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Inactive Forums => Chimera Creative => Topic started by: Matt Snyder on July 11, 2002, 07:02:00 AM



Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Matt Snyder on July 11, 2002, 07:02:00 AM
Ok, folks, GenCon is almost here. I'm up to my neck in freelance design, with Universalis and octaNe up to bat next. Just finished Trollbable, and Ron's going over revisions (soon, folks, soon!).

So, as I announced very recently, Dust Devils will be on sale at the Forge booth (as well as a PDF download about the same time). I'm rewriting like crazy, and I've already got an outstanding cover pic (and boy do I mean outstanding!), with more interior art on the way. The game will be either a stapled or comb-bound half-letter sized booklet. It will be more than double the material available now on the free playtest version.

First, to make everyone drool, check out the AWESOME cover pic (http://www.chimera.info/dustdevils/images/cover_lowres.jpg) by Jon Hodgson.

Second, a couple urgent pleas . . .

* Who has read Ron's thoughtful review of Dust Devils? His comments really helped me reshape the game, but I haven't heard much feedback from anyone else since his review posted. Any thoughts about the review or just comments about the game itself? If so, let's hear about it in the unanswered(!) thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2237) started by Clinton in Review Discussion.

* Would you pay $10 for Dust Devils as a 5.5" by 8.5" publication with color copy and interior B&W art? Would you pay for a PDF of the same in regular letter size?

* Who has played the game? Obviously Ron and his crew has, as has Clay and I think Sean Wipfli. Anyone else? I'm VERY eager to hear any comments you might have in Actual Play.

* If you haven't played yet, why not? ;)   Seriously, is it just a "haven't got around to it yet" or does anyone have hurdles to overcome, like what to actually do in a session!?! Again, I'd love to hear from you, and help out if possible.

* GENCON -- Who wants to play Dust Devils demo at GenCon? I'm hoping to see some Forge regulars, of course, but all are welcome. I'll try to run the game more than once, space and time willing, of course.


Title: Re: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on July 11, 2002, 07:12:57 AM
The link to the image is broken. As for your questions?

Quote from: Matt Snyder

* Who has read Ron's thoughtful review of Dust Devils?

* Would you pay $10 for Dust Devils as a 5.5" by 8.5" publication with color copy and interior B&W art? Would you pay for a PDF of the same in regular letter size?

* Who has played the game? /  If you haven't played yet, why not?

* GENCON -- Who wants to play Dust Devils demo at GenCon?


I read the review -- I think playing out what happens when you hit 0 would be awesome (we talked about this anyway).

I would totally pay $10 for Dust Devils...heck, the PDF on your site is worth that. No problem there.

I haven't played...no game group yet. YET. I do wanna try it at the Con.


Title: Image link fixed
Post by: Matt Snyder on July 11, 2002, 07:21:17 AM
Damn, damn, damn. Ok, the image link should be fixed. Here it is again for posterity:

Dust Devils cover (http://www.chimera.info/dustdevils/images/cover_lowres.jpg)


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 11, 2002, 08:42:04 AM
Great cover, Matt.

I think Dust Devils is one of the finest games ever to emerge from the current design scene. I'd really like to know how other people's play proceeds. Let's see; Sean Wipfli did some play at one point, I think. Anyone else? I'll echo Matt - more, more.

I'm currently writing a shortie demo for Dust Devils for GenCon. (It's one of TWENTY such demos I'm preparing, geared for 25 minute - 45 minute play). With any luck we can get some buzz going there.

Best,
Ron


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Paul Czege on July 11, 2002, 08:42:31 AM
Whoah...what a fantastic cover. Holy smokes.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Valamir on July 11, 2002, 08:47:27 AM
My situation is similiar to Jared's I'm afraid.  Having just moved to Peoria I don't have a group to play with (unless I want to play 3E or Mech Warrior...which I don't).  But Seth is out here now, so hopefully that situation will be changing soon.

The only thing I'd include that wasn't in the pdf (but might be now) is a handful of sample characters with focus on the types of devils that work best (and maybe some mention of what devils would be lame and Ron does regarding Price in Sorcerer).  And then a handful of plot hooks for the type of western stories most likely to generate good focus on the devil.

Perhaps, if your feeling ambitious, you can tie the two together and have 1 or 2 sample characters with devils and a plot hook designed for those character's and their devil.  Maybe a couple little items like this just to serve as "ahhh...thats what we should be playing" items.

And yeah, I fully expect to play the hell out of it at GenCon


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Matt Snyder on July 11, 2002, 09:16:30 AM
Quote from: Valamir
The only thing I'd include that wasn't in the pdf (but might be now) is a handful of sample characters with focus on the types of devils that work best (and maybe some mention of what devils would be lame and Ron does regarding Price in Sorcerer).  And then a handful of plot hooks for the type of western stories most likely to generate good focus on the devil.

Perhaps, if your feeling ambitious, you can tie the two together and have 1 or 2 sample characters with devils and a plot hook designed for those character's and their devil.  Maybe a couple little items like this just to serve as "ahhh...thats what we should be playing" items.

And yeah, I fully expect to play the hell out of it at GenCon


First off, see you at the con for sure! My sympathies on the lack of a cooperative group. Hell, I can't get my own group to do much more than yammer about the game. We haven't played much of anything in recent weeks and months.

As for the revisions you suggest, I'm on it! It's ambitious all right. The revised edition of Dust Devils will include the following:

* Expanded devil mechanic to include Ron's suggestion that it be set from 1-3 each sesison. I also suggest in a little more detail what works and what doesn't work.
* At least 6 sample characters with attention on their Devils and how they might interact. I'll be writing these up along with a sample scenario that folks can either use to play, or simply to see how to play. The sample scenario will be the one I run at the con for demos!
* Text on how to play, both for players and DMs. So, it'll include advice on "not playing it safe" as Ron suggests, as well as how to prepare and run scenarios, converge player paths,
* How to handle character "expiration" once the character reaches 0 in an attribute.
* Some text on the variations on a Western approach, as well as cursory attention to introducing supernatural elements, and/or setting the game in alternate realities -- sci-fi and Mad Max style, for example.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 11, 2002, 10:06:22 AM
Hi Matt,

I cannot over-stress that you must actually play the game. If your "group" (which sounds like it's not a group at all) won't play, then find someone else. It's really crucial.

Best,
Ron


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Matt Snyder on July 11, 2002, 10:18:52 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

I cannot over-stress that you must actually play the game. If your "group" (which sounds like it's not a group at all) won't play, then find someone else. It's really crucial.


I'm working on it, Ron. We've played, but in the immortal words of one of my fellow players, "It was a fucked up, ass-grabbin' affair." 'Course, he wasn't talking about Dust Devils, but that's another story.

Anyways, I'm fully aware that I gotta play the damn thing! I'm actively looking for a group right now via the local game stores, which are reasonably active. I'll be posting a notice there if I don't get any bites in the next couple weeks. Too bad there aren't any Forgers in the Des Moines area. Still, with some more effort, I'm sure I can track down a narrativist leaning group, or at least one that's willing to try.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Valamir on July 11, 2002, 10:33:05 AM
Matt...Des Moines is only about 4 hours from Peoria, if you need to play and can't find anyone local...come on over.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 11, 2002, 01:02:35 PM
Quote from: Valamir
Matt...Des Moines is only about 4 hours from Peoria, if you need to play and can't find anyone local...come on over.


Or the same distance from Madison (and Peoria), which could get me, Wipfli, and maybe Neff involved. And maybe others as well. OTOH, finding a suitable time before the Con might be difficult. PM me if interested, Matt.

Mike


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: TSL on July 11, 2002, 02:32:04 PM
Matt- You could sell 10 copies for $10 a piece based on that cover image alone.

Don't believe me?  Hell, I'LL do it at GenCon. :)


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Jason L Blair on July 11, 2002, 03:55:00 PM
How many pages is Dust Devils going to be? Did I miss this information?

Matt, the cover image is the whip, man. The whip. Bravo to Jon on that.

And if I'm not invited into a demo at GenCon, not only will I be personally offended, I will never remember your name again.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Matt Snyder on July 11, 2002, 08:29:51 PM
Quote from: Jason L Blair
How many pages is Dust Devils going to be? Did I miss this information?

Matt, the cover image is the whip, man. The whip. Bravo to Jon on that.

And if I'm not invited into a demo at GenCon, not only will I be personally offended, I will never remember your name again.


The book will be approximately 24-30 pages of material (a guess). I just decided to be selling the thing, rather than giving away the free playtest version as it stands now. Talked to Ron about this just yesterday.

Count yourself invited to a demor, man. I'm going to have a blast playing this with all you guys, but I admit my own Sorensen-syndrome -- fear I'll run the game poorly in such good company! I'll manage ...

The whip indeed! Jon rocks, and he's not even a damn Yankee. He's a Britisher of all things!


Oh, and to all the Midwesterner (specifically Ralph, Holmes, and anyone else interested, of course!), we should hook up this fall for a roundup of Dust Devils, and sessions of Universalis, and whatever else trips our trigger. Let's get this organized here and in person at GenCon. Since I had to miss the get-together in early June, maybe we can have an informal recap!


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Clay on July 12, 2002, 04:25:00 AM
Matt,

I've played, and I loved the game.  I hope to be able to run a game for my regular group, once they get over their Star Wars infatuation. I'm a huge western fan. I nearly failed English in Jr. High because Louis Lamour was a lot more interesting than diagraming sentence structure. To be honest, I still think that I've gotten more real value out of the novels than I ever did out of the classes (and I've published).

Will you be selling the printed book off your web site?  I won't be going to GenCon, but I'd like to buy the book.  $10 is a very good price, even for a slim volume.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Jürgen Mayer on July 12, 2002, 05:09:52 AM
Quote from: Matt Snyder
I admit my own Sorensen-syndrome -- fear I'll run the game poorly in such good company!

You really shouldn't have a problem with that. With so many talented people as players, running the game should be a blast, I guess the games will be almost running themselves. So nothing to worry here.

Oh yeah, the cover rocks!
And I wanna play in a demo.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 12, 2002, 06:52:06 AM
Clay,

I'd greatly appreciate any comments you might have on my review of Dust Devils. Not of, you know, my scintillance as a reviewer, but rather on the points or features of the game, and whether your experience matches or doesn't match with my observations.

Best,
Ron


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Clay on July 12, 2002, 09:49:01 AM
I think that your notes about GMing a game like this are dead on.  So dead on that I printed them out and read them at work today (boss is out and I'm short on tasks to do).  It is my hope that Matt will put a lot of work into this section, because the conceptual leap from traditional gaming promoted by the D20 system and others to this style of gaming is huge.

I suspect that some of your experiences with letting go of scenario control are due to your group being very accustomed to driving the show.  The group I played with was not (two of the three had never gamed before), and the group I want to run Dust Devils with next is not.  I found that at first I really needed to guide the players heavily to get anything to happen at all, especially when we first started.  In particular, I found that it was still very necessary to go through all of the prep that I outlined in my entry under advice for new GMs.  If I didn't set up encounters, they certainly weren't going to.  A more experienced group might not suffer from this, but I haven't had a chance to try it out with such a group yet.

I agree that considerably more information about handling the Devil and building stories around it is needed.  I'd like to see some explicit examples with Devils and how the author recommends constructing a story that uses the Devil.  It's not that I couldn't figure it out on my own; I'm paid to solve logic puzzles for a living (i.e. programming).  It's just that I don't have all that much time outside of the weekly sessions to puzzle these things out any more. Work, house and family conspire to take that time up.  Add my fundamental laziness to that and I'm a big fan of a guide to send me down the right path.

I didn't feel the need to change the card mechanics.  Since we weren't actually playing poker anyway, we didn't have a problem with the fact that a player might sometimes only get three or four cards to draw. We didn't look at it as an issue of fairness so much as a sign that the player might have chosen the wrong battle.  Actual play also showed that a pair was often the winning hand, so a decent hand could be made with four cards.  Again, I played with a very different group than you did, so it might just be that the mechanic worked well for our group and wouldn't for another.


Title: Re: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: James on July 14, 2002, 07:01:44 PM
Quote from: Matt Snyder
Who has played the game?  If you haven't played yet, why not?


The problem I have is that there's no "game" to play.  It's a resolution mechanic and a few ideas that could become a game, but right now there's not enough in the document for me to hang a game on, especially with the people I play with.  There needs to be a "how to" section in the game that tells people what they can, or should, do with it.  Just being cool and interesting isn't enough.

I think you have something very nifty on your hands, but it needs serious development, even if only to the point where it's as "meaty" as one of Hogshead (http://www.hogshead.demon.co.uk/)'s New Style (http://www.hogshead.demon.co.uk/NewStyle.htm) offerings.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Valamir on July 14, 2002, 07:06:49 PM
I'd have to disagree that there's no story there, especially the comparison to the Hogshead line which I've never felt were worth actually being printed into a book, being IMO, PDF games well short of being ready for release...but that's another thread entirely.

The thing with Dust Devils is, is that its very genre specific.  If you are already a big fan of B-grade western movies (like "A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die") you don't really need anything more than whats in the book.  If you aren't, than I don't think there's away of putting together a book that will convey it for you.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: James on July 15, 2002, 02:42:04 AM
Quote from: Valamir
The thing with Dust Devils is, is that its very genre specific.  If you are already a big fan of B-grade western movies (like "A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die") you don't really need anything more than whats in the book.  If you aren't, than I don't think there's away of putting together a book that will convey it for you.


I am a big fan of spaghetti westerns, and the American variant of same, but that's not really what I'm talking about.  A roleplaying game needs more than a sketched-out idea and a resolution mechanic to be worth bucks, and I believe that's the issue here.

An issue akin to what I'm talking about came up when I discussed All Flesh Must Be Eaten (http://www.allflesh.com/) with its designers prior to its release.  "Okay, so I can kill zombies," I said, "but what am I supposed to do with this game after I've reenacted Dawn of the Dead (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/630469797X/thebitplayers-20) a couple of times?  What then?"  The question was never answered satisfactorily in that discussion, nor in the game itself.  As a result, I've never had much use for the game, despite being a big fan of "walking dead" films.

This doesn't mean that All Flesh Must Be Eaten (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1891153803/thebitplayers-20) isn't a good game.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  However, there's not enough vision in the package to make it truly useful.

The same could be said of Dust Devils (http://dragons.carlisle.ia.us/downloads/dust_devils.pdf).  While I think it's very slick for a freebie web release, and has a lot of potential, there's nothing in the package that screams out to me, "This is how I'm used!  Look at all the myriad of gaming possibilities I represent!"  A little more vision is all it needs, really, and that's what I'm trying to put across.  Poorly, I suppose.


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 15, 2002, 05:05:04 AM
Hi James,

I think there's a bit of a mileage issue here, but on the other hand, I certainly agree that your question is a valid one.

My concern is where the answer is supposed to come from: authors or role-players (by which I mean any human, GM, "player" alike). Clearly, a game text without a "do this" in there somewhere, however vague as long as it's inspiring, is missing something. That's what I call Premise, in the most general sense, in my essay.

However, how much is needed? Let's look at both sources.

In terms of text, I agree that All Flesh Must Be Eaten is on the short side in this sense (see my Dead Meat review for some comments about that). I think that Hero Wars, by contrast, is awesomely supplied with this quality, perhaps overwhelmingly so because it provides so many options. All right, I think it's not hard to see that games vary in terms of how much they provide. Dust Devils is certainly somewhere between these two extremes.

In terms of users (players), I think it's reasonable to expect that people must bring something to the table themselves. When we played All Flesh Must Be Eaten, we had to bring a lot to the table in order to enjoy the game; when we played Hero Wars, even though the game provides so much, we still had to bring proactive "Premise" to the table - it's a basic requirement of the activity. (In HW, it was a matter of focus and willingness to develop the issues that the game raises; in AFMBE, it was a matter of simply inventing something emotionally-interesting from the ground up.)

So here you are, a fan of spaghetti westerns and so forth. It strikes me that Matt wrote a very good introduction to the game, right there on the first page. I'm thinking, Hang'em High, and maybe No Name on the Bullet, and certainly Django. Is it really that hard to see "what to do"?

I agree that some GM-help is called for, and I said as much in my review. But the game can't do it all for you. A person must bring something of his own to the table, in regard to the western - Dust Devils makes it possible for that "something" to get rolling in play itself.

Best,
Ron


Title: Dust Devils storm a brewin'
Post by: James on July 16, 2002, 05:14:28 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
My concern is where the answer is supposed to come from: authors or role-players (by which I mean any human, GM, "player" alike). Clearly, a game text without a "do this" in there somewhere, however vague as long as it's inspiring, is missing something. That's what I call Premise, in the most general sense, in my essay.

However, how much is needed?


More than we have now, but hopefully about as much as we're going to get in August.  I think Jared Sorensen (http://www.memento-mori.com/journal.html) did an excellent job of defining what a game text should address when we responded to a thread (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5837&perpage=20&pagenumber=1) on RPGnet (http://www.rpg.net/) discussing SLA Industries (http://www.hogshead.demon.co.uk/SLA_index.htm):

Quote from: Jared Sorensen
What is the game ABOUT (really about)?
How is it about that?
What does the game reward?
How does it encourage that behavior?
What do the characters do? What do the players do?

Right now Dust Devils (http://dragons.carlisle.ia.us/downloads/dust_devils.pdf) does a pretty good job of answering the first question, and addresses in some small way the fourth (the "devil" mechanic), but doesn't attack the rest.  If the new text does a solid job of hitting these points, I think we have a real winner, and I'll be one of the first in line to give Matt my hard-earned $10.  Until then, I have to say that it's a tad on the skimpy side, with enough to intrigue and possibly even delight -- presuming a GM wishes to put the extra effort in to make up the difference, of course -- but not enough to make a whole game.