Master Mines

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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.

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

9 Comments »

  1. […] [Grand Tour] The Siren Call of Cool [Originally posted to Master Mines.] […]

    Pingback by [Grand Tour] The Siren Call of Cool « Collegium Penumbrae | September 25, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hmm.

    Given the nature of what I think you’re looking at, I would suggest playing (if you haven’t already) Polaris, 1001 Nights, The Shab-al-Hiri Roach & A Penny For My Thoughts. I suggest these four because they are about, from start to finish, telling a story. It can be said that many or most games are about this, but those games are (to various degrees) laser-focused on story like how PTA is, but with different ways of using that focus.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  3. Well, I have Polaris and APFMT, so I’ll start with those two and see what else can I use for inspiration.

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  4. Okay, I’m feeling kinda dumb for not already suggesting this, but also The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, if you can find a copy. That and Eric J. Boyd’s The Committee For The Exploration of Mysteries are about people telling grand stories about their adventures in far-off, fantastic locations.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  5. Damn, I need to check out the Committee. But um, yeah… it might also be good to do the whole rub-up-against-the-hard-edges-of-system thing, and just play PTA through some travel stories to see what sorts of commonalities arise in play, what the stories you’re after are really about, and how the PTA rules either support those or don’t.

    Comment by misuba | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  6. I think if you can make cards work for your theme I say go for it. Also, I’ve always felt that souveniers like postcards and passports (passports might make cool character sheets…) have always lent themselves to helping tell stories about travel.

    I’d also love to see a variant meant to be played on the road, maybe with lisence plates and road signs as randomizers/story elements. This might not be what you’re going for, as from what I can see this is about reliving travel, not experiencing it…but it’s something that seemed like it would be a great way to spend the time on those long drives to gencon 🙂

    Comment by jhimmelman | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  7. Oh, Jeff, you have a hell of a point.

    Daniel: is your game about (a) being in the moment of that trip or (b) retelling the moment with the folks who went with you? (Or of course something else, but the core of my question is if you’re actually “in” the trip during the game or if that game is about you retelling the tale of your trip.)

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | September 27, 2007 | Reply

  8. Daniel,

    I’d suggest writing up a rules outline of the game as a PTA hack, then review it and decide what is missing for the kinds of things you want to have rewarded/focused on in a travel game. For example, you can probably give “fan mail” for putting your companions into terrible situations. Your “issue” could instead be what you want to get out of the trip.

    Keep changing, repurposing, tinkering, and I think that you’ll find fairly soon you have a genuinely new game.

    Comment by robertbohl | October 11, 2007 | Reply

  9. That’s actually a really good idea, Robert. Thanks!

    Ryan, I will address your questions in my next post.

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | October 11, 2007 | Reply


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