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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 257 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: 24 Hour Games: Nine Games Open for Critique  (Read 11493 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2003, 12:52:47 PM »

Sunrise

Risen seems to possibly have violated one of the small rules of the 24 hour game in that it was apparently inspired by a previous design. I can't find a link, but it really seems like I've seen this design before in some format. In any case, the idea is that genetically manipulated kids grow up to be menaces who are hunted. The PCs are the menaces called the Risen.

Chargen breaks up character effectiveness into attributes, skills, and the Balance. This strikes me as potentially abusable. Essentially attributes and skills are the same in power, but attributes are, I think, supposed to be broader. To compensate, the player gets three times as many skills for the points spent.

OTOH, the Powers, which seem to be the heart of the character, seem well designed. Using what I refer to as an "effects first" system, the powers represent mechanical effects over which any description can be laid. They seem to balance, at least minimally, however, I can see some showing up a lot more than others.

The combat is, typical of these games, serviceable but nothing to write home about. There seems to be an inconsistency on how damage is calculated between the text and the example.

The real problem is that there's no direction for what to do in the game. You get a character, who you understand is hunted. But there's no indication of what sort of action is to occur. One might well determine that the characters just run from bad guys with occasional confrontations. Which just doesn't seem to be enough to sustain more than a session or two. Worse, there's no indication of what to do with multiple PCs. I like the character concept; I'd just be unsure what to do with the game.

Mike
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2003, 01:38:48 PM »

The Troubadors of Verticaille

A light game with a lot of feel, The Troubadors of Verticaille seems like it has potential in a minimalist way. Characters are rated on only one stat, Destiny which determines both target number to roll over, and number of dice rolled. Meaning that characters with a low destiny succeed with great regularity, and those with high destiny have a larger chance of great success.

Theoretically. Here are the actual unfortunate results.

Code:
             Expected          
Destiny       Value         Success
2               1.6         96.00%
3               2.1         97.30%
4               2.4         97.44%
5               2.5         96.88%
6               2.4         95.33%
7               2.1         91.76%
8               1.6         83.22%
9               0.9         61.26%

What this means is that the only reasonable stats to take would be four or five, or, for the player who really wants to be outrageous, something higher. Further, these just happen to be the levels that are rewarded by making the character more powerful in chargen. So this feature needs to be fixed.

That said, the way that Destiny goes up and down in the game is cool, and would seem in a very simple way to propel play. This flow is pretty neat. Another problem, however, is that given that Destiny increases can be spent on Talents and Passions, this means that the player can maintain at a level of 5 or so when defeating Problems. Passion use does, however, likely drop Destiny. So I see play floating between two and five Destiny in effect.

Dealing with the Fey is where the real fun lay. Because either the character gets something neat (enchantments), or he gets into some marvelous sort of trouble. Either way it's fun.

I really like the idea of setting your own difficulty ratings. And there are some interesting ideas for rewards. But I'd like to see something more, myself. In any case, the game allows a player to drive an interesting character as well as some ideas as to what such characters are about. The options for GMing are very cool, and allow for non-party play amongst the characters better than most games (which is important because I think that's what you'll get a lot of).

Mike
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2003, 01:55:00 PM »

Vespertine

Looks very well designed. I have only one question. What's the point? I think that the mechanics are all very tight, but what is the point of play? Is there redemption for these kids? Is that the point? If so, doesn't play head straight there?

I'm not knocking it, I'm just not getting it.

Mike
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2003, 02:10:13 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I have only one question. What's the point?


Survive until adulthood (20) without turning into a monster (and running off into the forest to sing unearthly tunes to the gods of Sin and evil).

Was that not clear?  I'm planning to expand it soon, with more color and story suggestions and such, so it'd be nice to get more details on what didn't click for you.

There is one striking mechanical flaw: you can only gain Sin by losing Soul, and Soul isn't recoverable.  Not good for long-term campaigns.  The modification I'm probably going to make for the revised non-24-hour version is to give each Sin a seperate Purity bar which you roll against when you indulge in that Sin.  Failure means you gain Sin.  Then, whever you use Sin powers you roll against Sin, and failure means you turn into a monster and lose a point of Purity.
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Jeph
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Jeff Schecter


« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2003, 03:56:16 PM »

I can't think of any RPG that Sunrise is based off of. There may be one with similar mechanics and possibly a similar plot, but if there is, I've never seen it. I did draw heavily on X-Men, however, for the ideas. (More the movie than the animated series or comic books, as I'm most [read: at least minimally] familiar with that.)

There are definitely ways to 'break' Sunrise. Here's how:

2 point in Attributes, 3 in Skills, 1 in Powers. Buy Brn 6, Ref 1, Mnd 1. Buy Melee Combat 8, Dodge 7. Buy Improved Unarmed Damage 5 (thrice at 1 pick per +2 damage, twice at two picks per +2 since you're over the Max Picks limit). You'll need Strength 5 / Restraint 1 to fuel the IUD. So, you have:

An attack score of 8. That means that, unless your opponant has Disappear up and a maxed out Dodge, you'll hit at least half the time against any opponant. When you hit, you've got a damage of 16, or 5 wound points. A Brawn of 5 and a Dodge of 7 (or 8 in melee) let you stand up to considerable punishment. He really becomes fearsome in the hands of a good roleplayer, who can stalk him up with Character Points: By spending just one CP, he can deal 10 wounds a round, enough to put almost anyone down.

(The first thing I do after laying down the basics a game is to munchkinize it. It helps me counter my players. Who are both good RPers and extreme powergamers. It upsets me, sometimes.)

So, what does the above character remind you of? Think X-Men. Maybe put one point of Brn into Mnd and 2 into Ref.

Premise: I wish I had slept less and worked more, to make the premise clearer. As it is, I got 8 or so hours of sleep, and took another 2 or so off. But, five minutes before the deadline, I had half a page of background that didn't make sense unless I typed another page, and I still had to register for the Yahoo group. *sigh*

Anyway, I'm working on a revised version of Sunrise (now with 100% more Haikus!), which (while having more powers and stuff) will hopefully be a lot clearer on the premise.

EDIT: fixed the munchkin
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Jeffrey S. Schecter: Pagoda / Other
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« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2003, 07:10:29 PM »

I had Dragon removed, because it's definitely not something I want people to see yet. ;) At least not up there with all the other completed ones, though the link listed in the development thread is still active if someone wants to dig for that. I'd like to Eastman-variation it at some point, but would rather focus on some other things for the moment.
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Michael V. Goins, wielding some vaguely annoyed skills.
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« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2003, 09:00:30 PM »

thanks for the breakdown, Mike. I may go ahead and fix the middle Destiny characters, then edit the text (to get rid of that sleep-deprived stream of consciousness feel) and add more description of the setting, as well as examples of play.

I'm not going to do too much with the game, however, just throw the final product up on a website as a freebie. the game didn't really interest me enough to hold my attention. I have other games that I'd rather focus on.
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John Laviolette
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2003, 06:29:41 AM »

Cool.

I'm torn between the idea that certain things should be fixed and the idea that the games should stand as they are, to display what can be done in 24 hrs.

If they are a demonstration, then they ought not be be changed. If they are intended to be actually played, however, I think it makes sense to look at the excercise as just a way of getting directly to the playtest/review phase at which point they ought to be improved to make them functional.

Not to say that each of these has to achieve the status of a full published game. But just that a person recieving them for play shold not have any obvious problems with actually using them. Note that I didn't get into "what this game could also do" sorts of analysis. Only "what this game needs to do to be really functional as it stands".

The completed games are all, remarkably, worthy of play, IMO. They just need a little work to file off the rough edges. And most need a bit more text in the "what do you do?" area. But these things should all be quite easy to remedy.

Mike
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iago
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2003, 07:44:25 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm torn between the idea that certain things should be fixed and the idea that the games should stand as they are, to display what can be done in 24 hrs.


If I decide to revise Pace, I'm going to be preserving a 'pace-24.pdf' document.  And frankly I'd recommend others keep a "snapshot" of their 24 hour point work as well, precisely because of what Mike's talking about above.

Quote
Not to say that each of these has to achieve the status of a full published game. But just that a person recieving them for play shold not have any obvious problems with actually using them. Note that I didn't get into "what this game could also do" sorts of analysis. Only "what this game needs to do to be really functional as it stands".

The completed games are all, remarkably, worthy of play, IMO. They just need a little work to file off the rough edges. And most need a bit more text in the "what do you do?" area. But these things should all be quite easy to remedy.


This is good to hear.  And, interestingly, I got a chance to playtest Pace last night -- as a player, not as a GM, which was somewhat unexpected for me, but worked as a valuable perspective.  Yay, game that was easy for a friend-GM to digest in 15 minutes!

It did reveal a few "problems", I think, but I'm going to sit and chew on that for a little, and then probably toss it into an Actual Play thread, unless folks think that the spread of the 24 hour thing should be confined to a few threads in this forum...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2003, 07:53:50 AM »

Hi there,

I support the idea that the actual product of the 24-hour period be preserved, to show what can be done. All of them are vastly superior to the majority of games currently sitting on game store shelves, and I include the sketchier ones.

Why? Because the voice of the author and the bones of play are laid out for use. Even Dragon points the way to its eventual use, I think, since the "voice" conveys so much about the goals of play, at least in my reading.

That's the real benefit of this project. It shows that a game text is lessened by adding stuff, by changing the textual voice into a generic "like an RPG" voice, and by trying to please others besides oneself. In 24 hours, you don't have time for that crap. You get down the game, not some bizarre textually-modified presentation of the game.

It also shows what people might learn as their unnecessary assumptions. This shows up sometimes in phrases like "never mind retarded terms for Game Master, we all know what I'm talking about," which crop up all over the place in vs. Monsters. It also shows up in unnecessary text: Criminal Element does not actually use Static/Opposed mechanics; it quite rightly uses Opposed mechanics ... but Michael somehow felt the need to cast the mechanics-discussion into Static/Opposed terms. With any luck, he can now go back, read it, and say, "What the hell did I do that for?" with a positive impact on his later work (which might include developing CE).

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2003, 08:42:02 AM »

Vs Monsters

Maybe unsurprisingly, this is by far the nicest looking layout of all the games presented. And that's not saying that the others were bad (indeed I thought that they'd set a high bar until I got to this one), just that it's astounding to me that a layout that's fully worthy in every way of publication can be created along with a whole game in just 24 hours. That's really remarkable work.

I did find an error on page six in referring to the page with combat as P.00, and I think all the references are like this looking around. That's the exception that proves the rule that otherwise it seems perfect.

I like the trade off of Attributes for extra Stuff, both good and bad. I think there aren't any broken parts, but it would take a lot of messing with the design to be sure, and the Stuff comes in lots of combinations. But given its principles it all looks solid. The resolution system is simple and solid, using playing cards. One problem is that there are no rules for logistics of shuffling, etc. Do you go through an entire deck before shuffling? If so, clever players can keep track of cards played, and have an idea of what's coming.

Has anyone actually seen anyone roll to create a sandwich in an RPG? Because I see a lot of texts that admonish against this sort of thing. OK, I get that it's a humorous way of saying "only roll for important stuff" but the less positive statements you have about what's important, the less you can expect this sort of text to be useful. End Rant.

The initiative rule is simple, but also the sort of thing that leads to players arguing over seating, which is a metagame issue not covered in the text. The Damage rule mentions drawing as many cards as successes, but I see no mention of where successes are calculated. Other than that, the combat rules seem to work OK for what they are intended to do. Nothing stellar, however, given that this is what the game is about.

I like that the game is unabashedly about killing monsters. I dislike the fact that it's set in an ambiguous 19th century, and that I had to read most of the game to figure that out. IOW, the game doesn't tell you what characters are about, or what's supposed to happen. Likely that was supposed to be fixed by the section on Adventures, but alas time ran out.

I think that, ironically, Phil took a somewhat tongue in cheek approach to the project. That is the result doesn't seem to be serious. Which is too bad, because there are some good ideas in there, which could, and maybe should be developed. In any case it was fun to read.

Mike
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2003, 08:43:02 AM »

There. Following up on the above post is nine reviews in 24 hours, which was my goal.

Mike
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2003, 09:03:10 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
There. Following up on the above post is nine reviews in 24 hours, which was my goal.

Mike


Way to go, Mike. Thanks for doing it -- I found your reviews helpful in finding out more about what these games are about. I for one appreciate it!
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

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Simon W
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« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2003, 09:18:01 AM »

I guess the question is "what are we gonna do with them now we finished 'em and are there any more to come?"

I know a couple of you have stated your intentions. I'm gonna finish mine off, like I said earlier. Then I don't know. Depends how happy I am with it I suppose.

Gideon
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iago
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« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2003, 09:32:36 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Why? Because the voice of the author and the bones of play are laid out for use. Even Dragon points the way to its eventual use, I think, since the "voice" conveys so much about the goals of play, at least in my reading.

That's the real benefit of this project. It shows that a game text is lessened by adding stuff, by changing the textual voice into a generic "like an RPG" voice, and by trying to please others besides oneself. In 24 hours, you don't have time for that crap. You get down the game, not some bizarre textually-modified presentation of the game.


This is a more effective way of putting across a point I was trying to make in the whole 'Write More/Write Less' debate of a number of weeks back.  And it was an intuition that this would be the sort of effect that drew me to the 24-hour project.  It's worth mentioning that I read the majority of all of the material produced in this exercise -- which is a marked difference from most any other block of (longer) RPG material I come across.  

I'm beyond pleased that my intuition played out not only in my own design but pretty much in every other one that was done as well, and it's really, really tempting to make the 24-hour notion a core personal strategy in doing the "first step" of designing any game.
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