The Last Word - Game idea

Started by OrionCanning, April 07, 2012, 01:06:47 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Hello, everyone, Orion here with my second year entering in the competition. Last year I submitted Go Puck Yourself, which Is hosted here:

So just before looking at the gamechef ingredients and theme I was reading this article:
Which totally inspired me. I also have to give a shoutout to Daniel Wood for My Daughter, The Queen of France from Game Chef 2011, since the game has some similar ideas and themes and probably subconsciously guided me to this.

I grabbed at the four word ingredients and skipped the forums because they spoke to me right away and I'm just lopsided like that. You hear me Joe? I got my sights set on you mr sous chef. Anyways here's my idea pitch.

The Last Word
A game for 4 or more players

The Lantern: A prophet who has apocalyptic visions of the future. Her visions, if heeded as a proper warning, could save the world from ultimate disaster. However, The Lantern is not aware of the truth of her visions. She is a popular writer of fiction, and unknown to everyone (Well, almost everyone) her next work happens to be timely and true. It's about the end of the world. She has two often conflicting motivations, to create a work of uncompromised personal vision, and to make a profit. Nevertheless she maintains a close writing team who she collaborates with for their invaluable feedback on her work, who consist of the following.

The Doctor:  The Doctor is an editor. She exists for two reasons, to fix what she can, and to ease the pain of what she can't. The Doctor is the secret to The Lantern's past success, though the lantern isn't fully aware of it. Through the Doctor's thoughtful advice and careful editing she has helped transform The Lantern's writing from something mediocre into the popular and successful worldwide sensation it is now. She does not receive acknowledgement for this, The Lantern takes all the credit for her success. The Lantern is also aware that the advice of her team members is essential to her success. She just does not realize that the secret to her success rests on the shoulders of one person, The Doctor. The Doctor's need to help and fix things also makes her the one person who will do whatever she can to try to stop the end of the world (if she realizes the visions are true), however she might inadvertently subvert this in her attempts to help make the best story possible.

The Mimic: The Mimic is the least creative member of the team. Instead he has a vast knowledge of what has worked before and what doesn't. Though he often copies from past successes and utilizes cliche ideas, he does it well. His knowledge is both practical and accurate. He also represents the voice of the public, running test groups to gauge their reaction to the work in progress and reporting the results of their feedback to the team. He is mostly concerned with meeting the bottom line and making sure the finished work will be a financial success, therefore he will try to pander to mass appeal and offending the least amount of people.

Coyote: An immortal trickster spirit who can take on any form. He seeks to confuse and alter the Lantern's vision as much as possible to ensure that her apocalyptic visions will not be recognized as truth, so that the end of the world (as we know it) cannot be stopped. He is not evil, but he is inhuman and driven by playful mischief and the belief that then end of the world is the punch-line to a cosmic joke. He manifests as a close friend to The Lantern and an important voice of input on her creative team, so that he can more easily trick her. Coyote is valued as a member of the team for his amazing creativity, though his ideas are often outlandish and subversive.

The Gallery: Any additional players become members of the gallery. They are the biggest fans of The Lantern's work and her most influential critics. When they write a blog, thousands of people listen. Each member of the gallery has their own specific interpretation of The Lantern's work and where the story needs to go, characters who are their favorite and characters they hate. Though they are not physically present at The Lantern's creative meetings, their opinions are often loudly interjected and their presence is heard and felt by everyone in the meeting. Through their connections and leaks they seem to somehow maintain perfectly up to the minute knowledge of The Work's progress.

Play mechanics will work something like this: I'm imagining that "the prophecy" is randomly created before the game starts as a secret sequence of events that inform the next part of the story The Lantern is writing. This can be done as four (6? 8? 10?) cards drawn from a playing deck, kept face down. At the start of each turn The Lantern draws the next card, receiving the next part of the prophecy as a vague prompt, which she interprets into the next part of her story. There is a writing session where she tells the team her plans for the story and they collaboratively discuss her ideas and come to some form of agreement. Not sure how this will work but each member should have conflicting goals to cause conflict which could be mechanical or simply emergent through play. Obviously the roles inform these goals, The Lantern wants to keep as close to her original vision as possible, the coyote wants to warp and subvert it and make a joke out of it, the Doctor wants to Fix it and make it better, and The Mimic wants to make it conform to his rules of success. Members of The Gallery can stop the discussion at any point to interject commentary pertaining to the present subject, usually in the form of rants, snap judgements, and critiques they have written. One or all of the members of the discussion suddenly remember reading this commentary from a fan letter or blog post and work it into their discussion of where the book should go. Somehow each discussion ends up being resolved either mechanically or through play and the arrived upon consensus is written down on a piece of paper as the next part of the story. As the game progresses events from the prophecy surface as news stories and world events of increasingly personal relevance to the story being written. At the end the cards are revealed it's resolved whether the players catch on to the fact that the world is ending, or whether The Lantern's original vision has been so compromised that it is no longer recognizable and the world marches obliviously on towards it's doom, resulting in a positive or negative epilogue.

Cool? I think so. So I'm trying to think of resolution mechanics for each turn and for the end of the game, anyone have any ideas?


this feel like it could be a fun parlor-style game. It's a tangent, but what if players didn't know each other's roles? for example,. lantern draws a hand of cards that indicate "the truth" these would match the prophesy exactly. The doctor would draw a hand of cards that was similar to the prophesy, the mimic would draw something else, similar but not exact.

"Victory" is the team collaborating on a the story that has the most crossover between their cards. the "story" would consist of them selecting a pool of cards that they believe is best. A real narrative can be reated along side.

Meanwhile, the trickster is trying to pull things astray.


I've definitely been considering giving players random roles and keeping them secret, to make the role of Coyote more effective.

I'm still not sure exactly how this would work but here's what I'm thinking. The Mimic is teamed with Coyote and The Doctor is teamed with The Lantern. You separate the deck into 4 suits, one for each player. A player's role is chosen in some secret random way like drawing them from a hat  They each draw a random hand of 7 cards that they keep to themselves, but ultimately only choose 4 cards from those 7 to put into the story. They choose which cards to keep by engaging in a roleplayed story discussion throwing out the story ideas from their hands and trying to come to an agreement on which combine into the best possible story, during which they are trying to read each other and figure out which of the other three players is their ally. At the end everyone reveals their chosen hand of four. Once they do this they discuss and tell the story that was written based on the final cards. After that they reveal their roles. For each card that's a match with one of Lantern's 4, team Lantern earns a point, and for each card that doesn't match, team Coyote gets one. So Coyote is simply trying to pick a set of cards completely different then Lantern's and get everyone else to do the same.

For a longer game you could mix up the roles again and keep playing rounds, adding to the points tally for Coyote and Lantern after each round while adding a new chapter to the story. After a predetermined number of rounds end, the final tally is made. If coyote wins, the epilogue of the story involves the writers realizing their folly too late if at all, and telling how the world ends. If The Lantern wins, the epilogue is about how the writers save the world from destruction at the last moment. In either case, the writers suddenly become characters in the story they were writing.
To make this work I'd have to make the characters slightly less defined and also change the background so that they are all writers collaborating as a team to write a story, be it a novel, a movie, a TV show, or even *gasp* a parlor story game. If you can't tell I'm all about the layers of meta. I'd also like to give each player an added mechanical ability to make an extra change once all the cards are revealed, to further define the roles and to make things slightly more interesting.

Okay, now that I wrote it out maybe I do know exactly how this would work. Umm, cool! Thanks for the feedback! Now I just need a really good list of 13 prompts. The four horsemen of the apocalypse are definitely going to be in there.
I'm not giving away too much too early am I?


OH, the cards have PROMPTS on them. That clears up a lot.

No idea that you liked meta, just that we're helping you make a story game... um... you should put in LASER GOBLINS.

I'm the DOCTOR.

anyway, this is super cool. I don't know about the Mimic being on Coyote's team, seems kinda weird. I really like SP4M's idea about the cards meaning different things to the different roles, but maybe there's not really room for that in the thing you're making now.

Actual question: how does the Last Chance thing fit in? this game sounds like i want to play it like every weekend.
sure of ourselves, aren't we?

Robert Bruce


Prompt cards which contribute to the story are sorted by suit (each role gets a suit) at the end.  Each role has a separate table which explains how many victory points you earn for what cards.  Each person adds up their victory points, highest gets their way.


Hmm, just for you jackson I'm going to throw in my original list of separate prompts for each Role, and then contrast it with my simplified list. The original list here was just a rough draft of quick brainstorming. Each prompt is something to put into the story, with the exception of doctor's disagree/agree things (which actually should probably be scrapped. This also fit more with my original concept that each character would be pushing one of their prompts into the story each round, and depending on whether it meshed well with The Lantern's story or completely sidetracked from it they would give points to lantern or coyote. Naturally coyote would just sidetrack the story every chance he got and his prompts were an attempt to reflect that. He's a troll.

Another cool idea, Anyone could easily hack the game by writing a new list of prompts, no?

Lantern: 13 Prophecies of Doom and gloom! Plague. An environmental disaster. War. Death. The 7 deadly sins. Famine. When animals attack. Betrayal. Tyranny and Despotism. A False Prophet. The sins of the Fathers. The Vanishing. A dark sign.

Doctor: Players to support or disagree with (6 cards, 3 support, 3 disagree, one of each for each player. THe idea is she's an editor so she's critiquing your good or bad ideas). Turn the story into an allegory to give it deeper meaning. Add character development. Fix a plot hole. Reveal something incredible through a flashback. Reveal something through a flash forward. Introduce a new character. Remove a character.

Mimic: Needs a sex scene, Needs a fight scene, Remove or change something that will offend the tweens, teens, republicans, or other target market. Add something to appeal to a target market. Think of a recent movie or book or other story and add something you liked/hated from it. Introduce a cliche (sexy vampires, scooby doo ending, last day of retirement, etc). Introduce explosions. Add a chase scene. Jump the Shark. Reinvent a classic. Emphasize masculinity or Femininity. Add comic relief. Survey says:

Coyote: Dark Comedy. Battle of the sexes. Self-Insertion. Time Travel. Period Piece. Aliens Invade. Shakespeare. Hard Sci-Fi. Fantasy. Art House. Fairy Tales. Satire.

And the new list.

13 Prompts: War. Death. Sickness or Plague. Hunger. Betrayal. Love. Justice. Forces of Nature. The Machine. The Self. The Supernatural. Society. Destiny.

The reason I scrapped the separate lists for the new version is because I figured if everyone had separate prompts it would make it too easy to figure out who was who. Instead I tried to make the prompts more open ended so each player could put their own spin on the prompts to create the story and that would also play somewhat into the bluffing game.

I put a lot more thought into this list as well. I used the 7 Basic types of conflict Because they seem like good basic building blocks of story.

To go with the apocalypse theme I took the four horsemen of the apocalypse, substituting the white horse with hunger because it's a more basic drive with open interpretation, yet it could still be a hunger for conquest. Or sex, money, power, food, whatever. Last I added Betrayal, Love, and Justice, First of all they are all drawn from Major arcana of tarot cards (more on that in a second), but they also are sort of a cycle of human conflict. You love something. It betrays you! You seek justice. Or maybe that's just me.

Another part of my selection process was I wanted to apply everything to the numeralogical significance of tarot cards. Which is more than I care to go into right now, but 1-10 is sort of a progression from beginning to end and from 1 to many. 1 is the self and the beginning, 2 is union, pairing, love, and so on until 10 is death and the end and new beginnings. Then I had to do something with 11 12 and 13. In numeralogy you add multiple digit numbers together so the numerological equivalent of 11 is 2. So I decided those would be the dark side of their equivalents. Love (2) becomes betrayal (11), Society (3) becomes justice (12), and the machine (4) becomes sickness (13), I could have stuck closer and made jack prince, and kept queen and king just queen and king, but ... Well maybe I should have, I don't know. ANYWAYS.

Ace: The Self.
2: Love
3: Society
4: The Machine
5: War
6: Forces of Nature
7: The Supernatural
8: Hunger
9: Destiny
10: Death
(11) J: Betrayal
(12) Q: Justice
(13) K: Sickness

Sucks to be the king. Maybe I'll end up making both rules variants cause I'm indecisive.

I put Mimic on coyotes team because I was worried it might be too hard otherwise for coyote to win, but maybe it's already balanced. I should playtest. Also I wanted it to appeal to bridge players so they would adopt it easier. They'll call it NuBridge.

So the whole end of the world thing isn't enough for the theme? How about I put a suicide pact in the rules? Or maybe I'll just track you down with a tenderizing hammer if you play twice.

Oh no wait, after the first time you play the game changes so now it's about lazer goblins. Problem solved.

"Is this your first time playing Last Word? If so, turn to page 1. If not, turn to the section, "Lazer Goblins".


Robert! Good to see you here buddy. So I need a little clarification on your idea. Do you score just by getting your role's prompts into the story? Does each role play with their own suit, or do you shuffle the suits together and deal em out to everyone, and score points no matter who puts your suit into the story?

As far as each role getting their way, Lantern writes a bestseller that saves the world (Maybe not in that order), Doctor fixes EVERYTHING (umm, I guess she saves the world too), Mimic films Arnold Schwarzenegger saving the world with a machine gun or something, makes millions, Coyote laughs his ass off as the world burns.

Robert Bruce

Quote from: OrionCanning on April 08, 2012, 12:36:13 AM
Robert! Good to see you here buddy. So I need a little clarification on your idea. Do you score just by getting your role's prompts into the story? Does each role play with their own suit, or do you shuffle the suits together and deal em out to everyone, and score points no matter who puts your suit into the story?

As far as each role getting their way, Lantern writes a bestseller that saves the world (Maybe not in that order), Doctor fixes EVERYTHING (umm, I guess she saves the world too), Mimic films Arnold Schwarzenegger saving the world with a machine gun or something, makes millions, Coyote laughs his ass off as the world burns.

I was thinking you score points with sheer volume of your suit incorporated into the story, combined with the different interactions with others' cards.  But I have a different idea now which interests me more.

So here's a more developed concept:

Suits represent broad themes.  Numbers and face cards represent specific story elements, which are defined as they are revealed.  Write these down on the chart as they are defined.

A round of play:

The prophecy gets flipped over 1 card at a time into the canon, once per round.  Lantern interprets the card using its suit as theme, and its rank as specific story element.  Lantern defines the rank if not yet defined.  Cards are worth a certain value, 2-10, face cards ??  Hit the magic number and it's apocalypse time.

Each person gets dealt three cards face-down.  Each picks a card from that and sets it aside, still face-down.  They take turns describing their contribution to the prompt of the prophecy using the theme and element (if yet defined, if not define it) of the card they picked.  Lantern then picks who will contribute their chosen card to the story.  The card is revealed and added to the canon.  If it's a rank which hasn't been defined, whoever contributed it defines that rank in a way that makes sense considering their contribution.  The apocalypse clock advances according to the value of the card.

Repeat this process.

If the Doctor achieves a flush or straight within the canon, they reveal their role and win.

If the Mimic makes four of a kind or full house, they reveal their role and win.

If the Coyote hits or busts midnight on the apocalypse clock, they reveal their role and win.

If the Lantern achieves a certain number of cards in the canon without hitting or busting midnight on the apocalypse clock, they win.


It's late (what, it is), so i'm just gonna say a) i'm totally gonna troll as Coyote using hard sci fi like every time, shoehorning it in.

b) robert, those win conditions seem rad, but i'm worried that i wouldn't understand them during the game.
I guess i'd only need to know one of the end conditions to play kinda well, but i'd need to understand them all to play competitively.

Wait... am i LAZY?

So i guess that's actually my complaint. Make me less lazy please. And more lazery.
sure of ourselves, aren't we?

Robert Bruce

Quote from: jackson_tegu on April 08, 2012, 02:24:33 AM
It's late (what, it is), so i'm just gonna say a) i'm totally gonna troll as Coyote using hard sci fi like every time, shoehorning it in.

b) robert, those win conditions seem rad, but i'm worried that i wouldn't understand them during the game.
I guess i'd only need to know one of the end conditions to play kinda well, but i'd need to understand them all to play competitively.

Wait... am i LAZY?

So i guess that's actually my complaint. Make me less lazy please. And more lazery.

Legitimate's more difficult to play optimally if you're Lantern.  The other roles mostly just require you to know your own goals.  Lantern must be aware of the other roles.  There should be a warning to this effect in the game rules.  If you're full of lazy, totally don't be Lantern.

There's some cool strategic depth to the game as the ranks get figured out.  Also when you realize that you can camouflage your choice by implementing two or more specific story elements as primary parts of your contribution.  Example:  Space Commando driven insane by Old God.  Then the Lantern must figure out whether you're on 7-"Space Commando" or K-"Old God".  Keeping in mind what other people have pitched and what is in the canon already is also part of optimal play.


Heh, what happens if I submit a game with 3 different rules sets? I feel like my judges wouldn't know which rules to base their rating of my game on. Yet I like all these ideas and I don't want to pick just one. That would be silly, right? Besides they are now fleshed out enough that it's like taking candy from a baby. Oh wait. Word limit. Does that mean I should submit each one separately?

Mr Bruce's idea also has the advantage of never being the same game twice and thus better meeting the theme of the competition. I guess that means I'll be retiring the old meat tenderizer.


I'm going to break this competition. :(


Okay, here's what I've got so far.
The Last Word.pdf -

I'd be happy with submitting this.
But I'm going to write two more versions.

Anyone feel like playtesting?


I added a new set of Alternate Rules Based on Robert's idea, called The Last Hour


I'm liking the game so far.

I love the type setting, but it is really hard to read against that brown paper. How did typing paper get so brown?

Fun Parts
Revealing the prophecy
Trying to tell the story carefully so that it matches.
Being Coyote and trying to figure out which direction the story is going so you can subvert it and score a point.

I wish that The Mimic and the Doctor had the potential to control the epilogue somehow.
I wish someone could get one guess at the prophecy right before it was revealed. Guessing is fun.
I wish that right before or after the brainstorming session, everyone got the option of crossing out and replacing one of the items on their list. Then it would be more likely for everyone to take a moment to read the things that were likely to come up, and they could tailor the list just a bit.