Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

NGHB…Moving Slower Than I Thought

Unfortunately, the holidays and an unhealthy dose of real life have served to limit my writing time.  However, I have been really thinking about the chargen from my mecha post and some of the things from Human Events that Ben had mentioned.  Mister Taggert, I hope that one day you resume writing that game.  I’d like to help.  Until then, I’ll steal what I can.  🙂

I have been using any downtime I have to really think out how the mechagen/chargen part works.  I know there was the idea that they should be separate and that mecha gen might come first.  However, I was really thinking that I might combine them and have them simultaneously.  I think that is in line with some of the suggestions and will increase the ability to have a character and a mecha play off one another.  I have also decided that mecha will have one passion which will be “compellable” by the GM or the player under circumstances (circumstances TBD.)

I’m also thinking more about my advancement mechanic as I want to make sure that characters are progressing towards … something.

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November 28, 2007 Posted by | Mecha | 14 Comments

Away from the mines but still with the Giants

Wow, my last post was just shy of four months ago.  Sorry about that.

Lets do a little bit of an update.  Since my last post I have received feedback, in the form of e-mails and AP recordings, from four playtest groups.  There are a few others but mostly these groups have been sending me some awesome stuff.

I’ve done a bit of in house playtesting to see how the changes I’ve made are working.  Including one game at JiffyCon that went really well.

I’ve got a few more pieces of art in the works with Storn.  One is a group of Giants next to each other to show the difference in the Size stat.

Cleaning up text, adding new text, and stewing.

I’ve been selling roughly 1-2 ashcans of the game a month and I can’t wait to finish this game up.  I was originally shooting for Dreamation 08 release date, but that seems unlikely.   I really want to make sure this thing is a quality product so I am now shooting for GenCon 08.

November 28, 2007 Posted by | Giants | 2 Comments

I’m gellin’

Hey guys,

I need to take two weeks off for undisclosed reasons. If you don’t see something by December 6th, ping me?

November 22, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

coming back to the kingdom

Hey all, I’ve been away for a long time, which I feel bad about. I’ve still been working on the game, just not as intensely as I would have liked. Between a honeymoon, getting hired on to an ARG, getting a gig writing a live-action adaptation of Paradigm’s Witch Hunter RPG and a lot of art commisions, I haven’t had the brainpower to devote to this, my firstborn (more of a fetus at this point really). I’d like to change this. I’ve wanted to change this all along, but now I think enough things have slowed to a point where I can do it. So here’s where I’m at; I haven’t done much in the way of playtesting, except a character creation session where I ironed out some obvious flaws in my errata. I’ve heard from a few people who’ve played the game, or expressed interest in playing. Still a scary/cool feeling to imagine people running the game without me present…just the text. What follows are all the changes I’ve made/plan on making so far. I’ve split the post because it’s going to be lengthy (sorry in advance)…


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November 19, 2007 Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing | 6 Comments

Baby’s going underground

I played Best Friends, or some version of it, over the weekend – thanks to Ben, Ping, and our other co-instigators and players – and I’ve come (or returned) to some hard conclusions about what my designs in progress are going to need. (Also, I’ve realized that Best Friends is a lot more task-resolution-y than I thought. Which is not to say that it is task-resolution-y. But that’s another post.)

Every time I play a conflicts-and-stakes-setting sort of game, it seems like I struggle a lot with finding the conflict in a given scene. This may just be because I’m a sucky GM, or a dirty structured-freeformer at heart, or whatever, but I think the “setting-free” systems I’ve been trying to do this with – PTA and now Best Friends – are somewhat hamstrung in their ability to give people help in this department. I’m gonna try putting forward the following as a principle: the more a written system can assume about the story in the game, the more help it can give you. Assumptions about the story could be about either its content, or its structure (e.g. “there will be scenes, grouped into three acts”).

I don’t know if this principle is helpful to anyone but me, or even non-obvious, but… well, okay, I’m thinking here of Dogs in the Vineyard and, even better in this case but unfortunately less well-known, Poison’d. It’s almost impossible not to know what a conflict is going to be about in these games. Not because your choices are more constrained necessarily, but because the system has the latitude to help you make conflict. In Dogs, the framework of the Faith and the proscribed role and power of the Dogs means that flights will be breaking out all over. In Poison’d, the question put to players is explicitly always, “so-and-so other player did something horrible to you, do you take it or do you fight?” (And both are interesting choices.) Constraints fuel creativity in a virtuous cycle between story and system.

I’m missing that in… well, just about all my designs in progress right now, but the one where it concerns me most is the latest Yes-But Engine developments. It concerns me because I have a kind of pre-play instance of undirected play: I cannot write these damned cards to save my life. Because they have to be so vague, and yet still helpful, that my mind just goes blank. They aren’t suitable for a setting-less game. If I point this thing toward a more specific setting, I can have a card tell you something helpful like “You flee the monster, but are trapped in a dank, dripping cavern,” instead of something that reads like a Zen koan.

So um, about that cavern: I have the beginnings of a setting in mind. The game takes place underground, in a semi-man-made labyrinth of caves underneath the town where the majority of the players grew up. Think The Goonies, but crossed with Pan’s Labyrinth. The characters are the players, but at a younger age. Evil things, maybe imaginary but definitely sprung from their own psyches, menace them at every turn. …Aaaaand I don’t have a lot else yet. (If anyone wants to free-associate a little on these elements in the comments, that would be awesome.)

Speaking of free-associating on elements! (And of stuff sprung from your psyches.) I pointed this article out over on S-G.com and I’m still really grooving on it: Constructing Artificial Emotions – A Design Experiment. (Clyde, definitely check this one out if you haven’t.) One of the many elements of the fascinating hypothetical game described there is a pre-game phase wherein you collect images, texts, or sounds from the player that relate to emotionally charged memories, and these media-bits then come back into the game semi-randomly at charged moments, in hopes of making new connections between those bits and others. That idea could easily be brought into a tabletop system… or even embedded into a deck of cards insta-generated by a smart PDF.

So there’s (all) that. This stuff has me excited.

Just as a side note, I am also still recharging on You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do, as advertised. Every now and again I have an insight about the moral and thematic core of the game, which I really want to firm up before I go racing off after mechanics again. This time, it’s this: losing a limb on a roll of 6 is all well and good, but as it stands, there isn’t really anything at stake for the characters or their players. I need to build into YGDWYGD the risk that your suck-ass job will change you. And I have some ideas as to how – it’s going to have to involve possible mechanical benefits for doing the dumb stuff you’re told to. This is hopefully an interesting new direction that will help focus the non-meeting part of the game.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Games in Development, You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do | 6 Comments

Reality Strikes Back

So, both in post & comments on this design group and in talking to folks privately, a lot of folks find the new posting guidelines to be pretty intimidating.  That tells me that what Paul and I worked up — based on how the group worked in the very beginning — doesn’t work for us as a group right now.  So, for those of you who are still in, I’m open to suggestions & comments about them.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | The Rules | 14 Comments

Bowing Out

As life often does, right when I get accepted to Master Mines things got more complicated. I’ve tried to keep up with the expectations of the group, but it has become increasingly clear to me that I can’t do it. I feel terrible about this, and wish I could make it work, but right now I need to focus on a smaller set of priorities in my life.

I’m not giving up on my game, but I don’t want to drag the group down by not being able to keep up. I really appreciate the comments and feedback I’ve received so far.

Thanks,

-Ben.

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Human Events | 4 Comments

Sweet dreams are made of these….

So I Obviously haven’t been doing a good job of explaining SKMAV. That’s what this post will be about.

First it’s important to understand there are two stories. One  story is being told about someone who was abused as a child. The other about our mythical masked children fighting monsters.

Basically the children will go out and fight monsters and then in the next scene that fight will impact how the story of the abused person is told. Winning means the adult will move in a positive way, losing a more negative way,

That’s really it in a simple overview. There aren’t any rules per se  at the moment, I’m still trying to get the broad picture view. Is this helpful to understanding? If not what do you find confusing?

November 12, 2007 Posted by | Silence Keeps Me A Victim | | 5 Comments

Situation Set Pieces (S.S.P.)

I’m trying to think of how the stories would get told in SKMAV. I see the game as treading on some ground that has already been laid by, The Mountain Witch. I really like running The Mountain Witch at cons, because it’s a railroad without rails. You know you’re going up the Mountain, and by design the game gets the players to agree they are going up the mountain in a very simple, but elegant manner. But that is it. There’s nothing else really known about what’s up that Mountain and what’s going to happen. It’s great for my style of having no idea what I’m doing when I sit down to gamemaster. If SKMAV is going to be a game I’m going to run, I really need this.

One of the things I will tend to do in The Mountain Witch is create a beginning scene to judge what the players are looking for. Many times this will be to have them on a somewhat treacherous path and to have little goblinie creatures with long arms and claws that let them traverse the terrain easier, run around taunting the characters. This is so I can see what the players are going to do. If they just attack, then I know to bring them fighting and that I need to find situations that will challenge their desire to use their sword versus some other desire of theirs. If they get all Chatty Kathy, then I know I need to try to find situations to try to pit their desire not to draw their sword versus some other desire of theirs. If they ignore them, then I have the Goblinie guys go away.

Anyway… I’m thinking of this as a situational set piece, it’s sort of a ill defined predone bang. The idea would be to take different emotions like we talked about earlier (Rage, Despair, etc.) and fashion them into a set piece that has no attachments to anything else, that can just be put in when needed. This is something I learned a long time ago from an Ars Magica 3rd Edition supplement called Mythic Places. Does anyone see problems with this idea?

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Silence Keeps Me A Victim | , , , | 5 Comments

Monster. Monster. Monster.

I’m thinking more about monsters. Remember Despair sitting at the bottom of the well causing people to jump in and get eaten? I kind of like that idea, but I’ve been thinking I should make the Monsters more nebulous. Make them more concepts in a scene that can’t be fought or defeated so directly. For instance remove the physical part of the Monster at the bottom of the well, and you have something that can’t be fought physically. I really want the game to be more of adventuring to fight issues, than adventuring to fight Monsters. I’m not sure what all this means yet, or if I’m even making sense, but there it is.

Two examples where I’m getting some of these ideas from is Lord Foul from the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant which I’m rereading right now, and my favorite Television show ever, a Japanese Anime called Monster, which if you haven’t seen… well you’d have to… you know.

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Silence Keeps Me A Victim | , | 7 Comments