Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Campaigns, Design Requests, and Metatopia

GAMING UPDATE
This weekend I ran my 101st and 102nd RPG sessions for the year. I’m in the middle of three ongoing f2f campaigns plus one online game. I also just made up a character for a G+ Rolemaster game! 

The Legend of the Five Rings homebrew continues. We’re in the sixth season of play. I’ve put most of the major themes on the table and the big bads are roaming. Using random seasonal events has generated cool plots and stories. The PCs still enjoy building up their roles and the community. We gained a really solid fifth player, but he had to bow out unfortunately. The fantasy city guards game, Guards of Abashan, is also clicking along. Players can gain bonus exp by adding places, people or rumors to the setting wiki, but they have to wait until everyone else has contributed once before dipping again. That’s a decent mechanic, but does put some pressure on players. The multi-genre Ocean City Interface campaign has gone through two portals, plus “the real world” so far. We’re about to launch into the third portal and hopefully add a new player. Finally the online 13th Age campaign is fun- different from what I usually run. I enjoy exploring the world they assembled.

MEMO TO DESIGNERS
I have some games that I want to see/play, but I don’t have time to create them so I need other people to do this:
  • Through the Epochs: A board game. I want a full-on civ-building game ala Through the Ages or Nations, but done with fantasy. It needs to have tech trees, generational developments, religions, fantasy races, and a modest amount of warfare. I’m not looking for HM&M the board game, but really a focused civilization game where magic and divine sciences serve as physics and politics do in other games.
  • Seven Centauri: Someone needs to reskin 7 Wonders with Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Choices would have impacts, perhaps building up a level of pollution or environmental problems. At the end of rounds players would have to pay for pollution (representing Planet attacking) or gain bonuses based on environmental cards. I don’t know. I’ve thought about it quite a bit and I think it could be done.
  • Fallout Truck Simulator: I really enjoy Euro Truck Simulator, but I’d also like to be driving through an atomic wasteland, fighting off roving bands of mutants.
  • Mouse Guard Kaiju: Maybe someone has already done this. I love the scale system in Mouse Guard. Mice can take one things a size class above them with risk, but after that it becomes really dangerous. I think you could use that to model a Kaiju-infested world. A Godzilla post-apocalypse setting.
  • James Bond vs. Dracula: I love Night’s Black Agents, the spies vs. nosferatu game. It includes ideas for how to treat things with a little more flair, a little more cinematically. But I think we need a game that takes that concept all the way. It should feel like crazy film-worthy James Bond reflecting particular eras. Gadgets, dames, absurd coincidences, but maybe not the casual racism. You’d also pair that up with the Vampire cinema of the particular era. So if you’re running a 1960’s Sean Connery Bond then he’s battling Hammer Horror undead. If you’re running 1970’s Roger Moore, then he’s battling Blackula. If you’re running 1980’s Timothy Dalton, then he’s crossing paths with The Lost Boys.

METATOPIA
This weekend I’m going to Metatopia and showing off three games. That’s means light posting until next week. Here’s what I’m taking:

In Magic, INC you play as office workers in a magical corporation. Your department lies at the very, very bottom. You and your team just manage to hang on- avoiding responsibility and blame. To do so you have to work hard- carrying out desperate missions to alter budgets, undercut rival divisions, and mystically cloak your faked resumes. It's an episodic rpg. Think of a mix of Monday Begins on Saturday, Leverage, The Magicians, Office Space, Harry Potter, and The IT Crowd. R124: [FOCUS GROUP] Friday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM

This is the game I posted about a while back. I have a good sense of the shape of it, how the randomized scenario generation will work, and what players will do at the table. I want to get some feedback on that- to see if people find it interesting or have some better ideas about how it ought to flow. This is the first playtest I’m managing here, so I’ll be winging it for this session.

Action Cards offers a card-based rpg system in which individual player decks serve as a unique randomizer for their character. It combines ideas from Fate Core, Risk Legacy, and other games. GMs can use Action Cards for ongoing campaigns or players can draft decks for one-shots. The system itself can model many genres. This session will use a fantasy city-guards scenario to demonstrate the mechanics. R215: [BETA TEST] Friday, 8:00PM - 10:00PM and R298: [BETA TEST]  Saturday, 11:00AM - 1:00PM

We’ve been playing Action Cards in one form or another since ’99. We've used it to do a dozen+ campaigns plus one shots in several different genres. We enjoy it and it seemed to go over well with gamers at Gen Con. I want to put it before another audience to see what form it needs to be in. We’ve had good, solid experiences with it, but how should I shape this to make it most useful and interesting to other groups?

Right of Succession is a Euro-Style boardgame in which players take the role of noble houses in a fantasy kingdom aiming to manipulate the throne and gain power. They do this through expansion, strategic marriage, and actions based on different areas of influence. Over the course of several generations they work to match their house’s strengths to the moving target of the “Real Power’s” interests. Right of Succession was selected as one of the finalists for Cards Against Humanity’s Tabletop Deathmatch 2013. B376: [BETA TEST] Saturday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM

We wasted a good deal of the last year on an artist and art direction that ended up being next to useless. After dragging us along for many months, he eventually bowed out. We have some assets from that, but ultimately the style and layout aren’t workable, so we’re back to resetting that. We’ve done some blindtesting and had good feedback, so I’m curious to see serious examiners go at it at the table. I’m bringing with me a hybrid prototype which combines some of the earlier layout choices with some of the new ones.

SEMINARS/PANELS ON MY GO-TO LIST
  • "Genius Loci: Your Setting is the Character" Friday, 10:00AM - 11:00AM
  • "Work Together AND Keep Your Friends: Healthy Publishing Collaboration" Friday, 11:00AM - 12:00PM
  • "How to Succeed at Conventions"  Friday, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
  • "Creating the Editing Bay" Friday, 7:00PM - 8:00PM
  • "Worldbuilding Mechanics". Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:00AM
  • "Let's Talk Kickstarter" Saturday, 1:00PM - 2:00PM
  • "Hacking Apocalypse World”. Saturday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM
  • "Taboo Around the Table: What We're Afraid to GM" Saturday, 3:00PM - 4:00PM
  • "The Best Practices for Information Organization in Tabletop RPGs” Saturday, 5:00PM - 6:00PM
  • "Why Do You Hate Your Readers and Players?". Saturday, 8:00PM - 9:00PM
  • "Ten Things You Can Do to Make Your Rulebook Awesome" Saturday, 10:00PM - 11:00PM
  • "Explicit vs. Role-Based Knowledge In RPGs". Sunday, 10:00AM - 11:00AM
  • "Wait, That Player Won? Opacity, Transparency, and Player Incentives in Your Strategy Board Game" Sunday, 11:00AM - 12:00PM

Playtests
  • R143: [FOCUS GROUP] "Dignity and Power" Friday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM. This looked like the kind of open play game I dig. Or at least one with some interesting built-in choices.
  • R172: [ALPHA TEST] "Mutanthearts". Friday, 4:00PM - 6:00PM. I love superhero games and I’m always glad to see them reframed for other stories and genres. I’m not sure if this is the same game I’ve heard some people talking about in my G+ circles.
  • R248: [BETA TEST] "Ill Counsel" 10:00PM - 12:00AM. This looks a little like Mock Feudal Council and I’m down with that.
  • R275: [FOCUS GROUP] "Medias Res" Saturday, 9:00AM - 10:00AM. This seems really interesting, throwing playing into the middle of a single scene. I’m always curious about mixing cards with rpg. I’ve seen it done in multiple ways.
  • R423: [FOCUS GROUP] "Fate of the Galaxy" Saturday, 9:00PM - 10:00PM. I like big-scale games- ones which offer power and interesting choices to the players.

I suspect I’ve over-committed myself, but Sherri wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t wring every last drop out of the convention. She’s promised she’ll go with me next year, so I hope this one is awesome. If you're going to Metatopia and see me, please say hi. I'm really nervous and I'm usually pretty shy unless I'm actually at a gaming table or with my wife (who always makes me a better person).