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Dreamed last night about discovering that a bunch of boardgames published in the 1970s had actually been designed in coordination with the CIA. The various look-up tables in the games were actually designed so that agents could use them to send coded messages. I woke up thinking “Oh, that’s what the Random Harlot Table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide was all about!” (Yeah, my brain leapt from boardgames to RPGs.) Remember, though: They’re only 30% likely to have useful information!

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A dice mechanic looking for a game:

Assume an RPG where you roll a die, or dice, of varying size to check for success. Like, the dice range from d4 to d12, and you’re looking to get a high number or sum. I think the Cortex system uses something like this — roll a few dice, keep the best two, add them.

So, what if there’s a mechanic that lets you, after you’ve rolled, take out one die and replace it with a re-rolled die one size smaller? Like, you’re rolling a d10, but it comes up crappy (you rolled like a 1 or a 2 or something), so you do a thing (invoke an Aspect, spend a Plot Point, whatever) and you get to yank that die and re-roll with a d8. Odds are pretty good you’ll beat a 2, but not as good as with a d10. This could represent some kind of desperation, a gamble against ever-worsening odds.

I dunno, though. It’s still missing something. I mean, if you’ve got any sense of probabilities, you know how to bet in that re-roll, right? The average roll on a d8 is 4.5, so it only really pays to re-roll that d10 if it comes out 3 or lower. Does this have any teeth to it?

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According to someone on RPG.net, Margaret Weis Productions is discontinuing their Battlestar Galactica and Serenity RPGs, and you can get the PDF versions massively discounted on DriveThruRPG.com, but only if you buy today. I see that the Serenity main rulebook, for example, is now $10 instead of $40. (Isn’t $40 kind of a lot for a PDF?) Anyway, I decided not to buy anything, but I figured other people might be interested:

Oh, wait, the BSG Quickstart Guide is free (usually $10). Might as well snag that….

Mini Six

Dec. 8th, 2010 02:09 am
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Anyone out there looking for some lightweight role-playing rules, but not up for all this newfangled indie hippy gaming stuff, might want to check out Mini Six, a stripped-down version of the Open D6 rules. (Open D6 itself is an open version of the rules behind the old West End Games Ghostbusters and Star Wars games.)

The Mini Six rules are downloadable for free as a 36-page PDF. Only about 20 pages of that is rules; the rest is five sample settings:

  • “Perdition”, Firefly with the serial numbers filed off
  • “Rust Moons of Castia”, a fantasy setting (probably based on some other setting that I don’t recognize)
  • “Farnsley’s Phantasm Investigations”, Victorian steampunk Ghostbusters
  • “Precint ’77”, a ’70s cop show
  • “Imperium in Revolt”, thinly-disguised Star Wars

Also, the downloads page has a link for another free PDF containing “The Door to Infinity”, a Doctor Who-like setting. And there’s a fan submissions page with a couple more free settings: an old-fashioned radio-style sci-fi setting, and a modern-day zombie game.

Game names

Feb. 28th, 2010 10:43 pm
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Hey, indie role-playing game designers! I love many of your games, but there’s this one thing’s been driving me nuts, and I think you could maybe do something about it: When you’re coming up with a name for your game, could you consider that people interested in it are going to do Google searches, not just for the game’s home page, but for online discussions?

Take Vincent Baker as your model in this. When you google for Dogs in the Vineyard, Kill Puppies for Satan, or Mechaton, you get links pointing to pages about those games.

But what if you’ve been hearing about this awesome SF RPG called Diaspora? Not only do none of those links point to anything having to do with the game in question, but one of them is about an entirely different game! The same goes for Shock:.

Worse yet is a game I found mentioned today on an RPG forum — Project: Vanguard. Without the colon, this was the name of a US Naval Research Labs project from the 1950s, with the goal of launching a satellite. Not only does a simple Google search not turn up anything about the game, but “vanguard” is a common enough term in RPG names and discussions that even putting the name in quotes and adding “rpg”, while it does turn up good links, also turns up a lot of false positives.

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Shortly before going to bed last night, I saw a thread on Story-Games about cobbling together an RPG based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics.

Result: Last night, I dreamed that I was reading the sixth Scott Pilgrim book, and there was a bit where one character says of another, “She decided not to show up since she’s already got two minor consequences.”

Though now that I’ve run the idea through my mostly-awake brain, I suppose Teenagers from Outer Space would make a good starting point. On the other hand, the video game aspects of the books would work pretty well with a leveling-up system like d20 or Microlite20.

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Via [livejournal.com profile] jimhenley, here's the table of contents of Green Ronin's book Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Titles I own (or have owned) are in bold, titles I've played are in italic, titles I've both are both:

Big long list )
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I’ve been saying for a while now that I wouldn’t feel a need for an Intel Mac till Will Wright’s Spore came out next year, figuring that it would be a desktop computer game. Turns out I won’t need one even then: Versions of Spore will be coming out for the Nintendo DS (confirmed) and Wii (maybe), the first of which I’ve already got and the second I’m planning to buy.

And Wright’s supposedly been talking about having the DS work with the Wii over WiFi for Spore.
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For the artistically inclined in the NYC area: There’s gonna be a Sketchcrawl this Sunday, at the Museum of Natural History, starting at 11 AM, in the Hall of North American Mammals. Meet Enrico Casarosa and Danny Gregory.

And for the rest of you, watch this amazingly cool Xbox commercial that Microsoft decided not to use. (via [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia)
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[livejournal.com profile] akawil and I both, separately, bought We ♥ Katamari on the way home. At the same store! At least they take returns.

We spent about three hours playing through the first ten or twelve levels. The ordinary levels seem a lot easier, since we’re used to the game play by now. Some of the special new levels are tough. The fire level is clearly going to take me another few tries.

There goes any hope I might have had of getting anything else done for the next week or so.
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Katamari Damacy? Addictive. Very, very addictive. Even the music is addictive.

[livejournal.com profile] akawil and I seem to be stuck on, um, I forget if it’s Star #4 or #5. The one where you have to go from 10cm to 1.5m in twelve minutes. We’re getting close.

My right thumb was red and swollen Sunday night. It’s been a couple of decades since I played a console game compulsively. And the controls are different now, much more involved and complex. My left wrist feels like I’ve been working out with weights.
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As if I didn’t have enough distractions, something new: Katamari Damacy for the PS2. People were playing it at [livejournal.com profile] feiran’s party at [livejournal.com profile] bigscary’s place last night, and it looked so cool and charming that I had to get a copy, especially since it’s only $20. The GameSpot review sums it up pretty well. You play an anthropomorphic dung beetle, rolling a sticky sphere around, collecting objects that make your sphere bigger and bigger. You start out tiny, collecting coins and nail polish bottles and shogi tiles, and wind up huge, grabbing up buildings, ocean liners, kaiju, entire islands. Amazing, bizarre fun, and a catchy soundtrack. You’ll want to play with vibrating controllers, for the tactile feedback as you run over and into things.

April 2017



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