Davide Losito's game - Finders.

Started by davide.losito, September 16, 2010, 04:14:05 PM

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I was extremely inspired by this year theme and ingredients and I got an epiphany.
This is the result.


This game is about telling the story of the Journey of the adventurers through the desert, their stages, the tresures they'll find and the City they'll visit and stop in for a break, in their pursue of secret items or knowledge.

You need 3 players.

There's a board, divided in 12 cells.
Each player write in a cell of his choice the name of a City; in another cell, writes  the name of a Person; in the third, writes the name of a Tresure.
This will leave a portion of the boar cells empty.
We will call these empty cells "Desert cells".

Each player than take up four 6-sided dice and roll them on the compiled board.
The cell that the dice stops in will take this modifier that will be added to the adversity value met in that cell.
A cell with no die will have a standard Adversity Value of 3.
A cell with a die will have an Adversity Value of 3 + half the die value, rounded down; so if the score is 2, the total value will be 4: 3 + 2/2.
If two dice end up in the same cell, both values are added (always halved and rounded down).

Characters are all adventurers; men or women that "surf the sand" in search of lost treasure, love and the thrill of the moment.
They reach the area located on the map with any mean you may like. A airplane, camel, car, submolecular dislocation, dream. Whatever you think it's specific for the concept of the character you will play.
Note this transportation mean on the character sheet. It's your first trait. So far, it's the only one you have.
Find a cell on the edge of the board and mark it with your Character name; this will be your Edge Point.
If you don't have a character name, choose one now. Available names may be "Joe", or "John Doe", or "The Spectacular Dr. Frestensklein - Desert Rider", or even "K".
Note it on your sheet also, and chose a color and a pen, pencil or whatever that can write in that color.
Decide who starts the game. The first player will be the Surfer; the others 2 will be the Winds of Fate.
The Surfer starts by narrating a scene that brings his Adventurer from his Edge Point to a nearby cell of his choice. This scene must include a introduction of the Character lookings and behavior, the description of the transportation vehicle or mean by which he will travel the desert (not the one he arrived with, which is already decided), an introduction of the first hundred of meters or miles he takes ahead in the sand, and what he or she is looking for: a City, a Treasure or a Person.
For example: "K is a seasoned desert raider on his mid 40s, all dressed in kaki and always looking far ahead for the next adventure; he leads a caravan of armored tracked tanks that are already leaving his airship aiming to the Lost Books of All Names, a mythical treasure of the lost pre-arabian empires".
He then decides which cell he will move to, on his next stage.

Upon leaving a cell on the board, the Wind of Fate on your Left will frame the adversity you meet. The Wind of Fate on your Right instead, will briefly but sharply picture what fate will you meet in case you fail. At this moment, this fate cannot be your death or the complete fail of your mission.
For example, Left says: "abandoning your landing camp so fast was not a good idea, as you clearly see a sand storm coming from the horizon"; Right than says: "and you quickly realize that impacting this sand storm will disperse your caravan".
Then it's your turn to try and overtake the adversity and be able to move to the next cell.
To overtake the adversity you have to convince the Winds of Fate that your true path is ahead.
To do this, you introduce the narration of something you do to overtake the adversity. Once you did, Left Wind will reply with something that strengthen the adversity grasp on you, and Right Wind will add a consequence on a lower scale than the previous one, moving the consequences to the level of the people involving the mission, not specifically you.
Keep the narration to a minimum, you have to be clear, but brief. For example: "I give the order to fast tight the belts holding the materials and supplies and ask everyone to enter the tanks. They should be tough enough to resist the storm".
After this, mark a cross on the Stage sheet and write the consequence the Wind of Fate told you; in this case: "caravan will disperse".

Left now can reply something like: "The winds seems to search for you and the storm front turns to your direction. You start feeling the air flow rising around you and some grain of sand flying by".
Right adds: "This will surelly lower the morale of your men as most of them know what is like to be lost in a sand storm".
You are required to add a piece of narration to go ahead, and if you do, mark the Stage sheet and write the consequence: "lower men morale".

You need to mark 3 crosses in this way.
Then, if the cell on the board has no dice on it, you simply go ahead in the new cell, draw a line with your colored pen marking your Journey, and pass the Surfer role to another player, who will repeat introduction and first cell move for his character.
If the cell has a die in it, you may choose to add pieces of narration up to the total Adversity Value, or you may sacrifice a Trait and narrate how sacrificing this trait does help you to overtake the situation.
Whichever solution you chose, draw a line with your colored pen from the previous cell to the new one.
If you sacrificed a trait, mark it on your sheet.
If you added narration, remember to take note on the Stage sheet.
Then take the die and keep it in your pool.
You can always decide to retire from the cell, renounce to the die and get back to your previous cell.

What happens if you enter a City cell?
Just adapt adversity and the scene framing to a City setting.
In a City an adventurer can find: long forgotten loves that demand marriage; long forgotten enemies that demand revenge; long forgotten crimes for which police is still looking them after.
The good side of the City is that you can repair, substitute or find new copies of items you already have and lost in your journeys. If you overtake the adversity of a City, you can remove the mark from a trait you sacrificed already.

And what about a Person cell?
A Person is someone that will help you or oppose you. If he decides to help you, he will ask something back, a item, a favor, anything you are forced to give if you want his help. Help comes in the form of traits, like items, knowledge or the person himself.
If he opposes you, frame the opposition centered on the struggle with the person. If you win, you will ALSO gain a new trait, representing an item or knowledge you obtained or stolen from the person, or the person himself who was convinced to follow you.

Treasure cells will deal with traps, tricks and puzzles, but they gives you reward.
The reward is an item or knowledge in the form of TWO new traits, while traps will directly attempt to your life.

You need to pass at least one cell of each type (Desert included) before attempting to find the object of your research, the one you declared in the introducing scene.
Once you done this, a special scene will occur.
Declare you have the prerequisite for the Finding.
Once the checks are made and approved, the Wind of Fate will frame a scene with 4 steps to face for you.
You can divide your dice, the ones you won from the cells, and form 4 Pools.
Roll the first Pool.
If your score is above 5, narrate how you pass through the first step.
If your score is below 5, the Right Wind will narrate how you find obstacles in the first step. You must sacrifice a trait and use that trait to narrate how you pass through the obstacle.
Roll the second Pool, and to the same.
If you pass through all the four steps, you got what you were looking for.
If not, you are forced to get out of the Finding and go back to your Edge Point to get new clue and traits and dice to the next finding.

Throw again four six sided dice on the board and start with new introduction. You can chose to use the same Character, or make a new one, but if you chose to make a new one, he will be on the steps of your previous one, trying to achieve what the other could not.
If in this second Journey you cross one of your previous colored lines, you can freely pass in that cell, but you will be awarded of nothing, if you decide to freely pass. There is no limit on the cells you can freely pass in this way. They will not give you dice anyway.

Doubts about the game are:
1. the numbers, I need a playtest to see whether the 12 cells are a good value.
2. I have an idea about how long a session would last, but I fear it's too fast.
3. Is my writings clear enough? If you find typos... sorry ^^ I will fix them.


First follow up:

If during your Surfer turn, your Character has to face ad Adversity in a cell where one of the Winds' Character is already in, the Wind's Character can be used to frame the Adversity and the Consequences.
If you win, you can chose to take a trait from this Wind Character, just like it were a Person Cell.
But if you lose, you will be forced to hand one of your traits over to him.

Jason Morningstar

Ciao Davide,

I'm reading this with interest. My first thought - you could pace the length and complexity of the game by controlling the number of individual cells a particular session or story has.

My initial concern about this design is that it seems as though the mechanics are divorced from the fiction - that you narrate events because the game tells you to, but without any meaningful connection between the two. A closer reading may prove me wrong, but that was my first thought.

More later!


Thanks for the comment Jason!
Well, the mechanics should represent a "journey", of the adventure and exploration type.
Players are going to narrate their character journeys from the Edge Point to their Finding.
It's a game about marvelous and dungerous journeys.
Take the movie "UP" as an example.
Edge Point -> The City.
The Finding -> That Place near the Rift, where they wanted to go as children.

The players have two strategic options: try and run to the Treasure as fast as he can possibly trying harder and often during the game, or gather the most dice they can (= resources, in the fiction they will take the form of items, people, informations, clues or simply luck shot) to face the Finding with the highest chance of success.
But... the more you insist, and the more cells you face, the more the Winds of Fate can press onto you with consequences.
So the game is about the choice of accepting the consequences or giving it up with the finding.

Think about movie UP again... what would it be if he gave up and never reached the rift?


Quote from: davide.losito on November 12, 2010, 12:38:48 AM
Think about movie UP again... what would it be if he gave up and never reached the rift?
A Mike Leigh movie.
--Mike Olson


Ok, I post Jonathan's comment on the Game Chef 2010 site, which is almost the same as Jason's, so I will start analyzing better how to represent better my game concept in the rules
Finders by Davide Losito
It's a game about telling the story of the journey of the adventurers through the desert, their stages, the treasures they'll find and the city they'll visit and stop in for a break, all in their pursuit of secret items or knowledge.

Concept: You play adventurers in a relatively gonzo-sounding desert environment that can include almost anything. You're searching the lands and cities for specific people or things and attempting to overcome the challenges of the desert to find them.
Conclusion: Like several other of these later games, this one seems pretty unfinished but I really like the concepts it puts forth and the overall structure of the game, though it's much more like a board game than a roleplaying game. My main concern with the current version of the rules is that both player choices and the fiction of the game don't seem to matter very much. When players face certain challenges, they can narrate specific things and pick up dice and the gradual accumulation of dice is what's necessary to win the game. However, you can always pick up the dice, so there's no real sense of fictional challenge or choice-making to add tension to the game. Instead, it's more of a drawn-out, structured, storytelling process without any teeth, which is pretty strange for a nominally competitive game. Still, as I said, the overall structure and madcap tone of the fiction sounds pretty fun, so I hope this continues to be developed.

The main idea is that "the chioce" to make is whether the player wants to renounce to a resource to go on in that cell.
Looks like Jonathan didn't find the choice that thrilling, so the question is: do you think that adding a end-game mechanics related to the resources can help it out?
Like "if you end up with no traits at all, your character is lost in the desert and probably dead; create another Finder"?


Is it fine to use this thread for updating the game as it develops even if I am not a finalist?

Ron Edwards

Hi David,

It's OK - but keep the following in mind.

1. This forum closes December 15. You should probably utilize the Game Development forum instead.

2. Please remember that Forge forums are for substantive discussions, not mere announcements that one has added a section or is still working on a project.

3. And regarding your implication, the contest is one thing, and your game design is another. Placing in a contest based on its current qualities has nothing to do with whether your project is worthy to continue. For instance, a number of designs which did not win Ronnies in my contests of five years ago did indeed get further developed into very good games, and published. I urge you never to let anyone else be the gatekeeper of judging your project's worthiness for continued development.

Best, Ron