First Draft Done!

29 09 2009

My first Game Chef entry (and actually complete written game), Land of Ill Harvest, can now be found  Here.  Set in the rural area of Kansas, the game tells the story of people attempting to survive a calamity that cuts them off from civilization and reason itself.

If you read it, read it graciously.  I finished the last two chapters at midnight last night, and I think it shows.  Right now I’m working on creating more dramatic and more numerous examples of play and am looking for a chance to playtest the game sometime in the near future.  Right now I’m looking mainly for mechanical questions and concerns in the system and the clarity of the rules.


Intro and Character Creation Chapters Done!

22 09 2009

  I know all the mechanics for my game and I have a solid outline for the whole thing.  Right now it’s just a struggle to find the time to get the words in my head on to paper.  Here’s the first two chapters from the book: the Intro and Character Creation.

  LandofIllHarvestCC Download

Anyone Interested in Reading Each Other’s Games?

15 09 2009

  I noticed a thread about playtesting our games over Skype.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I am extremely busy with school starting and all, and as much as I’d love to play each others games, I just don’t have the time.

  So, here’s my idea: basically, four or five Chefs get together into groups and read each others games.  We could have discussion over possible rules problems we see, things that the rules don’t make clear, etc.  

  Maybe this group could become a playtesting group later on if schedules clear up.  I’m up for being the founder of a group.  If anyone’s interested, we can get together in this thread or anywhere else, talk about when our first drafts will be finished (mine’s still a week off), and start talking.

Character Ownership

12 09 2009

  You might have noticed that last post  followed an odd rule.  Basically, no player, not even the GM, can narrate something about another character.   They can narrate everything they do, even narrate about the objects the person’s holding (like when the GM narrated the cut made by Inkfist’s knife), but no one can state anything about another character.

  I’m including this rule first of all because I want the GM to be a lot closer to players in terms of narrative powers, and also because the system doesn’t really have any task resolution.  This forces players to wait until the dice have shown whether their action is in some way successful or gives them an advantage rather than just having a narrative free-for-all.

  The only part I would have worried about in terms of this rule was when the creature twisted out of Sam’s stranglehold.  I think the task in that action was to escape Sam, not his stranglehold, but if the player controlling Sam didn’t like it, then the two might just have to talk it out.  

  Other than cases like that, I think this rule will help eliminate the possibility of player conflict over the rules and let them get back to player conflict in the fiction.

Conflict and Stats

12 09 2009

  I ran a short gametest last night without much narration, just moving dice around.  I’ll give you one of my examples from the rules.  You shouldn’t have any problem picking up on the rules, but for those who want the basics of character creation, it’s located here, and for those who want an idea of the setting, you can find it here.  If for some reason you just want the stat rules, they’re located near the end.

   There are three player characters involved in this conflict: Sam, a young newly-wed, Pastor Inkfist, the elderly preacher of their town, and Daniel, a teenager who was just visiting his grandparents before the Storm hit.

  In this conflict they’re fighting with a creature that’s been harassing them for much of the game.

  So, on the first turn the creature brings in its “Goes for the Face” and “Survival” Traits for a total of five dice.  Also, the creature has a significant advantage since none of the other characters are ready, so it gets two additional dice.  The GM draws seven dice from a big pile in front of him, rolls them, and moves them over by his right hand.  These dice are his Active Dice, and they consist of 6, 5, 5, 3, 3, 2, and 1.

  Sam activates his “Strappin’ Farm Boy” and “Find out Who Killed Joshua” Traits for a total of five.  These consist of 6, 3, 2, 1, and 1.

  Pastor Inkfist activates “God’s Judgment” and “Protect My Sheep” Traits for four Active Dice, giving him a 6, 6, 3, and 1.

  Finally, Daniel activates his “Get Back Home” Trait for a 4, 2, and 1.


  The creature gets the first attack.  Knowing Daniel’s the weakest, the GM Challenges him by putting forward a 5, narrating “All you see is a brief glimpse of yellowish flesh out of the corner of your eye before the thing’s on you from behind, arms wrapping around your chest.  You feel a sharp burst of agony as it sinks its razor-sharp teeth into the back of your shoulder and pulls of a mouthful of skin.”

  Now Daniel has to match the creature’s 5.  He Answers by putting forward a 4 and a 1, narrating “I thrash and cry out as I try to break the thing’s hold.”  Now, since he wasn’t able to match the creature’s 5 with equal or lesser dice, he has to take Pain.  He puts the 5 back into the GM’s Inactive Dice, throws one of his dice back into his Inactive pile, and moves the second over to his left, opposite his Active Dice.  These dice are his Pain Dice.

  Now it’s Sam’s turn.  He puts forward 6 as a Challenge, narrating “I shout ‘Hold on, Daniel!’ and run forward.  I grab the creature by the shoulders and yank him off of you, crushing him in a stranglehold.”

  The GM Answers by putting forward his 6.  He’s matched Sam’s 6, so in the fiction he’s not able to gain significant advantage, but he also hasn’t been put at a disadvantage.  He narrates “The creature thrashes with impossible strength, fetid, insectile arms twisting, trying to corkscrew the rest of its body around so it can use its teeth.”

  Now it’s Inkfists turn.  He Challenges with his 6, narrating “I say a prayer as I raise my knife above my head and bring it down with all my strength at the cursed beings exposed chest.”  The creature can’t match Inkfist’s 6 without taking pain, so the GM Answers with his last 5 and his 1.  He narrates “The creature is silent as the knife whistles down.  Its point is turned by an ironhard bone, but the blow still cuts a long, deep gash along the thing’s stinking flesh.” 

  It’s now Daniels turn again.  Right now, he could put an Exhaust himself to bring in another Trait, but he can see the battle’s going against the creature, and he’s already Exhausted himself earlier in the game.  Instead, he decides not to Challenge, holding his die in case he needs to defend himself and narrating “I fall to the ground shouting in pain.  My shoulder feels like it’s on fire.”

  The creature decides to Challenge Sam with a 3, trying to drag the battle out as long as possible.  He narrates “The creature gives a final spurt of energy, twisting its way out of your grasp.”

  Sam easily counters with a 3, narrating “I step back from your last swipe and look around for my shotgun.”

  Pastor Inkfist puts forward his last 6, narrating “But I see it first, lying near the campfire.  I grab it, pump a new round into the chamber, bring it to my shoulder, and fire.” 

  The GM isn’t able to match Inkfist’s 6 with one or even two dice.  He puts forward his 3, 2, and 1, and moves two into his Pain pile.  The conflict is now over.  Because the conflict was lethal in nature, the Pastor can now choose to Upset, Exhaust, of Injure the creature.  Without a second thought he chooses Injure, dealing the last blow to the creature’s reservoir of health.  The GM narrates “The creature’s head vanishes in a spray.  Its body twitches spasmodically, then with a final shudder goes still.”

  Now, characters are able to do one more thing in conflicts.  If they manage to match an opponent’s Challenge with less dice, not only do they deal Pain, but they also Take the Advantage.  The GM rules how much of an Advantage they gain (normally 1-4), and the player gets to roll those in for free.

  Each character has three stats: Cool, Breath, and Blood.  Cool represents their ability to conceal things from others or stay calm in a stressful situation.  You can get three points of Pain by Upsetting your character, bringing the rating down by 1.  Breath represents your ability to keep moving.  It applies to things like running or staying in a fistfight.  You can bring in a new Trait or funnel away two points of Pain by Exhausting your character.  Blood represents your life.  If you lose your Blood, your gone.  You can drop one Pain point by Injuring your character. 

  Whenever you win a conflict, you can choose to Upset a character when the conflict is Cool, Upset or Exhaust a character, when the conflict is Breath, or Upset, Exhaust, or Injure a character when the conflict is Blood.

   Now, losing all your Cool, Breath, or Blood means you automatically lose any conflicts associated with the zeroed stat.  Also, if your zero in Breath, you aren’t able to put forth any kind of physical effort.  If your zero Blood, you’re unconscious, floating just on the edge of life and death.  When you’ve taken a hit to a stat, you or the GM can Force the Question.  Forcing the Question means that you must immediately begin a Conflict with the GM.  If you lose your Cool conflict, you just go back to being zeroed.  If you win, you begin to recharge quickly.  If you lose your Breath, you have to take a brief rest to keep on going.  If you lose your Blood but you’re not at zero, your condition worsens.  This would be used if a wound was poisoned, for example.  If you lose at zero, you die.

  That’s pretty much the conflict system right now.  I’m looking forward to questions and comments.

And the Title Is…Land of Ill Harvest!

10 09 2009

What more do I really need to say? I’ve got a playtest/conflict example I’m typing up that I’ll post later tonight.

Introduction and Pain Mechanics

9 09 2009

 For those who are interested, here’s an unfinished version of the Introduction which should give a good idea of the overall writing style and layout of the book. That intro is located here.  Also, I’m excited to announce that I’ve convinced my dad to contribute some of his beautiful photography to the book.  He used to be a professional, but now he spends his time taking pictures of things that actually interest him.

  I’ve been working a bit on the system for the game.  As mentioned before, it is influenced by Fate, Dogs in the Vineyard, The Pool, and even now a bit of PDQ.  I want to get a more detailed write-up to go off of for the first draft, but I’ll give you the nutshell version here and release that later.

  Basically, characters write up a paragraph about their characters as they would in The Pool.  They’re then given points to distribute between the various Traits mentioned in the paragraph.  Chances are these Traits come in two flavors, Methods or Motivations.

  Methods are easy.  They’re how you go about things or what you’re good at.  Think skills, special abilities, you name it.

  Motivations are a bit more complex.  They can be relationships, obsessions, anything that causes you to do something.  They need to be WHY.  It’s not enough to say “I’m an abusive father.”  That’s a Method, it’s just telling us you’re at least mildly skilled in abusing your kids.  No, to be a Motivation, it needs to say something like “I’m an abusive father because it allows me to vent the frustration of my wife leaving me.”

  This Motivation still might need a little cleaning up, but for now let’s go with it.  Now, the player assigns it a number.  I’m not really sure about ranges right now, but it can be as much or as little as the player wants.  Remember I said the game had a dash of FATE?  Well, here it is.  Whenever a player is presented with a Crux, or a Crossroads, or whatever I decide to call a point where they can act with or against their Motivations, if they act against them, they take Pain equal to the Motivations they defied.

  Now, you can do a couple of things with Pain.  First, you can add a new Trait that’s at least a little bit contradictory to an existing one.  Maybe a Priest walks up and makes you doubt you’re abusive actions.  Next, you can change an existing the value of an existing Trait, or maybe change it’s meaning a bit.  You’re able to get rid of more Pain by changing or adding, I haven’t decided which yet as I’m very tired and am kind of on autopilot.  Now, back to the rules.  Notice something here?

  If you add a contradictory Trait, then you have to take more Pain each time you act against it, even if you’re acting with a stronger Motivation.  This creates characters that are constantly changing and having to make choices between what they care about most in themselves.

  Now, in combat and conflict situations, Pain can also be funneled away by upping your Wound and Exhaustion Levels, but you really don’t have enough of those to get away with constantly taking Scratched conditions.

  What impact do I hope this will have on the game?  Basically, with the Pain mechanics, characters’ Traits are constantly attempting to find a certain kind of balance, where they can handle Pain without totally changing who they are.  However, this balance can cost a lot.  The game is about “People learning to live together,” or, in terms of mechanics and system, people trying to find Balance within their Traits without killing other people.  Tomorrow I’ll try to write up a few hypothetical examples of characters, and clarify the Conflict mechanics, which I haven’t really touched on yet.

  Until next time, then.