Utopian chronicles v1.3

edited June 2018 in Directed Promotion
Getting always a bit further toward zero-weight, I wonder if I will have the guts to cut the toothbrush handle when the time comes. If I take off too much, I fear, I'll fall eternally upward.
The actual version of my game is somewhere between Nuts @rgrassi and Drama system by Robin D. Laws.

Utopian chronicles
(You're welcome to suggest better english when you see mine lacking)

I still need to compile the guide to ultralight world building, mystery solving, resources managing and horror chilling, and edit my collection of 200+ character types to fit on 5 pages or so. Doable.


  • I'm unable to access google drive.
    Is there another link?
  • Solved, thanks.
  • edited June 2018
    This is interesting. The text is pretty hard for me to follow, to the point where I'm not sure how many of the mechanics or rules work.

    Aside from that, though, it's *incredibly* similar to a game called "Muse" I co-designed. Are you familiar with that game?

  • edited June 2018
    Yes, you mentionned Muse and Musette in threads about this game or its niche. The inspiration is Capes. I use 2 mechanics : goals/claims (dramatic conflict), keys (useful flags), and 2 currencies : xp and story points.

    I hope you used go*gle's reader. Because it would explain the poor readability.

    I am sorry to learn that my English is not fluent enough to satisfyingly communicate the rules. On the other hand, I am very glad to at least know the problem exists. The solution would be to rewrite the rules (this is a translation). Maybe you have more advice on how to present them (redaction or layout) and what you would need (play examples, diagrams, etc.)
  • edited June 2018
    I made a PDQ version that I am confident will be easier to approach.

    "Utopian Chronicles - PDQ version
    For this game of fantasy storytelling, you need two 32-cards decks (2-4 players). The figures and colors of the cards don't matter. You’ll also use a pile of 20-30 tokens (matches, candies, pebbles, whatever).
    Every player, think of a character concept for a protagonist. The first player writes on a card something about their protagonist that will come up in the story. You can sketch a picture or a pictograph, too. Explain to the others what it means. Any player can veto a card. The author of the card can then negotiate a new meaning for the card. If no agreement is found, the card is withdrawn from the game. Take turns creating cards. Each player can have up to 8 cards for their protagonist. The number of cards a player ends up with for their protagonist is their “protagonist maximum handwidth”. Reflect on the characters, the setting and genre, and the situations the cards suggest. Take turns creating an equal amount of cards for the opposition. You can split them between various protagonists, be they concrete (wolves, crook, handcuffs) or abstract (kitchen, village life, fear, lack of time). You can even leave some blank cards and decide what they are when the time is ripe.
    Take turns narrating. To narrate something about a character, you’ve got to have their player’s consent or put it at stake. A stake is a question or an alternative for the story. After you narrate a bit, you can either : create a stake and get a card back from the dumpyard, or play a card on a stake. Either case it has to be fitting with the narration, and possible within the setting and genre, least it will be vetoed by the other players. Playing a card is bidding, that is competing for the right to answer the question or to chose the outcome at stake. In case of an alternative, you can take sides with other players. (Played cards can't change sides.)
    When nobody wants or can contest you’re the highest bidder for a stake, it’s yours to take. If you decide to collect your earnings, just narrate the answer or the outcome. If a condition is missing, you can take the stake for granted, but you won’t narrate it until the condition is met. The narrated answer or outcome is firmly established, but a new stake can challenge it. All the cards that were bid on the stake go to the dumpyard. When you get a card back from the dumpyard, you gain 1 XP. For “max hand” XP you can create new cards on the spot for a protagonist or antagonist (always with player's consent).
    Whenever a player narration (drawing, performing, cooking, etc.) makes you emote and you notice that you like it, give them a token from the kitty. When you spend 1 VP, you gain an action (stake and refresh or bid). You can also trade your own VPs to convince other players to add requested bits to their narration, or even to let you use their character cards instead of your own. Some players may create “vice and defects” cards to draw foreign investors’ attention to their character… At the end of the game, whoever has the more VPs wins.
    The long version of this game proposes pre-generated series of character cards and techniques to aim for precise settings and genres, and last but not least, play tested fail proof rules.
  • If you could write actual gameplay examples it would be easier for me to understand the processes and principles.
  • edited June 2018
    OK. I will write a summary from an actual session and you can ask for details when you need them :
    The setup for this session was done with the "long" version of the rules (approximately 20 minutes of back and forth about what we would like to play).
    Genre : Magical anime high-school inspired by Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma, and Natsuki Takaya's Fruit basket ; fights without graphic violence or death ; some dramatic moments ; mystery, some unveiled some not ; competition between characters and players.
    Setting : In a japanese public school, some people are different ; they are transformed into an animal from the chinese zodiac when someone of similar age but from the opposite sex touches them ; few people know that. It's in the near future, with a very light cyberpunk touch, contrasting with ruins of ancient engraved masonry lost in the mountain near the small town.

    The file with the character sheets is lost, there were other traits and antagonists, but I could retro-engineer the following :

    Hart playing :
    Akiro (calm, pessimist, student)
    Rare astrological event (???)

    Zack playing
    Yatsuki (job : waiter, astral fox, kendo club membership)
    Shame (blushing, eye contact, alone in the same room)

    Mike playing
    Tetsubo (bad boy, hacking, eating disorder)
    Family life (timetable, chores, an adult crying)

    So, we begin :
    Hart sets up the first scene and the first conflict : pupils in the classroom waiting for the end of class to ring. In the ranks, one girl is specially nervous. She wants to say something to a boy in front of her, who doesn't notice her. (no trait is necessary to create a conflict)
    Conflict : a girl touches a boy in the class and he turns into a boar !

    Zack initiates the conflict, with a spin.
    The boy is making eye contact with the girl : she's shy, he's popular. Is he not Yatsuki ? (Hart didn't define precisely the boy's identity. Now it's clear Yatsuki can't turn into a boar, as he is a fox). The bell rings and the boy encourages her to talk, she blushes and clams up. (Zack used 1 trait, "eye contact" to initiate the conflict.)
    It's now less likely that someone turns into a boar in class.

    Mike wants to out-smart Zack : Yatsuki doesn't try to prevent skin contact with the girl. He is simply getting dangerously close to the girl. He hands her a homework sheet. (Zack could refuse Mike using his character, but he doesn't : he put Yatsuki into this situation and accepts the consequences) Pupils are going out of the class in a chaotic stream, pushing Yatsuki closer to the girl.
    Conflict : Yatsuki discovers he can turn into an animal.

    Hart builds on the scene, redefining the conflict : When she sees he's going to touch her, the look in her eyes changes, is she afraid ? what's her intention ? what does she know ?
    Conflict : someone in the school is investigating to know who can turn into an animal.

    Zack narrates how, in a place of the school where none can see them, the girl takes Yatsuki's hand. She knew it : Yatsuki turns into a fox and leaves. But the boy himself doesn't understand what happened (the "Yatsuki discovers" conflict is not solved yet) (Zack uses his fox trait and nobody opposes him).

    I knew this was going to be too long. I'll be brief. Some conflicts came next : "Yatsuki discovers" was raised throughout various scenes, with Hart pressing on and Zack and Mike delaying the revelation by various interruptions. The "investigating girl" told Yatsuki that an astrological artifact had been stolen and she needed to contact a zodiac animal to get it back. Tetsubo got excluded from school for hacking into the school intranet, an Mike began setting up the conditions for a quest for the artifact. The 3 characters finally set up for the quest. That's a 3 hour session (setup included).

    I don't think actual play makes it easier to understand. The most difficult part to understand is that conflicts are not there as final objectives. There is a process of constant blooming and an equally constant pruning of conflicts. They help shape the fiction, build expectations. They are the ephemeral subtext of the fiction.

    Players play for the story, not for their characters. But they build a connection with their characters, they grow empathy. They compete with the other players, all in fair play, to surprise them, to outsmart them.
  • You are right that your example didnt explained the game to me but its more clear now. I have to check the rules again and compare it with your post.
  • Thank you for your time.

    When you play the game, the stakes inform your decisions, as if you could use written messages while improvising. But the messages are for the players. As a reader, they don't mean much.

    The Pretty Damn Quick version makes you experience that part of the game but requires more work from your team to make it fly (like proper dramatic situation framing, and... caring).
  • Have just read Muse and Inflorenza. My game is a bit like Inflorenza, without the dice, and with conflicts extending over scene when needed. Muse has got a heavy setup and a complex poker resolution phase, but plot questions are the same. The presentation and use of techniques makes a great deal of difference.
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