[Game Chef 2011] Inside The Sidereal Clockworks

Started by Jason Petrasko, July 16, 2011, 12:32:42 PM

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Jason Petrasko

Ok, so I'm just in brainstorming mode, but I think I have a solid idea forming.

It began before recorded time, when the wise ones grew bored and retired from the world of creation. They created a place of refuge, a place of dreams. Then the kingly kings and lords and heroes of the ages past were invited to this place, the sidereal clockworks. Once again, the wise ones grew bored of their toys and retired to some further realm. However the humans so invited were left in this place, not knowing the way out, trapped outside of time and space in these clockworks of what could have been. The clocks of our world turned on until the Victorian Age, and the Great King of the Clockworks discovered how to once again open the invitations network. Several prestigious people were invited to the Clockworks once again, and each of them brought with them a love of the theater and The Bard. The clockworks aren't like our world, things are mutable and exist only when agreed upon. In no time the small land was quickly reworked into a set of stages filled with a cast of actors. The Great King is amused and has taken his place in the high box to see what wonders these newcomers will show him!

So the players take on the role of one of the new invitees from the Victorian Age, who have been tricked into joining the groups of illustrious figures now populating the clockworks. Literally all the worlds a stage here, and the game will draw heavily from Dark City. As newcomers to the realm, the invitees lack the power to control the clockworks directly and must develop that ability. Instead they are cast into characters created by the group mind of all the populace of the clockworks, and play their roles in the stages (quite literally a cross between a stage and pocket reality) and scenes that have been written for them. So the game begins with fixed ideas of what is happening, and then move beyond that as the player's characters develop the ability to shape the clockworks, and the very world around them.

3000 words eh... this will be a challenge!


Will it be some kind of stories within the story game? 

Jason Petrasko

Wilper, that aspect will indeed be strong in the game. The story of the game itself is in essence about playing out fragments of other stories (think: scenes) and eventually diverging from it as the characters become more agile inside the sidereal clockworks.

Of course the thing weighing on my mind now is how to use the three ingredients I've chosen (as I think the theme is pretty much nailed): forsworn, nature, and exile. :)

Jason Petrasko

Ok so the first major stumbling block is passed, as I can picture the play now, so its time to start cranking! Also, title change to: A Clockwork Spiral. This is cleaner and still evocative. Here is the first bit of the forming rules:

The Game of Questions

This is a game of questions, and as such, much is left to the imagination of the participants. In order to play you will need three to six players, a bunch of dice, the charts of this document, and a good spirit of adventure focused on entertaining moments. The dice used vary as needed, and are listed here as d<X> where X is the number of sides of the dice, e.g. d6 or d12. When rolled you will always be consulting a chart of results, so just toss the die and read that entry on the chart.

Each player takes on the mask of a part of the clockwork during the game, and this allows them to play an actual part of the clockworks. As the game plays out, who they are in this new world will be determined, is one of the many questions of the game. To begin the game, we need to know at what hour their existence began inside the clockworks. The central gear has hour markings based on the Canon of Kings, as so:

1. - Babylon : beginnings – hour of the Philosopher
2. Cyrus : dreams – hour of the Great King
3. Cambyses : purification – hour of the Saint
4. Darius I : truth – hour of the Judge
5. Xerxes I : might – hour of the Champion
6. Artaxerxes I : tolerance – hour of the Healer
7. Darius II : love – hour of the King
8. Artaxerxes II : hope – hour of the Speaker
9. Artaxerxes III : children – hour of the Father
10. Arses : schemes – hour of the Vizier
11. Darius III : valor – hour of the Hero
12. - Macedonia : endings – hour of the Sage

Each player rolls a d12 to determine their hour of introduction. There can be no collisions here, each player must have their own hour. If a match is rolled, ignore that result and instead move down the chart sequentially until you find the next open hour. For example, if the player before you rolled 5 and then you rolled 5, you'd see if 6 was open and then 7 and then so on until you found and took an open hour.

The hour of the player will determine the area of the clockwork upon which they have great influence. For instance, the second hour in the Canon of Kings is Cyrus, the hour of the Great King and realm of dreams. A player with that hour would have great influence over dreams and directly manipulate the actions of the Great King when possible.

Jason Petrasko

ok, so my current plan is to focus my design work onto this wiki page: http://wiki.wishray.com/index.php?title=A_Clockwork_Spiral
and then comment here as progress is made. Man I wish I could edit the title of this thread with the new game title :(

Emily Care

The use of the Babylonian kings is wonderful. Though Cambyses, perhaps, should be the Mad. (Damn his eyes for how he treated Apis!)

The tone so far puts me in mind of Dance and the Dawn. I'm looking forward to seeing what play will be like.
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Jason Morningstar

Is there a compelling reason not to have the players choose the hour of their character's introduction? You could keep the exclusivity rule, but eliminate the die-handling exceptions. Plus, players would get an hour that really interested them.

Jason Petrasko

Jason, that is a good point. I don't have a compelling reason for the die roll actually, since its featured later anyway. Nice catch!


Gotta say the setting you have written here is extremely interesting. Definitely going to keep an eye on how it turns out. :)

Pat G

Jason Petrasko

So as I hammer out the final mechanics, I sat down and did some design work for the first of two play materials: The Canon of Kings playsheet:


I think it came out pretty nifty :)

Jason Petrasko

ugh, I ended up having to strip over 800 words to make 3100. This meant I had to strip out all the examples and such, not sure how I feel about that. Given how complex the game ended up being, I likely should have thrown the towel in though. I probably need 5000 words to really form a clear draft without stripping the game down a ton.