Bryan's Game Thread

Started by Bryan Hansel, September 12, 2010, 03:32:22 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Bryan Hansel

At the crossroads, a pile of broken water-rich rock marked the road west; the north road bore a sign marked 'To New Askja.' Those who could read went north. You journeyed west. West across the volcanic desert, past other greeners who already marked their claims with names like Lamia, Usha's Hole and Lunar Landing. Your claim, illegally named after your lost love, proved barren. Without money, without food, without friends, without love, taking a job meant a chance at another claim and wealth and maybe love.

The Job: Deliver a skinner to exile's city, Oasis. The exile's fresh start means your fresh start. To help you along your journey, the exile hired a mercenary, a scientist, a gambler, a frontiersman, a forgotten marshal and a native. Each of you have something to gain and something to lose. You'll journey to Oasis together, apart or alone, and deliver the skinner or be eaten by the desert.

Using: Skin, Desert, City

Jason Morningstar

Frank Tarcikowski

Yeah, I like it, too! Curious for more.
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English

Jonathan Walton

I just want to know what the skinner is.  Is it a piece of mining machinery?  A totem of the earth?  A person?

Bryan Hansel


I had a skinner all defined, but it seems interesting to me to leave it undefined until or maybe before Oasis is reached.

Frank Tarcikowski

For what it's worth, I as a customer would definitely want you as designer to tell me what the skinner is. (Funny thing, I thought it was a person... but I'm not a native speaker so I don't count.) If you don't want to make it canonical perhaps consider a strong example?

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English

Jason Morningstar

If it is a thing that the game revolves around I want to define it! Especially if the rest of the set-up is narrowly constrained.

Kevin Allen Jr

The skinner doesn't have to be a single thing. Give the players a few options like:

• the skinner is a dude who "skins" these guys are helpful
• the skinner is a big machine, it "skins" the surface of the world
• the skinner is a weapon, it kills the hell out of things

I left these purposely crappy so as not to insert my own thinking into your stuff. Go ahead and define it (cause it sounds like you have some good in-fiction ideas as to what this thing is) but still leave it up to us what kind of tone we want it to take in the game.

Bryan Hansel

Good ideas everyone. Now on to the hard work.

Bryan Hansel

Setting Stuff

Important Places
The Black Desert (The West): Black as far as the eye can see with a westerly backdrop of towering mountains abruptly rising from the ground. In some areas, the rocks are jagged, but in most places they're smooth with a black sand filling in the depressions. Shifting black sand dunes exist in places. The rock feels porous. The air smells hot and gritty.

Weather and dark clouds come primarily from the east. Strong daily storms bring lots of lightning and sometimes rain. The rain quickly disappears into the ground where it's held in place by deposits of a water bearing rock. Uncaptured water drains towards Nukpana Chasm or just disappears.

Greening operations dot its surface and are owned and primarily worked by miners known as grēners. The larger operations employ many workers, who live in company towns, and are characterized by massive rusting equipment that only a few can work and upkeep and large water towers. Some smaller mines, often dug by solo prospectors, consist of hand tools, a small cistern and a shack. Solo prospectors, often uneducated, who find a rich load of water-bearing rock, quickly come into wealth.

A typical greening operation prospects for water bearing rock. Once enough water bearing rock is welled, the machines grind the surface rock into small grains of sand. In other machines, over months, the sand bakes to a workable soil. Then the grēners install underground irrigation pipes across their claims. Years later, after planting successive seasons of specially engineered plants, the soil becomes richer until it supports food-bearing plants.

One native plant flowers across the desert. Its seeds germinate quickly, often overnight after a rain. Their roots, tiny white strands, reach out to scrap grains of black sand together. They consume the sand to grow, often to waste high. All the nutrition swells into the fist-sized seeds, which fly away on the next day's wind to a crack where they wait until the next rain. After the seeds fly, the stalks crumble to black dust. When people are around, the plants refuse to germinate. Flour made from the seeds is as gritty as rock. It wears teeth down quickly, but is nutritious--one seed can feed a man for a day.

A small ecosystem of insects, rodents and reptiles revolve around the seeds. The insects pollinate the flowers and mine the seed's meat, the rodents eat the insects and the reptiles eat the rodents. Nearer to the mountains, white tigers, snow eagles and yeti bear venture out onto the desert at night.

New Askja: An ordered and tranquil settlement organized into smaller kin-based communities and towns. Most families are young and well-educated. Decades and decades of greening work created an agrarian society and miles and miles of newly created farmland surround the city's center protecting it from the dust and grime of other western places.
    Three features define the city's center: a date and citrus tree orchard, a public garden with unregulated fountains and a University built from white marble quarried in the mountains and shipped to New Askja on a high-speed railroad specifically built for the purpose.

Oasis (The Exile's City): The greatest punishment for criminals is physical exile to Oasis, a city located at the only natural oasis in the Black Desert. Although miles from Oasis, the Nukpana Chasm limits access. Only one railroad bridge leads across the chasm. That bridge is guarded by highly trained federali.
    Oasis's economy centers around rich warlord-like exiles, who employee the rest of the exiles to do their bidding and help maintain their power. Because exiles are forbidden from making money outside of exile, they run into power struggles as their wealth and savings run out.
    As rough as and as gritty and dirty Oasis is, on the surface it seems docile. People live out their lives, some have families. A weak government tries to keep the infrastructure functioning. Scientists with their maintenance skills are sought after and protected. They often live a privileged life in Oasis. There's always work for mercenaries and frontiersmen.

Nukpana Chasm: Over a half-millennium ago, the first explorers of the Black Desert settled within the water-rich walls of Nukpana Chasm. After a half-millennium of settlement, these people adapted their lifestyles to survive in the extreme environment of the chasm. Over a mile deep in places and a mile wide in places, it's walls climb almost vertically.
    The settlers, now considered natives, live in dwellings carved out of the black rock. Their bodies were adapted to to drink the stagnant, black, silty water below and modified to eat the native flowers, but they eat primarily fish and rodents. Some dwellings are adapted to grow plants using soil stolen or bartered from the grēners.
    A nature-worship religion, known as Nukpanism by scholars, has grown-up around the chasm and most natives follow it. Spirit animals protect practitioners, who are able to commune with the animals and plants of the world.
    There are only two real places for non-natives to cross the chasm: the railroad bridge and the confusing, jumbled ford near the mountains.

Crossroads (Officially named Indra): A dirty, lawless, grēners city located on the crossroads of a rail line that runs between Oasis, New Askja and the east. It consists of quickly built false front buildings, uneven rock roads, supply warehouses, taverns and almost anything that anyone would desire.
    The law enforcement--what limited laws there are--is overseen by one marshal, who commands a sheriff and several deputies. The federali occasionally seize power to replace the law enforcement team that fall from favor. Many of the wealthy business owners are connected to the railroad or the powerful back east. They often demand a change of law enforcement. If the federali won't do it, they take it into their own hands.
    Inhabitants of Crossroads are mainly young, impulsive males searching for quick wealth with a inclination to conflict. So many people funnel into causing the town to experience explosive growth. Many new innovations appear from Crossroads.

Railroad: A high-speed modern railroad built to open expansion into the Black Desert and, hopefully, when work finishes, through the western mountains to the fertile plains far beyond. It runs between Oasis and New Askja. Crossroads sits on this line and the connection to the east. From New Askja, the line extends to the mountain quarries and new tunnels. Lots of nomads work on the furthest reaches of the rails.

There are many small trading posts and forts connected by paths across the Black Desert. And lots of other places for encounters to occur. During play, you'll find them.

Bryan Hansel

A little more outlining. I wonder if three desires is enough?

How to Play
What's Needed to Play?
Four to Seven players. Pencils, paper, a different colored pawn or token for each player and a half-dozen six-sided dice per player. Print out the Where Do You Stand? board.

One person takes the role of the Governor, a game master role. The rest of the players play a character, that they create, based on a class. There can only be one character of each class. The Governor's role is covered in her own section.

Player's Duties
As a player, you must play your character with gusto. Desires, class actions and traits define how you'll play your character. The Governor describes the world, and you say what your character does.  When your character does something that aligns with her desires, you gain experience. When your character takes an action, you roll the dice. If you succeed, your character avoids the danger and what you wanted to happen happens. At points, your character will need to stand alone, together or apart from the other characters. When you make your choice, your character will gain something at a cost. Sometimes, the cost equals your character's life. But, she'll know where she stands.

Creating Characters
Start by creating characters.

Character Classes
Grēner: A water prospector with a dry claim and a lost love. Moved west to find enough wealth to satisfy a dowry.

Get Success
Get Love
Remain Strong


Mercenary: A gun-for-hire to the highest bidder. A well-trained former federali who didn't want to return home.

A Paycheck
A Fair Fight


Scientist: Sometimes reduced to a glorified mechanic, but trained in bio-genetic research. Trying to make a name in the west.

To Discover
Stand Above


Gambler: A loner winning card games to pay his way across the desert. No idea where he'll be tomorrow.

Fair/Fixed Game
Win Big
Settle Down


Frontiersman: Living on the edge of civilization, pushing into the boundaries of the undiscovered, trying to learn more about herself, to change.

Maintain Individuality
Remain Calm
Be More


Forgotten Marshal: Overthrown by the wealthy after making Crossroads too orderly.

Redeem Name
Demand Loyalty
Law and Order


Native: Restless inhabitant of Nukpana Chasm venturing out into the world for the first time.

Explore World
Protect the Desert


Bryan Hansel

    "Nah," said the forgotten marshal. "They can't exist."
    "That's what I heard a skinner was. Why would exiles hire us if it wasn't?" The gambler shifted in his shoes and put his hands in his pockets. "I'll bet you it's true. Doc, whatcha think?"
    The scientist looked up from his notes. "The theory behind a skinner is sound. When in New Askja, I heard of experiments, but didn't everyone." He paused and looked at his watch before he continued, "I question the morality of creating such a container."
    The mercenary flipped a coin at the bartender and said, "As long as we get a paycheck, I'll deliver whatever it is."

Bryan Hansel

It's coming along. This one seems harder than in years past. Love the ingredients, etc., but I'm straining under the writing. Perhaps, because I'm writing articles at the same time. Lots of words in the day.

Here a link to the draft: Burial at Crossroads

Any feedback is welcome, but I'm really curious to hear thoughts about the Take a Stand section. Not sure if it would be fun if it was used too often in the game. Thoughts?


I'm really confused by the cost of Taking a Stand in your example.  I understand why the loser of the bid pays their costs, but how come the Frontiersman (who didn't participate in any dice rolls) has to choose something to sacrifice?

What happens if the current leader Takes a Stand?

What advantage is there to being the party leader, other than getting experience points when you make decisions for the group? 

It feels like you're making Stands out to be a pretty major mechanic - it seems like they should have appropriately large effects on the game.

Also, this is totally a nitpick, but it seems like the gambler's Desires are a lot harder to hit than the other classes', and unnecessarily pin the archetype very narrowly.  "Winning big" in the sense you use it is a once-per-game occurrence - since after they do so their goal is to cash in and settle down (and wouldn't that remove them from adventuring/play?).  Maybe they should just get XP for taking a chance that pays off; or taking a big chance in general?

Bryan Hansel

Thanks for looking. Having another eye look at it was very helpful. The Frontiersman shouldn't have to sacrifice anything. I need to change that.

QuoteWhat happens if the current leader Takes a Stand?

That breaks the system. I think I'm going to change it to the group dynamics just dissolve if he fails. I'll have to think about this a bit.

QuoteWhat advantage is there to being the party leader, other than getting experience points when you make decisions for the group?

That's it right now, and your followers get XP for following. As I move into writing the next section of the game, I'm going to think on this one. It'll probably have something to do with how NPCs react to the leader and the decision that he can make or maybe additional actions.

I like the suggestion on the gambler. I'm going to use it. Thanks.