Token-less and Dice-free

cow-tabletopIt’s possible that I’m coming to a turning point with the whole system and approach for The Dee Sanction and the 214 system in general.

Running an adventure without using half the system Рand finding it works well Рmight prove worthy food for thought.

I ran a new adventure – Thunder and Steel – at the Seven Hills gaming event in Sheffield.

The characters only recently made the trip to Europe with Dee and Kelley, and the call of angels in Edward’s ear seemed to be making the trip a long-winded one. Halfway through Moravia, Dee heard rumours of a young girl with prescient dreams who had foreseen the assassination of the Virgin Queen, so sent the characters off to investigate. The trail started in a hamlet nestled in the Little Carpathians and led them on a trail of lies, deceit, bad weather, and unfurnished accommodation.

One way or another, the game system element of this session never kicked in – but, the story felt fairly satisfying.

I had good comments about the atmosphere and background of the tale, and a chat with players afterwards gave positive comment on the snappy three-card character generation process. Interesting also to have players asking about the history itself and explaining the seeds of truth behind the setting and the adventure itself.

I have now played three adventures and many sessions of the system and I’m seeing a leaning away from the fiddly token approach and more toward something that drives and supports the interaction and character.

The character cards offer a view of who the character is and what they’ve got themselves into. Between the three cards, everyone has a clear idea of where their strengths lie and the sort of personality they might have. Perhaps I still could so with a relationship mechanic, but it didn’t feel necessary in this session. I actually choose to reamble my games with a few statements about playing characters as a team, giving each other a chance to speak and contribute, and engaging in the adventure with energy and a splash of derring-do.

I suspect I’ll ruminate on the feedback and my own experience – and then see what I can tweak before I run the adventure again at UK Games Expo at the end of May.

Hot n Cold Running Muse

tools-of-the-tradeI have a vague recollection that Douglas Adams liked taking baths (although, I’m willing to believe that I might be making this up and that it simply got a mention in one of his many books). For me, showers have been proving fertile musing territory.

I don’t recall whether the purpose of baths for Douglas was to excite his muse, or perhaps to offer him solace from impending deadlines (that constantly seemed to trouble and dog his every creative move).

It seems that every time I have a shower, my mental cogs set in motion. This morning, I was cogitating on the business of Incriminating Evidence in 214. I’m trying to decide whether the idea has legs or not in the current form. Right now, it’s the currency of downfall for those who choose to use abilities for suspect ends.

My current tack has been to see it accumulate like reputational damage. If it ever equals or exceeds your Access plus Power, then you suffer a fall – whether demoted, physically punished, or perhaps executed for treason. Yesterday in the shower, I wondered whether it might have potential as a currency to force the adjustment of rolls.

I felt it might be a little like exploiting a weakness for a favour. However, I think this won’t work as knowing something bad about someone doesn’t dissipate once they’ve done something for you. Guilt won’t burn away because the person who knows you’re dirty little secret got a benefit back.

Advancement in the game I currently have down as somewhat experience based and involve spending points to either increase your pool size – and therefore enhance your potential to succeed in challenge and survive conflict – or acquire more cards. More cards will represent additional contacts, questionable abilities, and dubious secrets that you can bring into play to expand your chances of success. They will probably cost three times as much as a pool point, as they expand the success threshold rather than just tweaking your roll result.

The advancement was what occupied my brain this morning. Always in the shower, though. Makes me wonder whether I should be taking more showers! On the other hand, showers might become an excuse not to be spending time playtesting or sat in front of a writing implement getting these ideas and concepts into some solid form.