Archive for January, 2011

Super Suit: Suit Upgrade!

2011 Jan 31

A while back I contacted 8-bit artist extraordinaire Francisco “Metaru” Cifuentes about doing a cover image for Super Suit, so I wouldn’t have any copyright trouble due to the pixelated Samus image that I’m currently using. He had a few other projects going on and couldn’t get to it right away, but he just sent me this badass suit illustration. I’m going to have to readjust the title bar and cover layout slightly, but, man, I really dig Francisco’s super suit. Nice!

That Ancient Serpent: Rules

2011 Jan 27

Over beers the other night, John mentioned my plans to hack Apocalypse World to create a crusaderpunk setting inspired by Rifts: Wormwood and the German post-apocalyptic angels game Engel. I’d honestly forgotten that I’d written this basic sketch up on the train, before starting Super Suit. Here it is:

Stats + Basic Moves
Those who have self-appointed themselves as the just and the righteous claim that their inner strengths – their faith, wrath, zeal, truth, fire, and love – are simply lesser earthly reflections of the attributes of God, magnified by His mortal servants. They also say that these same traits in the unjust and unrighteous are projections of human hubris, manifestations of the deadly sin of Pride. Were that this was so.

The basic stats are faith (cool), wrath (hard), zeal (hot), truth (sharp), fire (weird), and love (Hx).

  • When you place your trust in God (or man) in time of danger (act under fire w/faith)
  • When you cow your enemies with righteous fury (go aggro w/wrath)
  • When you shed blood together in glorious strife (seize by force w/ wrath)
  • When you enjoin someone with the rectitude of your cause (seduce or manipulate, w/zeal)
  • When you are shown the inner workings of the human heart (read a person, w/truth)
  • When you are given insight into the true nature of things (read a charged situation, w/truth)
  • When you soul is licked by tongues of flame (open your brain, w/fire)
  • When you love your neighbor or harden your heart against them (help or interfere, w/love)
  • When you suffer for the greater glory of God (or man) (take harm, w/harm taken)
  • When you are brought together by righteous suffering (heal someone or are healed, love grows deeper)

Character Creation
Choose your name
Choose your ethnic + religious heritage
Rather than picking a character type, pick up to three character backgrounds and then 3 moves, at least one from each background.
Roll to see if you have been exposed to the plague. Djinn do not have to roll, since they are immune.
Pick your Special for the list, based on what seems most appropriate.


Eye on the Door: escape w/Faith
Moonlighting: doing murders + cover
Ice Cold: Go Aggro w/Faith/Love
— Interfere with Zeal

Fortunes: surplus w/Fortunes
Prepared: Heal w/stock spent, 2-stock
Opportunistic: Interfere w/Faith
Prof. Compassion: Help w/Truth
Battlefield Grace: +1 armor when caring, not fighting

Moonlighting: honest work + one other
Things Speak: questions w/Fire
Bonefeel: arrive prepared w/Fire

Djinn (cannot be Infected)
Dang & Sexy: stun w/Zeal
Hypnotic: devotion w/Zeal
Perfect Instincts: Read Sit at +2
Breathtaking: +1Zeal

Healing Touch: Heal w/Fire
Frenzy: lead mob w/Fire
Charismatic: Manipulate w/Fire
Reality’s Fraying: Augury
Unnat. Lust: Seduce w/Fire
Whacknut: +1Fire

Half-Djinn (cannot be Djinn)
Art & Gracious: desire w/Zeal
Seeing Souls: Help or Interfere w/Fire
Spooky Intense: Act w/Fire

Infirmary: workspace for patients
Angel Kit: Heal w/stock spent, 6-stock
Touched by Death: death = +1Fire

Visions of Death: say who will die w/Fire
Arresting: auto-stun
Merciless: +1Harm
Impossible Reflexes: 2/1-Armor
Direct Brain Whisper: Go Aggro w/Fire, no interact
Deep Insights: +1Fire

Leadership: gang fights w/Wrath
No Shit Driver: stats while in car
Collector: 2 more cars

Wealth: surplus w/Wrath
Fucking Thieves: stuff w/Wrath
Easy to Trust: Seduce or Manip w/Faith/Love

Oftener Right: advice
Divine Protection: 1-armor
Moonlighting: honest work + one other
Insano: +1Wrath

Redeemed (must first be Infected)
Reputation: reputation w/Faith
Bloodcrazed: +1Harm
NTBFW: count as a small gang
Battle Hardened: Act w/Wrath

Battle Instincts: Open w/Wrath in battle
With proper tools, count as a small gang against dragons
Car is Tank: big, tough car
Optional Battle Moves (against dragons)

Fuck This Shit: escape w/Wrath
Pack Alpha: lead w/Wrath
Daredevil: +1Armor in danger
Good in Clinch: Act w/Truth

Lost: someone comes w/Fire
Deep Brain Scan: questions w/Fire
In-Brain Puppet: command w/Fire
Casual Recept: Read Per w/Fire, no interact
Reality’s Fraying: Augury
Pret. At-Will: +1Fire

Special: Hx+3/+1
Special: nullify
Special: Deep Brain Scan, auto-hit
Special: gotta go
Special: +1Forward/+1Forward
Special: 1-barter gift
Special: Help or Interfere, no interact
Special: gig to keep them happy
Special: Things Speak, auto-hit
Special: several options for influencing others (Skinner)

How to Portray Dragons
To summarize: cross nightmares, tyrannosaurs, and crows. Dragons are feathered dinosaurs (like what we now think dinosaurs looked like) with an aura of terror based on Arresting Skinner.

Dragons are alpha scavengers: airborne tyrannosaurs with a cold, avian intelligence, possessing both a raven’s nose for blood and its eye for hoarding shiny objects. They descend on sites of violence and death – battlefields, hospitals, abattoirs, freshly dug graves – like sharks in a gluttonous frenzy. But rarely do they start the carnage themselves, preferring instead to amplify mankind’s own bloody tendencies into a sickening cacophony of suffering, turning tragedies into abominations with their mere presence. Wherever the scent of blood or pestilence rises into the air or the flash of riches or clash of arms glints brightly, they will come.

Dual Harm/Infection Clocks
In addition to the Harm clock there is also an Infection clock for each character, including NPCs. When a character has taken Harm, they can choose to heal that Harm by trading it in for equal amounts of Infection. The contagion simply takes over the injured parts of your body and fixes them up, but it also takes them for its own, causing your to grow slightly monstrous. Removing infection is possible, but it either requires a supreme act of exorcism or burning the infection out with djinn-fire. Both of those typically require you to take more damage than the infection originally healed, so – if you’re at a high infection level – removing the infection may very well kill you.

Also, sometimes becoming infected isn’t a choice on the player’s part. Sometimes when you mess up a Harm roll, the MC can give your some of the Harm you were supposed to take as Infection.

Side Projects

2011 Jan 19

Archiving this from a discussion on SG.

Sometimes you begin projects in the wrong order. Like, you start working on game A before game B, but — really — you need to finish B before you can finish A, because there are a few problems you need to solve and B is a better place to solve them than A.

A good example is how working on Super Suit is solving many of the problems that I had with both Geiger Counter and An Ill-Fated Descent. But I’m already too invested in Geiger Counter to be willing to be experimental and gut that project entirely before rewriting it, plus the people who already liked Geiger Counter would freak out if I released versions that got substantially worse before they got better. Consequently, I need to work on my problems with Geiger Counter in another game — a game that I have much less history and investment in — and then come back later.

John Harper said that he was feeling similarly about Danger Patrol and — while those are both unfinished games that have seen a lot of play in their alpha and beta drafts — I think that can hold true for other games as well. Forking certain concepts off into a “side game” is not really about managing audience expectations so much as it is clearing away everything else and giving yourself space and permission to really go to work on a design problem, digging into the guts and trying a few new ideas without any expectations.

Super Suit: Spreads 6-10

2011 Jan 16

Man, this game and its layout keeps pouring out of me. It’s really too bad I have other things to do on this three-day weekend, or I could have a completely finished alpha draft done by Tuesday. As it is, it’s going to be very functional pretty soon, just without fully developed examples.

Super Suit: Spreads 1-5

2011 Jan 16

I’m having so much fun doing layout for this game that I had to share, and will try to keep updating this as I go. Hopefully, I’ll have a revised and mostly finished PDF (aside from the colored-and-lettered example pages) by the end of this 3-day weekend.

Super Suit: Pretty Version Cover 2

2011 Jan 14

As the game shapes up, I’ve started working on the pretty layout some more, since I told Graham I’d have simple Kinkos copies ready for Conception on Jan 26th. Here’s the cover, based on the custom 5×7″ chipboard-covered booklets that I want to eventually get Pinball Publishing to print:

Super Suit: Actual Play 1

2011 Jan 14

I know Jamie’s already starting to play Super Suit and both John and Sage indicated some interest, so here’s a step-by-step example of play for the first 4 cards of the campaign I’m currently playing. I’m writing and learning how to play the game as I go, so hopefully folks can use this example to avoid some of the mistakes that I made early on. But on to the actual play:

I begin, as the rules say, by imagining Joney exploring the landing site and surrounding “safe” area: getting out of her skimmer, checking out the mysterious shuttle tracks, being surprised and somewhat unnerved by the frozen faces on the cavern wall, and using her climbing gear to scale down the ice wall and cut better handholds for future use. I decide that Joney sets up her first pylon at the base of the ice wall because she was about to crawl through the tunnel to the left and wasn’t sure what might be in there. Better to be safe than sorry. And I imagine her puzzlement at finding the boot, examining it in vain for frozen blood or other signs. In the end, I decide she pulls out a bungee chord and straps the boot across the back of her suit, so she can carry it with her.

And with that, time to begin exploring.

With nowhere to go in this cavern, I decide that Joney is going to use her climbing gear to scale down the outside of the frozen spire, so I place a card as such:

I roll two dice to determine the contents of this card and get 4,6: a lesser horror and a hatch. So I draw some weird skull-bat thing and a portal deeper into the spire.

Joney fires off 2 shots from her arm cannon at the skull-bat, lowering her energy reserves to 97% (from 99%). I roll two hits (only needing one hit to kill a lesser horror), so the bat is toasted.

I roll to see if I get any energy recharged from the haze left by the vaporized bat. Nope! I do however get a total of 3 XP from 1) killing the bat, 2) clearing a card, and 3) going through a hatch. Nice!

So I place my next card, as Joney makes her way through the hatch…

…and I roll the same thing, a lesser horror and a hatch. Hmm, that’s not as cool. I draw them anyway and try to make them interesting.

Joney comes out of the hatch and tries to blow away this tentacled beastie, but totally misses with both shots!

The beastie lashes back with a standard hit (one die) and Joney rolls her one die of maneuvering to avoid it, but unfortunately doesn’t get out of the way very well and takes 2 more damage to her energy reserves. Down to 93% now. Embarrassing, but no real danger.

Miffed, Joney lights up the beastie with a full blast (3 shots, not the five I originally wrote into the rules, which is probably a suit upgrade) and vaporizes it, though she’s now down to 90% energy.

I mark 3 more XP, for 1) the beastie, 2) the card, and 3) the hatch, and manage to roll a slight energy refresh from the horror, bouncing back up to 93%.

On to the third card, I place it to show I’m moving deeper into the caverns of this ice spire…

…but then I roll a 1,1 for the contents, and a 1 means that I dramatically reorient the card I just placed. How do I reorient the card in a fashion that is doubly dramatic? I decide to rip the card in half.

I figure there’s some sort of crazy space-bending effect going on here that Joney falls into, sending her to some unknown destination — maybe not even on this planet! — through a strange energy portal. I attempt to draw the portal but kinda do a crappy job of it. I’m much better with pencil than with these markers I bought specifically for playing this game.

I make a judgment call and decide to roll again for the contents of the second half of this card, on the other side of the portal. I get a 3,5: another lesser horror and the beginning of a stretch of hazardous terrain. I decide that the energy of the portal is unstable and crackling all over the place, so I draw that and roll a 2 on my one die, setting the difficulty of the hazard. I also draw some crazy energy snake or eel, swimming through the air around the portal. I figure Joney is just totally freaked by all this portal business and will try to avoid both the hazard and the snake while she falls. Luckily I roll two 6s and evade both the 2 hazard and another 2 rolled for the snake’s hit, dropping off this card and on to the next one.

I roll a 4,4 for the next room: two hatches becoming a super hatch that I don’t have the right energy signature to open yet. I color it yellow. Since I want to know what’s making the portal, I decide it’s time to spend some of the 8 XP I have accumulated so far. I spend 6 XP on an interesting clue or piece of information (3 XP at the time, raised to 5 XP after this playtest) and on a harder enemy than the minor horrors I’d faced thus far (3 XP at the time, also raised to 5 XP afterward). I decided to combine both of these to create a field generating cannon that was bending space and making the portal. Also, because of the piece of information I bought, the cannon had the same skull symbol on it as the tail fin of Joney’s skimmer, a symbol that I now decided once belonged to the pirate queen Lady Tyrene from Joney’s backstory. What was she doing with space-bending cannons??? Plus, since I hadn’t rolled to stop the hazardous terrain yet, the previous hazard 2 from the sparks and unstable portal crackling filled this room as well, hovering about the field generator.

Now Joney is totally freaked. This is not what she expected at all and her first instinct is to try to blow up this machine and stop these crazy energy arcs from damaging her suit and dropping her through portals to Lady Ty’ knows where. Then, once things settle down, she can figure out what’s going on.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to run the fight with the field generator, not being a horror. But I decided to go ahead and stat it up real quick, so I knew what it did, and I got something like: [dark machine, immobile, 2 hits, 1 die of active defenses, 2 hazard from arcs of energy emanating from it, destroying it also destroys the teleportation portal it generates]. Cool. Now Joney could deal with it.

The first round only went okay for Joney. She successfully avoided the energy arcs, but only got in one solid hit on the machine, so everything was still live and cooking.

The active defenses of the machine struck back, popping Joney’s suit with some light damage.

But then, Joney avoided the energy sparks long enough to total the machine, causing an explosion that reverberated through the room and destroyed the space-bending portal.

So, to wrap up the fourth card, I covered up some of my previous illustrations and redrew the field generating cannon as a twisted wreck. But the portal was also gone, so Joney had no way of getting back to her skimmer, since she had no idea where she was or if she was close enough for the emergency evac system on her suit to transport her back to her pylon. If she was on another planet, in some other system, that definitely wouldn’t work. I ultimately decided this was a good place to stop and assess, with Joney now embarking on her explorations with a different and somewhat more desperate perspective. At least I got a 10% energy recharge off the dead cannon, putting Joney’s suit back up to 98% capacity. That’ll be useful!

The two main things I learned in these four cards was to slow things down even more. There was a lot happening here! Very dense. Too dense, really. There needed to be a lot more cards where I maybe only rolled 1 die for their contents. Also, I really didn’t care at all about the skull-bat, the beastie, and the energy snake. They weren’t very provocative enemies and had nothing to do with why Joney was here or the tone I wanted the game to have. So I retroactively declared that, instead of random monsters, they were all wraith-like entities, either the horrors themselves or the tormented spirits of all those who’d died when they razed the Absalom system. That connected them to the frozen faces that Joney had found on the walls and would make for much creepier foes, especially as I went deeper and encountered more powerful wraiths.

In any event, I’m excited to play more with the new revisions I just made to the rules! Woohoo!

Super Suit: Alpha Draft Update

2011 Jan 12

I’ve updated the alpha draft of Super Suit somewhat, based on early playtesting. It’s ALMOST playable by other folks at this point, at least through your first 10-15 cards or so.

If anybody else wants to start playing along, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have as we both try out this new game. It’d be nice to get some outside playtesting in before I send the finished draft off to Graham to sell at a charity event at Conception. So… free final versions to anyone who wants to play before then!

Super Suit: Playtest Photos 2

2011 Jan 12

Finally got to play through the first 4 cards of exploring Super Suit last night, which I learned a lot from, but still need a bunch more play to tweak things. Didn’t end up submitting a draft to the contest, since I still have more playtesting to do in order to get this ready for other folks to play it.

So far, the game plays a lot faster and crazier than I expected, so I need to tone it down a bit. I killed two minor horrors, evaded another, went through two hatches, fell through a crazy teleportation field, destroyed the field generator — which was marked with the same skull symbol as Joney’s skimmer, indicating ties to the late pirate queen Lady Tyrene — and am now stuck somewhere with no chance of getting back to Joney’s skimmer. I’m not even sure if emergency evac will get me back to my home pylon, given the unknown distance between the pylon and my super suit.

Anyway, here’s what the map looks like after just 4 more cards, both before and after I destroyed the field generator (perhaps my only way back).



More pics and an explanation of how things went down is coming later, including what I learned from just this tiny bit of play (i.e. need a focused theme for horrors, need to space things out a bit more).

Super Suit: Pretty Version Cover

2011 Jan 4

I know the game is supposed to be submitted as text, but I can’t help but make a prettier version too. I’m not sure if I can get away with this in a future commercial release (since it’s pretty clearly Samus), but this was just too good to pass up as the cover of the free, internet version.