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General Forge Forums => Conventions => Topic started by: Matt Snyder on March 05, 2007, 07:36:46 PM

Title: [Forge Midwest] Official Thread, Part 2 of 2
Post by: Matt Snyder on March 05, 2007, 07:36:46 PM
Ok, the details are confirmed now.

Forge Midwest will be held Friday April 20th through Sunday April 22nd.

The location is the DoubleTree Hotel ( in Rosemont. We have 1 slightly larger meeting room. It should accomodate well over 50 people, which is the number we had last year. We will have the room all day Saturday and much of the day on Sunday.

Last year, people arrived Friday at various times, gathered for supper, and hung out to socialize in the hotel bar or nearby. I plan on doing the same this year.

To make reservations to stay at the DoubleTree, call: 847-292-9100

Also, there are several hotels in the area as well. This page ( is a good start.

The next step will be an evite I'll set up. We did this last year, and it worked beautifully. The purpose is to get a solid number of attendees so we can figure out costs per person. It will be really important to register on the evite. I'll post it very soon as a reply in this thread.

Stay tuned!

Title: [DitV/Roanoke] Vikings vs. Horror, or Wolves of the New World
Post by: Roy Batty on March 07, 2007, 10:44:52 AM
(Cross posted at the

I picked up Dogs in the Vineyard about a year ago, and I’d like to use it for a new gaming group.  The default setting was a tough sell for my players, so I became interested in Wolves of the North (http://""), John Harper’s alternative setting for DitV where the Wolves are Nordic priests hopping between Viking villages.  It keeps the mechanics entirely in place while changing the flavor. 

But while I was noodling all of this around, Roanoke (http://"") caught my eye.  I got to thinking about increasing the tension in the villages by setting in the New World.  And that’s how I got to thinking about Leif Erikson… Vikings + Mysteriously Disappeared Village = Leif (and if it’s not a perfect historical fit, it’s close enough for my purposes).  So my plan was to start the game with straight DitV rules and to try and incorporate something of the Doom mechanic from Roanoke as the campaign went on.  And then last night I found out about Afraid (http://""), Vincent Baker’s forthcoming DitV re-imagining as a horror game. 

A quick word about what I’m envisioning for this game: I’d like the supernatural dial to be turned up fairly high, and for the tone to have a lot of tension and fear.  I love the intro to Roanoke I read introducing the colony as doomed from the very beginning, but not specifying how it will vanish.  This is the intro sketch I wrote:
Players will take the roles of “Wolves,” who, like the Dogs of DitV, go from village to village to keep the peace, root out corruption, and bring righteous justice.  The villages will be the early encampments of Leif Erikson; Viking settlers far from the home of their fathers and their gods, surrounded by a vast, strange, and ominous new continent.  Demons held at bay in the old country through powerful priests and magic see their opportunity for revenge against this new, fragile colony so far from home.

So my quandary is this: should I forget about Afraid entirely and go with what I’d been thinking?  Or are the mechanical tweaks and additions in Afraid a good match for the setting and tone of the game I’m putting together? 

Also any comments re: incorporating the Doom mechanic into DitV would be appreciated.  Or any other thoughts/suggestions for that matter.  :D

And last, here (http://"") is an image to help the creative juices flowing


Title: Indie Attendence at Warpcon (University College Cork, Ireland)
Post by: Buceph on March 08, 2007, 01:17:28 AM
So how would I go about convincing indie authors to come to a con and display their wares?

Title: Assigning Battle dice
Post by: Banesfinger on March 14, 2007, 07:35:27 AM
On page 48, the rules state:
You always assign your battle dice before you make position rolls.

Knowing how your opponents have assigned their battle dice (Attack or Defend) can make a big difference on how you assign your battle dice.

How do you assign your battle dice?  In secret?
If not, then who assigns first, and do you allow others to switch some of their dice after seeing how others have assigned theirs?

Title: Assigning Battle dice
Post by: Banesfinger on March 14, 2007, 07:36:16 AM
On page 48, the rules state:
You always assign your battle dice before you make position rolls.

Knowing how your opponents have assigned their battle dice (Attack or Defend) can make a big difference on how you assign your battle dice.

How do you assign your battle dice?  In secret?
If not, then who assigns first, and do you allow others to switch some of their dice after seeing how others have assigned theirs?

Title: Assigning battle dice
Post by: Banesfinger on March 14, 2007, 07:37:15 AM
On page 48, the rules state:
You always assign your battle dice before you make position rolls.

Knowing how your opponents have assigned their battle dice (Attack or Defend) can make a big difference on how you assign your battle dice.

How do you assign your battle dice?  In secret?
If not, then who assigns first, and do you allow others to switch some of their dice after seeing how others have assigned theirs?

Title: Assigning battle dice
Post by: Banesfinger on March 14, 2007, 07:38:26 AM
On page 48, the rules state:
You always assign your battle dice before you make position rolls.

Knowing how your opponents have assigned their battle dice (Attack or Defend) can make a big difference on how you assign your battle dice.

How do you assign your battle dice?  In secret?
If not, then who assigns first, and do you allow others to switch some of their dice after seeing how others have assigned theirs?

Title: Action-Reaction Unit?
Post by: Ludanto on March 16, 2007, 04:21:19 PM
Hey, maybe I'm just dense, but I totally don't get this.

Apparently, Tony says that you can't stake/split between your Action and your Reaction, that they are a whole unit and staking/splitting can only happen before the Action or after the Reaction. (

Having looked at the rules on page 25, I totally don't see it.  As a matter of fact, it would seem that the opposite is true.

The last paragraph actually says that that you can't stake/split during a reaction, and that you can only stake/split immediately before or after your action.

I mean, if Tony says it's so, then it's so, but I'm sure that it will come up if I introduce this game to friends, and they're going to want to see the rules.

Any insight on this?  Is there any reason why the rules are better this way?

Title: [Afraid] Collecting Monsters?
Post by: Valvorik on March 20, 2007, 08:32:55 AM

Vincent said in the end-notes on Afraid that he hoped to see monsters created and posted like towns in DitV. 

I think some sample monsters would be great, helping getting the hang of access/victimization series etc.  As I believe others have said, stats and traits etc. are the easier part of the monster.  Working out the access (how it's ongoing) and victimization for the monster is trickier.  Fitting into that how it gets slaves and acolytes also a skill.

A strength of the system is the push towards novel monsters, but testing it on classics, the Dracula example from end-notes ~ how does this look?


[skipping the process of making vampire and moving to stats and access/victimization]

Acuity 5 Body 4 Heart 5 Will 4
Traits - Bat Form 2d4+1d4, Turn to Mist 1d8+1d4, Hypnotic Gaze 2d10+1d4, I snear at any weapon but a stake of wood 2d6+1d4 (invoked in Answers to attacks with other weapons)
Bonds - I sleep in coffin with earth of my homeland 3d8, I don't enter an abode uninvited 1d4, I hesitate before a holy symbol wielded by a believer or a mirror 2d6, I don't suffer harm (from anyone else) to come to my chosen Victim (name x) 1d10 (increase/repeat as victimization grows/victims added).

First Access - be in general (a few miles) proximity of victim, the victim having come to their specific attention.
Type - nightmarish events in environment (roses wilt, dogs howl, ships crewed only by the dead appear off the coast etc.), a trained investigator might recognize these as signs of supernatural passage but hard to spot as vampire in particular.
Ongoing - simply remain in area
Undone - drive vampire from the region or destroy it or recolate the victim (though in 1st and last case, the vampire is likely to return or to search out the victim eventually)

Second Access - direct contact with the victim and feeding from them.
Type - nightmarish physical symptoms (bit wounds)
Ongoing - return to bite again at least once every moon (usually does so more often in order to have a cushion against the undone basis)
Undone - prevent the vampire from biting for at least one moon (month)

Third Acess - speaking to the victim, spending time with them (around a feeding or otherwise), planting dark thoughts etc. ~ this can be done by a slave or acolyte as well, what makes it harder to accomplish is that it requires more uninterrupted time with the victim.
Type - nightmarish behaviours and moods as the victim becomes moody, melancholy, wanton, blasphemous by turns.
Ongoing - return to keep spending time with the victim, at least twice a moon.
Undone - prevent this social interaction for a full moon.

- At this point, for an additional conflict, the Vampire can convert the Victim into a Slave, promising them its continued attentions, that it will not kill them, that it might make them an Acolyte, and threatening death for the Victim and all they love as the penalty of failure.  It's a trait of the Monster's Victimization in this case that to their own horror and not aways consciously, the Victim is often their Slave.

Fourth Access - inducing the victim to drink of its blood (this is a vampire-type which creates others only through this process, not the 'every victim rises' type).
Type - nightmarish experiences, the deed itself, the hallucinations of shared memory and dreams of preying on the living that follow this experience.
Ongoing - the access deed need not be repeated, but the hallucinations etc. must continue for access to continue.
Undone -  can be blocked by suitable ritual etc. activity in conjuction with blocking 3rd and 2nd access (essentially, the 2nd and 3rd levels are interchangeable once reached for being ondone, stop the biting but not social access, that's minus -1d10).  The ritual can be a follow-up conflict to the blocking of the other type of access.

A more physically rather than pscyhologically seductive vampire might swich 2nd and 3rd.

Final Victimization - drains the victim dry and kills them.  An additional conflict earns the vampire the Victim risen as an Acolyte, as the Victim makes the moral compromise at the point of death itself (the conflict to get compromise is actually done before the conflict to kill, the 2nd only taking place if the first fails - the Vampire doesn't get the "level up" effect of full victimization + an Acolyte).

Though the vampire Monster may kill others, its Victims are always those with qualities that it desires and who it hopes will become Acolytes.

Title: [Afraid] Fallout and Stakes Questions
Post by: Valvorik on March 21, 2007, 08:15:40 AM
Fallout Questions

Q 1. In campaign play, if some old Relationships start to “lie fallow”, they become costless things to sacrifice to fallout when downsizing etc. Relationships is an option.  Is that “gaming of the system” okay?

Q 2.  There’s no “self administered first aid” (I assume), so an Alone character who loses conflict to change circumstance and requires First Aid gets none and then needs Real Medical Care.  Being “Alone” do they still find themselves unable to get to it?  Since Real Medical Care also makes you “Alone”, I would say “no, they can receive their medical care” in a continuation of their circumstance ~ the point of circumstances is to make life interesting, not end it.  That would be an exception to a general principle that you can't duplicate or double-up the same circumstances.

Q 3.  I see that belongings are never lost as fallout and also can’t be stakes in conflicts.  Is that invulnerability intentional?


Q 4. In Ludanto’s p-b-post game, a character entered a conflict with someone “tell me the truth about your involvement with demons”, the character Gave immediately revealing they had none.

That seems to be a very easy way to clear people of charges, establish truth of facts, is that intended - everyone who is innocent Gives and guilt is sorted quickly? 

It wasn’t framed as a player defining the fact of innocence of guilt.

Unless players are allowed to decide actual fact of guilt or innocence with their challenge, I’m thinking such stakes would be defined as “She presents her preferred version of matter”, you win and she doesn’t (instead telling the truth, whatever it is), she wins and she gives her preferred version (which may be truth or not).  That way if she wins, you don’t know if she’s lying or telling truth.

Title: What is your ORIGINAL setting? Describe it...
Post by: mauriciocabaleiro on March 21, 2007, 08:47:47 AM
I just started this topic with the following in mind:

How creative and original the sageous forge members can be? After years discussing all about RPG what have they come up with? Is it worth it? What does it add to pre existing games?

Perhaps someone has a HUGE REVOLUTIONARY concept or idea that just didnt got enough attention..TILL NOW!
This is your chance..

just post...


Title: SPELLing Bee- a magic game/system
Post by: Ken on March 21, 2007, 05:06:07 PM
For the last couple of days, I've been tooling around with a magic system/setting called SPELLing Bee. The main idea is that students from magical schools across the globe (or where ever) participate in a spelling bee-style competition for spell casting. While the game originally worked with more traditional system mechanics, I eventually refined the systerm to this: the moderator of the competition draws a spell card from a deck of about a hundred or so. The spells are simple (ish) latin words or phrases that describe the intent of the spell. The player whose turn it is attempts to spell out the name of the spell. Then the player rolls 1d10 and must score higher than the number of letters they got wrong (with character level and spell level mods of course).

Ultimately, the game seems like a short-run beer and pretzels type game, though there may be other opportunities. I thought of linking it loosely with the MYSTAT system I developed for Sync. Its pretty basic and loose enough that I think they compliment each other. This type of system probably wouldn't be very good with ultra serious magic gaming but might work well with a quirky setting.

Thoughts? Been done before?



Title: [psi run] Why can I read minds?
Post by: chris_moore on March 23, 2007, 07:25:14 AM
Previously, I described Psi Run's situation.

1)  have a psychic power
2)  have been captured by a shadowy organization
3)  can't remember their past
4)  have just survived a car crash, which has killed their guards
5) are on the run

Characters may choose whatever traits they wish, but they must be posed as questions, since they don't remember anything about their background. Questions can range from "Why can I stare at someone and make them obey me?" to "Why is there a white streak in my hair?"  One thing characters do is remember the answers to those questions (as a product of conflict resolution). 

MY question is this:  I don't want the characters to have comic book scale traits (especially powers), since they are on the run, and need to be vulnerable.  What kind of parameters can I set around "trait questions" that would accomplish this?

Thanks, Chris

Title: [Absolute Destiny Apocalypse] Berlin 1939, prep session
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on April 12, 2007, 06:20:57 PM
I'm after the first full-session playtest of Absolute Destiny Apocalypse, my Game Chef entry. Information about the game and link to the document itself can be found here. (

It was a prep session, and it lasted about four hours. Fleshing out the setting took us an hour or so, primary Personae creation roughly two hours, creating secondary Personae slightly above half an hour, and the rest of the time we've spent working out the web of relations between the Duelists and their supporting cast. We didn't finish the last step, as it was already late, but as it turns out it would be superfluous anyway.

We've been playing via Skype, and I suppose things would go a bit faster face to face. For example, I've been busy writing everything, and sometimes I had to read things aloud, cause other players were noting down only their own characters. I imagine it would be easier if we could simply pass the sheets around the table, and draw the relationship map for everyone to see. We should have used a wiki or something to facilitate online prep, but this thought came up only after the session (normally when we play online we do just fine scribbling stuff).

My players were Kamil, Sylwester and Jacek. Kamil took part in Game Chef, too, but didn't finish his entry before the deadline; he was the only one who had read my game in whole, anyway. Sylwester has been playing with us via Skype for some months now, but he is still strongly rooted in the “traditional” gaming mindset, and is probably the less spontaneously creative of us (we're making some slow progress with him, fortunately). Jacek designs games and digs “indie” stuff, and it was his first Skype session ever.

The Academy

Fleshing out the Academy took us roughly an hour. I've been expecting it to take this long, so it went according to my estimations (it's possible it would have went faster if it wasn't our first time, or if everyone read the chapter before the session). We went through the guiding questions and discussed the setting. During later steps, we've been coming back to some issues a few times, and we've added some things.

I definitely need to give a short summary of the process in the next version of the game, and include an Academy worksheet.

The idea of situating the Academy in Berlin during the first days of World War II came up some days before the session, and after making sure we're all OK with this and discussing how we'll handle the issues of Nazism we've settled on this concept. Note that historical accuracy wasn't our aim, and there are things we've approached rather loosely.

We decided that the Academy is a large palace near Berlin, surrounded by a forest. One wing of the palace is used as the dorm, and most students live there. Despite there being electricity, the palace is illuminated mostly by candles and lamps, due to an old tradition. Someone proposed that there are paintings hanging everywhere, and I find it a great idea, as it makes it possible for us to frame scenes with allegorical images in the background. This basically handles the issue of symbolism.

Important locations we came up with include:

-a small ruined castle on a nearby hill, with wild roses growing everywhere (the usual place of the duels).
-sparse vine cellars under the palace.
-a monument of the founder on the courtyard, with the dueling code inscribed on a big tablet.
-a bed of roses on the courtyard, with white roses surrounded by red. With the passage of time, some of  the white roses will start becoming black, slowly forming a swastika in the middle of the flower bed.
-there are stables in the Academy, and students can enjoy horse rides (this one was added after creating one of the NPCs).

The students come mostly from aristocratic or wealthy families, with some children of foreign diplomats in the mix. With a total disregard for historical accuracy, we decided that it's a coeducational school and that not all of the students are Hitlerjugend or BDM.

The Duelists are chosen and ordered to duel by the Academy's governing body. The duels are fought in secret, and take place in the nearby ruins, with only Dramatis Personae as witnesses (well, teachers are probably witnesses, too, but as per the rules they can't actively intrude into the story or even be directly narrated). There was a proposition that for the time of the duels, the spirits of old heroes enter the bodies of the Duelists. Consequently, some “ghostly” special effects are possible (e.g. the dueling students can cast shadows of fighting knights onto the walls, and things like spectral auras, glowing eyes and strange sounds can be narrated). The exact purpose for the dueling is not given yet, but there's an air of approaching change everywhere around the Academy.

The decadent sect is a group of students who enjoy special privileges from the Academy's governing body, as they willingly partake in its secret pagan practices.

The agents of the sacred order belong to Thule Society. They know of the coming Revolution and try to hinder it for an unspecified reason.

(Yup. Teenage occult ninja Nazis.)

Title: one protagonist, with 4 hearts.
Post by: cydmab on April 15, 2007, 08:03:55 AM
So we played our first game of polaris yesterday, and it ROCKED.   There were alot of observations I could say about that game, but there was one I wanted to post and ask about:

After play, everyone in the group agreed that it would be cool to try having only one protagonist, and if we had rotated the roles around him. In scene one player A would be heart, player B and D moons, player C mistaken. In scene two player A and C would be moons, player B heart, player D mistaken. and so forth. Basically noone would have their own personal protagonist.

Anyone experiment with this approach, and find advantages/disadvantages? One of the major motivations for trying it is that we felt there were just too many stories going on, too many characters (4 protagonists, each starting with 2 moon characters and a demon, so start with 16 characters, which grew to over 20 by the end of the session)

Title: [Living Alchemy] - It's a PDF for your review
Post by: Eric J. on April 15, 2007, 12:28:10 PM
Hello!  It's been 1.5 years in the making.  Living Alchemy is a crunchy system about playing an adventuring scientist driven to accomplish something at any cost.

This is a protoguide.  It is the first draft of the game and probably entails a lot of confusion. It has several in-your-face editing mistakes.  I'll get around to fixing them next weekend but I also would like to get some reactions from the work as a whole as well.  If any one would play test it, I'd be very happy.

May the wind be always at your back,

Title: Game of the Month!
Post by: GB Steve on April 23, 2007, 07:20:21 AM
Shooting the Moon has been given the game of the month award for April by the French gaming portal (

In particular they say:
Quote from: my rather quick and dirty translation
In the great tradition of the “indie” games having been born on The Forges, the game mechanic is original and emphasizes the theme. On the one hand, there is no group of characters but three characters in conflict. On the other, there is no GM: the story is built jointly by the players. When one lover acts, his of her rival can create obstacles to be confronted, mountains to be moved and the moons shot at. With short games, this little game for three goes down as yet unexplored routes for roleplaying games while at the same time these stories of impossible love are at the basis of hundreds of novels. It was about time!


Title: POD Pricing Strategy: Ethical Issues?
Post by: David Artman on April 23, 2007, 08:02:27 AM
Hi, all;

This one's for the POD publishers and ethics pundits in general....

I am hoping to release the full GLASS rules via POD ("shot GLASS" will be a rule-only player book that's a free PDF).

I am considering one of the following pricing strategies, to encourage game stores to buy books to resell them:
* Set the POD price at ~20% less than the MSRP printed on the book (and in the bar code, if I include one)--"wholesale via POD".
* Offer a POD price for 5 or more that is ~20% less than the single copy POD price--"bulk discount via POD".

My questions are, basically:
1) Are either of those option even possible with POD providers; will they do it?
2) Is there any ethical issue with either method (really more concerned about the first one; bulk discounts are fairly common and accepted).


Title: [Dirty Secrets] [Forge Midwest] Pediatricians and photographs
Post by: GreatWolf on April 23, 2007, 10:45:16 AM
I got to playtest Dirty Secrets at Forge Midwest on Saturday.  My partners in crime were Paul Czege, Matt Wilson, John Stavropoulos, and Tod Olson.  (If I got your name wrong, please correct me.)  We ran a small Grid, which took about 90 minutes to play.

I’d love to give a detailed account of the story that we created but, between a bit of fatigue on my part and, honestly, the convoluted events that occurred, I’m not sure that I could remember all the bits fitting into each other.  We ended up with a retired pediatrician who was still doing some fertility treatments on the sly, working with a DEA agent who was moonlighting as a photographer for blackmail purposes or somesuch thing.  Along the way, this agent photographed Samantha York with Mr. Lena, husband of the client that brought our intrepid investigator into the case.  Of course, since the agent was only photographing clients of this fertility doctor, that meant that Samantha was actually trying to get pregnant by Mr. Lena.  Mrs. Lena was blackmailing Samantha, probably with these photographs (we forgot to establish how this played out), so Samantha murdered the agent to stop the photographs from being taken.

Honestly, it made sense at the time.  Well, somewhat.  There were a lot of details flying around.


First, I want to thank my fellow players.  The experience of teaching the game was quite helpful to me, especially in figuring out how to run an effective demo of Dirty Secrets.  For example, in the future, I’ll probably not play in the game and act as a tutor and facilitator for the game.  Also, I’ll probably poll the table to determine experience with the genre and give the role of investigator player to one of those folks.  Tod did a fine job as investigator, but I could tell that he was feeling the pressure to perform within a genre that he didn’t know well.  If I had made Matt the investigator, he might have been more comfortable, given his greater familiarity with the genre.

I also learned the necessity of communicating the ability for the entire group to participate in any given sequence.  This is a problem with any “round robin” style of game, as Paul pointed out, and, although the rules explicitly state that anyone may say anything, this isn’t necessarily something that a given group of players will pick up on.  I think that a demo facilitator would have to do almost GM duty, looking for the signs of someone desiring to interject something and coaxing it forth.  Also, in a discussion with my gaming group at home, Crystal suggested adding a term:  Adviser.  So now, in a given Chapter, there’s an Authority, an Investigator, and some Advisers.  In that way, the game reminds the players that they should feel free to advise the Authority and Investigator.  I think that this is a good change.

I also discovered the real power of shared geography as a shared communication tool.  Since our play group was from all over the place, we set our story in New York City, given that we had a New Yorker with us.  However, this meant that we were not able to exercise the ability to establish scene locations effectively.  After all, I don’t know New York, beyond the existence of multiple boroughs.  I found this lack to have hurt us somewhat, which was a bit surprising to me.  I had thought that the setting of “your town, last week” was a nifty bonus to the game, but I’m coming to see that it actually allows for more powerful play.  Weird, but true.

As a result of this game, I’m tweaking the number of Characters in a given game.  Because we had five players, we used up our allotment of Character cards during setup.  I think that this hurt the game, because there was no room to expand the web of characters during play.  Under the new rules, we would have had two extra Characters to work with, which would have been a good thing.

Also, I think that Research needs just a little bit of massaging.  The concept works great, but those “sexual/romantic” relationships still keep complicating things for me.

Finally, I got a bunch of good feedback from the playtesters.  Hopefully I didn’t come off as too defensive as we were discussing the issues.  However, even some of the suggestions that I rejected were helpful, since they reflected previous stages in my design of the game.  Often I could say, “Yes, I had thought about that but it won’t work for this reason.”  I found it to be somewhat validating.

There were also the name suggestions for the Crime Grid counter.  Right now, the Witness is where I’m leaning, but the Observer also has possibilities.

Also, someone (either John or Paul) noted that it would be an easy matter to introduce handicapping for players into the game, simply by adjusting how many dice each player receives.  This is an excellent idea that I intend to explore further.

And, finally, John offered to do a blind playtest with his group, which I really appreciated.

So, in all, I thought that it was a successful playtest.  I enjoyed myself and I think that the game will be stronger because of it.

Thanks, guys!

Title: Blast from the past: The longevity of web pages
Post by: MatrixGamer on April 27, 2007, 05:44:16 AM
I've just had a Matrix Gamer in England join my yahoo MG group who has been playing MGs since the late 90's. He came across the rules that were posted around 1992 on a web page called "Giants of the Deep". That page used the rules I had put out earlier that year. So there was a 5 year delay between posting and his picking it up and then a 10 year lag between his starting to play and finding me (the author of the rules). I sent him out copies of the present rules and invited him to join into our on line games.

Here is what he wrote:

"Thanks for the email,  At the moment I'm just content on mooching about and
picking up whatever is new (to me at least ) in the world of matrix gaming.
I came across an early set of your rules (this would be around the late 90's I
think) and used those rules along with some modifications I came across on a
site which I can no longer find (It was a mythical world creation called
giants in the deep!) with some friends for a strategic wargame campaign based
on a mythical world built (if that's the right word) from the rules.  We did
that off and on for a few years until for job reasons we moved apart to
different parts of the UK.  After that I didn't have anyone to share in the
gaming experience until now.  I came upon it by accident even though I had
searched for 'matrix' on Yahoo groups (You'd be amazed just what gets thrown
up when you do that!).  So I've finally found the place I'm looking for and
would love to get involved again especially with a fresh bunch of likeminded

All in all a very cool contact. Sometimes bread crumbs on the water do come back.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games

Title: FATUM- a roleplay in epic scenarios
Post by: Jarx on April 27, 2007, 10:14:55 AM
Im working currently on a roleplay inspired by books such as the iliad, paradise lost and book of revelations.
It uses a system I call the Demon 4 system, it uses the D4s in a dicepool way, more than that can't say.
The world is called Sirethaír, and is ruled by an alliance of empires and kingdoms, all intriguing against each other.
As Fatum is latin for doom, it's prety obvious that the sorta "overplot" will eventually lead to the downfall of the world.
If someone has suggestions to additions to my RPG, please be kind and tell them. If I use one your ideas, later on I thank you with all my heart.

Title: FATUM- a roleplay in epic scenarios
Post by: Jarx on April 27, 2007, 10:16:10 AM
Im working currently on a roleplay inspired by books such as the iliad, paradise lost and book of revelations.
It uses a system I call the Demon 4 system, it uses the D4s in a dicepool way, more than that can't say.
The world is called Sirethaír, and is ruled by an alliance of empires and kingdoms, all intriguing against each other.
As Fatum is latin for doom, it's prety obvious that the sorta "overplot" will eventually lead to the downfall of the world.
If someone has suggestions to additions to my RPG, please be kind and tell them. If I use one your ideas, later on I thank you with all my heart.

Title: FATUM- a roleplay in epic scenarios
Post by: Jarx on April 27, 2007, 10:17:09 AM
Im working currently on a roleplay inspired by books such as the iliad, paradise lost and book of revelations.
It uses a system I call the Demon 4 system, it uses the D4s in a dicepool way, more than that can't say.
The world is called Sirethaír, and is ruled by an alliance of empires and kingdoms, all intriguing against each other.
As Fatum is latin for doom, it's prety obvious that the sorta "overplot" will eventually lead to the downfall of the world.
If someone has suggestions to additions to my RPG, please be kind and tell them. If I use one your ideas, later on I thank you with all my heart.

Title: print quantity as benchmark for fully baked games
Post by: Matt Wilson on April 28, 2007, 10:50:28 AM
So in the GAMA thread, Ben was talking about needing to raise his prices to accomodate retail rates, and it set me down a whole line of thinking.

First I thought, Dude, why are you paying $11/copy to get Polaris printed? It would cost less at Kinkos.

Then I thought back to Gen Con 2005, when I had my revised version of Primetime Adventures done, and Luke was giving me the big-print sales pitch. I remember being terrified of the idea. Maybe of Luke, too. He gets going with gestures and stuff.

But long since I've done me a big print run, and I can't recommend it enough. It more than halved my original cost per book, and it resulted in a really nice, quality book. Thanks Luke! Now Ben may have many reasons why he doesn't do a run of a thousand, but he's a great example of a publisher who could (and ought to, man, seriously). And I've been thinking about big runs in terms of a benchmark.

The thing about POD printers, and especially ones like Lulu, is that you can fix all kinds of errors and make revisions and it's all seamless. Click, and the updated version is good to go. But why is a product that's potentially full of errors available for sale in the first place? If you don't know what might be wrong with it, why are you hawking it as a complete and finished game? I ask the me of 2004 that same question, don't doubt it.

A run of a thousand copies (plus sweet, sweet overruns) cost me just over $2000, including shipping to my house. And that was roughly half up front, half prior to shipment. That's for a 112 page digest size game. Do the math in your heads accordingly and imagine how much your game might cost. Then think about how much more you'd make per book. Then make sure the reason you aren't doing it is a lack of confidence in the product.

This site in part is set up to discourage would-be publishers from printing ginormous runs of books, then getting stuck with a basement full of them; however, I'm proposing that a not-so-ginormous run be an excellent goal to strive for. Consider your finished game to be something that you'd confidently print a thousand of (plus sweet, sweet overruns).

Not to knock the Lulu stage* by any means. POD printers like Lulu are also an awesome resource, maybe a crucial one. I'll leave that for another thread.

And Ben, by the white suit of Ackbar, get those per-book costs down! Down I say!

* I will, however, knock the people who work for Lulu. One of them didn't show up for FM, and I have now made him my sworn enemy. Sworn! The deadly past participle of swearing!

Title: Playtesting - Investment versus Payback
Post by: gds on May 01, 2007, 05:38:39 AM
Hi All,

So I've been reading a few of the other threads, and been noting the comments about playtesting of Indie games prior to release (i.e. prior to selling - people handing over cash for your work). I have posted this as a separate thread so as not to derail others - please merge it Ron if you think it ties in with an existing thread. Also I might have posted it in the wrong place - apologies!

So with playtesting I think there is a fundamental problem that we, as indie game designers, have. It's all to do with Investment and Payback. Let me explain. Investment - every time someone playtests your fledgeling creation, they are investing time and effort. Payback - as a result of your playtesting, they get something in return, either something physical or perhaps something more ephemeral. Let's look at some examples in the creative industries.

Film making - OK, I've made my film. I've paid for the script, hired the actors, filmed the scenes and done the scoring, and I have edited the film into near completeness. Is it any good though? Time for a test screening. I get some viewers in, and they watch my film. Investment for the viewers - a few hours of their lives, and no doubt a detailed questionaire to fill in. Payback - a free film, the chance to see something cool before anyone else does, the chance to suggest what would make the film better. Investment - small, Payback - large. Result - no problem getting viewers.

Writing the core book to WHFRP2 - Ok, I'm Black Industries and I'm going to redo WHFRP for the current gaming generation. I've thrashed out the rules, got the game written, got some art and tested in house - in short I can afford to splash some cash. I'm now after outside gaming groups to playtest for me. Investment - they have to read the book, no doubt play several game sessions, and give me detailed reports of how the game went. The major investment is in gaming time, many folks only get one game a week, and I'm asking them to throw their current favorite game out the window and try my unpolished piece. Payback - they know that the book will be made no matter what (I'm a company and I've invested money) and that their names will be in the front, so they know they'll get to be a part of a great new game based on one which in this case they have probably played and loved in it's first incarnation, and most importantly they get to have a say in the recreation of their beloved game. Investment - large, Payback (to gaming geeks like us) - large. Result - several hundred (I think) playtesters listed at the front of the book.

Now for the real issue…

I'm writing my game, 'Killer monkeymen from Lost Atlantis'. It's gonna be great! I've written the rules and the background, maybe got some friends to take a look. There's no art (unless I can draw/have a friend willing to), and it's all in a word-style pdf. In short, I've invested the minimum to create my game, and probably no cash at all. Now I need playtesters outside of my group of friends. Investment - they have to read the book, hopefully play several game sessions, and give me some kind of report on how the game went. Again the major investment is in gaming time. Payback - well, if it's good, and I have the time, and I have the money, and I can be arsed, it might get published as a book and I'll stick their names in the front. I might even be able to pay for some art and layout so it looks good. Or it might languish for a few years as I fiddle with it, eventually to come out as a freebie on my website with their name in it. Or I might get a new job or get married or get posted somewhere, and it'll rot on my PC. Investment - large. Payback - very, very variable, potentially large, more likely small to zero.

And that's the big problem. Why should anyone consider playtesting my game? What, really is in it for them? The Investment/Payback balance is shifted massively toward Investment, and I'm basically asking them to do a load of work for me for potentially no benefit. I think this is why most games that do get playtested do so either because the designer took it to loads of Cons (and are Con games really good playtests?), the designer is well-known and thought of as cool, or the designed gave it to one of his designer buddies  in exchange for playtesting their latest creation. Well-known designers can run their indie operation like a company - they can pay for some art or get some done on the back of their  prior success. Not so the newbie.

At the end of the day, we, as designers, are trying to sell something when we ask for playtests. The something? A game, and idea, that might, just might, be really cool. The cost? Money (if we eventually publish the game), but most importantly in playtesting, that rarest commodity of all, playing time. If we want to change the balance and get more games thoroughly playtested, then we need to increase the payback. So now I've ranted, how about some ideas. Well here's one.

A playtest community - using a medium like the forge (I'm not suggesting that you should do this Ron), designers set up a bit of a collective. Designers submit their new games and the community give it an internal review, privately, to see whether the group thinks the game has something in it. If they don't, it goes back for a rehash or gets rejected. If they do, it gets the community seal of approval and gets offered up as a Playtest game for anyone external to the community who wants to look at it. The Investment is still their, but with an organised upper tier to the playtest, external groups at least recognise that the game has somehting about it and a chance or going somewhere, so the Payback is higher than is the norm at the moment. Of course that's just an idea, and there's a lot wrong with private peer reviews by a select (selected how?) elite few. Ok bad idea - anyone got a better one?