It’s from Rick Perez of Let’s Level Up, and the key quote is “it’s great!”
It’s from Rick Perez of Let’s Level Up, and the key quote is “it’s great!”
In conjunction with NYC-Playtest, ProtoSpiel, and the NYU Game Center, I am proud to announce ProtoSpiel NorthEast!
Click here to buy tickets for only $15! They will be $20 at the door.
Are you a tabletop game designer looking to get your prototype in front of more playtesters? Are you a player looking to try out the best and brightest new games before they hit stores? Are you a publisher looking to snatch up that diamond in the rough design and get it in front of gamers the world over? Then I am pleased to invite you to ProtoSpiel NorthEast!
There will be tables with dedicated time slots that designers will sign up for at the convention, so if you’re a Designer, show up early to set up! The doors open at 8am and time slots will be first come first served. Everyone who purchases a Designer ticket is guaranteed at least one 1 hour slot. If you need more time, be sure to show up early to reserve time, or contact me ahead of time.
There will also be an open-play area, where anyone can playtest any game without having signed up ahead of time. Designers are not allowed to sign up for a second playtest slot until all designers have had the opportunity to playtest their game at least once, but are allowed to make use of the open play area.
If you have any questions, or are a publisher or designer wishing to sell or donate your earlier games, please contact me at thomas (at) sixpencegames.com.
If you have already published a game, whether yourself or through a traditional publisher, you are encouraged to donate a copy of your game to be raffled off at the end of the day on Saturday! Raffle tickets will be given out based on the number of other people’s games that one playtests, to encourage people to focus on helping each other. Not that you’ll need encouragement to play these games!
This is a charity event: after paying expenses, all profits raised will be donated to the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, an award winning disease treatment charity.
I thought Save the Singularity was through with changes and updates nine months ago. I thought I’d gotten it all finished and perfected. And yet, like any good game designer, I kept playtesting it. And eventually, after playtesting it with the New York Playtesters group, I got some feedback that has lead to some substantial changes.
The feedback: there isn’t enough drama in the mid-game.
The change: replace the Rest of the World d12 with a deck of cards, one drawn after each player’s turn, which have mini-challenges on them that the players must accomplish in order to prevent the rest of the world from pulling ahead.
The feedback: people aren’t paying attention during other people’s turns.
The change: replace the once per game power with something else. Now, players start the game with 3 tokens, and have two powers: one which costs 1 token, and one which costs 2. Now they have more opportunities to pay attention to other people’s turns, and more decisions to make when helping other players.
I’ve implemented preliminary versions of both, and they are now undergoing yet more playtesting. So far they’re working well! This really reinforces the lesson of never stopping playtesting: I was already proud of the prior version of Save the Singularity, and taking it from an A to an A+ game will be really wonderful.
How did I not post this yet?
At the beginning of setup, all players draw map tiles and place them in real time following to a few simple rules (doors must connect to doors, for instance) to generate the map of the University. Then the group selects which Scenario to play, the players each pick a Character, and a Role Card is distributed to each player. There are two types of Role Card: the Cultist, which secretly describes how that player will betray the rest of the party and summon some sort of unspeakable abomination, and Academics, who are trying to complete the Scenario Goals before the Cultist can kill them. Academic role cards describe the particular way that character could go insane during the game.
On your turn, you first drawn an Event relevant to your location, Indoor or Outdoor, and then take two actions. Actions can be Move, Attack, Search, Use an Item, Steal, Trade, and doing any character or Scenario specific actions. Each player takes a turn in clockwise order, and then when it gets back around to the Start Player, instead of taking another turn, they move any monsters which may be on the board, and draw two University cards. University cards are all bad, but in different ways and to varying degrees. They could be an instantaneous one-time occurrence, or last for the round, or be Weather, which affects all Outdoor tiles and remains in play until it is replaced with a new Weather effect. The Start Player picks one to play and one to shuffle back into the deck without revealing it, and then passes the Start Player token to the player on their left, who begins the new round.
Events and University Cards have the chance to move the Star Chart forward. When the Star Chart gets to a particular number which only the Cultist knows for certain, they may reveal themselves, summoning a monster, or transforming themselves, or a number of other options, depending on which particular Cultist role card they have.
Play continues in that fashion until either the Cultist successfully kills all of the Academics, or the Academics complete all of their Scenario Goals.
Ability scores are of the form “a pair of colored dice.” The colors are Green (masterful), Blue (mediocre), and Red (miserable). They each have an assortment of faces on them, which are called Good, Bad, and Weird (in the final version they will be referred to by the August Derleth Elder Sign, the Yellow Sign, and the H.P. Lovecraft Elder Sign, respectively). Ability checks tell you what ability to use, what the difficulty is (Green for easy, Blue for moderate, and Red for difficult), and give a chart of possible outcomes based on the check result. To make an ability check, you take the dice for your ability into your hand, and then grab dice that are the color of the difficulty until you have five dice in hand. Roll them. You get a single reroll, which consists of you choosing all the dice that came up with a certain face (all the Weird results, or all the Bad results), and reroll those. Ability checks always have a beneficial result which occurs if you get three Good results, a result that is harmful to the individual character making the check if you get two Bad results, and a result that is strange and bad for the group as a whole if you get two Weird results.
Combat is done with opposed Brawn checks. The difficulty is determined by a random Combat card, which also determines the Weird result. Bad results decrease your own defense, Good results deal damage to your opponent.
These portraits are unfinished – they’re here to give you an idea of what the characters will look like, the style, et cetera. The monster art and the sample room tiles are finished, so that will give you more of an idea of what the final version will look like. Thank you for checking this out!
Cultists of Cthulhu: Miskatonic University is coming along smashingly. It’s going to be quite a struggle to get the game ready for Kickstarter by April, but if we can maintain this pace it’ll be golden by then.
In addition to the refinement of various mechanics, math, and other crunchy bits, there have been two major changes in the past few weeks. There used to be a complex, Resistance style minigame at the end of each round, where the Cultist would have an opportunity to betray the other players. Playtesting revealed this to be too complicated, out of place feeling, and not actually provide interesting decisions. Therefore it has been scrapped, and instead, at the end of the round, the first player draws two cards from a specific deck (haven’t decided yet if this is constant from game to game, or dependent on the scenario), picks one to play, and then shuffles the other back into the deck without revealing it. This vastly simplifies things, makes it easier for the Cultist to betray people, and gives Academics an interesting choice to make. Definitely an improvement.
The second is in how the map works. Previous prototypes used the Betrayal at House on the Hill style “when you leave a room, draw a new tile and place it,” or a pre-made map, or larger tiles a la Last Night on Earth. The new map mechanic is unique, fits the flavor of being at a university that you already know, and is just fun. At the beginning of the game, before picking characters or assigning Academic/Cultist roles, the tiles are placed facedown on the table, and players go around in turns drawing one and connecting it to the others. The rules for placing these are simple: every new tile has to be accessible from every preexisting one, and only exit/entrances can open onto grass. Then each Scenario can have other rules: the Library can’t be within 5 tiles of the Vault, or the like. This generates a lot of different, interesting looking university layouts, and makes it easier to base the game mechanics off of specific rooms at the like.
And finally, check out yet more art! My favorite of the room tiles so far, and four characters. There will be more to come later, I can’t wait to share the next update!
Professor Pugnacious, already sent to the backers and available for preorder will be in retail stores in March.
Cultists of Cthulhu: Miskatonic University is on track to have its kickstarter launched in April.
Save the Singularity is pretty much done being designed, so we’ll be able to launch the kickstarter for it soon after Cultists.
Same with the Bag of Holding. I expect Cultists to be quite successful and to draw in a bigger audience than we currently have, so launching these smaller projects afterwards will make them more successful than launching them earlier, even if they are already ready to go.
Murder Most Foul is undergoing a lot of revision and will be in beta testing soon. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to turn this into a sellable product, but I am going to run it, so if you live near Brooklyn and want to give it a try, email me!
Legitimate Businessmen continues to be on hold. Sorry mafia fans (I’m looking at you, John). So is the Secret Unnamed Someone Else’s IP Card Game.
Andrea isn’t feeling well, so her deck of cards is also on hold. If she gets better, you can expect those to hit kickstarter sometime after Cultists.
One game that is very far down the pipeline is Monster Movie Madness, a competitive miniatures game where you play as horror movie archetypes trying to kill coed campers.
And finally, I’ve been playing a game that I don’t want to name which is very innovative, but very flawed. It’s got a great idea for a mechanic, but then implements the mechanic in a way that doesn’t work at all. I really want to take that mechanic, trim all of the fat off of it, and make a different, better game that uses it. I’m still in the contemplation stage on this one. I might make an alpha playtest of it at soon, depending on whether inspiration strikes.
In non game news, three big things: I wrote a 22,000 word short story set in the Cultists of Cthulhu world, in a single 13 hour marathon writing session. I’m currently posting it over the next 11 days on my private blog in unedited descent-into-madness form. When I’m done with that, I’ll edit it and put it up here. Second, I’m starting a youtube channel called Let Me Tell You About. The first series will be me telling you about Hercules, who is hilarious. Finally, on December 28th I, Thomas Eliot, asked Sixpence Games cofounder and Professor Pugnacious codesigner Allison Rea to marry me. She said yes!
I just ran my very first LARP: Murder at Highgarden, a murder mystery dinnear theatre, written for the occasion by one Jacqueline Bryk. Highgarden is the name of the mansion sharehouse I live in in Brooklyn, and Jax is someone you may know of if you are involved in the LARP scene in this corner of the world. In spite of my constantly being overwhelmed floundering to stay on top of things, it went quite well. While running it, I had an idea for how I would like to run another game in the future, which I am entitling Murder Most Foul. The following is a write up of that idea, which in its current form incorporates none of the rules used in Murder at Highgarden.
There are two important roles in the game: the Guests and the Host. The Host is the person organizing the event, and is the victim of the eponymous murder. They should provide the house to play in, provide the Guests with their roles, explain the rules, set up the props, make the food, and take the money if this is being charged for, which I plan to, because groceries and time are not free. The Guests are not involved in the setup at all.
Each Guest wants to kill the Host. Each player is given a character sheet describing their Guest, including a reason that you wish to kill the Host, and a few things you know about some of the other characters. (knowing a few of these, but not having to know everyone’s, should give you any given person’s motivation). At the beginning of the evening, each Guest flips a coin. On a heads, they decide to kill the Host. On a Tails, they chicken out and decide to delay their vengeance.
There are a number of different weapons, think the variety of the Clue traditional ones (knife, candlestick, lead pipe, revolver, wrench – one blade, three bludgeons, one gun, interesting), strewn throughout the house. They are marked by having something obvious, like a big ribbon tied around them. Anyone can pick these up and hide them however they wish. In order to kill someone, you simply get them alone in a room, reveal your weapon, and inform them that you have murdered them. If they also have a weapon, you rock-paper-scissors to see who kills whom. Guests may kill the Host, and may kill each other.
At the end of the game, each living Guest makes a single guess as to who the Killer of the Host is. If you are the Killer, unless you are guessed by the plurality of voters (including yourself), you Escape. Regardless of whether you Escape, everyone who guesses you Catches you.
Scoring: The Host lives: all Guests lose.
You killed the Host: +1 Point.
You Escape (only possible if you kill the Host): + 2 Points.
You Catch the killer: +2 Points.
The incentive structure here is such that all the Guests want somebody to kill the Host, even if it’s not themselves, but nobody wants to get caught doing it. I’m hoping that will incentivize people to leave enough room for the Host to get himself murdered, yet still have a good chance of figuring out whodunnit. The Host should pretty much be trying to get himself murdered, and should definitely not act strategically to try to stay alive. Bumbles their way out of danger, perhaps, but they ought to end up dead.
And that’s it! I’m really curious what sorts of behavior will arise from these incentives. I am now putting this out there to get feedback from you, my dear reader, and then I shall revise it and then, at my next dinner party, there shall be a Murder Most Foul.