Showing posts from May, 2019

Cognitive Diversity

There's a controversial theory in linguistic circles, it's called the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis . Well actually, there are a number of controversial theories in linguistic circles, but let's stick with Sapir-Whorf for the moment. It basically says that there is a symbiotic feedback loop between the way you conceptualize a subject and the way you communicate about it. Examples of the hypothesis point to cultures who don't have words for certain colours and therefore seem incapable of perceiving those colours, or cultures who don't seem to express certain emotions well because they don't have manageable terminology yo describe what they are feeling. Hard interpretations state that those without the words are incapable of processing thoughts about the concepts embodied in those words... softer interpretations state that those without the words simply have a harder time making the connections... the relationships aren't as direct or as strong. A corollary to th


This week in Australia, it's Reconciliation Week   but for most of the wider community this doesn't seem to mean anything. This particular week isn't bounded by a Monday to Sunday, or a Sunday to Saturday, it's bounded by two specific dates of importance to the Indigenous communities of Australia. The first of these is the date of the 1967 referendum when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were given the right to vote and citizenship (in a vote that was 90% for, and 10% against). The second is the date of a High Court decision granting land rights to Indigenous communities (in 1992). These were powerful moments in the colonial narrative, but there is so much more to do. How these dates might play into Walkabout, or even if they need to, is going through my head now. Generally, the idea behind Walkabout is that traditional communities hadcrespect for each other and for the land. While the invaders wanted dominance, spirits of vengeful conquest imbue

Dark Emu

This article really hits home with the way I'm aiming with Walkabout. What happens when the colonial influences that have systematically oppressed and dismantled ancient cultures suddenly gets wiped away? What happens when corrupt social structures and greedy institutions feeding privilege and legitimacy to megalomaniacs and psychopaths are suddenly removed from the world? What happens in the generations after the chaos? Can the world rebuild itself, and what side would you stand on when it happens? I'd love to get players to read stuff like this before playing a game, but this is probably a bit much to ask. So I just have to feed a lot of the concepts into the flavour text and worldbuilding.

Gaining the edge

The way I'm going with careers and occupations in Walkabout was described in the last post, with each occupation having 2, 4, 6, or 8 elements that need to be fulfilled before an occupation can be accessed. The second thing stopping a character from accessing an occupation is a narrative concern. Even if a character has the relevant abilities to be a lumberjack, they aren't going to be working as one if they find themselves in the middle of the desert. Similarly, if a character has the abilities to be a town's sheriff, but there already is a sheriff in town, then they'll need to think of a way to make that role accessible (without breaking the law). It's probably also important to point out that it's quite feasible for a character can progress through Walkabout without ever accessing an occupation. Generally occupations provide access to two specific skills, which are learned as the regular duties of the occupation are performed. There is also an occupational

Aunties, Uncles, and Elders of the Third Path

Walkabout is using an occupation system that is similar to the career path system in the Warhammer RPG. Basically this means that a character starts with a few abilities granted by their culture and childhood, then those abilities open up the opportunity to gain occupations, which in turn allow new abilities and special advantages to be gained. It is feasible for characters from any background to eventually find themselves in any of the game's occupations, but due to certain skills and abilities being naturally found and respected among certain cultures it is easier for members of specific communities to work specific jobs.   At the moment, I'm working through a matrix ensuring every ability can be acquired through two or three different potential occupational stepping stones (with more common abilities being more readily available through multiple sources), and that there are enough links between various occupational pathways that players don't find their characters res

I think it's working...

This whole process is taking a while. It's that tedious part of the process where tables have been drawn up, and now the data is being populated into them. This means the whole project isn't ready for public consumption yet, but it feels like it's getting closer. I'm looking at four phases of character generation, with each phase lasting six years of the character's life. 0-5 infancy, 6-11 childhood, 12-17 adolescence, 18-23 maturity... characters may start at an age of 24+. Because each phase is 6 years, six dice are rolled to determine what connections and relationships the character has made during their life... each spreading the potential range of relationships; genetic, family, community, abstract concepts... if a player rolls doubles, triples, or other combos for their character, they gain access to special life events. Since we're rolling six dice, doubles are fairly common (providing quirky stuff), triples not so much (so these provide

Pinterest Board

I've started a Pinterest Board that I've called " Walkabout Inspiration ". There's another two that I call " Abandoned Places " and " Sci-fi/Costume Inspiration " that both overlapped some of my inspirations for the setting, but these aren't as focused as this new board is... or, more accurately, they are focused, but not quite on the direction of Walkabout. If you're interested in the way I'm hoping to visually take the setting, please follow the board. I expect that it will grow in size over the next few months, and I will probably direct any potential artists and project collaborators in the direction of the board when I'm ready for them.


I've considered this idea a few times, but it's creeping back. The core rules for a game fit on a single sheet, and the entire character sheet fits on two sides of a bookmark. The important bit is the character's story,  and this is written out in a diary. The character sheet/bookmark is used to mark the place in the diary where the character is up to. When the adventure is over (or when travelling between towns), we can skip some pages until the next important events begin. If a character dies, their diary becomes an in-game journal and artifact of the setting. Future characters can find these as they resolve their own stories, perhaps finding clues that help their own stories. A diary used for these purposes would track other people met during a character's journey, as well as any character development that might impact the story for more than a couple of days (such as new skills, serious injuries, reputation/infamy, etc.). Each day should have enough room to w

After effects of Apocalypse

It's now been over a month since the fall of G+, and it's been 3 months since I've shifted a lot of my life's focus to my new role as a teacher... Here at the blog it's been a bit apocalyptic, a complete change of paradigm, I may not be posting as much, but when I have posted I've tried to actively share to a few places. This means that instead of automatically posting and getting responses on G+, I've had to manually share to Vulpinoid Studios groups on Facebook and MeWe, as well as personal accounts on Pluspora, MeWe, Facebook, and anywhere else that I remember I've got a presence. Posts have been shared to other game design groups too... ...but I'm back to getting silence and crickets on most of my posts, and occasionally a single comment on other posts. So I'm doing exponentially more work per post, and getting back exponentially less response. I don't want to spam people with more shares, but I'm wondering about the best way to

Resolving the Cognitive Dilemma

How much of our daily activity is instinctive? How much is trained? How much requires cognitive deliberation? How much not? Does it really take 10,000 hours to master a skill? My earlier thoughts on the development of characters and the acquisition of new skills, or the improvement of inherent abilities are mired in the dilemma of realism, and what realism actually is. Walkabout may be a game about people making decisions, it may also be a game about characters who derive their powers from their relationships to the world around them, but it transcends those too. It's a game about heroes linked to the spirit world. Regular people in this setting often spend a big percentage of their time simply surviving, it is only in recent decades in the setting that people have been able to shift their focus toward non-"survival oriented" skills, it's only in recent years that the old technologies have had any chance of returning to the world. (That's not entirely tru

Cognitive Development

Since I've now got a post-doctorate degree in education, and I'm working as a teacher, I've been exposed to a lot of ideas about how we learn and how our brains work. A lot of these ideas conflict with each other, and they also conflict with the way roleplaying games handle experience and character development.   There are probably ways that these various ideas can be fused together, but there are numerous ways to link these ideas together, and many textbooks discredit certain ideas while promoting the concept that match the agenda they're trying to push. It basically reminds me of the way roleplaying games handle firearms... as soon as you start trying to push for realism you'll get different "experts" who claim that different elements of the play mechanisms are accurate, and other parts aren't, and you'll find that few of these "experts" agree with one another. Similarly, by the time you start to incorporate enough elements to make a

Walkabout Opening Monologue

Here's what I'm currently thinking. I'm not sure if it feels quite right yet, I'm sure it will undergo a few revisions and changes before the final version. "This game was written on the lands of the Tharawal, the Barapa Barapa, the Yorta Yorta, and the Wiradjuri people. It was written in consultation with elders and other members of the Tharawal, Wiradjuri, and Kamilaroi people. It is hoped that the writing and the concepts expressed within its pages pay appropriate homage and honour to the stories and beliefs of these indigenous communities and the lands where they make their homes. This game tells stories, and those stories are both social and political. It is a game that tells stories about relationships between people and the land, between people and the communities around them, between people and the spirits that give them life. This is a game of analogy and metaphor, it is about belief and how people who try to understand the world thro