kalma

A Finnish word meaning ‘the odour of a corpse’.

kalma (PDF) was written for the Sight & Sound challenge on Story Games in September 2007. The ingredients I picked were a picture of an old man, an audio file of people breathing, and the word ‘liminal’ – it means ‘threshold’.So let’s have old people on a threshold… because they’ve stolen breath. Literal, thy name is Joe.

Influences for this one included a lot of conversation on the Durham 3 podcast about improv techniques, and some previous work I’d done on an unfinished game about old people remembering the Blitz. The sacrifice mechanic comes from stuff like Grey Ranks and a lot forum chatter about risk and rewards.

I had fun eureka moments during design. Like, ‘let’s measure how a character sucks (Tired, Frail, Lonely), instead of what they’re good at. Same mechanic, different feel’. The endgame mechanic, where people win ownership of mementoes pretty much wrote itself, but that still needs playtesting. And I started adding elements of setting from work I’d done for an unofficial supplement for Wraith called Walkers on the Edge. Ah, the 90s.

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