Archive for the 'Blue Devil' Category

Updated Priorities

2008 Aug 21

Now that Geiger Beta is out, it’s time to take a break from that and give people some time to play it and make comments. Which means I can finally think about other things.

Dev recently said that he wants to play the Avatar game, which means I need to tweak it a bit. I might just end up blatantly stealing the fight mechanics from Mist-Robed Gate, because I think they’ll work mighty well. Then a few other tweaks and we’re off. The Avatar game still gets the most hits of anything on my website, so perhaps I should just release it through Bleeding Play in PDF form, once we playtest it a bunch more.

Push is definitely near the top of the list. I want to get the other articles from Push 1 up in HTML format on Bleeding Play, make the link to the PDF more prominent, type in the edits to her article that Em sent me months ago, and get Push 1 set up on Lulu so people can order print copies at cost. I also want to start getting some of the stuff from Push 2 up. Eero and Bill’s articles in particular are things I’ve been sitting on for many months. I just need to edit them, ask for a couple corrections from the authors, and post them up there.

Currently, it looks like Transantiago development may move to Secret Wars for a bit, since Shreyas has agreed to help me work on the passages from the rules that are supposed to be read aloud during play.

And then there’s Fingers on the Firmament, which I’ve been thinking about a ton and can’t wait to get to. Development-wise, I think it comes right after Transantiago, since Justin is still focused on getting the John Rain game done. It will rock some serious socks. Honestly, after playing 4th some more, I’m also interested in seeing the changes they’re coming out with for the GSL, on the outside chance that Firmament might be able to mine some of the better parts of the new edition. We’ll see.

Then, on the outside, things I still want to finish some day:
The Snow Queen

Fingers Blog Live

2007 Sep 13

The Fingers on the Firmament project is now serious enough to have its own blog, where Justin and I will throw down. All new posts about the project will happen there.

It also contains all the top secret brainstorming emails that we’ve traded, so there’s a bunch of new content for folks who are following along.

Grappling with the Stars, Crew Missions

2007 Sep 13

12:28 PM Elizabeth: I think it sounds completely exciting; I really like the multi-class thing, especially since it can happen before the game even starts.12:29 PM It’s been a while since I played d20, but it seems no one ever starts from scratch in a d20 game anyway, because most pre-existing settings/adventures/etc. are seriously no fun for that.12:31 PM It’s been really interesting to watch you post more stuff about it, because it seems like (and I mean, duh, this is what you’re going for) everything really reinforces the helplessness/connection themes.12:32 PM Plus, when I went through your project listing earlier this week with you, this was the game that I thought sounded coolest. So I’m kind of biased, I guess12:34 PM I’d like to see more about the crews, though. Basically, does it mean a group of people all reach for the same star? Can too many people reach for a star at once? How does the actual travel work?12:39 PM me: ha well, i figure crews may operate differently if you all know the destination you’re headed to, different people may take different routes there12:40 PM i also think there could be slightly different ways to approach travel like, you could take short swings, jumping across a few stars to get to a place or you could pick out the tiny star amidst the heavens and just swing directly to it12:41 PM but the latter holds more risk, because you might grab the wrong thing unless you are really precise and experienced and talented but i generally think that stars are big enough that it doesn’t really matter how many people grab them the star certainly doesn’t care12:44 PM Elizabeth: Okay. So people in a crew may travel separately, but are all going to the same destination? So how do they make sure no one gets lost? me: well, they train people really well and mentor them12:45 PM and then, if people do get lost, there are standard search-and-rescue procedures Elizabeth: ohhhh me: but that doesn’t sound like what you’re asking12:46 PM the sense i get is that you’re advised not to swing unless you 1) know where you’re going or 2) are with a crew that’s guiding you or 3) are training with a mentor Elizabeth: So the crew-ness is a function, essentially, of what happens after transit– the training so that you can travel more safely, etc, as opposed to a function of the travel itself? So basically, even with a crew, when you reach for a star you’re essentially reaching alone? me: well, traveling on your own is really only possible if you totally know the area12:47 PM traveling in unknown territory without a crew is crazy Elizabeth: right me: because it’s super easy to get lost and no one will find you yeah, you always swing along, ultimately that’s part of the alone/togetherness thing12:48 PM Elizabeth: right, I just got that. That’s awesome. me: i’m not sure if you can pull other people along i hadn’t really considered it like, can you grab someone’s hand and reach for a star? that seems like it would make for bizarre grappling star combat12:49 PM Elizabeth: heee me: where you try to dump people in space that they don’t know but you also run the risk of getting lost yourself, if you’re not careful i kinda like that, actually Elizabeth: You could fling someone into space and they’d have to grab for a star or get lost12:50 PM And they’d have to decide whether reaching for an unfamiliar star is better than just kind of hurtling through the cosmos me: well, i was more thinking that you’d have to pull people along with you, get them off of you, and then swing away Elizabeth: Oooh, yes me: i don’t think you can really hurtle other people, unless its some weird magical ability i like it all being really tactile12:51 PM Elizabeth: Right. I mean, it’s essentially built around this one really compelling sensory image me: that also means that, if someone’s trying to get away, you could tackle them and go with them, or try to keep their fingers from grabbing the right star but, also, dangerous Elizabeth: right
me: the star-wrestling/aikido think sounds potentially very cool, and makes combat very specific and limited, which is what i want and it de-incentivizes it12:54 PM because you could easily end up very, very lost hmm, maybe, if characters run the risk of being lost in a semi-permanent way, there needs to be a way to control multiple characters12:55 PM Elizabeth: Which makes it rare and high-stakes and dramatic, which is my favorite kind of combat me: right it’s like combat in Riddle of Steel12:56 PM but is also generally non-lethal, but potentially life- and soul-destroying, which is almost worse Elizabeth: I like the idea of characters who were separated and ended up on entirely different sides of the universe trying to find each other again– either due to THIRST FOR VENGEANCE or family or love or whatever12:58 PM but that doesn’t sound like the kind of scenario which would really lend itself to one person controlling multiple characters, does it? I mean, in that case it’d be kind of like trying to tickle yourself1:00 PM me: right i definitely think the Lost Lovers theme is going to be big as is the Lost Family1:01 PM or Lost Enemies thing so many people get lost some of them are bound to include people you care about maybe there’s some way for players whose characters are lost to keep playing until their characters reappear?1:02 PM but more off-screen? so the spotlight is mainly on the crew Elizabeth: Right me: but they could have more GMy powers or something Elizabeth: Maybe when you’re lost, you play someone important to another crew member?1:03 PM Tangentially, maybe in flashbacks or just how it affects the crew member’s mindset me: right, you could play major NPCs or something and then, you could ultimately decide to take on an NPC and have your character stay lost or just become an NPC themselves if they return Elizabeth: I like that a lot!1:05 PM Man, lost love and lost family are great, right, but the lost enemy thing is really compelling to me1:06 PM Because the risk of losing yourself to find someone you love is like, almost a no-brainer, but the idea of risking losing yourself to punish someone is really conflicted and, I don’t know I guess you’d have to be careful not to get all Wolverine-y though. ;)1:11 PM me: ha well, you could put a crew together specifically to track down someone you all hate maybe one major part of character creation is deciding what the purposes of your crew are1:12 PM and then, if you achieve them or give up on them, you’ll have to find new reasons to stay together or else go off to join other crews1:13 PM Elizabeth: And that could lead to different games with the same characters; game one could be a lost family game, and then later you could get the family as a crew to track down the person that separated them, etc1:14 PM Without it all having to be one super-long never ending game without a conclusion :)1:16 PM me: right crews have purposes gives you concrete goals i was talking a bit with Justin about allowing for short 3-session arcs and then longer campaigns1:17 PM so you have punctuated stopping places Elizabeth: That kind of flexibility is pretty hot

Just when you need detailed grappling rules…
All About Grappling (Part One) by Skip Williams
All About Grappling (Part Two)
All About Grappling (Part Three)
All About Grappling (Part Four)

Stellar Cartography

2007 Sep 11

Shreyas: i’d like to know about like the mapping system, i think 4:16 PM me: yeah, the mapping is going to be tricky because it can’t be too realistic without requiring software i’m trying to figure out how the travelers themselves would map routes4:17 PM like, what would their maps look like maybe you would scribble down a constellation and then draw an arrow? creating landmarks? Shreyas: yeah, something like that landmarks are essential4:18 PM me: you know how they number the stars in a constellation right? with the name of the constellation and then they number the stars with greek letters in order of brightness so i could see that working here4:19 PM so you could notate a route like Swan C -> Butterfly A -> Snake A -> Pump B Shreyas: nod me: and the safest and most obvious routes would be all A’s B’s and C’s following the young, bright, big, close stars4:20 PM Shreyas: right oh, that’s excellent me: yeah, i was thinking that the established crews would be people who met up around the really bright stars you can see from earth4:21 PM because they would have more people, have crews established earlier, and be prepared to recover lost newcomers also, stars with ritual significance would have major crews the North Star Sirius Venus Shreyas: right4:22 PM me: though Venus isn’t a star, so i’m not sure if that would work

Dungeon Diving the Firmament

2007 Sep 11

Fingers on the Firmament is one of my weirder game concepts. As I explained it to Justin D. Jacobson:

    Basically, characters reach out into the sky one day and discover that they can grasp the stars and pull on them, yanking themselves into the great void of the universe. They can rock-climb on the heavens, basically: grabbing Sirius and pulling themselves towards it, then grabbing another star, further away. There would be star maps included in the game, so the characters could figure out where they were.

    Eventually, assuming they are uncommonly lucky, they are stumbled upon by some of the other millions of humans who live amid the stars. Billions of other star-travelers are simply lost forever, wandering amidst the void forever, since finding other humans amidst the insane hugeness of the universe is surprisingly rare. But the humans who do find each other create strange mini-societies among the stars, where they try to find those who are lost and create lives for themselves way out beyond the world that we know. Some even try to find Earth, so they can go home.

    The game asks, if such a situation were to occur, what would the society of these dwellers among the stars actually be like? It’s a kind of reconstructed anthropology based on a magical realist premise.

To this Justin suggested adding a kind of Heroes-related premise (warning, I’ve never actually watched that series):

    Players take the role of ordinary individuals scattered… The point of the game is to have them find each other. They’re meant to come together for some higher purpose, but something is trying to prevent it from happening. Why are they meant to find each other, and what is trying to prevent them could be fertile ground for further thinking.

Which sounds great. And then I suggested that we do it using the d20 system. Before you freak out, let me explain how “star diving” might work.

The firmament (i.e. the universe) is so incredibly vast that getting yourself lost is a huge danger. Say you reach out and grab a star, pulling yourself towards it. As you approach the star, especially if the star is very far away, the sky around it will look less and less familiar. Bright stars will become dim and dim stars will become bright. Some stars will become invisible and formerly invisible ones will appear. The constellations that you once knew will no longer be around you as familiar guides. God forbid you grab a particular star and it turns out to be a not a star at all but a far-off galaxy. Thanks to such a minor misstep, you could find yourself wandering the universe alone forever, unable to find your way back to familiar skies.

So when people go traveling, they do it in groups. Each person in the group has a particular role and a set of responsibilities. If everyone does their job properly, the likelihood of people getting lost is very low. And, even if someone does get separated and disoriented, there are procedures that the group can follow, making recovery much more likely than it would normally be. I haven’t got these responsibilities or procedures all figured out yet, but I do want to talk about how a particular journey into unfamiliar space, a “star dive” might work, because the parallels to dungeon diving make me think d20 might be a great system for this.

The group starts in familiar space, probably their home territory, where the stars around them are familiar and, ideally, relatively well-mapped. Now “mapped” can mean “a crew went diving, starting with that star, and never came back; neither did the search party that went after them.” Certain stars may be generally agreed to be off-limits, perhaps because they are very far away and no one’s sure what’s on the other side.

In any case, before going on a journey, the “dive crew” would have picked a particular route. The route may be a simple as picking an unknown star that’s visible from your home territory, but one to which most people in your crew have not been to. Perhaps there’s one or two experienced crew members who can act as guides. Perhaps you’ve borrowed someone from a different crew who claims to know a bit about the star or have once gotten lost somewhere nearby. Perhaps you plan to follow up on a previous dive and continue along a route that’s already mostly plotted or branch off and explore neighboring stars, expanded your familiarity. Perhaps a crew has disappeared and you’re planning to trace the route they took in order to look for them. Perhaps you have no connection to the star or route except for pure curiosity, and you’re just going to take the chance.

Once you start the journey, each “swing” to the next star (swinging on a star, get it?) holds a bit of a risk, especially if you’re swinging into unfamiliar space. Even if your entire group is traveling together, swinging is still an individual act. Assuming that everyone makes the same “grab,” you’ll all end up close to and oriented towards the same star, but you will still arrive seperately and potentially far apart. Gathering the group together and counting heads before you make the next “swing” is recommended. In more familiar space, a rendezvous ever 3-5 “swings” may be plenty. You can just say “Rendezvous at ______” and, if not all party members arrive as planned, the group can trace their steps backward one at a time to try to find missing people.

All in all, traveling between the stars follows the general dungeon dive pattern of Enter New Space + Deal With What’s There + Choose a Direction to Go In + Enter New Space. And once Justin and I figure out the grand premise — what the various crews are trying to do and what’s preventing them from doing it — I imagine that the various ways that you could potentially Deal With What’s There could become more and more interesting.