Weirdo Indies

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  • I never did mention that my game DreamCatcher uses free association as a magic system. That's where you make a list of related words and try and turn one into another. It's modelled on the concept of the 'Stream of Consciousness' in psychology.

    -Ash
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: DestriarchI never did mention that my game DreamCatcher uses free association as a magic system. That's where you make a list of related words and try and turn one into another. It's modelled on the concept of the 'Stream of Consciousness' in psychology.

    -Ash
    Linky?
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: SquidLordProviding a link for this one gets you sainthood.
    I got the impression that Russell 99% finished Contract Work, but never even got started on turning it into a physical volume for sale. The best link I can give you is his livejournal where you can ask him about it.
  • edited February 2010
    Linky?
    Errr... hold on...
    http://www.kevinallenjr.com/reverseengineer/reversed.html
    It's on there somewhere. You'll have to search for it though.

    -Ash
  • Posted By: Christian GriffenThat's the one where you're on an island and the characters inevitably turn into psycho killers.
    Did you guys just accidentally design a Lord of the Flies RPG?

    Anyway, I'm having a hard time engaging with this topic because "weird" is such a sliding scale. I mean, when I first heard of paranoia and Toon, they were weird. Like, "haha you can't do that in an RPG can you Oh, you can??" weird. When I first bought Over the Edge, like 12 years ago, it was weird--not only the paranoid drug-trip of a setting, but the minimalist mechanics with no fixed attributes or skill list or anything (both of which weirdnesses I loved instantly, by the way). Now, looking back, it's as "normal" as apple pie next to a lot of the games that followed in its footsteps--even Sorcerer, which has a lot of the classic RPG components firmly in place, if tweaked and repurposed. And now I've been exposed to a multiplicity of games with a wide variety of approaches. So I'm hard-pressed to find a game I think is genuinely "weird."

    KKKKK mentioned above is "weird" to me, though in a way I like and want to try. Polaris is "weird" I guess, with its structuring the mechanics as explicit negotiation. The subject matter is poetic and aesthetically focused, but not weird per se. Bacchanal is weird in its structure, with the different influences of the gods jumping around between wine glasses, then "spilling out" not to resolve anything but to show which divine influence dominates the narration. Its subject matter is daring, for sure, but hardly weird. it's more mainstream than the "D&D Fantasy" genre, for example.

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: jaywaltBut why would Finnish fans choose to root for Stoke City of all places? I don't think I can suspend my disbelief that much :)
    Stoke got quite a nice following in Norway. They got their own supporter-club, like many other low-level English teams. Norway (me included) has been adamantly interested i English league-football since the sixties.
    Posted By: wanmansouCuper & Szymanski attribute the Norwegian love for English football to the alleged Norwegian way of seeing the English as Norwegians, only slightly more nuts.
    Beautiful! I concur!

    My first game of Stoke-Birmingham 0-0 was a revelation. We came out of those 15 minutes with the dullness of the characters marked on our faces and our bodies (we were sagging, actually). Never has 15 minutes been so intensely dull. It was a very effective (and terrifying) game. And it was the first ever rp-poem.
  • edited February 2010
    BTW: I believe a lot of people have found my game PERVO to be a bit weird. :-)

    And my game Muu has been considered weird by most players for more than two decades now (most of them have only heard about it). It is a poetic fable about beings with no language and a collective identity. It has exciting actions like walking, looking for food on the ground, eating moss, bathing, cuddling ... and you share your experiences through dreams, and always knows what the other muu's are feeling (you feel it too). And in the end, when you have played it for a couple of hours, you are left with a pure and simple feeling of happiness. :-)

    Have made some other games too, which are considered weird (a game where you tear your teddybear apart, a game where you play yourself transforming into a crow, etc.). I find weirdness to be quite interesting, actually.

    In some games, like My Life with Master, the weirdness is quite refreshing and mind-expanding.
  • Breaking The Ice is amazingly weird.

    Sitting down with another guy and playing out a story about a guy and a girl falling in love... playing out "dates" and having this push/pull where we decide whether or not we even want this relationship to happen...

    ...and then pulling out from that, finishing the game, and wondering what to do with the fact that we just went through a romance together.
  • Posted By: joepub...and then pulling out from that, finishing the game, and wondering what to do with the fact that we just went through a romance together.
    Yeah, there's a reason why I never liked Breaking the Ice. It generates near-unprecedented amounts of awkward in the average gaming group. Not saying it's a bad game per se, but yikes, not for me. I like romance in RPGs, but BTI takes it a little too far outside my comfort zone.

    -Ash
  • Posted By: TomasHVM
    And my gameMuuhas been considered weird by most players for more than two decades now (most of them have only heard about it). It is a poetic fable about beings with no language and a collective identity. It has exciting actions like walking, looking for food on the ground, eating moss, bathing, cuddling ... and you share your experiences through dreams, and always knows what the other muu's are feeling (you feel it too). And in the end, when you have played it for a couple of hours, you are left with a pure and simple feeling of happiness. :-)
    Can we get this in English, please? Great, thanks.
  • That IS English. Tomas always talks like that.

    Oh, you mean the Muu game! Sorry!

    *ducks and hides*
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: Adam DrayThat IS English. Tomas always talks like that.
    I will make a weird game where all players play the role of Adam Dray, if you continue to muck my puure Anglish skills like the hat, Adam.

    And the hat is a treat!
  • Posted By: DestriarchPosted By: joepub...and then pulling out from that, finishing the game, and wondering what to do with the fact that we just went through a romance together.
    Yeah, there's a reason why I never liked Breaking the Ice. It generates near-unprecedented amounts of awkward in the average gaming group. Not saying it's abad gameper se, but yikes, not for me. I like romance in RPGs, but BTI takes it a little too far outside my comfort zone.

    -Ash

    Oh...

    I really liked that aspect of it.

    I like that I was weirded out about something as simple as pretending to date. I pretend to kill people, pretend to be an elf, pretend to be an intergalactic terrorist, pretend to be a were-rat... but then I try to do something as simple as pretend to go on a first date, with a pretty simple little game to back me up, and I get all weird about it.

    THOUGHT PROVOKING! WEIRD! INTERESTING!

    It really made me examine where my comfort levels were, something that re-enforced how fun the play session was, rather than detracting from it.
  • This thread has made me examine how inexplicably difficult it is for me to spell "weird" correctly.
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: joepub
    Oh...

    I really liked that aspect of it.
    Like I said, not a bad game per se, and I know a lot of people like it. It's just that I can imagine what would happen if I tried to introduce the game to... well, pretty much every gaming group I've ever been a part of, really. They look at me oddly enough when I suggest "Don't Rest Your Head" or "Mouse Guard". Gamers around here aren't generally the highbrow, artsy type who want to explore their innermost feelings through the medium. They want to splat things hard and take their stuff. :(

    -Ash
  • Reviewing this thread, Tähti really has to win.

    I'll bring my copy to Dreamation if anybody there would like to see it.
  • I'd love to see it, Jason.
  • So, reviewing this thread, it's totally unclear why Tähti is so weird. Can someone explain? Is it a normal /game/ but it has a really weird /setting/? Is the /gameplay itself/ weird?
  • Jason's just overly stricken by what he imagines on the pages of an exotic foreign game. It's not all that weird - the scenario might be a little bit weird, but it's still definitely within the purview of modern cyberpunk. Also, scenarios for any game can be weirdly specific, and this is definitely a scenario more than a specific game. The system material is minimal, as the game belongs in the local immersionist paradigm - GM-controlled freeform, essentially. The game's art is in line with its subject matter.

    An addition for Finns who read this and will read more into it than they should: as I've said before, I think that Tähti is a fine scenario, and I appreciate its topic and treatment even if I don't consider its efforts at rpg system design to amount to much. The relative lack of weirdness I argue for here is not an indictment of the work's quality.

    (The Finnish scene is small, you can imagine that anything I say about my peers here will be read with a magnifying glass by somebody.)
  • Adam,

    I'm glad you said that. I'm getting the same feeling from reading some of the games mentioned in this thread: "OK, a game about mutants in a rock band. That's, uh, a little weird, I guess. Not sure if it's any weirder than Gamma World, though."

    So, yeah, please tell us more! For those of us who don't know those games.

    I think Mendel was working on some game where, instead of resolution within the fiction (which was handled freeform), players maneuvered their characters so they could later play cards in their hand (which listed things like "X and Y become friends"), and thus the competition was between the players, with all in-fiction differences being handled totally narratively. That sounded interesting, and very unusual for RPG territory, but it could be my fevered imagination reconstructing something else I heard somewhere.
  • I bow to Eero's Finnish literacy regarding content. From my POV, the subject is vaguely weird, but style and format (all I really have to go on) push it into the really weird category - Tähti is a glossy magazine, disposable-looking, and is laid out like one. There's nothing gamey about it's visual presentation. It's beautiful and sneaky.
  • You mean it's SEXY and COOL. Don't forget that part!
  • Ahh I love it when they go for that kind of presentation. 'The Last Exodus' was a little like that, all glossy and sleek. That was another weird game in its way. Ostensibly about angels, but the angels ranged from traditional harps-and-haloes brigade, through anthropomorphic animals, to aliens. Very hard to follow. But for what it was, the layout was sharp.

    The same company (Synister Creative Systems) also made Underworld, a game of magic hobos living in the New York Underground. Kinda an Americanised version of Neverwhere, that used coin flips as a resolution mechanic.

    Wonder what happened to that company? Think I'll go do a web search.

    -Ash
  • I think he's still working on Underworld. That game rocks.
  • Posted By: Paul T.I think Mendel was working on some game where, instead of resolution within the fiction (which was handled freeform), players maneuvered their characters so they could later play cards in their hand (which listed things like "X and Y become friends"), and thus the competition was between the players, with all in-fiction differences being handled totally narratively. That sounded interesting, and very unusual for RPG territory, but it could be my fevered imagination reconstructing something else I heard somewhere.
    Paul, this is not a fevered imagining. There are actually two games you could be talking about. Most likely you are thinking about Faust and Friends, the relationship game about selling your soul which was my 2007 Game Chef entry. I explicitly mentioned how the relationship card mechanic is the core of the game, and how everything else is really just a way to gain credibility with the other players that these two characters actually have the relationship you want them to have - because by design those two levels don't interact except through the fiction.

    On the other hand, half the reason I wrote Faust and Friends was to kick myself into fixing some playtest problems in my original game which has much the same structure in a somewhat different context, not soapy college kid's who sell their souls, but crazy shoujo anime relationship chaos in Pure Shoujo.

    Although I find it interesting that these are weird games. I hadn't really thought about them that way.

    - Mendel
  • Posted By: Adam DrayI think he's still working on Underworld.
    Huh. I thought it was released a while ago.

    Yes, it was.

    I wonder if any of my ideas got into it. (I was WAY involved in GMS's game design articles and forum, during UW's development. If "Radiance Tides" are in it, that's all me. :) )
  • Wait, I'm actually thinking of Jeff Himmelman's "Kingdom of Nothing," which also uses coins and also delves into the worlds of magical hobos. It was in ashcan form two Dreamations ago. It's a much better game than Underworld. <=)
  • Weird, weird. Poison'd is weird because it incentivizes some hilarious behavior. I think Shab Al-Hiri Roach is also weird because . . . I don't know why, but it's just weird and exotic. I'd rank Poison'd up there, though. And My Life With Master always gets into my head because of its weird psychology. I guess the notion of playing pirates and cultists and Igors isn't too weird, though.

    We (sage, dan, me, amy) put together a game where you roleplay dudes in a tattoo parlor bitching about your shitty day and giving tattoos to skanky hos, and that's pretty much it, and yet it's one of the more reliably fun games we've played. Sage probably has a copy if anybody wants it.
  • Is there actually such a thing as a normal indie RPG anyway? That sounds almost like an oxymoron, though I suppose some are (considerably) weirder than others.

    Also, I really want Tähti in English...
  • Posted By: phargleWe (sage, dan, me, amy) put together a game where you roleplay dudes in a tattoo parlor bitching about your shitty day and giving tattoos to skanky hos
    I was there for that!
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: Adam DrayI was there for that!
    The pantheon of blame for Tramp Stamp is extensive. :)
  • Posted By: Neko EwenIs there actually such a thing as a normal indie RPG anyway? That sounds almost like an oxymoron, though I suppose some are (considerably) weirder than others.
    I would say there are lots of games that fall into the "normal indie RPG" purview.

    Games with: premise + conflict resolution mechanic + player-written traits + assumed body of techniques that you learned from other indie games which are never really explained (scene framing, etc). Indie heartbreakers*.

    *except not, because heartbreaker totally includes a big monetary component, at least by the original definition. "indie heartbreakers", as I used the term above, probably involve a bigger emotional than financial investment. I dunno.

    w/e.
  • Posted By: Neko Ewens there actually such a thing as a normal indie RPG anyway? That sounds almost like an oxymoron, though I suppose some are (considerably) weirder than others.
    I use Christmas Ninjas as my benchmark for normal. Anything significantly less weird than that qualifies as positively staid.

    Basically games with ninjas, rockstars, genetically engineered mutants, anthropomorphics/animals, elves, Fox news (or some analogue), fudge dice mechanics, personality trauma risk/reward mechanics, player empowerment, design contest products, and dice that stay around a little while after you roll them as part of a broader mechanic - are all pretty standard for indie RPGs.

    Christmas Ninjas covers those bases well enough to serve as a nice archetype of normality. For weird, you really need to work at it.

    - Mendel
  • Posted By: wyrmwood
    Paul, this is not a fevered imagining. There are actually two games you could be talking about.

    [...]

    Although I find it interesting that these areweirdgames. I hadn't really thought about them that way.

    - Mendel
    Fantastic, thanks! I agree that the games are only weird in a very limited sense, but they sound interesting and at least somewhat unusual. Have you got any weirder ones?

    Thanks for links!
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: Paul T.Fantastic, thanks! I agree that the games are only weird in a very limited sense, but they sound interesting and at least somewhat unusual. Have you got any weirder ones?
    Well one, that comes to mind thanks to Ash's mention earlier of the Reverse Engineering contest is Title Goes Here. The short blurb is you create your own alternate mysticism - like Kaballah.

    More broadly the group chooses a great work (which need not be great or even known well by the players), and you play the roles of scholars plumbing its depths, the characters within the work, and the truths within the work. The resolution mechanic is a combination of codes and changing your role (from say, scholar to character). As resolution occurs, you chart a map, showing the secret truth within the great work.

    So you could, for example, actually play this game for Harry Potter: the Philosopher's Stone (which you've all read) or a made up version of Finnegans Wake (which none of you ever have). And then wonder how much of your map you should take seriously. Sure, I designed it (except for the character sheet), but this game actually does weird me out more than a bit. And it certainly meets my Christmas Ninjas test.

    As for others, I'm sure I have a few that stand out.

    - Mendel
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: Neko EwenIs there actually such a thing as a normal indie RPG anyway?
    To be playing rpg's is weird.

    To design them is waaay out there.

    Still; doing all these weird things may give you the tools to build a beautifully sound character ... ;-)
  • Posted By: Adam DrayJeff Himmelman's "Kingdom of Nothing"
    That's very likely--he's got a LOT of LARP experience. I particularly enjoyed a Cthulhu Live one-shot at Dragon*Con some years back (four? Wow, that long?). Underworld was always a tabletop game that could be LARPed, so to speak (but having seen coin systems in action, now, I think they're bupkis).
  • (Hehe... got through eighty posts before "what is weird" semantics came up. Not bad....)
  • Dude, Post 56!
    Posted By: JoelAnyway, I'm having a hard time engaging with this topic because "weird" is such a sliding scale.
    Respect, yo. I was all up on that shit.
  • The game Ben was talking about? With tattoo artists complaining and doing horrible things? Yeah, it's here.

    I hadn't really thought about it, but it's kind of like the 'boring people in a pub' game, where something mundane becomes kind of horrible. I'd guess it comes off a bit lighter though.
  • I'm trying to limit this to games I've actually played, rather than games I've only read...

    Cell Gamma is weird to me.

    Play is less so than I'd think, but any game that starts out with the (basic) requirement that the players know absolutely nothing about the game or rules except what happens in play is pretty weird.

    This is cheating, but Rats in the Walls is weird. The weirdest part is that *I* came up with it. While it covers territory that isn't unusual to me (malleable reality, time travel) the focus, the types of characters that have come out of it (especially when looking at the people creating them) and the sorts of viciousness that have happened in play is just really weird. I tend to prefer adventure games where nobility and courage overcome adversity, even if it ends up with a Pyhrric victory.

    I know there are others, but it's hard to sort out the games that I'm simply not interested in (despite the fact that I'm sure they're probably very good games) from the games that I simply cannot wrap my brain around.
  • Wasn't there a Scandinavian game where the mechanics called for you to eat a super-rich cake until it's a punishment? I would say that is weird... really weird.
  • edited January 9
    Time to revive this thread! Surely lots of funky new games exist.

    Here's one:

    It's a science fiction game for 0 players. (Well, the players are involved, and could be any number... but... well, read it and see.)

    https://medium.com/@balehman/the-tragedy-of-gj237b-928cfeae460b

    In short, the game is only played while the players are outside the room, in a weird metaphor/analogy for a great science fiction tragedy.
  • I want to say Senkowski's (or however the hell you spell it) Untitled. Because it's presentation is cut-off-your-dick good.

    That good, that weird
    This game is very much worth looking at. I don't know if there was a "final" version, but the first draft is still online here:

    http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/untitled-rpg

    It's a game that's presented as a madman's diary, struggling with his own (in)sanity. You have to decipher his mad ramblings just to figure out how to play the game... no, you have to decipher just to realize it's a game in the first place.

    That's pretty fucking weird.
  • Name of God is pretty weird. Its got under my skin for weeks. I translated it and we tried to play it multiple times. Sometimes it was nearly cathartic but mostly just frustrating. I wanted to embrace its ritual aspects deeply but my companions were less eager to do OMMMMM while I narrated :)
  • edited January 12
    Wait, I'm actually thinking of Jeff Himmelman's "Kingdom of Nothing," which also uses coins and also delves into the worlds of magical hobos. It was in ashcan form two Dreamations ago. It's a much better game than Underworld. <=)</blockquote>

    I wouldn't say that it's a weird game. Poetic ... or mystical, but not weird.

    ---

    My own suggestions:
    Prosopopé. You're playing artists jumping into a painting to see what's wrong with it. No names are allowed to be spoken.

    The Final Voyage of Selene. A short hard rail about a crew in a ship that is about to crash, with a few scenes of presenting the characters ... and that's it.

    My own Imagine. It's a strange feeling that appears, and one the players said that he still thought about the story we made months after we tried it the first time. Not bad for a game that takes an hour to play.
  • Good additions, thank you!

    It's funny how some "weird" games don't seem so strange anymore.

    Probably the strangest game I've played was a LARP where a large group of people spent an hour in total silence in a room that was all black (black walls, black ceiling). There was no talking and no storyline. An experiential kind of thing. Interesting, definitely.

    The strangest game texts I've seen are the ones I've linked to, above.
  • edited January 13
    The Final Voyage of Selene. A short hard rail about a crew in a ship that is about to crash, with a few scenes of presenting the characters ... and that's it.
    You think that's weird, you should see the short games I write on my blog...

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