Monday, 19 October 2009

Rules Sequence

I was writing the rules for Siege and it occurred to me that I had no idea how to order my table of contents, my text structure. I've seen roleplaying texts take various forms in the solution to this problem. Clearly this is something that requires a bit of thought and planning.

For now, the approach I'm taking is to sequence it according to what a player needs to know in order to play the game. Whether this will eventually be the structure for the final text remains to be seen. I can see some good reasons to keep it that way, however.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Go Play Brisbane

I think it's time to start planning the next one.

Watch the blog for an announcement about it.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Writing a draft of the rules

I'm part of the way writing the rough and ready version of the Siege rules. It's an interesting exercise to do this, converting the concept into sentences. So far, I've learnt that it takes some considerable skill and text to be able to adequately explain a rule. What seems easy to understand in my mind needs to be easy to read and understand for someone else.

The other thing I've learnt is that by writing it down I can start to see what's missing. The image in my mind of how the game will play needs to translate to text. I actually have a mental picture of people sitting at a table, writing on paper, flipping over cards, rolling dice. It's wonderful guidance. I'll be able to explore that mental image (footage?) to find the game tools that are missing from the text.

This game is part of The Stockade project.

Friday, 2 October 2009

How Poison'd was Poison'd

At Gen Con this year I decided to bring Vincent Baker's game of Poison'd along. The con was due to fall on Talk Like A Pirate Day and I had no pirate games. Poison'd was preceded by a great recommendation from the podast community, so it was an easy choice.

During the con, it was run twice at the indie tables. Once was by me, and once by Jason. It wasn't quite the rollicking success I'd hoped. What I want to do here is explain what went wrong and how I plan to fix it next time.

Mistake 1: I ignored the primary rule of Vincent's games. From the little I know of his games and from reading his blog, Vincent wants people to remember that the fiction is first and last, with forays into the rules only where required. The fiction determines which rule to invoke. This relies heavily on the GM knowing all the rules and all the various elements of the fiction that are tied to the rules. I, unfortunately, made a significant and improper call in regard to combat when one side is clearly outgunning the other (e.g., "I whip out the gun and shoot him in the head!" to an unarmed person). By trying to force this through the combat and escalation rules, it left a sour taste in people's mouths. I should have used the rule for attacking a helpless opponent and had that been successful, immediately moved to the rules for mortal wounds.

Mistake 2: I let an inexperienced person run the game. My first group was told up front that I wanted to run the game, that it was my first time with the rules and that I would only proceed if they were willing to be my experimental group. 18 hours later, one of these players wanted to run the game and inherited all the same mistakes I made the first time. I should have said no.

Mistake 3: I didn't promote the use of Xs well enough. This is a game that requires characters to lose before they can win. More accurately, it requires that characters lose big before they can win big. Consequently, players were hesitant to drive the fiction in the directions required to stock up on the Xs. Ultimately, the character with the highest Brutality was triumphant. I should have pressed this point at the beginning of the game, and several times throughout the game.

Mistake 4: I didn't promote the ambitions well enough. The ambitions, especially of the sample characters from the game text, are set up to provoke conflict. A lot of conflict. And by achieving these ambitions, characters get to raise their Ambition stat. Consequently, the players didn't drive the fiction in those directions until too late in the session. I should have made these ambitions the core of the game, rather than relying on bangs to keep it all moving.

There are probably several other mistakes that I made, but these are the biggest and most embarrassing of the lot. I've not done any justice to Vincent's game and I apologise to him and the fans of Poison'd for this. I really want to play this game again, but I'm afraid that I may have a tough time trying to find players now because of my mistakes.

Damn, bugger and blast. I'm really sorry, Vincent.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Out of control

One element that I want to bring into the experience of Siege is a sense of being out of control. The Police player must feel as though his character doesn't control the whole situation. If the Police did, there would be no danger to the Hostage. Likewise, the Hostage player must feel out of control because the Hostage is in peril. And the Hostage-taker (still working on a better name - suggestions are welcome) isn't in control, otherwise they'd have what they were demanding.

To facilitate this, many of the narrative declarations about characters will be contributed by the other players. In doing this, the player will experience the unfolding of secrets and facts, as well as the uncertainty of being out of control.

This game is part of The Stockade project.