2014-03-03 : Apocalypse World: Dark Age 1st look
Hello! I've been working on this game, Apocalypse World: Dark Age, and I'm ready to give some people a first look.
It's a fantasy version of Apocalypse World. It's a pretty political blood-and-war kind of fantasy, inspired by Game of Thrones, Centurion, Vikings, Black Death and others.
Right now it's just 5 playbooks and 6 pages of rules, setting, and setup material. Ultimately it'll be a full stand-alone game, but that day is far off.
I'm looking for people to read it through and give me quick comments on what stands out to them. I'm not looking for editing or any substantial suggestions, really - that's down the line - just your observations and comments on what I've got so far.
I expect this first-look process to develop organically into early playtesting, so if you find that you want to give it a try in play, please do. Let me know you're starting and I'll tell you what I'm looking for.
The game is very close to Apocalypse World, close enough to warrant including the words in the title. The innovations here are real, but they're small, and they're under the roof. Like, I've inverted going aggro, I've recast the harm countdown, I'm handling the read moves a little differently, stuff like that. I'm taking the opportunity to update Apocalypse World to reflect my 5 years' experience with it. If you're looking for a real departure, not a more modest development, you'll be disappointed.
If you don't already have a good working familiarity with Apocalypse World, this document will probably be unintelligible to you. I don't mind sending it to you anyway, if you want, and I'll welcome your comments and questions.
In sum: If you'd like to take a look, email me. You can see my email address there in the right-hand column.
Thanks! If you have any comments or any questions you'd like me to answer first, please ask.
2014-02-26 : Something Terrible is Coming
A countdown! 5.
Something terrible is coming. Everyone says so, but none claim to know what. The new Bloodless Priests say so, the old bloody Wicker-Wise say so. The Crowned Heads look out at the gathering storms and say so.
It is no mystery to me. It has always come, and it will always come again. It is war. It is always terrible.
2014-02-15 : Lies in RPGs
Copied from my G+. Comments, questions, here or there!
Setting aside the practical difficulty of design, in principle, any rule you could legitimately include in any game, you could legitimately include in a roleplaying game.
"Remove the jokers from a deck of playing cards, shuffle it, and deal the entire deck out to the players."
"If you lose the round, you have to wear the hat of shame."
"If your pawn lands on a space already occupied by another pawn, you bump them back 1 and take their place."
"Odds are 2 to 1 against you, so every dollar you wager, if you win, you get two dollars back."
There's nothing in principle that prevents these from being rules in a roleplaying game. The only thing that prevents them from being rules in a really, really good roleplaying game is the practical difficulty of design.
If this is so, then:
In principle, you could legitimately design a roleplaying game wherein the players lie to one another, as in Diplomacy, I Doubt It, or Liar's Dice.
In principle, you could legitimately design a roleplaying game wherein the players lie to one another about the rules of the game, as in Crossed/Uncrossed, Are We In the Game?, or Triangulation.
In my Sundered Land game Warriors in the Ruins of the Future, the GM (the "butcher player") lies to you about what your character sees and hears, to evoke or simulate the confusion of the battlefield.
In Willow Palecek's brilliant game Sunshine Boulevard...
...the other two players lie to you about the game you're playing, including some truly dreadful lies about the rules you're playing by.
If you hang out in RPG design circles, you can watch a good solution for a particular design (like "in this game, don't fudge the dice") become a best practice (like "you should design your game so that nobody fudges the dice"), become conventional wisdom (like "obviously your game doesn't include dice fudging"), become an immutable principle (like "well-designed games don't include dice fudging").
The fact is that a well-designed game can include as much dice fudging as it wants. As much fudging, as much bluffing, as much lying. Of course it can! The hard part is just designing the game well, but that's always the hard part.
Including lies might be the very best solution.
2014-02-07 : Spin the Beetle
2014-02-03 : Some Basic Rules (vii)
A commitment is a belief, ideal, reputation, or slogan that your character holds, and shares with others. Here are some examples: "I'm like a modern-day Robin Hood." "Gondor needs no king." "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." "We don't want your racist war." "I'm the best pokemon trainer in the Jewel Islands!"*
The game world is rated for each commitment:
-2 Utterly marginal, strongly opposed.
-1 Minority, disdained, contested.
0 Widespread but controversial.
+1 Majority, safe.
+2 Assumed wisdom, held incontrovertible.
Check your modules to find out which commitments are in play and how they're rated.
There are 4 kinds of experience points:
As you play, whenever you're in the midst of an ordeal, count it as an ordeal experience point. Whenever you triumph, count it as a triumph experience point. Whenever significant time has passed, count it as a time experience point. And whenever you have witnesses, count them as a witness experience point.
Changing your own Commitments
If you have 1 ordeal experience point and 1 time experience point, you can spend them to change one of your own commitments. Rewrite or replace it.
Changing the world
If you have 1 triumph experience point, 1 time experience point, and 1 witness experience point, you can spend them to add 1 to the world's rating of a commitment you hold.
If you have 1 triumph experience point, 1 time experience point, and 1 witness experience point, you can spend them to subtract 1 from the world's rating of a commitment you oppose.
Your modules, equipment and tags might change the kinds of experience points you collect and/or how you can spend them, so be sure to check them.
More to come. All subject to change.
2014-01-21 : Some Basic Rules (vi)
2014-01-10 : The Free & Chaotic Realms: Edicts
2014-01-05 : lumpley games in 2011-2013
2013-12-30 : Some Basic Rules (v)
2013-12-29 : An upcoming challenge...
2013-12-23 : Some Basic Rules (iv, revised)
2013-12-16 : Some Basic Rules (iv, abandoned)
2013-12-16 : Some Basic Rules (iii)
2013-12-10 : Some Basic Rules (ii)
2013-12-09 : Some Basic Rules (i)