SS Placeholder: Monster in the House

Posted in Gaming at 7:45 pm by Stephanie Bryant

Last night’s Fate Accelerated game was extremely fun, silly, over-the-top…. and then it went intense and dark, almost in an instant. The tone change was done well, I thought, and the end result was a “monster of the week” adventure that worked really, really well.

We had previously received a communique with a falsified source purporting to be from Space Race, but actually from somewhere else. In it, a red-haired space babe (“space babe” is almost a character class in this campaign) in a corset wanted to hire us to transport something, by way of specific coordinates. We discuss the job and decide it’s worth the risk.

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Games that Fail

Posted in Challenges, Game Design at 6:35 pm by Stephanie Bryant

You know what’s frustrating? When you are 4 games into your 14-game challenge and you write Game #5, only to realize that it’s really bad and needs to be fixed before you’re even close to releasing it in a Print-and-play beta.

In other words: Monster Under the Bed still needs some work.


Ladies League of Invells, Part 2

Posted in Gaming at 12:32 pm by Stephanie Bryant

inverseworldMore notes from my all-woman Inverse World game!

Note: Inverse World is now available in PDF format from DriveThruRPG!

We spent about an hour on character creation, some updates, and more worldbuilding. Professor A’s player was called into work unexpectedly, and my friend LeeAnn was joining us for the first time. LeeAnn decided to play Naga, a copper-skinned goblin Mechanic. Ugly as sin, usually dirty, but very friendly (to the point of social awkwardness) with her cockney accent and big grinning smile. And wig– Naga is usually wearing some kind of bouffant wig, usually unkempt.

For the updates, I handed out a custom sheet of InverseWorld-BasicMoves. One of the basic moves is my custom Investigation move– which I still need to tweak a bit– which expands the “Discern Realities” move to include other skills, and always results in a clue, but may give the adversaries a hold for when they encounter you (preparation). I’ve also adapted the Last Breath move to accommodate the Death Moves from Grim World (you get the Death Move at level 6, but cannot use both in the same death– those who would try to bargain with Death do not deserve to change the world on their passing.) And I altered the End of Session and Level Up moves. Level Up doesn’t add a spell to wizards’ spellbooks (because there are no wizards), and End of Session replaces overcoming a monster or enemy with changing a place for better or worse.

Finally, for my returning players, I handed out some possible Backgrounds from Pirate World by Iain Chantler and James Hawthorne. I explained these are completely optional, but give them a bit more background for their characters, based on what  I’d seen in their role-play. The Pirate World backgrounds are still in development, but I wanted to roll them out, see how they play, with options to expand or change them later. I suggested Mercantile for Captain Sparrow, Witch Hunter for Lantern Aeos, and Sneaky for Walker Enn. Enn liked Sneaky, but changed the word “Sneak” to “Stealth,” because it’s less pejorative. The Captain liked Mercantile. Aeos returned Witch Hunter and explained that she wouldn’t want to focus on driving the darkness out of just people– she wants it to be a more generalized thing.

This was a good lead-in to talking about the Darkness, which we decided as a group is an entity, a real thing that seeps into people and places and convinces them to turn away from Sola’s light and do bad things. It is subtle evil, though– pervasive, convincing… but rarely overt. I can already see that I will have many challenges in this group, as I cannot simply pit them against a Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) and make it obvious he’s their target.

We also discussed some of the more mundane adversaries the party faces– in particular, the oppressive, yet advanced, Empire that unites many of the Island nations.

Finally, we got underway. We picked up where we’d left off, and the party decided to explore the Fruit Market, a place on Glass of Sands where you can now buy nearly any type of technology you might wish for. Professor A was described as disappearing into the Fruit Market to do some “shopping,” presumably for bones.

Some highlights:

  • They ran into Naga and the Captain re-hired her onto the ship.
  • Enn investigated the vinyards on the belowside.
  • The party spoke to Mayor Kelvine, who is a charismatic fellow… who is probably lying through his teeth.
  • The Mayor and Captain Sparrow are old friends. He gave her a writ of salvage if she wants to go off to check out Smallski.
  • He set the Captain to meet someone named Marius… who may be the leader of the terrorists.
  • Aeos made contact with “Jehanne,” the woman who collects bread for the poor in the city (perhaps.)
  • Naga stumbled into a few dozen drinks and lifted a bunch of shiny things.
  • Aeos spoke to Donovan while Enn investigated the upper rafters of the Tax Agency building.
  • Donovan thought at first that Aeos had seen his dead wife, and was surprised to learn she was speaking of Elder Lantern Ethyl.
  • Enn met a young lad who looks startlingly like her long-lost younger brother. He’s the monkey-keeper in the Tax Agency.
  • Enn and Naga decided to track the goggle-wearing Dr. Glassner, first at his home, then at his lab at the university. Naga distracted his students while Enn sneaked down to the sub-basement lab.
  • And that’s where Enn saw the Crystal for the first time.

We ended there for now, with a number of leads and some fascinating stuff happening for the party.

Solo Playtesting for Monster Under the Bed

Posted in Game Design at 8:53 am by Stephanie Bryant

The next game I’m working on is called Monster Under the Bed. It’s a cooperative card game for families– about age 8 and up, I think. The basic premise is “you are preparing to fight off the monster under the bed.” Everyone needs to have at least 1 good dream worth about 9 points or more in order for the players to win. There are three phases, with the monster deck reshuffling between phases.

I playtested it by myself today at lunch. Dealt out three players’ hands and the monster deck. Here are my notes:

  • Monster deck is too large. Needs to be 1/2 the size (it was 180 cards, needs to be ~90).
  • Player decks have too many actions and not enough items, at least for the third phase.
  • Phase 3 needs actions– I seem to have forgotten to put any in, so every card is a Nightmare.
  • Need to be more clear about things like who wins in a tie (the Monster), and whether you can choose not to take a monster Okay Thought card or not. I need to playtest this in both directions– I think making it optional means players get to make more strategic decisions, but it’s going to result in stagnating Dream cards towards the end of the first phase.

I have a few more notes on this, of course, but these are the bare-bones. I am going to retool parts of it and try to play it with my family in a couple of days.


SS Placeholder Shenanigans, part 2

Posted in Gaming at 2:55 pm by Mortaine

futuramaNotes from the SS Placeholder Fate Accelerated game from last week, wrapping up our Innabelle 5 delivery of a giant land shark with a forehead-mounted laser. 

Arrival at Innabelle 5, contacted by the spaceport traffic control. Kiray learns this is a resort planet, so changes into her bikini (mandatory uniform for female crewmembers of the SS Placeholder when visiting resort planets… or so the Captain told her on her first day), and gets her inflatable beachball. She preps the truck and loads the shark onto it. Catburg, Jr. comes on board to take delivery of shark and gun. Catburg is depicted as an adorable kitten, being one of the cat-people races.

A plant-man arrives and talks about an escort job back to the mansion, taking Catburg, Jr. back to his father’s house. We agree, for a price. This is an overland joruney through a safari planet, after all.

Alain teleports the rental SUV through our delivery truck on Day 1. We’re heading into a more dangerous area. The truck is out of gas, so Alain and Kiray go investigate. They realize one of the fuel tanks disconnected from the truck, so they head off to recover it. Alain gives Catburg Jr. a box to play with while discussing the situation with the captain. This keeps the kid occupied until we return. The Captain makes the plant-guy pass out (drugs, yo) as a distraction from our troubles… something about not wanting him to know we’re stranded in the middle of dangerous territory.

Sidebar: We create a new ship aspect: cameras everywhere. It turns out, each of us has our own security system installed in the ship. The Captain’s is for voyeuristic purposes, Alain’s is because he’s nosy and needs to know everything, and Kiray’s is because she thinks she’s the security officer.

We fix the truck and get underway. Take a mid-day nap. Plant-guy wakes up and demands answers. We wake up and get moving again– Kiray gets a snoot full of stimulants and becomes kind of, um, puppyish.

Alain drives the truck with the land shark, Kiray, and the plant guy. Capt Steele takes the Escalade with Cat Jr. and the beachball.

Three large land sharks sneak up on us and attack! Kiray climbs onto the top of the truck and fires wildly while Jr. fires on one shark and hits. Kiray tumbles to the side of the truck but holds on. Alain runs over one shark on the side of the truck. Another comes up, and Kiray leaps onto it and punches it into submission. Capt. climbs onto the side of the Escalade and fires at the wounded shark.

The plant guy hyperventilates, sending pollen everywhere, distracting Alain and causing him to sneeze. Alain tries to send the plant guy through the wall, but fails. Badly. The truck goes end over end in a spatially inertial wreck. Alain has lost his phase device and it looks like the land shark might have gotten free. Alain is hanging kind of half in half out of the bottom of the truck (if you’ve ever seen a bad 3-D modeling job in a video game, you know what I mean).

Kiray pulls Alain out of the truck, defying physics itself to do so.

The captain takes a ‘roid ball and grabs the land shark to throw into the cage. He then hits it with a downer, and falls asleep in front of the cage door (Aspect: fails upwards).

We arrive at the mansion and reunite Catubrg Jr. and Sr., and Jr’s bros. The plant-nanny is snarky and tries to undermine our authority. Kiray throws the beachball at the plant-nanny and knocks it over, humiliating it.

We join the party and enjoy food and drink. It’s lovely. Captain gets drunk on champagne.

We toast to Junior. Alain is still trying to figure out how he still has legs.

We return to our ship.

Pirate girl is hailing us, we put her on, mute her. She yells a bit, then looks smug. We stream video game porn of a pirate girl to her viewscreen, then log off. Alain records her audio, and then her reaction, which is to stare agape, then blush furiously.

We call the home office, Tabitha Winns. She agrees to funnel more jobs our way, reluctantly and without even looking at our numbers. Alain rats out Capt. Svennie’s attempted sabotage. He may have been sabotaging more than our ship, and is getting employment elsewhere. Capt. Steele suggests our poor numbers in the past were due to this. Either way, we’re still employed.

Kiray listens to the pirate girl’s recording, who has been waiting for us for a day and a half! Very upset, etc. Then she’s saying that obviously, we’ve accepted her offer to work for her, and get “top position on the ship,” and “some kind of punishment.” And all we have to do is say yes to get the best position in the ship.

In retrospect, we seem to have sent her a stream of the best “position” on the ship, which she ordered shut down.

Incoming: Someone bounced a job off Space Race’s servers to make it seem like it’s from Space Race. It’s a job offer coming in, if it’s worth our time…. Hm… maybe.

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