Greetings, gamers of all types and temperments. Welcome to Make a Thought Check. My name is Ed, and I am not involved in professional game design in any way, shape, or form. I don't know game designers, I don't interact with game designers... hell, I barely even understand how statistics work.
But, I am going to pretend I know about game design long enough to, ah, design a bunch of games. Or at least ramble incessantly about games and gaming. This is my space to do this.
We're pretty early in the process right now. This might be what I'd call an open beta if, as I said, I was involved in game design in any way shape or form. Let's us just call it a rough draft at the moment, shall we?
I did it again. Or, attempted it again. I saw this informal contest, and though I was certainly too late to actually participate in this little bit of business, by a week even, I was inspired and compelled to take part in it. Sort of.
“Sort of” in the sense that Mr. Macklin was looking for a five hundred word gamelet and I just about tripled that. So, rather than forcing myself to conform to that arbitrary delineation, I chose to conform to my own arbitrary delineation. One day. One page. One shot.
(With some thanks to Paul for supplying the title. I should invest in a new rule that all future iterations of this have incredibly bad pun titles. Everyone should have a worse title than the last.)
So, give it a look! Then come back so I can talk about it a bit.
So, the obvious first question: did I succeed at my task? Did I make a one page long one-shot RPG in one day?
Okay, one day? YES. Give or take an hour, because I wasn’t really paying attention when I started, but you know… that’s the barest of technicalities, and if I were being tried, I’d certainly have been able to work the fraction of a second faster to beat the clock. So I’m calling that a resounding success. With… with the following caveat which might undo everything…
I’d already planned out the mechanics. Not exactly, because you can only take mechanics so far without some sort of theme to attach to it but… still, I’d been working on the idea for a while now. In fact, if you take a look at that dice shtick in my most recent post, you can quite easily trace the logical chain from the narrative-assist dice pool to the control of a hoard… oh, the narrative is lost, but the mixed die-type pool and the mix of attribute types and whatnot. So… does that undermine me entirely? If the idea predated the day? I’ll argue that no, because that’s how inspiration works, isn’t it? There’s no such thing as a blank slate, after all. But for what it’s worth, nothing had been typed beforehand. Success? Sure, why not?
One page? Yes! Well, with caveats, of course… eight point font, fairly narrow margins and very tight text. I’d say there’s no avoiding it, but the real and the true of it is that I’m mostly just a wordy and over complicated bastard. I could have skipped rules for autonomy, or complications for using the lich’s attributes… I could have done any number of things to trim and pare down, but you know what? That’s not my style. Honestly, there’s a lot missing… it’s a mechanical document, and not a thematic one… if I had another page to work with, I could have perhaps had a bit more fun with how liching goes. Like, how currency is unimportant, but there’s a thriving trade in infants within the liching community. Ah, but whatever. I guess it’s not too dang-old important… my only real regret is how dry the document turned out, which is a factor of how many rules I have going on. Hm. Maybe next time I’ll work on something with incredibly easy or just straight-up borrowed mechanics… I’ll steal the one-roll engine, which is effective enough, or FUDGE, and work a more setting-oriented page off of that. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to write my page in 9-point font.
Anyway, compared to Steam and Storm it’s a lot more comfortable on a single page… there’s a hint of formatting, minor appearances of white space, and on the whole a document which feels less like it was written during time period when a piece of paper cost upwards of a day’s wages. In part, however, that’s because…
… it’s not a one-shot. Now, that’s a vague description, but I use it to mean a game set up for a specific narrative, with some sort of an end game. There’s none of that here. The original outline was for a competitive game, which made the obvious presence of a phylactory on someone’s character sheet much more important, because all you liches were battling to be the last, but that didn’t work out… the idea still has merit (each lich would have been the GM in his or her own tower, essentially) but I couldn’t get it to work out quickly enough, and in trying to write around it I ended up converting things into a much more standard party-and-GM style. Which isn’t bad, but it’s certainly an indication that I can’t take the triple-one prize today, nor the ten-thousand dollar stipend which goes with it.
Still. It turned out okay, right? Right? I need your attention and adulation, people. And the character sheet, while not a paragon of graphic design by any means, seems a bit more lively than a dang-ol’ spreadsheet… it needs some art assets in those big-empty squares, of course, and a lot of restructuring for flow, but it’s got a tower. A tower! And a little space to record how many infant you have for dark rituals! And the alignment already filled in “evil”, but with enough space for you to pencil in “lawful” if you think you’re fooling anybody! So, yeah.
Long story shortish; I am pleased.