Explaining Storium

Posted on : 04-24-2014 | By : Brian | In : Reviews, Role-Playing Games

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Storium is like the Matrix: nobody can be told what it is, you have to see it for yourself. If you’re aware of the Kickstarter but on the fence about backing because you have no worldly idea what it is, I’d like to help you.

What follows are a series of screen grabs that comprise the first scene of my Venture City Stories Storium game. I used screen grabs because I want you to be able to see Storium; the UI, the way it presents information, and so forth.

First, these are the characters in my game:

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A Storium scene starts with a move from the narrator. In that move, the narrator can play obstacles, goals, assets, people, or places in any combination. Here’s the first move:

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Those cards under Challenges are obstacle cards. The little pips are challenge points; each challenge (obstacle or person) has a number of challenge points assigned by the narrator.

Once the scene has started, the players can start posting their own moves to respond to the narrator and to each other.

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In this move, you’ll see that Ghalib has played three cards: two strengths and a subplot. Each card a player plays to a challenge marks off one of that challenges points; when all the points are marked off, the challenge is considered resolved. Which cards you play matter though. Strengths push a challenge toward a strong outcome, while weaknesses point a challenge toward a weak outcome. Other cards mark off points, but don’t push the challenge in either direction; they maintain the current status quo in that challenge.

Players are limited in the number of cards they can play in a scene: three per scene. You can still make moves without playing cards, but you won’t be affecting the direction of the fiction in any mechanical way. So, on Ghalib’s first move, he played all three cards on that challenge, winning control of it with a strong outcome. That means he gets to narrate what happens, given the constraints of the challenge. These were the constraints of that challenge:

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And here are the next several moves in this scene:

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Here you can see players going back and forth, playing cards and shifting the direction in which the challenge is headed. You can also see that, as the narrator, you can continue to make moves. You don’t have to play challenges to make a move. Also, you can play other cards like assets or goals, or you can give them directly to individual players.

Here’s the rest of the scene:

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One more thing: there’s a commentary channel where you can have out-of-character chatter. Here’s what that looks like:

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And them’s the basics! If you like what you saw, if you think it sounds like your cup of tea, go back the Kickstarter!

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Tell Me a Story: A Game Idea

Posted on : 04-02-2014 | By : Brian | In : Board Games

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So a game idea hit me in the brain yesterday, and I noodled on it throughout the night. It’s not yet complete, but this is how Becoming started, so I have a feeling I’ll see it through. The name I’m using for this proto-game in my conversations with myself is Tell Me a Story, and the idea is thus:

  • You’ve got two players: the Storyteller and the Interloper. I’m not happy with either of these names, but they’re convenient monikers for now.
  • The job of both players is to tell a collaborative story in about two hours, using a deck of cards containing elements of the story.
  • The Storyteller makes statements about what happens in the story, and plays the cards to the story.
  • The Interloper asks questions about the story, changing things and moving the cards around on the table.
  • The story is divided into three acts, and I’m thinking that the position or pattern of the cards on the table acts as an oracle for how and when each act ends. Not sure about the specifics yet.

Anyway, that’s what I’m noodling on.

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The Payoff

Posted on : 01-07-2014 | By : Brian | In : Becoming, Musings, Role-Playing Games, Writing and Freelancing

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Days of Knights in Newark, DE was my first game store. I spend the majority of my money and time during my middle school and high school years on and with books and boards bought at that store, and I credit Days of Knights with kindling, at least in part, the passion for games that I have today. It was a haven, a place where I could be as nerdy as I wanted to be during a time when judgment and insecurity were constant companions.

I’ve wanted to design games for as long as I can remember. Since I picked up my first game book (a copy of the 2nd Ed AD&D Player’s Handbook, by the way) I’ve wanted to make them. During my high school and college years, I often fantasized about the moment that I walked into a game store (it was Days of Knights in my head, always) and saw a book on the shelf with my name on it. That dream followed me for a long time.

After college, when I was working my way through a series of unsatisfying jobs, that dream started to die. Bit by bit I lost it, lost the hope that it would ever happen, began to give up on it. When Bulldogs! happened, I started to hope again. Maybe it would happen. I was published now, right?

A week and a half ago it happened. I walked into Days of Knights with the intent of talking to the owner about Becoming, and I saw Fate Core, The Fate System Toolkit, and both Fate Worlds books on the shelf. Four books. Four books with my name on the cover, on the shelf at Days of Knights. The world stopped.

I talked with the owner and the staff and they explained that those books had been flying off the shelves, those were there last copies. I told them about Becoming. They were very interested, they said it sounded great, said they wanted it. They bought three copies from me on the spot, had me sign them.

There’s a phenomenon that exists where a dream doesn’t feel real when you’re living it, even when proof exerts itself time and again. Well, it feels real now.

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Becoming Added to the Bundle of Holding!

Posted on : 11-29-2013 | By : Brian | In : Becoming, News, Role-Playing Games, Writing and Freelancing

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If you’ve already bought the Bundle of Holding before 11am Eastern on Thursday, congratulations! You now own Becoming!. If not, you can now own Becoming by paying more than the average for the current Bundle, and let me tell you this bundle is totally worth it. I mean, just look at those games.

Many of you know what Becoming is. For those who don’t (welcome!), it’s a game about what it takes, what it costs, to be a hero. In Becoming, one player takes on the role of the Hero while the others take on the roles of Fates. The Hero has a Quest she must complete, and it’s the Fates’ job to put her through the wringer as she does so. She may very well complete the Quest, but she won’t be the same when she’s done; she won’t be able to go home again.

It took me about a year to create Becoming, and the better part of another year to Kickstart it and release it into the wild as a PDF. Right now I’m in the final stages of making it into a physical product, but the Bundle of Holding, in my mind, offers the game a sense of legitimacy, of belonging to a community of games. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Bundle, and I can’t wait for you to experience this thing that I made (and all of the fantastic things that other people made and put in this Bundle!)

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What Wetwork Is

Posted on : 11-20-2013 | By : Brian | In : Board Games

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I’ve talked about Wetwork in the past. You might recall older posts wherein I talk about what it is, detail moves, show you a character, and so forth. It’s changed since then. I came up with an idea a little while ago, one that won’t let me drop it, and it has changed the nature of how Wetwork is structured. Allow me to explain.

Wetwork is cyberpunk espionage.
This is still true. At its core, Wetwork is a game about elite, disavowable assets who engage in corporate espionage for a big multinational. They kill, steal, kidnap, threaten, and destroy at their masters’ bidding. Wetwork is a game about bad people who do bad things for other bad people.

Wetwork is powered by the Apocalypse.
Also still true. Apocalypse World’s structure of moves and playbooks is a design space I enjoy occupying, and I still think it’s a good fit for Wetwork. There are still moves. There are still stats. There are still playbooks.

Wetwork exists on cards.
This is where things change a little bit. I envision Wetwork as the kind of game you can read in a single sitting, then play with no prep. It probably leans more toward one-shots and short campaign arcs than it does toward longer-form play. Once you’ve read what I intend to be a very short rulebook, all the rules you need are on cards. Each move you need exists on a card. When you create your character, you’re choosing what cards you start with. When you’re looking at a playbook, you’re looking at a deck of cards.

This allows me to do some things to make the system a little easier to understand for people who aren’t familiar with Apocalypse World and its associated permutations. Hopefully it makes Wetwork a good entry point into the system. It also allows me to make story-building on the fly a bit easier for the GM, by taking some cues from Storium.

Wetwork is on Patreon.
That’s how I want to fund this game. When you back me on Patreon, you’re agreeing to give me some amount of money in exchange for decks of cards. A deck might be a character, or it might be a collection of items, or it might be a bunch of NPCs or places or events. When all’s said and done, you’ll have no-frills print-and-play sheets for everything you need to play the game. Eventually this game will go up on a service like DriveThruCards, but only if I can secure the funding to make it in the first place.

To whet your appetite, here are a few cards from one of the character decks.
Misunderstood Rage

Kill

Ephraim Tanaka

Hopes and Regrets

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Becoming Releases in PDF!

Posted on : 11-11-2013 | By : Brian | In : Board Games

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That’s right, you can get the PDF for Becoming: A Game of Heroism and Sacrifice on DriveThruRPG on the Dangerous Games page! For those who don’t know, Becoming is a game about what it costs to be a hero, what you have to sacrifice. It’s a four-player game wherein one player takes on the role of Hero and the other three take on the roles of Fates, which are a bit like GMs. Go check it out!

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Funding Design with Patreon

Posted on : 11-05-2013 | By : Brian | In : Board Games

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So I’ve decided to set up a Patreon page to fund some of my game designs. I’m still going to do freelance stuff for other companies, but I’ve decided I want to do more of my own designs, put them out in the world. What Rough Cuts showed me was that people are willing to pony up money, even if it’s just a dollar, for my designs. Even the crazy, off-beat ones. So that’s where Patreon comes in.

On Patreon, you can pledge to support me. You specify an amount, and you pay me that amount every time I release a significant piece of content. A significant piece of content, in this case, is a full micro game or a piece of a larger game (at least four pages). You’ll also get to see work-in-progress stuff and, if you pledge at least $10, you’ll get a PDF of the final version of any game I fund through Patreon. Also, don’t worry about going over your spending limit; you can specify a maximum amount of money you’ll give me per month.

I hope you support me. I want to make more games, and I want to share them with you!

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Becoming PDF Goes To Backers

Posted on : 10-23-2013 | By : Brian | In : Becoming, News, Role-Playing Games, Writing and Freelancing

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That’s right, if you backed Becoming for at least $10, you now have the final PDF waiting for you in your email box. Check it, download it, enjoy it! There’s more information in this Kickstarter update.

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Rough Cuts: 6 Micro Games

Posted on : 10-08-2013 | By : Brian | In : Game Design, Role-Playing Games, Rough Cuts

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Do you like games? Do you like short games, games designed to be consumed in a single sitting so that you can play as soon as possible? Do you like games that focus on doing one thing very well? Rough Cuts has six of them. Rough Cuts is a compilation of micro games I’ve been creating over the last few years, collected into one PDF and given some art and professional layout treatment.

It’s an experiment for me. Rough Cuts is pay-what-you-want, meaning you can get it for free if you’re on the fence, and pay me later if you want to. I want to see if people are interested in these games. I want to see if people will play them. None of them have been playtested yet, which means that you get to do that. You get to give me feedback, if you want to, and help me shape these games into what they will eventually become. Go try it out!

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Weal and Woe

Posted on : 10-01-2013 | By : Brian | In : Game Design, Role-Playing Games

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I had this idea today and I’ve been noodling on it a little bit, so I thought I’d share it here to get it out of my head. It’s not a complete game, just the kernel of one.

The idea is that you gather some friends to tell a story about a single character. Choose someone to frame the first scene. That person plays the character, and frames the scene: says what the setup is, what’s happening in the scene. Other people then jump in, chiming in with things that happen, introducing other characters or taking over characters who are already introduced. You’d probably also want to have some particular question that needs to be answered in the scene for it to get resolved.

Each player starts with two tokens: a white Weal token and a black Woe token. When a conflict occurs, the person who calls for the conflict (which can be anyone) chooses someone to resolve the conflict. That person looks at her tokens, chooses one, and passes it to the the person who called for the conflict. That player then interprets the token (Weal or Woe) in the context of the conflict, and narrates what happens.

When the question of the scene has been answered, play passes to the left and that person frames the next scene and comes up with a question. Play until you reach a good stopping point.

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ütüleme epilasyon