Friday, 14 June 2013

Tales out of Anchor – take 2

Our usual Monday night RPG was cancelled due to holiday – but we did do our characters performance development reviews (PDR’s) since we are playing a game of Laundry. The PDR’s meant that we did not have enough time to play Giant Stone Head – so we played love letter with excessive amounts of politeness (which is the best way to play it) and had a poke at a new version of “tales out of anchor”.
I’d not had time to make new cards – so what I did was use the last set of cards with new rules.  This version takes it bluffing from cockroach poker – push a card at somebody – name a card – and they need to decide if you are telling the truth or a lie about the card.  Get it right and you get to play the card – get it wrong and they get to play the card – or you can pick it up – look at it and pass it on. But before long you’ve run out of people to pass it to.
Game ended very quickly – as opposed to the first one which went on – so the very random end sequence I’m not 100% sure about.  Maybe you play until the tokens have run out – but it is still might be worth being at the top during the general play.
Since I was using the same cards as before – they were not correct for the game and different cards are needed – but I had to feel how the bluffing worked.  And it was good more interaction between players – and more ability to drag somebody down – but there was a problem in that one person was ignored – the cards just passed over her.  But I think I can solve that – at the moment the cards are positive.  If the cards are negative cards however – moving people down – anybody doing badly will be pushed upwards – thus making them a target.
So the bluffing rules and the three part track worked ok together – needs to be tried with a fixed length game and cards with different effects.  Fortunately I have Monday off to recover from Odyssey (ancient world larp) so I should be able to bash out new cards before the next Monday and give the new game a try.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tale from Anchor

So a little while back I was chatting to a friend about the LARP they are creating and they said it would good if there was a suitable, unique game for people in the world to play.  Fun, easy to learn, and not something you had to give all your attention to so people could talk in character over it.
We got chatting – and I find that  limitations actually help the creative process as they remove options allowing you focus on those remaining – and so I’ve started work something which got it’s first play test last night.
The game has to feel appropriate to the world  and needs to reflect certain themes that the larp is about and since everything that follows comes from those I’d best outline what those are.
·         It’s about driving your opponent down – not killing them. 
o   So game mechanic wise - no eliminations it’s about status relative to other people.
·         It’s a world with bureaucracy.
o   So game mechanic wise – card or role choosing limitations on what you can do are in (it’s also a society with paper – so cards fit in).
·         It’s ok to cheat – to a certain point but no further.
o   So game mechanic wise – cheating/lieing are in within the game rules.
·         Trading is an important part of the background (even if not something the players will do as part of their game as it’s not got enough players to support that activity).
o   So a theme around trading makes sense.
Now we’d been playing Coup that night – which I love – and is a very simple game based around lying.  You have a couple of cards which give you actions – but you can play any action in the game and if you are not challenged you get to do that action irrespective of what cards your holding in your hand.  But if somebody challenges you - show the card you have claimed to have and they lose a card, fail to show that card and you lose a card. Or say you have the card that blocks the card that has been played – you’ll get away with it unless called.  If your called on it – the same comparison happens.  Lose both cards and you are out – winner is the last one standing…….
This gives use -  bureaucracy, and this gives us cheating – but it utterly fails to give us “no elimination”.  So I made a version in which it was about moving people up and down a single track.  However a solo play of that showed that it did not seem to work.  So I created another version with three tracks – to give people something to prioritise – each one representing a valuable commodity in the world (themed around trading).  Which seemed to go ok in solo play so it got dragged out for a play test last night.
It went ok – but lacked a certain something.  The actions seemed a little anaemic – one person got to the top of track and just stayed there.  Currently we don’t have the blocker actions – and that was something that was lacking.  Part of the trouble is I’m having difficulty thinking up good actions for moving up the track – we’ve got up track 1, up track 2, up track 3, up one track and down another, up one track and also somebody else up a track.  It was suggested that “move somebody else down” was needed but that’s the same as “move yourself up just in another way”.
I like the three tracks – I totally like the three tracks – but I’m not sure that coups lieing works for what we want to do.  But what about the lying in kakerlaken poker – pass a card – claim what it is – and you have to decide if reject it, accept it as true, or pass it on……….. Hmmmm
Say an action – pass as card.  
Player can accept that card - at which point if it is the action stated they get to target the action - otherwise the person playing the card gets to target the action.
Player can reject the car - at which if it is the action stated the person playing the card gets to target the action otherwise they get to play the action.
The player can pass a card – they look at it and claim an action (does not have to be the same action as before) – and pass the card to a player of there choice.  Starting the same action
Might well work – and hits most of the same themes.  hmmmmmm
Since this game is only intend to be played at a larp I'm more willing to lift a wholesale mechanic - although copying game mechanics is actually considered totally acceptable in board game design circles.