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After the Tempest

Started by Fredrix, July 16, 2011, 06:09:48 AM

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So here am I, Saturday morning about to sit down to write a Feng Shui scenario for next week's game, and I discover Game Chef. This sounds like fun, so my chums will become playtesters on the 23rd. And I'll write the first game system I've attempted since Don't Panic: the Game of Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy I wrote in my teens (scarily 30 years ago).

But what Shakepearian theme? My first thought was the On Verona Beach, being a big (big) fan of Baz Lurhman's postmodern masterpiece Romeo+Juliet, but hell ... everyone will do that surely? And anyhow the right solution for that would be simply to create a setting and characters and use Feng Shui rules - so thats out.

Then Arthur Maxwell Street, an everyday story of faerie folk, based on stories I've been kicking about in my head since my Grandfather died, long before White Wolf's Faerie - ah, yes white wolf's faerie - arse... scrap that then.

Next up, the geektastic Tempest, Forbidden Planet, and even better Return to the Forbidden Planet, Shakespear's lost Rock and Roll musical but not sci-fi, or at least not Star Trek sci-fi. And more about our discovering who we are inside...

Oh this is interesting, and Shakepearian, self discovery... finding things we don't like in ourselves, and our families, like Macbeth, Lear, Corialenus, pretty much EVERYTHING. And a system which doesn't start with creating a character...

Nathan P.

Quote from: Fredrix on July 16, 2011, 06:09:48 AM
Oh this is interesting, and Shakepearian, self discovery... finding things we don't like in ourselves, and our families, like Macbeth, Lear, Corialenus, pretty much EVERYTHING. And a system which doesn't start with creating a character...

Dig it. Make it so!
Nathan P.
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So, everything is pre-determined. This game isn't about Luck, it's about consequences. Nothing as random as dice, but still unpredictable, surprising. Been wracking my head for a mechanic, but I keep coming back to cards.

Now this is where I need help - I've spurned card based games, since a book called Hobgoblin got RPGs so very wrong. And I'm of the generation that saw Magic the gathering bankrupt our beloved publishers and "ruin" gaming. So I'm hoping there are some less prejudiced gamers out there that can tell me about card based roleplaying systems:

Any examples of good mechanics?
I cam see hoe combat can work - opposed plays from your hand (Top-trumps, if you will) but story "rolls" eg how difficult is it to pick this lock, how do they work?

My thoughts so far: each player starts with a deck of cards that represents their body, nothing more. 7 cards - four limbs, vitals, sex, and a head. Loose their vitals card or their head and they are dead. Lose any limb and they never get it back (no bionics in MY future, which is tomorrow, but that's another story).

Every "turn" starts with each player picking up a story card from the deck - this could be something their add to their personal history, or a "move" for example a punch, that they hoard for later or some moment of the "now" that moves the story on (hmmm do I even need a GM?)

I have a conceit that "combat" moves, when played, go into a combat discard pile, and that during combat turns said discard pile becomes a pool from which players can draw. Early in the session there will be few cards in this pile, keeping combat short, but later on towards the climax, the pile wouldn be enhanced by all the cards discarded previously, allowing for a climatic fight.

(I ought to say - we old school gamers: not for us politics and romance, despite my best efforts my players are at their happiest pointing a Spinal Mount at a caveman. So there will be combat.)


Right, the background, the story. This is postapocalyptic, but not so far away, tomorrow, after the oil has run out (or at least is so diminished that most people have forsworn using it long ago. But Nature has betrayed us, the land (and it is THIS land, this sceptre'd Isle) is flooded. The urban communities starved and fought first. The rural parishes, both cut off from each other, and protected from hungry urban refugees, by the floods, eek out what living they can, and make their own laws.

Our players, exiles and gypsies, arrive at one such village in the rain, amid distrust and secrets.

This isn't my own idea I admit: I'm inspired by the Jon Boden album Song from the Flood Plain Its folk songs from the future.
Buy it, its great, or if you are too tight, check out this song, which gives a flavour of the whole or read the lyrics here

I will of course check with Jon re IP before submitting.


Still looking for any help anyone can offer on their experience of card based games.

My story deck in firming up, with:
Nature cards - "good" and "bad" personality traits, maybe the virtues and the sins would be appropriate for a system based on a 16th/17th century writer
History cards - skills and backgrounds
Action cards - actions (obviously)

My idea, is that you can play a history card - lets say "military training" to give a bonus to an action, but when you play it you have to justify it with a "flashback" story. Then you discard it, and it becomes just part of your varied past, UNLESS you want to retain the card, because its part of your prefered image (archetype?) for the character. You you want to retain it, you must give a nature card to another player, who can use it to force you to play a future scene in a particular way. Does that make sense?


Right, I think I have my Nature cards worked out

There are twenty cards. Each describing an excess or deficiency of an Aristotelean Virtue. When a player draws one from the Play deck (I like that name for what I've hitherto been thinking of as the Story deck - its more Shakespearian) s/he must place it face up on the table in front of them, for everyone to see. There are three ways to use Nature Cards

Sometimes you can play a card to modify a relevant action. For example, if you are Angry, and thumping someone in a bar, you may cause more damage. Playing the Angry card in a fencing bout though, where a cool head is required will not do you any good. There are no hard and fast rules on what works and what doesn't - the player should roleplay why the card will help his or her action, and if the GM/other players thinks its justified, then it works. Nature cards are not discarded at the end of the action, but return to the table top.

You can also use a Nature card when you don't want to discard a Prologue (my new name for History cards) card after you have used that to modify an action. To retain your Prologue card, hand a Nature card of your choice to another player. They keep it in their hand, and have the right to use it to modify one or your future roleplaying choices or actions.

If you acquire two complementary Nature cards, you must pair them and display the resulting Virtue in your roleplaying choices. You may also use a Virtue to modify a relevant action as above. As you are using two cards, they will have twice the effect, BUT once used you must discard both cards back into the Story deck.

The Nature cards are:
Paired with Cowardly, becomes Courageous
Paired with Rash, becomes Courageous
Paired with Apathetic, becomes Temperate
Paired with self-indulgent, becomes Temperate
Paired with Mean, becomes Generous
Paired with Vulgar, becomes Generous
Paired with Humble, becomes Ambitious
Paired with Vain, becomes Ambitious
Paired with Complacent, becomes Patient
Paired with Angry, becomes Patient
Paired with Unassuming, becomes Truthful
Paired with Boastful, becomes Truthful
Paired with Coarse, becomes Witty
Paired with Annoying, becomes Witty
Paired with Cantankerous, becomes Friendly
Paired with Obsequious, becomes Friendly
Paired with Shameless, becomes Modest
Paired with Shy, becomes Modest
Paired with Spiteful, becomes Righteous
Paired with Envious, becomes Righteous


The Play's the Thing!

Hamlet hoped to discover his Uncle's true nature, by seeing how he would react to events in a play. And my players should discover the Nature of their characters through the system I'm putting together, so it strikes me, that what my system should be called.


Or maybe, as Hailen already has that title, I'll pass and think of another.
Today I am struggling with Task resolution (as well as going to work and them working at hoe on a proposal document until ... uh 21.36). I may give up for a while and do Prologue cards instead. Perhaps I can get away with "play your cards and by consensus the task fails or succeeds.

Again the call goes out to anyone who can point me in the direction of card based resolution systems...


So, I have 37 Prologue cards now, might add three more to make it a round 40. There's no limit to these really. But there work like traits and skills in other games - they are something you have been before. As I mentioned before use them in two ways
1 - try it on for size, describe (in flashback) how the situation you face is informed by a past experience and use it to modify an action, then discard it into the play deck
2 - if it feels right for your character, keep it, but every time you use it to modify and action, you must give one of your nature cards to another player to retain you Prologue card

Fletcher - You can use an arrow card twelve times before discarding it.
Knife fighter
Animal husbandary
Insignificant - You can fade into the background, and get about mostly unoticed
Attractive - Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Fake ID
Green thumb
Make do and mend
Hairs on the back of your neck
Eagle eyes
Excellent hearing
Refined Palette
Smells a rat
Higher education
Sure footed


Damn. Powercut 'till now has taken a evening's typisetting time away. I'm nned an early night too. So no more tonight.


I had my big play-test today, though not as big as I'd hoped, as one player had to move house at short notice. None the less it was a success, so I'm not (too) embarrassed about publishing tomorrow and submitting to Game Chef.

Once I've made some final tweaks that is, and, in fact written those pesky 3000 word or less rules.



Written, typeset, cards designed and all PDF'd.
And I have a new name for the system: Rude Mechanicals
There's a preview here in you are interested: