Saturday, October 13, 2012

RPG Review Recess - Dungeon World (Proofs Copy)

I admit it. I will sometimes bow to peer pressure. That's why I backed Dungeon World when I had money, good times that. I backed it because a lot of people I know and respect backed it. I backed it because a lot of those people were touting this as an amazing thing that did amazing stuff. I figured, if they liked it there's a good chance I'll like it.

Now, I want to say right now that I don't dislike this game. I think it looks like a lot of fun. I just ... don't get it. I don't get why it's the AMAZINGLYAWESOMEELEVENTY! that people have said it was.

For those of you not running in the same peer circles as I am, let me explain, no that will take too long ... let me sum up. Apocalypse World is a game that takes a post-apocalyptic future. I haven't played it, or read it, but from what people say it's pretty awesome in that things rarely happen without consequence and there's a lot of character drama in a post apocalyptic game. It's not a pretty game, but the harshness is a feature and not a bug (and I agree with that). The basic mechanic is that you roll dice (I'm pretty sure that it's 2d6, but that's because I'm reading Dungeon World ... again this information is reverse engineered since I haven't read AW) and 10+ means you succeed, 7-9 means you succeed but with a cost, and 6- means you done fucked up good.

That's awesome. I love any mechanic with built in dramatic tension when it fits, and AW totally fits that mold.

Then, there is sex in the game. It's a part of the whole thing, but I'm not going to talk about that for AW. I'm going to talk about sex moves with Monsterhearts because I have read that game. Monsterhearts is that teen drama movie/show/book you've read and always wanted to play. The drama is high, people are fighting each other all the time, and sex is rampant in the game. My friend Mikael, who runs Hammercon (a great local con if you're in the Greater Toronto Area), complains that, "I can't get my characters to stop fucking each other." It works too, there's all these consequences when people have sex with each other in Monsterhearts including turning into their darker selves because of it. It's just fucking brilliant in the way it handles those kinds of relationships. Amazing.

This leads me to my kind of ambivalence about Dungeon World. I walked into it with that kind of set up, primed from Monsterhearts and with all this amazing commentary going on in the background. Then I read it and went, "I don't get it."

It's a fantasy game that uses the AW mechanic, which is fine. It's interesting that combat is such that if you get the 7-9 you'll face a counter attack. It's good at giving you a part with complex bonds between them as they go forth. It's got a fun old school feel at times? I mean it works, and it's all very neat and together but I don't really get a sense of why this game over any other fantasy game. The moves here don't really feel as necessary as they do in Monsterhearts, if that makes sense. In Monsterhearts you're dealing with a lot of hormones and a lot of bad things so codefying that makes sense. In Dungeon World it just kind feels a little like it's just there.

Again, I want to point out that I like this product so far. I'm just not particularly blown away by it. Maybe it's because my expectations are higher? People talking it up and I'm expecting more than I should? It talks about epic fantasy but I don't quite feel that the game supports that. To me it feels that it supports a more gritty fantasy game.

Would someone like to explain to me why this game is amazing? I really do want to understand.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Metatopia - Bank Job (Working Title)

I was in the subway coming home one night and thought about the song The Bank Job by the Barenaked Ladies. It's a lot of fun, it's a great song and I felt like I should make a Bank Job game. Not much behind it other than that, I hope that it works as well as I want it to.

What is it, or the Elevator Pitch.

You play a group of bank robbers trying to get as much money as you can, while double crossing the others out of their share. 

The Slightly Longer Pitch

You play cards and bid on various jobs. These jobs give you bonuses, but of course depending on the situation might get you screwed over. Before you bid for the jobs, each person will determine what job they want to screw over. 

What does the game do, how does it work?

Each player gets a set of cards. These cards are valued at 1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5. You reveal the bank, and then each player decides what role they want to screw over and then you bid on the various jobs hoping that you end up getting the jobs that don't get screwed over even if you're the one who screwed over that job. 

What are you hoping to get out of Metatopia for this?
Really, a whole helluva lot. This is something that just came out of my head very quickly. I don't know if it's even a good idea, or if the game works. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Metatopia - AIR

I have written a fair bit about AIR because it was the game that really wanted to come out earlier. You see I played a game that promised me something, and then didn't deliver on it at all. I wanted a game that was able to tell a ghost story in space, because that sounds like something amazing.

What is it, or the Elevator Pitch.

Exactly what I said, you're playing a ghost story in space. You wake up, something has happened to the space station. You need to get off to survive, but something on the station wants you dead.

The Slightly Longer Pitch
This game is a rather antagonistic relationship between the players (Victims) and the GM (Captain). The goal of the Captain is to kill the Victims, as nastily as possible. The Victims want to get to the escape hatch and survive whatever it is that is trying to kill you.

Much like Geasa though, there is an element of co-operation at the beginning. During the setup the Victims and the Captain will build parts of the ship, and then build in a very indirect way what the Ghost is. You'll do that with keywords on the Downwards Spiral, which the Victims must go through in order to make it to the Escape Hatch.

What does the game do, how does it work?
It's the most boardgamey RPG I've ever done. The players are moving on a map, as well as on the spiral. There's a constant recognition of where you are at all times, but no knowledge of where the ghosts are and what they're going to do.

I want to bring that to the mechanic, so you're uncertain at all times what's going on. What happens is that the Captain rolls a certain amount of dice and assigns them to methods of how you can deal with a problem. The player will then roll and assign dice in an order on how they're going to try to get past a problem.  When that's done everything is revealed and the player gets to see if they succeeded or not.

There's a fair bit of book keeping on the part of the Captain, but I don't know if it's a hindrance.

What are you hoping to get out of Metatopia for this?

The mechanic still needs some work, I think it's fun but there are ways it could be more fun and scarier. It needs to really survive contact with other people, to see if it's going in the right direction. Surprise, because there's probably going to be something brilliant that comes out of people playing it. You can follow the AIR label in order to find the playtest sheets and document if you're interested in seeing what it is before the convention.

Metatopia Upcoming Projects

With Metatopia only a month away I figure it's a good time to start talking about what I'm going to bring to that convention, what the game is, what the goal is, and what I hope to get out of the convention.

Firestorm Ink's Fan Box