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200-word Game: Escape Pod One Launching

pdf-download-iconDownload as PDF.

pdf-download-icon 日本でのダウンロード (Download in Japanese). Translation by Django.

pdf-download-icon Español (in nanoludoteca: el titulo es Cápsula de Escape Uno). Translation by Juan Manuel Avila.

September, 2015 Update: I wrote a blog post for Contessa about the process of designing a quick game!

Winner of the 200 Word Challenge

Developer Statement: I woke up after a bad dream and decided it would make an interesting game. I wrote during my lunch break, and playtested at a local game store in the evening. We playtested several times, hammering it out and injecting some fun into it. 24 hours after the dream, it was down to 200 words and I sent it in. Escape Pod One Launching is a tense, cruel little game where you play astronauts with thirty seconds to get to the escape pods, or die. The problem? Not enough pods for everyone, and time is running out!

Escape Pod One Launching

By, Stephanie Bryant

License: Creative Commons: By

“Self-Destruct activated. Escape Pod One launching in 30 seconds….”

Objective: Be in the pod, alive, when it launches.

Set out one Escape Pod token per player, minus one. Pick a starting player.

Everyone starts with 4 Oxygen Tank tokens; hold only one Tank token in only one hand at a time.

On your turn:

  1. Set a timer for 30 seconds, then hide it.
  2. To take an action, throw a Tank on the table and narrate the action:
  • Move to a pod (required to escape).
  • Get in the pod (required to escape).
  • Launch the pod early.
  • Overcome an obstacle.
  • Destroy one Tank from a living player.
  1. If it’s not your turn, you may interrupt the current player to add an obstacle (costs a Tank).
  2. When you have no Tanks, you can’t take actions.
  3. When the timer sounds, the pod launches, with or without you.
  4. If the pod launches with you inside it, you win! Take a Pod token and select the next player.
  5. If it launches without you, you die. Play passes to your left, skipping anyone dead or who’s already gone.

Escape Pod Two launching in 30 seconds….”             

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9 thoughts on “200-word Game: Escape Pod One Launching”

  1. Looks great, and would love to try it, but I’m not sure I quite understand the rules correctly.

    Each player can only escape on their own turn (they get one chance) and they have to do that by performing a sequence of actions, each of which costs them an oxygen tank. So theoretically, you could use your turn to move to the current pod (1 tank), get in the pod (1 tank) and then sit out the rest of the thirty seconds. However, other players can sabotage you by paying tanks at any time, which then requires you to pay a tank of your own to undo their sabotage.

    Presumably you can’t win if their is an un-overcome obstacle, even if you are in the pod when the timer goes off? Also, how do you resolve the order in which events happen? Is it just the fastest player first, so that an action, once declared, has immediately occurred?

    Would be nice to see a commentary of any issues that you encountered during playtesting.

    Well done on winning the prize!

  2. I kind of answered similar questions on Google+, so I’ll copy/paste my reply here:

    Your turn starts when the timer is set for 30 seconds and hidden. When the timer goes off, the escape pod launches automatically, with you or not. Your turn ends when the escape pod launches, whether that’s the automatic launch or because you spent a tank to launch it.

    There are some motor skills needed for the game– you can’t use a tank if it’s not in hand, and you can only hold one tank in your hand at a time (this is so you can’t do a double-drop and get to the pod and get in without anyone having a chance to stop you).

    For each obstacle, you must spend a tank to overcome it. If 4 players throw obstacles, you are not going to survive the game. That’s cool– that means you have 4 tanks in hand, and 4 people who just identified themselves as targets for your sabotage! In fact, each of them is now in a position where, if you sabotage them instead of overcoming your obstacle, they will only have 2 tanks for their own turns– the bare minimum needed to survive the game!

    Players can throw an obstacle on you all the way until the pod launches. So, you can be inside the pod and they throw an obstacle on you (“the launch doors won’t open!”) and you can still lose. Launching early costs a tank, but prevents further obstacles.

    On your turn, if you plan to survive, you must get to the pod, and get into it– each of these costs you one tank. So, you have 2 tanks left for other actions, including launching early (so no one can stop you with an obstacle), sabotaging other tanks, and throwing up obstacles. If you realize you aren’t going to have enough tanks to get into the pod, you can save your remainders, die, and use them later on other players (dead players can still throw obstacles onto other players).

    Insist on narrating how someone throws an obstacle at you! It burns down the clock.

    It’s rare to survive to launch in this game, but if you do, you get to pick the next player. That’s awesome, because that opens up the opportunity for some quick negotiations at the table, while you offer not to sabotage someone on their turn if they promise to pass the play to you next.

    In the fiction, all the turns take place at the same time, but it works better to go one player at a time.

    Because everyone starts with the same resources, the game is a bit like Tic Tac Toe– it’s rare to have a winner. More often, everyone dies in hilarious and cruel ways.

    It’s a good game for backstabbing your friends.

    It’s a bad game if you like to win.

    It’s like Munchkin, with a hard time limit.

    I’m writing something for the ConTessa blog about the process, and I’ll talk about playtesting there. That’ll be cross-linked here once it goes live.

  3. Hi 🙂
    The obstackle prevents me from any action ? I mean , can i destroy others tanks without overcoming obstacles ?
    Can i play obstacles reactively ? I mean if i see someone do an action so i throw an obstacle and this makes him stop ?
    And finaly, can i play obstacles even when ive already won ?

  4. Good questions!

    Obstacles prevent you from getting in the pod. You can destroy a tank from another player if you’d rather do that.

    The obstacle has to be thrown before they do their thing. Timing is important! This is why you can only use one hand for throwing your tanks out, and you can only have 1 tank in hand at a time. After you throw the obstacle, they can’t get to the pod.

    If you have launched already and you still have tanks left, you can play obstacles.

  5. Perfect! Thak you for response- i am going to try it out with our dnd group right away 🙂

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