Friday, November 18, 2011

Damn Holidays...

[no, not really]

Just about everyone bailed on me for my play-test last night (including one guy just as I was leaving the house...jeez, H!), but I still ended up going down to the Mox last night because, well, beer and because I didn't want to stand up the one stand-up guy that was hanging out and waiting for me at the bar.

Eating a big-ass sandwich. Thanks, Matthew.

[Besides Tebow was playing on the Mox television and, yes, I was able to catch that fourth quarter knife in the heart of Jets fans. In a season where the Seahawks are once again hit with more than its fair share of bad luck (after two weeks of the best offensive line production in years, we lose the two starters on the right side for the season plus...who tears their ACL on a Wednesday practice drill in Week 10? Who does that?!)...welp, I'll take any NFL chuckles I can get, and seeing the AFC implode and the Pats (again) rising to the top is plenty entertaining. I hope Tebow & Co. slaps 'em down in the play-offs. If he can somehow lead the Broncos to a Superbowl win one of these years, we're probably looking at a future Republican candidate for VP...Congress at least (from Colorado, of course).]

Since it was just Matthew and I and he'd never had a chance to play MDR or Out of Time, I went over the basic DMI rules with him, including the new and improved updates I've thrown in. Here's something neat: he was excited and engaged just in discussing game play. He thought it sounded neat, and is looking forward to playing...just by describing the card/dice mechanic, over a hand of cards. Now...that's cool.

At least, I think so. A lot of game designers attempt to suck people, "engage their clients" providing them with a cool premise. "It's Star Wars!" or "It's fighting Nazis and dinosaurs in the Hollow Earth!"or "It's undead cowboys in an alternate history world called the Weird West with magic-slinging gamblers and mad scientists and steam-punk!"

I don't fault them for that, by the way...I buy games like Deadlands and HEX and other weirdness, based on cool premise just like the next person. Airship pirates are cool, dammit. I want to experience that world for an evening or two for the fun of it.

But what you don't see much least I don' designers hawking their game system based on its ability to engage players in a cool role-playing experience. Oh, you see designers promoting their systems based on "universality" (GURPS, HERO), or simplicity (FATE, FUDGE), or attendant slew of compatible IPA and ability to model cool settings (Storyteller system, Savage Worlds).

I mean there are some: the One Roll Engine (Wild Talents, Godlike) and GUMSHOE (Mutant City Blues, Trail of Cthulhu) are two that spring to mind. But again, they entice you in with the premise, the story of the game first...then they talk up their "unique game system" and how it contributes to the game play.

My approach is going to be similar but lazier: it's space opera, dude.

Anyway, the explaining stuff went down pretty easy and I caught Matthew saying, "cool" or "neat" or "wow, I like that" on more than a couple which I replied, "I know, right?!"

So that was promising.

Unfortunately, we won't know how it REALLY works in practice until we get a chance to play-test, which (because of Thanksgiving) is probably not going to be for two weeks. Damn holidays! Actually, Matthew was trying to talk me into running the game next Thursday anyway, it IS a holiday after all.

Dude has got to cultivate a healthier interest in football. My man is originally from Michigan and the Lions are playing their first meaningful Thanksgiving day game in decades!

Again, though, I appreciate the interest AND the enthusiasm; I was pretty excited to try the game myself and bummed that it didn't go down. But this is the time of year when people are winging around the country (or getting stuck in the Occupy Seattle traffic...when are folks going to Occupy Walmart? That's what I want to see...burn that shit down...) and we just have to bite the bullet on that one. But I definitely have some encouragement for continuing the writing.

All right...gotta' get to work, as I'm already running a bit behind (the wife and baby are still sick, so I was up both very late and early this morning getting everyone to sleep). Glad I've got holiday time to spend!
; )


  1. For me, the last time I got excited because of the mechanics (and used them to excite others) was Old School Hack.

    The way the game solves making different weapons meaningful, the arena mechanic, the Awesome Point economy, Talents--these elements combine to make the idea of using them in play really engaging.

    The setting does nothing on this one, as the only real guidance is "gonzo fantasy cliches."

    The mechanics got me excited enough to start kicking out applications for using them and expanding on the frame. So yeah, sometimes the mechanics alone are enough to pull you and others in.

  2. @ Fictive: it sounds like you're realy trying to sell me on OSH.
    ; )

    I thought I already checked it out once, but I don't recall these highlights of the game system you mention. I will give it another look when I have a free minute.
    : )

  3. I was engaged by the mechanics in The Riddle of Steel. Unfortunately for me, the rules were presented in concert with a world that was so uninspired that I am unlikely to ever play it again.

    So, in my opinion, brilliant mechanics can be destroyed by uninspired world design. Better to leave out explicit worldbuilding from the outset, saving that for the first supplement. That's how D&D and Traveller did it, and those two are classics for good reason.

  4. It's true that as I read about your problem-solving in making your own system, I see parallels to what Old School Hack has elegantly set up. Let's just say it's been a long time since I was inspired by a game system (that I didn't design) and I think this game goes in the direction you want to go. =)

  5. Great to have you blogging regularly again about RPGs and football. I like how you continue to apply Occam's Razor to the RPG experience.

    Sorry your wife and child are under the weather; hope they bounce back quickly.