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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Mike Holmes on April 12, 2004, 11:29:35 AM



Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 12, 2004, 11:29:35 AM
The Chairman enters the arena once again. The light's come up. He's carrying a fist full of d10s. He rolls them and considers the results as a strange grin comes over his face. What could it mean?

Quote from: Chairman
It seems to me that the last time we stepped into Game Design Arena that we had a contest pitting the Iron Game Chefs against each other to produce the best Simulationist game. The expectation now is that the last leg of the triad will be to have an Iron Game Narrativism contest. But, good counsel has disuaded me from this idea, as well as my own evolving ideas about design. So, from this time on, the Iron Game Chef's will no longer be categorized by the play modes that their games promote.

It seems to me that far back games were always defined by their genre. I think that it would be good to use this as a category going forward. To whit, this iteration of the contest will be in order to crown the new:


Iron Game Chef - Fantasy!

Are there designers yet living who can accept the challenge to create a game in one week?!?! Is there one of comparable talent to Iron Game Chefs John Laviolette and Walt Freitag!

This episode's challenge! Create an entire Fantasy RPG that incorporates three of the following four terms:
  • Island
  • Ice
  • Dawn
  • Assault[/list:u]
    These are the rules:
    [list=1]
  • Submissions to this contest must be made no later than 11:59 PM CDT on April 19th, 2003. If you're not sure when that is, post early. In fact you may want to post early so that you don't get messed up by server death as all are posted at the last minute (not to mention being in early can be a good tactic).
  • Post all submissions to this thread, and all work must be in the thread (though it can be in multiple posts). Graphics housed elsewhere and referred to in the code are excepted.
  • Any submission edited after the deadline will be disqulaified.
  • Submissions will be judged by myself on the following categories: Style, Estimated Effectiveness in Play, Creative and Effective Incorporation of the Above Terms, and Completeness.
  • The winner and runners up will be announced on or before April 30th, 2003.
  • RPG is defined intuitively. If you get too far from what may reasonably be constued an RPG you may be penalized! OTOH, you may get points for creativity. Do so at your own risk![/list:o]
    Direct any questions to myself, or this thread.

    Now, Iron Game Chef Fantasy Challengers! Get Ready to create!

    GO!

    See here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6407) for the last episode.
    Per the moderators: Mike Holmes is the only person that's allowed to do this event (prevents these from proliferating impossibly). If you have an issue with this contact the moderators.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 12, 2004, 12:06:34 PM
The chef is judged by his decisiveness, so without further deliberation, a master smith of the north, game chef from the land of thousand lakes... he announces the game, first one to spring to mind:

The Battle of Frozen Waste

The knights of Snow, they are straight and true... perhaps too straight, for the revered Oracles have cast the stone of displeasure for them seven times, seven times in seven times seven years past, and the order has grown weak... and now it's time for their judgement, for the Ambassador has risen. Ambassador: the great demon of the North, the one with the bone castle and only fangs and talons for children at night. The lord of the werewolves, they say. And only the Order stands in his way...

The Battle of the Frozen Waste casts the players in the roles of brave paladins (for each and every man of this valiant troupe is one after the day is done) who face the terrible demons of ice in a battle to decide the fate of the middle lands. The game starts only a day before the battle, and will end in victory or defeat for mankind and life or death, honor or shame for individual paladins.

More to come in the days to come, obviously. After I decide on some mechanics for nonce. Here's to hoping that the games aren't judged for legibility, some of us being a little non-english.

Quote from: Announcer

It's clear what Tuovinen is doing... he's vying for the favor of the judges by his swift action. But is speed enough!?! How will it affect the rest of his work? Has the chef painted himself in a corner so early in the race? Has he borrowed too heavily from George Martin? How stupid one has to be to promise the first game to spring to mind... Most important of all, did he make the first starting announcement, or is the strategy futile?
[/quote]


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: ethan_greer on April 12, 2004, 12:19:51 PM
Damn.  Just when I was gearing up to finish the next version of Thugs & Thieves.  Oh well, I guess a week delay won't hurt too bad, and this could well be a nice warm up after my weeks away from design.

Prepare for Ice Dawn.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: John Harper on April 12, 2004, 12:33:08 PM
I really don't have time for this. But I can't help myself.

Assault Force ICE DAWN

After the tragedy at the third summit of Silverleaf Falls, a special unit was created to respond  to acts of terrorism at the border between worlds – codename: ICE DAWN

Assault Force ICE DAWN is War for the Oaks meets Rainbow Six. The diplomatic situation at the border between our world and faerie is a delicate one. There are those who seek to destroy the peaceful alliance between the realms and plunge all into war. Only the brave operators of ICE DAWN stand in their way.

More to come...


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 12, 2004, 01:24:59 PM
Whoa, horrible timing, but at least it's not during exam week, like last year...  Can I NOT do this?  I don't think so.  Ahem...

Seadog Tuxedo

You and your fellow band of penguin pirates sail your enormous laser-sharked iceberg-ship/home through the dangerous seas of Arctica, hoping to bump into another iceship or peaceful community, so that the raiding and pillaging can begin.  Such is the lifestyle of fuzzy penguin pirates!  Booze, violence, and uppity penguin wenches!  Arrrrr!  Squeak!

The Summer Isles, deep in the warm southern reaches, are ripe with plunder.  However, when you crew aboard an iceship, sunshine is your worst enemy.  Make sure to get in and get out, pulling off a spectacular nighttime raid and sailing away before dawn.  Otherwise, you might find yourself easy prey for the shaman-wizards who rule the Summer Isles. They worship the sun-god, indulge in penguin sacrifice, and shoot blasts of solar flame hot enough to melt holes in your ship.  Yowza!

It's going to be a icy hot time in the arctic tonight!  Strap on your fur-lined asbestos pirate gear and get ready to rock!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 12, 2004, 02:09:29 PM
Commentators:
"It seems that Tuovinen-San has set off an early wave of designers bent on capturing their own corner of the creative pallette. An interesting maneuver. Will this cause a landslide of entries, however? How many of them will see their way through to completion? On cannot say at this very early date!"

Quote
Here's to hoping that the games aren't judged for legibility, some of us being a little non-english.
"Grammar per se isn't a criteria, but the judges say that if they can't understand it, they probably won't be able to give it good ratings. That said, Tuovinen-san is worried over nothing - his intercontinental gaming cuisine has been well recieved before."

"Look over here! Two games with the phrase Ice Dawn in them? This surely will pit experienced Game Chef's Greer and Harper directly against each other in a hard fought and personal battle! Or will one of them retreat from preparing their dish this way? The tension mounts already!"

"And what humorous elements is the veteran Walton-San incorporating in his early planning? Will the judges accept all of these in the category of Fantasy? Walton-San is known for pushing boundaries with his dishes, however, so maybe he'll profit from his creativity!"


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mark Johnson on April 12, 2004, 02:17:25 PM
Coming Soon To A Tabletop Near You...

Dawn of the Damned

Ragnarok is here.  The evil force that the ancients had called Fenris has escaped his bondage from Gioll (under the Icelandic volcano Askja).  Iceland is soon overrun by Fenris' demonic and zombie hordes.  Now only you and your comrades can stop Fenris by launching what will probably be a futile last assault on Fenris' citadel.  But can you rediscover the ancient magical secrets that can destroy Fenris or will you soon be among his mindless slaves?

File under: Gamist Romp


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 12, 2004, 02:36:47 PM
Quote
Submissions to this contest must be made no later than 11:59 PM CDT on April 19th, 2003.
Aha, you're all late! By a year.

Wait, the judges have decided to extend the contest by exactly one year. How generous of them! The deadline is April 19th, 2004!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on April 12, 2004, 02:56:57 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Wait, the judges have decided to extend the contest by exactly one year. How generous of them! The deadline is April 19th, 2004!

Shucks. And I had the time machine all warmed up and was ready to sell tickets.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Piers on April 12, 2004, 03:37:27 PM
I'm not even going to mention how bad the timing is.  However, purely speculatively:

Dawn-Winds

On the very edge of night a handful of outrigger canoes ride the dawn-winds, chasing the dark ice-islands on which they hope their loved ones still survive.

Imagine a world like the Pacific.  The endless sea is dotted by semi-tropical islands—small, lush paradises populated by isolated societies, each slightly different from the next. Fishers and farmers, they are proud people, mostly peaceful, sometimes warlike.  There the days are long—very long, weeks by our standards, the dawn coming no faster than a swift-sailing outrigger canoe—and the nights, longer still.  And now, in the night has come a horror, unseen or unheard of before, a horror which has ripped the tribe to shreds—huge islands of ice, swarming with the dead.  From the ice the dead creatures descend on the islands and carry away the living, carry them away into the endless night in which the ice-islands sail.

Who are you?

In Dawn-Winds you play an islander tribesman or tribeswoman, racing into the edge of night in a frantic attempt to catch up with the ice-islands and rescue the loved ones who have been stolen away from you.

What happens in the game?

The game takes place just prior to the final assault on the Ice-Islands.  The characters tell each other stories of their lives before the Ice came, and remember the hardships and the terror of the chase; then they play out their last rescue attempt and its joyful or bitter aftermath.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Zak Arntson on April 12, 2004, 04:17:02 PM
Can you believe it? Here I am, all ready to watch another cool Indie Game Chef when ... my wife leaves for Vegas all week! So I'm in this thing.

Check. Island & Ice? Break up Antarctica. Check. Assault? Teams of elite weird soldiers fighting the incursion of whatever broke up the frozen waste in the first place. Fantasy? Heroes as paranormals rounded up in an 18th century attempt to curb all the rest of the unnatural things. Check. Finally, a dash of shared mythos creation on the part of GM & Players alike.

And what's this? He's using swordfish as a resolution mechanic? Does he truly believe in swordfish?


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Dav on April 12, 2004, 08:30:35 PM
Mike: When you mention incorporating 3 of 4 terms, I presume you mean incorporate them into the game and/or mechanics, not necessarily restricting it to the title of said game... correct?

Presuming that to be the case... I'll have a go at this (though fantasy, to be honest, may be my least favorite genre of game).  Let me think....

My game will be "Broken Vows".  

If I need to use 3 of those words in my title then it will be:
"When the Ice Hearts Face the Coming Dawn: A Final Stand on the Island of Faithlessness" (I find that somewhat annoyingly long, however)

If I may ask, may I fit a synopsis of the game in this thread, and the finished product elsewhere?  I ask because I may well overload this poor system with my words.  That, and I can make things a bit more elegant and flashy if I can format them more properly.  If not, very well, I'll see what I can do.

Now to actually make the fucking thing.

Dav


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Bill_White on April 13, 2004, 12:33:57 AM
Dawn on the Island of Ice

For a thousand years, the stars have shone down on Halakat, the Sea of Tears, burning brightly in a sky that was always dark.  Now in the east the horizon has brightened to grey, and the stars have begun to fade.  The shamans of the People speak of the rising of the Sun.

For a thousand years, the People have lived upon Ganakagok, the Island of Ice, in the midst of the Sea of Tears.  This mountain of ice, floating in a cold sea, has been carved into soaring spires and dizzying stairs, immense caverns and intricate labyrinths.  The legends of the People speak of the Ancient Ones who carved it so, to escape the falling of Night.

Dawn is coming to the Island of Ice.  The stars are fading.  The sea is growing warmer.  The world is changing.  Will the People survive the change?


An earnestly narrativist effort inspired mainly by Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, with flavoring from the fantasies of Michael Moorcock and Gene Wolfe.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 13, 2004, 02:00:55 AM
OK, now, Jonathan is clearly using proscribed incredients! Since when is it allowable to use any kind of humours in cooking, I ask you? Everyone knows that humor trumps pathos any day of the year... Oh well, we'll just have to make do without, I guess.

I find it interesting how many of our phantastics are using modern condiments. I guess this is a hopeful sign, american fantasy has been in a rut for far too long. Seems that I'm alone with my tolkienist riff, actually, if this goes on...

It's also interesting how Piers Brown and I both stumbled on the same structural idea for the game. May the best flashback win!


Anyway, back to the fray with some color pieces! The following is the background for Battle of the Frozen Waste, as well as a preliminary mission statement. It should be noted that the game will include solid advice on converting it to tell a tale of any tolkienist fantasy battle, including those in the LotR. A little like a MLwM for tolkienist fantasy, if I may try to charm the judges with such a comparison...

The Situation

The Knights of Snow (or Northern Order of Knight-Chevaliers in Service, as they are formally known) were established after the last time the ravening creatures of the north penetrated the southern climes, bringing early snow and horrible death to the lands of men. After terrible sacrifices and wholesale slaughter the demons were driven off, but not without leaving the middle lands in ruins.

When the imminent danger had passed the knightly order was soon left to control the bordermarches alone, as the then-emperor first turned his gaze to the west and then lost his throne and the empire to the various hereditary lords of the realms of the empire. This didn't mean any sagging of the effort, though; the lords all pledged support to the Order, and for a long while they send men, weapons and supplies that the Grand Masters of the Order put to good use, expanding their realm to the north and building forts long beyond the pale of what the man had known before the demons came.

Then, as the reader probably already knows, the attention of the Lords started to sag, what with human life being short compared to creeping of the glaciers. The men, the weapons, the supplies... they all came more infrequently, and then in smaller and smaller quantities. This didn't spell doom for the Order, though, for then the bordermarches could support independent vassals, and the Order could pledge it's protection to the meager populace in exhange for what it needed to survive.

Then there were the Oracles. The personal mages and soothsayers of the late emperor, the Oracles didn't waste any time in offering equal service to the Lords when their star seemed to be in the rise. Soon it was that for every lord there was an oracle, and they adviced their lords with utmost wisdom and insight. One could even say that the oracles were priestesses in a noble religion. First the oracles were one in their advice and supported the Order, but later on they, like every man of the midlands, forgot the Knights of the Snow. First it was a singular exception, that the stones should turn against the Order, but then it was all the more frequent and the robed mathriarchs were one in saying, year after year and every seven years in grand council, that there was no need, that the Order was fattened by the rich lands of the marches, that the demons were asleep in the north and would not rise.

Of course they were wrong. The Order knew, but was not listened to. The Lords wasted their strength skirmishing against one another and the western sidhe, The Oracles blinded themselves to the truth. When the legate for the Ambassador came, announcing His strength... The Order knew that they'd stand alone, and likely nobody else would if they should fall.

But the Knights of Snow... they are a hard, hard fellowship. Hard as ice, in heart and head. 'Though some of the men might have deserted the forts when the legate came, 'though some knights voice their disagreement... the Grand Master Schleyr didn't flinch, but instead send his riders and mustered both old-timers and young boys of the fief against the coming darkness. And when the Grand Master rode, the Order was behind him almost to the man, with forts near and far emptying to answer the Great Call.

Great were they to the eye, the Knights of Snow... but greater the darkness, as they should come to know. All the knights, bowmen and spears hardly enough to withstand the darkness, not to talk of striking back. Only valor will help them now, when they ride to meet the Ambassador on the field of honor.

It is said among the men that the Grand Master harbors an oracle, you see. It's said that he knows that the forts and fortresses, even the great castle of Sveafors will fall if the Order will not assemble and ride to the field. There is no choice, whisper the voices, for the Ambassador has unearthed from the dark sepulchre the forgotten artifact, the Desangraal, the Chalice of Doom. The chalice that will overflow darkness and blood, should the winter solstice come to pass unchallenged.

Thus it is that the Knights of Snow ride to meet the darkness in the far north, in the hopes of seizing the Ambassador unprepared. The land is however against them, and the troops are bloodied by both freezing cold and constant skirmishes with ghouls, barbarians, werewolves and even worse things.

Now, the end is near. The outriders have sighted the shadows and the troops within them, seen the Ambassador in it's terrible beauty and horrible monstrousness exhorting the demons. The Order will arrange for battle come dawn, for tomorrow is the day of the Solstice, the shortest day and the darkest night of the year.

Style and goals

The Battle of the Frozen Waste (BFW) is a limited-length roleplaying game suitable for independent play or as a pro/epilogue for a longer campaign. In BFW the players tell the story of a great battle between the forces of light and darkness, reminiscent of modern fantasy literature. A reader familiar with the heavy post-tolkienist fantasy tomes will have recognized how those books most commonly will peak in an epic battle where the fate of all that is good hangs in balance. BFW strives to capture that epic moment of gore and glory in a game.

The style of play in BFW is primarily and most importantly pathetic. Pathos is the cornerstone around which everything else will be built. Whether the game will be a paean for heroism or gritty exercise in cooperation and bravery, it's pathetic nature will shine through strong. The colours should be used with abandon, swathing the knights in heraldic tinctures and gold and silver, while giving the demons darkest attributes imaginable, with crests of blood and pain. This is the moment of truth for a whole world, and neither realist nor animation palettes are sufficient; strive for colours worth the masters of renaissance, colours where lead and arsenics blind the painter all the while giving the audience the richest feast possible. Pathos is about distilling reality.

The goal of play for the players is primarily to produce a satisfying visual phantasm for the enjoyment of all. To this end they will take roles as members of the Knights in their darkest hour. By role immersion or inspired storytelling they will entertain themselves and other players through a story where their individual knights face their hardest choices and the Order in totality faces either death or victory, depending on the choices of the players.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jack Aidley on April 13, 2004, 02:52:28 AM
Four

Not sure of much yet, but characters will be defined by four stats:

Island The Island stands alone, indominatable against the elements, and thus does the Island stat define ones ability to look after ones self - to survive in the wilderness, to hide from prying eyes, to sulk unseen past the mainland.

Ice Cool under pressure, and mysteriously alluring. A character's Ice is a measure of their will power, cool and social grace.

Dawn Mysteriously each day the magic of the sun is renewed, and with it the light and heat of the land. Some can tap this ancient magic for their own. Dawn is their ability to do so.

Assault To err is human; to forgive divine - to maim, kill, murder and otherwise batter is fun. Hit 'em in the head with your Assault.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Alan on April 13, 2004, 04:14:33 AM
WIZARDS OF ICE AND TWILIGHT (v0.1)
*******************************

The world is a a huge archipelago of islands, spread from Dawn to Twilight and from Ice to Fire.  Players are wandering wizards, traveling the islands, spreading wisdom and fighting The Chaos from Beyond the Last Island.

Character Creation
-----------------------
The character's Wisdom draws from three sources:

Skybound - Actions of Intellect; Magic of Sky & Fire
Earthbound - Actions of Body; Magic of Earth & metal.
Waterbound - Actions of Emotion; Magic of Water & Flesh

Distribute 12 points between these.  No score may be less than one.

The character's Cardinals are

Ice & Fire
Dawn & Twilight

Distribute 6 points between Ice and Dawn.
Distribute 6 points between Fire and Twilight.

Description/Distinction - [I need something more to make each wizard distinct.]


Resolution
--------------

For each conflict:

- Player declares goal
- Player declares use of Magic or Mundane
- Wisdom & Cardinal are chosen [how?]
- Player rolls number of d6 equal to chosen Wisdom and looks for Cardinal score as TN or less.

Results:

If Magic was declared, 1+ success is required.
If Mundane, then 2+

Magic results produce magical solutions or progress in a conflict.  Also, any time a single 1 appears in a magic roll, that Wisdom score is increased by one - and te player must choose another wisdom to decrease. Any time two or more 1s are rolled, the Wisdom is increased and the lowest Wisdom is decreased!  

If this results in any score hitting zero, the zero score may never be used again.  If two scores hit zero, the character undergoes Apotheosis, becoming an angel - and leaves play.

Dawn (1+/2+)
Player narrates the begining of some new story element related to declared goal..

Twilight  (1+/2+)
GM narrates the end of some story element related to declared goal.

Fire  (1+/2+)
GM narrates progress toward the goal in terms of change.

Ice  (1+/2+)
Player narrates the progress toward the goal in terms of preservation.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: ethan_greer on April 13, 2004, 04:49:38 AM
Dav, the ingredients don't have to be part of the title.  Just incorporated somehow.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Daniel Solis on April 13, 2004, 06:30:36 AM
I thought I'd take a stab at making a fantasy game with a loose Inuit flavor.

Lak

Elders say the land beyond Inotowok was once warm as our fires. Lush with green things and animals that flew in the sky, they say. But, for reasons unknown, the sun went to sleep many winters ago. Slowly, our people were the only ones able to survive, all alone on Inotowok. With the talluak, the protective spirits, keeping us just warm enough, we managed to survive on an island isolated from the rest of the world by oceans of ice.

And life was good in those days, not so much different than before. But those who died when the sun went to sleep did not lie as easily as that great, slumbering star. Their restless souls grew corrupt in the long night, hungering for life. In their desperation, they became the tonrar karpok, the hungry ghosts, who gather at Inotowok's shores, waiting for the talluak to rest at dawn. Their hordes grow larger and more vicious every day, their smoky forms twisted into horrors unimaginable.

But the sun is not entirely asleep even in these frigid ages. Ublarpassik, spirit of hope and daybreak, has shed tears of fire into the living souls of great heroes. The Lak stand nobly at the shorelines, preparing defenses against the tonrar karpok and narrowly saving our small, cold island from destruction.


Title: arg!
Post by: bluegargantua on April 13, 2004, 06:39:22 AM
Just when I'd given up hope that this event would ever see the light of day again!

  I'd curse the ridiculously bad timing, but I think that's really a part of the challenge.

  And I'm down a day too.

  Arg!

  My hat is in the ring.

  I will be using Island, Assault, and Dawn (I may incorporate Ice, we'll see).  I'm pretty sure the only possible choices for PC characters will be beefy minotaurs, sexy cat people, and withered dead-looking guys.

  It's going to be a chore to fix all the problems with D&D and then get the entire ruleset rewritten and posted, but I'll do my best...

Tom


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 13, 2004, 06:55:40 AM
Snow From Korea
The summer of Nihon is long, and dry, and hot. Your lady love has asked you to bring her snow from Korea to cool her brow. Can you bring it back before it's too late? Will the dragons of the ocean stop you before you return? Will you survive the armies of Korea and the hengeyokia of your own province's outlands?

An adventure game.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 13, 2004, 07:43:56 AM
Quote from: Dav
Mike: When you mention incorporating 3 of 4 terms, I presume you mean incorporate them into the game and/or mechanics, not necessarily restricting it to the title of said game... correct?
This is correct. It seems that people tend to throw them into the title a lot, but it's not at all neccessary. If you look at some of the entries from earlier competitions, many have titles that make no mention of the elements.

Quote
If I may ask, may I fit a synopsis of the game in this thread, and the finished product elsewhere?  I ask because I may well overload this poor system with my words.  That, and I can make things a bit more elegant and flashy if I can format them more properly.  If not, very well, I'll see what I can do.
Again, you'll see that previous contests have had some extremely long entires. I require that everything be posted here (with the exception of pics which can be linked if one likes) precisely so that no designer with access to special layout software or the like has an advantage that way. Basically, I'm sure you have resources Dav, that others simply don't have.

Also, I tend to try to ignore art somewhat for the same reason. I can't say that it doesn't make a difference, it does (especially if some graphic is needed to play). Just that I try to account for the fact that some people have access to ridiculously expensive art programs, and others do not. Basically, the judgment is on content, not on software used. So I try to level the playing field somewhat there.

Further, I can't get to each game right away, so posting them here means that they become uneditable, unalterable until I get around to rating them.

Sorry, but them's the breaks. That said, I fully expect to see a beautiful PDF of your entry soon after the end of the contest. If we don't have at least one of these to sell at the Forge Booth this year, I'll be dissapointed.

Mike


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 13, 2004, 07:51:04 AM
Anyone else find my penguins funny?  Do ya?  Do ya, punk?  Yeah, funny like a scurvy seadog that's going to feed you your own liver.  We'll see who's laughing then...

-----

SEADOG TUXEDO: System, Part One

Declaration of Intent

This game is not funny or cute.  This game is badass, dammit!  Any signs of cuteness or humor should be quickly suppressed. Anyone caught giggling uncontrollably at the table should be forced to walk the plank or go get everyone snacks.  The person running the game needs to enforce this with a ruthless efficiency.  Grimace a lot.  Snear at any players who allow themselves the slightest smirk.  After all, you're pirates, dammit!  Get control of yourselves!

This game is meant to emulate the often bizarre nature of Saturday Morning Cartoon fantasy worlds.  It's got a setting specifically designed to be a cool toy line.  Imagine Pirates of Dark Water meets Carebears.  Let out your inner pre-pubescent.

Character Generation

Pirate Penguins have 3 traits, representing the depth and complexity of their identities.

PIRATE represents their scurvy seadog life, with its carousing, drinking, wenching, fighting, plundering, stealing, singing pirate songs, and generally being an ocean-sailing rapscallion.

PENGUIN represents their innate nature, fully of cuteness, love, friendship, and the joy of swimming gracefully in the sea or sliding down sheets of ice on your belley.

These two traits express the inherant contradiction in the life of a pirate penguin.  I mean, you're a scurvy pirate, dammit, but you're also a cute and fuzzy penguin.  This causes all sort of angst and inner turmoil, as the cuteness struggles against the desire to be truly badass.  Pirate penguins are the kind of drama queens that put vampire Shakespearean actors to shame.

Each character also has their own IDIOM, which represents their gimmick, giving them a seperate identity.  Having individualized Idioms makes it possible to make more action figures.  Every pirate penguin has an emblem representing their Idiom emblazoned on their belly and it should also be immediately obvious from their name.  For instance, the pirate penguin Black Death has an evil-looking locust tattooed on his tummy, while Forked Lightning has a bright yellow bolt of electricity.

Idioms distract pirate penguins from the inner turmoil of their souls.  They are an attempt to resolve the eternal tension between the pirate's life and the penguin's natural instincts.  Thusly, they almost always show signs of torment, taking the form of dark and nasty things, monsters from the Id.

Character creation involves simply selecting an Idiom for your character.  Everything else is secondary.  Penguin and Pirate traits are not measured numerically, but as states of being.  Every character strives to stay in their pirateness as much as possible, but sometimes slips into their natural penguin state, letting the beast take over.  Each player should have some way of indicating which state their character is currently in, either by placing a counter next to the appropriate trait or simply using their pencil as a pointer to indicate one or the other.  All characters begin play with their Pirate trait fully in control.

Sun-worshiping shaman-wizards, the bane of a pirate penguin's existence, are created in similar fashion, though they have the trait SUN-WORSHIPING SHAMAN-WIZARD and DECENT HUMAN BEING instead of Pirate and Penguin.  Their IDIOMS all have something to do with fire, the sun, burning death, and the like, and their names too.  Volcano Raga, high-priest of the Cult of the Sun, is empowered with the Idiom of Volcanic Destruction.  Instead of having their Idioms ritually tattooed on their bellies, sun-worshiping shaman-wizards wear red robes with their Idiom symbol embroidered on the back.  Much less badass, but what do you expect from such pansies?  Like pirate penguins, sun-worshiping shaman-wizards struggle between badassness and being normal, which, for human beings, is not about cuteness, but about compassion and forgiveness (yes, this game is optimistic about human nature; it's a Saturday Morning Cartoon).

-----

More to come...


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 13, 2004, 08:50:18 AM
Commentators:
"Fukui-San? Adding the new entrants, that's thirteen entries already. This is really shaping up to be a great battle."

"Yes, Ota, the chairman will have more than his fill of gaming dishes to sample!"

[someone want to take the role of Ota (Iron Chef sideline commentator)? First non-participant to step in gets it.]


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 13, 2004, 09:22:43 AM
Snow Day!

The freak summer blizzard that buried the Hawaiian islands under four feet of snow has passed, and the day has dawned on a sunny, if cool, morning.  The palm trees are frozen stiff, every frond laden with icicles.  Power's still out, but the weather report on Mom's battery-powered radio says that the weather will turn warm and sunny again by tomorrow morning.

The kids down the block have spent the entire night building a grandiose snow fort in Joey's front yard.  They've got two towers, icicle spikes, and a dug-out ice cave stuffed to the gills with pre-made snowballs.  Atop it all, they've made a flag by affixing an old t-shirt to a broom handle.  Show-offs.

Eric is conscripting an army of faithful snow-musketeers to head up the assault, Jeffrey swears he knows of a secret underground passage under the Gilman family's patio, Johnny and Suzy are sculpting our secret weapon - an honest-to-goodness flying ice dragon - and best of all Alice's mom said she'd make hot cocoa for all of us.  The kind with the little marshmallows.

Fort Joey must fall, and it must fall before dawn, or else the summer heat will beat us to it.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 13, 2004, 11:00:54 AM
Using the assigned elements as the character attributes?!

Jack wins.

Best,
Ron






... What?

[Mike's the judge, not me, for people who don't get the joke. This post is merely a spectator cry of enthusiasm.]


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: bluegargantua on April 13, 2004, 11:35:19 AM
Quote from: hanschristianandersen
Snow Day!


  CRAP!

  After my initial idea went south I had almost exactly the same concept:

The children in the small town of Moose Crossing, Maine would never forget that strange and magical winter when the Aurora Borealis formed a shimmering backdrop in the sky for the shower of meteors.  They'd been up late to see the display on a school outing organized by Mrs. Plautz and sat in the frigid night air gazing up in wonderment at the sky.

It was little Jimmy Donaldson who found it the next morning -- a huge chunk of blue ice that had fallen from the sky and plowed a furrow into the earth in the large abandoned lot the local kids played in.  He got the word out and after school, everyone was crowded around the spot where the ice ball had landed.  Some said it was a shooting star but Patrick Bartley (the smartest kid in 4th grade) said it wasn't because the ice would've burned up on re-entry.  But no one much cared and after some careful preliminary jabs with a stick and a foolhardy child accepted a dare to touch it, the ice was declared safe.

There were a bunch of smaller pieces of ice which had broken off and scattered about.  Jimmy Donaldson had been thinking about them all day.  He built up a snowman and used a couple of small bits to make the eyes.  A bunch of kids caught on and started making little snow sculptures and decorating them with ice chunks.  By then time the streetlights went on and mothers called them home, the area around the meteor was littered with sparkling snowmen and women and various other creations.

That night, as Jimmy lay tucked into bed, there was a rap at his window.  He cautiously crept over and discovered that the snowman he'd built was standing there, his icy eyes glowing blue.  Jimmy was scared at first, but the snowman smiled and bekoned him out to play.  Quickly and quietly throwing on his things, Jimmy snuck outside and joined his snowman.  They went back to the abandoned lot where other children were being summoned by the things they had made.  The strange ice from the sky had brought them all to life.  The children and snow sculptures played until the wee hours of the morning when sleep overtook them and they had to sneak back home.

When the children returned that afternoon, the sculptures were standing stock still.  Their icy adornments didn't glow.  The children weren't sure what to make of it.  But that night they came back to their windows and invited them out to play.  Again, they spent the night having fun and even making a few new snow sculptures.  But as dawn broke, the sculptures slowed down.  The blue light went out of their ice and they ground to a halt.  The chilren weren't worried though.  Now they understood how the magic ice worked and they knew that this winter was going to be the best one ever...

...if they didn't get caught.

===========

  Grrr.  I think I'm going to have to bail on this one.

Tom


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 13, 2004, 12:00:49 PM
Commentator:
"Indeed, Edwards-san is correct that Aidly-san has taken a bold approach that puts a strong highlight on the four ingredients by making them attributes. But will forcing this arrangement lead to a palatable game? This remains to be seen! Further, the technique is not new - Palaskar-san in the last competition did something very similar with his attribute system. This entry did not win - so it is no garuntee!"

"Oh, and Tom-san is reeling in a sea of indecision. He seems not to be able to strike a claim on his own creative ground. Can he recover his composure, or is he out of the running?!?"

"Veteran Sampat-san is also in the arena now with a typically evocative start. Solis-san, no newcomer to design himself, has also decided to take part in the challenge. Alan-san has come with a strong dose of mechanisms early, having at the least a basis for character generation, and resolution. The bar continues to rise quickly in the early going!"


Title: Icelings
Post by: Marhault on April 13, 2004, 01:02:45 PM
For millenia the Lord of Fire and the Lord of Ice battled.  The world was racked with freeze and thaw, flame and ice.  Finally, the Lord of Ice defeated his opponent.  He created a great shard of ice that would never melt, the Heart of Winter, and imprisoned the Lord of Fire within it.  Arrogant and content in his victory, the Lord of Ice slept.

With the Lord of Fire imprisoned, ice and cold ruled the world.  Once slow and creeping glaciers swept down from the North to cover the land, and the Ocean froze.  Only through the efforts of their magi, wielders of the Magicks of Heat and Light, could mankind survive in this frozen wasteland.

Hundreds of years after the Lord of Ice's victory, a great magus has stolen the jewel containing the Lord of Fire.  He knows of the ritual that can shatter that prison, and free his Lord.  If this should happen, the world would again be plunged into turmoil.  The Lord of Ice, awakened by the treason of the magus, has sent his servants to retrieve it before the humans can release his foe.

At dawn on the Summer Solstice, the Lord of Fire will be released. . .  Unless you can stop it.

Can you assault the stronghold of the fire-mage?  Can you withstand the heat of the flames, and the chipping axes of men?  Can you recover the Heart of Winter before it's too late, or will Fire come with the dawn, as it did of old?

Icelings.

Best served chilled.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Zak Arntson on April 13, 2004, 01:51:16 PM
Terra Australis

---

It is the year 1691. You've heard the rumors: The oceans unleashed something horrible, leviathans and serpents are found closer to Europe's shores than ever before. A punishment from God? Spawns of the Devil? It's a good thing the greatest minds have been sent to investigate. You even personally saw Robert Hooke depart on the Faithful four years ago. Things must be going well, since the only demon you've ever seen, a terrifying man-bat, swooping through Hamburg, was packed in a gigantic cage and sailed south to undergo study and exorcism.

---

You can't remember how long you've been caged here, the fearsome man-bat, caught sleeping after sneaking into a lord's wine-cellar. Now you're trapped in the belly of this stinking ship with only enough rooms to stretch one wing at a time. Your only company has been superstitious sailors, a few armed guards (who refuse to acknowledge you as a thing of reason), and one other monster. A squid-headed gentleman, something of a scholar, from whom you've learned some rudimentary mathematics. It's tough, though, since you have to communicate through iron bars and suspicious guards. That, and those tentacles muffle his speech. His name is Varun, you think.

It has grown colder, and you now spend much of your time shivering under wool blankets. The boat is still rocking, but it has come to anchor, judging from the sounds above. Three strangers, two gentlemen and a lady, descend the steps. Two of them are stifling nausea, handkerchiefs pressed to their noses. One, with a crooked back, extends his hand into the cage.

"To my right is the Lady Soraya Kiyanfar, to my left, Lord Jeong Seonggye. I am Sir Robert Hooke. Welcome to Terra Australis. Dalrymple Island, specifically."

His grip is firm, and he kneads your hand thoughtfully, exploring what lies beneath the furry skin. You soon forget this, however, as the cage is unlocked. You forget the cold, too, as you are led up to open air and the prospect of dry land.

---


What do the characters do?
As a monster, you are indebted to the World Royal Society, and serve them as an explorer in the strange icy islands of Terra Australis. Unfortunately, many would see you killed and buried, or killed and studied. Your only comfort comes from your fellow monsters and the few sympathetic humans you find here in the Bastion. That, and you're the only chance against the gibbering unnameable things and their wretched minions; unleashed when Terra Australis split into a million islands, prompting the World Royal Society's formation, and the judicious alliance among the civilized world to quell the assault on humankind.

What do the players do?
Players throw their characters into dangerous and maddening situations across the islands of Terra Australis, investigating and fighting all things stranger than themselves. They take part in a joint creation of the Terra Mythos, the backstory and mythology of the world, molding it how they wish. The Mythos can, for example, become a Lovecraftian return of elder gods, an occult conspiracy begun by surviving Atlanteans, or an alien invasion from the moons of Jupiter. To this end, players extend their control beyond a single monstrous character, playing the parts of human NPCs, creating new relationships between all characters, and forming new mythologies and beasts.

What does the GM do?
Participates and guides the Terra Mythos creation, building on (and with) the Mythos to instigate problems and disasters. The GM also uses the player-driven relationships, stressing them to keep play fresh and interesting.

(minor editing done even after extensive Preview-buttoning)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on April 13, 2004, 02:53:01 PM
[unlurk]

After months of trolling these forums (ok, fora) I just registered for the sole purpose of saying:

Pirate Penguins. SO COOL!

The gamist tinkerer in me now wants to see a point-based system for designing iceberg city-ships complete with charts showing rates of melt-off vs. richness of plunder at different latitudes....


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 13, 2004, 03:40:56 PM
Snow Day - Core Mechanic

Characters are defined by one stat - their age.  Age can be as low as 5, or as high as 15.

All rolls use 20-sided dice; you are encouraged to use a sparkly white d20, because they kind of look like snowballs.  There are two types of rolls; Fantasy Checks (roll under your age), and Reality Checks (roll over your age).  If you roll exactly your age, then that is a success for regardless of whether it was a Fantasy or Reality Check; plus, you get a Gold Star.  (Haven't decided what Gold Stars do yet.)

Fantasy Checks are used for: Discovering secret tunnels, Sculpting Ice Monsters to assist you, Figuring out what other peoples' Ice Monsters can do (and how to beat 'em), and Making Up True Stuff.

Reality Checks are used for: Throwing Snowballs, Running Real Fast, Avoiding Parents, Sneaking Out Of The House, and Knowing Lots Of True Stuff.[/b]


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: John Harper on April 13, 2004, 03:55:20 PM
Shouldn't younger kids be better at Fantasy Checks and older kids better at Reality Checks? I think the rolls are backwards.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: talysman on April 13, 2004, 04:01:00 PM
Quote

Talysman enters the Roleplaying Arena a bit late, still recovering from a recent illness... and perhaps a bit feverish, since he seems to be muttering setting ideas to himself and viciously rejecting them. "maybe a 19th-century artic explorers discover a Conanesque Ultima Thule, magical tropical island surrounded by ice and mist? nah, too many forgotten island entries already... a floating ice-island? nope, someone just covered that one, too..."

wracked briefly by a fit of coughing, he has a sudden inspiration and begins mixing ingredients in a large bowl. "I only hope I have not wasted too much time!" he exclaims.


IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

concept: life is brutally pseudomedieval. the serfs work the land until they collapse in the dust, the nobles rule their subjects with an iron hand. towns are small and few, with a few simple craftsmen plying obvious dark-age-level technical trades. the Church keeps a tight reign on knowledge, especially magic. no one's ever seen an elf or a magic sword, although people believe in them.

but hidden from the mainstream is a whole underworld of illegal sorcerors practicing the Forbidden Arts, communicating via an astral void scattered with islands of pseudoreality. pure sorcerors forget the gritty reality entirely and focus on exploring or constructing astral isles; others sell themselves as assaultmages to politically ambitions nonmages, directing their curse powers against enemies, for a price.

but the most sought after socerors specialize in moving contraband into or out of the astral void, especially that most sought-after magical powersource, the astral diamond, known in sorceror's argot as "ice". if you trade in ice, you're an icerunner.

and that means respect.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Lxndr on April 13, 2004, 04:08:00 PM
I didn't think I'd have an entry, then this sprung fully-formed into my mind.

Island at the Dawn of Time

A chilly wind picks up as the sun begins to rise; you feel the first touches of warmth on your cheek.  It is the first time - your first sunrise, the first sunrise ever, and as you awaken you look over the island on which the Creator set you before he turned off the lights and walked away.  The ice is melting on the island, but as you look out upon the frozen sea all around you, you realize there is so much work to do.

It is the dawn of a universe, a world waiting to be born, and your characters are its Adams and Eves.  It is your job to name the things in this world, and in doing so give them form and purpose.  But the long night before the first day has frozen those things in the sea, encased them in ice.  And the ice will not give up its secrets easily.

Armed with nothing but your Names, you and your fellow children of the Creator prepare to make war with the ice, to free the world that is waiting to be born.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 13, 2004, 04:08:53 PM
Quote
Shouldn't younger kids be better at Fantasy Checks and older kids better at Reality Checks? I think the rolls are backwards.


Quite right, John.

It figures that Iron Game Chef shows up the same week that I switch to decaf.[/code]


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Paul Czege on April 13, 2004, 04:58:04 PM
Chairman-San,

In past IronGC competitions we've had folks not announce their intent to participate until they'd basically already completed their entry, which then comes as a complete surprise to spectators and contestants alike in the very late stages of the competition.

I'd like to suggest that this isn't very conducive to odds-making and side-betting among spectators. What can be done?

Paul


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: lumpley on April 13, 2004, 05:28:13 PM
BADASS the roleplaying game
every man is an island.

The Measure of a Badass is his Enemy.
The GM is gonna throw fearsome shit at you.  You're ready for it, or you're gonna go play some weaker game.

Chef schmef!  I'm'a serve up bloody raw red meat!

-Vincent


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Crackerjacker on April 13, 2004, 06:27:31 PM
Well, I think I'm gonna throw my hat into the arena

Look forward to it.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Rich Forest on April 13, 2004, 06:32:46 PM
Alright, dammit, wow. I go to bed, get up the next morning, and look at all these beautiful games that want to be played. And wow.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 13, 2004, 06:46:11 PM
Wow.  This is an amazing array of cooking talent we have lined up here.

Just a brief tease of what's coming.

-----

(http://1001.indie-rpgs.com/seadog.jpg)

Materials & Setup

To play Seadog Tuxedo, you will need the following:

1) A table that you can get wet.  Either some kind of plastic one, or you can cover your expensive wooden dining room piece with a vinyl tablecloth.  Whatever.  Just something you can get messy.

2) Walk into a liquer store or other dealer of alcohol.  Buy the cheapest rum you can find.  [EDIT: Yes, I mean literally the cheapest rum that's being sold.  I don't care how awful it is.]  You're not going to drink this because you like it.  You're going to drink this because you're badass.  If you're underage, find something that is sufficiently badass, like real ginger ale (the spicy kind) or high-class root beer/cream soda.

3) A few coasters or other small objects to represent the Summer Isles.  Arrange them all on one side of the table, in an archipeligo.  Arrange the players seats around the opposite side of the table, far from the Isles.  The GM's chair goes opposite, since they're in charge of the sun-worshiping shaman-wizards.

4) You're going to need some small things to represent ships.  If you have pieces from Wizkid's upcoming foam pirate miniatures game, that would be great.  Otherwise, just use whatever you can find.  They need to be small, like two inches long at the most.  Legos might work too.

5) You're going to need lots of icecubes.  If you have trays, make sure you fill them the night before, but an electric machine (like in most up-scale refrigerators) is better, so it'll keep refilling during the game.  You're probably going to want to play in the kitchen if you can.  Otherwise someone will keep having to run and get more ice.

6) You're going to need basic pirate gear for each player.  A hat or an eyepatch is plenty.  Just something simple and noticable.  When their character is in badass pirate mode, the gear stays on, when they become a cute and adorable penguin, that stuff comes off.  This keeps you from having to use a character sheet (superceding what I wrote previously), which would probably just get wet and fall apart.  Lacking proper pirate gear, baseball caps work.  Just turn them around backwards when you're a badass pirate and forwards when you're a cute penguin.

-----

More soon...


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: DevP on April 13, 2004, 07:03:17 PM
Quote from: Paul Czege
In past IronGC competitions we've had folks not announce their intent to participate until they'd basically already completed their entry, which then comes as a complete surprise to spectators and contestants alike in the very late stages of the competition.


Conversely, a couretsy question: how certain should I be of completion if I want to announce a potential entry? (This could be a reason for the not announcing.)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: anonymouse on April 13, 2004, 07:10:45 PM
Quote from: Guest Sumo Wrestler Commentator

I'm wondering if the rum needed for Walton-san's penguins needs to be further clarified. I mean.. if you think about it.. if you go into a store and look, there are the gold rums and the silver rums, and they're usually the same price.

Quote from: Fukui-san

Yes, that's true! And there's a difference in how they're made, correct?

Quote from: Guest Sumo Wrestler Commentator

Correct, but in the very cheap rums, the gold rums are made by adding food coloring and other additives, while the humanely decent gold rums are made in oaken casks. The cheap gold rums can really do a number on your system!

Quote from: Fukui-san

So I guess we need to ask Walton-san if it's more in the spirit of his game to choose a cheap gold rum over a cheap silver rum?

Quote from: Guest Sumo Wrestler Commentator

Yes, yes, that is what I'd like to know.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 13, 2004, 07:34:12 PM
Rum-guzzling Penguinista Buccaneers?  That's a hell of a tough act to follow.  Here goes...

Snow Day!  Making Ice Monsters:

Describe the Ice Monster you want to make.  It can have as many abilities as you want it to, but you can never make the same Ice Monster twice.  As an exception, you can make a whole bunch of the same Monster all at the same time; an army of Snow Goblins, for example.

Now, you (and any other kids who want to help you) need to go collect Pieces so that it can have the special abilities that you want.  For example, if you want to make an Icicle Dragon that can Breathe Fire, Fly, and is Impervious to Snowballs, you might first go swipe Uncle Mel's cigarette liter (for the Fire Breathing), then borrow the wings from your kid sister's old Halloween costume (for the Flying), and then grab a piece of corrugated tin from the workshed (for an armor plate that is Impervious to Snowballs).

You can only hold two things at a time; one in each hand.  If something is particularly big and heavy (like the piece of corrugated tin), then it will occupy both of your hands.  So if you have to get a lot of items to make your Ice Monster, you'll have to stash them somewhere; you can't carry them all at once.  Watch out for Joey's Gang, as they might want to steal your unguarded Pieces to make their own Ice Monsters!

If you have an existing Ice Monster that has an ability that lets it Carry something, then it can hold on to a Piece for you.

Also, if you know exactly where to find a piece, you can send any existing Ice Monsters to go fetch it (assuming that the existing Ice Monster can Carry), but remember that Ice Monsters can't go indoors where it's warm; you have to do that yourself.  And when you go inside, watch out for Mom & Dad, because they might catch you and make you clean your room or something.

(And be very careful about stopping for a cup of hot cocoa, because if you stop indoors for any length of time, all your Ice Monsters melt and you have to make new ones.  Ideally, get Mom to give you a Thermos full of cocoa before you set out.  With the disadvantage that thermos-cocoa can't accommodate marshmallows.)

Also remember that anywhere you go outside, you might be spotted by Joey's Gang, so keep a snowball handy at all times.  And a snowball occupies one of your hands

Once you've assembled the various pieces, you can spend some time sculpting your Snow Monster.  All of your Snow Monsters have Snow Monster Power equal to your Age, and all of the abilities that you were able to scrounge up Pieces for.  Newly created Snow Monsters follow you around wherever you go until you tell them to do something else.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Spooky Fanboy on April 13, 2004, 08:34:10 PM
Quote from: talysman
IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting


I'll be wanting the recipe for this one, regardless of the outcome of the contest...


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 14, 2004, 01:07:53 AM
Huh! I'd like to give up rather than confront this kind of superior design, but that'd be dishonorable. I'd better show some mechanics from my humble design effort for a change. Really hard to be noticed with so many classy acts in the arena. I should have brought some penguins too, werewolves simply aren't in season...

The following is the central mechanic of the Battle of the Frozen Waste. I'll keep on the character creation for a little while yet.

The Bag and stones

In addition to creating characters and setting details the players will need to prepare the Bag: this is a normal bag suitable for stone-drawing mechanics, accompanied by different colors of stones. The stones are put into another bag heretofore referred to as the reserve and mixed. From now on the stones from the reserve are drawn in random.

   The stones themselves are different colors; at least two and no more than five or six colors is probably suitable. The rules will often refer to a fist of stones: this is any amount of stones a player can comfortably close his fist around to conceal them from the other players. There is no minimum to a fist, and if the players should be giants or the stones really small nothing stops from using something else than player's fist as a limit to stone drawing, as long as the stones are concealed comfortably. There should be at least five fists of stones per player in the reserve at the start of the game, though all colors need not be in equal amounts. If the players have particularly luxurious stone collections the reserve can be made by each player simply grapping a full fist or two of preferred colors. The goal here is for the players to have some rough notion about how many stones per color there are, but to still allow for uneven distributions if that should be preferred.

   A fist of stones is always open to the player himself and secret from the other players. The Bag is always secret to all, except for rough evaluation by weight, feeling from the outside etc. The reserve is likewise secret. Anything else is public. A player may reveal secret information known to him as long as he doesn't include numbers.

   At any time during the game the players may add stones to the reserve by the fist: each player may take stones of a preferred color and add that fist in the reserve. This can be done any time all the players accent, and must be done when the reserve runs empty.

   Before play starts each player puts a fist of stones from the reserve to the bag, checking the colors. Thus each has some notion about the colors of the stones making up the Bag. While it's permissible to talk about the colors, it's considered bad taste to reveal exact numbers. If preferred by all, a second round of fists may be added to ensure a longer game.

The last part of the preparation is for the players to assign meanings to the stones. Stones will act as randomizers and a kind of an oracle for deciding how the play will progress. Most of their meaning is generated during play, but as with the characters, something will be fixed at the start. Each player will choose one quality for one color of stone in accordance with the following explanation. The decisions are made individually and may all concern the same stone color. Any non-sensible meanings are redecided until an agreement is reached.

The stones are used for multiple purposes through the game, but the most common one is as a help in interpreting actions through the /meanings/ of the stones.

   Every color has multiple meanings that are defined through play. Players keep record of these with pen and paper. Meanings are only ever added, never reduced. The same color may never have two completely and clearly contradictory meanings, as defined by consensus. Only meanings relevant to a given situation are ever considered, while relevancy is judged by the player doing the consideration.

When choosing meanings for the colors the players should first consider these, most basic ones. A color should have at least one meaning from these examples, and a color may ever have only one meaning from a given list, as others are always considered contradictory.

Allegiance:
Order
Ambassador
Barbarians

Domain:
Midlands
Frozen waste
Sidhe

Skills:
Martial
Arcane
Stealth

Element:
Ice
Fire
(others to taste)

Action:
Assault
Defend
(others to taste)

When assigning additional meanings the players are almost completely free to invent any they care to. Meanings incomprehensible to other players are almost useless as others won't use them. Contradiction is judged most strictly, so for example "Order" and "Werewolves" are not in any way contradictory, although werewolves are setting elements associated with the Ambassador. When in doubt, if two players are for any meaning it will be accepted.

   Meanings hold to the same non-limiting principle that regulates general description. No meaning may be universal, such that it applies to any and all situations. All spheres of meaning have to be divided in at least two parts when assigning them to colors. In other words, there must specifically be something that doesn't belong under a given meaning.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Crackerjacker on April 14, 2004, 02:12:50 AM
My submission is: Dawn of the Day of the Monsters (A Atomic Fantasy). Can't reveal more right now, but I have the concept and now starting to work on the core mechanics.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 14, 2004, 05:44:05 AM
The Chairman says:
Quote from: Paul Czege
In past IronGC competitions we've had folks not announce their intent to participate until they'd basically already completed their entry, which then comes as a complete surprise to spectators and contestants alike in the very late stages of the competition.
Cheggy-san, it is considered part of the challenge of the competition (and any betting therupon) that some will post their games late. This is a strategy that some pursue, and we'd not have it any other way. There is honor to be had in posting early and letting us see your game as it evolves (not to mention that it can be good strategy to clear people off your ideas). But there is honor, too, in coming in quietly in the late running with a gaming dishes that surprise the judges.

Quote
Conversely, a couretsy question: how certain should I be of completion if I want to announce a potential entry? (This could be a reason for the not announcing.)
The amount of dishonor that a designer has when bowing out after posting a design idea is only proportional to the amount of boasting he may have done. Which is to say that it is expected that not all contestants will finish their games. So even if you have less than full confidence, it is fine to post. Any contestant may withdraw at any time (which is a good idea for any very incomplete games which would otherwise recieve embarrassingly low scores). Better to bow out honorably than to simply fade into the shadows without comment. But no dishonor at all to those who bow out humbly.

(Oh how I wish I could be involved in the side betting...)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 14, 2004, 05:59:53 AM
Quote from: Ota
Fukui-san? You'll note that several more challengers have decided to join the competition. Perhaps most notably, Iron Chef Laviolette, himself! In his inimitable fashion, he's already found meanings for some of the elements that nobody had considered previously. His presence will really turn up the heat on the other chef's competing.

Still no sign of Iron Chef Freitag, but there's still plenty of time for him to enter the fray. He came in relatively late in the last competition, and maybe that's what's happening this time. It could be strategy, or timing, or just as likely he may just not plan to compete. But until we hear from him, the chefs all have to consider the possibility that they may be in competition with him as well.

Other notable entrants include Lumpley-san, Forrest-san, and Cherry-san, all proven avant gard game chefs. Less known, are hanschristiananderson-san and crackerjack-san. Who are these competitors? Could they sweep out of the unknown to take the competition? Or are they, perhaps, well known game chefs in disguise?

Eero-san seems to be quavering in his resolve despite seeming to be ahead of the pack in terms of volume of material created. Will he have the confidence in himself to continue? Who will be the first chef to succumb to the pressure?


[again, if someone wants to take over Ota, please go ahead]


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Lxndr on April 14, 2004, 06:02:05 AM
As I was going to sleep last night, I came up with this, which I emailed to myself at work so I could post it this morning.  There's a rather obvious inspiration from Clockworx in here, but AFAIK inspiration from other sources isn't generally considered bad form:

Island at the Dawn of Time: Basic Character/Game Mechanics

Characters are completely undefined in this system, apart from having a name.  Instead, the GM (who we'll call the Unmaker, for reasons that should be obvious below) keeps the only sheet, which is the World Sheet.  The World Sheet keeps everything that has been Named, and its rating.  Ratings can be from 0 to 7.  At 0, a thing barely exists.  At 7, a thing can no longer be unmade, but neither can it be used to help make other things; it has solidified.  There is a rating below 0 - X.  At this point, something has been unmade, and cannot be remade.

The World Sheet starts with just the character's names, each at a value of 4.  This signifies that the character exists.  Other things that always exist include the Island (6), the Sun (7) and the Ice (7).  At the dawn of each day, including the first day, each player gets 1 point.  This can be put into a new thing (which they then Name), or it can be given to an existing thing.  If a player's character ever reaches 7, or goes below 0, they lose their ability to Name. Note: Need something for players who have lost characters to do.

For each day (between sunrise and sunset), each character gets one "action."  They describe what they do during the course of their day, and which Names they are using.  It can be one Name; it can be many Name; but the Unmaker can veto anything that doesn't make any sense.  If using the Name of another character, they may veto it as well. (Note to self: Need to figure out how to order the player's actions).

For each Name, the Unmaker picks a number between 1 and 12.  The player then tries to guess that number.  You may then move forward or back a number less than or equal to that Name's score - with a 0 between 12 and 1 on the cusp.  If the number chosen fits within this range, it succeeds.  

The player needs at least half his choices to be successes.  If this happens, all the Names, even the ones he failed at, are raised by one.  If he fails, then they remain the same.  A Name with a rating of 0 must be guessed exactly; on any Name other than 0, if you guess the target exactly, you get an extra point that MUST be used to create a new Name, at a rating of 1.

After each character gets their day, night falls, and frost sets in.  The ice and cold of the night reduces each and every Name that hasn't reached 7 by one point.  Names that are at 0 are reduced to X, and become unmade, never to be Named again.  Then, as the day dawns, each player gets 1 new point to put into a new thing, or augment an old thing and the cycle starts over again.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jack Aidley on April 14, 2004, 06:19:31 AM
Four

Attributes are well and good, but a game needs a setting. Thus do I bring (by way of some rather contrived fiction) a early taster of all-that-is:

The young Chanters sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the teacher for their first lesson, excitement was obvious in their faces but they already possessed the discipline to sit still and be quiet. The teacher was old now but he still wore the bone armour proudly – its intricate carvings badges of honour from past glories. In his hand he held a hard-boiled egg.

“All-that-is is shaped like this egg. We are here,” he stabbed a gnarled finger at a point on the fattest part of the egg. “Although, of course, on the inside, not the out - for how could there be an outside to all-that-is?” Taking up a knife he sliced the egg into two neat halves. “And like the yolk lies central in the egg, so the sun lies central in all-that-is. Every night the sun dies, and its ashes fall to earth, and before every dawn you will perform the chants that bring the new sun and by this ancient duty you will ensure the life and health of all-that-is.”

One child dared raise a trembling hand. The teacher raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”

“We know of the sun, master, we see it everyday and we have heard the chants. Tell us of the rain, master? From whence does it come? What must we do to ensure its fall?”

“We know not of where the rain comes, child, for it falls only in the dark when the Sun is not. You must fill the sacred bowls and bless the waters so that they may call to their loved ones that they may fall as the rain by night. All these things will be known to you at the proper time.”


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 14, 2004, 06:41:36 AM
Like the reed, bending in the wind, your humble gamesmith bends but doesn't break in the pressure of master designers. A cynic might even speak of false timidity, uncoiling to strike when least expected. Here's some contest resolution mechanics for the Battle of the Frozen Waste. I'll include the character creation too, now that I'm here.

Play preparation

Each player chooses individually one of the following character archetypes:

   High Noble: the masters of the Order, either born and bread northlanders who've risen to their positions with experience, or southerners who have gained their position by deeds or breeding outside the order. The High Nobles will advice the Grandmaster in planning the Battle and will lead the men in battle.

   Knight: lesser nobles and their closest men. All men mounted and in armor are considered knights in the order, although some may hold higher social positions than others. These are the strong offensive fist of the Order when fighting the Ambassador, not the least because many demons are averse to steel most knights are clothed in.

   Footman: armed either with pikes or bows, the footmen are the actual backbone of the Order's army, able to withstand horrible attacks with bravery. Footmen are commoners, and are usually led by commoners or petty nobles.

   Oracle: there are other magicians in the middle lands, but apart from the barbaric ice shamans there is none in the icy wastes behind the borderlands able to withstand the Ambassador's corrupting influence. The Order however has some oracles, whose magical and arcane knowledge might spell victory, if trust is acquired and treachery avoided. All the oracles are women.

   Hero: the general riff-raff that joins armies of freedom in fantasy epics and will save the day against all odds. By definition these can be anything, from talking animals to forgotten princes. They have to still have a reason for being there, though, both from the viewpoint of the high nobles and their own.

   The Ambassador: the great demon of the North, hankering to swallow the middle lands. There is beauty in the ice sculptures and blinding whiteness of His domain, but it's not beauty fit for human life.

The choices the players make degree largely the focus of play, as different characters have different kinds of worries in the day before the battle. Apart from this narrative focus there's however no limits at all to the character details, and if a player wishes to play a peasant prince who forces himself on the gatherings of high nobles, he's welcome to choose the archetype of High Noble and play his character as a commoner. The archetypes decide what the character /does/, not what he /is/.

   Only one player may play the Ambassador, and if two or more players want it, randomization must be used to determine the player.

There is no traditional character creation. Instead the players decide on facts about their character independently and in cooperation, to the degree preferred. What mechanical impact these decisions might have is realised later in the game by the choices the players make. It's preferable that a player have some kind of concept about what his character is about in the game when it starts, but likewise a degree of moderation is hoped for: a player should not feel a need to frontload his character unnecessarily, as this will only constrain his choices in the end.

   As far as the game world goes, it is divided into the midlands and the frozen waste. The former is the domain of the other players, while the latter is that of the Ambassador only. The players share rights of narration about things of their own domain equally in the following way: Any world detail or color that doesn't limit another player is completely free and allowable, while details that make limiting statements about the domain are possible only by concensus, that is, if nobody disagrees. All the players should remember that the world being a scetchily defined fantasy, many things are possible and nothing should be discounted as long as it doesn't damage the designs of another player. It's assumed that anything alluded to in the rules is true to some degree, but that leaves great swathes of room for cultural, geographical, cosmological and other kinds of detail for players to fill in on their leisure.

   For players unused to this kind of free-for-all, an example about the differences between limiting and non-limiting statements: "There is a knightly order of the South." is a non-limiting statement, while "There is only two important knightly orders, Snow and Sand." certainly is limiting. The above world creation rules allow players any non-limiting statements about the world, but limiting statements are only possible by concensus, that is, every player except the Ambassador has to agree about things of the midlands.

   For the Ambassador things are simpler, as the player has the sole power to decide on general facts about the frozen waste. The Ambassador player may still offer suggestions about the midlands, as the other players can about the waste, but the other party has to accept such suggestions for them to become a truth.

   This freedom of general description of certainty doesn't include the actual play actions of characters or other normal play, but is only limited to background facts and milieu of play. So the Ambassador player may freely decide on the general description of werewolves, but he cannot simply degree any actions of those same wolves. There's rules for that kind of thing.

The players will have to prepare the Bag before play can begin. The Bag chapter details the procedure. The last part of the preparation is for the players to assign meanings to the stones. Stones will act as randomizers and a kind of an oracle for deciding how the play will progress. Most of their meaning is generated during play, but as with the characters, something will be fixed at the start. Each player will choose one meaning for one color of stone in accordance with the Bag chapter. The decisions are made individually and may all concern the same stone color. Any non-sensible meanings are redecided until an agreement is reached.

When the play preparation is sufficiently finished, so that the players are raring to play, it's time to start the game. The first phase of play is called "Waiting for Dawn", as in it the players come to learn to know their characters and the perils ahead, while the characters are preparing for the morning of the battle. This will be described in detail in the chapter of the same name, after the chapter about stone mechanics.


Conflict resolution

When using the stones during the game the players will have a bunch of /free stones/, which are displayed in front of the player for all to see. These are used to affect changes in the scenes played in various ways. Free stones come from the Bag and are either discarded or added to traits after use.

   Conflicts are always against another player's intentions. When two players disagree about something concerning the story they can resolve the disagreement by burning stones. This happens by concealing your free stones and revealing a fistful of them simultaneously with your opponent. The player who discards more stones of a suitable color wins the conflict. The resolution is narrated cooperatively by all the players.

   Colors suitable for burning depend on the particulars of the conflict and the meanings of the stones. If a stone represents a relevant attribute, ideal or symbol that implicates a certain result for the conflict, then it can be used. The players shouldn't give colors meanings they don't know how to use, so it's simplest to limit yourself to straightforward skills and such at the beginning.

   If both players discard the same amount of stones then neither will gets his wish, but instead the conflict is cut short for some reason. The difference is split by the other players in narration, as usual.

   /Traits/ are stones that are added to a character. Whenever a character participates in a conflict where the player discards one or more stones one of them can be added to the character. In such a case the player will choose one of the color's meanings and put the stone on a piece of paper with the meaning. From now on the character has that meaning as a trait, to be interpreted in a way the player prefers. If another stone of same color is added to the character it has to be added to the same trait until there's at least three stones in the trait. After that the player may either start another trait of the same color or continue adding stones to the old one.

   The narration of the conflict's resolution is based on the stones and traits used. Although only appropriate meanings are accepted when counting the victor, any meanings of any burned stones are suitable for the narration. The narrating players should take stones in turn from all participants and narrate at least one fact for each stone, taking freely of any of the stone's meanings. Thus a "werewolf" stone that's discarded in a war council situation might in the extreme case mean that a werewolf attack interrupts the council. The narrators start with one of the players and take stones from them in turn until only the winner has appropriate stones left. After that come the actual repercussions of the conflict. In this process inappropriate stones are used to help narration but are not counted against the idea of taking turns. Thus each participant loses  appropriate stones in turn, and other stones when the narrators wish. The end result is that the winner is left with the difference in the amount of appropriate stones.

   In the end of the conflict narration the narration rights move to the player who still has stones left. He uses the leftover stones to narrate repercussions of the conflict. One fact of the story costs one stone, as does one stone of a negative trait for another participating character. You all know how these things work.

The above is the simple conflict resolution, to which the following additions apply.

   Using traits is simple: when a character participates in a conflict and has traits with meanings appropriate for the situation, the stones of the trait are added to the player's sum of burned free stones. The trait stones are however not lost, but are returned after the conflict.

   If more than two players participate in the conflict each of the players will narrate in turn with his own stones until only concordant players have stones left, in which case they deal with the repercussions stone by stone, taking turns.

   A player can add a meaning to a color before the resolution by paying a stone of appropriate color and incorporating the change in the narrative. This however signals his intention to the opponent quite strongly.

   If a player uses all of his free stones in one color his is considered a /dramatic/ effort, but only if he had at least one stone in that color in the first place. A dramatic effort cannot lose and will instead tie a non-dramatic effort. If a player uses two of his colors the effort is /heroic/ and will tie even dramatic efforts. By adding further colors the player can force ties against even greater efforts. For this purpose stones of otherwise inappropriate colors are counted.

   A player may discard one stone from his character's trait after the fists are opened. This is considered a /sacrifice/ by that character. The narration will include the character sacrificing something and the player may use that traits of that color for any meaning of the color in that conflict.

   A trait might have a negative impact on a given conflict, in which case it may be counted in the other player's favor. Such negative traits may come from losing conflicts and cannot of course be sacrificed. They can be removed as a repercussion of a conflict, though.

The Ambassador has traits in the same way other characters do, but in His case they are much more abstract. The Ambassador is always considered to be present in any conflict that happens in the frozen waste, and his traits most likely manifest through his minions. Otherwise the Ambassador is played like the other characters, in accordance with the later rules about scene resolution.

Next up is the general lay of the game, I guess.


Title: That'll teach me not to read the Forge every day...
Post by: Darcy Burgess on April 14, 2004, 07:10:16 AM
First time entrant, but I love working under a deadline.  This may be good.

Burgess-san, having left his ingredients at home, enters the ring a little late!  Will it be a tasty dish?  or merely a disappointing mish-mash?  Only the chairman can decide.

Isolation Therapy (Working Title)

Premise: all characters are prisioners in a collective hallucination, sent there to atone for their (perceived) sins.  The hallucination is a product of childrens' dreams.  Although all characters occupy the same prison, they do not interact -- think of it as parallel universes.

Goal: to escape the prison and redeem yourself in the minds of the children.

Style: primarily narritavist, with gamist elements for flavour (cool fiddly bits to pass around the table, etc.)

Notable Features:
 - competitive (one player will be the "winner")
 - no single GM
 - little or no pre-game prep required (great for "fill-in" games)

How the heck does this tie in with the Ingredients?  For that matter, how is this Fantasy?
 - fantasy (def): the creative imagination, unrestrained fancy
     The world is strange, surreal, and full of whimsy -- you're in a dream fer pete's sake!

 - island (def): something/someone resembling an island, especially in being isolated and surrounded.
    The "uber-theme" of the game is isolation, that you are alone -- an island.

 - dawn: this game will be a race against time -- each character will only have until the next sunrise to escape the prison (island).
 - ice: to redeem yourself, you must thaw the mantle of ice that clutches your heart -- to become more like a child.
Dawn and Ice will both be 'scores' that vary as the game progresses.  Essentially, it's "ingredients as victory conditions".

Acknowledgements
Not enough good things can be said about Jack Aidley, whose work (both on this Iron Chef and Great Ork Gods) provided some excellent jumping off points.  Ingredients as Stats?  Good golly, that's a good idea!  We all stand on the shoulders of giants...

(c)2004 Darcy Burgess


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 14, 2004, 07:31:19 AM
Ota-san wrote:
Quote
Less known, are hanschristiananderson-san...


Aiiee!  Ota-san, you dishonor my axe-murdering Norwegian predecessors by spelling  my name with an "-on" instead of an "-en"!

Only one thing can avenge this slight - I challenge you to a snowball fight!

Snow Day - Snowball Fights

In a Snowball Fight, everyone says what they and their Ice Monsters are doing, then everyone rolls either a Reality Check or Fantasy Check, and all successful actions take place.  When two successful actions directly conflict, Fantasy Checks trump Reality Checks; but otherwise, it goes to the character whose die roll was higher.  While a Kid can do any action that a kid could reasonably do, an Ice Monster can *ONLY* do one of its abilities.

Throwing a snowball at someone requires a Reality Check.  If you're hit, you accumulate 3 Slush Points.  If you have more Slush Points than your age, your Ice Monsters melt, and you're driven from the field of battle.  You can also throw snowballs at an Ice Monster; when an Ice Monster has accumulated more Slush Points than its Ice Monster Power, it melts.

(Going inside for cocoa heals 6 Slush Points; if you drink a thermos filled of cocoa, you also heal 6 slush points.)

When Ice Monsters attack, perhaps by Breathing Fire (for a Fire-Breathing Ice Dragon) or by Chasing Timmy With A Wiffle Bat (for a Big, Mean Frost Troll), the attack is handled just like throwing a snowball.

Since it takes two hands to form a proper snowball, you have to drop anything you're carrying.  It takes a whole turn to scoop up a proper snowball, but if you have a stash of pre-made snowballs you can scoop one up and throw it in the same turn.  Similarly, if someone crafts a snowball for you, they can hand it to you and you can launch it that turn.

If you want to spend a whole second turn after crafting a snowball, you can craft either a Slushball or an Ice-packed Snowball.  Slushballs are particularly humiliating, and they inflict 5 slush points.  Ice-packed snowballs hurt like heck, and if you use one with any adults around, you'll be in Big Trouble…  Ice-packed snowballs don't inflict any Slush Points, but any kid hit by one must immediately make a Reality Check; failure means that their Ice Monsters melt immediately!

(Still to come - Special Rules for directly assaulting Fort Joey, stats for Joey's Gang, rules for Sneaking Out After Bedtime, and Hazards and Perils that you might encounter around the neighborhood.)

-Hans[/quote]


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Walt Freitag on April 14, 2004, 08:54:12 AM
Posting late last time wasn't a strategy, it was a scheduling crunch. And history repeats itself: most of the writing for this game is going to be completed during the weekend, if at all. But I don't mind presenting a teaser...

Arabian Nights ON ICE FAMILY SPECTACULAR

When Shazaman-Yugurovich, Sultan and High-Ranking Amateur Pairs Skater, caught his partner skating with another man, it drove him into a jealous rage. In his fury he made a terrible vow: that each day he would take a new pairs partner, skate with her in a Special Exhibition in the evening, and at dawn, kill her.

As the days went on and the Sultan began to carry out his vow, it became more and more difficult for his Vizier to recruit new partners. Soon, even the Ukrainian coaches learned to refuse the "opportunity" of having their best new talent perform in a Special Exhibition with the Sultan. The day came when the Vizier made his peace with Allah and prepared to tell the Sultan that no partner for the day could be found, knowing that his own head would be forfeit.

But, desperate to save the kingdom and her father’s life from Shazaman-Yugurovich’s madness, Vizier’s faithful daughter Scheherazade volunteered to skate with the Sultan herself. Her father was dismayed, but he did not know that she had conceived a clever plan. Hastily she assembled a small army of professional skaters, costume designers, set builders, musicians, sound engineers, lighting technicians, special effects experts, and Zamboni drivers. Then, when the evening’s Special Exhibition was over, she offered to entertain the Sultan with her own presentation. Her aim was to direct dramatic on-ice performances that would fascinate the Sultan, so that he would spare her life to allow the stories to continue. Her survival would depend on the Technical Merit and Presentation of the characters in the show, and on the Sultan being totally enthralled by their tale at the moment dawn, the time for morning prayers, arrived.

Thus begin the famous Thousand and One Arabian Nights ON ICE FAMILY SPECTACULAR.

You will become Scheherazade’s characters, as they live magical adventures in a fantastic world, from the smooth icy streets of Baghdad to the smooth icy expanses of the great Desert to the smooth icy bedchambers where ardent princes and irresistible slave girls meet in leaping twirling passion. Keep your blades sharp, because you must use all your skills -- footwork, jumping, spinning, synchronization, spirals, lifts and throws -- to confront fearsome monsters, corrupt courtiers, dangerous djinn, impious infidels, and biased French judges. Most of all, you must make sure the Sultan is entertained by your adventures, or else your tale, and Scheherazade’s, will end at dawn.

- Walt


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Valamir on April 14, 2004, 08:58:44 AM
I'm thinking that Iron Chef Fantasy has become Iron Chef Fantasia.

Like Fantasia, many of these games seem well suited to being enjoyed while in a state of...shall we say...elevated sensory perception...


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: ethan_greer on April 14, 2004, 09:19:00 AM
Man, I thought the penguin pirate idea was weird until I read Walt's idea. You guys are fucked up. (That's a compliment.)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2004, 09:43:16 AM
As always, Walt knows how to bring the pain.  Well, bring it, bi-atch.  Ain't none of us intimidated by you and your Iron Game Chef Championship Belt.  It's time to see who's the real King of the Rink, fool.  Let's get ready to RUUMMMMMBBBBLLLLLE!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: DevP on April 14, 2004, 09:48:37 AM
Y'know, I'm not a big fan of "fantasy", but I suddenly had this vision... of dark hearts, soliced words, stoicked hearts and maladroit visions, black fire and steel, nordic fighters and racial cliches, heads and heart held de-sundry as volumnious strains of METAAAAL strained upon the metallic icy lands... and hence, comes:

The Dance and the Dawn
A romantic shoujo-fantasy fable of the Islands of Ash and Ice, and a Thousand-Stepped Midnight Waltz for Love and Dreams at the Ice Queen's Eternal Court of Infinity.
(working title)

The 3 Guests of the Island of Ash meet the 4 Captives of the Queen of Ice, and are so pledged to dance the Midnight Waltz upon the Ice Queen's court. for three and only three nights. Will they find true love, or be trapped upon the Island of Ice forever?


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: timfire on April 14, 2004, 09:54:16 AM
As you watch the night sky start to gray over what appears to be a sea of clouds, you recall how you ended up on top of the icy slopes of Mount Fuji. As a ronin, you were use to a hard and lonely life, traveling from village to village looking for whatever employment you could find. So naturally, when you were approached this time you quickly accepted the offer, though not realizing exactly what you were getting into. Now you find yourself on top of this cold mountain preparing for an assault on the mountain witch along side a group of men you neither know nor want to know. Men who all carry a similiar story as yourself.

Who knows what the dawn of this day will bring? How will desperate men uncapable of trust react when their only means of survival is to rely on each other?

The Mountain Witch
An rpg by timfire


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 14, 2004, 10:38:24 AM
Quote from: Fukui-san
And there he is, last competition's champion, Walt Freitag. And what's this preposterous concoction he's promising to cook up for us? Will it perhaps be a multi-layer delight similar to Extreme Vengeance (only with figure skating instead of actors?) Or will it be something else entirely? Will the end result be a playable avant gard game, or an unapproachably pompous monstrosity? Freitag-san has the skills if anyone does - will it work out?

And the entrants are piling high. Burgess-san, another relative unknown has joined. The active newcomer Dev-san has joined the chase (obviously preying on the chairman's well known fetish for heavy metal). And timfire-san of enters with yet another west pacific rim cuisine entry? Will the high number of entries from this tradition work for or against the chefs in question?

Hansechristianandersen-san should realize the honor that the mispelling in question represents. Ota made the same mistake with Jared Sorensen on his first encounter. Mayhap this is a good omen? Only time will tell!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 14, 2004, 11:45:39 AM
OK, this is getting slightly ridiculous. Pretty soon I'm winning just because everyone has forgotten good old home cooking and nobody else cares to have some good ol' tolkienist sensibilities here... I'll have you remember that ice melts in Araby, or I would if it weren't so obvious that I'm green with envy.

I'm now revealing a significant portion of the Battle of the Frozen Waste in the form of the first phase of play. The game is divided into two phases, of which this is the first. I'm afraid the text gets only denser, I'll probably have to restructure and rewrite the whole after I get it all done, with hopefully some play examples. I won't be explaining this yet, though; that'll be the last, when I interpret the masterpiece for the masses...


Waiting for Dawn

When the play is prepared the players move into the first actual phase. This is "Waiting for Dawn", the time for introductions, expositions, building suspense and preparing surprises. During this time the players ready themselves for the chaos of the battle proper, and the characters gird themselves for the very same confrontation. If the battle is the great climax, this is the build-up.
   
Play will progress with players taking turns to interact with the setting, NPCs and other player characters. Other players not currently in character will communally take on the traditional GM tasks, preserving the domains outlined in play preparation (that is, the Ambassador won't describe any Order stuff or play Order NPCs, and the Order players won't play wilderness or monsters). The point here is two-fold: first, the players will have opportunities for detailing (and therefore strenghtening) their characters, and second, they have the opportunity to perform heroic deeds to better the Order's chances in the coming confrontation. A central decision is how much effort the players put toward each of these goals, and whether they strive for the artefact option detailed in the chapter about the Chalice of Doom.

   When a player gets a turn during the Waiting he will draw a fist of stones from the Bag and place it in his free stones for all to see. As usual, the fist may be empty. When the Bag is empty the Waiting will be at end and dawn will come. The players can easily judge some rough approximation of how many stones are left and can apply the knowledge to the flow of time and other such matters. It's assumed that the play will start during the day before the Battle, during the march of the Order. Where the players take it from there is largely in their hands, but most characters will probably spend the night in camp to get at least a little rest.

   The Ambassador doesn't get a regular turn during the Waiting; instead His minions and pure will will harass the Order in various ways. If all goes well for him he will be that much more powerful come the morn. Maybe the Order will break during the night and the whole battle becomes unnecessary, who knows.

   The order of player turns can be arranged to whatever's convenient, and characters can act out of turn if applicable. The goal is however that all players get roughly the same amount of turns in the sense of possibilities for conflict. Their characters can assist others and be all over the place if appropriate, but the mechanics of a turn apply only to the current player.

During each of his turns the player will perform the following actions:
1) Draw a fist.
2) Frame a scene.
3) Play the scene.

   The appropriate scene with it's mechanical results is played to a completion, after which it's the next player's turn. The detailed explanation of the actions follows.

   1) Draw a fist: as already intimated, the player will take a fist of stones from the Bag and put it on the table with his /free stones/. These are used later to play the scene. If the Bag is emptied this is the last scene of the Waiting.

   2) Frame a scene: the player has complete control over the scene his character will appear in. The player may decide that other characters or NPCs are in the scene and may arrange matters within bounds of believability to his satisfaction. The scene may happen in the present of the Order's march or camp, or in any past or future point of time. The latter kind of scenes are played with exactly the same rules as other scenes, but are assumed to be fiction of some kind (either flashbacks, fantasies or plans). Players still always play their own characters and appropriate NPCs in all scenes, and will later acknowledge the truth of facts established in flashbacks. It's assumed that anything the players frame is consistent in some frame of reference with the other scenes already established, making a logical whole.

   3) Play the scene: The scene is played according to the guidelines given above. Every scene ends after a conflict resolution is narrated, regardless of the conflict in question. A scene may also end without a conflict when the players of all characters in the scene agree. In this case the player may invest any amount of his free stones in an /advantage counter/, which are explained a little later.

During the playing of the scene all players except the Ambassador player can start conflicts whenever they wish by taking their character or a NPC and placing it in odds with another character. If another player capable of controlling the opposition concents, a conflict is started. This is played as indicated in the last chapter, and the Ambassador player may take part. A player may make his character or NPC do anything at all as long as another player does not declare conflict. A conflict can only be started when a character tries to do something active, so in effect you need two players willing to start a conflict.

   A player can bring his own character or NPCs to the scene whenever they wish, as well as narrate other events they prefer. If another player disagrees, he can start a conflict like in the case of characters disagreeing. If a conflict is so abstract that it has no actual plot significanse it's not narrated at all and any winning stones are discarded without repercussions. Examples might be arguments about control of NPCs, or whether the parthians are drunk on wine before the battle or not. This kind of abstract conflict /doesn't/ end the scene. A conflict is to be considered abstract if no character is present and able to either use or gain traits from it.

   The Ambassador doesn't get turns during the Waiting, but he can still narrate anything concerning the frozen waste. He cannot start conflicts, but can join in on conflicts started by the other players. The Ambassador character is considered to be in the scene for trait use and gain whenever the scene takes place in the frozen waste (that is, any time it's not a flashback or similar about the midlands or some other faraway place).

   During the Waiting all stones discarded by the other players are added to the Ambassador's free stones. Stones discarded by the Ambassador are returned to the reserve.

When a player gains an advantage counter, he puts the stones used to buy it aside with a short note about the situation where the counter was gained. Gaining an advantage counter is a sign of a benefit that has accrued for the Order in general, and thus the narration should probably tell about alliances, new intelligence about the enemy, a commando strike at the demons or powerful magics gained, as examples. Something that will help the Order in the future. Any player may during the scene announce the advantage counter, at which stage the other players have to either accent or announce conflict with whatever is the in-game reason for the counter. If two players resist the advance counter (not counting Ambassador), they can postpone both the counter and the conflict to a specified later stage of the scene, if they should so wish.

   If the advantage counter goes through, the players will narrate it based on the stones the staging player put in the counter. This happens in a way similar to the narration of conflict resolution, with each stone providing color based on it's meaning. The scene ends after this counter narration.

   Advantage counters are used in the next phase to sway the outcome of the battle. Hopefully they will be enough, because the Order is otherwise horribly outnumbered.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Crackerjacker on April 14, 2004, 11:53:20 AM
One thing I can say about my game: it's "survival comedy" that, like most of my ideas for systems, is not conventional in the way the system defines the boundaries and capacities of the game. Look for a tasty teaser some time later tonight/tommorow morning.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2004, 11:56:10 AM
Time to bring out the big guns, i.e. GummiBears/Asterix-influenced mechanics and a whole lot of Color...

-----

Seadog Tuxedo: System, Part Two


Dawnwine

Deep in the Summer Isles, the Fortress Impervious houses the vineyards of the Sun-god himself, carefully tended by the Cult of Sun-Worshiping Shaman-Wizards.  Grapes shine like tiny solar orbs, bursting with warm juice: the nectar that sustains the entire immortal civilization and it's autocratic priesthood.  Sungrapes can be ritually prepared, through ceremony and (if they're available) penguin sacrifice, to create a divine elixer known as The Essence of Dawn.  This ambrosia not only extends the life of humans, but endows them with the solar fury of their patron, empowing the Sun-Worshipping Shaman-Wizards with the moxie required to kick serious ass.

To pirates, this drink is known as Dawnwine.  Why do they bother raiding the Summer Isles so much?  Dawnwine.  After all, pirates do their best to keep the drink out of the hands of the Sun-Worshipping Shaman-Wizards, who will only use it for evil, extending their lives and using their solar magic to subdue Decent Human Beings.  Besides, have you seen what Dawnwine can do for pirate penguins?

When drunk by a penguin pirate, Dawnwine also empowers them with serious moxie, represented by an immediate projection of their Idiom out into the world.  If Forked Lightning, for example, downed some Dawnwine before confronting the enemy, electric arcs would erupt from his diminuative penguin body, making him near-invincible for a short period of time.  He could hold off an entire army by himself, as long as he managed to get away before the effect of the ambrosia wore off.


Narration Rules

Seadog Tuxedo uses a turn-based system of free narration.  Play proceed in a circle, with each player giving a brief description of what their character does.  This narration is basically unlimited, as long as it fits within the genre and color of the game.  Pirate penguins can swing from chandeliers, sneak through towns under the cover of dark, pull off amazings stunt of spectacular daring, all by their player simply narrating what happens.  Likewise, the GM (or other players, if you have enough) should narrate for the Sun-Worshipping Shaman-Wizards and other significant characters.

This means that, in practice, confrontations are like duels.  No one ever fails to do what they narrate, but no one gets narration rights over someone else's character.  For example:

Quote
SWSW #1:  "Aha, Forked Lightning!  We meet again!  I'm going to burn you to a crisp you scurvy scalliwag!  Reaching into my belt, I pull out a magic solar wand and fire bolts of heat at the penguin!"

FL:  "That's what you think, Villain!  I scamper nimbly out of the way of a few bolts, before lauching myself in the air, sword swinging!"

SWSW #1:  "I step out of the way and wiggle my eyebrows menacingly.  You've overestimated yourself, this time, little one...  Face the wrath of the sun!  I fire a blast at the gunpowder barrel he's standing next to, causing it to explode in a cloud of heat and smoke!"

FL: "Rolling out of the way, Forked Lighting emerges looking slight burnt and bruised, but he smiles triumphantly, though in pain.  Is that the best you can do, you old fake!  I pick up a barrel of Dawnwine, obviously feeling a bit weak, and throw it into the ocean, jumping on top and paddling it back towards the iceship!"


This pattern of unchallenged narration can be broken by one of two ritual phrases, which indicates that an opponent is challenging what you've just narrated.

For those opposing the heroes, this phrase is: "Cute trick, pirate!"  Oh no!  Pirates can't be cute!  This sends a shock to the Pirate's psyche and requires them to roll or risk going into cute Penguin mode!

For the pirates, their challenge phrase is: "Not so, bozo!"  Bozo?  But... but... Sun-Worshipping Shaman-Wizards don't mean to be evil and cruel.  They're just Decent Human Beings that do what's necessary to preserve their way of life.  Better roll or risk succombing to compassion and weakness.

Rolls are done Risk-style, with the narrator getting 2 dice (d6's) and the challenger getting one.  The narrator simply has to beat the challenger's roll, but the challenger automatically succeeds on a 6.  Whoever wins the roll gets to re-narrate the last action, ignoring the rule about not narrating for other characters.  Failing to overcome a challenge means the narrator's character reverts to "sweet" mode (Penguin or Decent Human Being, depending).  Having your challenge ignored means that you can't issue another challenge for the remainder of the scene.

Continuing the example:

Quote
FL: "I pick up a barrel of Dawnwine, obviously feeling a bit weak, and throw it into the ocean, jumping on top and paddling it back towards the iceship!

SWSW #1: "Cute trick, pirate!"

They roll.  FL gets 2, 4.  SWSW gets a 5.

SWSW #1: "Forked Lightning leaps onto the floating Dawnwine barrel, but it rolls out from under his feet, causing him to fall unceremoniously on his rear end.  He looks dazed and very cute and adorable."

FL:  "Help!  Help!  Somebody help me!  Oh, the evil man is going to get me!"


Alternately, it could go the other way...

Quote
SWSW #1: "Cute trick, pirate!"

They roll.  FL gets 2, 4.  SWSW gets a 3.

FL:  "The Shaman-Wizard calls for his troops to come get the pirate, but when they rush to the edge of the pier, the ones in the rear bump into the ones in front, causing a domino effect that ends with the Shaman-Wizard flying unceremoniously into the brine!"

SWSW #1:  "Hack, spit, cough!  Curses, foiled again!  I'll get you, you... pirate!"


Idiom-based narration (as opposed to that based on Pirate or Sun-Worshipping Shaman-Wizard concepts) works a bit differently.  Erruptions of Idiom result from drinking Dawnwine.  This makes a character's actions unchallengable for 2D6 turns, rolled the turn when the Dawnwine is drunk.  Furthermore, the character is able to narrate supernatural effects into their actions, as long as those effects are part of their Idiom.  Additionally, those empowered by Dawnwine suffer no ill effects from losing a challenge.  They retain total control of their character, the winner isn't allowed to narrate for them, and they can freely challenge again on their next turn.  All of these powers are lost once their turns of Dawnwine-empowerment are up.

Conflict is complicated by two Dawnwine-empowered characters facing off against each other,.  In such cases, rolling works similarly, but both characters roll two dice and BOTH have to be higher for one side to triumph.  Otherwise, nothing happens.  [EDIT:  "Nothing happens" means that no side gains a distinct advantage.  All narrations still succeed as normal and supernatural effects are probably flying all over the place.] The consequences of losing a Dawnwine challenge are different as well, and make no distinction between challenger and defender.  Whoever loses a Dawnwine confrontation immediately looses the powers of Dawnwine and should probably run, since the other character is still empowered and can challenge without restrictions or fear.


The Power of Being Cute and Decent

Once a character is in Penguin or Decent Human Being mode, they cannot be challenged, but they are officially banned from being badass.  Everything they do should be as cute and innocent as possible.  They can still try to run away or escape, but no actions of daring or crazy stunts are possible.  

However, no real harm can ever befall someone cute or decent.  This is the secret power.  While sun-worshiping shaman-wizards hate pirates with all their hearts, they really have a soft spot for cute penguins.  Likewise, even pirates have a code of honor and refuse to hurt or humiliate Decent Human Beings.  This is what protects them from challenges.

Additionally, cute and decent characters are much more successful, socially, than pirates or sun-worshipping shaman-wizards.  Normal people won't give a pirate the time of day.  If the scurvy seadog wants something, they'll have to fight for it (and most gladly do).  Pirates never get anywhere in relationships with humans.  Whatever they do, the pirate will always been a mangy seadog, worthy of contempt.  Likewise, everyone hates sun-worshiping shaman-wizards, even their own people.  They're stupid, egocentric tyrants that whine like babies whenever the pirates succeed in stealing some Dawnwine.  Everyone resists their rule, but the shaman-wizards also have the power to take what they want (and most gladly do).

However, once a pirate has switched into cute Penguin mode, or a sun-wizards reveals themselves to be a Decent Human Being, things really change.  Humans are always more than happy to assist cute penguins (though shaman-wizards, being badass, don't succumb to this weakness and can get people to obey them, and not the cute penguin, out of fear).  I mean, who can resist cuteness?  Also, penguins and other humans will always treat Decent Human Beings like they would want to be treated themselves.  That's the humane thing to do.  Pirates, however, regularly steal and plunder and beat people up, so they're immune to such tactics.


Next Episode: Iceships, becoming marooned on the Summer Isles, Gregory (the shaman-wizard's penguin assistant), and Isabel (Volcano Raga's traitorous and very hot pirate daughter).  Don't touch that dial!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2004, 12:09:58 PM
Oh, I can't believe I forgot this part!

Whenever your character drinks some Dawnwine, you (the player) have to take a shot of the cheap rum or whatever you're using.  And that's definitely cheap gold rum.  I mean, it's frickin' Dawnwine we're talking about here!  I don't care if it's nasty.  Suck it up!

Also, drinking Dawnwine is the only time anyone can drink any rum (or whatever).  So part of the incentive for pirate pillaging is to get more rum for the players. ;)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 14, 2004, 12:19:42 PM
Dammit Jonathan, quit it!  You're making the rest of us look bad!

*smacks Jonathan upside the head with a slushball*


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: timfire on April 14, 2004, 12:37:26 PM
CUTE TRICK, Jonathon!

Just wait 'til everyone sees my Dark-Samurai-Fantasy cooking!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Zak Arntson on April 14, 2004, 12:53:34 PM
Terra Australis

I tricked you all! I don't believe in swordfish! It's squid all the way down.

---

In this post: Example play script, with light mechanics notes, highlighting two features of play. Fighting with monsters and creating your Terra Mythos. I want any conflict to further the story; there are _no_ whiffs. Conflict is physical, emotional or mythos, without yes/no outcomes. It is more, "Do we get in more trouble? Or do we solve a problem?"

---
Setup
Established facets of the Mythos are called Evidences (because they are not entirely factual). The default beginning to the game are the following Evidences:
 Terra Australis: A vast maze of islands where Antarctica would be.
 The World Royal Society: A coalition of great thinkers from all over the world.
 Bastion: A growing compound created in response to the threats from Terra Australis. It is on Van Dieman's Islands (modern day Bellamy Islands), in Horror's Bay, surrounded by ice and snow.
 Robert Hooke: Ambitious and frighteningly intelligent leader of the World Royal Society in Bastion. Not only does he preside over Bastion's scholarly goals, he addresses the practical, such as overseeing the Bastion's ongoing construction.

For this example, the players have established these Evidences during the "setup/social contract" phase of the game. The Evidences are required to handle the following: What are the Player Characters? What was the enemy's first assault? What is the weird globalizing science which gave rise to the World Royal Society? What is this strange enemy?
 Irregulars: Pronounced 'ee-regular' for a bit of flair. They are discovered in many ways, some being born, others found frozen in Norwegian ice, and so on.
 The Great Fire: The worldwide event that prompted the formation of the World Royal Society. Horrible cults summoned or released great salamanders to threaten the entire world. These
 Coalhearts: The Night of Fires left behind weird burning coals which cannot be extinguished, provide a limitless source of bitumen, and which, when worked upon by various means (depending on the culture that uses it, from clockwork to prayer), allows instant communication. They are called Coalhearts, as they were found in the smouldering corpses of the Terrors. Because of their rarity, they are hoarded by the Royal World Society and used very sparingly.
 Terrors: Monsters unleashed in the Great Fire, and discovered to be spawning from somewhere south of all civilization.

There is the GM and two players, Grace and Mark. Grace is playing Kleykir, a massive Viking brute found in Norwegian ice (who, incidentally, has a body temperature a few degrees below freezing). Mark is playing Vedun, a psychic squid-headed scholar from India who wields a cane sword in combat. There are a pair of NPCs, human companions. There have been no relationships made, yet, so the humans are handled simply by some measure of a) respect for monsters, b) fear of monsters, c) possibly some effectiveness. Their names are Li and Becher.

---
Example Script: Monster Fight w/ Mythos Creation

GM: As you descend the rough-hewn steps, you realize they are stone beneath a layer of pitted ice. The cave is growing warmer, slightly more bearable. The tunnel is bigger, now. Carved pillars, dusted with frost, rise to an icicled roof. Sunlight is thrown in by the snowy entrance, and casts weird shadows. The other end of the cavern could be an ornamented door or a giant statue; you're not sure.
Grace: It's going to be a slumbering guardian. And we're going to wake it up. [conflict mechanic: fails to create a fightable monster] Oops, it's long-dead and mummified.
Mark: [somehow gains control of the conflict, and uses this chance to add Evidence] It smells awful, and Li recognizes the thing from the library at the Bastion. It's called a [consulting Terra Australis sourcebook of weird & occult names] re'em, a terrible beast of which only two exist at one time. It gives birth before dying to a pair of twins.
GM: [Mark can give NPC Li direction, but the GM actually plays NPCs] Li lights a lamp and advances into the cave. He tells you of the re'em, and shines his lamp upon the beast [GM embellishing the new Evidence]. 'See how its three eyes see in all directions, and three horns gore its enemies?' Li grabs Becher's arm as Becher goes to touch the thing.
Grace: 'Vedun, can you feel anything?'
... at this point it can be a conflict, or the GM simply narrates. The GM chooses conflict ...
GM: Mark, Vedun feels a sinister presence, whispering in your mind in two discordant tones. You feel an ethereal stirring from the re'em! [GM instigates fighting conflict, psychic in Vedun's case].
Mark: Vedun closes his eyes and writhes his tentacles [spending some resource to bulk up success, but still fails].
GM: The re'em stirs, but only its belly. From its womb two horrors tear free! One swings its hairy paw at Vedun, sending him into a column. Vedun collapses to the ground, moaning.
Grace: Kreykir hefts his axe. Time to get rough on these guys! I'll decapitate one of them! [conflict mechanic, Grace gains ground]
GM: You swing your axe into its neck and are sprayed with black blood!
Mark: [his character is low on resources, but not out of action] Vedun rises from the column and draws his sword. He lunges at the uninjured re'em. [conflict mechanic, Vedun loses ground, sacrifices a resource, in the form of an NPC]
GM: You draw your sword, and advance to save save Becher. The bleeding re'em collapses on him, squashing him.

---
And so play continues. Already the group has established a particular monster and some of its features. This can be built on and changed and so on. Perhaps later, they meet more re'em, and the lore was wrong about there only being two on earth. Maybe they drag a re'em corpse back to the Bastion, only to have it give birth to two more. Or maybe the re'em are guarding something terrible, and the group continues deeper into the cavern to investigate.

A character will consist of a conflict resolution ability/resource (for using your character's abilities, whether it's fighting, shooting, whatever), and an Evidence creation/modifiation resource. NPCs also count as a shared resource. To heighten the value of NPCs, I'll say that you get more oomph by sacrificing/damaging an NPC if you have a relationship with him/her. Same with PCs, possibly.

I want to have some sort of dwindling resource to create tension. PCs should always have a chance to overcome conflict, though. I'm thinking some sort of "spend resource, reroll failure" (like Dying Earth) or "see odds, spend resource to increase odds" type of thing.

Lastly, when somebody 'fails', everyone has a chance to turn it into something else. If you fail in a conflict, someone can use the failure to create/modify Evidence and vice versa. Or you can shift the conflict into a different direction. I want all the players to be very active, so if there is no current conflict, you just create one.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2004, 12:55:30 PM
Quote from: hanschristianandersen
Dammit Jonathan, quit it!  You're making the rest of us look bad!


Quote from: timfire
CUTE TRICK, Jonathon!


I'm not the one you guys should be worried about, believe me.  I never win, because I post often and early, right as the inspiration hits.  By the time the food hits the judges' table, it's already cold.  People have gotten used to the ideas, and it's never as fresh and exciting as whatever dark horse flavor-of-the-week rolls in near the end (at least, that's my excuse; sometimes the later designs are just better).

Nevertheless, I keep doing things this way to up the ante.  Somebody has to be out there in front, doing the flashy design thing.  It's a challenge.  Think your samurai can take my penguins, Tim?  Bring it!  This is about us pushing each other to design better.

*throws snowball at hans and runs towards the house for more cocoa*


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Dav on April 14, 2004, 01:24:51 PM
Holmes-sama:

With everybody smacktalking their way through this contest, and with my mind fraying at the attempts to understand how some of these games manage to get labeled with the brush of "fantasy" (the main fantasy seems to be in their designers' hopes of defeating me).  Good ol' Walt, who cooks up a fine game... though he has never faced the likes of me.

So... uh, let's talk odds...  Walt has the belt, so he's the favorite to win.  Jack had Ron's "kiss of death", so we know his game will suck.  Hans over there, well, his game isn't called "The Ice Maiden", so we know he is breaking with family tradition.  And I know, I am in a difficult position.  Hell, I can barely recall the last game I made.  So, with Paul-san's greatful permission, I would post odds:

Walt: 1.5:1
Jack: 2.2:1
Hans: 2.6:1 (drops to 2.2:1 if he follows family tradition in the title)
Zak: 2:1
John Walton: 3:1
Eero: 3.2:1
Timfire: 2.5:1
Dev: 2.8:1 (would be higher, late entry, but the title is so... big)
Dav: 13:1
Anyone else: about 3.2:1

Oh, and here's a glance at part of the character sheet for "Broken Vows"

Lived by the: (Cloth, Crown, Scales, Sword) [Circle One]
Died by the: (Cloth, Crown, Scales, Sword) [Circle One]
Sold my Soul for: (Blood, Breath, Flesh, Shadow) [Circle One]

Sins left to resolve:

Soul:  Ice:
         Fire:

Blood-
Breath-
Flesh-
Shadow-

That is all.  Bring it kids, bring it.

Dav


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 14, 2004, 01:51:02 PM
Quote from: Fukui-San
Rating himself at 13:1, a classic attempt to throw folks off the trail of his cooking. From the man on The Forge who's had, perhaps the most commercial success of all? False humility, perhaps? Or just tactical maneuvering?

And he didn't even rate the first Iron Game Chef crowned. John Laviolette is in there duking it out. Also I think Walton has gotten runner ups in both contests - or are you buying his "too early" jive talk?

Indeed the smack talking groweth plentiful. It seems to be affecting the odds-makers.


(And here's Mike now really wishing that he could get in on some of the longshot betting - I'm going to have to retire someday so I can make a killing)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 14, 2004, 02:52:58 PM
This is the last you'll hear from me today.

You've already seen a picture of a pirate penguin, so how about Isabel (renegade pirate daughter of Volcano Raga) and Azmodeus (the Shaman-Wizard in charge of the Fortress Impervious and the vineyards of the Sun-god).

(http://1001.indie-rpgs.com/seadog2.jpg)

I'm too much of a honky to talk jive, Mike.  I just talk smack ;)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Crackerjacker on April 14, 2004, 03:19:48 PM
PREVEIW, with chapter samples





Dawn of the Day of the Monsters

"Creeper Creek, Texas. The DM seems to of stopped it's movement at that

location."

"Gentlemen, I propose an air to ground missile strike, which will

hopefully subdue the beast so we can capture and quarantine it."

"No time. We'll have to nuke it."

"Texas, you'r going to launch a nuclear strike on Texas?"

"Yessir."

The good news: the tactical nuke dropped on the hostile entity given

the military codename "DM" was far enough out in the desert to not

destroy the town of Creeper Creek. The bad news: now creeper creek is a

shifting landmass somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, an irradiated chunk

of a Gilligan's island carved out of Texas like a nuclear knife through

butter.

The sun was rising as the military final found the island that used to

be the Texas town of Creeper Creek. As the army green helicopters

swooped down over the island the video feed started to give out.

Radioactive interference with the transmition. However the blurring

subsided for a few seconds, just long enough to show the secret

military council what they needed to see: a town crawling with atomic

mutants.

"Send in the O.R.C.'s"

Chapter One, PC's:
In DoDM, the Player's Character is one of the townspeople of Creeper

Creek, now a survivor a nuclear holocaust and flesh-eating mutants. To

make things worst the army has declared the entire island contaminated

with the genetic mutatagens of the presumably dead hostile giant mutant

beast, codenamed DM. Thusly, the army has sent in hordes of goblins

(goblin: derogatory term for U.S. soldier) and O.R.C.'s (experimental

combat soldiers) who are just as ready to kill as the mutants, and a

heck of a lot smarter (well, not the O.R.C.'s). The goal of the game is

to survive, so the characters will have to work together (or stab each

other in the back) to survive as best as they can until they can figure

out a way to escape.

Chapter Two, Secret Military Commander's Only (Gamemasters):
Of course, there is no way the PC's are going to escape. Theyre going

to survive as long as possible, and hopefully die off one by one in the

most glorious and goriest ways. But don't tell them that. You want them

to actually think they have a chance, and when they play that way, by

the end of the game everyone would of had a great time.

Chapter Three, The Madness to the Method (System):
sample of play-
Bob: I shoot it! (makes a gun motion towards the "direction" of the

fictional O.R.C. with his hands)
Military Commander (GM): (thinks: damn that was fast) Ok..um, you were

really fast so you shoot first. The O.R.C. didnt even have time to

raise his gun, it crumbles and falls over. There's the sound of grunts,

squeals and army boots behind you!
Andy: Ok, ok, ok I pull out my revol-
Military Commander: BANG BANG! The O.R.C. command squad fires, and a

bullet bursts through Andy's head. The rest of you, who didnt even

raise you guns, are surrounded and the O.R.C.'s are hesistating but

they dont take prisoners...
Bob: I reach for my gun slowly hoping they dont notice, just edging
Gamemaster: One of the O.R.C.'s twitch
Samantha: I start jumping and shouting! distractin-them!!
Bob: I kick up my gun with my foot and grab ahold of the handle
GM: the O.R.C.'s cut you down in a hail of gunfi--!!
Bob: DODGE! DUCK! ROLL! and I shoot back
GM: The ORCs are on the move and you arent shooting very well with all

that stunts so there not hit and pointing their guns and
Bob: BANGBANGBANG (it's a revolver, I can get three shots squeezed off)
GM: TWO ORCS down, ONE LEFT, SQUEAL-SHOOT-SAMMY!
Sam: I fall down while jumping! (slower but well thought out)
GM: umm..you get hit in the shoulder, and it hurts, a lot.




(This is just a preview, the full submission will be forthcoming in the next few days)


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: anonymouse on April 14, 2004, 04:30:22 PM
Quote from: Crazy Old Fortune Teller Lady Commentator

I must admit, I'm a little surprised at some of the entries. They are.. they are not what you might consider standard fantasy--

Quote from: Ota-san

Fukui-san?

Quote from: Fukui-san

Yes, Ota-san?

Quote from: Ota-san

Sorry to interrupt, but some of the other chefs have voiced similar opinions. They are concerned over what they believe to be some liberal interpretations of "fantasy".

Quote from: Fukui-san

I don't know, I mean, they seem alright to me.

Quote from: Somewhat Clueless Actress Commentator

Oh, absolutely. "Fantasy" is such a broad theme. If you go into a bookstore, there are a lot of things under the "fantasy" heading, and just think of how much is simply "fiction"!

Quote from: Crazy Old Fortune Teller Lady Commentator

Hmm, I suppose that is true!

Quote from: Ota-san

Yes, the Chairman has been pretty open in past contests, and certainly doesn't hesitate to sample dishes even if they don't exactly fall under the theme!


*laughter from commentator panel*

Quote from: Fukui-san

Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the Chariman thinks of some of these entries.

Quote from: Somewhat Clueless Actress Commentator

Yes, yes, exactly. I think all of the entries so far fit the theme, in, you know, in their own way. It's very exciting!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Asrogoth on April 14, 2004, 04:38:05 PM
Be warned...

The Gods are coming!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: John Harper on April 14, 2004, 05:37:01 PM
Using three of the four terms in the game title should count for something, right? Right? And I have no cute penguins, piratical or otherwise. The judges have got to be loving that.

Assault Force ICE DAWN

Pre-Game Prep: Making the Cards
---------------------------------------------
The group gets together and does the prep work before the mission. The GM should resist the urge to make cards ahead of time. You will make one set of 10 cards for the group, not 10 cards per player.

First, you need some index cards. You’re going to write one word on each card, as directed below. Write the word up near the top of the card to leave room for more notes that you’ll add later.

On the first card, write ANALYST. On the second card, write NEGOTIATOR. On the third card, write SORCERER. These cards represent your support team. Put these cards aside for now.

Grab four more cards. One card gets labeled ALPHA, one is BRAVO, one is DELTA, and the last is ECHO. These cards represent your operations teams. Put these cards aside.

Now you’re gonna label three cards: INTEL, DIPLOMACY, and ACTION. These cards will be used to keep track of bonus dice during play. Lay them out in the middle of the table.

You should now have 10 cards on the table, one word each.
- Analyst
- Negotiator
- Sorcerer

- Alpha
- Bravo
- Delta
- Echo

- Intel
- Diplomacy
- Action

Now it’s time to create the characters.

More to come...


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Asrogoth on April 14, 2004, 06:33:26 PM
I'm sorry, I have to edit and repost... I tried to edit before I posted, but something got screwy with my connection.  So, here is the revised version:

God Lore:  The Chronicles of the Immortals[/size]

Spawned from the essence of the Ancient Ones, you find yourself, an Immortal, blessed with the
powers of the gods and born with the mandate to take part in the monitoring and control of all
things.  Your existence demands you to influence reality and perpetuate your own supremacy.

In order to do your duty, you have been given the power of the Life Force, the basis of
life itself, the power behind the elements.

These elements -- Dawn, Ice, Island and Breath -- combine in your being, all of which
you use to control the very nature of the universe.

Dawn: the power of birth, the blazing sun and the warming fire

Ice:  the solid essence of life-nurturing water, and the freezing death of the chill

Island:  the soil and rock that stabilize the world and support plant and animal life

Breath:  bears the evidence of the Life Force, the Winds of Time and the Vacuum of Space


Together, the Immortals and the Chronicler will journey through a story of accomplishment and
feats where Creation is bound and unbound, where Life is made and destroyed, where gods die
and are reborn.  

Plunge into the mysteries of the gods, while sipping the nectar of Ambrosia and living
their stories, dreaming their dreams, bearing their hopes and knowing their fears.

Now is the time of legends lived.  Now the God Lore is spoken.  Now the Chronicles of the
Immortals are made known!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Matt Snyder on April 14, 2004, 06:47:19 PM
Holmes-san, you bastard! This is a terrible week for me to do this, and I sooooo want to. Alas.

I'll offer up a tease, at least. Odin only knows if it'll ever be more than this. This idea howled to me from the cold north:

http://www.chimera.info/images/ragnarok_logo.jpg

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Walton!


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: C. Edwards on April 14, 2004, 07:12:53 PM
The ghost of Iron Game Chef past makes an appearance to remind the chefs of Number 1 Rule.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
All right, you wickerbuckin' finnicks ...

That's enough pictures, K? Use links.

Best,
Ron


I couldn't resist.

-Chris


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Daniel Solis on April 14, 2004, 08:19:21 PM
I haven't forgotten! I'm still cooking up this weird little Inuit fantasy thing. In the meantime, I've researched a little more on the actual mythology and lifted a couple key terms. Most notably, there already is a word for "cannibal spirit" which was mighty convenient. With this new knowledge, I've revised the introductory passage.

Lak (Revised a bit)

Elders say the land beyond Inotowok was once warm as our fires. Lush with green things and animals that flew in the sky, they say. But, for reasons unknown, the sun went to sleep many winters ago. Slowly, our people were the only ones able to survive, all alone on Inotowok. With the talluak, the protective spirits, keeping us just warm enough, we managed to survive on an island isolated from the rest of the world by oceans of ice.

And life was good in those days, not so much different than before. But those who died when the sun went to sleep did not lie as easily as that great, slumbering star. Pana, guide and caretaker of the dead before reincarnation, was overwhelmed by the great numbers of dead now entering the ghostly realm of Adlivan. Great evils were done before the sun fell asleep and Pana could not in good conscience bring those dark souls back to our world. Further, there were simply not enough new bodies into which to reincarnate those souls.

The souls were angry at their imprisonment, combined their anger into a powerful storm and forced their way out of Adlivan, back into the land of the living. Upon their return, they found their world gone. The world of their memories buried under the snow. Their anger grew even greater, twisting them into vile horrors swarming in the mad, violent orgy of the storm. They became atshen, cannibal spirits, fiercely jealous of those who still live here on the island.

Elders sensed a darkness approaching. Spectre-storms approached in enormous thunderheads pregnant with every darkness of the human heart. Elders pleaded for assistance from Pana for it is Pana who is meant to care for these souls and soothe them. Alas, Pana was weak. Once the doors between the worlds were forced open, they were too hard to close. But then Pana thought of a trick. Just as the evil souls of Man were now in the land of the living, so to would she send the souls of the light, compassionate, and courageous.

Great souls were condensed by the thousands, sometimes by the millions, and branded onto the bodies of special men and women of the island. They were the Lak, the greatest, who still stand at the shores, the forest, the icy desert and elsewhere on the island, defending us from the atshen in all their horrid forms.

Obligatory Semi-Clever System Concept
Character effectiveness is defined by the length of your name. You sacrifice syllables from your name as your resource pool to do great, mythic acts. The last syllable of your name is always "lak" which is an actual Inuit sobriquet meaning "the greatest." When "lak" is the only remaining syllable of your name, something cool happens... I haven't decided what yet. But after that point, you can no longer perform mythic acts until the next dawn.

I'll write up more tomorrow.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 14, 2004, 10:47:35 PM
Dav wrote:
Quote
Hans: 2.6:1 (drops to 2.2:1 if he follows family tradition in the title)


In the interest of full disclosure, I'll point out that while my name is indeed Hans Christian Andersen (The Fifth, to boot!), I'm not related to the famed author.  He was Danish, while my family was Norwegian.

Having said that, I hereby call dibs on the following Hans Christian Andersen story titles to use as Chapter Headings in the final draft of the game:

What the Moon Saw
The Goloshes of Fortune
The Snow Queen
The Neighboring Families
The Thorny Road of Honor
The Snow Man
The Ice Maiden
The Snowdrop
What One Can Invent

What say you to that, Dav?  I figure that outta improve my odds to around 2.4:1.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 14, 2004, 10:51:13 PM
Awwright, that's enough trash talking for me for one night.  Now, on to some more game content:

Snow Day!  Assaulting Fort Joey

First, an important clarification:  Actions performed by Ice Monsters *always* use Fantasy Checks, and never Reality Checks.  Ice Monsters don't have Age, so these fantasy checks are made against the Ice Monster's Ice Monster Power instead.

Second, a key rule that was left out of the section on Snowball Fights:  As your action, you can Cry Uncle to admit defeat and bow out of the fight.  No Kid will*ever* throw a snowball at someone who has cried Uncle, but since all actions during a round happen simultaneously, another kid can use that same round to get in a parting shot.  If you cry Uncle, you're out for the rest of the Snowball Fight, and you can't join back in.  All of your Ice Monsters are out of the fight too, but at least they don't melt.  Feel free to cheer on your comrades from the sidelines.


Assaulting Fort Joey is a daunting prospect.

The Towers - From the high vantage points of Fort Joey's two towers, a Kid gets to throw snowballs as If they're a year older than they are.  Also, because of the high walls, a Kid throwing a snowball at a Kid in a tower throws as if they're a year younger than they are. Ice Monsters are unaffected by the towers.

The Snowball Stash - A single kid running back and forth can keep both towers stocked with snowballs, allowing the throwers in both towers to throw a snowball every single turn.

The Icicle Spikes - Because of the Icicle Spikes around the fort, you can't just rush up and attack the fort.  Oh, no.  You need a *cunning plan* first.  (More about Coming Up With A Cunning Plan in the forthcoming section on Scene Framing.)  Without a Cunning Plan prepared beforehand, you can pelt the fort's defenders with snowballs, but you can't actually take the fort… no matter what sorts of Ice Monsters you have on your side.

At any given time, Fort Joey is manned by either Joey (age 15, and a mean shot with a snowball), or by his younger brother Jimmy (age 7, and a know-it-all brat.)  Jimmy is almost always accompanied by a sneaky Slush Troll (Ice Monster Power 7, with the abilities Sneak Around, Slushy Claw Attack, Carry Slushball, and Mock Other Kids.).  Additionally, 1-3 other kids will be present (ages vary wildly), and each of them has an Ice Monster with two powers.  Note that Joey himself doesn't have an Ice Monster, because he's been too busy improving the fort itself to bother sculpting one.

If, with the aid of a suitably Cunning Plan, the characters and their Ice Monsters can drive off all of the fort's defenders, and somehow circumvent the Icicle Spikes, then they have successfully taken Fort Joey!  Each Kid on the victorious side gets to do a Victory Dance, or a Victory Song.  Plus, they each get a Gold Star!  (I still haven't decided what Gold Stars do.)  But be careful for reprisal raids, for now that you own the fort, Joey and Jimmy and the other kids will be sure to return just as soon as they've fortified themselves with Hot Cocoa…  How long can you hold the fort?


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Asrogoth on April 15, 2004, 12:40:24 AM
God Lore:  The Chronicles of the Immortals[/size]
Continued...

The Four Influences

In the Universe, four Influences form the elemental make-up of all things.  These Influences are powered by the Life Force.  Every Immortal commands the use of all four Influences to varying degrees.  Furthermore, each Immortal has a primary Influence which usually helps her determine her patronage.

These four Influences are Dawn, Ice, Island and Breath.  All four are represented to greater or lesser degrees throughout the Universe.

Dawn is the force of fire and birth.  The Immortals that choose Dawn as primary tend to be hot tempered and vibrant, full of life and quick-tempered.  They generally choose to be patrons of such things as the hearth, the passionate embrace, or the most powerful, the Sun.

Ice is the force of water and cold.  Without Ice life cannot survive, heat would destroy all, and everything would dehydrate.  Immortals who control Ice tend to be very calculating and circumspect.  They rarely let their emotions get the best of them and usually rely on their cunning to guide mortals into the Immortals' desired paths.  Patrons of Ice Influence choose things such as fish, the morning dew or at the highest levels, rain.

Island is the power of the earth.  Island-specialized Immortals are very "warm"-hearted and remain calm under pressure.  Very little can shake their resolve, but they tend to recognize times when emotions are needed in order to manipulate mortals and facilitate their agendas.  These Immortals tend to choose the dust, plants or even the Earth itself as their patronages.

Breath is the imaging of the Life Force and Time.  Mortals require Breath to maintain their life and to advance.  Immortals with primacy in Breath tend to be very quick-witted, skilled in the intricacies of socialization and are very adept at persuasion.  They frequently stir up crowds of mortals in frenzies through their words without revealing their godliness simply out of enjoyment.  These Immortals tend to choose patronages over things such as hiccups, breezes, or even the atmosphere.



Life Force

Life Force (LF) is the power that is an Immortal's existence.  When an Immortal is "born", he is granted the power of Influence through using his LF.  This power defines the types and amount of influence he is granted.  The Immortal has Thirteen (13) Influence Points (IP) to spread between his four Influences (Dawn, Island, Ice and Breath).  He must have a minimum of one IP in each Influence and must choose a primary Influence which must have the highest (or tied for highest) IP devoted to it.  As the character develops and matures, he will eventually gain more IPs.  As he gains IPs, his LF will rise.  LF is determined (after character creation) by totaling the number of IPs.  

If an Immortal's LF ever reaches zero, the Immortal is considered to be unavailable for play with his LF dissipated into the ether of time.  The player may retire the character, or if other players are amenable, they may attempt to resurrect the deity by spending their own IPs to bring the "dead" Immortal back to life -- this requires a number of IPs equal to the "dead" Immortal's normal LF.

The Demigod must declare his primary Influence which must have his highest Influence number or be tied with other Influences (with no Influence being higher).  After this primary Influence is declared, the Demigod should take time to decide her patronage*.  Below a table of patronage examples for Demigod level is provided.  The Demigod level is quite insignificant in the grand scheme of Immortal Status; therefore if deciding to on a different patronage than listed, care should be taken.

Demigod Patronage List
(For Random Result roll five six-sided die and add the results)
    5   --   Roll Again
    6   --   Apples
    7   --   Bunyons
    8   --   Caterpillars
    9   --   Dust Motes
    10   --   Ear Wax
    11   --   Flatulation
    12   --   Garbage
    13   --   Hiccups
    14   --   Impish Behavior
    15   --   Jumping
    16   --   Kale
    17   --   Leeks
    18   --   Minnows
    19   --   Nails (Toe or Finger)
    20   --   Oranges (for the scurvy scum that follow!)
    21   --   Penguins (MUHAHAHAHAHA)
    22   --   Quail
    23   --   Roses
    24   --   Snails
    25   --   Torches
    26   --   Ugliness
    27   --   Vomiting
    28   --   Worms
    29   --   Yelling
    30   --   Other (Choose or Make-Up Your Own!)[/list:u]

*A Note on Patronage:
As Immortals gain "Status" they gain new patronages.  A Demigod has only one patronage.  Further information on Immortal Status and more patronages will be detailed later.



Immortal Status

Immortals gain status through their acquisition of Influence Points because IP directly affect an Immortal's Life Force.  Life Force exists in both a "static" and a "current" form.  Immortals determine their effectiveness in each encounter and through each action by the amount of "current" Life Force (CLF) available.  The CLF reflect the available Influence Points available to be used by each Immortal at a given time.

Static Life Force refers to the overall amount of Influence Points available to the character when fully "charged" with Life Force.  The higher the character's SLF goes, the more power and greater status she has within the Immortal community.  Eventually an Immortal can gain such status as to be named among the greatest of the gods, being a patron of such things as the very elements they represent, or if wise and powerful enough, an Immortal may try to take over the rulership of the heavens from more established figures (i.e. Zeus, Odin, etc).

Immortal Status Matrix
SLF           Status
-------------------
13     --   Demigod
20      --    Eternal
27     --   Sovereign
34      --  Hierarch
41      --  Titan
48      --    Singular

When addressing an Immortal with 27-33 SLF, he would be addressed as Eternal "Name" by Immortals of higher status.  If addressing an Immortal of greater status, they would be addressed with the term Lord preceding their status and name... Lord Titan "Name".

Okay... that's enough for tonight... It's way too late, and I need some rest... I'll cook some more tomorrow.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 15, 2004, 02:11:42 AM
Below the eternal Pole Star lies the mistake, festering like a forgotten apology, a tower of smoke to the sky that most of the People prefer to ignore even as the demons it spawns crush their fragile palaces of starlight, frost, and ice.

But you are not like most of the People.  You are a Star Knight, guided by the charter set down by the long-dead Snow Queen, chosen for the heavy duty of guarding the People against the yearly demon invasions from the frigid mists of the mistake, and try to save what remains of your civilization after the fall of Polaris.

The knights have a thousand forces arrayed against them, and the radical elements from within the People are as dangerous as the demons that boil forth from the Mistake with every dawn.  And, in the end, it shall be the knights themselves that will destroy what remains of the greatest civilization that ever was.

Your fight is as futile as a baby crying against the coming of summer.

But you have decided to take up the struggle.  Don your starlight sword, take only a breathsuit as refuge against the cold, and fight against that coming light.

Coming soon from Whenever The Hell I Feel Like it Productions
A Ben Lehman Game
Designed by Ben Lehman

Polaris


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 15, 2004, 03:29:04 AM
Chairman Holmes!

A question regarding the judging:
In regard to the three ingredient rule -- if all four ingredients are used, but one is less primary than the others, is there a loss of honor in the half-hearted use of one ingredient?

yrs--
--Lei Xiansheng


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Crackerjacker on April 15, 2004, 03:56:15 AM
As I'm sure my preveiw showed, instead of trying to integrate a loose system and freeform like I have in the past, I am instead going for "dramatic freeform" that focuses on the dramatic and full bodied (literally) storytelling that I often have and have been in games where the GM's have, incorporated it into their tabletop games (sound effects, dramitization, real time responses, motions mimicking characters)

I don't expect for Dawn of the Day of the Monsters (DDM) to be complicated or polished enough to rank very high, but I'm enjoying the experience of limited time and slightly guiding game creation experience.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Jack Aidley on April 15, 2004, 05:24:35 AM
That which was known as Four shall hence forth be known as Chanter.

Quote
Is this a show of confusion from our chef? Or a cunning ploy designed to throw his opponents?


Character Creation Mechanics

Players must assign each of the four attributes a priority starting from 'A' as the best, down to 'D' as the worst. They can choose either to either to assign one A, one B, one C and one D (ABCD) or two Bs and two Cs (BBCC) for a more generalist character.

Mike wants his character to be strong on magic, and deeply involved in the structure of Chanter society but not so capable of looking after himself - he decides that ABCD is the best option and assigns an A to Dawn, a B to Ice, a C to Assault and a D to Island.

Rolling the Bones

Chanter uses d6s for its bones, and you'll need a fair handful - but you're roleplayers so I know you've got them. Conflicts are determined by rolling a bunch of d6s (the numbers known by means yet to be revealed), and looking for duplicates. Rolls are called by saying the largest number of matches in what number and how many other duplicates you got (extras).

Robin rolls ten dice and gets 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6 and announces that he got two 6s and three extras.
Ant rolls seven dice, getting 1, 2, 2, 2, 4, 4, - he announces that he's got three 2s and one extra.
Gilli rolls four dice, getting 2, 4, 4, 5 - she announces that she's got two 4s.
Mike rolls eight dice, getting 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 5, 5, 5 - he announces he he got three 5s and two extras.
I roll five dice and get 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 - I announce I got nothing


All rolls in Chanter are opposed. Usually the GM rolls the opposition dice - rolling a number of dice according to how hard the task is. Whoever got the highest duplicate wins, or if they got the same duplicate (i.e. both got triples) then whoever got it in the highest number wins (thus three 5s beats three 3s, but four 2s beats both of them). Each extra on the player's side mean something extra good happened (bonus), each extra on the GM's side means something extra bad happened (penalty). The player can choose to cancel a penalty out with a bonus.

Should the roll be tied both on duplicity and number shown then it is a tie and no resolution to the action is achieved (if they're climbing a cliff, they got a little stuck for a while but can carry on; if they're picking a lock they haven't solved it yet but might be able to; if they're fighting someone, they've fought back and forth but neither side has yet gained a conclusive advantage) any extras, however, still take effect.


Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
Post by: Bill_White on April 15, 2004, 06:33:42 AM
G A N A K A G O K --- DAWN BREAKS UPON THE ISLAND OF ICE

For a thousand years, the stars have shone down on Halakat, the Sea of Tears, burning brightly in a sky that was always dark. Now in the east the horizon has brightened to grey, and the stars have begun to fade. The shamans of the People speak of the rising of the Sun.

For a thousand years, the People have lived upon Ganakagok, the Island of Ice, in the midst of the Sea of Tears. This mountain of ice, floating in a cold sea, has been carved into soaring spires and dizzying stairs, immense caverns and intricate labyrinths. The legends of the People speak of the Ancient Ones who carved it so, to escape the falling of Night.

Dawn is coming to the Island of Ice. The stars are fading. The sea is growing warmer. The world is changing. Will the People survive the change?


GETTING READY TO PLAY includes (a) creating characters, and (b) fleshing out the setting, including (1) sketching a rough map of Ganakagok, (2) detailing the characters' village, and (3) deciding upon elements of the metaplot, including the nature of the spirit-world.  Creating characters is done by the players; fleshing out the setting is done by the Game Master (GM).

CHARACTERS are men of the People, the tribespeople who live on Ganakagok, a gigantic iceberg floating in a freezing cold sea illuminated only by starlight.  They all belong to the same village, and are in fact related to one another by kinship ties of marriage and consanguinity.  Each player should create his or her character one after another, so that players can draw upon each other's character creation process.

Name.  The naming of names is important; characters should have names with a vaguely Inuit feel, with lots of guttural consonants, aspirations, and flat schwa sounds.  Hagak, Jukub, and Natahuk are all suitably icy and primitive, for example.  Players should be discouraged from trying to name their character, 'Nanook'.

Attributes.  Characters receive 10 points to distribute among four attributes called Body, Face, Mind, and Soul.  No attribute may be lower than 1 or higher than 5.  A score of 2 or 3 reflects notable competence or ability in an attribute; a score of 4 or 5 indicates exceptional prowess.  A score of 1 indicates no special proficiency--the character is unexceptional in that dimension.
    Body reflects physical ability and athletic prowess.  Characters use Body to trek across the snow, bag their prey when hunting, fight, and perform other physical tasks.
    Face reflects all sorts of communication skills and social status.  Characters use Face to interact with each other, negotiate with strangers, persuade each other, woo maidens of the People, and so forth.
    Mind reflects mental acuity and knowledge.  Characters use Mind to learn and apply the lore of the people, and to craft material goods.
    Soul reflects moral development, reverence, and piety.  This is the attribute that is used for journeying into the spirit-world, which any character may attempt via dreams and vision-trances.[/list:u]
    Gifts.  Characters may also take up to 6 points of Gifts, which reflect possessions and relations that can aid the character in times of need.  For each point of Gift a character is given, a token of that Gift should be recorded.  No more than three gifts of any one type may be given to a character at the start of the game.  A character may never have in excess of six Gifts of any one kind.

    Gifts are used in two ways.  First, if a Gift is relevant to a particular action, it may be used to increase the character's Attribute for the purpose of avoiding Risk or accumulating Success (see 'Taking Action' below).  Second, when Failure does occur, Gifts may be sacrificed (broken, lost, damaged) to ward off more harmful effects.
      Goods aid Body-based actions.  Goods tokens are listed as specific items of equipment, e.g., a whalebone harpoon, a hide kayak, a whale-oil burning torch, a sharktooth knife, a rope of twisted sinew, and so forth.  It doesn't matter too much what the item is, though it should be something of general rather than specific utility.  When Goods are used up, they are lost, damaged, or destroyed, and need to be repaired or replaced.
      Love aids Face-based actions.  Love tokens are listed as relationships, favors, and kinship ties with specific individuals from the village (who are specified by their names and their relations to other characters), e.g., 'Saved Takanuk, the chief's brother, from a snow bear during a hunt,' 'married to Luinapa, the shaman's second-oldest daughter,' and so forth.  Players should feel free to invent characters at this time, as well as to create relationships overlapping those of other players.  When Love is used up, the other person is mad at or otherwise disinclined to help the character; the relationship needs to be patched up.
      Lore aids Mind-based actions.  Lore tokens are listed as the titles of myths, legends, or songs that the character knows, e.g., 'How the Whale Lost His Teeth,' or 'The Brave Harpooneer'.  When Lore is used up, it has been forgotten or confused, or is somehow always already irrelevant, and must be studied anew.
      Mana aids Soul-based actions.  Additionally, depending on its source, mana can aid one other type of action.  Ancestor mana aids Face actions.  Before dawn, Star mana aids both Mind and Body actions.  Sun mana aids Face actions and, after Dawn, Body actions.  Ancient Ones mana aids Body actions.  Regardless of source, Mana tokens are listed as specific items of mystical or religious significance, e.g., a braided-seaweed amulet in the shape of a man (Ancestors mana), a scrimshaw talisman carved with star-signs (Star mana), a piece of polished black stone found in the ice (Ancient Ones mana) and so forth.  No character starts with any Sun mana.  When Mana is used up, it may have lost its mystical resonance through obvious inefficacy, been profaned or otherwise rendered unclean, or been sacrificed in some sort of potlach or other ceremony.  In any case, the amulet or talisman must be purified or replaced.[/list:u]
      Sample Character.  The GM tells the players to create characters who are men of the village of Turanagu.  The first player creates his character, Gujanopak.  Gujanopak (Body 3, Face 3, Mind 2, Soul 2) is a young hunter of the village of Turanagu.  He carries a whalebone knife (Goods 1) and a rare bone-handled stone axe (Goods 2).  He also owns a sturdy kayak (Goods 3).  He is the son of Umagakan, the village chief (Love 1), who taught him the 'Tale of Karakojuk in the Belly of the Whale' (Lore 1).  His proudest possession is the ornately carved ceremonial kayak paddle (Ancestors Mana 1) he made for his initiation into manhood.

      THE VILLAGE is a central focus of the game.  The village has Stores of meat, hides, bone, oil (rendered from fat), and other necessities of life; these Stores are held in common by each family but can be drawn upon by others in the village (in exchange for current or later favors).  The village is also the characters' social world.  A village consists of maybe 7-12 extended and interconnected families of 10-12 people living in ice caves, tunnels, or caverns on the lower reaches of Ganakagok.  The People live by hunting seals, sea lions, and other large aquatic mammals, including the occasional whale, and by fishing.  Each village has a chief (usually the most successful senior hunter); his wife is often but not necessarily the 'senior mother' of the village, with great influence upon what the women of the village do.  Each village will also have a shaman, usually an elder man but possibly a woman, who is conversant with the methods of dream-interpretation and spirit-journeying.  

      To describe the village initially, the GM should indicate the Stores of meat, bone, hide, and oil held by each family and map out the social network of the village insofar as it is known.    A GM could decide that a particular family is especially prosperous or impoverished; this will create interesting social dynamics in the village.  Assume that about one-quarter of each family consists of able-bodied hunters, with the remainder divided among able-bodied women as well as dependent children and the elderly.

      Village Example.  Turanagu has 8 families and about 100 people, the DM decides (i.e., about 12 people per family). He gives each family in the village Stores equal to Meat 14, Hide 6, Bone 3, and Oil 2 (i.e., the characters need to get out there and hunt!).  The village's social map is very sketchy at this point; it includes Gujanopak, his father Umgakan (the chief of the village and the head of Gujanopak's family).  A second player created Hagak, Gujanopak's elder brother, who is married to Luinapa and saved Takanuk, his paternal uncle, from a snow bear.

      THE MAP of GANAKAGOK is created by the GM.  The map is a rough sketch of the area surrounding the village.  The village is the center of the characters' world; they should regard it as the only truly 'safe' zone they have.

      Map Example.  The GM draws a circle representing the village of Turanagu in the center of the map.  He draws another four circles, approximately in the cardinal directions.  The area to the south he labels 'Open Sea (Halakat)'.  The area to the east is 'Icy Cliffs (Gokutagun)'.  The north is 'Glacial Plains (Anunagoruq)'.  Finally, to the west is 'Neighboring Village (Danokaru)'.  The GM connects each area to the village with a line.

      THE METAPLOT involves the coming of the Sun to Ganakagok, and the changes that the Dawn brings.  As the game begins, the Sky contains 100 stars (actually, hundred of stars, but say 100 for the sake of tracking).  As the Sky brightens, Stars will fade.  When the last Star fades, the Sun has risen.  It will slowly climb higher and higher in the Sky until it reaches the height of Noon.  As the Sky changes, conditions on Ganakagok will start to change, too.  In addition to disasters caused by melting and shifting ice, the spirits of fading Stars (whom the People revere) will contend with the spirit of the Sun (who desires their reverence).  The spirits of the Ancestors of the People may also interfere, and the legacy of the Ancient Ones who created the Island of Ice will have to be reckoned with.

      The GM must create a time line of events that occur as the dawn approaches and the Sun climbs higher in the sky, keyed to the number of Stars remaining (pre-dawn) and the height of the Sun in the sky (post-dawn).  The incidence of these events (which will include animal migrations, avalanches, ice floe break-aways, 'icequakes', and disturbances in the spirit-world) should cause characters to seek out an explanation and a solution for their village at least and perhaps for the People as a whole.  Whether this solution is an exodus from the Island of Ice or seeking refuge in its depths will depend on the direction the GM guides the metaplot.

      As the Stars fade, their mana becomes less powerful.  Each turn, the GM can roll percentile dice (based on the number of stars remaining) or just decide that one or more Star mana tokens has become ineffective since the Star that bestowed it has faded from the Sky.  Once the Dawn breaks, all Star mana is ineffective thereafter.

      Once dawn breaks, the mana of the Sun becomes more powerful:  in addition to aiding Face actions, it also aids Body actions.  The GM will have to decide whether, as the Stars believe, it is possible to forestall the Dawn.  The spirit of the Sun is majestic and, according to some, beguiling.

      It may be that Island was built as a sanctuary from the domination of the all-consuming Sun, or that once the Sun has risen a new age of prosperity will come once the People travel to the new home that has been granted them.  Something else may be the case entirely.  The GM must decide what the truth of the metaplot is!  

      THE SPIRIT-WORLD is an important element of the metaplot, since it is through the spirit-world that the People can learn of the conflict between the Stars and the Sun.  The creatures of the spirit-world include the Ancestors, the Stars, and the Sun.  The Ancient Ones may also be represented as a separate category of spirit, or may be hidden, or may in fact be the Stars themselves in different form.  Again, the GM must decide.

      Journeying in the spirit-world to gain mana from the spirits is an Soul-based action that incurs some risk to the character; this is discussed at somewhat greater length below.

      In any event, traditional spirit-journeying allows the People to interact with and gain mana from Stars and Ancestors.  As the metaplot progresses, the power of the Stars will fade (i.e., dealing with them is less Risky but produces less Success per effort as well) and the power of the Sun will increase.

      PLAYING THE GAME involves following the story of the People as the Dawn comes ever nearer.  Each turn represents a few days worth of time.  During a turn, characters will take actions of different sorts.  The order of action is random; if it matters who acts first, roll off.  After actions are resolved, the sustenance of the village is determined and the metaplot is advanced.

      Taking Action.  During a turn, each character can attempt three broadly defined actions, e.g., 'I go hunting for my family,' 'I go to the neighbor village to trade,' or 'I explore the Glacial Plains north of the village.'

      Once a player has declared his character's intention, the GM will determine the parameters of the action resolution, including (1) the Attributes relevant to tasks comprising the action, (2) the Risk associated with those tasks, and (3) the amount of Success required to achieve particular outcomes.

      The basic dice mechanic is this:  For any task within an action, the character's level of Success is equal to his Attribute.  For each level of Risk associated with the task, roll 1d6.  If a die is greater than the Attribute (plus any relevant Gifts invoked), it inflicts 1 Failure on the task.  The GM will determine how much Success is necessary to accomplish the task at hand, or what is produced per unit of Success (e.g., 1 Success during a the physical part of the hunt might mean that the hunter has bagged a penguin with enough meat on it to feed him until the next turn.

      The player then has to decide how to deal with Failure.  He can (1) trade Success for Failure, (2) accept an injury (reduce an Attribute by 1 die until 'healed'), (3) lose a Gift (permanently, or at least until 'replaced' or 'repaired'), or (4) accept a narrative complication, if offered by the GM or opposing player.

      Gifts of the appropriate sort can be used during an action to lower the Risk of the task or to increase the amount of Success -- but not both.  In any case, a die roll of '6' is automatically a Failure.

      A player can decide to accept greater Risk for additional Success.  For each additional Risk die rolled, increase the Success of the character by one.

      A player can reduce his Risk by limited his Success similarly.  Roll one fewer Risk die per level of Success sacrificed.

      Obviously, Risk trade-offs have to be made before the dice are rolled.

      Cooperation among characters may play an important part in the game.  Depending on the specific activity undertaken, cooperation can be resolved by (a) having individuals undertake separate efforts, each of which requires some measure of Success, (b) reducing the level of Risk or increasing the Attribute level of the character leading the task, or (c) producing additional Success for the character leading the task.  The GM must decide.

      Conflict between characters (fistfights, verbal sparring, and so forth) involves treating the opponent's attribute as the Risk level for other character.

      Example of Conflict.  Hagak (Body 3D) gets into a fight with a stranger from another village (Body 2D).  Hagak has 3 Success to the Stranger's 2.  Hagak rolls 3 dice and gets 1 ('miss' as this is less than or equal to 2, his opponent's Attribute), 4 ('hit'), 6 ('hit'); the stranger rolls 6, 6 (two hits, as both are greater than Hagak's attribute of 3).  Hagak has a total of 5 hits (his Successes plus the result of the stranger's Risk) while the stranger has 4 hits.  The stranger, with fewer successes, decides first what to do:  he opts to trade all his hits to negate four of Hagak's.  Hagak hits the stranger, who loses 1 Body.  Hagak wins the fight; the stranger is bloodied and (with his action) takes refuge with another family in the village.

      The GM should be prepared to create different 'dice structures' to represent different situations, e.g., a race between two characters, trying to accomplish something in a specified amount of time, and so forth.

      A 'narrative complication' can be anything the GM decides:  a permanent rivalry or hatred, a scar or injury, or any sort of trouble the GM thinks is reasonable.  The GM should decide if narrative complications hasten the coming of Dawn.

      Out on the Ice.  The People live by hunting, and this sometimes necessitates long trips out on the ice.  If a character ends a turn out on the ice, not in a village, he must try to Survive using his wits (Mind) and fortitude (Body).  He needs a total of 1 success per turn away from the village (i.e., 1 success on the 1st turn out, 2 on the 2nd, and so forth).  The GM should key survival Risk to different areas of Ganakagok--e.g., the Glacial Plain might be a 2-die risk while the Icy Cliffs are a 4-die risk.  The open sea should be a much greater risk; perhaps as much as 8 dice.

      Hunting.  Hunting trips require the hunter to accumulate intellectual Success to track or find his prey (Stalk) and physical Success to bag it (Catch).  The list below provides examples of Success rates and what's gained.
        Seal.  Numerous and therefore relatively easy to find, relatively easy for a determined hunter to catch and kill.  Provides 2 meat, hide, bone, and oil each per completed hunt.  Stalk 2, Catch 3, (Risk 2)
        Sea Lion.  More dangerous but also proportionally more productive than seals (3 meat, hide, bone, and oil per completed hunt).  Stalk 2, Catch 4 (Risk 3).
        Penguin.  Also numerous, but smaller and therefore harder to catch in sufficient quantities for the effort required.  Provides 1 meat, hide, bone, and oil per completed hunt.  Stalk 2, Catch 4 (Risk 1).
        Whale.  Infrequently encountered, and extraordinarily dangerous for a lone hunter or even a small group.  Provides meat, bone, and oil in extraordinary quantities--say 100 each--per successful hunt.  Stalk 4, Catch 20 (Risk 6).[/list:u]
        Characters can fish, which is Risk 0 and produces 1 meat per 2 Body per action.

        Spirit Journeys. Spirit journeying is a Soul-based action that can be used to obtain mana or oracular information (that will be of ambiguous meaning and uncertain accuracy, naturally).  At the beginning of the game, the Stars are powerful (Risk 4, 1 success per mana received or question answered) and the Sun is weak (Risk 1, 4 Success per mana received and questioned answered).  As the Stars fade, this will reverse until the Sun is powerful and the Stars are weak.  Interacting with the spirits will often require a Face-based task to avoid their enmity.

        Making Goods.  Making new Goods (or fixing broken ones) requires the expenditure of Stores and Mind-based action.  If a character is married, his wife will take up to one action per turn to make things for him.

        Learning Lore.  Learning new Lore requires Face-based action to get a knowledgable elder to teach it and Mind-based action to remember it.

        Making 'Love'.  Gaining friends and influencing people within the village requires Face-based action.

        Recovery.  Players can recover lost Attribute points for their characters by taking an action and telling a story of a sort appropriate to the Attribute being 'healed'.  The story need not be terribly lengthy, but it should maintain the flavor of the game.  The following format indicates the sort of thing that should be appropriate:

        'Hear now the tale of [character]!  [Character] was [description].  One day, [Introduce a complication, like a difficult task being proposed to the character].  But [character] was undaunted! [Tell how the character overcame the complication and was rewarded.]  Thus ends my tale!'
          Body.  Tell a story of Monaagak, the powerful King of Whales.  
          Face.  Tell a story of Ganakorop, the shapeshifting trickster-seal.
          Mind.  Tell a story of Panuuguka, the wise Mother of Stars.
          Soul.  Tell a story of Meetaqi, the Good Son of Panuuguka.[/list:u]
          Taking Care of the Village.  At the end of every turn, the village has to be fed.  Each family uses up a number of Stores of Meat equal to its size.  If it doesn't have the necessary Stores, it can get food from another family (if they have extra--the GM has to keep track, making some simplified assumptions about the success of hunters from each family).  If it doesn't have enough, it can 'expose' one or more elderly members to the ice.  This kills them, of course.

          The village also has to be heated; each family burns 1 Store of Oil per 3 people in the family.  If it doesn't have enough, treat the family as if it's out on the ice at Risk equal to the cumulative shortfall.

          Advancing Toward Dawn.  Each turn, starting from 100 on the first turn, some number of stars will fade (maybe 1d6 to start, more as the Sun gains in strength).  The GM decides exactly how many and what effects this has, and what can influence the rate at which Stars fade.  It may be possible to reverse the coming of Dawn, but on the other hand it may not be.  Once Dawn breaks, the Sun climbs in the Sky at maybe 1d6 degrees per turn.  Once it reaches its full height (90 degrees), the campaign ends.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Bill_White on April 15, 2004, 06:39:53 AM
          There is my entry!  

          Notice how it invokes the theme ingredients:  the coming of the Sun (dawn), the isolation of the People (island), and the desolate nature of their environs (ice)!

          And, pace Eero, it is Tolkienesque in spirit if not in its trappings:  the fantasy invokes melancholy about the world changing, and nostalgia for a lost past.  The world of the People is literally melting out from underneath them.

          As I promised, an earnest little fantasy.

          Bill White


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Crackerjacker on April 15, 2004, 06:53:13 AM
          Dawn of the Day of the Monsters has survival horror, a frantic and fun atmosphere, a satirical storyline, and it even has fantasy roleplaying tropes (presented in a cheesy 50's scifi being heckled by MST3K kinda way)

          and because all the hip kids are doing it...

          the dawn is the focal point for the "beggining" of the game, as well as the metaphorical dawn of an age of mutants and atomic monsters
          Creepers Creek is now an island in the Atlantic, and nobody can get off of it
          And the military is assaulting the irradiated, man eating mutie filled island with it's hordes of Goblins, O.R.C.'s, and other monstrosities.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Daniel Solis on April 15, 2004, 07:05:16 AM
          It really doesn't look like I'm going to have time to finish Lak in the next few days. I'm heading out of town tomorrow and saturday and it's only a couple weeks until graduation with so much left to do. I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't finish the concept, but them's the breaks I guess.

          Anyway, Bill_White's pretty much done the whole Inuit thing right there. :P


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Lxndr on April 15, 2004, 07:32:04 AM
          I am not confident about this game's chances; it feels like it has something missing.  But I stand behind both the concept, and the utility of the game's rules (even if they don't really excite me).

          Island at the Dawn of Time

          Intro/Back Cover Text

          A chilly wind picks up as the sun begins to rise; you feel the first touches of warmth on your cheek.  It is the first time - your first sunrise, the first sunrise ever, and as you awaken you look over the island on which the Creator set you before he turned off the lights and walked away.  The ice is melting on the island, but as you look out upon the frozen sea all around you, you realize there is so much work to do.

          It is the dawn of a universe, a world waiting to be born, and your characters are its Adams and Eves.  It is your job to name the things in this world, and in doing so give them form and purpose.  But the long night before the first day has frozen those things in the sea, encased them in ice.  And the ice will not give up its secrets easily.

          Armed with nothing but your Names, you and your fellow children of the Creator prepare to make war with the ice, to free the world that is waiting to be born.

          Game Preparation

          Gather some players (2 is the absolute minimum, but I personally suggest 3 or higher) and two sheets of notebook paper.  Write 'Creation Roster' on the top of the first sheet, and tear the other one into equal parts, one for each player.

          Each player writes their character's name on their sheet of paper - this is all they need to do at the start of the game.  The Creation Roster holds all the Names that have been brought into creation.  At the start of the game, the Creation Roster includes all the character's Names, each starting at a value of 4.  It also includes the Island itself, also rated at 4.  As names are added and addressed, the ratings will change, so make sure to write everything down in pencil.

          Game Constructs

          In Island at the Dawn of Time, there are two types of points that need to be tracked.  The first, Nomen, are the points that determine how important a Name is.  A Name on the verge of extinction has 0 Nomen points.  A Name on the verge of becoming perpetual has 6 Nomen points.  At 7 Nomen points, a Named thing has become perpetual - it can no longer be unmade.  If a Name ever goes below 0, it has been Unmade and can never be returned.

          The other type of points are the Machinae.  For every Name that a player brings to 7 points, he earns a single Machina; for every Name that a player creates that is brought to 7 points, he earns another Machina (thus earning up to two Machina per Name, if they bring it to 7 points themselves).  Machinae are mainly a point of prestige, but they do have a few in-game uses, the most prominent being determining the turn order during each round.

          Turns

          Island at the Dawn of Time is played in turns, each turn signifying a day (from dawn to dusk).  These turns are further divided into sections.

          1.  Dawn
          At the dawn of each day, before anything else happens, each player is given a Nomen to spend.  This can be put into a new Name, or it can be given to an existing thing.  If put into a new Name, that Name should be added to the Creation Roster at a value of 1, and the player who created it should be noted as well.  No more than one Nomen may be given to a single Name during dawn - players must spread their points around.  If any character's Name has reached 7, or dropped below 0, their player does not get this point.

          2.  Day

          Every player gets one 'turn' a day.  On the first day, players go in alphabetical order.  On subsequent turns, the turn order goes from most Machinae to least - if two players have earned the same Machinae, the player who earned it first has seniority.  Players may not pass their turns, but must take them in order.  Turn order does not change during a day, even if a player earns more Machinae.

          During each player's turn, the NEXT player in line will take on the role of the Unmaker, personifying the forces that are assaulting Creation.  Then they take their turn, and the NEXT player in line takes on the role of the Unmaker, and so on.  The last person in line has the first person in line as their Unmaker.

          During their turn, a player must describe what their character is doing during the course of the day, and which Names they are addressing.  A player always uses his character's Name, and may use as many Names as desired, as long as they all make sense in the course of the narrative.  You may only use the Name of another player if they okay it.

          Once the Names the player is using are decided, there comes the guessing game.  For each Name, their Unmaker picks a number between 1 and 12.  The player then tries to guess that number.  He may add or subtract a number of steps equal to that Name's current value - with a 0 between 12 and 1 on the cusp.  Yes, a player may guess 0, but the Unmaker may only pick a number between 1 and 12.  If the number their Unmaker chose fits within the range surrounding the player's guess, it is considered a success.  If the target number is guessed exactly, that Name's value is automatically raised by one Nomen.

          The player needs at least half his choices to be successes.  If this happens, all the Names he was addressing have their Nomen raised by one (this is in addition to any bonuses from guessing).  If the player fails, the Names don't change at all.

          There are special cases for those players whose character's Names have been brought below zero, or brought up to 7.  A player whose character's Name has reached 7 is now a part of the world - he has lost the stuff of creation, and cannot Name things.  However, their existence can still be useful - they can add one Nomen to any single Named entity, and may collect additional Nomen by reducing their Machinae, on a 1:1 basis.  In addition, they may attempt to guess a number that their Unmaker chooses - if they succeed, they get an additional Nomen.

          A player whose Name has dropped below zero has their character become an agent of the Unmaker.  During their action, they may subtract a point from any Name - and may expend additional Machinae to subtract more points, on a 1:1 basis.  If any Name falls below 0 due to their actions, they earn an additional Machina - or two if that Name was their own.  This player may also attempt to guess a number that their Unmaker chooses - if they succeed, they can create a new Name.  With luck, they can then Unmake it on the following turn.

          3.  Nightfall

          At dusk, every player with a Naming character must compare their Name's score to their Machinae.  If the value of their Machinae is higher than their Name, their Name's value rises by one.  If their Machinae value is lower than their Name, their Name falls by one.  After this, the ice and cold of the night creeps in, and each and every Name that hasn't reached 7 is reduced by one Nomen.  Names that are already at 0 become Unmade, never to be Named again.

          Endgame

          Once there are no more Names in flux (all are either Unmade, or perpetual), the game is over.  The player with the most Machinae has won this round of Island at the Dawn of Time.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Darcy Burgess on April 15, 2004, 08:09:40 AM
          As I try desperately not to fall off the radar...

          (That panting is me trying to keep up with all the rest of you writing machines AND work 6hours of overtime a day...GRR!)

          As I jump on the band wagon, the game formerly known as Isolation Therapy is now know by the much more "artsy fartsy" moniker, ISOL.

          Here's a snippet of what I'm working on...

          Components
          You're going to need a bunch of things to escape the Eidolon (and maroon your friends).  These are the tools of the game!

          Table
          Chairs are optional, but a decent-sized table that everyone can fit around is an absolute must for a game of ISOL.  This just isn't one of those games that you can comfortably play in the back of a car on your way to Moose Jaw.

          Adult Content
          Your character record.  It isn't anything flashy, but it really cuts down on the cheating when everyone can see you don't have "always win this game" as a Facet...

          Script
          This is where you chronicle the obstacles your character has faced, and what the result was.  Not only does it help reduce confusion at the table (Who was it who faced the three-toed sloth man?), but it also provides a nifty record for reminiscing purposes six months from now.

          Dice
          ISOL makes tried and true six-sided dice.  (All hail the stoic d6!)  However, to help gameplay move a little more smoothly, dice are classified into colour-coded categories.  Below are the categories of dice, along with their suggested colour.  Actual colour doesn't matter, so long as each category has a discrete colour.

          Boon Dice (White)
          The higher your boon dice result, the better things go for your character.  Each player will need at least one Boon Die, and one or two spares wouldn't hurt.

          Bane Dice (Black)
          These nasty little devils counteract your Boon Dice.  Just like their lighter cousins, each player will need at least one Bane Die, ibid on the spares.

          The Stranger (Green)
          There's only one in the game, and everyone's going to be squabbling over it.  The Stranger is tied to themes of isolation.  The Stranger, the Sun and the Crystal, are collectively refered to as Story Dice.  Story dice can be used to help or hamper, a character, depending on who is rolling them.

          The Sun (Red)
          Works just like the Stranger, except that it's tied to themes of XXX.

          The Crystal (Blue)
          No big surprise, the Crystal is tied to another theme group -- XXX.

          The Island
          An index-card sized piece of paper.  Preferably colour-coded to match the Stranger (I like to use construction paper).  The Stranger begins the game on the Island, and the Island begins the game in the middle of the table, where everyone can reach it.

          The Horizon
          Same trick as the Island, but colour-coded to match the Sun.

          The Glacier
          I believe I detect a trend.  Colour-code this slab of dead tree to match the Crystal.

          Sprite/Gremlin Tokens
          Any two-sided token will do, so long as you can tell at a glance wich is the "good" and which is the "bad" side.  There also needs to be room to mark who this token belongs to, as every player will need one.  Othello (tm) chips work really well, if you have some white grease pencil for marking the black side.

          Story Tokens
          If you aren't drowning in glass stones by now, you soon will be.  Make a trip to your local flower shop and get a big old bunch of these pretty coloured stones.  Any colour will do, even mixed.  Every player will need about a dozen.

          The Quill
          There's only one writing instrument allowed at the table during ISOL.  That way, everyone will be forced to focus on the story at hand.  Try to pick a good, dark felt marker that writes with a nice, sharp point.  Also, make sure that it will be legible when used on the Island, the Horizon, and the Glacier.  Since everyone shares the same Quill, don't stick in in your mouth...


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 15, 2004, 08:20:42 AM
          Snow From Korea
          The characters in Snow From Korea are samurai men, the devoted lovers of samurai mistresses home in Nihon. They have been sent to Korea (or any of the other barbarian countries of the mainland) to recover some rare and precious thing, the Snow. The Snow doesn't have to be real snow. It's just what Snow-hunting samurai call it, from a line in the popular story The Tale of the Heike where one of the court ladies says to her lover, "The summer is hot. Bring me snow from Korea to cool my brow."

          It is your job as a player to make sure your samurai comes home with enough Snow to make his mistress happy, and to make sure that he isn't so terribly transformed by the journey that she'll recognize him when he gets there.

          One player, the Holy Emperor of Korea, (or referee, for a less grandiose title), has the job of describing the samurais' travels to the players. She (I'll always refer to the HEK as "she" and the other players as "he") decides what they encounter on their way, and serves to narrate those things external to the players' characters. It's her job to make the journeys difficult.

          How To Play:

          Getting started:
          First, decide how long the game will be, in terms of encounters the samurai have along their journeys. I suggest that you play at least ten encounters.

          Then, each player (except the HEK) should describe his samurai; he should write a haiku giving some idea of his character. A classical Japanese haiku is an unrhymed poem three lines long; the first and third line are five syllables and the second seven. If you're not Japanese speakers, you may want to write English haiku; don't fret too much about their length. After writing a descriptive haiku, each player should name his samurai, and his samurai's mistress, and decide secretly what the Snow is that his mistress desires.

          The next step is to assign numbers to your samurais' Facets. All the players should agree on a number and divide that amount of points among the Facets as they choose, putting at least 1 in each. Each Facet describes a skill that's important in samurai society; there are three, Awaré, Kenjutsu, and Tanka. Awaré is the samurai's sensitivity, his feeling of the sadness of impermanence. It describes any deep emotion evoked by an external object or person. Kenjutsu measures your samurai's steeliness of spirit and his skill with the blade. Tanka measures his spiritual discipline, skill at poetry, and so forth. Record these initial Facet scores.

          Playing:
          The HEK goes around in a circle, describing a scene with each player where the samurai leaves his mistress to go on his journey. In this scene, the names of those two characters and the identity of the Snow should be revealed.

          Once each samurai has been introduced in this way, the HEK goes around in order again, running an encounter with each samurai. She chooses the type of encounter, but she may not choose the same type twice in a row. After each encounter, the samurai's player may describe where his character is headed next, and whether he wants to challenge one of the other samurai. Repeat this until each samurai has had as many encounters as was decided at the beginning of the game.

          Finally, once all the encounters are played out, the HEK and each player should play out a scene where the samurai returns to his mistress, with or without the Snow. Once all these have been played, you can determine who has won the game.

          Encounters:
          An encounter is a place in the samurai's journey where he comes across something unexpected which tests his abilities and affects his disposition. Any encounter has the potential to change the samurai's Facets. In every case, the Facet being tested is the one at risk; it may be increased or decreased by the encounter. In most cases, another Facet may be affected by the encounter as well, its force being transferred into the tested Facet. We call this Facet the "source." There are three types of engagement:
          • Letter Writing! A good samurai lover will write often and eloquently to his mistress, and sometimes he needs to communicate with other loved ones as well, or simply record his thoughts. He tests his Awaré in doing so, and the satisfaction of writing a good letter brightens his heart but its strain tires his mind and critical faculties; its source Facet is Tanka.
          • Oni Attack! There are many strange beasts, monsters, and ghosts wandering the countryside, and in all cases these creatures are hungry for manflesh or hot living blood. Oni Attacks test Kenjutsu. When a samurai wins an encounter with an oni, it hones his skill with the katana, but it hardens his heart; the source Facet is Awaré.
          • Enlightenment! Taoist priests and Buddhist monks wander the wild lands of Nihon and Korea, teaching anyone who will listen with riddles, stories, and tests of martial discipline. Enlightenment improves (and tests) a samurai's Tanka, but it sways his heart toward peace; its source Facet is Kenjutsu.[/list:u]There are three modes of engagement with encounters:
            • Assault: In the Assault mode, the samurai throws all his resources at an encounter, laying himself bare to the consequences. He recieves a +2 bonus to the tested Facet when engaging in this Mode.
              Win: Transfer two points of the source Facet to the tested Facet. Lose a point of any Facet.
              Lose: Lose two points of the tested Facet.
            • Dawn:In the Dawn mode, the samurai is suffused with the ki of the world; while he risks little in this mode, being guided by the perfumed hands of fate, he recieves only a minor benefit.
              Win: Transfer a point of the source Facet to the tested Facet.
              Lose: Lose a point of the tested Facet.
            • Island:In the Island mode, the samurai seals himself off from the rhythms of the universe. He can avoid feeling the repercussions of his action, in this way, but it is more difficult for him to act effectively. He recieves a -2 penalty to the tested Facet while engaging in this mode.
              Win: Gain a point of the tested Facet.
              Lose: Nothing happens.[/list:u]To find the result of an encounter, you need a number of 6-sided dice. The samurai rolls as many as his tested Facet, modified by his mode of engagement, while the HEK rolls as many dice as the Facet, unmodified. Count all 1s and 6s as successes for each side. If the samurai has at least as many successes as the HEK does, then he wins the encounter. Otherwise, he loses.

              Challenges:
              If a samurai has been challenged, that means that he meets one of the other samurai along his journey, and the two engage in a contest of skills. This occurs on the defender's turn, before he has any encounters. The challenger chooses a Facet to test; the source Facet is the same as when an encounter tests that Facet. Then each samurai chooses a mode of engagement and the dice are rolled as usual; the challenger wins if he has at least as many successes as the defender.

              Finding the Snow:
              After an encounter where a player rolls the maximum possible successes, he finds a cue that leads him to the Snow. During his next turn, instead of describing an encounter or challenge, he and the HEK should describe together the scene where the samurai obtains the Snow. The Snow when he finds it has as many points as his highest-rated Facet. Whenever a samurai would lose points of a Facet, the player may decide that the Snow is somehow diminished instead and transfer the whole point loss to the Snow.

              Returning Home:
              Once all the samurai have met all their encounters, find the total difference between their initial and current Facets and subtract this number from the score of their Snow. The higher this number is, the warmer the reception that they recieve upon arrival; the samurai with the highest score wins the game.

              Coming Soon: Examples!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Matt Snyder on April 15, 2004, 08:42:14 AM
          Sadly, like Gobi, I just don't have the time. I'll also be leaving town this weekend, thereby dismissing any chance I can get this idea I had finished. For shits and giggles, here's the idea in a nutshell:

          You play the Einherjar at the tail end of Ragnarok. Somehow, Fate changed. Things didn't go as gods and men expected. The lands are all but destroyed, and the gods with them. All that remains are scattered islands and cold, dark seas. The ice creeps ever inward, swallowing what's left of the world in darkness and cold. Despite what the prophecies say, a new world and another dawn haven't arrived.

          Your duty is to fight for the dawn and rebirth of the world. The remaining islands hold the last vestiges of life, but they are also inhabited by the last terrible enemies of Ragnarok (beasts, giants, undead, wyrms, etc.). So, you and your fellow Einherjar assault the islands, capturing them from the dark forces that inhabit them and fend off the long, cold death of the world.

          You cannot die; you are healed in Valhalla after each "night." But, you can lose ground. The endgame, then, compares the world's Ice rating (increased by the Einherjar's losses) to the Dawn rating (bolstered by their victories).

          However, fate, as ever, is unkind. This little gamist romp is doomed for the Iron Chefs gig, and therefore likely doomed beyond. I did spark some design ideas for myself, though!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 15, 2004, 09:18:42 AM
          At last, Shreyas posts the game I've been waiting for!  Such a tasty dish will be hard to defeat.

          Might I suggest, Shreyas-san, a bit of flavorful garnish for your entree?  It seems to me that the "Assault Mode", "Dawn Mode", and "Island Mode" really ought to ditch the designation "Mode", and instead use the much more savory designation "Kamae", which is the word used in various Japanese martial arts to designate combattive engagement postures.

          The three thereby become "Assault-no-kamae, Dawn-no-kamae, and Island-no-kamae", which seems downright scrumptious to me.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: redivider on April 15, 2004, 09:42:36 AM
          Working Title: Forever

          Rosy fingered dawn palms one of the earth’s verdant islands, a paradise of white sand beaches, high-end resorts, starched uniforms, and laundered money.

          You wake with a start, sheets wound at your feet where you kicked them during the night.  The sun hasn’t risen enough to burn the chill out of the air, but your brow is clammy with sweat, clouded by an evaporating but inescapable dream...

          As the working title suggests, diamonds are the primary ‘ice’ in Forever. Stolen diamonds, conflict diamonds, maybe cursed diamonds. Although alternate meaning will come into play, from being cool under pressure, to ‘ice’ as in the verb to kill, to cubes melting in tall glasses.

          Forever is a game of three linked settings and stories.

          In the first, characters are members of a criminal gang, fresh off a significant jewel heist. They are lying low on some island in the Caribbean or Pacific, starting to think about selling their shares of the take and assuming new identities. Everything is going according to plan. Until the dreams start, and the waking visions, and the encounters.

          The second setting is a flash-back to the planning and execution of the heist. Profit and loss, betrayal and sacrifice, brilliance and blunders are revealed. Some of which may be mirrored, in warped form perhaps, in dreams in the first setting.

          The third story provides glimpses of the diamonds’ sources and consequences. A war-torn zone of sub-Saharan Africa in the late 1990s/ early century: Liberia, or Sierra Leone, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marauding child soldiers decked out in knock-off American brand names, refugee camps, flak-jacketed aid workers, dour mercenaries, bribes changing hands, middlemen, and everywhere, the ice that lubricates the deals that buys the guns that secures the mines that provides the ice that…

          In other words, people and events and places the jewel thieves could not possibly know, but that somehow are intruding upon their reality. This bleeding over between places and times is the fantasy element of the game. It will be up to the players to explain the weirdness and synchronicity. They can keep it subtle or draw in elements of folk magic, curses, whatever.

          Players fill in the three story arcs, and create the connections between, by turning over playing cards that are placed face-down in three diamond-shaped patterns at the beginning of the game. Each card, when flipped, suggests a scene or occurrence through the combination of its suit and face value, each of which has a certain theme or mood or characteristic associated with it. The cards revealed will also allow or require players to switch between the three settings, so the stories intermingle. The innermost cards in the three patterns will hold the keys to the resolution of the stories in each setting.

          I haven’t decided if there will be rules to constrain what players can say when they turn over a card.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Mike Holmes on April 15, 2004, 10:25:47 AM
          The chaiman takes note:
          Quote from: Ben Lehman
          A question regarding the judging:
          In regard to the three ingredient rule -- if all four ingredients are used, but one is less primary than the others, is there a loss of honor in the half-hearted use of one ingredient?
          Lehman-san, if all four of the ingredients are used, then the weakest use is discarded for consideration in terms of the ingredient use criteria.

          This might suggest adding the last ingredient on, "just in case". But consider that a bad use of an ingredient, even a fourth one, can hurt you on other parts of the judging. Basically, if you have a concept that uses just three really well, you're really better off staying with that than tacking on the fourth without it really adding to the game. On the other hand, a lesser, but still appropriate use of the last ingredient, though it won't help on the ingredients portion of the judging, may be beneficial.

          Use your best judgement.

          On the matter of "adherence" to genre. This is completely an artistic line that each game chef must approach themselves. Yes, if the game seems to have little at all to do with anything that could be called fantasy, then style points will be deducted. That said, the definition is intentionally vague so that game chefs will attempt to stretch the genre, should they feel the urge to do so. As long as the effort has some good link to fantasy, and doesn't emulate another genre more than fantasy, deductions are unlikely. Certainly game chefs shouldn't discard any good fantasy concept based on the idea that it might not be "fantasy enough."

          On the other hand, style points can also be given out for adhering to more traditional notions of what the term means. It really all depends on just how the gaming dish in particular is seasoned. Style can be given for effectively pushing the boundaries, or for adhering to them in aesthetically pleasing fashion.

          Think of it as though you're writing the game for a player that has said, "I want to play a fantasy RPG."

          Quote from: Fukui-san
          More entrants! This promises to be the largest field yet. Quite unknown a chef named redivider-san comes into the arena and immediately starts preparing his dishes. Lehman-san is obviously in the running as well, as we can see from his question to the chairman above. Outspoken newcomer Asrogoth-san also takes his place amongst the competitors. And Short Order Game Chef Arneston-san comes in strong, quickly laying down the outline for his meal. He may be a hard to beat contender given his well-known prowess with compact and rapid game meal preparation.

          And what's this? White-san has completed his entry? So soon in the competition? Is this confidence, or sheer bravado? More use of penguins. An interesting development. But they do compliment the ice ingredient well, in their own peculiar way.

          It seems that Solis-san has bowed out, though I think that we'll miss his dishes despite his claim that others are making similar ones. Maybe he will finish their preparation at a later date.

          The respected Snyder-san pokes his head into the arena long enough to give a little lesson on game dish garnishes, and to lay down an idea for a dish. And just as quickly vanishes.

          Dishes are being prepared left and right, and many of the culinary delights that the chefs are preparing are nearing completion. It looks like the products of their efforts will be well prepared to say the least!


          Mike


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 15, 2004, 11:04:25 AM
          This should be the rest of my stuff, right here.  After this, I've just got to consolidate and arrange all these dishes into a final array for the judges.  And, as always, I've saved the best (and weirdest) for last...

          -----

          Seadog Tuxedo: System, Part Three

          Fill 'er up, boyo!

          Each player should have a shotglass or other small container in front of them.  Whenever their character succeeds in obtaining Dawnwine and refilling their bottle (since every character only carries one bottle), their shotglass is filled with rum, representing this.  All shaman-wizards start out each episode with their shotglass filled, unless there's some plot afoot involving a lack of supplies.

          Regaining Badassitude

          Both pirates and sun-worshiping shaman-wizards can lose their badassitude through conflict, reverting to their cute and decent selves.  In order to get their mojo back, the characters have to wait for the current scene to expire first.  This can be tricky, seeing as cute penguins are helpless targets for any sun-worshiping shaman-wizards in the area, unless shielded by their mateys and quickly taken back to the iceship or other safe hideout.  Likewise, Decent Human Beings can easily be taken prisoner by the pirates, unless other shaman-wizards step forward to prevent this.

          Captives on both sides are humiliated, but not mistreated.  Decent Human Beings may be forced to serve the pirates, dance for them, and so on.  Likewise, the shaman-wizards always appreciate penguin servants and have plenty of dungeon space in the Fortress Impervious in which to keep them in chains.  Often times, an exchange of prisoners will quickly be negotiated, with the pirates returning captives and Dawnwine in exchange for their friends and the shaman-wizards doing likewise.  Prisoners can also be exchanged for a ransom, magical objects, information, or whatever other scheme the pirates and wizards want to work out.

          The shaman-wizards always hold the threat of ritual sacrifice over the penguins' heads, which frightens them a great deal, but killing never actually happens.  Whenever a penguin ends up on the alter, they will inevitably be saved at the last minute by their pirate comrades.  Additionally, Decent Human Beings forced to walk the plank are inevitably fished out of the water by local fishermen or saved through miraculous acts of the Sun-god, who loves his priest-kings, misguided though they may be.

          Once a cute or decent character is integrated back into their respective faction, a simple scene-long ceremony is enough to restore their badassitude.  For shaman-wizards, this is a formal ceremony that re-invokes the favor of the sun-god.  For pirates, their mates simply redress the penguin in properly badass pirate garb.  Then they all the players should yell "Arrrrrr!" and get back to plundering.

          Victory? and Rebuttals

          Seadog Tuxedo is meant to reflect an ongoing cartoon series, which means that neither the pirates or the shaman-wizards should ever gain an obvious or irrevocable advantage.  This is an eternal battle meant to continue forever.  As such, whenever such a thing would seem about to occur (for instance, if the shaman-wizards were about to sacrifice a penguin to the Sun-god) the opposing side gets a "Rebuttal."

          Rebuttals are not world-changing paradigm shifts.  They are slight twists of events that make all the difference in the world.  For example, perhaps the penguin sacrifice suddenly manages an action that would normally considered badass (and, therefor, illegal), such as escaping from their bonds.  Perhaps there is some accident or lucky escape, where the ritual bonfire catches the high-priest's cloak ablaze.  Perhaps the hooded cultists are really the pirates in disguise.

          Similar things would occur if it looked as though the pirates had obtained an absolute advantage or were about to alter the very foundation of the world.  Maybe they stormed the Fortress Impervious and took it over.  Maybe they burned down the vineyards of the sun, destroying the source of Dawnwine (and what would the series be without Dawnwine?).  In this case, the GM or a player representing the shaman-wizards would get a rebuttal.  Perhaps Volcano Raga and other powerful wizards secretly sneak back into the Fortress with several casks of Dawnwine, ready to kick serious ass.  Perhaps the Sun-god yells at the wizards for not defending his vineyard and then uses his magic to regrow it from a box of stored seeds (afterwards, stealing some seeds could be the point of a whole episode).

          Gregory and Isabel

          Modern cartoons don't like absolute dialectics, where one side is all good and the other is all bad.  Instead of making things sufficiently complex, however, they often go the route of having "token" representives on both sides.  This was the route taken by the writers of Seadog Tuxedo.  Very much like the "token gay guy" in sitcoms, this show has, if you dig this comparison, "token transgendered" characters who cross cultural lines.

          Gregory is the shaman-wizard's loyal penguin servant.  He plays himself off as being selfless and hard-working, but he really just wants absolute power for himself, and the shaman-wizards have control of the only source of real power, Dawnwine.  Of course, the wizards have made it abundantly clear that Gregory is not allowed to drink Dawnwine, but, unsurprisingly, the little penguin spends all his spare time scheming about how to get some.  As such, Gregory shares his badass trait (Sun-Worshiping Shaman-Wizard) with the priesthood and his weak trait (Penguin) with the pirates.  Otherwise, he's treated as normal.  Gregory's Idiom is "St. Elmo's Fire," the ghost light that haunts ships and sailors.\

          Likewise, what would this cartoon be without a strong, uppity and very hot female character who hangs out with the pirate penguins and acts as a combination of unrequited love intrest and surrogate mother?  All action cartoons have one of those.  Ours is Isabel Raga, daughter of Volcano Raga, the High Priest of the Cult of the Sun.  Being a rebellious teenager, she has thrown her lot in with the pirates and spends her time pillaging the Summer Isles with her new adopted family.  Similar to Gregory, Isabel uses the pirates badass trait (Pirate) and the shaman-wizards' weak trait (Decent Human Being).  Interestingly, since Isabel comes from a long line of shaman-wizards, she gains fire powers from Dawnwine just like her father, though her volcanic Idiom usually takes the form of colorful jets of flame (her father prefers rivers of lava and clouds of smoke and ash).

          Sailing on the Ships of Ice

          Yeah, you know this is what you've been waiting for: iceship mechanics!

          Pirate iceships are basically just icebergs, those giant drifting islands of ice.  With a few quick alterations, such as sails (which pirates inevitably seem to have hidden in their trousers), any iceberg can be made servicable in the time it takes to run a few scenes.  However, iceships are not really made for sailing through the warm southern waters of the Summer Isles.  They melt rather quickly and are liable to leave pirates stranded if they suffer any delays or setbacks during a raid.

          To simulate this, iceships are represented on the tabletop by ice cubes.  If possible, find someone with an electric ice machine that spits out those little half-moon shaped slivers of ice.  When you put the round edge against the table, they look just like little boats.

          Now, assuming your house isn't kept at freezing temperature, the iceships are going to melt in realtime, while scenes are playing out.  If your iceship is totally melted, or drifts/falls off the edge of the world (the table), your pirates are stranded wherever they happen to be (in the water, on the Summer Isles, on a sandbar) until they manage to change this situation by stealing a human boat or hijacking one of the icebergs that occasionally floats south and steering it back home.

          Now the pirates normally live in a moderately-sized ice castle on the northern continent of ice.  Whenever they are there or sail around the arctic seas, no ice needs to be used.  Their iceships don't melt fast enough up there to actually shrink at any noticable rate.  Only when the pirates decide to sail south (which they almost inevitably do, in most episodes) does the ice hit the table.

          This is how this works:

          1) On any given turn, a player can either declare their character's actions or push their iceship 1d6 inches across the tabletop.  Dice must be rolled, a ruler must be utilized, all in real time while the icecube is melting.  Once the icecube reaches something placed on the table top to represent an island or other interested feature of the southern ocean, the players (including the GM) can declare actions and frame scenes related to to that location.

          2) Any icecube-drift that occurs, as the ice begins sitting in a growing puddle and even floating on top of it, also occurs in-game.  The pirates might park their iceship only to have it drift away, forcing them to abandon it or swim/sail out to it.  Icecubes that drift over the edge of the table are removed from play.

          3) The shaman-wizards fire magic can do a doozy on iceships.  This is represented on the tabletop too.  After drinking Dawnwine a wizard character can focus his attention on an iceship.  The player representing the shaman-wizard then picks up the icecube in their hands, warming it and causing it to melt faster.  As long as the wizard is focused on melting the ship, in game, the player can focus on melting the icecube.  If the wizard is distracted or impeded in his melting, the player must set the icecube back on the table in the same spot that they picked it up.  If more than one wizard is blasting away at the ship, one player may try to crush the icecube in one hand.  If they succeed, the shards are placed back on the table, representing fragments of the iceship that might still be servicable to resourceful pirates.

          4) It can be ever more annoying if the iceship melts on the way back home, stranding the pirates and their booty in the middle of the warm ocean.  There should be some marker on the player's side of the territory that represents the cold waters of the arctic seas.  Once back to that point, intact, the icecube is removed from the table and the pirates can breathe a sigh of relief.  This point is also the starting point where icecubes are placed to begin an expedition to the south.

          5) Sometimes, to ensure the safety of the whole, individual pirates who don't make it back to the ship on time may be left in the Summer Isles.  After all, they have to get the iceship back before it melts.  This kind of situation just comes an excuse for more storytelling, as the pirate tries to wait out on the Isles (avoiding the authorities) until their mates can come back and rescue them.

          6) To represent the lucky break of having an iceberg drift through the Summer Isles and provide a way off (which is a good option if the whole crew is stranded), the players can all choose to give up the rum (Dawnwine) that they have (assuming they have some) to put an icecube into play.  This can be moved by any player as normal, on their turn, including the GM and players representing shaman-wizards.  Since the pirates inevitably have more players, the icecube should eventually reach the pirates (assuming they are working together), but at a much slower rate than a crewed iceship, due to meddling by the opposite side.

          Lingo

          Like every cartoon show, Seadog Tuxedo has trademark phrases.

          -- "Yowza!"  Pirates always use this word instead of any four-letter words.  Try it.  It's fun.

          -- "Squeak!" This is the noise frightened penguins make.

          -- "By the sun's eyes!"  A popular curse among shaman-wizards.

          -- "Daddykins" is what Isabel calls Volcano Raga.  He hates this.  It's why he disowned her, actually (not because she's a pirate).

          -- "Power of the SUN!"  What shaman-wizards yell when downing Dawnwine and turning on their solar magics.

          -- "BURP!"  The sound pirates make after downing Dawnwine.  Kids love penguins and hot girls making rude bodily noises.

          -----

          And that's that.  Wow, what a great contest!  I've been drooling over some of the entries coming in.  Maybe we can work out something with indie-netgaming to run most of these in the coming month.

          I'll do a consolidated revision by the due date, just to keep Mike's brain from imploding, but that's basically all I've got.  Good luck to everyone who's still working on designs!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 15, 2004, 11:30:53 AM
          Jonathan. I've for a long time wanted to be a writer, and have accordingly gotten used to watching others' work with the eye of a competitor. I'm not jealous by nature; on the contrary, I tend to get only joy from the successes of others, as they elevate us all.

          Now, however, due to some combination of the open competition of the Iron chef and your skill in writing a light, clear and delightful game, my gut is wrenched by jealousy. If you were here right now I don't honestly know if I'd congratulate your obviously superior game or just cried myself content.

          I'd withdraw from the competition right now if that didn't actually rob you of one victory. Instead I'll just post my game so Mike can tell us both how much better you are.

          I'm not angry at you; I'm angry at myself for failing so clearly compared to the Seadog Tuxedo. I should have managed such concise output, simple mechanics and strong color, instead of the mostrosity I have to offer. The elegance of the other works with their fairytale settings, childhood wonder and ice skaters just underscores how my heavy tolkienism fails as modern culinary art.

          Anyway; The Battle of the Frozen Waste is nigh finished, with just some editing and final fixes to be done. The mechanics got cleared and straightened considerably from what I've already posted, and I wrote today the last part concerning the battle itself. I'll post the final work perhaps the day after tomorrow.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Emily Care on April 15, 2004, 11:45:13 AM
          Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
          I'm not angry at you; I'm angry at myself for failing so clearly compared to the Seadog Tuxedo. I should have managed such concise output, simple mechanics and strong color, instead of the mostrosity I have to offer.

          Hattori-san chimes in:
          Quote
          The Pathos!  Eero-san has offered to commit sepuku out of his sense of beauty and honor inspired by Jonathan-san's work.  Put away the dagger, Eero-san! Your words embody the high drama that inspired your work! Every dish has it's place, and anthing can happen in Gaming Kitchen Arena!

          To all those who may thinking of quitting, know that making it to the finish line is its own reward!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 15, 2004, 12:08:07 PM
          Quote from: The chef humbled himself and
          Eero-san, the anguish in your words makes my own heart heavy.  If I had but known that my dishes would cause you such pain, I would surely have chopped off my own hand and served it to you, my Finnish brother, before I allowed it to cause such discouragement to take you in its icy grip.

          Like your own arctic warriors, find that indomitable spirit that will allow you to overcome, even in the face of fierce penguin opposition.  There is little honor in giving up and much to be gained by seeing a dish through to the end.


          Out of character, here, I REALLY want to play other people's games (and I was really excited about yours, Eero, actually), so people BETTER finish them.  Don't me leave me alone, facing heavyweights like Walt, Zak, and Shreyas!  They'll tear me limb from limb and feed my body to the penguins!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 15, 2004, 12:17:35 PM
          Quote from: Jonathan Walton

          Out of character, here, I REALLY want to play other people's games (and I was really excited about yours, Eero, actually), so people BETTER finish them.  Don't me leave me alone, facing heavyweights like Walt, Zak, and Shreyas!  They'll tear me limb from limb and feed my body to the penguins!


          No worries, as said I'm not the quitting type. I just really feel inferior today. Maybe it'll go away tomorrow when I get a little perspective on the matter.

          The Battle of the Frozen Waste is practically finished, anyway. I'll just let it mull for a couple of days to see if I catch any possible improvements. Maybe take the time to write some more in-game fiction: Lord knows there's not much else one can use to fight games with that kind of strong color.

          My apologies for the outburst to any other chefs. I really am impressed with what we have here, with the samurai games, snow wars and other delightful courses. It's just that usually I can take greatness in stride, but the competition seems to somehow make it personal. I'll try to behave myself from now on, this' no suitable acting from a game chef.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: DevP on April 15, 2004, 12:25:32 PM
          The Dance and the Dawn continues! Since I'm playing very deliberately within the fable-mileau, I'd say I'm securely within the bounds of fantasy. Now here's a snippet:

          Quote
          Laws of the Waltz: Each Princess and each Prince is represented by a chess piecce, and will use a standard chessboard to represent their midnight waltz. The laws of the waltz are as follows:
          1. A waltz is of three steps, and so each Dancer will take 3 moves around the board.
          2. A dancer may only waltz clockwize around the board, and never backwards.
          3. A dancer may always request to cut in with the partner of another; this request must always be honored, and so the Dancers will exchange partners.
          4. When passing another Dancer, one must pay her a polite compliment.
          5. When a song has ended, all Dancers must pass their current partner on to the player on the next clockwise player.


          (Note: If I have time, I'll address the gender stuff in the Princess/Prince dichotomy.)


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Darcy Burgess on April 15, 2004, 12:28:49 PM
          Chairman-san, a question with regards to rules:

          What of the ubiquitous Player Character Record Sheet?  If a .pdf of such were to be hosted off-Forge, would that be grounds for disqualification?

          They do make the dish so much tastier...


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 15, 2004, 12:45:04 PM
          Snow Day - Scene Structure

          General Principle:  The players have sole-authority over what their Kids do next.  The guidelines for this are described below.

          General Principle Number Two:  The GM has sole authority over the passage of time, with the caveat that time always moves forwards.  The game starts at around 10:00 in the morning, and ends at Dawn, which is 6:00 the following morning.  Thus multiple scenes may take fifteen minutes, or a single seemingly brief scene may span the whole afternoon between lunch and dinner.


          All scenes start with all the Kids convening at the Secret Base, namely the tool shed behind Jake's house.

          From there, everyone needs to decide what to do next.  The possible options are:

          Hold A Secret War Council
          Scout Out Enemy Territory
          Sculpt Ice Monsters
          Go Inside For Cocoa
          Go Lookin' for Trouble
          Assault Fort Joey!

          All of the kids must reach a consensus on which of the above happens next.  

          If no consensus can be reached, the matter is settled by stepping outside and holding a Snowball Fight.  Once the only Kids left standing all want to go do the same thing, the matter is decided.  This is a generalized mechanic - ANY time the rules call for Consensus, but no Consensus can be reached, the matter is settled by a Snowball Fight.

          If a Kid wants to be a spoilsport and not attend the scene, the only alternative option is to Go Inside For Cocoa.  Pouting is strictly optional, but encouraged.


          Now, for more detail on the different choices:

          - Hold a Secret War Council
             Because of the Icicle Spikes, any assault on Fort Joey is doomed to failure unless you first Hold a Secret War Council to decide on a Cunning Plan.  First things first:  The Cunning Plan needs a Cool Code Name, and there needs to be consensus on the code name before any further planning can happen.
             Once a Cool Code Name is established, the assembled Kids must devise their Cunning Plan for getting past the Icicle Spikes.  Any plan will do, so long as it is Cunning, and so long as the plan has Consensus.

          - Scout Out Enemy Territory
             This involves sneaking over towards Fort Joey, to find out who is defending it, and what sort of Ice Monsters they have.  Ice Monsters that can either Sneak or Fly are great for this.  As with any excursion from the Secret Base, there's always the risk of encountering either one or more Neighborhood Hazards, or another group of Kids, so keep your snowballs handy.

          - Sculpt Ice Monsters
             Already described in an earlier post.

          - Go Inside For Cocoa
             Already described in an earlier post; due to be revised and updated in the forthcoming Expanded Special Rules for Thermoses of Cocoa.

          - Go Lookin' For Trouble
             This involves prowling around the neighborhood until you find some other kids, at which point you pelt those kids with snowballs.  Why?  Cuz Snowball Fights are fun, that's why.

          - Assault Fort Joey!
             Already described in an earlier post.  Remember that unless you're armed with a Cunning Plan, an assault cannot fully succeed.
             And did I mention that Cunning Plans are one-use only?  Just like you can't make the same Ice Monster twice, you can't use the same Cunning Plan twice.  Though you can re-use Cool Code Names, with appropriate modifications:  For example, "Operation Slippery Thunder" might get reborn as "Operation Super-Duper Slippery Thunder".


          Only three more sections to go - Expanded Special Rules for Thermoses of Cocoa, Stats and Guidelines for Various Neighborhood Hazards, and best of all:  Midnight Moonlight Magic!


          Title: Broken Vows
          Post by: Dav on April 15, 2004, 01:01:54 PM
          Holmes-sama:

          I humbly submit for your judgement: Broken Vows.  I have kept things short, and relatively sweet.  Notice the utter lack of flash and delivery... as the honorable Holmes-otennoo-sama has said that they will not gain me anything...

          This will be my finished product, as I am out of town this weekend, and will be unable to polish later on.  So, here it is, without grammar or spelling checked!

          Humbly,
          Dav-chan


          Broken Vows (The Dawn of the Final Judgement)

          The Premise:
             Three days ago, you were alive.  You lived by one of four paths: the sword, the scales, the cloth, or the crown.  You had traveled far through this path.  Your life was something to earn you both enemies and allies.  You were loved, you were feared.  
             
          And three days ago, you were murdered.

             
          Unknown to most, you had made a decision.  This decision was one of the oldest mankind had ever endured.  In time before hours or days, before years or months, God had set before mankind a choice: to be righteous and obedient, or to be wise and ashamed.  As your mother before you, you made your choice.  You sold your soul.
             
          More than this, you contrived to lead a life of sin, a life of iniquity.  Admired, indeed; coveted, assuredly… but now your life has ended.  Now, the Devil must be given his due.
             
          Or must he?

             
          You find yourself resurrected.  Not to dwell in the lands of your birth, nor to the eternity of everlasting torment.  You are awakened to a world between heaven and hell, between paradise and oblivion.  You are in the Islands of Between.
             
          Here, your status is gone, your life spent hoarding, or spending, a life of excess… a life of sin.  All of it is gone.  You are at a beginning, a final chance for salvation.  There can be but one of two outcomes: forgiveness by God, or purchase by the Devil.
             
          Given one final chance, can you discover your greatest sins and put them aright?  Can you reclaim what you lost in your bargain with the Devil?  Or, will you fall from grace once more, and this time, there will be no ground to halt your descent.

             
          These are the Islands of Between, and here, your fate will be decided.


          Character Creation:
             
          While it can be said that there is benefit to reading the entirety of a game before delving into the rigors of creating a persona for the world, this time it works differently.  All you need, for the moment, will be some paper and a pen, perhaps a copy of the character sheet.  We will create as we explore, and by the finish, you will be ready to begin your first journey into Broken Vows.
             
          First, you must choose the manner in which your character once lived.  There are four choices: the cloth, the crown, the scales, or the sword.  What was the manner of living for your character?  A priest?  Nobleman, or merchant?  Or someone who dealt the wages of death, a soldier and knight?  Choose what brought you your station.
             
          Next, we must choose how you died.  Again, there are four choices.  While you may have lived by the cloth, did you die by the crown?  Or was it butchery at the hands of an embittered merchant?  Perhaps war brought you the same end it brings so many.  Choose how you found your death: cloth, crown, scales, or sword.
             
          Now that we have seen your beginning and ending upon the earth, perhaps we should see how you tread from one end to the other.  Every man sins, this is fact put forth by church and God. While some may find forgiveness through repenting, this was not an option for you.  You died with sins staining your soul.  What sins were they?  Eight grievous sins still weigh heavily upon you.  Eight sins will form your trials within the Islands of Between.  Name them, give them voice and form.  Do not hide from your wickedness.
             
          Be specific in your descriptions.  Did you murder a baker who refused you rent as his rightful lord?  Did you covet the wife of a knight and don the antlers of cuckoldry?  There are seven deadly sins, and you consulted that list eight times.  Avarice, envy, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath.  Seven sins.  You committed some more than others, and perhaps some none at all.  Name your eight sins, name them all.  What inaction brought about great harm?  What fleshly delight brought shame to your house?  Name your darker deeds.
             
          But darker only, for your darkest deed remains your singular understanding, your contracting of your spirit, your soul, your animus.  What did you sell this most precious of assets for?  Was the gain worth the cost?  You have four choices, budding character, to set a price upon that priceless commodity.  What was the price of your soul: blood, breath, flesh, or shadow?
             
          That, then, is a fine beginning.  We will return to this building of your character’s self in a bit.  For now, let us understand the world you just departed; a brief bowing of our heads in remembrance, if you will.
             
          The world of the earth is rife with chaos.  Future times, should the world struggle that far, will refer to these days as Dark Ages.  The church is powerful, and seems to find the souls of many burdened heavily with avarice, and thus, they benevolently take this sin upon themselves as they wrest such trying burdens from the arms of the plebeian masses.  The nobles purchase their way to heaven, and the serfs starve, and find what blessings they may in lives far shorter than those of better station.
             
          Merchants travel far and wide, and carry their scales everywhere.  A pound may not be a pound tomorrow, but the scales only lie at the soft caress of the broker.  None are innocent, and those who might be freest of sin, find themselves darkest within.  These ages, these Dark Ages, find equal filth in all walks of life, but the higher the station, the more blessed the water required to cleanse such stains.
             
          But, enough of this dreadful land; it is behind us, and surely, there will be enough dread in looking forward to spare us the trouble of expounding upon what happened before.  Let us look upon these Islands of Between and discover what we may.
             
          The Islands of Between:
             
          There are four main provinces of the Islands of Between, each ruled by a different master.  Each finds their own way to govern their citizenry, and their own path to salvation… or not, as the case may be.  Each walk of life, be it sword or cloth, crown or scale, will begin in one of the four lands.  Salvation, however, often requires a long journey, and sometimes, even the damned are known to neglect their duties.  Therefore, it is in God’s own hands as to where one will find oneself, thus, it is best to know something of each province.
             
          The Islands of Between are myriad islands joined by the Sea of Ash.  This ashen expanse is all that remains of those who have died being decided between heaven and hell.  To touch this gray remain is to die, thus, few sail these seas.  Only two navies exist: the ships of the Crescent Chain, and the Unmanned Fleet.  Both use boats of bone, powered by slaves at the oars, to sail between islands.  A few private ships remain, and the other two rulers have their own ships, but nothing rivals the two powers of the Sea.
             
          The lands of the Islands of Between are hot and cold, lush or barren, much as the earth you left.  However, no animals, or natural animals, walk, fly, or crawl.  The plantlife is inedible.  Little exists that could be considered beautiful or pleasurable.  The dead do not litter the ground after a battle, as all men who die here are rendered to ash immediately upon death.  This ash blows away to the Seas of Ash, its touch dealing the same death as the seas the small pile will eventually join.

             There are, however, four main lands of the Islands of Between:


          The Lands of the Crescent Chain:
             Ruler: The Witch-King Ashyyn Taifa “The Uncrowned”
             Often Starting Point of: Sword lives

             The lands of the Crescent Chain are rife with the Moors and Saracens of the world.  They spurn Christ, and fight in the name of their own prophets.  Many godless abide here, and the ruler of the land, the Witch-King, is said to be a master of all four forms of magic.  

             There is but one God in this land, and his name is Allah.  Laws stem from this God, and are draconian at best.  The ruler is a strong supporter of slavery, but only those who do not know the worship of Allah and his prophets.  It is known that the Witch-King’s favored method of execution is drowning one in the Seas of Ash.

             Ashyyn Taifa, called the Uncrowned, as the viziers of the land have refused to anoint him in the name of Allah, has ruled the land longer than people may recall.  His capitol, Al-Bedii, has stood longer than any other city, though it is plagued by the demonriders of the sands.

             The Crescent Chain is six islands, with the largest housing the capitol.  Other islands are dominated by smaller cities, and the desert sands are rife with tribal wanderers that claim what the term “wells of faith”.  Largely, these are nothing more than pits of ash, but wanderers, known as the demonriders for their hellish steeds, mix this ash with blood and drink it as a delicacy.  As it is one of the only means of sustenance in the lands of the Between, it is sought after greatly.  The magics and spices put into this mixture render the ash inert, allowing it to be consumed by the beings of the lands.  

          The Isle of Penitence:
             Ruler: Pontifex Merrin “The Red Father”
             Often Starting Point of: Cloth lives

             The Pontifex Merrin, known as the Red Father for his constant warring on other lands in the name of the One True God, is a man that seems, on the surface, to be a holy and devout man.  However, his obsequious nature masks a fervent desire.  He has long since lost his soul and his place in heaven and now thinks that only through eliminating every unbeliever of every land may he gain entrance to heaven.  He calls himself the Sword of God, a nickname that many have corrupted to a baser nomenclature.  

             His lands are ruled by a dark version of the Catholic Church, torturing victims until they confess, then turning them to ash.  The Tower of Righteousness is filled with the ash of those executed in the name of the Lord.  The hope is that when the tower is filled, God himself will descend from the heavens and carry the Red Father back to eternal paradise.

             The Isle of Penitence is small in size, but has bountiful trees, and myriad dark forests.  It is said that dragons wait in the forest, stealing those who waver in their faith.  None have seen these beasts, but the soldiers of the Pontifex are known to keep a wary eye on the wood’s edge.

          The Sands Forever:
             Ruler: Empress Catherine “The Iron Dowager”
             Often Stating Point of: Crown lives

             The Iron Dowager cares nothing for God, and nothing for mankind.  She rules from her court, where intrigue and plots twist and twine until they are unrecognizable.  None can determine whether the Iron Dowager is working for some unknown goal, or is mad and works only to create more secrets.  

             Her secret police force, though widely known, is called the Iron Hand.  They are swift and cruel, and listen for words of ill against their lady, taking such victims in the night and “sending them away”.  

             The name of her lands “The Sand Forever” is a joke, as the land is blighted with snow and ice.  Beneath this permanent freeze, however, is clearly visible a layer of sand.  At one time, this great island was a desert.  Some great catastrophe turned it to ice.  Most say the snows will not melt until the heart of the Iron Dowager is freely given to another.  None are holding their breath for such an occasion.

          The City of Dawn:
             Ruler: Jack Dendrist “The Philanthropist” “He-Who-Almost-Is” “The Unmanned”
             Often Starting Point of: Scales lives

             Handsome Jack, Jack of Many Names, Jack Short-Cock, all of these are titles by which the ruler of the City of Dawn is known.  The City of Dawn is a small island, dominated by a bustling metropolis.  The land has no laws save that Jack may tax anyone, anytime, anywhere.  He rules by virtue of having a large navy, and a number of soldiers who will enforce his will.  It is said he gained this army from the father of one of his countless paramours.

             One night, the father caught Jack in bed with the paramour, and the father demanded Jack’s death.  Jack refused, and the father, knowing the prowess of Jack with a blade, decided to bargain with Jack.  Jack said he would wager his life on the roll of the bones.  When the bones came into Jack’s favor, the father demanded a turn rolling the bones.  Everyone knew Jack’s loaded dice always rolled 7, and the father said that he would wager his navy on one roll of the dice.  Jack decided on 7, and the father said the price of his navy would be the honor of his daughter returned to the family.  Jack agreed.

             A seven was rolled.

             Jack, a man of his word, went for a cloth to grant the blood of the father’s family honor to be returned.  The father said he would not permit a man of common filth to dirty his wife’s linens.  He handed Jack a butcher knife and told him to keep his word.  Jack, being a man of honor, of a peculiar sort to be sure, but a man of honor, chopped his manhood from his body and gave it to the father.

             It is said that even with half his cock, he is still more man than any in the City of Dawn, and should the day come when someone has a better manhood than Jack, he will grant them half his navy.
                  

             This is where you may find yourself, now we must look at how.  How did you die?  Hanged?  Stabbed?  Burned?  That is how you appear.  All men wear their proof of citizenship to the Islands of Between as a mark on their flesh.  Some may have died of poison, and appear with blackened teeth and nails, others may be burned horrifically, all of it is in how you died.  Some appear without an arm, others with their heads sewn back to their body.  Whatever you wore or carried when you died is likewise with you.  Depending upon the manner of your death, this could be nothing, or quite an ensemble.
             

             Now that we understand where it is your soul has made its way to and how it appears, we must understand what it is you might do there.  Your God (the GM), will pit you against this world, challenge you, find the evidence of your fate.  Will you be damned, or will you be saved?  To determine this, you will be faced with situations that mirror your eight sins.  These situations will be thematically similar, and will occur no more than twice, but no less than once in each session.  It will be the decision of the each damned soul to determine how often the trials are faced.  Will things move swiftly, testing you twice each session, or will it proceed slowly, with a chance for judgement occurring but once each session?

             Each time a character passes a trial by changing the outcome to a favorable position, that character has succeeded in regaining some of their grace.  Each time the character falls back into their old ways, committing sins, they forever stain their soul with sin.  Not all trials will be passed, and not all trials will be failed.  Humans err, and you have proven that you are, indeed, human.

             Each time you fail a trial, killing a merchant for the love of his daughter, similar to the actions you took to dally with the prefect’s wife when you lived, the Devil grants you more power.  The link you have formed by selling your soul to the dark one strengthens.  This strengthening is known as “Burning the Soul”.  When you burn your soul, you gain a bonus of +1 to any roll involving a single Fire Trait.  Which trait, you must decide when you gain this hellish gift.  One point is added to your Fire Soul meter, measuring the total of your damnation.

             When you succeed at a trial, resisting temptation, however, you feel the grace and joy of God surround you.  It is not enough to say “get thee behind me” this time, but true action to make amends for former wrongs, and to show the err of the action is required.  Not merely resisting the daughter of the merchant, but exposing her evil for the world to see.  Should you do this, you gain a bonus of +1 to any roll involving an Ice Trait.  Which trait, again, you must decide when you gain this honor of God.  One point is added to your Ice Soul meter, measuring your possible salvation.  This process is known as “Quenching the Damned”.

             But this talk of bonuses, and fires and ices must confuse a man, no?  Let us speak of that which we mean.  Each person is made of four things: Blood, Breath, Flesh, and Shadow.  Each of these things controls the actions of a person, moving them, giving them shape.  Your blood gives you humors, creates thoughts and moves these thoughts through your flesh.  Thus, the Blood controls the mind, and all aspects of the mind.  The Breath carries the winds of your soul through you, the center of all things spiritual.  Thus is Breath the aspect of the spirit.  The Flesh is what covers you, gives you form and allows movement and action, thus, the Flesh controls your body.  Lastly, the Shadow is what is cast upon the ground, the image of how you are seen in the light of day.  Shadow is what you seem to be to others, the aspect of your tongue and lung.  Shadow controls how you interact with others.  One of these four traits is your weakness, two are your foundation, and one is your strength.  Choose them and align them.  The weakest trait is rated at 2D6.  Your two foundation traits are rated at 2D8.  And your strength, your trait of reliance, is rated at 2D10.

             But, be careful, for those who have the greatest understandings often fall the hardest.  In the Islands of Between, all things are in balance, hovering.  Thus, though you may find your Flesh strong and hardy, quick and agile, it also means that your failures may be greater, and your losses ever-painful.  In the end, many have thought that which we are strongest at might also be our weakness, and our weakness, in truth, our strength.  It is possible.

             But before we speak of this, two of these traits are linked to your grace, your Ice Soul.  The other two are your darker aspect, your Fire Soul.  You must mark them appropriately.  You must understand what this means.  Your Ice traits, when used for righteousness, truth, or things considered Godly, are more effective.  When your character wants to begin a challenge with someone or something, he must choose an Ice trait if the action is for the good of his soul.  Conversely, when acting in the purview of the Devil, a Fire trait must be chosen.  Do you react with words when you seek to destroy someone’s livelihood, or is it with steel?  Resolve this before you move forward.

             And finally, this is important, but whatever trait you sold your soul for must be a Fire trait.  Blood, breath, flesh, or shadow, you gave a portion of yourself to the Devil, and now the Devil has sway over that aspect of your life.  

             The mechanics of the Islands of Between are simple in their execution.  All things are in balance, and thus, all things have their success measured by the fulcrum.  When rolling a challenge, the center, the median, is the point of balance.  With 2D6, the balance is 7; with 2D8, it is 9; with 2D10, 11.  All things are measured by how far from the center your roll lies.  A result of 4 on 2D8 is 5 points under the center mark.  This means that you have 5 Underpoints to be spent on the outcome.  Similarly, a roll of 11 would mean that you have 2 Overpoints to spend on the outcome.  Not all points must be spent, but the GM may detest waste, and has the option to spend any unspent points.

             In general, Underpoints are marks of failure, and Overpoints are marks of success.  Thus, a bonus of +1 to a trait is a good things, and penalties are less than fortunate.

             The form of these bonuses are left to you to determine.  A hellish servant, or sword of righteousness could be the manifestation of the Devil’s, or God’s, pleasure.  Unlike most equipment bonuses, these are not subject to the limitations and strictures of most benefits (described later).  Instead, these are dedicated items, and grant a bonus to the roll, rather than set outcomes.

             Challenges are determined by defining a goal, choosing a trait to govern the action, setting bonuses and penalties, then rolling and spending points upon the outcome.  When a player requests a challenge, the trait governing the challenge is determined by the GM.  When the GM requests a challenge, the trait is determined by the player.  When the points are spent, the determination for who narrates the outcome is decided by point expenditures.  Some challenges will not be resolved in one roll, others will be.  Stated goals for a challenge should be directly stated aims, such as “overpowering the guard”, “convincing the baker I did not cheat him”, “hiding from the enemy”, “gaining a room in a high-class establishment”.  The GM should design a goal for the opposition (this goal may not necessarily be the reverse of the character).    

             In any challenge, a person has at least 2 Action Points.  These points may be spent to Take Action, Resist Action, or Augment Action.  Taking an action means that you are taking the offensive in a challenge, attempting to bring about your stated goals.  Resisting an action means you are making it harder for an opponent to bring about their goals.  This resistance is measured by giving a -2 penalty to the roll of the opposition.  Augmenting an action can only occur if 1 point has already been spent on taking an action.  The augmenting function boosts the roll to the next die level (a 2D10 roll will be boosted to a 2D12 roll, with the median being 13).  

             Should the person or side who initiated the challenge obtain their goals before the opposition, it is the decision of the initiator to cease action, or continue, which may force the opposition to fail in their stated actions, which could have favorable consequences for the initiator.  In some cases, this may be impossible (such as when your stated action is to kill someone, and their goal is to kill you.  Once you succeed, the opponent cannot, very easily, continue the challenge).  Remember, the outcome of a challenge is determined by the expenditure of Overpoints or Underpoints on a given roll.  Points left unspent by both the GM and the player are lost, and not carried over to future rolls.  The following is a list of possible expenditures for Overpoints and Underpoints.

             There are times when a challenge is considered “balanced”.  This may only occur if a trial is occurring, or other significant point in the game.  During this challenge, the GM and player determine the combat to be “to the death”, and eliminate the “Win challenge” and “Lose challenge” options from the charts below.  Only total loss of all points under the life stat will determine this outcome.

          Underpoints:               
          1:    -Gain disadvantage (-1 to a future roll against this opponent, the opponent    chooses when to exercise this bonus).  This may be chosen up to three times in    one roll.

             -Lose a Trait bonus (gained through situation, equipment, trial successes or    failures) for the duration of the challenge.


          2:   -Take 1 damage.

             -Lose the challenge (GM narrates outcome)


          3:   -Drop 1 Die Rating (2D8 turns to 2D6, etc.) for duration of challenge (2D6 is    lowest)


          4:   -Lose 1 Action Point on next roll.
             
             -Lose a Trait bonus (see above) for the duration of the game session.

             -Lose the challenge (player narrates outcome)


          5:   -Drop 1 Die Rating (see above) for the duration of the game session.

             -Permanently reduce Life stat by 1.


          6:   -Win challenge (GM narrates), but the GM has 4 points to spend on Underpoints


          10:   -Win challenge (player narrates), but the GM has 4 points to spend on             Underpoints.


          Overpoints:
          1:   -Gain advantage (+1 to a future roll against this target, you decide when to spend          this bonus).  This may be chosen up to three times.


          2:   -Opponent takes 1 damage.


          3:   -Move up a Die Rating for the duration of the challenge.


          4:   -Change challenge type next roll (Blood to Breath, etc.)


          5:   -Bonus Action Point next roll

             -Win challenge (GM narrates)


          10:   -Win challenge (player narrates)

             When you first created your character, you determined the method by which your character lived.  You also determined how the character died.  This is important, consult that trait now.  The manner by which you died has all “Lose the challenge” traits reduced in cost by 1 point, when you are involved in an action appropriate to the manner of your death.  Being executed at the order of the king makes you nervous around nobility.  Similarly, dying on a battlefield brings back memories whenever you enter combat.  

             However, the method by which you lived gains a similar bonus, all rolls involving the manner of your chosen life have the cost of “Win the challenge” reduced by 1.


             The tools of man carry forward into the realm of the Islands of Between.  Armors, weapons, scales, carts.  All of these exist.  Some things that do not, however, would be the soulless.  Animals.  Thus, without beasts of burden, slavery and forced servitude have become something popular within the world.  Slaves to pull wagons, slaves to pull oars, all of this is commonplace.  While each province has its own manner of deciding what constitutes servitude or slavery, all provinces utilize this means of labor to some degree.  

             Equipment, servants, and protection can often mean the difference between life and death.  In a world where words can draw blood, and the mind can perceive the unknown without hindrance, all manner of benefit is precious.  Equipment bonuses should never exceed +2, and in most cases, are determined purchases of Overpoints.  For instance, a sword, rather than giving a +2 to a roll, may instead mean that any roll resulting in Overpoints automatically has 2 points spent on 1 damage for free.  Similarly, armor could grant a negation of the 1 damage each round, rather than giving a penalty to an opponent.  Such determinations are left to the hands of God.

             Servants and helpers are likewise restrictive.  A servant may be able to absorb damage at some rate (such as 2 per round), but when they absorb a full ten, they are killed again, and transformed to ash, as is anyone who dies in the Islands of Between.


             Magic also exists, such as it is.  Such powers are always determined by rolls involving a the trait that the character sold their soul for, as magic is the purview of the Devil.  But, sometimes from dark actions, great light is shone.  Magic is not fire and brimstone, but rather, it is the bringing about of unseen powers through the Devil’s will.  While magic in Broken Vows is not throwing fire and brimstone, it is still a potent tool.  All characters have knowledge of one type of magic: gleaning, flaying, obscuring, or calling.  

             Gleaning and obscuring are used to find people and things, or hide people and things, respectively.  Flaying is used to strip flesh from bones, break objects, or generally be destructive.  Calling is summoning forth hellish aid in the form of imps or minor objects.  All uses of magic are made as normal challenges, however, there is a cost.  Each time magic is used, at least 1 damage is taken by the user.  Only death can pay for life, and only blood calls the magic.  Sacrifice is the key to calling forth the Devil’s knowledge.  

             All magics may also be used to heal yourself of Life.  When doing so, you must make a sacrifice appropriate to the type of magic you use.  Flaying requires destruction of something precious, calling requires a bargain with an imp, gleaning requires something secret to be found and given to the magic, and obscuring requires something to be given to hell, hiding it from men for all time.  Such actions of magic do not require a sacrifice of Life as normal, as the sacrifice is given the alternate form described above.  Success indicates that the character is healed, completely.  Failure means more damage.

             When initiating a magic challenge, however, each point of Fire Soul gains you a bonus of +1 to the roll.  Each point of Ice Soul, however, penalizes you 1 point.


             The End:
             

             While all men struggle for salvation, in theory, others do not seek redemption or damnation.  The folly of this is for you to decide, but one thing is certain: you have tasted damnation by the selling of your soul, and you want none of it.  You know your eight trials, and you must find who holds that bargained portion of your soul.  Once the trials are over, and your soul recovered, you will be Judged.  For each trial passed, you have obtained a point of Ice Soul.  For each trial failed, one point of Fire Soul.

             Should you end in balance, four and four, you are doomed to spend your existence as a wanderer in the Islands of Between, eventually to be given to the Seas of Ash.  Should you have more Ice than Fire, however, you have cast the chains of damnation to the side, and may ascend to heaven.  In the event that Fire has province over Ice in your soul, you are given to the Devil and eternal torment.


             Death:


             Should you lose all Life points before finding your ultimate destination, you are condemned to ash, and find oblivion in its grip.



               





          Character Sheet:

          Name:

          Lived by the: [Cloth, Crown, Scales, Sword] (circle one)
          Died by the: [Cloth, Crown, Scales, Sword] (circle one)
          Sold my Soul for: [Blood, Breath, Flesh, Shadow] (circle one)

          (1 at 2D6, 2 at 2D8, 1 at 2D10, choose 2 Fire and 2 Ice traits (damned trait must be Fire))
          Blood: (Fire/Ice)
          Breath: (Fire/Ice)
          Flesh: (Fire/Ice)
          Shadow: (Fire/Ice)

          Soul:   Ice:
             Fire:

          Life (10):
          Magic Type: [Calling, Flaying, Gleaning, Obscuring] (circle one)


          Equipment:         Bonus Traits:         







          Sins (8):


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: timfire on April 15, 2004, 01:03:54 PM
          The Mountain Witch
          Mechanic Preview

          -------------------------------
          Restless but tired, you agree that the group should sleep one last time before attempting its unholy assault. As you slowly drift off, you are surprisingly greeted by memories of times past, memories of happiness and former loved ones that give your heart warmth atop this cold and desolate rock. But other memories slowly creep into your vision, memories of heartbreak, hardships, and betrayals. Memories of both others and yourself that you long sought to forget. As the warmth of your heart is slowly drowned in regret and despair, new and unknown visions begin your fill your sleep, visions that soon become nightmares. Visions of the Mountain Witch himself and the horrors that might await you.

          What was that, a dream? Whatever it may be, you know it must be a bad omen. And judging from the tension and unease that seems to have fallen upon the party, you realize you were not the only one to have been visited that night.


          Fate Cards
          At the start of the game, each player is given a 'Fate Card.' Each Fate Card has a different Fate that the Players must play out.

          Some Fates hinge on a personal weakness in the character.
          Some Fates hinge on a dark secret in the character's past.
          Still other Fates hinge on some unholy alliance with the Mountain Witch himself.
          Needless to say, none of the Fates are good, and each one will require a betrayal of some sort.

          At the start of the game and after shuffling the Fate Cards (maybe a dozen of them total), the GM deals one to each player. The cards must be kept secret. If any of the players are unsatisfied with their cards, they may exchange them for another card of their choosing from the unused deck. [Doing it this way ensures that players aren't sure what cards the other players have.] After the cards are determined, the GM announces what cards have been picked, though who holds which cards is still kept a secret. This way players have an idea of what's to come, though from whom they aren't sure of.

          I'm not sure how, if at all, I'm going to enforce these Fates.

          -----------------------------------
          How did you let yourself get pulled into this mess? Oh yes, the money. Lots of money. You were told that there was a sum of money for the group of men that defeated the Mountain Witch, a sum large enough to set you up for a long time. A sum large enough to finally let you settle down and forget this endless drifting. Funny, though, the thought that first popped into your head. "If anyone doesn't make it, that's just more money for myself."

          What's also funny was your second thought: "I'm sure everyone else is thinking the same thing."


          Trust
          I'm still working the kinks out of this one, but needless to say, players will need to build Trust between their characters. Trying to build trust will put your character in some sort of vulnerable position. It may also be tied into conflict resolution & narration privileges.

          [Thanks to Rich Forest for a bit of inspiration here!]

          ---------------------------------
          Conflict Resolution
          Probably simple 1d6 vs. 1d6, with degrees of success.

          --------------------------------
          That's what I got right now. Tomorrow I hope to have the mechanics solidified, Saturday I hope to have some monsters and other challenges, and then Sunday I'll get everything written up.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: lumpley on April 15, 2004, 01:14:04 PM
          BADASS the roleplaying game
          every man is an island

          Q&A
          Q: Are there badass chicks, too?
          A: Yes.
          Q: Are they still an island?  Because, y'know, the "every man" thing.
          A: Badass chicks are even more an island than men.
          Q: No shit?
          A: You have occasionally read a book or watched a movie, right?

          -Vincent


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Lxndr on April 15, 2004, 01:18:34 PM
          Question:  can I have multiple entries?

          if not, can I scrap my first dish and start another?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Mike Holmes on April 15, 2004, 02:24:03 PM
          Quote from: Lxndr
          Question:  can I have multiple entries?

          if not, can I scrap my first dish and start another?


          Uh, sure. I mean, if it gets people to make more games, why not? I don't think that cutting your cooking time in half will help, but I'll taste any dishes placed before me.

          Eggo-san, as mentioned, it's actually probably best to post any graphics off site (doesn't matter to me either way, but Ron had a problem with it last time). A PDF character sheet would certainly count in that regard, you can't post that here. As mentioned earlier, however, I tend to only look at the functionality of such things, and try not to consider the artistic value. So that people with better access to graphic programs and whatnot don't have an advantage over people who do not. And I will not consider any rules posted off site. Essentially, I only look at what makes the game play. If I could play the game without the character sheet, then it's nice, but won't score any points.

          What this does mean is that if you have some graphic that's neccessary for play, that this is something that I will be checking out with interest. For example, John's winning entry in IGC - Gamist, Court of the Nine Chambers needed a graphic of the court to make play understandable. But I only condsidered it in terms of the functionality (there were several much prettier graphics).


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 15, 2004, 02:46:36 PM
          Snow From Korea: Optional Rules

          Fighting Schools:
          Obviously, not everyone in Nihon fights the same way. This is represented through the use of Fighting Schools. Each School has an unusual take on the kamae, a special method with a strength and a weakness. These apply to all types of encounters and challenges, not only those of Kenjutsu; each school teaches a philosophy harmonious with its battle techniques. When creating your samurai, choose one School. To use a School ability, roll a die. On a one or two, the Low effect takes place. On a five or six, the High effect does. Some sample Schools:

          Mirror and Tree School:
          The practicioners of the Mirror and Tree School have trained themselves to respond to every situation in the same way, reflecting or standing still as the necessity demands. Any kamae, usable only in Challenges.
          Low: Your Facet is set equal to your opponent's.
          High: Your opponent's Facet is set equal to yours.

          Two Swords One Heart School:
          The Niten Isshin Ryu teaches that one can approach a problem from two angles at once. Unfortunately this can divide one's attention. Kagai or Ariake no kamae.
          Low: Roll your Facet twice and take the lower number of successes.
          High: Roll your Facet twice and take the higher number of successes.

          Ocean Flower School:
          The Ocean Flower School teaches that strength, like the moon and tide, waxes and wanes. Ariake no kamae.
          Low: You do not count sixes as successes, but roll three extra dice.
          High: You count threes as successes, but roll three fewer dice.

          Culture and Inheritance:
          Just like one's knowledge of poetry and strategy can come from many places, one's upbringing can affect one's skills as well. When creating your samurai, you may exchange one point of Facet for a Culture trait or an Inheritance trait. No Facet may be affected by more than one of each type of trait. Every possible Culture and three example Inheritances follow.

          Inheritance:
          • Dayforged Yari: You have a magical weapon - most often a spear - made with a little piece of the Sun herself. This weapon's radiance beats in time with your heart. Anytime you would raise your Kenjutsu, you may redirect the raise to Snow or Awaré instead.
          • Lotus Sutra Armour: You can calm the hearts of beasts and men with a gesture and the words, "Buddha bless you." When challenged, you may flip a coin, and if it lands heads, you may change the challenge to one of Tanka. When an encounter would raise your Tanka, you may redirect the raise to Snow instead.
          • Wind-Carried Sakura Heart: You have a deep, intuitive understanding of the beauty of falling blossoms and melting snow. You can reroll your School die once whenever testing your Awaré. When an encounter would raise your Awaré, you may redirect the raise to Snow instead.[/list:u]Culture: Any Culture Trait adds 1 to one Trait for encounters and to a different Trait for challenges.
            • Earth and Sky Warrior: The kami of your home province have given you a deep respect for nature and its fragility. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Kenjutsu.
            • Bureaucratic Prodigy: You were a star at your provincial college, and your family is at least slightly upset that you are gallivanting in the wilds instead of finding a proper job as a clerk or courtier. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Tanka.
            • Ancestral Daishô: You carry an ancient weapon, which buoys your heart with honour and is legendarily sharp. +1 challenge Kenjutsu, +1 encounter Awaré.
            • Iaijutsu Enthusiast: You have studied the methods of ceremonial duelling. +1 challenge Kenjutsu, +1 encounter Tanka.
            • Buson's Haiku School: You know fashionable literature and are well-versed in the spontaneous composition of poetry. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Awaré.
            • Temple Guardian Training: You have spent time as a sohei, one of the legendary holy berserker-monks of Buddhist temples. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Kenjutsu.[/list:u]Please note the terminology shift:
              Kagai no kamae: Assault posture
              Ariake no kamae: Dawn posture
              Mujintou no kamae: Island posture


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: quozl on April 15, 2004, 02:50:53 PM
          Another entry from one who usually sits on the sidelines:

          Fantasy Ice Breaker #1: The Dragon's Lair

          The king, who has no children, has decided that the one who kills Fuego, the old dragon who lives on the island just off the coast of Fantasia, will succeed him as king.  You are a dragonslayer.  A group of dragonslayers will be assaulting the island tonight.  At dawn, one dragonslayer will emerge victorious and the rest must serve him as king.

          Step 1: Create your dragonslayer

          Step 2: Assaulting the island

          Step 3: Victory at dawn


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Lxndr on April 15, 2004, 04:32:53 PM
          Oh, I don't expect that cutting my cooking time in half will help at all, but my first game sort of floundered in the dust, looking perfectly playable but without that final spark.  Its final form, such as it is, is already in this thread.

          Meanwhile, a new idea popped into my head.  So I want to develop it.  It has the spark that my other game lacks, I think.  Without further ado, the introductory text to my new game.  It's a little crass.

          Frigid Bitch

          How did you get yourself into this mess?

          Deep in the forest, with no company but your trash-talking buddies, the ones who got you up here in the first place.  You were all lazing about the village square, drinking and avoiding work like usual, when one of you brought up the idea of finding the Frigid Bitch and curing her little man problem.  

          I mean, it was almost the Solstice, and the village was full of so-called heroes talking about how they'd be the one to succeed when all else failed.  Someone in your little group said "y'know, it can't be that tough.  I bet you we could do that."

          It sounded like a good idea when the sun was high above your shoulders and the ale was warming your belly, but with sobriety came sense, and the dull ache of fear.  But you weren't going to back down from the Ice Queen first - you weren't going to look like a coward in front of your buddies.  But none of 'em backed off either.

          So now you're all standing on the edge of the bluff, miles from home, as the sun dips down towards the horizon.  Past the bluff to the west, in the shadows, you can see the outline of the castle poking out of the forest like an island on a sea of green.  It's been grown over for quite some time - vines, weeds, and of course rosebushes.  They always said the Bitch liked roses.  It doesn't surprise you - they're all blood and thorns.  Nothing a decent lady would like.

          You've got some leftover leather jerkins from the last war, stolen from the miller's stores.  You've got some knives and pitchforks and maybe even a scythe that hasn't seen work in years.  But the castle is guarded by more fearsome things than that - things that have eaten many a real knight, out for glory or to make a name.  Heck, you grew up with stories about the Ice Queen, watching people going off, never to return - you should know better than anyone.

          Yet here you are, on the night of the Winter Solstice, waiting for the sun to go down and the castle to awaken.  The legends say the curse can only be lifted if someone melts the heart of the Ice Queen - but if you can't do it, you better be ready to run, because when dawn comes, you'll be trapped, frozen in the castle just like everyone else who's come before you.  And you're not alone - there's the real heroes, the champions who've cone this far.

          The only way to make it into the castle is to trust your friends, to go as a group.  But you can't trust your friends for too long, because in the end, if you're lucky enough to get through the death trap and find the Ice Queen, it's every man for himself.

          Anyway, the sun's going down.  You better get going.  After all, the Bitch waits for no man.


          Title: Game #2!!!!!!!!
          Post by: Dav on April 15, 2004, 06:59:33 PM
          A game to talk smack about:

          I made this in the last hour or so.  Mike said multiple entries okay!  This might not fall under "RPG".

          This also might not be functional, I haven't played it.

          Dav

           The Dangerous Island of Much Treasure and Terror!

          What you need to play: Some graph paper.  A d20, a d6.  Some pencils.  Some scrpa paper.  A certain degree of boredom.



          The idea of the game is that you have found a deserted island that only appears during certain tides.  On this island, there are ruins containing a vast treasure.  Being treasure hunting types, in you go.  The problem is that, while you found the treasure at the center of the labyrinth, you now have to get out.

          Further problem: the treasure is actually the prison for a host of malevolent spirits… probably.  

          Still further with the problems: at dawn, the tides change and the island is washed under the sea.  This is bad, as you are not fish people, but treasure hunting people of the human persuasion.

          A final little problem: there is one boat, and your companions aren’t so trustworthy.

          Off you go!

          Each player creates a Malevolent Spirit, and 2 Treasure Hunters (you go through the hunting types rather swiftly, I would think).

          Malevolent Spirits have 2 Attributes:
          Assault: the ability to affect things in the physical world in a rather forceful manner.  Hitting levers, knocking people over, the like.

          Coercion: Tricking someone you are possessing into taking actions and such.  I would think this is pretty useful as well.

          Malevolent Spirits have 7 points to put into these attributes.  No higher than 5, no lower than 1.

          Treasure Hunters likewise have 3 Attributes:
          Superstition: How suspicious and such you are about the possession bit.  It can be a good thing, I promise.

          Trap-Looking-For-Dealy-Ability: Ability to find and disarm traps.  A good thing for a treasure hunter.

          Didn’t Hurt: Avoiding the anger of Malevolent Spirits.

          Hit Points: 5

          Treasure Hunters have 10 points, again with the upper-cap of 5 and the lower-cap of 1.


          Here’s the deal.  

          The Malevolent Spirits want to get all hell off the island.  Little problem.  They are trapped inside diamonds (y’know: “ICE”… okay, okay, stretching, but I got the other 3 so fuck-off).  Some diamonds have a baddy spirit, others, not so much.

          The goal: get out of the cave as a Malevolent Spirit and row all fuck-out to the horizon, stranding other sorry spiritual saps in limbo.

          Obstacles: traps, a maze, other treasure hunters, other malevolent spirits

          Here is what happens.  Take all the treasure hunters and put them face-down in a pile, after numbering them (or naming them, if you want to get all “immersive on it”).  Mix ‘em up and pick one without looking at it… okay, now look at it.

          That’s the sorry bloke that picked up your diamond (ICE!).  All right, return your little hunter to the pile.  Hand-out 2 hunters to each player.  If you get the hunter that has your diamond (ICE!), toss all them hunters back in the pile, tell a quick story as to why that little round of picking didn’t work-out (you know, get all narrativist or something), and pick again.  Keep doing this until no one has a guy that is carrying their malevolent spirit.

          (For you simulationists: you come from a weird Aztec-meets-Aleutian-by-way-of-Philippines fantasy-land.  Name your spirit appropriately)

          Everybody let’s everyone else know which hunters they are controlling.  Now, on your turn, as a Malevolent Spirit, you can do one of many things:

          Assault some sorry sap.  Coerce a hunter.  Nothing.

          If you coerce a hunter, that hunter can take a Superstition check to discover if the command came from one of the diamonds he is holding, or make a Will check to avoid the command (either Superstition or Will, NOT both).  If you assault someone, they take 1 damage (or you can trigger a trap if you want, as a Malevolent Spirit who was cooped up in this tidal island paradise for the last 1000 years, you know where they are (in theory… not so much in practice))  Assaults may be resisted by a Didn’t Hurt roll.

          Roll 1D6.  If you roll equal to or less than your number, you succeed, if not, so sorry.

          Now, each hunter also gets to move 4 squares on a turn (they don’t have to move the full amount).  
             *or*
          If the hunter made a successful Superstition roll, the hunter may discard 1 diamond (each hunter carries 5 diamonds.  Due to mental control stuff, the Malevolent Spirit is always the last diamond picked and tossed.

          The hunter must follow the commands of a successful Coercion (if possible, and not resisted by a Will thing) in terms of movement or direction.  The hunter also takes 1 damage from any Assault successful upon them (hunters have 5 Hit Points).

          Each player also gets a “Build Phase” after hunter movement and such.

          In a build phase, you may make 10 lines of map.  Roll a D20: on a 20, the exit is in that area, go ahead and mark it with an X.  On a 1-5, there is a trap, go ahead and mark it with an O.  By the way, there aren’t any rooms, all hallways are 1 square wide and just go and go.  You can make a dead end, but only so long as there are other open paths on the map (or if the exit has been found).  All 10 lines must be contiguous.  All future build phases gain a cumulative +1 to the roll.  A natural 1 always means a trap.  Once an exit is established, it is the only exit, and screw off on finding more exits.  By the way, the edge of the paper counts as an automatic wall.

          A hunter may not walk into uncharted territory.  That is bad, and not possible.  Because I say so (go ahead and tell a fucking story about it if you want).

          When walking over a trap, the hunter may roll Trap-Findy Skill to see the trap before walking over it.  Doing so means the trap is avoided and remains for future hunters.  Avoiding a trap takes 2 movement squares, rather than 1.  A hunter walking blissfully unaware over a trap (failing the Trap-Findy roll), takes 1 damage… go ahead and tell a little story about how much that sucked (you can go ahead and be as descriptive as you like, but you may get stuff thrown at you if it gets too long-winded).  

          If the hunter carrying your Malevolent Spirit dies, FRET NOT!  If another hunter walks over the dead hunter’s square, the hunter gets to pick up 1 diamond.  If the hunter had a Malevolent Spirit, then guess which diamond that hunter picked?  That’s right, the diamond with the bad, naughty spirit in it.  This may mean that a hunter has two Malevolent Spirits on his person.  This is not good… but, there is nothing to do for it.

          Some little nit-picks:
          How to resolve multiple successful Coercions or Assaults: the Coercion that succeeded the most goes through.  In the event of a tie, the hunter becomes psychically scrambled and sits on his ass for the turn.  

          Multiple Assaults are resisted once, but each successively successful assault reduces the poor hunter’s Didn’t Hurt skill by 1 for the turn.  On a failure, only 1 damage is sustained (because it would hurt too much to do more).

          If all hunters die: everyone loses.  That’s right, loses.

          If more than 1 Malevolent Spirit makes it out alive due to a hunter carrying many possessed diamonds, they fall madly in love and get to drop the “Malevolent” part of their title.  They make baby diamonds.

          If, after twenty turns no one has made it out, dawn rolls in and you are all buried in a watery grave.  That, by the way, sucks.

          You all start in the center of the graph paper in a room that is 6x3 (vertically tall, rise over run people!)  There are a number of exits equal to the number of spirits in the game.  Yes, a multiple hunters may occupy the same space.

          Go play the game!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Rich Forest on April 15, 2004, 11:09:02 PM
          The final weekend of the competition approaches.

          Throughout the contest, aside from a short comment to praise the quality of the other chefs' work, Chef Forest has been very slow and quiet. Calmly, methodically, just outside the spotlight, he has been gathering his ingredients and writing and re-writing his recipe by hand. So many ingredients have been thrown out. The recipe is a chaotic jumble of revisions. Only now has he managed to write down his final recipe and gather those ingredients that he wishes to keep.

          Some would call this madness--the final weekend is already upon him, and he has only now finished writing his recipe by hand and stewing his base! How can he hope to finish his game with only the weekend to fill in so much! And what does he have, brewing in the pot, a dish as yet not even named? Some ingredients we recognize: ice, assault, and islands. But what are these other ingredients he has added?

          Strange ingredients for a tabletop RPG indeed... Super Mario Brothers? The Legend of Zelda? Donkey Kong Country? Super Smash Brothers? Mario Cart?

          What kind of dish could this be? Could it possibly live up to the proud legacy of Chef Forest's role model, the eminent Shigeru Miyamoto-Ou-Sensei? Or would he be shamed by the dish?

          And wait, is Chef Forest adding a final ingredient to the mix? Can you see it? Yes, it's, it's... can it be? Playtesting?! A powerful ingredient indeed. But will he have time to see the dish to its completion?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 15, 2004, 11:10:14 PM
          Much of this is not strictly speaking new; rather, it's an outgrowth and clarification of some earlier ideas.  Besides Ice Monsters,  Thermoses and Slush Points represent the other noteworthy bit of resource management.

          So, without further ado:

          Snow Day - Special Expanded Rules for Thermoses and Cocoa

          The first time a kid goes inside for Hot Cocoa, he may fill a thermos full of cocoa and take it with him.  At any time - EXCEPT during a Snowball Fight - a kid carrying a full thermos can drink it, removing six Slush Points.  Only kids can drink cocoa; Ice Monsters can't.  In fact, if you pour Hot Cocoa on an Ice Monster, it inflicts six Slush Points on the monster itself!  (In a Snowball Fight situation, this requires a Fantasy Check to succeed; failure means that your just spilled some perfectly good hot cocoa all over the place.)

          Any subsequent time that you go inside for Cocoa, you can fill up any empty thermoses that you're carrying.

          Carrying a thermos occupies one hand.  Because it takes two hands to scoop up a snowball, you have to drop a thermos that you're carrying first!  Alternatively, hand it to another Kid, or to an Ice Monster that has the power to Carry Things.  Or hold onto it yourself, and have someone else craft snowballs for you.

          If you Cry Uncle or are Driven Off in a Snowball Fight in which you have previously dropped a Thermos, then you have to leave the Thermos behind, and hope your side wins the fight!  Otherwise, the other side can scavenge the thermos.

          If you lose your thermos, you can't get another one automatically; your parents would just scold you for losing it.  Picking a snowball fight with another bunch of kids is the most expedient way of getting your hands on a new thermos.

          You can safely stash your thermos indoors or in the Secret Base without fear that another kid might steal it, but if you leave it anywhere else, it's fair game.



          Two posts to go - Neighborhood Hazards and Midnight Moonlight Magic Monster Mojo!  Then I'll probably condense all the posts into a single final document for judging.

          In the meantime, I'm going to go have some cocoa.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: talysman on April 16, 2004, 12:05:49 AM
          IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

          part 2 (part 1 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114445#114445))

          Overview:

          IceRunner is intended to be a typical small-group fantasy RPG for 2-5 players, one of whom will take the traditional "GM" role. aside from the usual pencils and paper for recording character data, the group will also need dice: at least one d10 and two sets of four d6s with different colors; these rules will refer to the d6 groups as black dice (aka Curse dice) and white dice (aka Magic dice).

          you may also wish to use small transparent plastic beads, glass marbles or some other counters to represent Ice stones collected, but Ice stones can be tracted as a score on the player sheet instead, if desired.

          the feel of the game is intended to be somewhat gritty and "realistic" rather than cinematic or mythic. the setting is Western Europe in the Dark Ages or a parallel universe version (to avoid worrying about details of geography, economics and the like.) treat the world as a somewhat simplified version of history, rather than an exact duplicate. technology is low, superstition is rampant, and magic is a rare, mysterious force.

          the spirit of the game is cyberpunk without the technology: somewhat pessimistic, but rebellious and individualist, with the player characters fighting an oppressive, intractable system. the PCs have magic, but it's hard to use in the ordinary world; it should *not* be treated as a fantasy replacement for high-tech or cybertech. magic in the game should look as much as possible like the medieval superstitions that inspired it.

          the PCs and other sorcerors in the world are part of a loose "underworld", a hidden society all to itself existing alongside ordinary society. since magic is feared and hated, sorcerors are either pariahs (voluntary or involuntary) or leading a double life. sorcerors meet under cover of darkness at crossroads or in the depths of the wilderness to trade forbidden goods, exchange arcane secrets, or sell services to desperate people willing to risk damnation to fulfill their desires.

          ordinary conflicts in the game are resolved with a quick roll of a single d10; on an even result, the action succeeds and does 1 point of "damage", which may be physical damage, social damage, or other metaphorical forms of damage. players can invoke Advantages to boost how much damage is done on a single roll, or they can save their Advantages until after the roll, to allow a reroll if the first fails. failing a roll has no effect unless it's a reroll, in which case the character takes 1 point of damage instead.

          magical conflicts work the same, except that additional dice (black Curse Dice or white Magic Dice) are rolled; magical or curse effects are invoked if the d10 result is less than or equal to the highest Magic or Curse die result. also, if a Curse die matches a Magic die, the two cancel out.

          Chargen:

          to create an IceRunner PC, choose a class and estate (social rank) and think of a short character concept built around the two, then choose five advantages. CLASS in IceRunner indicates what magical acts the character is especially good at (granting a temporary Magic Die any time the character attempts that action under the appropriate conditions.) ESTATE is one of the four broad social categories of medieval Europe and grants an advantage under specific social situations. ADVANTAGES in general allow potential rerolls and possibly boost "damage" on successful actions.

          the sorceror classes and their bonuses are:
          • Enchanter: gains 1 temporary Magic Die when creating astral islands or "magic items";
          • AssaultMage: gains 1 temporary Magic Die when using magic in a physical attack;
          • Warlock: gains 1 temporary Magic Die when using magic in a social attack;
          • Witch: gains 1 temporary Magic Die when using magic to heal (plants, animals, humans... physically, socially, spirtually.)
          • IceRunner: gains 1 temporary Magic Die when entering or leaving the astral realm;[/list:u]
            there is a fuller explanation of these classes and how the bonuses work in the Magic section

            the social estates are Peasantry, Merchantry, Nobility, and Clergy. functionally, the Peasantry supplies all the food (farming, hunting, fishing) as well as grunt labor; the Merchantry includes anyone practicing a skilled trade (including mercenary soldier) as well as actual merchants; the Nobility own the actual land, ensure its defense, and enforce the law; the Clergy provide moral and spiritual guidance as well as spiritual defense. each estate gets one social reroll when dealing with social equals and one social level boost when dealing with social inferiors; Peasantry are considered social betters of outlaws, including known sorcerors. Clergy in theory cannot exercise control over the Nobility, but threats of excommunication or interdict essentially make them the highest social level.

            when selecting Class and Estate, be sure to indicate in your character concept what happened when the character took up sorcery: is the character an outlaw, a hermit, or a "mole"?
            • OUTLAWS were discovered to be sorcerors and are subject to capture, punishment or death in their home village.
            • HERMITS abandoned their village and former life; they are not known as sorcerors, but may be treated with suspicion.
            • MOLES continue to lead a double life in both normal society and the sorcerous underworld; they are treated as ordinary members of their Estate unless they behave in a suspicious manner.[/list:u]
              since sorcerors grew up within normal society, they still have the mannerisms and force of personality of their Estate. thus, a sorcerorous Noble Outlaw can gain the Nobility bonus when not recognized as an outlaw; a Clerical Hermit can gein the Clergy bonus on a first meeting, until the other party becomes suspicious about the hermit's lifestyle; a Merchant Mole will gain full social benefits until the secret is revealed.

              Advantages, as mentioned above, will either boost how much damage is done on a successful roll or allow a failed roll to be rerolled. the types of Advantage and examples of each are:
              • Talents: quick, strong, stealthy, gentle with animals, sharpsighted, quickwitted, charismatic
              • Allies: brother, cousin, widowed aunt, old mentor, kindly priest, horse
              • Equipment: finely crafted swords, shields, and armor or other equipment[/list:u]
                all beginning Advantages are extraordinary but non-magical in nature. sorcerors can gain supernatural bonuses through play, however.

                after choosing Class, Estate, concept, and five Advantages, think up a name for your character, flesh out any other details (like personal possessions that do not count as extraordinary equipment,) then decide as a group where the characters just came from and where they are going. they do not need to know each other yet.

                Ordinary Conflicts:

                when characters are involved in a conflict, whoever controls each character (player or GM) states what the character's intended action will be ("I will attempt to open the sealed crypt", "Theobold will try to rip off the lowest branch of the tree".) whatever each character is in conflict *with* on the current turn is called the Obstacle; the character and the Obstacle are examined to see if one has a clear approriate advantage over the other, either because of a listed character advantage ("Theobold has Great Strength, but this is an ordinary tree") or because of a temporary situational advantage ("the branch is unusually brittle".) each advantage that favors the character for this kind of action gives +1 damage on a success; each advantage that favors the Obstacle gives -1 damage. if a player sees that the total basic damage in this conflict will be -1 (or otherwise doesn't like the potential result,) the player can change the character's intended action.

                the player and the GM must also agree on a backfire effect. in some form of combat (physical sparring, social maneuvering, emotional abuse,) the backfire effect would simply be the same kind of damage dealt to the character instead of the Obstacle. in other actions, it is something else detrimental to the character: a character firing a bow might have a backfire effect of damage to the bow, for example, or injuring an Ally; a character sneaking past guards could have a backfire effect of alerting the guards.

                once the intended actions, total basic damage, and backfire effects for each character involved in the conflict is determined, initiative is set based on highest total basic damage (which can be a maximum of +5). ties are resolved in alphabetical player order but considered to take effect simultaneously. each player in order rolls a d10; if the result is even, the action is successful with +1 to total basic damage; otherwise, the action failed to have the desired effect. the player gets to narrate the effects of the action; it's up to the player whether the character fails badly or simply struggles valiantly without making significant headway.

                if a character scores 5 or more points of damage against an obstacle after one or more rolls, the overall goal of the damage is achieved: in a physical attack, this means the obstacle was killed or broken; if making a social attack, the obstacle is expelled from the social context (if the context is an entire village, the opponent is driven away as an outcast; if it's just a heated discussion in a village market, the opponent is made a laughingstock.)

                failed rolls can be rerolled by invoking appropriate advantages that were not used to boost total basic damage. thus, if Theobold has the Great Strength advantage but does not invoke it to boost physical damage in a fight, on a failed roll the player can narrate "Theobold's sword can find no opening in the enemy's defensive sheildsweeps, so he attempts to knock the man aside with his mighty blows", then make a reroll. rerolls are exactly the same as regular rolls *except* that a failed roll causes 1 point of damage to the acting character, with the damage type determined by the backfire effect chosen. players can reroll as many times as they have appropriate advantages that can be used creatively in the current conflict, but take 1 point of damage on each failure. after taking 5 points of backfire damage, rerolling stops -- and the character may be dead or otherwise incapacitated, depending on teh backfire effect.

                players can attempt to gain temporary situational advantages, rolling to push for higher ground in a combat, or rolling to secure a rope before climbing a cliff. the "damage" in these cases is rolled over into future actions that exploit that situational advantage; the bonus disappears when the situation changes again or the conflict is finished.

                players can attempt appropriate actions to heal damage -- applying bandages after a combat, eating a meal to repair hunger damage, etc. again, this is figured as for an ordinary conflict, with "damage" being applied to removing accumulated damage.

                another (desperate) option, particularly for physical damage, is to convert the temporary injuries into a more permanent injury, which is treated as a disadvantage (advantage applied negatively.) for example, if Theobold has 4 points of physical damage and fears the enemy's next blow will kill him, he can erase the 4 points and take a "maimed leg" or "severed hand" disadvantage. it doesn't matter whether the damage erased is 1 point or 4 points; the disadvantage taken in exchange is worth 1 level as an advantage to an opponent. so, a player could choose to risk letting damage rise to 4 before converting into permanent wounds, or play it safe and convert damage early and often. disadvantages can only be removed through roleplaying and will take more than one scene.

                Magical Conflicts will be covered in detail in the next installment.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: talysman on April 16, 2004, 12:11:44 AM
          Iron Chef Laviolette blinks in surprise at the number of typos that are making their way into his carefully prepared dishes. perhaps his continuing bouts of fever are affecting his sensibilities?

          he shakes his head and downs a shot of NyQuil. perhaps the Giant Q will aid him in completing his culinary treat. if not, at least the final recipe can be corrected later, after the judge has made his decision...


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: quozl on April 16, 2004, 06:30:38 AM
          My entry in its final form:

          Fantasy Ice Breaker #1: The Dragon's Lair

          The king, who has no children, has decided that the one who kills Fuego, the old dragon who lives on the island just off the coast of Fantasia, will succeed him as king. You are a dragonslayer. A group of dragonslayers will be assaulting the island tonight. At dawn, one dragonslayer will emerge victorious and the rest must serve him as king.

          Step 1: Create your dragonslayer

          The purpose of this game is to "break the ice" or get to know the other people in a safe and fun environment so each dragonslayer will be a projection of each player.  All dragonslayers will be assumed to be quite capable in their profession.  All the player needs to do is to give themself a lofty title.  For example, if Eric is playing the game, he may call his dragonslayer "Eric the mighty".

          Step 2: Assaulting the island

          Each player makes a monster card for each other player in the game.  Monster cards are simply blank cards where you a player can write down the name of a monster and draw a little picture.  Additional information about the monster may also be written on the card (such as
          breathes fire") if desired.  Once everyone has made their cards, they are played face down in piles in front of each player.  Each player may only place one card in front of each player.

          Now, one player is elected to start the game.  That player narrates their assault on the island.  The player on the left of the starting player keeps track of time and after every 60 seconds, flips over the top card on the starting player's pile.  The narrating player must then incorporate the monster into his narrative.  If the narrating player fails to incorporate a monster card before the next monster card is flipped over, the narrating player must take a wound token.  After the last card in front of the narrating player is flipped over, the narrating player has 60 seconds to end his narrative with the dragonslayer's arrival to the dragon's lair.

          Then the player on the left becomes the narrating player and the player to his/her left becomes the timekeeper and card flipper.  This repeats until everyone has had a turn.

          Step 3: Victory at dawn

          Once all dragonslayers have made it to the dragon's lair, old Fuego reads their minds.  Each player must write down a personal question for each other player on a blank card.  If a player has any wound tokens, they must write down a personal question for themself for each token.  Once all questions have been written, all question cards are shuffled together.  The cards are then dealt out to each player with the players with wound token receiving an extra card for each token.  Starting with the first narrating player, each player then reads one card and answers the question.  Then the player on the left does the same and the process repeats until all questions have been answered.  Once all questions are answered, each player secretly votes for any player besides themselves to be the winner, slay the dragon, and become king.  The votes are counted and the king is hailed!  If there happens to be a tie, the player with the least wound tokens wins.  If there is still a tie, just arm-wrestle for it or something.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Zak Arntson on April 16, 2004, 10:56:05 AM
          Terra Australis

          What does he pull out next? A durian? Heavens, no! Oh, he's only joking. The durian goes back under the table and out comes a bucket of li hing mui! Candied squid!?

          ---

          With the competition nearing a close, I need to hammer out the mechanics. To get that solid foundation, I've been pulling out every design trick I know! I've even come upon a few new ones (for me), such as What does the player/gm/character do? Another new thing for me, regarding rolelaying game design, is a state machine. What's this? The marriage of computer science and roleplaying games? And in a way that doesn't produce Rolemaster-like complexity? That's right.

          The basis of a state machine is that at any point, the machine is in a specific state. The machine receives input and changes its state. You graph these states and their connections out with little bubbles and arrows. I figured, in game design, you have specific states the game is in. For Terra Australis, I initially defined the states as follows:

           GM control: This is when the GM is moving the game along, players state actions which don't require mechanics, (i.e, "I'm going down the steps"), and so on.
           Players Roll: Any player initiating a Conflict, Resource creation or Evidence creation causes all players to make a Roll.
           Player creates Evidence: The player is creating/modifying Evidence.
           Player creates Resource: The player is creating/modifying a Resource.
           Conflict:  The players deal with the conflict using further Rolls. During a Conflict, things can be shifted around (with Evidence and Resource creation & use), but this is all considered part of a Conflict.

          The connections are pretty simple. From GM control, the GM can move into a Conflict or a player can move into Players Roll. From Players Roll, the successful player moves the state into creating Evidence, Resource or Conflict (if nobody succeeds/wants, the state moves back to GM control). Here is a graphic diagram (http://www.harlekin-maus.com/games/terra_australis/ta_state.gif) (I hesitated on including an image, but figured a schematic wins the information vs. promotion battle).

          Now, after studying this, I realized that during a Conflict I want the players to be able to add Evidence and Resources. I also figured the state machine could be simplified. And it could!

          With simplifying, the states are now: GM Control and Conflict, with Conflict having its own various internal states. But since I already have this early state machine prepared, I don't need another one to figure out how Conflict will play out.

          Conflict, whether GM or Player initiated, consists of all the Players making a Roll. This Roll encompasses initiative (which player acts first, in the case of competing interests) and success. A Roll can be modified by expending a player's resources (relationships, abilities, etc).

           - If a player initiates Conflict, they receive automatic first-dibs on initiative. They also get to declare the whether the Conflict will be a straight-up Conflict (fight, argument, etc), Evidence creation/modification, or Resource creation/modification (relationships, mostly).

           - If the GM initiates Conflict, the Players Roll, but the GM sets everything up as if she were successful from the get-go (without rolling). This means the GM can create/modify Evidence, Resources, etc. without risk.

          Once the Conflict is over, play returns to GM Control. Conflict can be especially quick if the initiated Conflict is simply a new piece of Evidence.

          With that settled, finishing up is a matter of how Rolls work, and how players use their resources to modify those Rolls.

          ---

          That's my dish so far. It's nearing completion. Hopefully the delightful wafting of sickly-sweet, li hing-dusted calamari doesn't overpower the judges!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 16, 2004, 12:38:02 PM
          Quote from: Rich Forest
          Strange ingredients for a tabletop RPG indeed... Super Mario Brothers? The Legend of Zelda? Donkey Kong Country? Super Smash Brothers? Mario Cart?


          Rich, you silly wang ba dan!  I've been wanting to design a game that could be played with 8-bit techno in the background.  Keep rocking out with your socks out.

          Walton-san glances nervously up from his simmering dish of Sweet and Sour Penguin and Pineapple.  So many chefs preparing dishes both elegant and succulent!  The pressure to be a finisher is beginning to get to him.  Sweat beads form on his brow.  Is this the end?!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 16, 2004, 12:41:28 PM
          Quote from: Zak Arntson

          With the competition nearing a close, I need to hammer out the mechanics. To get that solid foundation, I've been pulling out every design trick I know! I've even come upon a few new ones (for me), such as What does the player/gm/character do? Another new thing for me, regarding rolelaying game design, is a state machine. What's this? The marriage of computer science and roleplaying games? And in a way that doesn't produce Rolemaster-like complexity? That's right.


          The convergent evolution strikes again, it seems. I wrote last night in a fit of competiveness a second game dish as a kind of a appetized for the Battle of the Frozen Waste, and it features a state machine as well, though in a different role. Might as well announce it while I'm here.

          The gamesmith of the north... he strides forth, flanked by the paladins of the Knights of Snow, to announce a new development,

          The Fall of Atlantis and the Dawn of Human History
          The appetizer in spirit of Multiverser

          Atlantis - the kingdom of the seas, it's everything Plato dreamed of and more. It's the ideal state, ruled by philosopher kings ultimate in wisdom and great in the human arts. Hardly human, they, but greater for it surely.

             Atlantis - she rules the world, taking slaves and servants from among the humans and trading baubles for the raw resources she needs. All peoples have heard of the sea kings, and human leaders bow to their might. Ne'er are the peoples of the Earth free as Atlantis floats upon the surface.

             Atlantis - the land of science and magic, wisdom over human imagination. Humans are impure creations, perhaps of Atlantean stock, but flawed nonentheless. The atlanteans know how to move the Earth and the heavens, and that will be their doom.

             Atlantis - everything Moorcock and Howard, Plato and professor Marinatos ever dreamed of and more. But doomed to fall. What that fall portents for the world is now in your hands.


          The Fall of Atlantis and Dawn of Human History is a roleplaying game for a GM and some players. It takes the play group through the last generations of Atlantis and the first ones of human history. On the way maybe some answers about humanity are learned. For play you'll need pens and papers and lots'a dice.

          -----    -----     -----

          The game is finished after some six hours of work, clocking in at some 45k letters. As with the main course, I'll hold to it for a little while to see if I'll find anything to fix. I'm not delusious in thinking that we still have over 48 hours to waffle, am I? Actually nearer to 56, with the time difference?

          I'd like to take this moment to assure you that I don't mean any disrespect by putting forth two games. I intend to see to it that both come forth in the state of completeness I'd have aspired to were they lone productions. This turn of events is a combination of my jealousy overdrive and too much time to write, nothing more. If I had to work like some people here I certainly would have to limit myself to something small and beautiful ;) You can all take this as a compliment; usually nothing gets me to lift my tush and start writing like this. but now it's my self-respect on the line. If I cannot be the best, at least I can be the biggest ;)


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 16, 2004, 12:56:24 PM
          Quote from: Jonathan Walton

          Rich, you silly wang ba dan!  I've been wanting to design a game that could be played with 8-bit techno in the background.  Keep rocking out with your socks out.


          Word, man! Joy, I'm testing my American idiom while I'matit, brother!

          Rich: If you get out something playable that captures Zelda and the first Castlevanias, Megaman and Super Mario, I'll be paying for the privilege of playing!

          Quote

          Walton-san glances nervously up from his simmering dish of Sweet and Sour Penguin and Pineapple.  So many chefs preparing dishes both elegant and succulent!  The pressure to be a finisher is beginning to get to him.  Sweat beads form on his brow.  Is this the end?!


          Hahaa! It took the whole week, but I think I finally got spiritually over the penguins! I'm again ready to battle, as long as I don't read the backlog to ascertain if the game is as astounding as I dimly remember. I'm lucky that penguin bomb wasn't dropped later, I never would have regained composure in time then.

          So take care, your domination of the arena is soon to be over, when I finally deliver the double punch of the Battle of the Frozen Waste and The Fall of Atlantis and the Dawn of Human History. They might be ugly, they might be overly long and badly written, but I didn't name the latter mini-multiverser for laughs! Sweat, Walton-san, sweat!

          And as for you others, I'm over you too. Your games might be elegant, they might dance like butterflies and sting like bees, but they cannot hope to match the sheer bulk I've got coming at ya!

          In truth this is shaping up the be the Iron Game competition of all time, IMO. There's not one game I wouldn't play here, not one. I try not to get overly familiar with ya, but I've read every submission and they are all just great compared to my FLGS. I really wouldn't like to be the judge, this is developing to be an Impossible Mission for Judge-sama.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: greyorm on April 16, 2004, 01:58:09 PM
          At the Dawn

          The elves were the first people, the blessed, immortal children of the spirits of the One True Flame. They were made perfect, beautiful, and graceful, given the ands of the West to rule over eternally, The Land of Twilight, where the Two Trees rose bearing the Light of the World...one of silver, one of gold.

          But the Enemy had always lurked in the Darkness Beyond, jealous of creation, desirous of its bounty, and time had not stilled his frenzy, or tamed his desire, only inflamed it and encouraged his plots. Disguised as a great spider, the Enemy came to the West and crept across its plains to the Halls of the Undying, from where he stole the light from the Two Trees and fled with it across the icy seas, to the black northern wastes of the East, so close to the Darkness where he had spent eternity hidden from the One True Flame.

          It is a time before, of myth rather than history, when the great wars of the elves were fought against the hordes of dark beasts twisted by the Enemy. This is no time of men or goblins, but a time when the First Children of the World took up their swords and bows and chased the Enemy to his black fortress in the icy North, when they battled demons, werewolves, dragons, and more hideous things of the Night which whole nations of men would learn to fear, yet a single elf would face in titanic struggles of armies of light against armies of darkness.

          You are a Child of the First Land, of the West, most perfect of all things in creation. Immortal, eternally young, skilled with word and hand, sharp of eye and deep of spirit. It is to you to recover the Light of the Two Trees and return them to the West, in the Blessed Lands. It is your Heart which guides you, and the spirits of the One True Flame speak to it. Your sword is sharp, and will become legend, become magic, in a later age when the light of creation has dimmed, and mortal man steps new upon the world, and will speak of your ability and grace in quiet awe.

          There will be Tragedy, though, for the First Age of the world always ends by tragedy, quieting their youth and giving way to the slow unravelling of the years. You cannot die, though you can fall. You cannot die, though the Enemy can capture you and torture you, breaking and twisting your spirit. You cannot die, though your grace can be tortured from you with broken bones, torn skin, and poisoned thoughts.

          And there will be Victory, for the First Age to end, creation must stand, and not drift into darkness, hidden from and lost to the light of the One True Flame which created it. The One True Flame will protect you, and work through you. The Enemy will be banished once more to Darkness, his fortress will fall, and Creation's song will continue.

          And there will be Temptation, the Darkness will promise sweet things, and lure you into the Enemy's service, twisted and cursed. And Creation will ensnare your soul and beg you to stay, a tenant upon the Eastern shores meant for man, where Dawn is not yet come and the stars are constant and brilliant companions looking down from heaven.

          May you not fail in banishing the Enemy and reclaiming the Light of the Two Trees to return to the West.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: talysman on April 16, 2004, 02:06:29 PM
          IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

          part 3 (part 1 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114445#114445); part 2 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114814#114814))

          Magical Conflicts:

          magical conflicts are resolved by rolling a d10, as for ordinary conflicts, but one or more d6s are rolled simultaneously; the number and color of the d6s vary depending on the situation. the dice are of two colors, indicated as black and white, but other colors can be substituted; the black dice are called Curse Dice and indicate involuntary magical effects, like magical backfires, while the white dice are called Magic Dice and are required to preform voluntary magical effects. if a character doesn't have any Magic Dice available, that character cannont do magic.

          magical acts require a physical action: you have to make or do something and invest that action with magical power. flashy cinematic effects like throwing bolts of lightning are not possible, although causing lightning that already exists (in an ongoing storm, for example,) to strike an enemy *is* possible. in medieval superstition, magic was more about the  meaning of an event than its fantastic appearance. thus, you have cattle or people who sicken suddenly, which could be entirely natural, but the villagers suspect someone *wanted* that sickness to occur and look for a sorceror.

          the game mechanics of what you can do with magic:
          • boost damage to your next conflict roll;
          • reduce damage on your next conflict roll;
          • allow for a reroll on your next conflict roll;
          • bless someone (giving them persistent Magic Dice);
          • curse someone (giving them persistent Curse Dice);
          • produce an unusual description in an otherwise ordinary action (no mechanical effect);
          • invest magical points into something (potion, amulet, talisman, etc.) allowing those points to be used later.[/list:u]
            note that several of these options mention "the next conflict roll". this means that the magic roll can be used for a temporary situational advantage, carrying over its damage bonus or reduction to the next time the character is in a conflict. this can include boosting another magical conflict roll and carrying over those boosted results one or more times to generate massive damage. the bonus accumulated must be used by your next turn; you cannot make a magical conflict roll, roll for another unassociated conflict, then apply your magical boost two turns after the original roll. the only way to carry over magical points beyond the next roll is to invest the points into a magical creation.

            another concept important to magical rolls are the Curse Dice. Curse Dice represent involuntary magical effects, usually causing damage to the character affected by the Curse. Curse Dice are acquired in various ways: another sorceror can Curse you, there may be a Curse in the current location, or you may be pushing the limits of sorcery.

            on any magical conflict roll in the ordinary world, players must roll an extra Curse Die. this represents the potential for magical backfire; magic is a very fickle art. players do not roll this extra Curse Die in the astral world, nor do they need to roll this die in a highly magical location. players must also roll an extra Curse Die if they are in the ordinary world and:
            • they are not alone;
            • they are trying to produce an unnatural effect where it can be observed;
            • they have never performed sorcery before (this doesn't apply to player characters, normally.)[/list:u]
              also, if an area or object held is Cursed and the conditions of the Curse are active, sorcerors must add the Curse Dice associated with that Curse for the magical conflict. note that Cursed areas or objects can apply their Curse to otherwise ordinary conflicts; if a sword is Cursed to cause anyone who uses it to double over in pain, then the Curse Dice are rolled on any attack using the sword.

              white Magic Dice work in a similar manner to Curse Dice. sorcerors can use one extra Magic Die on any magical conflict roll in the astral world; further, each sorceror Class has a specific condition which grants an additional Magic Die. using magic potions, talismans, amulets, and the like allows extra Magic Dice as well, as does natural magic in rare magical locations. plus, even ordinary locations can grant an extra Magic Die if at least two of the following "superstitious conditions" apply:
              • there is no sunlight or moonlight visible in the area;
              • the magic is performed at a crossroads;
              • it's the day of the new moon;
              • the magic is performed in a circle of toadstools;
              • the magic is performed where three trees grow together as one.[/list:u]
                none of these conditions by themselves will grant a Magic Die, nor is there extra benefit for more than two.

                in addition, there are the magical diamonds known as "ice". ice is not a natural gemstone; it is created as a magical act in the astral realm. each small gem is invested with 1 magical point, which can be used once to add 1 Magic Die to a magical conflict roll; the gemstone dissolves when used, or when exposed to sunlight or moonlight.

                before getting into the gritty details of magical conflict rolls, it should be noted that there are three kinds of Magic and Curse dice: temporary, persistent, and permanent. Ice provides temporary Magic Dice: add them to the roll once and they disappear, whether they work or not. persistent dice can be added again and again until they *work*, then they disappear; these are the kind of dice found in magic items or cursed locations. persistent Curse Dice can also be cancelled by matching Magic Dice and vice versa; this will be demonstrated later. permanent dice are rare: the single bonus die in the astral realm is permanent, and so are the dice on holy relics; they can never be cancelled or exhausted.

                magical conflict rolls are handled in the following way: the player states the sorceror's intention, similar to an ordinary conflict, but includes the general appearance of the effect being attempted. ordinary total basic damage is figured the same as for ordinary conflicts; it will apply to the physical action being performed, but will not apply to the magical effect itself. next, the player checks to see how many Magic Dice are available; the player must be able to use at least one Magic Die from one of the above sources in order to perform a magical act at all, and can use up to 5 Magic Dice on one roll. after totalling the number of Magic Dice to roll, the GM tells the player if any Curse Dice are in effect, including the nature of the Curse that will be invoked, if any; if there are any Curse Dice with a vague effect, like the dice acquired from performing magic in the ordinary world, the player and the GM must agree on a magical backfire effect. players have the option of specifying that a magical backfire will occur as immediate damage or as a persistent Curse. again, as many as 5 Curse Dice may be rolled at once.

                initiative is determined in the same way as ordinary conflicts (indeed, other characters may be attempting ordinary actions at the same time.) the player rolls the d10 as well as 1-5 white d6 Magic Dice and 1-5 black d6 Curse Dice. the first thing checked is: do any of the Curse Dice match any of the Magic Dice? one Curse Die can cancel out one Magic Die of equal value, and vice versa.

                EXAMPLE: the player rolls three white dice and four black dice; the results are white: 2, 5, 5 black: 1, 2, 2, 5. the white 2 cancels out one of the black 2s, leaving one black 2, while one of the white 5s cancels out the black 5. thies leaves white: 5 black: 1, 2 as the result.

                the success of the physical action and the success of the magical meaning of that action are determined seperately; the physical action is resolved with the standard "even result = success, odd result = failure" technique. whether the result of the d10 is even or odd, check to see if it is less than or equal to any of the white Magic Dice remaining after the cancellation phase; any Magic Dice greater than or equal to the d10 result earns 1 magic point. likewise, if any of the remaining black Curse Dice are greater than or equal to the d10 result, the Curse effect or magical backfire is invoked and 1 backfire point is applied for each successful Curse Die result.

                EXAMPLE: on the previous example, the player rolled white: 2, 5, 5 and black: 1, 2, 2, 5, which left white: 5 black 1, 2 after cancellation. if the d10 result is 4, the player earned one magic point; if the d10 result is 2, the player earned one magic point and one point of Curse damage.

                if a player decides to invoke an advantage for a reroll, only the d10 is rerolled; the Magic Dice and Curse Dice are left on the table as-is. in fact, if a player attempts a magical conflict roll, earns one magic point, then decides to reroll, THE MAGIC POINT STAYS. the player can actually earn additional magic points on the reroll over and above what has already been earned. however, the same rule applies to Curse Dice; if you invoke a Curse on your first roll and then reroll, you may make the Curse worse.

                Magical Actions:

                any sorceror can perform any magical action, as long they have a Magic Die to produce the effect and any necessary props or conditions (for example, you can't brew a magic potion unless you have something to brew in.) this even applies to a non-sorceror who has acquired a Magic Die in some way: a thief who steals Ice and tries to work magic, for example, or someone who has been blessed, or even some desperate individual who buries a fertility doll at the crossroads one night at the dark of the moon. there is an extra Curse Die the first time a non-sorceror attempts magic; but after that, the character is a sorceror and has no extra penalty. once you've crossed the line, there's no way back.

                one basic magical action is to boost damage; this is typically used by AssaultMages (on physical attacks) and Warlocks (on social attacks), since they receive a bonus Magic Die on those actions. on a magical physical attack, the sorceror channels magical force into an ordinary attack; any magic points earned are added to damage points on a successful roll for increased damage. on a magical social attack, the process is similar, except that the warlock is spreading lies or sowing discord instead of stabbing a victim in the dark of night.

                another option is an indirect attack; in this case, the physical action required to "cast the spell" does not add ordinary damage points to the magic points earned. instead, magic points are applied as damage delivered through some pre-existing condition, such as a lightning strike during a thunderstorm or an ongoing illness. AssaultMages can apply their bonus die to indirect attacks as well as direct attacks, since it is still a physical assault. likewise, a Warlock can whisper insults to an effigy of a victim instead of spreading rumors directly; it helps mask the source of the social attack.

                Witches, on the other hand, specialize in reducing various forms of damage. by mixing an herbal poultice, a Witch can apply magic points to reduce damage points a victim has already taken.

                Witches, Warlocks and AssaultMages sometimes work at crosspurposes. someone suffering from a series of calamities might suspect sorcery as the cause, and may seek out a Witch or a Holy priest for help. aside from curing any damage already done, a Witch can attempt to track the source of the evil magic; this is treated as "damage" to the persecutor's concealment. once the persecutor has taken 5 points of "concealment damage", everyone in the community will know who is responsible for the attacks.

                sorcerors may also choose to apply persistent Magic or Curse Dice to a target instead of damage. if the target is a person, he or she can invoke the Magic Dice as many times as desired until they work or are cancelled by Curse Dice, at which point they are exhausted. in the case of Curse Dice, of course, the target has no choice, but must roll the Curse Dice on all applicable rolls until the Curse is invoked or cancelled. if the target is an object, anyone holding that object can invoke its Magic Dice, and anyone using a Cursed object invokes its Curse Dice until the dice are exhausted. if the target is a place, anyone in that place is affected in the same way.

                when sorcerors place a Curse, they must describe the unnatural tell-tale signs that the Curse is working ("May the victim's hair fall out!") either a Curse Die or Magic Die may be limited to certain conditions ("any man who draws a sword in this sanctuary will be stricken with pox!"); in that case, the Curse Dice or Magic Dice are only rolled when the conditions are met. sorcerors can only remove a Curse by pumping Magic Dice into a magical conflict that invokes the Curse, hoping to cancel the Curse Dice with matching Magic Dice results.

                Enchanters and other sorcerors may also create amulets, talismans, or other magical objects by investing them with magic points. magic points are used:
                • to boost ordinary damage;
                • to reduce ordinary damage;
                • to give an extra reroll;
                • to add a temporary Magic Die.[/list:u]
                  each magic point is used once, then lost.

                  one special form of enchantment is the creation of Ice. as mentioned previously, Ice can only be created in the astral realm. every Magic Die rolled that is equal to or higher than the d10 result rolled creates one Ice gem, which can be used later for one temporary Magic Die.

                  how do you get into the astral realm? this, too, is a magical action; it requires only one magic point to cross over into the astral void. this is the specialty of IceRunners, so they cross over into the astral much more frequently than other sorcerors; many sorcerors prefer to trade with IceRunners, exchanging their own services for bags of Ice. one thing to note about entering the astral realm: since vanishing from plain sight is an unnatural effect if observed EVEN BY THE SORCEROR VANISHING, sorcerors must roll an extra Curse Die when crossing over. for this reason, most sorcerors only cross into the astral realm when they are in a pitch-black room or cave.

                  crossing back into the ordinary realm does not take a roll normally, as long as the sorceror is not evading someone in the astral realm and returns to the spot originally left. if a roll is required, the sorceror gets a Magic Die from performing magic in the astral realm, plus one die if the sorceror is an IceRunner; no Curse Dice for being in the ordinary world are rolled, of course. IceRunners thus are also often used as smugglers and couriers, because they can travel long distances in the ordinary realm by entering the astral realm and then leaving immediately to a different physical location.

                  the astral void is exactly that: a black void, sometimes with the faint suggestion of swirling mist. sorcerors can create astral islands in the void using standard enchantment procedures, putting at least one Magic Die into the island to maintain it. astral islands are dimly glowing grey discs, roughly three yards across for every Magic Die worth of size. astral islands can be drained, just like other enchanted objects, but this causes the island to shrink; if it loses all its Magic Dice, the island vanishes. since astral islands are normally created as storage areas for precious items, draining an island is not considered appropriate behavior; any objects on an island when it vanishes are cast loose into the astral void and must be located individually.

                  setting details, including rules for handling The Holy, werewolves, elves, and enchanted beasts, as well as what sorcerors do and how they relate to each other and the medieval world, will be covered in the next installment.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: talysman on April 16, 2004, 02:17:50 PM
          Iron Chef Laviolette sweats a bit after this prodigious effort, and glances at the ever-ticking clock of the RPG Stadium. he has just prepared the meat of the main dish, with its simple die mechanic seasoned with quirky Curse Dice and Magic Dice, but he still needs the special sauces and seasonings of the setting itself, as well as the dice vegetables and fruits of the reward system and GM techniques. oh my! that's at least two more parts to complete before sunday!


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 16, 2004, 02:37:28 PM
          Quote from: greyorm

          At the Dawn


          Of course! What label of nincompoops we have to be to not realise that one?! "More tolkienist than thou" indeed... The competition has been going for almost a week, and nobody could think of that. Shame on me especially, with my confidence that nobody could top the Battle in the tolkienist cuisine.

          Holmes-sama no doubt has been laughing at us in our self-confidence. Well, it's good that finally someone cared to remember Silmarillion. Could have endangered the honor of the competition, that kind of lapse.

          Great to see someone think for half-a-minute before running off to cook.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Zak Arntson on April 16, 2004, 04:08:05 PM
          Terra Australis

          He's set aside the li hing squid for now, and is producing a variety of annuals. His assistant seems to be preparing some kind of sauce, and boy does it stink! Flowers? Stinky sauce? What will this side dish be?

          ---

          I'm making my design process as transparent as I can, hoping to provide the same enjoyment for you that I get watching the cook at Thai Tom (http://seattle.citysearch.com/profile/10781278).  I am ready to divulge the hearty entree of character design! It's pretty simple, actually. To define your character, you come up with the following:

           Name
           Nationality
           Curiosity

          Name & Nationality are simple. Just pick something or do a google search on, say, "Persian Names". Curiosity is what makes your character a monster. Vedun's Curiosity would be, "Psychic, squid-headed." Kreykir's Curiosity is, "Thawed viking, body temperature still below freezing."

          The next part of your sheet has a blank space marked Resource Points. You start the game with 3 stones here (a stone is easier than writing & erasing points).

          The final (and large) section on your sheet is labeled Resources. It is nearly empty, with each slot consisting of two spots, Name and Type. With a starting character, you get two resources. The first is your Curiosity (no type for this one), and is written on your sheet for you. Your other resource can be one of four types, your choice:

           PC Relationship - If you wish, you can create a relationship between yourself and another PC. Both players must agree on this. The nature of the relationship needn't be hammered out now. Write "PC" for short, under Type.
           NPC Relationship - Write down the NPC's name. Again, don't worry about the nature of the relationship, yet. Write "NPC" under Type.
           Thing - An item which your character can use during play.
           Fate - Something you'd like to have happen to your character.

          Vedun got NPC Relationship, Mecher. Kreykir got Thing, Icy War-Axe.

          What's next? The system, which I've almost figured out. This means the character sheet/creation is in the "nearly done" phase, since a change in the system could reflect a change in the sheet.

          ---

          I can't believe it, but somehow the flowered stink sauce is growing on us! The delicate pungency is breathtaking. But what will it be ladled over?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 16, 2004, 06:41:20 PM
          Mahoutsukai!
          Recurring Antagonists for Snow From Korea

          There are people in the world who dabble in the dark magic of blood, mahoutsukai. Not honourable samurai, of course! But the mad scholars of Qin, the man-eating savages of the southern islands, even the otherwise reasonable aristocrats of Korea have their own inauspicious powers. These rules allow the HEK to create and play recurring characters, in a deeper and more complex way than by simply describing successive encounters as having the same people in them. The HEK may create a mahoutsukai at the beginning of the game, at the same time as the players are creating samurai. This character is her Big Gun; he can be brought out when she feels the need to give a samurai a particularly hard time.

          Creating the Mahoutsukai:
          Creating the mahoutsukai is very similar to creating a samurai. First; the HEK should write a descriptive haiku for the sorceror, and then name him. She should secretly decide a nefarious plan that the mahoutsukai intends to implement. The next step is to assign numbers to his Facets. The HEK has as many points as the players to distribute, and obeys the same rules, with one exception: a mahoutsukai may have 0 in one Facet, but not two. As with samurai, mahoutsukai may also have School, Culture, and Inheritance, if you are using those optional rules. Record these initial Facet scores.

          A mahoutsukai's Facets mean something slightly different than those of samurai, since he is twisted by darkness. His Awaré is his sensitivity to the fragility of things, and his fondness of breaking them. It is not empathy and consciousness of beauty. Similarly, his Kenjutsu is not his knowledge of the arts of combat; it is his bloodthirstiness and knowledge of inflicting injury. His Tanka represents his twisted, demonic lore. Finally, his Snow score represents his reserves of unholy energy. If you are using the optional Inheritance rules, the mahoutsukai does not benefit from the "finding the Snow" rule; he must redirect Facet gains to his Snow in order to empower himself.

          Using the Mahoutsukai:
          In the place of a normal encounter, the HEK may have the mahoutsukai challenge a samurai. The challenge is resolved according to the normal Challenge rules. In addition, the mahoutsukai may not challenge with the same Facet twice in a row, and the HEK may only use him once per turn cycle per three samurai, rounding up. (So she may use him once per turn cycle with three samurai, or twice per turn cycle if there are four.) The first time the mahoutsukai appears, the HEK should reveal his nefarious plan to the players as part of the scene.

          At the end of the game:
          The mahoutsukai's points are scored at the end of the game in the same method as those of the samurai. If he ends the game with the highest score, then he has achieved his nefarious plan. The HEK should narrate a short scene where he gloats. Nonetheless, this cannot prevent the samurai from returning home safely, nor does it prevent the samurai with the highest score from winning the game.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Crackerjacker on April 16, 2004, 06:44:45 PM
          Weapon, Vehicle, and Shelter rules for Dawn of the Day of the Monsters



          Friendly Guidelines to Deadly Weapons:
          Knives come in a variety of flavors, the different styles most adept at different ways of killing things. The gamemaster and player should flesh out the personalities of knives and blade weapons in general, as lack of specifics often leads to Katanaz Syndrome (tm)

          Bashing weapons such as baseball bats can and often are deadly and/or crippling, in the right hands. The effects of a attack reside in the gamemaster's assesment of the player character's capacities and the description of the action taken by said character.

          Crowbars and many other edged objects can be used as bashing weapons and to more specifically deadly ends if the edges are taken advantage of. This should be kept in mind by the gamemaster and player while such objects are being used.

          On the subject of objects, almost anything can be used as a weapon. It is up to the gamemaster to decide the effectiveness, but ultimately up to the player on how their character is going to use something as a instrument of hurt.

          Kung Fu:
          Unarmed combat is allowed in DDM according the the specific mood/tone the gamemaster is going for. For the all out trashy mood of the game, average guys and gals should be able to perform windmill kicks and pull of unrealistic haymakers, fancy martial arts moves, and televised wrestling style manuevers. However never underestimate a Goblin (soldier) or O.R.C.'s fu.

          Gun Laws:
          Revolver (six shots, max of 3 at once)
          Pistol (eight shots, max of 2 at once)
          -hand guns rule-: Handguns can be stored in sleeves, holsters, pockets, inside of pants, in belts, in backpacks, and even taped to the body.
          Rifle (seven shots, max of 1 at once)
          -sniping rule-: Sniping can theoretically instantly kill anyone, but not only is the sniper going to have little chance to miss and not lose her shot usually, but also is prone and unaware of her surroundings except for the area she is looking at through the scope
          Submachine Gun (3 long bursts, or 6 short bursts)
          Mounted Machine Gun (1 minute continous fire, or 20 bursts)
          -the machine guns rule-: machineguns are the best for killing multiple targets in one turn. However a machinegun or smg can only be used to shoot in one 5 foot area, arcing the fire across said area, per burst. Exceptions for BFG mounted machineguns might be made by the gamemaster
          -multiple targets rule-: in one set of shooting, the shooter can use his shots (such as 3 squeezed off quickly for a revolver) on different targets, though the more targets and the more of the rush the less severe the damage will be and the less a chance of hitting all targets is.

          All rules apply not only to the Player's characters but also to the Non-player characters. Gamemasters are reccomended to not lightly choose to circumvent this general rule.

          This Bag of Holding- Carrying rules:
          Player's characters cannot at any times carry more objects with them than fill a backpack, the hands, and any satchels, belts, straps, or holsters the character has at the time without sacrificing the ability to draw or use weapons without first dropping the extra load. Thus the greedy are often making a fatal mistake.

          Vehicular Manslaughter:
          Breaking into vehicles is fun and easy for the average Texan, and most vehicles have the keys left in them. Said vehicles crash/explode almost immediately after any real progress of motion starts being made, with exceptions for vans, motorcycles, and any vehicles the player characters work together to "fix up", though said fixed up vehicles are doomed to eventually meet an untimely end. Another rule- the better protected a vehicle the harder it is to get out of.

          Trapped in a Shopping Mall...:
          All fortifications can and will at some point be comprimised. This said, even the most ramshackle hunting lodge can be fortified to keep out hordes of muties, as long as the player's characters either constantly maintain it or leave quickly. Often a door blocked with a two by four will still be securely shut after being left for an hour, but five minutes after the player character's getting back there it will start to come off it's hinges.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Ben Lehman on April 16, 2004, 07:26:57 PM
          Polaris

          To understand the nature of your fight, you must understand the world as it is now.  And to understand the world as it is now, you must understand how it was before.

          As it was Before:

          Polaris: The Snow Drop City

             Under the steady, vigilant light of the pole star, there was once a great city.  Built of ice and starlight, its people lived a life of untold bliss and happiness, eating thin delicacies, toasting each other with the twinkling wine of their eternal night sky.  The stars spun at their command, and in their citadels they crafted rainbow walls that cast the stars blue and red, and in those places their shadows danced with each other and the starlight.  The people, in that time, did not know hunger, did not know age, and did not know fear.  Their life was one of love and beauty, and pale lights shining eternal against the deepest shadow, for they were beautiful, and their music was more beautiful, and their queen was the most beautiful of all.

             This glorious time was only a single night, but it might also be said to have been eternity.  The people, in that age, did not measure time, for they did not yet know fear.

          That Golden Rainbow: The Dawn

             It was in the reign of King Polaris MCCXII that the sightings first began.  At first it was thought to be that sort of gentle madness that strikes the greatest artists, but at times it came to be understood as some sort of regular phenomenon: that subtle rose, like a star blossoming flat and wide, that dappled the horizon, subtle and perhaps easily missed.  It reflected new colors -- yellow and green and gold -- inside the rainbow chambers and, because it was new, the people called it beautiful and named it dawn.  It became apparent that that subtle, disappearing dawn came at regular times, and so the King, who loved it more than anything, commissioned the construction of the Calendar -- a great mechanical device for the measurement and construction of time.  The thrummings, tickings, and clackings of that infernal device filled that halls of Polaris, and for the first time the people knew something that was not beautiful.

             At those rare moments of dawn, the king began to hold court in the highest towers, and during those times they did not eat or sleep or even dance, but merely sat motionless and watched that steady, heavy star that suffused the sky.  And, perhaps, the dawn was pleased by the king's actions (as much as such a thing could be said to be pleased), for when it came it came brighter, and longer, and soon the king was locked away from his city almost forever, watching that circling, vacant light.

             The musicians that saw the dawn would only draw from it a long, hideous scream, but no one paid them any heed.  Music was out of style at the court.

          Polaris's Bride: The Snow Queen

             There were those among the people who were not so trusting of the dawn.  Polaris's bride, who was called by some the Snow Queen, was foremost among them.  In the secret and darkest hallways of the people, where the malevolent light of the dawn could not reach them, they held their own shadow court, and in that shadow court they spoke of the screechings of the musicians, of the soft and continuous melting that struck the outer reaches of the city, and in that court they swore oaths by the highest star to stop the dawn's fell influence.

             And it is in this manner, cowering the dark, that the order of the Star Knights was first begun.  First among them was the Queen's champion -- Algol -- who wore a starlight sword even at the most formal of occasions, and it was decided that this sword should become their symbol.

             It was an Order formed in the oldest tradition, and sanctified with a kiss and, it is said by some, was the root of the Mistake.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Rich Forest on April 16, 2004, 07:35:11 PM
          Jonathon, Eero, thanks for the excitement--I'm writing feverishly this morning, and I can only hope it lives up to half of your expectations! And hey, Eero, if it's good enough and I can work out all the kinks, I definitely plan to fill it out and make an honest-to-god, with art, for sale .pdf out of it... you may just have the chance to pay for some version of it after all ;-)

          (As an aside, a wow goes out to all the games in this thread. I'm being driven to work harder on mine because of how cool the other entries are!)

          And now, back to that work.

          Rich


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Asrogoth on April 16, 2004, 09:55:55 PM
          I am fighting myself to keep from posting anything else right now as I've got a whole lot of information to add, but I want to sift through it and just go ahead and finalize what I want to present.

          Chairman Holmes-san,

          If posting information "contrary" to that which has already been posted, we should make sure to clarify that our "latest" post is the most relevant and "complete" to avoid any errors in the Judge's understanding, correct?

          I hope to present my "revised version" sometime either late tomorrow or Sunday, which will contain a few changes from what has already been stated....  I hope that is not a problem as the dishes I had planned seem to work better with different amounts of some seasonings, and require additional flavors which I managed to scrounge from the local convenience store.

          Always,
          -Asrogoth


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Ben Lehman on April 17, 2004, 01:04:52 AM
          Polaris

          The Mistake in Time

          It is spurious to consider the Mistake simply a moment in time, just as spurious as to consider the Mistake as simply the festering pillar of smoke that now lies at the pole.  The Mistake identifies the People today as much as the ice, the stars, or the sun, and is as complex as any of them.

          Many stories are told about the Mistake, its nature, its origins, and its history.  Some say that it has always been there -- that the time of Polaris and the stars is simply a myth for children.  Others say that it is not there at all -- that it is merely an illusion created by the summer sun.  But most say that it was done, and that it was done by the people, and so they must take up the blame for their own destruction.

          There are many stories about the Mistake, but no one among the people knows the truth.  The histories, if there ever were histories, have been lost and, although the libraries list books on the subject, they are filled only with ashes and not with words.

          Some stories say that, as the Queen and Algol drew closer together, they became lovers and, as whatever affection there once was between the King and his Queen melted into nothing, the King grew increasingly paranoid and, eventually, entombed himself and his highest councillors in the highest tower of the city Polaris, where they performed great and terrible rituals to the sun -- things that were not music and were not dances -- and some further speak in hushed whispers about the terrible prices that the dawn from them as it burned their blood red, prices paid in skulls, flesh, and still beating hearts.

          Some say that, in a devastating assault on the King's dawn cult, the Order of the Stars struck and destroyed the foul apparatus of the Calendar, leaving only rubble where there were once its intricate gears and springs.  Without that machine, the dawn worshippers did not know when their deity might return and, as the darkness wore on, they grew fearful that it would not.  The King flew into a mad fit, and declared that they must sacrifice what was most precious to them that the dawn might return.  In some twisted sense of altruism, he offered up the life of his Queen in service of his diabolical goal and, would it not for the timely intervention of her champion Algol, would have cut her open upon the remains of his machine.  Algol and the King fought on that machine and, as their icicle blood mingled with their beloved Queen upon it, strange alchemies began to emerge.

          Some say that the King learned of a certain type of crystal that might magnify the sun, and constructed a great one in his high tower above the Calendar and the city Polaris.  Even as the crystal was being built, the Order of the Stars struck out at it but, as that fearsome battle ensued, the dawn rose up and was transformed by that crystal into the Sun.  Terrified by that burning star, all of the People rose up as one to fight against it, but even then they and their city were destroyed by its power.

          Some say that the Order of the Stars, in desperation to escape the dawn, dug into the ice, deeper even than the sewers, deeper even than the ancient and abandoned hovels of their ancestors, deep into some terrible realm of water and fire, and there they met with the demons, and led them to the city, for they feared the dawn even more than they feared hell.

          Some say that the transformation of the mysterious dawn into the terrible fun is a process as natural as the transformation of sight into music, and that the politics of the time were merely the reactions of an ignorant people to an unknown phenomenon.

          In truth, the answer is not known but, in the end, the city was all but destroyed and that smoky Mistake was permanently written beneath the Sentinel Star.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Ben Lehman on April 17, 2004, 01:10:23 AM
          Polaris

          As it is Now

             The world now is a shattered remnant of its former glory, but still some things might be saved.

          The People:

             The people of Polaris are tall, thin, and beautiful.  Their hair is pale silver, white, or gold, and their pale skin is so thin that you can see blue veins running through it.  Their eyes are pale blue, or pale red, or sometimes, rarely, green or white.  They are so beautiful that if you saw them, it would stop your heart, and so beautiful that at times they move even themselves to tears.  Their speech, when they deign to use is, is like the sound of water freezing, and their anger sounds like the cracking of a glacier.  Their tempers tend towards art and music, although they are capable of grand feats of combat and engineering when roused to action.

             Each of the families among the People has a patron star, and they are named for that followed, in more formal occasions, by a number, which indicates not line of descent but age among those presently alive.  In yet more formal occasions, a list of titles and offices will be given.

          The Four Remnants:

             The majority of the people live in four settlements, each spaced equadistant from each other and the Mistake.  Each of these settlements is a single structure -- a great towering citadel of ice, starlight, and crystal -- and each has been rendered into a fortress by the work of the Order.  The smooth and winding hallways each lead to great vistas of the open ice, the retiring rooms are befitting in silks both spider and star-woven, and the grand council chambers are homes to ceremonies so beautiful that they call up tears from within the hardest heart.  But it is important to remember that each is a shadow of the former glory of Polaris, for in the times of the Capital they were merely the most remote of country neighborhoods, barely even fit to be called part of that great, single City.

             The Four Remnants are named Southkeep, Southreach, Tallstar and Southplain.  There are important differences between each of them (Southplain, for example, keeps the greatest surviving library of books from the previous age, and Southreach is famous for its music) but these are left for the individual explorer to discover.

             There are roads between the remnants, but they are seldom used by any save the Knights Stellar.

          The Mistake in Space

             The Mistake, in center of the four remnants is, to most of the people, merely a blight on their beautiful sky, something to be considered in landscaping and window arrangement, for where the heart of the city Polaris once basked beneath the light of the Sentinel Star there is now a great tower of pale smoke leading up to the sky.

             To the knights, of course, it represents much more than an aesthetic stain on the landscape -- it is a symbol of their greatest failure, perhaps their greatest sin, and it is also a symbol of the demons that they fight.  The Mistake, and the hatred of it, is the center of the Order of the Stars. -- even more than the cities and the people that they love, even more than their star light swords and their patrons above, even more than the sun that they are sworn to fight.  It is the Mistake that beckons them to Crusade, the Mistake that spawns the demons that haunt them, the Mistake that gives them a reason to exist at all.

             No one has entered the Mistake and returned in any form but that of a demon, though this does not stop crusading knights from trying.

          The Neighboring Families

             At times, the Knights Stellar will discover other parts of the city that were left somehow intact by the Mistake.  Most often, these are abandoned, although they are often left shockingly intact and may yield artifacts and lore from the Night Age.  But, sometimes, they are inhabited, and this is much more dangerous for the Knight.  Sometimes they people there have become isolated and feral, sometimes they have preserved their own pieces Polaris, sometimes they have been twisted into the worship of demons.  Sometimes, there are no people at all, but demons living together in some twisted mockery of civilization.

             But always, people are dangerous.

             It is the general policy of the Knights to attempt to rehabilitate these neighborhoods and put them in contact with the remnants.  But no one ever asks questions about such things.

          The Demons

             The demons that emerge from the Mistake take on many different forms, and to try to speak of them all is impossible in such a short space.  A brief overview will have to suffice, and the intrepid explorer will have to discover the nature of these foul creatures on her own.

          Those of Blood and Flesh

             These most obvious of demons pour forth from the Mistake every Spring in multifarious and improbable bodies.  Most are roughly in the shape of people, although there are those that resemble beasts, or spiders, or shapeless blobs of transparent flesh.  Spikes of bone protrude rudely from wounds in their hides, and their teeth are long and yellowed with the marks of meat.  Some demons are great monstrous creatures, but yet have muscle and bone like the people.  Others are merely skeletal, or blood sculpted into a stable form by some sort of foul will.  Some of the more human wear the blood-stained fineries of their prey and others, the less human, wear the skins of those that they have eaten.

             These demons shape their blood into weapons, or breath poison, or tear things apart with their claws.  To a one, they hunger for the flesh of the People, and will stop at nothing to get it, although some prefer to drink blood, and others to eat bones, and still others only for the beat of hearts.  When they are cut, they bleed red, and hot enough to melt ice and burn flesh.  Many are mindless, slavering beasts, but others are clever, and some might even be called subtle.  They are not opposed to sieges, and they understand stealth, infiltration, and patience.

             It is said, amongst the knights, that there are some demons that are more sly than mere warriors -- some that have mastered the art of wearing the skins of the people as disguises, and others have learned to crawl into the brains of the people and turn their thoughts and wills to the purposes of whatever lurks within the Mistake.

          Those of Heart and Soul

             But there are more insidious demons, which have no forms at all.  Some of them are capable of taking the bodies of individuals amongst the people, whilst others are merely a feeling in the heart, a sinister cast to the light, or the bright color in a sunny rainbow.  These demons easily penetrate the remnant fortresses, and manipulate the people within to their own agenda.  Although the knights are often resistant to their powers, the other people are far too susceptible, and such a demon is often capable of enormous harm before it is rooted out and destroyed, if it ever is.

             Such demons are difficult, though not impossible, to fight.  They cannot be cut, even by the starlight swords of the knights, and they are often strong enough to overcome a simple exorcism.  Fortunately, each one has a weakness but, unfortunately, each weakness is unique.

             These incorporeal demons are often intelligent enough to have their own goals and purposes, and sometimes they have be turned against each other, for they are highly susceptible to each others attack.  Sometimes, knights even come to an "understanding" with a Demon of the Heart, and this is often the start of the knight's corruption.

          The Snow Man and the Ice Maiden

             The most terrifying demons within the hoard are not giant, slavering monsters, nor are they the barely noticeable puffs of poisoned wind.  The greatest among the demons are not demons at all -- they are people.

             Only rarely ever sighted, the Snow Man appears to be the greatest general among the demons, and greatly respected by their kind.  He is one of the people, golden-haired, and he wields a starlight sword that burns bright and hot with the fire of the sun.  His blood is so cold that it has frozen into icicles that break through his skin, but for all that he is tall and strong and one of the people.  He has been known, at times, to speak with knights, and though he has been driven back and defeated many times, even killed, he returns the same every summer.

             The Ice Maiden is even more rarely seen.  She is the epitome of beauty among the people -- thin and silver-haired, with eyes the white color of the guardian.  She wanders alone the wasted landscape between the Remnants, and is most often seen from a distance, singing melancholy songs that can only be heard by the saddest of souls.  Snow falls from her breath, and her kiss turns the most loving heart to ice.

             Some among the knights say that the Snow Man and the Ice Maiden
          are Polaris's Queen and her champion, Algol, turned by the Mistake's cruel irony into servants of the Sun.  If you listen to the stories, this makes sense.  But the truth is not that simple.

             The Snow Man and the Ice Maiden are every knight that has ever, frustrated and angry, cast lots against the people, every knight who has ever despaired of his people's faith, every knight who has ever turned to the demons with a corrupt and blackened heart.  The Snow Man and the Ice Maiden are terrible because they are mighty, yes, but they are all the more terrible because they are the future of every knight who does not perish in battle against them.  They are most terrible because, with one look into their eyes, you know that once, a forgotten age ago, they meant well.

             (Optional Rule: Any encounter with the Snow Man or the Ice Maiden automatically invokes the "Knight of the Order of the Stars" trait as a demonic invocation.)

          Quote from: announcer

          That's the first mention of mechanics from Chef Lehman, which is an unusal change of pace for this usually rules-oriented designer.  It seems maybe that he's trying for some sort of high-concept sim or possibly narrativsist-setting game, but with only background and setting, can he hope finish in time?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Zak Arntson on April 17, 2004, 01:14:45 AM
          Terra Australis
          ---

          Is it? Yes! His dish is ready. Will the judges appreciate li hing squid with stinksauce-glazed spider tripe on the side?

          ---

          It's here! The final Iron Game Chef draft of Terra Australis, the historical fantasy game set in icy islands where Australia should have been. Players assault a weird invasion, head-on, in a world created by their own collaboration.

          ---
          Before Play
          Before you start, you need to get your materials ready. You will need six-sided dice for each participant (five or six dice per person would be good). The players will also need some marker, like stones, to represent their characters' Resource scores; you should need about ten stones per player. Finally, each player needs a character sheet and something to write with.

          ---
          First Evidences
          Your group will create the world around you through the use of Evidences. These Evidences are any facts which change the baseline reality: The reality of Earth in 1691. All Terra Australis games begin with four Evidences already in written for you.

          Terra Australis: Where Australia would be, there are a countless number of frozen islands, many of which hide the secrets behind the strange invasion.
          The Bastion: The staging ground of humanity's last hope. The Bastion is a complex built right into the frozen ice and rock of Van Diemen's Islands (the modern day Bellamy Islands), nestled snugly in Horror's Bay.
          The World Royal Society: Established by cooperation among all reasonable cultures, the World Royal Society is an organization devoted to fighting whatever dark forces have been unleashed on the world.
          Robert Hooke: An intellectual, ambitious man, and leader of the World Royal Society. He holds sway over the Bastion, presiding over everything from its scientific inquiries to its mundane construction.

          With these Evidences in place, your group creates a new set of Evidences. New Evidences cannot contradict existing ones, but they can augment them. Your group's new Evidences need to answer the following questions:

          How are the monstrous player characters named? Giving the PCs a unifying name may add some flavor to your game. They could be called angels, nephilim, monsters, irregulars. Anything to strengthen the PCs' bonds and separate them from the humans. You should also include some theory or fact of their actual creation, as well.
          What was the enemy's first worldwide assault on Earth? Even if the enemies have been around Earth, you need to provide the first global uprising and attack.
          What is Robert Hooke's theory on the invaders? This may be refuted by later Evidences, but you must create the prominent theory behind the invaders. Are they antediluvian horrors? Creatures from Saturn? You may try to combine this answer with the player characters' name answer; perhaps the enemy and the PCs are viewed as two sides of the same coin.
          What is the weird globalizing science? The world of the late 17th century bore little technology to unite the world. There must be some strange science that allowed all the cultures to not only communicate, but to travel across the oceans. This needn't be commonplace, so if you don't want to completely modify the world, make the science a scarce commodity, possibly hoarded by the World Royal Society.

          If you cannot agree on creating an Evidence, then have the disagreeing participants roll dice. The highest roller gets to pick an unanswered question and answer it with Evidence.

          These Evidences should be written down, and made available to the entire group. Try picking someone with good handwriting, or using a laptop (provided it doesn't distract anyone) for keeping track of your Evidences. Alternately, everyone has a copy of the Evidence list, and modifies it when appropriate.

          Note: If the history of 1691 seems too strange for your group, try moving it to a different historical era. In this case, Terra Australis and The Bastion will likely remain the same, but you will need to invent (or pull from history) a new global organization and their leader.

          ---
          Character Creation
          Now all the players create their characters. Your character sheet should have the following written on it: Name, Nationality, Curiosity, Resource Points. Additionally, the character sheet should have an empty space for writing a list of Resources, where each Resource receives Name and Type. The first Resource is always Curiosity (which has no Type). A sample character sheet can be found here: http://www.harlekin-maus.com/games/terra_australis/charsheet.html

          To create your character, you first invent a name, nationality, and (most importantly) a curiosity. It is the curiosity which makes your character a monster. Skin like stone or made of visible ectoplasm are both fine curiosities. It is this curiosity referenced by your curiosity Resource.

          A starting character receives five Resource Points. Put that many stones into the Resource Points section.

          Finally, you create your second Resource. This can be one of four types. You write down the Resource's name, type and strength. All Resources, including curiosity, begin with a strength of 1.

          PC Relationship: Recommended for people who have already played Terra Australis. This is a bond between your PC and another PC. You don't need to flesh out the relationship yet. If you pick the PC Relationship, the other player must reciprocate by also picking this Resource. Under Name, you provide the PC's name. Under type, write "PC". The strength begins at 1.
          NPC Relationship: A link between you and some NPC. Like the PC Relationship, you needn't write down anything other than the NPC's name (you invent this), a type of "NPC".
          Item: Something your PC owns which can come in handy. This can be anything, including a weapon or a good luck charm. Under name, describe the item; under type, put "Item".

          Now that your group is ready, it's time to begin!

          ---
          The Game Begins

          The GM opens play by providing the group with some mission. This mission should be given a Mission Difficulty, determined by how tough the GM wants the mission to be. For a starting group, a Difficulty of ten should work fine. As your group continues to play, you will get a feel for how the players spend their Resource Points, and what constitutes a good Mission Difficulty. As a player, when you succeed at something, you may opt to turn your successes (explained later) into Mission Points, a total the entire group shares. As soon as the Mission Points equals or exceeds the Mission Difficulty, the mission can be finished with a Mission Roll (also explained later).

          If the PCs are experienced (i.e., not newly created), each player gets to add one free Resource to their character sheet, or increase an existing Resource's strength by one. In addition, bring any PC's Resource Points up to five, if they aren't there (or higher) already.

          Play can be divided into two separate modes of operation. The first mode is simple and common to most roleplaying games, where the GM provides the narration, exerts control over situations, answers questions, and handles player-initiated PC activity. Anything which wouldn't be interesting if the outcome was uncertain. Different groups have different ideas on this, so be sure to work this out. For example, some groups would love to have a hard time scaling an ice wall, while others would just want to skip to the temple at the top. The second mode is called a Roll, and is described further.

          When in the first mode, the GM and players must adhere to the Evidences provided, but may embellish them as desired. To create or modify Evidence (and many other things), as GM or player, you initiate a Roll. During this first mode, anyone may initiate a roll at any time (within the boundaries of polite behavior).

          Rolls
          The GM or a player may initiate a Roll. Whoever initiates the Roll tells the group what type of Roll it will be.

          Resource: You can stress a Resource in an attempt to modify your Resources and Resource Points.
          Evidence: When attempting to add or change an Evidence and earn points (Mission and Resource).
          Mission: To complete the mission. This type may only be chosen when the group's Mission Points equal or exceed the Mission Difficulty!
          Conflict: This is anything with the potential to harm PCs and NPCs. Monsters, disasters, that sort of thing.

          When someone initiates a roll, everyone rolls dice. Whoever initiated the Roll gets three dice. Everyone else rolls two. Everyone examines their dice and determines the following:

          Successes: Your successes are the number of dice which turn up 5 or 6.
          Total: Everyone sums the numbers rolled.

          Control of the Roll is then passed from participant to participant (GM and player alike) in the order of total, from highest to lowest. In some cases, control ends before it is passed.

          Changing a Roll Type
          If you are a player in control of a Conflict, Evidence or Resource Roll, you may spend a one Resource Point to change the type to any other. When doing this, you spend your point, using one of your Resources, and tell everyone the new type. You tell the GM how your chosen Resource allows you to change the type, and the GM narrates this happening. You resolve the Roll with its new type, as explained below.

          Control of a Resource Roll
          If the Roll is a Resource Roll when it reaches the GM, the GM is skipped for this Roll.
          You may not spend Resource Points to augment this Roll, though you may spend a Resource Point to change the Roll type (see above). For every success, you must choose one of three things: Increase your Resource Points by one, increase a Resource's strength by one, or create a new Resource with 1 point of strength. You pick one (or more) of your Resources and describe its stress or manipulation, which the GM narrates in-game. The GM can veto a new Resource, provided he has justification (for example, if your group is stuck in a tomb, the new Resource probably won't be a new NPC).If you have zero successes, you pass control to the player with the next highest total.

          If you succeed, the Resource Roll ends now, regardless of any lesser totals.

          Example: Mark gains two successes with his Resource Roll. He adds one to Vedun's Resource Points, and one to his NPC Relationship with Mecher. He tells the GM, "The ground falls away beneath Mecher's feet, and is saved by Vedun."

          Control of an Evidence Roll
          All participants, GM and player, may take control of an Evidence Roll. You may spend a Resource Point to change the type. Otherwise, you may spend a Resource Point to roll another die, including it as a success if it rolls a 5 or 6. When spending a Resource Point, you justify it to the group (subject to GM veto) and the GM narrates.

          If you have zero successes, pass control to the next highest total. Otherwise, if you're a player, divide your successes among Resource Points and Mission Points, as you see fit. You also get to alter an existing Evidence or add a new one. Any alterations or additions must not contradict other Evidences. If you are a player, you write the new Evidence, explain how it came to light, and the GM narrates this.

          Like a Resource Roll, if you succeed, control is not passed and this Roll ends.

          Example: Grace modifies the Robert Hooke Evidence. She adds the sentence, Projects himself astrally onto the islands by some means. "He claims to have never set foot on this island, so how was he able to describe this temple entrance in such detail?"

          Control of a Mission Roll
          Only the players may take control of a Mission Roll. The GM is skipped. You may spend Resource Points to augment this roll, just like the Evidence Roll. If you roll at least one success, you not only decide how the mission is completed, but you get to narrate it as well!

          If you succeed, control is not passed, this Roll ends, and play is over.

          Control of a Conflict Roll
          Whoever rolled the highest total starts this conflict. Look at your dice and select one of them. That dice's number becomes the Conflict Difficulty, and the group's Conflict Points are set to zero. While the Conflict Points are less than the Conflict Difficulty, whenever a participant gains control, the type reverts back to Conflict (regardless of whether the previous controlling person changed it).

          As the GM, if you earned any successes, the conflict swings against the PCs but is not overcome. A failure indicates the PCs gain the upper hand. This is purely for narration purposes, and has no affect on any scores.

          As player, you can spend Resource Points to roll another die. Pick the Resource, justify its use and, if allowed, roll the extra die. If it comes up a 1, subtract one point from the Resource's strength. If the strength is brought down to zero, see Damage, below.

          If you succeed, even if a Resource was damaged, your successes can be divided among the Conflict Points, Mission Points and your Resource Points, as you see fit. You explain how your PC succeeded, and the GM narrates. If you fail, the GM narrates this. There are no other penalties for failure.

          At the end of a Conflict Roll, if the group has not earned enough Conflict Points, another Conflict Roll is made. Whoever got the lowest total in the last Roll initiates this next Roll. For this next Roll (and subsequent Rolls in this Conflict), however, no new points are added to the Conflict Difficulty.

          Example: It's Mark's turn. He has rolled a 2 and a 3, for zero successes. He spends a Resource Point, using his NPC Relationship, Mecher, and rolls a 5. He now has one success, which he spends on a Conflict Point. He explains that Mecher used a statue as a club, and the GM runs with that.

          Damage
          Any Resource brought to zero strength is considered damaged. Depending on the Resource's type, damage means different things:
          PC Relationship: The PC named in your relationship loses a Resource Point. If the PC reaches zero Resource points, she may die. See PC Death, below. If the PC does die, cross this Resource off your sheet.
          NPC Relationship: The NPC is killed and removed from your character sheet. If you immediately halve your Resource Points (rounding down), the NPC is rendered unconscious or otherwise put out of commission. In this case, NPC Relationship's strength is set to zero. You cannot use this Relationship until you bring its strength back up to one.
          Item: Just like an NPC Relationship, the item is destroyed unless you spend half your Resource Points to keep the Item at zero strength.
          Curiosity: You lose one Resource Point. If you are reduced to zero Resource points, see PC Death, below.

          Example: Mark again uses his PC's Relationship with Mecher. Unfortunately, this time he rolls a 1. Poor Mecher's strength is brought down to zero. Mark decides to lose half his Resource Points (going from 3 to 1) and Mecher is only pinned beneath a falling statue instead of being crushed outright.

          PC Death
          If any of your Resources take damage, or you lose a Resource Point through damage (to Curiosity or another player's PC Relationship to your PC), your own PC may die. Whenever you are brought to zero Resource Points (or you are supposed to lose a Resource Point, but are already at zero), you cross off a Resource (except Curiosity). If you have only your Curiosity left, reduce its strength by one. If it reaches zero strength, your PC is killed and taken from play. You, as player, get to narrate the loss of your Resource or your PC's death.

          ---
          Appendix One: Internet Links to Aid Play

          www.pantheon.org (http://www.pantheon.org): An excellent source of mythology from all over the world.
          The Skeptic's Dictionary (http://skepdic.com/): A great fount of all things weird.
          Prehistoric Life (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoriclife/): BBC's Prehistoric Life, for all manner of Lost World ideas.

          ---
          Appendix Two: Forge Links to Terra Australis in Development
          Conception (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10762&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15#114404)
          Transcript & Seup (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10762&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60#114603)
          RPG State Machines (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10762&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=105#114907)
          Character Creation (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10762&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=120#114980)

          ---

          What a magnificent dish! Wait, do I see a glazed desert? Oh, no, that's just shiny bribe money set aside on a decorative plate.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Ben Lehman on April 17, 2004, 02:49:27 AM
          Polaris

          Description of Attributes--

          Player characters are described by nine (of twelve) attributes, which are rated from 1-8, and are inter-related to each other in delicate ways.  There is no "average" attribute, because these attributes are only used to describe Knights, player character knights at that, and every one of those is an individual.  They are:

          Ice: The character's Ice score represents her role as a member of the people in both soul and society.

          Snow: Related to the Ice attribute, Snow determines the power of the character's role in society, and ability to manipulate the formal and decadent culture of the people.

          Glacier:  Also related to Ice, Glacier represents the character's bedrock -- the hard Ice beneath her exterior, if you will -- and fuels the character's passions, personal relationships, and drives.

          Light: The character's Light score represents the character's intelligence, cleverness, and aptitude.

          Star: Related to the Light attribute, Star reflects the strength of the blessings that the Stars have bestowed upon the character, especially in terms of artifacts and their use.

          Dawn: Dawn, also related to Light, represents the character's initiative, cleverness, creativity, and ingenuity, her ability to think outside of the strict structures of remnant society, and her aptitude with training.

          Weariness:  Derived from Ice and Light, Weariness measures the amount that a Veteran character has been corrupted by his fight against the demons and frustrated by the ennui of his people.

          Melt: Derived from Weariness, Snow, and Glacier, this attribute measures the degree to which demons can manipulate the Veteran's identity.

          Dimness:  Derived from Weariness, Star, and Dawn, this attribute measures the Veteran's age, old war wounds, and failing link to the stars.

          Zeal: Derived from Ice and Light, this attribute measures the Novice's faith, verve, and hatred of their demonic enemies.

          Freeze: Derived from Zeal, Snow, and Glacier, Freeze measures the hidden reserves of the Novice that come to bear in social situations.

          Flicker: Derived from Zeal, Star and Dawn, Flicker measures the ability of the Novice to come up with unexpected plans, learn new things, and the miracles that the stars have not yet bestowed upon him.

          Quote from: announcer

          Well, here's we see the first parts of Chef Lehman's system, and it looks like he's using 12 attributes.  Can I get a confirmation on that?


          Yes.  Although only 9 per character.

          Quote from: announcer

          Well, certainly an odd choice for Chef Lehman.  Is he hoping that a homebrew style will give Chairman Holmes a nostalgic feeling, or does the new-comer chef have something else up his sleeve?


          Quote from: useless actress bimbo

          Lists of attributes always give me a nostalgic feeling, like playing MERP for the first time.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Ben Lehman on April 17, 2004, 03:14:19 AM
          Polaris

          Player Character Creation:

             Every player character in "Polaris" is a Knight Stellar -- a member of the Knights of the Order of the Stars, sworn to combat the mistaken and the sun.  They are a diverse and melancholy group, and each is called to serve in a different way.
             When creating a character, it is important to keep in mind that the character has a life, a history, and purpose that extends beyond the numbers on the sheet, whilst including them, and that the purpose of play is, largely to discover this character.
             Character creation is done in a few easy steps.  No more math is required than single-digit addition and subtraction.

          0) Name the Character
             This is easy.  Pick a star (not Polaris or Algol, unless you really want to do that).  This is your character's name, and also your character's patron star.  If you like, you can put a number after it.  Anyone with the same star's name is a considered a relative of yours, even if you aren't related by blood.
             (An interesting campaign might be played with all the characters being of the same star's lineage, with varying number.)

          1) Decide Character Experience:
             There are two classifications of Knights: Veterans and Novices.  You may only be one or the other.  In play, novices will become veterans, and veterans will only become corrupted shells of their former selves, or corpses.
             Veterans are older, more experienced, but also worn down by their struggle.  They succumb to ennui and depression more easily than novices, and are gradually being corrupted by their demonic world.
             Novices are new to the order, and not particularly powerful, but their enthusiasm and zeal drive the Order.  They are less able than veterans, but also more willing to fight.
             Choose one.  This is an important decision.
             A good PC group could have a mix of Veterans and Novices, bringing in new Novices as the Veterans die or are turned.  Another interesting group could be a group of novices who were initiated together.

          If you chose a veteran, proceed in this order:
          2a) Set scores Ice and Light, with total at least equal to 9.
          2b) Calculate Weariness = Ice + Light - 8
          3a) If you like, raise one of your Ice subattributes (Snow or Glacier) higher than your Ice.  The other one is equal to your Ice.
          3b) Calculate Thaw: Weariness plus however much you raised the higher of Snow or Glacier.
          4a) If you like, raise one of your Light subattributes (Star or Dawn) higher than your Light.  The other one is equal to your Light.
          4b) Calculate Dimness: Weariness plus however much you raised the higher of Star or Dawn.
          5) Choose Traits -- 2 in each category + Automatic Traits + (Weariness) extra, all selected right now.

          Novice
          2a) Set scores Ice and Light, with total at most equal to 8.
          2b) Calculate Zeal = 9 - (Ice + Light)
          3a) If you like, decrease one of your Ice subattributes (Snow or Glacier) lower than your Ice.  The other one is equal to your Ice.
          3b) Calculate Freeze: Zeal plus however much you decreased the lower of Snow or Glacier.
          4a) If you like, decrease one of your Light subattributes (Star or Dawn) lower than your Light.  The other one is equal to your Light.
          4b) Calculate Flicker: Zeal plus however much you decreased the lower of Star or Dawn.
          5) Choose traits -- 2 in each category + Automatic Traits, with the option not to assign (Zeal) traits.

          6)  Now is a time that you can, if you choose, define a few things extra about your character.  Here are some questions which could be useful to think about, although remember that this can all be defined during play, as well.
          1) How was your character called to serve the Stars?
          1a) Did you change your patron star (and thus your name) upon the call?  How did your family react?  What was your old name?
          1b) Were any of your titles (snow traits) officially stripped in response to your ignominious career?
          1c) Did you decide to become a knight, were you called mystically, were you forced by circumstance, or something else entirely?
          2) What remnant are you from?
          2a) Do you still live there?  Why or why not?
          2b) What is the best thing about that remnant?  The worst?
          3) What do you look like?  Of course your are beautiful, but how beautiful?
          4) Do you have a wife, husband, or lover?  Are they a knight as well?  How do they think about your knighthood?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Ben Lehman on April 17, 2004, 03:46:38 AM
          Polaris

          How to Play--

          Characters and Players (no character is an island)--

          Although Polaris can be played in the normal "One GM and n players, where n is hopefully an integer" mode, this is not the default mode for playing Polaris.  Rather, the default mode is that each character has at least four players, each of which play different parts in developing the character's story.  It is expected that each player will take on a different role for each character.  Ideally, there should be one character for each player in the group, although this is by no means necessary.

          Each character has the following types of players:

          Heart:   The Heart player controls the character in first-person, actor-style play -- they describe the character's actions, frame the conflicts in which the character is active, activates Heroic traits, and role-plays the character in conversations.  This is the conventional "player" of the standard RPG.

          Snow Man / Frost Maiden:  This player sits opposite the Heart, and reflects the demonic forces that surround the character, and the character's ultimate corrupt destiny.  The Snow Man engineers overarching "plot" and conflicts for the character, plays adversarial demons, activates Demonic traits, keeps secrets, possibly also provides scene framing and narration.  This role is called "Snow Man" if the Heart player is male, "Frost Maiden" if the Heart player is female.

          The New Moon:  The New Moon sits to the left of the Heart, and plays all female people that interact with the heart, gives emotional advice and commentary, and also advises the Frost Maiden on big-picture conflict development so that contradictory developments do not occur (remember that some other player is orchestrating conflict for this Frost Maiden's "Heart" character.)

          The Full Moon:  The Full Moon sits to the right of the Heart, and plays all male people that interact with the heart, gives rational advice and commentary, and also advises the Snow Man on big-picture conflict development so that contradictory developments do not occur (remember that some other player is orchestrating conflict for this Snow Man's "Heart" character.)

          The Others: Other players, if there are any, may be called upon to play additional NPC roles, and possibly bring in their own Heart characters.

          Scene Framing and Scenes --

             Whenever a scene has not started, any player may start a scene.  Some groups like to keep a strict scene rotation (so everyone gets a turn) and some like to leap free form from one story to the next.  Either way is fine, but talk about it with your group beforehand.

             To announce that you are framing a scene, simply say "and so it began..." and begin to describe the situation.  You will want to work the Knight's name into your narration quickly, so people can figure it out and assume their roles, but it should be pretty easy to tell from context.  The scene should logically figure in to whatever was happening before.

             Who has the authority to start a scene?  The knight's Frost Maiden or Heart may start a scene.  If both sides want to start a scene, preference goes to the knight's Frost Maiden if the knight is a veteran, or the knight's Heart if the knight is a novice.

             Scenes continue in free play, with the Heart describing the actions of the knight, the Full and New moons (and others, if necessary) taking on secondary NPC parts, and the Snow Man playing the demon and describing the scenery, until the knight enters a conflict of some kind.  After that, enter the conflict resolution system.  There is a minimum of one conflict per scene -- if a second one starts, you must cut to a new scene and deal with it later.

             Either the Heart or the Snow Man may end the scene at any time by simply saying "...and so it was," although it may be considered polite to allow "last words" from NPCs.  At this point, either take a break or start a new scene.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Ben Lehman on April 17, 2004, 04:22:34 AM
          Polaris

          That Thorny Road of Honor -- The Life of a Knight
             The life of a knight is difficult, but it follows a predictable pattern throughout the year.

          What the Dawn Sees -- Spring

             The coming of spring brings that ancient dawn spinning to the horizon, and the people of the remnants, captivated by its beauty, do nothing but stare out of their lovingly crafted "dawn windows" and watch the golden fire burn the sky.  During this time, the remnants are eerily quiet, and no people are about.  The only things that move are Knights and Demons.

             For, over the winter, the pillar of smoke around the Mistake has grown, and now it belches forth great hordes of demons, rampaging towards the remnants, hungry from their long hibernation.  The demons know that, at this time, the people are paralyzed, and so -- rested from the winter -- they invade, slaking themselves on the people's blood and flesh, often slaughtering them as they defenselessly stare out at the dawn's harsh and golden beauty, unaware or simply uncaring of their doom.

             This is the time of year that the Order bands together, for all hands are needed for defense of the remnants.  They establish siege lines, lay traps against the horde, and do their best to fight against the invasion.  This is also, ironically, the time where they function most as a group, and they time where they learn each other's news and experiences.  In the dawn, deaths are tallied, dirges sung, and heroes are congratulated, even as the siege is held against the mistaken.

             As the years wear on, the Springs are getter shorter.  Some knights are grateful for the reprieve, whereas others worry about what this might imply.

          What the Sun Sees -- Summer

             As the that burning star the people call the Sun leaves the horizon, some of the people begin to stir from their trances, the demon hoards retreat for a time, and the remnants return to some semblance of society.  The people, so caught up in the golden light of the sun, remember nothing of the atrocities that the dawn brought (no matter if the knights remind them or not), and devote their time to the crafting of rainbow rooms to trap the sunlight and sculpt it into gaudy colors.  Some of them -- the more motivated -- put on great feasts and balls to commemorate the sun's return.  Ostensibly, these are in remembrance of the Mistake, but in all but name they are a celebration of that burning, violent, bloated star.  As the sun works higher in the sky, the people hold sumptuous feasts, and clad themselves in red and yellow spider-silks.  Courtships begin, and maidens hold the starlight from their suitors in crystal necklaces.  At this time, music is played, for the screaming howls that the sun sings to musicians are no longer considered foul.

             For the Order, this is a time of travel and questing.  The stragglers of the demons armies that were defeated in the spring roam the wastes between the remnants, and the knights sally forth to fight the mistaken and re-establish trade and communication between the remnants.  The shifting of the ice during the winter changes the terrain in the wastes, so each Summer maps must be drawn anew, and each summer the terrain is once more unexplored.

             In this time, the knights often come to mysterious ruins, and are reunited with friends and acquaintances in other remnants.  Demonic attacks are largely limited to demons of heart and soul, who will use this social season to corrupt and feed on the unsuspecting people.

             Each year, the sun rises higher in the sky.  It is said by those who are too fond of prophecy that one summer, it shall raise to zenith, and eclipse the pole star, and in that year the people shall finally be overrun.  This year, if it ever comes, will be a while yet, and for now, even at the height of midsummer, the sun is only two handspans off the horizon.

          What the Smoke Sees -- Autumn

             As summer draws to a close, the people of the remnants become listless and unpleasant to each other for, though they shall not speak of it, they are anticipating the orange fire of the the accursed screaming star as it sinks once more from their sight.  "The Song of the Return of the Stars" is played on lightpipes and echoes through the halls of Southreach.

             As the sun touches the horizon, the people gather in great conference chambers in the heart of the remnants, windowed on all sides, and watch the slow twirling descent of the demon eye.  At this time, disputes are settled in the new manner -- whosever's star first appears in the sky has the victory.  After such disputes, hand-fastings are held for lovers and, as the sunset wears on, couples often retire to their personal chambers (although they prefer to watch the beauty of the sunset to any physical pleasure.)

             The demons, meanwhile, have been beaten back, and for the knights this is the season of crusade.  The knights march on the great, cold, evaporating smoke of the Mistake, rounding up the final scraps of the demonic hoard and driving them back from whence they came.  It is at this time that the most zealous of knights will charge into the Mistake itself, bringing the fight to the demons, and be honored in song by his compatriots.

             This charge, and especially the return from it, is a somber time for knights, for each time, there are less of them, and each time, the Mistake is closer.

          What the Moon Sees -- Winter

             As winter comes, the cold is too chilling for travel, and the knights return to their remnants.

             Among the people, winter is considered the proper time for affairs of state and politics, and the elders and most titled among them make pronouncements for the coming year.  At this time, the knights often appeal for more resources and, almost always, are roundly rejected in favor of development of music and the arts, usually on the grounds that any threat from supposed "mistaken" has not been sufficiently proven.  In the lower hallways, where the politics is truly played out, alliances are made and broken, deals are made, and people manipulated.  Winter is the time when the people are most ruthless towards each other, and assaults and even murders are not unheard of.  Knights, as de facto policemen, are often called in to handle such cases.

             In a few forgotten rooms, off in ancient spires, a few of the people given to ancient and traditional ways still dance, quietly, with the stars, and sing their gentle songs, but they will not speak of it for the shame of their conservatism.

             And outside, underneath the fickle and strange light of that moon that marks where the sun was torn from the sky, the Mistake grows larger, and within it, the demons sleep.

          Quote from: announcer

          Well, Lehman's finished off his setting material.  Looks like quite a bit!  I hope Chairman Holmes is hungry!

          And, what's this?  It looks like he's chopping up some Trollbabe, and a little bit of the Pool and... oh, it looks like a conflict resolution stir-fry!  What a surprising twist!


          Title: Habakkuk
          Post by: dalek_of_god on April 17, 2004, 03:01:59 PM
          I don't know if lurkers should overstep their boundaries this way, but nothing ventured nothing gained. With that in mind, here is my submission. I apologize for the way the color drops off into pure mechanics... and for the one-long-post format. I'm a lurker, I don't post often.

          Habakkuk – The Iceberg Ship
          A game of military mettle aboard a haunted iceberg.
          Quote from: Hab 1:5

             "Behold ye among the heathen, and regard and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told to you."


          History
          In 1942, a man named Geoffrey Pyke proposed to build aircraft carriers out of ice. Ice floats. No U-Boat would ever sink these ships. Ice is virtually free. An armada could be constructed on a shoestring budget. Lord Mountbatten and Winston Churchill agreed to this strange suggestion. In times of war all avenues must be explored. The project was christened Habakkuk. By 1943 engineers had developed a mixture of seawater and wood pulp that froze concrete-hard. They called it Pykecrete. Soon a prototype ship was constructed from this new material at a secret base in Canada. In reality, the project was abandoned soon after. In this game, the project was brought to a conclusion.

          Premise
          The fulfillment of Pyke's vision, the ice-ship Habakkuk sails on her maiden voyage. As vast as an island, the Habakkuk is not so much an aircraft carrier as a floating military base. Her landing strips are long enough to land bombers. A crew of thousands mans her many corridors, tunnels, bomb shelters and surface quonsets. Her crew stands ready to face the challenges posed by sailing a temperamental experiment into a war zone. They are ready for the dangers of a daring pre-dawn assault on the enemy. They are not ready for the other dangers that await them.

          The Habakkuk is haunted. The engineers who built her off Baffin Island in the frozen Canadian arctic ignored the warnings of Eskimo hunters who came visit the new arrivals. A man should not stand too close to an iceberg. It may be hungry. The Habakkuk is hungry indeed. In addition to the ravenous ice, ghosts, gremlins and mermaids stalk the crew of the Habakkuk.

          Notes
          The game uses one six-sided die and several index cards (Protagonist Cards). Players have two parts to play during the game: Protagonists and Masters. Protagonists fill the role of PC, and Masters of GM – just don't get to attached to any one part. It will change, and your old PC may end up in someone else's hands. This is a war movie, not a realistic simulation. Treat it as such. Oh, and it's World War II. On board a naval vessel. All of the protagonists are men. Also, I tend to use they as a singular pronoun. Deal with it.

          Protagonists
          Record your protagonist's name, attributes and values, and descriptors on a Protagonist Card.
          Code:

          Name: _____________________________________________
          Post  __        Role: _____________________________
          Pluck __        Rank: _____________________________
          Plot  __        Reputation: _______________________
                         ___________________________________
                         ___________________________________
                         ___________________________________
                         ___________________________________

          Each protagonist has three attributes. Arrange the values 1, 3, and 5 between them.
          • Post
          • Pluck
          • Plot
          • [/list:u]
            Post measures a protagonist's skill at his job aboard the Habakkuk. It is used to respond to Mundane or Mission challenges and can be increased by issuing a Monster interlude. Pluck measures a protagonist's courage and tenacity. It is used to respond to Mundane or Monster challenges and can be increased by issuing a Mission interlude. Plot measures a protagonist's importance to the overall narrative. It is used to respond to Mission or Monster challenges and can be increased by issuing a Mundane interlude.

            Players also have three descriptors to help define their personality and position on the Habakkuk.
          • Role
          • Rank
          • Reputation
          • [/list:u]
            Role signifies the protagonist's position aboard the Habakkuk. For example: an engineer responsible for maintaining the ship, a gunner responsible for repelling enemy attacks, a fighter pilot or bomber, an officer or any other reasonable position aboard ship. Rank signifies the protagonist's position in the military chain of command. If you want to be highly specific, use actual ranks. If not, feel free to limit the ranks to Enlisted, Non-Comms, and Officers. Reputation is a (very) brief description of the protagonist's personality. For example: hot-headed, simple-minded, etc. Interludes throughout the game serve to expand on this description.

          Masters
          While the game starts off with one Master, in the end there will be three – one of each type. Each type of Master is responsible for issuing and responding to one (and only one) type of challenge or interlude.
          • Mundane
          • Mission
          • Monster
          • [/list:u]
            Mundane Masters can issue challenges related to the upkeep of the Habakkuk. The ship is experimental, and she is constantly breaking down. Boilers and refrigeration equipment malfunctions. Cracks appear in her icy hull.  Mundane Masters respond to interludes related to the protagonist's personal relationships. Rivalry between flying aces. A sailor's girl back home.

            Mission Masters can issue challenges related to the Habakkuk's military mission. Fighter pilots and bombers fly sorties against the enemy. Soldiers attempt to take a beachhead. Gunners shoot down enemy aircraft and drop depth charges on attacking U-Boats. Mission Masters respond to interludes related to a protagonist's military career. Ignoring orders. Suggesting a controversial plan of attack.

            Monster Masters can issue challenges related to spirits haunting the Habakkuk. Gremlins attack planes in flight. The ice itself grows angry and attempts to eat the crew. Sirens tempt men into diving overboard to their deaths. Monster Masters respond to interludes related to a protagonist's interaction with the supernatural. Discussion of the nature of the various spirits on-board. Lamenting that the ship itself is cursed. Denying that there is anything wrong.

          Destiny
          The game itself has three fates or Destinies that represent the approaching endgame. These start at 0, and can have negative values.
          • Dawn
          • Defeat
          • Death
          • [/list:u]
            Dawn represents the approaching climax of the story. When it reaches 6, the game concludes. Dawn is increased when protagonists fail using Post or Pluck to respond to a challenge, or when a player issues a Mission interlude. Dawn is decreased when a player succeeds at a Mundane challenge. Defeat represents the ongoing attacks of the enemy. When it reaches 6, the military mission of the Habakkuk has failed. Defeat is increased when protagonists fail using Post or Plot to respond to a challenge, or when a player issues a Monster interlude. Defeat is decreased when a player succeeds at a Mission challenge. Death represents the ever-increasing mortality rate among the Habakkuk's crew. When it reaches 6, every challenge could kill the protagonists. Death is increased when protagonists fail using Pluck or Plot to respond to a challenge, or when a player issues a Mundane interlude. Death is decreased when a player succeeds at a Monster challenge.

          Order of Play
          Each player has a turn, going clockwise around the table. During each turn the current Master will issue a challenge to the player, taking into account their role and rank onboard the Habakkuk. Immediately before the Master issues the challenge, or immediately after the challenge is resolved, a player may request an interlude from one of the Masters.  When the order of play reaches another Master, that Master takes charge of issuing challenges.The initial Master must be Mundane. When the first protagonist is lost, that player becomes a Mission Master. There can be only one Master of any type at any given time. If a protagonist dies in such a way as to create a duplicate Master, the old Master is retired and must create a protagonist to introduce into play.

          I Thought You Were Dead!
          If a retiring Master cannot or will not come up with a new protagonist, they should draw a random protagonist cards from the lost pile. This  protagonist will be re-introduced into play under the control of the former Master.

          Challenges and Interludes
          The Masters issue challenges to players. Challenges can kill protagonists, raise or reduce different Destiny levels and increase the attributes of cameo protagonists.Players issue interludes to Masters either immediately before or immediately after a challenge. Interludes can increase the principle protagonist's attributes and increase the attributes of cameo protagonists.
          • Mundane interlude – raise Plot.
          • Mission interlude – raise Post.
          • Monster interlude – raise Pluck.
          • [/list:u]

          Setting the Stage
          In a challenge, the issuing Master begins by describing the problem facing the protagonist. In an interlude, the issuing player begins by describing their protagonist's plan. At this point any players who wish to have cameos and any Masters who wish to incorporate their element must declare their actions, raising or lowering Destiny attributes as appropriate. Once players and Masters have had a reasonable amount of time to interject, the issuing Master or player is responsible for declaring the scene closed to further additions.

          Player Cameos
          Other players may introduce their protagonists into another protagonist's scene. Doing so raises one of the Destinies by one point.
          • Mundane scene – raise Dawn.
          • Mission scene – raise Defeat.
          • Monster scene – raise Death.
          • [/list:u]
            Having a cameo also raises the attribute that is not used to respond to the challenge. A cameo in a pre-challenge interlude will carry over into the challenge itself.

          Issuing Orders
          Cameo protagonists with higher rank than the principle protagonist in a scene must interject with an order that the principle protagonist will incorporate in the narrative.

          Stealing the Scene
          Cameo protagonists with rank lower than or equal to the principle protagonist may choose to steal the scene, becoming the principle protagonist if the principle protagonist failed where the cameo protagonist would have succeeded. This failure must be incorporated into the narrative.

          The original principle protagonist becomes a cameo protagonist. The round is treated as though this was the scene-stealer's turn. This includes skipping the turns of non-cameo protagonists between the original principle and the scene-stealer. If two or more cameo protagonists want to steal a scene, the scene is transferred to the protagonist closest to the original principle protagonist in order of play.

          Responding to a Challenge
          A challenge will risk two Destinies and forestall one. A Mundane challenge forestalls Dawn, but risks Defeat and Death. A Mission challenge forestalls Defeat, but risks Dawn and Death. A Monster challenge forestalls Death, but risks Dawn and Defeat.

          Two attributes can be used to respond to each type of challenge. A Mundane challenge can be met with Post or Pluck. A Mission challenge can be met with Post or Plot. A Monster challenge can be met with Pluck or Plot. A single six-sided die is rolled. If the result is less than one or both of the responding attributes, the protagonist has succeeded and the appropriate Destiny is reduced by one point. If the result is greater than one responding attribute, the protagonist has partially failed and the Destiny associated with that attribute is raised one point. If the roll is greater than both responding attributes, the protagonist has failed completely. Both Destinies at risk are raised one point.
          Note: Destinies can have negative values. This allows the opening Mundane phase to push back the Dawn long enough to see some action.

          Losing Protagonists
          If the response roll to a challenge is less than the Death destiny, one of the protagonists involved in the scene is lost. The principle protagonist may prevent this by reducing one of their responding attributes by one point. A protagonist having a cameo in the scene may die, but cannot prevent it. When death is avoided the attribute reduction should be included in the narration. Post reductions usually result from injury or demotions. Pluck reductions result from a near miss. Plot reductions result from redirecting the death to an extra. If a protagonist is lost without the possibility of saving themselves, either through a cameo or having stats at 0, they are considered dead. Discard their protagonist card. The narrative should describe their death in a final manner. If a protagonist is lost by player choice, place their protagonist card on the lost pile. These protagonists may reappear later. The narrative should describe a less-than-certain disappearance, not a certain death.

          Attacks by the Enemy
          If the response roll to a challenge is less than the Defeat destiny, there is an enemy attack. Any protagonists who die may have been killed by the enemy, rather than the conditions of the challenge itself.

          The Coming Dawn
          If the response roll to a challenge is less than the Dawn destiny, the narrative should include elements that allude to the coming climax.

          Responding to an Interlude
          Interludes do not risk or forestall Destiny. They simply serve to develop protagonist and replenish attributes. A single six-sided die is rolled. If the result is less than the attribute to be replenished, the interlude is uccessful. If not, the interlude goes against the protagonist in some way. Their attribute is not increased. Protagonists having cameos can still increase their attributes.

          Master Complications
          A Master who is not responsible for the scene may introduce elements they are responsible for by reducing one of the Destinies by one point.
          • Mundane Master – reduce Dawn.
          • Mission Master – reduce Defeat.
          • Monster Master – reduce Death.
          • [/list:u]

          Interpreting the Scene
          In a challenge, the principle protagonist's player narrates the results, taking into account deaths, successes and failures. Cameo protagonists may interject at any point with orders if appropriate. Complicating Masters interject with their elements of play at some point in the narration. Each cameo protagonist and complicating Master may interject only once.
          In an interlude, the Master responsible narrates the results, taking into account deaths, successes and failures. Cameo protagonists and complicating Masters may not interject, but their presence must be included in the narrative. When the interlude is complete, the player records a brief record of events under their reputation. Example: "Misses his girl in London."

          The Endgame
          When the Dawn destiny reaches 6, the endgame has arrived. Roll a single six-sided die. If the result is greater than the Defeat destiny, the Habakkuk's Mission has been accomplished. If the result is greater than the Death destiny, the Monsters are destroyed. Each player, in turn, narrates their role in this conclusion. The Masters interject with descriptions of their elements.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 17, 2004, 03:41:48 PM
          Well, here I am. All games as final submissions, and a day yet left. I have to say that the competition got me to write like nothing else. I commend the format wholeheartedly compared to the usual run of writing competition. This is much more personal, with the penguins gaining with every step.

          To start the feast, a light submission. The game, with it's clarity, is especially designed to clear the palate before the main course.

          The Fall of Atlantis and the Dawn of Human History (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/etuovine/ironchef/Atlantis.jpg)
          - appetiser moral fantasy (Click the name to see the cover)

          Atlantis - the kingdom of the seas, it's everything Plato dreamed of and more. It's the ideal state, ruled by philosopher kings ultimate in wisdom and great in the human arts. Hardly human, they, but greater for it surely.
             Atlantis - she rules the world, taking slaves and servants from among the humans and trading baubles for the raw resources she needs. All peoples have heard of the sea kings, and human leaders bow to their might. Ne'er are the peoples of the Earth free as Atlantis floats upon the surface.
             Atlantis - the land of science and magic, wisdom over human imagination. Humans are impure creations, perhaps of Atlantean stock, but flawed nonentheless. The atlanteans know how to move the Earth and the heavens, and that will be their doom.
             Atlantis - everything Moorcock and Howard, Shelley and professor Marinatos ever dreamed of and more. But doomed to fall. What that fall portends for the world is now in your hands.


          The Fall of Atlantis and Dawn of Human History is a roleplaying game for a GM and some players. It takes the play group through the last generations of Atlantis and the first ones of human history. On the way maybe some answers about humanity are learned. For play you'll need pens and papers and lots'a dice.

          The world

          Before the last ice age in a pulp paradigm. The humans are more or less like today, but they have barely learned the first principles of agriculture here and there. There might be some neanderthals somewhere to spice things up. Despite their barbarity the humans have extremely rich oral traditions, everything national romantics hoped for. They are extremely human, savage and noble.

             The only significant power on Earth is Atlantis, the island state lying somewhere in the northern Atlantic. It's an island and a city, a great metropolis with millions of residents. It's technology level is parallel to modern day, and it's rulers hold on to strange magical secrets.

             Atlantis brings food and resources from Eurasia, Africa and America (though no doubt they have different names for the continents). The same holds true for slaves, which are used extensively in accordance with the social ideal.

             Socially Atlantis is the platonic ideal state in all it's horrifying grandeur. The Atlantean race - distinct and distinguishable from humans - occupies the higher levels of society due to competence, while human slaves and servants of various status fill the majority of roles. This is a completely working version of the ideal state, with no coersion or nepotism. Humans are given a shot at the caste exams, but rarely anyone passes.

             There once was another state like Atlantis, the island of MU in the Indian ocean. It is no more, probably because of portentous reasons.

             About a hundred years ago atlanteans experimented with changing the weather on their island to be a little more temperate. Atlantis is north enough to be a little cold in the winter, and the Atlanteans decided to fix this. It worked, for a while.

             Now, a hundred years later, Atlantean scientists have found out that their tampering with the weather has resulted in further changes. A new ice age will come much faster than it should. Weather will start cooling with alacrity until only polar bears and penguins can live in Atlantis. Alarming news, but the Atlanteans are confident that they can deal with this. If they could shift the poles once, surely they can do it again?

             To make the matters worse, the human tribes of the continents have gotten all the more restless in the years of late. It's as if an ancient curse of the people of MU is finally taking hold... Well, if that's the case, we can deal with that too. It's not as if the Atlanteans were foreigners to the magical arts.

          The premise

          Players take the roles of Atlantean philosopher kings. The inner structure of the caste is anarchic, with everyone doing what they feel best for the state. Everyone has enormous resources in their disposal.

             Play progresses a year at a time, with each player character choosing for himself how he spends the year. The Atlanteans live normally about as long as humans, so when a character dies of old age the player continues with one of his offspring.

             The main effort for the philosopher kings of this age is to try to save the Atlantis from Ice, Assault and Disintegration. As the weather grows colder the human tribes start yearning for freedom and as Atlantis weakens from the growing cold, it's riches start to draw raiders. It's a question of whether Atlantis disintegrates from inside before the raiders get it, really.

             When the characters finally realise the inevitable fate of Atlantis, they have to start planning for the future. The real story of the game is the story of history, how the thousands of years of Atlantean stasis are broken, and what happens then. The characters will save a fragment of Atlantis, and that will give them a say in the future. Will they conquer a new, land-based empire? Will they ally themselves with humans? Will they die? Will Atlantis become a myth that once was, or shall it's legacy endure through history?

          Setup

          The game is played in the traditional manner with the GM running the ancient world outlined above. The players will each run their characters, who however have much to say about most things: they are highly educated philosopher kings with great resources, so there's not much a player cannot decide outright. This means that the players have quite a bit of authorship.

             The world isn't detailed any more heavily than the above setting explanation. The GM can extrapolate as he wishes. The point of play is to address some pretty heavy themes from the atlantean sociology to the real meaning of morality and human history, so the GM should probably have working knowledge of what he's doing when making decisions about the world.

             Atlantis is great, and the players in general can detail it more heavily when necessary. The play group can choose a suitable aesthetic for the island. Possibilities range from futuristic scyscrapers to victorian rococoo and beyond, really. Atlantis is a wonder.

             The Atlantean people are great, too. They have some obvious differences compared to humans (other humans, properly, because they are of the same species), but that's it. My favourite is blue skin, but it's customisable. Their culture is rational and mystical at the same time, including /real/ history about how they came from the stars before humans even were. What they know is correct, but they don't know everything. And wisdom is obviously lacking, being that they manage to sink their island.

          Character creation

          Each Atlantean has three affinities, first of all. These are things he is really good at, destined to excell in in some mystical sense. The player can choose anything about as wide skillwise as a modern occupation. No Atlantean can however have an affinity towards philosophy - in one sense they all have it, in another not one.

             The affinities can be anything that supports character performance. This can range to exotic, too, in modern or fantastic sense. Good ones might be theoretical physics, necromancy, modern warfare, divining, biology and other such fanciful subjects. Dance or literary arts work as well, though, depending on character goals.

          The characters can also have skills, which are about as wide as the affinities, that is, as wide as an occupation. In these the Atlanteans can be really good too, but not as overtly superhuman as in affinities.

             Anything that can be an affinity can be a skill if the character has had a change to study it. Anything can be studied in Atlantis, if one is a philosopher king.

          The players should detail their characters and the exact social web of the ruling caste to taste. Each character should have some kind of family and friends, as play will focus on key moments of family history, essentially.

             Character age has to be tracked, as might some other game world facts like resources, contacts and such. Depends on the GM, largely.

          The starting characters should be adults, but otherwise the player can decide for himself. The age will however degree the character's amount of skills and affinities.

             A twenty-year old character will have +10 in two affinities and +20 in one. He will also have +5 in one skill, +4 in two, +3 in three, +2 in four, +1 in five, and five skill points for free investment. For every year over that the character will gain *two* affinity points and *two* skill points. The skills can never be /solitary/, which means a skill which has no second skill one degree lower. The affinities can neither be solitary, but for them this means that there is another affinity within one-half of the value of the first, the least one excepted.

             A character has maximums in his physical skills and affinities, representing ageing. This is part of being human, or even atlantean. The effective maximum for a given physical skill or affinity is 100-(character age). The GM may wish to apply diseases and other afflictions (even Degeneration) at times, but as long as the character has atlantean medical technology at hand this is the optimal situation.

          Finally, the character will get his motivation dice. A starting character will always have ten of these, of any kinds the player prefers. They have to however be arranged in one or more motivation pyramids, as detailed in the next chapter. But for now, ten dice.

          Game mechanics

          When a character tries to succeed in a task the GM will determine a difficulty for it against the following table:
          Code:
          d Difficulty:
          0 Automatic
          2 Routine
          5 Hard
          10 Extremely hard
          50 Once in a lifetime
          100 Legendary achievement
          200 Paradigm breaking


          The player will only know the difficulty if the character has experience in this kind of task from before. The player's job is to decide on the dice he will roll. The goal is to get a number under the character's effective skill and over the difficulty. The die choices are any legal motivation dice the player chooses and a number of task dice the player builds up. These matters are detailed a little further on.

             If the result of the roll is under the difficulty and skill the character didn't try hard enough and failed. Similarly if the result is above both the character tried to do more than he was capable of and failed. If the difficulty is greater than skill the character will only succeed if rolling exactly the same as difficulty. If really relevant, the GM may hold the difficulty secret after the task but must tell the player if his roll was greater or lesser than the difficulty.

             In opposed rolls the greater result still under effective skill wins. When a tie results both sides fail, with the GM narrating something that interrupts the conflict. In routine situations the character's skill is used instead of a roll. Other such sensible rules to taste, like in any skill-based system.
             Affinities are used exactly like skills.

          Now for the motivation pyramids. The game uses all die types from d2 (the coin) all the way to d10. A given character will at any time have one or more motivations, which are named goals the character has. They can be whatever the player prefers, big or small. "Love of the pony-tailed girl" is a good one, as is "Being the sole king of Atlantis". Whatever.

             The motivations can also be player goals, if the player prefers. Equally acceptable are "address the Platonic state ideal" and "be funny". The rules don't mind, really, as long as the players are OK with the motivations. Even then the motivation will hardly hamper play as the other players just will ignore it.

             Now, the player will have to build a pyramid of dice for the motivation. The pyramids are die configurations on the table (or on paper, if you don't have too many dice) which have a base row of dice, with progressively smaller rows above it. A row has to always be smaller than the row below it, by at least one die. The die type of a row can be at most one type smaller than the last row. The base row of motivation pyramids is always built of d10s.

             When adding dice to a motivation pyramid they have to always be added to the highest row. When removing dice, they have to be taken from the highest row. A new row can be started if the highest row is at least two dice wide.

             The motivation pyramids are where the dice for the tasks come from. If the task is such that it corresponds to one or more of the character's motivations the player can take dice from the pyramid and use them in the task.

             The motivation pyramids are always added to by the other players, a player cannot himself add any dice. When ever the character does things or speaks in a manner pleasing to the other players they may indicate their pleasure by adding legal dice to the motivation pyramids of the character. Especially so if the character's actions deal with the motivation in question. This is the only way of adding to the pyramids, make of it what you will. The other players cannot however just start a new pyramid, the player in question has to first declare such a project started.

             Now, it'd be quite strange if a character couldn't do something just because there weren't a prior motivation, isn't that right? And indeed, that's why we have the task pyramid. Whenever a character faces a task the player can build a task pyramid for it by narrating details of the task's preparation with the GM. For each detail, for each verse of laudable roleplaying or narration, the GM or other players award a die to the task pyramid. The player then, when content with the pyramid, will use any combination of usable motivation dice and task dice in the roll. The remains of the task pyramid can be used in later tasks of the same scene. The task pyramid is built the same as motivation pyramids.

             It can happen that the player cannot scrounge enough dice for an especially hard task. That can happen to anybody with unexpected tasks and uninspiring situations. In those cases the other players should help the player in building the task pyramid by contributing ideas and description that awards dice. Roleplaying is about cooperation, after all, and the greatest pyramids are built by people working together.

             Some times players might feel like not caring enough to narrate task details. This should be taken as a sign that the character should automatically fail or succeed, as the GM decides. Only interesting things should be taken as tasks, after all.

             A player can use the same task pyramid with another player, if both agree. In theory there also is nothing to stop a couple of players from building gigantic motivation pyramids of power by simply giving dice to each other. If this starts to disrupt play in a concrete sense, the GM should probably talk about it with the players. The motivation pyramids won't easily overthrow game mechanics, but it's possible if taken to extremes.

          There is a number of modifications the character can get for his skill in a single task. The effective skill is the sum of the skill itself and these.

             Any complementary skill which is relevant to the task adds a tenth part of it's value, rounded up. Likewise for helping characters and other such quantifiable factors.

             If preparation helps in the task, every unit of time used in preparation adds one point. Such an unit may be anything from minutes up to a year with the largest projects. The character must have the resources for preparation, too. The maximum bonus is half the skill value.

             The character may get up to one half of his skill as bonus or minus due to special conditions as decided by the GM. These may include special equipment, divine intervention or whatever.

             The maximum bonus a character can get from conditional modifiers is the character's skill level. This is also the level where character skill defaults if the player can deliver the /drama argument/: the drama argument is something so convincing that the GM agrees that the character should succeed. In such a case the skill is simply doubled. Of course, if the GM is /really/ of the mind that the character should succeed, he'll scrap the task roll. The difference is between when player performance causes the GM to hope for success, and when failure would really only weaken the game.

             A skill doubled by the drama argument can still gain conditional bonuses. Therefore the absolute maximum skill bonus a player can hope for a given task is four times the character's skill. That will mean some gigantic pyramids, too, but luckily the same acts that build pyramids will frequently also scrounge the bonuses the player needs.

             In certain campaign changing situations even doubling the skill rating and working for maximal conditional bonuses won't be enough (can you spell paradigm break?). Then the only option for the characters is to try to use the high skill rolls to move some of the resources and know-how to suitable support structures. Perhaps some other actor can do what the character cannot. For example, when using magic to lift the whole island of Atlantis from the seabed and flying it to the south (difficulty 200, being a paradigm breaking task) the character can instead use his quite not big enough skill rolls to construct magical satellites that collect energy for the next hundred years for somebody else to try again with better chances. Or he could start a magical society among humans, with the goal of harnessing enough energy to rise his own base skill rating high enough. Where there's the will there's always a way.

          The skill rules are given with such detail because it's through them that the characters will affect the fate of the world. Most skill use should be relatively large scale, as is soon to be seen.

          The campaign

          Play is conducted in turns of one year. Every year the Ice value will rise one point, starting from zero. Atlantis is most probably doomed.

             A given year will always include the following parts:
          Code:
          1) The vignette
          2) The reflexive rolls
          3) The situations
          4) The turning point
          5) The aftermath


             The years should be relatively fast, so the GM is encouraged to use any means available to speed the game up. Make the players perform rolls and calculations to get some speed, if need be.

             Every year the characters may make any number of reflexive task rolls, which are rolls pressed on them by the GM due to changing situation. Every character may only make one situation task roll per year, which is a roll chosen by the character. There there is the possible turning point, which might herald real small-scale situation play.

          The year will always start with a vignette. This is a pure mood piece of exposition, usually given by the GM. At first it'll be about familiarizing the players with Atlantis, but the focus will change with the years.
             The GM probably has no problems with thinking up uses for the vignette. It's a necessary formal ritual, for otherwise the game might speed up a little too much. Wax poetic if you will, if this will help the players take Atlantis for real.

          After the vignette will come the reflexive rolls. In this phase of the year the GM tells what in general has happened during the year. If there is anything in the report that the characters want to react to, this is the time for the rolls. The GM will modify the report by the roll results, of course. Fast, furious and very out of character at this stage.
             Things like ageing rolls are done in this phase, as are any important rolls to keep up the status quo. The characters can easily slide into important jobs as colonial viceroys, for example, and if the aboriginals decide to have a rebellion this year it's a reflexive roll to put it down.

          After the general business started by the GM there comes the personal choices of the characters. Each year every player tells the GM what his character will be doing with his time. The choices can be categorized in four categories, the Ice, the Assault, the Disintegration and others.

             Characters that choose the Ice will be fighting against the planet for this year. This will most probably include research or organizing such, and brave new experiments to reverse the ice age.

             Characters who choose the Assault will spend the year protecting Atlantis from humans. This will include either fighting at the sea or taking the war to the barbarians. In the worst case it's in Atlantis, of course.

             Characters that choose the Disintegration will immerse themselves in administration tasks and the highly philosophical work of keeping the social structure of Atlantis together when starvation, floods and snow and ice start destroying the island.

             Characters can of course do anything else they wish, and it's the GM who decides the consequences. There will in any case be a short scene played for each character that typifies the work he's doing for the year, and perhaps an accompanying skill roll that decides success. The most common idea in the 'other' category is probably establishing colonies for Atlantis.

          If, and only if, the GM prefers and the situation warrants there can be a turning point in the year. This is a short, at most half an hour adventure that incorporates most of the player characters. Unlike the situations above there can be any number of task rolls GM deems appropriate in the turning point. It's an important piece of action played in detail.

             It's the responsibility of the GM to judge the type and frequency of turning points. The only rule is that there has to be a stake to the turning point. This is a significant piece of the narrative, ranging from the fate of a single character to the fate of Atlantis itself. The stake has to be told to the players beforehand, and it has to be taken seriously; the GM may not gloss over a failure or success after the stake is set, but has to apply the turning point in the overall narrative.

             The stake is the only way apart from age that player characters can die. This doesn't mean that a player character can die from just taking part in a turning point, but that the life of the character has to be part of the stake.

             Most of the time the character action and GM ideas decide if there is a need for a turning point. However, the engine later detailed will cause a turning point immediately if a Disintegration roll is failed. Other than that it's the GM's responsibility to decide when it's time for adventure.

          The last phase of the year is the aftermath, when the GM tells how the year went thanks to the work of the characters. The characters each get their allotment of skill points and such in this phase, and everyone gets ready for the next year, probably worse than this one.

             The aftermath is also the place for the players to make plans for the next year, before the next vignette or the reflex rolls send their characters all over the world. They can also give feedback to the GM and suggest developments.

          All in all a given year should take anywhere from five minutes to half an hour of real time. This is achieved through focused play and experience in system application.

          So, to make a summary of the year, here's the important points:
             The GM will have room for general exposition in the vignette. Think of it as an editor column of the newspaper, where the GM can comment on and emphasize action or mood to his preference. The vignette can be delivered by some other player too, if preferred.
             The reflexive rolls are the chance for simulation. It's a play group preference how much rolling and abstract narrative is done, but the GM should remember never to demand insignificant rolls. Every roll will have to have a meaning, even to the degree that the GM writes the meaning down before the roll if he's in the habit of doing ritual rolls.
             The situations chosen by the players are the actual guiding mechanics they can use to affect Situation. As anything at all they wish to be doing is accomplished with a single task roll, they can do truly astounding things if their skills are high enough. Never forget the short scenes that accompany the situation rolls.
             Finally, the turning point is the only chance for the GM for traditional roleplaying. If he really wants to take some reflexive or situation roll to hand in detail, this is the only way. One short adventure. Stakes can also do many interesting things that "break the rules", like killing player characters and others, and changing the machine rules detailed later.
             The aftermath is a good place to tie any strings the situations and the turning point leave hanging. It's also the place where the players will have a chance at feedback towards the GM. If any motivation pyramids need filling, this is the place for that, too.

          Next some difficulties for tasks players will want to try. These are key, and the GM should produce the rest of important mechanics with this system as a model. These mechanics are secondary to pure world simulation, so if the players somehow make these irrelevant the GM should understand the idea of how the game simulates megatrends to be able to build a new "machine" for the characters' actual situation. This will suffice at game start and as long as the characters fight for Atlantis, but when they move to Siberia and start herding sheep the GM should be ready to build a mechanic for wolf packs...

             Every year from the game start onward the Ice value will rise one point, starting from zero. This represents the speedily approaching ice age. A character may protect Atlantis from the cold with some believable tech/magic babble and an appropriate skill roll against the ice value. More than one character can try, or characters can support other characters as GM allows. This represents the wondrous technological and magical feats the atlanteans make to protect their island from winter.

             If no character succeeds against Ice, the Disintegration value will rise one point next year. This represents the strain Atlantis takes as living gets harder. The ideal state is not indestructible, and at some stage the servants and slaves will rebel, and even the atlanteans start escaping.

             In any case the GM should roll a reflexive roll in the appropriate phase for the Assault value against Ice, taking dice depending on how restless the players and the weather have made the barbarian peoples, trying for success. If Assault fails it will take the value of the roll next year. This represents the fluctuating restlessness and power of the various human tribes that start moving as ice age approaches. They are barbaric, but there is many more of them than atlanteans, and Atlantis hasn't warred with anyone for a thousand years.

             Every year a character can protect Atlantis from the barbarians who attack mainland farms or the island itself. This is a suitable military roll with appropriate details against Assault as the difficulty. As with Ice, multiple characters can try or support each other.

             If no character succeeds against Assault, the Disintegration value will rise one point next year. This means that some small part of Atlantis was sacked before the barbarians were repelled.

             Every year a character may make a suitable political roll against Disintegration. As with Ice and Assault, multiple characters may try or support each other.

             If no character succeeds against Disintegration the breaking up of the state will immediately result in a turning point with something important to the characters at stake. This can be important family of the characters, a social institution or whatever. Failure in the turning point means that that part of Atlantis is irrevocably destroyed in the rebellions or natural cataclysms.

             If a player wants to establish or improve a colony of Atlantis somewhere in the world, this is a suitable situation roll against the Colony value of that colony. These start from zero, as at the game start Atlantis has no colonies. Failure has no effect, while success will improve Colony value by one. Suitable skills will fluctuate greatly, as it all depends on what is the character's approach to preserving Atlantis.

             Sinking Atlantis to preserve it from the encroaching glacier is difficulty 50. Preserving it with magic or force fields or some such is difficulty 100, and there can be no contact with outer world before the end of the ice age. Destroying the island at once is difficulty 100, while year-sized pieces can be destroyed by dividing 100 to comfortable sized bits.

          As long as the characters have the strength of Atlantis at their backs they can delegate any tasks to the state, leaving it in the hands of underlings or other kings. These will always roll with skill of +20, which is usable by the characters as skill support as well. When the disintegration value starts growing this bonus will be calculated as (200-Disintegration)/10.
             Delegation can expressly be used for the purposes of the above ice age machine, as well as for anything else that the city state can conseivably do for the characters. When using the city resources the characters can get the +2 conditional bonus for almost anything they care to.
             Delegations, as any other abstractions, will have to use a task pyramid for dice. Alternatively some character may go with the delegation in a support role and lend motivation dice.

          As the acute reader has already noted, there is hardly any hope for Atlantis. The only hope for preservation is the extremely unlikely feat of planning and executing a paradigm breaking task roll. The difficulty for these is always 200, the maximum difficulty possible, and they can achieve certain things that are assumed by narrative fiat to be otherwise impossible. The GM should recognize it when a player suggests something paradigm breaking and inform the players of the fact. Generally anything interfering with the machine of situation rolls is probably paradigm breaking, as is anything that foils the general flow of premise. Following are some examples of such feats:

             Reversing the poles: Ice value will start dropping instead of increasing. Achievable by magic, technology or other interesting means. The GM could stage a turning point where the characters discover the curse of MU and nullify it, for example.

             Moving Atlantis: the magic that allows the culture to exist is tied to the island, and is therefore normally impossible to preserve. This can be achieved by brute force or by using a Colony value as skill roll, to move the magic to a different place. A colony with the magic doesn't gather Time or Degeneration for the inhabitants (see below).

             Becalming humanity: there is fate on the prowl, and it's the fate of humanity. The stars have to be moved or an almost impossible compact made for the human tribes to universally stop hating Atlantis. Can be done by killing them off, too, but that doesn't reduce the difficulty.

             Saving the breed: the atlantean humanity with their advanced society and superhuman affinities is almost certainly doomed to get assimilated or destroyed when the island falls. The degeneration outlined below will make that quite sure without paradigm breaking. A break could be a magical ritual that nulls any Degeneration in the participants when executed, or something biotechnical to breed the Atlantean traits into humanity in general.

          The players will have to choose for their characters and their progeny. One probable option is moving to a colony when the Disintegration grows too dangerous. Patriotic characters might either preserve, evaquate and sink, or destroy Atlantis to stop it from ending up in enemy hands. Otherwise the ice will simply engulf the island. The colony option is important enough to be detailed here, while the GM will have to create the others as needed in cooperation with the players.

             The ice age will make life in the far north and south dicey, so any successfull colony will have to be somewhere near the equator. I'd try for Africa or Eurasia when GMing, but it's up to taste. America would probably be a little dull when considering pulp fiction possibilities.

             The Colony value of a given colony can be used when deciding what parts of the Atlantean legacy have been preserved there. 200 would be the score for Atlantis itself, anything under it will mean greater or lesser losses. The delegation bonus will from now on be one tenth of the Colony value. A central theme will however be the magic of Atlantis, which is lost with the island.

             When the Atlanteans move to a colony their life expectancy and fertility will start to erode. The reason for the degeneration is in the mystical religion of Atlantis, inexorably tied to the great Temple in the middle of the island.

             For every year of existence without Atlantis a colony will gain one point of Time, which represents the eroding of Atlantean heritage. For every year in a colony an Atlantean bloodline will get one point of Degeneration. This can be resisted either passively with the Colony value or actively with suitably lovecraftian blood sacrifices or other rituals of Atlantis. This is a roll against the colony's Time. As with other situation rolls, multiple characters can participate. A successfull roll will negate the rise in Degeneration next year for everyone participating.

             When conceiving children outside Atlantis an Atlantean will have to win a roll against Degeneration. When rolling ageing rolls the Atlantean will add Degeneration to the difficulty. Degeneration is removed by worship in the great Temple, which cleanses it from the bloodline. Children get the average value of the parents' Degenerations. Humans always have zero Degeneration, of course.

             Every year the Colony's colony level is rolled against Time, and it drops one point on failure come next year. The colony level can support / be supported on the roll by characters with suitable skills as a situation roll. This represents the erosion of the tech base resulting from being cut of from the factories and temples of Atlantis.

             The GM should continue with the yearly phases as detailed above, but adapt the options to the situation. The technological base of a given colony will erode with time, as well as the people and the social structure, if something is not done. This is again a choice for the players; the characters can ally themselves with local humans, or become short-lived gods, or whatever else. The time of Atlantis has gone and only heroic feats could bring it back. The question is if that's worth your while when it'd mean your life's work.

             In any case it's clear that both the Atlantean high technology and magic will fade slowly, the speed and nature of the fade depending on character action. The GM should take this as a fact of the paradigm, with only a paradigm breaking feat accomplishing rescuing of the legacy in that sense. The culture can be saved, the magic and tech probably not. Magics and high technology can only be learned in the colonies, and never to a level higher than the Colony level.

          In time the Atlantean legacy will either be extinguished or assimilated in human cultures of the region. This starts the third phase of play, which we'll leave open for now. It will all depend on the players and their choices. The GM should just remember that nothing at all is impossible in the game, if the will is there. The unforgiving machine mechanics are counterbalanced by loose play with conditional bonuses and open mind towards character goals.

          The GM will have to tweak character creation when the situation in Atlantis and the colonies changes. When a stake destroys the schooling system, if the characters cannot repair it, any new characters will grow up with less skill and affinity points than before. Here's some guidelines:

             Although it's assumed that any newly made characters are at least twenty years old, the players may wish to play younger characters when forced by situation. The GM should assign skill points to such characters based on the following cases. In every case the schooling of a character takes fifteen years, so a character younger than that will have a flawed upbringing if Atlantean, until redeemed by taking the appropriate years of from other actions. Schooling is a situation roll, incidentally.

             The optimal situation represented by the character creation has each character gaining two skill points and two affinity points per year since birth. This is an abstraction, but usable for our needs. A character raised up in Atlantis (at least fifteen years) will continue accumulating skill and affinity points with this speed in colonies or even among barbarians, but has to spend them in skills he actually uses there. The free spending in Atlantis resulted from the lifestyle.

             A character which has a flawed upbringing will only gain one affinity point and one skill point per year. This is the case with any atlantean brought up in a colony or whose schooling is interrupted or a half-atlantean or human in any case.

             A character with human upbringing will gain only one affinity point per year and one skill point every two years. This is the case with atlanteans brought up among humans and humans themselves (though humans do not gain affinities). This is the minimum, and isn't predicated on schooling of any kind.

          Progeny and eugenics

          Characters can only be killed due to a stake of a turning point or by getting old. The characters will roll reflexive ageing rolls against (age-50) every year after the fifteenth birthday (although for most success is automatic until the fiftieth birthday). Failure means that the GM may kill the character off any time he wants to with a suitable hardship of age. Time to switch characters, as detailed below.

             The skills applicable to ageing rolls are mostly magical and medicine skills of the people who treat the character, but any self-care skills can be used, too. An Atlantean with no special consideration for his health will use the delegation bonus of +20.

          When a character dies the player may choose to play any of that character's own children. Only by GM permission is any other arrangement possible, and such permission shouldn't be forthcoming without good reason. A character need not die for the character switch, in which case the player doesn't need to miss the year of play he'd miss if the character dies when he's playing it.

             After character death the next character is chosen, but the player will come back to the game only after the next year has passed. Thus he will have time to create the character and think up his new goals. A new character will always start from year start, and often the vignette will concern the character's background.

             If there's no stats yet for the new character they are created on the spot. The player may leave skill points unassigned until deciding what skills he would like the character to have. Age depends on when the last character got the child, obviously, and the amount of skill points depends on schooling as explained in the last chapter.

             Atlanteans get one affinity from their mother and one from their father. One is free to choose, but is frequently something from either bloodline. The player may choose from the affinities of the parents.

             The point of this character creation is largely speed. Characters are going to die quite frequently when the stakes get higher, so character creation should take only the year the player is off. This is generational story, so no single character will dominate the whole game without some serious tech or magic.

          Atlanteans can breed with humans, and probably should (although that last one is for the players to decide). Crossbreeds will have some atlantean features, and are recognisable to the third generation. The only Atlantean features rules-wise are magic and tech especially tuned to Atlanteans and the affinities. Otherwise upbringing will largely decide on the character's nature. The way Atlantean culture is preserved when magic and tech is lost should be a key question in a campaign.

             When deciding if Atlantean magic or tech recognizes the character the player will decide for any character less than one-fourth Atlantean, as long as he has at least one Atlantean ancestor. It should be noted that the Degeneration is Atlantean magic, so any character recognizable as Atlantean will carry Degeneration.

             A character one-half Atlantean will have two affinities, one from the atlantean parent and one free. Likewise a one-fourth Atlantean will have one free affinity. Any lesser halfbreeds might be recognizably Atlantean, but not have any different skills than humans.

             Awakening affinities in characters not carrying Degeneration is a paradigm breaking task.

          GMing chapter

          What the GM should do with this? Clearly there is some point to the game, but it might not open from simply reading the rules above. Let me try to explain:

             The general style of the game should be reminiscent of deep texture scifi or epic fantasy, as preferred. The structure of the game is especially suitable for playing key moments of sweeping events. Any author from George Martin through Doris Lessing to Greg Egan is possible as a style guide.

             The GM role in the game is a complex one. On the one hand it has many of the traditional features, the greatest probably the "paradigm" the GM enforces and interprets. There is an overall story here, and GM will relate it. On the other hand, though the story is fixed, the narrative isn't, if you see what I mean. It's not meant for the GM to tell and the players to listen, but for the GM to relate the situation and the players to react. How will they react to the Atlantean society? What will they do when the ice starts to creep in? What choices will they make for Earth? The classic narrativist situation, really, clothed in a task resolution system.

             Task resolution - the GM should understand how the system works and why. The rules force to deal with most any goal in a single roll, which means that it has to be defined as a character task. The turning points are the only opportunities for traditional play.

             The above means that many, many things have to be dealt with by GM fiat. This is good, as we don't want the clutter task resolution usually brings. We want to instead focus on the tasks that matter, and non-task material.

             The game should be played with a social and cultural emphasis. What the character believes in? Who is important to him? What he feels? Most situation scenes should be framed as the character going or coming back from the task itself, with the character interacting with his loved and hated ones. Build small stories out of NPCs, too.

          The GM should when possible use general difficulty mechanics, like outlined in the campaign chapter. In theory all non-player characters have the same kind of statistics that the player characters have, but they should only be used with named, important characters. Most of the time the GM should call a difficulty for the skill roll and handle the actual narration from there, with abstraction.

             Alternatively the GM may abstract skill values, and put the character against an abstract opponent. Atlantis, for example, resists demagogues with +20, as it does everything else. A powerful human tribe might have +5 or even +10 in some situations, and so on.

             When GM controlled characters or abstract entities roll dice the GM builds a task pyramid normally. That's one more reason to not use opposed rolls without reason, actually. The GM can certainly assume any suitable motivation pyramids too, to give himself some space to move.

             The player characters are protagonized by keeping the rest of the world mostly passive (in mechanics, not story). They cannot count on some greater or more experienced philosopher king to deal with the matters - they will, but the skill will still be only +20. Only named and essential characters will have independent skill values.

          The most important thing for the GM to do is to confront the players and characters with the society and situations outlined in the above rules. There is much to be gained from considering the Atlantean society and the choices of people deprived of a home land. Are they the saved remnant of some higher purpose, and if so, what the purpose is? Or will the characters win the paradigm and sacrifice all, whole lifetimes to be true, to keep onto something whose time has passed?

             A main tool for confrontation is the "machine" outlined in the campaign chapter. The GM should understand how it confronts the players, and ideally he should be able to retcon and reconstruct it when the players sidestep the machine through situational means. There is a smaller example of the colonial machine in the end of the chapter for the GM as an example of how the machine is changed with situation. Both the original ice age machine and the Degeneration machine are pointed towards the players to give them a shot at the premise through pure character play.

             This talk about the machine doesn't of course mean that all play has to be predicated on impossible situations and such. The machine can be in certain situations a different kind of beast. The game demands some vision from the GM, as he must construct the machinery of play to answer the interests of the play group. The machines given address strongly the theme of the forced destruction of Atlantis and what the characters are going to do about it. These probably shouldn't be removed, as it's a central thrust of play, but after the characters find peace with the destruction of Atlantis the GM can finally allow some serious constructive play.

          To finish, some examples of scenes that could be played in The Fall of Atlantis and the Dawn of Human History:
             The Atlantean solar kites are finally finished. Thousands of them, to stave of the ice. The overseer Rekon-Tek has developed a new theory about their placement, and is currently saying goodbye to his fiancé before leaving for the arctic. A situation roll follows.
             The brotherhood has gathered to the Parliament to argument with the old guard about the destruction of the colonies. Marja-Tek will present her argument in dance, it's said, to prove the worth of humanity. A turning point, certainly.
             The mutated Florida herds are nuked. The main library is closed to save the budget for obsidian shields in England. The solar kites are turned to burn the barbarian horde of Graal before it get's to the farmlands. Typical reflex rolls.


          I'd write more examples if I got paid for this, you know.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 17, 2004, 03:43:00 PM
          And next comes the main course, the second submission today. A heavy narrativist work, to be sure. But if you read it all you'll get some dessert. Promise!

          The Battle of the Frozen Waste (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/etuovine/ironchef/kansi3.jpg)
          - the game of tolkienist battle (Click name to see the cover)

          The Knights of Snow, they are straight and true... perhaps too straight, for the revered Oracles have cast the stone of displeasure for them seven times, seven times in seven times seven years past, and the order has grown weak... now it's time for their judgement, for the Ambassador has risen. Ambassador: the great demon of the North, the one with the bone castle and only fangs and talons for children at night. The lord of the werewolves, they say. And only the Order stands in his way...

          The Battle of the Frozen Waste casts the players in the roles of brave paladins (for each and every man of this valiant troupe is one after the day is done) who face the terrible demons of ice in a battle to decide the fate of the middle lands. The game starts only a day before the battle, and will end in victory or defeat for mankind and life or death, honor or shame for individual paladins.

          What you need:
          - Some four players, three at minimum
          - Some colors of stones
          - Two bags suitable for holding many stones
          - Some pens and paper

          The Situation

          The Knights of Snow (or /Northern Order of Knight-Chevaliers in Service/, as they are formally known) were established after the last time the ravening creatures of the north penetrated the southern climes, bringing early snow and horrible death to the lands of men. After terrible sacrifices and wholesale slaughter the demons were driven off, but not without leaving the middle lands in ruins.

          When the imminent danger had passed the knightly order was soon left to control the bordermarches alone, as the then-emperor first turned his gaze to the west and then lost his throne and the empire to the various hereditary lords of the realms of the empire. This didn't mean any sagging of the effort, though; the lords all pledged support to the Order, and for a long while they send men, weapons and supplies that the Grand Masters of the Order put to good use, expanding their realm to the north and building forts long beyond the pale of what the man had known before the demons came.

          Then, as the reader probably already guesses, the attention of the Lords started to sag, what with human life being short compared to creeping of the glaciers. The men, the weapons, the supplies... they all came more infrequently, and then in smaller and smaller quantities. This didn't spell doom for the Order, though, for then the bordermarches could support independent vassals, and the Order could pledge it's protection to the meager populace in exhange for what it needed to survive.

          Then there were the Oracles. The personal mages and soothsayers of the late emperor, the Oracles didn't waste any time in offering equal service to the Lords when their star seemed to be in the rise. Soon it was that for every lord there was an oracle, and they adviced their lords with utmost wisdom and insight. One could even say that the oracles were priestesses in a noble religion. First the oracles were one in their advice and supported the Order, but later on they, like every man of the midlands, forgot the Knights of the Snow. First it was a singular exception, that the stones should turn against the Order, but then it was all the more frequent and the robed mathriarchs were one in saying, year after year and every seven years in grand council, that there was no need, that the Order was fattened by the rich lands of the marches, that the demons were asleep in the north and would not rise.

          Of course they were wrong. The Order knew, but was not listened to. The Lords wasted their strength skirmishing against one another and the western sidhe, The Oracles blinded themselves to the truth. When the legate for the Ambassador came, announcing His strength... The Order knew that they'd stand alone, and likely nobody else would if they should fall.

          But the Knights of Snow... they are a hard, hard fellowship. Hard as ice, in heart and head. 'Though some of the men might have deserted the forts when the legate came, 'though some knights voice their disagreement... the Grand Master Schleyr didn't flinch, but instead send his riders and mustered both old-timers and young boys of the fief against the coming darkness. And when the Grand Master rode, the Order was behind him almost to the man, with forts near and far emptying to answer the Great Call.

          Great were they to the eye, the Knights of Snow... but greater the darkness, as they should come to know. All the knights, bowmen and spears hardly enough to withstand the darkness, not to talk of striking back. Only valor will help them now, when they ride to meet the Ambassador on the field of honor.

          It is said among the men that the Grand Master harbors an oracle, you see. It's said that he knows that the forts and fortresses, even the great castle of Sveafors will fall if the Order will not assemble and ride to the field. There is no choice, whisper the voices, for the Ambassador has unearthed from the dark sepulchre the forgotten artifact, the Desangraal, the Chalice of Doom. The chalice that will overflow darkness and blood, should the winter solstice come to pass unchallenged.

          Thus it is that the Knights of Snow ride to meet the darkness in the far north, in the hopes of seizing the Ambassador unprepared. The land is however against them, and the troops are bloodied by both freezing cold and constant skirmishes with ghouls, barbarians, werewolves and even worse things.

          Now, the end is near. The outriders have sighted the shadows and the troops within them, seen the Ambassador in it's terrible beauty and horrible monstrousness exhorting the demons. The Order will arrange for battle come dawn, for tomorrow is the day of the Solstice, the shortest day and the darkest night of the year.

          Style and goals

          The Battle of the Frozen Waste (BFW) is a limited-length roleplaying game suitable for independent play or as a pro/epilogue for a longer campaign. In BFW the players tell the story of a great battle between the forces of light and darkness, reminiscent of modern fantasy literature. A reader familiar with the heavy post-tolkienist fantasy tomes will have recognized how those books most commonly will peak in an epic battle where the fate of all that is good hangs in balance. BFW strives to capture that epic moment of gore and glory in a game, preferably without the five-hundred page preparation.

          The style of play in BFW is primarily and most importantly pathetic. Pathos is the cornerstone around which everything else will be built. Whether the game will be a paean for heroism or gritty exercise in cooperation and bravery, it's pathetic nature will shine through strong. The colours should be used with abandon, swathing the knights in heraldic tinctures and gold and silver, while giving the demons darkest attributes imaginable, with crests of blood and pain. This is the moment of truth for a whole world, and neither realist nor animation palettes are sufficient; strive for colours worth the masters of renaissance, colours where lead and arsenics blind the painter all the while giving the audience the richest feast possible. Pathos is about distilling reality.

          The goal of play for the players is primarily to produce a satisfying visual phantasm for the enjoyment of all. To this end they will take roles as members of the Knights in their darkest hour. By role immersion or inspired storytelling they will entertain themselves and other players through a story where their individual knights face their hardest choices and the Order in totality faces either death or victory, depending on the choices of the players. This is not to say that there's no conflict; indeed, conflict is what makes a story great, so just roll with the punches and give back in equal measure, steering the story to a satisfying end.

          Play preparation

          Each player chooses individually one of the following character archetypes:
             High Noble: the masters of the Order, either born and bread northlanders who've risen to their positions with experience, or southerners who have gained their position by deeds or breeding outside the order. The High Nobles will advice the Grandmaster in planning the Battle and will lead the men in battle.
             Knight: lesser nobles and their closest men. All men mounted and in armor are considered knights in the order, although some may hold higher social positions than others. These are the strong offensive fist of the Order when fighting the Ambassador, not the least because many demons are averse to steel most knights are clothed in.
             Footman: armed either with pikes or bows, the footmen are the actual backbone of the Order's army, able to withstand horrible attacks with bravery. Footmen are commoners, and are usually led by commoners or petty nobles.
             Oracle: there are other magicians in the middle lands, but apart from the barbaric ice shamans there is none in the icy wastes behind the borderlands able to withstand the Ambassador's corrupting influence. The Order however has some oracles, whose magical and arcane knowledge might spell victory, if trust is acquired and treachery avoided. All the oracles are women.
             Hero: the general riff-raff that joins armies of freedom in fantasy epics and will save the day against all odds. By definition these can be anything, from talking animals to forgotten princes. They have to still have a reason for being there, though, both from the viewpoint of the high nobles and their own.
             The Ambassador: the great demon of the North, hankering to swallow the middle lands. There is beauty in the ice sculptures and blinding whiteness of His domain, but it's not beauty fit for human life.

          The choices the players make degree largely the focus of play, as different characters have different kinds of worries in the day before the battle. Apart from this narratively forced focus there's however no limits at all to the character details, and if a player wishes to play a peasant prince who forces himself on the gatherings of high nobles, he's welcome to choose the archetype of High Noble and play his character as a commoner. The archetypes decide what the character does, not what he is, and are simply focus tools for the players.

             Only one player may play the Ambassador, and if two or more players want it, then nobody plays it. In that case refer to the chapter about playing without an Ambassador player.

             The players may make more than one character for themselves, and can announce new characters during play. The rules will assume that the players only have one character, but the option is there for some more elaborate play. No limits at all in this regard, as long as the "characters" of the player do not constitute a limiting statement (see below). For example declaring that all the high nobles of the Order are your characters is... weak.

          There is no traditional character creation. Instead the players decide on facts about their character independently and in cooperation, to the degree preferred. What mechanical impact these decisions might have is realised later in the game through the choices of the players. It's preferable that a player have some kind of concept about what his character is about in the game when it starts, but likewise a degree of moderation is hoped for: a player should not feel a need to frontload his character unnecessarily, as this will only constrain his choices in the end.

             As far as the game world goes, it is divided into the midlands and the frozen waste. The former is the domain of the other players, while the latter is that of the Ambassador only. The players share rights of narration about things of their own domain equally in the following way: Any world detail or color that doesn't limit another player is completely free and allowable, while details that make limiting statements about the domain are possible only by concensus, that is, if nobody disagrees. All the players should remember that the world being a scetchily defined fantasy, many things are possible and nothing should be discounted as long as it doesn't damage the designs of another player. It's assumed that anything alluded to in the rules is true to some degree, but that leaves great swathes of room for cultural, geographical, cosmological and other kinds of detail for players to fill in on their leisure.

             For players unused to this kind of free-for-all, an example about the differences between limiting and non-limiting statements: "There is a knightly order of the South." is a non-limiting statement, while "There is only two important knightly orders, Snow and Sand." certainly is limiting. The above world creation rules allow players any non-limiting statements about the world, but limiting statements are only possible by concensus, that is, every player except the Ambassador has to agree about things of the midlands.

             For the Ambassador things are simpler, as the player has the sole power to decide on general facts about the frozen waste. The Ambassador player may still offer suggestions about the midlands, as the other players can about the waste, but the other party has to accept such suggestions for them to become a truth.

             This freedom of general description of certainty doesn't include the actual play actions of characters or other normal play, but is only limited to background facts and milieu of play. So the Ambassador player may freely decide on the general description of werewolves, but he cannot simply degree any actions of those same wolves without concensus. There's rules for that kind of thing.

             When one domain states a limiting statement concerning the other domain it has no force without confirmation. So the Ambassador cannot degree that the magic of the bone tower overrides all other magic, for example. The statement will be true of everything belonging to the waste, but not of the magic of the Order.

             And to make it clear, the Knights of Snow, or Order for short, are indeed a phenomenon of the midlands. Likewise the barbarian tribes of the frozen waste are largely within the Ambassador's domain to the degree that he enforces it. No player should feel overly protective of little bits of narration, as the rules are quite high-level and robust. Nothing stops the Ambassador from loaning a barbarian tribe to the other players, for example. Be sensible about it, and there should be no problems.

          The players will have to prepare the Bag before play can begin. The next chapter details the procedure. The last part of the preparation is for the players to assign meanings to the stones. Stones will act as randomizers and a kind of an oracle for deciding how the play will progress. Most of their meaning is generated during play, but as with the characters, something will be fixed at the start. Each player will choose one meaning for one color of stone in accordance with the following chapter. The decisions are made individually and may all concern the same stone color. Any non-sensible meanings are redecided until an agreement is reached.

          When the play preparation is sufficiently finished, so that the players are raring to play, it's time to start the game. The first phase of play is called "Waiting for Dawn", as in it the players come to learn to know their characters and the perils ahead, while the characters are preparing for the morning of the battle. This will be described in detail in the chapter of the same name, after the chapters about stone mechanics.

          The Bag and the stones

          In addition to creating characters and setting details the players will need to prepare the Bag: this is a normal bag suitable for stone-drawing mechanics, accompanied by different colors of stones. The stones are put into another bag heretofore referred to as the reserve and mixed. From now on the stones from the reserve are drawn in random.

             The stones themselves are different colors; the choice of colors and numbers will affect fundamentally the course of play. Generally more colors will make for a more heroic and cinematic game, while few colors, even only one, will mean straightforward and gritty play. Also more colors will make the gameplay somewhat more complex. The relative amounts of different colors will also affect play in deep ways better experienced than explained. For the first game some three or four colors in equal amounts will probably suffice.

             The rules will often refer to a fist of stones: this is any amount of stones a player can comfortably close his fist around to conceal them from the other players. There is no minimum to a fist, and if the players should be giants or the stones really small nothing stops from using something else than player's fist as a limit to stone drawing, as long as the stones are concealed comfortably.

             There should be at least five fists of stones per player in the reserve at the start of the game, though all colors need not be in equal amounts. If the players have particularly luxurious stone collections the reserve can be made by each player simply grapping a full fist or five of preferred colors. The goal here is for the players to have some rough notion about the colors and amounts, so the reserve should be made equally by all participants.

             A fist of stones is always open to the player himself and secret from the other players. The Bag is always secret to all, except for rough evaluation by weight, feeling from the outside etc. The reserve is likewise secret. Free stones detailed later are public, except for the Ambassador, whose are secret. A player may reveal secret information known to him as long as he doesn't include numbers.

             At any time during the game the players may add stones to the reserve by the fist: each player takes stones of a preferred color and adds that fist in the reserve. This can be done any time all the players accent, and must be done when the reserve runs empty.

             Before play starts each player puts a fist of stones from the reserve to the bag, checking the colors. Thus each has some notion about the colors of the stones making up the Bag. While it's permissible to talk about the colors, it's considered bad taste to reveal exact numbers. If preferred by all, a second or third round of fists may be added to ensure a longer and more detailed game.

          The stones are used most commonly to help in narrating the story of the game through the meanings of the stones. Every color has multiple meanings that are defined through play. Players keep record of these with pen and paper, so someone should probably be designated as the scribe. Meanings are only ever added, never removed.

             The meanings of the colors can be anything the players think appropriate, as long as for each meaning and each color there are some spheres of the story that explicitly do not fall within the meaning/meanings of the color. That is, no universal meanings that can be twisted to apply to anything are allowed, and neither is combining meanings in a single color in such a way that the color would apply to any situation.

             It's bad gamesmanship to choose meanings the other players don't understand. This can however only be judged by the players in question. Although it's completely acceptable to manipulate the meanings to be beneficial to you, it's not allowable to wheedle the meanings in unmanly ways. When a new meaning is instituted all players should understand what it stands for, and this understanding should be held to, like with all rules. Players may always ask clarification and examples from each other to gauge how others interpret the meanings.

             When choosing meanings for the colors the players should first consider these example ones. A color should not get any other meanings before it has at least one from the following lists, and a color may ever have only one meaning from a given list, as others are always considered contradictory and all-encompassing in combination. The players should feel free to add to these lists during the play preparation, to get some meaning landscape defined beforehand. And the shoulds and mays in the above sentences are intentional; no definite lists can be given for meanings.

          Allegiance:
          Order
          Ambassador
          Barbarians

          Domain:
          Midlands
          Frozen waste
          Sidhe

          Skills:
          Martial
          Arcane
          Stealth

          Element:
          Ice
          Fire
          (others to taste)

          Action:
          Assault
          Defend
          (others to taste)

          When assigning additional meanings the players are almost completely free to invent any they care to, subject to the limitations above. Contradictory meanings within a color are allowed as long as they still leave some plot situations where neither is applicable. When in doubt, if two players are for any meaning it will be accepted as far as legality goes.

             A meaning can be assigned to a stone whenever no conflict (as defined in the next chapter) is going on. To assign a meaning the player states it clearly and discards one of his free stones (also defined in the next chapter) of the color to be defined. If there is no legality problem as defined in this chapter, and if no player wants to challenge the meaning, it's added to the list of meanings.

          Conflict resolution

          When using the stones during the game the players will have a bunch of free stones, which are in front of the player for all to see. These are used to affect changes in the scenes played in various ways. Free stones come from the Bag and are either discarded or added to traits after use. The Ambassador has free stones like everyone else, but he gets the stones from the discards of the other players and discards to the reserve. Ambassador's free stones are secret from the other players, to add insult to injury.

             Conflicts are mechanical situations used to regulate narration and apply certain game effects. The most common way for a conflict to start is for a player to disagree with another about something in-game, but it's conceivable that an agreement could result in one. A disagreement results in conflict because it's the only venue for one of the players to get his will felt concerning the narration. Even then the other player may back down and accept the changes the disagreeing player proposes, in which case no conflict occurs. Conflict always needs two players agreeing to start one.

             When at least two players wish to have a conflict one is immediately started, even if another conflict is still unfinished. Conflicts are always over particulars of the narration, and the players participating will have great freedom concerning it. Players not participating judge any mechanical disagreements and may react through their characters in non-mechanical ways. Specifically conflict narration is subject to the limits of general narration established in the preparation chapter, and players still decide how their characters react to narration. Everything else within the local social contract is acceptable, including control of NPCs, staging implausible coincidences, heroic character actions or whatever the conflict participant desires. The only limit are the free stones the player is prepared to pay for his narration.

             When a conflict is started every player takes a fist of his free stones and holds it visible for the other players while concealing the rest of his free stones in some way. When everyone is ready the stones are revealed at the same time. Presumably most players will have empty hands, but it's possible that all players burn stones, as the conflict bid is called. The players who burn stones are conflict participants, and will narrate the conflict. The stones burned are called the conflict stones, and won't be returning to the free stones; what their destiny is depends on the particulars of the narration.

             The players not participating can add their own flourishes of color, help regulate the conflict, and judge disagreements over rules. They still control their own characters in non-mechanical ways and may even declare conflicts if their rights over their characters or general narration are trampled by the conflictors.

             When the conflict stones are revealed either player may declare a narrative intention. This is something that happens in the story and corresponds to a meaning of a conflict stone that player holds. This correspondence is judged by the local sensibilities, but presumably the players have had some idea when designating the meaning to the color. Such a stone is now burned and may not be used a second time in the narration.

             When a player has stated a narrative intention any other player who has the stones may interrupt by a narrative intention of his own, overriding what the first player described. He also has to burn a stone to do this. This process of back-and-forth narration is continued until no player wishes to interrupt. It should be noted that a narrative interruption can only backtrack over the last intention, so if a player doesn't want something specific to happen in the story, he must interrupt it right away before someone else interrupts without overruling.

             To make this clear: a narrative interruption can either continue narration by reacting to the narrative intention, thus confirming it, or backtrack over the intention, telling an alternative version as what happens instead. For the mechanics these are one and the same, but storywise they are very different things. And with an interruption only working on the last intention it's important to remember.

             If the players find that they frequently have priority issues about who gets to interrupt (possible only if at least three players are in the conflict), the players should work out a system either random or based on reaction time. This is needed to stop two players from hogging the narration, but is better left for the play group to sort out.

             When a narrative intention goes by without interruption the player may invest the burned stone as a repercussion instead of discarding it. Repercussion stones can be used either as negative traits, healing traits, or fact pools. These are explained a little bit later, for now it's enough to remember that only non-interrupted stones have mechanical effects.

             It is most important that not all stones are playable at all times, but that the meanings of the stones constrain the players in their narration. Especially already stated facts about the setting, stated either during this conflict or earlier, are binding in conflict narration. A player could have demanded conflict when the fact was established, or could have interrupted then if the fact was stated during this conflict. In either case the player is constrained by formerly established facts when using stones, and it may well be that a given stone has no meaning that can be used in a certain situation. If this is so the player may have to discard unusable stones when the conflict ends. The other players supply judgement in unclear situations, by vote if need be.

             The conflict ends when no player has appropriate conflict stones left. If one or more players still have stones left, but no-one wants to burn them for effect, a forced burn happens. This may be the case if neither side really wants to affect repercussions, but both have bid substantial conflict stones to stop the other one. If no burns are forthcoming both players burn an appropriate stone at the same time and jointly narrate the burn based on the colors. The forced burns continue until a player is willing to narrate a burn.

          Traits are stones that are added to a character. Whenever a character participates in a conflict where the player burns a stone for a narrative intention concerning the character that player may immediately invest the stone in a trait. Only one such stone can be added per conflict. In such a case the player will write up the meaning for which he burned the stone and put the stone on the meaning. From now on the character has that meaning as a trait, to be interpreted in some sensible narrative way. If another stone of same color is added to the character it has to be added to the same trait until there's at least three stones in the trait. After that the player may either start another trait of the same color or continue adding stones to the old one(s).

             Traits are used in exactly the same way as other stones in a conflict, except that they can only be used for their own meaning and they are not discarded after use. Every trait stone can only be used once per conflict, though, and they cannot be invested in repercussions.

             Traits can only be gained and used if the character participates in the conflict. A player can participate without the character participating and vice versa, but the player will always decide if his character participates. Like the player, the character cannot be forced to participate as long as he's ready to carry the story consequences.

          Repercussions are what might happen in a conflict. When a narrative intention goes through unchallenged the player may invest the stone in question into one of the repercussion options, which are the negative traits, healing traits and fact pools. This happens after the other players have indicated no wish to interrupt, and must be concordant with both the meaning of the stone color and the repercussion option.

             Negative traits are like normal traits in that they are added to a character, but their stones are usable by the opponents of that character instead of the character himself. The meaning of the trait depends on the stone color, but is probably along the lines of physical or mental damage. Negative traits can only be added to characters that participate in the conflict at hand, and they cannot be such that they affect all actions of the character by their interpretation.

             Healing traits are simple stones that are used to remove negative traits. A healing stone can remove one stone from a negative trait of any character, not just one participating in the conflict (although it's assumed that this will have to make sense storywise).

             Fact pools are simply a group of stones given name and set aside. They work exactly like traits for conflicts, except that they are not part of a character and any player may use the stones in them if the meaning of the pool and the stones supports his narration.

          Example:
             Mike and Ron are playing. They have two colors of stones, with black meaning martial things and white meaning magic, among other things. This is what happens when their as yet traitless characters duel:
             Both players reveal a fist of free stones. Mike has three black and two white, while Ron has two whites and one black. Mike immediately states that his character swings his broadsword in a lethal arc, setting aside a black stone. Ron could just take the negative trait obviously coming, but decides instead to interrupt with a white stone. He cannot retell Mike's narrative, as players cannot narrate for other players' characters, but he can state how his character's protective amulet blinds Mike's character with a flash, allowing for his character to step aside. This is only possible because Mike and Ron haven't been playing for long enough to have solidly stated what equipment their characters have, or what magic can and cannot do. If it had been earlier stated that there are no magic items outside exceptional circumstances (a non-limiting statement), the other players would probably not have supported this magic amulet. If it had been stated or implicated that magic is in general hard and slow work, it might be that neither player could use the white stones in their magic aspect at all.
             A couple of narration turns later Ron has spend all his stones, with the magic amulet breaking in the last exhange (remember, this is almost nothing to the player game efficiency-wise, just a nice flourish). Mike still has a couple of stones and decides to wound Ron's character and kick him when he's down. The stones are put into a negative trait (wound) and a fact pool named "Ron's followers lose heart", as authority was the original reason for the duel.

             I'd probably write more examples if I got paid for this, you know.

          The above is the simple conflict resolution, to which the following additions apply.

             The players can add meanings to colors as long as the fists have not been opened. No meanings may be added as long as a conflict is going on.

             If a player uses all of his free stones in one color his is considered a dramatic effort, but only if he had at least one stone in that color in the first place. A dramatic effort cannot lose and will instead tie a non-dramatic effort. If a player uses two of his colors the effort is heroic and will tie even dramatic efforts. By adding further colors the player can force ties against even greater efforts. A tie means that the player can interrupt any narrative intention, even with no suitable stones (but he has to use stones if he can). The Ambassador can never be dramatic in this sense, and doesn't benefit from this rule.

             A player may discard one of his character's traits by writing the color on a piece of paper and including it in his fist. This is considered a sacrifice by that character, and has to be the highest trait of a given color for the character. The narration will include the character sacrificing something (pertaining to the trait, presumably) and the player may count all stones of that color in all his traits, his opponent's traits and opponent's burned stones to his benefit instead of his opponents, in any meaning of that color. Two sacrifices in the same color negate each other (the traits are still lost), each player can play only one sacrifice per conflict and a sacrifice is only possible if the character actually has a trait to sacrifice at the start of the conflict.

             Players can also hold conflicts over disagreements that do not have immediate narrative meaning. Such a conflict is called a metaconflict, and can be over any stupid thing humans manage to invent. Metaconflicts are the same as normal conflicts, except that there's no traits, domains of narration or repercussions, because the conflict isn't over narrative in the first place. All stones are usable, though style points go to players who manage to include the meanings in some way. Instead of narrative intentions the players introduce arguments, and instead of interruptions they introduce counterarguments. The last argument left standing wins. The most common metaconflict is probably over whether a meaning someone is trying to give a color is suitable for the game. Metaconflicts should be used when socially appropriate, that is, when the players feel that in-game resource should be used to confirm an opinion. In other kinds of rules disputes simple voting or however you usually solve disagreements is sufficient.

          The Ambassador has traits in the same way other characters do, but in His case they are much more externalised. The Ambassador is always considered to be present in any conflict that happens in the frozen waste, and his traits most likely manifest through his minions. The Ambassador cannot be damaged with negative traits from repercussions, either. Otherwise the Ambassador is played like the other characters, in accordance with the later rules about scene resolution.

          The characters can take truly legendary amounts of violence both physical and spiritual; indeed, how far the players go in that regard is simply a factor of their understanding of pathetic fantasy epic. The more the merrier, as old Roland used to say when the moslems gutted him.

             A character is considered in danger of death or worse fates (like becoming a pet blackguard for the Ambassador, ne?) when the player has more negative traits than both positive traits and free stones combined. Such a character cannot participate in any conflicts and the player cannot frame scenes as longs as things stand. The only ways to get out of danger are to get more free stones, get another player to use repercussions of a conflict to heal the negative traits or to let the Ambassador heal the character. The Ambassador /can/ do this to Himself, but that won't matter before the Battle.

             If the Ambassador player agrees to heal the character, an amount equal to his positive traits plus free stones in negative traits is negated for as long as the Ambassador player doesn't wish for them to return. Upon such a return the Ambassador may also initiate any suitable conflict against the character. The character is essentially in a vice of the Ambassador, however it's dressed up for the story ("He's talking in my head!" is a classic for sure).

             It's also possible, although unlikely, for the Ambassador to heal characters not yet in danger of death. The Ambassador can also continue to negate negative traits from characters to up to their sum of positive traits and free stones after the healing. Ambassador can do nothing for characters over this, so even a character backed up by the Ambassador is going down after reaching double his positive traits plus free stones in negative traits.

          Waiting for Dawn

          When the play is prepared the players move into the first actual phase. This is "Waiting for Dawn", the time for introductions, expositions, building suspense and preparing surprises. During this time the players ready themselves for the chaos of the battle proper, and the characters gird themselves for the very same confrontation. If the battle is the great climax, this is the build-up.

             At the start of the phase every player takes a fist of stones from the reserve and adds it to his free stones. First fist is the exception, later on the stones come from the Bag.
             
          Play will progress with players taking turns to interact with the setting, NPCs and other player characters. Other players not currently in character will communally take on the traditional GM tasks, preserving the domains outlined in play preparation (that is, the Ambassador won't describe any Order stuff or play Order NPCs, and the Order players won't play wilderness or monsters). The point here is two-fold: first, the players will have opportunities for detailing (and therefore strenghtening) their characters, and second, they have the opportunity to perform heroic deeds to better the Order's chances in the coming confrontation. A central decision is how much effort the players put toward each of these goals, and whether they strive for the artefact option detailed in the chapter about the Chalice of Doom.

             When a player gets a turn during the Waiting he will draw a fist of stones from the Bag and place it in his free stones for all to see. As usual, the fist may be empty. When the Bag is empty the Waiting will be at end and dawn will come. The players can easily judge some rough approximation of how many stones are left and can apply the knowledge to the flow of time and other such matters. It's assumed that the play will start during the day before the Battle, during the march of the Order. Where the players take it from there is largely in their hands, but most characters will probably spend the night in camp to get at least a little rest.

             The Ambassador doesn't get a regular turn during the Waiting; instead His minions and pure will will harass the Order in various ways. If all goes well for him he will be that much more powerful come the morn. Maybe the Order will break during the night and the whole battle becomes unnecessary, who knows.

             The order of player turns can be arranged to whatever's convenient, and characters can act out of turn if applicable. The goal is however that all players get roughly the same amount of turns in the framing department. Their characters can assist others and be all over the place if appropriate, but the mechanics of a turn apply only to the current player.

          During each of his turns the player will perform the following actions:
          Code:
          1) Draw a fist.
          2) Frame a scene.
          3) Play the scene.

             The appropriate scene with it's mechanical results is played to a completion, after which it's the next player's turn. The detailed explanation of the actions follows.

             1) Draw a fist: as already intimated, the player will take a fist of stones from the Bag and put it on the table with his /free stones/. These are used later to play the scene. If the Bag is emptied this is the last scene of the Waiting.
             2) Frame a scene: the player has complete control over the scene his character will appear in. The player may decide that other characters or NPCs are in the scene and may arrange matters within bounds of believability to his satisfaction. The scene may happen in the present of the Order's march or camp, or in any past or future point of time. The latter kind of scenes are played with exactly the same rules as other scenes, but are assumed to be fiction of some kind (either flashbacks, fantasies or plans). Players still always play their own characters and appropriate NPCs in all scenes, and will later acknowledge the truth of facts established in (true) flashbacks. It's assumed that anything the players frame is consistent in some frame of reference with the other scenes already established, making a logical whole.
             3) Play the scene: The scene is played according to the guidelines given above. Every scene ends after a conflict resolution is narrated, regardless of the conflict in question. A scene may also end without a conflict when the players of all characters in the scene agree. In this case the player may invest any amount of his free stones in an advantage counter, which are explained a little later.

          During the playing of the scene all players except the Ambassador player can start conflicts whenever they wish by taking their character or a NPC and placing it in odds with another character. If another player capable of controlling the opposition concents, a conflict is started. This is played as indicated in the last chapter, and the Ambassador player may take part. Only normal conflicts close the scene, so there can be metaconflicts that do not end it.

             A player can bring his own character or NPCs to the scene whenever they wish, as well as narrate other events they prefer. If another player disagrees he can start either a normal or a metaconflict over it, depending on the kind of narration. For example a player character coming into the scene can only be stopped by either metaconflicting it (over realism or whatever) or setting some actual narrative challenges for the character to overcome outside the current action of the scene. This of course will draw the narration out of the scene and into the conflict, which will then end the scene after the conflict. The same holds true for NPCs, with the distinction that in their case the disagreeing player can make the conflict over the NPC's feelings or other inner movements. Such an inner conflict is maybe easiest to narrate as a debate or maybe a series of flashbacks, but in any case this kind of conflict will end the scene too.

             The Ambassador doesn't get turns during the Waiting, but he can still narrate anything concerning the frozen waste. He cannot start conflicts, but can join in on conflicts started by the other players. The Ambassador character is considered to be in the scene for trait use and gain whenever the scene takes place in the frozen waste (that is, any time it's not a flashback or similar about the midlands or some other faraway place).

             As earlier noted, any stones used in conflicts that do not end up in repercussions or traits go to the Ambassador's free stones. Any stones used by the Ambassador will likewise end up in the reserve. The point of play is therefore largely in balancing the flow of the stones.

          When a player gains an advantage counter, he puts the stones used to buy it aside with a short note about the situation where the counter was gained. Gaining an advantage counter is a sign of a benefit that has accrued for the Order in general, and thus the narration should probably tell about alliances, new intelligence about the enemy, a commando strike at the demons or powerful magics gained, as examples. Something that will help the Order in the future. Any player may during the scene announce the advantage counter, at which stage the other players have to either accent or announce conflict with whatever is the in-game reason for the counter (or a metaconflict, of course). If two players resist the advantage counter (not counting Ambassador), they can postpone both the counter and the conflict to a specified later stage of the scene, if they should so wish.

             If the advantage counter goes through, the staging player will narrate it based on the stones he puts in the counter. This is similar to conflict narration, with each stone providing color and detail for the narration. The scene ends after this counter narration. As mentioned, the stones are put aside in a way similar to fact pools with an explaining note, to wait for their use. The note should include also the composition of the counter, in case stones get mixed up later.

             Advantage counters are used in the next phase to sway the outcome of the battle. Hopefully they will be enough, because the Order is otherwise horribly outnumbered.

          The Dawn of Battle

          When the Bag is emptied the Dawn comes, and with it the battle. If the Order has an advantage counter detailing their plan of attack they will take to the field with an aggressive strategy. Likewise they will be the defenders in the confrontation if their strategy is planned in such a way. The Ambassador will attack if the Order won't because He fears the Menorah of Salvation (detailed later). The battle cannot be avoided if Grandmaster Schleyr survived the night or the council of high nobles won't surrender when offered terms by the Ambassador. If for some extraordinary reason the players have the power to avoid the battle consult the next chapter about the Chalice and the Menorah.

             The Ambassador has various monsters and barbarians in excess of ten times the amount the Order has of men, so the only hope for the Order is superior tactics and pure heroism. These will be provided by the players, when their characters take to the field to die or triumph.

             The game continues to be played in turns, except that now it's the Ambassador and the Order which take turns. The day is only a couple of hours long so most of the battle is probably fought in darkness or magical light. When the midnight comes the Ambassador will activate the Desangraal (Solstice, remember?) and plunge the whole of the waste in deathly darkness, finishing the battle for the forces of darkness. To win the Order has to achieve victory before midnight or the characters have to activate the Menorah of Salvation at exactly midnight. The latter is explained in the next chapter, now for the battle.

          The battle is played in a way similar to the waiting, except that the advantage counters can be used. Then there is the edge, marking who is winning, and the embedded conflicts which are played normally. No player gains more free stones than they already have, except for the Ambassador who may at the start take stones with both fists from the reserve.

             Conflict narration works normally, finally revealing the robust strength of the system. The players can now inflict negative traits on the Ambassador through massacring His host of demons and barbarians. These traits are still local, however, so depending on the narration they might, for example, concern the left wing of the Ambassador's forces or only his cave trolls.

             The edge is a marker that is used to signify a very specific case: when either the Ambassador or the Order has the edge, the other side cannot use any positive traits or fact pools to it's benefit in battle conflicts. The edge always goes to the winner of the last battle conflict, so nobody has it at the start.

             The advantage counters are used only in battle conflicts, not the normal ones. A player may invoke the counter by putting a piece of paper with it's name into his fist. These stones are then used in narration of the advantage during the conflict narration. The advantage counter must be narrated continuously and is not interruptable if the other players cannot or won't burn exactly the same combination of stones as the one making up the counter to do it. If the counter is interrupted it is removed, but otherwise it is reusable in a later battle conflict.

             The attacker will have the first turn, and will thus start the narration of the battle. The battle conflict can be opened by either side, and free stones are used normally. Only players whose characters are not in danger of death can participate, as well as their characters. When the battle conflict is ended any player of the side in question may frame an embedded scene by the rules of the Waiting. after which the turn ends.

             Further turns are played in the same manner, with the edge and advantages making things very hard for both sides. The battle conflicts may include one challenge conflict for each character, with the side whose turn it is deciding on the participants. The challenge conflicts are normal conflicts in all but that only the challenger and the challengee can burn stones and the challengee has to be in actual melee. Additionally, should the challengee decline the conflict, he cannot take part in any conflict for the rest of the game, either the character or the player, without express and continuous permission from the challenger. The Ambassador will not decline any challenge. Essentially the challengee who declines has lost his courage and either escapes or changes sides.

          The Order will win the battle if the Ambassador loses a challenge. Note that this can only be done if the narration of the battle is succeeded in such a way that the Ambassador is forced into melee through facts of the matter. If the Ambassador player has played his game correctly, it's already clear that this can only happen through extreme arrongance from the Ambassador, as there should be ample evidence of the demon's capability for escaping. Naked social contract time, folks! In actuality it is assumed that the Ambassador will set up his battle lines at the start and be clearly visible for the other side to locate and challenge should they get there through the battlefield. The Ambassador /won't/ escape any possible challenges, or move in such a way that it impedes a possible challenger from reaching him.

             Any character who falls to danger of death in this phase will die if not tended to and saved from the battlefield immediately.

             As far as time goes, the night will fall pretty soon this far north at the time of the Solstice, but the midnight and the activation of Desangraal will only arrive when all players agree. Thus the battle will continue to some degree until all characters have escaped or died on the field, or until it's agreed that it's time for Desangraal.

          The Chalice of Doom and the Menorah of Salvation

          The Ambassador isn't as strong as He looks. It's the winter he draws his strength from, winter and the darkness of night. He fears the midlands still, and would continue to fear had he not the Chalice of Doom, Desangraal. With this mighty artifact the Ambassador can lay darkness over the midlands and bring winter to the south.

             The Chalise has to be activated exactly at the time of Solstice, the darkest night of the year. Then the Ambassador will lift Desangraal towards the skies and let the rays of the black moon overflow from the chalice over the earth.

             There's hardly anything that will stop the Ambassador, except if the Order should be able to break his armies of werewolves and ice demons and some hero confront him personally and slay his earthen form. That'd do it, but it's quite unlikely. In truth the Ambassador fears Santalabra, the Menorah of Salvation. As ancient as it's counterpart, this holy artefact of light will counter the curse of Desangraal if brough forward in the right way. This is what the Ambassador fears, although it seems highly unlikely that Santalabra should surface at this late date.

          Now, we all know that unlikely things happen in fantasy stories, and it's possible here too. All that is needed is cooperation of players and some luck. Here are some conditions for activating the Menorah:

             - A character has to have a flashback adventure of five scenes, such that in the course of it the character gains the Menorah. When this condition is fulfilled the character may at any time draw Santalabra from his backbag.
             - There has to be advantage counters worth five stones of arcane knowledge, holy mysteries or ancient history. When this condition is fulfilled the character who placed the counters may at any time recognize Santalabra and understand the full threat of Desangraal.
             - A character has to have five stones in traits that exemplify virtue, virginity and overall goodness. When this condition is fulfilled the character is able to activate the Menorah of Salvation if it should be at hand and someone explains the significance of Santalabra to the character.

             If Santalabra and the activator can be hidden from the Ambassador until midnight and the Menorah is activated at the same time with the Chalice, Desangraal will blow up and destroy Ambassador's earthly form. His mostrous army will disappear or escape with the suddenly breaking bright dawn. If the Menorah should be activated too early or not be activated the Order is doomed, as are the midlands if another coincidence won't save the day after the game ends.

          This alternative mechanic works both ways; if the Order should be content with survival and won't push onward to attack the Ambassador, He will activate Desangraal at midnight and win. The Ambassador is ever too haughty to try to escape, He will much rather freeze his enemies as they come and ascend some suitably impressive high spot to take on the power of the dark moon.

             If the Order should accede to some peace proposal or another of the Ambassador, and are able to convince him that he has no fear of the Santalabra, there will be no battle. The battle turns will go by without fighting when the armies disengage, and the Ambassador will presumably activate Desangraal when the midnight arrives. Conflicts can be started normally, by the rules of the Waiting. If the Ambassador can be somehow stopped from activating the Chalice the game will quickly move across the limits of this rules set.

             It's possible, although very unlikely, that the players could maneuver some characters to confront the Ambassador alone without a battle. In this case the challenge rules apply, but the feat is almost impossible without alerting the Ambassador's army and setting the battle in motion.

             If the Ambassador player doesn't want to activate Desangraal for some reason he will win the battle but lose the war. The survivors of the Order will return to the midlands with a warning and reinstate the old oaths against the cold. The Ambassador cannot get away from the frozen waste without activating Desangraal, and the next opportunity comes only when the moon is black during the winter Solstice - approximately two hundred years, more than enough for the midlands to get ready. Some Ambassador might be content to be the master of the waste, who knows.

          The victory celebrations and the aftermath

          When the victory conditions above are filled the play is brought to an end through the semi-formal narration of the aftermath. Any player, including the Ambassador player, may at this stage use his stones to narrate the classical ending with appropriate flourishes, depending of course on who won.

             Any free stones left to the Order or the Ambassador are used to narrate grand outlines of what happened next, concentrating on the next hours or days or whatever. It's good to use the meanings of the stones to guide the telling, and it's bad form to try for an interrupt. Of course one can narrate without stones too, but the stone will always trump the no-stone even after the battle.

             Trait stones, counter stones and pool stones are taken one at a time and used to narrate about the fate of the character or thing in question. If not possible, they are used for the general narration above. Players have primacy on their own characters' traits, but any other stones are free game. This is the opportunity to fill holes and tie strings of the story.

             Any stones used in these narrations are put to the reserve one at a time, so that when the players finish all stones are bagged in the reserve. The pace and order of the aftermath narrations is completely free, and disagreements are frowned upon. The players should honor the victor and his ideals in the narration, but not step on the protagonism rights of the loser either.

          Variant: no Ambassador player

          If no player plays the Ambassador, his free stones are put in the middle of the table and the players will communally take on the role. This variant of play might be overall easier for players with strained social relations, as it will not be nearly as adversial. Not everyone is suited to cooperation through competition.

             General narration in this variant is not divided in any way between the domains, as all players share equally of both midlands and the frozen waste. It's the job of the players themselves to paint the Ambassador black and white, terrible and beautiful. They shouldn't stint in color, for their own valor will shine all brighter from the terrible darkness.

             In this variant any player may use the Ambassador stones in a conflict by putting an Abassador token (a piece of paper with His sign) in his fist with the amount of stones he wishes to use. The players have to burn any Ambassador stones they have marked in such a way as long as there is appropriate stones in the Ambassador pool. Every Ambassador stone will cause a repercussion that hurts the Order, however, regardless of interruption, and will never end up in reserve or positive traits or any other possible place. The user decides on the repercussion within the limitation. Ambassador stones are not considered for dramatic efforts or sacrifices.

             Ambassador will always be willing to heal a character, provided that he gathers his weapons and loyal followers and deserts the Order for the demon camp. There he will tell everything he knows of the battle order and will serve the Ambassador the best he can, even returning as a mole if appropriate.

             In the Battle Ambassador will challenge any character caught in melee by all the other players taking a fist of Ambassador stones against the character. Any player may narrate another to a melee situation within normal narrative limitations. Ambassador will only take prisoner characters that claim knowledge of Santalabra.

             The Ambassador will arrange his army three waves deep, with details the players prefer. Three consecutive battle conflict wins (meaning no defeats on that wing) are needed for any character to reach the Ambassador, and the character has to join the melee in all three conflicts. The Ambassador stones are used in battle conflict by all the players, with them taking one fist of their own stones and another of Ambassador stones. Ambassador fights all challenges, with the above mechanic of every other player taking a fist against the challenger.

          Variant: Ambassador as GM

          This is another possibly easier variant. I'm not inclined to explain the game in any substantial way in this competition edition, but it should be noted that one feature of normal play is that players might well misinterpret the rules and think that the Ambassador is some kind of gamemaster. Well, in this variant he is.

             The variant differs from normal in two ways, in rules and in goals. The first difference is that the Ambassador's free stones are the same thing as the reserve. The second is that the Ambassador is not trying to win in any sense of the word.

             The reserve thing means essentially that the Ambassador has as many stones as he wants to use in any given moment. If he for some reason lacks stones at a given moment, the players are forced by the rules to replenish the reserve.

             The winning thing means that the Ambassador now has a fundamentally different take on play. He could destroy the Order any time he chooses, but won't, because his goal now is to faciliate the storytelling for the other players. He will take part in conflicts and put up a convincing front, and even win if it should go to that, but in every decision his first worry is that the story be enjoyable for the players.

             This is a hard concept to wrap your mind around if roleplaying in general is not familiar. The Ambassador will play the opposition, but not to win, but to give. He will strive to make the other players' characters protagonists of the passion play, and to make the Ambassador Himself the villain, believable but vulnerable to defeat.

          Advice on play in other worlds.

          The game comes intentionally with only some world information, as it will be more enjoyable for all if the rich texture of the fantasy world where the battle happens can be created during play. Increases replay value, too. The idea is that the whole epic story of how the characters are here today can be played through flashbacks and dialogue during the final hours before the actual battle.

             If one should however want more detail, that can be simply arranged by playing in the world of almost any tolkienist fantasy novel. Even Lord of the Rings is easy, or perhaps especially it, as the later writers have emulated the great battles of the book and the artifact that saves everything at the last minute.

             It should be self-evident how easy the game is to port to such a literary world. The basic rules system is more than powerful enough for anything characters should want to do, and the structure of the Battle with a waiting phase and battle phase is quite general enough to accomodate virtually any fantasy battle. The magic item is basicly just a list of conditions that can be retooled to resemble the situation in the book. Demand an advantage counter named "Gollum" for starters...

             The stone meanings are a powerful tool for directing play. The game won't break from predefining meanings, so by choosing the correct colors and meanings much can be done. The battle series of LotR for example could work with four colors, roughly with one designating cuts to the Saruman situation (white), one for the presense of Sauron (black), one for the heritage of Numenor (blue) and one for the elves and other old powers (green). Let any practical meanings be defined in play normally and start play in Minas Tirith, with the characters waiting for the siege and telling stories about Helm's deep.

          (Click here to see the back cover) (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/etuovine/ironchef/fireandice.jpg)


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 17, 2004, 03:44:13 PM
          And the surprise dessert! I wrote this little beauty today as an afterthought ;)

          This is my third submission, a gamist dungeon crawl with a shocking twist. I think it is successful in complementing the earlier tastes.

          The Brotherhood (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/etuovine/ironchef/brotherhood.jpg)
          - an explicit fantasy dessert (click the name to see the cover)

          There are high mountains to the world, and there are waves breaking on the beach. And there is darkness, more horrible that humans should know. Once there was light too - knights, sorcerors of light, benevolent gods. That time has passed. Today, here, now; no gods, at least no ones fit for human worship. No knights, and the only sorcerors are dark as night. The sun shines, but even the colors are dull.

          The Brotherhood is a traditional fantasy roleplaying game in a world without ideals or good. The players take the roles of brothers - no heroes here - who have stood up to the darkness.

          The style of the Brotherhood is similar to dark pulp fantasy, except for a heavy knowledge and emphasis on how the world is supposed to be. This is not a pulp world, but a standard rpg fantasy world where good has been ripped off and evil has lost it's vigour. Take any D&D world and remove everything that is good aligned or having evil constructive goals and there you have it. Change all tinctures to earth colours while you're at it.

             Of course, the neutrals remain, and are actually the focus of the world. But without good to lead the way, things are much different - no priesthoods to speak of, no knightly orders, everyone is out for himself. Nothing to stop the evil ones should it come to that. Now, the exception are the brotherhoods. They are no knightly orders, but rather associations of enlightened self-interest. When some evil grows strong or active enough, certainly some brotherhoods are formed of exceptional individuals - no heroes here.

             But still the things are different. There is no divine inspiration, no higher ideals to lead the way in the world. Such brothers are weak, with no vision and hardly any purpose. No paladins, you see, not one. Instead there is neutral magic, human magic of power, although of different kind.

             When the gods don't answer (at least in any way you'd like) and the evil has surrounded you on all sides, your brothers are all you can count on. The magic of the brotherhood is a special one: almost anyone can invoke it, and there is great strength to be gained by it.

          The situation

          This is a traditional roleplaying game for a GM and a bunch of players. The style of the game is most efficient when the social contract allows sick violence and sex, but the game can conceivably be played without, too.

             Each of the players takes the role of a fantasy adventurer ready to risk all against evil. The characters form a brotherhood at game start, as that's the only kind of great magic they have available. The ritual of brotherhood is a simple one, but it has to first be done in the dawn, and will dissolve when the sun rises next. The characters have thus a time limit to their adventure.

             The goal of the players is simply to off the evil wizard, and thus the game is very decisively gamist. This need not discourage players from inventive narration, though, as we'll hopefully see. The GM role is to up the stakes during the game all the way to the pain threshold.

             As to the evil at hand - it's the domain of the GM to decide. The GM will build a suitably pulpy fantasy plot that gives ample motivation for folks to try to stop the evil. Just two limitations - it has to be a dungeon, and there has to be an evil wizard at the end.
             The game starts in an isolated tavern somewhere suitably near to the dungeon.

          Character creation

          The game will use the subtraction dice, which are rolled by rolling two d6 and subtracting one from the other. The dice are different colored and one is the positive and one the negative die. This will give a bell curve centering on zero and ranging from -5 to +5.
             The dice explode in situations where it's sensible: when a player rolls either -5 or +5 he rolls again and adds the result. This is not cogent in some cases, but that's what the GM is for.

          The character creation is done during the tavern episode. The players can frame their entrance, while the GM provides color to the tavern. The characters can be anything except full-blown wizards or paragons of good.
             The goal is for the characters to get to meet and form some relationships. These will be crucial later in the game. Play should proceed clockwise from the GM, so that each player gets an opportunity to state one action from the following list:
          Code:
          1) Entrance
          2) Recognition
          3) Performance
          4) Declaration
          5) Exploration

          Of course any other suitable actions are possible, but these have mechanical meaning. Obviously a character has to do an entrance before doing any of the other things. A player may pass as well on his turn, if he wishes. The turn may certainly include minor actions and colorful description as well.

             It should be noted that anything said about the characters that doesn't impact the game mechanics becomes true, regardless of who is talking. This is true even of things like character names or archetypes. If only one character has not made an entrance, the other players may easily nail the character by talking about "the one still to come" or something. The players may use statements conditional of player acceptance, of course, and nothing stops a player from stating the relevant facts about his character immediately after the Entrance.

          Recognition is when a character sees another player character and approaches, triggering the first flashback between the two. Flashbacks are explained below, for now it's enough to note that each character will know each other character, except for one each. Every character can recognise every other character only once, and if a character is already in conversation with another when a third recognises him, then both are recognised (assuming the other is not the stranger to the recogniser) but there's only one flashback covering both characters.

             Flashback happens when a character tells about a past event. In Brotherhood all flashbacks include at least two player characters and the characters have to be in the scene when the flashback is told. The event in question can be anything, it's purpose is to define how the characters view each other. The other player gets one interrupt to correct the narrator of the flashback, always.

             The flashbacks are always marked as short sentences in the character sheets. The standard way of starting a flashback in the tavern could be something like "[character name]! Haven't seen you in a while! Actually, now that I think of it, the last time I saw was you was...".

          Performance is an action where the character exposes one of his abilities for the other players. Each character has six base abilities, which can be any skills, traits or other features that help or hinder the character in killing evil wizards. If an ability is magical, it's always relatively small magics and nothing worthy of a wizard.

             When performing, the player rolls the dice and names the ability. The player chooses if he will use the result as a positive or a negative number and nominates any player, whose character gets the other result. If an ability makes sense only in a positive or negative aspect the GM will mold the counterpart to something sensible.

             The character need not literally perform his ability for the other characters, but it must manifest in some way in the tavern through the player's narration. A character can only gain abilities from performances if he doesn't yet have six abilities. The player can nominate his own character to get both abilities.

          Declaration is when the character announces his intent to go off the wizard. This might be because the wizard has already crossed the character's path, because the character hears something in the tavern or just because the character likes another character who already made the announcement. The declaration should elucidate on character motivation clearly, for this will surely help the player later on.

          Exploration is anything else the character could do in the tavern that gains a pay-off. The player need not strictly announce his intention when his turn comes around, so he can poke his nose in different places, play hide and seek with the other characters or almost perform abilities. The turn will be fixed only when the character deigns to recognise, performs an ability or finds something useful.

             The results of exploration are dependent on the GM. He should probably have a list of fifty rumours, for example, for the characters to discover by talking with the tavern patrons. Of these maybe ten or fifteen should concern the dungeon and evil wizard at hand. When a character finally hits such a rumor his turn ends immediately after, for he has hit the pay-off.

             Similarly the character might find stuff too, or simply draw such from his backpack. As long as it's an edge for the character it's a pay-off and ends the turn. It's the job of the GM to ensure that the pay-off is big enough but not too big. For example the rumors above should all be actually useful when in the dungeon.

          The characters can do exploration in the tavern and thereabouts as long as they wish, but the tavern phase won't be ending before every character has six abilities and every character has recognised all but one of the other characters and all characters have declared intent against the wizard.

             The GM can veto any exploration attempts the players announce by simply deciding that the pay-off suggested isn't available. The characters won't in any case find any magic items in the tavern except by defining them as abilities, but they should equip themselves liberally with survival equipment if they want to survive the dungeon. Gold can certainly be "found" in their pouches as a pay-off, and is oft needed to purchase some other pay-off come next turn.

             During the tavern phase the characters will meet and come to the conclusion that they should form a brotherhood to off the evil wizard. This is serious business, both brotherhoods and offing wizards, so the players should play with suitable gravity.

             When the tavern phase ends the exposition should be finished; the players should more or less know what kind of world the characters are in, everyone should know his character, everyone should know what the wizard is up to and so on. Root the players to the situation.

          The rules proper

          As already intimated, the characters have six base abilities. They can also get temporary abilities through the brotherhood magic or by winning and losing conflicts, but that'll come later.

             The main system is conflict resolution. When a character wants to do something the GM deems dangerous the GM will set the danger value for the goal. This is a number, generally from -5 to +5, and will tell how hazardous the conflict is for the character.

             The player won't know the danger value, but he can guess it from the way the GM discusses the conflict. For negative danger the GM may only introduce one weak point and has to introduce more than and at most double the absolute value of the danger in hazards to his description of the conflict particulars, while with positive danger the amounts are switched. To say it in another way, the amount of the corresponding details has to be between the value and double the value, while there always is one detail of the other kind.

             Weak points are any hints, observations or other details that help the character in overcoming the conflict and reaching his goal. Hazards are the opposite; dangers that will threaten the character or close off certain kinds of solutions. The GM is not obligated to point out any of these details or repeat them, but he must introduce them when first descripting the conflict. Any later iterations need not keep to these limitations, but will have to conform to the first description.

             It's possible that instead of a simple danger level a given conflict will feature something with abilities. In this case the GM will describe the opponent in question in the above way by summing all the abilities and using the sum as indicator of danger level. Otherwise the following conflict rules work the same way for abstract or defined opponents.

             When the player has decided his actions regarding the conflict, if he cannot or will not somehow escape, change or avoid the conflict, dice are rolled. The attacker or equivalent will first choose his ability to use, and the other side has to choose some compatible way of answering. The active participants throw dice, so the details of the conflict decide on which side rolls, or if both roll. The result of the roll is added to the danger value (for the opposition) or pertinent ability (for the character). Higher result wins, and the loser takes a wound, winner a boon equal to the difference in results (each subtracts the other's result from his own).

             Wounds are simply negative temporary abilities, specified in detail when inflicted. Boons are positive temporary abilities, also specified when inflicted.

             If a character has more than one pertinent ability for a given approach, they are added together for the conflict roll. Pertinency is always judged finally by the GM, and is based on how the player describes his approach to the situation. Any ability the character does not have is assumed to be zero.

             After the first exhange either side can opt for another round if the previous roll did not indicate an end for the conflict in the form of escaping, avoiding or winning by one side. Pursuit is always an option if the other side tries to escape. Again the side pushing for conflict will choose the approach and ability, or if both want another round, then the last defender chooses. The roll is similar to the last one, and will result in wounds and boons.

             When the conflict cannot be continued or neither side wishes to, both sides will roll both a death roll and a treasure roll. Death has a "danger level" equal to -5+(dungeon level) and the character uses abilities pertinent to the way he could be dying. If the character loses this roll, the GM can do what he wills with the character, up to killing him. The possible wounds just gained will always be pertinent.

             The treasure roll has a "danger level" equal to -5+(dungeon level) and the character will use any abilities pertinent to the possible treasure resulting from the conflict. If the character wins the roll he gains the treasure in question, whatever it is. The possible boon just gained will always be pertinent.

             The GM is the final arbiter of wound and boon abilities. In many cases they are almost useless or harmless, or so temporary that their relevance is immediately lost after the death and treasure rolls. The same holds true for treasures and (rarely) deaths. In some cases the treasures and deaths will roll, in others they are passive. Use your imagination and clear sense!

             Characters may cooperate in conflicts by either combining abilities or taking turns. Wounds are always split among multiple characters by the opposition, while boons are split by the players of the characters. All characters taking part in the conflict by applying any abilities will also roll for death and treasure, and may either combine their abilities or roll for each separately.

             Characters will need to have the tools and resources for a given approach to work in a conflict. Thus they will need adventure gear and perhaps magical materials for their minor magics. The abstract conflict resolution assumes these tools, and the abstraction is no excuse for forgetting to take them with you. There's place for an inventory in the character sheet for a reason.

             The GM will adjucate exceptional conditions by giving bonuses and penalties to rolls. The following table has some advice on the matter.
          Code:
          Bonus: Condition:
          -1 Suboptimal tools for the job and anything else hampering success.
          -2 Significant problems, like being tied to a wall in a sword fight from one leg.
          -5 Conditions that make success near impossible, like shooting a bow in pitch darkness.
          +1 Good roleplaying, especially cogent planning or anything else useful.
          +2 Deciding factors, like surprise or blessing of the dark gods.
          +5 Near automatic actions, like killing an unresisting opponent.

             Characters will some times due to magic gain non-human abilities outside the -5-+5 range. The latter bring no special problems, except the GM can forget rolling dice for some situations. Extremely low abilities however will paralyze the character if they are abilities needed for normal actions. The GM should demand challenges for simple actions or flat out deny some things for such a character.

             If a draw is rolled in any roll the GM will split the difference in an entertaining manner. Probably the situation will be left such that either side will have to roll again to get to their goal.

             The players can freely use different kinds of abilities at the characters of other players. If something can be used on NPCs, it works the same way with PCs. Especially social abilities, if allowed by the GM, may on a high enough success affect character action. These can of course be resisted with social abilities, willpower or by changing conflict type.

             To make it completely clear: there are rolls and there are conflicts. The latter use rolls, but when the rules call for simply a roll it means only adding a roll of the dice to the given abilities, with perhaps comparison. When a conflict is called there will be death rolls and such. This is an important difference. A reflexive roll is one always possible.

          One way of controlling conflicts for both the GM and the player is the paradigm resonance. This occurs whenever the true subject matter of the Brotherhood is brought to fore through narrative detail or character action.

             As far as paradigm resonance is concerned, there are only two kinds of conflicts, violent and social. A conflict participant may thus get either a cross-type bonus or an on-type bonus for the conflict, depending on whether his input to the conflict resonates with the type of the conflict.

             When a player or the GM institutes on-type resonance, the side in question will gain a +3 resonance bonus in the conflict roll. When a player or the GM institutes cross-type resonance, the side in question will gain a reroll: the player of the side chooses one or both of the dice rolled and rerolls them.

             An on-type resonance is instigated when the player in question suddenly intensifies the subject matter in question, either violent or social, by introducing narrative detail or character action pertaining to the resonance. This will be a quantitive increase over the efforts of the other side of the conflict. This is a stylistic issue, not simulative or anything like that. Resonance can always be manipulated, even in unbelievable ways.

             A cross-type resonance is instigated by mixing in the conflict subject matter of the other resonance. This is done again by narrative detail or character action, and need to be a qualitative change in meaning without changing the conflict type. This is again a stylistic issue, and only rarely is it impossible to instigate resonance in this manner.

             A side may get both types of bonuses in one conflict. The first side to introduce cross-type resonance will get that bonus, and the side who ramps the on-type resonance highest (that is, the last to heighten it) gets the on-type bonus. If the conflict type is changed from the initial one by the details the bonuses are nulled and have to be gained again. And to make it clear, the on-type bonus is only gained if the /initial/ situation description is ramped over, regardless of it's content. In the same way an already mixed description or action cannot be cross-typed. Thus it's harder to gain the bonuses over narrative material which is already mixing the conflict types with great intensity.

             The resonance of violence is about sudden, brutal violence and the slower, sadistic type (no surprise there, eh?). The minor resonances are threatening manners and words, and can be ramped up to violent actions. Violent acts can further be ramped up by either brutality or sadism. That can be ramped up by adding the other one, or by further graphic language and detail. Detailed violence can be ramped up to psychological violence, and that can be further ramped up by inhuman visions of gore in the style of Clive Barker. Everything can be ramped up by adding even more horrid details and lack of respect for humanity.

             The resonance of social type is about magnetic, erotic and overtly sexual conduct (didn't expect that one, did you?). The minor resonances are exact roleplaying, in-character dialogue and mannerisms. These can be ramped up to allure, debauch and seduction, or to graphic visual detail. Visual detail and enticing action can be ramped up to either naked detail or first-base action. These can be further ramped up by more detail or adding bases. Further ramp-up includes actual carnal action, detailed description, erotic roleplaying and finally different fetishes (of non-violent kind). Everything can be ramped up by better description and stronger affects.

          If this were a complete fantasy adventure game, there'd be a third conflict type, the intellectual conflict. As we are however limited to the Brotherhood scenario, this won't be instituted here.

          The Brotherhood

          When the characters set on their journey to assault the dungeon and off the wizard they will happen on the entrance conveniently a little bit before dawn. Now they will have to perform the rite of Brotherhood. The rite has to be performed at dawn for the first time, but later on any characters that participated can perform it again at any time.

             In the finest roleplaying tradition the characters could exercise their freedom and not perform the rite. This is one of those games where the players should know the rules as well as the GM, so they'll probably know that such would result in a horrible death later on. The brotherhood is the only magic capable of miracles in their arsenal, and they need it.

             The rite itself is simple enough that any adventurer will know it. Each player will state one detail of the ritual and the GM will compose it's description from the input. Anything from blood to burning incence to drawn symbols is fine. There is also a word component as follows, which the players will speak with one voice always when executing the Brotherhood ritual. No other way, must chant it if you want to have part in the rite.

          (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/etuovine/ironchef/vowmini.jpg) (http://www.mv.helsinki.fi/home/etuovine/ironchef/vow.jpg)
          (The vow should be in the character sheets for reference. Click on the vow for a bigger image)

             The special effects of the ritual are up to the GM, but this is as close to divine as they get in this world. Each character gets Ice values (explained below) against every other character, starting from +10. This is corrected by -1 if the character has a flashback of the other and by -1 or +1 if the player prefers.

             After the ritual the characters are ready to limber down the chute. Rest of the chapter details the brotherhood magic, while the next chapter reveals the general flow of play.

          The Ice values characters have towards other characters signify the trust and closeness of the characters to each other. Or rather, they tell how much social ice there still is between the characters. +5 is a stranger, 0 is a friend, and -5 is a love. The Ice values, as the rest of the character sheets, are kept secret from the other players. The Ice values of two characters towards each other are independent and change without affecting the other.

             The values fluctuate during play depending on the roleplaying signs the players make towards ice. Friendly actions or dialogue always weaken the Ice and hostile actions or dialogue strenghten it (always towards the person in question), always by one point per act. Usually the player can just sign at the GM when changing the values, but the GM is the final arbiter of changes.

             There is a couple of Ice limits at which the actions needed to lower the Ice get more demanding. The following table details the limits and demands. Any actions not up to the demands do not lower the Ice.
          Code:
          Limit: Demand for lowering:
          >5 Speaking to the target.
          >1 Being nice towards the target.
          >-1 Frank talking, signs of affection.
          >-5 Confessions of feelings, erotica.
          <=-5 Dramatic love dialogue, explicit carnal acts.

             It should be noted that nowhere in the above is anything stated about the actual feelings of the characters in question. Such is the tragedy of Brotherhood.

             Ice is used for various mechanical concequences. In such situations any character can reflexively rise his Ice towards any other character by one point, if desired. Many mechanics use "Ice reversed", which means the opposite number of the Ice value.

          The Brotherhood ritual will dissolve at the next sunrise. After that any characters who participated in the dawn ritual can reneve the ritual between them by touching each other and reciting the vow of Brothers. Such a reneval will hold until the next sunrise, after which it has to be performed again.

             The Ice values for a reneved ritual are reset to +10-(number of shared flashbacks)+-(1 or 0 as per player preference). The only connections of reaffirmed ritual are those who actually are present for reneval, so the ritual might be forced to be affirmed in pairs or other small groups. The Ice should be quick to melt on subsequent times as the characters get to know each other.

          The powers of Brotherhood are many and various. There is many effects, of which the following table lists some. A character may use a power when a relevant Ice value is at most equal to the limit indicated. Ice rolls referred to are always a roll of the character's Ice reversed against the Ice of the target character (their Ice towards each other, of course). The target brother may also roll, if he wishes.
          Code:
          Ice: Effect:
          5 Camaradie
          4 Telepathy
          3 Heal
          2 Save
          1 Sharing
          0 Teleport
          -1 Greater Sharing
          -2 Contact
          -3 Drawing
          -4 Open Mind
          -5 Oneness


             Camaradie: The character can roll against his Ice instead of opposing ability or danger level when the goal is to save or protect a brother.

             Telepathy: The character can receive magical communication from the brother in question.

             Heal: The character can roll his Ice reversed against (the brother's wound reversed)-5. Any degree of success is subtracted from the wound, while failure results in nothing happening. Touch range, takes an action.
             Save: The character can negate a failed death roll for the brother with a successful Ice roll. He takes a death roll himself against both Ice values, paralyzing on a failure.

             Sharing: The character can draw on the brother's lifeforce on a successful Ice roll. On success the character can use any abilities of the other character in the conflict at hand, but the other character loses those abilities for the duration.

             Teleport: The character can switch places with the brother on a successfull Ice roll. Takes an action.

             Greater Sharing: The character can on a successful Ice roll draw any abilities up to +5 for himself, while causing a similar negative ability for the brother.

             Contact: The character can opt on a successful Ice roll to renew the Brotherhood with the brother regardless of distance. Only one of the brothers need to succeed, but he has to recite the vow regardless.

             Drawing: The character can on a successful Ice roll retool his abilities freely for one conflict, causing the opposite of any ability on the brother. The brother faces a death roll connected to pertinent abilities after the conflict.

             Open Mind: The other character can at any time on a successful Ice roll rummage through the character's mind without him knowing. This is best represented by the player in question questioning the character's player, which answers truthfully. Takes an action.

             Oneness: The characters can, when both have Ice towards the other at -5 or lesser, opt at any time to be considered as either single persons or one person, whichever is convenient. The characters can use Drawing as reflexive action without the death roll.

          The revival option is for when a character is killed. One of the powerful affects of the Brotherhood magic is that it can really revive the dead. The price is however hard: the character doing the reviving has to sacrifice his memory of the dead.

             For resurrection the brotherhood will need the body. The revival ritual has to be done before the next dawn while the brotherhood is still in force. The ritual takes an action from all participants. Only characters with at least one flashback from the deceased can be part of the rite.

             The actual rite is a conflict type Ice roll. The reviver sacrifices one flashback, which is removed from both character sheets. Then he and other participants sacrifice as many additional flashbacks as desired, for a +1 each in the roll. Each participant gets to use his Ice once, in any combination of rolls. One success is needed to resurrect the body. Any failures will take a paralyzing wound as per normal conflicts. All conflict participants roll death rolls and treasure rolls for supernatural visions.

             If a character loses his last flashback about another character they become strangers and may not get any more flashbacks towards each other. Resurrection can only be tried once per death, and deceased cannot take part in the Brotherhood ritual, so one has to already be in a brotherhood to be resurrected.

          Dungeon crawling

          When the characters get into the dungeon the GM will again start running turns. Any characters in the same location will get one turn. The turns always start from the character(s) closest to the exit and end with the character closest to the wizard (which could help the players in finding the wizard, assuming the GM won't just place him where he wishes when the game is ready to end).

             The dungeon itself is the perennial gamist nightmare. including everything and the kitchen sink if the GM thinks it necessary. The locations are connected by endless tunnels. The GM should keep a map (secret from players) with locations as circles connected by lines. It's OK to improvise the structure, but single locations should probably be prepared. (If this was commercial I'd make an example dungeon.) The locations will probably be divided into larger areas, which are then grouped into levels of the dungeon. The wizard will most likely come forth before the tenth level, as the challenges become so dangerous that only magically bolstered characters dare go beyond the fifth. The players may always know what dungeon level they are in.

             A simple rule of thumb for the GM is that the local variables used in the later rules add up to -5+(dungeon level). So some area on level 2 might have -3 in geography (cliffs to climb) and zeroes in anything else, and another +2 in monster activity (wendigo nest), -5 in geography (straight tunnels) and 0 in anything else. The common variables used are general danger level, geography level, treasure level and monster activity, but if the GM thinks up any others to simplify his life, it's all to the good.

             The GM will also keep record of passing turns. The dawn comes every twenty rounds, and this will be important for the brotherhood magic. The characters carry light for ten turns and can only get more by returning to the surface for a turn or finding light sources inside. In no case can the characters carry light for more than ten rounds, except if finding magical light in the dungeon.

          On a given turn each character having that turn can make one of many possible actions. Action is anything important that could conceivably take about quarter of an hour or more. Any real conflicts are always actions. The following is a non-exhaustive list of actions and guidelines for refereeing them.
          Code:
          - Resting
          - Moving
          - Magic actions
          - Conflicts
          - Flashbacks
          - Other


          Resting characters are doing nothing, to gather strength. The rester(s) will roll luck or equivalent against the local monster activity (decided by the GM for the area) to check if trouble comes looking for them. If at peace, the rester can reduce one wound by one point and roll any information ability for a hint, which the GM supplies. The hint might be useful or not.

          Moving characters will roll against the structure of the dungeon (decided by the GM for the area). Failure will mean getting lost, being trumped by the local geography, or being split up (if the players roll separately). Lost characters resurface in a location as many locations away from their starting point as the degree of failure was. Trumped characters either return where they came or try again with a cumulative -1. Successful character end up in either the next unexplored location in the direction they chose or in any location up to degree of success away from the starting point. A location is considered explored if the character knows it's there.

          Magic actions are the Brotherhood actions allowed by the characters' Ice. Some of these take an action. It's assumed that the character will not be threatened or otherwise exercising when doing magic.

          Conflicts happen when a character starts the turn in a location offering conflict. The general conflict rules detailed before are used. The GM may use the local treasure level (decided by the GM for the area) as a guideline when deciding on any treasures found. If the location will be offering conflict in the future is entirely up to the way the GM has set up his dungeon.

          Flashback can be chosen if a character is in the same location with some other character towards whom he already has at least one flashback. Flashback takes one action and is still, like in the tavern, a short story about the common past of the characters. The other player can still interrupt and correct the story once. A flashback is equivalent to a rest (the wandering monsters should be rolled before the story), except that it is written in the character sheets and both characters must adjust their Ice towards the other to the level indicated by the flashback. The character gets no hint roll, though the other well might if simply resting.

             This is a gamist dungeon game in the spirit of the seventies. There might be a casino, for example, for the characters to waste money in. Or a shop, who knows. The wizard is probably doing some pretty weird things, so different kinds of puzzles and interaction challenges are probable. The Infamous Troll Roulette might show up. The GM will decide what is worth an action in his dungeon. The GMing advice section will go to more detail about the purpose of the dungeon.

          The surface has dungeon level 0 and -1 in about every area category for the purposes of spending time there. A good place to get more torches and rest.

             If the characters were really extraordinary stupid and left without any food, they will have to scrounge in the dungeon or return to the surface (or even the village) for food. The GM may start giving wounds when appropriate for not eating or sleeping.

             When a character gains a treasure the players and the GM may use their imagination. The GM may roll the dice for the local treasure value to get some sense of worth. As a general guideline the treasure value can be converted into a temporary ability bonus with value equal to treasure value (a magic item, blessing, whatever) as long as the GM takes it away after a number of turns equal to value or it weakens by one in every use. Likewise any treasure can be balanced with a curse of equal value. Some more suggestions are below:
          Code:
          Treasure Example treasure:
          value roll:
          >+5 Cool and unexpected bonuses.
          +5 Minor rules-breaking benefit.
          +4 A major magic item or spell.
          +3 Permanent +1 in an ability (experience, whatever).
          +2 Permanent special considerations, allies, etc.
          +1 A minor magic item or spell.
          0 A key/hint about the wizard.
          -1 Items or resources usable later on.
          -2 Information usable later on.
          -3 Resources usable for barter in GM locations.
          -4 Resources usable in the surface world after offing the wizard.
          -5 Common resources that could have been got from the tavern.
          <-5 Shitty stuff or lies, demeaning treasure overall for a real hero.

             When giving characters permanent improvement options (especially if the game is expanded over the wizard offing) the GM should institute some progressive cost scheme for abilities to give a soft ceiling for ability increases. +5 is to be considered the best of a big city, and +6 is the best of a nation. There's probably no +10 anywhere except among the black wizards the characters off regularly in this kind of campaign.

          Some monster statistics to give the GM a clue:

          Dragon:
          Claws +2
          Breath +3
          Tail +1
          A bitch to kill +5
          Stupid -3

          An intelligent dragon:
          Claws +2
          Breath +3
          Tail +1
          A bitch to kill +5

          Orcs or other green, replaceable things:
          monster level or general danger level from -3 to +5, depending on the amount.

          Trap, accessorise freely:
          General danger level -5 to +2.

          Anything GM is too lazy to stat:
          General danger level.

          There'd be more examples if I got paid for this, you know.

          Game end

          The game ends when the wizard is offed, but there is a certain play of rising stakes that goes on before getting there. The GM should put the players into hard situations with monsters, traps and natural disasters before facing the wizard. This is really for their own good, as harder enemies mean greater treasures mean greater readiness to confront the old bastard.

             The wizard himself has the average danger level of +5; unfortunately this means that his Frail -5 balances nicely with Black Magic +10. The player characters won't likely be getting anywhere near, but if they do the wizard should be easy to off. The GM should be ruthless in applying the wizard unless the conditions given in GM advice are fullfilled. He could even visit the characters to storm among them some before going back to his lair.

             The wizard will be a master of both resonances. He usually doesn't go anywhere without his pre-pubescent boy slaves, and just the sight of his personal dungeons will most likely gain him both bonuses in all kinds of conflicts if the GM does his job.

             The player whose character offs the wizard should be hailed by all and considered winner. The character will be able to claim the riches of the wizard too, including his manifold pleasures. It's the real test to see what he does with them.

          The adult material

          There is some heavy subject matter in the game, but it can be played with differing limits; it's better for the players to discuss it beforehand and negotiate some comfortable rules about the matter. Then again, a real gamist will just play and let the social contract take care of itself. After all, it's a part of the challenge to see what you can and cannot do personally.

          GMing advice

          This is a complex game to run, if the goal is to get the themes to rise to the surface. The game is clearly and without hesitation gamist, but that won't be meaning that there is no social conflict or interesting events in-game. The success will come to the player who embrases the winning strategies of violence and sex without estranging his fellow players, who are needed to get anywhere.

             The GM should be without mercy in enforcing the rules about the resonances and Ice. He can however keep the game on a comfortable level by his own description (keepin ramping up easy) and the by keeping the overall challenge level low, to not necessitate the most powerful forms of the Brotherhood magic.

             For the players there is two main winning strategies, both powerfully thematic. In the best tradition one will mean that the character is of evil alignment, and one that he just could be returned Good in person. The Brotherhood magic enable both, and is the vessel of neither.

             One way to win is to get anouther player to lower his Ice level low enough to dominate the character and finally Draw it's power. The real challenge is doing this without the other resisting, even when it means death for the character. We are all here to kill the wizard, after all, aren't we?

             The other main way is for two characters to love each other so much that they can both use the powerful effects of lower Ice. They are even more powerful than the lone character, actually. The last effect of Joining isn't even balanced for longer term play. The trick here is trust, as the players will have to decide who won't rape their body and mind when the Ice goes down.

             There are a couple of other ways to win, but those you'll find yourself. The important thing is that the GM will have to faciliate the challenge by introducing dungeon levels with a suitable rhythm. Don't go too hard, but neither you should give any feel of progress if the characters are not ready to invest in it. If the players are getting too easy, or they don't use enough of the resonances and Ice, the challenge should go up. The idea is that you'll make the challenge harder and harder until getting to the limits agreed to as far as sex and violence go. From there it's easy to get in some good old-fashioned catharsis.

             A key technique for the GM should be dividing the characters to smaller groups and individuals. Many locations of the dungeon should be pointed towards either dividing the groups or remixing them. A central idea of the game is how well different characters can cooperate.

             Character death should be avoided. It should be absolutely understood by the GM that failing a death roll doesn't mean that the character dies. When a character fails the roll he is at the mercy of the GM or the player who wins the conflict. The winner may decide on his fate, killing him or not. If the player wants to continue the game and others want him in, there's no reason to kill the character. Much better for him to crawl away. If a character is regardless killed, flip over to the Brotherhood magic and revive him by all means. Death for dramatic purposes is good for the soul.

             In practice the rules should work without too many problems. Study old-school dungeon design, and adapt a dungeon to your taste. Remember to enforce player communication if someone loses his telepathy. Always take an opportunity to split characters up and join them together in inventive ways.

          Issues of gender

          Despite the game referring to brotherhoods, brothers and hes there is nothing to stop women from playing or being characters. One would think that it'd make the game better, truth to tell.[/img]


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 17, 2004, 03:44:32 PM
          dalek_of_god: some premise you got there! Great looking game, I never heard of no iceberg carrier. And as for lurking, let the master lurker (three years in the Forge before surfacing) tell you that participation is even nicer. I don't usually get to converse with people of my caliber, but here I'm the novice with the intellectual giants. Ask questions and learn...

          Anyway, about my games... I'm not really feeling like explaining them right now. Especially the Battle of the Frozen Waste is a little dense for a competition entry, but I do think that they all would make viable projects given time.

          Layout is a bitch in the forum. I just spend an hour editing my submissions, and that was just for adding titles and stuff. If I'd gone for a good look I'd be here next week fiddling.

          The pictorial art is from a friend of mine, the indian shaman low grouse. He's widely read and made his own mind about the stuff. That's why the art is so skewed and strange, he's smoked too much tapioka. If you want to hire him for picture work, tell me.

          I'd like to repeat that right now I'd rather be dead than Mike Holmes. Just how on God's green earth is he imagining he can make a choice here?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 17, 2004, 05:03:57 PM
          Snow Day - Neighborhood perils

          The neighborhood is a source of many Perils.  There are Wandering Ice Monsters, Mean Dogs, Bottomless Chasms of Snow, and, of course, Parents.

          All Perils are defined by their Peril Rating, which is a number from one to twenty.  There are two types of Peril, Fantasy Perils and Reality Perils.  Given enough determined effort, any Peril can be overcome!  When a Peril stands between the Kids and their goal, the kids may attempt to overcome the peril by doing any number of actions that are deemed to be useful in opposing the peril.  So, an Ice Chasm might be overcome by scrounging up pieces of plywood to use as a bridge, or a Mean Dog might be overcome by throwing snowballs at it.

          A successful actions inflict Slush Points on the Peril; if the type of Check used for the action is the same type as the Peril (e.g. using a Reality Check against a Reality Peril) then the action inflicts three slush points; otherwise, the action inflicts only one slush point.

          Friendly Ice Monsters can also perform actions to overcome a Peril.  As always, Ice Monsters can only perform actions that they were explicitly created to be able to do, and Ice Monsters always use Fantasy Checks, and never Reality Checks.

          An unsuccessful action means that the person acting has been Stymied by Peril, and can make no further rolls against that peril.  If every Kid and every friendly Ice Monster has been stymied, then the Peril is too Perilous to be overcome, and the kids must fall back, defeated.

          SOME SPECIFIC HAZARDS:

          Normally, it's completely up to the GM to decide what Perils, if any, are encountered by the Kids.  However, there is one Peril in particular that deserves special mention:  BEDTIME.  Bedtime is 9:00.  Any Kid who is outside at Bedtime will encounter Parents (Reality Peril, Peril Rating 15).  If the Kids manage to drive off the Parents, their reprieve is only temporary - the Parents will return again, and soon.

          If Parents prove too perilous, the Kids are dragged inside and off to bed, and while they're in bed, all their Ice Monsters melt.  However, once you're in bed, you lose all of your slush points, and while you're having your bedtime snack, you can refill any thermoses that you're carrying.
          Once the kids are in bed, they may try to sneak out of the house.  Sneaking out of the house is a Reality Peril, Peril Rating 3, with the special caveat that it must be faced by each Kid alone.  If a Kid fails to sneak out of the house, they may try again after an hour.  (Remember that the GM has sole authority over the passage of time.)

          The Icicle Spikes surrounding Fort Joey are another special hazard (Fantasy Peril, Peril Rating 15).  In fact, the Icicle Spikes are *so* perilous that you can't even perform actions to overcome them unless you are operating within the guidelines of a Cunning Plan.  (Cunning Plans were discussed in a previous post.)


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 17, 2004, 05:13:31 PM
          Snow Day - Midnight Moonlight Magic!

          Midnight is a strange and magical time, especially on the night of a full moon, like tonight.  So far past bedtime, kids are sleepy and Ice Monsters loom larger and more terrifying.  For kids who are up all night, the world seems to grow… or perhaps the kids are shrinking?

          Either way, it's important to note when the clock chimes each hour past midnite.  After 1AM, all Kids and Ice Monsters add 1 to all rolls, which aids Fantasy Checks and hinders Reality Checks.  At 2AM, that bonus rises to 2; at 3AM it is 3; and so on until you reach 6AM.

          Dawn is 6AM.  At the dawn of the new day, a warm summer breeze blows in from the coast, and Ice Monsters melt in a matter of moments.  Within minutes, Fort Joey will nothing more than a big pile of slush, its proud flag lying in a widening puddle.

          -----

          Well, that's all of it.  I've had a tremendous amount of fun putting this game together, and the Fantasy Check/Reality Check turned out to be remarkably flexible.

          Now all that's left is to take the many posts and compile/condense them into one single jumbo-sized snow-cone for the judge's tasting pleasure.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Lxndr on April 17, 2004, 05:23:00 PM
          My 2nd game is here (my first game, Island at the Dawn of Time, was posted in its completeness a few pages back).  I reserve the right to change things between now and the end of the contest, but I'm happy with what I have.

          Edited to add: Acknowledgements go to Paul Czege (MLwM is all over this puppy), Nathan Banks (I swiped some ideas from Draconum), Rich Forest (his Trust mechanic showed up here) and Michael Goins, the only person who actually said "YOU MUST DESIGN THIS GAME."  Probably other people too, whose designs or comments I'm forgetting about right now - I'm sorry!

          Frigid Bitch

          How did you get yourself into this mess?

          Deep in the forest, with no company but your trash-talking buddies, the ones who got you up here in the first place.  You were all lazing about the village square, drinking and avoiding work like usual, when one of you brought up the idea of finding the Frigid Bitch and curing her little man problem.  

          I mean, it was almost the Solstice, and the village was full of so-called heroes talking about how they'd be the one to succeed when all else failed.  Someone in your little group said "y'know, it can't be that tough.  I bet you we could do that."

          It sounded like a good idea when the sun was high above your shoulders and the ale was warming your belly, but with sobriety came sense, and the dull ache of fear.  But you weren't going to back down from the Ice Queen first - you weren't going to look like a coward in front of your buddies.  But none of 'em backed off either.

          So now you're all standing on the edge of the bluff, miles from home, as the sun dips down towards the horizon.  Past the bluff to the west, in the shadows, you can see the outline of the castle poking out of the forest like an island on a sea of green.  It's been grown over for quite some time - vines, weeds, and of course rosebushes.  They always said the Bitch liked roses.  It doesn't surprise you - they're all blood and thorns.  Nothing a decent lady would like.

          You've got some leftover leather jerkins from the last war, stolen from the miller's stores.  You've got some knives and pitchforks and maybe even a scythe that hasn't seen work in years.  But the castle is guarded by more fearsome things than that - things that have eaten many a real knight, out for glory or to make a name.  Heck, you grew up with stories about the Ice Queen, watching people going off, never to return - you should know better than anyone.

          Yet here you are, on the night of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, waiting for the sun to go down and the castle to awaken.  The legends say the curse can only be lifted if someone melts the heart of the Ice Queen - but if you can't do it, you better be ready to run, because when dawn comes, you'll be trapped, frozen in the castle just like everyone else who's come before you.  And you're not alone - there's the real heroes, the champions who've cone this far.

          The only way to make it into the castle is to trust your friends, to go as a group.  But you can't trust your friends for too long, because in the end, if you're lucky enough to get through the death trap alive and find the Ice Queen, it's gonna be every man for himself.

          Anyway, the sun's going down.  You better get going.  After all, the Bitch waits for no man.

          Pre-Game Preparation

          The setting of this game is pretty standard fairy-tale fare - there's a village in the middle of the forest, and nearby is a legendary castle overgrown with roses and ivy.  Inside is the Ice Queen - or as the locals often call her, the Frigid Bitch. The Bitch cursed the entire castle, and legend has it that the curse will only be lifed if someone can melt the her heart.  Various would-be champions have come and gone - the few who have come back have brought with them horrible stories.  Most, of course, never return.

          As the introduction suggests, the characters are pretty much the losers of their little village, the sort of people who've never done an honest day's work in their life.  The black sheeps of their respective families, the embarassment of the village.  They are kitted out in castoffs and stolen second-hand merchandise - real champions, with much better equipment, have tried and failed.  None of your characters really WANT to be going on this foolhardy, suicidal quest, but a combination of peer pressure, pride, and stubbornness have carried you this far, and now it's too late to go back.

          One of the players won't be taking on the role of one of these poor wretches.  Instead, that player will act as the narrator, setting the scenes, giving the descriptions, and providing the voice-overs.  While everyone else is creating their layabouts, he'll be setting up certain things about the forest and the castle, to help define the challenges that the characters will face.  

          But, what about the Frigid Bitch herself?  Well, she'll make herself known through play itself, and all the players will have opportunity to shape the Ice Queen's final manifestation.  She doesn't belong to anyone.

          In addition to paper and players, all you need are six-sided dice.

          Numbers
          Characters in Frigid Bitch have three statistics, scores that measure their general aptitude in certain areas.  These three are Gear, Work, and Heart.  The "average human score" for each of these is 3.  You have 7 points to distribute between them; each must be at least 1 point.
          • Gear describes the quality of the equipment the deadbeat has managed to get his hands on.
          • Work describes how well the slacker can perform physical actions when pressed.
          • Heart describes the moral core of the mooch.[/list:u]

            Characters also have two more numbers:  Luck and Fear.  Fear is the measure of how frightened the character is; the player may choose this number as he desires.  Luck is then set as equal to Fear.

            A character's final number is his Trust, which tracks how much he trusts his fellow wastrels.  This should be a series of numbers, one for each pairing.  So if you have 3 characters, A, B, and C - A would have "Trust B" and "Trust C" on his sheet, B would have "Trust A" and "Trust C" on his sheet, and so on.  All Trust values start at zero.

            Meanwhile, the player taking the role of the Narrator should be setting his own numbers - the challenges of this particular adventure.  Every game of Frigid Bitch has a different Castle of the Ice Queen, and these numbers are a big part of how they are different.

            Narrators have two scores to describe the ordeal their fellow players will soon be enduring - these are called Challenges, and are Ice, and Magic.  Both can be set at whatever score is desired - higher scores will lead to longer, more challenging games, so be sure to keep that in mind.  The first score, Ice, generally represents the cold, barren hostility of the quest; Magic, conversely, represents the more fantastical elements.  A high Ice, low Magic quest is likely to be more gritty than fantastical, full of dark humor - and obviously, the opposite for the reverse situation.  Both Ice and Magic must be at least 1.

            Gameplay

            The game is divided into three (possibly four) distinct sections:  Countryside, Castle, Courting, Escape - the latter only necessary if nobody is able to melt the Ice Queen.  Each section has certain options and variations on the rules, but the core remains the same.

            The core of Frigid Bitch are its dice - they determine the outcome of the various trials and tribulations the characters face.  Six-siders are always rolled in groups called "pools", determined by various combinations of the numbers generated above.  Discard the 5s and 6s, and add together the rest of the numbers - this is your score.  In Frigid Bitch, rolls are always opposed by other rolls - whoever gets the higher roll wins.  Ties represent an interruption and complication - the situation changes without resolving itself.

            1.  Countryside

            At the start of each game of Frigid Bitch, the Narrator always frames the opening scene, starting as the characters walk down off the bluff and head towards the Castle.  Each player is invited to give their character's name, along with a brief description.  After that, the Narrator is free to narrate anything he wishes, throwing all sorts of obstacles in the characters path.

            Obstacles can be anything - a downed tree, a deep snowbank, a pack of wolves or a hungry bear, a magical trap, a frozen river that breaks as they go across it, maybe even just a noise that the characters hear without context.  Whatever the obstacle, the players have to decide how their characters are going to deal with it.  ("Bob, go check out that sound.") ("Oh my god, a bear, run!!")

            Whatever the obstacle, the players have to decide how their characters are going to deal with it.  This involves choosing one of their character's statistics (Gear, Work, or, in rare cases, Heart) and one of the two Challenges (Ice or Magic), then justifying the combination with their descriptions (the Narrator may veto at any time).  If two characters are doing the same thing, they may choose to roll separately, or to Trust each other and work together.  If they Trust each other, they may choose only one of them to roll - but one extra die is added for each Trusting character.

            Players then roll their statistic (boosted by any Trust) vs. the sum of their Fear and their Challenge.  The higher score wins, and can narrate the outcome.  If the player fails, their Fear goes up by one point, as does the Fear of anyone who Trusted them - but they have a chance to still succeed, if they choose to roll their Luck.  If they decline to roll their Luck, it also goes up one point.  Luck is rolled vs. the same statistic they used in the first contest, boosted by the Challenge they didn't choose.  If this roll fails, nothing changes.  If it succeeds, the character's Luck is reduced by 1, and everyone's Fear other than yours is lowered by 1 - but that player get to narrate their victory.  No matter what the outcome, any group of players that Trusted one another have their respective Trust scores boosted by 1.  

            If the first roll succeeded, the players collect a number of Tale Points equal to their Fear.  If the second roll succeeded, they collect a number of Tale Points equal to their Luck; but if it fails, Tale Points equal to their Luck are lost.  In the Countryside, Tale Points collected go into a communal pool.  When this pool reaches a value equal to ten times the # of players in the group (including the Narrator), they have reached the Castle walls.

            2.  Castle

            The Castle stage starts at the castle walls, and ends when the first character finds the Ice Queen.  Unlike the first stage, Tale Points in this stage are collected separately by each player.  The first step, of course, is to get past the walls - and this isn't something the Ice Queen has made easy.  After all, it's her home you're trying to break into, and it's well protected.

            While in the Countryside, the players acted for their characters in a free-for-all.  This stops at the Castle walls.  Going from left to right around the table, starting with the player whose roll added the final Tale Points to get to the Castle, the Narrator asks each player for an action, and a roll.

            A separate successful roll has to be made for each character to get into the castle, although a player can roll for any character who Trusts them to do it.  The roll is always Heart vs. Magic + Ice.  This can be augmented by Trust, if anyone offers, but only the person making the roll gets the Tale Points (equal to his Fear + Luck).  Failure does not increase Fear, and there is no second chance through a Luck roll - you just have to wait for your turn to come around again.  

            After you're inside the castle, rolls work the same as in the Countryside - players choosing a statistic and a Challenge, and Luck possibly coming into play.  Tale Points, remember, are collected on an individual basis in the Castle - and whoever reaches the goalpost first gets a huge advantage in the next stage, Courting.  Turns are still individual, going around the table.  You can help other people in, or you can go down into the castle yourself.

            Trust takes on a new meaning in the Castle.  Players can still gain Trust points by helping each other out - but only the person rolling gets the Tale Points.  On the other hand, Trust points finally have a use - before any person rolls for their turn, you can declare that you're screwing them over.  Spend as many Trust points as you desire - this communicates into a number of extra dice given to their opposition.  Trust points cannot be spent on any Luck roll, only Fear rolls, and may only be spent for the person you collected it from.

            The group should gradually splinter once inside the Castle.  The first person who reaches 25 Tale Points finds the Ice Queen, and the Courting stage begins.  Their reward is being able to be alone with the Bitch before everyone else finds her, but if anyone else is in the same scene when it happens, they get the benefit as well.

            3.  Courting

            The player who reached 25 Tale Points immediately gets another scene - and scenes from this point on continue to his right, going counterclockwise around the table (as opposed to clockwise).  That player immediately has his character attempt to woo the Ice Queen, rolling your character's Heart + whatever Trust points he has left + Magic vs. your Fear + Luck + Ice.  Yes, when wooing the Frigid Bitch, your Luck works against you, and for good reason.  Furthermore, the other players can spend their Trust points to further screw their character.

            Thereafter, any player whose character was in the same scene also gets to make a Courtship roll.  For the other players, their player's scenes are framed as per normal in the Castle - but one success is all they need to arrive at the Courtship.  Their next turn, they can make a Courtship roll, just like the first character - rolling Magic + their Heart + remaining Trust vs. Ice + their Fear + Luck + the # of people who arrived before him.  So the 3rd player to Court rolls Fear + Luck + 2.  

            Once the final player has reached the Courtship stage, everyone gets one final turn around the table.  If nobody has courted the Queen by then, it's too late - Dawn is coming, and you have to get out of the castle.  If someone has courted the Queen, the game is over, and the one who managed to court the Queen has won.

            4.  Escape

            If the game progresses to the Escape level, every player has exactly one chance to flee.  Roll your character's best statistic vs. the Ice Challenge, then roll your Luck vs. the Magic challenge.  If either one of those succeeds, you've escaped.  Otherwise, you're trapped.  Instead of escaping, you can also choose to make one last Courting attempt.  This attempt is without any sort of Challenge - simply Heart + Trust vs. Fear + Luck, but if you fail, you'll be trapped in the castle forever.

            After game

            No matter whether someone successfully courted the Ice Queen, or everyone was trapped in the castle on the way out, you've still managed to create a tale worth telling.  Enjoy it, and be ready, for the next Frigid Bitch game will be different than this one.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 17, 2004, 05:36:45 PM
          Ben: Do you know, you have quite the game there. The split-up between player resposibilities is giving me a headache. I'd really want to play this, but it'd have to be with exactly four players for that aesthetic, perfect feel. The world is really evocative too, though for some reason I see the people here as some giant insects.

          hanschristianandersen has a strong game going, too. I like the light, logical structure. For days now the posts have presented endless new variations of the base mechanics, applied to painting a consistent whole.

          The others are good too, but I have no intention ot go through all games just because I had something to say about two.

          Now that I got my own games finished, I have time for gabbing. Maybe I could even become a commentator, or would that be improper...


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: timfire on April 17, 2004, 05:40:19 PM
          Quote from: commentator
          What's this? With the finish quickly approaching Tim-san has emerge from the pantry with a secret ingredient...

          Playtesters!

          Quote from: timfire
          Now we're cooking. BAM!

          Quote from: commentator
          Surely this new ingredient will enhance the delicacy of the recipe, but will it be enough to win over the Chairman, and will Tim-san be able to finish his dish before time runs out?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: xiombarg on April 17, 2004, 06:01:00 PM
          Children of the North:
          Assault on the Frozen Isle of the Lich-Lord

          For years, periodically, the Lich-Lord has been sending waves and waves of undead into civilized lands. Every century or so, he is beat back, only to come back with a new army of undead every century or so. So it has been for time immorial.

          However, despite the setbacks that this situation has caused, civilization has become more and more sophisticated over time, and several great civilizations have clawed their way into the light. And this time, they're taking the fight back to the Lich-Lord.

          Normally, the glaciers surrounding the Isle of the Lich-Lord have prevented ships from getting close enough to do anything to the Lich-Lord. His own armies just walk on the ocean floor. But recent innovations in fire-magic has made the invasion possible.

          The combined might of several civilizations is involved in this assault -- mass armies, all co-ordinating.

          You, a great hero, have been chosen by your culture to be part of a special strike team. It is your job, along with other heros chosen by their respective cultures, to find and destroy the Lich-King himself.

          This has been made complicated by an unusual discovery: The Isle of the Lich-King has a living population. These people love their undead king, and gladly give their dead up to him, in return for the protections of his magic. Though the Lich-King's necromancy and other magics, the "Children of the North" (as they call themselves) have a utopian society, with very little conflict and a high quality of living, dedicated mostly to producing brilliant works of art.

          The Children of the North generally disapprove of the Lich-King's periodic invasions in principle, but given everything the Lich-King has given them, they feel they cannot argue with his one "eccentricity". They admit to being surprised that there are anyone living south of them at all...

          Character Generation

          You must be able to describe your character -- and his culture -- in a single sentence with a minimal number of clauses and conjunctions. Examples:

          "Quetzal is a powerful shaman from a Aztec-like culture."
          "T'kask is a technically adept insectiod being from a culture not unlike idealized Communism."
          "Thor is a strong, hammer-wielding hero from a Nordic culture."
          "Grunk is an orc, whose culture is not unlike that of Star Trek's Klingons."

          No PC can be from the same culture. If two people want to play more or less the same thing (as judged by the GM and the majority of other players), neither can play that concept. All the players and the GM have to understand the concept instantly and easily. For example, if someone hasn't heard of Star Trek, then the above orcish concept is not allowed.

          After picking your character concept, your character must pick a Number from 1-10. This determines how good or evil the character is. More "good" characters have a lower number -- a character with a 1 is very good, and a character with a 10 is very evil, though "civilized" enough that the other cultures are willing to work with the character so long as the war is on.

          Because of the nature of the enemy, if a character is necromantic or undead in any fashion, his number must be 5 or lower. Any "evil" necromantic culture would have been wiped out by the others as possibly too close to the Lich-King.

          Task Resolution

          The characters are protagonists. Any task that an average person can do with a little difficulty (GM call), a PC automatically succeeds at it.

          Whenever the character attempts something that is more than moderately difficult, all the players (except the one involved) and the GM must vote whether the action is "Good", "Evil", or "Neutral". The majority rules -- the GM breaks ties. "Neutral" should be reserved for tasks that are truely value-neutral, like scaling icy cliffs or avoiding hypothermia.

          (A simple thumbs up (good), thumbs down (evil) or fist (neutral) on a count of three can greatly speed up the voting process.)

          If the action is "Evil", the player must roll less than their Number on 1d10 to succeed. If the action is "Good", the player must roll higher than their Number on 1d10.

          If the action is "Neutral", use the most favorable roll. That is, characters with a Number of 6 or higher must roll lower than their Number, while characters with a Number of 5 or less must roll higher than their Number.

          If a player rolls exactly equal to his character's Number, the action succeeds if it is in line with the character concept (i.e. if the Aztec shaman is doing something with the spirits, or if the Nordic charcter is doing something brave) in the opinion of the GM.

          The GM never rolls -- most of the time, dodging or whatnot is a "Neutral" action, but that's up to the players.

          As far as combat goes, if a character hits, they generally kill, if that's what they're aiming for. Even if the victim is the Lich-King.

          If a character is hurt, the GM can lower the bar in terms of what is difficult enough to require a roll. Characters do not die -- eventually, they will succeed against the Lich-King.

          If characters move against each other, both get to roll -- one to do something to the other, the other to resist. Yes, this probably means there will be a lot of "misses". Heros are supposed to argue, but not fight, given there is a common enemy.

          Character Development

          Every day, at dawn, the player can adjust his character's Number up or down by 1, but has to start playing the character that way. As before, max is 10 and you cannot go below 1.

          The GM and Other Authors

          The GM narrates successes. The player narrates failures. Exception: When player characters confict, the GM describes all results.

          The GM is supposed to try to make the journey to the Lich-King as frought with ethical issues and cultural conflict as possible.

          At any point, a player can suggest a detail to add to the game -- even a conflict -- so long as it doesn't contradict what has gone before. If the majority of the other players (with the GM as tiebreaker) agree, the detail in question becomes "reality" for the game.

          The question this game is meant to explore is: What is good? What is evil? Where are the grey areas?

          Credit Where Credit Is Due

          Inspiration comes from Garbanzo's Ethos (formerly Ashen) and Ron's Trollbabe, obviously, not to mention Clinton's Donjon.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: dalek_of_god on April 17, 2004, 06:16:13 PM
          Thanks for the positive feedback Eero! You really seem to be going out of your way to let people know you appreciate their effort.  You're certainly right about this being a difficult choice for Mike Holmes. There must be thirty games posted right now - all of them unique. This is really a great way to generate a lot of interesting ideas.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: JamesSterrett on April 17, 2004, 06:43:15 PM
          Is the deadline the end-of-Sunday (the 18th), or the end-of-Monday (the 19th)?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Bob McNamee on April 17, 2004, 07:03:53 PM
          Quote from: JamesSterrett
          Is the deadline the end-of-Sunday (the 18th), or the end-of-Monday (the 19th)?


          from the first post in the thread...

          Quote
          These are the rules:

          Submissions to this contest must be made no later than 11:59 PM CDT on April 19th, 2003. If you're not sure when that is, post early. In fact you may want to post early so that you don't get messed up by server death as all are posted at the last minute (not to mention being in early can be a good tactic).

          [snipped extra]


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Asrogoth on April 17, 2004, 07:29:04 PM
          Quote from: dalek_of_god
          Thanks for the positive feedback Eero! You really seem to be going out of your way to let people know you appreciate their effort.  You're certainly right about this being a difficult choice for Mike Holmes. There must be thirty games posted right now - all of them unique. This is really a great way to generate a lot of interesting ideas.


          I should be spending my time on God Lore, but I thought I'd do a quick "count" of games mentioned so far.

          We have a total of 35 games mentioned so far, with not all of them complete and some only sketches of ideas.  And you're right.  I can't imagine the difficulty in choosing through some of these.  I REALLY like Seadog Tuxedo (damn penguins always getting in my way!) and Frigid Bitch (Sleeping Beauty with a shotgun!).  I apologize for not mentioning more by name, but I'm gonna go try and work on my game some more so that I can at least say I tried. ;)

          By the way, Chairman Holmes-san, do Mac users get extra style points?


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Asrogoth on April 17, 2004, 08:15:59 PM
          EEEAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


          [Pant, Pant, Pant...]


          I keep thinking I'm almost finished... I'm almost done...

          Then, from the depths I hear a call... I hear the Immortals crying for their exploits to be told, for their deeds to be known, but I fear I am not worthy of perfecting the task.

          "WRITE!" they say... the words echo through my soul, but I fear them, for they are larger than I....  What shall I do?  How can I make the deadline for this momentous task????

          "Fear not young mortal," the deities comfort, "your work for this test need not be perfect -- but that's no excuse.  Get back to work!!!!"


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Asrogoth on April 17, 2004, 11:02:06 PM
          Okay all, I'm finalizing everything as it is and am nearly done, so I'll go ahead and post part one of my slightly revised version of my game.  Please disregard my previous posts as "authoritative" in regards to this game;  although I haven't changed much, some things that have changed provide a slight shift in paradigm.  Without further adieu, here we go!



          God Lore:  The Chronicles of the Immortals
          [/size]

          PART ONE

          Introduction

          Spawned from the essence of the Ancient One, you find yourself, an Immortal, blessed with the powers of the gods and born with the mandate to take part in the monitoring and control of all things.  Your existence demands you to influence reality and perpetuate your own supremacy.

          In order to do your duty, you have been given the power of the Life Force, the basis of life itself, the power behind the elements.

          These elements -- Dawn, Ice, Island and Breath -- combine in your being, all of which you use to control the very nature of the universe.

          Dawn: the power of birth, the blazing sun and the warming fire

          Ice:  the solid essence of life-nurturing water, and the freezing death of the chill

          Island:  the soil and rock that stabilize the world and support plant and animal life

          Breath:  bears the evidence of the Life Force, the Winds of Time and the Vacuum of Space


          Together, the Immortals and the Chronicler will journey through a story of accomplishment and feats where Creation is bound and unbound, where Life is made and destroyed, where gods die and are reborn.  

          Plunge into the mysteries of the gods, while sipping the nectar of Ambrosia and living their stories, dreaming their dreams, bearing their hopes and knowing their fears.

          Now is the time of legends lived.  Now the God Lore is spoken.  Now the Chronicles of the Immortals are made known!


          Required Items

          To play this game you will need the following:
            Three to ten six-sided dice (heck, grab as many as you like!)

            Four 3x5 Index Cards

            One piece of modern-day paper (i.e. not papyrus)

            One Character Sheet (or another piece of modern-day paper on which you can create your own Character Sheet -- what will they think of next?!?!?)

            One Pencil or some other fancy device used for writing free-hand on modern-day paper (i.e. pen, marker, crayon, grease pencil, chalk, etc)

            One large bag of colored
          M&M Candies (plain, peanut, almond or crunchy -- it's up to you!) or similar. Important note:  you need five different colors!

          One refreshing drink of your choice (Dr. Pepper, cream soda, beer, wine, milk, water, etc.  By the way, you can have as many drinks as you want, but you need at least one.)
          [/list:u]



          The Four Influences

          In the Universe, four Influences form the elemental make-up of all things.  These Influences are powered by the Life Force.  Every Immortal commands the use of all four Influences to varying degrees.  Furthermore, each Immortal has a primary Influence which usually helps her determine her patronage.

          These four Influences are Dawn, Ice, Island and Breath.  All four are represented to greater or lesser degrees throughout the Universe.

          Dawn is the force of fire and birth.  The Immortals that choose Dawn as primary tend to be hot tempered and vibrant, full of life and quick-tempered.  They generally choose to be patrons of such things as the hearth, the passionate embrace, or the most powerful, the Sun.

          Ice is the force of water and cold.  Without Ice life cannot survive, heat would destroy all, and everything would dehydrate.  Immortals who control Ice tend to be very calculating and circumspect.  They rarely let their emotions get the best of them and usually rely on their cunning to guide mortals into the Immortals' desired paths.  Patrons of Ice Influence choose things such as fish, the morning dew or at the highest levels, rain.

          Island is the power of the earth.  Island-specialized Immortals are very "warm"-hearted and remain calm under pressure.  Very little can shake their resolve, but they tend to recognize times when emotions are needed in order to manipulate mortals and facilitate their agendas.  These Immortals tend to choose the dust, plants or even the Earth itself as their patronages.

          Breath is the Influence of Air and Lightning.  It is the imaging of the Life Force and Time.  Mortals require Breath to maintain their life and to advance.  Immortals with primacy in Breath tend to be very quick-witted, skilled in the intricacies of socialization and are very adept at persuasion.  They frequently stir up crowds of mortals in frenzies through their words without revealing their godliness simply out of enjoyment.  These Immortals tend to choose patronages over things such as hiccups, breezes, or even the atmosphere.


          Life Force

          Life Force is the power that is an Immortal's existence.  When an Immortal is "born", he is granted the power of Influence through using his Life Force.  This power defines the types and amount of influence he is granted.  The Immortal has Thirteen (13) Influence Points (Influence Point) to spread between his four Influences (Dawn, Island, Ice and Breath).  He must have a minimum of one Influence Point in each Influence and must choose a primary Influence which must have the highest (or tied for highest) Influence Point devoted to it.  As the character develops and matures, he will eventually gain more Influence Points.  As he gains Influence Points, his Life Force will rise.  Life Force is determined (after character creation) by totaling the number of Influence Points.  

          If an Immortal's Life Force ever reaches zero, the Immortal is considered to be unavailable for play with his Life Force dissipated into the ether of time.  The player may retire the character, or if other players are amenable, they may attempt to resurrect the deity by spending their own Influence Points to bring the "dead" Immortal back to life -- this requires a number of Influence Points equal to the "dead" Immortal's normal Life Force.


          Character Generation

          "The Birthing"

          Out of the mind of the Ancient One springs the Life Force, the ultimate power in the Universe which can be harnessed by the Immortals to effect change within the skein of reality.  These threads are woven using the four Influences of Dawn, Island, Ice and Breath.

          In the "Forever" outside of Time, the Ancient One calls forth new beings from the Life Force to monitor and guide the multitudes and facets of Creation.  These beings, eternally called to pursue the will of the Ancient One, seek through their designs to perform their required tasks through their personalized discretion with little or no direction from the Ancient One;  although the Ancient One sometimes speaks through the mouth of its oracle, The Chronicler.

          The Immortals, servants of the Ancient One, have nearly limitless power as they draw from the very wellspring of reality.  Their essences, maintained and generated from the Life Force, are uniquely tuned to control it and manipulate it through the facets of the four Influences in order to be effective "gardeners" and "shepherds" of all things temporal.

          Once the Immortals have been granted their Life Force, they are entrusted with a purpose which they are allowed to have chosen for them or which they may choose themselves.  This purpose, also known as their "Patronage", allows the Immortals to prove their trustworthiness as they strive to draw closer to the Ancient One and drink deeper from the limitless wells of its power.

          Create Your Immortal

          At its creation, your Immortal has thirteen Life Force which you should spread across your four Influences at your discretion, giving each one no less than one Influence Point (Influence Points are units of Life Force placed under each Influence).  At generation, no Immortal may have higher than 10 in any Influence.

          Primary Influence

          When placing Influence Points keep in mind that the Influence with the highest number of Influence Points is considered to be your primary Influence.  This primary Influence can help you to determine which Patronage to take as well as to provide your Immortal with a support structure of Immortals that will be more likely to help in support of a common paradigm.  If you choose to have several Influences with the same number which is highest (Dawn 4, Island 4, Ice 4, Breath 1 for example) then you may choose which Influence to be primary.

          When your character gains Life Force (and therefore will be allowed to assign more Influence Points to Influence), you must make sure either to maintain the Primary Influence as highest or make your chosen Primary Influence the highest if it is the same as others at creation.

          Patronage

          With your Immortal's Primary Influence in mind, it is time to choose a Patronage for your deity.  A Patronage is the specific group of creation over which an Immortal is granted sovereign discretion and over which your Immortal will have control.  As well as having the benefit of using the Patronage to your whim, you must remember that your Immortal also has a responsibility to tend to the needs of his Patronage, ensuring its survival while maintaining the delicate balance found among all Creation in Reality.

          If somehow an Immortal loses a Patronage, he permanently loses five Life Force with two Influence Points taken from his Primary Influence, and one Influence Point removed from each of the other three Influences.  If this results in the Immortal having a Primary Influence lower than any other Influence, the Immortal will be on Probation until he raises it to an equal or higher state than the others.  While on Probation, the Immortal may not rise in Status, and he may be assigned a Watcher Immortal to make sure he is doing all he can to work efficiently.  If the Immortal drops in Status enough to fall to a lower level, he will retain all "unlost" Patronages.  Once the five Life Force have been re-earned, the Immortal may petition the Council of the Divinities to provide a new Patronage to replace the lost one (from the same Status group).

          If at any time an Immortal is perceived as inattentive, aloof or malicious towards his own Patronage or towards the balance of the Universe, a Council of the Divinities may be called to pronounce judgment over the offending deity.  The result of judgment could be as minor as a reprimand with corrective measures guaranteed or as harsh as complete Dissipation into the ethers of Time.

          So, make sure that your Immortal pays at least a little attention to those charged to be in her care, else she might end up being nothing.


          Character Description

          After determining the character's Patronage, you should spend a few moments describing your Immortal.  In this description, you should list strengths and weaknesses of her character including her ideas of purpose and self-understanding.  This section should list answer the "Why am I here"-type of questions while paying attention to the character's Influences, Patronage, Status and Action preferences.  Do not forget to include some sort of description of your Immortal's preferred form of physical manifestation.  While Immortals are not bound to a physical body, they tend to prefer to remain in a physical form (usually humanoid) even in their abodes as they find "bodies" to be handy tools for communicating ideas and emotions.  In this section you will want to include any reference to the "maleness" or "femaleness" of your character.  While it is not necessary to choose a "sex" for your Immortal, the gods frequently find it beneficial to choose one primary form (male or female) which to use when relating with Creation.

          After writing the description, allow The Chronicler to look it over.  If you have made some extreme choices in character description which The Chronicler finds objectionable try to work out a compromise or change your description.  Remember, "if it's not fun for all, it's not fun at all!" (Michael Pearl, emphasis mine.)

          Once the character description has been approved by The Chronicler, allow the other Players to read it.  During play, you may want to refer back to your character description to assist you in playing your Immortal.  In the midst of the game, Players can be rewarded for exceptional role-playing by the other Players (including The Chronicler).  Therefore, playing your character's flaws as well as strengths will not only enable you to have a more enjoyable time, it will also provide you with the opportunity to gain bonuses to increase your Immortal's status!

          Name Your Character

          "What's in a name?"  From the very beginning, names have provided us with a means not only of singling out one another but also have been used to identify our individuality of nature and purpose.  Holy names frequently maintain some significance that relates to the power of the gods rather than being strange amalgamations of syllables that "sound good".  When creating your Immortal, try to provide a name that has some significance to you (if to no one else) and take pride in your home-made deity's moniker.


          Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
          Post by: Asrogoth on April 17, 2004, 11:08:27 PM
          Here's part two... It looks as though I'll have one or two more sections to add.  Enjoy the meal.


          God Lore:  The Chronicles of the Immortals
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          PART TWO

          Influence Points

          Influence Points are the expression of Life Force within the Influence of each Immortal.  Not only can Characters gain permanent or Static Life Force, they can also spend Life Force (in the form of Influence Points) on a temporary basis to take Actions, raise Difficulty levels for other Immortals, and increase the chances of success in various encounters.

          As mentioned in the Life Force section, when an Immortal reaches zero Life Force he is sent to the Void where he is unable to affect the Game.  Normally, an Immortal will regenerate one Influence Point per round, but after reaching zero, an Immortal loses this ability and can only regenerate Life Force by being given one Ambrosia (which will regenerate all Life Force) or by being "resurrected" by another Immortal which costs one Influence Point from each Influence for the generous Immortal.  Once resurrected, the previously off-line Immortal will regenerate Life Force normally.

          Influence Points can be spent temporarily to:
            1)   bring a spent Influence Card back into a Player's hand
            2)   increase dice used in defense of a different Influence
            3)   increase Difficulty Target for others
            4)   Life Force Attack
            [/list:u]

            An Immortal may not spend more Influence Points than she currently has.  If an Immortal ever has zero Influence Points in any Influence, then until that Influence has regenerated she has no defense against Attacks against that Influence and can only defend by spending two Influence Points from a different Influence in defense of the depleted Influence to gain the use of one die for defense.

            See the
          Counters section below for information on tracking spent Influence Points.   


          Actions

          In God Lore:  The Chronicles of the Immortals characters may choose from a variety of Actions to effect their will.  Normal Actions are Create, Possess and Assault.  Special Actions available to Immortals are Abrogate, Challenge, and Life Force Attack.

          Normal Actions
          Create:
          As its name implies, this Action allows the Immortal to make something "new" directly from the Influences/Life Force or to modify an existing creation.  Some acts of Create require a Difficulty Target check (see below).  Once an Immortal has created or modified a portion of Creation, she becomes its patron.  Due to the Immortal's creative efforts, that section of Creation has a special tie to the Immortal, and if it is ever threatened, the Immortal will know of the threat immediately.  It is up to the Immortal to either allow its creation to encounter whatever difficulty it faces or to attempt to "rescue" it.  


          Possess:
          An Immortal may possess any part of Creation whether his own or created by another.  If the Immortal attempts to possess any sentient creature, the Immortal must roll as against a challenge of the appropriate Influence.  The difficulty of the task may be increased by another Immortal.  Upon success, the Immortal gains complete control over the "Possession".  Immortals may only possess one sentient creature at a time.  An Immortal may possess as many non-sentient creations as she has Life Points in addition to the one sentient creature.  A possessed inanimate object may be used for multiple purposes, such as a weapon, sanctuary for worshipers, or perhaps a vehicle for transportation to the godly realms.

          If the Immortal is unsuccessful at possessing a creation, he may not try to possess the same creation for one full turn.  If unsuccessful a second time, the creation has a special innate protection against that Immortal's influence and may not be possessed by the Immortal unless the creation is possessed by a higher status Immortal and the control passed to the lower Immortal.


          Assault:
          One Immortal may choose to Assault another Immortal's Influences.  The losing Immortal's Influence Points from that specific Influence are reduced by one for the number or rounds equal to the winning Immortal's Influence in that area.  For example, if you, Gok (Dawn = 5), attack Shartu (Dawn = 3), and you roll 6, 4, 4, 3, 3, 1 while Shartu rolls 6, 6, 2.  You would lose your attack and lose one Dawn Influence Point for three rounds.


          Special Actions


          Abrogate:
          Perhaps most feared by mortal man is the Immortals' power of Abrogation.  If an Immortal so chooses, he may remove his power from his creation and possessions.  If the Immortal abrogates from a creation, that creation will, at the Immortal's discretion, be destroyed.  If the creation is sentient (i.e. Possession), the creature will not be destroyed but will suffer from mental agony with possible physical side effects.  These Actions of abrogation could affect an Immortal's Status as other Immortals may find his Actions negligent and irresponsible which may result in a Tribunal of the Gods and which could end up with the Immortal being penalized and losing Status (i.e. Life Force/Initiative Points).

          Abrogate is not normally an Action unless the Immortal is using Abrogate to free himself from a Possession in which case Abrogate is considered to take an Action.

          If an Immortal reaches zero Life Force, is Dissipated or is Suspended, all of his Creation and Possessions are considered to be Abrogated.




          Challenge:
          Players may Challenge other Players' Actions by playing an Influence Card in response to the other Players' Actions (if the card is still available for play).  A Challenge does not count towards a Player's one Action per Round -- it is a "free" Action.

          Each Player has four Influence Cards which can each be used once before being out of play for one Turn.  A Player may use all Influence Cards within one Round, but he may only use the same card once per Round.

          The Player may remove any Influence Card from out of play and use it immediately at the cost of one Influence Point, if that Card is his Primary Influence Card and is used immediately with a successful Challenge, then he shall regain the one Influence Point spent and put the card back out of play.  


          See links for sample cards:  
            Dawn Influence Card
             (http://www.emchome.org/misc/dawn.html), Island Influence Card
             (http://www.emchome.org/misc/island.html), Ice Influence Card
             (http://www.emchome.org/misc/ice.html), Breath Influence Card
             (http://www.emchome.org/misc/breath.html)[/list:u]

            When an Influence Card is played the players must roll xd6 where x = their Influence number for that Influence.  Sixes are considered a success.  If the Challenged player rolls any sixes, he automatically wins the Challenge.  Otherwise, the player with the greatest number of sixes or higher dice wins.  For example, if Shartu, the goddess of minnows (Island = 4), Challenged Gok, the god of torches (Island = 2), with her Island Card.  She rolls 4d6 and he rolls 2d6.  She rolls 5, 4, 2, 2.  He rolls 6, 1.  Gok wins because he rolled a six.  If instead, Gok had rolled 5, 4, then the result would have been a tie -- the Challenger loses a tie, so Gok would have won as well.  If, however, Gok had rolled a 4, 4, he would have lost because his highest die did not equal Shartu's highest die.

            When challenging with an Influence Card, the challenging Player must tentatively spend one Influence (which will not be counted against this roll).  If the challenging Player loses the Challenge, then he temporarily loses one Influence Point (one round per opponent Influence Point). If successful, the Challenged Player does not lose Influence Point but is not successful in his Action.

            Assaults against oneself may not be Challenged with an Influence Card;  although another Player may choose to intervene and Challenge an Assault by one Player against another.  Life Force Attacks may not be Challenged.


            Life Force Attack:
            An Immortal may choose to attack another Immortal directly by choosing to concentrate his entire Current Life Force (available Influence Points) as an attack.  The Immortal attacking will roll xd6 where x = Current Life Force.  The defending Immortal can choose to roll as many die (maximum = Current Life Force) as desired but must leave one Influence Point in each Influence.  The Player with the greater number of sixes wins the contest.  The winner of the contest loses one-half of his current Influence Points (rounding down).  The loser is forcibly sent to a negative plane where he is unable to affect play for two turns.  While suspended from play, he is forced to abrogate all his personal creations and possessed creations until his return to play.  At that point, he may attempt to reestablish his control/possession one creation per round.  If neither Player rolls a six, both Players lose one-half current Influence Points (rounding down) and both are unable to take any Action (except for personal defense) for three rounds and any possessed creation is abrogated by both.


            Difficulty Targets

            Not all tasks are "opposed" by other Players or the Chronicler.  Even though a task may not be opposed, it still may have a high degree of difficulty.  Most tasks the Immortals purpose are mundane and require little expenditure of their energy or time.  These tasks are relatively easy for Immortals -- where they may be insanely difficult or impossible for mortal kin (except perhaps for the most gifted Mages, Priests or Warriors).  As tasks become more complex and difficult, the gods must spend more energy to affect their desires.  In order to complete these more difficult endeavors, the Players must roll a number of die equal to their appropriate Influence for the task.  The result must have the required number of successes (sixes) as the Difficulty Target for the aforementioned task.  If the Immortal fails to match the Difficulty Target, then he loses that number of Influence Points from the tested Influence.

            Difficulty Targets
              0:  Easy.  No sixes required
              1:   Challenging.  One six required.
              2:   Herculean.  Two sixes required.
              3:   Titanic.  Three sixes required.
              4:   Mythic.  Four sixes required.
              [/list:u]

              Immortals may choose to increase the difficulty of certain tasks other Immortals face through exerting their Influence upon the desired task.  Anyone desiring to increase a Difficulty Target must spend two Influence Points per Difficulty Target level for each level of increase desired.  Therefore, if an Gok sees Shartu is attempting to perform a task that has a Challenging Difficulty Target, Gok can spend four Influence Points to increase the Difficulty Target to Herculean.  To increase the Difficulty Target to Titanic, Gok must spend an extra six Influence Points.  Likewise, to make the Difficulty Target of Mythic proportion, he must spend an additional eight Influence Points to total 18 Influence Points spent.  Because of the high cost, Immortals usually only use this tactic when defending one of their Creations.

            Linking
            Due to the difficult nature of some tasks, groups of Immortals will often band together to perform Titanic and Mythic endeavors.  By spending as many Initiative Points as the difficulty of the task at hand amongst the linking Immortals, they may in fact link their power and roll one group of dice equal to their total Influence required for the specific task (minus the Initiative Points required for the linking).  Immortals may make this link with no cost to perform Easy tasks or Life Force Attacks, but in so doing, they all suffer in full any losses to Influence that may occur as a result.  A "leader" of the linking must be chosen who will retain all control of any possessed or newly created/modified creations.

            Action Ratings

            The Action Rating is any proficiency modifier given to specific types of Normal Actions.  An Immortal may choose to increase an Action Rating up to plus four by spending ten Ambrosia per level of increase desired.  The Action Rating allows the Immortal the use of one extra die per plus when using the specified Action.


            The Platypus

            Most people believe the most bizarre creature existing in the known world is the duck-billed platypus.  This creature is so strange that many have called it the "Great Mistake" of the gods.  Sometimes a Player may roll all ones -- a complete failure.  If this happens, the character has accidentally and completely messed up.  Instead of the desired effect, some other negative effect (narrated by the Player) occurs with the result being that the Player loses one-half of his current Influence Points for the Influence being tested (or Life Force if being attacked/attacking with Life Force Attack -- which would be in addition to losing the fight, being suspended from play for two turns and forcing abrogation from all the Immortal's personal creations and any possessed creation).



            Ambrosia:

            You begin the game with six vials filled with Ambrosia nectar.  You may choose to use these at any time.  

            If a Player chooses to use one Ambrosia, all his character's Influences will return to normal if reduced.  If none are reduced, the Player may choose to increase one Influence by two points for one turn or increase three Influences by one point.  (The Player may choose to use as much Ambrosia as desired to increase Influences temporarily.)  Ambrosia may also be used to resurrect an Immortal from zero Life Force.

            Ambrosia may be saved and used during game play to permanently increase either Life Force or Action Ratings.  To add one Static Life Force, a Player must spend five Ambrosia.  This Life Force/Influence Point is automatically transferred to the Influence of the Player's choice.

            To increase an Action Rating, a Player must spend ten Ambrosia.  After spending the ten Ambrosia, the Player may add one to either Create, Assault, or Possess.  This addition will allow Player to add one die per addition to any roll of that specific action whenever challenged or when encountering a greater difficulty.  If a Player wants to increase an Action Rating to plus four, he must spend ten Ambrosia per level below four.  Thus, if a Player has a Create +2 and wants to increase to Create +4, then he must spend 20 Ambrosia.

            Ambrosia may only be used every three turns and can only be used during game play.  Whenever your character drinks of the nectar of the gods (Ambrosia, silly!) you should take a drink of your refreshing beverage.

            Ambrosia can be earned during play and should be rewarded at the end of each game.  During play, a Player may do something extraordinary for which the other Players (not including the Chronicler) would like to reward.  Each Player is allowed to award one Ambrosia to one different Player during the Game as a reward for exceptional play.

            At the end of a game or game session, each Player receives three Ambrosia.  If the Chronicler feels as though one Player has stood out during the gaming session or game, she may award that Player one additional Ambrosia.

            If the Chronicler is also playing a character, then his character is eligible for Player-awarded Ambrosia as well as the standard post-game three Ambrosia award.

            Occasionally, the Chronicler may allow Players to find Ambrosia during a game session, but this action should be rare since Ambrosia is highly valued by the gods and is guarded zealously -- to the point of causing wars among the gods!  Rewarding Ambrosia after the game and during game play for extraordinary role-playing should be sufficient to assist the Players in increasing their character's Influence.



            Time
            Game Mechanic Time

            A Turn is the amount of time it takes for all the players to complete ten Rounds.  A Round is the amount of time it takes for all the players to complete one Action.

            In order to keep track of Rounds and Turns, you should make a personal “Timeline of the Gods” (TM).  (See Counters to learn how to make this amazing device).  With the Timeline, you will be able to monitor your in-game usage of Influence Points and Influence Cards.


            In-Game Time

            Because your characters are Immortal, they very rarely have need to concern
            themselves with Time.  In fact, they do not understand Time in the same way as mere mortals who live and die in such a limited scope that their exploits barely brush the magnificent spectrum of the lifetime of the gods.  The Immortals frequently travel from one time to another throughout the Universe not to “change” Time, but to interact with Creation in order to right wrongs and administer aid where required in an effort to effect their mission of shepherding more magnanimously.

            Some Immortals (aberrant ones and Daemons) have been known to purposefully travel through Time in attempts to shape Reality to their designs.  All efforts should be made not to manipulate Time for personal goals but to maintain its integrity and strive to perform one’s duty as needed at the appropriate place and Time.

            Therefore, Immortals do not concern themselves with in-game issues of time for they can travel it at whim, but they do concern themselves with those who would manipulate it for their own desires while ignoring the bigger picture.



            The Chronicler

            From the very beginning of Time, when the Immortals were young, and Creation was younger still, the Ancient One placed Its call upon a special being not unlike the Immortals, but different, and in its own way, more powerful.  This being was assigned the task of watching the Watchers, of examining the exploits of the Immortals and producing documents that chronicled the Immortals' endeavors.  Along with its tasks came power.  This power derived from the Ancient One but did not flow from the Life Force.  Its power flowed from the very nature of its job -- the words themselves that this being used to describe the Actions of the Immortals provided it with the ability to effect its desires and follow its mandate to record and recite the Chronicles of the Immortals.  The Chronicler as it became known to the Immortals resides in The Forever and chronicles all that it sees, filing the God Lore of the ages into eternal books to be read on the great day when the Ancient One calls for the end of all things and the new beginning where all will be made known.  On this day, The Chronicler will be heard by all reading from the Scroll of Deeds.


            The Chronicler in the Game is the Player in charge of the Story.  He sets up the initial setting, context and Game Session goals.  Prior to the Game, The Chronicler should have a good idea of what he expects to happen during the Game Session and preparing the appropriate scenario which to use for the Game.  At the beginning of the Game, The Chronicler should spend a few moments briefly outlining the scenario, explaining in general the goals of the specific session and reminding them of their ability to approach that goal as they see fit.   After the Game begins, all Players will be responsible for achieving these goals.  The Chronicler is the mediator and judge during play in order to assist in maintaining Game congruence and peace.  If a dispute arises over rules, The Chronicler is granted sole judgment over resolution during Game play.  Remember that a good Chronicler listens to the desires and ideas of his co-Players before deciding on a judgment.


            The Chronicler plays all Characters that influence the Story not controlled by the other Players.  He may choose to play his personal Character as well within the group, but he may not be the spokesman for the group and should always remember not to show favorites.

            Most important of all, this game should be played in a manner where all the Players can enjoy it.  The Chronicler is not a Lord Singular Immortal, but The Chronicler of the events that occur and a facilitator primarily.  He is in charge of looking at the Scrolls of Time in order to best interpret the Actions of the Immortals when confusion has arisen in their understanding.



            How to Play


            Read from the Scroll
            At the beginning of the round, The Chronicler should describe the situation in which the Characters find themselves, including any information required for the characters effectively to participate in the Game.  Such information as revealing the results of previous actions on their environment, describing the sudden appearance of another Immortal, or alerting them to strange events within Reality are all examples of "Reading from the Scroll".


            Declare Intentions
            The Players (including The Chronicler) declare the intentions of their Immortals in clockwise order, starting with the first player to The Chronicler's left.  This first phase is simply to give everyone else an idea of your intentions.  This phase does not need to be extremely detailed as responses will be made and questions asked to determine what is occurring within the "shared imagined space".


            Respond to Intentions
            As the previous phase, the Players may choose to respond to the announced intentions of the other Players.  At this point, Players may choose to challenge, abrogate or slightly modify their announced intentions if any objections have been made.


            ROLL!!!
            After Intentions have been declared and responded to, the Players should toss the dice if there are any contested actions.


            Declare Actions
            Noting the results from the die rolls, the Players should narrate what happens to their Characters from the successful or failed rolls.  The Chronicler may choose to overrule or elaborate on statements made by various Players. -- Be wary though if playing The Chronicler that a heavy-handed use of narrative control may result in Players retreating from being as free with their play, ending up with disgruntled Players and a less-than-exceptional role-playing experience.


            Calculate Results
            At the end of the round, once all actions have been described, the Players and The Chronicler take a moment to modify Life Force and Influence Point levels as well as any changes to the Characters that occurred as a result of this round's play.

            REPEAT the process during next round!


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: talysman on April 17, 2004, 11:22:53 PM
            IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

            part 4 (part 1 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114445#114445); part 2 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114814#114814); part 3 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114955#114955))

            Setting Details: Social Structure

            the pseudomedieval society in which IceRunners exist bears a superficial resemblance to a fairytale version of the Dark Ages of medieval Europe at approximately the time of Charlemagne. medieval France is taken as the primary pattern for society, with some influences from later medieval England in the form of a somewhat strong feudal system. local political control belongs to counts in the service of a weak central monarch, with military control in the hands of dukes; the count administers the court system and collects the taxes and rents from free commoners, while the dukes administer justice to the serfs under their authority, who labor 4/5 of every week in the lord's fields in exchange for the right to work their own meager strips of land on the rest of the week. the lord of the manor uses the products of the serf's labor to support himself and any knights under his command. the king, despite his weakened authority, keeps tabs on the counts and dukes with ministers sent from county to county and duchy to duchy, to verify that the king's law remains uniform throughout the land.

            the ministers have no authority on the lands of the largest landowner: the church. most of the arable land and even some of the wilderness is under the control of abbeys, which rents out land to commoner tenants, except for a portion it works itself using lay monks. for the most part, the abbots do not interfere with the dukes and counts, who are expected to provide military and legal protection to the peasant and merchant classes. instead, priests and monks care for the spiritual defense of the other three estates.

            and spiritual defense is definitely needed, for sorcery seems to lurk in the shadows everywhere. travel between villages may suddenly be cut off by an ogre, or an upstanding miller may cruelly be cursed to become a ravenous werewolf. even when violent attacks are set aside, sorcerors seem to work to undermine the moral character of the people, preying on the poor peasant seeking to escape his lot of labor, or upon the misery of those pining in love or grieving in loss.

            the work of the clergy in defending the faith is manifold. village priests minister to the villagers directly, instructing them in moral virtues, warning them of the dangers of the Forbidden Arts, and comforting those in need to ensure that none are tempted to stray into the darkness. although most clergy have only their faith to defend them against the direct attack of the forces of darkness, it is known that magic is fickle on hallowed ground, sometimes striking the sorceror instead of the steadfast believer (sorcery rolls have an extra Curse Die on hallowed ground.) furthermore, some of the clergy are truly Holy, aided by miracles of the saints against sorcerors. even those clergy who are not so gifted are trained to recognize the mark of sorcery and know the safety that can be found in a congregation of believers, especially in the daytime.

            Setting Details: the sorcerous underground

            in contrast to the picture painted by the clergy, the sorcerous side of the story views reality a little differently. first, sorcerors are criminals because sorcery is forbidden, not because of some moral failing. many did not originally ask to become sorcerors, but found they had a gift, which they assumed came from God. even those who were taught different and who tried to avoid using their Art were sometimes forced to defend themselves from a dangerous attack, or turned to sorcery only after being falsely accused of it in the first place. also, although there are certainly bad sorcerors and dangerous creatures of magic, the majority of sorcerors are decent folk, if a bit shady; the somewhat morally grey behavior of many sorcerors is due more to the necessity of being part of a criminal underworld, where desperate people must take desperate measures to survive. sorcerors on the run from the law must be helped into hiding, using a series of safe-houses run by moles; criminals need to be fed and clothed, which requires obtaining spare food and clothing in a climate of scarcity. these can be acquired without theft, but only by running a black market in forbidden talismans and potions, traded for sacks of grain or bolts of cloth.

            these mundane needs can be assisted by magic, but not replaced completely. even so, the magic required to help maintain a secretive underworld requires power to pull off, which requires Ice; plus, moving large quantities of goods in secret is best accomplished by passing through the one region no non-sorceror can enter: the astral realm. these two factors explain the particular importance of IceRunners: they are the best at acquiring Ice and the best at moving contraband, as well as being a pretty good choice as couriers.

            all of this means that the hidden society of sorcerors has a certain feel of camaraderie shared by outcasts from the ordinary world; despite their illegal dealings, sorcerors share a "thieves' honor" that is rare among ordinary thieves. few would betray another sorceror to the hounds of the Holy, not even an enemy. feuds between sorcerors tend to be settled privately, without involving the mundanes. when someone does betray this trust, punishment is swift and secret.

            although sorceror moles living in fairly ordinary surroundings, much of the illicit activity of the Forbidden Brotherhood occurs elsewhere. first, members of mundane society who decide to deal clandestinely with sorcerors know where to find a sorceror, thanks to the teachings of the clergy: at a crossroads, preferably one far from human habitation, either on the night of the new moon or on an overcast night when no moon can be seen. magic is in the air on such nights, so sorcerors feel safer about meeting potentially traitorous clients. other sorcerors may meet in the wilderness, at appropriate places of power on similar evenings, but these are usually sorceror-only affairs. anyone who feels waiting for the right night will be too long a delay can try visiting a hermit or crone living alone in a secluded spot; of course, despite the rumors surrounding such strange individuals, not all are sorcerors, so it is risky.

            the typical meeting places become tiny midnight village markets at the appointed times, seemingly impromptu gatherings called "covens" by the superstitious. these are good places to acquire talismans, or to hire "dirty help". warlocks and assaultmages specialize in varous forms of attack, which some powerful members of mundane society occasionally seek to eliminate some rival. not all assaultmages are paid assassins; many of them act as the enforcers of the unwritten law of the Forbidden Brotherhood, while others are bodyguards, defending those that hire them. warlocks, on the other hand, are mainly good for schemes and seeds of discord, and routinely hire themselves out to unscrupulous nobles.

            IceRunners can occasionally be found at crossroad covens, but since few ordinary people need an IceRunner (or even understand what they do,) they are more likely to be found at the secluded wilderness meetings. if none are there, either, any sorceror could opt to enter the astral realm and seek the nearest large astral island; very large islands have small permanent settlements of their own which have existed for centuries, with established lords and a constabulry of assaultmages. you can almost certainly find an IceRunner there.

            Setting Details: NPC sorceror classes

            The Holy: gains 1 temporary Magic Die when on hallowed ground (such as a properly consecrated cemetery or church;) furthermore, The Holy do not suffer from situational Curse Dice on hallowed ground. however, if one of The Holy uses magic to invest Curse Dice in any person, place or thing, all holiness is lost and tcaster becomes one of The Touched instead. losing one's holiness does not imply losing one's position in the church; the privileges of the priesthood are a matter of actual morality of a believer's actions. not all priests are holy, nor are all of the Holy priests.

            The Touched: these are mere mortals with experience in sorcery but no special bonus. one of the Touched might be a formerly holy person who transgressed, a past victim of a Curse, or an ordinary person who has somehow previously dabbled with magic. such people are now technically sorcerors, but do not have a special inclination in sorcery; if they want to practice sorcery, they must seek out opportune conditions, acquire talismans, or trade whatever goods or services they can produce for Ice.

            The Cursed: these are half-sorcerors who have gained power as a consequence of being Cursed. they have a Magic Die bonus, but they also have one or more Curse Dice associated with sorcerous advantages. some examples of the Cursed are:
            • werewolf: gains 1 temporary Magic Die during the night of the full moon, PLUS has the unnatural talent "turn into wolf at will"... but this is tied to the "become violent beast" Curse Die. werewolves have no special weapon vulnerabilities or immunities; they become normal wolves, sometimes involuntarily. many never bother to use sorcery, since they normally can only use it on the nights when they gain an additional Curse Die, making sorcery attempts more likely to result in Cursed transformation.
            • vampire: gains 1 temporary Magic Die at night, plus two talents (Unnatural Strength and Unnatural Speed); they have two Curse Dice as a consquence, linked to the curse "causes those close to them to sicken and die". vampires awaken after a seeming death to discover they have sorcerous power, which they use to visit their family first, to let them know they still live; this almost invariably cause their loved ones to die of a wasting illness. at this point, some vampires deny their nature and attempt to live a normal human life in another village, where they will not be recognized; however, they are eventually tempted to use sorcery or their unnatural talents, which tends to activate the curse again. vampires are truly unhappy victims.
            • ghost: gains 1 temporary Magic Die in an unhallowed burial ground, plus the talent Become Mist, but also has one Curse Die linked to "frightens ordinary folk". ghosts find their second unnatural life almost as unhappy as vampires, until they decide to take up permanent residence in the astral realm.
            • evil eye: gains 1 temporary Magic Die in social interactions, plus the unnatural talent Forsee Danger, but combined with 1 Curse Die linked to "sickens ordinary folk". those cursed with the evil eye are not as bad off as vampires, especially since they are not known to have died, so they can lead almost ordinary lives without relocating; however, the temptation to use sorcery in day-to-day life is much more tempting for them. fortunately, their curse is not deadly, but it almost always reveals their nature to the watchful clergy.[/list:u]

              enchanted beasts: the wilderness is filled with ordinary dangers, but also the occasionally extraordinary danger; enchanted beasts, produced by sorcery, sometimes escape into the wilds and endanger sorceror and mundane alike. the majority of enchanted beasts are ordinary animals with one change, treated as an unnatural talent, plus 1 Magic Die to power the talent. common enchantments are Enlarged, Envenomed, Speech, Unseen, and Vanish into Astral. they may also have ordinary talents to reflect the abilities typical of their normal cousins: Horns, Fangs, Claws, Wings, Strength, Speed, Camouflage.

              some more exotic enchanted beasts include:

              basilisk/cockatrice: Talons, Weak, and Unnatural Gaze of Slaying (cause damage at a distance).
              griffin: Wings, Talons, Sharp Eyes, and Unnatural Speed.
              manticore/mantigora: Teeth, Wings, Great Strength and Unnatural Spikethrowing.
              unicorn: Horn, Shyness, Unnatural Speed, Unnatural Beauty, and 2 Magic Dice.
              wyvern: Teeth, Claws, Wings, and Unnatural Sting.

              Gameplay Details should hopefully be finished in tomorrow evening's installment.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Ben Lehman on April 17, 2004, 11:59:14 PM
            Polaris

            On Traits:

               For each character, each of the four sub-attributes (Snow, Glacier, Star and Dawn) has at least one, usually more traits associated with it.  Traits are not necessarily descriptions of how that attribute manifests in the knight, although they can be, but rather they are ways in which that attribute may be brought to bear on a conflict, for good or ill.
               The traits under different attributes describe different things:

            Snow: Snow traits are Offices, appointments and roles within the social order of the people.

            Glacier: Glacier traits are Passions, the driving forces behind the knight's questing.  These can be goals, relationships with people, or even a relationship with a demon.

            Star: Star traits are Blessings, the mysterious artifacts that the stars have seen fit to bestow upon you, and the ability to use them.

            Dawn: Dawn traits are Techniques, personal abilities and strategems that are of use to the knight.

            Automatic Traits:
               All knights have a specific set of automatic traits -- one Office and Technique and two Blessings and Passions.  Every knight has these traits.  See trait descriptions, later, for details.

            Office: Knight of the Order of the Stars.
            Passion: Relationship (any other PC).
            Passion: Relationship (any NPC relative of yours)
            Blessing: Starlight Sword
            Blessing: Breathsuit
            Technique: Lore (Demons)

            Additional Traits:
               Every PC gets to select additional traits.  How these are selected and how many are selected depends on whether the character is a Veteran or a Novice.

            Veterans select two additional traits in each category, as well as extra traits equal to their Weariness score, from any category.  All of their traits are defined at the start of play, and may not be changed (although new traits can be added through experience.)

            Novices may select up to two traits in each category, but may opt not to select a number of traits equal to their Zeal.  These extra traits may be selected at any time between the character's scenes, although for certain traits (offices and blessings) the trait may not "kick in" until the scene allows for it (for instance, if the novice wants to gain the Office "Keeper of the Left-Hand Museum," they would need to frame a scene in which they were appointed before using the trait.)  Once selected, these traits may not be changed.  When a Novice adds a trait through experience, she may wait to add it in this way.

            Example Traits:
               Traits can come in any forms and sizes, but here are some thoughts on traits that you might take.  Traits are primarily described by their Heroic and Demonic invocations.  The Heroic Invocation describes when the trait can be used to aid the knight, and the Demonic Invocation describes when it can be used to hurt him.

               These are merely a few example traits offered for your consumption.  From these bases, you can construct your own traits.  Automatic traits are listed first, and marked with a (*)

            Example Offices:

            Knight of the Order of the Stars *
            Description: The character is a Knight Stellar.
            Heroic Invocation: Like all offices, this trait is most often invoked when using the office to some social effect -- here, it could be used in an investigation, or when rallying to people to a defense against the mistaken.
            Demonic Invocation: The Knights have a bad reputation and, further, a doom lays heavy upon them.  When either of these come up, this trait may be invoked demonically.

            Matriarch of Yildun
            Description:  The Yildun are a numerous clan, particular influential in the Southreach orchestra, and you are their senior member, due great respect and appreciation.  Your name is Markab I.
            Heroic Invocation: Using the support of your family, ordering family members around, taking care of family business, using the prestige of your family name to your advantage.
            Demonic Invocation: You are betrayed by a family member, you have to deal with your family's bad reputation, you have to take care of an irresponsible family member.

            Sole Heir of Kaus Borealis
            Description: You are the only Kaus Borealis left living, the sole heir of the ancient heritage of royal philosophers.  Your name is Kaus Borealis, and you do not list a number.
            Heroic Invocation: Calling upon the strength of your ancestors, reciting your lineage to impress others with your ability, recalling bits of family history.
            Demonic Invocation:  You are alone, without kin in the world, and your solitude is turned against you.  Someone brings up a mad relative in conversation.  Someone mentions that Kaus Borealis was involved in the construction of the First Calendar.

            Keeper of the Left-Hand Museum
            Description:  You are, at least in theory, charged with the care and keeping of the priceless artifacts housed within the Left-Hand Museum at Tallstar remnant.
            Heroic Invocation: Use the mysterious lore of those Dark Age artifacts.  Grant or take away access to the Museum.  Any conflict that occurs within the Museum.  Leverage your position for political favor.
            Demonic Invocation:  Your duties distract you.  Someone mentions that no one goes to museums in these modern times, anyway.  Your underlings are stealing items and replacing them with fakes.

            Example Passions:  Passions are slightly different than Offices.  They come in a few major types (Relationship, Drive, Destiny, Moral) which are then described in more detail.

            Relationship with Rischia, Maiden of the Midmost Hall
            Description:  Rischia, hailed in song and poetry as the greatest beauty of the Sun Age, has had suitors travel two remnants and gift her with priceless rubies merely for the privilege of a moment in her sight.  But she cares not for these suitors, wealthy and powerful and handsome as they may be, for she already has found her true love -- you, a common knight.  But, although you know she is beautiful and kind, you cannot find it within yourself to love her back, and so your romance lingers, unspoken and rotting, between the two of you.
            Heroic Invocation:  Rischia is involved in the conflict -- either she is in danger, or is fighting you, fighting alongside you, or is in some other manner sums up what is at stake.
            Demonic Invocation: As Heroic Invocation.

            Relationship with Asmidike VI, Your Father.
            Description:  Your father was a knight.  Though you never saw him, and only heard tell of his exploits from others in the Order, you always imagined that he was the greatest among the champions and, even as your mother disparaged the Stellars, you came to love them even more through the absent image of your father.
            Heroic Invocation:  Your father is involved in the conflict -- either he is in danger, or is fighting you, fighting alongside you, or in some other manner sums up what is at stake.
            Demonic Invocation: As Heroic Invocation.

            Drive to Become The Greatest Knight
            Description:  It is not enough to be a great warrior, defending your people from the Mistake, and sacrificing yourself for the good of the whole.  You must be the best knight, at whatever cost.
            Heroic Invocation:  When your abilities as a knight come into question, when you come into conflict with other knights, someone challenges your reputation.
            Demonic Invocation:  Your single-minded devotion to perfection gets in the way of what is really at stake.
            Special:  (If a drive is "finished" or rendered impossible, it may be replaced by another drive at the next Advance.)

            Destiny to Wield The Polaris Sword
            Description: The Polaris Sword was crafted by the Sentinel Star as a gift for that ancient royal line.  Brilliant blue and long as two men, it is a thing of legend and myth.  It has been foretold that you will find the sword, and that you will wield it against the Snow Man in great battle within the Mistake.
            Heroic Invocation: The situation draws you closer to finding the Polaris Sword, you are wielding the Polaris Sword, others recognize your great destiny and respect you for it.
            Demonic Invocation: Your destiny draws you through misery and tragedy to reach its end.
            Special:  (If a destiny is "fulfilled" or rendered impossible, it may be replaced by another destiny at the next Advance.)

            Moral: Never Accept Charity
            Description:  Whether you have sworn it to yourself or not, you will not accept the assistance of others when you need it most.
            Heroic Invocation: You struggle through and succeed on your own, your independence grants you respect, you avoid a trapped present.
            Demonic Invocation: Your pride gets the better of you, you gravely insult someone by turning them down, you turn down support that you really need.

            Example Blessings:  Blessings are all gifts of stars -- strange artifacts with mysterious powers.  Those gifted with them intuitively understand how to use them, but others may not (unless they, also, have the trait.)

            Starlight Sword *
            Description: A shimmering, transparent sword of starlight appears in your hand whenever you need it (faintly colored red, blue or white).  It is perfectly sharp, and sings slightly as it moves.  (Some knights keep their swords hung at their belts, rather than having them appear.)
            Heroic Invocation: You are fighting something in melee combat, need to cut something, or some other use of a sword.
            Demonic Invocation: The demon you are fighting is immune to your sword, you accidentally hurt a companion with your sword.

            Breathsuit *
            Description: A thin, covering jumpsuit with a heavy visor and breathing mask.
            Heroic Invocation: You need to breath in a hostile environment, you need protection against the elements.
            Demonic Invocation: The breathsuit has a leak.  The ugly image of the mask frightens a would-be ally.

            Greater Starlight Weapon:
            Description:  Your starlight weapon takes the form of a larger sword, or some other sort of weapon, or is a missile weapon, or is bolts of starlight that you throw from your hands.
            Heroic Invocation: As Starlight Sword.
            Demonic Invocation: As Starlight Sword.

            Eternal Breathsuit:
            Description: Your breathsuit has some sort of food and water supply that allows you to survive forever in it, and is also so heavily insulated that it allows you to approach the Mistake without ever feeling cold.
            Heroic Invocation: As Breathsuit, or you need to survive for a long time without food.
            Demonic Invocation: As Breathsuit, or the taste of other food has become dry and dull to you.

            The Call of Home:
            Description:  A tiny contraption of gem and metal, it contains a tiny star that helps the Knight navigate the treacherous waste.
            Heroic Invocation:  You need to find something in the wilderness, you need to keep up hope.
            Demonic Invocation: The star points you towards the Mistake.

            Memory Crystal:
            Description:  Beginning as a clear crystal, it gradually turns blue and red as information is stored in it.  It can return the information as text, images (both flat and spatial), or even as a dull, flat speech.
            Heroic Invocation: Use the crystal to recall something important.  Use the crystal as a trick.
            Demonic Invocation: The crystal contains foul things.  The crystal contains incriminating information about you.  The crystal lies.


            Techniques:  Techniques, like Passions, come in discrete types -- Lore, Tricks and Abilities.

            Lore: Demons *
            Description:  You have learned from the Knights about the nature and types of demons, and how to fight them.
            Heroic Invocation: You recall something about a demonic weakness, and exploit it.  Your use your lore to diagnose a demonic possession, or perform an exorcism.
            Demonic Invocation:  Your lore is incorrect, Demons use your knowledge to manipulate you.

            Trick: Strike from the Shadows
            Description:  You attack from hiding, allowing yourself more time to study your opponent, and so striking more effectively.
            Heroic Invocation: You are fighting someone, and can use the trick.
            Demonic Invocation: Someone else strikes you from the shadows, your target sees you coming.

            Ability: Musician
            Description:  You are a musician of no mean skill.
            Heroic Invocation:  The sound of the stars gives you some warning.  You play music to impress people.  The pure sound of your star-music drives back a demon.
            Demonic Invocation:  You are overwhelmed by the screaming of the sun.  You must stop to play a song, and are distracted from your task.  Your playing ability proves unworthy to the composition that you have chosen to perform.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Ben Lehman on April 18, 2004, 12:12:21 AM
            Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
            Ben: Do you know, you have quite the game there. The split-up between player resposibilities is giving me a headache. I'd really want to play this, but it'd have to be with exactly four players for that aesthetic, perfect feel. The world is really evocative too, though for some reason I see the people here as some giant insects.


            Thanks!  It's been a really fun chance to develop some strange stuff.  I think it could actually work from 3-6.  When the game is out of "panicked development" stage, they'll be specfic rules for each number of players.

            And, no, not giant insects.  Unless, y'know, you want to.  Although an ice-mantises would be really cool mounts for the Knights Stellar...  *slaps own hand* No!  Bad!  Must finish conflict mechanics!

            yrs--
            --Ben

            P.S.  May I say that I am totally bowled over by your three games.

            P.P.S.  For those interested, http://www.ras.ucalgary.ca/~gibson/starnames/starnames.html is a great source of character names for Polaris.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 18, 2004, 01:19:29 AM
            Eero wrote:
            Quote
            hanschristianandersen has a strong game going, too. I like the light, logical structure.


            Thanks for the praise!  The logical structure is a pleasant surprise to me; I set out to write out a game that had rules to cover every single major piece of the original scenario - thus, a Rule for Cocoa, a Rule for Snowballs, a Rule for Ice Monsters, a Rule for Bedtime, et cetera.  It was sheer serendipity that everything ended up as unified as it did.

            Oh, but there's still the matter of Gold Stars, I forgot to say what those do...  

            Snow Day - Gold Stars

            Gold Stars are shiny and cool.  You should be proud of any Gold Stars that you earn.  Buy a bunch of self-adhesive gold stars, and prominently place them on your character sheets for all your other role-playing games, to show your fellow players how special you are.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Ben Lehman on April 18, 2004, 02:04:07 AM
            Polaris

            Conflict Resolution:

               Knights may come into conflict over any number of things.  Perhaps the simplest example would be a fight with a demon, but this conflict resolution system is also used for social manipulation, political debates, philosophical arguments, romantic rivalry (or even romantic interludes), and many other things.  Conflict resolution in Polaris appears, at first glance, to be somewhat complicated, but with practice it should become rather intuitive to the players.  It can be divided into these simply steps:

            1a) Declare Conflict
            1b) Discuss Outcomes and Situation
            1c) Offer Support
            2a) Identify Base Attribute
            2b) Invoke Traits
            2c) Justify Traits
            2d) Exhaust Traits
            2e) Establish Stakes
            3a) Count Final Attribute Value
            3b) Roll Dice
            3c) What about Support?
            4a) Who Narrates?
            4b) What the Moon Saw

            1a) Declare Conflict

               At any time during a scene, the Knight's Heart or Snow Man may declare that this situation as become a conflict.  At times, it is obvious that there is a conflict -- if the Snow Man narrates that "A man leaps out of the shadows with a knife," there will obviously be a conflict.  At other times, especially when the two sides are not entirely opposed, the conflict will be more subtle, and thus easily missed.  If you declare a conflict, and the other players are uncertain, take the time to explain the situation to them, and why you see it as a conflict.

            1b) Discuss Outcomes and Situation

               Before diving into the trait bidding, you will want to take the time to discuss the conflict at hand.  While no one is guaranteed that their goals will be accomplished -- even if they "win the conflict" -- this is a good time to discuss what each side is trying to get out of the conflict, how they might be attempting it, and what they're willing to do to get it.  At this point, it may become apparent that there is no real conflict between the two sides, in which case you should skip the rest of the conflict system resume normal play.  Likewise, if all the players think that a certain result is the most entertaining, skip the remainder of the conflict system and have that result take place.

            1c) Offer Support

               If an NPC who is not controlled by the Snow Man is crucial to the conflict, the Full or New Moon (whoever plays the NPC) may opt to offer support to either the Snow Man or the Heart, which they are free to accept or decline.  If support is declined, the Moon cannot offer it to the other side -- they may only make one offer.  Likewise, you can only benefit from two offers of support during a single conflict, although such a situation would most certainly be rare.

               Support is not intended to be central to every challenge, and thus should be reserved for times when the NPC is quite important to the situation.

               Support will be important later, when it comes to rolling dice and narrating results.

            2a) Identify Base Attribute

               The Base Attribute for a conflict is either Ice or Light, depending on circumstances.  If the Heart declared the conflict, the base attribute is Light.  If the Frost Maiden declared the conflict, the base attribute is Ice.

               In situations where conflict declaration was simultaneous or unclear, use Light when the Knight is being offensive and initiated the situation, and use Ice when the Knight is being largely defensive and reacting to the situation.

            2b) Bid Traits

               The Heart or the Frost Maiden may "bid" one of the knight's traits in order to change the Base Attribute to the attribute of that trait.  For example, bidding a lightsword changes the base attribute to Star.

               After one bid, the other side may choose to counter that bid with a trait that changes the conflict to a different attribute, if they wish.  This continues, back and forth, until both sides decide that they will not bid any more traits, with the following rules:

            Traits must apply, somehow, to the conflict (see Justifying Traits, below)

            No one side may bid the same trait more than once.

            If the Snow Maiden has bid a trait, the Heart cannot bid the same trait.  If the Heart bids a trait, the Snow Maiden may bid the same trait in response to cancel that bid, at which point both traits are exhausted and bidding returns to the Heart, but if she opts not to do this, she cannot later bid that trait.  If this cancellation is used, it does not count towards raising Stakes.

            Each trait *must* change the Base Attribute.

            You should keep track of what traits have been bid, and by whom (checks or initials by the traits should work), as well as how many traits, total, have been bid in the conflict.

            Vocabulary:  When traits are bid by the Heart, they are called Heroic Traits.  When they are bid by the Frost Maiden, they are called Demonic Traits.

            *IMPORTANT*  Only PC Knights have traits.  No other in-game entities have any systematic representation of all.  Don't give traits to demons or NPCs, and certainly don't bid them here.

            2c) Justify Traits

               If it is not immediately clear how a trait applies to a conflict (not like bidding a senatorial post in a political conflict, say) then whoever bids the trait may be called upon to suggest how it might apply to the conflict at hand.  Like the discussion of outcomes, above, this is a totally non-binding suggestion.  If both Moons agree that the trait is inappropriate, it may not be bid in the conflict, although the player who bid it may make another bid if they so choose.

            2d) Exhaust Traits

               When a trait is bid, it is considered "exhausted" for that player, and cannot be bid again until the character has had a refresh (see Advancement and Refresh, below.)  Note that traits are exhausted for the *player* and not the *character* -- just because the character's Heart has bid the Starlight Sword trait doesn't mean that the Starlight Sword doesn't come when called any more -- it just means that it might not be important in later conflicts.  Also note that each player can bid each trait once before it is exhausted -- if the Heart has already bid Starlight Sword as a Heroic trait, the Frost Maiden could bid it as a Demonic trait in a later conflict.

               It is crucial that you keep track of exhausted traits.  Don't forget it.

            2e) Establish Stakes
               The number of traits bid in the conflict relates to how important the conflict is, and thus how wide-spread its outcome will be, and how bad failure is for the loser.  This is called the "Stakes" of the conflict, and is important in narration.  The following guidelines shows what the maximum effects are for different stakes levels and different targets.

            Damage and Effects Chart: (this looks like some sort of foul Demonic Mistake, and I'm sorry.  No clue how to do tables in bbcode.  If the Chairman has some difficulty digesting this, I can post the table to another site.)
            Traits      Novice    Veteran   Major NPC   Minor NPC
            0      Neg.      Neg.      Minor      Major
            1      Neg.      Minor      Major      Life-Change
            2-3      Minor      Major      Life-Change   Death
            4-6      Major      Life-Change   Death      Death
            7+      Life-Change   Death      Death      Death

            Explanation of Chart:
            The left-most column is the total number of traits bid in the conflict.
            The other columns are the different types of characters -- Novice Knights, Veteran Knights, Major NPCs (people or demons), and Minor NPCs.  Note that the first two columns apply only to player characters -- other knights would use "major NPC" or "minor NPC" as appropriate.

            The entries describe the amount of change that can be applied to the character as a result of the challenge.

            Neg. means that, although there may be minor cosmetic effects, there is not lasting change to the character.

            Minor.  For injuries, this is light flesh wounds.  It can also represent a minor change in the character's viewpoint, a brief infatuation, or short unconsciousness.

            Major.  For injuries, this can include broken bones, missing limbs, and serious injury that will kill if not treated.  It can also represent a major crisis of morality for the character, an effective seduction, or a change of political policy.

            Life-Changing.  This is any reasonable change to a character that is not death.

            Death.  As Life-changing, but includes death.

            In addition, the more traits that are bid, the greater effect that the challenge will have on the world and the game.  A 0 trait fight with a flesh demon is merely all in a days work, but a 7-trait fight with the same demon is an epic struggle that tests the knight's endurance and will be sung of by the Order long after he has passed from this realm.  A 2-trait political debate could shape one year's policy, but a 5 trait political debate has lasting impact on the political system of all the remnants.

            While much of these effects are left to the narrator, other players should take care to heed the longer-term effects of high-trait conflicts.

            3a)  Count Final Attribute Value

               What attribute was the last bid trait associated with?  This is the Base Attribute for the Challenge.  For Example:  If the last trait bid was Member of the Order of the Stars -- which is a Snow trait -- the Base Attribute is Snow.

               Was the last trait bid by the Heart?  If the character is a Novice, add the character's Freeze or Flicker score (Freeze for Ice attributes, Flicker for Light attributes) to the Base Attribute.  This is the Final Attribute Value.

               Was the last trait bid by the Snow Man?  If the character is a Veteran, subtract the character's Thaw or Dimness score from the base attribute.  This is the Final Attribute Value.

            3b) Roll Dice

               Now, the Heart rolls a single eight sided dice.  If the number showing is lesser than or equal to the Final Attribute value, then the Knight is victorious in the conflict.  If the number is lesser than or equal to the Final Attribute value, the Knight has been defeated.

            3c) What about Support?

               If their was support in the conflict, add one or two dice *of a different color* to the dice that the Heart rolls.  If the support was for the Knight, take the lowest dice roll and discard the others.  If the support was for the Snow Man, take the highest dice roll and discard the others.  If the support was split, it cancels out -- just roll one dice.

               Was the support for the Knight?  If the lowest dice was one of the extra dice, and the Knight's Heart wins the narration, whoever gave her support has the option of narrating the results of the conflict, *towards the supporting character's goals and not necessarily the Knight's*

               Was the support for the Snow Man?  If the highest dice was one of the extra dice, and the Snow Man wins the narration, whoever gave him support has the option of narrating the results of the conflict, *towards the supporting character's goals and not necessarily the Demon's*

            4a) Who Narrates?

               After the roll, the group of players cooperate to describe the results of the conflict, incorporating all traits that were bid (though not necessarily in the way originally suggested) and within the guidelines of Stakes.  If the Knight's Heart won the roll, the results must come out in favor of the Knight, although -- again -- not necessarily in the way that he anticipated.  If the Frost Maiden won the roll, the results must come out in favor of the Knight's opposition, although not necessarily in a way that is bad for the Knight.

               Despite the fact that narration is a collaborative process, one player is designated as the "Chief Narrator" who makes judgments on conflicting ideas, acts as the final word, and works to keep the narration coherent and within the scope of the conflict.

               (Some groups, particularly those that play on IRC or by e-mail, may wish to turn the narrative power entirely over to the Chief Narrator.  This is fine, although you may lose some good ideas.)

               Who is the Chief Narrator?  This depends on the roll and the Knight's experience.

               If the Knight is a veteran, the Heart serves a the Chief Narrator for failures, and the Frost Maiden serves as the Chief Narrator for succeses.

               If the Knight is a novice, the Heart serves as a Chief Narrator for successes, and the Frost Maiden serves as the Chief Narrator for failures.

               In the case of support, the Chief Narrator may also be one of the Moons.

            4b) What the Moon Saw

               Before narration starts, and if they did not act as support in the conflict, the Moons are granted a special privilege.  First, the Full Moon may make a single, short, factual statement about the outcome of the challenge, although it should be purposefully kept slightly obscure.  "The Sword was Broken" or "She Slapped Him" are good examples.  After this, the New Moon may make a single emotive statement.  "Calm" or "Bitter" are good examples.

               These statements must be included significantly into the narration.

               The Moons do not have to do this and, if they do, they should not participate heavily in the Narration process, leaving the other players to interpret their statements.

            Quote from: Announcer

              With the mechanics stir-fry all whipped up, it looks like the Challenger is done with his... oh wait, what's this?  No, he's got a refreshing advancement sorbet that's been waiting in the freezer.  What, what's this?  He's mixing it was some pyrrhic victory liquer -- it looks like some sort of advancement float!


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Ben Lehman on April 18, 2004, 03:28:32 AM
            Polaris

            Experience and Refreshes

            As the Knight's lives wear on, they will find themselves opposed at every turn by their own people, their own order, and even their own hearts.  The stressful and dangerous life of a Knight Stellar takes its toll even on the strongest of souls, and even as they learn wisdom from their exploits they likewise become overwhelmed with depression and weltschwertz.  This is represented, mechanically, by the Experience check.

            When to Check?

            An Experience Check can be called for by the Knight's Heart after the end of a scene where the Knight has failed a conflict.  In addition, the Knight's Snow Man may call for for an Experience Check when a Knight makes some decision which, in the opinion of the Snow Man, reflects despair, depression, cynicism, understanding of the mistaken, or hatred of the people.  In the second case, the check must be confirmed by at least one of the Moons before it is rolled.

            What is the Experience Check?

            The Knight's Snow Man rolls a single eight-sided dice, and compares the result with the Knight's Weariness or Zeal.  This check tells how the Knight has considered his experiences, and how they effect him.

            If the check is higher than Weariness or Zeal, the Knight considers his actions and failures, and finds within them inspiration to further his cause.  No changes are made to the character, but all traits (demonic and heroic) refresh, and may be used in challenges again.

            If the check lower than or equal to Weariness or Zeal, the Knight has internalized his experiences, and grown wizened by them.  Add one to the Knight's Ice or Light attributes, also adding one to the corresponding subattributes.  This increases also gives the Knight a new trait, and raises Weariness (or lowers Zeal) by one. Optionally, raise or lower one of the Knight's subattributes (Snow, Glacier, Star, Dawn) by one, although one of the subattributes must remain equal to the base attribute.  (So if you have Ice 3 / Snow 2 / Glacier 3, you could change Snow to 3 or 1, but not change Glacier at all.)  If you do this, recalculate your other derived attributes.

            Note that, in this second trait, traits do not refresh, although new traits that are gained are eligible for bidding.

            In general, the group should decide how the Knight changes (it should be reasonably obvious) but, in event of a dispute, the Knight's Heart has final say in the manner.

            The Endless Thorny Road--

            If a novice Knight's Zeal is lowered to zero in this manner, the knight has become a Veteran.  All unassigned traits must be assigned at this time.  Furthermore, raise both Snow and Glacier enough so that the lowest of the two is equal to Ice, and raise both Star and Dawn enough so that the lowest of the two is equal to Light.  Recalculate the Knight's Weariness (should be equal to one), Dimness, and Thaw.

            If a veteran Knight's Weariness raises above 6, he has been corrupted into a demonic power, and can no longer be played as a character.



            Well, that's it folks.  Barring any unforseen system holes, this is my last post for Polaris.  After the judging comes in (or possibly before) I'll spin this off into a seperate design thread, because I have a great fondness for this game.

            My thanks goes out to Chairman Holmes for providing me the opportunity to develop some cuisine that I always knew was out there, but hadn't set to paper yet.  I wish the best of luck to my competition, which is pretty astounding.  I am honored to be in your company.

            And enjoy the food.

            Final Menu:

            Light Color Cocktails, Nicely Chilled, with little Lightsaber toothpicks
            Stir-Fried Resolution Mechanics served on a bed of High-Concept Setting
            Breaded-Roast Shared Narration System, with lumpley mashed potatoes
            A Cool Broth of Protagonism
            And, for desert, Advancement Sorbet floated in Pyrrhic Victory Liquer

            Enjoy!  Vive Design!


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 18, 2004, 04:52:13 AM
            I got to thinking that I should pay compliments to some more games, just so you know that we in the audience are rooting for you. These competitions really need professional commentators to keep all the games afloat, otherwise the penguins overrun everything. Might be that I'll become one myself come the next competition... Maybe make the old Iron Chefs commentators, who may design games but won't be awarded prizes?

            First of all, the Frigid Bitch: seems very tight, almost to the MLwM degree, but I'd like to see some more about the wooing of the Ice Queen. A fast read didn't really reveal the style and hazards, as far as I noticed there were just the die mechanics. The reader can of course include his own details, but I'd be very interested in what kind of detail Alexander was thinking of for the seminal moment of the game. Maybe an imaginary play example of the wooing round? Anyway, I like both this and the Island at the Dawn of Time, except the latter would benefit from more pervy mechanics, I feel. Then again, if you check my games you'll see that I'm several degrees pervier than I myself thought. The time limit really brings up the real preferences.

            Icerunner is underappreciated if the comments are any gauge (they aren't, as people seem intimidated to comment at all). There's some heavy system design there, supporting interesting action. Definitely in the cyberpunk tradition, that one. I especially love the unforgiving stripping of the baroque from the medieval - too many games, just too many games have been written about "mythic Europe" with too much magic. The werewolves and vampires are diamond examples of the system in action.

            Dawn of the Day of the Monsters has the saving grace of being with Polaris the second game with really different narrative logic. This exploration of options is something we really should be doing more! I for one am in a bit of a rut as far as narration goes, it's just mechanics and themes in my games.

            Ganagagok - now, there's again a game worth playing for it's world alone. I just noticed that it has much of the same aesthetic as my Atlantis game, except that in this you can play the wandering poet who laments the changing of the world without the other players interfering too much. Not as dynamic, and the game benefits from it.

            I'd feel like complimenting Snow from Korea but Shreyas being the equivalent of Death Star in the pure style department it'd only feel redundant. He surely knows how good he is without my prep talk.

            The thing I REALLY want to know right now is if lumpley is coming out with BADASS. I'm sure I'm not exactly alone with the sentiment, but it had to be said. Iron Chef Freitag's Arabian Nights is the second one of the two games that I'm really counting on driving over the penguins in the style and strangeness departments, if they come forth. Wait, strangeness isn't judged? Oh, well...
            (I'm really giving the lie here, omitting Snow from Korea and Polaris. But you didn't need me to tell you which five games are written with the most evocative style, did you?)
            (Actually, I'm really writing myself into knots here, as then I'd have to include the Broken Wows and Terra Australis as well, and a bunch of other games. When taken as an evocative continuum the games here aren't as disparate as they seem when I compare my own writing with Shreyas's. And when you consider that evocative style is only one parameter of judgement, I'd just better shut up.)

            I'm still going here by simply picking games, so no need to get miffed if I miss yours. Just what has caught my eye in the barrage. Fine specimens, each and every one.

            And as far as Polaris goes, it still seems that giant insects as the people of the world are the only logical choise based on the color and style. Giant mantises, wielding those nifty assassin swords one ties in his hands (or claws in this case), fighting bear-like demons. Seems fine and dandy to me.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: JamesSterrett on April 18, 2004, 05:40:34 AM
            Well, in view of the injunction to abuse electrons and post early, post often, here goes.....

            ----------------------------------------------------------------------

            Terminator Line
            Role-playing at 1700 kph

            James Sterrett

            Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C. Clarke (Report on Planet Three, 1972)

            --------------------------------

            Wake up!  You have to go.

            What’s this?  The Spirits speak to you all the time, but usually it’s at your behest - make the sacrifice and they’ll tell you where the best fishing is, or what the weather will be, or help you heal that nasty cut on your leg.  

            Wake up!  You must travel west, beyond the sunset!

               Quite insistent, really, but your sleeping mat is warm and it must be only a short time until dawn.  Perhaps you’ve been chosen to go on a Spirit Quest - even to fetch Ice from the fabled Far Seas!  But why would you have to be told in the middle of the night?  Surely it can wait until morning.

            In response, the Spirits grant you a vision.  You rise above your village, and soon can see your entire island sleeping under starlight, and then all the neighboring islands.  Higher still, you can see further islands in the sea, stretching on and on, so vast that your own island turns into a speck, and then disappears.  Higher still, and you see that, just as the spirits always claim, the world is a pebble island of light floating in a sea of darkness, a droplet of water speckled with islands.  Far to the east, you see the light of dawn spilling across the world.

               Where the dawn falls, the seas boil and the islands burn; then the vision fades to white as if it, too, had been burnt by the sun.

            The sun is angry, and we cannot appease her.  If the dawn catches us, we will die - people and spirits alike.  A refuge awaits halfway around the sea.

               How could you move so far before the dawn?

            We can help you move very quickly, but we cannot go far enough all at once.  After each swift move, you must sacrifice to us to replenish our strength.

               Your child is already awake, eyes full of fear from the same vision.  When you step out of your hut, you find that the rest of your village has been awakened as well.  You gather up your few possessions, asking the Spirits how to best begin your quest to evade the dawn’s assault.  They request unprecedented sacrifices.  Then you dream of flying forward at terrible speed, past sleeping islands and slumbering seas whose leaves and waves do not move while you pass.  You awaken just as you arrive at another island apparently similar to your own.

            We have gained half an hour on the sun.  To move again, you must each sacrifice thirty fish.  You don’t have time to go fishing.  The local village has a hut with many dried fish in it.

            What will you do to survive?  You’re about to find out.

            -------------------

            Setting

            In Terminator Line, you are a member of a Stone Age island village, racing westwards across the archipelagos of your world towards a promised salvation from the terrible fury of the Sun.

            In its default setting, Terminator Line is transhuman science fantasy (several potential variants will be discussed farther down).  Unknown ages ago, your space-faring ancestors decided to provide themselves with an idyllic stone age fishing life.  They chose a planet, settled it, and erased all traces of their previous life from the planet and from their minds.  All they kept were the Spirits, incredibly advanced technology that ensures the Stone Age life is idyllic: fish and fresh water are easily found, disease and injury are not life-threatening.  The Spirits’ programming causes them to keep life moderately challenging, without becoming tedious or life-threatening.  For normal everyday life, the Spirits can get by on solar energy plus small sacrifices they disintegrate safely into component parts for energy and materials.  Unusual situations require larger sacrifices of various items, and emergencies can even require sacrifices after the rescue!

            With the Sun’s sudden increase in output, you must beat the Terminator Line (the boundary between night and day) to a shuttlecraft that will carry you to a ship from your original civilization (whose starships can survive the solar event, but whose best efforts have failed to prevent the event from occurring.)  At the equator of an Earth-sized planet with no axial tilt, the Terminator Line moves at just under 1,700 kilometers per hour (multiply this figure by the cosine of the latitude if you’d rather play at a latitude other than the equator.)

            The Spirits’ most efficient travel mode can move you at speeds of around 3,400 kph, for about half an hour.  You experience this as a dream of moving across islands and seas that do not move.  This fast travel capability has not been directly revealed to your people before, though the Spirits use it in small doses to keep you out of troubles such as falling trees and marauding sharks: “Everything slowed down, like a dream, and I got out of the way just in time!”

            Thus the Spirits carry you to another island several thousand kilometers away from the Terminator Line - but then they need more power, and materials with which to prevent you from being harmed by the Mach 3 transit speed.  The Spirits know what they need and have told you.  Unfortunately, the locals may also need what you need, and regardless, they think the stuff on their island is theirs, not yours.

            What do you find on the next island?  Some of the locals have Spirits and know why you want the materials.  Some do not.  Some may be from a different technological level than yours, their ancestors having chosen a less radical change in lifestyle.  None appreciate theft, and if you choose the path of assault, they will resist.

            The relentless ballet of celestial mechanics brings the apocalyptic assault of the Terminator Line closer to you with every second.  You have 30 minutes to find the necessary materials and sacrifice them.

            ------------------

            System

            All dice are presumed to be d10, with 0 as 10.  Using other sizes of dice will work perfectly well.  Smaller dice will increase the number of tied rolls, while larger dice will reduce them.

            Character Creation:

            People:

               Brawn and Brains:  Spirits don’t have these!  Each player of a character that is a person should divide 5 dice between their character’s pools of Brawn and Brains.  When Brawn reaches zero, the character is critically injured and will die unless healed.  When Brains reaches zero, the character becomes severely delusional until healed.  The delusion should reflect the event causing the damage.

               Brawn provides the base pool of dice for all physical contests.  Brains provides the base pool of dice for all mental contests.

               Roles and Skills:  Role is the character’s Role in the village - such as hunter, fisher, weaver, warrior, sailor, tool-maker, leader, or boat-builder.  Skills are the things a character is particularly good at inside that Role.  Roles are very general; Skills are fairly specific.  Examples include spear-fishing, bashing heads with a club, making nets, convincing people, maritime navigation, using a bow, curing hides, making clothing, or making stone axes.
               Each character may have only one Role.  Each character has 4 dice with which to buy skills.  Every die put into a Skill adds a die to the player’s pool for any action involving that Skill.  Not having a particular Skill does not preclude a character from attempting an action!

               Dependent:  Each character has a Dependent: an NPC in the tribe, somebody whom the character will risk much in order to keep alive, such as your child, spouse, lover, favorite relative, or best friend.  (Will you risk everything to keep them alive?  We’ll find out in the game.)  The Dependent gets 3 dice for Brawn and Brains, and 2 dice for Skills.  The Dependent also has a Spirit, which will need additional sacrifices (identical to the player’s Spirit’s requirements) in order to keep the Dependent moving away from the Terminator Line.

               “People” is an extremely malleable term.  While the game defaults to assuming humans, with two arms, two legs, one head, and so on, there’s no intrinsic reason for this to be true.  With enough sacrifices, the Spirits can provide players with gills, or complete reconfiguration to live as an octopus.  Players who wish to play something outside the default human shape and capabilities should negotiate the benefits and penalties of the new form with the GM.  (Gills might need to be kept wet, an octopus cannot leave salt water without lots of help....)  While all alterations are accepted in the player’s home village, that might not be true on other islands visited during play!)

            Spirits:

               (Normally, Spirits are NPCs, but you could have Spirit players, and, indeed, there’s no reason you couldn’t have one player be another player’s Spirit.)

               Mana:  People don’t have this!  All Spirits begin with a pool of 9 mana dice, representing their available pool of materials and energy.  There is no limit to the size of the pool.  Mana is spent to perform miracles, and replenished through sacrifice.  When the Mana pool reaches zero, the Spirit goes dormant, and must be revived through sacrifices.  A dormant Spirit must be revived before the sacrifice for moving forward is made.

               Miracles:  To perform a miracle, the Spirit spends dice.  The number of dice spent becomes the number of dice rolled, but dice spent are gone from the pool, regardless of the outcome.  Success is automatic if the task is unopposed and the number of dice spent is sufficient (in the GM’s estimation; the necessary number of dice is not secret from the player).  Thus, if a character suffers a broken leg, the GM might assess the cost of healing as 3 Mana dice, but not require a die roll.  Players may ask their Spirit to help in tasks, spending the Spirit’s mana dice to increase the size of their pool for that action.

               Miracles take many forms, and the mana cost is set by the GM.  As a baseline on difficulty, Miracles can be used to directly increase a player’s Brawn or Brains at a cost of 3 mana dice for every Stat die gained, as do a few seconds of Fast Travel.  Such gains are not temporary - they remain until damaged or traded for Spirit mana dice.  Some very minor miracles do not require the expenditure of a die, but these are unlikely to come up in play - things such as “Where can I find fish”, when the player is fishing in home waters where the Spirit already knows everything about the local piscine habits.  In general, obtaining information is much easier for the Spirits than performing actions.

               Sacrifices:  The player can only sacrifice physical objects to the Spirit.  The emotional value of the object is irrelevant; its components are quite relevant.  The Spirits have been programmed to maintain the ambience of a Stone Age life, and thus may require special preparation of an object (carved wood, cooked fish) - until the Spirits begin to get desperate enough about survival that their survival programming overrides their ambience-maintenance programming.  Remember that while the Spirits are fully conversant in chemistry, the people are not.

               Sacrifices increase a Spirit’s mana pool.  As a baseline, one fish = one die.  Players may sacrifice one die of Brawn or Brains to give their Spirit one die of Mana.  (Keep in mind that the Spirit will need 3 dice of Mana to rebuild the damage thus sustained to the character’s Brawn or Brains.)  [By default, sacrifices take only a few seconds and don’t require any ritual action on the part of the character, though the character must be able to touch the objects.  The Spirit may choose to require such things or to slow the process, if it chooses; equally, a group may agree to require more time or ritual effort on the part of the character.]

            The GM should be creative about the sacrifice requirements.  Sacrifice requirements should not be simple to obtain, even if the objects themselves are simple.  “We need thirty fish each....”


            Quote
                     I don’t have to carve the coconut into a fish?

            No.  

                      Didn’t I have to carve it into a fish before?

            Look, stop worrying about that and just find enough coconuts and smear them with the warm yellow mud.  Oh - and then wash the yellow mud off your hands right away.


            ------------------
            Contest Resolution:

               Players can do what they want unless somehow opposed, either by NPCs, animals, monsters, or the sheer difficulty of the task.  When the opposition is not another player, the GM plays for the opposition, and assigns dice for the opposing pool commensurate with the difficulty of the opposition.

               All contests are resolved through rolling pools of dice and comparing the highest dice.  If the player’s die is highest, the player succeeds, and more dice higher than the opposition’s highest dice indicate a greater degree of success.  The die-roll winner succeeds.  The die-roll winner (player or GM) narrates the outcome through to the end of the contest - keeping in mind the degree of success.

                           In the event of ties, set tied dice aside until the highest unmatched die is found.  That die determines the winner.

            Extending Success:  Players may attempt to chain several different actions together, using successes in prior actions as extra dice in later actions.  Thus, a player with little Brawn but lots of Brains could roll against Brains for a clever plan, then use the successes on rolling the Plan as additional Brawn dice in trying to bash in an opponent’s skull.

               Combat is a special case: Every success in physical combat costs the loser one die of Brawn.  Every success in mental combat costs the loser one die of Brains.  (Mental combat is the use of Spirit powers to attempt to demolish or destroy another character’s mind.)  Players cannot refuse to inflict wounds they have rolled; if they wish to avoid killing an opponent they must roll fewer dice (perhaps as a combined action to “beat up the other guy, then convince him to let us into the cave” - a situation in which the wounds dealt would roll over as Extending Success dice for the attempted convincing, in addition to removing the target’s Brawn).

               Clever description awards:  The GM should award up to 3 dice to the player’s pool for a given action as a reward for clever description or role-playing, before the roll is made.

            ------------------
            Running the Game:

               The game proceeds in episodes, each of which is 30 minutes of game time.  Each episode begins with the player’s arrival on a new island, and the GM telling them, through their Spirits, what sacrifice is required to continue moving away from the Sun.  By default, the game has 12 episodes; with the end of the last episode, the Terminator Line moves over the shuttle and destroys it, trapping the players on a devastated planet with no hope of survival.  Obviously, your game group could choose to have more, or fewer, episodes.

               On arrival, the players must quickly decide on a course of action - assault the locals, stealthily rob them, or negotiate with them? - and get on with the business of ensuring their own, and their Dependent’s, survival.

               The last episode centers not on making a sacrifice to travel farther, but on getting aboard the shuttle, which unfortunately has fewer seats than there are potential passengers.

            What will you do to survive?

            ------------------
            Variants and Considerations, with notes on the “default” that the rules text presumes:

               - Do the Spirits understand morality?  By default, they will not judge your actions.  Perhaps, though, they insist on your following a moral code - or an immoral one?

               - Are the Spirit’s minds an advanced expert system, a human-level A.I., or a transhuman A.I.?  Do the Spirits have an attitude about the use of their dice?  The default is human-level A.I. and no attitude, though a player playing a Spirit should have plenty of it!  

               - Are the Spirits telling the truth - or does the Sun’s assault actually only kill the spirits?  By default, they are truthful.

               - If desired, you can throw out the entire science side, declare the Spirits to be actual mystical spirits, and the goal to be a portal to Heaven or a magical ice realm that can withstand the Sun’s assault, or even reverse it.  (However, I believe that a Quest to Save The World is very different in feel from a Quest to Survive.  It’s easier to shovel dark deeds under the “end justifies the means” rug when you’re trying to save an entire planet than it is when you’re only trying to save your own skin (and that of your Dependent).)

               - Ideally, the game should be played as quickly as possible, to maintain maximum pressure on the players to make difficult moral decisions fast.  The mechanics are designed to be as streamlined as possible.  Turn up the pressure farther: set a timer for some span longer than 30 minutes, resetting it each time everyone has made the necessary sacrifices for Fast Travel.  If anyone hasn’t made the appropriate sacrifice when the bell rings, the Terminator Line catches up with them, and they become crispy critters.

               - By default, Spirits cannot affect objects much beyond the reach of a player’s limbs, nor can they create death rays or microwave an opponent’s brain.  What if the Spirits have greater range and power - at a commensurate increase in required Sacrifices?

               - Was the solar event caused by a hostile force, which seeks to prevent your escape through active interventions on the planet?  The default is “no”, but facing off against battle-ready members of a high-tech civilization should present an interesting challenge.

               - Faster Spirit travel allows more time at each island, but the Spirit will require more Sacrifices to be able to attain the higher speed and protect the character.

            Acknowledgements:  Thanks to Ken Burnside for assistance with the math; to Ron Edwards, Clinton Nixon, and James West for mechanics inspirations in Sorceror, Elfs, Donjon, and The Pool, respectively; and to Jacob Ossar and Corinne Mahaffey for acting as sounding boards.  Especial thanks to Corinne, for kicking my ass to write this thing after watching an inspiration particle leave an impact crater in my brain.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Jack Aidley on April 18, 2004, 08:17:46 AM
            Chanter

            This chef has prepared a broadly traditional dish, hoping the Chairman will delight in the excellent preparation and presentation of a familiar dish while stranger and more exotic food while initially entrancing ultimately results in frequent and unpleasant trips to the boys' room. Chanter is played in traditional style with a standard GM-player distinction, and the players' main means of influence is through the actions of their character.

            Chanters world is, the chef hopes, fresh and new, however, with inspiration drawn from many feudal sources as well the writings of Masterchef John Kim and Esteemed Writer Robert Silverberg. Its alien fantasy world will provoke awe and wonder while opening the door on many exciting challenges and adventures. Will you favour honour, or mercy? Will you betray your allies, or accept defeat? Is calling in others to help protect your peons worth the debt of gratitude due?

            Contents

            1. The World.
            ....1.1. Society.
            ....1.2. The Way of the Chanter
            ....1.3. Flora and Fauna
            ....1.4. Technology and Equipment
            2. Rolling the Dice
            3. The Four Attributes
            ....3.1. Island
            ....3.2. Ice
            ....3.3. Dawn
            ....3.4. Assault
            4. Creating Your Character
            5. Playing the Game
            ....5.1. Conflict Resolution
            ....5.2. The Order of Play
            ....5.3. Injuries and Healing
            ....5.4. Time, Adventures and Campaigns
            6. Magic
            ....6.1. Using Powers
            ....6.2. The Powers
            7. Character Advancement
            8. Example Allies, Creatures, Monsters and Foes
            A. Chef's Notes

            1. The World

            Each day the sun dies, and its ashes fall to earth. Every morning the Chanters chant for the new sun, and with the dawn it
            is born anew.


            All-that-is is not like our world - it is world rich in magic and teleology. Here things fall to earth not because they are drawn by Gravity, but because that is the place they are meant to be, the plants grow by their own magic, and the Sun hangs in the centre of the world because that is its place. All-that-is is shaped like the inside of an egg, its inhabitants can see the ground curve up and away from them. The year in All-that-is is defined by the procession of the sun - every 320 days it traces out a circle in a plane through the fattest part of the egg - and in its procession it brings seasons to the lands of the bulge, colder as the sun moves away, warmer as it returns. While the wide end of the world basks eternally in a continual and barely changing heat and the narrow end is unchanging in its cold and ice.

            Direction in All-that-is is reckoned with four directions: Narrowward (towards the narrow end), Wideward (towards the wide end), Pro (round the egg in the direction of the sun's procession) and Counter (round the egg opposite to the direction of the sun's procession). There are no stars and no clouds and there is no moon, the darkness of night is impenetrable outside of artificial light and sometimes, in the dark, the rain comes falling to earth from who-knows-where.

            The young Chanters sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the teacher for their first lesson, excitement was obvious in their faces but they already possessed the discipline to sit still and be quiet. The teacher was old now but he still wore the bone armour proudly - its intricate carvings badges of honour from past glories. In his hand he held a hard-boiled egg.

            "All-that-is is shaped like this egg. We are here," he stabbed a gnarled finger at a point on the fattest part of the egg. "Although, of course, on the inside, not the out - for how could there be an outside to all-that-is?" Taking up a knife, he sliced the egg into two neat halves. "And like the yolk lies central in the egg, so the sun lies central in all-that-is. Every night the sun dies, and its ashes fall to earth, and before every dawn you will perform the chants that bring the new sun and by this ancient duty you will ensure the life and health of all-that-is."

            One child dared raise a trembling hand. The teacher raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"

            "We know of the sun, master, we see it everyday and we have heard the chants. Tell us of the rain, master? From whence does it come? What must we do to ensure its fall?"

            "We know not of where the rain comes, child, for it falls only in the dark when the Sun is not. You must fill the sacred bowls and bless the waters so that they may call to their loved ones that they may fall as the rain by night. All these things will be known to you at the proper time."


            The Chanters are the central characters in Chanter. They are part Knight, part Lord, part Mage and part Priest. Their greatest duty is to perform the chant that brings the new sun every day before dawn, but they are also warriors, judges and landlords as the only wielders of the Dawn magic.

            1.1. Society

            Chanter society is heavily stratified, with the Chanters possessing great power and land, while the common folk (peons) live in squalor and work hard tending their crops and animals for the Chanter's benefit. There is little religion in the Chanter's lands (Chanterdom), they believe in a creator who is now gone, or dead, and that it is they that bring the sun each day and through it all growth and life. It is this role that they believe gives the right, duty and responsibility to rule over the common folk. Chanters themselves are arranged in hierarchical, and feudal, bonds of power, listed here lowest to highest:

            Gin Sat - Chanters who have passed the training but have no land remain in direct service to the Sazon of their house.
            Sat - the lowest landed rank (and the one to which starting players belong), they will have a small holding of perhaps fifty subjects.
            Ursat - they are owed the fealty of perhaps a half dozen Sats and directly hold perhaps two hundred subjects.
            Freda - their holding is likely a small town, of perhaps five hundred subjects, they also command the loyalty of three or four Ursats.
            Surgay - their seat of power is usually a fortified town, of maybe one to two thousand subjects, as well as a few small villages. They usually command a dozen or so Ursats and sometimes a couple of Freda.
            Sazon - Sazons rule houses (see below). Although their direct holding are usually smaller than a Surgay they wield far greater influence.
            Ursazon - the high Sazon - the head of the currently ruling house, the Ursazon is the most powerful man in the land.
            King - the King, although he has the greatest holdings, has less influence than the Ursazon.

            Chanters owe their primary loyalty to one of the many Houses of Chanterdom, and often to a faction within that house. These loyalties are changeable and it is common for a Chanter to rise in power by means of a well-timed betrayal. The loyalty to houses, and factions, runs parallel to the legal obligations of military and financial support owed through the feudal structure represented by Sats, Ursats, Freda and Surgays and ultimately to the King. Houses are frequently organised along family lines, but there is sufficient movement among them that this is not always so and it is not uncommon to find brothers in different houses.

            Chanterdom is relatively secure, although constant border-skirmishing occurs with its neighbours the Chanters have the superior arms, armour, troops and magics on the side and thus win more often that they lose. This has resulted in a society that is almost entirely in-looking, with Chanters more interested in besting each other than in besting their supposed foes. Their life is preoccupied with currying favour and trying to impress one another with deeds or words and with their devotion to the way of the Chanter.

            1.2. The Way of the Chanter

            Chanters value discipline and bravery above all. They have a word 'ice' that is used to describe those that are unflinching before danger and unwavering in their resolve. Although martial duels are fought between Chanters, it is more common to have what are known as 'ice' contests. Each Chanter takes turns trying to make the other react in someway without touching them, while the other one stares, unblinkingly, straight ahead. This most frequently involves sudden strikes stopping just in front of the head, or complex and obscure insults delivered as a kind of rhythmic poem (see the Ice section below for mechanical rules for Ice contests).

            Chanter society is full of tradition. From the daily Chant to bring the Sun, to various yearly festivals, to many complicated rituals performed when meeting friends, challenging enemies or just eating or drinking. Chanters are expected to never become intoxicated and to do so carries the penalty of death. Chanters have the right to hold judgement over their subjects, and can summarily execute them if it takes their fancy to do so, even for the slightest of perceived insults. Needless to say, the common folk are exceptional polite to Chanters.

            Chanters follow common practices of Hospitality, and will not harm anyone they welcome into their home while they remain there. To do otherwise is a great dishonour. It also considered a great dishonour to use magic against another Chanter, or to use missile weapons of any sort against another Chanter. Marriages within Chanter society are nearly always for political gain rather than for love, and it is usual for a Chanter to maintain several mistresses taken from the common folk as well as their wife (who is always taken from Chanter society). Male children born to Chanters are usually trained up as Chanters themselves - however should they be born without magic they are given to a common family to adopt and struck from the family tree of their Chanter parents.

            Chanters are taken from their families at the age of seven and spend the next fourteen years in training. They study the military arts, the traditions of the Chanters, the magics they will need as well as the gentle arts - the formal manners, polite rituals and correct etiquette for polite and noble company. Life in training is hard: the boys are frequently beaten, and given little in the way of luxuries or home comforts. When they complete the training, they are tested to see if they are ready to be a Chanter and any who fail are sent narrowward in exile. Those who pass are welcomed as Chanters in a lavish ceremony. Most are given lands and become Sats in their own right, inevitable there are more boys than open lands, however, and those whoa are left over go instead into the direct service of their Sazon as Gin Sats.

            1.3. Flora and Fauna

            All-that-is is an alien world - not merely a psuedo-european patchwork - the plants in the farmer's field are not corn, potatoes or turnips and the animals they farm are not pigs, cows or chickens. The grow edible fronds, the berries of the floating Macobo plant, the tubers of the carnivorous Atalak plant and the vast, red fruit of the wide-leafed Umjub tree while it the fields the almost squid-like floating Akachibor graze slowly on the moss pulling themselves along with their powerful tentacles, the same powerful tentacles that are used to pull ploughs and wagons, while the eggs of the Cratchis lizard make for fine omelettes and the milk of the small, slow and fat Bobos makes a change from drinking boiled water. The commoners brew fine ales from the roots and leaves of Havarda and make rough wines from the fruit of the parasitic strangler vine.

            The great forests are filled with strange creatures: giant snakes, quick footed reptiles and giant flightless birds inhabit the floors while howler monkeys and bright plumaged birds cry from the treetops above. Most feared are perhaps packs of the six-foot Torva lizard, with its diseased bite, and the terrible claws and beaks of the massive flightless eight-foot Welta and Grunter birds.

            Worse, however, than the common animals are the strange monsters that spring unwelcome on the land. Monsters in All-that-is are not races, nor kinds, nor species but singular creations. They are unique, created once and never to be made again. There have only ever been the four black-faced trolls and there will only ever be those four. The terrible winged Manticore is the only of its kind, and it sings lonely and haunting songs for a mate will never come. Monsters are not a common threat, but they are frequently dangerous and there is great glory and valour to be found in killing them.

            1.4. Technology and Equipment

            Metal is extremely rare in All-that-is, thus most technology is based around wood and stone. However, it would be a mistake to think that Chanterdom is a stone age civilisation. Their woodworking techniques are easily a match for late medieval europe, and what steel they do work is of fine quality. Commoners generally live in one-room wood framed houses that contain entire families, while Chanters generally live in structures built from a mixture of wood, brick and stone. Glass windows are reasonably common; although the glass is neither smooth nor entirely clear. The richer and more powerful Chanters live in mansions of up to three or four stories, often with crenalated battlements above. Seige warfare is uncommon however, and thus vast stone castles are rare with smaller forts with wooden walls and stone keeps are prefered.

            Chanters usually dress in bone armour. Constructed from worked pieces of bone sewn over tanned lizard skin it is before hard and highly protective. Chanters carve patterns onto the bones to indicate the battles they have seen, and wear elaborate and colourful cloaks over the shoulders and back of their armour to indicate their allegiances. Their swords are straight, hand-and-a-half affairs with circular guards. There are only a few forges in all of Chanterdom capable of making these fine steel blades and only Chanters have the means to afford them.

            To Contents

            2. Rolling the Dice

            Chanter uses d6s for its bones, and you'll need a fair handful - but you're roleplayers so I know you've got them, if not you can purchase blocks of thirty-six 6mm d6s from your local gaming store for a few quid. Conflicts are determined by rolling a bunch of d6s (see below for how many should be rolled), and looking for duplicates. Rolls are called by saying the largest number of matches in what number and how many other duplicates you got (extras).

            Robin rolls ten dice and gets 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6 and announces that he got two 6s and three extras.
            Ant rolls seven dice, getting 1, 2, 2, 2, 4, 4, - he announces that he's got three 2s and one extra.
            Gilli rolls four dice, getting 2, 4, 4, 5 - she announces that she's got two 4s.
            Mike rolls eight dice, getting 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 5, 5, 5 - he announces he got three 5s and two extras.
            I roll five dice and get 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 - I announce I got nothing


            All rolls in Chanter are opposed. Usually the GM rolls the opposition dice - rolling a number of dice according to how hard the task is. Whoever got the highest duplicate wins, or if they got the same duplicate (i.e. both got triples) then whoever got it in the highest number wins (thus three 5s beats three 3s, but four 2s beats both of them). Each extra on the player's side mean something extra good happened (bonus), each extra on the GM's side means something extra bad happened (penalty). The player can choose to cancel a penalty out with a bonus. Bonuses and penalties can either take the form of new elements added to the situation or world, or simply consequences of the action being taken. The GM decides and declares the results of both penalties and bonuses.

            Should the roll be tied both on duplicity and number shown then it is a tie and no resolution to the action is achieved (if they're climbing a cliff, they got a little stuck for a while but can carry on; if they're picking a lock they haven't solved it yet but might be able to; if they're fighting someone, they've fought back and forth but neither side has yet gained a conclusive advantage) any extras, however, still take effect.

            Some situations can give the player an advantage or disadvantage: for example they could be using better armour, or better weapons than their opponent, or they could be using top quality equipment to pick the lock, or they might be in a hurry, or injured. Each advantage gives the player an extra dice, while disadvantages take dice away (alternatively the GM can choose to raise the difficulty instead) - although the total bonus from advantages should typically never go above two extra dice.

            Ant's character, Sat Morizas, is attempting to climb a cliff to sneak into the back of an enemy encampment. The cliff is pretty steep, so the GM calls a difficulty of 7 dice. Ant is throwing 8 dice, so he has a pretty good chance of success. He rolls three fours and one extra, while the GM rolls two fives and two extras. That leaves Sat Morizas with a success with one penalty. The GM decides that the penalty means that Morizas kicked a rock down the cliff as he was climbing. The noise from the rockfall will mostly likely alert his enemies to his presence.


            To Contents

            3. The Four Attributes

            3.1. Island The island stands alone in the ocean, in its strength it resists the wind, the tide and the waves. It survives alone, and on its one merits. Similarly, a characters Island is their ability to look after themselves. Players roll island to hunt, to climb walls, to track prey, or enemies, to hide from foes and to sneak through the undergrowth without being scene.

            Example difficulties:

              2 Walking against a strong wind, swimming in calm waters.
              3 Climbing an easy tree, running on rough ground. To track a large group of people who passed in the last day or two.
              4 Swimming against the current, climbing a rough cliff, building a simple shelter in good conditions. To sneak past an inattentive guard.
              5 Hunting and gathering enough food for one person in a forest, climbing a hard tree. To track one person who passed in the last day or two.
              6 Climbing a rough cliff in the rain, walking across a narrow ledge in a strong wind.
              7 Hunting and gathering enough food for one person in open planes, or gathering enough for a few people in the forest.
              8 To track one person who was trying to cover their tracks and passed in the last day or two. To climb a sheer cliff.
              9 To sneak past a well-trained and alert sentry.
              10 To climb a sheer cliff in the rain.

            3.2. Ice Ice, as discussed above, is the measure of the perfection of ones embracing of the way of the Chanter. It represents will power, cool, rigidity of thought and mind and the ability to stand unflinching in danger. Contests of Ice are common and important in Chanter society, a contest of ice is a straight forward roll of the player's ice vs. their opponents ice. Ice also determines the order of action where it is important in a scene (see below).

            Example difficulties:

              3 To keep ones cool when faced with a Torva lizard.
              5 To keep ones cool when face with a pack of Torva lizards.
              6 To avoid flinching when surprised by a sudden and loud noise. To avoid crying out when injured.
              8 To keep cool when faced by a terrifying monster, such as a Troll or Manticore.

            3.3. Dawn The magics of All-that-is are intricately linked to the dawn, and the daily creation of the sun. It is the magic that runs in the blood of all Chanters that allows them to chant in the dawn and, indeed, makes them Chanters at all. Dawn is used primarily in the casting of spells, however it is also a measure of one's linkage with the world and thus it also covers rolls to notice, or spot, things as well as to identify plants and animals. See Magic And Spells for details.

            3.4. Assault The fourth and final attribute is Assault. Battles, duels and other forms of combat are common in All-that-is. Monsters threaten villages, the conflicts between factions and houses frequently spill over into violence and there is the ever-present threat from other civilisations and from barbarian tribes. Assault is used in any combat situation.

            In a combat situation, better armour (i.e. bone vs. anything, leather vs. none) and/or better weapons (Chanter steel vs. anything, flint axe vs. wooden clubs, wooden clubs vs. no weapon) count as advantages. Thus, players will commonly find themselves with a two dice advantage when fighting foes. Additionally during combat bonuses can be counted as injuries to the foe, and penalties as injuries to the characters (see injuries).

            Sometimes multiple characters will be fighting one foe, or one foe will be fighting multiple characters. In this case those with the numerical upperhand get an extra dice for each one of them after the first. The single opponent must roll once for each foe and must win all the conflicts in order to put down a single foe. The multiple fighters need only win one of their conflicts to defeat the foe.

            To Contents

            4. Character Creation

            Players in Chanter all play Chanters (big surprise!), and thus begin with land holdings, and all the status, trappings and responsibilities that go with that role. Players must assign each of the four attributes a priority starting from 'A' as the best, down to 'D' as the worst. They can choose either to either to assign one A, one B, one C and one D (ABCD) or two Bs and two Cs (BBCC) for a more generalist character.

            Mike wants his character to be strong on magic, and deeply involved in the structure of Chanter society but not so capable of looking after himself - he decides that ABCD is the best option and assigns an A to Dawn, a B to Ice, a C to Assault and a D to Island.

            Ant wants his character, San Morizas, to be independent and a capable all rounder - he decides that BBCC is his best option and assigns Bs to Island and Ice and Cs to Dawn and Assault.


            The four attributes (Island, Ice, Dawn and Assault) are assigned a number of dice based on their priority: 10 dice for A, 8 dice for B, 6 dice for C and down to 4 dice for D. It should be noted that a typical commoner only rolls three or four dice for any action, thus the PCs have a substantial advantage before even considering their probable advantage in terms of equipment

            To Contents

            5. Playing the Game

            Ok, so you know about the world. You know the good part of rules. Maybe you even like what you've read. But what now what do you actually do? And how do the rules relate to what you do?

            5.1. Conflict Resolution

            Chanter uses conflict rather than task resolution for all situations. Thus rather than rolling 'I hit, I do 5 pts of damage, they hit me they do 4 pts of damage, etc.' you roll 'I fight, I win' or 'I fight, I lose so now I try and run away'. After every conflict occurs the GM will announce the resolution, the players can either accept that resolution,  ask for a new and different conflict to change the resolution or, if they won, ask for a different resolution. Let's look at an example:

            Ant's character, Sat Morizas, is fighting a bandit. Morizas has an Assault of 7 dice and is armed with a Chanter steel sword but unarmoured as he wasn't expecting a fight. The bandit rolls 5 dice, is wearing leather armour and carrying a flint axe. Morizas advantage in having a superior weapon is cancelled out by his lack of armour relative to the bandit.
            Ant rolls three 4s and no extras, while the GM (rolling for the bandit) rolls two 3s and one extra.
            Ant wins the fight, but suffers a small wound (from the bandits extra). The GM announces that Morizas has killed the bandit. But Ant objects, he wants only to pin the bandit and not kill him. This is a reasonable resolution to the situation so the GM agrees.


            Now let's look at what might have happened if Morizas had lost the fight:

            Ant rolls remarkably poorly getting only two 4s and one extra, the GM meanwhile rolls an impressive three 6s and no extras.

            The GM announces that Ant has lost the fight, and the bandit has slit his throat. Obviously, Ant doesn't want his character to die, so instead he wants to run away. He asks that his extra mean that the bandit stumble when trying to follow him. The GM agrees, so play moves on to a second conflict - that of Morizas trying to escape - but with the bandit suffering a disadvantage for having stumbled. If Ant wins Morizas escapes, if the bandit wins then Morizas is now in deep trouble. Since the fight conflict has already been determined (and Morizas lost) he cannot now attempt to fight the bandit again, but must choose another course of action (perhaps offering his surrender, or attempting to bribe the bandit).


            5.2. The Order of Play

            The order in which players take their actions is not usually important in Chanter, however if it should become so then characters with higher Ice can choose whether they go before or after characters of lower Ice. If two characters have equal Ice their players can either choose arbitarily who goes first, or if they really care, they can have an Ice contest to see who gets to decide.

            5.3. Injuries and healing

            In the course of the violent and dramatic life of a Chanter it is quite likely that they will pick up a few injuries. Injuries are dealt with in an abstracted manner in Chanter. The first injury a Chanter takes has no effect, but each injury after that counts as a 1 dice disadvantage on all actions, thus a Chanter with three injuries is at -2 dice to all actions. When the reduction in dice reduces a Chanters effective Island to one they are no longer able to take any strenuous activity, but can still hobble about and (if their Dawn is still high enough) manage to cast magic. When their effective island is reduced to zero or below they are effectively bed-ridden, and usually rendered temporarily unconscious.

            Healing an injury takes a number of weeks equal to the current injuries. Thus healing from four injuries down to three takes four weeks, and healing completely takes another six weeks for a total of ten weeks. Chanters do have healing magics available to them; however, they feel to deal so trivially with pain is cowardly and, thus, tend not to use it unless the need is pressing.</p>

            5.4. Adventures, Campaigns and Time

            Different adventures in Chanter should have months or even years of game time between them - this allows for a changing political and economic climate through across different adventures and allows players advancement through the power structure of Chanterdom to be measured rather than sudden and metioric. Campaigns are likely, therfore to follow whoel lifetimes for the PCs, and possible the lives of their children after them. Since character advancement is linked to their age, unless you follow this convention the PCs will not get a chance to improve.

            To Contents

            6. Magic

            A Chanter's magic ebbs and flows with the passing of the dawn, the day, the dusk and the dark. Their greatest powers are only available in the three hours immediately after the birth of the new sun, their powers remain steady during the day but as the sun fades and dies they begin to dwindle before vanishing with the fall of ashes. Chanters cannot cast any magic during the hours of darkness. The below table shows which power are available when:

            Dawn only

            Fire
            Healing

            Dawn and Daytime

            Animals
            Plants

            Dawn, Daytime and Dusk

            Mindspeech

            6.1. Using Powers

            Using magic is simply a matter of willing it so. Some powers (see their descriptions) require an extended period of concentration to achieve results, others are instantaneous - either way there are no magical gestures, words of power or spell ingredients required. Using a power is a Dawn attribute roll against the a number of dice determined depending on the power (see their descriptions), failure is handled specially for powers - failure always results in a temporary loss of one dice from the character's Dawn attribute and a Backlash dependent on the power. The power does not take effect. The player may also choose to take a penalty as a reduction in their Dawn attribute instead of suffering the detrimental effect - but only if they have three or more dice of Dawn left. Characters who have lost points of Dawn recover one each day at the Chant.

            Using powers in rapid succession is tiring. Characters who do so increase the difficulty of the later uses by one dice for each time a power is used. A five-minute rest is sufficient to recover and avoid any further penalty.

            6.2. The Powers

            Animals: Just as the sun guides and creates life, so do the Chanters than bring the sun have a strong link with life. The use of the animal power allows the caster to change the behaviour of animals towards him, to control animals and to talk to animals. These are detailed separately below. The Backlash in all cases is that the animals the caster is trying to effect will view him as a foe, and either flee, attack or threaten as appropriate for the kind of animal. Animals that have had their reaction changed by backlash cannot have it changed back by the caster. The animal's opinion of the caster will return to normal in about a day. All animal powers are affected in difficulty by the kind of animals: reptiles cost an extra dice; insects cost three extra dice; herbivores cost an extra dice; domestic animals cost one less dice and, finally, particularly small or stupid animals cost an extra dice.

            The easiest power is simply to change the animals reaction towards him, animals can be considered hostile, neutral or friendly - each step the caster wants to achieve along that line is a two dice cost. Thus to change an animal from hostile to friendly is a two dice difficulty. Additional targets after the first cost an extra dice each.

            Next is talking to animals. In the world of All-that-is all animals have languages that they talk to each other in. However they may, or may not, have the words (or thoughts) to express all human concepts. Herd animals tend to be obsessed with the herd, and with the plants they eat, while pack animals thoughts are constantly torn between loyalty to the pack and the desire to overthrow their leader and replace them, etc. Talking to an animal costs a base of 4 dice.

            Commanding animals is harder, although the difficulty depends on how natural the action is. To command an animal to do something it might naturally do costs a base of 4 dice, to command an animal to do something that it wouldn't otherwise do but doesn't go against it's nature costs 6 dice and to command an animal to do something that goes against its nature costs 8 dice. What an animal can be commanded to do depends upon its intelligence.

            Fire allows the caster to create, control, extinguish and direct fire. Controlling existing fire is easier than creating new fire. The total number of dice depends on: the amount of fire controlled (one dice for each torchworth of fire), the amount of fire created (one dice for a candlefire, or two dice for each torchworth) and what they wish to do to it (to shape fire costs one dice, to project it costs one dice per ten feet) and how many pieces they wish to break it into (one dice for each additional part). Extinguishing fire costs one dice for each two torch's worth of fire. A torchworth of fire if directed onto a living target deals one injury of damage, and will set fire to flammable targets.

            Mike wants to project fire from the campfire onto the approaching pack of wolves. He has ten dice of Dawn at his disposal, so he decides to strike the first three wolves with fire, each for a torchworth. Three torch's worth of fire costs three dice, the wolves are 15' feet from the fire, so that's another two, and he needs to hit three targets so that's another two dice for a total of seven.


            Playing with fire is dangerous however, as any backlash from using Fire will burn the caster. The caster suffers one injury for every two dice he was attempting to manipulate, to a minimum of one dice.

            Healing of the injured is a rather mundane activity and Chanters rarely engage in it, however their powers are well capable of coming in useful. Healing can only be used on a given target once per day whether the healing is successful or not, and whether it is cast by the same Chanter or not. The difficulty of healing is equal to the number of injuries plus another four dice. Successful healing removes one injury from the target. Failure results in the injury worsening (the healing time is doubled). Bonuses and penalties may be ignore on healing rolls.

            Mindspeech allows the caster to send mental communications to others. Mindspeech costs one dice for each word to be sent, plus another dice for each hundred feet after the first hundred feet the message is to be sent. The Backlash from Mindspeech is a sudden blinding headache for the caster that prevents them using any further powers for the next half hour. Penalties may result in the words being slightly altered or garbled, while Bonuses can manifest as images or inflection in the message helping to make it clearer.

            Plants may seem to be simply a coloured backdrop to the altogether more active and exciting world of people and animals, but in reality they are like a great sponge soaking up an awareness of all that is about them. The Chanter can tap into this sense and use it to know what is around, and what has happened. Tuning in to the plants takes five minutes of quiet concentration. Once tuned in the caster can attempt to gain knowledge from the plants, the easiest is to know what is happening know in an area round the caster - this costs two dice per fifteen feet of radius around the caster. Knowing what has happened in the near past is also possible - this costs an extra dice for each hour back the caster wishes to go. Each 'sense' takes one minute to complete. The backlash on using plant sense is that all the plants being used die. Sensing through plants only works with a good concentration of living plants, and thus cannot be used in urban areas.

            Sensing through the plants is not the only use of the Plants power however, Chanters can also shape wood with their minds. This power works equally well on living and dead wood and can be used on targets up to ten feet from the caster. The wood moves slowly as it shapes itself so this is rarely an effective attack. The difficulty of the casting is a base of two dice, plus one extra dice for each litre of wood to be affected, plus another three dice if the wooden object to be affected is being used held and used by someone (or something). There is no Backlash to using woodshape.

            To Contents

            7. Character Advancement

            Characters in Chanter follow a predictable progression of improvement, apogee and decline. This progression is based on time in the game world. It is assumed that starting characters have just turned twenty-one, and thus just come into lordship of their first demesne (pronounced, surprisingly more-or-less as domain), when they reach twenty-two they gain a bonus die they can assign to any one attribute. At twenty-three the same happens, and so on until they reach thirty. At thirty, they receive a final bonus attribute die and then, for the next three years, remain level. Starting at thirty-three they lose a die each year. Characters are usually retired at forty-five to fifty. Thus players receive a maximum of nine extra dice (for a total of thirty-seven before declining indefinitely, usually falling below the level of a starting character before retirement). Removed dice cannot be used to lower a stat below 2 dice, and added dice cannot be used to raise a stat above 14 dice.

            To Contents

            8. Example Allies, Creatures and Foes

            Non-chanters are generally given scores for three attributes: Island, Ice and Assault - Dawn is not usually relevant for non-Chanters. Even those who use magic typically have their own means of casting quite different from that of the Chanter. Use Ice, instead, for perception rolls. No example monsters are given; for fear that you might use them in your games as 'stock' monsters - each monster in Chanter should be a unique and special butterfly.

            Bandits
            Birds
            Commoners
            Militia
            Snakes
            Soldiers
            Torva

            Bandits

            In any country as open in its lands and uneven in its society as Chanterdom there are malcontents that live by stealing and mugging. Some bandits are ex-soldiers, others are escaped criminals while others simply fell out with society. Bandits are typically poorly equiped compared to Chanters - protected by lizard skin armour, and armed with flint axes or hardened wooden spears.

            Typical Bandit

            Island: 4
            Ice: 5
            Assault: 5

            Bandit Leader

            Island: 5
            Ice: 6
            Assault: 7</p>

            Birds

            No, not the pretty, singing kind but the giant, flightless and dangerous kind. Two forms are particularly common: Weltas and Grunters. Weltas are slightly larger and stockier while Grunters are more lightly built and faster runners - able to reach around forty miles an hour. Both have grey, brown and yellow plumage which makes them difficult to spot in the forests in which they hunt. They are usually solitary, although a mother may be accompanied by young chicks.

            Welta

            Island: 8
            Ice: 6
            Assault: 7

            Grunter

            Island: 7
            Ice: 7
            Assault: 6

            Commoners

            The common folk will generally run, surrender or beg for mercy rather than fight. If they do fight it is likely that they will only be armed with farming implements, or axes designed for chopping wood.

            Male Commoner

            Island: 3
            Ice: 2
            Assault: 3

            Female Commoner

            Island: 3
            Ice: 2
            Assault: 2

            Woodsman

            Island: 7
            Ice: 4
            Assault: 3

            Militia

            Most towns and villages will have a few men who have been given basic training with weapons. They are typically unarmoured, but carry wooden shields, and spears or axes.

            Island: 3
            Ice: 4
            Assault: 4

            Snake

            Snakes are a common threat on the forest floors. Ranging in size from about a foot in length, to maybe twelve or fifteen feet long, all are to avoided for a view are venomous. Anyone bitten by a poisonous snake must make an 8 dice Island roll, or collapse into unconsciousness and be bedridden for several weeks recovering from the venom (Chanter magic cannot heal poisons or diseases).

            Small snake (<3 feet)

            Island: 7
            Ice: 4
            Assault: 2

            Medium snake (3-6 feet)

            Island: 7
            Ice: 5
            Assault: 3

            Large snake (6-10 feet)

            Island: 7
            Ice: 6
            Assault: 4

            Giant snake (10-15 feet)

            Island: 7
            Ice: 8
            Assault: 6

            Soldiers

            Standing armies are relativaly rare and small in Chanterdom, the highly limited availability of metal weapons means that battles tend to centre on conflicts between well armed, and trained, 'heroes' rather than mass melees. Soldiers generally high quality lizard skin armour, or even bone armour, a few have metal blades but steel-tipped spears or steel-headed axes are more common.

            Island: 5
            Ice: 5
            Assault: 6

            Torva

            Torva are carnivorous pack lizards, about six-feet long, and two to three foot tall. Although generally slow moving, they are capable of sprinting short distances at great speed. Their heads are rounded, with powerful jaws packed with long, sharp teeth and their toes are tipper with powerful, tearing claws. About as intelligent as dogs, Torvas are capable of decent organisation and have been known to ambush travellers. They live in packs of six to ten individuals, led by a single male who can be up to ten feet long and is distinguish by red markings on his head and neck. Solitary males are also occasionally encountered. Torvas mouths are usually festering with bacteria and disease, and so bites from them frequently become infected. Anyone bitten by a Torva must make a 6 dice Island roll or sucumb to infection. The infection will flare up about a day after the bite, and render the victim bed-ridden for up to four weeks - Chanter magic has no effect on poison or disease.

            Torva female

            Island: 6
            Ice: 8
            Assault: 5

            Torva Male

            Island: 5
            Ice: 6
            Assault: 7

            To Contents

            Appendix: Chef's Notes

            This chef began by using the four ingredients as the four attributes. This was his central concept. However, as his game as progressed, two of the four have gained roles in the world outside of the attributes. This chef fears that the comparative difference in strength of concepts between different ingredients will count against him. An obvious solution would be to change the world to be organised as Islands, however this chef feels that to compromise the dish to prioritise the ingredients would be foolhardy.

            The chef feels that it is apparent that his dish needs the sauce provided by mechanics for political intrigue among the houses, however the chef feels that preparing and refining such a sauce would take longer than he has and that providing a poorly construed sauce in such an area would be worse than providing no sauce at all.

            To Contents


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Mark Johnson on April 18, 2004, 08:46:17 AM
            This chef must concede defeat.  He is not worthy of this esteemed competition.  The chef procedes to commit seppuku with his cheese grater.  A most painful death.

            Seriously, if I had the time, I would complete my entry.  I have had last minute out of town guests arrive today.  Dawn of the Damned had a few ideas in it that I may mine out for future projects, so it was definitely worthwhile.  As it stands, there are already many far superior entries already posted or being teased.  I look forward to tasting the results.

            Humbly,
            Mark


            Title: Last minute entry...
            Post by: Palaskar on April 18, 2004, 08:48:07 AM
            Well, I just found out about this contest. Here's my entry. The core mechanics are from Signature, so I doubt I'll get many points for that. But hey, how many designers can make a game in a couple of hours?

            Iron Chef Fantasy RPG:
            Dilmun, the Islands of Dawn: Assault of the Black Ice

            Once upon a time, the islands of Dilmun were a paradise. Lying at the uttermost East, they basked in the life-giving light of the Dawn.

            Then the Black Ice came. No one knows where they came from. Mysterious, insectoid creatures, they spread unearthly, chilling Black Ice as they assualted the islands of Dilmun. Paradise turned to war as the human inhabitants of Dilmun fought back, rising from their peaceful ways and forming armies.

            But it was no use. The armies of Dilmun were decimated by the Black Ice. Green verdure ran red with blood.

            You are among the last of those armies. It is up to you and your companions to stop the Black Ice before the green paradise of Dilmun is turned forever into a blackened, icy waste.

            Setting

            Dilmun is loosely based on Sumerian-Babylonian myth. Records are kept on clay tablets by making triangular marks with a reed stylus. Dilmun is potically divided into city-states (most of which have been overrun by the Black Ice) each with a Trader-King who appeases the patron god of the city.

            The gods are as follows:

            Sky: The ruler of the gods.
            Sun: The god of justice and friend to humanity. He is said to be just because the sun's rays fall on all people equally.
            Storm: A vengeful god apt to punish humanity when they annoy him.
            The Queen of Heaven: The goddes of beauty and war, she once threatened to break down the gates of the underworld to let the dead overrun the earth. Fickle, she goes from lover to lover.
            The Queen of the Underworld: The goddess of death and the underworld. She once imprisoned the Queen of Heaven.
            Sea: The god of wisdom, he advises the other gods on what they should do.

            I have ommitted the names of the gods, because believers often regard the god and the natural object they represent as one. For example, one does not say "Utu (the name of the sun god) protects humanity," but "The Sun protects humanity."

            Dilmun consists of a series of isle at the uttermost East of the known world. The people of Dilmun know little of the outside world, but to the people of that world, the name "Dilmun" is synonymous with "Paradise."

            However, much of Dilmun is now frozen in black ice. Outsiders arriving to Dilmun will doubtless be in for a rude shock.

            The Warriors of Dilmun

            Champions all, some of you are skilled warriors. Others study the way of magic and the gods. Still others are outsiders, coming from the little-known lands to the west; wildmen raised by animals; sorcerors the gods have cursed; and finally trader-kings whose wealth is gone, but who still have the blessings of the gods.

            Archetypes Traits

            Warriors

            Warriors are the physically strongest and toughest among the armies of Dilmun. Though not as strong as one of the Black Ice, warriors more than make up for their relative lack of strength by their skill with swords, axes, and bows and arrows. They are also skilled at wrestling.

            Magician-Priest

            Magician-Priests can invoke the gods to bless others, making them more skillful at skills they already posses, or curse them with sickness that eventually leads to death if not cured. They can invoke the Sun as well to bind  or hurt their opponents. They are usually not good fighters, however, be it with weapons or unarmed.

            Outsiders

            Outsiders were a rarity in Dilmun. But with the coming of the Black Ice, they are disproportionally represented among the surviors of the armies. Why? Because they are cunning and resourceful. They battled and traveled their way to the paradise of Dilmun, and are not about to give up their new home without a fight.

            Wildmen

            Wildmen are as strong as warriors, but lack their weapons skills, though they excellent wrestlers. Instead, they are at home with the animals and plants of the wilderness, able to survive with ease there. They can also track others through the wilderness effortlessly, and with great skill. They can tell how many pass, how fast they were going, wether or not they were carrying a heavy load, and so on. However, wildmen are unused to being around civilized humans, and tend to create a degree of mistrust by unconsciously violating customs.

            Sorcerors

            Sorcerors are cursed by the gods for attempting to alter the "Me," the rules of the universe. As such, all sorcerors have some sort of obvious identifying mark on them, usually just an uneraseable character on their forehead. Such a mark causes them to be almost universally feared and mistrusted. (The obvious exception are other sorceros.) In exchange, sorcerors have the limited ability to violate the laws of reality -- causing objects to float in the air that normally cannot; expanding campfires into bonfires; walking on water; and so on.

            Trader-Kings

            Trader-kings once ruled the city-states of Dilmun. Wise and skilled leaders, they negotiate with the outside world for trade goods, and ensured the prosperity of their city-states and people by appeasing the gods. Now the Black Ice have cut off interaction with the outside world, but the trader-kings are still excellent leaders who can bring the favor of the gods on their followers.

            The Black Ice

            The Black Ice resemble dung beetles standing about four cubits tall. They are covered in a protective hard insect shell that is impervious to ordinary weapons. Magic, and magical weapons, however, will penetrate the shell. They appear to have no leader, but they still act as an organized group.

            The Black Ice each have the strength of several men, plus the magical ability to create and manipulate a magical, chilling black ice (hence their name.) The ice can chill a man so badly his flesh becomes blackened and useless, bind him in solid ice, or become a weapon like a knife.

            Other Traits Examples

            Attributes: Strong, Fast, Tough, Wise, Beautiful, Lucky
            Skills: Sword, Axe, Bow and Arrows, Sorcery, Magic, Tracking, Stealth, Survival, Leadership
            Disadvantages: Weak, Slow, Foolish, Deaf, Blind, Lame, Cursed by the Gods
            Advantages: Well-Connected, Favor
            Social Relationships: Friends, Enemies, Love Interest, Rival
            Spiritual Attributes: Devotion to the Gods, Destiny

            Traits

            Each character has a number of Traits. Traits can be anything. They can be attributes, skills, disadvantages, advantages, social relations, spiritual attributes...anything. Note that there are no 'negative' Traits. A creative player can turn a disavantage into advantage. For example, try persuing a character who is deaf!

            A special kind of Trait is the Archetype Trait. The Archetype Trait describes your character in a nutshell. Other Traits merely serve to 'flesh out' your character.

            Beginning Play

            Social Contract

            The first thing gamers should do is assign social roles: who's going to host the game, who's going to bring food and drinking, who the GM is.

            Next come character generation.

            Character Generation

            The character's player should pick an Archetype Trait and give it a rating of 4. Then he should pick 3 other Traits and give them a rating of 2.

            That's it. You're done.

            Resolution Mechanics

            First, the player should describe the action being attempted.

            The GM then takes the relavant Trait, and modifies it on how difficult the action being attempted is.  A +2 modifier is easy, a +1 is average, a 0 modifier is challenging, a -1 is hard, a -2 extremely hard, and -3 modifier is almost impossible. This is called a Check.

            The GM adds to the check a bonus of 1 to 3 points for good player tactics. A bonus of +1 represents good tactics, +2 excellent tactics, and +3 amazing tactics.

            If two or more Traits apply to a situation, the GM takes the highest Trait. For example, suppose that the character Lankmu has the Trait: Sword Skill (1), but also the Trait: Destiny - Fated to Kill the Black Ice Leader (3.) In sword combat with the Black Ice leader, Lankmu would not use his Sword Skill Trait, but rather his Destiny Trait.

            Characters are assumed to have a minimum level of competence to get by in their daily lives.

            The results work like this: a result of 0 is failure, 1 is minor success, 2 is major success, and 3 is complete and total success.

            Modifying Resolution

            There is a way to modify resolution.

            Each character begins with 5 Me points. Me points can add to a Check up to 2 points on a one-for-one basis.
            Me points are regained at the rate of 1 every session.

            Developing a Character

            If a player wants to add a Trait to his character, he must justify it first. For example, if he wishes to gain the Trait Tracking (1), then his character must have spent some time tracking things.

            Once the justifying is done, the player makes a check against the GM's perceived difficulty of learning the Trait. The more Traits a character has, the greater the difficulty the GM should assign to the Check. Me points may not be spent on this Check.


            Title: more on Dawn
            Post by: Palaskar on April 18, 2004, 09:14:00 AM
            Well, I seem to have the time to post a bit more on Dawn. Here goes:

            Technology

            Human technology in Dilmun is Bronze Age. Swords and axes are heavy and prone to blunting. Due to the tropical heat of Dilmun, armor is minimal; however, ordinary people do wear loose skirts or kilts.

            Unlike most of the world, Dilmun is rich in trees and wood, which was one of the major trade items.

            Assault

            Combat in Dilmun consists of three options.

            The first is Close the Gap. Here, the combatant cautiously approaches his enemy. Close the Gap has a difficulty of one. Success means a +1 success.

            The second is Take the Measure. Here, the combatant engages his enemy, trying to wound him. Take the Measure has a difficulty of two. Success means a +2 success.

            The third is Finish It! Here, the combatant tries to kill his oppenent with a single blow. Finish It! has a difficulty of three. Success means a +3 success.

            Again, the results work like this: a result of 0 is failure, 1 is minor success, 2 is major success, and 3 is complete and total success.

            Remember, although characters may progress from Close the Gap to Take the Measure to Finish It!, there is nothing stopping them from using the options out of order.

            Dawn: Magic

            Instead of having a fixed spell list, magicians, sorcerors and trader-kings are encouraged to make up their magics "on the fly." The more powerful the effect or the longer it lasts,.the greater the difficulty of the Check to see if the spell works. Also, if the magic isn't covered by the character's archetype, it should -not- be allowed.

            For example:

            Magician-Priests can invoke the gods to bless others, making them more skillful at skills they already posses, or curse them with sickness that eventually leads to death if not cured. They can invoke the Sun as well to bind or hurt their opponents.

            So, Lankmu the Magician-Priest decides to invoke the blessings of the Sun on his companions. He decides on a +1 bonus to each of their Archetypes. Since this is covered by Lankmu's archetype, the GM allows it. Since it affects several people, the GM increases the difficulty from 1 (for the +1 bonus) to 2, and tell's Lankmu's player it will be a difficult spell to accomplish. Accordingly, Lankmu decides on a short duration for the spell. The GM decides there will be no additional penalty for the time, and leaves the difficulty of the spell at 2.


            Title: aack!
            Post by: Palaskar on April 18, 2004, 09:15:50 AM
            That last post should say "Dilmun" not "Dawn."

            Sorry about that.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 18, 2004, 09:50:04 AM
            The Complete
            Snow Day! – or – Fort Joey Must Fall!
            A Role Playing Game of Backyard Fantasy by Hans Christian Andersen
            Dedicated to Bill Watterson.

            - Introduction -

            The freak summer blizzard that buried the Hawaiian islands under four feet of snow has passed, and the day has dawned on a sunny, if cool, morning. The palm trees are frozen stiff, every frond laden with icicles. Power's still out, but the weather report on Mom's battery-powered radio says that the weather will turn warm and sunny again by tomorrow morning.

            The kids down the block have spent the entire night building a grandiose snow fort in Joey's front yard. They've got two towers, icicle spikes, and a dug-out ice cave stuffed to the gills with pre-made snowballs. Atop it all, they've made a flag by affixing an old t-shirt to a broom handle. Show-offs.

            Eric is conscripting an army of faithful snow-musketeers to head up the assault, Jeffrey swears he knows of a secret underground passage under the Gilman family's patio, Johnny and Suzy are sculpting our secret weapon - an honest-to-goodness flying ice dragon - and best of all Alice's mom said she'd make hot cocoa for all of us. The kind with the little marshmallows.

            Fort Joey must fall, and it must fall before dawn, or else the summer heat will beat us to it.


            - Characters -

            Your character is a Kid taking part in the assault on For Joey.  Kids are defined by one stat - their age. Age can be as low as 5, or as high as 15.

            All rolls use 20-sided dice; you are encouraged to use a sparkly white d20, because they kind of look like snowballs. There are two types of rolls; Fantasy Checks (roll over your age), and Reality Checks (roll under your age). If you roll exactly your age, then that is a success for regardless of whether it was a Fantasy or Reality Check; plus, you get a Gold Star.

            Fantasy Checks are used for: Discovering secret tunnels, Sculpting Ice Monsters to assist you, Figuring out what other peoples' Ice Monsters can do (and how to beat 'em), and Making Up True Stuff.

            Reality Checks are used for: Throwing Snowballs, Running Real Fast, Avoiding Parents, Sneaking Out Of The House, and Knowing Lots Of True Stuff.

            Because Kids have two hands, they can carry two things at a time, unless those things are really big, in which case it might take two hands to carry.

            Every Kid starts play owning a thermos of Cocoa, though they can leave it behind inside or in the Secret Hideout.


            - Hot Cocoa and Slush Points -

            Kids, Ice Monsters, and Perils alike all have a rating, from 1 to 20; these are Age, Ice Monster Power, and Peril Rating, respectively.  Throwing snowballs at kids, exploiting an Ice Monster’s weakness, and attempting to overcome Perils all cause the target to accumulate Slush Points.  When the target has accumulated as many Slush Points as the value of its rating, then the target has been defeated.  This means that the Kid has been driven from the field, the Ice Monster has been reduced to a puddle, or the Peril has been overcome.  Any additional Slush Points beyond the target’s rating are discarded.

            Perils and Ice Monsters never get to remove any Slush Points that they have accumulated, but Kids can remove them from themselves by drinking Hot Cocoa.  Drinking Hot Cocoa, whether freshly made or from a thermos, heals 6 Slush Points.


            - Scene Structure -

            General Principle: The players have sole-authority over what their Kids do next, from among the options described below.
             
            General Principle Number Two: The GM has sole authority over the passage of time, with the caveat that time always moves forwards. The game starts at around 10:00 in the morning, and ends at Dawn, which is 6:00 the following morning. Thus multiple scenes may take fifteen minutes, or a single seemingly brief scene may span the whole afternoon between lunch and dinner.   Snow days are like that.

            All scenes start with all the Kids convening at the Secret Base, namely the tool shed behind Jake's house.

            From there, everyone needs to decide what to do next. The possible options are:

            Hold A Secret War Council
            Scout Out Enemy Territory
            Make Ice Monsters
            Go Inside For Cocoa
            Go Lookin' for Trouble
            Assault Fort Joey!

            All of the kids must reach a consensus on which of the above happens next.

            If no consensus can be reached, the matter is settled by stepping outside and holding a Snowball Fight. Once the only Kids left standing all want to go do the same thing, the matter is decided. This is a generalized mechanic - ANY time the rules call for Consensus, but no Consensus can be reached, the matter is settled by a Snowball Fight.

            If a Kid wants to be a spoilsport and not attend the scene, the only alternative option is to Go Inside For Cocoa. Pouting is strictly optional, but encouraged.


            - Making Ice Monsters -

            Describe the Ice Monster you want to make. It can have as many abilities as you want it to, but you can never make the same Ice Monster twice.

            Now, you (and any other kids who want to help you) need to go collect an appropriate Part for each ability that you want the Monster to have. For example, if you want to make an Icicle Dragon that can Breathe Fire, Fly, and is Impervious to Snowballs, you might first go swipe Uncle Mel's cigarette liter (for the Fire Breathing), then borrow the wings from your kid sister's old Halloween costume (for the Flying), and then grab a piece of corrugated tin from the workshed (for an armor plate that is Impervious to Snowballs).

            Remember that you can only hold two things at a time; one in each hand. If something is particularly big and heavy (like the piece of corrugated tin), then it will occupy both of your hands. So if you have to get a lot of items to make your Ice Monster, you might want to stash them safely in the Secret Base; you can't carry them all at once. Watch out for Joey's Gang, as they might want to steal your unguarded Pieces to make their own Ice Monsters!

            If you have an existing Ice Monster that has an ability that lets it Carry something, then it can hold on to a Piece for you, but if it ever melts, it immediately drops whatever it’s carrying.

            Also, if you know exactly where to find a Part, you can send any existing Ice Monsters to go fetch it (assuming that the existing Ice Monster can Carry), but remember that Ice Monsters can't go indoors where it's warm; you have to do that yourself. And when you go inside, watch out for Mom & Dad, because they might catch you and make you clean your room or something.

            Also remember that anywhere you go outside, you might be spotted by Joey's Gang, so keep a snowball handy at all times. And a snowball occupies one of your hands

            Once you've assembled the various pieces, you can spend some time sculpting your Ice Monster. All of your Ice Monsters have Ice Monster Power equal to your Age, and all of the abilities that you were able to scrounge up Pieces for. Newly created Ice Monsters follow you around wherever you go until you tell them to do something else.

            Actions performed by Ice Monsters *always* use Fantasy Checks, and never Reality Checks. Ice Monsters don't have Age, so these fantasy checks are made against the Ice Monster's Ice Monster Power instead.


            - Snowball Fights -

            In a Snowball Fight, everyone says what they and their Ice Monsters are doing, then everyone rolls either a Reality Check or Fantasy Check, and all successful actions take place. When two successful actions are mutually contradictory, Fantasy Checks trump Reality Checks; but otherwise, it goes to the character whose die roll was higher.  In case of a tie, both actions fail. While a Kid can do any action that a kid could reasonably do, an Ice Monster can *ONLY* do one of its abilities.

            Throwing a snowball at someone requires a Reality Check. If you're hit, you accumulate 3 Slush Points. If you have as many Slush Points as you have age, your Ice Monsters melt, and you're driven from the field of battle. You can also throw snowballs at an Ice Monster; when an Ice Monster has accumulated more Slush Points than its Ice Monster Power, it melts.

            If a Kid has a thermos full of cocoa, he can try to pour it on an unfriendly Ice Monster by making a Fantasy Check.  Success means that the Ice Monster receives 6 Slush Points; failure means that you just wasted your perfectly good cocoa.

            When Ice Monsters attack, perhaps by Breathing Fire (for a Fire-Breathing Ice Dragon) or by Chasing Timmy With A Wiffle Bat (for a Big, Mean Frost Troll), the attack is handled through a Fantasy Check against the Ice Monster’s Ice Monster Power, with a success inflicting 3 Slush Points.

            Since it takes two hands to form a proper snowball, you have to drop anything you're carrying. It takes a whole turn to scoop up a proper snowball, but if you have a stash of pre-made snowballs you can scoop one up and throw it in the same turn. Similarly, if someone crafts a snowball for you, they can hand it to you and you can launch it that turn.

            If you want to spend a whole second turn after crafting a snowball, you can craft either a Slushball or an Ice-packed Snowball. Slushballs are particularly humiliating, and they inflict 5 slush points. Ice-packed snowballs hurt like heck, and if you use one with any adults around, you'll be in Big Trouble… Ice-packed snowballs don't inflict any Slush Points, but any kid hit by one must immediately make a Reality Check; failure means that their Ice Monsters melt immediately!

            Finally, a Kid can Cry Uncle to admit defeat and bow out of the fight. No Kid will*ever* throw a snowball at someone who has cried Uncle, but since all actions during a round happen simultaneously, another kid can use that same round to get in a parting shot. If you cry Uncle, you're out for the rest of the Snowball Fight, and you can't join back in. All of your Ice Monsters are out of the fight too, but at least they don't melt. Feel free to cheer on your comrades from the sidelines.


            - Neighborhood perils -

            The neighborhood is a source of many Perils. There are Wandering Ice Monsters, Mean Dogs, Bottomless Chasms of Snow, and, of course, Parents.

            All Perils are defined by their Peril Rating, which is a number from one to twenty. There are two types of Peril, Fantasy Perils and Reality Perils. Given enough determined effort, any Peril can be overcome! When a Peril stands between the Kids and their goal, the kids may attempt to overcome the peril by doing any number of actions that are deemed to be useful in opposing the peril. So, an Ice Chasm might be overcome by scrounging up pieces of plywood to use as a bridge, or a Mean Dog might be overcome by throwing snowballs at it.

            A successful actions inflict Slush Points on the Peril; if the type of Check used for the action is the same type as the Peril (e.g. using a Reality Check against a Reality Peril) then the action inflicts three slush points; otherwise, the action inflicts only one slush point.

            Friendly Ice Monsters can also perform actions to overcome a Peril. As always, Ice Monsters can only perform actions that they were explicitly created to be able to do, and Ice Monsters always use Fantasy Checks, and never Reality Checks.

            An unsuccessful action means that the person acting has been Stymied by Peril, and can make no further rolls against that peril. If every Kid and every friendly Ice Monster has been stymied, then the Peril is too Perilous to be overcome, and the kids must fall back, defeated.


            - Holding a Secret War Council -

            Because of the Icicle Spikes, any assault on Fort Joey is doomed to failure unless you first Hold a Secret War Council to decide on a Cunning Plan. First things first: The Cunning Plan needs a Cool Code Name, and there needs to be Consensus on the code name before any further planning can happen.

            Once a Cool Code Name is established, the assembled Kids must devise their Cunning Plan for getting past the Icicle Spikes. Any plan will do, so long as it is Cunning, and so long as the plan has Consensus.

            And did I mention that Cunning Plans are one-use only? Just like you can't make the same Ice Monster twice, you can't use the same Cunning Plan twice. Though you can re-use Cool Code Names, with appropriate modifications: For example, "Operation Slippery Thunder" might get reborn as "Operation Super-Duper Slippery Thunder".


            - Scouting Out Enemy Territory -

            This involves sneaking over towards Fort Joey, to find out who is defending it, and what sort of Ice Monsters they have. Ice Monsters that can either Sneak or Fly are great for this. As with any excursion from the Secret Base, there's always the risk of encountering either one or more Neighborhood Hazards, or another group of Kids, so keep your snowballs handy.


            - Goin’ Lookin' For Trouble -

            This involves prowling around the neighborhood until you find some other kids, at which point you pelt those kids with snowballs. Why? Cuz Snowball Fights are fun, that's why.  This is also an excellent way of getting extra Thermoses for Cocoa; find some kids, drive them off, and take their thermoses.


            - Going Inside For Cocoa -

            Any time a Kid goes inside for Hot Cocoa, he immediately removes six Slush Points.  However, unlike going inside in search of Ice Monster Parts, going inside for Cocoa causes all of your Ice Monsters to melt.  He may also fill up any empty thermoses that he’s carrying.

            The first time a kid goes inside for Hot Cocoa, he may fill a thermos full of cocoa and take it with him. At any time - EXCEPT during a Snowball Fight - a kid carrying a full thermos can drink it, removing six Slush Points. Only kids can drink cocoa; Ice Monsters can't. In fact, if you pour Hot Cocoa on an Ice Monster, it inflicts six Slush Points on the monster itself! (In a Snowball Fight situation, this requires a Fantasy Check to succeed; failure means that your just spilled some perfectly good hot cocoa all over the place.)

            Any subsequent time that you go inside for Cocoa, you can fill up any empty thermoses that you're carrying.   And on the subject of thermoses:

            Carrying a thermos occupies one hand. Because it takes two hands to scoop up a snowball, you have to drop a thermos that you're carrying first! Alternatively, hand it to another Kid, or to an Ice Monster that has the power to Carry Things. Or hold onto it yourself, and have someone else craft snowballs for you.

            If you Cry Uncle or are Driven Off in a Snowball Fight in which you have previously dropped a Thermos, then you have to leave the Thermos behind, and hope your side wins the fight! Otherwise, the other side can scavenge the thermos.

            If you lose your thermos, you can't get another one automatically; your parents would just scold you for losing it. Picking a snowball fight with another bunch of kids is the most expedient way of getting your hands on a new thermos.

            You can safely stash your thermos indoors or in the Secret Base without fear that another kid might steal it, but if you leave it anywhere else, it's fair game.



            - Assault Fort Joey! -

            Assaulting Fort Joey is a daunting prospect.

            The Towers - From the high vantage points of Fort Joey's two towers, a Kid gets to throw snowballs as If they're a year older than they are. Also, because of the high walls, a Kid throwing a snowball at a Kid in a tower throws as if they're a year younger than they are. Ice Monsters are unaffected by the towers.

            The Snowball Stash - A single kid running back and forth can keep both towers stocked with snowballs, allowing the throwers in both towers to throw a snowball every single turn.

            The Icicle Spikes - Because of the Icicle Spikes around the fort, you can't just rush up and attack the fort. Oh, no. You need a *cunning plan* first.  Without a Cunning Plan prepared beforehand, you can pelt the fort's defenders with snowballs, but you can't actually take the fort… no matter what sorts of Ice Monsters you have on your side.   Mechanically, the Icicle Spikes represent a Peril Rating 15 Fantasy Peril, with the special caveat that you can’t even attempt to overcome it unless you’re acting in accordance with a Cunning Plan.

            At any given time, Fort Joey is manned by either Joey (age 15, and a mean shot with a snowball), or by his younger brother Jimmy (age 7, and a know-it-all brat.) Jimmy is almost always accompanied by a sneaky Slush Troll (Ice Monster Power 7, with the abilities Sneak Around, Slushy Claw Attack, Carry Slushball, and Mock Other Kids.). Additionally, 1-3 other kids will be present (ages vary wildly), and each of them has an Ice Monster with two powers. Note that Joey himself doesn't have an Ice Monster, because he's been too busy improving the fort itself to bother sculpting one.

            If, with the aid of a suitably Cunning Plan, the characters and their Ice Monsters can drive off all of the fort's defenders, and somehow circumvent the Icicle Spikes, then they have successfully taken Fort Joey! Each Kid on the victorious side gets to do a Victory Dance, or a Victory Song. Plus, they each get a Gold Star! (I still haven't decided what Gold Stars do.) But be careful for reprisal raids, for now that you own the fort, Joey and Jimmy and the other kids will be sure to return just as soon as they've fortified themselves with Hot Cocoa… How long can you hold the fort?


            - Bedtime -

            Normally, it's completely up to the GM to decide what Perils, if any, are encountered by the Kids. However, there is one Peril in particular that deserves special mention: BEDTIME. Bedtime is 9:00. Any Kid who is outside at Bedtime will encounter Parents (Reality Peril, Peril Rating 15). If the Kids manage to drive off the Parents, their reprieve is only temporary - the Parents will return again, and soon.

            If Parents prove too perilous, the Kids are dragged inside and off to bed, and while they're in bed, all their Ice Monsters melt. However, once you're in bed, you lose all of your slush points, and while you're having your bedtime snack, you can refill any thermoses that you're carrying.
            Once the kids are in bed, they may try to sneak out of the house. Sneaking out of the house is a Reality Peril, Peril Rating 3, with the special caveat that it must be faced by each Kid alone. If a Kid fails to sneak out of the house, they may try again after an hour. (Remember that the GM has sole authority over the passage of time.)

            The Icicle Spikes surrounding Fort Joey are another special hazard (Fantasy Peril, Peril Rating 15). In fact, the Icicle Spikes are *so* perilous that you can't even perform actions to overcome them unless you are operating within the guidelines of a Cunning Plan. (Cunning Plans were discussed in a previous post.)


            - Midnight Moonlight Magic! -

            Midnight is a strange and magical time, especially on the night of a full moon, like tonight. So far past bedtime, kids are sleepy and Ice Monsters loom larger and more terrifying. For kids who are up all night, the world seems to grow… or perhaps the kids are shrinking?

            Either way, it's important to note when the clock chimes each hour past midnite. After 1AM, all Kids and Ice Monsters add 1 to all rolls, which aids Fantasy Checks and hinders Reality Checks. At 2AM, that bonus rises to 2; at 3AM it is 3; and so on until you reach 6AM.


            - Dawn -   or   – The Fate of Fort Joey -

            Dawn is 6AM. At the dawn of the new day, a warm summer breeze blows in from the coast, and Ice Monsters melt in a matter of moments. Within minutes, Fort Joey will nothing more than a big pile of slush, its proud flag lying in a widening puddle.


            And finally…

            - Gold Stars -

            Several things in Snow Day will earn you Gold Stars.  Gold Stars are shiny and cool. You should be proud of any Gold Stars that you earn. Buy a bunch of self-adhesive gold stars, and prominently place them on your character sheets for all your other role-playing games, to show your fellow players how special you are.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 18, 2004, 12:28:23 PM
            More Schools
            Additional Optional Rules for Snow From Korea

            There are a few, rare combat schools which, rather than having an unusual take on a standard kamae, actually have secret kamae of their own. Generally, these are schools of the more esoteric, empty-handed martial arts that originated in Okinawa and China; it is slightly less honourable to be a member of one of these schools than one of the classical schools of sword combat. Using a secret School kamae is no different than using a normal kamae, though some School kamae have applicability restrictions. Some sample Schools and their kamae follow:

            Eightfold Nest of Serpents School:
            The Nest School, founded as a response to the Two Swords One Heart School, teaches that it is often more appropriate to approach a problem twice than tackle it once.
            Orochi no kamae: The samurai takes on the aspect of the mythical eight-headed serpent who attacks from every direction. This confrontation is split into two identical confrontations, and each is resolved separately; the samurai recieves a -2 penalty to his Facet each time. Neither samurai may switch his kamae from one confrontation to the next. This kamae specifically breaks the rule that no samurai may be in two successive confrontations of the same type.
            Win: Gain a point of the tested Facet.
            Lose: Lose a point of the tested Facet.

            Scarlet Cauldron School:
            The "Akeonabe" School teaches that the best way to defeat one's opponent is to defeat oneself and sublimate the power of this destruction.
            Ô-nabe no kamae: The samurai, taking the School's teaching to heart, burns away a piece of himself in the "cauldron" kamae to fuel his action. He recieves a +3 bonus to his Facet for this confrontation.
            Win: Transfer two points from the source Facet to the target Facet, lose a point of Snow.
            Lose: Lose two points of the tested Facet and one point of any Facet.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 18, 2004, 12:39:09 PM
            This is the final, assembled version of Snow From Korea, for the Chairman's enjoyment and convenience.

            Snow From Korea
            The summer of Nihon is long, and dry, and hot. Your lady love has asked you to bring her snow from Korea to cool her brow. Can you bring it back before it's too late? Will the dragons of the ocean stop you before you return? Will you survive the armies of Korea and the hengeyokai of your own province's outlands?

            The characters in Snow From Korea are samurai men, the devoted lovers of samurai mistresses home in Nihon. They have been sent to Korea (or any of the other barbarian countries of the Sunset Kingdoms) to recover some rare and precious thing, which the samurai call the Snow, from a line in the popular story The Tale of the Heike where one of the court ladies says to her lover, "The summer is hot. Bring me snow from Korea to cool my brow."

            It is your job as a player to make sure your samurai comes home with enough Snow to make his mistress happy, and to make sure that he isn't so terribly transformed by the journey that she'll recognize him when he gets there.

            One player, the Holy Emperor of Korea, (or referee, for a less grandiose title), has the job of describing the samurais' travels to the players. She (I'll always refer to the HEK as "she" and the other players as "he") decides what they encounter on their way, and serves to narrate those things external to the players' characters. It's her job to make the journeys difficult.

            How To Play:
            Getting started:
            First, decide how long the game will be, in terms of encounters the samurai have along their journeys. I suggest that you play at least ten encounters.

            Then, each player (except the HEK) should describe his samurai; he should write a haiku giving some idea of his character. A classical Japanese haiku is an unrhymed poem three lines long; the first and third line are five syllables and the second seven. If you're not Japanese speakers, you may want to write English haiku; don't fret too much about their length. After writing a descriptive haiku, each player should name his samurai, and his samurai's mistress, and decide secretly what the Snow is that his mistress desires.

            The next step is to assign numbers to your samurais' Facets. All the players should agree on a number and divide that amount of points among the Facets as they choose, putting at least 1 in each. Each Facet describes a skill that's important in samurai society; there are three, Awaré, Kenjutsu, and Tanka. Awaré is the samurai's sensitivity, his feeling of the sadness of impermanence. It describes any deep emotion evoked by an external object or person. Kenjutsu measures your samurai's steeliness of spirit and his skill with the blade. Tanka measures his spiritual discipline, skill at poetry, and so forth. If you are using the optional Fighting School, Inheritance, and Culture rules, here is when you should refer to them. Record these initial Facet scores.

            For keeping track of characters in play, I suggest that you obtain a large pile of change, and use piles of coins to represent Facet and Snow scores. These fluctuate rapidly in play, so it's less complicated than writing numbers down.

            Playing:
            The HEK goes around in a circle, describing a scene with each player where the samurai leaves his mistress to go on his journey. In this scene, the names of those two characters and the identity of the Snow should be revealed. Once each samurai has been introduced in this way, the players take turns describing the adventures of their samurai, with the help of the HEK.

            Order of a turn:
            • Challenges: Describe and resolve all challenges that have been issued to the samurai, in the order they were issued. The challengers each decide which Facet to challenge with.
            • Encounter: The HEK chooses a type of encounter for the samurai to face, and it is described and resolved. Just like a challenger, she may choose which Facet the encounter concerns.
            • Issue a challenge: The samurai may choose to issue a challenge to any other samurai.
            • Travel onward: The samurai's player describes the next segment of his ongoing travel plan.[/list:u]Finally, once all the encounters are played out, the players take turns playing out a scene with the HEK where the samurai returns to his mistress, with or without the Snow. Once all these have been played, you can determine who has won the game.
            Confrontations:
            Encounters and challenges are collectively called confrontations. A samurai may never participate in two successive confrontations of the same type. This restricts the options that challenging samurai and the HEK have when opposing a samurai.
            An encounter is a place in the samurai's journey where he comes across something unexpected which tests his abilities and affects his disposition. Any encounter has the potential to change the samurai's Facets. In every case, the Facet being tested is the one at risk; it may be increased or decreased by the encounter. In most cases, another Facet may be affected by the encounter as well, its force being transferred into the tested Facet. We call this Facet the "source." There are three types of engagement:
            • Letter Writing! A good samurai lover will write often and eloquently to his mistress, and sometimes he needs to communicate with other loved ones as well, or simply record his thoughts. He tests his Awaré in doing so, and the satisfaction of writing a good letter brightens his heart but its strain tires his mind and critical faculties; its source Facet is Tanka.
            • Oni Attack! There are many strange beasts, monsters, and ghosts wandering the countryside, and in all cases these creatures are hungry for manflesh or hot living blood. Oni Attacks test Kenjutsu. When a samurai wins an encounter with an oni, it hones his skill with the katana, but it hardens his heart; the source Facet is Awaré.
            • Enlightenment! Taoist priests and Buddhist monks wander the wild lands of Nihon and Korea, teaching anyone who will listen with riddles, stories, and tests of martial discipline. Enlightenment improves (and tests) a samurai's Tanka, but it sways his heart toward peace; its source Facet is Kenjutsu.[/list:u]There are three modes of engagement with confrontations, which the Nihonjin call kamae:
              • Ariake no kamae:In the ariake, or "dawn" kamae, the samurai is suffused with the ki of the world; while he risks little in this mode, being guided by the perfumed hands of fate, he recieves only a minor benefit.
                Win: Transfer a point of the source Facet to the tested Facet.
                Lose: Lose a point of the tested Facet.
              • Kagai no kamae: In the kagai, or "assault" kamae, the samurai throws all his resources at a confrontation, laying himself bare to the consequences. He recieves a +2 bonus to the tested Facet when engaging in this kamae.
                Win: Transfer two points of the source Facet to the tested Facet. Lose a point of any Facet of the player's choice.
                Lose: Lose two points of the tested Facet.
              • Mujintou no kamae: In the mujintou, or "uninhabited island" kamae, the samurai seals himself off from the rhythms of the universe. He can avoid feeling the negative repercussions of his action, in this way, but it is more difficult for him to act effectively. He recieves a -2 penalty to the tested Facet while engaging in this kamae.
                Win: Gain 2 points of the tested Facet.
                Lose: Nothing happens.[/list:u]To find the result of an encounter, you need a number of 6-sided dice. The samurai rolls as many as his tested Facet, modified by his kamae, while the HEK rolls as many dice as the Facet, unmodified. Count all 1s and 6s as successes for each side. If the samurai has at least as many successes as the HEK does, then he wins the encounter. Otherwise, he loses.

                Challenges:
                If a samurai has been challenged, that means that he meets one of the other samurai along his journey, and the two engage in a contest of skills. This occurs on the defender's turn, before he has any encounters. The challenger chooses a Facet to test; the source Facet is the same as when an encounter tests that Facet. Then each samurai chooses a mode of engagement and the dice are rolled as usual; the challenger wins if he has at least as many successes as the defender.

                Example of a challenge:
                Toyotomi Chihiro challenges Izumo no Ennosuke to a meditation contest. Each man will stand motionless on one foot, under the Joong Kyung waterfall. The man standing longest will be the winner. This is a challenge of Tanka.

                Chihiro has a Tanka of 4; he is not confident in his spiritual prowess, so he chooses kagai no kamae to get a +2 bonus to his Facet. Ennosuke, having spent some time as a monk in his youth, has a Tanka of 9, and so he chooses mujintou no kamae; he does not want to strain himself unduly. This means he is less invested in his task, so he takes a -2 penalty to his Facet. Chihiro will roll 6 dice, Ennosuke 7.
                Chihiro rolls 1, 2, 3, 3, 5, 6, so he has two successes.
                Ennosuke rolls 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 5, 6, so he has 3 successes.
                Ennosuke beats Chihiro handily; Chihiro loses two points from his already-low Tanka, making it 2, while Ennosuke adds a point; his Tanka becomes 10.

                Finding the Snow:
                After an encounter where a player rolls the maximum possible successes, he finds a cue that leads him to the Snow. During his next turn, instead of describing an encounter or challenge, he and the HEK should describe together the scene where the samurai obtains the Snow. The Snow when he finds it has as many points as his highest-rated Facet. Whenever a samurai would lose points of a Facet, the player may decide that the Snow is somehow diminished instead and transfer the whole point loss to the Snow.

                Returning Home:
                Once all the samurai have met all their encounters, find the total difference between their initial and current Facets and subtract this number from the score of their Snow. The higher this number is, the warmer the reception that they recieve upon arrival; the samurai with the highest score wins the game.

                Optional Rules

                Fighting Schools:
                Obviously, not everyone in Nihon fights the same way. This is represented through the use of Fighting Schools. Each School has an unusual take on the kamae, a special method with a strength and a weakness. These apply to all types of encounters and challenges, not only those of Kenjutsu; each school teaches a philosophy harmonious with its battle techniques. When creating your samurai, choose one School. To use a School ability, roll a die. On a one or two, the Low effect takes place. On a five or six, the High effect does.

                There are a few, rare combat schools which, rather than having an unusual take on a standard kamae, actually have secret kamae of their own. Generally, these are schools of the more esoteric, empty-handed martial arts that originated in Okinawa and China; it is slightly less honourable to be a member of one of these schools than one of the classical schools of sword combat. Using a secret School kamae is no different than using a normal kamae, though some School kamae have applicability restrictions.

                Some sample Schools and their abilities follow:

                Mirror and Tree School:
                The practicioners of the Mirror and Tree School have trained themselves to respond to every situation in the same way, reflecting or standing still as the necessity demands. Any kamae, usable only in Challenges.
                Low: Your Facet is set equal to your opponent's.
                High: Your opponent's Facet is set equal to yours.

                Two Swords One Heart School:
                The Niten Isshin Ryu teaches that one can approach a problem from two angles at once. Unfortunately this can divide one's attention. Kagai or Ariake no kamae.
                Low: Roll your Facet twice and take the lower number of successes.
                High: Roll your Facet twice and take the higher number of successes.

                Ocean Flower School:
                The Ocean Flower School teaches that strength, like the moon and tide, waxes and wanes. Ariake no kamae.
                Low: You do not count sixes as successes, but roll three extra dice.
                High: You count threes as successes, but roll three fewer dice.

                Eightfold Nest of Serpents School:
                The Nest School, founded as a response to the Two Swords One Heart School, teaches that it is often more appropriate to approach a problem twice than tackle it once.
                Orochi no kamae: The samurai takes on the aspect of the mythical eight-headed serpent who attacks from every direction. This confrontation is split into two identical confrontations, and each is resolved separately; the samurai recieves a -2 penalty to his Facet each time. Neither samurai may switch his kamae from one confrontation to the next. This kamae specifically breaks the rule that no samurai may be in two successive confrontations of the same type.
                Win: Gain a point of the tested Facet.
                Lose: Lose a point of the tested Facet.

                Scarlet Cauldron School:
                The "Akeonabe" School teaches that the best way to defeat one's opponent is to defeat oneself and sublimate the power of this destruction.
                Ô-nabe no kamae: The samurai, taking the School's teaching to heart, burns away a piece of himself in the "cauldron" kamae to fuel his action. He recieves a +3 bonus to his Facet for this confrontation.
                Win: Transfer two points from the source Facet to the target Facet, lose a point of Snow.
                Lose: Lose two points of the tested Facet and one point of any Facet.

                Culture and Inheritance:
                Just like one's knowledge of poetry and strategy can come from many places, one's upbringing can affect one's skills as well. When creating your samurai, you may exchange one point of Facet for a Culture trait or an Inheritance trait. No Facet may be affected by more than one of each type of trait. Every possible Culture and three example Inheritances follow.

                Inheritance:
                • Dayforged Yari: You have a magical weapon - most often a spear - made with a little piece of the Sun herself. This weapon's radiance beats in time with your heart. Anytime you would raise your Kenjutsu, you may redirect the raise to Snow or Awaré instead.
                • Lotus Sutra Armour: You can calm the hearts of beasts and men with a gesture and the words, "Buddha bless you." When challenged, you may flip a coin, and if it lands heads, you may change the challenge to one of Tanka. When an encounter would raise your Tanka, you may redirect the raise to Snow instead.
                • Wind-Carried Sakura Heart: You have a deep, intuitive understanding of the beauty of falling blossoms and melting snow. You can reroll your School die once whenever testing your Awaré. When an encounter would raise your Awaré, you may redirect the raise to Snow instead.[/list:u]Culture: Any Culture Trait adds 1 to one Trait for encounters and to a different Trait for challenges.
                  • Earth and Sky Warrior: The kami of your home province have given you a deep respect for nature and its fragility. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Kenjutsu.
                  • Bureaucratic Prodigy: You were a star at your provincial college, and your family is at least slightly upset that you are gallivanting in the wilds instead of finding a proper job as a clerk or courtier. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Tanka.
                  • Ancestral Daishô: You carry an ancient weapon, which buoys your heart with honour and is legendarily sharp. +1 challenge Kenjutsu, +1 encounter Awaré.
                  • Iaijutsu Enthusiast: You have studied the methods of ceremonial duelling. +1 challenge Kenjutsu, +1 encounter Tanka.
                  • Buson's Haiku School: You know fashionable literature and are well-versed in the spontaneous composition of poetry. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Awaré.
                  • Temple Guardian Training: You have spent time as a sohei, one of the legendary holy berserker-monks of Buddhist temples. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Kenjutsu.[/list:u]Mahoutsukai: Recurring Antagonists

                    There are people in the world who dabble in the dark magic of blood, mahoutsukai. Not honourable samurai, of course! But the mad scholars of Qin, the man-eating savages of the southern islands, even the otherwise reasonable aristocrats of Korea have their own inauspicious powers. These rules allow the HEK to create and play recurring characters, in a deeper and more complex way than by simply describing successive encounters as having the same people in them. The HEK may create a mahoutsukai at the beginning of the game, at the same time as the players are creating samurai. This character is her Big Gun; he can be brought out when she feels the need to give a samurai a particularly hard time.

                    Creating the Mahoutsukai:
                    Creating the mahoutsukai is very similar to creating a samurai. First; the HEK should write a descriptive haiku for the sorceror, and then name him. She should secretly decide a nefarious plan that the mahoutsukai intends to implement. The next step is to assign numbers to his Facets. The HEK has as many points as the players to distribute, and obeys the same rules, with one exception: a mahoutsukai may have 0 in one Facet, but not two. As with samurai, mahoutsukai may also have School, Culture, and Inheritance, if you are using those optional rules. Record these initial Facet scores.

                    A mahoutsukai's Facets mean something slightly different than those of samurai, since he is twisted by darkness. His Awaré is his sensitivity to the fragility of things, and his fondness of breaking them. It is not empathy and consciousness of beauty. Similarly, his Kenjutsu is not his knowledge of the arts of combat; it is his bloodthirstiness and knowledge of inflicting injury. His Tanka represents his twisted, demonic lore. Finally, his Snow score represents his reserves of unholy energy. If you are using the optional Inheritance rules, the mahoutsukai does not benefit from the "finding the Snow" rule; he must redirect Facet gains to his Snow in order to empower himself.

                    Using the Mahoutsukai:
                    In the place of a normal encounter, the HEK may have the mahoutsukai challenge a samurai. The challenge is resolved according to the normal Challenge rules. The mahoutsukai, just like the samurai, cannot participate in two successive confrontations of the same type. In addition, the HEK may only use him once per turn cycle per three samurai, rounding up. (So she may use him once per turn cycle with three samurai, or twice per turn cycle if there are four.)

                    The first time the mahoutsukai appears, the HEK should reveal his nefarious plan to the players as part of the scene.

                    At the end of the game:
                    The mahoutsukai's points are scored at the end of the game in the same method as those of the samurai. If he ends the game with the highest score, then he has achieved his nefarious plan. The HEK should narrate a short scene where he gloats. Nonetheless, this cannot prevent the samurai from returning home safely, nor does it prevent the samurai with the highest score from winning the game.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 18, 2004, 01:47:41 PM
            A Snow From Korea character sheet is available here (http://www.geocities.com/torchbearer_rpg/sfkcharsheet.pdf) (copy-paste the link into your browser or Geocities will deny you your pleasures.)

            Now that I'm done with my game, I have time to gush over all the others...which look simply stunning. Thanks, guys. You all rule.


            Title: Spoilers for Dilmun
            Post by: Palaskar on April 18, 2004, 04:20:04 PM
            Spoilers (GM's eyes only!)

            The Origin and Nature of the Black Ice

            The Black Ice come from another world, a world without a sun -- originally. They were dying in their own world as the Sun, entering from the world of Dilmun, unwittingly caused their icy ecology to thaw and slowly die in the heat.

            But now they have found the world the Sun came from -- the world of Dilmun. And no prize in that world is so beloved by the Sun as Dilmun itself. Here, magic began with the Dawn, where the Sun ordained the first magician-priest. And here, the Black Ice will begin their war both of survival and revenge against the Sun.

            Given these motives, the Black Ice are particularly aggressive towards magician-priests of the Sun, and more inclined to negotiate with Sorcerors than expected (i.e., some, as opposed to not at all.) They may also try to contact magician-priests of the Storm, in hopes of acquiring a godly ally against the Sun.

            Black Ice Magic

            The magic of the Black Ice lies in living, insectoid items.. Such items can have poison stingers, shoot webbing, suffuse the its owner with limited doses of strange drugs,  or  have claws or mandibles as weapons.

            However, such items require extreme cold to work. Thus, they will rarely be encounter in Dilmun; only areas the Black Ice have occupied from the first time they appeared on Dilmun are cold enough to support these items.

            Worldwalk

            What neither the Black Ice or the people of Dilmun know is that they are both pawns of the gods, who are in turn both pawns of the Principles. As the gods travel from world to world, spreading their messages, acquiring allies and enemies, these gods in turn serve the purposes of the Principles, abstract conceptions of primal powers like Fire and Ice, who are the true sources of the gods' powers.

            While the gods may play their own games, they are always aware, that, like mortals, their place is always uncertain. The many worlds lie like islands separated by roiling, primal energy, each a piece to won or lost. If the Black Ice win the world of Dilmun, the power of the Sun -- throughout the many worlds in which he is worshiped -- would start to wane from its current high point. If the Sun wins the world of the Black Ice, his power would continue to wax.

            At the furthermost East and West of the world of Dilmun lies the dual mountain of Mashu. It is the same mountian that rises in both east and west, for it bends space itself and is the portal through which other worlds -- worlds like that of the Black Ice -- may be accessed from the world of Dilmun.

            Such beings that travel the worlds are called Worldwalkers. They bring with them their magic and their gods, threat to some, friend to others. The Black Ice are only a taste of what may await the people of Dilmun, should the mountain of Mashu be opened.

            Typically, Worldwalkers' magic does not work in new worlds (like the Black Ice) since it relies on the workings of a different world. For example, should a magician-priest of the Sun journey to the world of the Black Ice, he would find his powers greatly diminished, for the Sun has only recently entered that world. A sorceror in the world of the Black Ice would find no gods to limit his powers...but his powers would work differently, as the world of the Black Ice is strong with the Principle of Ice, and weaker with the Principle of Fire.

            Known Principles include Fire, Ice, Air, Earth and Wood. Fire incorporates light and heat. Ice incorporates darkness and cold. Air incorporates wind, movement and change. Earth incorporates solidity, law, and strength. Wood incorporates all plant and animal life.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: ethan_greer on April 18, 2004, 05:09:05 PM
            The muse is fickle. I must bow out.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: JamesSterrett on April 18, 2004, 05:26:10 PM
            I might have too, but Cor wouldn't let me.  It's helpful, in some ways, when your muse has steel-toed boots.  :)

            As several have noted, the quality of the competiion is a bit daunting.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Lxndr on April 18, 2004, 06:07:10 PM
            A quickie that's still rough around the edges, and very sloppy, but still entered.  My third entry.  Ha!  I hope to find time to clean it up somewhat before tomorrow, but if not, please still consider my humble entry.

            ---------------------
            Dawnstorm

               Imagine time as a river covered in ice, a rampaging current pushing everything from past to future, with no way out.  Now pretend that something had poked through the icy cover - something strong enough to crack the ice of time.  In certain times and certain places, there are holes in the ice - small islands where things don't work like they should, where the world itself seems not-quite-normal.  

               For centuries they've been considered mere curiosities and nuisances - places where magic is dead, and even the power of the gods won't tread.  Whole maths have been created by wizards to predict where these islands will arrive next, so they won't be taken unawares.  Scholars have debated their origins, and their meanings.  The gods themselves aren't talking - out of fear, or maybe just embarassment.  But that's all changed.

               A thousand years from now, the Magus Albraxas will use his talent to conquer the world.  He will teach himself how to use these as stepping stones to carry himself onto the ice, and skitter across to another hole in time, another island.  Moving from time to time, place to place, Albraxas has gathered thousands of soldiers with this same talent - his actions ensuring they would never be around to affect history.

               But some of those with the talent slipped through Albraxas's fingers, helped by the gods, escaping once they saw the sort of tyranny he possessed.  And they gathered their own soldiers across the ice - the ones Albraxas missed, the ones he never thought to look for.  The storm has been brewing for millennia - but the war will finally be waged in the largest island on the icy sheet of time - the dawn of the world.

            -

               The war isn't coming - the war has started.  Your characters are the guerillas, the rebels fighting against Albraxas and his soldiers.  The island at the dawn of the world is the largest known dead zone - so this will be an old fashioned war, without the support wizards can provide, or the benefits of the charms, talismans, and enchanted swords that are the lifeblood of any experienced soldier.  It is also the most isolated island - if you fall on the field of battle, or if you forget to ice out in time, it'll be half a lifetime before you'll be able to walk on the ice again.

               And if you think a normal battlefield is chaotic, imagine a battlefield where people can traverse the length of the battle in an instant, both in space and in time - where the combatants can start at the end, go to the beginning, and end in the middle.

               The Battle of the Beginning is divided into a number of discrete phases, each of equal length, numbered from 1, at the beginning, to 100 at the end.  This length can be changed for shorter or longer games, but the assumed default is 100 phases - the alleged game record sheets are all built for 100 phases.  Each player can have their character visit each phase only once - when that phase is visited, mark off the appropriate number on your character sheet.

               Phases, in turn, are divided into junctures - points in the battle that are potentially crucial to the outcome.  The number of junctures varies by character - faster characters have more instances in which they can act, but generally have less of an impact on each instance.

               The first time a phase is visited by a player character, it is given a 'tidal' value, measuring how strong the tide of battle is - or more specifically, the strength of Albraxas in that phase.  Each action a player takes, then, can help turn the tide.  But the followers of Albraxas don't sit idly by - they resist any action taken by the rebels.  And whenever the tide is altered, it affects the tide of any later phase that's already been visited.

            -
               One player takes on the role of Albraxas.  All the other players must create a character, one of the rebels fighting against the Mad Magus.

               These characters have three attributes - Backbone, Battle and Blitz.  Backbone indicates how well they can burden the attacks of the soldiers of Albraxas and recover; Battle determines the effectiveness of their offensive maneuvers; and Blitz tells us how quickly the character can act and react.  Players have 13 points to distribute between these 3 attributes.

               The most important part of any character, though, is their Dynamism.  Dynamism is the product of Battle and Backbone, and is spent to perform actions in each juncture of a phase.  After each phase, or whenever the character spends a juncture recovering, the character gets a number of points back equal to his Backbone, up to his maximum.  Without Dynamism, a character can perform only the most trivial of actions.

               The available actions, listed in order of Dynamism cost, are:

               * Recover - this is a free action, and restores a number of Dynamism points equal to the character's Backbone, though never over their starting value.  A player may also choose to sit out an entire PHASE - this heals one point of Backbone, and fills the Dynamism pool entirely.
               * Battle - this costs one Dynamism, and pits the character's Battle vs. the Tide.  If the Battle wins, Tide is reduced by one; if the Tide wins, it goes up by one; on a tie, nothing changes.
               * Backbone - this costs one Dynamism, and pits the Backbone vs. the Tide.  If the Backbone wins, Tide is reduced by one; if the Tide wins, the Backbone score of the character is reduced by one; on a tie, nothing changes.
               * Blitz - this also costs one Dynamism.  Roll Battle vs the Tide - if Battle wins, the Tide is reduced by the # of successes rolled; if the Tide wins, it is increased by the # of successes it rolled; on a tie, Backbone is reduced by one
               * Bonus - Dynamism points can be spent on a 1:1 basis to give bonus dice to any roll the player makes.  This must be done before the roll.

            If a character allows his Backbone to be reduced to zero,

               * Travel - this may only be done between phases, before the free Dynamism recovery.  The cost is equal to the square root of the difference between the phase's numbers - always use the # of the phase you were just in, not the phase you left, and always round up.
               * Clone - a character may Clone, using time travel to create multiple instances of themselves in a Phase.  This costs 10 Dynamism per Clone, and Dynamism must also be spent separately for each instance.  Characters may not Recover in the same Phase that they Clone - if they do, all Clones immediately disappear.  A character can also use Clone to revisit a Phase they visited in a previous turn.

               This is a dice pool game, using dice of any kind, as long as they're all the same shape.  As in Sorcerer, the rolls are always opposed - the roll with the highest die winning, and the number of successes equal to the number of dice the winner has that are higher than the highest die of the loser.  The difference here is that, if the highest dice are equal, you don't look for the second highest - instead, the contest is considered a tie.  The smaller the dice you roll, the more likely a tie will be.

               The player taking on the role of Albraxas always rolls for the Tide.  He only has a Dynamism score - starting off with 11 for each player at the table, and each turn recovering a number of points equal to the Tide in Phase 100.  He has no maximum, and can spend these points on a 1:1 basis to give bonus dice to his Tide rolls.
            -

               When the game starts, the Battle of the Beginning is already going the way Albraxas likes it.  The starting Tide in each Phase is equal to its tens digit, plus one.  Players may choose to start their characters in any Phase.  Whenever Tide changes in a Phase, that change propagates to all later Phases.  Remember, a player may never enter a phase twice.

               Dawnstorm happens in simultaneous turns.  All the players other than Albraxas declare and write down what they're doing for each of their junctures, and how much Dynamism they're spending.  Once that's declared and set in stone, everything is resolved simultaneously - with Albraxas getting to spend bonus dice to increase his rolls after seeing the player's declarations.  The Mad Magus is rather a bastard that way.

               The goal is for the players to get the Tide in Phase 100 to drop to 0 before they run out of Phases they can visit.  If they do, then Albraxas is defeated.  If not, he reigns forevermore.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Darcy Burgess on April 18, 2004, 06:44:51 PM
            Chairman-san.  This unworthy Chef supplicates himself before your form, grown chubby on so many tasty dishes.

            I apologize in advance for my less than satisfactory Code-Fu.  Text in "quote" boxes is flavourtext, not an actual quotation.  I couldn't find a way to make the "Quote:" disappear.

            May I present "May this Icy-Dawn Infused Island Monkey no longer darken my doorstep with Gamist Goodness sauce."

            Or,

            ISOL
            Can you reach the child within?

            Children are natural mythologists: they beg to be told tales, and love not only to invent but to
            enact falsehoods.
            - George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo

            Children begin by loving their parents.  After a time they judge them.  Rarely, if ever, do they
            forgive them.
            - Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance


            Gentle Reader, a moment of your time?
            ISOL is many things - a game, a creative framework, an introspective exercise.  When I set out to write ISOL, my goals were simple – to put together a little storytelling game that I could play with my group with as little prep work as possible.  We’re a lazy bunch, continually trying to dodge the extra work of being a GM, so that had to go, too.  Finally, I wanted to keep everyone involved in the game as much as possible.

            This has been a fun ride.  Hopefully, ISOL will make you smile, or cry, or at least roll a lot of dice!  Have fun, and immerse yourself in childish flights of fancy!

            A Rude Awakening
            Quote
            SHE awoke to a strange grinding noise.  Befuddled by the bright pink sunlight that dappled the rocky beach, she searched for the sound’s source.  Her sleep-stained eyes failed her, and her heart nearly bounced off her brain when the jack-in-the-box leapt up at her.
            “Wakey, wakey sleepy head!
            You’ve been bad, the children said.
            You’d better run!  You’d better hide!
            ‘Fore dawn beats back night’s dark tide!”

            Stumbling backwards, reeling from the tiny clockwork’s accusatory glare, she slipped on something (sticky?)  Tumbling down, down, down, she fell – until she landed in a huge fluffy mound of cotton candy strands that clutched and tickled her.

            “This is disgusting!  Do you know how long it’s going to take to get this shirt clean now?”

            She was so angry that she didn’t see the Sugar-Plum Spider sneaking up from behind...


            You’re an adult.  You might be a grouchy old coot, or a workaholic mom.  Whoever you are, you’ve committed a crime against the children – now before you freak out, it’s not that kind of crime.  It’s more than likely that you’ve done something that every adult does at one time or another – you lost your temper, you didn’t buy your daughter that toy she really wants, or maybe it’s something as simple as you were tired after work and didn’t want to play.  Whatever it is, it was a huge deal to a child, and now, it’s payback time.  You find yourself trapped in a dreamworld where the children are the masters, and you have to escape.  The only way out is to thaw your frozen heart and appreciate the world as a child would.

            In ISOL, each player takes on the persona of an adult trapped in the Eidolon (the children’s dream).  Through cooperative as well as competitive storytelling, your group will weave fantastic tales of the challenges faced, the monsters bested, and the traps avoided.  While playing the game, always try to remember that the Eidolon is a childish place – this is where the children fantasize and dream!  In ISOL, you cooperate to tell exciting stories, but you also compete against each other to escape the Eidolon – only one adult will make it out.  Will it be you?


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Darcy Burgess on April 18, 2004, 07:05:56 PM
            ISOL part two
            (part one Here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10762&start=179))

            The Toybox
            Although little creative preparation is necessary to enjoy a session of ISOL, you will need to round up a few things.

            Table - Chairs are optional, but a decent-sized table that everyone can fit around is an absolute must for a game of ISOL.  This just isn't one of those games that you can comfortably play in the back of a car on your way to Moose Jaw.

            Adult Content - Your character record.  A plain piece of paper will do nicely.  Alternatively, feel free to print out this one (http://www.squishybug.com/isol/pcrs.pdf).  Always print in large letters when filling out this sheet!

            Dice - ISOL makes use of tried and true six-sided dice.  However, to help aid game play, dice are classified by colour.  Below are the categories of dice, along with their suggested colour (the actual colour doesn't matter, so long as each category has a discrete colour.)

            Boon Dice (White) - The higher your boon dice result, the better things go for your character.  Each player will need one Boon Die, and one or two spares wouldn't hurt.

            Bane Dice (Black) - These nasty little devils counteract your Boon Dice.  Just like their lighter cousins, each player will need one Bane Die, ibid on the spares.

            The Stranger (Green) - There's only one in the game, and everyone's going to be squabbling over it.  The Stranger, the Sun and the Crystal (see below) are collectively referred to as Story Dice.  The Stranger is tied to themes of isolation.  Story dice can be used to help or hamper a character, depending on who is rolling them.

            The Sun (Red) - Works just like the Stranger, except that it's tied to themes of strong emotion.

            The Crystal (Blue) - No big surprise, the Crystal is tied to another thematic group - childishness.

            The Island - An index-card sized piece of paper.  Preferably colour-coded to match the Stranger (I like to use construction paper).  The Stranger begins the game on the Island, and the Island begins the game in the middle of the table, where everyone can reach it.  The Island, Horizon, and Glacier are collectively referred to as the Planes.

            The Horizon - Same trick as the Island, but colour-coded to match the Sun.

            The Glacier - I believe I detect a trend.  Colour-code this slab of dead tree to match the Crystal.

            Sprite/Gremlin Tokens - Any two-sided token will do, so long as you can tell at a glance which is the "good" and which is the "bad" side.  There also needs to be room to mark who this token belongs to, as every player will need one.  Othello (tm) chips work really well, if you have some white grease pencil for marking the black side.  White poker chips scribbled on with black marker work too!

            Story Tokens - If you aren't drowning in glass stones by now, you soon will be.  Make a trip to your local flower shop and get a big old bunch of these pretty coloured stones.  Any colour will do, even mixed.  Every player will need a dozen.

            The Quill - There's only one writing instrument allowed at the table during ISOL.  That way, everyone will be forced to focus on the story at hand.  Try to pick a good, dark felt marker that writes with a nice, sharp point.  Also, make sure that it will be legible when used on the Planes
            (more on that later).  Since everyone shares the same Quill, don't stick it in your mouth...


            Character Generation
            or, taking a tour of the Adult Content

            All players think of a character concept.  There are two requirements that must be met:
              - the character must be an adult
              - the character must not have a “proper” name

            As an example, something along the lines of “humourous old fellow who needs a cane to walk around” would be fine, whereas “my grumpy uncle Frank” wouldn’t be.

            Next, each player must sum up their character concept in five words or less (“little words” don’t count).  Make sure to include the following in your summary:
              - a physical descriptor
              - a mental or personality descriptor
              - a prop that the character carries (this can also be a particular article of clothing, such as Indiana Jones’ signature fedora)

            To follow up on our previous example, a good summary would be “Wacky old man with cane”.  This summary becomes your character’s “name” and is what all players will refer to him as throughout the game.  Short forms may develop over time (such as “Wacky old guy”.)

            Write your character’s name in large letters across the top of the Adult Content.  Print as legibly as possible, as all players need to be able to read what you’ve written!

            Next, fabricate a “Naughtiness” for your character.  This is the slight that they have committed against the children – what has brought them into the Eidolon.  Remember, this isn’t meant to be a dark, horror-ridden game.  Try to keep things light.  Write your Naughtiness across the bottom
            of your Adult Content.  Once again, print clearly for the sake of the other players.

            The final step in character creation is strictly mechanical.  Gather up your Story Tokens, place ten of them in the spaces provided.  The remaining two tokens go on the “Ice” and “Dawn” tracks at the end nearest the base of the arrow – the Dawn track is nine spaces long, and the Ice track is
            seven spaces.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Darcy Burgess on April 18, 2004, 07:32:19 PM
            ISOL part three
            (part two Here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10762&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=180))

            The Rest of the Pre-Game
            Character generation is the most critical portion of setting up for a game of ISOL.  However, there are a couple of other steps as well.

            Generate Themes
            These three themes will be intertwined with all aspects of a game of ISOL – they are what makes your game even more unique from the last game played.  If you find the suggestions provided overly limiting, feel free to add to or replace the suggested themes (there are well over 200
            possibilities as presented, however!)

            Roll the story dice (put them back on the Planes when you're done!) and consult the following tables:

            Stranger (Alone)
            1 - Confusion
            2 - Darkness
            3 - Fear
            4 - Helplessness
            5 - Insignificance
            6 - Silence

            Sun (Emotion)
            1 - Frustration
            2 - Glee
            3 - Jealousy
            4 - Melancholy
            5 - Mischievousness
            6 - Obsession

            Crystal (Child)
            1 - Bravery
            2 - Capriciousness
            3 - Contrariness
            4 - Curiosity
            5 - Hedonism
            6 - Sweetness

            Using the Quill, write each theme on the appropriate Plane.  Once game play begins, the appropriate Story Die will may only be used (for good or ill) if its theme can be worked into the story.

            At this point, players should examine all of the Adult Content (paying careful attention to the players' chosen Naughtinesses), to get a feel for the competition.  Now, each player concocts a "Secret Naughtiness" for each of their fellow players, keeping in mind the themes of the game presented.  These Secret Naughtinesses should be kept just that – secret.  Get a hold of the Quill and scribble them down on a sheet of paper, and keep it hidden.  Just like when generating your own character’s Naughtiness, try to remember that what we as adults think of as a “crime” is very different from what children perceive as a Naughtiness.

            Pass your Sprite/Gremlin token to the player to your left.  At this point, all tokens should have the “Sprite Side Up!”  Once the game has started, Sprite/Gremlin tokens will move from player to player.  However, they “skip” over their owner.

            That’s it.  You’re now ready to get the story rolling.


            Game play
            The game begins with the player who suggested playing ISOL.  Game play progresses to the right once a player’s turn is done (the opposite direction that the Sprite/Gremlin tokens go).  During your turn, a new element of your character’s story will be created.  When play proceeds to the next player, their character’s story will become the focus, and so on.  Remember that although you’re telling multiple concurrent stories, the characters can not interact with each other – they are all alone in the Eidolon.

            Keep in mind that as a group, you are trying to improve creative flow.  Do not engage in “blocking” another player’s ideas.  If you don’t like where a given story is going, don’t simply say “no”, but redirect it by adding to it in a new and creative manner.

            Each player’s turn follows a series of steps, two of which are optional.  Along with the rules, an example of Game play is included – following the adventures of The Tired Chef in a Pouffy Hat.  Unless noted, assume that it’s the character’s player who is speaking.

            1a) Waking Up (turn one only)
            Narrate how your character finds herself in the Eidolon (use the Third Person, using the character’s Name as much as possible, instead of pronouns).  Make sure to include how she finds out about the rules – that she has to become like a child to escape.  Once this is established, start
            your character on her journey.  End your description with a “cliffhanger” that will open up interesting possibilities for your first encounter in the Eidolon.

            Quote
            The Tired Chef rubbed his eyes.  He rubbed them twice.  He rubbed them thrice!  He couldn’t believe his eyes – there was a little fairy dancing on his belly!  She wagged her wand at him, a look of sadness on her face.  In a tinny voice she said, “I hope you make it home.  You’re stinky!”  With that, she flew up into the sky, a cloud of fairy dust drifting down from above.  It tickled the Tired Chef’s nose.  He knew that he had to sneeze – he held it in once.  He held it in twice!  But, he could not hold it in thrice!  With a massive snort, the Tired Chef sneezed!  The Chef’s eyes watered from the force of the sneeze, and when they cleared he was surprised to see that the fairy dust had all been blown away, except for a few specks that spelled out a message:

            YOU WERE NAUGHTY.  IF YOU WANT TO GO HOME, YOU’LL HAVE TO BE NICE. PLEASE BE NICE, STINKY MAN!

            “I must be dreaming” said the Chef.  Adjusting his pouffy hat, he stumbled off through the underbrush, when much to his surprise...

            1b) The lead-in (all turns after turn one)
            Quickly summarize where your character’s story had gotten to on your last turn for the sake of the other players.  Ideally, you should also make reference to the cliffhanger at the end of the previous scene.

            2) Scene Creation
            One or more of your opponents now have an opportunity to offer up a conflict for your character to overcome.  For the duration of the turn, this player is known as the Narrator.  There are a few guidelines that every potential Narrator should consider when creating a scene:
              - it is considered good form to work one (or more) of the game’s themes into your scene
              - a successful resolution of the scene should bring the character closer to either discovering, overcoming, or facing his naughtiness (either his public naughtiness or the secret naughtiness you have for the character).
              - in the initial presentation of the scene, some indication should be given as to a possible solution

            Quote
            [narrator] The Chef’s hat, now properly perched on his little head, was nearly knocked to the ground by a very large, quickly moving...something.  The Tired Chef stopped short, and rubbed his eyes again – before him was a clearing full of large, twirling trees.  He had to crouch very low to the ground so that their bottom branches did not hurt him.  The Tired Chef, shaking his head in disbelief looked even harder at the trees – how would he make it past such an obstacle?  Maybe the answer lay in the little red earmuffs that adorned the top of each tree, which he caught a glimpse of every so often when one of the trees seemed to slow down for a brief breather.

            If more than one player has a scene to offer up, the player with the most Story Points left gets to Narrate.  If there is still a tie, the player whose character is facing the challenge chooses.

            3) Quick Q&A
            The character’s player may have some questions about the scene.  Questions may be asked, but should be phrased as musings that the character would have, and be presented as such.

            Quote
            Hmmm...I wonder if I could go around this twirly wood, thought the Tired Chef.
            [Narrator’s reply] No, that would be quite impossible – I’m far too tired, and I want to get home to bed.  I’ll have to find a way through this wood, although I don’t think that I could while the trees are twirling.  It’s far too dangerous!


            4) Course of Action and Conflict Resolution
            The character will decide on a solution to the puzzle and present it to the other players.  So long as it is feasible within the constraints already presented, the character should be allowed to proceed.  If the course of action is not permissible, the player should come up with an alternate
            plan.

            Now, simply coming up with a good plan is not enough to get a character through a tough scrape – the character has to be up to the task.  In ISOL, all conflicts are resolved by rolling one Boon and one Bane die.  If the Boon die comes up higher than the Bane die, the scene goes in the character’s favour.  The reverse is true if the Bane die comes up high.  Ties are a special case, and are discussed below.

            The question now is, how does this mechanic differ from flipping a coin?
            The answer: both players involved scrutinize the character’s Name, probing for elements that may be applicable to the conflict.  For every element that could help the character, roll an extra Boon die (and add an extra Bane die for each element that could hamper the character).

            Only the highest die of each type is considered.  If they are tied, the tie is broken by pool size (if you have more Boon dice, ties are resolved in favour of the character).  If the pools are of equal size, ties are broken by your Sprite/Gremlin token – Sprite side up favours the Boon pool, and
            Gremlin side up favours the Bane pool.

            Quote
            “I have it!” cried the Tired Chef.  I’ll crouch very low, and run very quickly.  That way I’ll be unlikely to be hurt.  Then I can get home to my bed.

            [the players confer and agree that this is at least possible.  The Chef’s player grabs his Bane and Boon dice, but before he can roll them, the Narrator stops him short – “he is the Tired Chef after all, doesn’t seem very athletic to me – sounds like an extra Bane die”.  The other players concur.  The Chef’s player scrutinizes his character’s Name, and can’t find any way to leverage an extra Boon die.]

            I’m not sure this will work, but it’s the best shot I have.  I hope my bed is as comfy as I remember it!

            [The player rolls, and gets Boon 3 and Bane 1 and 5 – oh no!  Something has gone wrong for the Chef!]


            5) Narration of the Results
            Either you or one of your fellow players will take over the Narrator’s role once the dice have been cast.  Locate your Sprite/Gremlin token.  The player currently holding it may be the one narrating the result of your roll.  Sprites narrate success, and Gremlins narrate failure.  If the inappropriate side of the token is currently showing, then you narrate the result.  For instance, in the Tired Chef example, the player holding the Sprite/Gremlin token would only narrate the failed scene if the token was “Gremlin side up!”.

            Guidelines for Narrating Results
              - results, whether successful or not, should include a description of what happens after the character makes their gambit
              - there is no “trying again” in the case of failure – the character must be redirected to another challenge
              - the character can not be seriously harmed or killed as a result of failure – find another way to redirect the character
              - make sure to end the narration with another “cliffhanger” to open up possibilities for the next scene


            Quote
            The Tired Chef loped off across the clearing, ducking and weaving below the twirling trees branches.  “I’m almost through” puffed the Chef.  Just as it looked like the Chef would make it to the other side, he got too close to a shorter tree that was spinning particularly quickly.  With a loud WHOOSH, the tree’s branches knocked the Chef’s hat off of his head, into the thick brambles on the border of the clearing.  “Oh no!  My pouffy hat!  I can’t bake without it!”  With that, the Tired Chef charged off into the underbrush to retrieve his pouffy hat.  Suddenly...


            6) Bookkeeping
              - At the end of a turn, the active player moves the token on the Dawn track – bringing it one turn closer to the end of the game.
              - If the character successfully dealt with the challenge in a way that confronted his Naughtiness (don’t forget this may also be a secret naughtiness), move the token down the Ice track one step.
              - It is the Narrator’s responsibility to reveal a Secret Naughtiness if she thinks that it has been successfully overcome.
              - The Narrator removes one Story Token from her sheet to take credit for a job well done.
              - The holder of the Sprite/Gremlin token passes it to their left.  If the token was “satisfied”, then it is also flipped over.  A token is “satisfied” when its holder gets to enact the appropriate Narrative duties.
              - Jot down a quick summary of the scene just presented on the Adult Content, to act as a refresher when play returns to that character.


            7) Victory (optional)
            Once all characters have moved the Dawn token to its last spot, the game is over.  The winner of the game is the player whose character managed to thaw his own heart (reduced his Ice track to the bottom).  If more than one player managed to guide their character to this end, the player with
            the fewest Story Tokens remaining is declared the victor.  If there is still a tie, all players vote on the winner.  It is entirely possible that no one wins a game of ISOL, and all characters remain trapped in the Eidolon.

            Characters that do not manage to escape the Eidolon are now permanently trapped in the dreamworld.  Players may use them as re-occurring non-player characters in future games of ISOL.  Characters who did escape will never appear in the game again, having learned their
            lesson.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Darcy Burgess on April 18, 2004, 07:39:37 PM
            ISOL part four
            (part three Here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10762&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=181))

            Regarding Story Dice
            These are powerful “wild card” tools used in conflict resolution.  They can be used by a character’s player to help his character, or by a player’s opponent to hinder his character.  If a player currently holds a Story Die, he can use it as an extra Boon die so long as he can convince the other players that the Story Die’s theme (as printed on the appropriate Plane) bears on the scene or its resolution.  Likewise, any opponent can use a Story Die as an extra Bane Die if the same conditions can be met.

            So, why would a player Narrate a scene which would allow his opponent to use a Story Die to his advantage?  Simple – if an opponent uses a Story Die in a scene you narrate, the Story Die passes to you.  Likewise, if an opponent uses a Story Die against your character, you get the Die after conflict resolution has concluded.


            So, How do you get the Story Dice off the Planes?
            Again, this is simplicity itself.  The first three players to offer up a scene take a Story Die as their reward.  They choose from the remaining Story Dice still displayed on the Planes.


            Naughty, Naughty
            Naughtinesses are the reasons that characters are trapped in the Eidolon.  Scenes should always deal with these slights, and characters should be given a real opportunity to correct their mistakes.  Use allegory, metaphor, and simile to bring these sins to light.  Often, reversing the roles and making the character a victim of the particular Naughtiness is an effective device.  When players seek to reduce their character’s Ice score, they can only do so for their public Naughtiness every other scene.  Narrators must consider this, and are strongly encouraged to include Secret Naughtinesses in their scenes as much as possible.  Failure to present a viable Naughtiness means that the Narrator does not get to remove a Story Token from her Adult Content – they did not present a viable scene for the character to overcome.


            A Shorter Game with More Players
            If you have a large group of players who want to play a Game of ISOL, it could make for a very long session.  To remedy this situation, merely reduce the length of the Ice and Dawn tracks, making sure that the Dawn track is two steps longer than the Ice track.


            Wrapping Up
            It's been a slice.  Sweet dreams!


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Christopher Weeks on April 18, 2004, 08:03:42 PM
            I started thinking about this immediately after Mike opened this thread.  I jotted notes here and there over the week, not really expecting to get it done, but I find that I've finally typed it in.  I've never written a whole game before, but what the hell.  I was using the working title "Diamonds Are Forever." It's not nearly so cool now that someone else was thinking the same thing.  I guess I'll call this simply,


            ICE


            Ready,

            Before time started counting, there was only blackness and the place of the angels.  For the eternity that was before our time, the angels were creatures of perfection -- occupied only with imagining wonders.  Somehow, a great and terrible illness struck and the angels were grievously wounded.  One by one, they withered and fell.  As the last angel stood dying, she unlocked the mysteries of their immortal imaginings and, with the sweep of her arms the universe was born.

            The world of land and ocean, of fire and rain, of creatures and men, came forth from nothing and the flow of time began.  The souls of the angels were gone -- passing to some other world or out of existence entirely.  But their bodies remained.  Perfect crystalline forms among the chaotic new world.  The material of their remains: harder than stone or metal, as clear as any solid can be, always cool to the touch, and fairly dripping with power, came in time to be called Ice among the men of the world.  The bodies of Ice, over time and time, met the limits of their strengths.  Cracks and breaks caused the form of the angelic bodies to vanish, replaced by rough, sharp chunks.  These, in yet more time, were reduced to many, many small pieces.  Relics of the dawn of time.

            And men did covet the Ice.  For with Ice -- with the tiniest sliver of angelic power, men could accomplish great things.  But the Ice is too perfect for man to long behold.  Too bright is this light from the dawn of time to gaze into without going blind.  Those who too long sought to harness the power of the Ice forgot their connections to other men.  Men whose great works benefited all others lost track of themselves, withdrawing inside, unable to connect or to care for others.  They became islands among men, lost and alone in a sea of humanity.  Many went mad, simply stopped eating, and wasted away.  Some, as it is told, turned to stone and their remains can still be found in this or that secret place.

            In time, a caste of men arose to protect humanity from the blinding light of the dawn.  Men who had a gift were born -- able to sense the use of Ice from great distances, to sense one another, they banded together to form The Guild.  To collect and destroy the Ice.  To protect people from themselves.  The early members of The Guild rounded up vast collections of Ice and did what they could to make it inaccessible.  It is said that much was dropped into the deepest seas while some was buried in the magma of active volcanoes.  There is no record of actual destruction of Ice.  And there are those -- the naysayers, who claim that The Guild has merely stolen these relics from honest people trying to get ahead in order to maintain power.  Many Guild members have met with untimely death at the hands of an angry mob, but each has sworn an oath of life to honor their destiny.

            Set,

            Ice is a game of story telling, role playing, decision making, and resource management.  When you play Ice, no matter your role in the game, your job is to entertain your fellows.  Remember this.  It will improve your gaming experience.  In a game of Ice, one player is the referee and has a number of special duties.  The other players are each primarily concerned with operating their character in the shared game world.  Both the referee and the other players will sometimes: act "in character" when portraying the behavior of their characters, generate outcome statements during conflict resolution that will guide narration, describe scenes in which one or more player-character appear, provide input to any and all other players about each of these aspects of play or anything else -- typically in the form of "it would be cool if this happened" statements, and manage character resources primarily (but not solely) during conflict resolution.  The eferee's additional duties include: managing narration, adjudicating statement generation during conflict resolution, interpreting conflict outcomes, and awarding resources to the other players.

            The player characters in Ice are Guild members.  The defining characteristic of Guild members is The Sense.  Each member has two special sensory powers that the common people of the world do not.  Foremost, they can sense the use of Ice, sometimes from great distances.  These characters know the exact direction to the sensed phenomena, approximate distance to the user (to be described by the referee in vague terms that indicate distance accurately within an order of magnitude), and the number of relics used during the event.  The number of Ice crystals used also determines the range out from the locus of use that such detection can take place.  One crystal will disturb the aura for about fifty feet, two for about a mile, three for fifty miles, and four or more will alert all sensitives in the world.  The other ability is that anyone with The Sense can detect their peers.  If one person with The Sense sees another, she will know it.  Children who are born with The Sense are either: recruited, murdered, or hidden very well.

            A traditional icon of role playing games is the character sheet.  In Ice, you almost don't need one.  Mechanically, Ice characters consist primarily of a sack of six-sided dice.  Writing the Character's name and history is easier on a sheet of paper, so you should go ahead and do that.  It also gives you a good place to record the key to your dice.  Ice characters are described with a number of characteristics, each of which must be represented by a die color.  You will choose what the characteristics are, how many there are and what weight each is given.  Characteristics can be: personal abilities, vices, virtues, personality traits, skills, possessions, or anything else you can think of.  The only real limitation is that each must be indicated with a single word.  These characteristics represent inner resources that you bring to bear when resolving conflict.  There are advantages to having few and other advantages to having many.  In addition to the colors needed for representing your characteristics, you should also have a number of clear and black dice available to represent your Ice resources and your islandization.  Each character begins the game with one Ice die and one Islandization die.

            A conflict occurs when different characters in a scene want different things to happen or when the referee decides that something a player has just stated about her character's actions is difficult.  Conflicts are resolved by drawing an equal number of dice from the bag of each involved party, rolling some or all of those drawn, and following a process to specify statements about the conflict in turn that are ultimately synthesized by the referee (with appropriate player input) into a narrated resolution.  The number of dice drawn for conflict resolution is determined by the complexity of the conflict.  A simple static challenge is a three-die event.  The vast majority of opposed conflicts will be five die events.  The players and referee may choose an alternate number of dice for a conflict when it seems appropriate.  

            The first step to resolving a conflict that your character is involved in is to draw the appropriate number of dice, unseen from your bag.  Before rolling any of these dice, you have the option of putting any number of them back in your bag -- reducing the number that you have available for your roll.  (Ice Dice cannot be put back and islandization dice must be.)  Once everyone has made their decisions about dice placement, the remaining dice are rolled.  Whomever has rolled the most of the lowest roll made (typically ones) is designated first conflictee (ties for most ones are settled by most twos, etc. and finally to the player closest to the left of the player who initiated the conflict) and will begin specifying outcome statements.  There are three kinds of constraints on the outcome statements: scope, consist, and order and number, but the following rule always applies: the statement should be as brief as possible with only one actual effect.  

            These outcome statements will be made by the involved players in six rounds -- one for each possible die result.  Starting with the first conflictee, everyone with at least one 'one' showing on a die will make an appropriate statement.  The trick to this is making the statement fit the constraints while still steering the story in the direction you want.  Also note, each statement is constrained by the statements that came before.  If another character swings a sword at yours, your next statement may address a response to that swing, but may not undo it.  

            The scope available to a player is dependent on the largest number of her dice rolled in a color-number combination.  In most cases, there will be only one die of a given color-number combination, but occasionally there will be more.  When a player has at most one die of a color-number, the scope of all of that player's statements for the current conflict is personal.  Her statements may only regard her character's behavior (e.g. "Alex swings at Barb" or "Christine try to kiss Dalton" -- where the acting PCs are Alex and Christine).  If a player rolls two of a color-number, her statements may include multiple characters involved in the current conflict (e.g. "we decide that fighting about it is senseless and retire to a pub to discuss" or "the smith and his boys get the upper hand").  If a player rolls three in a set, the scope expands to include people local to, but outside, the conflict (e.g. "a squad of the town guard rushes around the corner").  And finally, in the event that a player rolls four or more in a set, that player's scope is essentially unlimited (e.g. "a lightening storm blows in" or "The city these traders just left is plague-infested -- the disease is just starting to express on their lead man").  

            The second, and most difficult of the constraints to work with, is the consist of the dice in question.  During the first round (in which rolls of 'one' are being statementized) your statement must pay homage to the characteristics for all dice resulting in a 'one,' by including some aspect of that characteristic.  This inclusion of the rolled characteristics is repeated for each round of statement making.  Routine contact with Ice channels power from the dawn of time.  Acting as this conduit erodes the psychological filters that normal humans have that help in deciding how to react to varied situations.  Ice users often have extra personal resources to draw upon, but are only able to do so somewhat chaotically.  This is part of the challenge of the game and should be considered: during character creation, and when deciding which dice to put back in the sack after you draw.  Consider, if your character is smooth-talking the palace guards and you have to make a statement encompassing "sword" and "acrophobic" you may find it challenging, though hopefully fun.

            Finally, it is worth understanding the number of and order in which the outcome statements are made.  The first conflictee will start, making an appropriate statement.  The player to her left who also has at least one die with the starting number will produce an outcome statement appropriate for her scope and dice.  Once everyone who rolled at least one of the starting number has included their statement, increment the die value and repeat, once again starting with the first conflictee if she has one or more of that die number showing.  (Frequently, the starting conflictee will have had at least one 'one' and you will have a round of statement making for each of the six numbers on the dice.)

            After all the statements have been made (and written down as they are stated, for most conflicts and most referees) the referee will narrate the outcome of the conflict.  She too, may not undo or ignore any of the statements.  She should understand the intent behind, as well as the letter of, the statements made and narrate a best-fit resolution.

            The role of Ice and Islandization dice have thus far only been alluded to.  The use of Ice by the characters is the only form of magic that exists in the world.  The degree to which a character's actions are magical is the degree to which Ice dice are drawn from the bag (or used intentionally in uncontested behavior).  When generating statements that consist of Ice dice, you should include a degree of fantasy in the statement.  Islandization dice are merely representative of the ineffectuality and self-absorption caused by the use of Ice.  Their role in outcome statement generation is limited to providing reduced statement power.

            The flow of the available dice is the real mechanic of character effectiveness.  As dice are used in conflict resolution, they leave the sack of available resources.  This is one reason the ability to put them back is important.  Islandization dice are gained through the use of Ice.  Ice dice are gained through narrated acquisition of Ice crystals.  Islandization dice slowly leave the system.  At the end of each game session, each player should remove one of these black dice before recording what remains for recomposition before the next game session.  Ice dice leave the sack the same way they get there, by narrating the character doing something with their Ice.  It could be as simple as giving the crystal to someone else, but there should be powerful in-game social obligations to rid the world of the Ice rather than just passing it off to some other hapless schmuck.  Finally, regular characteristic dice are gained through award by the referee under three circumstances: Any scene in which a character is an active participant ends with the player adding a die of her choice to her sack.  Whenever a player, through description of her character's behavior, dialog, reaction, etc arouses exceptional response (often a round of "oooh" from her fellows) the referee should feel free to award a bonus die of some appropriate characteristic.  Finally, when a character is played in a way that is particularly evocative of a listed characteristic, the referee can award a die of that type.  These awards can be a bit tricky.  It is a matter for each group to find a satisfying set of criteria to follow so that awards are none of: too frequent, too scare, or imbalanced.  Remember that all the players should always feel free to make suggestions to one another.  This includes "reminding" the referee when such awards are appropriate.

            Go!

            Now you know the constraints on the setting placed by this game -- the rest is up to you.  Dark ages or renaissance, semi-historic or fictitious world, these are matters of aesthetic and left to you.  The ultimate goal of The Guild, if not the player-characters in your game is to return the Ice to the original, pristine, "dawn of time" state in which it was a force of beauty and goodness.  You may choose to incorporate any of a variety of philosophies that deal with the metaphysics of Ice and angels or you may ignore those issues and focus another way.  The game leaves this up to you.

            You also know how to generate characters and resolve conflicts.  You may have noted that there is no system in place for damaging characters.  It is appropriate for any character to suffer superficial damage as the outcome of any conflict when appropriate.  It is also appropriate for any player to indicate through statements that their character is available for more serious damage up to and including death.  There is only one circumstance in which the game dictates character death.  If at any time, all the dice in a player's sack are Islandization dice (black), that player's character turns to stone.  The player has full narrative rights to describe the exact circumstance of the transformation -- given that she, again, may not undo any of the conflict that was just narrated.

            By default, the game is be about how to use the Ice responsibly without losing yourself.  As your character acquires crystals/shards/pieces of Ice, you should be adding Ice dice to your sack.  Any time to get rid of a piece of Ice, remove one.  As the characters (often, NPCs), engage in mundane (conflict-free) tasks, they have the opportunity to use Ice to aid them.  Because the use of Ice is the point of the game, this use (how and why) and the results should receive some narration.  Each time Ice is used for such a task, roll a die for each piece used.  Whenever a six is rolled, add an Islandization die to that character's sack.

            The selection of characteristics is a bit funny.  Considering the extremes, a character with one die each of twenty types will have a more difficult time narrating conflict outcome statements, is certain to have a limited scope in conflict, and has a much easier time gaining dice through play, while a character with twenty dice of one characteristic always knows what to be planning for, has the best chance of broadly scoped outcome statements, and the hardest time keeping her sack of dice fed.

            In the first paragraph of the "Set" section above, you read that all players set scenes up.  Here's how that works.  The non-referee players should each request (or be prompted for!) descriptions of scenes in roughly (or exactly) equal amounts.  Interspersed through these scenes are scenes framed by the referee.  All the players will be expressing their agenda through the scenes they choose.  The referee will also be weaving the stories of the players together and providing entertaining adversity.

            Chris


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Ben Lehman on April 18, 2004, 08:51:33 PM
            So now that I've gotten a chance to actually read the other entries--

            Wow.

            To pick out a few:  Snow From Korea, Seadog Tuxedo, ISOL, Dweomnerpunk, and Assault on Fort Joey strike me as not only brilliant pieces of game design (they all have amazingly cool little ideas in them that I don't think have ever been done before) but also as imminently playable in their present state.  Like I would love to just sit down and play them, right now, and I probably wouldn't even need to make a rules call.

            Wow.

            yrs--
            --Ben

            p.s.  The entire text of Polaris as it stands right now is posted at http://www.livejournal.com/users/benlehman/28225.html .  This is mostly for the convenience of Chairman Holmes (the game text is, with the exception of one word, exactly identical to what appears in this thread) and anyone else who wants to read the game in one place, because i refuse to post 10,000 words of repeat on the Forge.

            p.p.s.  The one word is that King Polaris, in the backstory, is now called Polaris I, in keeping with naming traditions amongst the people.

            p.p.p.s. whether the people are insects, elfin snow sprites or, in fact, Europeans is left to the discover of the explorers.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: John Harper on April 18, 2004, 09:19:39 PM
            Well, I've made good progress on my game only to realize the awful truth: it's not fantasy. Not even with the very generous interpretation of that term for this contest. It's just... not. I'm gonna move development over to a new thread in Indie Game Design under the game's proper name: SPECOPS.

            Domo arigato gozaimashita, Chariman-san! The experience in Game Design Stadium was truly an honor.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: hanschristianandersen on April 18, 2004, 09:29:17 PM
            These games are begging to be put into an anthology; maybe you call it the Iron Game Chef Fantasy Cookbook.

            I'd certainly be willing to buy it; trebly so if it were a print volume...

            -Hans


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Dav on April 18, 2004, 09:58:18 PM
            Chairman-sama:

            Will the games of IGC be placed in a thread that allows them to be more easily viewed (ie, without the smack talk and such)?  Or, are we doomed to witness creation from this measly vantage?

            Dav


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: hardcoremoose on April 18, 2004, 11:02:04 PM
            The
            Days and Nights
            of
            Onna Oa


            Foreword

            Well, here’s my entry.  I wish I had had more time to polish it, but it's late, and time has been short this past week.  

            Forgive any historical inaccuracies.  

            - Scott


            The Situation

            It’s 1943.  You’re a marine stationed on the island of Onna Oa, a tiny locale in the Pacific theater.  You and your fellow marines – about fifty in total – have been charged with keeping it out of the Japs’ hands.  It should’ve been a simple task; Onna Oa’s not large enough to be useful as an airbase, not close enough to anything to be strategically significant.  Apart from the bugs, it should’ve been a few months of light duty and sunshine in an island paradise.

            Instead, none of you are coming home alive.  Some crazed Japanese general or admiral – whatever it is they have – has decided to make Onna Oa his priority.  Every day at the crack of dawn you’re greeted with a fresh assault – footsoldiers supported by a few bombers in the air.  Yeah, the Japs are sitting ducks wading ashore like that, but they’re crazy, and they have numbers.  It’s a war of attrition that you’re losing badly.

            When you first arrived on Onna Oa, it struck you as being queer.  It wasn’t just the weird statues that littered the hillsides with their smiling, moss covered faces.  It wasn’t just the strange little shrines hidden throughout the jungles, like tiny homes for who-knows-what.  It wasn’t just the one cyclopean shrine either, palatial above the jungle canopy, carved from the perimeter of the long dead volcano that in some past epoch gave rise to the island itself.  It wasn’t any one of those things, but something else…something you never quite shook.

            On the night following the first assault you figured it out.  You figured it out the moment the ogre – the ogre with the flaring tusks and onyx mask – came out of the jungle and took you to play baseball.  Of course, you had to use the limbs of dead Japs as bats, and their heads for balls.


            What The Hell is Going On?

            Onna Oa is a magical place, home to spirits of bygone ages seeking refuge from the mortal masses.  During the day they rest, but at night they emerge from their hiding places.  They’re not overjoyed to find their home besieged by humans, but they’re sympathetic to the plight of the unfortunate Marines.  These are men doomed to die lonely and meaningless deaths far from home.  Overcome with sadness, the spirits take it upon themselves to bring some joy into these mortals’ last days.

            The problem:  These spirits can see into the souls of men, but they only barely comprehend what they find there.  They offer solace in the form of wishes fulfilled, but misunderstanding can turn a simple act of charity into one of perversion.  As a suffering Marine facing inevitable death, trapped in a place equal parts heaven and hell, can you seek refuge in your heart while protecting it from corruption at the same time?


            Set Up

            To play, you’re going to need a few things.

            Pencils and paper, of course.

            Dice, six-siders.

            A Dawn Counter.  You could use a quarter, with heads representing daytime and tails representing nighttime, but a cooler counter would be a plain coaster with a picture of the sun painted on one side and the moon on the other.  Or you could do something with the Japanese flag…that would be kinda’ cool.

            Some tokens.  Pennies or poker chips will work fine.  I’d buy a box of ammo and use the individual rounds as tokens, but that’s just me.

            Characters

            Every player character is a Marine of the rank of Private.  The only other information you need to know about your character to play TDaNoOO is:

            His Name.
            A Nickname.
            His Appearance.
            A Personal Detail that all the rest of the characters know about him.


            Overview: How The Game Works

            The Days and Nights of Onna Oa is divided into two “phases”:  the Assualt phase and the Dream phase.

            The Assault phase is unlike the rest of the game, in that it’s almost entirely random, and is pretty much always the same.  The dice are rolled, first to determine if any Casualties are inflicted, then to determine if any of those Casualties are player characters, and finally to determine whether the Casualty is actually a Fatality or not.  Frequently, as a result of the Assault phase, players are required to reveal details about their character’s personal lives – their hopes, wishes, fondest memories, etc. – and that information is used in the Dream phase by the GM.

            In the Dream phase, the GM creates scenes for the characters in which they meet and deal with the strange spirit residents of Onna Oa.  The spirits are trying to be hospitable, trying to comfort the men in their last days on Earth, but their attempts are sometimes pretty bizarre.  It’s the GM’s job to take what the players have given him in terms of personal information about their characters and create corrupted, compelling visions of the characters’ inner desires.


            The Dawn Counter

            The Dawn Counter has two sides – one representing Daytime and one representing Nighttime.  When the Daytime side is showing, the Assault phase is in effect.  When the Nighttime side is showing, well, you know…it’s the Dream phase.

            At the end of the Assault phase, the Dawn Counter automatically gets flipped from Daytime to Nighttime.  The Dawn Counter can be flipped from Nighttime to Daytime with the consensus of any two players.


            The Assault Phase

            Every morning at dawn the Japanese army launches another raid on the shores of Onna Oa.  They land their troops, put their planes in the air, and shell the coastline, doing their best to kill a few Marines.  In the end, more Japs die than Americans, but not enough to deter their effort.

            At the beginning of the Assault phase, each player decides how many Tokens they want for the upcoming Dream phase.  They then roll that many six-sided dice.  Each six-sided die that comes up “odd” (i.e., 1, 3, or 5) is considered a Casualty.  Take only those dice and roll them again.  If any of those dice come up “1”, the player’s character was one of those Casualties.  All other results indicate an NPC Casualty.

            The GM should frame scenes depicting the deaths of NPC Casualties and how they impact the player characters.  For each Casualty rolled by a player, that player must reveal one personal fact about their character – a reason for living, brought out by the death of friends and companions.

            If the Casualty is the character himself, that character dies, unless the player reveals one personal fact about their character and sacrifices all Tokens in the upcoming Dream phase.  If the player does this, their character is wounded, but not fatally.

            At the conclusion of the Assault phase, the Dawn Counter gets flipped.


            The Dream Phase

            The Dream phase is the part of the game people will recognize as “role-playing”.  The GM will present situations to the players, to which they will respond.  The central conflicts stemming from these situations should always involve the spirits of Onna Oa – who can be as weird and as wild as the GM’s imagination will allow – and the personal information revealed about the characters, but filtered through the strange perceptions of the island’s denizens.

            This isn’t easy.  This isn’t a dungeon crawl, and it’s not about fighting “hostile” spirits.  The GM would do well to play up the confusion and frustration of being unable to communicate, the inhuman nature of the spirits, and the general weirdness of it all.  Don’t forget, as GM you have NPCs besides the spirits which you can turn to too – other Marines, and even the “faceless” Japanese soldiers.

            Conflict resolution is of the Drama variety.  When there’s a question about an outcome where two or more possible results are likely, the GM has final say (although the GM can never choose an outcome that would include the demise of your character), unless a player whose character is involved in the conflict spends a Token, in which case he gets to determine the immediate outcome.  The use of Tokens to earn a desired outcome is especially important when you realize that you can use these when interacting with spirits to make them understand you.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: talysman on April 18, 2004, 11:07:36 PM
            IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

            (this pretty much wraps it up for IceRunner. there's probably little setting things I forgot, like the Fae, and probably a ton of typos, too; but this is enough to present as a complete game, a dish for the Chairman.)

            part 5 (part 1 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114445#114445); part 2 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114814#114814); part 3 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114955#114955); part 4 located here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=115092#115092))

            Gameplay: styles of play

            playing IceRunner is simple: figure out your goals as a group and the goals of each character, then "run with it", with the GM responding to the players' decisions and filling in missing background details. the GM doesn't need to overprepare for the game: just a list of some important NPCs and their needs and desires can be enough to wing it, as long as the GM knows what the players want, for themselves and for their characters. group goals are best defined as one of three general play styles for IceRunner: Punk, Noire and Righteous.

            Punk style focuses on the rebelliousness and the antisocial aspects of the sorcerous subculture. in a punk IceRunner game, the characters can be antiheros, mostly on the bad side but with an occasional glimmer of goodness. characters will mostly be outright outlaws and hermits instead of moles; players won't make much effort to keep their characters integrated with the mainstream. for more experienced groups, even an occasional Cursed PC (vampire or werewolf) might be acceptable. the questions being asked are "is `honor among thieves' enough? can you trust all sorcerors, just because you are all in the same boat? should you ever treat a non-sorceror as anything other than an enemy?"

            Noire style focuses on the paradoxes of this dual-stream society. officially, the Bobility and Clergy are on the side of good, defending against threats both worldly and otherworldly; the violent rampaging armies and the subversive corrupting sorcerors. yet, the sorcerors work together as a large support group that crosses political and cultural boundaries, while decent society is oppressive and fractious; the upright nobles secretly hire sorcerors to further their own dastardly schemes, and priests impose their unbending morality, punishing tiny infractions of the letter of the law while ignoring major breaches of the spirit. PCs will include one or more moles and will tend to maintain tenuous contact with the society that rejects them. the questions being asked here are "which is more important: integrity or community? do you hate society because it is oppressive, or hate oppresssion because it corrupts society? how deep is the taint?"

            Righteous style focuses on the ideals espoused by the clergy. in a righteous IceRunner game, the PCs are all Holy, with perhaps just one or two sorcerors attempting to reconcile themselves with the Church. players will send their characters on missions to defeat pockets of sorcerous evil, or will investigate hints of corruption within their parish or even within the Church or the Nobility itself. the questions being asked here are "how fine is the line between good and evil? and who draws it? is redemption possible for those who have abandoned normal society? how much leeway should you allow?"

            Gameplay: player goals

            once the overall style has been decided, as well as any color elements the players would like to see within that style, the players can set needs, desires and goals for their characters. needs and desires should form a part of the character concept mentioned on the character sheet. what is this character's immediate need? some sorcerors may have just fled persecution in their home village and may need a new identity; others may have a cursed family member who needs help, or may need to distract a suspicious neighbor. needs are short-term and demand an instant solution. desires, in contrast, can be a little vaguer and more of a long-term goal; sorcerors may desire redemption, reconcilliation with family, revenge against an enemy, justice, transformation of society, or many other things. the point of play for each player, then, is to explore what specifically might meet those desires.

            in play, many needs will show up as a series of short-term goals in scenes. the object of the scene would be to do 5 points of "damage" to the Obstacle blocking that goal. if the goal is to get past the duke's guards watching the bridge for a suspected warlock, that warlock might make a series of stealth rolls to try to build up 5 points of "sneak past bridge" damage... and if the guards are accidentally alerted during this attempt, the warlock may be making evasion rolls to build up 5 points of "escape guards" damage. the GM might also break up a large goal like "escape the dungeon" into a series of smaller goals, like "get out of the cell", "get past the warden", and "get through the gaol door", each with a 5-point "damage" goal to overcome.

            fulfilling desires will almost certainly involve character improvement. IceRunner does not include formal "experience points"; instead, all improvements are made through play, by seeking out the appropriate circumstances where such improvements can be made and working under those circumstances to make the improvement. there is even a semi-formal method for doing this in play, for each variety of improvement. it is based on the example above of breaking a large goal into smaller goals, but there are a few points that will be similar for many different kinds of improvements.

            ordinary advantages can be added by addressing three goals in play: find someone who can help you gain that advantage, negotiate with that character for assistance, then work to add that advantage. the middle goal may itself wind up being elaborated by sidequests or complications. for example, if a player wants a character to become an alchemist (to add rerolls when making potions,) the character would need to find someone who is already an alchemist (5 points of "search damage",) persuade that alchemist to part with the secrets of the art (5 points,) perhaps retrieve something of value as payment for training (another goal, or perhaps even a series of subgoals...) and then actually do the work to learn alchemy (5 points of "learning" damage.)

            unnatural advantages are gained in much the same way, except that you can't just study an unnatural advantage like "become invisible" the way you would study arts and sciences; the "5 points of learning damage" must be accompanied by 5 magic points invested by enchantment into the body and soul of the character who wants to gain that advantage. thus, there might be an additional goal to accomplish before beginning the final stage: find an area with the right kind of bonus magic dice, to boost the improvement rolls.

            a character's Estate and Class are both really kinds of advantages: Estate counts as an ordinary advantage, while Class counts as an unnatural advantage. so a player may want to improve a character's station in life by adding an additional Estate background, such as rising to the Nobility: seeking out a king willing to ennoble the character, persuading the king through noble deeds to proceed with the ennoblement, and finally being trained in the manners of the court (how to *act* like a noble.) ranks within the nobility and the clergy exist as well, and a character may wind up with other goals, trying to build up a minor fief into a powerful duchy. and if a player wants to add an additional bonus Magic Die used in different circumstances (becoming gifted in Witchcraft in addition to Enchantment, for example,) that would be the same process as for adding an unnatural advantage, with the final stage requiring an investment of magic points.

            Gameplay: general flow of play

            here is a summary of some of the issues you will see arising through play during a game of IceRunner, from both an ordinary player's viewpoint as well as from the GM's viewpoint. first, a word about control and authority: the GM does not really control the story, but does have final authority on the story. what this means is that the players, when they select their character concepts and the playstyle desired, are letting the GM know what kind of challenges they would like to see and where in general they would like the story to go. the GM doesn't create a plot to match these desires, but rather creates details that could facillitate that story, as well as potential challenges that could make the story more complicated. the players respond to these details and challenges, and their response indicates where they want the story to go next: more violent? more cautious? more idealistic?

            some of the player's responses will need validation: can that warlock completely control the bishop as if he were a mere puppet? other players may object to how reasonable an action may be; if the player doesn't want to modify that action, it is the GM's duty to act as final authority, using the feel of the playstyle (Punk, Noire, or Righteous) and the general "gritty, realistic, lowtech, low magic" setting feel of IceRunner as a guideline for what should and should not be allowed. the GM also has the final authority over whether a particular goal should have one stage, three stages or many more stages. in any authority case, the GM can follow suggestions, but it is the GM's job to make the decision.

            with all these complications and challenges the GM is tossing into the story to make it more interesting, and given that characters in IceRunner have flexible but low-powered abilities, players are going to want a general plan on how to achieve goals. remember the general format of resolving conflicts: the GM describes the scene, including any obstacles; the players state their general intentions; they choose which of their advantages they want to use to boost damage and which to save for potential rerolls; the players and GM compare advantages on both sides to determine what the total basic damage will be, then decide on what the backfire effect might be; the players roll in initiative order (highest total basic damage first; effects are described, and rerolls are taken if desired. players may find that their odds of winning a quick victory are low; it's best if they plan ahead by using other rolls to build up temporary situational modifiers. results on dice rolls can be carried over: characters can perform simple preparations as individual rolls first, to earn a point or two, then carry these over into advantages or rerolls on the main action. and if the important roll doesn't seem good enough, players may opt to carry the meager points earned over as temporary situational advantages instead of as a point or two of damage: it's all up to how they feel like approaching the challenge.

            and now, a word to the GM about how to set challenges: do not focus on killing characters, or stopping them from "shortcircuiting the adventure". there *is* no adventure, remember? it's all what the characters decide to do. the GM's duty again is to provide interesting events for the characters to be involved in. these are going to be of two types: minor challenges, which may sometimes be difficult and sometimes simple, but should never be dull or completely frustrating; and major challenges, which are "major" in terms of importance. what makes a challenge major is the temptation to use magic in a situation where Curse Dice may be invoked; it's a major challenge *because* there's a greater risk. this does not mean that the players will actually choose the magical way out, or won't figure out a way to use magic without invoking the Curse Dice; it's the decision that's important, not the roll. there should only be a small number of major challenges, so that they stand out as important events.

            what kinds of major challenges to use depends on the playstyle chosen. if you are playing Punk, and if the players seem to be shooting for revenge against opressors, you would want one of the major decisions to be a chance for revenge at the risk of a curse. if the characters become robbers, put a tempting treasure in an enchanter's tower with a Curse embedded in the door. if you are playing Noire, have a wicked count order a major pogrom against innocent foreign-born merchants -- with the execution in broad daylight, or on holy ground. you can save the merchants, but you may get Cursed. is it worth it?

            Righteous playstyle may focus more on major challenges that aren't on holy ground, but are under favorable circumstances to sorcery. if you use magic to capture the warlock at the crossroads, is it pure faith, or is it sorcery?

            all three playstyles will also have "semi-major challenges": important decisions that are simple to achieve, do not necessarily invoke a Curse, but directly address the issues raised in play. you're hunting the friar who accused you of sorcery publicly and sent you on the run... and then you find him, but he doesn't seem to recognize you and protests he has never been to your home village. does he speak the truth? if you kill him and find out he wasn't to blame, that there was an imposter, does that matter?

            in summary: the GM will keep tossing out potential challenges in scenes, which players may accept or reject, which requires a response from the GM, who must keep the game flowing. the players, for their part, must provide motivation for their characters, responding to the GM's challenges as they see fit. all of this happens within a framework of a gritty pseudomedieval world where power is scarce, but the characters must use what little they have to get what they want.

            it's dweomerpunk, and it's an IceRunner's world.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: talysman on April 18, 2004, 11:25:16 PM
            Iron Chef Laviolette collapses into a chair, sweating heavily from slaving over a hot stove for an entire week and completely exhausted. but the dish has been served! and he notes gratefully that he has received notice from some of the other chefs. ah, good! he stands to make a speech:

            Quote from: Iron Chef Laviolette

            with so many fine dish ideas simmering in their saucepans, from snowball fights to pirate penguins to cultural extravaganzas in Korean and Inuit legend, it's nice to feel like a respected colleague! congratulations are in order for all, you've done a prodigious job. and now I will have the time to taste the other chef's dishes more carefully, to savor the details. mmmm! bon appetit!


            he moves to sit once more, pauses as he remembers something, then addresses the Game Culinary Academy once again:

            Quote from: Iron Chef Laviolette

            oh, and also, I would like to note that I wrote the entire dweomerpunk game without once saying "he say you IceRunnah".


            he smiles and collapses again.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 18, 2004, 11:36:19 PM
            I couldn't resist.
            Whispers in the Door
            A Snow From Korea variation

            In Nihon, the summer is long, and dry, and hot, and all the men are abroad, seeking snow to cool the brows of their wives. But the courts are not silent; the halls are not still. The samurai ladies and the retainers of the daimyos are still about, weaving secrets.

            The characters in Whispers in the Door are samurai ladies whose husbands and lords are abroad; in the absence of the men it falls to the wives to hold together the power of a clan, through deft manipulation of people, even men.

            It is your job as a player to make sure your samurai retains the family's honour and assets, and to gather Secrets, which are the strongest avenue to power in the courts of Nihon.

            One player, the Glorious Emperor of Nihon, may he live a thousand years (or referee, for a less grandiose title), does not play a samurai; he (I will always refer to the GEN as "he" and the other players as "she") has the job of describing the samurais' encounters to the players. He makes decisions about the things that happen to them as time passes, and narrates those things external to the players' characters. It's his job to make the season difficult.

            How To Play:
            Getting Started:
            First, decide how eventful the summer will be; this determines the length of the game. I suggest that you play at least ten turn cycles worth of encounters (With particularly large groups, you might with to play less.) It is essential that you decide the length of the game beforehand.

            Then, each player (except the GEN) should describe her samurai; she should write a haiku giving some idea of her character. A classical Japanese haiku is an unrhymed poem three lines long; the first and third line are five syllables and the second seven. If you're not Japanese speakers, you may want to write English haiku; don't fret too much about their length. After writing a descriptive haiku, each player should name her samurai, and her samurai's husband.

            The next step is to assign numbers to your samurais' Facets. All the players should agree on a number and divide that amount of points among the Facets as they choose, putting at least 1 in each. Each Facet describes a skill that's important in samurai society; there are three, Awaré, Houjutsu, and Tanka. Awaré is the samurai's sensitivity, her feeling of the sadness of impermanence. It describes any deep emotion evoked by an external object or person. Houjutsu measures your samurai's method and artfulness, her ability to use subtle Shinto and Taoist magic. Tanka measures her spiritual discipline, skill at poetry, and so forth. With the exception of Houjutsu, these are identical to the Facets in Snow From Korea. If you are using the optional Fighting School, Inheritance, and Culture rules, here is when you should refer to them. Record these initial Facet scores.

            For keeping track of characters in play, I suggest that you obtain a large pile of change, and use piles of coins to represent Facet and Secrets scores. These fluctuate rapidly in play, so it's less complicated than writing numbers down.

            Playing:
            The GEN goes around in a circle, describing a scene with each player where the samurai realizes that she needs to take responsibility for the well-being of her house. In this scene, the names of those two characters should be revealed. Once each samurai has been introduced in this way, the players take turns describing the adventures of their samurai, with the help of the GEN. One full round of the samurai players is a "turn cycle". The "introduction" round and the closing round at the end don't count for the purposes of the predetermined game length.

            Order of a turn:
            • Challenges: Describe and resolve all challenges that have been issued to the samurai, in the order they were issued. The challengers each decide which Facet to challenge with.
            • Encounter: The GEN chooses a type of encounter for the samurai to face, and it is described and resolved. Just like a challenger, he may choose which Facet the encounter concerns.
            • Issue a challenge: The samurai may choose to issue a challenge to any other samurai. She only gets one challenge per turn.
            • Resume business: The samurai's player describes what she does, now that this particular tide of inconveniences has been stemmed.[/list:u]Finally, once all the encounters are played out, the players take turns playing out a scene with the GEN where the travelling lords return from their journeys. Once all these have been played, you can determine who has won the game.
            Confrontations:
            Encounters and challenges are collectively called confrontations. A samurai may never participate in two successive confrontations of the same type. This restricts the options that challenging samurai and the GEN have when opposing a samurai.
            An encounter is a point in time where a samurai comes across something unexpected which tests her abilities and affects her disposition. Any encounter has the potential to change the samurai's Facets. In every case, the Facet being tested is the one at risk; it may be increased or decreased by the encounter. In most cases, another Facet may be affected by the encounter as well, its force being transferred into the tested Facet. We call this Facet the "source." There are three types of engagement:
            • Letter Writing! A samurai with a responsible husband will have many letters to reply to, and will often need to perform feats of paperwork, organization, and arbitration. She tests her Awaré in doing so, and the satisfaction of writing a good letter brightens her heart but its strain tires her mind and critical faculties; its source Facet is Tanka.
            • Magical Shenanigans! There are many strange beasts, monsters, and ghosts wandering the countryside, and in the courts there are unscrupulous courtiers with bound kami, and demon-possessed courtesans, and worse things. Magical Shenanigans are all about the samurai's dealings with the supernatural; they test Houjutsu. When a samurai wins such a confrontation, it hones her art and her methodical ability, but hardens her heart; the source Facet is Awaré.
            • Cutting Words! There is nothing more dangerous in the Summer Court than a sharp look from the Dowager Empress or the boy-Emperor. Cutting Words confrontations are generally those where an emotionally-charged conflict is cleverly concealed under seemingly innocuous remarks; this requires great self-restraint and a facility with words. Mundane feats of cleverness generally fall under this Facet as well. This lateral thinking undermines the structural thinking required for Houjutsu, its source facet.[/list:u]There are three modes of engagement with confrontations, which the Nihonjin call kamae (these are identical to those presented in the previous game):
              • Ariake no kamae:In the ariake, or "dawn" kamae, the samurai is suffused with the ki of the world; while she risks little in this mode, being guided by the perfumed hands of fate, she recieves only a minor benefit.
                Win: Transfer a point of the source Facet to the tested Facet.
                Lose: Lose a point of the tested Facet.
              • Kagai no kamae: In the kagai, or "assault" kamae, the samurai throws all her resources at a confrontation, laying herself bare to the consequences. She recieves a +2 bonus to the tested Facet when engaging in this kamae.
                Win: Transfer two points of the source Facet to the tested Facet. Lose a point of any Facet of the player's choice.
                Lose: Lose two points of the tested Facet.
              • Mujintou no kamae: In the mujintou, or "uninhabited island" kamae, the samurai seals herself off from the rhythms of the universe. She can avoid feeling the negative repercussions of her action, in this way, but it is more difficult for her to act effectively. She recieves a -2 penalty to the tested Facet while engaging in this kamae.
                Win: Gain 2 points of the tested Facet.
                Lose: Nothing happens.[/list:u]To find the result of an encounter, you need a number of 6-sided dice. The samurai rolls as many as her tested Facet, modified by her kamae, while the GEN rolls as many dice as the Facet, unmodified. Count all 1s and 6s as successes for each side. If the samurai has at least as many successes as the GEN does, then she wins the encounter. Otherwise, she loses.

                Challenges:
                If a samurai has been challenged, that means that she meets one of the other samurai in the court, and the two engage in a contest of skills. This occurs on the defender's turn, before she has any encounters. The challenger chooses a Facet to test; the source Facet is the same as when an encounter tests that Facet. Then each samurai chooses a kamae and the dice are rolled as usual; the challenger wins if she has at least as many successes as the defender.

                Example of a challenge:
                Toyotomi Megumi is preparing to hold a costume ball, to which she invites Izumo no Emiko. Emiko sees from the wording of the invitation that Megumi is challenging her to bring the more impressive costume, so she calls her weavers and they make a trip to the silkworm-kami's shrine, seeking its advice on how to create the most nearly impossible gown.
                This is a challenge of Houjutsu.

                Megumi has a Houjutsu of 6; she is comfortable with her skills, but neither reckless nor overly cautious, so she chooses ariake no kamae to leave her Facet unaffected. Emiko has a Houjutsu of 8, but she wishes to widen that gap further, in hopes that it will unbalance Megumi to be shown up at her own ball; she isn't intensely worried that the (unlikely) consequence of her failure will significantly disadvantage her in the future. She assumes kagai no kamae for the +2 bonus to her Facet. Megumi will roll 6 dice, Emiko 10.

                Megumi rolls 1, 1, 2, 2, 5, 6 so she has three successes.
                Emiko rolls 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, so she has three successes also.
                Emiko just barely defeats Megumi (because the challenger wins ties). As a result, Megumi is embarrassed at the ball and loses a point of Houjutsu, so her score becomes 5; Emiko transfers two points of Awaré to Houjutsu and decides to direct her point of Facet loss there as well, so that her Houjutsu becomes 9.

                Learning a Secret:
                After a challence where a player rolls the maximum possible successes, she learns something useful about one of the other samurai, a Secret. During her next turn, instead of describing any confrontations, she and the GEN should describe together a scene where the samurai reveals to someone that she knows this Secret. The samurai gains Secret points equal to her highest-rated Facet. Whenever a samurai would lose points of a Facet, the player may decide that the samurai uses her shadowy influence to prevent this loss, redirecting the whole point loss to Secrets.

                Autumn Descends:
                Once the season has ended, find the total difference between each samurai's initial and current Facets and subtract this number from the score of her Secrets. The higher this number is, the better she has maintained the house's well-being; the samurai with the highest score wins the game.

                Optional Rules:

                The Combat Schools rules from Snow From Korea may be directly imported into this game. It should be simple to translate the mahoutsukai rules as well.

                Culture and Inheritance:
                Just like one's knowledge of poetry and strategy can come from many places, one's upbringing can affect one's skills as well. When creating your samurai, you may exchange one point of Facet for a Culture trait or an Inheritance trait. No Facet may be affected by more than one of each type of trait. Every possible Culture and three example Inheritances follow.

                Inheritance:
                • Mirror of Amaterasu-Omi-Kami: You have a magical artifact - most often a mirror - made with a little piece of the Sun herself. This artifact's light beats in time with your heart, and whispers secrets into your mind. Anytime you would raise your Houjutsu, you may redirect the raise to Awaré or Secrets instead.
                • Lotus Sutra Armour: Your knowledge of abstract Buddhist lore befuddles the court. When challenged, you may flip a coin, and if it lands heads, you may change the challenge to one of Tanka. This is a specific exception to the rule that a samurai may not participate in two successive confrontations of the same type. Anytime you would raise your Tanka, you may redirect the raise to Secrets.
                • Wind-Carried Sakura Heart: You have a deep, intuitive understanding of the beauty of falling blossoms and melting snow. You can reroll your School die once whenever testing your Awaré. When an encounter would raise your Awaré, you add a point to that raise.[/list:u]Culture: Any Culture Trait adds 1 to one Trait for encounters and to a different Trait for challenges.
                  • Earth and Sky Priestess: The kami of your home province have given you a deep respect for nature and its fragility. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Houjutsu.
                  • Bureaucratic Prodigy: You were a star at your provincial college, and your family is at least slightly upset that you are married to a slob who is barely worthy of your talents. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Tanka.
                  • Black Scroll: You carry an ancient spell, which strikes fear into rivals' hearts and gives you a deep sense of the weaknesses of things. +1 challenge Houjutsu, +1 encounter Awaré.
                  • Cinnabar and Fire Lore: You have studied the magics of Shinto and Tao. +1 challenge Houjutsu, +1 encounter Tanka.
                  • Buson's Haiku School: You know fashionable literature and are well-versed in the spontaneous composition of poetry. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Awaré.
                  • Temple Guardian Training: You have spent time as a sohei, one of the legendary holy berserker-nuns of Buddhist temples. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Houjutsu.[/list:u]Interfacing:
                    With two games so closely related, it seems almost silly to play them in complete separation, so here are some rules to play them together.

                    Players: One player takes on the role of HEK and GEN; for simplicity we'll call this player the Emperor. The other players each make two samurai together, a married couple. (We'll call the Emperor "she" and the samurai players "he", in line with Snow From Korea usage. Yes, I know, this is confusing.)

                    Turn Order: When a samurai player's turn comes about, he should decide which character's experiences to play out first, and play out all of them. He may sacrifice both his samurais' challenges for the turn to commune; this represents the two samurai meditating upon their place in the world, and it allows any amount of Snow or Secrets (they mystically convert) to be transferred from one character to another. This is a weird, abstract metagame mechanic that is hard to explain in the game world. A samurai questing for Snow may only challenge another samurai man; similarly, a samurai lady collecting Secrets may only challenge other samurai ladies.

                    Autumn and Returning: Scoring proceeds as usual. The player with the highest total score from both characters wins the game.

                    Mahoutsukai and Interfacing: Mahoutsukai may challenge any character they wish freely, unlike samurai. However, the Emperor only gets one mahoutsukai per two players (four samurai), not per three samurai.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: talysman on April 19, 2004, 12:30:56 AM
            Quote from: Dav
            Chairman-sama:

            Will the games of IGC be placed in a thread that allows them to be more easily viewed (ie, without the smack talk and such)?  Or, are we doomed to witness creation from this measly vantage?

            Dav


            not to speak for the Chairman, but I would recommend that the competing  chefs make one short post identify the name(s) of their game(s) and links to each post made in this thread that is part of the final product. for example:

            Quote from: Iron Chef Laviolette

            IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

            • Part 1 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114445#114445) (Intro)
            • Part 2 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114814#114814) (chargen and ordinary conflict resolution)
            • Part 3 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=114955#114955) (magical conflict resolution)
            • Part 4 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=115092#115092) (setting details and NPC classes)
            • Part 5 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=115214#115214) (tying it all together and GM handling)
              [/list:u]
            here is exactly what you need to do (on Windows, but other OSes should be similar) to get that list of parts:

            • open two web browsers, one to this thread, the other to post a reply to this thread;
            • type Alt+L or click the List button in the Forge's composition window to start the list;
            • begin each list item with an asterisk in brackets:
            Code:
            [*]

            • type Alt+W or click the URL button in the compostion window to start out your hyperlink, then move back one character so your cursor is immediately after the "l" and before the last bracket, then type an "= "sign;
            • Alt-Tab back to the thread window and look for the first part of your game in the thread.  see the first line of your post, where it says the date and time you posted? notice the little icon in front of that line (it looks like a page of a document)? if you right-click that and copy the shortcut, it puts the url of the first part of your game into the clipboard.
            • Alt-Tab back to the composition window and paste that url right after the "url=";
            • move to the end of the line (after the right-bracket) and type "Part 1", then Alt+W to end the hyperlink;
            • start your next line with an asterisk in brackets and do your next link, then the rest in the same manner;
            • end the list of parts with Alt+L.
            • [/list:u]
              there, not too bad at all. the one tricky part is that you need two browser windows, because the topic review area at the bottom of the "Post a reply" screen shows those little document icons, but they aren't hyperlinks on that screen; they are only hyperlinks when viewing the thread.

              if we end the thread with a bunch of short posts like this, it will make it easier for everyone (even the Chairman!) to locate all the parts of every game.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Jack Aidley on April 19, 2004, 12:32:24 AM
            If we're going to do that, might it be an idea to post the link-backs on the tuesday after all the entries are in - otherwise the collection posts will be as difficult to find as the pieces of the game are?


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: DevP on April 19, 2004, 12:36:35 AM
            Whew. I couldn't help but post all at once - the watching of excess Utena got to me (so now you know my influences). I hope y'all like it. And kudos to participating - there's some frightfully good stuff out there! Happy Monday.

            EDIT: Apolgies if the poetry/language sounds a bit flowery in the morning, but, y'know, genre! This is as finalized as I'll like this entry to be, for now.
            ----
            The Dance and the Dawn
            A shoujo-fantasy fable of romantic tragedy at the Islands of Ash and Ice, and a Thousand-Stepped Midnight Waltz for Love and Dreams at the Ice Queen's Eternal Court of Infinity.

            It tell thee, lovely, of an island far
            A darkened gale, a night, an alien shore
            And islands split of kingdoms most bedamned
            An Ashen cragg, her old Duke's ailing hand
            An Ice Redoubt, immortal Queens within
            A lonely boat, a lonely bridge, of ice, of age, of rope, of sin.
            Old memories left to curse, and frost to stain
            Shall feed the scourging maidens' lost refrain
            Of Ashes, and of exile borne of stone
            Three Ladies, lusting for the passage home,
            Who waited for the Queens most cruel invite
            And played upon the Dance and Dawn and waltzed the Cruelest Waltz of Midnight

            For such were the stories they held in the heart
            For such were the fables
            The whispers and winds
            That would tear your ears and eyes apart


            Once, Three Ladies Lived Upon an Island of Ash...
            This game tells a fable of three Ladies who came upon the Ice Queen's court, and danced with four Lords, all in the pursuit of the One True Love that could yield her happiness. The conclusion of that fable lies entirely in your hands.

            Preparations
            For this game, you will need:
            • One dedicated player to be the Narrator (both maximal storytelling and moderating duties), and three players for the three Ladies.
            • Paper and pens.
            • Chessboard and chess pieces. This will represent the Midnight Court and its guests.
            • Black and white colored tokens to represnt Ash Tokens and Ice Tokens. (The extra pawns will also do.)
            • A large and easily reset clock. (You can also draw one on paper.)
            • A stereo and a CD of waltz music, or otherwise danceable classical. (This is optional, but ideal.)[/list:u]
              The Narrator should read the rules before hand, and could explain the rules as the story progresses. The goal of the game should be made immediately clear.

              The Ladies Revealed
              Each player is one of the three Ladies of Ash.  Their character is someone who - for some reason - has lost their heart and soul. The only hope they have left is that the machinations of the Midnight Waltz may bring them their One True Love. For the Ladies of Ash, it seems that only in union with their promised Lord can they find redemption.

              First, each Lady shall select a black chess piece to represent her, and no two Ladies shall have the same piece. (The Narrator may decide in case of disagreement.) Each piece has its own connotations which will reflect upon the character:
              • Bishop: pious yet self-interested
              • Knight: wordly yet arrogant
              • Rook: stoic yet hard-hearted
              • Queen: social yet domineering
              • Pawn: humble yet passive[/list:u]
                Having selected a piece, each Lady has her own piece of paper, upon which she should complete the following sentences, as they relate to her character:
                [list=1]
              • I once was ...
              • I loved ...
              • I feared ...
              • I lost ...
              • I wish ...[/list:o]
                This final one is most important, as this reflects the goal of your Lady, and the key to finding her One True Love.

                Once everyone has derived these, these should be read out loud. (The Narrator should take note of all of these, especially the "wish".) Then, while the Narrator secretly creates the Lords, each Lady should atempt to write two couplets describing herself, one describing her past life and one describing her gown and appearance. Remember, the Midnight Waltz is one of glamour above all; make sure to describe as stunning an outfit as possible. Finally, give each Lady her name.

                The Lords Revealed
                The Lords are the reborne souls of four former adventurers who had died in the pursuit of whatever wordly goals they once had. They are saved from the oblivion of Hell itself only by the indulgence of the Ice Queen, and so they are kept endlessly frozen until the time of the Dane. The Lords awaken from the ice only upon the stroke of midnight, and return to their icy sleep immediately as dawn breaks.

                The Narrator's task is very important, as he will create the four Lords. Firstly, pick one white chess piece to represent each of the four Lords. Each piece has its own connotations, reflecting the Lord's past life and inner nature:
                • Bishop: a cleric, devout yet naive
                • Knight: a paladdin, noble yet tyrannical
                • Rook: a warrior, resolute yet coarse
                • King: a wizard, learned yet arrogant
                • Pawn: a rouge, resourceful yet conniving[/list:u]
                  Each of three Lord is described by five phrases, which correspond to those of the Ladies:
                  [list=1]
                • I once was ...
                • I loved ...
                • I feared ...
                • I lost ...
                • I will ...[/list:o]The fifth is most important, and must be defined first. For three Lords, each Statement of "I will" corresponds precisely to one of the Wishes of the Ladies, so that each of these Lords is that Lady's One True Love and hope of redemption. For the fourth Lord, however, his statement is simply "I will... never be yours." This Fourth Lord is a man entirely damned; his embrace can provide no redemption, only eternal entrapment in the Ice Queen's court.

                  Once this basic statement is defined, define the other four statements so that they provide some clue - but not too much - as to the fith. Finally, name the  four Lords, and his identity is complete. Hopefully, the other players have finished their couplets by now.

                  The Court Assembled
                  The Narrator will sit behind one corner of the chessboard. The three players will be arranged around him clockwise, in order of the ranks of their chess pieces. (Chess ranks: Queen > Rook > Bishop > Knight > Pawn.) The Ice Queen (White Queen) and Duke of Ash (Black King) will share the Narrator's square, as they oversee the Waltz. Each player shall begin with her piece in her square; the four Lords will begin each night in the very center of the floor.

                  The Narrator may want to begin by reading the story's opening sonnet aloud, and then describing the Ice Queen's Court in lush detail. Then, in clockwise order from the Narrator, each player will read her two couplets. Once all are read, the Narrator may reward and Ash Token to the best couplet describing a Lady's past, and an Ice Token to the most extravagant dress. These rewards should reflect the subjective feelings of the Duke of Ash and the Ice Queen. respectively, and may instil some jealousy among the Ladies themselves.

                  Aside from chessboard, there should be some sort of clock to keep track of the time at the Court. Each night's waltz begins at midnight (12) , and ends at dawn (6).

                  Play will proceed in accord with the Laws of the Dance.

                  The Classical Laws of the Dance[list=1]
                • A Lightness of Step: Each movement across the chessboard is in the form of a knight-move, as per standard chess. Both pieces are kept to a single square, and are moved together.
                • A Rule of Rhythm: Just as a waltz is of a 3-beat rhythm, similarly each Lady's turn consists of 3 moves around the board.
                • A Social Occaision: A waltz is a social opportunity, and an opportunity to learn intimitately about your partner. In between dance steps (moves), a Lady may socialize in ONE of the folling ways:
                • ask your partner a question (which a Lord may avoid, but never directly lie)
                • compliment your partner
                • compliment a nearby Lord or Lady (and optionally, request an exchange of partners)
                • compliment the Ice Queen or Duke of Ash (and optionally request a favor)[/list:u]Thus, on a Lady's turn, she is expected to: move; action; move; action; move; and then end her turn.[/list:o]
                  The Lesser Laws of the Dance[list=1]
                • A Respect for Rank: demur to one's betters. Each night, play begins with the highest-ranked piece on the board; turns proceed clockwise until the dance is complete.
                • A Direction of Time: The waltz must proceed clockwise, and only clockwise, around  the center of the board. Indeed, all events should be handled clockwise if possible.
                • A Respect for Time: When ever one crosses the gaze of her hostess (the line between the Narrator and the center of the board), then the clock shall advance by one half-hour.
                • A Partner Selected: When the dance begins, each Lady (in order of rank) shall select one Lord from the center of the floor, and move it to her own square to begin.
                • A Spirit of Sharing: When a lady is adjacent to another Lord, she may always request an exchange of partners. Even if the Lord is already dancing with another Lady, this request must always be obliged.
                • A Sharing of Song: When the music changes in the background, the partners shall rotate. The Ladies' markers shall remain still, but each shall pass her partner along to another Lady to a clockwise direction.
                • A Law of Courtesy: When your step places you next to a fellow Lady, it is obligatory that you spend your action to compliment her. Similarly, when one is near the Ice Queen it is obligatory to compliment her still more graciously. A duty to one's hostess naturally supercedes an obligation to one's fellows.
                • A Polite Exit: The Ice Queen's court is reclaimed in ice at the stroke of Dawn, and so it is improper to remain there so long. Each Lady must leave the Ice Queen's island by Dawn (by returning to her home square). If she has not returned by Dawn, then her tardiness will have earned her hostesses's displeasure; she will not be permitted to enter to next evening's Waltz until 1 o'clock. (The only exception is the Third and Final Dawn.)
                • A Favor Treasured But Never Hoarded: When passing (and complimenting) the Ice Queen and Duke of Ash, a Lady may also request a favor of either the Duke or the Queen. The Duke will provide the Lady with an Ash Token, while the Queen will provide an Ice Token; a Lady may only request one such Token at a time, and may never carry more
                An Ash Token presents the Duke's weakened power of memory, regret and nostalgia. A Lady may spend her Ash Token to reveal a personal anecdote or moment of sincerity that would reveal her true character; in doing so, she earns an extra turn.
                An Ice Token represents the Ice Queen's stronger powers of mischief, ego and jealousy. One may spend an Ice Token to poison a Lady's compliment. The compliment should be dripping with covert malice and sarcasm; the effected player loses her turn in shock (and her chess piece is knocked over). HOWEVER: if the victim has no Ice Tokens of her own, she may choose to keep her attacker's spent Ice Token, for the Ice Queen's taint is a seductive one.[/list:o]
                Once all players understand the Laws of the Dance, then play may procede.

                The Three Nights of the Dance
                And so, for three nights the Ladies shall position themselves, using dance and dialogue to discover which of the Lords holds to the key to their redemption. Each night's dance will persist until all Ladies have gone home, or until the clock has struck 6 and Dawn has broken.

                The Ever After
                As Dawn breaks upon the third and final night, it will finally be time for each Lady to choose her Lord. It is here and only here that the Rule of Rank is contravened: players, beginning from lowest ranked chess piece to highest, will each pick their Lord. Once all have selected, their individual fates will be revealed:
                • Lady selects her One True Love: The Lady and her Lord will return to the Homeland to begin life anew. The player will share her Lady's happy ending.
                • Lady selects a Lord, but not her One True Love: The Lady and her Lord are an imperfect match; they shall return as the Dukes and Duchesses of the Island of Ash, and custodians to newly arrived Ladies. The player will share her Lady's bittersweet ending.
                • Lady selects the false Lord, who "will never be yours": this Lady's fate is most merciless and cruel, as she is absorbed as another eternal prisoner of the Ice Queen's court, burning in frost immortal. The player will share her Lady's final words.[/list:u]

                  The End
                  And hopefully, a most happy one.

                  About Gender
                  This text refers to Ladies and Lords in fashions that are genre-appropriate, heteronormative and occaisionally stereotyped fashions. (Bonus points if you can find the mother/maiden/crone symmetry.) Nonetheless, there is no reason that the Lords cannot be female, that the Ladies cannot be male, or that both genders could be mixed. Like any game's rules, the implicit rules of sexuality should also be played, experimented, avoided, mocked or superceded at your leisure.

                  Epilogue: The Most Bitter End
                  This game is intrinsically unfair. Players will act unjustly to each other, and even the most spiteful character may have his happy ending. The gameplay is secondary ot the story, and the story is a remarkably subjective art. And what if the Narrator takes his liberties in designing his Lords? What if all of them "will never be" the key to a Lady's redemption? Where does that place the hopes of our protagonists?

                  Alas, there has at least been some beautiful music.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 19, 2004, 02:31:13 AM
            Quote from: Jack Aidley
            If we're going to do that, might it be an idea to post the link-backs on the tuesday after all the entries are in - otherwise the collection posts will be as difficult to find as the pieces of the game are?


            I agree. Let's leave the index posts for now - I hope Holmes-sama issues some sensible rules about this asap, so we get some organisation. I suggest the following, but emphasize that it's simplest if Mike makes the thread-structure decisions. No democracy in the corps, as they say.

            Suggestion:
            The Chairman opens a new thread for indexing when he gets around. No posting at all to this thread, except for one collection post per game, in the format suggested by chef Laviolette. Chairman's first post gives rules and guidelines for the collection posts. When Tuesday night comes around a trusted individual (chairman himself?) goes through this thread for a final time and adds collection posts for any games whose authors haven't been around to do the post himself.

            The reason for a separate thread and the collection posts would be that unlike in previous years, we seem to have quite many games here, many of them in multiple parts or hard to distinguish (small titles). The high quality of the competition really earns it a second thread, don't you agree? The collection thread can be used for the final judging, too. This way the competition is much easier to experience for later readers. Responsibility towards history and all that.

            If the IGC continues to grow, I suggest Mike starts next time from the assumption that he'll be having three threads: the competition, the collection and the judging. If the collection thread is instituted at competition start it's easy for a competitor to add a post to the final version of his game there. It can even be made mandatory, so we get a formal part to participation too: only the games you put to the collection thread are judged.

            Anyway, it seems that the new games are keeping up the high quality. And the twist to Snow from Korea is delicious. Love the Dance and the Dawn, the feel is über-fantastic. Keep up the heat!

            [/i]


            Title: Bowing Out
            Post by: Marhault on April 19, 2004, 04:48:25 AM
            Alright.  Icelings hasn't come together the way I'd hoped.  I'm out.

            I think I need to concentrate on becoming a chef first, and maybe I can try adding the "iron" next year.  Good luck, everybody!


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Crackerjacker on April 19, 2004, 06:56:23 AM
            The edited full version of Dawn of the Day of the Monsters should be posted before midnight tonight, with expanded combat and creature information, and rules to mutation (through radiation and infection)

            Chef Crackerjacker is serving a cold dish with sweet flavor and even some level of stylish presentation, but not much substance. However perhaps the sweet and sticky dish will be more "stick to your ribs" and filling than the decidedly lack of substance suggests.


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 19, 2004, 07:19:32 AM
            A Whispers in the Door character sheet is available here (http://www.geocities.com/torchbearer_rpg/witdcharsheet.pdf) (copypaste the link into your browser, please).


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 19, 2004, 07:41:13 AM
            Quote from: Shreyas Sampat

            Whispers in the Door
            A Snow From Korea variation


            Now, this makes the game doubly powerful. However, a little question about the challenge rules when combined with Snow from Korea:

            Shouldn't the samurais and ladies be able to challenge each other, but never in the fighting/magic ability? I mean, the other abilities are the same, and it's easily explained away that magic is never used on samurai and sword never used on ladies. I'd like to see challenges between the two, that'd make the game more dynamic between players. And it's appropriate too, that the samurai should be able to interact with each other's wives ;)

            Maybe one could even instate a special situation where it is allowed to bash the withcwife with the sword, or call kami against the blackguard samurai? Something conserning honor of their interaction, perhaps?


            Title: Son of Iron Game Chef!
            Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 19, 2004, 07:52:49 AM
            Hi, Eero!

            The reason behind the challenge rule is that the characters are geographically separated, and little else. I can imagine a variant, though, where that restriction is loosened - it might cost extra challenges to challenge a character of the opposite gender (because you need to find him/her first, and then get back after) - you might play the game in a series of phases, Spring, Summer, and Autumn, and only prohibit interaction in Summer, and so forth.

            The reason that I wouldn't want to make this interaction too easy is twofold - because of the "no successive identical confrontations" rule, you only have two options to choose from, and most of the time Kenjutsu/Houjutsu will be one of those, leaving you with only one choice. One choice isn't really a choice, and because of the nature of challenges, you can never predict when this will happen. Also, Secrets are slightly more accessible than Snow, so samurai-ko will tend to have larger resource pools than their male counterparts. The commune mechanic serves to offset that, but only a little bit.


            Title: Ganakagok -- Final Version
            Post by: Bill_White on April 19, 2004, 08:29:31 AM
            (Here is a cleaned-up version of Ganakagok that makes the mechanics more easily understood.)

            G A N A K A G O K --- DAWN BREAKS UPON THE ISLAND OF ICE

            For a thousand years, the stars have shone down on Halakat, the Sea of Tears, burning brightly in a sky that was always dark. Now in the east the horizon has brightened to grey, and the stars have begun to fade. The shamans of the People speak of the rising of the Sun.

            For a thousand years, the People have lived upon Ganakagok, the Island of Ice, in the midst of the Sea of Tears. This mountain of ice, floating in a cold sea, has been carved into soaring spires and dizzying stairs, immense caverns and intricate labyrinths. The legends of the People speak of the Ancient Ones who carved it so, to escape the falling of Night.

            Dawn is coming to the Island of Ice. The stars are fading. The sea is growing warmer. The world is changing. Will the People survive the change?


            GETTING READY TO PLAY includes (a) creating characters, and (b) fleshing out the setting, including (1) sketching a rough map of Ganakagok, (2) detailing the characters' village, and (3) deciding upon elements of the metaplot, including the nature of the spirit-world.  Creating characters is done by the players; fleshing out the setting is done by the Game Master (GM).

            CHARACTERS are men of the People, the tribespeople who live on Ganakagok, a gigantic iceberg floating in a freezing cold sea illuminated only by starlight.  They all belong to the same village, and are in fact related to one another by kinship ties of marriage and consanguinity.  Each player should create his or her character one after another, so that players can draw upon each other's character creation process.  Characters are defined by four broad Attributes which describe how effective they are at performing particular sorts of tasks.  Characters start out with some Gifts that reflect physical, social, cognitive, and spiritual 'possessions'; during play Gifts may be used up, traded away, or 'damaged'.  Additionally, characters use up Stores, which are resources like meat, oil, hide, and bone that are necessary for life among the People.

            Name.  The naming of names is important; characters should have names with a vaguely Inuit feel, with lots of guttural consonants, aspirations, and flat schwa sounds.  Hagak, Jukub, and Natahuk are all suitably icy and primitive, for example.  Players should be discouraged from trying to name their character, 'Nanook'.

            Attributes.  Characters receive 10 points to distribute among four attributes called Body, Face, Mind, and Soul.  No attribute may be lower than 1 or higher than 5.  A score of 2 or 3 reflects notable competence or ability in an attribute; a score of 4 or 5 indicates exceptional prowess.  A score of 1 indicates no special proficiency--the character is unexceptional in that dimension.
              Body reflects physical ability and athletic prowess.  Characters use Body to trek across the snow, bag their prey when hunting, fight, and perform other physical tasks.
              Face reflects all sorts of communication skills and social status.  Characters use Face to interact with each other, negotiate with strangers, persuade each other, woo maidens of the People, and so forth.
              Mind reflects mental acuity and knowledge.  Characters use Mind to learn and apply the lore of the people, and to craft material goods.
              Soul reflects moral development, reverence, and piety.  This is the attribute that is used for journeying into the spirit-world, which any character may attempt via dreams and vision-trances.[/list:u]
              Gifts.  Characters may also take up to 6 points of Gifts, which reflect possessions and relations that can aid the character in times of need.  For each point of Gift a character is given, a token of that Gift should be recorded.  No more than three gifts of any one type may be given to a character at the start of the game.  A character may never have in excess of six Gifts of any one kind.

              Gifts are used in two ways.  First, if a Gift is relevant to a particular action, it may be used to increase the character's Attribute for the purpose of avoiding Risk (see 'Taking Action' below).  Second, when Failure does occur, Gifts may be sacrificed (broken, lost, damaged) to ward off more harmful effects.
                Goods aid Body-based tasks.  Goods tokens are listed as specific items of equipment, e.g., a whalebone harpoon, a hide kayak, a whale-oil burning torch, a sharktooth knife, a rope of twisted sinew, and so forth.  It doesn't matter too much what the item is, though it should be something of general rather than specific utility.  When Goods are used up, they are lost, damaged, or destroyed, and need to be repaired or replaced.
                Love aids Face-based tasks.  Love tokens are listed as relationships, favors, and kinship ties with specific individuals from the village (who are specified by their names and their relations to other characters), e.g., 'Saved Takanuk, the chief's brother, from a snow bear during a hunt,' 'married to Luinapa, the shaman's second-oldest daughter,' and so forth.  Players should feel free to invent characters at this time, as well as to create relationships overlapping those of other players.  When Love is used up, the other person is mad at or otherwise disinclined to help the character; the relationship needs to be patched up.
                Lore aids Mind-based tasks.  Lore tokens are listed as the titles of myths, legends, or songs that the character knows, e.g., 'How the Whale Lost His Teeth,' or 'The Brave Harpooneer'.  When Lore is used up, it has been forgotten or confused, or is somehow always already irrelevant, and must be studied anew.
                Mana aids Soul-based tasks.  Additionally, depending on its source, mana can aid one other type of action.  Ancestor mana aids Face actions.  Before dawn, Star mana aids both Mind and Body actions.  Sun mana aids Face actions and, after Dawn, Body actions.  Ancient Ones mana aids Body actions, and may enable strange and mystical ice-based powers.  Regardless of source, Mana tokens are listed as specific items of mystical or religious significance, e.g., a braided-seaweed amulet in the shape of a man (Ancestors mana), a scrimshaw talisman carved with star-signs (Star mana), a piece of polished black stone found in the ice (Ancient Ones mana) and so forth.  No character starts with any Sun or Ancient Ones mana.  When Mana is used up, it may have lost its mystical resonance through obvious inefficacy, been profaned or otherwise rendered unclean, or been sacrificed in some sort of potlach or other ceremony.  In any case, the amulet or talisman must be purified or replaced.[/list:u]
                Stores.  Characters gain Stores by hunting and trading.  These are the consumable resources that the People need to subsist.  Stores are used to (a) make Gifts and (b) to "pay for" (at the end of the turn) Attribute rolls made by characters.  Characters begin with no Stores of their own, but may draw upon the Stores of their Family or their Village (if unsuccessful at hunting) if necessary.
                  Meat is used to power Body-based tasks.  It represents the sustenance and nourishment provided by food.
                  Oil rendered from the fat of beasts is used to power Face-based tasks.  It represents the light and heat provided by the lamps of the People.
                  Hide is used to power Mind-based tasks.  It represents the accumulation of lore by the People in pictographic form on stretched hides.
                  Bone is used to power Soul-based tasks.  It represents the dice-like bone augurs consulted by the shamans of the People.
                  Sample Character.  The GM tells the players to create characters who are men of the village of Turanagu.  The first player creates his character, Gujanopak.  Gujanopak (Body 3, Face 3, Mind 2, Soul 2) is a young hunter of the village of Turanagu.  He carries a whalebone knife (Goods 1) and a rare bone-handled stone axe (Goods 2).  He also owns a sturdy kayak (Goods 3).  He is the son of Umagakan, the village chief (Love 1), who taught him the 'Tale of Karakojuk in the Belly of the Whale' (Lore 1).  His proudest possession is the ornately carved ceremonial kayak paddle (Ancestors Mana 1) he made for his initiation into manhood.

                  THE VILLAGE is a central focus of the game.  Each family in the village has Stores of meat, hides, bone, oil (rendered from fat), and other necessities of life; these Stores are held in common by each family but can be drawn upon by others in the village (in exchange for current or later favors).  The village is also the characters' social world.  A village consists of maybe 7-12 extended and interconnected families of 10-12 people living in ice caves, tunnels, or caverns on the lower reaches of Ganakagok.  The People live by hunting seals, sea lions, and other large aquatic mammals, including the occasional whale, and by fishing.  Each village has a chief (usually the most successful senior hunter); his wife is often but not necessarily the 'senior mother' of the village, with great influence upon what the women of the village do.  Each village will also have a shaman, usually an elder man but possibly a woman, who is conversant with the methods of dream-interpretation and spirit-journeying.  

                  To describe the village initially, the GM should list the families of the village, perhaps naming one or two figures within each.  Indicate the Stores of meat, bone, hide, and oil held by each family and map out the social network of the village insofar as it is known.  A GM could decide that a particular family is especially prosperous or impoverished; this will create interesting social dynamics in the village.  Specify the number of able-bodied hunters and non-hunters in each family.  Assume that about one-quarter of each family consists of able-bodied hunters, with the remainder divided among able-bodied women as well as dependent children and the elderly.

                  Village Example.  Turanagu has 8 families and about 100 people, the DM decides (i.e., about 12 people per family, with 3 hunters and 9 dependents each).  He assumes that each family has zero surplus in each Store (i.e., the characters need to get out there and hunt!).  The village's social map is very sketchy at this point; it includes Gujanopak, his father Umgakan (the chief of the village and the head of Gujanopak's family).  A second player created Hagak, Gujanopak's elder brother, who is married to Luinapa and saved Takanuk, his paternal uncle (the head of another family), from a snow bear.

                  THE MAP of GANAKAGOK is created by the GM.  The map is a rough sketch of the area surrounding the village.  The village is the center of the characters' world; they should regard it as the only truly 'safe' zone they have.

                  Map Example.  The GM draws a circle representing the village of Turanagu in the center of the map.  He draws another four circles, approximately in the cardinal directions.  The area to the south he labels 'Open Sea (Halakat)'.  The area to the east is 'Icy Cliffs (Gokutagun)'.  The north is 'Glacial Plains (Anunagoruq)'.  Finally, to the west is 'Neighboring Village (Danokaru)'.  The GM connects each area to the village with a line.

                  THE METAPLOT involves the coming of the Sun to Ganakagok, and the changes that the Dawn brings.  As the game begins, the Sky contains 100 stars (actually, hundred of stars, but say 100 for the sake of tracking).  As the Sky brightens, Stars will fade.  When the last Star fades, the Sun has risen.  It will slowly climb higher and higher in the Sky until it reaches the height of Noon.  As the Sky changes, conditions on Ganakagok will start to change, too.  In addition to disasters caused by melting and shifting ice, the spirits of fading Stars (whom the People revere) will contend with the spirit of the Sun (who desires their reverence).  The spirits of the Ancestors of the People may also interfere, and the legacy of the Ancient Ones who created the Island of Ice will have to be reckoned with.

                  The GM must create a time line of events that occur as the dawn approaches and the Sun climbs higher in the sky, keyed to the number of Stars remaining (pre-dawn) and the height of the Sun in the sky (post-dawn).  The incidence of these events (which will include animal migrations, avalanches, ice floe break-aways, 'icequakes', and disturbances in the spirit-world) should cause characters to seek out an explanation and a solution for their village at least and perhaps for the People as a whole.  Whether this solution is an exodus from the Island of Ice or seeking refuge in its depths will depend on the direction the GM guides the metaplot.

                  As the Stars fade, their mana becomes less powerful.  Each turn, the GM can roll percentile dice (based on the number of stars remaining) or just decide that one or more Star mana tokens has become ineffective since the Star that bestowed it has faded from the Sky.  Once the Dawn breaks, all Star mana is ineffective thereafter.

                  Once dawn breaks, the mana of the Sun becomes more powerful:  in addition to aiding Face actions, it also aids Body actions.  The GM will have to decide whether, as the Stars believe, it is possible to forestall the Dawn.  The spirit of the Sun is majestic and, according to some, beguiling.

                  It may be that Island was built as a sanctuary from the domination of the all-consuming Sun, or that once the Sun has risen a new age of prosperity will come once the People travel to the new home that has been granted them.  Something else may be the case entirely.  The GM must decide what the truth of the metaplot is!  

                  THE SPIRIT-WORLD is an important element of the metaplot, since it is through the spirit-world that the People can learn of the conflict between the Stars and the Sun.  The creatures of the spirit-world include the Ancestors, the Stars, and the Sun.  The Ancient Ones may also be represented as a separate category of spirit, or may be hidden, or may in fact be the Stars themselves in different form.  Again, the GM must decide.

                  Journeying in the spirit-world to gain mana from the spirits is an Soul-based action that incurs some risk to the character; this is discussed at somewhat greater length below.

                  In any event, traditional spirit-journeying allows the People to interact with and gain mana from Stars and Ancestors.  As the metaplot progresses, the power of the Stars will fade (i.e., dealing with them is less Risky but produces less Success per effort as well) and the power of the Sun will increase.

                  THE INTERIOR OF GANAKAGOK is a labyrinth of caverns and tunnels, mostly ice but with stone and sometimes metal mixed in.  Some People find it worthwhile to venture inside in search of rare and precious materials linked to the mana of the Ancient Ones.  But the interior is also home to bizarre and deadly creatures, including cannibal-ghouls that are immune to cold and other equally wicked creatures.

                  PLAYING THE GAME involves following the story of the People as the Dawn comes ever nearer.  Each turn represents a few days worth of time.  During a turn, characters will take actions of different sorts.  The order of action is random; if it matters who acts first, roll off.  After actions are resolved, the sustenance of the village is determined and the metaplot is advanced.

                  Taking Action.  During a turn, each character can attempt three broadly defined actions, e.g., 'I go hunting for my family,' 'I go to the neighbor village to trade,' or 'I explore the Glacial Plains north of the village.'

                  Once a player has declared his character's intention, the GM will specify the tasks that carrying out the action requires.  For example, the action 'I go hunting' may prompt the GM to say, 'Okay, first you have to leave the village (Body task) and hope there's game around (Soul task), then you have to have stalk your prey (Mind task).  Finally, you have to catch it (Body task) and return to the village (Body task).

                  The GM will determine the parameters of each task, including (1) the Attributes relevant to the task, (2) the Risk associated with it, and (3) the amount of Success required to achieve particular outcomes.  Some actions can be 'free actions' (i.e., Risk 0, Success required 0).  For example, the GM can say, 'The gods will grant you sight of penguins automatically, a herd of seals with one success, and a herd of sea-lions with two successes.  The Risk is 2.'

                  The basic dice mechanic is this:  For any task, the character's level of Success is equal to his Attribute.  For each level of Risk associated with the task, roll 1d6.  If a die is greater than the Attribute (plus any relevant Gifts invoked), it inflicts 1 Failure on the task.  The GM will determine how much Success is necessary to accomplish the task at hand, or what is produced per unit of Success (e.g., 1 Success produces a seal sighting; two produces a sealion sighting).

                  The player then has to decide how to deal with Failure.  He can (1) trade Success for Failure, (2) accept an injury (reduce an Attribute by 1 die until 'healed'), (3) lose a Gift (permanently, or at least until 'replaced' or 'repaired'), or (4) accept a narrative complication, if offered by the GM or opposing player.

                  Before the dice are rolled, the player can choose to (temporarily, for the space of one roll) increase his Attribute by 1 by permanently sacrificing a Gift of the relevant type.

                  A player can decide to accept greater Risk for additional Success.  For each additional Risk die rolled, increase the Success of the character by one.

                  A player can reduce his Risk by limited his Success similarly.  Roll one fewer Risk die per level of Success sacrificed.

                  Obviously, Risk trade-offs have to be made before the dice are rolled.

                  Cooperation among characters may play an important part in the game.  Depending on the specific activity undertaken, cooperation can be resolved by (a) having individuals undertake separate efforts, each of which requires some measure of Success, (b) reducing the level of Risk or increasing the Attribute level of the character leading the task, or (c) producing additional Success for the character leading the task.  The GM must decide.

                  Conflict between characters (fistfights, verbal sparring, and so forth) involves treating the opponent's attribute as the Risk level for other character.

                  Example of Conflict.  Hagak (Body 3D) gets into a fight with a stranger from another village (Body 2D).  Hagak has 3 Success to the Stranger's 2.  Hagak rolls 3 dice and gets 1 ('miss' as this is less than or equal to 2, his opponent's Attribute), 4 ('hit'), 6 ('hit'); the stranger rolls 6, 6 (two hits, as both are greater than Hagak's attribute of 3).  Hagak has a total of 5 hits (his Successes plus the result of the stranger's Risk) while the stranger has 4 hits.  The stranger, with fewer successes, decides first what to do:  he opts to trade all his hits to negate four of Hagak's.  Hagak hits the stranger, who loses 1 Body.  Hagak wins the fight; the stranger is bloodied and (with his action) takes refuge with another family in the village.

                  The GM should be prepared to create different 'dice structures' to represent different situations, e.g., a race between two characters, trying to accomplish something in a specified amount of time, and so forth.

                  A 'narrative complication' can be anything the GM decides:  a permanent rivalry or hatred, a scar or injury, or any sort of trouble the GM thinks is reasonable.  The GM should decide if narrative complications hasten the coming of Dawn.

                  Out on the Ice.  The People live by hunting, and this sometimes necessitates long trips out on the ice.  If a character ends a turn out on the ice, not in a village, he must try to Survive using his wits (Mind) or fortitude (Body)--i.e., he may rely on either Attribute for the task roll.  He needs a total of 1 success per turn away from the village (i.e., 1 success on the 1st turn out, 2 on the 2nd, and so forth).  The GM should key survival Risk to different areas of Ganakagok--e.g., the Glacial Plain might be a 2-die risk while the Icy Cliffs are a 4-die risk.  The open sea should be a much greater risk; perhaps as much as 8 dice.

                  Hunting.  Hunting trips require the hunter to accumulate Mind-based Success to track or find prey (Stalk) and physical Success to bag it (Catch).  The risk associated with a hunt depends on whether it's on the ice or on the water (the latter is somewhat more dangerous).  The GM should secretly set a Stalk number (the number of Mind-based Successes needed to find some prey) and allow multiple Mind-based rolls at the going Risk to accumulate those Successes.  The type of animal found will determine the number of Body-based successes required to Catch or make one kill.  Each kill produces some amount of Stores that are accumulated by the hunter or hunters who made the kill.
                    Seal.  Numerous and therefore relatively easy to find, relatively easy for a determined hunter to catch and kill.  Provides 6 meat, 3 hide, 3 bone, and 3 oil each per kill.  Catch 2, Risk 2.
                    Sea Lion.  More dangerous but also proportionally more productive than seals.  Provides 10 meat, 5 hide, 5 bone, and 5 oil per kill.  Catch 2, Risk 2.
                    Penguin.  Also numerous, but smaller and therefore harder to catch in sufficient quantities for the effort required.  Provides 1 meat and 1 hide per kill.  Catch 1, Risk 1.
                    Whale.  Infrequently encountered, and extraordinarily dangerous for a lone hunter or even a small group.  Provides meat, bone, and oil in extraordinary quantities--say 100 each--per successful hunt.  Catch 22, Risk 8.[/list:u]
                    Characters can fish, which is Catch 2, Risk 0 (Risk 1 if fishing from a boat) and produces 1 Meat and 1/2 Oil.

                    Spirit Journeys. Spirit journeying is a Soul-based action that can be used to obtain mana or oracular information (that will be of ambiguous meaning and uncertain accuracy, naturally).  At the beginning of the game, the Stars are powerful (Risk 4, 1 success per mana received