Archive for January, 2006

Nobilis IRC: Steampunk Starchild

2006 Jan 20

Josh, Shreyas, and I are playing Nobilis over IRC. We’re doing an interesting GM-less thing where we each take turns framing a scene and we’ve just finished the first round of three scenes. Hopefully, we’ll get to the next three pretty soon. The edited log of play is available here:

Kazekami Kyoko Kills Kublai Khan

2006 Jan 18

This is all Shreyas’ fault.

Kyoko is a wind spirit, a kazekami. She is also a ninja. She is not a princess, as Kublai Khan thought before Kyoko stabbed him in the gut. He was trying to be amorous with his newest concubine. She was trying to prevent the Mongol invasion of Japan. As Kublai dies, the kazekami torments her husband by recounting how she has managed to seduce scores of his rare and beautiful wives.

There are two players. One player plays Kyoko. The other player plays Kublai.

During the game, players take turns making statements or asking questions according to the format prescribed for their character. These are known as “contributions.” The forms are:

Kublai: “[Confirmation]! But [declaration]! How [open-ended question]?”

Kyoko: “Indeed, [confirmation]! Nevertheless, [declaration]! [Rhetorical question]?”

Following these instructions creates a chain-shaped narrative. Each player must respond to the contributions of their counterpart, confirming, declaring, and requesting confirmation. It is recommended that Kyoko not attempt to answer the Khan’s questions in full detail, but allow the stories of seduction to be slowly drawn out of her, one step at a time. It’s also critical that both players try to avoid holding preconceptions of how the seductions were accomplished, since one of the main goals of the game is listening to and confirming the contributions of your fellow player, even above your own ideas.

Each seduction narrative begins with a boast by Kyoko or a protest by Kublai. The players can take turns beginning new narratives or simply begin a new one whenever a player is satisfied with the information uncovered about the previously mentioned seduction.

For example, Kyoko might boast:

I spent many hours writhing in ecstasy with the renowned concubine Jade Petal Rose, whose lips left a lingering scent of sandalwood upon my skin.

Or Kublai might protest:

Surely you were unable to enter into the bedchamber of Jade Petal Rose, most beloved of my wives, who smells of sandalwood and cool streams.

Then, assuming this particular narrative began with Kyoko’s boasting (as described above), the narrative might continue as follows:

Kublai might respond:

Surely you are the greatest enchantress since Yang Guifei! But my wife Jade Petal Rose always treated even the smallest children with such scorn! How did you manage to soften her heart?

And Kyoko might respond:

Indeed, her affections remained carefully guarded! Nevertheless, once I had engendered the good graces of her chief eunuch, everything began falling into place! Have you considered that tactic, O Great Conquerer of the World?

And Kublai might, in turn, respond:

I, with all my military genius, managed to overlook it! But her chief eunuch would not be swayed by your feminine wiles! How, then, could you earn his favor?

And Kyoko might, in turn, respond:

Indeed, his manly parts were no longer of any use! Nevertheless, his other appetites, especially for exotic culinary delicacies, remained as rampant as ever! How could he stand impervious to my offering of malted shrimp clusters?


Bear in mind that Kyoko is both a wind spirit and a ninja. There is little that is beyond her formidable abilities.

However, the Great Khan begins to suspect that Kyoko’s stories are not nearly as impressive and magnificent as they should be, given her obvious skill. Kyoko, in return, decides that some of her adventures and conquests should not be shared with the dying Khan, being none of his business. Either player, then, can also choose to respond to their companion’s contributions in the following forms:

Kublai: “My dear! Surely [compliment]! Why then ?

Kyoko: “Great Khan! [Compliment], but [refusal to divulge details]!”

For example, Kublai might respond:

My dear! Surely your speed surpasses that of crickets and swallows! Why then were you intimidated by a squad of imperial soldiers?

Or Kyoko might respond:

Great Khan! Your all-seeing eye does not miss the slightest insect, but surely the contents of a woman’s heart should remain impenetrable to your gaze!

These replace a player’s contribution, but do not interrupt the chain, since their companion replies as usual or can select to use their own alternate response (as described above).

The game ends when Kublai can bear no more, uttering his final words:

Kublai:“Thus cuckold by the greatest of women, I depart this world of suffering.”

To which Kyoko responds:

Kyoko:“A noble soul is lifted up; the greatest of men journeys onward.”

Notice that while the players have corresponding roles, duties, and powers, these differ quite a bit in content. Playing Kyoko is very different than playing Kublai. For this reason, players are encouraged to switch roles next time they play or play two short games in different roles, to practice their skill in handling different kinds of play requirements.

This game is designed to strongly support online chat-based play. Games can be as short or long as participants desire, since Kublai’s life hangs by a slender thread. His passing, at any point in the game, is not unexpected.

Kazekami Kyoko Kills Kublai Khan is strongly influenced by the games and ideas of Ben Lehman, Emily Care Boss, Mo (of Sin Aesthetics), and Shreyas Sampat, as well as by my previous Iron Chef entry, Heavenly Kingdoms, the game of drunken Taiping exegesis. The bulk of it was written in the 30 minutes before I went to bed last night.

Life, Now with More Crack!

2006 Jan 13

Here’s all 18 “threats” from Shreyas’ gesture-based game, Mridangam (which we just finished revising and expanding for Push), as ASCII:

Why? Because we like you.

Matt & I Talk Push/Daedalus

2006 Jan 11

So Matt’s trying to convert the Forge diaspora to Skype, the free online phone service that everybody in China was raving about, since you can avoid long-distance fees. And so he got a bunch of us online and recorded a test conversation where Matt, Keith, Chris Chinn, and I talked about Push, Daedalus, and the problems of starting a new ongoing publication.

You can download the 12-minute conversation on Matt’s blog.

Mo Hits the Nail on the Head

2006 Jan 10

So, way back in the day, I was trying to explain why Universalis is a fascinating, amazing, awesome game, but that I would never really enjoy playing it, because it was a totally Yang-style game, where I was more of a Yin person. That was too touchy-feely and abstract for most people and I don’t remember much coming out of that conversation, except that Emily Care got my back (or, rather, I got hers) and we didn’t make much headway explaining anything, because it became this gender issue and you know how those go.

Well, Mo’s reframed the argument, and now it all makes total sense.


2006 Jan 4

As of 5 minutes ago, I am now a contributor to Dev’s incredibly fun tumbleblog, 10×10 room, in addition to the delightful group blog 20×20 room. If this keeps up, I won’t have anything to post here, except stuff about my own games. That wouldn’t be so bad.

Since we are pirates, by new bio reads:

    Calico Jon Walton is the infamous third wheel of the Calico-Anne Bonnay-Mary Read threesome. But the girls always seemed more interested in each other, so he bailed, took his calico Technicolor dreamcoat, and struck out for new waters (though he sometimes cries when he’s alone at night).

Read at your own peril. My first submission is entitled Kevin Siembieda, apocolyptic prophet.


2006 Jan 2

Legend of the Ghost Lion