05 July, 2013

A new way to teach rules

I've been thinking of ways to teach the rules of Walkabout to new players. Actually, I've been thinking about teaching game rules on a much wider scale, but Walkabout seems a good place to start since that's the game I'm rewriting, laying out and refining at the moment.

I posted one of my first thoughts about this on Google+, I raised the idea of a game written purely in the form of a comic. I think it's still a valid concept for the right game, but not for Walkabout.

There are a lot of games written with dry rules, livened up with "actual play" examples. I did this with FUBAR, and it worked pretty well...but I really want Walkabout to be different.

I'm already splitting Walkabout into two distinct books, one purely a setting guide (written as though it is equal parts "lonely planet guide to the new world" and survival anecdotes), the other book a set of rules with loose links to the setting (but more of a focus on how to run a game and use the setting book to your advantage). The problem is that every time I bring play examples into the game rulebook, I end up pulling more of the setting into it. This blurs the line between the two, and I'd rather keep the two books fairly clean and distinct from one another.

That means I need to either give up on my earlier idea, or do something a bit different and dramatic. This is a project about pushing the envelope, so drama is the obvious path.

I need a third book, and this is where the comic idea really comes into its own.

Book 1: Setting
Book 2: Rules
Book 3: A comic book describing how a typical group of players might integrate the setting with the rules, generate characters, and play through an entire session.

The setting book is system agnostic, the theory is that it could be used with any game to provide a place for adventures to occur. Perhaps it could even be read on it's own as a piece of post apocalyptic sci-fi prose, I don't hold any high hopes for the book's quality as pure reading material.

The rule book is tied to the setting, but it could easily be adapted to other settings. The only specific rules that link this book to the first include things like character generation and a few rules that are specifically implemented to facilitate stories of spiritual imbalance, neotribalism and the metaphysical conflict.

The final book, thus becomes something else entirely, almost like a glue for the first two books. This is where all the play examples come into the game. The first chapter would describe how the players go through character generation. The second chapter would detail the GMs work developing a setting and series of trigger events for the players to encounter through their characters. The next few chapters would describe the actual playing of the game, one chapter per act. The second-last chapter would show the players resolving things, moving on and gaining experience. The final chapter would describe the players and GM preparing for the next session.

To get this to work well, it will take a lot of work. If it works it will be awesome.
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