Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week

Started by Vulpinoid, February 01, 2009, 03:27:22 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Inspired by Philippe Tromeur's work last year, I've decided to do something similar this year.

I'm dedicating a single weekly entry my blog to a series that I'm calling the "Game Mechani(sm) of the Week".

It's basically a weekly brainstorming session where I propose a new system or game mechanism that I haven't seen in play, but which could be adapted for some type of gaming use. Or it could be new ways to use existing mechanisms I've encountered. By the end of the year I hope to have a decent toolkit of concepts that can be used to constrict a wide variety of games.

So far I'm up to number 6.

If anyone wants to have a look, please do so. Offer comments, advice for how the mechanism could be used, ideas for how it could be modified or improved, ask questions, provide constructive criticism.

It can be found at:

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.


That is an ambitious goal. Good luck.

By the way, on your blog, you can get rid off the excessive spaces above your tables by removing any line returns inside of the table code. It's a Blogger glitch.

Hopefully that means something to you.
mjbauer = Micah J Bauer


Thanks for that tip about Blogger...I've had that issue a couple of times and had wondered how to resolve it.

So far so good though, 9 mechanisms, 9 weeks into the year.

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.

Ron Edwards

That is an excellent idea. I'll hop in when I can.

Any idea on how to use this thread? I am thinking maybe just an update every so often, so as not to duplicate the discussion at the blog.

Best, Ron


I'll try to make sure that I keep a log every month or so, indicating the recent game mechanisms I've submitted.

It'd be nice to get some more dialogue happening over on the blog, (it'll make me think that people actually read it and maybe even care). I'm trying to cover a wide range of different aspects in roleplaying, and where possible I'm deliberately not tying them into a specific game system.

So far, the mechanisms I've offered an examination of...

Mechanism 1: The Conscience Bag

In which I offer a concept revolving around a bag of beads, then explore the use of this bag as a tool to guide a character's conscience.

Mechanism 2: Escalation in a Limited Field

In which I look at a mechanism that brings character into an inevitable conflict with an outside force.

Mechanism 3: Tarot Mysteries

In which I post an email I had offered someone as a suggestion for supernatural powers/weaknesses based in the tarot.

Mechanism 4: Counter Maps

In which I look at a way to rapidly deploy play surfaces through the use of poker chips or similar counters.

Mechanism 5: What doesn't kill us makes us stronger

In which I look at an experience system where advancement is gained through failure in a task.

Mechanism 6: Pigeonholing

In which I look at the way keywords are used, and how they can used more effectively.

Mechanism 7: Supernatural Powers

In which I look at a method of overall conflict resolution for powers rather than a task resolution basis (such as that which is found in many systems).

Mechanism 8: The Character Matrix

In which I rehash a post that I made here in the first thoughts part of the forum.

Mechanism 9: Matrixed Experience

In which I rehash another post that I made here in the first thoughts part of the forum (because I had felt lazy this week.)

Mechanism 10: Hit Locations

In which I examine a method of assigning damage locations in tandem with dealing damage, as a single combat hit roll.
A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.


I just thought I'd provide a bit of an update on how this project has been progressing. A few of the topics have seen some discussion, but I haven't really been getting a lot of feedback or dialogue lately. So this is just a reminder that I'm still plugging away at my goal.

The weekly bit of the title isn't really accurate, so weeks I don't post anything, some week (and even some days) I'll do two or three in a row, it depends how much inspiration I;ve got and how much time is available. Then again, it's been more than a month since I promised that I'd give "monthly" updates. I think I'm sitting ahead of my weekly schedule at this point, and I've done this because I may have a new job lined up that will take quite a bit of my free time away.'s the recent batch of entries.

Mechanism 11: Sharing the Spotlight

In which I offer a mechanism to ensure a single player doesn't dominate a game session too heavily, through the introduction of "scene purchasing tokens".

Mechanism 12: SNAP!

In which I look at the role traditional card games with established mechanisms can play in an RPG.

Mechanism 13: Scales of Morality

In which I steal a concept that was offered here at the forge by Egonblaidd.

Mechanism 14: Gathering the Party

In which I consider some options for regrouping a party, or establishing mechanisms that make it less likely for players to branch off on their own.

Mechanism 15: Disposability

In which I briefly look at the phenomenon of a disposable character sheet that is literally destroyed during play.

Mechanism 16: Balanced Story Threat Introductions

In which I offer a suggestion for a method of balancing story encounters with respect to the environment, the characters and the narrative.

Mechanism 17: Virtues and Vices

In which I pull a mechanism from a game I've had on the backburner for a while, offering it as a way of dealing with character morality and commitment.

Mechanism 18: Life Path

In which I remember some of the old games with life path generators, and other mechanisms for developing a character's background.

Mechanism 19: Fate Points

In which I look at a few game that have used a meta-currency to adjust a character's potential for success based on the player's desire to succeed.

Mechanism 20: Injuries vs Hit Points

In which I compare the two common versions of impairment within roleplaying games. A linear scale from healthy to unconscious/dead, and a field of potential injuries applied to the character.

Mechanism 21: Otherkind Dice

In which I look at the notion of rolling a pool of dice, then assigning the results across a range of options to define the scope of a task and other relative effects.

Have a look through them, feel free to comment, offer suggestions, or shoot them down in flames.

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.


I hope this isn't considered a necro of the thread, but I just thought I'd share the status of this project with everyone.

It's now the end of October, and I'm 42 Mechani(sm)s through my project.

It's the home stretch and I consider the project to be reasonably successful, thanks to those people who've been following it, and thanks to those people who've made comments along the way.

Once the year is out, I'll offer a full index of the blog entries over at my

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.


Well, the year is over and I managed to get 52 game mechani(sm)s discussed in varying degrees of detail over at my blog. It's been a fun project, really helped to open my mind to certain design choices made by other game artists, and I might try to do something similar in a few more years. To those who've been watching and commenting, a heartfelt thankyou.

If anyone's interested in having a look, an index of the bog entries has been generated over at my website.

You can access the index here.

Feel free to have a look, make comments, shoot down my theories with your own empirical evidence, provide new ways to look at the ideas from your own perspective.

But for me, on to some new projects...and back to some projects that I've been avoiding.

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.

Callan S.

I'm trying to remember if I commented on one and which one - blogger is crap at keeping track of comments (well, atleast compared to wordpress)
Philosopher Gamer


Callan, you did comment on at least one to my memory...

I've actually been thinking of porting the whole blog across to another platform...either wordpress or livejournal.

I'll let everyone know if I go through with this and update links on my page accordingly.

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.