdom of Nothing | 8 Comments

On the natural history of conference rooms

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do (aka The Owlbear Game) has two phases. In the first, the Meeting phase, players have a pre-workday meeting in character as their owlbear characters. The Team Leader is selected before each meeting by some mechanical means, but thereafter, people are expected to behave in character for the meeting – the TL is actually encouraged to reprimand people _in character_ for speaking out of character, which I find pretty funny. After the meeting concludes, there is the Action phase, in which speaking in character is actually forbidden. It consists of basically facing whatever threats you didn’t manage to weasel your way out of during the meeting, and rolling on tables.

That’s about all I know about phase two at this stage… which is a problem. Phase 1 I know plenty about, but I suspect that all of it is wrong.

The mechanics of phase 1, the meeting phase, are meant to be performed “silently,” that is, without rules-specific discussion as you stay in character. This might take a bit of practice, which leads to an effect of newbies being treated like clueless interns for their first meeting scene. Yes, I think this is funny enough and on-theme enough to merit inclusion in the game. But anyway. The mechanics basically involve bidding dice back and forth, to push Blame on others and avoid receiving it.

Players start with a die pool of probably ten dice. These are just plain d6s. When you start talking about a coworker and how their behavior concerns you – maybe they have been chewing too many of the barkroots that are supposed to be for everyone and it just concerns you that team-playing isn’t as core of a value here on the team as maybe you thought! – you push forward some number of dice. The Blamed player makes excuses, etc., and either accepts the Blame mechanically by pushing forward no dice in response, or attempts to pass the Blame by committing some dice in response. The dice are then rolled, with 4s, 5s and 6s counting as successes. If the Blamer gets more successes, the Blamed must take the blame (and then cast more Blame on someone else with his/her remaining dice if s/he wants, on the next turn). If the Blamed gets more successes, the same dice immediately face another player, who must take the blame or make excuses, and so on. Dice leave the pool for the phase after being used. The successes, besides resolving the blame fights, also go into a resource pool for use in the action phase.

So, all of that is fine and good. It has something of the air of irresponsible pointlessness that a good business-meeting simulation ought to have. But there are a couple of problems:

1) it isn’t a tight-enough economic loop; it just spits stuff out into whatever happens in the action phase, and I think I’ve been telling myself that I’ll sort it all out when I design that phase. Yyyyyyeah. The fear of having to do this is probably why I have no design for phase 2.

2) Something about this dice-bidding thing is a little too abstract. You shouldn’t get some dice pushed at you; you should get something you definitely Do Not Want pushed at you. You should feel a little panicky. Dice are like, whatever, I’ve got some of those too. Also, they’re a bit directly about players using their power against each other, and I’d like that to be present but more indirect. I don’t think it’s the point the game is driving at.

There’s some other stuff in the meeting phase that will definitely be sticking around, like the fact that there is a honey-gathering quota for each action phase, that goes up exponentially over the course of the game, to the point where it’s ridiculous to think that the team will reach it; at the beginning of each meeting, the top honey gatherer becomes Team Leader (basically getting some ritual duties and first crack at Blame-casting) and the bottom producer possibly loses a limb. I want the honey-gathering thing to be a bit Doctor Lucky-esque if I can manage it; apart from that and a lot of loving parody of D&D I haven’t got much on the action phase.

Any thoughts, free associations, or sharp rebukes concerning the meeting phase?

September 11, 2007 Posted by | You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do | 6 Comments

Sight & Sound Challenge

Jason Morningstar posted up his Sight and Sound Game Design Challenge (requires S-G login).  I’ve decided to take part, and it looks like Mike will as well.  Anyone else looking to take a break from their current project and give this rather odd challenge a try?

September 10, 2007 Posted by | News & Updates | 5 Comments

APFMT PBEMs: Many Birds, One Stone

Because the world doesn’t have enough acronyms.

It occurred to me last week that A Penny For My Thoughts is well-suited to Play By E-Mail, so I posted on Story Games to see if there’d be some interest in trying it out. Lo and behold, I got twelve players. Today, I started four simultaneous games of it. They are, unsurprisingly, moving at different paces, but even if only one of them finishes, they’ll be worth it. Why? Let me count the ways.

  1. Playtest feedback. Duh.
  2. Exposure. Building buzz, as Jeff H. points out, is good.
  3. Instant Actual Play transcripts. These will be useful for #2 above, but also because I want to include some play transcripts in the book. This way I don’t have to “fake” a session (which wouldn’t be very good anyway) or type up a recording (which would be tedious).
  4. Get my Art Director some experience with the game. He’s playing in one of the playtests because it’s good for us to be on the same page about how it.
  5. Play the game I designed for myself. The demos I ran at GenCon reminded me how much I liked the game, so I wanted to play it more.

I’ll let you all know how goes.

September 10, 2007 Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts | 4 Comments