Feedback Request - FONT (200 Word RPG)

Hi All, Here's a draft I'm working on for this year's 200 Word RPG contest (hence the extreme brevity). I'd appreciate any feedback or suggestions.

It's a game for 3 to 5. Each player needs a pencil, an index card, and a six sided die. It was inspired by the movies Stalker, Solaris, and Annihilation.

FONT

You left a dying world for the ZONE; few return. You seek the FONT, which will change everything.

Record your:
*TITLE (names are forbidden)
*VISION (number from 2 [inward] to 4 [outward])
*RESOLVE (6 minus VISION)

Grandest TITLE chooses a TEST and describes it with three senses.
*Cross treacherous terrain
*Find something needful
*Follow something unseen
*Confront something terrifying
*Go somewhere forbidden
*Remove a hindrance

Next (clockwise) player describes how to overcome it. Each ROLL 1D6.

To ____ you must ____:
*Find / Identify: ROLL < VISION
*Empathize / withstand: ROLL > VISION
*Challenge / destroy: ROLL < RESOLVE
*Evade / dissemble: ROLL > RESOLVE

Describe your outcome. If you fail, gain a new MARK:
*Haunted: -1 VISION
*Afraid: -1 RESOLVE
*Broken: You may pass successes to others, but never enter the FONT
*Dead: Haunt them forever

When all are TESTs are complete, you reach the FONT.
Each describe it with a single sense.

ROLL 1D6 and describe the outcome:
*If ROLL < VISION: the FONT changes the dying world
*If ROLL > VISION: the FONT changes you

ROLL again:
*If ROLL < RESOLVE: reveal a great secret
*If ROLL > RESOLVE: bury a great secret forever

CLOSING: Each say how you escape the ZONE or why you stay.

Comments

  • Cool thing ! You need difference in characters for the "next player" trick to work.
    You didn't say how many tests.
  • DeReel said:

    Cool thing ! You need difference in characters for the "next player" trick to work.
    You didn't say how many tests.

    Thanks for reading through it!

    By "difference in characters", are you thinking something like roles in Kingdom, where elements of narrative are distributed between players? I like the concept of that, but I need to think about how to achieve it without adding a significant word count.

    I'll have to clarify turn order for TESTs. I'm thinking "Take turns (clockwise ) choosing a new TEST. When all are TESTs are complete, you reach the FONT."

    So once you've used all six prompts, that's it.
  • edited February 2018
    Does our exchange mean the players have to pick all 4 different types of tests (challenge, escape, etc.) ? You don't say what set of tests is "all the tests".
    Maybe I am stating the obvious, but I insist you pay particular attention to the font type you use for the rules.
  • edited February 2018
    I like it. It's really tight, but got a clear goal at the start, a (somewhat - due to the text length) clear goal of what to do, and a clear end.

    What happens if you roll equal to?
    Next (clockwise) player describes how to overcome it. Each ROLL 1D6.

    To ____ you must ____:
    *Find / Identify: ROLL < VISION
    *Empathize / withstand: ROLL > VISION
    *Challenge / destroy: ROLL < RESOLVE
    *Evade / dissemble: ROLL > RESOLVE
    I found this part hard to understand. I will break it down below:
    Each ROLL 1D6
    Each player when it's one player's turn? Remove "each"?
    To XXX, you must YYY
    I thought it was the words I rolled should replace XXX and not YYY. It's not clear enough. Too bad that you can't, according to the 200 Word Challenge rules, make it more clear with layout.
    "*Dead: Haunt them forever"
    Cool sentence, but haunt whom?
    Broken: You may pass successes to others, but never enter the FONT
    *Dead: Haunt them forever

    When all are TESTs are complete, you reach the FONT.
    Are you mixing singular and plural you? You reach the FONT = everyone reaches the FONT?
    ROLL 1D6 and describe the outcome:
    Even the haunted one, if every player rolls?

    All in all, a cool game, and up to "Next (clockwise) player describes how to overcome it. Each ROLL 1D6.", everything was crystal clear. I would consider everyone to play the same character, if I were you. A concept that would be easy to houserule away, so everyone had their own character, if people wanted to.
  • DeReel said:

    Does our exchange mean the players have to pick all 4 different types of tests (challenge, escape, etc.) ? You don't say what set of tests is "all the tests".

    I was thinking 'all' meant resolve each prompt from the list once (cross, find, confront, etc). I'll go back and clarify.
    DeReel said:

    Maybe I am stating the obvious, but I insist you pay particular attention to the font type you use for the rules.

    It didn't occur to me, but now seems obvious.
  • edited February 2018
    Thanks for the insight!
    Rickard said:

    What happens if you roll equal to?

    Yeah, this was a major oversight.

    Changed the final rolls to:
    ROLL 1D6 and describe the outcome:
    -If ROLL < VISION: the FONT changes the dying world
    -Otherwise, the FONT changes you

    ROLL again:
    -If ROLL < RESOLVE: reveal a great secret
    -Otherwise, bury a great secret forever

    With the other rolls, (during tests) ties are failures. You're always looking to roll under or over a stat, depending on the action.

    Here's what I'm trying to say in as few words as possible:
    -To find or identify something/someone, your roll result must be less than your vision.
    -To find or empathize with or withstand something/someone, your roll result must be higher than your vision
    -To challenge or destroy something/someone, your roll result must be less than your resolve.
    -To find or evade something/someone or to dissemble, your roll result must be less more than your resolve.

    Does that make sense?
    Rickard said:


    Each player when it's one player's turn? Remove "each"?

    I was actually thinking that one player describes the test, another describes how to overcome it, and all must make the roll. Maybe 'all' is the better word there.

    Here's how I hope it goes:

    Player 1: Our movement through the zone is slowed by this huge mass of blue vines. They have an acrid, almost chemical scent. They feel smooth, like polished metal.

    Player 2: We're going to have to burn the vines. Since we're destroying, we need to roll less than our resolve.

    [All roll]

    Player 1: I pour lamp oil on the densest mass of vines.

    Player 3: I toss a match.

    Player 1: [Success]. The bits of vines crack under my footsteps like broken glass.

    Player 2: [Failure]. But the hiss of the burning vines never dies down, it echoes like a far-off scream. [Marks Haunted].

    Player 3: [Success]. I turn up my headphones and try to drown it out.

    On the other hand, I'm concerned that 4 or 5 players describing the same outcome would get old fast. (I succeed the same we she does, I become haunted by it too, etc).

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, and I'll see how it goes in playtests.
    Rickard said:

    Cool sentence, but haunt whom?

    The surviving player characters. This idea came right from Carolina Death Crawl. I'll try to make it more explicit without hogging word count.
    Rickard said:

    Are you mixing singular and plural you? You reach the FONT = everyone reaches the FONT?

    Good catch. That should say "survivors reach the FONT" or something that clearly excludes the dead or broken.
    Rickard said:

    I would consider everyone to play the same character, if I were you. A concept that would be easy to houserule away, so everyone had their own character, if people wanted to.

    Really interesting. I can see how that would work. Thanks again!

    edited for clarity
  • moconnor said:


    *VISION (number from 2 [inward] to 4 [outward])
    *RESOLVE (6 minus VISION)

    [...]

    To ____ you must ____:
    *Find / Identify: ROLL < VISION
    *Empathize / withstand: ROLL > VISION
    *Challenge / destroy: ROLL < RESOLVE
    *Evade / dissemble: ROLL > RESOLVE

    Easy way to say the same (but +1 word, if not counting punctuation marks):
    Roll < VISION to Find / Identify
    Roll > VISIONE to Empathize / withstand
    etc.

    However, chances as given are not symmetrical. Ex. rolling over 4 is successful 1/3rd of the time, rolling under 2 only 1/6.
    If you're looking for symmetrical chances, either:
    - change the range for Vision to 2-5 (four possible choices) or 3-4 (only two);
    - change all instances of "<" to "≤" (equal or less).
  • edited February 2018
    Rafu said:


    Roll < VISION to Find / Identify
    Roll > VISION to Empathize / withstand
    etc.
    ...
    - change all instances of "<" to "≤" (equal or less).</p>

    I like both these changes, the formatting scans better and the odds are a little less cruel. I'll add them in to the final draft for sure. Thanks!
  • Edited the game based on feedback:

    FONT

    You left a dying world for the perilous ZONE; few return. You seek the FONT, which will change everything.

    Record your:
    *TITLE (names are forbidden)
    *VISION (number from 2 [inward] to 4 [outward])
    *RESOLVE (6 minus VISION)

    Grandest TITLE chooses a TEST and describes it with three senses.
    *Cross treacherous terrain
    *Find something needful
    *Follow something unseen
    *Confront something terrifying
    *Go somewhere forbidden
    *Remove a hindrance

    Next (clockwise) player describes how to overcome it. All ROLL 1D6.
    *ROLL ≤ VISION to find / identify
    *ROLL ≥ VISION to empathize / withstand
    *ROLL ≤ RESOLVE to challenge / destroy
    *ROLL ≥ RESOLVE to evade / dissemble

    Describe your outcome. If you fail, gain a new MARK:
    *Haunted: -1 VISION
    *Afraid: -1 RESOLVE
    *Broken: You may pass successes to others, but never enter the FONT
    *Dead: Haunt the survivors

    Proceed clockwise, choosing TESTs and resolving each once.
    Survivors reach the FONT; each describe it with a single sense, and:

    ROLL 1D6; describe the outcome:
    *If ROLL ≤ VISION: the FONT changes the dying world
    *Otherwise, the FONT changes you

    ROLL again:
    *If ROLL ≤ RESOLVE: reveal a great secret
    *Otherwise, bury a secret forever

    Each describe how you escape the ZONE or why you stay.
  • Very cool.
  • moconnor said:

    *VISION (number from 2 [inward] to 4 [outward])

    [...]

    *ROLL ≤ VISION to find / identify
    *ROLL ≥ VISION to empathize / withstand
    *ROLL ≤ RESOLVE to challenge / destroy
    *ROLL ≥ RESOLVE to evade / dissemble

    Oh, you want that asymmetry in chances, then?
  • Rafu said:


    Oh, you want that asymmetry in chances, then?

    I thought I did, but looking the numbers over, it is too obvious to frame all challenges as using the "≥" actions once your stats have been lowered by MARKS. Fixing now, to match your original suggestion.
  • edited March 2018
    Much better, but I'm still a little bit confused by ALL and YOU.

    I'm also not sure if a dead character should still roll.

    "Describe your outcome." Should one player describe all results?

    Here is another sentence that actually confuses me: "You left a dying world for the perilous ZONE; few return". So people has gone into the ZONE before? Did they also seek the FONT? If it's a dangerous zone, then you can assume that the reader understand that few returns. Also, the game suggests it later on too.

    Here is a text suggestion. I added some stuff that makes the text more like a character and reference sheet. I marked changes in italic, and it turned somewhat like a text written by a troglodyte. I assume here that dead characters don't roll.

    ---

    FONT

    Survivors left a dying world for the perilous ZONE. They seek the FONT, that changes everything.

    Record a:
    TITLE ______________________________ (names are forbidden)
    VISION ___________ (number from 2 [inward] to 4 [outward])
    RESOLVE _________ (6 minus VISION)

    Grandest TITLE chooses a TEST; describes it with three senses.
    image Cross treacherous terrain
    image Find something needful
    image Follow something unseen
    image Confront something terrifying
    image Go somewhere forbidden
    image Remove a hindrance

    Next (clockwise) player describes how to overcome it. Each survivor ROLL 1D6 and describes how:
    *Find / identify: ROLL ≤ VISION
    *Empathize / withstand: ROLL ≥ VISION
    *Challenge / destroy: ROLL ≤ RESOLVE
    *Evade / dissemble: ROLL ≥ RESOLVE
    *Gain a new MARK: FAIL

    image Haunted: -1 VISION
    image Afraid: -1 RESOLVE
    image Broken: Can never enter the FONT, but pass success to others
    image Dead: Haunt the survivors

    Proceed clockwise, choosing and resolving each TEST once.
    Survivors reach the FONT; each describes it with a single sense, and ROLL 1d6:

    Describe how:
    *The FONT changes the dying world: ROLL ≤ VISION:
    *The FONT changes you: FAIL

    ROLL again to:
    *reveal a great secret: ROLL ≤ RESOLVE
    *bury a secret forever: FAIL

    Each survivor describes their own escape from the ZONE or why they stayed.

    (194 words - 207 if counting the underscores and unicode checkboxes.)
  • edited March 2018
    Damn forum; doesn't allow the unicode character image. Had to work around it and link to an image instead.
  • I was thinking 'survivors' would indicate only those who survived all tests, and thus enter the Font. But your edit shows how well it works to establish tone as a term for the PCs in general. Gotta ponder that.
  • Update: FONT v2 based on Feedback from this thread:
  • A revised version of Font is now up on itch.io

    My collaborator in Goblinville kindly did layout for it. It is now pretty and still free. If anyone has notes or gets it to the table, I'd love to hear about it!

    https://narrativedynamics.itch.io/font
  • It should be 6-VISION to calculate RESOLVE, right?

    I haven't gotten around to play the game yet, sadly.
  • You know how novel writers give their playlist to readers nowadays ? I think you should mention this : " inspired by the movies Stalker, Solaris, and Annihilation" somewhere in your game. If it's not too late.
    So people would search for Stalker trailer and maybe watch the movie, and the world would be, if not saved, at least better. Or maybe I should just say that I love this movie.
  • Me too!
  • edited April 12
    @moconnor

    This looks really cool but I’m having a hard time following it completely and imagining it in play. I actually wouldn’t mind play-testing it, but I would need to understand the instructions better and get a better picture of what gameplay would be like.

    If you have time, a writeup of an actual-play example, with player’s dialogue and gameplay actions, would be super helpful—starting with an actual-play example of the setup and then some actual-play examples of the most important game elements in play.

    It might help for those of us who need things more spelled out. Anyway, it looks like you have some good ideas in there. Good luck in the contest :)
  • @Rickard Oh no, you're right. Weird typo that slipped in during layout. Updated now, but the 50 odd people who already downloaded already are in for a game about hope and LOSS.
  • @Jeff_Slater Yeah, we have a game night tonight. I'll take some notes.
  • This is very cool. It's easier for me to understand than other "nanogames" I've seen, and the design is beautiful. Looking forward to the writeup!
  • edited April 30
    Hey @Jeff_Slater, we weren't able to get FONT out (we playtested Picaresque instead) but I pulled together what I remember of the previous session and lay it out here.

    You left a dying world for the perilous FISSURE, from which few return. You seek the FONT, which will change everything.

    Players: Michael (me), Matt, and Nick.

    I record my Title (The Forsaken), Boon (a stolen amulet), Vision (4), and Resolve (2).

    The Title and Boon, I just make up without context, knowing that both choices can steer our implied setting significantly. Vision and Resolve must add up to 6.

    Take turns sharing your title and your boon. Your Vision and Resolve are known only to you.

    Nick and Matt tell me their Titles and Boon but keep their Vision and Resolve hidden.
    • Matt's is the "Exile Prince" and he carries a fine sword.
    • Nick is the "Memory Hoarder" and he carries a book of many secrets.

    Decide who among you has the humblest title. That player chooses a test from the list below and describes it with three senses. You must collectively overcome each test to reach the font.

    We discuss who has the most humble title, and it's me (the Forsaken) so I go first. I choose a Test from the list (Cross treacherous terrain) and I describe the trackless desert, the oppressive sun overheard, and the circling buzzards.

    The next (clockwise) player describes what you must do to overcome
    the test. Decide which of the approaches below best matches your
    methods. This will determine the die result needed to succeed. Everyone rolls 1D6


    Matt is to my left, so he decides what we must collectively do to overcome the Test. He decides we need to find/identify: we need to locate a water source or we'll die.

    We each roll a D6, and we need a result less than or equal to our Vision to succeed.
    • I don't know what Nick's Vision is, but he fails and describes his Mark. He is haunted by voices, and he can't focus on the search.
    • I roll a 4, which is equal to my Vision. I describe finding strange, crooked plants and draining meager portions from their roots.
    • Matt also succeeded and describes how we are able to store the roots in a rolled up cloak.

    When the test has been resolved, check it off the list. Proceed clockwise, choosing tests until all are resolved...

    We continue taking turns like this:
    • Matt chooses Find Something Necessary (a sense of common purpose) and Nick says we need to empathize/ withstand (understand why the others are really here).
    • Nick chooses Follow Something Unseen (crows who carry the souls of the dead) and I say we need to evade/ dissemble (they will turn themselves to ash if they know they are being followed).
    • I choose Confront Something Terrifying (the crows led us to the forest of the restless dead) and Nick says we need to find/ identify (the safe route between sacred oaks).

    We progress regardless of who succeeds and who fails, but each failure means that Marks are piling up. We are closer to death.

    It's Matt's turn next. He chooses a Test (Go Somewhere Forbidden) and describes a networks of caves full of intelligent creatures who were long at war with our dying kingdom. We would break a truce by entering, but there is no way around.

    Nick gets to choose the how this Test is overcome, and he says that we will need to negotiate safe passage without having a shared language. He isn't sure which resolution option this fits with best, but he ultimately decides on empathize/ withstand.

    We each roll a D6, and we need a result greater than Vision to succeed.
    • We each roll and all fail. Matt describes the Exile Prince becoming overcome with fear. Our hosts could easily kill us if they so choose, and no one would come for us.
    • The Memory Hoarder is now both Haunted and Afraid . Nick describes him sacrificing his boon, trading in his book of secrets, to buy our passage.
    • This allows me to reroll, and I succeed the second time. I still have the will to enter the FONT.

    Nick must describe the final remaining challenge (Remove a Hindrance). A pack of blind, hungry lizard waits between us and the FONT. We cannot progress as long as they stalk us.

    I get to choose how it's overcome. I say we need to kill every one of them (challenge/destroy). This is folly, because two of us are already afraid, but I'm interested in seeing if we can survive it.

    We each roll a D6, and we need a result less than or equal to our Resolve to succeed.
    • Matt succeeds and describes the Exile Prince hacking apart the lizards with his sword.
    • Nick fails and describes the Memory Hoarder losing all sense of purpose. The FONT might not exist, and he's given up so much to get here. He sits in a dark puddle in the middle of the cave and demands that we leave him. He is broken.
    • I succeed and describe the eerie silence of the cave, now that the ever-present scuffling sound is gone.

    Survivors reach the font; each describe it with a single sense.

    We reach the FONT, and the Exile Prince and the Forsaken enter. Matt describes a metallic scent of the FONT, like a brand new copper kettle. It reminds the Exile Prince of Home. I describe the warmth that emanates from the FONT, like a sunbeam on closed eyelids.

    The Exile Prince still has his boon, so Matt shares the hope that the FONT might unite a shattered Kingdom. The Forsaken gave up his amulet to placate the restless dead, so I share his reflection that the FONT can't change the past; his loved ones are still gone.

    All survivors ROLL 1D6 and describe the outcome:
    • If roll ≤ vision: the font changes the dying world
    • Otherwise, the font changes you


    Matt and I both roll a die. We both roll over our Vision, so we describe how the FONT changes us. Matt says that the Exile Prince now can accept that the kingdom can never be brought back together, but he could make a new one. I explain that the Forsaken one is given the visions of a thousand other paths his life might have taken, and he sees that he is not doomed entirely.

    All survivors ROLL again:
    • If roll ≤ resolve: reveal a great secret
    • Otherwise, bury a secret forever


    Matt rolls over his Resolve and will never tell anyone that he was not a true born prince in the first place. Any claim he forges with steel will be truer than the one he falsely claimed by blood.

    I roll equal to my Resolve (1) and reveal that the fissure could support a human community, here in this network of caves around the FONT and out in the deserts.

    Closing: All describe how you escape the fissure or why you stay.

    • The Exile Prince escapes with guidance home from those who live among the caves.
    • The Forsaken stays and roams the desert eating roots and reflecting on the thousand lives that could have been.
    • The Memory Hoarder lives deep in the cave network, guiding pilgrims toward the FONT.
  • Oh, its so nice I translated it. Wanna try it out ASAP!
  • @hamnacb That's great! I look forward to hearing how it goes.
  • Oh, seeing that detailed write-up/play report is a great way to learn about a game. That’s fantastic! I wish more people would do that. Cheers!
  • Nice job ! It feels like it worked like it was supposed to. Running in circles until they reach the center of the labyrinth, and then change perspectives. I am curious : how many of the first rounds felt a bit absurd ? At what what point your contributions began to build something more and more clearly ? Was it hard to pull ?
  • Okay, we tryed it.

    I am in love with Stalker and liked Annihilation (even read the book) but unfortunately non of my playmates have seen them so our playstyle turned into an 'acid trip' in a french fantastique animation movie. We finished it under one hour.

    It was very hard for one player to imagine the whole thing. He said he misses explanation and have to come up with too many things which could clash with others ideas.

    The players did not like the strict restrictions, they would want more PC-PC interaction, helping, etc which the rules does not support.

    Everyone liked the overall surreal feel. The illustration helped a lot to catch the mood.

    We had a bit of conversation about how to translate the term 'font'. Originally I did a literal one: 'piscina' or 'sacrarium'. It was too christian but on the other side expressed the themes of hope and salvation. Then we changed it to 'source'. More general with less taste. What do you think? Did we miss some English meaning?
  • When I hear FONT I think "a source of good stuff, plus maybe some religiousy bits".
  • @hamnacb Thanks for trying it and sharing how it went!

    1. I'm curious how you felt about the pace. I enjoy that it can wrap in around an hour but I wonder if it felt rushed or underdeveloped.

    2. You do have to come up with a lot of stuff, but that experience of creating a narrative is a lot of the meat of the game (since your mechanical options are constrained). I have considered giving a list of setting prompts at the beginning that might make that first round less of a creative leap.

    - You are exiles from a collapsing kingdom, brought to sword and spell to a hostile and forbidden territory. Your only hope of return is to find the fabled FONT.

    - You are a the galaxy's last hope: a collaboration between the Terran navy and interplanetary academics. This operation is a desperate last-ditch effort to save a collapsing civilization. You traveled to the farthest reaches of known space in search of a technology the might not even exist: the FONT.

    - You are a team of scientists (and hired guides) breaching all protocol to search a forbidden zone, the site of suspected extraterrestrial activity. You seek an artifact that bring the world back from the brink of collapse: the FONT.

    - You are young "heroes" with powers that set you apart from those around you. They told you not to come here, but there was no way they could stop you. There is a crisis out there your powers cannot fix. But here, in this parrallel world, there is something that might: the FONT.

    - There is a place you can enter in your dreams, or in a trance if only you know the way. So few return that one must be truly desperate to make the journey. It is said that at the heart of this place there is something able to change your dying world: the FONT.

    I think there could be plenty more. In general, I enjoy the rapid-fire sense of discover of that first turn (In a game were my title was Fallen Knight and a friend's was Chief Engineer, we got to take that as a world building challenge) but you would get more coherence with an agreement on the big picture before play begins.

    3. The strict restrictions are very much intentional. The tone of Stalker and Annihilation is (imo) one of introspection and isolation. The game is somewhat geared toward the same stance. One change I might make here is re-framing how you sacrifice your boon to aid another: "Sacrifice your boon to let another player reroll and say how your character puts themselves at risk to help." Right now you can only do it when you fail, which I think is an unnecessary restriction.

    One way that we've gotten PC-PC interactions is by making the challenges internal rather than things in the world. I considered adding a note that this is possible, but I've seen enough people try it unprompted that I didn't want to diminish that moment of discovery.

    4. As for the name, the intended connotation @Guy Srinivasan has it right: something that says source, transcendence, hope. Maybe "Beacon" depending on the connotations of the translation?
  • @DeReel The first round usually involves a bit of stumbling toward a coherent setting. I've enjoyed this, but after playing a round with a group, we've often said: "Let's play again but in a sci-fi setting" or something of the like. I think it only makes sense to bring this practice that has worked for us into the rules themselves.
  • I had no problem with the game. I translated it because I liked it quite much! This did not change after our playtest.

    I think your questions are all about how big do you imagine its niche? Is it only for Tarkovsky fans? Or for anyone? If the latter then yes, it needs smaller leaps.

    1. Pace was cool but we are accustomed to rapid gaming.
    2. If you want a broader audience then these various intros are quite helpful!
    3. Agree. Sacrifice of boon was needlessly specific, did not worked 'organically'.
  • @hamnacb Cool. I think the intros and tweak to Boons will be good additions.
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