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Showing posts from September, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #38: Roll and Keep

Legend of the Five Rings has an interesting mechanism for resolving actions.
You basically roll a bunch of dice, keep some of them and sum up the face values of the dice you've kept.
In that specific game, the pool of dice rolled is equal to a total of attribute and skill, while you keep a number of dice equal to your attribute. In this way, attributes are more important because they both provide dice for the pool and provide the number of dice kept...skills are less significant because they only add dice to the pool.
In L5R, there is an added mechanism that natural 10's are rerolled, with the new value added to the previous result.
As an example, 7k4 (Roll 7 dice keep 4). [5],[7],[3],[6],[2],[8],[10+8]...keep the best 4 [18],[8],[7],[6]...for a total of 39.
During Gencon Oz we saw another version of this, flipping around the last game mechanism presented. Instead of rolling under but aiming for the highest score, we saw duels of precision which saw players trying to beat a targe…

Racism in Gaming

One of the inspiration words in the Stockade's game design challenge is "Gypsy".
I haven't really done a gypsy inspired game, but I've considered it a couple of times. I love the unusual cultures of the world and like the chance to do some good research in a field that I haven't explored too thoroughly.
Over the years I've had a couple of ideas for unusual mechanisms that might be used in a game and I thought I'd really like to tie the gypsy concept to the token bag.
I started with my usual method of opening up a word processor document and starting to type away with a stream of consciousness style of writing that often gives some great insight as I start digging through the words later.
Brigaki Djili is a romani/gypsy term meaning "Sorrow Songs".

I'm using it as a name for a new project in which players take on the role of Gypsy seers who reveal the past through communal storytelling.

Each player takes on the role of one of these gypsy seers,…

Brigaki Djili: The Elevator Pitch

The light of truth is revealed in the shadows of gypsy firelight.There are tales that have changed our society; while the repercussions have been felt far and wide, the details of these stories have been deliberately hidden. Those outside our society have a unique perspective of our history; gypsies, vagabonds, nomads. Their insight and communion with arcane forces allows them to penetrate the fa├žade and reveal the truth. The elders of the kampanya, gather after a feast; a solitary visitor has asked them to reveal a hidden story of the past.Thus Brigaki Djili begins…

Brigaki Djili (Sorrow Songs)

To maintain a tradition of unpronounceable game names, I'll be working on a project called "Brigaki Djili" for my entry into the Stockade's game design contest.
Brigaki Djili is actually a term from a Romani dialect, which is fitting for a game about gypsies. It's direct translation is "sorrow songs", so the game will be about revealing the past. Sort of like gypsy fortune tellers who reveal the hidden past instead of looking into the future.
At this stage, the very raw basics of the game follow the notion of a group who commune with one another through dance, ritual and sacred herbs. Each tapping into an all knowing communal conscious to reveal the actions of a single individual in the context of a forgotten story. The role of the GM is that of a lone traveller who has asked the group to reveal a story lost to the mists of time (or deliberately hidden by the "powers that be".) The group weave together their narrative, and the GM asks occasional…

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #37: Intercharacter Connections

I've seen this used in a few games previously, I've touched on it in a few of my Game Mechani(sm) posts, and I've toyed with it in a few ways within the games I've been designing.
The ways characters relate to one another is a fundamental part of the roleplaying experience in my mind, at least as important as a character's relation to the world around them.
But there are a few schools of thought about character's relations to one another. Should you apply specific formulae to the dynamic of players interacting with one another through their characters? Should you let players evolve the dynamic for themselves?
It's like a lot of things, different groups will work better with different answers to the question.
At one end of the spectrum there is the tradition of Australian Freeforming, purely about intercharacter connections. At the other end of the spectrum you get traditional tabletop play, where characters are defined by what they can do to the world around th…

Design Patterns of Successful Roleplaying Games

One of the people I respect in the field of independent roleplaying is John Kirk, who has written a great textbook on games and the mechanisms contained therein.
It can be found at the following link...

Design Patterns of Successful Roleplaying Games
It was actually a source of inspiration for my current series of Game Mechani(sm)s, but I've made a distinct effort not to reference it in my blog so far, for fear of simply copying what has been written previously. Despite this I'm sure I've probably echoed a lot of what John has written, but with my own bias heavily applied to the subject matter. But then against, what blog exists without personal bias.
I look forward to reading through this updated version of the text.

Relational charts of Roleplaying Systems

[EDIT: Here's an old pair of links that I had intended to add to the blog, but never got around to. I had hoped to write something useful at the time, but now I've just decided to simply share the links. EDITED 14th NOV 2009]

Indie Game Design Relational Chart

Relational Chart Main Hubs

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #36: Roll High but Under.

Back to the grindstone of writing about Game Mechani(sm)s.
I've found another one that I like, not so much for any specific effect it produces within play, but for it's versatility.
3:16 is a pretty simple game on the surface, it uses a basic mechanism where you roll a 10 sided die and aim to roll under your designated skill level. The higher your skill level, the better your chance to roll under it.
But the instant advantage that a system like this provides is that it allows a method of comparing two opponents without resorting to additions, subtractions or other modifiers. As long as both participants succeed in their roll, simply compare the numbers. Higher value wins.
It's elegant because it combines two effects into a single die roll.
I'd like to find a good use for this in a game, but at the moment I've got too many other ideas circulting in my mind.

The Stockade

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Just thought that I'd share with everyone that I've joined a community of Australian game designers called "The Stockade". There are already a few talented and respectable designers who have gathered in this group, so hopefully I won't be letting the team down.
The first official project of the Stockade is a 12 month contest, launched at Gencon Oz 2009 with the aim to produce a playtested and fully playable game by Gencon Oz 2010.
As a contest junkie and a forum junkie, its hardly surprising that I've already thrown my hat into the ring on this one.
I'm thinking of combining aspects of "A Penny for my Thoughts", "Baron Munchausen" and parts of my existing design concepts to create an immersive experience using the "tokens in a bag" mechanism and elaborately folded character sheets. I think it will involve Gypsies.

Gencon Oz

Haven't been posting much lately because I've been preparing for Gencon Oz.

Writing games, writing characters, preparing to GM sessions while wearing batman armour...it's a lot of work.

I'll try to start something more regular shortly.

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #35: THAC0

Let's look at a traditional game mechanism.
THAC0, as found in D&D, AD&D, AD&D 2nd edition and thankfully gotten ridden of in later editions of the rules.
Why do I say that? Did I hate it that much?
It's not just that THAC0 is confusing (well maybe it's a bit confusing, especially for new players), it's just not that you need to reference a bunch of character class specific tables to calculate it's values, nor is it just the fact that THAC0 involves addition and subtraction to derive, it's all that and more.
I don't think I get many readers from the old school rennaisance of gaming, most of the people I relate with online belong to the indie camp of game design so it's probably safe to criticise one of the holy symbols of early gaming (there's probably not a lot of difference between the two groups, but I'll get into that later).
Don't get me wrong, I know where the concept came from, but I've been hearing a lot of people lately w…