Master Mines

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Writing at last

So I finally started writing on Misspent Youth. To start with, I’ve put up the introductory chapter-let for the playtest document. After this post, I’ll head back and start working on the worldbuilding chapter. If I update this chapter, I’ll comment on this post (I think).


February 25, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | 3 Comments

Building a Character, not just stats

So, one of the big issues that came up in the OrcCon playtests is that here was little character beyond “dude, I’m awesome fighter guy!” So, in chewing over that, I thought about a lifepath-esque idea blended with FATE-style chargen. Here’s my initial outline:

I. Birth of a Hero

  • Where are you from?
  • Are you a paragon? Create a Trait that is iconic of your people
  • Or are you a rebel? Create a Trait that represents how you are not of your people.
  • Define your first Relic — an heirloom, something found, something you have had (or your family has had) this since your childhood

II. Trial of a Hero

  • You have come of age, and the world of Mortal Europe is trying on Heroes
  • What was your trial?
  • Did you succeed? Create a Trait based on your success
  • Did you fail? Create a Trait based on your reaction to that failure
  • Define one of your Convictions

III. Call of a Hero

  • The world as it stands is never good enough for a Hero.
  • What is your grand Ambition?
  • Create a Trait based on your need for this, or how you seek to accomplish this
  • Define one of your Convictions

IV. Journey of a Hero

  • This is about your hard journey to Mythic Norden. This journey is the first step to becoming a Mythender, and your first taste of Mythic Power.
  • What was the hardest moment in your journey? How did it change you?
  • Create a Trait based on how you handled yourself in that moment
  • Create your first Signature Move

V. Mantle of a Hero

  • Upon stepping onto the land of Mythic Norden, all around you know, without a doubt, that you are a true Hero
  • The other players at the table describe what it is the people see when they see you — it’s not overt, yet, but it almost feels visible
  • Create a Trait based on that

VI. Fate of a Hero

  • This is filled out at the end of your story

Any initial thoughts? I’ve had it suggested that I get with a bit more of a concrete lifepath system, like out of Cyberpunk 2020 (which I haven’t played in ages). I’m thinking about codifying this up a little bit, with lifepath options that you can socket into each of the slots (aside form slot VI, which is there on the character sheet so you are reminded that your character has an ending — hopefully). Or, that is to say that you’re playing out the game in order to find out what happens at the end, which lifepath slot you get to take at the end.

For this lifepath idea, I’m thinking about taking some of the options where I have a split, and turning them into individual paths — like with “Birth of a Hero,” options like “Royalty,” “Prophet,” “Peasant,” “Cursed at Birth,” etc. They have their own questions, but they’re more leading based on what path you took. They also narrow down the sort of Trait you should take. At least, at the moment that’s where I’m headed with this lifepath idea. I won’t intend it to be exhaustive, that’s for sure. My audience is definitely more creative than I am, if by sheer numbers alone. 🙂

February 23, 2008 Posted by | Mythender | 6 Comments

Advice on Economy

One of the things I am working on for NGHB is the economy of bennies. To explain what this means to me is basically the poker chips, power points, etc. etc. that can be used for things like introduction of new facts in the game, rerolling dice, and so on and so forth.

So as I am sticking with the dice pool mechanic with dice added up to see if it beats some target number. Margin of success then buys perks at a rate of 1 perk per 5 over the TN though you have to actually beat the roll by 10 to get a perk since you need to have a full 5 to get a perk AND the first perk is always spent on winning. Not sure if that makes any sense.

So you can at the time of the roll spend perks to do things like increase damage or introduce narrative facts about the success or they can be banked for later use (though spending perks from the base is a more costly proposition than spending them on the roll in which they are made.)

With that comes my question. In a dice pool game, it possible that I can get a big pool of dice that will blow away a TN. It’s also possible that someone can go around doing lesser tasks, succeeding at them really well, and having a large pile of perks to use in play.

I guess my question to those who have used such things in games before is what advice you can give me about controlling the economy of perks. While I am sure no hard and fast rules exist, I was wondering if anyone had war stories they could share. Part of what drives this question is something someone one said (I think it was Fred Hicks) that a lot of game design was figuring out things like the economy of bennies and the like. I was wondering if anyone had any advice.

February 17, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 3 Comments

Battle as Character Generation

So, last night I ran a wicked playtest of Mythender. I had my home group make up characters, and then we dove into a battle because that’s what I wanted to test. The battle ran damned well, and upon thinking about it, I was struck with an idea: after characters are made, they battle a creature. The act of battling together cements them as a party, which I think helps given the idea that these heroes can come from all over Europe for their own reasons.

I think it’ll have the following advantages:

  • Gives a chance to see if your Traits and whatnot work out the way you think
  • Gives you a chance to see how you and the other PCs work together effectively.
  • Start the game off with a bit of a bang

Now, there are effects and benefits to battling monsters, and I don’t want this “initiation” battle to have any of those. So, I had this follow-up idea: the battle is a dream the PCs share. Not only does it allow for characters to change stuff around, not have any permanent effects, etc., but it’ll also I think add a bit of a surreal, mysterious sense with the world of Mythic Norden.

That said, like in Dogs, I want the initiation to give some benefit, so there’ll be a minor boon after an initiation. But that’s in a future post about how I’m looking to do character advancement.

Edit: I have been convinced that my dream idea is poor, and have been given some suitable alternatives which will expand the game as a whole.  I would type more about it, but my time is limited this week.  But I did want to share that there is still good fruit born from bad ideas! 🙂

February 12, 2008 Posted by | Mythender | 5 Comments

Taking the plunge: beta playtesting!

A really cool guy, Michael “Criminal Element” O’Sullivan, played and enjoyed Misspent Youth at Dreamation 2008. He quite liked it, and asked me to send him some stuff along so he and his friends could play it. I was hesitating for a while because I wanted to do some work on it and make it ready for other people. He nudged me about it, though, and I thought to myself, “Screw it.” I sent him the outline file I use to run it at cons.

I don’t know if it’ll blow up in my face or what, but as Dewey Cox says, it’ll be a helluva ride.

February 7, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | , | 2 Comments

Using actual play to explain the game

So, I’m about to get back to Mythender’s text, as I have one playtest on the books at OrcCon weekend after next. I’ve been thinking about how to go about drafting the instructions to play, and it occurred to me that I’m doing something in my text different than what I’m doing when I’m running a game.

In the former I’m writing and instruction text and in the latter I’m having a teaching-oriented conversation. So, there’s a translation there between “I instruct people individually who read the book” and “people tell others how to play the game” that always happens.

Here’s the idea: for the purposes of explaining my idea in a way that will bear fruit to my fellow Master Mines, I’m not going to post up rules. I’m going to write up idealized actual play with a heavy teaching subtext. That way, I more clearly communicate the intent and goal of the rules, rather than just explain how they should work. I’m not saying that’ll be the final text, but I think that’s the best way for me to approach designing this particular, slightly thought-breaking format of a game.

That’s to say you’ll see some fake, teaching-oriented play examples about Mythender in the coming days, as other things clear off my plate.

February 5, 2008 Posted by | Mythender | Leave a comment

A successful playtest

Last night I rounded up a few people who weren’t interested in the Superbowl and ran what I thought was the most successful playtest so far. I took all the feedback I got from Dreamation and various forums and tried to work it in, and it actually started working together. First off I changed the system over to coins. It needs some mathematical tweaking, but for the most part it really simplified things a lot. Also, I made it so that when a player wrote down a secret, they had to write what trait on the character sheet was based on. For instance, one of the characters had the burden of “Weak/Skinny.” A player wrote down the secret: “Your mother pushed you to become a beauty queen and would starve you in order to keep your weight down (weak/skinny)” I built in a kicker…a “what supernatural thing just happened to you,” and for those of you who took place in the earlier playtests, the longing is replaced with a “Light at the End of the Tunnel,” some driving motivation for why you don’t want to be homeless anymore.The first scene is called a survival scene. It’s a short scene that uses one of the locations and conflicts the characters came up with in the beginning and introduces them into the game world. It also introduces Plot Coins. Players get plot coins for the following:

  • Having their burden add a complication to the scene
  • Introducing a new element into the game world, like a new NPC or Location. There has to be some kind of conflict that goes along with it.
  • Having a character’s echo act
  • Giving another player a Realization

Realizations were the most successful thing I introduced last night. Essentially they’re hints that players can give each other. Anything from “You realize that you’ve held a gun before…only last time it was a hunting rifle,” or something that spurs them to act, like “you feel the need to get back to your truck.”The player with the most plot points at the end of the survival scene is the subject of a Revelation scene. Revelation scenes are designed to build up to a conflict that deals directly with one aspect of the character’s sheet, and ends with the revelation of the secret that stems from that aspect. There are two conflicts, one that builds the tension of the scene and one that pushes the character to a revelation. The subject of the revelation scene is the only one rolling the dice. Even if there are other, bigger things going on in the conflict, the scene is focused on the main characters role in it.Going back to the weak/skinny secret, the scene took place in a factory. The characters were looking around, when all of a sudden on of the characters’ sleeves got caught on a conveyor belt, and the thing started up. The weak/skinny girl was the only one close enough to the lever to pull it, but it was massive and rusted. Before the conflict, the girl has a flashback to her playing outside as a child and her mother angrily pulling her in, telling her that she doesn’t want her to become some butch tomboy. She has to stay inside and work on feminine things, like music. She flashes forward a bit, and her mother is punishing her for overeating. We go back to the scene at hand, and she rolls for the conflict. If she succeeds, she gets a hope. If she fails, she takes a burden. Either way, she now has the knowledge of what happened to her. All the while, players were chiming in with Realizations, which were increasing their odds of having their scene next and helping the main character get to their secret. Everyone was pretty pumped by the end of the session.

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing | 6 Comments