[Ephemera] First thoughts, and intentionally failing.

Started by UserClone, April 07, 2012, 03:26:56 PM

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So my game is going to be lovingly hand-written into a small number of notebooks, and distributed via post by myself to whomever is randomly selected to "playtest" it.

I say this because, due to the handmade nature of the game, I intend to intentionally fail by not providing any sort of PDF or other electronic document. Heck, I might not even make the deadline (though I hope a postmark by the 15th will be sufficient).

It will only be playable once, as pages will be torn out of the game and the character sheets marked up permanently, and thus slowly destroyed as the game progresses. You will play yourself as a young (no older than nine years) child. With each decision made, a part of your childhood will die, and you will grow and change. When the game ends, you will no longer be who you once were, and you will have blossomed into adulthood, for better or for worse.

The bulk of the game will take place in a shared fantasy land, reminiscent of places like Wonderland, Oz, Narnia, and Fantasia, with something of a dark side. The gameplay will resemble something more like the film Stand By Me, wherein the principal characters grow closer to one another through sharing a journey together, but in the end, must grow up and go their separate ways.

The players must write down things which affected them emotionally in their own childhood, such as their deepest fears, darkest secrets, greatest joys, and most triumphant moments (unsure of the number of which). During the game, in order to succeed at certain difficult tasks (or perhaps as a result of failure of a certain kind?) you must forfeit one of those memories, one of those moments, and describe the realization of new knowledge that makes it no longer as relevant to the core of your being as it once was.

I'm working on a dice system which involves a limited number of throws of a particular die size as a resource, as well as a limited number of uses of each of your Traits. The game will be a coming of age tale via a difficult journey through strange and sometimes harsh, though fantastic and beautiful lands. Together with your best friends, you will (in shedding the mental Ephemera of childish attitudes) come to know what it means to take on the mantle of responsibility that is adulthood.

Oh, and there will be a handy grid to help keep track of how many dice you have left to throw in which attributes. In keeping with the Theme, you may only use indelible ink to mark your sheet, and there are NO re-rolls in the game, ever. The dice system is a simple one from one of my four threads, involving the throwing of three dice, and using the median result against a difficulty (typically of 5). Failure is meant to be painful, but perhaps not as painful as success...


I'm thinking of changing the title to Becoming.

Also, Coyote will be a mysterious figure who may be leading the children to their doom, or ultimately to the object of their quest, the Lantern of Revealing.


To clarify, my game's recipe is as follows:

THEME: Last Chance (Design your game as if it might only be played once.)
13 Virtues - Can resource pools be dramatic? (Pretty much just using the question part of the thread here, though I may decide to delve deeper into the thread)

DICE MECHANIC - would it work? (Using the original dice mechanic with a tweak from another post in the thread)


Tell me when you need my address by.
I can email you, or whisper on SG, whichever works.  : )

sure of ourselves, aren't we?


It's still bubbling away in my skull. After I stream-of-consciousness it into one of my fifteen notebooks, then edit and copy it into another one, then make one MORE copy from that master copy, I can start distributing that one and any further copies. I'd ideally like to finish six of them in time for GC, then make and send you one after feedback (unless of course, you end up selected to playtest Becoming).


Yeah, of course, whenever you're ready - i just wanted to stick my foot in the door here, firmly, be like "This. This is something i want to be able to hold, someday." But i don't get everything i want, either, and i'm ok with that.
sure of ourselves, aren't we?


So I'm thinking that those youthful hopes, dreams, triumphs, tragedies, pain, and embarassments will be written on one torn-out page each, and each player will have (a number...maybe three or four?) of them, keeping them private. And when another player fails, you can give them one of your papers (trusting that person with this private, true information about you), in which case they automatically succeed, and you both scratch off one of the boxes on your grid (getting closer to growing up and putting aside childish things). However, if no one has the courage to trust that player with one of their private memories of their childhood, then ALL players must scratch off a box, and give one of their memories to Coyote by tearing it up and throwing it away. Such a sobering failure makes us all grow up that much faster.

It will be noted at the beginning of the game that there is to be no judgment or discussion when someone does or does not choose to share one of their memories to strengthen a comrade, and that it is entirely up to the receiving player what they do with anyone else's secret past...so play with people you think you can trust (though it's helpful if they don't know LITERALLY everything about you).

More as thoughts develop.

Jacob Bouvier

I have no clue if I'll be randomly selected as one of your playtesters, but I'll throw my hat into the "pretty please I'd like a copy anyway" ring, just in case you feel generous and your hand hasn't cramped too much.


I may decide to make an electronic version for the sole purpose of judging, with the request that no one distribute (or even keep) the file after judging, and in exchange, I will send any of them who wants one a copy of the physical book. That way I can still participate in the contest. If by some freakish stroke of bad taste lots of people want one, I'll see how much it would cost to print it out as a scoutbook, because writer's cramp. Also, poor penmanship, so SLOOOOOW.


Okay, so thoughts on the dice mechanic:

On the one hand, I like the regulating effect of using the median of three equal-size dice, I find it distasteful to waste dice rolls. In that spirit, I'm thinking that when a challenge comes up in the story, everyone will roll the dice of their choice, while performing some ritual, like saying, "...and Coyote cast the bones," and the LOWEST LOW die will decide who must meet the challenge. The HIGHEST HIGH die among all dice rolled indicates who may offer aid. This way, the player who rolls the dice with the fewest sides (and thus the greatest chance of failing to meet or beat a 5 with her median die) is more likely to be the child who must meet the challenge, thereby creating more opportunities for the other child to Offer Aid and, in doing so, share part of how she (the helper) became who she is with him.

I'm thinking that under no circumstances is anyone obligated to read the secret of someone Offering Aid, though it is within their rights to do so (and again, it's important to remember that no one may pass judgment upon anyone who fails to read a secret, or upon the person whose secret you are reading). I'm definitely thinking that this is a better game if you go into it writing down very private things that can potentially make you uncomfortable for others to know about you.

Also, when the player who can offer aid fails to do so, all players must scratch off the HIGHEST die size box they have left (in that category of rolls, or in any? not sure yet), which brings them closer to adulthood. Also, Coyote will claim one secret memory from each player if this happens, thus reducing all players' ability to Offer Aid.

I think Offering Aid will be as simple as this: you give of yourself one secret memory to the player who has failed, describe how you Offer Aid, and how that turns failure into success (more on how to describe Failure or Success later).


By the way, I just want to thank the organizers for holding this contest. I'm having an unbelievable amount of lonely fun designing this game, and the possibilities for it feel limitless, and with every bit of it that forms, it...it's difficult to describe. Catharsis is the best word I can think of. That and joy. :D



How are children different from adults?

Children are Innocent / Adults are Guilty.

Children value Honesty / Adults value Guile.

Children are Small and Weak / Adults are Big and Strong. not really digging the physicality of this one. I prefer attributes which are less concrete.

Children are Selfish / Adults are Selfless.

Children are Uncompromising / Adults are Compromising.

Children are Oblivious / Adults are Wise.

Children are Afraid / Adults are Courageous.

Children are Flighty / Adults are Steadfast.

Children are Trusting / Adults are Cynical.

That's probably enough for now (and actually, I'll have to narrow these down to only four or five (or so) dichotomies).

In other news, each of these Mirrors (sudden epiphany for stat names...SHIT! Epiphany is going to be an event in the game too! Like when you finally switch from one side of the slash to the other, you have an Epiphany which makes you an Adult in that aspect. From now on, you can automatically succeed with that Mirror, but only looking through the Adult side of it...or something) will have the following dice types (which can only be used once per Mirror): D4, D6, D8, D10. YES, you may choose the D4 and intentionally fail (provided you must Face the Challenge by getting the lowest roll, this will automatically provoke a decision by your Friend to Offer Aid...or not...).

Finally, I'm thinking that when you fail, you must describe how the Child side of your chosen Mirror caused you to fail, and if you succeed, you must describe your success based on how the Adult side of your Mirror. If you succeeded when you should have failed, you must describe how your Child side Mirror would have caused you to fail, if not for the Offered Aid, and the Friend who Offered Aid must then describe how the Adult side of their Mirror helped you succeed instead.

This is really fleshing itself out quite handily for me! :)


C. Edwards

Quote from: UserClone on April 08, 2012, 06:06:33 AM
I may decide to make an electronic version for the sole purpose of judging <snip>

Good! Would hate to see you make a cool game and then not be able to enter it.


I'm loving this duality thing you've got going on and how each success brings you farther from childhood. I'm trying to get a duality feel for my Coyote in re: wisdom vs. folly, so I'm right there with you.