Saturday, 20 May 2017

Five Cards (2)

The 200 word RPG challenge. My thoughts and dilemma:

I been very vocal about "micro RPG's" and "pocket mods". These are tiny RPGs, generally designed to fit on a single sheet of A4 and distributed for free. They seem to be particularly popular amongst the teen/early 20s section of the hobby. Games like "Lasers and Feelings" (and its various iterations), Sea Dracula and The Actual Cannibal Shia Lebeouf. I don't like the idea.

1. At least two of the above examples - possibly all three - are actually great little games. But the drive to fit them onto a single sheet of paper leaves them feeling unfinished.
2. I'm pretty sure they're the exceptions. Surely 90% plus of these "throwaway" games are forgettable at best. This mass of dross undermines the hobby IMHO.
3. If a game like Laser and Feelings - with its great so-simple mechanic - is a good game, surely its creator deserves some reward for his inventiveness. Giving good games away for free devalues the hobby IMHO.

Personally I think a game like Lasers and Feelings would benefit from being expanded, finished off, have a bit of artwork added, published in a book and sold. Like The Black Hack.

So when I heard about the "200 word RPG challenge" I was initially dismissive. This was backed up as I read some of the previous entries. Let's just say that the great majority are not to my taste or, even, fit within my conception of what a game is.

But something began to nag at me. Could I write a GAME in 200 words and show these whippersnappers how it's done? (More than once in my game writing career I've been spurred to write by negative emotions.) It was also an intellectual challenge. I had a couple of ideas which I mulled over on my journey to and from work. I typed one up, submitted it and forgot about it - fully expecting it to be swamped by all the "touchy feely story poetry" stuff.

But then it was chosen as a finalist. Out of 700-odd entries, it got into the top 30. It didn't win. But it got into the final, had some positive judge's comments and leaves me with a marketable property.

So, from being dismissive of the whole "200 word RPG" concept, I've gone to being grateful to the organisers because of the spur and opportunity it's given me.

As an idea the game isn't bad. Not the sort of game I'd usually choose to play, but definitely workable. Rather than ditch it, I should do something with it, right?

1. Even though it's not the type of game I'd usually play, it might suit other people. So I shouldn't deny them that possibility.
2. If nothing else it might raise my profile as an author and draw attention to my other games.
3. There's the satisfaction of finishing the game off - I have some ideas.
4. It might bring in a bob or two.

I'm currently thinking of:

1. tidying up the basic 200 word entry so it looks neat and giving it away for free.
2. Turning it into a complete game as a "pocket mod" and selling it as "pay what you want".
3. Producing a proper book of the rules with artwork, examples, scenario etc. For sale as PDF and POD.

My issue is that I don't have a home group, and my foreseeable convention slots are already booked up with my other games. So how do I playtest this game? Do I need to?

Five Cards (1)

This year I entered the 200 word RPG challenge.

My entry got into the final. (Best 30 of 700 entries - ish). It wasn't one of the three winners.

Here it is RAW. I'll be referring to it later.

Five Cards

Referee designs adventure. Challenges defined in terms of the number of success needed to overcome them.

Players get 10 cards. 5 Action Cards:

Success with complication
Complete success
Failure with benefit
Complete failure

And 5 blank Character Cards. They define their Character by writing 5 things on them.

Referee gets 5 cards:

Referee claims card
Player retains card
Card goes to another Player
Card discarded
Player vote

Referee describes the setting. Players state actions. When Characters face a challenge, player draws random Action Card. Results interpreted by Referee. Failure may cause wound - turn a Character Card over. Successes/benefits may heal wounds.

Referee draws a random Referee Card to determine what happens to the player's Action Card. The Referee can take no proactive actions until they have gained at least one action card. They then have two piles of cards.

Player and the Referee shuffle their card piles. Action moves to next Player.

If a Player has no Action Cards and their Character has a wound, they are dead.

Play continues until the adventure is over or all Action Cards are discarded.