JiffyCon, arcade gaming, etc.

13 11 2007

So, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be catching a flight to Pennsylvania in the wee hours tomorrow morning. Once there, I’ll be hopping in a car with Shreyas and we’ll road trip it up to western Massachusetts, where we’ll be crashing with the completely awesome Josh and Casey! And then, on Saturday: JiffyCon!

I’m excited, because other than a chargen playtest for Shreyas’ game Skyflower, and the playtest for It’s Complicated (which I’m pretty sure doesn’t even count), I’ve never played a single “indie” RPG. My experience is all WW and TSR (yes, I haven’t played D&D since WotC bought them out.. Man I’m old) and WotC and Palladium. I haven’t even read any published indie games— just stuff in The RPG Bakery’s Oven for critique, and to give feedback on stuff my friends are working on. (Speaking of: Fingers on the Firmament and The Mist-Robed Gate are unspeakable hotness. Dancing lost and alone through the stars and emo wuxia where you stab character sheets with knives? HECK yes.)

Anyway, I digress. I’m really looking forward to getting my feet wet and seeing how all of this innovative game design actually works in play. Plus! Josh has expressed interest in getting a playtest of Addict going, which is super exciting to me. I’d like to get a rough PDF laid out today, but I have so much to do to get ready for tomorrow, I’m not sure I’ll have time.

Also: Jason Petrasko and I are working on a completely awesome project together! If it goes well, it’ll make PDF distribution much slicker– it’ll be easier to find games you’d love to play, and easier for designers to get feedback from people playing said games. I’ll probably talk more about this once the barebones site is actually up– so probably after JiffyCon. If you want to know more and you’re there, though, poke me about it and I’ll be happy to go on a happy ramble.

Addict: First draft DONE!

11 11 2007

I’m completely psyched! All initial work on Addict is done. I’m sure it will need some fine-tuning once it gets playtested, but all the basics and the guts of the game are all there. Please check it out and let me know what you think; there’s the big shift in rules (from the three different point mechanics to the unified balancing thing, and new rules to encourage working together), and of course, lots of technical writing, which I’m not convinced is my strong suit.

My goal is to get either this or It’s Complicated playtested before Shreyas and I go on our monumental JiffyCon road trip on Wednesday. Will it happen? Time will tell! I’m really hoping so. Complicated is rough, because it takes a minimum of four players; Addict may be rough because chargen is so involved. Maybe we can do something like Shreyas did with Skyflower, and run a playtest of chargen only. We’ll see, we’ll see, we’ll see.

Big ups to the fine folks of #indierpgs helping me talk through the endgame stuff, and everyone else I’ve bothered with this nonsense over the last two weeks. (Note to said people: you’re not out of the woods yet.)

Addict: Chargen

27 10 2007

“They are my sugar. They are the sweetness in the days that I have none. They drip through me like tupelo honey. Then they are gone. Then I need more. I always need more.

For all of my life, I have needed more.”

-Elizabeth Wurtzel: More, Now, Again

Addict is not a game about substance abuse, although it can be. At its core, it is a game about the obsessions– the objects, the behaviors, the people and relationships– which individuals rely on to fill a void inside themselves, usually to the point of hindering or destroying their own functionality and the things they value most. It is not about delirium tremens or needles, but rather, the constant struggle to control a hunger that cannot be sated.

This struggle is explored through twelve steps.

Character Creation

Character creation is a group activity; it is more like the first session of the game. Individually, give your character a name, and decide on your character’s Obsession. This can be a physical dependence, like on drugs or alcohol; a non-physical dependence, like gambling or sex; a psychological issue, like depression or bipolarity; or a social issue, like an abusive relationship.

Do not flesh your character out beyond the name and Obsession yet. At this point, your character is defined only by its deepest need.

Step One: We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction/compulsion – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Take some time and figure out how your character hit rock bottom. What happened that showed you that your life couldn’t continue in its current state? It doesn’t necessarily have to be dramatic– some sort of life or death experience– but it should be embarrassing and personal and painful. Figure out the moment that you realized you could never go lower than where you were. Find that story.

Here you can add more to your character history, but only as it pertains to hitting rock bottom. If your story involves losing your job, you can include what the job was; if your judgment was so impaired you cheated on your spouse, you can decide who your spouse was, who your lover was, who they were in relationship to you. But if it is not something directly featured in your story, do not decide it yet.

The players sit in a circle, either on the floor or at a table. Each player takes a turn standing.

Player: “Hi, my name is [Character name], and I am an addict.”

Other players, in unison: “Hello, [Character name].”

Then, as your character, tell the people in front of you the story of how you hit rock bottom. When you’re done, sit down; it’s then the next person’s turn.

This story is the only thing the characters know about each other. At this point, you are defined by the worst thing that ever happened to you.

Step Two: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Addiction fills a void deep within. When you remove the Obsession from your life, the hole that is left needs to be filled with something. This is represented with Dependency Points.

Fill a highball glass with aquarium stones. These are your Dependency Points. Take one out and place it in front of you; that represents your Obsession. The stones that are left represent your potential fulfillment.

Make a list of between three and five Dependencies. These are objects, relationships, habits, soft addictions, or other things which have replaced the importance of your Obsession. (When using relationships, do not create a specific person; simply note that your character has a relationship that acts as a Dependency, and what type of relationship it is.) Divide your Dependency Points between your Dependencies; this decides how invested you are in each Dependency.

These are the things you need, so that the thing you crave does not overwhelm you.

Step Three: We made a decision to let go of control, assume a spirit of goodwill, seek the wisdom of responsible others, and discover our true “voice within.”

This is the point at which your character becomes three-dimensional. Define your background and your relationships with the other characters– they are your “responsible others.” Relationships which are also Dependencies can also be with other characters; as with real life, it is never necessary that both characters invest the same amount into a relationship, although you can if you so choose.

Using what you have already built– the Obsession, how you hit rock bottom, your Dependencies and relationships– cobble together your character’s personality. At this point in the game, it is practically incidental.