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General Forge Forums => Game Development => Topic started by: Erik Weissengruber on October 28, 2010, 11:32:23 AM

Title: [In this Sign, Conquer] Toronto Area Gamers Playtest
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on October 28, 2010, 11:32:23 AM
The setting: 2nd floor of a restaurant with 5 sets of RPG ers getting down.  D&D, WoD High Fantasy, Deliria, .44, and ItSic.

I am not presenting the game to anyone I have gamed with before.

The Fiction

The embittered Sunni-Zen civilization from Terra squared off against the Amphibioids of Betelgeuse.

The last planet, Nibor saw a rout of the Terrans. This bunch was out for blood. The Amphibioids were willing to bargain. Terra's orders: drive all aliens out of the system. Betelgeuse wanted to colonize but its position was a little more open.

Entering deep space around a gorgeous waterworld, they staked out their positions and established their capacity to carry out threats.

The second round saw the Terrans strike to carve out particular positions on the planet, but dissensus on the Terran side -- a fearful colonist who was willing to compromise with the froggies -- allowed the frogs to stake an even stronger claim.

In the third round, things got ugly. The Shekih was subject to a savage space assault, and he himself undertook a daredevil space pilot mission to disrupt the activities of the traitorous colonist. The science officers of the species undertook some nefarious actions: using victims handed over by the quisling human colonist, the frog savant genetically engineered a few of her kind to insert their tadpoles into the bodies of humans, to burst forth later. Her opposite number, Lady Ashura, worked on a nanotoxin that could get into the moisturizing system of the frogs' battlesuits.

And we stopped there


- stuff is too cluttered, I really have to strip this down as it is a story game and not a long-running campaign game
- The physical layout of the play area should be no more complicated than that in Fiasco.
- I didn't have a session-ending mechanic in place but the participants all came up with very useful suggestions
- Looking at the planet, the frogs had 3 of 6 sectors under control. The humans had a mountain fortress but little else.
- The intra-species roleplaying was fun. In the tradition of The Shadow of Yesterday and The Solar System, players bank up XP for role-playing out their "Keys" or their major personality drivers. And the humans were really rocking the keys. The frog players took a little longer to get into it but their strategic moves would probably have won them the planet.
- When the Frog mentat bought off the Key of the Conciliator and went into a destructor rage, it was a fun moment of drama
- More "Kirk vs. Khan" would have been nice, but I liked the "Spock vs. McCoy" or "Vader vs. Tarkin" banter just as much.

Hope to bring it again when I have rules rather than slightly tipsy fiat.

Title: Re: [ItSiC] Toronto Area Gamers Playtest -- One Player's Response
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on October 28, 2010, 11:34:38 AM
1st Response


"This was a boardgame. A few name changes to avoid copyright some rule changes like tokens added game boards for power uses and that sort of stuff, to speed play and a couple of different senerios and create your own Planet and species etc. Fun"

My Response
"You know what ... I have always loved acting out the things that happened during Risk or Stratego or Advanced Squad Leader.

I might very well just streamline it down in the direction you suggest.

There were a couple older wargames where you could track the progress of commanders ... will have to dig through my files.

Maybe I am attempting something that is too unstable to stick together: Major Wesley had miniatures, referee-player interactions governed by rules, and in-character free-form role playing. Those elements have separated themselves out into the separate hobbies: war gaming, traditional RPGs, and LARPing. Maybe those elements can't be welded back together.

I know it definitely lacks the p.o.v/no metagaming immersion a lot of players treasure ."

Title: Re: [tSiC] Toronto Area Gamers Playtest -- Another Player's Response
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on October 28, 2010, 11:37:45 AM

"Ok, so I can't stop thinking about the game. Both as someone who loves fluff (and the fluff was good) and as someone who likes tinkering with rules.First of many of the concepts and rules you've already established are awesome. The keys, and the way the attribute charts relates to the suits is really cool.

Just a little note before I get into things - I noted that none of the humans had a 3 in anything was this deliberate? I also felt that the amphibiodes might have use some of their racial pool secrets but I could be wrong. (for a playtest maybe don't bother with the pool)"

"I scribbled them out at different times and there were no doubt inconsistencies. The humans lost the last planet but that was not supposed to cost them their mechanical efficacy, just influence the direction of their role playing."

"But here are some thoughts on the rules:

Cards number range - I think the range from 2-14 is a little to wild. I'd suggest either removing the face cards, or making all face cards 10 (I'm leaning to the latter as it may result in more ties). What you do with aces and jokers is left open.

Dice - are unnecessary until perhaps, the end (but even then it may be easier without them).

Yeah. Keeping a running track with pencil will be easier

I suggest slightly different mechanics for what I am going to call the Challenge and the Conflict.


- are generally used to achieve something tangible on the ground or create a threat
- that is the GM opposes the action. Cards exceeding the challenge may be used in future Conflicts. This lets the players set up strategic resources or positions and then use them to oppose each other. Say Player tries to set up a defensive base in the mountains. Ref turns over a 4 diamonds "a logistics problem". Player selects an attribute with Diamond. Player turns over 10 clubs, and 3 diamonds. To overcome the challenge the player needs a total one higher then the challenge enless trump or the challenge suit (diamonds) is use to overcome it. Any cards not used by the player to overcome the challenge become part of (what I'm going to call) and asset. Further if the card(s) used to overcome the challenge card are more then double (or exactly double in the case of trump or challenge suit) the challenge suit is retained.
- In the example above the the player retains the 4 of diamonds and the 3 of diamonds as a asset and places it on the mountains. (this can later be used in conflicts between species
- in this case if the opponents try to infiltrate, attack or similar the mountain base). If a player tries to build up an asset with multiple actions another challenge card is turned over. If it is the same suit as any of the previous challenges it is ignored. If every suit (every type of challenge) is overcome the asset can not be built up any more. so assets should generally be annotated with what suit they overcame and who they belong to.


When players take actions directly against each others interests. This can actually be done by each player once per turn in response to an 'enemy' action that may not have been directly against them
- this includes helping another player in a challenge. If the action is responsive the player may wait till the challenge is overcome (which may provide the opponent with and asset) or act before the challenge. The instigator of the challenge selects a attribute. The reactor must select and attribute that matches a least one suit of the instigators attribute (similarly any other players that decides to help must select an attibute with one matching suit.)
- The players select all the cards that they are bringing to bear so each side can see how many cards they are using (attributes, other players help, assets, racial stuff). They then turn over all the cards and compare. At this point a player can bring a secret to bear in order to win the conflict (secrets with an suit matching the central conflict always count as that suit, if they turn over the correct suit they get some bonus). Any cards of the suits of the attibutes (that match) are part of the central conflict along with any trump. The winner gets the victory and may inflict damage on the opposing commander(s). Other suit cards are a side conflict, the loser trashes his cards of those suit, the winner puts them in his recycle pile and retuns one card to his own hand.

I imagine assets can only be used effectively once. (Though a player could use actions to rebuild a similar asset.)

At the end of the game all assets are scored. Each injury a -10. Each card remaining in hand a +2. Any trump assets count as double. Before counting each player states their goals. The ref narrates the conclusion based on the score and the goals.

Title: Re: [In this Sign, Conquer] Toronto Area Gamers Playtest
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on October 29, 2010, 12:13:52 PM
My big disappointment was the lack of cross-species interaction.

Sure, when it got to "I am gunning for you and your star cruiser" there was engagement.

Also, when one side went to wicked genetic modification, the other side came up with their own biowarfare agenda.

[which bears out some of Howard's theories of how publicly stated positions contribute to conflicts even when there is no direct face-to-face confrontations]

But more "Kirk vs. Khan" talk or "Tarkin vs. Leia" talk would have been welcome.

Just seeing the players on opposite sides of the table engaging with each other as players would have been rewarding.

It seems to me to keep everybody engaged with the playing space I will go GM-less and players will frame oppositions for their competitors.

During the playtest I kept pushing for certain kinds of deals and defections and double-crosses.  But the game should engage players in those activities without an external figure railroading it.

I wasn't manipulating any hidden information or doing any real arbitration.  If there is no special fun for the GM, why even feel the need to create that role?

If I hard-code some crunch and provide lists for making choices then teams of PCs can make fair and fun decisions without a GM being there and without hidden agendas and social pressuring.