02 October, 2009

Brigaki Djili: The Big Three (or six or more)...

I've commented on the Power 19.

I'm deliberately not going to generate one for Brigaki Djili at this stage.

But I will look at the Big Three...three questions that help to focus a game design. The problem is, that I've encountered at least two different versions of "The Big Three".

  • What is your game about?
  • How does your game do this?
  • How does your game encourage / reward this?
I'm told that respected game designer John Wick likes to add..
  • How does you game make this fun?
Another version of "The Big Three" uses the first three questions of the Power 19, and often implies that these are the most valuable responses for the 19 questions.
  • What is your game about?
  • What do the characters do?
  • What does the GM do (if there is one)?
So that makes six different questions for "The Big Three", each of them reflects something distinctly different about the game without delving to deep into specifics. Probably a good series of points to start. It's also useful to remember from my engineering days that it takes 6 references to specifically identify a point in space (notably used in the Stargate movie and TV show to explain the need for 6 locking chevrons around the ring...even though their illustrations of this point weren't mathematically accurate).

So with 6 questions, here's an outline of where I'm heading with Brigaki Djili.

What is your game about?

At a deep level, it’s about weaving together tales through tapping into a communal subconscious; using this method to unveil stories that may have been hidden by the civilised and educated/indoctrinated conscious mind. Perhaps even exposing the arcane truths of the hidden world through apocrypha, allegory, ad-lib and Dadaist absurdity.

At a shallow and more immediate level it’s about having fun with friends, telling stories where no-one is sure what the outcome may be, how it may be reached or what might be revealed along the way.

How does your game do this?

The game is specifically designed so that no single person dominates the entire narrative. One player may take centre stage for a while, but there is no telling when another person might get the chance to integrate a twist into the tale being told. Players take on the role of storytellers, while also taking on the role of avatars within the story. Events are continually narrated and players are continually encouraged to react to these events as they unfold. The story need not always make sense, but then again neither does life. Those players who engage the complexity of the tale or who take more risks through their avatars gradually gain more control over their destiny and have more power over shaping future chapters of the story.

How does your game reward this?

Players are encouraged to take risks. This may be done by deliberately choosing to face more threats within their own stories, or by attempting to place their own narrative voice within the stories of the other players/storytellers. Those who face more risk give greater power to their avatars within the story; those who narrate within other stories may find that they can turn the perspectives of other avatars to their own advantage.

How do you make this fun?

The game is specifically divided into discreet chapters focused on one or two characters at a time. These chapters a divided into tableaux punctuated by moments of tension; a tableaux begins with the resolution of a tension, the reaction and movement to a new event and the movement to a new tension moment. After a moment of tension, the narrator may change depending on the luck of the draw; this means that a narrator has to make the most of their time in the spotlight. Anyone could be the next narrator (given that they showed an interest in this avatar’s story, and offered their tokens accordingly.)

What do the players do?

The players take on the role of a group of storytellers, the default archetype is a circle of old gypsy raconteurs, but they could just as easily be oracles (of the type encountered by Greek heroes), totem animals (sought by native shamans), or a cabal of intelligence operatives (in a modern or sci-fi setting). The players take turns narrating aspects of the story and guiding characters through the situations encountered.

What does the GM do?

There is a GM in this game, but the person taking on this role does not tell the stories, they merely ask questions to help pace the stories told by the other players. The GM represents a person who has come to the circle of players for their advice, wisdom and insight. The GM may interrupt each player once with a piece of evidence that may confirm or contradict a specific story element being narrated. Once used, these pieces of evidence become indelible facts that may not be removed from the story.

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