Thursday, August 27, 2009

What are robots made of?

Over the last couple days I have been pondering on what robots are made of for the game idea I mentioned in the previous post White Collar Robots. What shaped the aspects of a robot are the mechanics ideas that I think can push the flavor of the game to the players. I'll do a post on those as I iron them out, however, this is that a robot is.

Robot Name - This is what other robots call your robot.

Model Number - This is what humans call your robot.

Superstructure - This is your robot's frame, containing power and four modules.

Power Grid - This is the power cable that runs from your robot to the wall.

Internal Battery - This is the power your robot uses when not plugged into the wall.

Modules (0001 through 0100) - These are the four modules for your robot's parts from the following list.

Emergency Control - Allows a robot to react to emergency situations.
Environmental Regulator - Allows a robot to operate in extreme environments.
Human Interface - Allows a robot to directly communicate with humans.
Manipulator - Allows a robot to manipulate objects and its environment.
Mobility Unit - Allows a robot to move around in its environment.
Programmable Memory - Allows a robot to handle large volumes of complex data.
Supply Feeder - Allows a robot to bring in supplies for manipulation.

Quirks (0001 through 0101) - These are alterations to your robot due to repairs during play.

Job History - Your robot has both a past job (what it was built to do) and a current job (what it was not built to do).

Insight - This is your robot's understanding of humans.

Confusion Effect - This is what happens when your robot gets confused by human behavior.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

White Collar Robots

This is a roleplaying game design idea that came to me the other day when I saw a billboard that read, "We do not hire robots."

You are a robot.

You are very good at what you were designed to do.

You work for a large corporation in a shop/maintenance capacity.

Due to the economic downturn the corporation was forced to let large numbers humans go. They 'promoted' you to fill their place in the white collar environment of the back office. There you must attempt to get your job done, lacking any skill in that particular field, while you deal with the emotions of your remaining human coworkers.

Will you get the job done?

Will you get along with humans who hate their new robot coworkers?

Or, will you get fired?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This just back... from GenCon!

When I got to GenCon I go for two reasons. I want to try out new games I have never played before or ones that I own but have nobody at home to play them with. The other reason I go is to buy new games and talk to the designers who created them.

These are the games I purchased at GenCon Indy 2009. If you see any you like follow the links for more info on where you can buy copies for yourself.

A Penny for My Thoughts by Paul Tevis (buy at IPR)
Penny is a story telling game of lost memories and how a technique created at The Orphic Institute for Advanced Studies. Each player has suffered the loss of key memories from their past and need to follow the prescribed technique to regain them. Through asking questions of the other players and offering pennies each patient will be given their lost memories back.

This is one of the books I had on my buy list before heading to the convention. While there I was even able to get Paul Tevis to sign it for me.

Chronica Feudalis by Jeremy Keller
Become a hero from the 12th century. Chronica Feudalis is supposedly the manuscript from that time when the monks of a long-forgotten priory would roleplay the adventures of fabled knights, outlaws and other various individuals affecting the world they lived in. If you want a light roleplaying game for playing during the 12th century, to be heroic and rely on your morals and your trusty blade, where magic doesn't exist and politicking amongst barons and lords is essential pick up this game.

This one was a last minute splurge on Sunday afternoon. I like the time period and I like light rule systems. This game fills both itches.

Cold City by Malcolm Craig (buy at IPR)
If your idea of fun is centered around history, paranoia and a healthy dose of stereotypes Cold City is for you. World War II has ended and as it turns out there were atrocities committed in the name of research. The fallout of these experiments wander the streets at night in the form of 'Alternatives', monsters of occult and genetic mutation. But that's not the core of this sinister world. The nations involved in WWII, who took control districts in Berlin, are up to secret machinations through the use of the Reserve Police Agency.

I've seen this one before the con but it wasn't high on my priority list until I played a session of it at Games on Demand on Saturday afternoon. It quickly became a must have.

Now I want the semi-related game Hot War by the same creator.

Colonial Gothic (revised edition) by Richard Iorio (buy at IPR)
You live on the coast of the American colonies in 1775. Tensions are high with British soldiers keeping the peace and colonists talking of revolution in hushed voices. The crops aren't growing as they had the year before and other strange things have been happening. Rumors of witchcraft are growing. And, most recently the family on the edge of the forest had a child they will not allow anyone else to cast their gaze on.

I own the first edition of this game but this GenCon the author had his revised rulebook for sale. It's loaded with many awesome things that were not in the first book so I planned on getting it while there. If you like horror in historical locals or just like the revolutionary time period pick up this game.

Corporate Espionage by NOBCD (buy at IPR)
Pit your corporation against someone else's with this zany, 'non-collectable', card game. Each player needs their own copy of the game but it is cheap and with all the cool stuff (plastic tokens, plastic scorecard, dry erase marker and a handy bag to keep them in) that comes with it you can take it anywhere to play on the spur of the moment.

This one was also a splurge. Because I don't know anyone who has their own copy of the game I picked up two copies. Now I have another game to take on trips when larger games might just get in the way.

How to Host a Dungeon by Tony Dowler
Have you ever wondered where that set of caves the dwarves live in came from or what lived in it before them? Have you ever wondered why there was a temple to some forgotten god in some deep dark hole in the ground, beneath the city that collapsed in the cataclysm? This solo-play game comes on a set of letter-sized cards that walk you through the process of building the dungeon, from the water that carved it out of rock, to the dwarven civilization that took up residence in it, and even to the cataclysm that caved in crucial parts which ended their civilization.

I wasn't sure this game would even be available at this year's GenCon but when I saw it I had to have it. Ever since I heard about it last year I thought it would make for some great fun. After all, I've drawn dungeons on graph paper ever since I was a kid with my D&D rulebooks.

InSpectres by Jared A. Sorensen (buy at IPR)
Start a franchise to investigate the supernatural with this game that has a striking resemblance to the Ghostbusters movie. It's zany. It's bizarre. It's a game where you play characters in a city that has supernatural beings pop up on a regular basis. To understand just how crazy this game gets just look at the sheets in the back of the book. There is a character sheet and a franchise sheet that both look like files in manila folders. Each character also has an ID badge. Then the last page of the book is the standard employee, non-disclosure agreement.

Ever since this one came out I've heard more than a few podcasters rave about this one. I wasn't sure it would be at the con either but when I saw it I picked up a copy. I'm not a huge Ghostbusters fan but this game is so crazy I had to have it.

Lacuna by Jared A. Sorensen (buy at IPR) (Looks like it might be temporarily out of stock now.)
Salvador Dali mixed with The Matrix and the Dark City make up the strangeness that is Lacuna. Characters are Mystery Agents who delve into the Blue City to deal with what Control sends them for. It's a city formed, or rather deformed, by the collection of human minds interacting with one another. The longer the characters exist in the Blue City and the more risky the actions they face the higher their heart rates go. With luck they will get out after having accomplished their mission rather than ejecting early to save their lives.

Lacuna is another game I have had on my wish list for a while though I hadn't seen the book's insides before. What stuck me when I did was that the book itself and character sheet convey the feel of a twisted world where it's not too uncommon to witness a man in a tux, lunching on a bicycle outside a cafe.

Mortal Coil: Revised by Brennan Taylor (buy at IPR)
Build a magical world with your friends using Mortal Coil. Unlike other games that take place in magical worlds this game is just the framework for interacting there. It does not have defined classes of what characters can or cannot do. It doesn't have lengthy chapters of spell lists. It doesn't even have tomes of creatures for the characters to encounter. It's a game where you get to build the world you play while you play.

Just before I ordered the forst edition of this one, I heard a revised edition with clarifications and such was in the works. So, I waited until the latest edition appeared in print.

I think it's going to be my 'go to' game for playing in Harry Potter's magical England. Well, that and many other mystical places.

Mortal Coil was another game I was able to get signed by the designer.

Tales of the Fisherman's Wife (ashcan edition) by Julia Bond Ellingboe
During the Edo period (1600-1868) of Japan's history there were many myths that helped people live their lives. This game is based on one of those myths that was etched into woodcut artwork more than a few times. It's the story of a husband, his wife and the obake (spirit) that interferes with their relationship when the fisherman goes out to sea. The most famous of the woodcuts is one depicting octopi chasing and having sexual relations with the fisherman's wife. This game is about the relationship of the husband and wife as they deal with the obake and each other. There are millions of obake they could face that range from spirits of common items to beings such as Kitsune, the fox, trickster spirit.

This is a game created to occupy the niche of story games concerning tensions in the relationship of a husband and wife. It's still in ashcan form and not its final form. Since I am intrigued with Japanese mythology this game was a must have. I bought one of the last two copies they had at their booth.

Time & Temp: Unbound Edition by Epidiah Ravachol
Something is being changes in time and it needs put back to the same way it was for the present to come out as it has, or will... or might have. Your characters are temps. They work for a temp agency that services the Browne Chronometric Engineering Corporation.

This is another really new game. If I knew it existed before this con I probably would have gotten it back then, but as time goes and how I find out about things, I was told about it at the Design Matters booth where Gregor Hutton, designer of Best Friends and 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars, described it to me.

A time travel game would have impressed me but this one knocked my socks off. I have file folder 09-022. Each copy has it's own number. Contained in side is a letter from the Marigold Staffing temp agency welcoming the prospective player aboard. There is a General Managent Policy booklet and a Browne Chronometric Engineering, Inc. Employee Handbook. Finally there is a stack of loose-leaf pages of rules in the Unbound Edition which also contains the game's matrix and incident report slips.

Time & Temp's form definitely reinforces it's play.

That concludes the list of games I came home with. There were many more I wished I was able to pick up but for one reason or another I didn't. Some sold out too fast and some I just didn't stumble across or think of while in the massive vendor hall. Anyway, this year was my year for bringing home a stack of indie games. I'll probably do the same next year as my local shop doesn't carry anything other than Dungeons & Dragons and now Pathfinder. Oh, and did I mention Dungeons & Dragons? I don't know if he knows any other games exist. It's something to ponder.

Once I get the games I brought home played I will try and get some post-play reports posted here on the blog.

And again check out Indie Press Revolution for these and many other indie and small press games.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 Con Plans

It's getting close to con season for me and I am chomping at the bit to get out there and play the games I don't normally get a chance to. My Saturday gaming group normally plays some sort of D&D and at cons I like to try out other games that they might not want to play. It gives me reasons to go to cons, however this year I'm hoping to meet some of the podcasters I listen to all the time and some of the game designers of those indie games I've been drawn to lately.

The first con I'm planning on getting to, even for just the Saturday, is Origins. Normally this is the con I do on an annual basis but GenCon sounded so amazing last year that I didn't want to miss out this year. I'm going down with a few friends and some guys from our FLGS for Saturday so we can check out the vendors. A couple of us might try and get into a game or two also. Not too sure on details at this point.

After Origins is GenCon. I'm heading out there for the entire weekend with two friends from my gaming group. We all have out schedules filled out for the most part. We'll be trying out the new Pathfinder Sociery on Firday and Saturday evenings and we'll be playing in some RPGA games in the morning on both of those two day. Other than that I've got some scheduled that aren't D&D or even like D&D just to find something new and fun. I am also eyeing some seminars but they might get skipped if I can get into some indie games I have but haven't played yet on Friday and Saturday afternoon.

GenCon Schedule
8/13 8:00AM - NMN0902135 - Mecha Ball (Mekton Zeta)
8/13 2:00PM - RPG0904142 - Burt Fedora and the Warmaidens of Mars (Ubiquity Hollow Earth)8/14 3:00PM - SEM0903777 - Designing Dungeons with Monty Cook
8/14 8:00AM - RPGA0905800 - SPEC1-3 Ghosts of the Past (D&D 4E)
8/14 2:00PM - RPG0902980 - Games On Demand (indie games)
8/14 5:00PM - SEM0904081 - Paizo's Pathfinder Adventure Path Q&A
8/14 6:00PM - RPG0904104 - #29 The Devil We Know Part 1: Shipyard Rats (Pathfinder RPG)
8/15 8:00AM - RPGA0905768 - CORE1-13 The Fate of Camp 15 (D&D 4E)
8/15 2:00PM - RPG0902982 - Games On Demand (indie games)
8/15 5:00PM - SEM0904087 - Paizo's Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Q&A
8/15 6:00PM - RPG0904116 - #30 The Devil We Know Part 2: Cassomir's Locker (Pathfinder RPG)
8/16 9:00AM - RPG0902105 - Night of the Living Brat Pack (AFMBE)

Once GenCon is over I want to get to Con on the Cob in October. It's a loval con for me and I missed it last year also. I guess, from what others have said, it's a really laid back con for people who just want to have a plast playing games. It should be a good one.

There was one other con I really wanted to get to but I'm going to pass. I need to conserve funds so I can get to the ones I have planned already. It's a little one called Camp Nerdly. I heard about it last year and it looksed like a great trip, camping in Virginia, gaming and meeting new people. The con is cheap but its cost plus the fuel to get there is a bit much after my Memorial Day family trip. Camp Nerdly is the last weekend in May. I'll just have to try it out next year. Hopefully nothing will get in the way.

I'll have to post my thoughts on each con when I get back from them.