Master Mines

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Seiyuu: The Real Big Three (Plus One)

Crossposted from Ready, Fire, Aim!

Anyone who knows me well knows I can be…verbose. It should come as no surprise that I’ve traditionally found this questionnaire difficult, as I want to explain every nook and cranny of my design idea.

Screw that. Here are my answers.

1) What is your game about?

Anime. Slight unpacking: experiencing your own anime show.

Edit: Fred has already Luke Crane’d me on this one. Answer: Change. The game is about telling stories about characters who change over the course of the story and which reach some sort of closure. Or to put it in a more D&D way: build character, change character, build plot, pay off plot.

Edit the Second: Fred continues to kick my ass. *sigh* This is why I hate this questionnaire. I suspect it would be easier to answer for almost any other game.
It’s about voicing characters in an anime. Although, to be fair, that part of things is the diciest right now; I fear for its implementation.

Edit the Third: Now Fred’s just doing it for me. Can you tell I hate this question? “It’s about casting and creating an anime show — with the players as the voice talent and writing staff rolled into one, as agents that uphold what excites them about the possibilities of anime entertainments.” (slight edit for clarification)
In my own defense, my original “slightly unpacked” answer gets at this…just not with the verbosity of Fred’s answer.

2) How is your game about that?

Conventions. Participants choose elements (genres, characters, and tropes) appropriate for an anime. They then play through a number of episodes, which have a central issue to be resolved at the end of the show. Along the way, the players try to resolve their characters’ own personal issues. If this sounds like PTA, it is – with a bit more crunch.

3) How does your game reward or encourage that behavior?

Incentive. Bringing in your character’s facets and the show’s features gives players valuable resources, but subjects them to input from other players. This allows them to win conflicts, but they still have to choose between further the aims of their character or the current plot facing them. Also, players can even get resources by playing a supporting character in scenes where their main character isn’t active.

+1) How do you make that fun?

Choices. There’s a lot of creative constraint during series and character creation, to help focus players. During play, they choose what scenes they want, how to approach conflicts, what is advanced by their successes, and how their characters change, with a little input from others.

Feel free to question or deconstruct.


April 28, 2008 Posted by | Seiyuu | 6 Comments

Misspent Youth updated manuscript

Mickey (aka Geek Girls Rule) was kind enough to run Misspent Youth ridiculously early for me, on last Friday night. She hit a brick wall trying to use the conflict system, for which I am sorry. I did some stupid things in the writing that didn’t make this clear or were downright confusion-additive. I’ve uploaded a new manuscript, this one in PDF form. All the changes have been in the conflict article entitled “Throwing Your Body Upon the Gears.”

I am also starting a mailing list for those interested in getting email updates about Misspent Youth (such as when it’s coming out in ashcan, when things change, maybe when I have art to show, etc.). If you’re interested, respond here with your address or write me at my gmail account, which is at rob dot bohl.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | , , | Leave a comment

Decommissioned: The Language of the Book

I’m readying myself to do some unsexy writing, as Ryan called in an episode of Master Plan.  I’ve decided it is time to write up a playtest draft of Decommissioned in its current state.

Part of the playtest draft will be my attempt to describe the world of D-Com.  In doing so, I want to package the norms of corporate life into a satire that can be easily seen and understood by the audience.  I also want to emphasize the dehumanization of corporations as color to the setting.

Here are some of my language rules for writing the book

1.  The player character will not be referred to with pronouns or descriptors connoting humanity, gender or life.  PCs are units, tools of the corporations.

  • The PC is an “it”, not a “he” or “she”.
  • It does not “live”, it “functions” or “operates” or perhaps “exists”.
  • It does not “feel” or “hurt”, it “processes” or “computes”

2.  The Corporation will be described using as many pieces of corporate jargon as possible

  • Acronyms will be used to describe groups, agendas, policies or areas within The Corporation.
  • Catch Phrases will be frequently shaped into programs or efforts within the company.  The super bonus is an acronym that is also a catch phrase
  • Indirect, “HR-friendly” language will be used for anything potentially controversial.  When employees are killed, they will be referred to as “no longer with the company”.
  • Enemies will be referred to as “competitors” or simply “the competition”

3.  I want to create a few new phrases, a kind of D-Com jargon.  Nothing too complex like Shadowrun or Planescape, but a few words that set D-Com apart.  I’m looking for anything that has a business marketing feel to it, like “upside” or “net-net”, but unique.


* Do you have any rules to add?  What other language within a corporation should be satirized?

* What do you think about my goals for language used within the book?  Will this make the game silly, or does it give it a feeling of sickly sweet dread like I want?

* Does it look like it would work? By that, I’m asking, would gamers dig this?

April 26, 2008 Posted by | D-Com | 4 Comments

News from the Front

The playesting continues to go well.  At some level, that is an ambiguous statement as what does well really mean?

What I have learned from the playtests is the following.

1.  My playtest group has fun testing the game.  I’ll be the first to admit that at this point in the playtesting, fun is far secondary to testing out various mechanics and seeing how they feel, I think it’s a nice fringe benefit that everyone wants to play the game.

2.  The system does not prevent fun from happening.  Well…for the most part.  There is nothing inherent to the system that prevents fun from occuring.  Yes, a few of the things written into the game have bourne out to be pretty lame, but those things were correctable without having to invent new mechanics.  (This applies to last week only.  Before that, the game went through some pretty serious overhauling.)

3.  The game seems to bring forth everyone’s creative juices.  The current incarnation of Neoborn looks NOTHING like the original version except for the cover page.  I have found it amazing that I can advance a design goals and after a little bit of talk, normally the playtesters and I can figure out a solution to the problem.  I feel that is a tribute to the system we’re building and to the excitement that is generated.

So that’s all good…

Sunday will be the real test.  Normally what happens is the playtests go on two week cycles.  One week we overhaul a major ruleset, the next week we play.  The week after that, we overhaul something else.  If we overhaul nothing this Sunday, I will feel like I am one step closer to success.

My Question

So here it is.  I am going to be asking this a lot.   I have started pondering the section of the game on setting up campaigns, story arcs, etc.  So please, tell me of your experiences with other mecha games.  What worked?  More importantly, what did not?

Also, while I cannot make everyone happy, I do want to support as many possible playstyles as I reasonably can.  So…what are you looking for in a mecha game?

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Mecha | 2 Comments

[Misspent Youth] First draft fully completed

The first draft of Misspent Youth is done. 11,717 words. I am happy.

April 23, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | , , | 2 Comments

Decommissioned: Setting Thoughts

In Decommissioned, the PCs start at The Compound, a place they’ve existed since their manufacture date.  The game begins as the PCs decide that a certain expiration is preferable to continued functioning as a corporate drone.  I’ve been pondering how to convey the default setting for the game.

No “Outside World”

I recently considered giving all setting details about existence within The Compound only and leaving the “outside world” completely open.  I know this could present some challenges, but if I gave a toolbox to the play group on what to use to create the “outside world”, this leaves games free to interpretation and makes each play group’s setting quite different.  Another benefit is that the “outside world” could be molded to the goal(s) of the player(s).

This approach to me is like describing a gun in excruciating detail, from how it is manufactured to how the bullet travels down the barrel and exactly what this gun is used to do, what it does to things and living beings.  Then, whatever someone does with the gun is really up to them.

32 Flavors and Then Some

Another way I could go is to come up with a selection of very different settings that could be used exclusively or used to describe different sectors of the universe.  For example, in Sector Alpha, the PC’s missions are broadcast on all the popular media channels and they spend their time in “sleep mode” talking smack to each other.  But in Sector Beta, missions are extremely covert shadow ops and the PCs are hidden from sight of the public, doing the dirty deeds the corporation doesn’t want to see the light of day.  Then, over in Sector Gamma, the PCs are just another machine in a populace inundated with mechanized conveniences in worlds with dingy grey skies and awash with slothful humanity.

* Do either of these setting descriptions sound like a good idea? 

* If I were to create a toolbox, do you think it could work as a series of Don’t Rest You Head-type questions?


April 22, 2008 Posted by | D-Com | 3 Comments

[Misspent Youth] Drafts (and the rest. . . .)

Ok, this is the last of the “Misspent Youth First Draft” extravaganza posts. I have now written a first draft of every piece of text I anticipate the game needing. These last few pieces discuss how endgame works; suggested drifts for the game; a “mood and theme” piece which talks about the kind of movies, tv, etc., which are mood-appropriate for the game; and a game-influences and people-thank-yous piece.


Optional Rules

Mood and theme media

Inspirations and thank-yous

Up next: proofreading and the adding of examples. After that, farming it out to the people who foolishly promised to proofread the text. After that, time to send it out for beta playtesting and considering whether or not to start layout just yet.

April 21, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | , , | 2 Comments

[Misspent Youth] Chapter 5 draft: Exercising Your Authority

This is a brief GM advice chapter for Misspent Youth. I figure on adding to this as I play more games or as people tell me there’s shit the game is missing.

Exercising Your Authority

PS: Master Mines, I realize this may be getting a bit spammy. If it’s too much so, please let me know.

April 21, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | , , | Leave a comment

[Misspent Youth] Chapter 4 draft: Conflict System

This is the last of the major-system piece first-drafts for Misspent Youth. “Throwing Your Body upon the Gears” describes the conflict system for the game.

At this point, I have very little left to write: an Authority advice chapter, a brief piece about endgame, and a section on optional rules. I might be done for today, I might not. Game Chef is calling me.

As before, this is a raw first draft. Please be gentle to it.

April 20, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | , , | Leave a comment

[Misspent Youth] Chapter 3 draft: Episode structure

I’ve just uploaded two new files for Misspent Youth.

First we have the new rules outline document, which tinkers with the default claim numbers on the first few scenes. I found an inconsistency between what I said the scenes should be doing and the difficulty of the scene based on the numbers claimed. This is a small set of changes.

Much cooler, I have finished a first draft of the episode structure chapter/article, called Death or Glory? Just Another Story. This is probably going to be the biggest article for the game and has some of the stuff I’m most excited about in the game. I’m really proud of it.

As I’ve noted in earlier posts like this one, I have not even read this even a single time after it left my fingertips. I’ll be doing so later. If you do read this, keep that in mind. Also, any comments or questions are welcome, provided you keep this whole “I haven’t read this once” thing in mind

April 20, 2008 Posted by | Misspent Youth | , , | 2 Comments