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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 100 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Report] GroFaFo Challenge (Germany does it, too)  (Read 6192 times)
Frank T
« on: July 12, 2006, 03:05:25 PM »

Some months ago we started talking about doing an RPG design contest at GroFaFo. There already is one 24-h-contest at FERA, but that one suffered from several problems. Too focused on layout and artwork, to little substance in feedback and scoring, and foremost, no actual play and no further development of the games.

The first GroFaFo Challenge was held in March 2006 as a 72-hour-contest with a Jury containing of three persons: Tim Struck (publisher of German Unknown Armies and co-author of DeGenesis), Hendrik Belitz (author of a free RPG called Darkon), and myself. Similar to the Ronnies (which I really enjoyed), we had two prompts out of four (but without the rule of having to leave the other two out). Those were:


*I understand the German “Höhle” is much wider than the English “cave”, basically referring to anything hollow.

The Challenge ran for one full month, and we had 19 contributions in total. Of these, the following 8 were shortlisted:

- In “Randpatrouille” (“Rim Patrol”), the universe is actually a cave and you play both a member of bridge crew and landing team of a patrol vessel. The twist: The crew is made up of members of two different blocks that are basically mocks of the cold war parties. One of your characters belongs to one block and one to the other.

- In “ameiza”, you play ants in a scenario similar to the Woody Allen movie by the same name. These ants all have a dream that conflicts with what the collective requires of them.

- “Powermutter” (“Powermother”) is designed for two players. It’s about hollywood-style action movies where a mother trying to save her child in trouble suddenly develops incredible abilities, while the police never get anything accomplished and only make the mother’s life harder.

- “Mutter” (“Mother”) is an experimental RPG for two persons where you play two characters waking up in the dark without any memory. You create the characters and their situation through flashbacks while the situation evolves.

- “Goochelaar Meisjes” (the title is Netherlandish, so I won’t translate it) walks the line between homage and mockery of magical girl anime shows.

- “Space Monkeys from Finland” is a crazy game about, well, monkeys from the Helsinki zoo with laser guns and psychic powers saving the world. But really, it’s mostly about players screwing each other over.

- “The Great Below” is a highly structured game for four players telling the story of a mother who leaves the far future cave in which her people dwell to kill her own son, who has been sentenced to death.

- “Ego” is also for four players, with a Polaris-like guidance system. It is set in a dystopian world where consume and fun are the law and true love is a crime.

Finally, Ego bet Randpatrouille to a close second and Goochelaar Meisjes to third.

The most striking observation is that we have become pretty “forgy”. There was plenty conflict resolution, resource management, distributed narration and so forth throughout the contributions. You could see traces of Universalis, InSpectres, PtA, Polaris and other games shine through. Other contributions were more like classic RPG’s, but none of that were shortlisted. That’s not because the jury generally prefer ed Forge-like designs, but because those designs were more complete, more focused and generally seemed better thought-through. On the other hand, we also saw some of the "cheap-ass"/"parlor narration" stuff also present in the Ronnies.

The enthusiasm among most of the participants was great, there was a lot of feedback and most of it was pretty substantial, showing that the people had really carefully read other people’s games. But what really thrilled me was that people were playtesting. Quite a number of the games, shortlisted or not, were actually played, some several times. I also know of at least one author of a game (“Western City”) that was not even shortlisted who is really working on the game and developing it further. I played in one of his playtests myself, and he is really getting around to something.

I will play more of the Challenge entries for sure, starting with Randpatrouille on GroFaFo summer rally. But what I really want to see is one or more of them published.

- Frank

Posts: 84

« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2006, 06:49:37 PM »

Hi Frank,

That was a really interesting report, thanks for sharing!

I was intrigued by the "Mutter" game.  Do you know if those rules (or any of the others) are available in English?  I'm afraid my German isn't as good as could be.


Learn more about 'Touch of Noir' here: http://troupeberkeley.infogami.com/Noir

Posts: 2807

« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2006, 11:04:05 PM »

- “Goochelaar Meisjes” (the title is Netherlandish, so I won’t translate it) walks the line between homage and mockery of magical girl anime shows.

Something like "magician girls"; goochelaar was new to me but seems to be used for stage magicians.

Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Posts: 41

« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2006, 03:30:47 AM »

After Ron´s visit to Berlin, I urged people over at Grofafo to translate their games or at least write a short playable summary for the Forge. One guy has finshed a rough translation by now, others are coming along, so stay tuned for some classy German gaming goodness. 
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2006, 06:49:51 AM »

YES!! Fantastic news.

Is there any hope of seeing these posted at a common webpage? If so, then we can continue to develop that page for purposes of posting Forge/Nexus playtest files.

Best, Ron

Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland

« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2006, 08:10:29 AM »


Jason Morningstar

Posts: 1428

« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2006, 09:23:22 AM »

Keeton over at 1km1kt would almost certainly hook you up as well, and that would have the advantage of having the docs live in a place where people already look for short, free games (24 hour and Game Chef). 

Frank T
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2006, 09:29:45 AM »

Harald, let's talk about that on Sunday. I was actually planning to ambush you for the Forge/Nexus booth at Spiel...

Jason, that is an excellent idea. I will write to Keeton and ask him.

- Frank
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