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David Schirduan

Stuff to Watch  - 
 
Winners Announced!
 
#200WordRPG  Winners!

After another round of voting from our incredible judges, we finally have the results of the contest. But first, the 6 random winners who will receive a PDF of the entire Lumpley Games Library:

Mike Quintanilla
+Nathan Harrison
Steve Segedy
+David Hertz
+Gabriel Nuñez Mariosa
+John Lewis

And now, the 3rd Place Winner:
All Fall Down
By +Ryan Ó Laoithe 

The 2nd Place Winner:
LOVEINT
By +Nick Wedig

And finally, the honor of First Place goes to......
Escape Pod One
By +Stephanie Bryant 

WOOHOO! Great job everyone! This was an incredible contest. If you haven't read all of the entries, you really should. There are a ton of great games and ideas in this collection.

Thanks again to our incredible judges, they really burned the midnight oil by reading each and every entry, whilst putting up with my insanity.

And thanks to you all! This has been an awesome experience for me. More details on the PDF collection will be coming soon. It's going to be so cool, especially since I've got a ton of designers who are helping me out!
Finalists: All finalists are listed in alphabetical order. All Fall Down By Ryan Ó Laoithe The Argument was Loud By Scott Slomiany  The Artifact of Ashana By Marcin Kuczynski Budget By  Emily Care ...
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Giving Steve Segedy all the Lumpley Games catalog is like giving JK Rowling a full set of Suzanne Collins' books.
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June Shores

Make Stuff!  - 
 
I'm writing a game for non-linear narratives about people crying. Like Steven Universe or certain seasons of Adventure Time. Mark Waid's Impulse and Aaron Alexovich's Serenity Rose are also inspirations. And I'm sure it could be drifted to do My Little Pony too.

At this point it's very much an Archipelago hack with some Dream Askew, Apocalypse World, and Primetime Adventures bits.

This here is draft 1.2 of Love Like You.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/63101225/Love%20Like%20You%20RPG%20draft0-1-2.rtf

It's not quite ready for playtest yet, but it will be after the next draft when I get play materials put together.
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Neil Smith

Story Games  - 
 
Neil Smith originally shared to RPGs:
 
Session 3 of The Glittering Trumpet of Kutaraja at +MK RPG 

Session events
Based on the feedback from the previous session, we spent a bit of time at the beginning rewriting Exemplars and going over some rules clarifications. 

I also retconned the location of the Glittering Trumpet: all along, it was displayed in pride of place, hanging from a couple of wires from the ceiling of the Sultan's audience chamber.

That night
Charlie waited in the Yang Peka Badak for people to leave. Phisut left first; after he left, Charlie went to the room and confronted al Zahr about the goings-on. al Zahr was rather flustered, but eventually regained enough composure to explain that he realised he was being taken advantage of by Phisut, but felt helpless to do anything about it. He offered Charlie, and the other picaros, his gratitude (in the form of jewels and gold) if they could find evidence of his involvement in the plot to kill Mambo Violine. Charlie agreed and al Zahr wrote a note that Charlie could give to the loyal Dhien to arrange access to Phisut's rooms.

Loki asked to see the Sultan that evening, but was rebuffed by a palace guard. Loki returned to her room.

Next morning
Mohit went into town and roused ill-will against the Sultan. He succeeded (Buying the Result for a 5d Advantage and a Flourish). The Sultan's secret police noticed his agitating and nearly caught him.

Lady T went into town to buy a new dress for the official reception that evening. On the way, she met Merian Headley (from Nan Madol), walking around the palace walls, divining for ley lines with a pair of orichalcum rods. Merian told her sob story of being trapped in Kutaraja after her airship crashed, trying to run the Dutch blockade. Merian said she was trying to track the ley line to Nan Madol, that it was corrupted by something in Kutaraja, and that Merian could make it worth the picaros' while as she was a princess in Nan Madol. Lady T thought this was implausible and left her to her divining.

Phisut visited Loki's room while she was reading Mambo's notes. Loki made excuses why she couldn't see Phisut now. He replied that he had a proposition for Loki and she should visit his suite as soon as she was able.

Loki then went to Charlie's room and secreted Mambo's notes there. Charlie climbed the outside of the palace to Phisut's suite's balcony, narrowly escaping being spotted. She searched Phisut's room, discovering all manner of official paperwork plus some other notes and messages from Louis T Leonowens in Angkor Wat, seemingly connected with Mambo and her assassination. 

Lady T and Mohit had a brief R&R scene, where Mohit revealed that he was given his idol by a guru on the slopes of Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) and that his mother used to call him "Little Cha Cha". Lady T revealed that the "T" stands for something, but didn't say what.

Back in Phisut's suite, Phisut returned. Charlie hid on the other side of his desk then sneaked round in an attempt to silence him before he could raise any alarm. Phisut's magical amulet alerted him at the last moment, there was a brief struggle, then Charlie pulled a brick-like thing from her coat and knocked Phisut out. Charlie searched him, discovering his amulet and tattoos. The other picaros arrived in the room and had a brief conversation about what to do next. Phisut was left trussed and unconscious in his bath. Before they could put plans into action, they heard shouts, crashes, and gunfire from outside the palace as the Aceh Nationalist Uprising started. 

The uprising
Still in Phisut's suite, Mohit expounded his Manifesto and persuaded Charlie and Lady T to assist the Nationalists. Mohit rushed to the palace gate to help the rebels. Loki cloaked Charlie and Lady T in shadows with her magic and the three of them headed to the Sultan's audience room.

Mohit found the main palace gates locked, but bowing under the pressure of the Nationalist mob. The guards inside were shooting over the mob's heads while others were setting up a Zinderi tekrar-gun to fire on the gates, and the mob. Mohit and Bandamasa channeled the power of the spirits to destroy both the gate lock and the gun. Unfortunately, he only had power to do one. The gates burst open as the gun started firing. Several people were killed, but the mob soon overwhelmed the tekrar-gunners and then rushed into the palace.

Meanwhile, the three women entered the Sultan's audience chamber, still cloaked in shadow. Some of the palace guards were at the windows, shooting out at the mob. Some of the mob were shooting back. Just as they were considering what to do with the Trumpet, they saw the Sultan, al Zahr, and four palace guards rush through the audience chamber. The picaros decided to follow them; the Sultan was led into a cellar, through a secret door, and into a tunnel. The picaros followed them, emerging into a safe house somewhere in Kutaraja. The Sultan's party then changed into civilian clothes, discussed the picaros' airship, and headed out into the city. The picaros followed, but the shortcut they took ended up making them arrive at the airship after the Sultan's party.

Back at the palace, Mohit and Dhien met in the Sultan's audience chamber. Dhien thanked Mohit for his help with the uprising and the two of them agreed that Mohit could take the Trumpet, as a token of appreciation.

Mohit and a few nationalists arrived at the picaros' airship just as the other picaros offered passage to the Sultan and al Zahr away from Kutaraja. Following Phisut's paper trail, they headed off to Angkor Wat. 

It was getting to the end of the session, so we skipped over the negotiations and the escape through the Dutch blockade.

Outstanding threads
* Information leading to Mohit's father.

* Charlie's double standards when it comes to sex.

* The limits of Charlie's avarice.

* Loki's schoolmates, and the people who set up the school of theurgy.

* Lady T's resorting to killing as a solution.

* The return of de Zoet at the worst possible moment.
 
* Loki has Phisut's magical amulet.

* Phisut's pursuit of the picaros?

* Aceh nationalists want the Trumpet back

Playtest comments and questions

Play style
After the game, we had a discussion about tone and playstyle. Renny Jennys is very much a game in the vein of the Forge tradition, by way of Smallville and Marvel Heroic. It's a game where engagement with the mechanics is required to guide the fiction, and the fiction guides how the mechanics are used. It's not a game where "roll playing" is different from "role playing", and it's a game where the players have to move stances from In Character and Actor to Author and Director fluidly and often. It's quite a different play style from more traditional games, where role playing is the ideal and mechanics are only grudgingly used for combat and similar events.

It's also a game where the picaros are never in control of events. Everything worth doing carries some risk, and most actions will come at a cost. Actions always disrupt the status quo. The risk and cost are encouraged through the mechanics, particularly the Dev economy. I think this is an unfamiliar play style for some of the players.

Finally, it's a game that uses Protagonist Play. The players should be driving their protagonists (the picaros) hard towards their goals, with the GM as a fan of the characters (as Apocalypse World would have it), playing the NPCs hard, and using the game to find out what happens.

I bring this up not as a criticism, but as something that might usefully be highlighted in the game text.

The difference in familiarity with the play style became apparent in the amount of Dev earnt: Mohit ended up with about 8 Dev, while Loki had none.

Mechanical questions
I tried a few "simple" contests in this session, where the idea was to use the mechanics to quickly resolve an issue without going into the whole iterated-roll detail of Standing Attempts and all that. This led to two comments.

* Most of these "simple contests" were initiated by the PC, with a Threat Pool rolling in response. The PC rolled a number of successes, applied to the Attempt, and the Threat Pool's successes were applied to either Denying the Attempt or Exploiting the picaro's failures. However, this meant there was no opportunity for the picaro to Exploit any failures rolled by the Threat Pool, which would reduce the Threat Pool for later actions. 
:I'm not sure if that's a design feature or what, but it seems slightly strange.

* If I want to quickly resolve a conflict between two or more picaros acting together, collectively opposed by a single Threat Pool, it's not clear how to combine the effectiveness of the picaros. Assits don't seem to be appropriate, as they come into play the beat after an Attempt is partially Denied. The other obvious alternative, that of building a large dice pool from all the participants, would lead to large groups steamrollering all before them.

Finally, the handling time of conflict resolution still seems long. It takes a while to identify the appropriate cogs and gears, justify why they might be appropriate for this conflict, find and roll all the dice, and apportion successes to the various effects that could result.

I hope this doesn't make the game head towards Dogs in the Vineyard territory, where the conflict resolution mechanics only come out for major events. I'll give it another couple of weeks to see how much things speed up when people become more familiar with the mechanics.
Session events. Based on the feedback from the previous session, we spent a bit of time at the beginning rewriting Exemplars and going over some rules clarifications. I also retconned the location of the Glittering Trumpet: all along, it was displayed in pride of place, hanging from a couple of ...
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Michael Wenman

Pandering!  - 
 
Just thought I'd spread the word over here, for those people who don't follow me. I'm pretty happy with the way this project has turned out.
 
...and we're live.
The Hold 'Em NPC Generator for Modern Characters has just gone live on RPGNow/DrivethruRPG. Here's the link Hopefully it sells a few copies in the next couple of weeks, that'll certainly get me motivated to create a few more generators along these lines.
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I've found it pretty exhausting reaching out to individuals to try to set up some sort of story games/freeform larp/whatever group to play with in Brooklyn, so I made my own Meetup group... Since the whole problem is that I don't know a ton of people who share my interest locally, I figured I'd post it here. 
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David Schirduan

Stuff to Watch  - 
 
The finalists for the 200 Word RPG Challenge have been posted! 30 entries rose to the top out of nearly 300 submissions.
 
#200WordRPG  *Finalists have been posted*! 33 games have risen to the top out of a total of 238ish (I don't have time to count them all again!)

It's a testament to the quality of these submissions that almost EVERY judge had a completely different list of games. I was hoping that there would be a few clear winners, but instead, it's a wide spread between several different entries.

So, to speed up the final selection process, here's the plan:
Every judge will give certain games a number of points. Two games will get 5 points, two games will get 4 points, two games will get 3 points, etc. 

This way, each judge will have to evaluate 10 games, (which is beyond their own list of 5). This way, hopefully, we'll be able to see which games score highest across the most judges. Depending on how close the results are, we'll have another round of judging for the final top 3.

Check out the finalists on the web page, read some amazing games, and enjoy the incredible variety and quality of these submissions!
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Woohoo!  Can't wait to see the results of the top 10!
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Ole Peder Giæver

Play Advice  - 
 
Some thoughts on (collaborative) world building for RPGs.
Many of us are fond of creating new settings and worlds, both for use in role-playing campaigns, but also as a hobby unto itself. 

In 2012 I wrote a short chapter about this in “The Little Book on...
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+David Schirduan I'm familiar with it and think it sounds very cool, but haven't gotten around to try it (yet). 

Archipelago III also has elements of collaborative world building: https://norwegianstyle.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/archipelago-iii/
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As If

Make Stuff!  - 
 
So, as people know, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt once created a deck of cards called "Oblique Strategies" to serve as prompts for creativity. Although mainly intended for use by musicians, the ambiguous nature of the cards' contents can often be applied to other artforms, including painting, dance, and - to a lesser degree - story-weaving.

That's where we come in. I've listed the contents of the original Oblique Strategies deck at the link below. Some of these cards work just fine for GMs, requiring neither modification nor translation. But some of em need work. Let's address those.
So, as people know, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt once created a deck of cards called "Oblique Strategies" to serve as prompts for creativity.
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As If
 
Yup.  I like that.
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Jenn Saga

Story Games  - 
 
I ❤ Vampire buuut I want something less clan vs clan politics, more horror--especially body horror--easier to referee and more soap opera with messy passions drowning the main cast in each others desires. Storygames--you are my only hope!
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Yeah, like I said, it's about a bunch of people wrapped up in a vampire in one way or another. I thought it might hit some of the notes still.
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David Schirduan

Stuff to Watch  - 
 
So...the 200 Word RPG challenge has EXPLODED with submissions and participation. And now I need your help.

Are there any designers out there who would be willing to donate a PDF (or several) of their game(s) as a prize to the winners? (preferably games that aren't normally freely available)

This competition is just for fun, no one is making any profit from it. But It would be great to reward some of the amazing work that these entrants have put into their games.

Checkout the contest for yourself below, and if you can't offer a prize, why not submit an entry?
See the original G+ Challenge here. What started out as a fun little experiment has grown into a full blown challenge: Design a Tabletop RPG, Setting, Hack, Expansion, or whatever in 200 words or l...
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Count on support from StoryWeaver Games (www.storyweaver.com). PM me with the details of what you need and I'll get prizes set up. 
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About this community

This is currently a test beta of a Story Games G+ RPG -slash- Role-Playing Community. Just trying to figure stuff out. Not a replacement (yet) for the www.story-games.com forums!
In Your Heart

David Rothfeder

Make Stuff!  - 
 
So here is an update on the story game I've been working on. It is about badasses on a quest where most of them will die.  Players have complete control of their actions without being contested, but forming emotional connections are.  The point is for characters to be awesome, become beloved, and then die in memorable ways.  I know that there are areas that still need work (like how the world player structures stuff) but I think I need to see playtests of what I have first.  Anyways, let me know what your think.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B511-yaR3CdxMU12Q0s2blFYY3c/view?usp=sharing
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June Shores

Make Stuff!  - 
 
So my main group -- +Sarah Kaplan & +Zach Hall -- and I just finished a playtest session of Love Like You and we got some great stuff out of it. Here's an Actual Play report.

The good news is that, the way we created characters, we knew very well who our characters were before "episode 1". And they came out as compelling, watchable characters. But the character and setting creation took an hour and a half, and most of that was us talking about the context of our characters and how they fit together. It was cool, but it needed more structure. Which we ended up filling in naturally. But it still took twice as long as an actual episode of play.

Things to add to character and setting creation:  Creating a setting theme (like "town full of supernatural mysteries"), place categories (like "town" and "wild"), common bond  between PCs (like, "siblings"), "playsets" with pre-made setting details and a common bond.

We only got one episode in, and most of it was spent trying to figure out how the game is supposed to go. What Setup looks like, how to make the Spiral work, and when to call for the Resolution.

The town we made is a sort of southern gothic place with a really big river (with a pier) and a lot of really small rivers. It has a video rental store in 2015. The PCs are young teens, triplet girls who have been sent to live with their aunt in an old timey boat (it's a house AND a gimmick restaurant!). Cassandra Champagne is the runt, who uncovers adventurous mysteries and is cripplingly shy. Persephone Champagne is the overly analytical one who is trying to be an adult. Antigone Champagne is the one who is always texting.

Cassandra has this Block: I can't talk to that girl I like.

The episode opened with the triplets at a diner, eating breakfast. Cassandra is hiding behind her sisters because that girl she likes, Paige, is across the street. Cassandra recovered Paige's lost hairband and hasn't been able to pull herself together enough to actually give it back.

We ended up doing a lot of zoomed out summaries during the Setup phase. There was a bit of first person, moment-to-moment play, but we ended up just summarizing large blocks of activity, like the one flashback.

At the restaurant, Cassandra is talking to aunt Looey about this monster she heard rumors about out in the wilder parts of town. Aunt gives her a sharp look and insists that there's no such thing as monsters. That's when Paige and her family come into the restaurant. I think this should have been the turn to the Spiral phase, but it wasn't called out until Cassandra was spying on Paige from inside a potted plant while the Mission: Impossible theme played.

There was a  scene where Cassandra laid out a not-actually-foolproof  plan to give Paige curry to break the ice, and then take her monster hunting. But Antigone hijacked that with a 300 page plan featuring football-like diagrams and a mariachi band.

Looking back, we should have gone with the overwrought Rube Goldberg Machine plan, but instead we went with the curry plan. This was a mistake, I think, because the Spiral ended up feeling a bit anemic without another step of things going horribly wrong.

In the next scene Cassandra is sitting on the front step of Paige's house, with a take-out tray of shrimp curry & waiting for her to come back from Soccer practice.

Cassandra gifts her the curry & her hairband and makes a friend. They go out to find that monster that Cassandra was talking about before and there is a silly photo montage.

One thing that came to light is that the dice were not needed and that we could just as easily go with phrase as a cue for complications instead. Aura was never tracked either. So I'm thinking that entire sub-system needs to be rethought.

Zach also suggested playing out an episode of a throw-away premise where you don't write down any character or setting details or blocks, just to get the rules down.

I think the game would have run smoother with another player involved. With 3 total there were not enough details or key phrases being thrown around to drive the whole thing forward.
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David Rothfeder

Story Games  - 
 
David Rothfeder originally shared:
 
Had this idea for a game last night.  Then I woke up at 5 am and couldn't go back to sleep, so I just wrote the thing.  The rules are pretty short, but I think with some work, it could make for some pretty intense play.  Let me know what you guys think.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B511-yaR3CdxMUtBajJ5ck5fNE0/view?usp=sharing
_docs_flag_initialData={"docs-aiiws":"docs_cold_ddf","info_params":{"token":"-aFle00BAAA.QijQ02l0lSiDwWHoXXkJeg.sO5Y2u-GCpuFld4uW3qsWw"} ...
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In general I've come not to like those kinds of awards. It feels like a slight to those who didn't win. I wanted to make a game where your spectacular death is its own reward. 
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Game Chef

Stuff to Watch  - 
 
Less than one month until #GameChef2015. Spread the word. Bring your friends. Everyone is welcome to design with us! June 13th to 21st.
http://game-chef.com/ 

And while you're at it, say hi to global coordinators +Rachael Storey Burke and +Josh T Jordan . Or say hi to English language coordinators +Cheyenne Wall-Grimes and +Stentor Danielson . If you have questions not answered by the website, these are the people to ask, assuming English is your language of choice.

You may also want to join this Game Chef 2015 Google+ Community. https://plus.google.com/communities/108110724279943459930
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Josh T Jordan

Make Stuff!  - 
 
Looking for fellow language nerds...
Josh T Jordan originally shared:
 
Do I know any fellow language nerds? Especially construct language nerds? I'm in the mood to set up an informal Language Jam.
[Edited]
Specifically, I'm thinking about setting out a three day challenge to create a new language. I'll set up some criteria, like maximum number of vowels and minimum dictionary size. People interested in participating can work in teaams of two or three.
At the end of the Jam, we congratulate each other with badge or something. Then we release our construct languages via Creative Commons.
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I'd be interested.
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David Schirduan

Stuff to Watch  - 
 
Anyone know any good charities?
 
#200WordRPG  Update and Questions!

The results will be announced Thursday morning (so excited!) and will hopefully provide a clear 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. If not, we'll have one more round of voting (heavy sigh). 

This is all your fault. If most of you had just been a little crappier, it wouldn't be so difficult to pick out winners from such an amazing collection of games.

PDF Collection
There will be a pdf collection made from all of these entries, and it will go up for purchase on DrivethruRPG. (more info on that collection and entry submissions coming soon!)

The question we have now is: Who gets the money? Or, the better question: Which charity gets the money?

The only charities I know of are Christian ones, which probably aren't everyone's cup of tea. So instead, I'm going to open it up to a vote. When creators submit their games, they'll get to vote on who gets the money.

Please post below, and let me know what kind of charities we should have available for creators to vote for. 
Finalists: All finalists are listed in alphabetical order. All Fall Down By Ryan Ó Laoithe The Argument was Loud By Scott Slomiany  The Artifact of Ashana By Marcin Kuczynski Budget By  Emily Care ...
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Catholic relief services is always a good place.  They are working hard to help in the aftermath of the tsunami.
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Neil Smith

Stuff to Watch  - 
 
Neil Smith originally shared to RPGs:
 
I'm playtesting a new #Steampunk  game, Renegade Jennys and Boilerplate Jacks at +MK RPG . It's written by +Josh Roby , of Smallville fame (among other things). 

We're having a ball! At the moment, the PCs are trying to find who hired the assassin of one of their crewmates, while also formenting a nationalist uprising in Aceh and planning to steal a priceless Atlantean artefact from the Sultan of Kutaraja.

The first two sessions are at the link. I'm also going into excessive detail about playtest feedback, but don't be put off: it's a fun system and we're deliberately going out to find the edge cases.

You can grab the playtest rules from http://joshroby.com/downloads/RJBJ/
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Ross Cowman

Pandering!  - 
 
I've just launched Fall of Magic on Kickstarter. It is a game about a fantasy journey. The scroll you see is illustrated by +Doug Keith  of MTG 5th Edition, and Elfabet fame. I am really excited about this game and I think you all would really like it!
Ross Cowman is raising funds for Fall of Magic – a role playing game of profound fantasy on Kickstarter! Elegant and immersive – featuring a handmade scroll that unrolls as we travel revealing new roads, strange hosts, and perilous choices.
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Thanks for doing this!  I was looking for a way to get my hands on this game.
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Jenn Saga

Story Games  - 
 
#Monsterhearts ❤❤❤

What is this witchcraft?

The rules fit on 2 pages. Rules for building and leveling character classes fit on a single page for each build. And multiclassing is a snap.

I dont roll dice as a referee!

It's queer friendly and not sexist. The art is swoon worthy. And I don't have to make up reasons why player characters are together, that is part of building characters. Sex moves!

❤❤❤

Referee prep stuff before games feels confusing. Fights feels confusing. No rolling initiative or turns. Leveling up feels almost too easy. Feels like you dont ever die unless you want to. Darkest self feels like a reward and I dont have any say on what it means--I cant tempt players to do dark things like in Star Wars with the darkside.

Refereeing seems easy peasy but there is so much I have to remember. Principle agenda stuf. Moves are great. Although I cant find where the hard and soft moves are--there are just moves.

Dont understand why the vamp is so weak. -1 to lash out physically and run away? What kind of vamp are these? They can walk in the sun without burning--not even sparkling.

But ❤❤❤

Thanks story--not actually about stories--games.
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+Mark Diaz Truman , I agree, the AW system is terrific for character-focused games. We've used the AW framework loosely in a few of my games in development  - one is due for release soon (it's a comedy, called Deniable that was put input public play-test last year). 
Like you, it took me a while to get the idea of AW and to be honest, I nearly bailed out after my first two games. It was not until a spark in that meat-thing I call a brain switched on that I realized AW is almost exclusively about character-driven stories, as opposed to more simulationist engines that are largely plot driven stories.
Interestingly, I had another game in development which we initially tried the AW engine with... and it was not so good. Why? The game was about military investigators doing military stuff. Sort of, 'The Unit' in space. To our surprise, that game kept on slipping into plot-driven stories, and the characters were just... well... rocks. So we retro-fit the game with the Savage Worlds engine, and that worked a little better. I don't know. Maybe the game idea just sucked in the first place. Needless to say, that game idea has been shelved.
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catty _big

Story Games  - 
 
DiscoWorld
A playtest of +Graham W's inventive and imaginative game, which apparently was originally very PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse, i.e. using the Apocalypse World engine) but the current version has resolved down to one 'move', covering any and all conflict, for which the resolution is either 'You choke' (fail), 'You do it' (you get everything you want) or the extremely rare - IIRC there's only one of these cards - 'Far out man!' (you succeed stunningly). The gameplay alternates between Real World scenes, where you have to follow social conventions, interact with your family and work colleagues, and generally hide your ‘true self’ (which could be either your imagined self, or simply a side of you the exposure of which in the RW could cause problems), and Disco World scenes, where you can be completely yourself.

Given that the game is set in the 70s, at the height of Gay Lib, Women’s Lib and the Black Panther movement (Black Lib?), there’s ample scope within the game to explore social issues, and indeed +James Graham's character, a slightly overweight abandoned woman with a big heart (remember, it’s not only the kids who experience conflict between their Disco World selves and their Real World selves - just follow Corrie or ‘Stenders for a few weeks) ended up with a son who seemed to be in with the Panthers, and who looked like he was going to sneak out to attend a demo. The other characters’ stories were more focused on personal than political issues, but for me those issues were ever present in the game as a whole. Weave in Stonewall, the New York power cut of ’77, late period Andy Warhol, Studio 54 and Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground (Walk on the Wild Side? You can’t get much more transgressive than that), and you have a heady cocktail of activism, rebellion and a society in (sometimes violent) transition.

I’ll let the other players chip in (if they wish) with stuff related to their own characters’ narratives, meanwhile I’ll look at the mechanics and see how all the above was handled in the game. So, first we all chose from a selection of pre-gens, and here’s where I made a real tit of myself. At the end of the game I expressed disappointment that there wasn’t an overtly trans character among them, upon which the GM pointed out the section of my character card (these were game specific playing cards, with just a short description on each one - beautifully minimal, wish more games did that) where it was made clear that my character, Berlin, was precisely that. D’oh! The others were archetypes similar to the one described above, forex +Robert Carnel​​​​​​​​​​'s character Shira, a girl from a conservative Brooklyn Jewish family (already engaged at 17 to the son of one of her father’s business associates), and my character, who I envisioned as living in a tenement with her slob of a Pop and a caring but ineffectual Mom. We invested these characters with traits taken from ones from various iconic films of that era - or ones which depicted it - such as Saturday Night Fever, Warriors, Hairspray etc.

As I mentioned above, scenes alternate between Real World and Disco World, and every time it was judged that a conflict had arisen between a PC and another PC or NPC, as in PbtA games the GM would declare a Move, but instead of rolling dice, the protagonist simply turned over an event card, looked at the outcome (Choke, You get what you want or Far out!), and narrated the scene accordingly. There was some debate among the group as to whether the standard 10+, 7-9 and 1-6 outcomes would have been better but IMO Graham’s stripped down engine was simple, elegant and effective, although I’d have preferred one or two more Far out! (10+) cards, but eh. One thing we did wrong was place all the ‘used’ resolution cards under both RW and DW decks, whereas according to the rules the negative ones should have gone under the RW deck, and the positive ones under the DW deck, thus ensuring that the outcomes in the RW would get worse and worse, and the ones in the DW better and better.

The first scene was one where we set up our characters’ backstories, thereby giving us a window into the dreary and depressing lives they were attempting to escape from. There then followed a scene in the DW, where—oh hang on, time for an interesting innovation from +Robert Carnel​​​​​​​​​​, who before going to DW asked for an intermediary scene, where he could undergo a Walk on the Wild Side transformation from Brooklyn arranged marriage Shira to Disco Diva Shira. This entailed her putting a record on the turntable (physrepped by the GM playing a track from the period playlist he’d compiled), and gradually changing her appearance and demeanour while listening to it, and when it came to their turn the other characters narrated similar transformations. I think having an interstitial scene like this is a cracking idea, which I would urge Graham to put in the rules. Talking of playing records brings me to another idea. Somebody at this point mentioned Avery Macdaldno’s game Ribbon Drive, of which players compiling playlists for their character is an essential part, and I think something like this, or some variation of it, could well work for Disco World too.

One thing I haven’t mentioned so far is the Dream cards. These are cards on which is written what your character’s dreams are, which could be anything from simply getting something from another character to an overtly sexual ambition. With the Dream cards, like similar mechanics in other games, once it was decided that you had fulfilled your dream you discarded that card and took another one. I think we each managed to fulfil at least two. These cards caused no small amount of merriment at the table, especially when it was revealed that Rob’s dreams included World peace and Bringing everybody together and mine Being covered in bodily fluids and Cock! Initially I was going for the bukkake, but after a while I scaled back my ambition to a single cock, and here’s where it gets really interesting: about a third of the way through the game I ended up in a back room at the disco, which at this point was really beginning to resemble Studio 54 - I could almost see Andy Warhol, Gia Carangi and other Factory intimes sashaying past, strung out on acid and dancing themselves into pre-Wall Street oblivion. Having had a lot of convos about Lines and Veils over the years, I decided to test the limits of in-game boundaries. After quickly establishing that none of the other players had any relevant lines or veils, I, um, performed a sex act on a guy in the back room, no veil. Make of that what you will!

The final thing I want to look at is the relationships between the characters in the game, which, unlike Hot War and Fiasco etc., doesn’t have specific mechanics for this, leaving the players to decide how and if their characters interacted. Somewhat inevitably, this did in fact happen – I think it’s natural in these sorts of games for relationships between PCs to develop, even when they’re not specifically mandated in the rules – but what was most interesting for me was the way in which they interacted in both the DW and the RW. So forex Rose, the motherly type, who was a nurse at the school where all the characters ended up having some connection with (again, interesting to see how players do this of their own accord), picked up a cowboy hat that Shira had left behind in the disco and, when the latter came to her for some painkillers for menstrual cramps, tried to draw her out. However Shira wouldn’t be drawn. Then my character (female, 17), who had seen another character (male, about five years older) in the disco, clearly under the influence (and I’m not talking Budweiser here, know what I’m saying?), decided that she wanted some of that. The next day, she ran into him in the school, where he worked as a lab assistant, and asked him to get her some. As it happened, he’d just been to see the Donald Sutherland character from Animal House (the school’s uber-hip humanities professor) to score some gear off him.

So, all in all, a great game, which I’d recommend to anyone, but if you do play it, best play it with people you know, not strangers, and establish from the outset the overall tone of the game and how far you’re all prepared to go in terms of mature content. Do that and you’ll have a whale of a time!
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As If's profile photoIvan Vaghi's profile photo
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Sold.  Great writeup!
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