30 May, 2013

Walkabout Play Sheet

In a game of Walkabout, the Oracle begins with an imbalance in the spiritual energies of the world. The imbalance cascades out, causing conflict in the local environment, arguments between people, tainted crops, lost things slipping through cracks in reality, mutations, insanity, and all manner of surreal effects. Each of these effects manifest as scenes to be investigated by the heroic wandering post-apocalyptic shamans known as the Wayfarers.

This play sheet is used by the Oracle to lay out the scenes, to determine how they relate to one another, and how they ripple out from the central disharmony.

29 May, 2013

They're Ugly, but they're Available

The first batch of Walkabout Pocketmods are now available.

They haven't been made pretty, they're just raw things that can be used as playtesting aids for anyone who might be interested in putting the game through its paces before I take it further.

The current set consist of a basic players guide, a basic GM/Oracle's guide and a trio of play booklets (one for characters/wayfarers, one for the settlements that wayfarers encounter, and one for spirits).

They can be found here

Shortly, I'll be adding a few more to this collection (a play booklet for survivors, and a booklet of flowcharts to explain the game mechanisms in a more visual manner).

There will be a few starter booklets with some wayfarers, survivors, spirits and settlements. Also a few full page scenario charts and note sheets to get a few game ideas under way.

Then I'll be adding booklets to describe the people, the edges and the dances (enough to create wayfarers and survivors for the game)...and then booklets to describe the manifestations, the affinities and the agendas (everything you need to create spirits).

Once I know everything is working well, I'll make them pretty.

28 May, 2013

Walkabout Transport Options

While I'm thinking about Walkabout inspirations, I've been trying to think of some unconventional post apocalyptic vehicles. Not the usual battered all-terrain vehicles from "Mad Max", but those will certainly play a part in the setting. I'm trying to think of a few vehicle ideas that will be really memorable for flying across the Australian bush and the cracked highways between battered settlements.

Here's a few of the inspirations I've found over the past couple of months.

27 May, 2013

New Walkabout

So, the new incarnation of the Walkabout rules...

A general pocketmod guide for players (8 pages of rules) [DONE!]
A general pocketmod guide for GMs/Oracles (6 pages of story creation ideas, 2 pages of rules) [DONE!]
A specific pocketmod guide providing depth for each of the seven starter cultures in the game (6 pages of background information and pictures, 2 pages of rules) [Work In Progress]
A specific pocketmod guide providing depth for each of the edges in the game (6 pages of background information and pictures, 2 pages of rules)[Work In Progress]
A few specific pocketmod guides describing the various dances and what they tell us about the characters who move in that way (6 pages of background, 2 pages of rules) [Not started]

Character sheets unchanged from before. [DONE!]

In game reference book for players to learn more about the world of Walkabout [Work In Progress]
Consolidated rule book with plenty of in-game examples, and clarified explanations of the rules...[A few scattered bits and pieces, needs much more work.]

Technically the game could be played in this state, but there's still lots of work to do.

26 May, 2013

A bit more Walkabout Inspiration

I've got the first big test of Walkabout on it's way...it has had a few small tests so far, but this is the first big public exposure.

Under a month away, it will be seeing a convention audience at Canberra's annual "Phenomenon" convention.

So, when I found a ruined warehouse near my university, I naturally had to take some atmospheric shots to get in the mood.

Probably not quite ruined enough, but I don't have an apocalypse and a hundred years to wait for some real photos.

I'll add a few changes to these, maybe adding some spirits, monsters or suitably post apocalyptic folks, then photoshop these up (or instagram them) to make them look old and worn, then these will make some good additions to the game art.  

Game Chef Failure

I love the idea of game chef...I get all enthusiastic about pushing my design mind in new directions, but more often than not real life gets in the way and I just don't get the chance to refine my ideas.

That's happened again.

Oh well, back to other projects.

23 May, 2013

Setting the tone

If time is like a river, flowing from one point to another inevitably from the start of creation to the end, then everything in reality is just flotsam and jetsam caught in the current. Every element of reality swirls into contact with other elements at one moment, perhaps remaining linked for the briefest of nanoseconds, or maybe attached for endless millennia, but eventually a time comes when the currents of time whisked elements away from one another. Somewhere between order and chaos, reality shifts according to the flow of time, the only inviolate constant.

Except there are those of us who violate even time itself. We plunge into the flowing currents of the time-stream when it suits our convenience, or when ordered by the voices beyond the void; we make changes, corrections, improvements. Yet we must never make connections to those stuck within the temporal currents, lest we get caught in its swirling eddies and entropies.

Existing outside the time-stream we are able to view reality in it’s entirely. Yet many of us choose to focus out attentions on the specific journey of a single individual, a location we deem significant, or perhaps expand our perceptions to the entirety of existence at a single moment. We are the guardians of existence, we ensure causality and sense in a world prone to chaos. Some might consider us gods, perhaps the authors of destiny, others might call us saints, angels, demons, bodhisattvas or asuras.

We’re here to help…we just might not be here to help you.

The general mechanisms I've thought of so far are still relevant, the notion of "correcting plot holes in reality" is the essence of this game. But now we have elements where character could gain an edge if they wish to create connections to the elements of reality they are manipulating...but doing so comes at a risk. Those connections could pull them under like a rip-tide.

Optional results on the "And" dice could resolve story-lines and allow characters to break free from specific bonds (to people/places/objects/concepts), while optional results on the "But" dice might create new bonds, or might cause complications to characters based on their existing bonds. Characters would also have the choice to deliberately add new bonds in exchange for bonus dice.

22 May, 2013

Fixing Plot Holes

The game I'm tinkering on for game chef is about jumping into a time-stream and correcting reality.

It's just struck me....without too many spoilers, it's probably due to watching the season finale for the most recent Doctor Who series.

Since there are fixed points in time and space throughout the game..immutable facts that must occur, then why not run the whole narrative like that.

Lots of people like to pick plot holes in movies...a great many plot holes come into the story because the movie needs to be cut down to a manageable viewing time of 2 to 2.5 hours. The story is in place in the background, but to keep pacing in place, certain bits are omitted (even if they make other parts of the story make sense).

Sometimes it's just bad writing.

If we take a big budget sci-fi movie...the plot holes are often huge, and things get dropped in order for the special effects to shine through.

A twist on this game idea might be to operate outside the confines of the "onscreen world". The characters are the ones responsible for maintaining continuity, even when certain aspects of the narrative seem intent on hurtling tangentially away from common sense.

The story we see on screen becomes the history of the world in which we are playing.
What if we charge our characters with deviating the story after scenes have resolved, and before a new scene is established.

We no longer work within a linear narrative framework, but we work with it.

Finite players play within the rules, infinite players play with the rules. It's suddenly getting very much like the early incarnations of "Mage: the Ascension".

But can I wrap this into 4000 words by the end of the week?

21 May, 2013

A few glitches

I thought I had "Town Guard" ready to go, but final attempts to publish have led to a few glitches.

Busy working to overcome them now.

New Town Guard Cover Art

A bit fantasy, a bit "law and order", and a bit heraldic.

Getting pretty close to what I originally envisioned.

20 May, 2013

Metaphysical gaming

How do you run a game where the characters exist outside of time and space?

How do you reflect abilities when reality itself is malleable?

Is it possible to simulate difficulties for tasks when reality can be bent to your whim?

The RPG Amber dealt with things like this quite simply, Mage: the Ascension did some work in a similar area.

Perhaps the easiest way to deal with variance between characters in this sort of setting is to give them spheres of influence. Are you a god of thunder? Does manipulation of the weather provide an advantage in this situation? If so, and you can suitably justify it, gain a bonus. If not, sorry, try something else.

The problem with this notion is players who come up with generic "specialties" that magically become useful in every possible situation. So maybe we need to implement an idea that says "the more you use a specialty, the harder it is to keep using it". Use it once, standard difficulty...use it twice, difficulty goes up by 1...use it again, and difficulty goes up by 2...this continues until it just becomes unfeasible to keep exploiting this aspect of reality bending. The penalties might start to decrease again as a character starts using the other powers at their disposal. But then you might get a character who ends up as a two-trick pony, simply alternating between their "incredibly lucky" and "irrepressible" advantages which both find easy application in almost any activity.

Maybe it would be fun to allow every player to pick a power/advantage for themselves and a power/advantage for someone else. This would allow them to gain a bit of control over what they want to play, while throwing in a random element.

Maybe each power is linked to a specific type of activity...opening options in the timeline, transforming destiny, and collapsing quantum waves into specific events. Creation, Transformation, Destruction...maybe I've still got Walkabout sitting in the back of my head.

I'm starting to lose a bit of focus in the ideas for this game. Time to start tying things back into the core ideas again.

19 May, 2013

"And" and "But" dice

So, how do these "And" and "But" dice work?

Let's say your regular dice are red...your "And" dice are white, and your "But" dice are black.

A standard action test rolls one of each.
Using a skill, a piece of equipment or a situation to your advantage adds an extra red die (each).
Taking a risk adds an extra white die and an extra black (so you have a better chance of something awesome happening, but also a better chance of catastrophe)
Helping someone adds a red die (which contribute an extra success) and a white die
Hindering them adds a red die (which if successful might counter one of the active player's successes) and a black die

Since the game operates over a fixed timeline of 48 hours (this may be subject to change), and since a character can't cross their own timeline to correct one of their actions, then it makes sense that a player can take extra time to improve their chances...let's say that every die roll resolves an hour of action, if a player takes an extra hour to set up their action, they'll get an extra red die but this reduces their ability to possibly perform additional actions as the timeslots gradually fill up.

If either the black or white dice, match any of red dice, the player earns a number of points equal to the die result to spend on special effects.

Possible ideas are:
1 pt "and": Give a bonus red die to another character.
3 pts "and": Gain an extra degree of success (explain what has happened to cause this change of fate).
5 pts "and": Lock an event into the timestream.

1 pt "but": Suffer an extra "but" die on your next action.
3 pts "but": Lose a degree of success (explain what has happened to cause this change of fate).
5 pts "but": Suffer damage.

Still lots of thought to go on this...but the idea seems to have potential.

A quick look at some mechanisms

I've been thinking of the Dragon Die in the Dragon Age RPG.

You roll a bunch of dice and determine the total, but if the dragon die matches one of the other dice you gain bonus points for manoeuvres that change the way the action plays out.

How about a system with two dice like this?

An "And" die...

...and a "But" die.

If the "And" die matches one of the others in the test, then regardless of the success or failure of the action something beneficial occurs.

If the "But" die matches one of the others in the test, then regardless of the success or failure of the action something detrimental occurs.

If both of these dice match in some way, then some truly interesting outcomes occur.

I'm thinking of running with the Tooth and Claw mechanism to anchor this system...roll one or more dice, more dice = more risk, get some free dice of you have skills associated with the action you are attempting, aim to roll under an attribute appropriate to the task.

The general rules should fit in a pocketmod format. Then each type of character would have a pocketmod booklet of their own, containing a few special rules for their specific caste of immortals/timelords/angels/bodhisattvas.

2500 odd words for the main rules...1000 odd words for each character type.

Angels (Purgatory Blues)

I keep coming back to them.

Angels and Time Travel.

Weeping Angels from Doctor Who...no, but that might be something to consider further down the track.

But Doctor Who (the current series) has certainly informed some of the concepts I'm considering.

I'm thinking of a game with fixed immutable events in the timestream.

Our angels are more akin to troubleshooters from the game Paranoia.

Something has twisted the timestream to give a huge advantage to a power that opposes our troubleshooters/angels/immortals/bodhisattvas.

A segment of the timestream is ripped out so they can go in and fix it. They have 48 hours, but they can't cross their own timestream. Any segment of the 48 hours that is used becomes a segment they can never enter again. Every action they undertake in the timestream becomes an immutable fact within the timestream...but they can change events before or after those facts to alter the specific meaning of the events they have already undertaken.

I'm seeing a timeline, lots of index cards scattered along the timeline, and pieces of string that link one event to the next...often having a single events cascade across multiple future events and multiple past events leading into a single future event.

Plenty of conspiracy theory fodder. Anarchy...but if it doesn't work out in the end, that chunk of time will be wiped out of existence...the angels along with it.

18 May, 2013

Early Game Chef Thoughts

Time may be linear, we may perceive ourselves to be caught in an existence trap with only asingle direction forward and the memories of the past behind us, but  are we simply blind to more possibilities.

This is a game about mages, super heroes, mutants, taoists who have reached alchemical enlightenment. They exist beyond the timestream, and through their power they can change much of reality...not all of it, but enough to either keep things running smoothly, or enough to cause problems for their enemies.

(head with "snowflake"/"fractal thougts") Some have the ability to change the way people think about things, they can implant seeds of thought in people's minds, or transform memories.

(apple with worm) Some have the power to transform the material existence around them, creating life with a thought, perthaps even manipulating at a molecular, atomic or quantum level.

(silhouette with lantern) Some can change the appearances of things, hiding truths or exposing illusions to push realitytoward their desred intentions.

I'm thinking that the game will focus around fixed moments in time. These are events that must occur. Such moments on their own may be historically significant, or they may be negligible; but as a string of moments, they make an implied narrative.

The catch is to lead from one moment to the next in a way that changes the context of the new moment. Initially, the moment states that a vile dictator is killed...but one character changes the thoughts of that dictator toward a more benevolent method...he still get's killed...another character substitutes a body double for the dictator and thus history still shows the death of the dictator, but the true figure is whisked away into hiding.

These are nebulous thoughts at the moment...I'll probably ponder more while I'm at work today.

17 May, 2013

FUBAR physical copy

I tick ever closer to 4000 downloads for my game FUBAR (many on RPGNow, plenty on 1km1kt, a decent number through my own website when it was active).

With that many ephemeral copies of the game floating around, I would have expected more responses from players across the world. I've had a few, but not many. I can only imagine that a lot of people have looked at it and have said "Nice, but this is a monster to print out". So it's sat on their computers, maybe used as inspiration for ideas to integrate into other games.

Perhaps it needs a physical copy to make the transition from "interesting but academic text" to "awesome gaming action".

But I certainly can't afford a print run at the moment, especially not the print run FUBAR deserves.

So, I'm thinking of taking the crowdfunding route.

Anyone interested?

Game Chef 2013 begins

Game Chef Site

Well, it looks like the site is having trouble loading...maybe there's a whole heap of designers ready to start the ten day frenzy. Maybe it's just my slow Internet connection.

(Nope, tried again, it works fine...must have just been my connection. I'm halfway through day 1 of the contest and no theme or ingredients yet. I'm glad I get almost a full day extra at the end due to my position respective the the international date line.)

16 May, 2013

Town Guard to be finalised Tomorrow

I've only got one more file to upload for Town Guard, and then the game will be made available for sale on The Game Crafter (if everything goes according to plan).

It's been a fun experience designing a boardgame rather than an RPG.

Hopefully those people who were interested in the game will be willing to spend a little money to buy a copy of it, (especially those who were interested but didn't want to cut out dozens of cards, hexes and tokens). If three or four people buy a copy, I'll have enough profits to buy a hardcopy for myself.

I'm still considering this an open beat for the game...anything could be improved.

A dungeon with a difference

I know "every dungeon has a difference"...that's what everyone says about their dungeons.

But here's one I'm working on.

The basic premise...

Generations ago, something hot fell out of the sky, burning a huge shaft into the ground.

Halfway down the hole it left, there are thick oily mists. Sometimes the sun shines at the right angle to burn away some of the mist. On those days there is a structure visible at the bottom of the hole. The structure has great cylindrical chimneys that burn with red heat, constantly churning off more of the noxious fumes and mists that fill the middle layers of the hole.

Trying to climb down the central shaft is nearly impossible. The stone walls have long ago been melted into a hard glassy obsidian, and those who do make the climb are often picked off by monstrous bird-like creatures that perch in the few cracks.

Riddled around the main shaft are thousands of caverns and tunnels, a three dimensional labyrinth through which strange creatures ascend from the depths. Adventurers claim that there are magical artefacts and riches beyond imagining in the "crooked castle" at the bottom of the shaft, there is no end to the number of brave or foolish souls who try to find their way downward. Fewer are the ones who emerge.

13 May, 2013

Heroine Follow Up

I've been thinking a bit more about the Review of Heroine.

In these follow up thoughts, I would have designed things a bit differently; especially when it comes to the companions. In the genre fiction where this game plays, everyone has a story to tell. The heroine is often a catalyst just as much as she is a focus of growth. The Tin Man learns thats his lack of a heart doesn't stop him from feeling, Hoggle learns to think for himself outside the orders of the goblin king...

Each companion is good at something, but each also has a void that can only be filled by the actions of the Heroine.

I think if I were to run this game, I'd institute a house rule where each of the companions has a strength and weakness like this. Perhaps using the strength to support the heroine in a conflict has no cost, while all other forms of assistance still maintain the associated token costs. Perhaps the companion gains extra tokens when their weakness causes them to get into trouble. The heroine would get closer to a satisfying story conclusion from discovering the weaknesses and helping to overcome them.

I don't know if the original designs of the game considered something like this, or if how these changes would alter the balance of play...it's just a follow up thought.

Boob Plate Armour

This has been doing the rounds.

I know that I've been guilty of this in my illustrations.

I guess I just didn't consider the ramifications. I just wanted women who looked ready for battle rather than girt in a loincloth and chainmail bikini.

I'll certainly be considering this in future.

12 May, 2013

Josh Jordan’s Heroine: A review

A few quick points before we start getting into some details.

The points

Heroine sits squarely in the camp of games that are typically known as ‘Story Games’ rather than ‘Role-Playing Games’.

Heroine is deceptively simple.

It is beautifully laid out.

Its sixty pages contain far richer instructions for storytelling and narrative based play than most “Dungeonmaster guides” or “GM guides” contain in two or three times as many pages.

I read half of the book irritated by the fact that the Wizard of Oz was not written by Victor Fleming, but was in fact a book by L. Frank Baum.(1)

The details

It has taken me a while to get into the headspace of ‘story games’, these are often seen as rules light games that don’t reflect realism. Instead of providing lots of detail to pin down what your character can or can’t do based on preloaded back-story, these games explore the characters and the world as the players go along. You don’t spend half an hour or more rolling dice, allocating point pools or generating goals and agendas, you simply jump into play and let the story take you where it will.

Some story games are capable of developing fascinating worlds and richly complex character histories (such as the experiences we’ve had with A Penny for my Thoughts), some gradually build up the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of characters in the present (adding traits that define the agents within the narrative). Heroine really doesn’t do much of this at all. The characters are mechanically divided into two types: the heroine, and her identical companions. It is only through story flavour that the companions are differentiated.

I don’t know if I like this.

On the one hand, it provides the opportunity for any type of companion without feeling the need to tie them into specific statistics. You could play a cowardly lion, a hookah smoking caterpillar, a loveable furry giant, a dragon, an inseparable pair of comic-relief twins, or something as mundane as the a younger sibling to the heroine. Mechanically, they are all just as significant to the story and thus remain equal in their abilities to contribute to the story. After all, this is a game about the heroine, it is not about them.

On the other hand, most roleplayers who have been at it for a while are accustomed to the idea of niche protection, whether consciously or otherwise. They like to know which character will be best able to help out in a social situation, which is the combat beast, which is the healer for when things go bad. Heroine ignores this, probably because in the long run these differentiations don’t really matter. What’s important is whether the heroine, retreats back to her childhood, becomes a monster like the horrors around her, or realises her coming of age and returns to the ‘real world’ with a new sense of maturity.

Since the game does away with subtle descriptions differentiating the characters, it also strips the tasks down to three simple feats. A heroine can attempt to ‘be successful’ (the default for acting smart, using social actions, or acting with honour), ‘be heroic’ (the default for conflict, physical deeds or acting bravely) or ‘take a chance’ (basically everything else). In a quirk of the rules, a heroine cannot use the same feat three times in a row. Since they all work in the same mechanical way, I don’t see a whole lot of point for making this a deliberate part of the rules; but I can see why narratively you would do this, it keeps the story interesting. That’s what the game is all about.

Companions don’t face challenges, they simply choose whether to assist the heroine (adding to the heroine’s final die roll for the scene), or become embroiled in the heroine’s trouble and thus risk injury (possibly subtracting from the heroines final die roll). You might wonder why all the companions don’t just help all the time; that’s where a game meta-currency comes into play. It costs points to help the heroine, and companions earn points when they get themselves into trouble.

I’ve seen this done in a few other games, so nothing overly revolutionary there…but with an expenditure of enough point a companion’s player may take over the role of the narrator/GM. That’s an interesting twist, and while I’ve seen it done clumsily in other games with rotating GMs and shared narration duties, Heroine seems to do it more elegantly. Again, there is nothing beyond narrative consistency to drive the way each player might handle their narration duties, we don’t have one narrator focused on social troubles, another focused on mystical effects; anyone can introduce anything into the story.

The narrator shares the same currency as the companions, spending points to inject challenges for the heroine to face; and spending more points to have the ‘big bad’ show up.

There are three distinct sides to play in this game; the Heroine’s side, the companions and the Narrators. So fittingly, the game is written with the core rules at the start followed by the slightly more detailed rules for each side of play in separate chapters later. I do admit that I found this a bit disconcerting at first, because the various sections felt incomplete without understanding how the other parts fit into the whole structure of the game. Only once I’d read them all did the game fall into place…and I think a couple of play sessions will really show the subtleties of the system.

I certainly don’t think this is a game for everyone. It’s very asymmetrical in play, but in a way unlike traditional games. Many players I know would be able to handle the dichotomy between a GM who is the origin of most story elements, while the less powerful players are subjected to that story. In heroine, there is a single player who is the recipient of most story elements, the less powerful players take turns to either inject story elements or be subjected to them. It flips the nature of roleplaying on its head, and then takes away a lot of the ‘safety buffers’ such as specific character abilities, experience points and treasures gathered along the way. That could be a bridge too far for many traditional groups, but it could be the perfect tool to get new players into the hobby.

I do like the game, and if I had the cash on me, I’d definitely hand some of it over for a hard-copy of it. Hopefully there will still be a few copies around when I do pay off my current round of bills.

(1) Once Leah and I managed to load up Wikipedia and look up Victor Fleming, we saw that he was in fact behind the movie The Wizard of Oz…a re-reading of the sentence that irritated me indicated Fleming’s name associated with Heroine inspiring movies (such as Jim Henson’s Labyrinth), rather than Heroine inspiring books (such as Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland).

11 May, 2013

Adding Dice to Town Guard

I’m in a real dilemma about adding dice to the town guard game. They make a cheaper option, but dramatically change the nature of the game.

With this in mind, I’m looking to create a mechanism that alters the game as little as possible, but could be used as a touchstone for flavoured expansion sets in the future.

Option 1 - 1 Die

The simplest option would allow a player to add the roll of a die to their attribute total when confronting a mission. Increasing the difficulty of all missions by 3 would offset this.

Basic Missions (currently target number 3, but upgraded to 6):
            Low attribute (1): 33% chance of success (needs a 5 or better)
Medium attribute (3): 66% chance of success (needs a 3 or better)
High attribute (5): Automatic success
Legendary attribute (7): Automatic success
Advanced Missions (currently target number 6, but upgraded to 9):
Low attribute (1): No chance of success
Medium attribute (3): 16% chance of success (needs a 6)
High attribute (5): 50% chance of success (needs a 4 or better)
Legendary attribute (7): 83% chance of success (needs a 2 or better)
This would still be modified by the play of some cards and the improvement of attributes over the course of play. The problem I see here though is the fact that once an attribute gets higher than 5, a character basically gets an automatic set of victory benefits if they happen to randomly draw a mission card. Once a character gets a few attributes at 5, and if they happen to advance an attribute to 8 or higher, they have no real challenge. The other players have to stack cards against such a character to prevent them from simply winning the game. Eventually it will be hard to keep stacking cards against that one character who gains a competitive edge. A bit like monopoly, and the very thing I’m trying to avoid in this game.   

Option 2 – 2 Dice

A more complex option would be to add two dice. One die added to the player’s guard, and another die added to the target number.  In the worst scenario (player adds a 1, target number adds a 6) this effectively increases the target number by 5. In the best scenario (players adds a 6, target number adds a 1) this effectively reduces the target number by 5. More often, the target number and guard’s attribute will increase by comparable values (one or two variance either side).

Basic Missions (target number 3):
                Low attribute (1): 28% chance of success (10 in 36, needs to beat the target die by 2)
Medium attribute (3): 55% chance of success (21 in 36, needs to equal the target die)
High attribute (5): 83% chance of success (30 in 36, target die may not beat the guard by more than 2)
Legendary attribute (7): 94% chance of success (35 in 36, target die may not beat the guard by more than 4)
Advanced Missions (target number 6):
Low attribute (1): 3% chance of success (1 in 36, needs to beat the target die by 5…only possible if guard rolls a 6 and target die rolls a 1)
Medium attribute (3): 16% chance of success (6 in 36, needs to beat the target die by 3)
High attribute (5): 41% chance of success (15 in 36, needs to beat the target die by 1)
Legendary attribute (7): 72% chance of success (26 in 36, target die may not beat the guard by more than 1)

Just like before, this would still be modified by the play of some cards and the improvement of attributes. There is still the chance of a 100% completion rate if the guard’s attribute is more than five points higher than the target number, but that means an attribute of 8 of higher for basic missions, and an attribute of 11 or higher for advanced missions.
Rolling two dice and adding them to the respective totals adds a little more time to the resolution process, but allows a few options to play with mechanically. For example, there are a few cards that currently indicate the flip of a coin; these could now utilize the dice in the box.

If dice are added, expansion sets might include reward cards that activate effects when certain numbers or doubles are rolled or mischief cards that produce quirky effects when certain numbers are rolled on the resolution (this occurs on an even roll, that occurs on a 4 or higher, etc…). I don’t know how much more this will complicate things…something to think about more if the initial game works and expansions become a viable option. 

09 May, 2013

Adding a die to Town Guard

I've been uploading all the files for Town Guard and have found that I need to remove a few of the cards in order to get the cost price below $30 for the contest it's a part of.

That's thrown an annoying glitch into the works because the only cards I was able to remove from the game were mischief cards or rewards. This now means that the set-up has lost some of the fun dynamic where players can interact with the stories of other guards.

But it's dropped the cost price down to a level where I might be able to include a die in the box.

Now, I'm questioning whether to change the core resolution mechanism from one that relies purely on card play, toward one that has a random element injected by the die.

At least with randomness, players can blame the dice when they lose.

Some new Town Guard Art

If you're in my circles on G+, you'll probably have seen these images as they've been developed and shaded. 

The aim is for this to be worked up into a dramatic illustration for the front of the Town Guard game box.

Perhaps a nice piece of scrollwork with a suitably dramatic catchphrase, and then the Town Guard Logo.

It still needs some work, but it's just to show some of the other stuff I've been working on for those people who follow the blog but not necessarily the G+ stream.

What's happened to the Game Mechanisms of the Week?

This seems to happen every year.

I try to catch lightning in a bottle, for a second time...and it fails.

I'll make an attempt to catch up on a few of these mechanisms shortly, but there is just too much other stuff going on at the moment.

For the next few weeks, I've got to get out a game review that I promised...then look at Game Chef...and the 1 page dungeon contest...and the discussion of playtests for Town Guard.

...so much to do, so little time (and that's not even including my university studies, work commitments or home life).

Such is the life of an artist...too many ideas, not enouugh time or money to implement them.

Game Chef Time of Year

Well, it's that time of year again.

Game Chef is on.

I'm thinking of doing something quick this year...a pocketmod game.

Beyond that, no ideas. Which is probably a good thing, before in previous years I've been preloaded with thoughts regarding the contest, and those thoughts have been completely trashed when the theme and ingredients were released.

02 May, 2013

And now for a viewing of the amended Location Tiles


Generally comments on the location tiles have been positive. But much of the critique has focused on the way the centre of the tile is obscured by the ghosted hexagon.

I'd love to put the relevant game play information around the outside edges of the location tile, but I'm not sure how good the cutting tolerances are when these parts are produced. I'd much rather have the background image obscured in some way rather than have useful play information cut away from the piece.

I've also been toying with the way the locations play into the wider game.

Now, if a location is troubled by an unresolved mission, all missions across the town are impacted by the modifier on the location. It gives the variation in locations variation a bigger impact on play this way.

The keywords on the locations already interact with mischief cards, so it seems an unnecessary complication to add localised effects for specific locations as well as global effects that modify the resolution of missions.

A new card style



It's been pointed out that the cards I've produced for Town Guard have writing that's too small to read across the table. It's also been pointed out that the icons used throughout the game are cool, but probably a bit small to be read as anything other than black circles with white swirls and squiggles in the middle of them.

With this in mind I'm probably going to be changing the card layout a bit. The first batch of cards that I'm looking at changing are the reward cards, because these now have an additional effect within the game (they help escalate things so that it's possible for the town's criminals to win, and thus for all of the town guards to lose). This comes through the number of the lower centre of the card.

As you see in the illustrations above, I'm also thinking of adding a bit of flavour text to the cards, to give a bit more thematic atmosphere to the game. Nothing too specific or dramatic, just enough to give the game a bit of tone and context.