Archive for March 7th, 2008

Things to Try in Tomorrow’s Playtest

2008 Mar 7

Running more giant shark Geiger Counter at JiffyCon tomorrow. New things I’m going to try:

1. New, shorter style sheet.

2. Having the group collectively brainstorm a fixed number of main characters (equal to or slightly more than the number of players) and secondary characters, before figuring out who will play these characters when they appear. This detaches player from character a bit and makes it clear that these are not traditional PCs.

3. Fix the conditions that didn’t work.

4. Figure out a better way to handle dark secrets and the traitor. Pick the traitor once the monster’s traits have been determined and then allow them to take dark secret dice afterwards, maybe?

5. Freeform cartography. This should be awesome, but I don’t have time to talk about it now because Rob just arrived and is waiting in the grocery story parking lot. But I’ll give the full rundown later.

New Blog Layout

2008 Mar 7

Trying out something new. It may be a while until I get it all looking pretty and organized.

Bay of Tigers

2008 Mar 7

This book is incredible.

In Cuando Cubango, where it is believed 45 percent of Angola’s mines are located, mines outnumber people. There were not a lot of people to begin with, and in recent years many have died.

“To the left at that tree…” We hope the copilot knows the terrain well. That his mask of youth conceals the face of a seasoned veteran of war. That he knows the minefields because he helped plant them.

– Pedro Rosa Mendes, Bay of Tigers: An African Odyssey, 1999, trans. from Portuguese by Clifford Landers. Harcourt, 2003.

Baby Steps

2008 Mar 7

I’ve decided that I don’t have to make a great game covering all 70 chapters of the original Water Margin, right away. I can make a great game covering the first ten chapters and then release free “oracle extensions” online in 10 chapter chunks. So the original game lets you play up to ten sessions and the first extension gives you another 10 sessions of oracles and characters, and so on. After all, how many indie roleplaying groups have campaigns that last more than ten sessions anyway? And ten sessions will keep most groups busy for three months or so, giving me plenty of time to work on the first extension.

Plus, that means I don’t have to read and re-read the entire Water Margin while working on the game (a huge task). I can just read and re-read ten chapters at a time, with an eye on the larger narrative. Like my new model for publishing Push, this makes things a lot more manageable and gets me excited about working on The 108 Bravos of Mount Liang again, instead of quivering in fear at the massive task I had given myself.

Additionally, this kind of publishing model makes a bunch of sense for Geiger Counter too: publish the game with a few style sheets worked out and then start playtesting more style sheets and release them as they get into a more finished form (and encourage other people to develop their own style sheets).