26 December, 2010
19 December, 2010
23 November, 2010
There are a few core members, and the finer details are being worked out. I just thought I'd share this news to see if anyone else was interested.
Reply to this or send me an email if you'd like more information.
Project Death Race can be found here.
It's associated Kickstarter project is here.
It's similar to the concept I was going for, but I was thinking of developing a bit more story around the cars and the teams that support them.
22 November, 2010
I've been thinking about some alternate ideas lately. It's an annoying habit that I have.
When I'm meant to be working on something, I inevitably start thinking about something else.
When I tried to create Bunraku nights for the Cyberpunk Revival Contest, my mind spontaneously generated FUBAR as a side project (which has now reached over 1000 downloads)...and now that I should be refining Walkabout, my mind has taken a wild turn into a completely different genre.
What would roleplaying be like if it developed from slot cars and model race tracks rather than wargaming with toy soldiers? Instead of stories about dungeon exploration, a game might centre around a big race. Buying gear in town might instead become upgrading a vehicle, and haggling with the thieves guild might become negotiation with corporate sponsors.
The intrigue would still be present with different race teams developing animosity toward one another. Relationship maps could be drawn up for the individual members within a team.
Betty the mechanic likes Janet (the team's "media liaison") due to a one night stand a few months back, but he doesn't like Roxy (the team's "ace driver") because she's reckless on the brakes and keeps burning out the clutch.
It doesn't need to be an all female team, I just thought that might boost up the soap-opera angle, and it's makes for a catchy game title.
Is it an option worth pursuing?
16 November, 2010
If you knew the end was coming and there was nothing you could do about it, how would you prepare?
I just read this article on Wired...it's a couple of years old as I write this, and it discusses a mystery that is decades older still.
But reading it really made me think of my game WALKABOUT, and some interesting directions where it could be taken.
In my readings and podcast listening, I’ve noted a few people discussing the idea of collective GMing, especially in regard to the notions of dividing up responsibilities such as narrative framing, awarding experience and determining if a character is “being played correctly”.
Each of these is a very different topic, but the last one has seen some controversy. So that’s where I’ll be turning my attention.
GMing is a delicate art of maintaining a collective dream (that mysterious thing that many people refer to as a “Shared Imagination Space”), and by keeping a degree of authority imparted to them by the gaming group.
In traditional roleplaying games, a group might impart virtually limitless control to their GM. They allow the GM to frame scenes, tell them when to roll dice, and then tell them how the results of those die rolls manipulate the unfolding narrative. Often, in this type of set up, the players don’t even mind when a GM fudges die rolls just to ensure their story unfolds in a predetermined manner.
It’s a lot of responsibility on the GM. They basically have to prepare the story in advance, prepare the scenes and any props that might help make things more immersive for the players. The GM basically plays the role of a raconteur, telling a story to their group and occasionally allows their players to become scene focal points when the story demands it. The players sit back and either enjoy the ride, or get bored/frustrated and find a new GM. It’s just the way things have been and most players put down a bad gaming experience to a “bad GM”…and as a flipside to this, most traditional players feel fearful of the idea of stepping up to GM duties.
The main “expected right” in a traditional game is the idea of player advocacy or protagonism. When a GM is given the rights over everything else in the story, a player expects the right to make choices that are important to their character, and through the process of character generation and backstory, they expect the right to decide which choices will actually be important.
If I make a character who is a “high school kid seeking popularity while coming to grips with newfound psychic powers”…I expect a story where seeking popularity will play a role, where I’ll get to use my character’s psychic powers in interesting ways, and where I’ll probably face issue of being something other than human. If my GM isn’t planning to tell a story relating to any of those things, I’d like him to tell me from the beginning. That way my character choice won’t clash with the GMs story and I won’t get frustrated.
There is advice like this in GMs guides for many games, White Wolf’s Storyteller system is riddled with it. But that’s the whole point of the storyteller system; it’s right there in the title. The system is designed for one person to tell a story with their friends portraying characters in some of the key roles. It gives you the tools, gives you pages and pages of advice on how to use those tools and offers suggestions for how to tailor those tools to your group. Too many GMs I know simply ignored those pages of helpful hints and advice, simply running the World of Darkness as a dungeon bash or concocting elaborate conspiracies regardless of the character types devised by the players. To make things worse, a lot of GMs would then tell their players “make any type of character you want”, to appease their players up front, not realising the treachery of their words in the long term.
On a few occasions, I was one of those GMs; but over time I learnt the art of incorporating the chosen concepts of player characters into my stories, getting players into the story generation right from the point where their characters are created.
But is it enough to ensure characters are integrated into a story to ensure that they have a degree of fidelity and internal consistency.
I’d say probably not.
These are just the elements for valid testing of integrity. If a character is incongruous with a story, none of their decisions make sense in context. If a GM declares that I’m not playing my character right, I need to have a valid point of reference if I’m going to take their critique. Metaphorically, if an accurate portrayal of a certain character is 23.5 degree Celsius, an inappropriate story is like trying to determine that temperature with a ruler. If my “high school kid seeking popularity while coming to grips with newfound psychic powers” was critiqued in a setting riddled with immortals, vampires and werewolves in the southern states of the US, it would probably get a very different critique to the same character played the same way in a sci-fi space opera. If I knew what the Gm was planning from the outset, I’d tailor my performance…and my performance would tailor the way the true nature of the character was portrayed. I guess it’s a symbiotic feedback loop. When certain things get tested, those are the things that become the defining aspect of the character.
That could be argued as one of the important reasons why “system matters”… but it’s probably more of an important reason why everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to story, character and the shared dream.
That gets me back to the topic title, and sets groundwork for the actual things I’d like to delve into.
In a traditional game like Dungeons & Dragons, characters advance based on their success in encounters. More recent (but still traditional) games, like the Storyteller system and certain variants of d20, characters get the chance to improve based on a player’s consistent portrayal. Maybe they earn Willpower points (or some other mechanism altering benefit) for acting according to their “nature”; in other games they might earn a few bonus XP for achieving goals associated with their personal agendas. This type of advancement is another arbitration decided by the GM, but many groups I’ve been a part of have allowed this decision to be arbitrated by the other players on the table.
Here’s where the controversies arise in the discussions I’ve been reading/watching/listening to.
How do we determine what is an accurate portrayal? How much do we want to reveal about a character at the early stages of a story, especially when a character is meant to be slimy or treacherous?
How much do we allow meta-knowledge into the game? How do we persecute it when we discover that it has been used/abused?
I’ve been playing with the idea a bit in some of my recent game writings…
I’m trying to find a way for a player to be rewarded for sticking their character to a core concept, while allowing that core concept to grow.
It’s one of those problems seen fairly frequently in the fan-fic community. One person writes a story about Leia Organa in the extended Star Wars universe, carefully defining the character’s reactions through the instances when the character has faced something similar in the past…another person says that the character isn’t portrayed correctly because things worked out badly the first time the decision was made and now they’d make a different choice…another person still claims that certain events aren’t canon and therefore the whole piece of prose is inaccurate.
The shared dream just isn’t there so the gauges of character fidelity are instantly skewed. With established and famous characters it’s hard enough to get agreement on the accuracy of the choices made. Therefore, trying to get an accurate assessment of a personally created unique character must be next to impossible. It seems like a great way to get the players more active in the decision making for the game, but is it sound judgement to base a game reward mechanism on a system that is inherently flawed? Is there something we can do to make the system more structurally sound?
13 November, 2010
08 November, 2010
He has called it the National Game Design Month...(or NaGa DeMon for short).
Participants basically spend a month writing a game, getting as much done as possible. Hopefully turning out a complete product by the end of the month.
I'm going to be refining Walkabout over the course of the month.
I've done a little so far...
A progress report shortly.
03 November, 2010
This is a rant, it's designed to stimulate thought.
It is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, because there are certain people on the periphery of the independent roleplaying community who get very vocal about the topic.
Cultural appropriation is argued vehemently by a number of people who have very strong opinions on the topic, but in many cases when I’ve tried to nail someone down on the subject they get very ephemeral in their responses. The more I look into it, the more I feel like this should be a topic for the Penn and Teller television show “Bullshit”.
As far as I can see (based on the rhetoric and histrionics), cultural appropriation is the taking of a cultures elements and the use of those elements to pigeon-hole or even belittle the culture. If you take the stereotypes of a culture and use them to engage the typical stereotypes of the group, then it seems you are engaging in cultural appropriation. If you are prejudiced toward a culture, drawing opinions about them based on the information of others and not doing research for yourself; that also seems to be a case of cultural appropriation.
This idea seems to be a very secular view of things, almost a reaction against religion. I say this because most religions have a view where their version of salvation or redemption is deemed the “correct path”, while everyone else is considered wrong. Those who indulge in cultural appropriation are engaging in the same tactics, by claiming to know something about other cultures and then claiming specific facts about those cultures based on their assumptions…a fundamentalist Christian says that all Muslims are going to hell because their belief system is flawed, a devout Buddhist might claim that a Christian will never achieve enlightenment because they draw their faith from a part of the illusion that surrounds us all. Those who take a stand against cultural appropriation seem to believe that the Christian fundamentalist and the Buddhist from the example are both flawed in their thinking. The religious examples provided are simply human nature:
- I join a group.
- I identify with the group I’ve joined.
- I know that there are groups that exist outside the group I’m a part of.
- I don’t identify so much with those groups.
- 5. In my opinion, the ways I don’t identify with those groups are ways that those groups are wrong.
“Cultural Appropriation” says that everyone makes their first choice to identify with a group, and in that way everyone is unique. It further seems to push the notion that you shouldn’t categorise other people based on the groups they identify with, in fact you shouldn’t categorise them at all.
It’s a nice doctrine, generally inoffensive; you shouldn’t judge others without engaging in their deeper aspects of being. But like most doctrines, when you push it a bit further it starts to crack. That’s when the adherents start to get defensive.
In Australia, we’re seeing this idea filter through the news. No longer are you allowed to say that a crime was perpetrated by a man of middle-eastern appearance, because that’s considered ethnic profiling, or even racism. You can say “light skin”, “dark skin”, “olive complexion”, but as soon as you get more specific you have a backlash from somewhere. I guess the same thing has happened around the rest of the western world. We saw the same thing come out of the United States a few decades ago when it was declared racist to use the word “Nigger”, the race had to be referred to as “African American”, “Black American” or whatever new catchphrase was deemed appropriate in each passing year…then the “African Americans” decided to take the word back for themselves. They were allowed to call each other by the name “Nigger” (or “Nigga” if they identified with street culture), but if someone not of their race used the term is was still considered an affront. This has left a generation of people unsure of what is offensive any more.
So it seems that people just take offense to anything and everything, just to be safe.
We’re getting to the point that descriptions are meaningless…you can’t say “Black” because that will offend someone, you can’t say “Muslim” because that will offend someone else, you can’t call them gypsies because that’s a racial slur that has been perpetrated for centuries. As soon as you try to identify someone according to some context, you run the risk of offending someone.
Those who oppose cultural appropriation seem to be the types who will take offense for the sake of taking offense. They take on the role of old ladies who tell young children that roads are dangerous because of cars; the kids don’t know where to play anymore because all the flat areas around them have been paved by people of a previous generation (people who had been told that grass caused allergies, so they couldn’t play there).
Everything offends someone, and it seems that there are some who are offended by everything.
That leaves us with a dilemma.
If we can’t describe people according to their appearances (because that’s prejudicial or racist), and we can’t identify them by their cultural affiliations (because that’s cultural appropriation or just another form of racism), how do we describe them?
You could describe them by the sum of their actions, but that would take a long time to assess and just as long to divulge the information. What if you only caught a glimpse of them or heard a few heavily accented words in a conversation? You can’t describe their skin colour or their accent due to claims of racism, blatant stereotyping or some other form of offense taken by someone.
I was referred to a TedTalk by an African author Chimamanda Adichie (Here). This was referred by one of those people who are vocal opponents of cultural appropriation. It was an interesting talk, but it seemed to be hedging around the issues rather than confronting them. An interesting point she made was an anecdote about an American university lecturer who claimed that her writing didn’t sound “African”. Obviously the professor had a prejudice about what an “African” novel should sound like; he had appropriated her culture and had pigeonholed it. She thought it seemed odd that as an African novelist her novels didn’t sound “African”. I’m not going to say that her novels are bad, I haven’t read them. Apparently they seem to be pretty good because she was invited to present the talk and has sold numerous copies of her work. Africans can identify with what she writes, but my question would be how well other people identify with what she writes.
She might be a good novelist who is African, but does she write good “African Novels”. What is an African novel?
As soon as we start to identify traits of an “African Novel”, someone will claim that we are appropriating the culture. Perhaps she writes good stories about living in a newly urbanised environment within a specific African nation, but is that just generalising that particular urban area. Perhaps she writes a good story about a specific person, but who is that person out of context?
As humans we need descriptors to identify people.
Using cultural stereotypes may not be a perfect way to describe people, but surely it’s a distinct part of the whole.
If I write a story or a game about Australian Aboriginals and simply write them using common English speech and inoffensive mannerisms, how do I show that they are different to the Europeans around them? If I use a couple of stereotypical terms to place them in context, they actually develop character. Granted a stereotype will only generate flat characters, but it gives a reader a common ground, allowing potential for further and deeper exploration once the common ground has been set. If I don’t place them in context, the actions of these characters will be much harder to connect with.
If I write a story about the Lebanese community in western Sydney, I could use the stereotypical conflict between the Islamic and Christian Orthodox families within the community, tying this conflict back into their homeland. There are people who’d find it racist, but there are far more people who’d instantly grasp the background of the story. I could do the same thing through the car culture commonly found among young Lebanese males in the area. Again, it’s a stereotype, but it instantly sets up degrees of conflict within the setting. If I apply both stereotypes, I run the risk of generating caricatures of the community members, but if I apply other cultural templates across the characters to build up something deeper, they each become more complex.
That complexity just wouldn’t be possible without the cultural context.
Maybe I could rewrite one of Chimamanda Adichie’s novels using characters from the Lebanese community in western Sydney, simply changing the place names and the character names. If it still resonated as a moving story, then maybe it’s not a good “African Novel” after all, it’s just a good novel written by an African.
01 November, 2010
Some stuff had to go, there simply isn't as much room in the new place as we had in the old place. I had the luxury of an empty double garage to use as a workshop/storage area in the old place, and now the range of ephemera once locked into that "warehouse" has had to integrate into the house, justify it's continued existence or be thrown away.
With this in mind, I've done a little bit of work on my first genre supplement for FUBAR. I'll hopefully have it out on RPGNow by this time next week. The aim will be to generate a supplement each month for the foreseeable future, I've got enough ideas to keep going in this regard for a couple of years.
The genre supplements will follow a basic pattern:
An introduction to the genre (one or two pages).
A twist on the core rules to help reflect this genre better in your games (one or two pages).
Two or three optional rules (one or two pages each).
A roughly laid out setting for the genre (a map page, a pair of suitable NPCs, some story hooks, and some evocative descriptions to help set the mood, all up about 4-6 pages).
A range of sample trait cards applicable to the genre (followed by a page of blank trait cards)
A range of sample location cards applicable to the genre (followed by a page of blank location cards)
A range of sample item/objective cards applicable to the genre (followed by a page of blank item/objective cards)
A range of sample organisation/plot-twist cards applicable to the genre (followed by a page of blank organisation/plot-twist cards)
A blank character sheet
(About 20 pages on average).
The cards and character sheets will be formatted in a style to match the genre; thus the first genre supplement is "High Plains FUBAR", a wild-west inspired setting. The character sheets look like wanted posters, and the trait cards are shot through with bullet holes.
Like the core FUBAR rules, there will be plenty of images and nicely laid out pages.
I haven't fully decided on the prices yet, but the supplements will probably be released at about $2 each (US). The core rules will always remain free, I'm hoping that interested players will show their devotion by buying a couple of supplements from me over the course of their play. Given that I've had over 700 downloads of FUBAR so far, it would be nice to think that at least 10% of those downloaders would be willing to occasionally fork out a modest sum for a way to invigorate or transform their game. I could hope for more, and maybe if the game develops a bit of a following those numbers might improve with time.
Once I get a few similarly themed genre supplemenets under the FUBAR banner, there might be the opportunity to print up a batch of limited edition physical copies.
We'll just have to see where things go.
26 October, 2010
06 October, 2010
05 October, 2010
- Moving House
- College Assignments
- Freelance Writing Stuff (Avalon and QT Games)
- Game Chef Critiques
- Other Personal Projects
29 September, 2010
As I said yesterday, I've been plugging away, reading the Game Chef Entries. A long slow train trip to my parent's house gave me time to take some notes as I read. I figured that I'd try to be pretty transparent in my review criteria and my reasons for liking some games and not liking others. As a result I've come up with a general scoring system based on the things I think are important in a game and the things that I think should be sources of challenge in a contest like Game Chef.
Game Chef Review Criteria:
0-5pts: Use of Ingredients and theme in an appropriate manner
+0.5: per ingredient used in a cursory manner (either a flavour addition or a throwaway mechanism name)
+1.0: per ingredient integrated into the game through flavour and mechanism
+0.5: if the game has a cursory connection to the theme.
+1.0: if the game resonates with the theme at a deeper level.
0-5pts: Clarity of Rules
0.0: The rules are an absolute disgrace; I can’t even fill in the gaps through intuition.
1.0: The rules are pretty sparse, and they don’t seem to address the actual methods of playing the game.
2.0: The rules seem pretty solid but there seem to be a couple of pieces left out (or just not explained clearly).
3.0: The rules carefully explain the methods of play, either through elegant terminology, or careful play examples.
4.0: The rules are at about the quality you’d expect from a good game entry; easy to read and clear to understand.
5.0: The rules are very good, at least of the quality to expect to find in a professional game from one of the “big” companies.
0-5pts: Completeness of Rules
0.0: There aren’t any rules at all.
1.0: There aren’t enough rules to play any part of the game in any meaningful way.
2.0: There are rules enough to handle the basics, but I can foresee a lot of situations that just aren’t covered by them.
3.0: The rules are a solid set; they may not tie in with the themes and there might be a few disjoints, but reasonably complete.
4.0: The rules cover pretty much everything; and they do so in a way that gives a sense of uniqueness to the game.
5.0: The rules are extensive and well flavoured; anything you could want to do is easily covered by their depth and scope.
0-5pts: Originality of Rules and Concept
0.0: It might as well have been copied verbatim from a book pulled off the shelf in my local game store.
1.0: Nothing overly original about it, but at least the author changed some of the names or added their own touches.
2.0: It fits squarely into an existing genre, or game system; but there are some intriguing elements thrown into the mix.
3.0: It combines a few systems or setting I’ve seen before, but in a way that makes it a bit different or original.
4.0: I’m unable to remember where I’ve seen some of the elements, either it masks them well or adapts them effectively.
5.0: This has simply blown my mind with its originality.
0.0: No Attempt at formatting
0.5: Minimal formatting (maybe a font befitting the game or a two column layout)
1.0: Decent formatting (different fonts for headers and text, maybe some text boxes)
1.5: Good formatting in a style suiting the game (maybe with text boxes for rule clarity/actual play)
2.0: Well formatted in a style suiting the game (with decent indexing/table of contents)
0.0: No images what-so-ever
0.5: One or two images, or some kind of play aid of basic quality
1.0: A title image, and a map or other play aid of good quality
1.5: A scattering of images through the text to evoke mood or theme.
2.0: Fully illustrated with evocative pieces (whether hand drawn or otherwise)
0-1pt: Title Page
0.0: No title page
0.5: Simple title page, maybe a list of contents
1.0: Elaborate title page.
Multiply total result by 4 to gain a percentage score.
28 September, 2010
23 September, 2010
21 September, 2010
After getting 400+ downloads of Walkabout from the shopfront on RPGNow, it was fun to see how well I could twist the fundamentals of the game into a new setting and story style.
I think it seems to have turned out relatively well, but now it could do with a few weeks of fine tuning and some good playtest sessions.
11 September, 2010
I'm really tempted to do something along the lines of Dark Sun, but a lot of people have already suggested this as a possible inspiration.
Mechanically, since hacks are allowed, I think I'll try a twist on my own recent game FUBAR. Instead of a revenge tale, I'm going to twist the rules to reflect a post-apocalyptic road trip, or perhaps a chase across a shattered desert landscape.
That's the intention for the surface layer of the game, but I like things to have a bit of depth to them.
With that in mind, I'm thinking of the alchemical journey of the soul...a progression from initiate to adept to master...and beyond
A single session will be about a physical journey between places or the pursuit of a quarry. The campaign play will be about the enlightenment achieved by engaging in the metaphorical journey multiple times.
These are my initial thoughts prompted by the ingredients.
But like normal, I'm starting to deviate from the actual words and delving into abstracts. So I'll try to pull things back to the actual terms of the contest.
City - An urban location...the voyage beyond the accepted culture is a path taken by outsiders, it is in this path that enlightenment is achieved, but without the buffers of the community it is easier to fall into insanity or simply lose one's way.
Desert - As a noun or adjective this could refer to a wasteland basically devoid of plant and animal life ("this place is a desert")...as a verb it can mean to flee an area with no intent to return ("she doesn't like it here and is going to desert the place")....then it also has the meaning of a reward or punishment ("he got his just deserts")...so much potential in this term.
Edge - Another ambiguous term that could be used many ways...as a noun it could represent the border between two things, the sharp side of a knife, or the advantage someone has in a situation (I already use it in this way in FUBAR)...as a verb it can mean moving cautiously toward something ("he edged his way toward the fence"), or sharpening something. Hmmm.
Skin - This has a variety of meanings that typically apply to the outer surface of something, examples include the outermost flesh of a creature and the visible interface of a computer program (which can be "re-skinned")...but colloquially it could refer to a drum, a condom or a dollar note. As a verb, "to skin something" typically means peeling away the outer layers.
Straight up, two of the terms have a juxtaposition...Desert/City. One is devoid of life while the other is a place of community.
Two of the terms have a commonality...Edge/Skin...both refer to an interface between two objects.
It's a push to link "edge" and "desert" as movement terms. As movement, edge tends to imply moving slowly toward something, while deserting implies moving away with reckless abandon.
Again....just more thoughts.
I keep pulling back to the idea of enlightened tattooed nomads, living between the worlds of city and desert. A journeying people who take sacred journeys between the civilised realms and into the wastelands of the physical and the metaphysical spirit deserts. They make these journeys to reclaim the lost, or discovers insights about the future...with these journeys achieved, they return to their home cultures to reveal the truth. If they travel too far (physically or mentally), they may get lost. Becoming physically lost means being unable to return to their home, while becoming lost in a mental/spiritual sense means that the character has lost their ability to commune meaningfully with their people, perhaps they have gone insane, or maybe they have transcended the mental state of their people to such a degree that people simple can't understand them.
With this last idea in mind, there could be other wanderers in the desert/wilderness...dangerous lunatics who have devolved and gone insane...and strange enlightened mystics who have lost contact with their people but who might still have useful advice for those who are still capable of returning from their sacred journeys.
Maybe doing something about the Australian aboriginal community and the Dreamtime. They didn't have tattooing as a common practice, but traditional scarification processes fulfil the same basic function...and if I make the setting a post-apocalyptic wasteland, then tattooing might become a viable option again.
With these ideas bubbling away in my head, it's time to head off and think about some other stuff. The ideas can ferment for a while, who knows where they might lead.
08 September, 2010
They've been pumping away at this stuff for decades, and they've had a dedicated following...but it's only recently that they've had a proper roleplaying game within in the setting.
But with Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and now DeathWatch we're getting the chance to really delve into the rich mythology of the setting. I haven't actually opened up one of the books and started reading, but they seem to be keeping the fanboys happy, and I haven't heard much bad about them in the reviews I've read.
But now I look at the Deathwatch Collector's edition. If I had the money, I'd drop it in a heartbeat for this sucker. Solid metal case, parchment pages within, each copy printed with dedicated lines for it's prospective owner. A true gaming artefact that sets the tone for the product within.
Great marketing ploy.
I'm wondering if I could do something similar with a product of my own....sculpt up some bas-relief forms...use moulds to cold-cast metallic front and back plates with a hinged spine...use this to encase a gaming tome of some type. It would certainly be a step in a different direction to the pdf market, providing a uniquely crafted artefact in exchange for the money dropped by the consumer. Might be worth exploring.
07 September, 2010
06 September, 2010
Looking over these advertisements is like a trip back to a world that should have been. It's a great inspiration for a game....someone may already be working on that game. But it doesn't mean that other people can't draw inspiration from the same well.
Edit: While adding in the links, I've just realised that the game is in development by Contested Ground, so if this means it will be a part of the Cold City/Hot War oeuvre, then I've already got space on my shelf for it.
05 September, 2010
04 September, 2010
It will be running from September 11th through to the 19th. From the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, through to annual "Talk like a Pirate" day.
Or if you're Jewish, this post on 1km1kt shows the coincidences from that perspective.
- The catholic rosary typically has 54 beads, and a string of that denotes it's start and end. There are 5 "decades" of ten beads, each separated by a distinct bead that is smaller, larger, or simply of a different colour, then the separation from start of the chain to the end comes from the string, which may be a cruciform.
If we assume that the rosary mechanisms is a generally ambivalent story tool. It should provide an equivalent number of positives as negatives. Each of the 50 standard beads might give a -1 to a roll, while each of the beads marking the change of decades (or the string at the start/end of the ring) provides a +10 bonus to a roll. Players simply progress through the rosary for each action they take....standard action (-1 to roll), standard action (-1 to roll)...continue for ten times...change of decade (+10 to roll). This would make most rolls more difficult, perhaps earning complications as a result of the adherent's faith, but every now and then the grace of a greater powers smiles down on the characters and makes something go really well.
- Perhaps the idea of trudging around the rosary one bead at a time is too slow. Maybe you could roll a die with each action. The player might choose to have their character make a test of faith. If the character doesn't test their faith, their position on the rosary remains the same. If they do test their faith, a d6 is rolled. For every bead they progress around the chain, they suffer a cumulative -1 to their roll...but if they pass a change of decade, they get to add +10 to their roll. This way, on average, every third test of faith will come with a benefit.
- Islamic prayer beads come in chains of 99 beads, or 33 beads that must be cycled 3 times. This represents the 99 true names of Allah. In each of these cases, the methods of progressing through the beads described above could be used, but instead of providing each skill attempt with a bonus or penalty, each bead would flavour the results of the task at hand by the name of Allah according to the character's current place on the chain...If Allah is known as "The Wise" during this action then the character might learn something useful...if Allah is known as "The Avenger" then the character might smite their enemy through the task at hand.
- Perhaps the beads could be used as a counting method for "spiritual hit points". A character might move both ways around the chain, improving their position through acts of faith, or falling through acts of hubris and sin. Each time a decade is passed, a new penalty might be achieved or overcome.
- Conversely, the beads could signify spiritual enlightenment. Where a character ascends around the chain, gaining a new power each time they pass one of the decade changes.
- In faiths where the prayer beads represent reminders for specific prayers or number of times a prayer must be incanted, the game significance might be a bit different. Perhaps the beads could form an analogy for the combat wheel in a game such as Exalted. Actions take a certain number of beads to occur. Quick actions count as 1 bead actions, typical actions might take 2 or 3 beads, while drawn-out effects might take 10 or more beads. Characters progress around the chain based on their actions and time cycles around it as well. This works well in faiths professing the belief in cycles or reincarnation.
- Perhaps the rosary could be used as a randomisation method in itself. Especially if it is marked into decades or smaller increments. The rosary might be tossed into the air and caught by a single bead. The position of the bead around the chain determines a value to be applied to the task at hand...or in the case of Islamic prayer beads it might signify which aspect of Allah is watching over the current situation.
- Another common form of symbolism within prayer beads is the completion of a journey. With this in mind it might be possible to make each bead a step that must be overcome on the path to completion. A single success on a roll might move a character (or a group) by a single bead, while multiple successes might move the character(s) further around the ring.
- Closely related (from a Greek point of view) are worry beads, and the progression around the chain could represent the amount of stress the character is currently suffering, rather than any kind of religious parallel.
- In Catholic Prayer, there are a number of "mysteries" that may be obtained through observance of the prayers associated with the rosary. In this manner, progression around the chain might symbolise improvement and development within a specific field of endeavour, a proxy experience system.