Monday, June 27, 2016

Game Chef 2016: The Curse That Waits

Well it is that time again in the Game Chef competition. I have completed my entry just sent off my reviews of the games for other four other people's games. they were good entries, and I think this year is going to be a good one. Now that the reviews are done, the waiting has begun. And so I reflect.

On reflection I wish I had noticed and fixed a few of the small(or large) issues in my design I think I have a solid idea, but I am not really sure if I got it across all that well. Usually I can do pretty decent setting and my issues are that I make the rules too simple. This time around I think I may have had the opposite problem. Anyway, here is the link to my game. I hope you like it, and I would love to hear any thoughts or critiques you might have.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Game Chef 2016: Dead Until Dawn

Alright, here is how it works, so far. I have a bit of a background built and pretty much all the mechanics mapped out. I am fair certain I can be done shortly if I really put my nose to the grindstone, but I know me and I will probably get it in just under the wire. Also what a weird statement, "nose to the grindstone." Who would ever do that. I think I get what they mean, but much like many sayings in use, it just gets odd when you visualize it...or is that just me?

The Premise
It is the future, technology has moved forward, faster than even the brightest could have figured. Innovation is the last bastion of true merit in the world. Most people go through their days at a dead end job to make enough money so that they can buy the newest gadget and zone out for a while. Novelty has become the primary source of amusement among the populous. The earth is clean, the air, the water, all of it. It is cleaner than it has ever been. even the forest have been replanted, but no one goes their. Most folk live in vast cities that climb ever higher every year. If one were to look at it, the world has become a utopia. However this perfection has bred a distance from consequences, joy, or anything real. All that matters is the new stuff, the new ideas, the new feelings. The ruling class like it that way. The executives of the mega corporations and the lifelong politicians all work hard to ensure the people stay in place and enjoy the simple things. Wars are no longer fought over ideals, or land, or even money(if their ever was such a war). Wars are fought over new ideas, new technologies, and the control of public perception. Nothing is sacred anymore, not even the dead.

You are one of the dead bodies, reanimated with nanite pseudo-blood and various other concoctions. Repurposed to fight the petty wars of the spoiled tyrants at the top. You spend your nights fighting these shadow wars and your days dead. Pseudo-blood does not work when the sun is up. If anyone knows why, they aren't telling you.

The Rules
To create your character you must choose a concept for a repurposed vampire corpse. Once you have a name and basic idea pick ten key words from the key words list(or come up with your own, if you have a cool idea), at least one key word must represent your role in the operations, generally speaking their are four types of roles: Heavies deal in direct conflict, Intel deals with information and surveillance, Mountebanks deal with pesky human relationships, and Phantoms deal with physical security.  You may then choose any other set of keywords.

Roles: a bunch of cool names for the various nefarious jobs go here, still working on the list.
Background: Accountant, Architect, Cook, Odd Jobs, Dry Cleaner, Stay At Home Mom/Dad, Management, that sort of thing. Represents the things your body remembers how to do from when you were alive.
Vampiric Key Words: Enhance Sense, Super Strength, Bullet Time, Weird Blood Tricks, Addictive Saliva, Poison Sweat, Involuntary Muscle Control, the sort of thing nanite enhanced dead bodies might have.

Then you need to choose your vice. You vice is a stress track that lets you know how in control you are. Being brought back from the dead has an odd effect on the human brain chemistry, it can lead to extremes of passion or lethargy, and all sorts of other things. Vampires have learned to channel this vice into "spooky action" that allows for impossible things to occur.  The Vices are Greed, Lust, Wrath, Sloth, Gluttony, Pride, and envy.  When you pick that that is your stress relief, the thing that gets you passed all the thing you do in the night. You have a stress track that goes to six. For every two stress you take your flaw increases in strength. What this means is that when it would hinder you or complicate your unlife, the GM can give you a coin in order to have you behave irrationally and selfishly for the scene. If you have already taken stress then you may spend a coin to overcome an obstacle related to the vice without having to flip for it. For each vice I plan to have a specific sort of super power that goes with it. Right now I don't have that.

You get to pick one of the Role Powers that I have not yet built, but will be a thing. Generally what they allow is for you to get more for your coin spends, so I still got some work there. You get eight coins that go in your personal pool, these are used up when you succeed at tasks. You also have three wounds, which are the physical damage you can take before your body's supply of pseudo-blood is used up.

When you encounter an obstacle you can pick a number of coins and flip them. If you get a heads that is a basic success. Sometimes you will need to get more than one heads showing to succeed(mostly this will be when the Alarm Level has increased). If you Flip heads and are also showing tails you get a complication. If you have half or less of the coins showing tails you get a minor complication. If you have over half of the coins showing tails it is a major complication. If you have no heads showing and all tails, run. Run fast. Because the roof just caved in and you are holding the cake, my good lad. On its most basic level, for each coin that comes up tails you need to either mark off an Alarm Level, an hour of the Sunrise Clock, Your Personal Stress, or a Wound.

There are two Tracks that the GM keep track of: The Sunrise Clock, and the Alarm Level. The Sunrise Clock is the amount of time remaining before the rise of the sun and you stop functioning. The Sunrise clock always has eight segments. You got eight hours until dawn. The Alarm Level is how aware of you security is. The number of alarm levels can vary depending on the mission. You want to keep both of those from topping out as if either tops out your characters are hosed. Either dead on the ground due to sunrise, or dead because ED-209 and a hundred of his buddies are coming at you.

The adventures are usually broken down like so:

  1. Choose/Get assignment: You get the goal of the assignment, what you are meant to do in the rival corporation's headquarters or warehouse. Generally this will be a thing that needs stealing or sabotage that needs doing. 
  2. Surveillance: In this you can take turns placing a coins in the group pool. For each coin in the group pool you get to dictate one obstacle or weakness in the system. Each round of this you do reduces the Sunrise clock by an hour. 
  3. Gear Up: You will choose two pieces of gear. What gear allow you to do is spend a coin to circumvent an obstacle without having to flip for it. 
  4. Get in: You need to overcome a certain number of obstacles in order to get in and do that which you were reanimated to do. 
  5. Get out: You need to get out without running out of time or raising the alarm too high.
  6. Get Paid/Get Betrayed: After the op is done you report back in and must pass a few obstacles not to get betrayed by the higher ups. Why do you think they use corpses, you are literally disposable people. 
  7. Fallout: You will then spend a bit laying out the fallout for your actions that night. Perhaps a cure was stolen/destroyed, perhaps you killed the wrong person, perhaps you got seen, maybe you kept a dangerous weapon out of the wrong hands. I need to work on a set of fallout mechanics, as I think that is a very interesting idea. Basically building the world based on what will happen or what might have happened. 
That is what I have for right now, I would love to hear any thoughts on the matter. Some of this I have a better grasp of now that I have seen it in writing, but other parts are still a bit up in the air. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Game Chef 2016: Initial Thoughts

So the other day I was thinking about the inevitable hyperspace war that is to come, and I realized something. I realized that very few people seem all that worried about the inevitable hyperspace war that is to come and the hordes of Mantid mind controllers that are enabling its coming. I also realized something else. IT GAME CHEF TIME AGAIN! BOOYAH!

So I have taken a break from telling people of the Mantid threat and the inevitable hyperspace war that is to come(though seriously guys, its gonna happen) in order to do some design work for Game Chef. I have a lot of ideas, so lets get to digging.

Theme: Technology
Alright technology can mean a whole lot of things. So I think I might want interleave technology with the rest of the game. I am not sure I can come up with a new method or device to use while gaming so I think I will need to have technology sit as the ever present landscape upon which the game will play out. So I am thinking maybe doing something with VR as a major setting element, or perhaps holodecks, or some such reality thing. I have just always liked the idea that people get trapped in technology as it makes them virtual gods, and the weirdness that happens because of it. But we shall see, this is just the rough brainstorming of ideas.

Maybe you are people with technology attempting to save the world from ignorance. Or perhaps you are all students at mad scientist preparatory school and you need to complete your projects all while trying to get up the nerve to talk to that special someone and live up to your parents unrealistic expectations. Hard to say at this point. Lets see where it goes.

...ooh, here's a thought a beneficent AI collective is fighting the Bad AI AUTHORITY and must enlist the aid of elite agents in this struggle for the very soul of the world...or something.

Ingredients: alarm, dance, sketch, and sunlight
So the ingredient, Alarm, jumps right out at me from the start. I keep thinking security alarms and the like. Also the idea of a clock counting down to some terrible thing(like waking up?) and you must accomplish you task before the alarm reaches that time. So I am thinking Heists, which is good because it also gives me a framework from which to build my game. You play a crew of thieves, or secret agents, or some other clandestine type. you are taking down marks and committing heists. Maybe corporate espionage? Stealing technology for your corp. Like a competent version of Nedry from Jurassic Park. Stealing tomorrows tech, today!

The other ones are bit harder to nail down. For dancing all I can think is, you must commit heists so you can come to the enchantment under the sea dance? Maybe you are committing heists in order to bring two lover together despite the vast chasm that separate them and it all culminates in a dance? Or perhaps this is a Bollywood style heist and you must do everything to a dance number? I guess I can think of very little to deal with dancing just yet.

Sketch is either a rough drawing or a humorous skit. I am really unsure how to implement this...guess I will think on this a bit more?

Sunlight is really quite expansive though my first thought is vampires(and how they are the work of our secret mantid overlords). If I used vampires in this game it would give a nice parallel with Alarm, as you must complete your goal before sunrise. Maybe vampires are genetic super-soldiers built for corporate espionage. Sunlight also leads me to other interesting ideas, solar panels/power, Lions(I had heard that they were created from the sun), Vitamin D, Photic Sneeze Reflex, and space exploration(solar sails).

So right now I am leaning toward technologically created vampires who commit corporate espionage in a near future, and must do so before dawn.

So let us now brainstorm some interesting mechanics. Are you excited? I know I sure am. I would very much like character creation to be pretty simple, yet leave room for some complexity in play. I am leaning toward something like keywords. You have X number of keywords that describe your characters background and competencies. I also really like Keys from Shadows of Yesterday, so I will probably do something like taht for the characters. I am also a fan of not rolling unless the situation is dire, or only rolling when something interesting can happen no matter what. So I think I want the basic difficulty of tasks to be around 50% for basic tasks. I also like dice pools and that tactile feel of empowerment they bring to the game.

Perhaps some sort of resource management and group mechanics...

H'okay, here is the basic idea for the mechanics. You flip coins. Each character has a pool of coins that they can use to complete tasks. You have a list(or paragraph, or whatever, of keywords that describe your competencies. You can choose one coin per competency, and then you flip the coins(or toss them, I like the idea of an I Ching style thing going on here(not sure how to incorporate hexagrams just yet). Heads means you succeed, more head means you succeed better. Tails make things complicated, more tails makes things more complicated.  So it is possible, in this methodology to virtually guaranty success, but get enough complication that it causes even more danger. You can succeed and still botch, so the game will partially be about deciding how much you want to risk versus how much you need to succeed. There will also be a group pool of coins which you can take from and add to. For everyone of your coins you add to the group pool the group pool actually grows by two coins. However anyone can use those coins at any time. I want to do more with this idea, but I am still fiddling around with the basics of the idea.

There will be an alarm meter that runs throughout the game as well as a sunlight meter that counts down to sunrise. For every time something gets too obvious the alarm meter will go up. When it is mixed then the op is blow and you just need to get out of their with your lives intact and hope your employers don't hold a grudge. The sunrise meter ticks down after every every scene, when it hits zero it is sunrise and you are now trapped, or must sleep, or something. You have a choice at each complication of either raising the alarm meter a little bit, lowering the sunrise meter a bit more than you normally would for that scene, or taking ongoing consequences of a more immediate nature(like damage, or getting stressed out and sloppy).

So that is what I have so far, for this year's Game Chef. I would love to hear what you think. This is all just brainstorming at this point, so all of this is subject to change. Anyway, that is enough for now. I have to go deal with this Mantid mind control nonsense before they kick off the inevitable hyperspace war that is to come.