2006-03-15 : A cool old thing made new

Look what Clinton made: The Cheap and Cheesy Adventure Generator! He built it from the adventure element charts of my very own very first finished RPG design, The Cheap and Cheesy Fantasy Game (pdf link).

I just got this result:

  • Locations: The secret central shrine of a temple to forgotten gods. (Magical)
  • Characters: A hermit priestess, practicing obscure deprivations. (Wilderness)
  • Threats: An order of magician-monks who punish blasphemers. (Magical)
  • Threats: Field-vipers, wild dogs, loose bulls, and a variety of spiders. (Countryside)

I got that result, but here's the thing: last time I looked at those charts, which was pretty close after when I designed them, but last time I looked at them, I didn't know what to do with the results. "Make up a plot," was the best I could do, the most I could say. I didn't know how to read the elements into a situation.

Friend, now I do.

1. On 2006-03-15, Vincent said:

Man, that PDF is crappy. I made it in MS Publisher and half the final sentences in every text frame get cut off. Sorry!


2. On 2006-03-15, Vincent said:


Huh. That was weird. Never mind, seems like things are fine now.


3. On 2006-03-15, Brennan said:

This is almost like Astrology. Here's what I got:

Events: The flight of a prince and his forbidden lover into hiding. (Wilderness)
Locations: The private garden of a noble house. (City)
Threats: Six enemy scouts, with spy-glasses and longbows. (Military)
Locations: A monastery and its associated shrines, each to its own god. (Countryside)

Each of which (mostly) describe elements in an actual fantasy adventure I wrote for a convention!


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This makes...
SF go "The connections....!"*

*click in for more

4. On 2006-03-15, Vincent said:

I was copying from the best! Tanith Lee and Jack Vance.


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This makes...
PB go "Tanith Lee and Jack Vance rock!"
lpl go "They should be in a band together."
LP go "Oh yeah."*

*click in for more

5. On 2006-03-15, Clinton R. Nixon said:

The PDF will be fixed in Advanced C&C, right?

(I only kind of kid.)


6. On 2006-03-15, Vincent said:

I only kind of laugh you off.


7. On 2006-03-15, John Harper said:


Not only do you know how—you explained how to do it and now I know too.

Thanks for that.


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This makes...
C go "Where did he explain it?"
JSH go "Ummmm..."*

*click in for more

8. On 2006-03-16, Judd said:

Would ya say using this tool properly is all about when in the gather-chargen-play process you roll the bones and look at the results.

I'd think if I wanted to see this situation done right I'd want to gather the group, roll the bones, and make characters off of the results and then GO.

But how would you?


9. On 2006-03-16, Vincent said:

That's exactly what I've been thinking, Judd.


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This makes...
Judd go "on the same page"*

*click in for more

10. On 2006-03-16, Ryan Theodores said:

This is, as someone who is, after a year lurking on the Forge, just now starting to think about turning an idea into a game, so incredibly inspiring.

Isn't that odd?

Seeing the early designs from authors you admire, and you read something like, "Every time anybody hits anybody, if the Stakes Die comes up equal to or less than the Stakes level, the Wound is real and you've got to deal with it in the long term (which means improvising First Aid rules. Good luck)."

It just seems to be saying, "It's a long road." Which is of course true of any and every creative endeavour, but something I think not talked about too much in RPG design; all the discarded and ravaged ideas that lead to the game. You know? It'd be like buying a CD of Lou Reed tuning a guitar. Weird, but kinda awesome.


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This makes...
CRN go "It's just based on the assumptions we had..."*

*click in for more

11. On 2006-03-16, Emily Care said:

Clinton, that rocks!

In a lot of ways, it really is all you need....if you know how to do everything else on the fly already. :)


12. On 2006-03-16, Vincent said:

I have a terrible, terrible, good idea. Crap. It's such a terrible good idea.

Bah! Like I have time to design my ultimate ideal fantasy rpg right now. Jesus.



13. On 2006-03-16, Ninja Monkey J said:

Ha ha!

Tell me about it. Absinthe looms large in my mind as I'm trying to get Shock: to sit still long enough to get itself published.


14. On 2006-03-16, Vincent said:

Okay. So okay.

You roll your batch of elements. You create PCs and NPCs situated according thereto. You play the situation out.

Some of the PCs win, some lose, at various points along the way, according to some reward system I haven't thought of yet. Anyhow they do, and let's have it that over the course of the story wins will edge out loses, overall. They won't distribute evenly among the PCs - it might be that yours wins twice, mine wins once, and Mitch's wins once, but mine loses three times. Total wins outnumber total loses, but per PC it's wide open. Remember that we're talking reward system here, not resolution: your character may get the living crap kicked out of her, but still rack up a bunch of wins. Okay.

You also have a big sheet of paper with "we owe" written at the top. Whenever a PC wins, write her name under "we owe." Whenever a PC loses, cross the first instance of her name off, if she has any.

At the end of the story, we look at who we owe first. That PC is automatically in the next story. Also, that PC's player gets to pick one thing from the charts, or make something new up, her total free and clear choice, that's automatically in the next story too. Then you roll to fill out the situation.

The other PCs? They get to be in the next story only if their players can work 'em in, according to the newly rolled elements. If you can't work your PC in, or don't care to, you get to make up a new PC that does fit.

So let's say.

Your PC is the hermit priestess. Mine and Mitch's are two of the blasphemer-punishing magician monks. We fight! Your character gets the living crap kicked out of her but racks up a bunch of wins - and the end of the story she's dead, and Mitch and my characters are in possession of the sacred shrine. Under "we owe" it says "priestess, priestess, Mitch's monk."

So now we start the next story. We look at the first name under "we owe": the priestess. She's automatically in it! You choose to represent her thus: "A novice priestess, untried but good-hearted." (And we're like, dude, this story is totally happening in the past! Rock!) Plus you get to choose another element to be automatically in, and let's say that you choose "Events: The flight of a prince and his forbidden lover into hiding. (Wilderness)"

We roll two more: "Locations: The private garden of a noble house. (City)" and "Threats: Six enemy scouts, with spy-glasses and longbows. (Military)"

Do Mitch and I try to work our magician-monks in? Nah. Mitch knows that his guy is going to get a story of his own coming up soon (when we get to him on the "we owe" list), and I didn't like my guy that much anyway. So now Mitch decides to make up the prince's lover as his PC, and I decide to go with the captain of the enemy scouts.

Sprawling, tangled, colorful fantasy like Tanith Lee's or Jack Vance's, all interlocking but acausal stories, easily made.

What do you think?


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This makes...
PB go "What's particularly cool..."*
VB go "yes indeed."*
NinJ go "Player resources as separate from character wins"*
MB go "So when do we play this and what is it called?"
VB go "it has to wait its turn!"*

*click in for more

15. On 2006-03-16, Vincent said:

Also, it's a good day when someone compares you to Lou Reed. Thanks Ryan!


16. On 2006-03-16, Thomas Robertson said:


Dang that's cool.  I can imagine some real fun stuff happening after months of play where you start weaving your new characters into your old characters lives.  Man that sounds cool.

Quick question: what if you don't want to play your character who's up next on the list when it comes up.  Maybe you're just not feeling that character or something.  Do you bull through and take up the challenge of having fun anyway, or do you skip on to the next one?



17. On 2006-03-16, Vincent said:

Well, the fact that your character has to be in the story doesn't mean it's her story. If you're not into her tonight you can totally have her coast along with a screen presence 1, like. Make her into support for my character or Mitch's, same as you'd do in any sole-PC game where you weren't full-firing.

Thus, I'm not inclined to let you beg off when it's your character's turn.


18. On 2006-03-16, Thomas Robertson said:


That sounds right to me, actually. In fact, that's a really gcod solution. In fact, that will probably make the stories richer since it lets/encourages you to tell stories about the important people around the "focused" character.



19. On 2006-03-16, Matt Wilson said:

V, that's neato.

It vaguely reminds me of a draft idea for PTA back in the day where you based spotlight on whoever rolled highest at the end of the last episode. If you don't get a spotlight, you add 1 the next time you roll.

Season finale happens after everyone gets a spotlight.

Based on conflicts is way cooler, though. Especially if you can make really rough choices to make sure you win.


20. On 2006-03-16, Vincent said:

For the wins-loses reward system, I'm thinking something really simple:

If you roll against someone with significantly better dice than you, and you don't get simply shut out, you get a win.

If you roll against someone with worse dice than you, and you simply shut them out, you get a lose.

So then winning would mean seriously taking on worthy (read: bigger) opponents, and losing would mean taking on unworthy opponents. The "hard choices" part comes in the form of: how do you stand your own against a bigger opponent? Which would be a feature of the resolution system.

That was surely totally unclear to everyone but me. I'm diggin' it, though.


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This makes...
MSW go "I like it"*

*click in for more

21. On 2006-03-17, Ben said:

Damnit, Vincent, stop stealing things out of my brain.



22. On 2006-03-17, Dave R said:

Ben:  I was just now trying to find you to tell you that this kind of thing ought to be in Tactics.  I imagine you're ahead of me.

Vincent: Rock on.

Clinton:  Double rock on.


23. On 2006-03-17, James Nostack said:

Hey, can I chime in here on behalf of the Less Clever Folks, of which I am a proud member?

Vincent, you wrote: "I didn't know how to read the elements into a situation.  Friend, now I do."

Me stupid!  Me not understand situation-reading magics!  Vincent or others to please explain situation-reading to Less Clever Folk?


24. On 2006-03-18, Joshua BishopRoby said:

Jesus Effing God, Vincent.  That's creepy.  I downloaded and printed that game like, years and years (and years) ago.  In college?  Was that downloadable seven or eight years ago?  For some reason I thought of it in passing the other day and wondered distantly where it had gone or come from.  And it turns out it was from you.



25. On 2006-03-18, Vincent said:

It was downloadable in 1999, I think; early 2000 for certain.

James: you've read my Creating Theme essay already, I imagine. I'll work on an answer for you. It'll be long.


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This makes...
ethan go "Cool"*
JN go "Thanks Vincent!"*

*click in for more

26. On 2006-03-18, Marhault said:

James, thanks for asking my question for me!


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This makes...
JN go "No problemo!"

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