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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 156 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Use These Dice!  (Read 17777 times)

Posts: 50

« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2008, 07:13:00 PM »

On the Inside

(Thanks to Travis for suggesting that on a re-roll you don't actually re-roll, you just shake the die on the inside! That fits the game better!)

On the Inside concerns a convict living out their prison sentence, and trying to keep the world from passing them by.  At least one player plays the convict.  At least one player plays an exemplar family member.  And at least one person plays everyone else. 

The game lasts six episodes.  An episode is simply a point in the convict or family member's life.  Many episodes will take up one scene of play; some will need two. 

The first episode is always the same. <Re-rolling is always actually re-shaking!<Outside episodes:  Set up a scene for the family member that will likely lead to some kind of challenge.   The first night going to bed without the convict?  A birthday party?  The tax man cometh?  The situation must play to the family member's weaknesses:  why would it be EASIER if the convict were here, right now?  Play things out until a piquant moment, then roll the die to see if the family member can successfully overcome the challenge facing them.  Because this is all about the convict's connection to the outside, always look to that inside die to beat or tie the outside.  If it beats or ties the outside, the family member triumphs, and not only that, but triumphs because of the strength of their bond to the convict.  (Ties probably aren't as cut-and-dried, but it's still a win.)

If the inside die is less than the outside, there's always a chance to pull through with a re-roll.  It's the convict's choice whether to re-roll.  The family member is defeated in the immediate situation.  But set a new scene, but this time the situation plays to the family member's strengths:  how would it be HARDER if the convict were here, right now?     Play through, and re-roll, only this time a tie is also a failure!  Bump the die size on a failure (d6 to d10, d10 to d12, d12 stays at d12).

Inside episodes: Set up a scene that will likely lead to some kind of challenge for the convict.  A cruel cell mate?  Smuggling contraband?  Paralyzing boredom?  Roll to see if the convict overcomes it, and not only that, but overcomes it because of the strength of their bond to the family member.  Again, ties probably aren't cut-and-dried.

If the roll is a failure, a re-roll is possible.  The family member chooses whether to re-roll.  Set a new scene where the convict gets to communicate with the family member!  Family time, conjugal visit, telephone call, a letter scribbled on a napkin.  But to get that re-roll, the convict has to ask the family member to do something they really shouldn't do!  Shouldn't, that is,  morally, ethically, legally, or whatever.  Succeed here--and remember, ties are a failure on the re-roll!--and the convict perseveres over the immediate situation.  Fail, and the die size is bumped.

Play out five of these episodes.  Then the sentence is over.  What's the die size?  d6?  Prison benefits the convict and family member in every way!  Not much chance of that, but it could happen.  d10?  Freedom is sweet, but things aren't all roses.  What's the fly in the ointment?  d12?  Everything's strained.  The pieces are going to be hard to pick up.  Why?  And would the die have ever gotten bigger than d12?  Then nothing's well; the connection is forever severed between ex-convict and family membered.

One more catch that applies to every roll (but not re-rolls)!  d6s are normal.  d10s?  No 9s or 10s on the inside are allowed, ever.  Give the die another shake until there are no more 9s or 10s.  d12s?  No 10s, 11s, or 12s on the inside.

Posts: 50

« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2008, 07:14:11 PM »

And by "Solamasa", I mean me!

- Kit

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets

« Reply #17 on: February 29, 2008, 07:47:54 AM »

Hey, Ken.  Thanks for doing this!  I've already taken my entry and modified it heavily, which is making it come together really well.  I think that it will be ready to playtest soon.  Thanks!

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown

Posts: 36

« Reply #18 on: February 29, 2008, 12:14:36 PM »

Solamasa:  "Prison Break" is one of my favorite shows, so as you might imagine, I'm giving that one the horns.  I like the bumping-the-die-up mechanic.  Very neat idea.

GreatWolf: You're welcome!  I was hoping that people would find the idea creatively inspiring, and it sure seems to be working out that.

Everyone Thinking About Entering:  I ordered the dice last night.  They're on their way to my place right now.  Nice shiny brand new dice.  You know you want them.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #19 on: February 29, 2008, 12:15:27 PM »

We do, we do!

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

Posts: 5574

« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2008, 02:02:07 PM »

The Tainted

(a promo teaser)

The War between Heaven and Hell rages on.
The forces of the Infernal spread their Taint across the Earth.
Every Angel sent to Earth becomes Tainted and can never return to Heaven, can never again enter the Divine Presence
Every Angel whose been Tainted eventually Falls.

You're an Angel fighting the Infernal on Earth
You've been Tainted.
How long till you Fall.

(coming soon).


Posts: 5

« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2008, 02:43:47 PM »

  This is an interesting concept. It has me thinking that someone should make a series of contestes based on what kind of die are used and possibly even how they are used. For example, one of the competitions could be: "Make a game, at the most 10 pages long, using only two dice but the dice must be different sizes(e.g. d6 and d10) and both used in all rolls." That would be interesting.

Posts: 36

« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2008, 03:15:16 PM »

This is an interesting concept. It has me thinking that someone should make a series of contestes based on what kind of die are used and possibly even how they are used. For example, one of the competitions could be: "Make a game, at the most 10 pages long, using only two dice but the dice must be different sizes(e.g. d6 and d10) and both used in all rolls." That would be interesting.
I want to see a game that uses a d30.  Or uses weird dice like the color dice, which have facings with red, green, purple, blue, yellow, and black (they have a 4-sided version as well).  Dice like that could be very interesting for scene setting mechanics.
Nev the Deranged

Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.

« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2008, 11:02:00 AM »

I wonder if anybody has made in/OUT dice that use two different die sizes...

Posts: 503

« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2008, 06:30:41 PM »

Five years ago, your character was a vague-ass loser with problems asserting themselves and less than perfect hygiene. Now, they're an unholy ass-kicker with smoking hot super-powers. But you have no idea what happened in those five years, and the only help you're given to figuring this trip out are about as likely to give helpful advice as make your brain explode.


Every player designs their hero, their hero's Angel and their hero's Devil.

The player to a player's right plays their Angel, and the player to their left their Devil. The game-world is narrated by a combination of the Hero, The Angel and The Devil. Each has their own agenda.

The Hero wants to both understand the world and to triumph over it. He also wants to show off how totally awesome he is.

The Angel wants to let the hero know that the hero is a terrible person, that other people are wonderful and have always tried to help him, but he is not lost and that it is his holy mandate to repent from his way of life.

The Devil wants the hero to know know that he is a rightuous ass kicker, that other people are monsters and have always plotted against him, and that he any morals or mercy he holds for these cretins will destroy him.


The game is narrarated by a combination of the Hero, the Angel and the Devil. Any of them can set the scene for the Hero.

The player of the Hero has authority over what the hero is doing now, and can narrarate events in the present to establish ideas about his hero.

The players of the Angel and the Devil have authority which is based on the "Die of conciousness". The Angel gets its narrative right from the the inner die, and the devil gets its narrative right from the outer die.

Only the Angel or Devil may introduce things that have happened in the past.


The die of conciousness is a double die d6 which sits in the middle of the table. It determines both special effects for "the camera" and the narraration power of the Angel and Devil.

1-2: Narraration ability: Symbolic hints and messages in coincidental places like store names, music lyrics, graffiti or other types of vandalism. Special effect: Things look like they're shot 30fps. This produces that TV news look of looking "too real" and stale.

3-4: Narraration ability: Super-powered, surreal, symbolic content that is not always consistant or sensical. Nothing that happens here has to stick, or have long-range consequences. Special Effect: Stuff like this looks like bitchin' animation.

5: Narraration Ability: Real people, real feelings and real consequences. The supernatural is dialed lower. What happens here is expected to be respected, and consistant with the rest of the game's 'reality'. Special Effect: Everything looks mostly realistic, but colors are exceptionally vivid and the lighting is stark and dramatic. The lens also has a little bit of "fuzziness".

6 - Narration Ability: The player of the Angel or Devil can deliver the 'real deal' about the nature of the character's life or past, including unarguable facts which are both disturbing and highly consequential. Special Effect: The Screen becomes very staticy, and no supernatural elements or included in the scene.


If the Hero does not like what is occuring, he can choose to alter his own conciousness to a more pleasurable state. The player than has the option of rolling the die of conciousness, to change the narraration ability of the devil and angel.

Remember that bit about brain exploding? If neither the angel die nor the devil die come up higher than the number of times the hero rolls to alter his conciousness in a scene, than his head explodes during this scene. Human brains wern't made for superman head fucks.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2008, 05:58:28 PM »

I'm sorry, but it seems that I can't get my game to cohere. Too busy. I was going to make a D&D-style adventure game, but there were too many steps to it. I have enjoyed the other games, though, especially Ron's; even if it's not metal at all, it seems like fun to play in the understated way Ron's recent games have offered...

Actually, now that I think of it, metal game? Isn't that, like, the simplest thing in the world? Yeah! So hold your horses, here's a quick, real metal game. I'm coming back to the contest exactly one paragraph after bowing out!

- the game
The game wherein the Finnish metal music group
participates in the Eurovision Song Contest. Their song is called . The contest will know excitement, romance, sweat, will of iron, barbarian metal, Manowar parody and, above all, earnest agonistics of C-list artists shooting for the big time!

In the game the players play the Finnish metal music group . The name means "steel-reinforced concrete", while the music of the band is so much to the topside of power metal that it's commonly considered a parody of the same: the skinny, long-haired sissy boys of the band play without shirts and sing songs about heroic death, taking slaves, getting revenge and generally living the vida warrioca. has two albums (Metal Truth and We Demand Metal) with a third incoming; one of two has a gold record in Finland, while the other has sold platinum. The band managed to get elected for the song contest via the phone voting system, which tends to favour the favourites of young subcultures quite a bit (as young fans have no restraint in running up their phone bills, you know), meaning that Finland seems to get something like this every year. As a sample of the lyrics, I'm translating the titular song of the game right here:

Where Men Ride

Let there be storm and wind
and warm fire in the hearth.
Honor and manhood is
to discharge our duty.

The world is cold even
if warmth has a place.
Fields call for heroes,
and not cowards for sure!

Where men ride
no sheep may stride.
Where men ride
you may hear wolves howl.

Let disaster await
and love be left behind.
A man has his duty
to remember valour.

Nobody may avoid pain and
just run with the current of life.
Fields call for heroes,
and not cowards for sure!

Where men ride
no sheep may stride.
Where men ride
you may hear wolves howl.

Where men, where men ride
Where men, where men ride

Where men ride
no sheep may stride.
Where men ride
you may hear wolves howl.

Where men ride
no sheep may stride.
Where men ride
you may hear wolves howl.<

While all the players are free to find out more for themselves, a short explanation is in order. I'm going to quote the Finnish Wikipedia on this one, you wouldn't believe it from me:

Quote from: Finnish Wikipedia, translated by Eero

The players play the members of the band, and there's also a GM. The band members are described below; if there's not enough players, use the artists in order. If there's too many, the excess becomes co-gamemasters; there's plenty of work to go around there. I'm also going to give you some character hooks to differentiate the band members a bit. In case you didn't already figure it out, this is a real band and they really are going to compete in ESC, so I'm not going to do anything like the real people here. Of course, anybody may add real stuff if they happen to follow the band closely. The following is completely imaginary, but appropriate for the game:

(You might also wish to use the producer of the band, Hiili Hiilesmaa, as a PC; we might paint him as a middle-aged man who's worked with the band on their last album and with dozens of other bands before that, with great success in his vocation; he believes not in the Metal Truth. His number is 5.)

Jarkko Ahola - Lead vocals, bass guitar. The leader of the group and a most learned metal musician, familiar with several styles and history of the form. A member of several other band projects. Writes the songs for the band and just might believe in the Metal Truth in a bit too literal manner. His number is 1.
- Guitar, vocals. A silent follower type, talented singer. Wants the band to succeed and become a source of long-term satisfaction, and will therefore work to make it work. Lukewarm about metal as an attitude. His number is 2.
Viljo Rantanen - Guitar. Technically talented guitarist, but little sense for creativity in music. Does his best work at live gigs with his "barbarian on". Old friends with Jarkko and Arto. His number is 3.
Jari Kuokkanen - Drums. A latecomer to the band, has just floated in after working as a "temp" drummer for a long while. Hard worker, hardier party-animal. Connections in the scene, and oldest of the bunch. His number is 4.
They're all skinny, white, long-haired young Finnish males from Tampere. The hair's going to be brown, unless you take some color to it in the first scene.

ScenesIn Finland
2.3.<8.3. - The first training day for the contest. Plans are made and chemistry established; for the first time, the band realizes that they're really going to Belgrad.
12.3. - The band meets with their producer, Hiili Hiilesmaa, to discuss priorities between the imminent album release and the ESC.
17.3 - The running order for ESC is revealed, which brings an opportunity for the characters to establish rivalries with other participants.
19.3. - The release party for Myrskyntuoja (Stormbringer), the third album of the band, which also includes Where Men Ride.
19.4. - A home-moving party for a mutual friend of the band's. The band plays, too.
31.4. - A big in-depth interview with the Ilta-Sanomat (a Finnish tabloid paper) reporter Katri Utula.
10.5. - The last training day for the contest before boarding the plane to Belgrad.
In Belgrad
14.5. - First semifinal rehearsal for our band; press conference after the rehearsal.
16.5. - Second semifinal rehearsal for our band; press conference after the rehearsal.
18.5 - Mayor's Reception, a big party for the whole ESC machine.
19.5 - Dress rehearsals for the Semi-Finals.
20.5 - First Semi-Final, with a morning rehearsal; this is the one our boys are in. Lost here? Move directly to the epilogue!
22.5 - Second Semi-Final. A disgruntled Serbian nationalist will disrupt this with an explosive device to protest the independence of Kosovo. Died here? Move directly the to epilogue!
23.5 - Dress rehearsals for the Finals.
24.5 - The Finals! Move directly to the epilogue afterwards!

A word on ESC

The Eurovision Song Contest<What's that bit about a bomb?!?players
(not the characters) when the second part of the game at Belgrad begins. After that the players may, at their discretion, frame scenes in which their characters find out about the planned bombing, the conspiracy behind it and perhaps meddle in it if they have time before the contest. Alternatively, they might decide that their characters do not care, in which case they still may go see the contest out of pure musical interest. They will wear their swords; that's their shtick, after all!

Should the characters explore the backgrounds of the bombing, they will find out the reasons and people behind it (coldly calculated and politically realistic, note), but will not be able to find the bomber and his bomb before the day of the contest itself. Should the bombing happen as planned (perhaps because all the characters decide to do something else that day and aren't there to stop it), the ESC leaders will make a cold, calculated decision and go on with the competition regardless; they will lose their jobs afterwards, but the momentum of the competition is too strong to stop for this.


Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2008, 05:58:51 PM »


Scene resolution

Now for some rules; you're going to need a double d6 or two, a double d8, a bunch of normal d6, pens and paper for this.

In each scene there is going to be just one conflict, just like in Shab-al-Hiri Roach (which, I realize just now, this game is starting to resemble quite a bit now that I'm writing it). The scene is played freeform until a conflict comes up, at which point the GM will drop the dd6 on the table and call for conflict, stating what it's roughly about. The first player to grab the die has the initiative and his character acts first to resolve the situation. (Don't make a reaction game of it by dangling the die and grabbing at it; the player who takes the die should be ready to describe what his character is going to do about the situation the GM called.)

(I should mention here that all band members are assumed to be in each scene, at least at the beginning. All players are also justified in bringing their characters back, should they leave the scene.)

The player proceeds to describe how his character acts in the situation, after which he rolls the die. The external result of the roll is his Metal roll, determining how well he resolves the situation. The internal result is his Truth roll<Metal TruthMetal Truth does not actually affect the outcome of the resolution (that's determined below), it does come with additional benefits: the band gains the dd8 die and uses it from now on until they lose a Metal or Truth roll with it, at which point the power-up disappears. The band also gets to frame the next scene, but more about that later.

(I feel that the above might be misunderstood, so let me elucidate: Metal Truth might end up causing a classical music video explosion of heroic action with a soundtrack in the background, or it might prove to be grossly inappropriate socially, inefficient in action and quite embarrasing for the characters who participate; this all depends on whether the Metal Truth roll result actually wins the conflict against the GM's roll. However, as the Metal and Truth values are equal in this case, it's always a given that in Metal Truthnotably unlikely manner (like, they're charging a score of policemen with just their plastic prop swords or something). While the GM may suggest that a given resolution method is deserving of these penalty dice, it's up to the players; they should be able to describe a more realistic way of resolving their predicament if they don't want to give the dice, anyway. The GM also gains cumulative extra dice for each reroll a single character opts to take in a single conflict (more on that below).

Now, the procedure for actually rolling the dice:
  • First, the player who grabbed the initiative tells what his character is going to do and rolls the die.
  • Next, the players see if they like the result. If not, any player may grab the die and roll it again, telling how his character steps in. Each player makes the call independently.
  • The above continues as long as necessary, but the GM will gain an extra die every time a new "round" of rerolls is started; in other words, he gets an extra die when a character takes a second roll for the first time (but not when a second character does so), another die when a character takes his third roll and so on.
  • The above procedure is immediately interrupted if Metal Truth is rolled! In that case, proceed to the next step.
  • When the players are happy with the dicing result, the GM rolls his accumulated dice. (One die for free, any number gifted by the players and any bonus dice from the rerolls.) The highest result in the dice is the value of the resistance.
Now, after the resistance has been determined, we compare Metal and Truth rolls with it: managing to equal or top the resistance means success in the area in question. Narrate appropriately and mark things down on the Tab, of which more below. Narration rights are primarily on the band if they won Truth, and on the GM if they lost it; the GM is encouraged to think up something stupid and shortsighted for the band to regret later on.

The Tab and the Number

The Tab is a piece of paper with three columns, one for Metal, one for Truth and one for the GM. It is used in the "extended conflicts" in the latter part of the game, for which the players will want to fill the Tab in the former part. This happens like so: each time a conflict is resolved, mark down the Metal and Truth dice results the players rolled in their appropriate columns, but only if they won that category. You might want to put each different value on separate lines and just use checkmarks ("three sixes" and so on), as we'll be mostly interested in pairs and triples and such later on.

Meanwhile, the GM has also rolled his dice. Mark all of those dice in the GM column. The players get to mark those results as well! The player whose roll was used in the conflict gets to spread the GM dice results in the Metal and Truth columns whichever way he wants.

The definition of Tab conflict is that any conflict that might end the game and make the band fail is a Tab conflict. I don't particularly expect or recommend provoking things towards Tab conflicts, as I've provided more than enough in that department, but the fiction might go that way and who am I to gainsay your story. Anyway: There are three Tab conflicts built into the game:
  • On the 22nd of May the second semifinals feature the bomber. As described above, the characters might avoid this Tab conflict. If they do take it, they are likewise allowed a normal conflict if one presents itself before the bomber gets busy. Should the characters lose some of them get injured or might even die; they're not going to play in the finals!
  • On the 24th of May the ESC Finals happen! Like before, the characters have to be there to play and to win, or forfeit. A normal conflict before playing might concern almost anything, assuming that the characters have been busy trying to lay the French chansonette or something like that. If the characters lose, they go home. Hopefully they did well, at least! If they win, the game is over anyway, as it has to stop somewhere...

Essentially, each Tab conflict is like a music video shoot of the band's performance, whether they're playing on stage or making a terrorist eat his own bomb. The players spend their Tab marks to proceed in the conflict, while the GM spends his to throw in some resistance. The terrorist case is obvious enough, but when it comes to performance we're looking for stuff like uncertainties, character faults, stage fear or such. The GM might have to drag some weird shit out of the characters's childhood here, but that's how it goes in this kind of fiction.

Now, while the characters are otherwise mechanically identical to each other, they all have a different Number. The Number is used in the Tab conflict; each band member has a special affinity with one kind of Tab mark, determined by their number. When they are spending that kind of Tab marks, they get to count one mark more! This way even a lonely Tab of the correct type becomes a pair, for example.

Here's the Tab conflict procedure:
  • At the beginning of each round, the GM rolls out a series of his tab marks, circling them on the Tab. This is how many dice he will be rolling, and it's always all of his tab marks of a type; no pulling punches!
  • The GM chooses which of the players is going to answer his challenge and from which category; he narrates a difficulty that specifically concerns that character more than the others, and either attacks his values (Truth) or presents a practical conundrum (Metal).
  • The concerned player then gets to spend a series of tab marks from the chosen category, remembering the extra he gets if he spends from his own Number. The player doesn't need to spend all the marks at one go like the GM does, though, if he doesn't want to. The number of spent marks determines how many characters will be supporting each other in the challenge; extra marks in the category may be spent for rerolls later. The challenged player gets to pick which of his friends help him out, if there's not enough marks for all.
  • When the GM has his dice and the players have figured out which characters are participating, the players roll the dd6 (or dd8 if they have Metal Truth) and go into a series of rerolls, the same as in a normal conflict. The players can't buy more rerolls by giving the GM more dice, but they can spend extra tab marks from the number chosen by the challenged player; the challenged player rolls the die when he spends the marks.
  • When the players are satisfied with the roll or can't reroll more, the GM rolls his dice. Tab marks are generated normally, narration is determined normally and results are determined normally; however, if the result is a tie (players don't win those here) or player loss in either category, the players have to immediately choose: will they continue the conflict with another round, or be satisfied with the loss?
  • If the band loses in Metal, the game moves immediately to epilogues, with the winner of Truth narrating the failure of the characters in the overall conflict, it's causes and consequences.
  • If the band loses in Truth but wins in Metal and decides to end the conflict, the game continues according to the scene list, with the GM narrating how the characters win the Tab conflict by cheating. However, the Tab is emptied on both sides.
  • If the players choose to continue, the results of the first conflict round are narrated with a scope that does not resolve the overall conflict, and then the procedure is repeated. However, the winner of Truth gets to describe the challenge, pick the challenged player and determine whether it's a Metal or Truth challenge. This can go on until one side runs out of tab marks, which then spells victory for the opposition. That would however spell doom for the characters, so players would be wise to not go that far.
  • Players can gain extra scenes in between Tab conflict rounds normally, just like described in the next bit, below. Those are most likely flashbacks, unless the conflict has some kind of a break.

Scene framing

As indicated above, the GM has a specific scene sequence he's following. He might throw in some stuff about the consequences of the last scene if he wants, but basically he's going to follow the list; should some situation make the list impossible, it's a Tab conflict! So run the Tab conflict and proceed to epilogues if the characters fail. This would be the case if the characters decided to withdraw from the ESC as well, by the way; the last Tab conflict is required regardless.

Assuming no such drastic turns in the fiction, however, the GM is always pushing for that next scene in the sequence. The only way for him to be foiled is for the players to earn extra scenes; these are freely framed scenes that concern personal needs and concerns of the characters more than the ESC schedule, so they might be anything from character development to spying on Serbian extremists, whatever the framer finds interesting. They are a great vehicle for exploring the ESC festivals and band life in general, anyway. As can be seen from the schedule, there's lots of free time and not many practice sessions in Finland, so perhaps the band wants to run some more of those...

The following conditions concern running an extra scene:
  • If the band rolls Metal Truth, they can have an extra scene right after this one, focusing on the individual concerns of the character who rolled the Metal Truth. This might mean that not all characters are present in the scene.
  • If the band loses their Truth roll but win their Metal roll, they may request an extra scene, but the GM will frame it to highlight the consequences of their actions in the last scene.
  • If the band loses their Metal roll but win their Truth roll, they may frame a scene with some constructive, hopeful content. Like that romance with the exotic drummer of that Russian punk band, I like that idea for plot content in this game.
  • See those dates on the scheduled scenes? If there's no time for the extra scene before the next mandatory scene, then the band is out of luck! You might want to use a calendar or something to keep track of when and where the band is, so you can see whether they even get to their appointments in time.
Extra scenes may also lead to extra scenes, or not. In any case it is not mandatory to request them. At some point it actually becomes counterproductive to winning the Tab conflicts, too.

Oh, also: the GM's main job in this game is to be the bass-playing dynamo, Sorcerer style. Thrown out some bangs and make sure the players get to feel the ESC!


At the end of the game the players get to distribute any left-over Tabs. This is important! I fully admit that at this time of night I can't be bothered to hone the Tab conflict Truth loss condition to be psychologically more amicable, so just remember that deciding to continue without any Tab marks means rather horrid consequences at the end of the game, if the characters fail at gathering some at some point.

So, when the time for epilogues comes, the players get to split the Tabs between themselves any way they want. Specifically, the GM again drops the die and lets any player pick it to claim initiative; this player then narrates something positive about the future of one of the characters and marks down one number on one Tab for that character; the whole series is then counted for him. The series at the Number of a character cannot be marked for other characters than him, though, and that's also the only series that a player can mark for his own character; all the others have to be marked for other players's characters. Generally speaking, narrations concerning worldly concerns mark down Metal series, while moral and spiritual values concern Truth.

After the first player has marked down a series, each player clockwise gets an opportunity to do so as well, until all the Tab has been divided this way. Now all characters have some marks in both Metal and Truth, so the player gets to tell the final epilogue for his character, working with the following table:
0The character dies or is crippled soon after ESC.The character's memory is reviled by people who knew him.
1The character will be poor, on the bottom rungs of society, never amounting to much.He will be known as a shithead to most.
3Music becomes a solid livelyhood for the character.While never inspired, the character's music is honest.
5+The character will become rich and famous with his music, living the life of a rock star.The character grows into a true artist, able to touch the hearts and minds of his fellow men.
0The band is scrapped soon after ESC.5The band toils on as the members have little else, but it never breaks out of Finland.The band is mentioned in Wikipedia under "Power metal".
10Other musicians emulate the band during the next generation.

Character vs. character?

One more rule: usually the band goes everywhere together, especially in Belgrad, and they tend to stick together. However, it is possible that the characters get crosswise with each other, in which case the conflict works a bit differently: both players get to roll a die for themselves at the same time, and they compare their scores in the categories with each other. They get rerolls if other characters decide to help them out, but if either opts to take more rerolls, the GM actually gains dice for the conflict; the argument has grown so large that NPCs get involved in it. When both sides of the conflict are finally content, the overall winner is the one who gets Tab marks in each category.

A bonus subgame

If you want to see something f***ing stupid, check this out. It's the official band website, and if you click in the middle of the flash window, it takes you to a flash game about... well, see for yourself. Obviously they're taking their ESC candidacy quite seriously.

(Huh... I can't believe I wrote all that in one sitting a couple of hours before bedtime. I knew that I'm fast to design when I get it on, but this is just ridiculous.)

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

Posts: 612

« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2008, 08:17:09 PM »

Okay, 93 minutes left.  Time to start typing.  I'm all ready to brag if this is good, and make excuses if it's crap!


You are a regular person who somehow found a way to empower yourself with magical abilities.  Maybe a ritual, involving the sacrifice of some precious pesonal item.  Whatever.  You now have the ability to attempt almost anything you want via magic.  All you need to do is form an intention and will it so!

The catch, though, is that when you use your magic, something scary happens.  You feel momentarily distant and out of control, and those who watch you see your facial expressions distort and faint light emit from your facial orifices.

Magic rules:

You can alter objects -- pick an adjective to increase or decrease.
You can warp objects, stretching or smushing them into desired shapes (you can increase density, but not mass).
You can move objects, but accelerating them is harder than other magic.

No mind control.
No creating matter out of nothing.


The player and GM come up with something difficult that the PC wants to accomplish.  Something he can't magic into occurrence, something like a relationship.  The goal shouldn't be purely hateful (revenge), purely helpful (heal the sick), or greedy in a way that is inherently bad for others (theft).  They then brainstorm the rough obstacles in the PC's path, and create some NPCs.

The GM takes a sheet of paper and writes down:

Helpful (this means altruistic)
Hateful (this means deliberately causing emotional or physical pain for reasons other than no-other-choice self-defense)
Greedy (this means selfish behavior that negatively affects others)


Collaborative scene framing, based mostly on player's decision of how to pursue his mission.

GM plays NPCs and other obstacles.  The GM's goal is to create obstacles that will provide opportunities for Greed, Altruism, and Hate.  These obstacles should also be things that cannot be overcome without magic.


Every time the PC uses magic, he rolls 1dd6.  The inner d6 is the spell's Power, the outer d6 is the spell's Precision.  Look up on the table to see how much Power is required for various degrees of effect, and how much Precision is necessary to do what you wanted.  Insufficient Precision means the magic did a slightly different effect than you wanted, and is experienced by the PC as incomplete control -- "I'm still learning to use this tool; oops, how awkward of me,"  Variations in Power, on the other hand, are complete surprises to the PC -- "whoa, that was random!"

Every time the Power # exceeds the Precision #, the GM makes a check mark under "Demon".

Every time the PC casts a spell, the GM judges the motivation for that spell, and writes a check mark under either "Greedy", "Hateful", "Helpful", or nothing if none apply.  Doing something that helps the PC but in no way inconveniences anyone else doesn't count as Greedy!

How play evolves:

The more check marks there are under "Demon", the more the GM describes the PC feeling some sort of other presence surge within him when he uses magic.

When there are ten check marks under "Demon", the demon inside the PC manifests.  Demonic manifestation consists of a voice inside the PC's head, an ability to provide or deny the PC access to magic, and an ability to in fact possess the PC and control them entirely if desired.

A demon's sole motivation is to use magic in furtherance of its Aspect.

A demon's Aspect is either Helpful, Hateful, or Greedy -- the category with the most check marks in it at the time the demon manifests.  This means that if the PC has been using his magic mostly for hateful reasons, he will manifest a hateful demon.

A PC with a hateful demon manifested inside him can now only use magic for hateful purposes.  If the PC is cool with this, the demon will not cut off his access to magic, nor will it possess him.  If, on the other hand, the PC tries to use magic in a non-hateful way, it won't work, and the demon will issue a warning -- "That was strike one.  Three strikes, and I take over."

As for portrayal, the GM should portray a demon's personality as befiting its Aspect.


Having a demon fully manifested inside him, the PC must now endeavor to complete his objective for the game, knowing that he can only use magic in ways corresponding to his demon's Aspect.  The GM should make this as difficult as possible, trying to get the PC right up to the verge of Strike Three.

Do you get killed by the obstacles to your desire?  Do you get possessed?  Or do you get what you want, and reveal your true character in the process?

Okay, probably not playable as is, but that's all I got for now.  45 minutes to spare too!  I await Ken's verdict with fingers crossed.  Those dice sound fun.


here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Posts: 36

« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2008, 08:56:52 PM »

David must be on the East Coast, because there is still three hours to go!  It's 8:56 PM by my clock.

Posts: 83

« Reply #29 on: March 03, 2008, 04:23:01 AM »

Feel the power of Metal!

I might just play Eeros game with some of my metallurgist friends.

Olli Kantola
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