I participated in the ThreeForged Design Challenge. Participants wrote up 1000 word rpg design, with the expectations it would be unfinished. This was then anonymously sent to another participant who worked on it and added another thousand words in this second round. Finally those which made it went on to a third stage designer who added two thousand words. Designers had no control over the theme or mechanisms of the game they got. I think that’s awesome and potentially forces a designer to engage with something they otherwise might not. They could make changes and adjustments, provided they kept the central concept.
I managed to get through all three stages. If I’m reading Paul Czege’s notes right, he had 127 original submissions and 117 of those went from Stage Two to Stage Three. Then 102 made it out of Stage Three. That’s a decent success rate for something with a fairly tight deadline. However, my Stage One design didn’t make it. I’ll post that up once everything's done and anonymity lifted. I’ll seriously disappointed because I dig the concept and I wnated to see how others developed it. I'm curious about which stage it died at and it that failure arose from schedule, dislike, or something else. My Stage Two game did get finished. That’s an odd one, as I’ll explain once everything’s finished.
In any case, you can download and read each of the 102 games here. If you read at least five of them, you can vote. I’ve started working my way through and found a couple I adore. One thing I’ve come to realize in this is how trad my approaches are. I think I’m OK with that, given that I’m willing to play more experimental games.
I went through four ideas I rejected before I came up with my final entry. Here’s some text from one of those I started but set aside.
Sorcerers warred generations ago. They’d created great and vast constructs and devices to control the vast hollow world we live in. In the war they turned these devices against one another, allowing some to create more of themselves, teaching others to make magics, and etching perpetual rules in the minds of stiil more. Eventually there were no more Sorcerers, but their Relics remained. Some became quiet, while others became as gods for certain isolated cities and strange lands.
For most, they are monsters. They range from swarms and small man-sized beasts, to larger creatures as large as a small village, still others roll across the land itself, mountains that crush all in their path. Sometimes these Relics meet and they devastate the landscape. They’re made of scale, flesh, stone, steel, magic, air, fire, and other substances. Some appear almost natural, while others have sharp edges and gaping seams.
To protect settlements, a class of warriors has arisen. They hunt these relics in bands. They begin small, and even then they must rely heavily on luck. But from those fallen foes, they can forge weapons and armor to battle greater relics. They gain renown, become heroes, and eventually think to take on the largest colossal relics and protect their people. They fail, but others will try.
Main areas of play:
- Scouting, travelling out into the wilderness and overcoming challenges to prepare their hunt
- Hunting, the actual battling against a monster. Big beasts eventually ala Shadow of the Colossus. Players have roles which complement each other. A ladder game of a sort, with one role’s action supporting another. Think Ghostlines. Hard choices: risking injury or loss of valuable harvest in the process. Gathering goods or capturing afterwards. Visceral and emphasizing risk-taking and teamwork.
- Town Life: Coming back, telling stories, supporting your interests (orphanages, family farm, etc).
- Making Stuff: Going to craftspersons and turning in harvests to make cool new items, weapons, and armor. Perhaps random cards about what can be made at any time. Or else recipes they have to gather for? This should be as fun as the other part. Or an engaging mini-games which can be dialed down.
Push your luck mechanic: Players, in different roles, have to pick away at a shared objective (a beast in this case). Roles must be distinct. The roles should complement each other.
Assets they (might) have going in:
- Native Skills
- Connection with Environment
What are their objectives in battling this beast?
- Kill It
- Show Off
- Keep from Being Killed
- Help One Another
- Keep Others from Being Hurt/Killed
- Do it Before a Clock Counts Down
- Get Stuff
- Get More Stuff
- Get the Stuff They Need
- Get More Stuff
- Keep Down Collateral Damage
- Avoid Bad Reputation
- Avoid Traumatic Conditions
To Advance: Satisfy a Need, Take a Trauma, or Upgrade Equipment