Archive for October 1st, 2007

Avatar Archive

2007 Oct 1

Final post for today, promise.

I just finished archiving the Avatar: The Last Airbender posts on One Thousand One. Combined with the existing archive of Avatar-related posts on Secret Wars, this creates a near-complete record of all my work on this game. Yay!

I may eventually move the relevant Secret Wars posts over here, but that might be too much work. Much of the work and ideas I fiddled with over there are reflected in the current rules draft anyway. I have updates in my head, especially after the last playtest, but they aren’t written anywhere right now.

Heavenly Kingdoms

2007 Oct 1

Just posted my entry to Game Chef 3 (2005), Heavenly Kingdoms: The Game of Drunken Taiping Exegesis. Honestly, I still think it’s one of the most fun games I’ve ever written, though I’ve never actually played an entire game of it.

The simple mechanics involve two players taking turns putting forward random stanzas of this religious poem. Each player describes how his/her stanza continues the story already established in the previous stanza. It models a kind of shared storytelling that, I think, is different from most of the games you see, something more from the Baron Münchhausen or Once Upon a Time school of games.

Scott Pilgrim’s Primetime Adventures

2007 Oct 1

I’m trading Elizabeth the first three volumes of Scott Pilgrim, the greatest comic since Sharknife, in exchange for her old camera.

According to wikipedia:

    The series is about 23-year-old Canadian Scott Pilgrim, a slacker, hero, wannabe-rockstar, who is living in Toronto and playing bass in the band “Sex Bob-Omb.” He falls in love with American delivery girl Ramona V. Flowers, but must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to date her.

Here’s how you play Scott Pilgrim using Matt Wilson’s Primetime Adventures.

Volumes

Pick a number of Volumes you’re going to play out. The real Scott Pilgrim has 7, but that may be too many, if you want something focused, or two few, if you’d rather do something as involved as Ranma 1/2.

Characters

Your series will be centered around a main protagonist who we’ll call “Scott,” even though they can be called anything you want in your game. All the other PCs must be connected to Scott in some way, but it doesn’t have to be directly. If one player is Scott’s gay brother Jimmy, an art school student, another player can play Jimmy’s middle school boyfriend/rival, Howard, a record store clerk. If it’s not obvious already, all the characters should be hipsters or other jaded cool-losers between 15-30.

Character names are always ridiculous. I’m not sure how to describe the right kind of ridiculous. Remember this is a hipster power fantasy and I think you’ll do fine. A banal or classic-but-unusual first name followed by something that’s not really a last name is a good call. If they sound a bit like bad James Bond characters, you know you’ve nailed it. Edward Gunslinger. Ginger Soirée. Rick Adroit. Meredith Flagship.

The Premise

The premise of your game should fit the following format:

    [PROTAGONIST] must [DRAMATIC VERB] [A PC]’s [NUMBER OF VOLUMES] [MALEVOLENT GENRE FICTION COMICS TRAIT] [BANAL AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL INTROSPECTIVE SAD HIPSTER COMICS STAPLE]

For example, in the real Scott Pilgrim series, the premise is:

    Scott must defeat Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends.

But in your series, Alicia Excelsior, the premise might be:

    Alicia must exorcise Robert’s 18 demonic step-fathers.

Scott

Scott is always the Spotlight Character of any particular Volume, but he does not have a potency of 3 like normal. Instead, Scott as 0 potency and is effective in conflicts thanks solely to Fanmail, either Fanmail he earns or Fanmail that is spent on his behalf.

That’s It!

Play and be merry! The rest of PTA should work pretty well just as it is.

RPGnet & Push 2

2007 Oct 1

So, after futzing around a bit after GenCon, it’s time for me to really hit Push 2 hard and get it ready for commentary. I have all of the current drafts printed out and redlined (and have for a while), but I need to get those comments back to the original authors so they can make edits before I do the final pass. Then it’s off to the commentators and we’re closer to gametime.

In preparation for focusing my attention back on Push and away from my personal design projects, I also contacted Shannon Appelcline about writing a column for RPGnet, following on the Fine Art of Roleplaying column I wrote in early 2004. He seemed to think it could be a possibility, so I’m beginning to outline the first few installments.

Here was my proposal:

    During the first half of 2004, I wrote a column for RPGnet, “The Fine Art of Roleplaying.”

    Many things have changed since then. I finished college and a Fulbright Fellowship in China. Now I work for an independent foreign policy think-tank in Boston, writing papers for the government on various international issues.

    I also edit and publish Push, a journal on new developments in roleplaying, which is in the process of putting together its second issue, which will hopefully be out by December.

    For the past several years, after leaving The Forge and striking out in a different direction, I’ve been basically doing my own game design and thinking off by myself, mostly on my personal blog.

    Lately, though, I feel more attracted to the idea of interacting more with the public, online face of roleplaying, which RPGnet represents a fair portion of. I guess I feel like there are many interesting developments happening on the fringes of roleplaying that many people never get to see because of all the cliquishness, internet posturing, and so on. The Forge, even back when I was reading it regularly, is not the most accessible place for newcomers and can tend to have a limited perspective on the hobby as a whole. And many roleplayers are mostly concerned about what’s happening within their favorite game lines and may not be aware of general trends in the hobby as a whole.

    So my proposal for a new column is inspired by a common topic in foreign policy study: I want to look at the contemporary “Issues and Trends” in roleplaying design and play, picking one to talk about every month and discussing it in detail by talking about how recent games or companies have chosen handle a given subject and where things may be headed in the future. Topics could include things like GM-less play, the evolution of alignment systems, trust mechanics, open game systems, diceless play, publication formats, print-on-demand, combat systems, the planning of supplements for a core game line, resolution systems, and other issues and trends that seem to be going on in roleplaying.

    I want to take a big picture look at the industry without focusing too much on sales numbers and distrubution, focusing instead on what the products are actually like and comparing developments in tabletop scenes as diverse as Exalted, d20, and the newest indie games, which I don’t think happens often enough. Despite the barriers that separate various roleplaying sub-communities, there are interesting synergies and shared themes that enable us to learn from what other people are doing in their games.

Right now, I’m thinking that the first column may be about the tradition of having “things your character cares about” give you advantages in conflicts, but I’m not sure I really know where that begins, not having played a lot of old school RPGs like Cyberpunk and AD&D. I know a bunch of people point to things like The Riddle of Steel‘s “Spiritual Attributes,” but I guess I doubt that TROS was the first game to fiddle with stuff like that. Suggestions?