So Monday nights play test of Upon a Throne of Bone went well. We only had 5 of us – so I played a two headed overlord who had no idea what is right hand and left hand were doing......
Although simple the minions seemed to enjoy the whole spying, bidding for units, fighting, resolving cycle – despite the very simple nature of the combat system and rewards.
As the Overlord I also felt I had a set of tools with which to try and drive my minions behaviour – and even deliberately set out to run two different management styles (one carrot, and one stick) to see if I could. The rest of the overlord game did not get tested so there is nothing to say about that.
That is what is going to appear at stabcon if anybody wants to poke me to see what we've got so far.
The real challenge is going to be working out where additional complexity can be added without losing what works – and there I need to keep in mind the mantra – Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Ideas under consideration for now…..
I think the main place to poke is the rewards coming back. We need a bit more complexity for the overlord game – and in particular we need different sorts of tokens flowing in order to support the mastermind style game. So I think making doing very well brings back not just fear but all victories.
That in turns effects the bidding sequence, as you are now bidding two things. I suspect it will be a perudo style bid – so many victories and so much fear. With victories being more important than fear – so 1 victory and 1 fear is greater bid then 10 fear. Here the overlord will be able to influence things by indicating what sort of victories they would like – you can fulfil your expectation by delivering any number of victories but deliver a different sort and the overlord will have the option to slap you down (if they choose).
I might also make giving the 1st and 2nd legions come with some automatic favour – after all the overlord is clearly pleased with you. But those legions also come with much bigger ways of being punished. Whereas the 3rd legion will be able to achieve a lot less – but have a lot less risk of punishment and have a chance to be rewarded if they do well.
At the moment all of the information is hidden, and you get to look at some of it. Whereas I think it might well work better if some of the information is public – and you get to peak at a little less.
Which seems like enough change for now. What is not being changed – yet – is the combat system. There are two competing version – the first is based around strength but the strength is a but lumpy – some of your cards have 0 strength, some have 1 strength and some 2 or 3 strength. So people might see somebody has gone there – but there no sure how much. The second version is based on the bidding system of Revolution – where you have tiers of resource – with a higher tier beating any amount of a lower tier. In revolution the tiers are gold, blackmail and force. No amount of gold will convince somebody to do something against a threat of blackmail, and no amount of blackmail will triumph over the threat of death. What I like about the second one is that it would allow us to have a sense of progression -starting with corruption, that gets replaced with Legions of orcs and eventually foul beasts like Dragons and Nazguls arrive.
Once it was just me and the Brazen Duke - we rambled about the difference between a larp and a mega game. This is in part because my friend the Brazen Duke really likes mega games and indeed throws in a lot of roleplaying while doing it– but had a bad experience larping and refuses to consider doing that again…..
The conclusion reached seemed to be that in a mega game there is a very solid game structure and so the larping is optional, while in a larp the roleplaying is mandatory and the gamist elements are very secondary. If I've remembered that wrong – it was very late. In the cold light of day the bit about the Mega game still seems to be true – I'm not however so sure about the bit about larping. In particular his description of the second mega game seemed very much life a free form larp or at least some sort of crisis management game.
We also chatted about interactive theatre – me having been along to ‘A Wood Under the World’ under Leeds town hall quite recently. One particular thing - I’d got slightly confused as to how to react to the Wood Under The World – because they kept talking to me in character, as if it was all real, where as I had no character. If I was really me then I wanted to say ‘it’s a play dear’ where as if I was me who discovered an unearthly wood under Leeds town hall and I believed it was real – then I suspect I’d just do a runner (well slow jog)……. Which meant I was confused as to how to react……