Archive for February 20th, 2008

Draft of a Playtest Draft

2008 Feb 20

I’ve always been a “design in public” kind of guy. I know I always like seeing what other people are up to, even when it’s ugly and unfinished. It gives me a sense of them as real people instead of “Game Design Guru!” And I’m as real as they come, so here’s the oogly moogly that I have so far (PDF), even thought it’s pretty much just the oracle and the guidelines for using it. Everything else is completely unfinished, especially the bravo cards. I bet Stranger Things looks something like this right now ;P

Projects Inform Projects

2008 Feb 20

So here I am, working on the “Ultrametal Quickstart” version of 108 Bravos. I’ve finished an oracle based on the first ten chapters of the Water Margin, I’ve got the rules for using the oracle drafted out, I’ve made character cards for the three bravos that appear in the first ten chapters, I’ve drafted up guidelines for playing bravos, other PCs, and NPCs, I’m working on some GM guidelines for how to frame scenes, and the only problem is… I’m unsure about the dice mechanics from In a Wicked Age, which is a serious problem. Most likely, I haven’t played the game enough to really get them, so that’s probably my next step. But if, in the end, they don’t do what I need, then I’m at a crossroads.

108 Bravos already doesn’t use the We Owe List, Particular Strengths, character creation rules, or Oracle guidelines from In a Wicked Age. If I end up not using the conflict resolution or Exhaustion & Injury rules, then 108 Bravos really stops being a supplement and becomes a full-on hack, a completely different game with some shared characteristics. That would also mean that I need to do a lot more playtesting, because I’m not leaning against Vincent’s hard work anymore. And that, in turn, probably means not having the game ready by GenCon, except maybe as an ashcan draft that I playtest with people there. And that’s all fine, and kinda par for the course. I keep starting these projects that are supposed to be quick-and-easy modifications of other people’s games (Vesperteen, Lions on the Precipice, Geiger Counter, Last Days of Old Macao, Gridiron Gods, Mwaantaangaand) and they end up becoming full-on games. Sigh.

But then Adam Flynn and Dev just posted that they’re interested in playing Geiger Counter again. And I’m thinking, “Well, here’s a game that I’ve already playtested a bunch, including last year at GenCon, and it’s much further along in the process, so maybe I could shift gears a bit until I figure out what to do about 108 Bravos.” And I pick up the most current draft, which is a printed out version of what’s posted on this site, but with black notes scribbled all over it in pen. And the problem that was really vexing me when I stopped playtesting Geiger Counter was how to present setting, how to get people to recreate the feel of The Mummy or Aliens or Scream or Jaws or Jurassic Park or Twister on the fly. And… thanks to In a Wicked Age and Oracles, I now know how to do that.

It’s really nice when things build on each other like that.

Now the only problem is that I’ve got rights to the cover image of 108 Bravos for one year. And if I don’t have GenCon to give away free copies at, then I may have to rethink my distribution scheme. Maybe I could give them away at Dreamation, next January? Hmm. In any case, time to play In a Wicked Age a whole bunch (or, better yet, play 108 Bravos with the mechanics from In a Wicked Age) to see if it works for me.