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Son of Iron Game Chef!

Started by Mike Holmes, April 12, 2004, 03:29:35 PM

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Eero Tuovinen

Quote from: Jack AidleyIf 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.

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!

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


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!


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.

Shreyas Sampat

A Whispers in the Door character sheet is available here (copypaste the link into your browser, please).

Eero Tuovinen

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?
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Shreyas Sampat

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.


(Here is a cleaned-up version of Ganakagok that makes the mechanics more easily understood.)


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 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.  Ancestors are cryptic but beneficient; the Ancient Ones are cold, brilliant, and alien if they can be found at all.

          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]
            Trading.  Characters can trade possessions among each other freely (without taking an action).  They can also give excess Stores or Gifts to their Family at the end of the turn; this allows them to draw a Store from their Family as needed in the future.  Characters can trade with members of their own or other families, or even with People from other villages, with Face-based actions (greater success results in greater generosity).

            Expending Stores.  At the end of the turn, characters must expend a Store of the  for each Attribute roll they've made.  If they haven't enough of their own personal Stores, they may draw from those held by their Family (the GM will determine if the Family has a surplus).

            Characters who can't expend the requisite Stores suffer a Failure that must be dealt with, either by taking an injury, losing a Gift, or accepting a narrative complication (if offered by the GM).

            Taking Care of the Village.  The GM should keep track of the status of other Families and Villages so that characters can trade if necessary or desired.  The easiest way to do this is to roll 2d6 for each type of Store and subtract a modifier based on the Hunter/Dependent ratio.  This determines the Family's surplus or shortfall that turn.  Families with shortfalls will receives gifts of Stores from those with surpluses.  If there's a village-wide shortfall, make a special roll for each family, with its Attribute equal to its number of hunters and its Risk equal to the shortfall.  Each failure indicates that someone dies or is "exposed" to the ice, which kills them.
              1 hunter per 5 dependents.  2d6-11 shortfall/surplus per store.
              1 hunter per 4 dependents.  2d6-9.
              1 hunter per 3 dependents.  2d6-7.
              1 hunter per 2 dependents.  2d6-5.
              1 hunter per 1 dependent.  2d6-3.
              No dependents.  2d6-1.[/list:u]
            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.  

            Some possibilities that the GM should consider keying to particular benchmarks:  certain kinds of prey becoming more or less common, "icequakes" and tunnel collapses resulting in losses of Stores, dreams affecting Soulful characters as the spirits take steps to influence the world of the living, movements of strange creatures from the interior, People from other villages seeking refuge from their troubles, and so forth.

            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 story of the People -- and the campaign metaplot -- should be brought to a close.


            ...I'm out.  Life interfered.



            ***News Flash***
            This just in....

            Dateline Kitchen Arena

            Son of Iron Chef is within just a couple of posts of being the single longest thread in Forge history, toppling at long last the dreadful ramblings of Knight vs. Samurai.  

            Currently Son of Iron Chef stands as the third most viewed thread of all time, although still a good ways behind the venerable "Driftwood Progress Report" for top honors.

            We now return you to the closing moments of competition.


            Quote from: Eero TuovinenGanagagok - 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.

            Thanks, Eero.  Yes:  If we were to play this, and you created Kanuka the lamenter of the People, I'd have your character returning to his native village after long absence, with Gifts of Lore acquired during his travels to 'trade'.  What happens next?  You tell me.  But the Ice is melting, and you still have to eat.

            Designer X

            Four Walls and a Funeral: Roleplaying Behind Bars
            Four Walls is a bad  idea for a roleplaying game that will no doubt attract a certain degree of interest from some of the more fucked-up members of the hobby. In this game, the players portray residents of one of the correctional facilities on Riker's Island, specifically a prison intended for adult male inmates.

            Rule #1
            Kids and women are not allowed to play this game. Period. Sure, start up a juve game or one set in the Rose Springer Center for women. But that's a whole 'nother game.

            Thinking that playing an inmate is anything like being an inmate, there's your fantasy. Or do you think OZ is real?

            Nobody gives a rat's ass except your wife, your priest or your lawyer. So shut the fuck up and stop crying. Be a man. Do your own time. Don't do any one else's.

            Rule #2
            Players are prisoners and the GM plays the Warden, guards, counselors, lawyers, other prisoners and everyone else. The GM is not call the Warden because that's fucking stupid. He's the GM. Deal.

            Character Background
            The first steps are in identifying your Four Walls character.

            Name: The name on your rap sheet. Doesn't matter.

            Alias: What your friends/enemies call you. Doesn't matter.

            Age: Minimum starting age is 18, maximum is 50. The older you are, the more coins you get for skills. The younger you are, the longer you'll last in a fight. Your choice.

            Race: White, Black, Hispanic (specify Puerto Rican-American, Mexican-American, etc.) or Other (Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, etc.). Important because it limits your accessibility to certain gangs.

            Prisoner ID Number: Roll eight 10-sided dice, treat 0 as zero. Doesn't matter.

            Paying for your Crimes
            Each coin represents a specific amount of time.

            Cent: 1 year
            Nickel: 5 years
            Dime: 10 years
            Quarter: 25 years
            Dollar: 100 years ("life")

            These coins are spent during the game to win conflicts.

            Skill Trees
            Characters are rated (using coins) in various areas. What did your character do to land in prison? Figure it out, write it down. Also figure out how many years you were convicted for each crime (see the various Skill Trees for maximums in each area). You can be a lifer or you can serve a few years...if you want a kick ass character, create a hardened criminal with a long stretch ahead of him. Your GM has the final call on conviction lengths so don't be a smartass and try to break the system. Your GM has authority to break you.

            Coins are added to any skill in which the character has been convicted. Note that many crimes (such as vice, fraud and sex crimes) are not represented in the list. If you've been convicted of Grand Theft Auto and you received five years, put a nickel into Grand Theft Auto. Because Grand Theft Auto is skill level 3, each cent placed into GTA is worth 3 cents of skill.

            Characters have a total value of bonus coins equal to their age – 16 (so an eighteen year old felon only has 2 bonus cents).

            Placing Coins
            When you create your character, you'll have a pool of coins to place into your skill trees.

            The Theft Tree is used to take something from someone else (or to hide stuff from people who want to find it).

            The Assault Tree is used to hurt or intimidate those weaker than yourself.

            The Murder Tree is only used to kill other human beings.

            The Weapons Tree is a little different. Whenever a weapon is used during a conflict, the player may use their weapon coins to add to their skill.

            Theft Tree (maximum 5 x skill level)
            1. Petty Larceny
            2. Grand Larceny
            3. Grand Theft Auto
            4. Robbery
            5. Armed Robbery

            Assault Tree (maximum 10 x skill level)
            1. Simple Assault
            2. Assault & Battery
            3. Assault with a Deadly Weapon
            4, Aggravated Assault
            5. Attempted Murder

            Murder Tree (maximum 20 x skill level)
            1. Negligent Homicide
            2. Manslaughter
            3. Vehicular Manslaughter
            4. Murder 2nd degree
            5. Murder 1st degree

            Weapons Tree (maximum of 5 x skill level)
            1. Other (damage rating= x1 – x5)
            2. Firearms (damage rating= x4)
            3. Blades (damage rating= x3)
            4. Blunt Objects (damage rating= x2)
            5. Bare Hands (damage rating = x1)

            The Weapons Tree gives you an interesting fact about life inside. It doesn't matter if you're hot shit with a gun. Once you're behind cold steel, that doesn't matter at all. You learn to use your fists, clubs and shivs or you aren't going to survive for long.

            Every prisoner worth his salt has something running in his veins. At the very least, you've got blood, right? But some have something a bit more. Pick one:

            Blood: Maybe you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe you're even innocent. You're still human...for awhile, anyway. You get a shiny quarter that you can use once (that's once, ever) to get out of a bad situation. Bad part: you're fresh meat.

            Fire: You have fire in your blood and it has given you political power. Pick a gang and add a nickel to however many coins you decide to put into it. Bad part: not only are there enemy gangs to worry about, expect to be targeted by the Man.

            Ice: You're a stone killer. Sociopath. Hard as iron and cold as ice. You're quiet and deadly as a scorpion and folks know what you're capable of. Add a a cent to Blades, Blunt Objects and Bare Hands and add a nickel to the Other category of the Weapon Tree. Bad part: you know what the gunslinger complex is? Well, you're the fastest draw in town. Figure it out.

            Junk: You're a drug addict and you crave the sting of the needle. Lucky for you, you know how to get stuff on the inside. Add five cents to any category in the Theft tree. Bad part: if you don't get your shit every day you lose a Fight Points every Dawn for each day that you've gone without.

            Death: You're dying. AIDS, cancer, whatever. You're not ever getting out and it's made you brave, stupid and reckless. Add a nickel to any goddamn Weapon Tree category any time you want. When Dawn comes, feel free to place it in any other Weapon Tree category at any time – you're unpredictable. Bad part: you don't ever regain Fight Points.

            Madness: You're crazy. Not crazy enough to get out of here, though. But all but the dumbest inmates know better than to mess with you. You have a floating pool of six cents that you can spend on any conflict against another prisoner. It refreshes at Dawn. Bad part: you have to act crazy, even if you're not. And you won't be allowed to join any gangs.

            Prison Gangs
            The following six groups are major prison gangs with members all across the United States. The benefit from membership in a gang (besides status) is to gain protection and support when facing enemies and/or enemy organizations.

            In game terms, any member is able to trade coins freely with any other member of their gang, up to their coin rating in that gang. To gain a rating, dump some of your coins into that gang (you can only belong to one gang). A rating of one cent means that you're a new recruit. A dime or more is a seasoned member with many contacts. Once you've "borrowed" your rating in coins, you can't gain any more until they've been paid back.

            I can't stand info dumping so do your goddamn homework and learn more about these groups on your own.

            Neta: Puerto Rican "cultural organization" with the motto "Independence for the Island" (ie: Puerto Rico).

            Aryan Brotherhood (AB): Apolitical white supremacist gang mainly interested in "getting high and getting over."

            Black Guerilla Family (BGF): Politically-motivated, anti-government black gang.

            Mexican Mafia (EME): Urban Hispanic gang motivated by ethnic solidarity and control of drug trade.

            La Nuestra Familia (NF): Rival gang of the EME with similar goals, just coming from a rural background.

            Texas Syndicate (TS): A gang formed to protect Hispanics from the neo-nazi inmates of the AB.

            Game Mechanics, or, Getting Shit Done
            Whenever you want to Get Shit Done, you need to spend coins to do so. Simple tasks require between one and three cents. More difficult tasks require at least a nickel and as much as a dime. Near-impossible tasks are called "near-impossible" for a reason. We're going to err on the side of caution and just say that you're out of luck and no amount of money is gonna get something like that done.

            To accomplish a general Theft task, spend at least one cent so that the total of your skill level x the spent coin is equal to your greater than the difficulty of the task.

            When facing an opponent (stealing from someone, intimidating them, beating them down or trying to kill them), spend some of your coins to set an initial bid. Your opponent may then counter with his own bid. This continues until one person runs out of coins or doesn't want to bid any more.

            The winner of the conflict is the guy who wanted to win it more than the other guy.

            Replenishing Coins
            Unless otherwise noted by the rules, all coins replenish at Dawn.

            Everyone has 118 Fight Points minus their age at the start of the game. When you're jumped, stabbed, poisoned, beat up or cowed, you lose those points. Forever.

            When you hit 0 Fight Points you are a dead motherfucking duck. Moral of the story is, keep to yourself.

            When a fight breaks out, it's handled as normal. But after the winning bid is declared, every person who bid any coins at all suffers a loss of Fight Points. The loss is equal to the number of cents bid by the other guy (or guys) times the damage rating of the weapon used. So if someone bids a dime and is using a shank to carve you a new asshole, you lose 30 Fight Points. And man, a dime ain't all that much.

            The Other weapon category is reserved for weird shit like homemade garrotes, poison, electrocution, etc. Good luck getting hold of a firearm, much less something that will actually work without blowing off your fingers.

            Punking Out
            You want Fight Points back? Well you're going to have to become someone's bitch. First, you GIVE them 5 Fight Points. Then they'll loan some of their Fight Points to you when and if you need them. What else do you have to do for them? Well, that's up to them, isn't it?

            If you're someone's punk-ass bitch and you kill them, that takes care of the problem, doesn't it? You don't get your Fight Points back and you lose any they loaned to you.

            Risking Rep
            You can risk your reputation in order to add coins to an Assault or Murder conflict. To do so, spend extra coins from either the Assault Tree or the Murder Tree. If you win, great. If you lose, those extra coins you bid are lost. Permanently. Well, more specifically, you lose them permanently until you regain your rep (how you do it is between you and the GM).

            It's possible to bribe the GM or the other players (and vice versa). The GM may ask you to perform certain tasks in exchange for a reward (an example would be to kill a high ranking member of the AB in exchange for a nickel now and a dime on completion). The GM has five cents per player in his "Bribe Pool."

            Gain 1 Fight Point every time Dawn breaks and you didn't lose any Fight Points the previous day. Gain one cent every time you wake up at Dawn and you're still breathing.

            Playing the Game
            Ah, my favorite part. This is basically a prison sim based around "true crime" fiction and stuff like OZ and The Shawshank Redemption. Stuff like that. So create the characters, populate your prison with colorful individuals and just play until shit starts happening. People are going to horrible ways. Bad things are going to happen to good people and bad people are going to prosper. That's life. I can't say to you "play this game" with a straight face. The rest is up to you. Stay out of trouble.

            About Designer X
            Designer X wrote this game in about 2 hours the date it was due because he's a fucking procrastinator. He's not the author of Violence but he encourages you to play Four Walls as a follow-up to that game.

            Mark Johnson

            I am now taking bets for when the Forge serve will crash today due to overuse.

            Eero Tuovinen

            Quote from: Mark
            I am now taking bets for when the Forge serve will crash today due to overuse.

            That reminds me, anyone have any idea what the odds are in the competition? Who's taking care of bets, and can I participate through a Belizean dummy corporation?

            I've come to the conclusion that Seadog Tuxedo won't be winning. Not because it's fan favourite, but because it's suboptimal in both fantasy and ingredient departments compared to some games. It still gnaws me that I couldn't write something as natural and light, but I'm not betting on the penguins.

            Instead, I advice you to put your money on Polaris. It's in the champion league in both the fantasy feel and use of ingredients as you know, so that's my pick of the day. There's some other games with equal claim to fantasy/ingredient votes, but they are much lower in the evocation count - not written with as much color, that is. There's of course some doubt, and some games can best Polaris in width and span, rules integrity or play effectiveness, but those are matters that cannot be considered efficiently without playtest - I'd be betting on some other game if they were all played before judgement.

            If there's something I've taken home from this competition design-wise, it's the strength of system color. I've tended towards abstraction in design myself and saved the color practically last, to be applied when detailing the finished product (or not applied at all, as the case is with these hurried competition entries). There is a number of games here that take the opposite route with extremely good results. It's almost comical how overdeveloped systems my games have compared to virtually any game in the competition, which all focuse and limit play in sensible ways. Compare to my designs which all three have customable skill systems for essentially scenario-based games. How dumb can I be, when I realized the fact about three days after finishing the last game? There's a clear blind spot for me.

            Anyway, that's that's only one thing I learned from the competition. It's a great way to get to compare your thinking to that of some great designers. Did any of you others learn of any fundaments here?
            Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
            Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


            That's such a great question Eero, I started up a new thread on it here


            Please accpet this submission version of my game Diamonds Are Forever, re-titled to give customers browsing the menu a clearer expectation of the flavors they will encounter should they order this entrée. I know the game is playable; whether it's worthy of play, clearly explained, or in tune with the spirit of the competition I leave to the magistrates to determine.

            Diamonds Are Forever

            A. Introduction

            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 Diamonds Are Forever. Stolen diamonds, conflict diamonds, maybe cursed diamonds. Although alternate meaning will come into play, from being cool under pressure, ‘to ice’ as in to kill, to cubes melting in tall glasses.

            Diamonds Are Forever is a game of three linked settings and stories.

            ¨ In the first, members of a criminal gang, fresh off a significant jewel heist, are lying low on some Caribbean or Pacific island. They (or he or she – it could be a lone criminal mastermind) are 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 21st 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 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.

            B. Setting Up

            To play Diamonds Are Forever, you’ll need: one or more players, at least one deck of playing cards, and a way to write notes (a pen/pencil and a piece of paper or pad of sticky notes, or a computer.)

            Shuffle an ordinary deck of playing cards, including the 2 jokers (54 cards total). Lay out 3 patterns of 12 cards each, the cards face down. Each pattern has 3 rows of four cards. Set the remaining 18 cards to the side in a face-down pile.

            Each of these patterns (which, viewed from a corner angle, are shaped like diamonds) represents one of the game’s three settings. There is The Island, the Heist, and the War Zone. The patterns have an outer layer of 10 cards and an inner layer of 2 cards. The inner layer represents the “secret” of each setting, and will only be revealed after all the cards on the outer layer are flipped.  If you want the game to run longer than usual, you can break out another pack of cards and add a third layer to one or more of the patterns. It takes 18 cards to make a third layer.

            Decide which pattern corresponds to which setting. Stylish players might want to label the patterns by placing some small, appropriate object next to each. For example, a shell or one of those miniature umbrellas that top tropical drinks would work for The Island. The Heist calls out for a piece of costume jewelry or anything with sufficient bling. For The War Zone, rip a grim scrap of headline from the day’s newspaper: “3 die in …”

            Figure out the order the players will be going in. You can decide any way you want. If you need to randomly choose player order, each player can draw a card from the face-down pile. Highest card goes first. Aces are high. Diamonds beat Hearts beat Clubs beat Spades. Re-shuffle the cards back into the pile.

            Players have the option of giving the three settings some definition before play begins. If all players can agree, you can specify or narrow down times and places. You can be as precise as you want (The Heist went down just after midnight on November 17th, 2003 in Antwerp). It’s also fine to wait for play to reveal info about the settings, or to decide in advance that you want to keep the settings abstract throughout (“The Island,” “The Heist,” and “The War Zone” can have a certain abstract appeal.) You can even decide that one or more of these setting titles are metaphorical in your game. Maybe your Island is an isolated motel somewhere in the deserts of the American southwest.

            Players can also reach some consensus about the tone of one or more of the settings. For example, was The Heist a marvel of precision, with trained operatives outsmarting a hi-tech network of alarms and sensors; or a grubby affair of small-time hoods stumbling into a big score? Again, there’s nothing wrong with starting the game without shared expectations; just be prepared for more chaos, and more surprises.

            C. Rules Summary

            1. Flip the next available card of the pattern/setting where the action is located.
            2. Narrate a scene in the developing story. The scene must include a concept associated with either the suit or the value of the card (See list #1). Ideally, the scene should use both concepts.
            3. If a majority of players agree that the scene included concepts associated with the card’s suit and value, you gain access to the card’s special options (See list #2).
            4. The recorder writes down a phrase that summarizes the scene.
            5. Determine if action will switch to another setting. Some special options change settings. If the card just flipped over is next to another card of the same suit, action automatically switches to another setting (See List #3).
            6. The next player repeats steps 1-5.
            7. When the outer layer of a pattern is finished, the next player to flip a card on that pattern turns over both cards on the inner layer. The player collaborates with the next player in line. They use both cards to narrate a final scene for that setting.
            8. When all cards on all three patterns have been flipped, the game and story are finished.

            D. Narrative Framework and Story Goals

            Diamonds Are Forever is meant to break down barriers between places and times. You will be narrating scenes set in three different settings and time frames, but narrating them all in the present tense, and switching rapidly between the three.

            To avoid losing complete track of who, what, where, and when is going on, keep these basic coordinates in mind.
            ¨ The Island is here and now. One or more jewel thieves are currently on the island.
            ¨ The Heist is in the recent past. When you narrate The Heist you are showing the thieves’ memories, which means that if there are multiple thieves you can legitimately show multiple takes of the same scene.
            ¨ The War Zone is far away. It could be in the past, present, or future. Somehow, the thieves are “seeing” events in The War Zone.

            The game always starts with one of the jewel thieves dreaming. The thief is on The Island. The contents of the dream reflect events from one of the other settings. The first time that action switches to The Island, the dreaming jewel thief wakes up. From this point on, when action switches between the three scenes, players can invent any explanations for the shifts, or ignore them for the time being.

            When you’re playing, remember that only characters on The Island setting can acknowledge the other settings. You can narrate a scene in which one of the thieves makes an appointment with a psychiatrist to talk about a series of disturbing dreams. You can narrate how a thief tries to explain away a vision. But you can’t have characters in The Heist or The War Zone settings worry that their actions might trouble some cat burglar lounging around a resort pool in the indefinite future.

            This doesn’t mean that you should only pursue the truth about the anomalous connections during scenes on The Island. You’ll need all three settings to build a satisfying explanation. The card patterns contain ready-made devices for revealing plot twists and secrets: the interior cards. You’ll have three shots at these revelations, but you’ll probably want to start laying the groundwork earlier in the game.

            E. The Rules

            1. Flip a card

            The first player opens the game by turning over one card from either The Heist or The War Zone patterns. The card flipped can be any card in the outer layer.

            2. Narrate a scene

            The player who flipped the card narrates a scene based in part on the card’s suit and/or value. Each scene should be fairly brief, and narrated in the present tense. Players will base scenes on their vision of the story, events and information that have been revealed in earlier scenes, and the setting of the scene. The player who flips a card may seek advice from the other players, but has sole authority to narrate that scene.

            The card flipped over will also influence the scene. The card’s suit and value symbolize different concepts that players will try to weave into their scene. In narrating a scene, a player must use either the concepts associated with the card’s suit or the concepts tied to the card’s value (preferably both – see below).

            List #1: Symbolism of Cards’ Suits and Values

            Diamonds: ice, diamonds, wealth, intoxication, killing.
            Hearts: dawn, love, beginnings, the occult, hope
            Clubs: assault, crime, gang/syndicate, corruption, law
            Spade: island, alone, buried, dead, psychology

            2: chase/ motion
            3: vice
            4: betrayal
            5: revenge/ reversal
            6: falsehood/ illusion
            7: coincidence
            8: blunder
            9: exposure/ truth revealed
            10: trap
            Jack: escape/ near miss
            Queen: secret
            King: control/power
            Ace: choose any value

            3. Use Special Options

            Players are encouraged to craft a scene that draws in both sets of concepts. As an incentive, players who use a card’s suit and value in their scene gain access to the card’s special abilities. After a player narrates a scene, they or any other player can “nominate” the scene as meeting the suit + value requirement. If a majority of all players agree, the player who just narrated has the choice of taking the following special actions before the next player goes. These special options are based on the suit of the card:

            List #2: Suits’ Special Options

            ¨ Diamonds: switch over to The Heist. The next player will flip a card from The Heist pattern. Or look at any face down card on the outer layer of the current pattern (then replace the card face down).
            ¨ Hearts: take a card from the top of the pile of unused cards. Look at and keep this card. On any of your future turns, after you flip a card, you may choose to put this card in  place of the card you flipped. The card from the pattern is placed at the bottom of the unused pile, and you narrate a scene based on the replacement card. Players can accumulate multiple replacement cards.
            ¨ Clubs: switch over to The War Zone. The next player will flip a card from The War Zone pattern. Or look at any face down card on the outer layer of the current pattern (then replace the card face down).
            ¨ Spades: switch over to The Island. The next player will flip a card from The Island pattern. Or look at any face down card on the outer layer of the current pattern (then replace the card face down).

            4. Record Scenes

            After a player narrates their scene and takes their special option (if entitled), the player who volunteered to be the recorder writes down a few words or a phrase summarizing that scene. The recorder can keep one master list of all scenes (noting down the setting of each with a H, I, or W.) Or the recorder can summarize each scene on a separate scrap of paper or sticky note, placing notes on cards that have been flipped up. Any player can consult the list or notes at any time to jog their memory about earlier scenes.

            5. Determine Next Setting

            There are three ways that action can move to another setting. First, some special options allow the player who flipped the card to choose to switch to another setting. Second, whenever two cards of the same suit appear in a row in the same pattern, action automatically switches to a designated setting after the current player narrates a scene. Third, when a setting is completed (with all cards, including the center layer, flipped), the players who completed the setting choose a setting with remaining un-flipped cards, and action moves to that setting. If none of these three conditions apply, action remains in the current setting.

            List #3: Destinations of the four suits

            Diamonds: switch to The Heist.
            Hearts: switch to any other setting.
            Clubs: switch to The War Zone.
            Spades: switch to The Island.

            6. The next player flips over a card (and narrates, etc.)

            If the action remains in the same setting, the next player flips over a card adjacent to the card that was flipped by the previous player. The second player to flip a card on a setting has a choice of picking the card located clockwise or counterclockwise from the first card flipped. This choice determines the “direction” of play on that setting for the rest of the game. If action has moved to a new setting, the next player flips a card from that new setting.

            7. Unveiling the inner cards

            When all the cards on the outer layer of a setting have been revealed, the next player who has a turn on that setting flips over both cards in the inner layer. The player works with the next player to jointly come up with a final scene for that setting. (They can openly plan their narration, or have a side conversation so they can surprise the other players.) The two players may narrate one double-length scene or two back-to-back scenes (perhaps a supposed finale followed by a shocking twist). The players must use as least 2 elements from among the 2 suits and 2 values on their pair of cards. (They do not get a special option for using all four elements). Afterwards, the player who flipped the 2 inner cards decides which setting to shift to, and play moves to a player who didn’t participate in the double scene (assuming there are more than 2 players.)

            8. Ending the Game

            Once a setting has been completed, players ignore options or pairs of cards that would normally shift play back to that setting. The game continues until all three settings have been finished. The inner pair of cards on the last setting represents the last scene in the game.

            9. Optional Rule: To Kill

            A player may only narrate a scene that “shows” killing if they flip over a card with a diamond suit. A clubs card allows narration of an assault/brawl/ ambush etc, and a spade card may reveal a corpse, but the actual act of killing is reserved for diamond cards.

            F. Sample of Actual Play

            This short example of play is also a sample of actual, solitaire play. The notations will show setting/value/suit. For example, W5D is a five of diamonds flipped in The War Zone. The scenes are in quotes. My comments are in italics

            Card #1 W10S. “A young man is walking alone down a muddy road. He comes to a point where a nearby stream has overflowed its banks, flooding the road in at least a foot or two of water. The man when the man starts wading through the murky water, an older man and a teenager step out of the brush in front of him. He looks over his shoulder. Another teenager stands behind him, blocking his retreat. All three strangers wear tattered T-shirts with the letters UDP stamped on. The older man carries an assault rifle. The boys hold machetes. They indicate that he is to come with them.” (All right, easy enough start. I included alone for the Spade and trap for the 10, so I get to use the card’s option. I could switch to the island setting, but I want the dream to continue for a while, so instead I’ll peek at a card in my current setting. I pick up the next card to the counterclockwise direction. It’s the 4 of hearts. Looks good… I think I’ll flip that card next.)

            Card #2 W4H. “The older man tells the captive that the Patriotic Front has lost fighters in its recent push, and needs new recruits – like you. The captive trudges along for a while, then asks his captors to stop by his town. ‘My family will give you money to let me go, enough to buy plenty of guns, train lots of fighters, worth more than me. I’m useless with  a weapon.’ The captors agree. They walk to his house. One of the teens bangs on the door. The captive’s father opens it. The captive expresses surprise that his father is back from his job in the capitol, and acts relieved. ‘Father, I told these men we could give them money so they will let me go.’ But his father just woodenly announces ‘I don’t have any money,’ and closes the door. (I got betrayal in there for the 4, but don’t know if I hit the mark with any of the hearts concepts, so no special options this time. Action stays in the War Zone.)

            Card #3 W3H “The three fighters and captive arrive at a small collection of tents set near hilly terrain. They’re all sweaty, like they’ve walked far to get here. The older man and one of the teens lead the captive to the largest tent. The teen scrapes on the fabric. A voice responds ‘give me a minute.’ There’s enough back light to see two figures within separating from an embrace. Soon, a muscular man opens the tent flap. Staring out of the opening, he examines the captive. ‘He’ll do. Keep a watch over him tonight.’ The tent flap shuts, but not before the captive gets a glimpse of an arm caressing the leader’s shoulder. The arm is bound to 6 or 8 others limbs. This bundle of severed forearms scuttles like a spider back into the darkness of the tent’s interior. (Vice for the 3, occult for the Hearts. I get to access a heart’s special option. I take a card from the pile to the side. It’s a 5 of spades. I can use this to replace any card I flip in the future.) Since two adjacent hearts cards were flipped, play automatically switches to a setting of my choice. Let’s go to The Island; it’s time for the thief to wake up.)

            Card #4 IkingH “The dark of the closing tent snaps into light. The sun is streaming into a hotel room. A ceiling fan is rotating lazily above. A short, wiry man climbs out of bed, walks into a bathroom, and splashes water on his face. He returns to the main room and looks the windows over a pool, terrace, sun umbrellas, strip of sand, calm sea.  Turning away from the window, the man kneels into some sort of lotus position and begins breathing exercises.” (King/ hearts = control emotions. Pretty simple. I don’t think I did a good job showing how the man could have been freaked out by the dream, but I met the suit + value test. So I pick another card for my replacement hand: a 7 of clubs. Even though the king was the 2nd (well, 3rd) heart in a row, it was the first card in this setting, so the action stays where it is on The Island.)