Showing posts from February, 2018

Relics: What would I do differently?

+Steve Dee's game Relics is a curious beast. It straddles the line between a traditional game and a story game.

On the traditional side, there is a GM, an agenda for the characters for pursue, a skill system where a randomiser determines the outcome in a fairly traditional "Fail/Success-at-a-price/Success" pattern, then improves chances of success if an appropriate skill can be applied to the task at hand, and then it applies a system where characters improve over the course of playing ongoing sessions.

On the story game side, the skills used are generally freeform, the world develops organically through the interaction of the player group, and the characters are defined as much by their relationships with one another as they are by anything else.

There's a few games trying to unite this divide between traditional and story games, but so far I haven't seen many that do it well without a dedicated set of driving rules that hone in on a specific niche or genre. A g…

EttinCon Summer 2018

Another EttinCon has come and gone.
Every time it is run, it keeps getting bigger, but the rate of expansion seems to be slowing down a bit. I suspect it has now hit its peak size, it might grow or shrink a little next time.
Unlike previous occasions, this event was not held in Katoomba, it was instead held further up the Blue Mountains in Blackheath.

A bigger more open venue in the Community Centre up there, but whether this was a good thing, I'm undecided. It still felt like the organisers were trying to cram too much in with tightly packed tables, and the noisy echoes of the hall didn't make table-talk easy, especially when I'd normally walk around the table to more easily address players who were focal points of the game at any particular time.

Three sessions across one day, I ran in the morning, with a scheduled game of Steve Dee's Relics in the evening, and a free afternoon where I hoped I could slot into an empty spot of whatever caught my eye.

My session of Th…

On the Publishing of Rules

You walk into your friendly local gaming store (FLGS) and look at the new expansion book(s) for your game of choice... or maybe you're a story gamer and you heard great things about this new game, that does "this awesome thing"... or maybe you're an OSR type and you decide to look at a product that does one thong a bit differently to everything else, or introduces a new character type...

...but then you look at your book of choice, and the bit that interests you is a single page, maybe two or three...half a dozen if you're lucky. In standard publishing, the book has a page count with a multiple of 16 pages, so your typical story-game or OSR supplement might be 32, 64, or 96 pages, and your typical mainstream supplement might be 160 or 240 pages. In some instances there might be an additional rule idea hidden in the pages that proves valuable, and maybe a decent chunk of the book is dedicated to a scenario that you might play once, only to find that your players g…

Mutants and Mayhem

Playtesting elements of a game system at a convention can be a risk.

If you run a game with the regular crowd, they know what to expect, they play the way you expect them to play, you facilitate the play experience the way you'd normally facilitate the play experience... it a low risk environment, ot's almost a control group wnere you know how most of the variables will play out before the session has even started. 

Running a game at a convention has the added wildcard of random players (or at least players who you don't meet up with very often). Often if there are players you know, there might be a couple of subgroups, and there will be an added dynamic temsion between them. This ramps up the chaos, it's probably not as good for testing the fundamental concepts of a game because if things go wrong, you'll never know if it was the underlying system at fault, explanations of the system, uncooperative players, or simply a nexus of negatives. On the other hand, if it …

The Alpha Test works


Still a lot more work to do on the Can of Beans website, but it's first encounters with people other than myself have generally proven successful.

Give me a few more days (maybe a week or two while my attention is currently focused on EttinCon), and I'll be ready for a beta release of the site via this blog.

Equipment Packages

I'm pretty sure I discussed this earlier, but the new LARP uses bullets as the dominant currency (along with unopened cans which could contain any foodstuff and have a random chance of being off, and rolls of toilet paper). Everyone starts with 60 bullets worth of equipment, 30 bullets worth are defined by a range of starting equipment packs, and 30 bullets worth are freely chosen.

There's a massive range of NERF guns, foam/latex "LARP-safe" weaponry available, so we could specifically give prices for everything, and generate a huge list of costs that will need to be constantly updated when new ranges are released, but this feels like a sisyphean task. Instead, I'm running with something procedural.

The cost of a gun comes out of a characters bullet reserve, so the better guns have a higher cost. But what factors should be considered when determining such a system.

Having more bullets ready to fire (without needing to reload) is certainly an advantage.Having a hig…

LARP Game Balance

LARP groups are tricky, moderating LARPs is trickier. Especially boffer LARPs, or those where real-world physical representation of character statistics exists.

In a tabletop situation, there's an automatic degree of separation. One character might be more brawny than another, ons character might have more knowledge of certain obscure subject areas...and this can all be governed (to varying degrees of success) by rules and dice rolls. It gets murkier when statistics governing charisma or social interaction are considered, when one introverted gamer is trying to portray an outgping character with massive charisma, but even then the player can take on an authorial stance (describing what the character does), rather than an actor stance (and actually role-playing the sitiation by saying the lines and fully engaging the dialogue).

It gets harder to do this in boffer-style LARP, not only because it is expected for players to embody their characters from a social standpoint, but because…

A Game in a Dream

Many years ago I had a dream where I was playing a clever little game where you explored a setting created on-the-fly by laying out cards. Each game there would be a general scenario where different cards would mean different things. I wrote down as much of that dream as I could remember the next day, and over the course of a few weeks, Ghost City Raiders took form.

I've had another of those dreams, this time it could easily be linked to the Goblin Labyrinth setting that I developed a few years ago, but might go an entirely different direction... either the dream was a bit vague on the specifics, or I've just forgotten those bits already.

Play involves a deck of specific cards, a pair of dice, and some tokens.

The game is fairly plays out like a street fight between two gangs. Each player has a small deck of cards representing their gang, there might be a dozen cards in this deck. Six of their cards are laid out in two rows of three cards each. The row of cards clo…