03 May, 2016

Good Die and Bad Die

Years ago...actually decades ago, I had a friend who ran a very simple game system that he called "Good Die, Bad Die". It basically worked on the idea that you added your good die (a d6) to your ability score, and a bad die (also a d6) to the difficulty score. So you wanted your good die to roll high, and your bad die to roll low. If you rolled doubles you'd generally succeed (regardless of the other numbers involved), but there would be an unexpected story twist. Ability scores ranged from 1 to 5, difficulties ranged from 1 to 5 (but sometimes you'd need multiple successful attempts to complete complex tasks, and ashe refined the system sometimes if your total end result was more than 4 points above the total difficulty result you might have earnt multiple successes on a single action attempt).

Characters were defined by three or four things that they were really good at (ability scores of 4+), a few things they weren't bad at (ability scores of 2-3), and a scattering of things that they'd dabbled in (ability score of 1).

I don't remember much more about his system, except that it was fast to play, loose with narrative and  was one of the first "minimalist" games I ever played. That was all back in the 90s (my hey-day of gaming), and I've since seen similar systems designed, published, popularised, evolve in different directions, become over-complicated from that raw simple kernel, then appear again in a new form through the writings of someone else. If the new person has a high-enough profile in the game design community, they are lauded for their innovation, even though the system has basically been reincarnated many times over the decades since I first saw it.

The reason I write this is that I've just realised the new game system I'm working on could probably be considered a variation on that idea of "good die and bad die". But instead of adding d6 to a flat number on either side of the action attempt, I'm offering variant die sizes.

02 May, 2016

One Page Dungeon

The first time I participated in the "One Page Dungeon" contest, I was a finalist. I tried to do something innovative that would work with any system (as per the contest brief). That was two years ago.

The second time I participated in the contest, I was just one of the pack. Again, I tried to do something innovative, but it was basically ignored. It felt like the only dungeons doing well in the contest last year were written for OSR, or more specifically written only to be used with pseudo-D&D retroclones. I don't remember anything much generic doing well. That was last year.

So when the contest came around this year, I had a passing interest in it, but I didn't bother entering. I figured I might throw something together if I had the chance, or didn't have better things to do. But better things (or more pressing concerns) continually took priority. I don't feel bad about not entering, I probably would have tried to do something innovative and fairly generic again, because that's my design space. I probably would have been ignored again, even though these two design elements are the claimed intention of the contest.

I'll be interested to see the direction of the finalists, and winner, this year. Maybe I'll enter again next year.

01 May, 2016

Captain America - Civil War

Saw it last night.

Enjoyed it.

I don't know how well I would have enjoyed it as a stand-alone film. It really required a lot of the depth that has been built up in the previous movies produced by Marvel, but having seen each of the other films in the series (several of them many times over) it was great to see assorted pieces falling into place.

Great introduction of characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe without needing to go through the whole routine of origin stories. I'm hoping the follow up movies for the characters introduced don't go back and do retrospective origin stories.

I'll leave it at that for the moment, because I know there are parts of the world where it hasn't had it's opening weekend yet.

29 April, 2016

Half remembered dream

Have you ever woken up with fragments of a dream still drifting in your mind? Then, when you try to reassemble those fragments, you're sure that you're bringing memories into the mix, and things you've seen on TV or social media, or other sources. You can't be sure of what the dream was, or what has been added from other sources, but you know that the combination is something interesting...something that could be awesome if it was refined a bit.

I've just woken up from that state and I've had an idea that I just meed to write down before it gets lost.

A game, played with 4 types of cards. 
Ship cards - each player gets one.
Crew cards - each player builds a custom crew to pilot their ship
Location cards - which are laid out in a line, with maybe a half dozen cards for a short game, a dozen for a medium game, and twenty for an epic journey
Situation cards - which are hidden under the various location cards and reflect things that have to be confronted and overcome when moving from one location to the next.

The aim of the game is to start at one end of the track and finish at the other. The premise of the game is basically "Wacky Races meets Spelljammer". 

28 April, 2016


I love the ideas behind the Sabbat in Vampire: the Masquerade. Even more, I love the ideas behind the True Black Hand, and the city of Enoch.

So, I really appreciated this.

I'd love to run a game, or even write a new game revolving around the ideas in this article. But for the moment I'll just add these thoughts to the primal soup of ideas that I'm always drawing inspiration from.

27 April, 2016

I'm kind of surprised

I've had a soft spot for Rifts since I first saw the advertisement hinting at its arrival in a TMNT game book many, many years ago. It was one of those games I really wanted to get into, but almost every experience with it fell flat, and the only time it really started to sing was when we left the Palladium system behind and went freeform.

I like the ideas in the Savage Worlds game system, but I'm not sure how good a fit it is for the gonzo inherent in Rifts. I wasn't sure how well the combination of the two would work, but was happy to see a bit of development, and some innovation finally applied to the setting.

Here's the link

I certainly didn't expect the project to fund in under two minutes, nor reach the level it's now achieved.

It will be interesting to see where things head from here.

One from the vault

Digging through my art supplies as I try to complete a suit of LARP armour, I found this guy.

He's got to be at least 4 years old because I remember sculpting him to this level when I was doing the Goblin Tarot. 

I must get around to finishing him, and giving him a body some day. Maybe he'll be the pilot of a "goblin mecha" cosplay concept I've been thinking about for a few years.