By The Stars Confession — Week Fifteen

Forgive me, By The Stars, for I am strained. It’s been eight days since my last confession.

The day before Thanksgiving, we had to give back the foster kid we thought we would be able to adopt. That sad event dominated the entire week. I sent out an e-mail about setting up a playtest, but have yet to get any response.

I also watched Revenge of the Sith again. It fulfills nearly every criticism I’ve ever heard of the Star Wars saga. It’s a train wreck of a film, a catastrophic failure of visual storytelling. And while it did get my blood boiling, my anger was all focused on Lucas-bashing and not game-building. So I suppose the experience wasn’t a total loss. It reminded me that anger can only lead to the Dark Side.

By The Stars Confession — Week Fourteen

Forgive me, By The Stars, for I have skipped. It’s been six days since my last confession.

With the exception of a half-page of scribbled notes the game is in the same state it was a week ago. However, I’ve secured a place on the hectic editorial calendar of Thor Olavsrud, to be certain that By The Stars will be clear and understandable. Once I have something for Thor to edit, of course.

I’ve also lined up in advance the services of none other than Keith Senkowski as a cover artist. So the game will look as good as it reads.

Now I’ve just got to figure out how it runs….

Be Kind to the Wii Folk

We went to WalMart today. There were about a dozen college-aged kids camped out in Wii hats, playing Munchkin. Kat turns to me and says “We should bring them some With Great Power…” She’s a marketing genius.

So be kind to your local Wii folk, my indie brothers and sisters! Bring them coffee. They’re gamers, too. While they wait for the cutting edge of the console, consider showing them the cutting edge of the tabletop.

By The Stars Confession — Week Thirteen

Unlucky thirteen? Not around here!

Forgive me, By The Stars, for I am slow. It’s been eight days since my last confession.

I have dice mechanics! On Saturday Kat and I tested them in a single, small conflict. They’re rough and have lots of room for improvement, but they offer decision-making opportunities, they’re interesting in their own right, and they have a lot of what I call “knobs and levers.”

What are “knobs and levers,” you ask? They’re ways you can alter the standard resolution mechanic for special circumstances. For example, in classic Storyteller system, the knobs and levers were: 1) How many dice you rolled (generally associated with your skills and attributes), 2) The target number of what was considered a success (generally associated with the difficulty of the action you were attempting); and 3) How many successes you needed to roll in order to actually succeed (also associated with the task difficulty, IIRC). These allow the same dice mechanics to reflect different situations, something vital for RPGs.

Things are going pretty well, considering all the stress in my life. My dice mechanics currently exist only between my ears, so my primary goal for next week is: Write them out. It will enable playtesting. Which is also on the agenda for next week: Schedule my first playtest session.

See ya in six!

By The Stars Confession — Week Twelve

Twelve Weeks? That’s 3 months! And I don’t have dice mechanics that will make it out of self-testing yet. Why not? Well, there was Halloween to observe, a birthday to commemorate, and family medical situations to address.

Forgive me, By The Stars, I have celebrated. It’s been one week since my last confession.

My only goal for this week was: Try out some new dice mechanics–at least 2 different versions. I statted out two characters and tried out one version of dice mechanics, by myself. It seems promising, but so did the ones that ended up being no fun, so only playtesting will tell for certain.

Perhaps I’m a little too fussy about my dice mechanics. I like it when there are tactical choices in how you play the dice that mirror the thematic choices in what’s happening in the game fiction. I don’t want all the choices front-loaded. I don’t there to always be one ideal strategy. It may be too much to ask. I’ll be honest: I’ve occasionally seen it detract from play of With Great Power… when certain players focus solely on the card game aspects and forget that they’re creating a story at the same time.

Do I appease these people with simpler mechanics that allow for fewer decisions? My gut says “No way.” But my head can’t help but wonder…

Anyway, in the next week I will do a simple mechanics-only playtest with Kat. And I will finish the working outline, including the mechanics section. See you in seven!

Yes, I know I’m wierd.

Some people get all worked up about turning 30. For me, it came and went without incident. But today I turn 33. And for the past week, I’ve had these niggling, gnawing thoughts in the back of my brain.

Jesus Christ had planted the seeds of a world religion by the time he was thirty-three. Alexander the Great had forged the greatest empire the world had ever seen by the time he was thirty-three. What have you done with your time here?

How do I answer that? Why do I even ask it of myself? I don’t know. But my birthday was fairly decent on the whole. Even if I haven’t conquered the known world.