Once More

So, after a week of sponsor meetings, proposal writings, and travel, I’m able to think about the game again. And to put things simply, I decided to combine the two ideas I presented earlier. And fortunately just before things went busy for me, I was able to put those ideas together. Here’s a short summary.

I’ve taken the map idea into a fixed map of 31 boan – which if you recall are essentially worlds in which you become reincarnated. The map is set up with four directions, centering on the humanboan: North = Truly Called, South = Fully Aware, East = Pleasure Boan / Heaven, West = Suffering Boan / Hell. The first two destinations are not in fact boan, but actually states within or outside of the cycle.

The players take on shades, which are somewhat more nebulous than the idea of a soul. These take on different lives each related to each other. The shades carry attachments, calling and awareness, with 20 points moving among them. When the shades incarnate in aboan, the players turn to the page listed for that boan and assign center (the arbiter for that boan), lives (some shades may have more than one life at a time) and then list out details for the age in which they encounter that boan.

Once these are done, the lives act out certain stages, essentially pre-built conflicts, where each shade can influence a conflict by raising (up to 6) an attachment with calling or awareness, or reducing (down to 0) an attachment adding to calling or awareness . These are added as a die of value equal to the higher value of the attachment to determine the outcome for that stage, and also are added to the appropriate side of the map (increasing attachment of joy adds to heaven, of pain adds to hell, releasing to calling adds to Truly Called, releasing to awareness adds to fully aware.) The player then describes how one of their lives has devoted or given up something appropriate to the exchange. This can happen up to one time, per stage, to a single attachment, and not shade can have more than six attachments.

The outcome of the stage is described based on the winning shade’s goals, and if specific listed outcomes occur (as written on theboan page), additional dice may be added to the map, or changes may occur to attachments, calling, or awareness. It is even possible for a life to end, if this is the last life a shade has, then it rolls a die and places it on the map in one of its dominant directions (as determined by totals of pain/joy attachments, calling and awareness, respectively). Every shade whose life remains to the last stage will do this at that point as well. Then the shades move in the dominant direction indicated by totalling the dice on each side of the map. If there is a tie for dominance, they instead move to the humanboan, rolling for which variant they enter (there are six, in addition to the initial one).

Play continues in this way until the shades exit through one of the sides, playing a final stage as they deal with the consequences of that ending.

I’m going for a strong contrast of structure and freedom, and from another direction that of coming to terms with the people you travel with.

– Mendel

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Published in: on February 23, 2007 at 9:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unable to complete

My game will not be completed by the deadline.  My father in law suffered a massive, probably fatal stroke, and I have to devote my full attention to my family.

The game is all but written– scratched out on notepaper– and I will be posting it late even though I cannot continue with the competition.

I’m sorry, especially to Mark whose images I am using.  Best of luck to all those who remain.

Published in: on February 23, 2007 at 5:24 pm  Comments (6)  

Taking Shape

I’ve been sinking all the time I can into my game lately.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been as much as I would have hoped.  I’ve decided to relegate a good chunk of time to the graphic design and layout of the finished product; this is my first stab at more that straight text.

The title is going to be Thought Disorder.  I’ve thought about a couple of different subtitles, but finally decided to go without.

For the game itself, I decided at first that this game would have to be GM-less.  A GM would give the game a feeling of plot, structure and organization that would confliuct with the goals I have with the game.  Though my mechanics initially included dice, it became clear to me in the early stages of design that they did not better the game in any way I could appreciate, so I have excluded them as well.

Without a GM, there is a distinct possibility that a game will progress until it simply becomes un-fun.  Even if play starts out great, this effect threatens to cap every play experience at mediocre.  This game needs to have a distinct endpoint.  I am a bit undecided on how I will implement this, though I have a couple of ideas I’m rattling about.

Gameplay is divided between alternating Group Sessions and Private Sessions.  Group Sessions revolve around bidding Psychosis points to bring other people in line with their delusions.  Private Sessions are used to replenish resourses. 

I’ve got a fairly good grasp of the Group Sessions, and I’m prepared to get them layed out, but I’m still unsure how the Private Sessions are going to work.  Ideally, I would like them to have the other players assume the roles of doctors and trying to suss out the character, but I’m not exactly sure how I am going to get it to work.

The layout is proceeding nicely.  I am creating a background using the images, as well as some creations of my own and putting text boxes over these with the actual game text.  The overall look is somewhat disorganized–fitting with the theme– but still seems easy enough to follow.

 Fingers crossed, I should have it in working shape before the deadline.

Published in: on February 20, 2007 at 5:36 pm  Comments (7)  

The Burmese Game

While intriguing, I found the image set perhaps a little too consistent…

But so it goes. I blame the following lack of creativity on my own exhaustion over the past few days more than the image set.

I have two ideas for the design, and they are competing at the moment. Inspired by the complex reincarnation systems of Burmese Buddhism, including the Nat (very loosely = spirits) and Boan (worlds of reincarnations), seem to be returning to old design ideas.

The first is based on an old fiction idea of mine and an aborted design, called Co-life, meant be a spin from the idea of past-lives. The crux of this would be traversing through worlds much like after-lives, but as a connected group. The idea here would be to have each major segment of the game be a life, with the mini-story’s outcome determined and/or dependant on the next boan destination. The ultimate goal is to somehow change the flow of the after-lives and either break from the cycle or fully join with it.

As I see it, this concept practically requires a system based on numerical approximations of differential equations. And I’ve been meaning to design a game that uses higher level, non-discrete math for a while.

The other option, feels less original to me, largely because it is heavily based on a game I already designed in my RPGnet column a few years ago. Essentially, a game of enlightenment and journeys, the character sheet was a random piece of a street map (which the player provides), and their actions and intentions lead them along these paths, as they seek out one of the destinations – in this case likely nirvana, the pleasure boan, the Burmese hell (as per the image), and bodhisattva, each described as one of the cardinal directions.

The main problem is that I’ve already largely design this game, so I feel it would be cheating to use it here. As of yet, however, it only exists as the old articles and the notes I made to write them. What do you think?

Hopefully I’ll come to a decision soon.

Published in: on February 15, 2007 at 6:24 pm  Comments (4)  

Initial Inspirations

I’m glad that I pulled Mark V.’s image set.  All were awesome, but being that Mark’s were first, I’ve had a bit of time to think about them.

Mark said that his set was thrown together without rhyme or reason, but I see a definite pattern.  We’ve got some images that speak of the 1920’s, a good time frame.  We also have some similarly-shaped images–  the Mangosteen and the Crystal City, the three pictures on the Benzine ring.  The snakes-for-nipples Bluemen des Boesen and spiky head of doom also have a insane/threatening feel.

Another inspiration, and something coloring my experience of these images was a visit to a local mental hospital.  My sister-in-law was committed on a 5250 hold (14 day involuntary psychiatric hold.)  She, unfortunately, had a severe schitzoid snap; normal interpretations of reality gave way to radical delusions and hallucinations.  On our way home, my wife asked: “How can you get better when you’re locked in with all these crazy people?”

 My short answer is “by getting out.”  I’ve had interaction with a number of mentally ill individuals, and one of the things that struck me is how delusions and hallucinations are contaigous.  The person with the strongest force of will– who believes their delusions most strongly– will cause others to fall into their world/worldview.  I’m thinking this is going to be my premise.

 Given this theme, I initially thought of two games.  First, I could treat the schitzophrenic as the setting, having the players fight it out as competing sets of delusions, the first to make a wholly internally-consistent worldview being the winner.  While I think that the role of the players as delusions is novel, I’m not sure if the game would be a good one.

The second and hopefully more fruitful idea is to put the players as paranoid schitzophrenics in a 1920’s sanitorium.  I’m thinking GM-less and very freeform, with each player building the consensus delusion.  The threatening images are great, because the characters have a lot to fear from the state of psychiatry in the 20’s, and those fears would be built into their delusional reality.

Published in: on February 12, 2007 at 6:58 pm  Comments (3)  

Ten images by Justin Smith

I was really inspired by the more recent posting of Burmese images, and drew inspiration from those.

Hell According To The Burmese
Bibliodyssey link
Original Source

The Sentient Beings according to the Burmese. Buddhist Cosmogony
Bibliodyssey link
Original Source

detail from Sun-gyee-loung. A grand distribution of alms.
Bibliodyssey Link
Original Source

Guadama Buddha
Bibliodyssey link
Original Source

detail from Hpon-gyee Kyoung. Monasteries.
Bibliodyssey Link
Original Source

Yahan Chwa Thee. Rahan’s procession
Bibliodyssey Link
Original Source

Folds 17-20: Game with elephants in enclosure: detail
Bibliodyssey Link
Original Source

1891 A boy’s book, marking the beginning of modern
Bibliodyssey Link
Original Source (Japanese Language)

The Sacred Egyptian Bean
Bibliodyssey link
Original Source

The Mongolian Legend of Molon Toyin

Bibliodyssey Link
Original Source

Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 6:19 pm  Comments (1)