Explain Some Games That Deserve Attention

edited December 2007 in Story Games
So once upon a time someone made a list of new, unfinished, or upcoming games, most of which I have seen mentioned once or twice, but never followed up on. This is the thread where I say: "People who know of these games, why should people pay attention to this game here? What makes it fun? What does it do that is innovative and cool? Why should I be eager to play it?"

For example, I've heard of "Transantiago" a couple of times: it seems to be sort of a magical realist thingy, where you construct subway lines to get to new scenes or something. I DL'd the rules a few weeks ago but haven't had time to read them. A few people seem to be really excited about it: why? Likewise, everyone is foaming at the mouth over "Sign In Stranger," but why? what's it do?

Here's a list from that thread, though I imagine there are a lot of other, less publicized games that deserve attention too -- feel free to mention them as well.
City of the Moon
Fingers on the Firmament
Heart of the Rose
In a Land Called...
In a Wicked Age
Land of 1000 Kings
Sign in Stranger
Stranger Things
Tenra Bansho
Tree's Heart Dynasty

Comments

  • edited December 2007
    Clinton talks about Sign in Stranger here. We discuss it at the conclusion of our playtest, at the end of the podcast, here.
  • edited December 2007
    Tenra Bansho, with Harperific actual play.
  • Under My Skin. Emily's working on it and I've never been so excited about a game before.
  • Thanks Jason! So: "Sign In Stranger" is neat because it's less conflict-ridden than most face-stabby story games, and it shoots for really long term play? I'm trying to see what the rabid fan sees.
  • Yes, the fact that it is structured for insanely long-term play is really interesting.

    The way it handles inter-species communication is great.

    The way it incorporates bluebooking is gold.

    The way conflicts are handled is cool.
  • Posted By: Bret GillanUnder My Skin. Emily's working on it and I've never been so excited about a game before.
    Why?

    Also - it's great to have links, but if someone could actually expand on cryptic statements, or succinctly say what they're looking forward to doing with this game, that might be more helpful to others who have never heard of it before.
  • Oh, because it's so personally relevant to my life. It's another romance game and it's about relationships and friendships and how they conflict and jealousy and MAN. My enthusiasm has me rending my clothing.

    I don't have any links though.
  • Jason: what's up with "inter-species interaction"? I thought everybody was a normal dude?

    (Also: where is the normal people doing normal things game? Where is Babbitt: The Game?)
  • Oh, I think I should Under My Skin is totally relevant to EVERYONE'S life.

    Sorry, I'm just foaming over here. But seriously, keep an eye out for it. I know everyone's all Sign in Strangerized, but Emily has other things going on to be excited about. Is what I'm saying.
  • edited December 2007
    SIS is about regular dudes going to an ALIEN PLANET FULL OF ALIENS. You cannot even communicate with them at first. You are lucky if you can find the toilet and not end up married to one of them. You draw random parts of speech to describe things. It's sort of stressful and deeply affecting.

    PS: The normal people game is called Business Solutions and I'm playtesting it right now so hold your damn horses.
  • Sign in Stranger is about the Peace Corps, but in space. It's about cultural contact, intercultural understanding and msunderstanding. Unlike any other RPG that I've ever seen (the the possible exception of Shock:), it provides a model of how culture works that is much, much closer to the complexities of real life. It also provides an opportunity for enjoyable long-term play that isn't centered around violence, which is also a first, I think. It's pretty fucking amazing.

    I'll let other people talk about my projects.
  • edited December 2007
    Here's what I played:

    In a Wicked Age : It's almost everything that I wanted out of ARIA when I read what ARIA intended to do, but didn't get because ARIA sucked at delivering: Sequential gaming, seeped in roleplaying, that can be used to play awesome generational stories and the like, quickly. If I really started calling some role-playing games "Story Games", then In a Wicked Age (and INUMA too) would be capital-T True Story Games.

    If I were a terminology nazi, I'd run to the S-G Wiki, remove all RPGs listed as "Story Games", and just leave MLWM, In a Wicked Age and Inuma. It is the blueprint for what we talk about when we talk about "playing stories".

    Stranger Things and Tenra Bansho I'll post later (busy day)
  • edited December 2007
    Okay, Bret, you're not selling me on what you've said thus far. "Under My Skin is totally relevant to EVERYONE'S life" is sort of like, "It's a good game!"

    What makes it relevant to everyone's life? Is there anything in specific that would make me sit up and say, "Y'know, I've always wanted a game that would do this--and here it is!" What's something unique about the design, or the play of the game? (this goes for everybody, not just Bret.)
  • Over here at The forge, there's a neat game called It's Complicated in the works which has me interested because (a) it uses a very visceral mechanic which is nevertheless "open" or "flexible" in play and (b) that mechanic by its very use leaves an artifact (or record) of play behind "automatically." Plus, it helps (for me at least) that Elizabeth is quite open to suggestions and is willing to explain why some work and some don't (which beats the shit out of the chorus of crickets that "suggestion" posts seem to elicit from some designers).

    It's also very light (in terms of rules text, NOT gameplay), so it's easy to get one's head around it and Just Go Play. AND (gee, I really dig it) it's not setting-bound, which is a Good Thing, in my mind (lots more replayability and repurposing potential).
    David
  • Note: it would be pretty easy to use Sign in Stranger to play the Peace Corps RPG. The aliens are just fun color.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarSISis about regular dudes going to an ALIEN PLANET FULL OF ALIENS. You cannot even communicate with them at first. You are lucky if you can find the toilet and not end up married to one of them. You draw random parts of speech to describe things. It's sort of stressful and deeply affecting.
    See? That is cool! I am impressed with the audacity of this concept. May one ask how the alien culture is created? Collaboratively, or GM-ish fiat, or charts, or what? I am a fanatic, crazy-minded fool for 'genuinely alien' aliens--not just biologically strange, but culturally strange, bordering on incomprehensible, as well. Would this satisfy me?
    PS: The normal people game is calledBusiness Solutionsand I'm playtesting it right now so hold your damn horses.
    That is cool too. Waiting around for something that maybe arrives, and maybe doesn't, is a big part of my life. I think I am playing already.
  • edited December 2007
    Posted By: James_NostackI am a fanatic, crazy-mindedfoolfor 'genuinely alien' aliens
    James, you are going to love Sign in Stranger. Although they are alien culturally rather than physically (that is all color). But the things they care about, think about, believe - totally inscrutable. You make them up collaboratively. There is no GM.
  • Hooray, now I want "Sign In Stranger" too! (When I was in middle school, I had to wait at the bus stop by myself a lot. And I would imagine what I would say to explain my culture to the aliens who, any day now, would drop by my house to visit. And I would have to explain all the stupid shit we do, and why. This sounds kind of similar to that.)

    So - okay, that's neat. Emphasis on cross-cultural contact and sociology stuff.

    Anyone else got a game that they really, really want to play?
  • Oh, James, add Inuma to your list. Reliably fun, cool, Clinton R. Nixon-flavored gaming goodness.
  • Yay! Clinton's games have never let me down.
  • Under My Skin is a normal-person game too. It's the third in the trilogy: Breaking the Ice, Shooting the Moon, Under My Skin. It's romance-drama to follow the romance-comedy and the romance-adventure. As I understand it it pits an established relationship against a new one: can your marriage survive your affair? Can your best friendship survive your best friend's wedding? Can your relationship with your parents survive your moving in with your boyfriend?
  • That's neat, Vincent: is Under My Skin another two-person game, like BTI?
  • You are lucky if you can find the toilet and not end up married to one of them.
    Every time I play this game I end up married to a toilet. EVERY TIME!
  • Here's a playtest report I wrote after we played Sign in Stranger earlier this year.
  • Bacchanal deserves more attention (especially more actual play). It's a slow build-up of sexual tension and decadence, where the only way to play successfully is to reveal yourself at a certain level of intimacy. To be played well, it also requires storytelling skills. These two things are hard to balance, which is one of the things that makes play rewarding.
  • Under My Skin is at least 3-player, I believe. A 2-player version would be much more merciful.

    She's designing it twice, which is interesting. Once as a tabletop like the other two, but also once as a Jeep. I think she's planning on putting them together in the same book.
  • Yeah, Bacchanal sounds crazy. I have to admit that I can't ever imagine being in a frame of mind to handle those sorts of stories with my gaming group, but I can certainly see how that's a "dangerous" game
  • Posted By: James_NostackI can't ever imagine being in a frame of mind to handle those sorts of stories with my gaming group
    Up here, we use alcohol for that. Works every time.
  • This is something Jonathan wrote in a different thread:
    Posted By: JonathanWaltonWait, you want situation evolution without conflict resolution and different ways of handling scene framing? Welcome to my world! :)

    The Good Ship Revenge:There's a wheel-shaped board where each space represents a specific pirate-oriented theme that a scene can be about. Each major or minor character is represented by a chess piece. On your turn, you move your piece into a new theme (or choose to stay in the same theme), which gives you the requirements for framing the scene: the involved characters (whoever else is in the space) and what the scene is about (the theme). There were also vague requirements that would lead to framing sex or death, but those were never as baked. These rules are about 40% done.

    the Avatar game:Does something similar, but each character has their own board (chakra) based on the four elements. Each element represents a different attitude, so characters can have multiple different attitudes but still be in the same scene together. At the end of a scene, characters move to a different element / attitude based on what happened in the scene. There is no conflict resolution in Avatar, just narration that causes situation (and, eventually, traits) to develop. We've playtested it a bunch, but it's not 100%, more like 75%.

    Geiger Counter:Geiger Counter is 90% done in my head but only 70% done in this current draft. As inGood Ship Revenge, each player has a token that moves around a board, but, in this case, the board is made up of a series of locations written on index cards and characters are free to move between them however it makes logical sense. On your turn, you frame a scene forcharacters other than your own, usually by picking a set of characters and a location. There is conflict resolution in Geiger Counter, since it's a survival horror game where the characters are gradually killed off by a deadly menace.

    Mwaantaangaand:Unlike the others, Mwaantaangaand has not been playtested, but the current draft is probably 75% or so. Definitely playable, just not tested. Like Avatar, there is a circular chakra board. Unlike Avatar, all the characters have pieces that move around the same board. A character's proximity to the "hearth fire" circle at the center of the board indicates the amount of narrative complications other players can inject into their scenes and conflicts. Character pieces often have to choose to go "around" other pieces by moving to a ring closer or further away from the "hearth fire," which leads to shifts in narrative control. Monsters in Mwaantaangaand take the form of alterations to the meaning of certain swaths of the board and are beaten after a certain number of scenes have been framed using their altered meanings. This is probably the most complicated version of "board game style framing" that I've seen yet. There is not really conflict resolution in Mwaantaangaand either, just "conflict endurance," if that makes sense. You endure a monster's presence, and its detrimental effects on your character, until you defeat it.

    Transantiago:This one is different from the others because the board is created by the movement of the players pawns, so it's different every game and evolves over time. Each space on the board represents an actual location, like in Geiger Counter, so scenes are framed based on the location and whatever characters are there. During scenes, the characters in the scene narrate their actions and the other players narrate the surrounding environment and how it responds to player actions. There is no conflict resolution here either, but instead of the "conflict endurance" of Mwaantaangaand, characters are actively trying to push the situation towards some sort of end state, forcing it to develop based on their actions until it reaches catharsis. When all the locations have been resolved in this fashion, the game ends.

    There are a few others I could talk about too, like Heavenly Kingdoms, Kazekami Kyoko Kills Kublai Khan and Waiting / Tea, but those don't really have scenes or scene framing. They do all have non-traditional conflict resolution (or no conflict resolution), though.
  • Posted By: AndyStranger Things and Tenra BanshoI'll post later (busy day)
    Stranger Things:

    We played this one about... 2 years ago? Clinton ran it for me and another player. Here's what I liked about it, based on far memories of long ago:
    - Character generation was really fun. You wrote down dream figments and stuff, and sort of defined your character and their purpose in one go.
    - Scenario generation was the coolest fucking thing in the world of gaming today: You've got about two dozen of these square tiles, and you uncover them a few at a time, and make a map out of them, assembling them like a rorshark puzzle. The buildings that appear on the tiles naturally fire off the brain, and the places (and then the people inside them, the connections they form). It's like watching situation bloom like a 9-petal lotus flower.
    - The setting was pretty much like a cross between Planescape's Sigil, and the City from Thief.
    - I love the mix of the players being half human, half demon. That mix appeals to me more than the original Trollbabes.
    - We only played a one-shot to test the system out, but I seriously wanted it to go on for 5-9 sessions. I'm hoping to do that when the game eventually gets released.

    Tenra Bensho
    This one is the one I'm translating, so take what you hear with a grain of salt:
    - It's the first game that was really developed with Japanese sensibilities. I mean that in terms of the setting, which has all sorts of anime-themed madness, but also had its own goals that other games, translated and relased in Japan, didn't have, like:
    -- Easy for newbies to get in and play.
    -- A play structure modeled after kabuki theater, with scenes and acts, intermissions and a "chorus" calling out the preview of the next act.
    -- A play structure that creates a complete campaign from start to finish in one single play session. In the author's mind, it's clear that it was one 5-6 hour session with no more than one GM and 4 players, but still a (roughly) six hour game.
    -- Mechanics to drive the drama, not just the success and failure of the charcters' actions.
    - The original Tenra came out in 96/97, Tenra Bansho Zero (the one I'm modeling the English release upon) in 2000... and even though it was years before the Forge-style "rules for story stuff" influences, it's there. You have 1/2 of the charcater sheet dedicated to attributes, skills, weapons, etc. And the other half is dedicated, essentially, to "spiritual attribute" style things like goals, emotions, relationships, etc. And that is actually the "more important part".
    - You get a cookie for good roleplaying, in the form of a chit or a chip. Stock them up, and they convert into high power awesomeness. Like, normally for actions you roll between 4-9 d6es, looking for successes. If you save up your wad for the endgame, you can end up rolling 100 dice on that final sword swing against an impossible enemy.
    - You say when your character dies. You check off a "death box" when you want to hulk out, but leave yourself vulnerable to dying.
    - When you min-max the spiritual-attribute-like system for maximum in-play advantage (to get the fat bonuses, to prevent becoming a dark jedi-like figure, etc)... it tweaks the story in really cool ways that don't break anything. I haven't seen this ever Not Work.
    - Also, there's the fact that it's seeped in Buddhism, Shinto and the like. I haven't yet, but I'm dying to run a peaceful all Buddhist monk game (and not even the monks with the Street Fighter/Fist of the North Star kung fu monk abilities).

    -Andy
  • Posted By: MatthijsBacchanal deserves more attention (especially more actualplay)
    If people don't start playing Bacchanal I'm going to be forced to design a sequel.

    Paul
  • Posted By: Paul CzegeIf people don't start playing Bacchanal I'm going to be forced to design a sequel.
    I nominate the title, "Vomitorium."
  • No, call it Studio 54--using hard drugs instead of alcohol--to take it about 2000 years into the "future" (our past).
  • So - Bacchanal is nifty because of the subject matter, and if I weren't such a prude I'd play it. What's it got going for it, mechanically? How does it do what it does?
  • Posted By: lumpleyUnder My Skin is a normal-person game too. It's the third in the trilogy: Breaking the Ice, Shooting the Moon, Under My Skin. It's romance-drama to follow the romance-comedy and the romance-adventure. As I understand it it pits an established relationship against a new one: can your marriage survive your affair? Can your best friendship survive your best friend's wedding? Can your relationship with your parents survive your moving in with your boyfriend?
    Is this the game that is said to be Emily's 'indie version' of the Jeepsters' Doubt? I have heard that she is making such a game and this surely sound like that. Doubt is truly a dangerous game - in the sense that James uses that term earlier in this thread. Are Emilys' game also dangerous?

    (BTW, we played Doubt yesterday night. It was draining, really draining. And I screwed up as a GM. Report to follow somewhere on the internets.)
  • I don't know; it's the first I've heard of it. This crazy Jeep stuff is something else that's on the edge of my radar, too. Are there Jeeps that don't involve "Doubt"?
  • Posted By: James_NostackAre there Jeeps that don't involve "Doubt"?
    I am not sure what you are referring to here. The group We go by Jeep (Vi åker Jeep) is like a role playing collective of in total twenty people or something, but only a few of them are really active in writing 'Jeep' scenarios. They are mainly Swedes, but there are also Danish and Finnish members. Doubt is one of their scenarios (as the games usually are called) and is written by two of the members.

    Check them out at jeepen.org. Doubt (and much else) is free to download.
Sign In or Register to comment.