Update: [The Scenario] & (new!) [The Wanderer] - A S&S Story-Game

edited January 2010 in Directed Promotion

My first game, The Scenario.

The Scenario
"The Scenario is a roleplaying game focusing on normal individuals, their interactions and the present, however absurd that present becomes."

2700 words approx. I would like to use big words like 'Kafkaesque' and 'Absurdist' to describe play, but I'll leave that to your judgment.
However, I'm filled with childish enthusiasm for it so you'll forgive me if I post it here for your discerning pleasure. Its faults and obvious plagiarisms are many and, if you're not too busy, I encourage you to tell me about them. Most importantly, I think you'll enjoy reading it.

Morning all! I wrote my second game last night.

The Wanderer.
Black-on-White Googledocs version.
“A long time ago there was a wilderland both terrible and lonely where the beasts and devils of this world lay in wait to devour the flesh of men and mock their folly.”

“The Wanderer” is a simple roleplaying game invoking the conventions of the Sword & Sorcery fantasy subgenre but adding a few modern twists. The players jointly narrate the adventures of a single protagonist as he travels through a land of both heartbreaking beauty and deadly adversity.

“The Wilderland is a Place of Devils. Built on the bones of countless slaves, the palace-fortresses of the devils lie isolated about this place, trapped by some forgotten misfortune. Decadent and wicked, the devils live in prideful, smoke-blind luxury as self-proclaimed sultans and sorcerer-kings. Armies of spirits and orb-like watchers patrol their nations, forever warring and spying on one another and those who dare trespass.“

I get no points for originality, but if you have the time to read (2700 words) and appreciate storytelling mechanics and the Sword & Sorcery genre I'd kill for some feedback.



  • Hey, this looks cool, Mike!

    I say "Looks" because i haven't read it - the tiny white font over black is killing my eyes.
    & i was about to just copy it into an office document, but thought that since others have given me a hard time about
    small font illegibility, and i appreciated their input... well, that i should pass these savings on to you.

    besides, when i copy it, the numbered or bulleted entries' respective numbers and bullets aren't copied, and i thought those might be important.

    hurry up! make it better for me!

  • I second Jackson's comment about it being hard on the eyes to read.

    A.) Because that's true.
    B.) Because I blindly follow and echo all of the teachings of the wise master Tegu.
    C.) Because I'm trying to make life hard on you.
    D.) Because I feel inconsequential in the world, and this is an attempt at reaching out, as, infant-like, I grab for anything brightly coloured within my short line of vision.
    E.) All of the above.

    The correct answer is A.
  • I'm sorry Grandpa Joe and Grandpa Jackson, I'll be more considerate of your failing eyesight in future.

    Here's the spiffy black-on-white googledocs version: The Scenario I think this one has a few more typos and contradictions, but it should be easier to read.
  • quick:
    love it. read it this morning. for some reason took forever making a cover for the game. can't release it as that it uses a photo that a friend of mine took & haven't asked her about that yet. also like how the game is mostly advice & very little crunchy mechanics. not super hot on the voting thing, but interested to see it in play. would you play it for over an hour? i wonder how long would be enjoyable in a given sitting. Very elegant, though, Mike; i'm excited to give it a try some evening here. we'll see if that works out.

  • Posted By: jackson teguquick:
    love it. read it this morning. for some reason took forever making a cover for the game. can't release it as that it uses a photo that a friend of mine took & haven't asked her about that yet. also like how the game is mostly advice & very little crunchy mechanics. not super hot on the voting thing, but interested to see it in play. would you play it for over an hour? i wonder how long would be enjoyable in a given sitting. Very elegant, though, Mike; i'm excited to give it a try some evening here. we'll see if that works out.
    A quicky but a goody; I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    You made a cover? For the Scenario? I've heard of people taking to a game, but making a cover immediately after reading... you must need more creative outlets. [wink]

    My design philosophy was, as put eloquently by another: "Don't write what you won't use." As for the advice, the game needs to be played in a fashion distinct from the traditional GM-Player axis (I'm a jeepform fan) so I needed to establish this from the outset for otherwise it's a game with very few gimmicks.

    Never having played the game myself, I've no idea if the voting resolution would work. My thought was that play continues uninterrupted until someone goes "No, wait, I don't like that. It should happen like X,Y,Z" and then the group votes on which path play should continue. I'm wasn't sure of much, but I was sure I didn't want random-chance as part of this game; all the inventiveness at the table should be what the group brings with them (for better or worse).

    If a story develops quickly and entertains the participants within an hour, I see no reason why it couldn't be shorter than the traditional evening's worth. Alternatively, I was toying with the idea of an hour's run with the Director writing down events as they happen then re-starting the Scenario for another hour's play and either a) exactly the same events as last time but everyone swaps characters or b) new characters but events of the first hour are happening in the background (and players get tokens for finding connections 'Yeah, you know when my fifth first-hour character knocked down an old man with the Camaro? Well, I'm playing that old man.') - although I wonder if the paradoxes inherent in that kind of play would be possible to work with. I could include both in an 'alternate re-play' section. Hm.. this is what playtesting is for!

    The IRC-channel playnow (as muchly advertised by Sam H) is amenable to playtesting. Show up, Jackson. It'll be great!
  • edited January 2010
    you must need more creative outlets. [wink]
    wait... there are other outlets?

    *mind blown*


    Well, not really having anything to do with the subject matter can be seen as a feature, in this instance.

    i like the idea about things happening in the background, but perhaps you'll need another system to support that
    "background" style of play - perhaps the second play is a murder mystery, or perhaps they are the film makers taking that one long shot...

    lots of perhapses there.

    thanks for the invite, Mike - i'm trying to spend less time on the computer these days, but i might just take you up on it despite that.
  • edited January 2010
    Apparently I am in the minority, but I actually prefer light text on a dark background. I find reading from a white screen causes me serious eyestrain.

    Oh, and the game looks cool. I particularly like how it feels quick; even just from reading it, one gets the sense that it can be played rapid-fire. I like games that fill the time they are given, rather than just take up time at their own pace.
  • Hi, I managed a quick readthrough of your game, it looks like a ton of potential fun!

    When I read it, it feels like you are presenting me with a tabletop setup for doing verbal improv theater, and thus appeals more to me as a creative excercise or warmup than as an actual game(which I find way more awesome).
    My experiences with improv setups is that they tend to be more fun as shorter, sharper situations than a whole evening of entertainment.
    It is with this use in mind that I would hazard the following: The token economy could be simplified into something simpler and easy to remember, eg. recieve tokens for entertaining, spend a tokens to declare a fact when out of focus? Also, I think you should consider the concept of Facts & Reassurances from A Penny for My Thoughts, this kind of creative free-for-all can easily get derailed if you don't set down a baseline from the get go. If I were to try this out, I would probably construct a set of cheatsheets with the rules and bullet point advice to leave in front of the participants. If you make some to go with the game from the start, it'd be a powerful packet.

    Other than that I love the weight you have put on giving advice to director and players, plus that as director you're not bogged down with any other obligations than keeping the story fresh and rolling. That alone makes it great warmup, as the gamemaster is not drained of creativity by having to juggle npcs and setting. I have been looking for something like this and I hope to bring it to the table for some playtesting, next time I have geeks in the house.
  • edited January 2010
    Ok, let's do this in reverse order.

    RivoClavis, thanks for reading. It's awesome you find this cool. I'm really very excited about improv-around-the-table; I want something like Norwegian free/jeepform but combined with just enough rules/restrictions to make those theatrical elements sing like crystal. The Scenario is me trying to fine-tune and perhaps the second draft (and later games I write) will find that balance of player-driven creative/active freedom and safe-zone, table-sitting 'R.P.G' legitimacy.

    You, and others, are right about the short-and-sharp aspect, but I need to playtest to see how right you are. I would hope in the format that a group could fit 3+ hours of narrative progress into 1. I might try for an anthology of one-hour games which, while being distinct experiences, could fill a evening and reinforce one another.

    You've a point about the tokens. They're there to encourage (positive) groupthink behavior: the group expects certain standards of behavior/action etc and reinforces the the same through token reward. I shouldn't have to use it at all! I'll work out what's absolutely necessary and reduct. I haven't read A Penny for My Thoughts; if you could explain Facts & Reassurances, I'd be grateful.

    Advice! Advice! So few games actually guide potential players in how to play, I mean really play, not just what the rules are. I hope I give sound advice. I'd die, literally die of creative fulfillment if someone was to play this game. God, I'm lame - but thanks.

    Deadlytoque, thanks to you to. I'd glad someone else appreciates the class of white-on-black. Fight the man! The game is meant to be quick, following the inclinations of the director: a character sounds interesting, let's follow him, see if he fleshes out. If not, let's go somewhere else. No regrets.

    I'd hope it could be picked up, read aloud and gotten into. Cheers for the feedback.

    Jackson. Freekin' sweet! Is... is that my name in print? Oh, oh... I like this feeling. I like this feeling a lot. Now I just need to figure out how to do .pdf files.

    We're going to get a little Being John Malkovich here. I can see myself writing games-within-games whose conflicts are resolved by the action of an overarching ur-game. I urge you to be online and play with me sometime, although I'd imagine it'd loose a lot of possible improv charm in text-form. Play it with real people if you can, I'd love to see if it works, at all!

    Thank you, the cover's stunning and your responses heartening.

    Edit P.S: In any second-drafts I was thinking of upping the 52 example Signs to ten-times that number, all closely packed on a single page maybe. I may start a 'contribute your signs here' thread on Praxis for this purpose.
  • It's good to see design that takes it's starting point in an understanding of gaming theory, but writes it down into a practical text about how to play.
    I haven't read Penny myself either, but I've heard the author describe it in interviews. In the game you are also starting of at a blank start so to speak, and improvise the setting as you go along. The F&R is a sheet where you have the basic rules and restrictions on what kind of setting you may build into. It is actually just being up front about how far the creativity can go, so you don't break the other participants immersion by introducing a 300 year old vampire out of the blue, when they thought the game was being played in a normal world. The function is to remove the need to negotiate the validity of input during gameplay.
  • RivoClavis. Me, understand game theory? Ho ho ho. I was told off by Ron Edwards once over on the Forge for questioning, admittedly inarticulately, the nature of shared imagined space. I just know how I'd like to be addressed by a game manual and reproduced to that effect.
    Hmm. Facts & Reassurances certainly sound like a practical solution to the not-quite-blank-canvas dilemma. A twist on the premise might be to put the creation of these imaginative-perimeters (a perimeter mustn't be thought of pejoratively here; it's a focusing-lens not a prison) into the hands of the players; pre-game the players would specify one element that will not appear in the game. They could, in addition, specify an element or theme they'd like to see occur but I feel that's a little heavy-handed.

    "There will be no supernatural characters in this game."
    "There will be no depictions of sexual abuse in this game."
    "There will be no Hollywood machismo in this game."
    "There will be no genuinely attainable riches or power in this game."

    This nice broad spread frames our canvas-world without any direct intervention from the designer or the GM; the players self-regulate and enforce their own expectations. Hm, I'll think more on this. I don't really want to have to lift from pre-existent games.
  • It's not lifting from existing games, its setting up common expectations for the game, something everyone should do, verbally, each time they sit down to game. But you've got the right sight on it, perimeter is a good label. Also remember that restrictions bread creativitiy, it's a cliché, but true.

    Also, being chewed out by mr. Edwards has nothing to do with anything, least of all roleplaying theory... don't get me started on that whole mess. Not using The One True Model of the Forge does not mean that you don't have an understanding of how roleplaying ought to work and attempt to put that into practice via your writing.
  • Posted By: RivoClavis Also remember that restrictions bread creativitiy, it's a cliché, but true.
    I think I put that in the fifth paragraph.

    As for perimeters, perhaps an improv-based mini-game could be devised before play begins proper: The Director starts an 'And Then...' story, perhaps, and at each juncture the players are prompted to cheer or boo whatever comes up.
    "A man wakes up in his bed." [Boo! Dull!]
    "And then realises another man is sleeping next to him." [Wheey! Meow! Hubba-hubba!]
    "And then realises a space-monster is sleeping on his other side!" [Boo! That's stupid!]
    The play-group's expectations are gauged and the director can turn play to that end.

    I'm with you on the Forge thing. Why d'ya think I'm here?
  • Ok, update! Check the top of the page!

    If you can't be bothered, just click here for "The Wanderer" - a S&S Story-Game!
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