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The island: (adventure seed)

From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Thought Experiment Part 1

Part 1:
When I work on a project be it a whole game,  a setting, or even an adventure I like to have images around for inspiration.
About a month ago I started a folder on my computer I just called "cool images." Into this folder I would save images from the net that I thought were interesting or evocative. I follow a lot of art collections and groups on G+. I have a slight obsession with  large scale street art for it's scope, and small scale street art for it's energy and immediacy. I also have  strange love for  70's pulp novel covers and science fiction illustrations. I soon found  my folder filling up with  images from those influences among others.

I also noticed that while thinking about my games I browsed and saved some interesting pictures.

Here is the  premise I have been going with for the  past few weeks.

While I'm thinking about working on a game I will  occasionally which is my habit anyway  pour through google image search for inspiration, The  pictures that really catch my eye will go into the folder.

At the end of the  week I'll go through each picture and write down details that I like. One world  details like "spacesuit", "nebula", "mecha", and so on.

The visual elements which keep recurring im going to try and work them into a game.
There might be some useful software around that uses user generated meta tags to sort and order images, I'll have to go looking.

Here's my dilemma, now that I have thought of this whole thing when I look at an image my brain is going to say  "I want that in a game!" and I'll drop that image in the folder. That's not what I want. I want to look at an image and think "whow that's evocative and  interesting," on the images own merit. I don't want to pick  images that simply confirm my gaming prejudices.

The only way I can think of combatting this self inflicted confirmation bias is time. If I do this over a long enough period my sample size will eventually level itself. I don't always think about games after all. (surprise.) and given enough time I will be browsing pictures without gaming in my head.

Be on the lookout for part 2 of this experiment sometime early in the new year.


Yup that's the stuff.
Al Williamson







Monday, November 7, 2016

Twelve ways AAIE is different from D&D. Playtest feedback.

I wrote a game called AAIE. It was recently run at a Con by one of my friends and one piece of feedback he received was, "I think it should be more like D&D."
I Believe in all feedback is good feedback, but that was just a bit errr .... vague. In the name of transparency and good faith I give you, this post.



Things in AAIE that are not like D&D which I don't plan to fix.
(Everything else is totally up for debate.)
OR...
(If ever asked "how is AAIE different from D&D?" 
ROLL D12 on the chart below)

  1. If D&D lets you play Erol Flynn in "The adventures of Robin Hood" then AAIE lets you play Lou Costello from "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."
  2. The Magic system in AAIE is not based on pre written spells as it is in D&D. There is also a chance your character will grow a third useless arm out of his or her back or go insane if they cast too much. So there's that.
  3. Most times you expect your character in D&D to survive more than one encounter, in AAIE that's not a given. It's natural suggestion, just ask Darwin the Dwarf. (Hint: He's dead)
  4. AAIE is written for one shots. D&D is generally written to be episodic, or campaign based. Now I have written on this very blog how I think one shots are the worst way to play RPG's. I took some shots for that at the time. So Why did I write a game that is basically designed for  one shots? I don't know, I'm still a bit confused about that myself.
  5. Related to the above, the  town  survives beyond the one shot. The town grows and improves while the graveyard fills with fallen heroes. So the game isn't just a one shot if the group is always building the setting through the town.... Or is it.. or .. Oh never mind.
  6. Only crazy people roll 3d6 right down the line for their D&D characters. (Guffaw, Guffaw, Harumph curmudgeon ...... grognard, I say Harumph and no more!) In AAIE every bit of the characters is randomly generated, from stats, to race, their class, their skills, weapons, right down to the reasons they adventure. The only things left up to the  player is the  character's sex and name. So make the best you can out of what you get.
  7. When you run out of resolve your character can either fall down in a quivering heap unwilling to carry on or just die. They usually just die, because getting gnawed to death by a swarm of hungry rats will do that to you. In D&D you get death saves and stuff, I mean depending on what edition is being played it's easier kill Bruce Willis in "Die Hard" than it is to off a D&D character.
  8. In D&D critical failures are bad, Critical fails are cause for some alarm, or at least a bit of humor. In AAIE critical failures are usually deadly. Sometimes instant death type deadly. Thank goodness they are rare.
  9. In D&D players add bonuses to their attacks and roll against a difficulty set by the DM. In AAIE  the GM subtracts the  character attribute from a standard difficulty to create the target number. I don't know, strange distinction right? 
  10. D&D has a book called the "Monster Manual" where you find all the creepies. AAIE has a random monster generator which helps the GM come up with their own creepies.
  11. D&D is concerned with sweeping tales of high fantasy heroics. AAIE is concerned with whether or not a character can  kill a three headed fungal leech with a rolling pin, or perhaps a dead chicken.
  12. In D&D you roll 1d20 to resolve most tasks. In AAIE you roll 3d20 and generally resolve nothing.


There you have it. Now the reader has all the information he or she will ever need if  cornered and coerced into a conversation about a game very few people have ever heard of. I suggest the bookmarking of this page for easy access in case of emergency.

-Mark.