In Frankenstein’s Wake, Reviewed!

 By Guy Shalev.

Ok, WordPress ate my review once, so this one will be shorter…

Image Incorporation:

I’ll begin with what annoys me the most. The pictures which attract the most attention in this game are those of Frankenstein’s students. Those pictures were not part of the Image Set provided by Jake, not one of them.

There were exactly 5 pictures from Jake’s image-set used in the game, and the use of them had been far from optimal as well. While the pictures perfuse the game with the right feel, the headers of the game also do a lot in this regard (Not unlike Polaris).

You’d think the pictures showing scientific procedures involving bodies will be used near the places in the text speaking of bodies (Experiments and Gathering Materials), while they’re seemed to be placed randomally in the text, a poor choice.

Additionally, many of the images are from the sets Jake picked his images, but are different images. You could have taken out the images of Jake and just as easily have used other images, which kinda seems to beat the theme of the contest, where overall the images which should shape the game are those provided to you, and not images of a certain shape and size to be alternated in and out as you wish.

Playability:

The game’s goal is to be complete, like a board-game, a game to be taken out, rules explained in a short manner and for a game to begin, progress and end in one sitting. I feel the game largely succeeds in this endeavour.

I would have liked outlines for creating your own characters, but I understand why you chose not to, especially considering the time limitations of the competition.

I’d have liked more explanation and/or examples of personal Traits being changed, especially to how you use dice from “Negative Traits”, and while I can see you using “Vulgar” to intimidate someone, I would have liked it in the text.

You copy/pasted something which makes little sense, in your search for completion: Conduct Research regarding Burning. If I burn, then I should gain one, because I have no excess successes. I know this is not true, since if more than one player competes on Research, you could have 3 Excess Successes, and the opposition wins with 4, and when you burn you gain 3 Research points. But you don’t know it at this point in the text (and I believe the resolution mechanic could have been mentioned earlier in the text), and thus it makes little sense.

I would have also liked more hand-holding on competing scenes when one Researches for example, because nothing stops me from being in the library and getting what I need while you also get what you need from the library. I can hand-wave it as both wanting the same books or something like that. But I think examples for such occurances is key.

Regarding the board, it’s unclear what many of the boxes should hold, whose. And writing names under each would have solved this problem quite easily.

Unlike the image-set use which I’m not happy with, I feel the game is almost completely complete, and these are my nitpicks of what could be fixed regarding it, and all that could be fixed regarding such that I found.

Overall:

I like the goal of a game you whip out and begin playing, and finish playing in one evening. I also like the theme which to me has heavy influence from My Life with Master and perhaps even “A Night in Lonesome October” by Roger Zelazny, which is one of my favourite books overall.

I think the game can end too quickly and the disparity between players can grow too fast, and that competitively bringing the scenes to head (which end Role-playing and bring about dice rolling) can be detrimental to fun, but can also cause new tactics. But you gain some and lose some when you marry board games and competition with RPGs, I should know.

I’d have liked if the free RP was a bit constrained, and if more advice was given regarding certain scenes (Research when multiple players compete, as noted above).

I really like the Epilogue mechanic containing key-words from the Material cards you use, and it reminds me fondly of the “B Movie” card game which uses the same mechanic for its’ end-game narration.

I am also quite fond that while the dice-size does not matter for success (You have %50 of gaining a success, since any odds is successful), a bigger die increases your chance (dependant on who rolls highest) of narrating the scene’s outcome, while having the lowest die (before rolling anything) decrees who sets up the scene (which can also be used competitively, especially when it comes to refreshing attributes).

I like the spirit of the game, and some of the mechanics. But there are also some things that I think could have been better, regarding feel and regarding mechanics.

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Published in: on March 5, 2007 at 5:06 pm  Comments (3)  

Dark Age – Characters & The Game World

Each Player will assume the identity of a Purifier; an inquisitor / witch hunter for the Church. The Purifiers travel the land rooting out sorcerers, demons and the possessed.The Purifiers are based out of a religious stronghold called the Bastille de Remnoir. A small city lies at the feet of the Bastille, huddled around the fortress for protection.

The countryside surrounding the Bastille is dark and foreboding, with large expanses of untamed wilderness. Small villages and hamlets lie scattered across the land. Travel (except for the Purifers) is rare, and the forests are filled with terrible beasts.

::EDIT::

Having the players assume the identity of the Purifiers, the Antagonists AND the townsfolk is proving… problematic.

My new idea is that there are three player roles: the Angel, the Demon, and the Innocent.  The Angel narrates the Purifiers, the Innocent narrates the townsfolk, and the Demon narrates the weird horrific stuff the pops up in the story. Eventually the Demon can start staking claims over townsfolk, currupting them and twisting them into monsters, but that leaves the Demon open to attack by the Angel.

Published in: on February 21, 2007 at 4:16 pm  Comments (5)  

Dark Age – Concept

I want Dark Age to be a pick up and play kind of a game; I want people to approach it as they would a board game, with no pre-scripted campaigns, no complex character creation, and as little set up as possible. I don’t think I want Dark Age to have a GM either, maybe the game will have shared GM responsibilities, or maybe the “GM Hat” will be passed around the table as the game is played.I picture Dark Age using lots of index cards or post-it notes. Each ‘turn’ players will jot down story elements and add them to the table, along with some ‘target number’ (a die or a playing card). This will create a series of challenges for the characters to overcome.

I kind of see a session of Dark Age being played out in steps, called Acts or something. Each Act will have a different “goal,” as the players weave the story, create the challenges, and then overcome the obstacles.

Published in: on February 21, 2007 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dark Age – Setting

Looking over the pictures in my assigned image set, the first thing that jumps into my mind is a dark fantasy setting. I’m picturing a grim medieval realm; small feudal villages where scared peasants cower from unknown horrors lurking in the shadowy woods. Magic is dark and evil, corrupting the soul and twisting the body into monstrous forms. The only bastion of hope is the heavy hand of the Church, which hunts down those who practice the dark arts and purifies the heretics with fire and steel. I’m going to call the game Dark Age.

Published in: on February 21, 2007 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ten Images From Jake Sulpice

From The Temple Of Music:

Liber Tertius 484Liber Tertius 483

Original Source

From Easy Pickings:

Da Vinci 1

Da Vinci 2

Original Source

From Galvinizing Aldini:

Experment with Various Devices

Experiment with Cadavers

Original Source

From Symphony Of The Absurd

Jean Coulon Sax Noir

Jean Coulon Tuba

Original Source

From The Visual Context Of Music:Murray Shafer

Makrokosmos

See the original post to track down the links to original sources.

Published in: on February 9, 2007 at 9:15 pm  Comments (1)