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Inactive File => Endeavor: Game Chef 2011 => Topic started by: devlin1 on July 15, 2011, 12:01:21 PM

Title: [Game Chef] Mike's Thread for Working Things Out
Post by: devlin1 on July 15, 2011, 12:01:21 PM
No title, nothing concrete right now -- eventually something really significant and important will go here, something that future generations of Internet users will look back on with greebert (

Anyway, for some reason I want to do a sci-fi game with a gonzo mix of bleak humor and Dune-style weirdness. A shattered empire ruled over by the Daughters, undying cyborgs descended from a long-dead emperor who've been locked in conflict for generations. Among them: Cordelia the Just, struggling for galactic unity; Mab the Magnificent and her legions of nanotech-enhanced warriors; Ophelia the Scorned, whose battle cruisers rain madness and death upon her enemies. A mysterious entity known only as the Lady who plots to destroy them all. A prison planet called Exile, where a mining robot designated NRE-5 has impossibly fomented a rebellion. The Navarrites, celibate warrior-priest clones whose psychic abilities power inter-system trade and war.

Now, can all of this fit into 3,000 words? And where's the game in there, exactly? Man, I dunno. I'm making this up as I go along.

Another kernel of an idea: Sword & sorcery & Shakespeare. Conan, Shakespeare-style.

Title: Re: [Game Chef] Mike's Thread for Working Things Out
Post by: Wilper on July 15, 2011, 10:07:34 PM
I want to play that game!

Title: Re: [Game Chef] Mike's Thread for Working Things Out
Post by: devlin1 on July 16, 2011, 11:41:30 PM
I want to play that game!
I would play that game too! But it's too weird and baroque, I think, for 3,000 words.

Now I'm thinking of a situational game with a somewhat more straightforward premise, although what that'd be I'm not sure yet. It'd be maybe GM-less, although on the whole I'm not that comfortable with GM-lessness, because I'm such a traditionalist.

It'd consist of, say, four characters pulled from Shakespeare's works. Each character would have something they're forsworn to do, but that they can't accomplish until they do something else first. Both of these tasks directly involve the other characters, but what they actually are is dependent on the acting character.

It'd look something like this:

I am Forsworn to:
  • marry
  • murder
  • restore

But first I must:
  • marry
  • murder
  • restore

(I'm not married to those verbs. They're just examples, really, and could be different for every character. Each verb should imply a definite goal, though -- verbs like "protect" or "love" could go on forever, whereas "murder" or "marry" are singular actions.)

Each blank is another character's name, drawn at random from, say, a deck of cards. So maybe it'd be five characters, with each of the other four characters represented by a suit. (These suits would have to be different for every character.) First you draw cards to fill in the blanks, then you pick your verbs. This should set up a web of conflicting relationships and goals.

Your character also has a Nature, the thing they are at their very core. Maybe this would be another place where you could have three choices and pick one, but it might also be good to have each character's Nature fixed, so that they remain distinct and recognizable. For example, for Hamlet it might be "It is in my Nature to... overthink my actions." There might be an aspect-like relationship with your Nature -- when you choose to make it a problem for you, you get a resource, but you can also spend that resource to follow your Nature and get a mechanical benefit of some kind.

So there's Forsworn and Nature. As for Exile or Daughter? I dunno. Exile sounds a more likely fit.

I have no idea what the mechanics would be right now, or how people would go about attaining their goals, but, on the surface, it seems like there's potential here, especially considering the word count.

Title: Re: [Game Chef] Mike's Thread for Working Things Out
Post by: devlin1 on July 17, 2011, 03:24:42 AM
Ah -- it's a Dynasty-style prime-time soap opera. Mantua Place or something. That gives all of this context and a set of tropes to riff on.

Title: Re: [Game Chef] Mike's Thread for Working Things Out
Post by: devlin1 on July 18, 2011, 12:14:00 PM
Some notes I've been taking down over the past couple days:

So it’s set at an upscale record label in LA -- Globe Records. We have:
  • Rick, head of the label: A schemer to the core, Rick didn’t get where he is today without pissing a few people off. His office is at the top of the label’s towering office building in LA. He has a wife (name pending), but is having an affair with Lady MC, the label’s biggest recording artist and Othello’s sister.
  • Lady MC, talent: A hip-hop star having an affair with Rick and, by extension, manipulating Globe Records. Specifically, she’s trying to ensure that she isn’t shown up by Juliet. But she doesn’t want the label to drop her altogether -- as long as she’s with Globe, Lady can control her career.
  • Juliet, talent: A rising star on her second marriage. She married her first husband (Othello’s brother Romeo) when she was just a teenager, and his death shortly thereafter sent her into a tailspin. Othello was there to catch her. At first she was grateful; these days, she can’t help feeling like being with him might be holding her back.
  • Othello, recording engineer: Handsome, kind, strong -- that guy. Afraid his wife Juliet is cheating on him. Talented singer-songwriter, but he’s seen what being in the spotlight has done to her and doesn’t want any part of that. He’s plays acoustic guitar at coffee houses to sparse but appreciative patrons.
  • Portia, record producer: Woman trying to make it in a man’s world. Power suit, shoulder pads, the whole nine yards. Nursing a crush on Othello, and trying to convince him to sign with her as a recording artist. Also, she’s Rick’s daughter, though he doesn’t show her favoritism. They... don’t have a great relationship.
  • Dane Prince, talent: Moody lead singer of Sea of Troubles, a grunge band signed with Globe. Attracted to Juliet, but has a bad history where relationships are concerned. Othello’s best friend.

Everyone has Vows, Natures, and Modes. Vows are motivations -- things you’re forsworn to do. Natures are beliefs and personality traits -- things that make you you. Modes are how you feel at any given time; everyone has three to choose from (unique to the character). Natures and Modes are pre-set for each character; each character’s Vows are defined before play by the player.

These things have ratings, starting at 1. When you do something, you pick a Vow, Nature, and Mode appropriate to the situation. Combine their ratings, and draw that many cards, less any cards already in hand (so if you have a card in hand and the total of your ratings is three, you only draw two cards). Each player in a conflict (usually only two) plays a single card. High card wins narration rights. The players swap the cards they played. The swapped card you receive stays in your hand; discard the rest.

Vows, Natures, and Modes are potentially problematic. Every time you make one of those create a problem for you -- something like an automatic “I lose, because I’m so Angry” -- instead of playing a card, increase the rating of the Vow, Nature, or Mode by 1. You don’t get the other player’s card; it’s discarded instead.

I’d like for the suit to matter somehow, but I’m not sure how just yet. Maybe assign a suit to each Mode, and if the suit of the card you play matches your Mode you trump? Sure, why not.

Take a standard deck of playing cards and remove the face cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings). The remaining cards -- A through 9 in four suits -- are used by the players during play for all that card-drawing jazz. The face cards are used to randomly determine the storylines for the episode. Each episode has three storylines, each in one of three different stages of resolution when play begins. The further along the storyline, the more people it involves. A new storyline involves only two characters, an ongoing storyline involves three, and a concluding storyline involves four. (There can be overlap between these groups.) The first player draws a face card to determine the new storyline for their character, then picks one other player to be involved. That player decides how the two characters are involved in the storyline, then draws a card for their ongoing storyline and picks two other players. Each of those players decides how one of the other three characters is involved. A player who hasn’t drawn a storyline card does so for their concluding storyline, and chooses three other players to share it with them, and each of those players decides how one other character is involved.

Every player writes down a Vow for each storyline they have. This must be a statement using the phrase “I must” or “I can’t” that relates to the storyline and includes one other character in it. For example, Othello’s player draws Amnesia for his new storyline, and chooses to involve Dane in it. Dane’s player decides that Othello  partially lost his memory as a result of a car accident, but right before that he caught Dane with Juliet. Now, he doesn’t remember it. Dane’s helping him cover and recover out of guilt. Othello’s player writes down “I must regain my memory.” Dane’s player writes “I can’t let Othello know about Juliet and me.”

An episode has four commercial breaks. In between these, each player takes a turn framing a scene relevant to one of their storylines. After one commercial break, a new storyline becomes ongoing. After three commercial breaks, an ongoing storyline becomes concluding. After two commercial breaks, a concluding storyline ends; draw a new storyline and dovetail it into that one. So each of the 12 storylines needs a breakdown of where they are at each stage. That should be... okay. Manageable, anyway.

The game ends when the episode ends.

Title: Re: [Game Chef] Mike's Thread for Working Things Out
Post by: devlin1 on July 25, 2011, 07:47:18 AM
If you've a mind to, I invite you to tune into the now-completed Globe Records (


Title: Re: [Game Chef] Mike's Thread for Working Things Out
Post by: devlin1 on August 02, 2011, 09:07:54 PM
Yay, finalist! Thanks to the three people who voted for Globe Records.