Archive for November 13th, 2006

Lessons from JiffyCon Playtest

2006 Nov 13

1. Currently, the hack creates badass narration, but is less good at letting people play through it. It became Exalted-meets-Once-Upon-a-Time, which was hot, but definitely more “story game” than “rpg” in that sense.

2. The character sheet is not a powerful enough tool to do all the things I need it to do. The hack clearly needs new and exciting tools.

3. As Shreyas pointed out, most of the tools I’m developing for the hack (the open/close structure, re-naming things, shot framing, cycle-based pacing, the ‘sea of images’) are techniques that could be applied to all sorts of games. I’m sure most of my regular blog readers who don’t care about Exalted have probably bailed by now, but that means they’ve missed some pretty neat stuff. I guess I’ll have to have a “What I Learned from the Hack” post eventually.

4. The hack is definitely one of those games that requires a whole session to make characters. Creation + Exaltation could easily take 4+ hours by itself. This isn’t a bad thing, but it makes it pretty different from a lot of indie games (except, of course, Burning Wheel).

5. Shot framing needs to come back (sorry, Thomas). The original form — ordering the shots before the scene is run — won’t work as is, though. I need some variation on the Arthouse Wuxia system that lets you escalate, but maybe not more than once or twice. Maybe you can escalate, but have to wait until the next scene to do so? So you have a cliffhanger while you cut to another location?

6. Rolling for ‘fallout’ may not be necessary if consequences are a built-in component of narration. We simply decided that every use of Charms had to have a bad side, which seemed to work okay, but was a little too arbitrary me.

7. The ‘sea of images’ is OHMYGOD HAWT, but needs some concrete guidelines to function properly. And a stapler. I wonder if I can find a stapler that looks sorta like a Pattern Spider. Or maybe you could use special stickers that would hold the world together. Stickers sound pretty cool actually. Or you could use scraps of cloth that you actually stiched together. But you’d have to be able to write on the cloth. Here’s the basic premise:

    a. You have lots of scraps of paper or cloth.
    b. You write cool images on them, maybe based on traits.
    — “a glowing door in the forest”
    — “a far off scream”
    — “falling snow”
    c. During each scene you either:
    — Learn more about an image.
    — Connect images together.
    d. You write down new stuff or stick scraps together.
    e. When all the various images are connected as one mass, the story is over. You can start a new story or you can quit for the night.
    f. Check it out, you end up with a physical record of each session of play! How cool is that?!

8. The ‘sea’ still needs a way for images to be inspired by previous sessions, especially loose ends that haven’t been tied up, since it was originally supposed to be a system for generating subplots. But there needs to be new, new things as well. It may take some playtesting to come up with a good mix and the right number of images.

9. I love, LOVE super-fast, super-short scenes. They rock my world. They are sex in a pan. I’m kinda wondering if this structure can work for game sessions too. Like maybe you run a game session in an hour or two. And then, if you like, you run another one. It’s like ADD roleplaying. But it makes you run on crazy creativity without suffering from burnout. We were all feeling drained after a couple hours of real play and I doubt we could go much further. I think I really had something when I wrote Waiting/Tea to play in a half-hour. Yay for more super-short games.

More thoughts later. And probably a playtest report.