Posts Tagged ‘PDF’

Modern Things / Slip

Back in 2002 on The Forge I discussed a Sorcerer one-sheet called Modern Things. So Sorcerer’s demons became all technology everywhere, and the humanity scale was defined as how alienated the character was from reality. I wanted to tap into the folklore about computers that need a hug and/or blood sacrifice. Plus all those carnivorous taxis in The Wiz. about  It got a little design on my LJ at the time, but I didn’t have a group to play with, so the premise never got tested.

Then a design competition popped up on Story Games and I wrote Slip (PDF).

In Slip, characters drop down through sublevels of reality. The next closest level adds coincidence and gentle surrealism and feels like a Hollywood romcom. The one below that adds some threats as technology starts to wake up. Below that, the cars have an appetite. And then below that, technology is properly feral. Influences included Nightwatch, Amelie, and Vamp.

One gimmick was that the character sheet was triangular, and information was distributed over the sheets. During play, you rotated GMing and playing duties and rotated the character sheet similarly.

What the game doesn’t give is a chance for the characters to interact. It’s ‘pocket play’ – everyone gets their own story. So at some point I’ve got to write a game about getting lost on the wrong side of the city together.


Vast, Cool & Unsympathetic

VCAU (PDF) doesn’t work mechanically… so much so that {1/the mechanic} would work just fine, but I don’t know how to get there.

Characters are Martian spies cast psychically across the void of space into Victorian bodies, just prior to the events of War of the Worlds. Find the human scum’s weaknesses and determine their strengths before the authorities catch on and shoot you.

The system is drawn cleanly from Polaris (you sit here, you do this) and Don’t Rest Your Head (roll these dice, and if the white Suspicion dice come up, follow with a Confrontation scene, etc). Inspirations included a session of a homebrew Transformers game where the bots had a hard time understanding junkyards (cemetary?) and trees (heat exchangers?).

VCAU was designed for Modus Operandi’s 24 hour ‘Espionage in Other Times’ competition. Malcolm Craig’s excellent Okhrana popped up there too.

The Opposite of People

The Opposite of People (PDF) was my first competition submission (Game Chef 2006), and is a game of illegal art. I’m not sure where the system came from, as it’s not an obvious hack of Polaris or The Shadow of Yesterday… strange.

Players portray the a wandering theatrical troupe, and play cards in order to beat an unseen difficulty set by the town they’ve arrived in – I like poker mechanics and blind bids. The characters can cut and run, or hold out until they’re sure they must beat the hidden difficulty, and win the pot.

The default setting was cod Elizabethan, but there was also fluff and mechanics for sorcerous China and a newly terraformed multicultural Mars. Quite liked that Mars setting, actually.

I believe The Opposite of People has been played, but I’ve not seen an actual play report, and I haven’t tested it myself. It also got published as part of a Game Chef anthology, with profit going to charity.


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.

The Bloody Burn

Here’s a finished game.

The Bloody Burn (PDF) was a planned, designed and written in 24 hours for the Little Game Chef competition that ran on Story Games in March-April 2009. It has not to my knowledge been played or playtested.

I’m pretty happy with the game. I think it works, for a start. Feedback was strong, though I agree the game needs to push the players into conversation and confession more. For me, as an experiment with  jeepform, it was enjoyable.

Influences included Jeepform games like A Flower for Mara, marathon viewings of Still Game, and a lingering feeling that there aren’t enough RPGs about old people. Which is why I also wrote kalma.