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.

5 Responses to “Projects Inform Projects”

  1. juddthelibrarian Says:

    Aye, Jonathan, quick question:

    Why not get it set up and play it once with the Wicked Age rules, if for no other reason, just to see where it is that you disagree with Wicked’s bits, so that when you build your own, you’ll know where you want to go?

  2. Willow Says:

    It’s good to hear that you’ve gotten inspiration for your design hurdle. I’ve recently been there, I know what a weight it is off one’s chest.

    How much IAWA have you played? It’s some good, worth playing, worth exploring, and worth using.

    Without the Owe List, the particular strengths, altered stats, or even the conflict resolution system, I don’t know what is left- the Oracles certainly, enough to get a bitchin’ random Chinese Opera situation, but not enough to do anything with it.

    But play more IAWA. It’s always a good decision. And work on what you know you can.

  3. Judd: Isn’t that what I said in the last sentence, there? That’s definitely my plan!

    Willow: I’ve played 3 one-shots of IAWA so far, and all of them have had minor issues, so I definitely want to get a lot more play under my belt before deciding what to do with the system. Honestly, though, 108 Bravos is going to be a bit more minimalist and differently structured than IAWA, so I’m not worried about pulling the guts of the system out. I just need to make sure I want to do that.

  4. John Harper Says:

    This is exactly what happened with Stranger Things. It was supposed to be a 16 page Trollbabe hack, and then…

    8-headed monster.

  5. John: Yeah, I can totally appreciate that. It’s hard to treat other folks’ work as a playground without wanting to redesign the monkey bars. I’m not sure how Judd managed to avoid that with Mu.

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