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[unWritten] UCI RPG club playtest

Started by alejandro, September 25, 2007, 03:30:55 AM

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Today I went to the UCI RPG club and ran my game for three people that have never been exposed to a story game, and in one case, never exposed to a table top RPG. However, the experience went very well.

There are two issues that I have with my game, 1) that it takes too long to create the setting, which is fine for people that have played it before and know what to expect, but it's tough in situation in which I need a demo. And 2) creating and pressing conflicts isn't expressed well. Perhaps it's because I explain it poorly, or maybe that I just don't have a grasp on what it is that I do when I play with my group.

Let me unpack the first issue, and the second in another thread.

1) Setting creation is pretty straight forward. You follow these steps and your done:

Brainstorm a series of ideas that based on books, TV shows, and movies that everyone would like to explore. As you do that begin to whittle the idea down to something managable that everyone buys into.

Now that you have an idea of the elements that you want to approach or explore in a story you need to define the story's genre and the Narrative Focus.
Genre is defined as the mood and texture that the group wants to invoke during play.
Narrative Focus is the type of conflicts that the players want to focus on during play, they are: Dramatic, Cinematic, and Fantastic. The first two are pretty self explanatory, but a Fantastic NF is one that focuses on the elements that make the story Fantastic.

Next you answer a series of questions that helps the group refine the setting. These questions are organized in a way that leads you from the macro level of world creation to the micro level of defining those things that motivate characters. This question section is only used in games where the players intend to play for more then 2 sessions. but this isn't mandatory.
When you're answering the questions you need to make sure you answer them in a way that reflects the genre and the Narrative Focus.

Finally, you create the games Premise. In unWritten Premise is defined as something that is explicetly states or subtley implies the stories central conflict. This will guide the players through play when they are acting ast the Setting Player and they frame scenes.

That's setting creation, but now you create the characters, which is considered part of the same process. So now you answer a series of questions that determines what the group of characters overall goal is, who oppose them and what obstacles they face. Then personal questions are answered that determine why they want to resolve the central conflict. and finally you define the characters traits, there are 4, and their behaviours there are 2...

In the end you have a setting that all of the players have built and bought into, you have characters that all of the players are excited about and that have a clear relationship to the setting. Now your ready to play.

This process usually take about an hour and half. It's always been successful and quite rewarding, but when i tried it today it seems a bit forced, and I'm not sure how to do this in a demo. The key thing about the game is that you collaboratively create the setting and characters. But then it takes so long...

If you want to see a playtest copy of my game check out my blog at

Thanks for reading this and any input you might offer.

~ alex