Tuesday, January 09, 2007

George's Children II

Playtest of this game has now propelled me into the ALMOST ready to publish place. If you ever visit storygames.com or the forge, my latest playtest notes are up.

But if you don't, they appear below.

I will be running two sessions of this game at the local con (Feb 16-19) and after that I'll be self-publishing the game.

George's Children is an original game design by Jon Hodgson and jim pinto.

I've now playtested this game four times, and it's really taking shape. We had a great game on Friday, but I'm still having trouble with the economy of the tokens.

In George's Children, the players take on the roles of children (ages 7 to 12) in an apocolyptic world devoid of adults. The true cause of the apocolypse isn't important, but the tone of the game is determined by the way the players narrate the game. Told in five acts, this GM-less game is run with no prep-time and very little paperwork. The events take place over the course of ONE DAY in the life of the characters... who do not need to know each other before play begins, but who find cause (during Act II) to journey together.

To Play: You need only four colors of tokens and a method (perhaps pennies) of flipping coins. Tokens with two different sides are ideal.

The Act structure is as follows.

Act I: Breakfast
Act II: Rumors
Act III: Hero's Journey
Act IV: Finale
Act V: Bedtime

In each act, the children must embellish different details of the game, narrating and advancing the story as little or as much as they can within the confines of the rules. Using their two stats (memory and imagination), the children can either Forge Bonds (reduce worry) with one another or Forge Confidence (gaining glory for themselves). When a child forges a bond with another character, he reduces the worry of both himself and the target player. When a child forges confidence, he sets a challenge for himself, that the other players can complicate by expending Memory or Imagination. If he succeeds, a point of Glory is gained (regardless of how complicated the act becomes).

Worry is gained each time a child fails at anything and each time a child "refreshes" his token pool (memory and imagination).

In Act I, the children must forage for food, each player narrating in Initiative order (youngest to oldest). In Act II, the children each tell a rumor (in reverse Initiative Order) of some THE that they have heard about. The THE is the thing that poses some sort of obstacle of the group and sets the plot for the story that session. There are two methods for determining which plot is most likely... spending Imagination... or voting... which is determined before play begins. Once the plot is determined, the children begin their quest while on their way to face the THE.

Act III is where the children take turns (in Initative order) either Forging bonds or confidence, progressing the story as they go. Once a child gains five worry, he is out of the game (although the player may still be involved in Act IV). When a child reaches five glory, Act IV is entered and the child who gained the last glory begins telling the tale of the finale.

NOTE: In the Lord of the Flies version, play continues until all but one child has five worry. In the Extended game, play continues until everyone has either five (or more) glory or five worry.

In Act IV (during the finale), each player (in turn) details one fact about the conclusion for each point of Glory gained. They do not spend it all at once, but rather detail one each, before play passes to the left. The player who gained five glory (in the standard version) gets to tell the first and final details of the finale. While it is inappropriate to maim or kill a player's CHARACTER during the finale, players that know one another well enough can embellish as much as they like. A fact (in Act IV) cannot advance the story to the point of no-return, but once a fact has been uttered, it cannot be undone by a successive player's embellishment, either. The facts should have something to do with the THE and should further the aims of the story. Beyond this, there are no hard and fast rules for how glory is used. Because there is no chance of failure, however, Glory is immensely more powerful than Memory or Imagination.

In Act V, each player is allowed to detail one aspect of the character to his left (in Initiative order) for each point of Worry accrued during play. Each player takes a turn detailing ALL of the aspects of the character to his left... as they would affect the child THAT EVENING.

During my most recent playtest, the story we told was incredibily entertaining, extremely dark, and (I hope) well-received. The hard-line difference between Imagination and Memory has finally been established thanks to this playtest. Because Aaron and I know each other, I was able to kill his character during Act IV and Vasco's detailing of my character during Act V was brilliant. Aaron's explanation of Josh's character's fate was equally brilliant.

I think I only need to play this a couple more times before I'm ready to publish everything.

Playtest: Josh, Vasco, Aaron, jim

****

I can't go into too many details yet, but Jon Hodgson and I are developing an Indie RPG about a bleak future where children are left to fend for themselves. The game is sleak and elegant and will not play like the typical material I've designed before.

For instance, everything you need to know about your character can be summed up on an index card and there are never more than 4 stats in the game.

I'll be running it at the local convention this weekend, and hope to have a report about the game soon.

I realize that my fan-base just dropped from 12 to 6, because this is not d20-related information.

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