Not-So-Secret Project

So, yeah. I'm starting a not-so-secret project. Some of you may have an idea of it already.

But it's got something to do with the number 3. Or something

So we'll call it Project Gamma.

Want more info? Ask!

Much ado about advancement?

In my Exalted game, a few comments were made about the lack of character advancement.
Now, first of all, I feel that character advancement is not entirely necessary, but that's not the main point here.

The point is that it does have advancement. It may be a bit more subtle and/or non-traditional, but it's there.

Advancement comes in the form of
A) Building up Relationships. This shows a story gain, while also creating a bank of dice to be drawn from.
B) Lowering Drives. This decreases penalties taken, and also creates a bank of points to be used.
C) Creating beneficial Locks with excess dice.

There may even be one or two more ways, but these are they main ones. They are forms of advancement. They are, I admit, not in the standard model of 1) Get XP - 2) Level Up / Spend XP... But they're there.


The Death of RPGs as an Industry

So, WotC is laying off some pretty big names...
I've heard 4E sales aren't where they should be.
And GenCon is filing for bankruptcy, and may be taken over by a shadowy collective of investors.
Game stores aren't really what they used to be (at least numbers wise)...

Omens seem pretty dim. But, there's hope. My understanding is that many smaller publishers are doing ok. Even if the "industry", that is to say the stores and large companies, falls... roleplaying will still survive... and dare I say thrive?

People will still make amazing games. And play them. And what else matters?


Color and Game Issues

Greg Costikyan wrote I Have No Words & I Must Design way back in '94. Now, this is pretty old, but I imagine some of the people reading this haven't read it. In particular, I think the color and simulation sections.

"The rules do nothing to evoke the Burroughsian wonders, the pulp action thrills, the Kiplingesque Victorian charms to be gained from the game's setting. Despite a clean system and a detailed world, it is curiously colorless, and suffers for it."

I've said it before, but your game should support the color of what you're doing.

"Or take Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, which I designed. I could have taken Gygax & Arneson's Dungeons & Dragons and changed it around, calling swords blasters and the like. But instead, I set out to simulate the movies, to encourage the players to attempt far-fetched cinematic stunts, to use the system itself to reflect something about the atmosphere and ethos of the films."

This is pretty funny, because after WotC got control of the Star Wars license... They pretty much did exactly this. Which ties into my point: Using one thing to do something else sucks. It's not a good idea. Sometimes you don't have any other options, but...

It should be avoided. I don't agree with the trend of using D20 to do everything. I also think it'll pass.

Any comments on this? Feel free!

Been a while...

Since I've posted. I'm not really sure it's worth it. Is anyone actually reading any of this or getting anything from it?
There's no way to know for sure, but there's no point if this's just going into thin air...


The Ruins - Basics?

Ok, so here's some more. The most important points?

-TIME: You need to go in. And get out. The longer you're in there, the less power you have (and more you need) and the lower your community's power sources get.

-CHALLENGE: There needs to be a clear challenge, probably on both a player level and character level. Failure should have clear consequences, and the GM should not be afraid to push. If there is a GM. I'm still not sold on the GM.

-LOSS & TRAGEDY: Every time you go down, there's a chance that someone you care about will be hurt by the miasma or the monsters while you're gone. But if you don't go, they'll be hurt anyway. And every time you go, it's riskier.

I'm not quite sure how to actually achieve these points, yet.


Some may wonder about my user logo.
Guess what? I'm not telling here.

But if anyone really wants to know, ask me.


The Ruins and Thematic Power Balance

I forgot to mention another cool thing: The Ruins flips the old 3.0/3.5 power balance on it's head (at least thematically). Instead of mages being weak and getting strong and fighters being strong and getting weak, it'll be the opposite.

Magic will get weaker as people move further down, leaving the mages unprepared. While everyone else can find gadgets and such that accentuate the skills they already have.

The Ruins - Steampunk Fantasy

So, here's a pretty cool idea.

A sort of fantasy DnD setting, right, except the dungeons are a system of underground tunnels from an ancient civilization. Magic comes from the Dragons, who live in the sky. Great machine-treasures lie underground.

And people are dying. There's a great miasma, a poisonous atmosphere, that makes people deteriorate at rapid rates. And monsters live in the miasma.

The good news? The cities and towns have machines that fight off the miasma and defense systems that can attack the monsters.

The bad news? Nobody knows how these machines work. And they eat through power. Quickly.

Your character is an adventurer. You go into the ruins and look for power sources. You arm yourself with half-usable devices because the deeper you go the weaker the magic you relied on topside gets. And you have to move really quickly. Because the power's running out, so you've got to find more. NOW!

So, any ideas? Comments, etc... welcome.


More about Memories

Ok, so I'm envisioning a cross between "Apocalypse Girl" and "Bliss Stage"...
Here's what I mean: In Apocalypse Girl, there's something called "The Gun"... The only true superpower. Anybody can use The Gun, but it always damages other things.

In Bliss Stage, your relationships can be hurt, but only if they are in the battle.

So I'm thinking something like The Gun for superpowers, except it's limited to what it can affect. Like Bliss Stage, it may be based on what's been used in the battle so far. Or maybe there'll be some other determining factor. I'm not sure.

Apocalypse Girl is available for free at 1KM1KT.
Bliss Stage can be purchased at Indie Press Revolution.

They are both great games, yo.

Any ideas on Memories? Let me hear 'em.



Down towards the bottom of the page here, JCunkle mentions having the other players define and activate your character's traits. Now, that's an interesting thought in that context...

But more relevant here is the idea it sparked in my head... Of how to actually use such a system.

And here it is: A secret government project creates groups of supers, than deactivates their powers and wipes their memories, leaving them dormant. And then re-integrates them with normal society.

Except... they aren't as dormant as the G-men think. Their powers activate uncontrollably, and often with damaging backlashes or side-effects... Or simply a blast radius that's too wide.

The other players control your powers. They decide when and how much they activate for. Or maybe you decide when, but they still decide what power and how much strength to put behind it. The more powerful, the more it'll help you... but also the more chance of backlash... and that's something nobody wants... or can control.

The second idea to come of this is "Memories". These are bad memories... real bad... memories of the other people from the project. Everybody would pitch these memories into a hat, and then mix them up. Under certain conditions, you could choose to (or would have to) draw a memory. Memories create conflict, as they paint your fellow neighbors, friends, and family members in an extremely negative light.

Even worse is when those people start having bad memories of you. So it's a game about things better left unremembered... A game about nobody being as innocent as they seem... A game about consequences, and what happens when things get out of your control... and a game about either overcoming or falling to the sins of the past.

Any thoughts, folks?


More SSBB Stuff

So I had this great idea at work.
In SSBB Cards, the main focus of your turn will be "Exchanges" of attacks.

In an exchange, each player has a number of dice. Characters with faster attacks get more, but deal less damage.

So you roll your dice (d6s), and so does your opponent. 1s are lost and give you Risk, 2s-5s are rerolled, and 6s remove a die from your opponent's roll and are rerolled. Keep track of 6s, as most special attacks and such require a running count.

Keep going until one or the other runs out of dice. The remaining dice on the winner's side translates into Damage (based on how strong VS fast the character is).

In addition to Damage, there's also Knockback. But regular attacks don't deal Knockback, special attacks do. And this is where the cards come in.

Unlike most cardgames, there won't be turns. Well, there'll be turns, but not "Jake's Turn" then "Alex's Turn". Instead, players will act more-or-less simultaneously. Turns will be structered into "Phases" in which players take turns doing... stuff. This'll be determined by passing Priority (who can do something right now).

When all players pass in a Phase, move to the next Phase. On each turn, a single player has "Initiative". This mainly states that he gets first Priority in each Phase. It may also affect quick attacks and movement things and such, or maybe who gets items. I'm not sure.

So, the Phases:
Setup (Draw cards, and deal out items and environmental hazards.)
Pre-Exchange (Use Pre-Exchange items and special abilities to prepare for the Exchange.)
Post-Exchange (Use Post-Exchange items and abilities. Deal with any consequences of the Exchange (especially potentially getting knocked out of the ring (or potentially recovering).)
Clean Up (Discard cards, items, and environmental hazards.)

And that's it for tonight.


On the RP side of things, I'm envisioning a competitive, Gamist game. The GM maps out levels on graph paper (right to left, up and down) similiar to those shown in SSBB. He then buys Enemies and Hazards out of a point budget. And then the characters run through the gauntlet.

And characters don't level up. Instead, based on the diffuculty of the challenges over come, they get some sort of currency. They spend these to get Stickers. These Stickers are either limited use abilities, at will abilities, or static bonuses.

In addition, GMs can put certain Stickers up for stake for defeating challenges above and beyond the normal.

Think Beast Hunters, kind of, with Stickers instead of Tattoos. Maybe...

Anyhow, tell me what you think!


Basic System for Maker's Mark

Ok, so here's how it works. At the beginning of the, collectively decide on 4 resources that everyone wants and map them to suites.

These are your stats. In addition, you have a "Jack Rank". This represents the number of times you've used underhanded tactics. After each hand, there's a chance one of your acts is discovered.

Each of these stats starts at 0 and increases during play.

You also have another stat, called "Judging Rank", but it is just an average of your Club, Diamond, Heart, and Spade Ranks.

At the start of each hand, each player draws 7 cards. Play 7 rounds, and then discard all cards in your hand. Each player gets one "Point" (needs a name) for every card discarded. These'll be spent between rounds to do stuff.

Each round, each player plays a single card into a small pile in front of him or passes. They lowest card showing is discarded (leaving one player cardless).

The players then repeat until their hands are empty.

The players then choose a single suite and add the appropriate numbers to their rank in each suite.

Face cards do different things.

Jack: Deceit. Using subterfuge, stealth, thievery, blackmail, and so on, your character manages
to hamper another character's efforts and improve his own. Remove any one previously
played card from any pile and add it's rank to your "Judging Score". Add 1 to your Jack Rank.

Queen: Luck. A sudden burst of luck leaves your character in an advantageous position. Shuffle
your remaining hand into the deck and draw that many cards plus one, and then play a card.

King: Cache. You (may) find a sudden boost of a certain resource. Name a resource, then draw a
card and reveal it. If it's a numbered card, add that number to the chosen resource. If it's a
face card, nothing happens. Either way, put the card in the discard pile.

Ace: Disaster. A disaster leaves harms everyone in the contest, but you are not as disturbed as
your companions. Skip the next player's turn. Each other player discards a card.

After each hand, describe your efforts and the events that happened during the hand. Keep the way the cards were played in mind (refer to your pile if necessary) and also pay attention to any face cards you've played.

SSBB: Cards and Risk

So... what I'm thinking of doing in SSBB: Cards, and maybe in the RPG too, is to have a stat like "Risk" to represent going into dangerous positions for items, attacks, etc...

You can willingly raise Risk to increase attacks, damage, or defense (temporarily), or to grab an item.
But high Risk makes you easier to attack, and a high enough Risk can leave you out of the ring completely (forcing you to recover or die).

In addition, Risk affects who gets hit by bombs and so on.

Some attacks leave you open or are otherwise risky. These raise Risk either temporarily or permanently.


SSBB: The Games

I want to make not one, but two games based on SSBB.

One: A card game, using the established characters. Sort of risk-VS-reward, some resource management, and just enough luck. Each character has a different deck (all hopefully balanced). There's also a deck for the stage (differing) or maybe just set rules for each stage. Also an item deck. And maybe an "other stuff" deck. 2+ players.

Two: A gamist RPG using new characters. Maybe use some established characters as samples or cameos or something. Not too sure rules wise, but I may end up taking inspiration from GRiM, as I really like what's happening there. I may also use some aspects of the card game, but it'll be an almost completly different game. I'm thinking something based on SSBB's story mode. Sort of dungeon crawling-ish type deal. But I've gotta think of some way to make it interesting, not just a rehash of DnD with funny characters and items.

Any thoughts on either one are welcome.

Story When?

"You can't tell the story you want to tell, you have to tell the story you're telling."
"Nobody sacrifices the integrity of his or her character for the sake of staying together as a party or solving the GM's mystery - the action comes right out of the characters' passions."

This might not be a surprise to some people, but I figure some folks might not know. So here's the big thing for me: The majority of what's going on in a game should, in fact, go on during the game.

We need to start spending less time before and after a game making stories and enjoying it. We need to focus our fun and attention and creativity on the game.

This is nothing new, folks. Vincent Baker wrote an excellent (in my opinion) article entitled "Pre-Play / Play / Post-Play" in '04, and I think I first read it in... I dunno, '06 maybe? You can read it yourself; I won't retype it all. But the point is, we (my gaming group) have been doing pre-play and post-play for a long time now. And... I think it's time to change. And I'm trying to do that.

This small thought was provoked by Have Games, Will Travel: For A Few Games More #4, which mentions improv and story now, for a good few minutes. It is in turn sparked by an interview with Ron Edwards where he mentions "Story Now", in Theory From The Closet #8 (which I have not listened to, yet).

I'm just trying to spread awareness, here.