The Game Players of Titan

with apologies to PKD

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National Game Design Month Entry: Escape!

I’m not sure why this month is national game design month, but whatever, I’m in!  I need to finally finish a game, and the game I’m currently working on is called Escape!, which I’m sure is copyrighted and everything, but I’m not going to worry about that.  That would be what I would normally spend my time worrying about, rather than actually designing the game. And I’m not going to let that stop me.   The game is a hybrid card game/RPG detailing the attempted escape from a collapsed building by a random assortment of people who all sought shelter in the old bomb shelter in the basement.  

As the plucky heroes begin to pick their way out of the wreckage, they attempt to discover what happened, while each working towards their own end and racing against the clock to escape the building before it collapses and find help.  Oh, and what is encouraged them to escape the building is a horrible stench that has already sickened and killed others who were with them in the bomb shelter.  And so they have to keep their mouth covered with some kind of cloth or they with breath in the stench.  So much for talking!   

The idea behind this game is to encourage collaboration between the various PCs while forcing them to do so without speech.  The players use cards to signal their actions which each take time, and otherwise are unable to communicate.  That is, unless they were smart and picked up the gas mask.  

I’ll post more as I solidify some of the components, and hopefully I’ll be able to game test it with some people before the month is over.  We’ll see!  


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Nine and Half Foot Pole #1: The Breakfast Club

Or, why I like playing games where I don’t understand the rules

Every other week, my friends and I get together and game on Saturday morning.  With our crazy schedules, significant others and other commitments, Saturday morning works out to be the best time to game.  On these mornings, anything goes: playtests, crazy house rules and obscure games rule the day.  While the GM explains the rules, I  throw something on the stove and call it breakfast.  

This past week, our game was Savage Worlds, specifically a space pulp version called Daring Tales of the Space Lanes. I had never played savage worlds, and it had been a long time since I had even read the pdf.  I had remembered liking the hindrances and the dice progression in skills and attributes of d4, d6, d8 and d10.  But since no one I knew was running it at that time, I read through the rules once and then set it aside. Unfortunately the fate of most of the game systems.  When my friend Michael said that he wanted to run Savage Worlds, I jumped at the chance.  I only made one simple request.  Could we play Firefly?  

While not quite Firefly, it was a lot of fun.  I was a space dwarf and spent much of my time running at mooks, screaming and trying to clock them with my space wrench.  Surprisingly, I was mostly successful at this seemingly terribly battle plan.  And this reminded me why I love playing new games.  My friends and I tend to play a lot of D&D, which, while fun, tends to get repetitive.  I know the things my character can do, the things my character can’t do, and how to do the things I can do.  However, when I play a new game, anything goes.  I look at my character sheet and think, how can lockpicking help me in a battle in a cargo bay?  Answer: by jumping into a forklift and driving it into the machine gun laser manned by a mook, of course.   

It got me thinking, maybe I should try a new game every once in awhile to get the creative gaming juices going.  I love playing roleplaying games, but I find myself burning out every couple of months when I game.  The new games give me a chance to recharge my gaming and get me to look at the games I play in a different light.  What about you, do you find yourself trying other games to find your gaming mojo again?

Person, Place or Thing

Each week I’ll include my post with a quick person, place or thing, in the spirit of “old school” gazetteers.  It will be system neutral, it’s meant to inspire your gaming, whatever game you might be playing.  

The Dunnington Walls.  Place.  

Just 10 short miles north of the capital city lies the ruins of Dunnington Walls.  It a series of walls and piles of rock that encircle a small hill.  Most of the rocks have been used for enclosures in the nearby crofts, although 12 remain standing on the southern side of the circle.  It is named after Lord Dunnington, after whom the nearby hamlet is almost named.  His heirs don’t live in the area, and rarely come out to their country manor, choosing instead to stay in the capital city.   It had been mostly ignored by the locals, but strange items have been occasionally found in the surrounding fields, bits of blades of made of obsidian and bits of bone with holes drilled in them.  

Blowing Up The Blogo-sphere!

Another regular feature here at the Nine-and-half-foot Pole Headquarters, each week I’ll highlight a recent blog post or conversation that I found particularly interesting.  

I’ve really be enjoying reading Keith Davies – In My Campaign, specifically his series on creating a megadungeon.  Rather than making a map of the megadungeon, and then filling it up, Keith is creating the dungeon using nodes.  That means that each section of the megadungeon is a node.  The focus is on the ecology of the dungeon, how the various factions interact and what can be found in each area.  For someone like me, who doesn’t have a ton of time anymore to map out 15 levels of a dungeon, I like this approach.  I can plan out the overview, without getting bogged down in the details until game time.  You might find this approach helpful too!  

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The Monolith from Beyond Space and Time looks cool!

After reading a review at grognardia, I’m dying (haha, pun not intended!) to check this out.  It looks great!  And I love the idea that someone has to die to complete the adventure.  I really want to find out why.  Of course, I don’t have the game system it is built for, but like most things in the OSR, I imagine I’ll be able to read, understand and convert it to my system of choice with little problems.

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Node-based Megadungeon

Keith Davies has had a series going for the past couple of days where he walks through creating a megadungeon.  Rather than using a map, and filling in the spaces, he uses a node-based model. What that means is he is not as concerned with the exact map that connects the various locales, but rather, how are the different areas in the dungeon related.  As my friends all like using minis, I find myself using this model as well, and in fact I often never have a complete map created.  I want the dungeon they are exploring to feel massive, with the possibility of getting lost, and if they are mapping every 5′ square, it gets old quickly, and begins to feel very small.

I don’t think I’ll ever run a true mega-dungeon, but they are nice to have to have in a campaign world when you don’t have anything else planned.  “Hey guys, wanna see what’s down that pit the last time you explored?”

Leave a comment looks like a great way to Roleplay online

I’ll be adding it my list of ways to play RPGs online soon, but it looks like a great tool.  I’ll have to do a bit more investigating of course.  I still will likely be using hangouts more often, just because it’s so easy and self-explanatory.  We don’t spend more than 5 minutes helping new players orient themselves to the tool, but we’ll give roll20 a try!