Bill White's roleplaying game design blog, with emphasis on narrativist or story-heavy games.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two Games, One Name

My friend Nathan Paoletta is running a design contest called "Two Games, One Name," where pairs of designers are given the same title for a game and a set of contrasting constraints (e.g., "design a game for solo play" vs. "design a game to be played via text message") and asked to create games.

My assignment was The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which fit nicely into something I'd been thinking about since Gencon. My constraint was "music must be central to resolution," which I interpreted fairly broadly, using a musical analogy for the sort of exchange-level game-mechanical focus I first used in The Perilous Realm. I'm not sure whether to consider this a cheat or a bit of cleverness.

A draft of the game is here. Let me know what you think.

6 comments:

Jonathan said...

First comment is cleverness.

Second comment is that you're gonna want to go back and check your page breaks. You've got two empty pages on 2 and 4. I'm going over it more, but I wanted to print it out and hit that wall of frustration. I'll say more later, but wanted to get that down before I forgots.

Bill White said...

Hey Jonathan --

I fixed the page breaks; I forgot that not everyone prints stuff out double-sided. My bad.

I'm thinking about incorporating some sort of mechanism whereby the more dissonance your character experiences, the "weirder" your character gets, either in the sense of going mad in a Lovecraftian way or of living in your own private reality.

Still thinking about that.

Jonathan said...

Hey Bill.

I love that idea about the more dissonance your character experiences the weirder they get.

The reason why I think that's really good is because I don't feel you've quite achieved the goal you set out in your introduction. You state, in your brief that, "we could perhaps use a dose of proper cosmic horror today" (6). There isn't a lot of that in the way the rules read, though I've only read them about 3 times so far.

I did love quite a few things about it. I loved the resonnace/disonnance dynamic you had going, and would love to see that highlighted more and what you thought of above as something that would help that. I loved the map, it was one of the things I really liked about Ganakagok and having a map here makes me really happy. I like how there's a bit of a board game feel to it while it still strives to end up having us tell a narrative.

There are some things I think might need to be rethought or razored out. The value on the characters and locations right now feels kind of almost like a distraction. Instead of telling a story, I feel that the point of the game is to get control of as much of the board (locations or characters) as you can so that you can play them when other people interact with them.

I'm really interested to see how this goes. I really would like to see a really good narrative Lovecraftian-esque game. ^_^

Bill White said...

Jonathan -- Good points. In terms of cosmic horror, a lot now rests in the hands of the GM in terms of how they bring in the weird, but the rules need to do more to support it.

As I'm thinking about it, I maybe can see a way to get rid of the character values.

Thanks for the feedback; your comments are really helpful.

Jonathan said...

I'm glad the comments are helpful. I'm always worried that I'm coming across as that annoying guy who's too free with advice.

Bill White said...

Here's a new version of the game.

http://www.ganakagok.com/piper2.pdf

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A communication Ph.D., I teach public speaking and media-related courses in the middle of PA. I do research on scholarly/scientific communication, and I write & play roleplaying games.

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