This Blog 2019, Goals and Grommets

Inspired by the 2019 goals post over at Charles's Dragons Never Forget Blog, I figured I would do the same thing. 2018 right around ...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Page Game of the Week: Down on Mill Road RPG (Solo up to 5 players)

Down on Mill Road RPG:
Something is going on, something sinister, something strange. People, and animals are disappearing. You and your friends are the only ones who seem to notice, and it looks like you're the only ones who can stop it.

Needs: Paper, Pencil, deck of cards 2d10, and 5d6 per player. (A computer with a printer for the set up)

Set up: Take the address your at now, Plug it into Google earth, zoom in to max then back out again 5 to 6 steps. Print the resulting image. Take your map and a ruler draw a 10 by 10 grid on the map number each line in the grid on the bottom and along the left margin 1-10. This is your game map.

The characters are mostly normal people, who have some perks and normal things you can find around the house.
If your character is starting to drift towards “Police swat team member,” or  “super spy” you are likely missing the flavor of the source material.
Name: The player needs a name Make one up.
A schtick: this is a hook that puts the charter apart from the others. The schtick should be related to the character's personality. For example cool, good looking, grumpy, dumb, or sarcastic.
Perks: Are skills and belongings that help the character These are placed in the squares of a wheel (see bottom of page)
My Character is :
Name: Arturo El-Fonpez, Schtick is: too cool, Perks: Mechanic, Motorcycle, Fists, Friends, Leather jacket, Bike stunts.

The six perks are written in separate sections on the character sheet , then the 5D10 each player has available are divided amongst the perks however the player pleases.

Players take turns going clockwise around the table. The first player rolls 2d10 and references the grid drawn on the map. That location is where the players must investigate first.
Draw up to 5 cards from the deck: Place them face down in front of you and begin describing the scene at the location. When the description comes to a point that the narrator or the other players think something should happen anyone at the table can call for a card flip and the player must flip one of the cards in front of him and narrate / play what the card dictates. Clubs: means you found SOMETHING useful, Hearts mean you found SOMEONE useful.
Diamonds means you find something dangerous, Spades mean you find someone dangerous. (the higher the number of the card the greater the danger / benefit) The player gets to describe who or what he finds, if it's a useful person or thing describe in what way they are useful. If it is a dangerous person or thing the player must describe that danger.  
Once the player has flipped at least one card over he may pass the rest to any other player at the table who then must play at least one card and so on. Once the first set of cards is used up a round is over representing 1 hour of the night. Each “hour” a new location is rolled up to 5 more cards are drawn and the next player takes over.
Getting help overcoming danger: Any card that is pulled the player must choose a perk and roll the number of dice (d6's) he has set on that perk.
If the sum of the dice rolled is lower than the value of the card the player has failed to defeat or exploit the card. If the card is a positive card the positive aspect of the card is simply not exploited for some reason. The player can role play why. If the card is a negative card the player loses one die. If ever a player loses all of his dice he is out of the game.
If the sum of the dice rolled is greater than the value of the card then the card “defeated” When a positive card is defeated the player receives one die back. Or he may pass the card to another player who needs it. When a negative card is defeated the obstacle it represents is overcome. Defeated heart cards may be held onto by a player to get a dieback latter.
Once a card is played regardless for the result it is removed from the deck.
Special Face cards: Represent people “NPCs” that the players may describe as the play , again hearts and Diamonds are friendly, Clubs and Spades are menacing. These are for color and do not need to be defeated except the king of spades see end game.
Ace of Clubs: the players find an powerful weapon or artifact.
Ace of Diamonds: The players find some sort of treasure or valuable.
Ace of Hearts:the player gets all of his missing dice back or may pass it on to another player.
Ace of Spades: the player is killed (or otherwise removed for the story) (Yes harsh)
End game: The story ends after 9 turns or if the group can meet all of the face cards.
The King of spades is always the “big bad” and the players as a group must take turns describing the show down with him roll perk dice 7 or better until they can amass a total sum of 10 points  to defeat him or loose trying.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thinking Genre emulation N' next week's one page game.

I’m already kicking around next week’s one page game. The game is going to be called “Down on Mill Road” and will take its influence from classic kid and teen adventure / danger movies like  (from lightest to darkest) “The Goonies”, “Stand by me”, “The lost boys”, “Silver bullet”, etc.
The game will take place in one setting with up to 4 players a crossed one “night” of game time.
Why say this solid few days before the game gets done and put on the blog? I think because I like the idea, the genre is ripe for the picking, and I have a few good ideas to make a quick game pop a bit. In short I’m a bit excited about it.
My biggest sticking point right now is not how to handle success in a game of this type, but how to handle failure?
You see in the movie the goonies there was never a total party kill, as great as that would have been. A movie like the lost boys there was some serious danger in the film; vampires got killed, in silver bullet a main character dies. However I don’t ever remember thinking “they are all going to die!” at any point in those films.
So I am thinking that failed roles are setbacks (which need to be described) and each member of your team can only take so many setbacks before they “have to give up for the night, or are put out of the action” with the option of very sudden Death (its’ how those movies worked any way), if the group wants to play that way.
Is it perfect genre emulation? No probably not. But can genre emulation in this case yield a suspenseful gaming experience? If there is no real risk of character death can I bring tension to the game? I think so.. I guess it all remains to be seen.
Oh and I gotta fit it on one typed page .. almost forgot about that part.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unusual parts:

Unusual parts:
So what is the next unusual part for a game?
The block game uses blocks of wood to build a dungeon, it's fun but not exactly what I was thinking of.
What I am talking about are new randomizers. Dice are the standard because they are reliably random, convenient size, cheap, and most gamers have them in bulk.
There is a game that uses stacks of D6’s (Hell for Leather) Dread uses Jenga to good effect. The old prince valiant game used coins. Cards have been used. There are even games that have used different colored marbles pulled from a sack.
So what else is there, or what else could there be?

I like the idea of a game that uses things that are tied to the setting to figure results. If for example you are working on a game about pirates, why not have coin flips (or doubloon flips) as part of the mechanic?  Cards can be extremely thematic. A western game that uses poker hands as a randomizer sounds cool, or a game about wizards that uses a tarot deck to resolve conflicts?  Even custom cards that are drawn or written on index cards.
What about a game where during a conflict each player writes three possible results on small pieces of paper and drops them into a hat, then the acting player pulls a scrap at random and role-plays whatever he/she gets? I know that is more story game than traditional RPG, but it could be fun.
My point is that I see no reason why mechanics in RPGs need to be constrained to dice, cards, or any other traditional randomizers, or even randomizing mechanics at all. Look around the house, think about the setting and let your imagination rip.

Monday, April 22, 2013

One page game of the week : Dice Chess.

One page game of the week : Dice chess.
Set up:
Take a standard Chess board.
Player 1 Takes 16 d6 of one color
Player 2 takes 16 D6 of a distinctly different color.
Each player Rolls all of their dice then lien them up as if there were chess pieces, filling up the back two rows of the chess board on opposing sides from each other.
Moves:   Players take turns moving dice; they may move 1 die per turn. Dice may only move forward, back left or right. Dice showing a roll of 6 may move any direction including diagonals.
Dice showing a roll of 2-6 may move 1 square per turn. Dice showing a roll of 1 may move 2 squares.
Capture:  A player may capture an opponent’s die by moving onto the opponents square with a die that shows an equal or higher roll. (For example, a die showing a roll of 2 may take an opponent’s die that shows a roll of one or two, but not a die that shows three or higher.)

When a player captures an opponent’s die that die is removed from the game and placed near the player who captured it, still showing its value when it was captured.(you might need this in fo later on)
When a player captures an opponent’s die he or she must then reroll the die that made the capture and place it in the square t has just taken. (For example, player 1 has a die that shows a roll of 3 he moves one space forward and takes his opponents die that shows a roll of 2. The opponents die is removed form the game and player 1 rerolls his die placing it in the square formerly owned by his opponent.)Winning:The last player with dice on the board wins.
If neither player can make an effective play for more than two turns, (Ie: just chasing each other around the board unable to make a capture,)
Then the player with the highest dice total left on the board wins.
If in this situation the game is still a tie then the total value of dice captured can be counted and that player is the winner.
On the off chance the game is still a draw then, it’s a draw.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Maths, and Guts

Maths, and Guts

Any one who knows me knows I am many things but there are two things I am not. I am not a writer, and I am not a mathematician.
However over the years gaming and writing games has given me an appreciation for basic statistics and probability, and even a “practical” knowledge of the stuff.

When I start working on a game, once I sort out themes I start sorting out mechanics. Some times I give a lot of thought to what is going on mathematically and try to sort though exactly what I want. For example the 3d20 die mechanic in the block game is purposely built to work how it does for the sake of math. With about 89 skills now there needs to be some mathematically non-stupid frame work to hang all that stuff on.

However often times I like to go with my gut, and let the theme dictate the dice. If I am working on an idea that is over the top, giant robots fighting trolls or some such nonsense. I want to roll a hand full of some thing to make the big actions feel big. A more refined tactical or thought full game I might want to slow it down make each roll count for more so that players rely have to feel the weight of a die in their hands before committing to an action.

For example, My first thought when working on Phase was the bigger a pile of D6s you throw the more risk, but the more likely you get to ride the Sharktapuss (or narrate some other Epic action). The math part came latter, I figured the math out post design, and though I still like it the D6 mechanic was originally all Guts no Maths.

So that's what I'm thinking about which approch suits me better, figure a die mechanic that you know is going to constantly work the way you want it to, or build a game and use the mechanics to grow from the play style and theme more naturaly. I know those things are not mutually exclusive, getting both things right is the end goal. How a designer ends up at that goal, those ways to approach the idea of mechanics are however, distinctly different.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Page Game of the Week: Wrestling with Dice.

One Page Game of the Week:  Wrestling with Dice.
A wrestling game where you use pre rolled pools of D6,s to determine success or failure.
Narrate the moves as you roll them..
A in the ring story telling game I guess?
Every player has 10d6 that they pre- roll and keep behind some kind of blind.
The player will also need a red (fatigue die)
Your charter has moves that are tied to combos of dice, simple moves need simple rolls for example a punch might just need a 5 on d6, so if you want to punch you play a die from behind your blind that says 5. If the opponent has a die lower than five he can play it as a counter. Whoever wins narrates the action. “Brutus rears back to punch MR. America but Mr. America ducks blocks the bunch and chops him crossed the chest!”
When a move lands the victim must make a roll ho his fatigue die, if the roll is lower than the number of dice just played against him
When that round is over the winner of the round can choose to reroll the D6 behind his blind or leave it out on the table.
Dice that are left out on the table can be combined with other success full dice and be played as a bigger move. For example after 4 rounds Brutus has a 5, a 3, and a 1 out on the table. He chooses to play that as a bigger move a “suplex” or something. The only way an opponent could counter a combo move is to a number of dice, from behind their blind that all show 1.
Dice played in a combo move are then rerolled behind the players blind and go back into the general pool.
When a move lands the victim must make a roll his fatigue die, if the roll is lower than the number of dice just played against him then the victim must give one die from behind his blind to his opponent.

This is an escape and the control goes back to the opponent.
So goes the match turn by turn.
A pin is a normal move if it is successfully played then the victim o the pin must roll dice from behind his blind until he rolls a 5 or 6. If the player runs out of dice before he rolls a 6 then the match is over.

Musings about RPG's : Growth as reward? Story Vs. Numbers round 12

In my opinion Characters in RPG’s should change over time, but not necessarily via statistical improvements.

We have worked a ton of that into Phase Abandon; I would work in even more if I could find a way to do so.
Goals push a characters story forward.  You have a goal to learn about the old sword you carry , great , you reach your goal, you tell a story about how the  was your great grandfathers,  a gift given to him for helping some dwarves survive a high mountain blizzard . Your character has grown, become more of a story than a sheet of numbers.
Connections work the same way. You meet someone you forge a connection. When you need help perhaps you call on that guy, you strengthen the connection. Latter on in the story you hear of him getting arrested and your character says, “Hey I know that guy I got to find out what’s up?” Your character is automatically more interesting because your character is part of a world.
I‘m wondering are purely role-playing based rewards (Character growth over time) enough, or does there need to be some kind of statistical boons to keep players interested?
I vacillate between hating the fiddly numbers of say GURPS or DunD3.5, and loving it. I also enjoy the narrative aspects of RPG’s as group storytelling and myth building, but realize that the numbers ground the characters so that they have a place in the world and a way to measure them in context with everything else. So is it a good decision to move most or all of the games reward cycle towards purely role playing,  (improving character as persona not as statistical construct.) kind of rewards?

I guess it’s a balance that needs to be struck.
I guess think that if I were to write an RPG today it would look very different than my past efforts.             

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Side Note, number 1:

Side note:
Found this on a scrap of paper in my desk drawer.

Scribbled in pencil:

“5d10 Vs stat (under) 0 !=10 but = = 0 explodes, compare successes.”

I get what I meant but I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking about when I wrote it.
Now every one knows why I started the blog.

PS: In hindsight I think it was for the basketball game I have been working on seemingly forever.

Robotech tactical:

Robotech tactical:

Paladium books and Ninja Division which brings together the design talents of Soda Pop Miniatures and Cipher Studios.

This excites me.

I might even back the kick starter, even though Paladium's release record scares the bejeebuz out of me.

I wonder how combat will be resolved, how will they keep the table top game moving fast, how will they maintain that cinematic feel in large scale battles?

These questions will likely get me to buy the game when and if if comes out.
Part of me wishes Dream pod 9 was doing it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dungeon made of cards.

This idea obsconded from another desinger who's blog I was reading. (I will get you a link  ASAP) However I have not read his game so I have no idea how he does his resolution, it's obvious that he and I both like dwarf fortress a whole lot, so lets mull it over.
How to make a solo play dungeon fortress game..
I think a deck of cards would be a good way to determine results in a single player game of dungeon building? I wonder what would be better. The problem with cards is as any card is take the % chance of finding any other card goes up. So if the queen of hearts is out of the pile the chances to find the 3 of clubs just went up. This can become part of the game.
Say for example each draw of a card equals 100 years of a dwarf city (give or take).
Each card drawn requires some kind of Role play or response from the player.
When the Ace of spades is drawn, that card ends that age of the dwarf city.
The deck is reshuffled and the player starts over, in a new age.
The game ends after 3 ages, and the history of the dwarf city is revealed.
Now that sounds ok but now I need to come up with resources and such that the player can use to fight off problems in his dwarf city. How will (that) all happen using simply cards?

Right now in my head this sounds liek a creative writing project less a game. Not that there's any thing wrong with that.
Until next time

Reinventing the wheels. Car Wars

Reinventing  the wheels.
I was thinking about Car wars the other day. When I was younger I had Steve Jackson Game’s car wars deluxe set, and I have to say it was pretty awesome, for the time. I recently dug it out of the attic because I want to play it again, for old times’ sake and because I think a couple of the guys I game with would dig the theme.
Then I started to look at the components, and I remembered how fiddly the whole game is. I understand that the good folks at Steve Jackson Games fixed some of these issues with the scaled up 5th edition.  I never bought that edition simply because I hated the packaging, and by the time it came out I was on to the next thing, car wars was simply not on the menu.
All of that has me thinking about Car Wars and car based combat in general.
What would I do first off?
I think I would focus a bit on the driver. Traditionally it has been about the cars, and rightfully so, but I think the driver was given perhaps too little attention in original car wars. I am thinking that the driver can have one stat “SKILL” that covers the gamut of what a guy in a car covered with spikes and guns might have to do. Driver skill would be equal to a number of dice that the driver would have in his die pool each turn. At the beginning of each turn, the die pool is to be split amongst the tasks DRIVE and SHOOT. For example your diver has a skill of 5, you can place 3 dice into driving tasks and 2 dice into shooting tasks.  Or 1 die into driving tasks and 4 into shooting, or any other combination. This splitting of dice could even be a blind exercise where other players can’t see how the dice are spilt before the players turn.
Next I think I would base driving and shooting difficulty on a sliding scale. The more actions a player takes the harder things get. The player can choose to roll (spend) as many dice from the appropriate side of his pool as he wants to achieve an action. For example if the driver needs to negotiate a sharp turn at high speeds and he has dedicated 3 dice to driving that round, he might want to roll two of them for just that action and then hope that things don’t get harder from him by the end of the turn as he only has one die left in driving.
NOTE: I was just thinking that if d6’s are used as the pool dice why not say that any die that comes up a 6 is not spent but goes back to that turns pool? If those bonus dice do not carry over would it make players push their luck just to spend them?  The player tries a difficult maneuver and rolls 3 dice, two of them come up 6 so he keeps them, does he then try another maneuver just to spend those bonus dice before they disappear at the end of the turn? That could be Interesting. How would it affect combat?

Finally and most briefly I would have to abstract a great deal of the movement system. For one reason, I would have to have maneuvering a car fit nicely with my sliding difficulty scale. Secondly, I hate figuring out movements to scale. The designers of Car wars were quite good at this aspect of the game, and it’s one of the reasons the game is so damn fiddly. This is an aspect I have not given a great deal of thought to yet.
(How far can a car go in a turn? How long is turn in real time? What are realistic weapon ranges?  The tear drop curve of turning radius vs. speed is something that’s quite beyond my ability to figure out accurately within the scope of a playable fun, table top game. If you are going 50 miles an hour and your ram the rear bumper of a car going 30miles per hour how much damage do you do? Twenty miles per hour’s worth? Well that’s fine, but how that is even figured, by car weight I would assume, but how much? Does it simply push the target car forward while doing small damage?) 

Car wars all these things figured out for us in 1985.
As you can see the deeper you go the more there is to dig and I would rather be abstract about it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Why write games anyway?

So why write table top games?
I have asked my self that a lot lately, especially in the past 2 years or so. I suppose it has to start with creative impulse. I possess an artistic temperament. One day I am high on creative projects to the point of almost manic enthusiasm, a day later I am maudlin and just want to scrap or cancel everything. I go through periods where in my view every hobby is a waste of time, then other periods where I simply can't stop the ideas from coming. I have found that this manic, obsessive, depressive creative cycle is as much a part of me my eye color, I can't change it.
Part of the answer to why design games is that there are times I'm simply driven to work on things. Is it a waste of time? Yes. Of course writing random game ideas on scraps of paper is a waste of time. I've never made a dime on the things I've written, I'm almost 40, and I should be tending flowerbeds. The rewards however, are great. Playing a game of your own devising with a group of friends is thrilling, nerve wracking, and, sometimes when things go wrong bitter sweet.
There is no more a frustration that realizing your great idea simply does not work how you saw it in your head. There is also nothing more gratifying that fixing that issue so it does work the way you visualized, it's addicting.
Why write games? I think the final answer is because it's a gratifying shared creative outlet, wherein I can funnel some of my excess energy to something others can share and enjoy.

So why start this Blog?
Self indulgence pure and simple.
I come up with a lot of ideas. The vast majority are forgotten during busy days, slip out of my mind somewhere between the shower and the kitchen, or are just not very good once closely examined. My goal with this blog is to put those lost ideas here, before they die. A virtual scratch pad for game ideas. Eventually I will invite my friends to look at the rubble and perhaps one of them will see a “gem in the dust pan.”