25 January, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #5: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

I’m going to quickly follow up with a second Game Mechani(sm) because my internet is running really slowly at the moment and I’m not sure if I’ll manage to get next weeks post out.

This is one that I’ve been pushing for a while on the forge.

The premise is simple: Every time you fail at something, you simply learn another way not to compete the task and you refine your knowledge about how it works. Every time you succeed at a task, you feel your knowledge is adequate and it doesn’t improve.

Beyond this simple premise I’ve had to clarify some points. These clarifications have arisen due to questions that people have asked me, and certain situations that have arisen where the basic premise just doesn’t make sense.

The first clarification requires that the character is actually able to succeed in their attempt in some way. A regular human, with no supernatural powers and no advanced technology isn’t going to be able to fly under their own power. They may be able to jump off a cliff or skydive to get the sensation of flight, but they aren’t going to be able to fly. They won’t gain knowledge about flight by jumping into the air numerous times.

The second clarification is that people often gain knowledge through other means. This could come in the form of reading books, observing others or other means suitable to the character’s setting.

So the development of a system for “realistic” character advancement should incorporate all of these aspects. This level of “realism” is tempered by the needs of the game, and there are a number of ways to incorporate this.

In many current games, experience points are awarded for being successful in a challenge. These represent a reward of some type; though I think that this is actually backwards. A well developed game world should have a system of rewards that exists separate to the acquisition of experience points. A character should acquire a bounty for showing off their successful skills, and within the setting they might acquire wealth, status or some other reward. But their experiences probably haven’t taught them a lot. They have used their existing skill set to reinforce their place within the status quo.

Conversely, a character who has failed in their attempt to prove themselves will earn embarrassment, ridicule and might even be force to pay some kind of penalty. This forces them to look more introspectively and work out what needs changing in order to prove more successful next time.

I guess this comes back to my desire for symmetry and balance. A character who takes a risk should get something for that risk, whether it’s improvement in their standing or improvement in themselves. This need not always be the case, and a string of failures could easily lead to depression, and this sort of thing could also be addressed in the game.

But a lot of games simply offer rewards if a risk is taken and forget the psychological impact of failure.

In the third edition of Dungeons and Dragons a series of mathematical formulas was used to determine a ratio between the acquisition of experience points and the requirements to reach a new level of power. Typically the game was designed so that character would face 13.333 encounters of equivalent level to their own before progressing to the next level. This basically means 13 to 14 scenes would pass before a character upgrade; since a scene typically takes half an hour (shorter for setting the scene, and longer for dramatic combat scenes or climaxes), and most sessions tend to last for 3-4 hours, this usually means that a character will gain a significant amount of improvement after every second session of play.

It seems to work fairly well.

There are other issues I have with D&D, especially with the 4th Edition, but that’s a whole other rant. This is just to highlight something that they seem to have gotten pretty right.

Conversely if you look at the Old World of Darkness by White Wolf, a character would be lucky to get 5 experience points after a session, and this is barely adequate to improve a single level in a single skill. It might allow a character to buy the first level in one skill, while also improve a rubbish skill at level 1 to an average skill at level 2, but it usually takes several sessions to accumulate enough experience points to improve a single attribute point or a supernatural power.

I’ve had plenty of players who got really frustrated with the slow degree of advancement.

So for this experience system of improvement with failure, there is a degree of fine tuning that can be done. How many failures are required before a skill improves? Do characters gain knowledge from book reading between sessions (or if they take the time out during a scene in the course of the game to read a book)? How much experience do they get from observation?

Players in a roleplaying game need to see rewards for their actions, but they can’t be allowed to devalue those rewards. Too slow and the rewards may not seem worth the wait, too fast and the rewards are simply added to the pile (coming too fast to be spent before the next encounter).

Every game a character should see some kind of minor increase, or every two to three games they should see a dramatic rise.

If we use the D&D formula indicated above, of 6 half-hour scenes to a session…and we assume that most players will use one to three skills per scene (averaging at 2). Then we’ll say that twelve skill uses spread across the entirety of the character’s repertoire occur in each session, many of which will be successful (so we’ll drop the number of potential XP earning results to 6). Characters are more likely to improve the skills that they use more often.

The problem I run into here, is that there isn’t much else described about the hypothetical game. How many skills are there? How many levels in each skill? What else can be increased with experience?

In D&D there are fifty or so skills, along with feats, level bonuses, attributes, class abilities, and more…each with different scales of granularity. In other games there might be as few as a half dozen things to keep track of each relating to a d6, and therefore having much larger steps between improvement levels.

Suffice to say at this point, one game might see a skill improve every second time that it is failed, while another game might require four or five failed attempts before a skill sees an increase in its success potential.

I’d also limit the benefits from reading or observing, to half the level that would be gained from actually performing the skill directly.

It all depends on the style of play desired, and the actions that the system is designed to reward.

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #4: Counter Maps

Over the past two years I’ve developed a dozen or so concepts for games, some of which have been focused araound competitive agendas, while others have related to narrative ideas and storytelling.

Some have used cards as a randomising agent, while others have used dice. Most have had certain aspects of play restricted, while other aspects have been allowed to develop in a freeform manner.

I guess that’s one of the reasons for writing up these game mechanisms, to see what limitations on gameplay can be developed, and how these limitations influence the play.

One of the more common mechanisms I’ve been using has involved a map laid out at the start of play by the players themselves.

The specific ritual of laying down the map seems to help set up a lot of the feeling and atmosphere of the game. Particularly from a metagame perspective.

The basic premise is simple. A few different types of poker chip are used to lay out a map. Each type of chip represents something different on the map.

I’ve typically used white chips to represent clear locations.

Red chips mark dangerous places or potential encounters.

Green chips represent a forest or a fertility/recharge point.

Black chips are impassable, and player must find a way around them rather than through them.

During actual game play, players move figures around on the map made up of the poker chips.

The method of map movement is really no different to most hex-map based movement systems used in many strategy games. The trick is in the versatility of the poker chips and the setting up of the map.

The versatility basically means that no two games need ever be the same. Slightly different configurations of ships can lead to vastly different strategies becoming important. Just like tactical adjustments being required when fighting warfare in different environments. A one-space gap between two black tokens could become a strategic pass that needs to be guarded during one game, while a two-space gap might be a thoroughfare that is simply too hard to secure.

The setting up of the map becomes important because it helps get players into a mindset about how the game will be played.

If all of the players take turns contributing to the map, then it makes sense that the players will take turns during the course of the game. If they are all contributing to the map development equally, then it can be assumed that the players will start on an equal footing when the gameplay starts. Conversely, if a referee lays out all of the chips, then it can probably be assumed that the referee will be an adjudicator throughout the course of the game, and they probably have a specific mission that needs to be accomplished by the players.

While the map layout helps to inform the players of how the game works, the nature of individual tokens can help to evoke a specific atmosphere for the characters.

Making the white tokens represent open plains, while the green tokens represent dense forest, gives the game world a certain feel. While making the white tokens represent icy waste, while the green tokens represent patches of warm forests, give the world a very different feel.

Another aspect to consider here is the number of different tokens used.

Too few token types and the game doesn’t have a lot of potential for diversity. Too many types and it can get confusing. This all comes down to the level of complexity in the game, and the number of token types can help to inform players of what to expect.

Two types of token mean that there won’t be a lot of interaction between the rules and the environment. A simple black and white option might indicate that there are some places that the characters can go, while there are other places that the character simply can’t go. Or maybe one colour represents freely passable terrain while the other colour represents and obstacle that needs to be addressed. [The rules may also need to address what is represented by the empty spaces around and between the tokens].

Three types of tokens allow for a bit more depth. Certain tokens might be easily passable, others may hinder slightly, while the third type completely blocks passage.

More than five token types and things can get really interesting, but once you get to this level of complexity it should start to become clear to the players that the types of tokens used in building the map will play a more subtle role in their interactions with the others mechanisms that form the rule set.

Elves gain bonuses in forests represented by green tokens, Dwarves gain bonuses in mountains represented by black tokens, Djinni get bonuses in deserts represented by yellow tokens, Merfolk get bonuses in water represented by blue tokens...you get the idea.

For the moment I’ve tried to limit game designs to five different types of tokens, mostly though, this has been a limitation based on the available tokens I have at my disposal.

19 January, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #3: Tarot Mysteries

I'm running late with last weeks option, and I'm going to cheat a bit.The following cut and paste is from an email that I sent to someone who was thinking of using Tarot Symbolism in a game they were developing.

This coming week I'll try to make sure a new idea is presented as a part of the weekly mechani(sm)s.

>
> Hi Lon,
>
> Thanks for the chance to see how your game was developing from its
> initial stages.
>
> The Tarot mechanic is instantly evocative, and grounds the game
> thematically in a number of ways.
>
> I quickly mentioned in passing that I'd had a couple of Tarot based
> gaming systems that I'd considered over the years.
>
> A couple of points to consider:
>
> 1. There are numerous groups who have linked the Tarot to the Kaballah.
> The ten sephirot each representing different aspects of reality are
> interlinked by 22 pathways, each of these pathways is commonly linked to
> one of the 22 Major Arcana. With this in mind, an alchemical concept can
> be applied to the development of characters.
>
> 2. All tarot cards have two readings, one for when they are upright and
> one for when they are reversed.
>
> 3. Tarot meanings can vary dramatically in different parts of Europe.
>
> I'm not sure what preconceived notions you may already have, and how far
> your game mechanic has already come, but given the discussion on spreads
> and a hesitancy about character representation through the cards I
> thought I'd share one of the recent ideas I'd come up with (an idea that
> I probably won't have time to develop much further).
>
> My theory along these lines was simple.
>
> * Each tarot card reflects a positive and a negative aspect of the
> character, every card is both a merit and a flaw.
>
> * The Tarot cards are laid in a simple three card spread. Past, Present,
> Future.
>
> * The future card is face down and can be used to substitute for a
> present card at a minor cost to the character's soul. If this is done,
> the present card is discarded and anew random future card is drawn.
>
> * The present card is face up. It represents something that the character
> is currently working toward, they suffer a penalty based on the reversed
> aspect of the card. As they achieve mastery over the card, they gain a
> benefit based on the standard reading of the card.
>
> * The past card represent cards that the character has gained mastery
> over. They may have transcended the penalty of the card, or they may not,
> a character has a repetoire of cards that they may use for their past
> card, each being a crad that they have mastered at some level.
>
> Eg. a character going into either combat or a courtly party would be
> stuck with the same present card but they could choose a suitable past
> card that they think will be advantageous to the upcoming situation.
>
> * It might take a period of sleep to commune with the dream world, or a
> period of focused meditation to change a character's past card.
>
> * As a character gradually masters an arcana, they must pass through a
> number of steps.
>
> 1. Novice. A novice has dedicated their present to studying an arcana.
> They must spend a period suffering under the arcanas flaw before they may
> uncover any of it's benefits. A character may stop being a novice of an
> arcana with no ill effects.
>
> 2. Disciple. A disciple has transcended the first stages of the arcana
> and may now access the minor benefits of the arcana. A character may stop
> being a disciple of the arcana, but they lose access to the minor
> benefits. In addition, they permanently acquire the flaws of the arcana,
> until they return to their study and transcend the flaws.
>
> 3. Journeyman. A journeyman permanently acquires the benefits of the
> card, as long as they keep it in their past slot. They only suffer the
> penalties of the card while it is in their past slot.
>
> 4. Master. A master no longer needs to keep the card in their past slot
> to gain it's minor benefits, but if they do choose to keep it in their
> past slot they gain access to a major benefit (on the down side, they
> suffer the penalty while they have access to this major power).
>
> 5. Oracle. An oracle has completely transcended the weakness of the card.
> While they have it in their slot they gain the benefit of the major
> power, while they do not have it in their slotthey gain only the minor
> benefit effects.
>
> * All characters begin having mastered a single past card to the disciple
> level. This was their apprenticeship, or maybe an awakening through some
> dramatic event. More powerful characters might begin with the option of a
> single card at journeyman level or two cards at disciple level.
>
> * The whole idea with the arcana cards is that the minor effects are
> subtle while the major effects are more dramatic. A minor effect of the
> devil might allow you to change someone's mind while they are weighing up
> a decision, a major effect might allow you to completely change their
> mind when they are adamantly opposed to a concept. The down side of the
> devil might be that you always have to be argumentative and play the
> devil's advocate whenever the chance might arise.
>
> * A character may have to visit elders who have mastered certain card
> level in order to gain more power and knowledge from them.
>
> I've delved a bit further into this idea, working onthe concept that
> maybe the world has only a single oracle for each card, and perhaps some
> oracles have reached enough power to control two or more
> cards.completely. Reality is a fight between these incredibly powerful
> transcended beings as they each struggle to dominate the entire deck.
> Students could learn from elders up to a level below the elders value; if
> they want to go further, they need to find a new master or consume the
> old one, like Sith in the star-wars universe killing their former masters
> (or like vampiric diablerie). A cabal of individuals killing an elder
> would find the oracles power randomly distributed between them. If the
> last oracle of a card is destroyed, then the most experienced mystic in
> that card will ascend.
>
> This sets the dynamic for a shadow war. Which may, or may not be what you
> want....it's just an idea I had.
>
> An idea I'm offering you if you want to run with it.
>
> If you want to discuss this further, I'd love to help out.
>

09 January, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #2: Escalation in a Limited Field

[Blogger's Note: the topic has henceforth been changed to Game Mechani(sm) of the week for matters of linguistic correctness. This doesn't mean the posts will all be gramatically and lingustically perfect though...]

This weeks topic is something I've been working on for a 1-page RPG that I'm devising.

It's a very stripped down version of the Quincunx game I'm developing, with the intention to simply get the core mechanisms in place for some streamlined testing.

There have been a number of contributing idea paths that have lead to this.

One is a topic thread about telling stories in a closed environment such as a large independent space ship.

Another topic thread relates back to sandbox adventures and how to tell a story within such a setting.

A third is my own series of posts about Quincunx on the Imber Corvus forum.

The basic idea is a fixed number of resources that may be used to perform tasks. This could be a fixed amount of space on a hard drive, it could be a limited number of trees that could be left for oxygen creation or cut down for timber, it could be a limited number of useful people who are each required to perform a job.

No matter how you look at it, the resource comes down to a fixed number that will never expand, but it could easily diminish if the situation takes a turn for the worse.

I'm using this mechanism in my current example as a number of dice that an be rolled, but it could just as easily be applied as a modifier to rolls.

1. Dice to roll: There are twenty useful people in a village, and there are six tasks that need to be done for the village to survive each month. For each villager who attends to a specific task roll a die. If there are two or more villagers attending to the same task, roll a separate die for each person involved. You could then: (a) take the highest result, (b) add the dice rolls together, or (c) simply compare each die to a threshold to determine successes.

2. Modifiers: There are twenty useful people in a village, and there are six tasks that need to be done for the village to survive each month. Roll a die for each task, for every villager assisting with that task add +1 to the die result. You could then: (a) compare the results for each task to a single level threshold or (b) compare it to a scale.

Each of the options brings something different to the game and can flavour outcomes in dramatically different ways.

1(a): More people involved give a better chance of reaching an optimal outcome, but it's quite easily possible for one person to reach this point on their own. No matter how many people are involved in this type of set-up, the task will never be completed any better or with higher degrees of success.

1(b): More people have a better chance of reaching much higher numbers. If six sided dice are used to represent villagers, then all it takes is for 7 people to be involved in a task, and they will automatically perform better than one person will on their own. If a threshold needs to be met for success, then a task that one person can complete will automatically be completed if there are a number of villagers equal to the threshold score. You may want this, you may not.

1(c): More people have a better chance of succeeding, but there is still a chance to no-one will succeed. It's a bit like a midpoint between the two examples above. If three villagers are assigned to a task, there is a chance they might all fail, or a chance that their successes will accumulate into something truly spectacular.

2(a): If the maximum die roll is high enough to pass the threshold, then there is a chance that a task will be accomplished with no-one necessary. This could be reflected by the notion that there are "useless" villagers would might stumble through occasionally and get things working. Or maybe there is simply no problem in that task for the month. But it's probably better to assume that the threshold is higher than the die type being used. Even so this will run into the same issue as 1(b), if there are enough people involved, then a situation will automatically be overcome. This might be good, or not. If you want the strategic angle to come into play, then you'll need to make sure the number of useful villagers can't make all of the tasks into automatic successes. There always needs to be a level of risk.

2(b): Sliding degrees of success might make things more realistic, but can complicate matters.

The method I'm using for this mechanism example is 1(c). My descriptions above have probably indicated that I favour this system, I'll look at variations of the others in specific contexts further down the track.

A limited supply of dice, that need to be assigned among various tasks.

But this doesn't escalate does it?

So I bring in a new twist.

A number of players are claiming dice from this pool in order to get their tasks completed, gradually claiming more and more dice from the pool as their tasks get harder, only to find thatthe pool runs out and eventually they have to confront one another to gain the dice they need.

A bit like a free market economy, and in the end it will come down to the players most able to take advantage of the situations that have developed over the course of play. This may be a matter of treachery, double-crossing, wiping out opponents through combat or simply good old fashioned co-operation. Though co-operation doesn't tend to last long in an escalating crisis.

The second aspect is the pool size. As the crisis increases, the available pool size shrinks. This is being done by a background story that functions like a shadow player. The background story gradually eats the dice in the communal pool, while gaining power for itself.

If we go back to the village analogy.

Each player could be a guild master in a small town. Let's say there are twenty families in the town and the "useful" villagers are the heads of those families. Each player is trying to get the political sway of the twenty families in order to make their guild the most powerful in town. But there is a disease killing off the families, and the more people get infected by the disease, the stronger it gets (conversely, there could be a necromancer killing the families and raising them as zombies). Whatever the backstory is, it gradually grows in strength if left unchecked.

Players can use the families they've aligned with to confront other players, or they can use these families to unravel the source of the town's problems. Either method will show the remaining townsfolk how good they are, and each method is likely to draw new recruits to their side. On the down side, any families they've sent after their rivals won't be able to unravel the mystery, and vice versa. Each family only gets one action per month.

Do you send all of you families to unravel the mystery hoping that when you do reveal the truth, everyone will revere you? This is probably a bit too much of a risk, because you'll be left with no defenders if you don't manage to unravel the mystery.

Do you strike someone when their families are all elsewhere? You'd better be able to make it a swift and deadly strike, or they will rally their troops in the next month and come back after you. Other repercussions will also be felt across the group.

Do you ignore the story entirely and focus on other players in the hope that when the story gets too nasty, you'll have accumulated the wealth of the other players and should be powerful enough to take it on then?

The game mechanism stays fairly open at the start of the story, much like a session of Chess or Go. But as moves are made and allegiances are formed, the intrigue gradually gets more deadly and leads to a confrontation between two players, or between a player and the story.

This mechanism isn't designed to engender friendly play.

I've thrown more into the mix, but those are mechanisms to be discussed at a later date.

03 January, 2009

Game Mechanic of the Week #1: The Conscience Bag

As I sit down to write my first game mechanic, I realise how intimidating this task actually is. There are a lot of options involved and there are a lot of different ways that I could take this personal challenge. Do I simply offer a bunch of new ways to create randomness [stick black and white beads in a bag and draw one out to determine the result] or do I put them in a specific context [the black beads represent a characters dark desires while the white beads represent their noble aspirations].

I think that simply providing a new randomising method is a bit of a cop out. Otherwise I could get lazy and simply show a picture of a d20, with the quote "game mechanic number 47", or something similar. The context option gives observers of this blog something more solid that they can take back to their gaming tables.

In light of that, and in light of the two bracketed descriptions above, I'll use for the first game mechanic something I've been playing with for a while. Beads in a bag.

I've played with this option for defining degrees of success, but it can be pretty slow for that sort of thing.

The initial concept revolved around the notion that all activities have forces working in opposite directions. A force of change versus a force of stasis, a drift to liberalism versus a drift to conservatism. One side is represented by black tokens, while the other side is represented by white tokens. Each side contributes a number of tokens reflecting the amount they are investing into the activity being described (a minimum of 1). The amount contributed is blind, with neither side seeing how much influence the other has put into a task, which means that some contests might end up being fairly even, while others end up being very one sided. Event resolution consists of simply drawing a token from the bag, the colour of the token indicates the side whose influence was more successful. Additional degrees of success can be determined by drawing additional tokens, a single black followed by a white means that the black side only managed to achieve a marginal success...two blacks followed by a white means that the black side has fully achieved their goals...three blacks followed by a white means that they've exceeded beyond what they originally hoped...four blacks followed by a white is a landslide victory to that side...etc.

The act of placing the tokens in the bag, then drawing them out has a certain tension to it. But no more so than drawing cards from a deck. On the other hand, it allows the participants involved to place their investment on the line. I could easily return to this basic mechanic a dozen times to show how it could be used in different contexts, but I'll make sure that no two consecutive weeks have the same basic mechanic, or the same context for two different mechanics.

So, for the first context. I'll take the bracketed example at the beginning of this post and look at something psychological.

Everyone is torn between a good side and a bad side. This seems to be true in reality, as well as most form of fiction. Some people may be very good at denying their dark sides, or they may have learnt to ignore their conscience; but no-one is able to completely over-ride a side of their desire.

To bring this sort of effect into a game, all players assign their characters a noble aspiration and a dark desire. The noble aspiration reflects the socially acceptable desires of the character, it could be a desire to help the people around them, heal the sick, enforce the law...as long as it fits the concept of the character. The dark desire is a more personal drive, a way in which the character says "Screw You" to the world around them in order to fulfil their own agendas.

They also start with an even number of tokens in each (half a dozen of each would be a good starting point), these are hidden in a bag. A communal pool of black and white tokens remains at the centre of the table.

In this version of the mechanic, the bag represents the mix of thoughts at the back of a character's mind. Sometimes they'll have the desire to do good for the world, sometimes they'll have the desire to be selfish and only follow their own agendas. Every time they do good, the other players at the table can decide whether to contribute an extra white token to the bag. Conversely, every time the character pursues their own selfish desires, the group can choose to add a black token to the bag.

When the character is forced to make a decision based on their communal spirit or their selfishness, they must draw a token from the bag...this occurs at times determined by the GM, at critical moments of the story, or when the other players at the table decide that such a moment is appropriate...once the call for a drawn token has been made, the player must see what their instincts are, whether they want to or not!

The first token drawn from the bag determines the character's instincts in the current situation, while consecutive tokens of the same colour determine how far they are willing to follow these instincts. Once a token of the oppositie colour has been drawn, no more tokens are revealed.

If the character draws white tokens, they must act on their noble aspirations with respect to the current scene. While black tokens represent their darker desires. A single token of the relevant colour represents that the character is inclined to folow this path, a pair of tokens represents that they are willing to take some risks in order to follow this path, three tokens mean that the character is willing to make some major risks, while 4 or more tokens mean that the character is willing to risk their life to follow this agenda.

Once a character's gut reactions are revealed, the player may choose if they want to follow their gut reactions, but if the player chooses to go against the character's gut reactions they will suffer penalties. For every token of gut reaction that the player is working against, they must roll an additional time for the current task at hand. The worst die roll is taken from the results.

If the player follows their gut instincts, they get to roll an additional time for every token of gut reaction, but this time they make take the best die roll.

For example, if a player draws three black tokens followed by a white, they are very inclined to follow their darker instincts even though they are in a situation where their lighter aspirations would be an advantage. Either way, they are rolling three times for the task at hand. If they follow their darker instincts, they take the best roll of the three; if they follow their light instincts, they take the worst roll of the three.

The player may choose whether to place the tokens used back into the communal pile at the centre of the table, or place them back into the bag. A selfish players who had just performed a good deed, might consder this to be their one good deed for the day, before continuing on a path of destruction [they throw their tokens back into the middle]. A good character performing the same deed might consider this to be a sign of their virtue [and put the tokens back into their bag].

Over the course of the game, the tokens in the bag could be modified in different ways. Some examples could include:
  • A holy priest could successfully convince a felon to amend their ways [adding a white token to the felon's conscience bag for every success they get]
  • A character meditates on their recent actions [adding their choice of either black or white tokens for every degree of success]
  • A character could experience atrocities and wonder if it is all worth it [use a gut reaction check to see what the character thinks of the atrocity. If they draw black tokens, then the character think that a selfish path would be more advantageous; they return twice the number of black tokens drawn to their bag. If they draw white tokens, then the character resolves themselves against the horror and stands firm in the beleif that only they can correct the situation through honour and virtue; they return twice the number of white tokens to their bag.

The whole idea behind this mechanic is to get players to consider the ramifications of their actions on their own conscience, rather than just seeing the effects of their deeds on the outside world.

Game Mechanic of the Week

I've seen a more ambitious version of this project completed over the course of 2008. But since I'm notorious for having other things get in the way when I try something too dramatic, I'm going to work with a stripped down version of the self-imposed contest.

Philippe Tromeur did his version of One page RPGs Once per Week. My stripped back version is going to be a game mechanic of the week.

The aim is to produce 52 game mechanics over the course of 2009, each of which can be used to simulate a specific concept, or expand an existing game product to encompass something new. I'll be using a range of media, including different sided dice, standard decks of cards, coins and tokens, customised cards, and pretty much anything else that might be useful in capturing the imagination, or achieving randomised results.

The aim isn't to develop a single game out of these mechanics, but instead to create a toolkit of options that can be incorporated into other game systems.

Other posts will be interspersed throughout the year, in typical "Observations of the Fox" non-sequitur style, especially progress reports on my other resolutions...but for the moment, one of the main focuses of this blog will be the Game Mechanic of the Week.