Happy Halloween from 3rdº!

You know, despite "Art Director" being the first thing on this blog's description, I spend very little time talking about my day job. Mostly that's because ongoing projects are usually supa-secret, but half the fun of working at Third Degree is the culture. For example, Halloween.

We try to go all out each year's themed costumes. Previous themes were Post-Apocalypse and Mad Men. This year, we went old school. Classic pre-1970s movie monsters.


That's my boss. She's so dramatic.


Brett's the suffocating man. :P


Can I get a hand over here?

See more in the Flickr set.



» Third Degree
» Third Degree Creative Blog

Design Diary: "New" starts, but does not finish. [Part 3]

Spoiler: I didn't end up using Mark's idea in Do, as awesome as it was. Here are some reasons why, completely unrelated to the quality of the idea itself.

Explain your rules better before changing them.
It takes some experience before you can recognize the difference between a poorly designed rule and a poorly explained rule. Assuming you do know the difference, be aware of the temptation to add new rules to fix a perceived bug. It could be fixed just as easily by offering strategy or style advice as a non-instructional sidebar. That is what I ended up doing in Do. Instead of adding the new rules for stone usage and naming, I just asked my players for their advice and tips on picking good names.

Stick to your goal.
This is probably one I'm most guilty of breaking and why Do has taken such a long time to finish. I started with a loose desire to emulate some aspects of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gradually that morphed into a number of different goals for the game, but none fully concrete. In the end, it was developing Happy Birthday, Robot! that gave me an achievable goal for Do's development. Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a storytelling game. It's not a role-playing game. And that is okay. Now that I know what being "done" looked like, I just have to get there.

Better is the enemy of done.
As many smart folks said already. When you work on a project a long time, it is tempting to look at a new idea as the solution that will finally bring it to an end. However, a better unfinished game is never as good as a flawed finished game.

What you're working on is not the last thing you'll work on.
If you don't use every idea you have right now, those ideas are not lost to the ether. In this case, Mark's idea lives on in an email conversation, a blog post, or a future supplement for Do. It is important to write down and save your ideas, but also share them with others. If you really feel this idea is a good, share it. Let other people comment and contribute. You can always pick it up again later for a future game, but even if you don't, at least you shared something you're excited about.

A great idea can start a project, but only work can finish it.
Or, in other words, "Shiny starts, but rarely finishes." To put it more cruelly, a shiny new idea can send you right back to the drawing board. The longer you work on a project, the more tempting it is to add ideas you come across later on. Each new idea is a detour along that project's development. It leads you in a new direction, maybe, but it probably doesn't get you closer to an endpoint.

The solution that gives you more work might not be a solution.
Some designers like to say that if you're trying to solve a design problem by adding stuff, you're not really solving the problem. It's only be streamlining and minimizing that you will find a solution. I don't know if I would be that hardline about it, but certainly it's a red flag if your latest new shiny idea is one that prolongs the timeline by an extra month, then six, then twelve, and so on.

But now I'm beginning to repeat myself, so here are some smart people talking about this stuff.

» Ryan Macklin: The Siren Song of Cool
» Ryan Macklin and Paul Tevis: Cool Revisited
» Brilliant Gameologists: Gamers Are Lazy SOBs (BS)
» Jared Sorensen: Better is the enemy of done.

[Belle of the Ball] Seeking Artists

I plan on building a prototype of Belle of the Ball. I seek artists with a skill at clean, cel animation-style cartoon character designs. (Think Guillotine and Wok Star.) If you're interested, email me a a link to your portfolio at gobi81@gmail.com.

Here are the specs for the job:
* Head-and-shoulder portraits of quasi-victorian nobles
* File Specs: Black and white line art
* Dimensions: 1" square
* Because of the small size, each portrait should have a simple, strong features.
* I'll handle the coloring and post-production, so no shading is necessary.

Once again, that email is gobi81@gmail.com. Hope to hear from you soon. :)

UPDATE:

The artists have been found! Congratulations to Mori McLamb and Liz Hooper.

Design Diary: "New" starts, but does not finish. [Part 2]

(Previously)

Mark Sherry suggested a really interesting idea that would solve a small problem in Do. I had some apprehensions, for a few reasons.

Firstly, and probably most important, we're really late in the development process here. Ryan's already edited the first round of drafts and we are pushing towards and end-of-year deadline to get the text finalized. That isn't even counting how long the game has been informally developing over the years. (Long enough that I had deep concerns about Do being perceived as vaporware.)

Secondly, this solution would call for me to double a portion of the writing workload. My goal is to write one page for each step of play. That is a fairly straightforward model. Write a simple instruction for that step. Give an example of that step. Offer advice and inspiration for that step in the sidebars.

The only place where that model breaks is that one step in particular has a number of branching paths. The first branch is whether your pilgrim is in trouble or out of trouble at the time you take this step. The next branch depends on whether you keep zero, one, two or three stones. That's eight total paths for this step. No biggie. I will just write one page for each. Eight pages, four double-page spreads. Not a ridiculous amount of real estate in the book for what is probably the most critical phase of gameplay.

In short, here are the branching paths as they stand now:

Is your pilgrim in trouble? [Y/N]
How many stones did you keep? [0/1/2/3]

However, if I were to implement this cool idea, I'd add a third branch:

What color were those stones? [Black/White]

Thus doubling again the number of pages devoted to this one step. Sixteen pages, eight double-page spreads. Not necessarily a problem in itself, but there is a certain point where you have to draw the line when you're managing a project like this. You'll see my line tomorrow.

Design Diary: "New" starts, but does not finish. [Part 1]

Had a funny little moment yesterday. Might be useful to elaborate a bit as a part of a larger discussion of game design specifically and getting things done in general.

I am writing the next draft of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple based on edits from Ryan Macklin. As a part of this process, I built up a lot of new Actual Play reports by playing several concurrent games on Skype. Since then, I've also kept in contact with those players asking for any advice that might make it into sidebars or addenda of the published game.

It was in that discussion that Mark Sherry, he of the genius mathematical brain that has helped me through many hair-brained game ideas, came up with a new idea for Do's procedure.

Some background. In the present rules, an overview of which you can see here, the color of stones you keep does not have an affect in the short term. Only the number of stones you keep matters. The color has an impact at the end of the game and at the end of a series of games, when your accumulated choices flavor how that ending plays out.

Some more background. The email list was discussing some tips on how to choose a good pilgrim name. This advice generally revolved around avoiding a situation where your name is too limited in its possible interpretations. When you describe Pilgrim Rolling Fist as solving problems with his fists, then he's probably not going to help people with his charming smile. However, if he helps people by defending against injustice, well, that opens many other narrative opportunities.

So, Mark's idea. Make color of stones matter in the short-term and allow both words in your pilgrim's name to be used as metaphors for getting into trouble and helping people. Then, when you choose light or dark stones, you are deciding whether it is the Banner that is helping people and the Avatar getting you in trouble or vice versa. An interesting side effect of this is that at the end of the game, you can make it so that the word that got your pilgrim into trouble the most is what ends up changing. Your pilgrim learned from her mistakes and grows up from the experience.

This is a provocative idea and tempted me greatly. Let's see how it turned out in tomorrow's post.

Quantum of Solis 2010


I'll be working in Durham, NC the first week of November. There are a lot of folks in the Durham area who I'd like to hang out with. This is a fortunate coincidence!

On Friday, November 5, let's all get a big table at Tyler's Taproom at around 7pm. We'll have some food, drinks, laughs and maybe some gaming if we're not too beat.

Comment if you can make it. Hope to see you there!

Women's T-Shirts for "Happy Birthday, Robot!"

By request from Jenn Wong, here are some t-shirts for ladies who love ninja pandas, robots, puppies, aliens and/or small birds. (Jenn loves them all.)


» Women's V-Neck T-Shirt


» Organic Women's Fitted T-Shirt

» Original illustration by Rin Aiello

Rob Donoghue on Split Decision and Rich Dice

Rob Donoghue lays out his throbbing brainmeats for Split Decision. Check it out for his thoughts on why narration should follow dice rolls with a system like this, the ways it can map to Paul Tevis' discussion of "but," and the important lessons of Gerald Cameron's Principles of Dice Games.
...if the dice chosen reflect behavior and that behavior is not reflected in the narration then you can end up with situations where the fiction has you saving kittens but the dice say you're showing a callous disregard for all life. If making the choice in the dice means making a choice in the fiction, then the fiction needs time to reflect it.
All this and more at the links below.

» Rob Donoghue: Rich Dice Extravaganza
» Paul Tevis: Insert your own "but" joke here
» Gerald Cameron: Four Principles of Dice Game Design

SageFight T-Shirts!

By Kevin Weiser's request, here are shirts to show off your support for SageFight.

If you want to make your own merch, here are the vector EPSs and transparent PNGs for your own use. (Creative Commons licensed, as usual.)

» Cafepress: SageFight Logo Shirt
» Download Logos: SageFight-Logos.zip

SageFight live on-stage! (Also, free logos!)



Kevin Weiser and Nora Last are living up to Rule #1 of SageFight by demonstrating the game live, on-stage at open mic night.

Oh, did you know you could get vector EPS and transparent PNGs of the SageFight logos for your personal use? Get them all here.

» Download: SageFight-Logos.zip

Split Decision


Split Decision is a method of creating temptation and dilemmas in your role-playing games and story games.

» Original lab notes
» Many thanks to folks on my Twitter feed for your great ideas!
» Translated into Spanish

Split Decision models two mutually opposing forces tempting a protagonist. Those forces might be cosmic (light and dark), moral (good and evil), romantic (Betty and Veronica), or personal ("Loyalty to My King" and "Love of My Family").

Additionally, Split Decision works best if you agree to an end state for whatever character you're playing. At some point, he becomes irreversibly "light," devotes himself to "evil," chooses to marry "Veronica," or prioritizes "Love of My Family." After that point, the character is retired, meaning that each short-term decision has real, lasting impact in that character's story.



Stuff You Need
Two red dice
Two blue dice
A pencil and paper


How to Play

Step 1: Roll
Roll all four dice and see the results. In the example above, you rolled B2 B3, R3, R5.



Step 2: Choose
Only choose two of the dice and combine them for a sum ranging from 2 through 12. In the example above, you have several possible combinations. B2 B3 gives you a sum worth 5, R3 R5 is 8, B2 R3 is 5, B3 R5 is 8, B3 R3 is 6, and B2 R5 is 7.



Step 3: Score
If you kept two red dice, record two red points.
If you kept two blue dice, record two blue points.
If you kept one red and one blue and red is higher, record one red point.
If you kept one red and one blue and blue is higher, record one blue point.
If you kept one red and one blue and they are tied, record one blue point and one red point.
These scores are maintained throughout the game, keeping track of your decisions over several turns.

For another scoring method, with larger totals, simply increase your red or blue points by any red or blue dice you keep. For example, if you keep B3 R5, you gain three blue points and five red points.


Using Split Decision in Your Game
At its core, this system creates two axes of information. Along one axis, you have numbers ranging from 2 through 12. Along the other, you have an axis that ranges from fully red to fully blue. To make the best use of Split Decision, you must first decide what each axis represents in your game. That, in turn, depends on the type of mood you want to create. Here are examples of how Split Decision can be used.


Fight the Machine
You play rebels fighting against an oppressive machine that has ensnared the minds of all humanity. The world they think is real is actually an illusion fed into their minds by the machine. It is a seductive illusion, but an illusion nonetheless. As rebels, you destroy that illusion from the inside-out, exposing its artificiality to as many people as possible. All this while also avoiding contact with the deadly AI assassins.

You roll whenever you are trying to expose the machine's illusion by doing something that shouldn't be possible. The results 2-12 show how successful this action is. Results below 7 are unsuccessful, higher are successful. Very low results are catastrophic, potentially resulting in injuries or dangers for yourself or others. Very high results are fantastic, resulting in superhuman feats of athleticism, creativity, and intelligence.

If you choose blue dice, you grow more attached to the machine's illusion. Each blue point shows your growing connectedness to this false reality and how hard it is to leave it. Blueness make it easier for the machine to tempt you. If you earn 10 Blue points, you surrender to the illusion by choice.

If you choose red dice, your defiance of the machine grows stronger. Each red point makes you an obvious aberration in the machine's system. Redness makes it easier for the machine to find you. If you earn 10 red points, you are discovered and destroyed by the machine's AI assassins.

Red points and Blue points are not mutually exclusive.


Mutant Angst
You play teenagers with new superpowers that are just barely under control. You try fitting in with a humanity, despite most of them fearing and idolizing you. You are tempted by two powerful figures in the media, each espousing very different philosophies. Professor Z preaches peaceful co-existence between the differently abled. Magnus O encourages active revolt against those who would stand against obviously superior organisms. Your choices bring you closer to one of these competing philosophies.

You roll when you use your special powers. 2-12 represents the scope of effect your powers have at this moment.

Space/Range:
2 Nowhere
3 Direct Contact
4 An Inch
5 A Few Inches
6 A Foot
7 Five Feet
8 Ten Feet
9 A Small House
10 A City Street
11 A City Building
12 A City Block
People:
2 No One
3 Yourself
4 Two People
5 Three People
6 Four People
7 Five People
8 Ten People
9 Twenty People
10 Forty People
11 Eighty People
12 Over 100 People
Time/Duration:
2 Never
3 An Instant
4 Fifteen Sec
5 Thirty Sec
6 A Minute
7 Five Minutes
8 Fifteen minutes
9 Half an hour
10 An Hour
11 A Day
12 A Week

If you choose blue dice, your action reflects a sympathy for humanity as a whole. Each blue point shows how far along you are in becoming a true believer of Professor Z's philosophy of peaceful co-existence. If you earn 10 blue points, you are recruited to join Professor Z's Z-Squad, a super-powered team defending humanity from super-threats.

If you choose red dice, your action reflects a growing enmity towards humanity as a whole. Each red point shows how far along you are in your belief in Magnus O's philosophy of superpowered superiority. If you earn 10 red points, you are recruited to join Magnus O's Brotherhood, a super-powered syndicate dedicated to disrupting and destroying humanity's institutions.

If you choose a red/blue pair of dice, your action reflects a disregard for both philosophies, instead choosing a self-centered pragmatism.

Blue points and red points are mutually exclusive. So, any blue points you earn will erase any red points and vice versa.


First Contact
You play an emissary in a foreign land, navigating unknown cultural rules. The slightest action could be gravely offensive or highly lauded. And along with those dilemmas, there are your long-term concerns about pleasing your employer.

When you roll...
  • A lower result (below 7) means that your action is not allowed according to the rules in this place.
  • A higher result means (above 7) that your action is allowed, according to the rules in this place.
  • Either way, you may want to make note of the rules as you discover them.
  • Use caution. Trying to disobey the rules once or twice may be excused as ignorance, but frequent attempts are signs of aggressive disobedience.
  • If you keep BB, that means your employer is very pleased about this rule.
  • If you keep BR (where B is greater than R), your employer is somewhat pleased about this rule.
  • If you keep a tied BR, your employer has no interest in this rule.
  • If you keep RB (where R is greater than B), your employer is somewhat displeased about this rule.
  • If you keep RR, that means your employer is very displeased about this rule.

For example: The king employs Megan to document the culture of an uncharted region for future conquest.
GM: You walk along a gravel road until you come upon an old stone fortress nestled in the brambles. What do you do?

Megan: I approach the fortress openly, waving my right arm.

Roll. B4 B5 R2 R6. She keeps BB, for a total of 9. This is allowed and this pleases her employer.

GM: You are allowed to approach and are greeted… well, ignored… by a man who has been laying in the grass. He seems to be enjoying the afternoon sun.

Megan: I step towards this man, again showing with right arm exposed and obviously not wielding a weapon. "Excuse me, sir. Do you know the name of this fortress?"

Roll. B1 B5 R3 R6. She keeps BB, for a total of 6. This is allowed and this pleases her employer.

GM: The man pays little notice to you and responds in a gruff, smelly voice: "Who's askin'?"

Megan: I respond, "I am a traveling storyteller, singing of my travels through this region and sharing the stories."

Roll. B1 B4 R5 R6. She keeps BB, for a total of 4. This is a pretty low result, but not too bad. Something she just said or did is a minor infraction, but she still wants to please her employer.

GM: The man stands straight up at the mention of "storyteller." He shakes the grass off his shoulders, but never breaks eye contact. He says: "Listen, friend. I don't know where you come from but we don't do no singin' nor tellin' of no tales inside those walls. Now, my memory's bad, so lemme ask again. Who are you?"

Megan: I respond, "Did I say storyteller? Ha! Sorry, my English isn't so good. What's the word… ah… Journalist. Yes. I am a journalist, documenting current events around this region for the good of all unaligned townsfolk. I see you have no banner on your fortress, so surely you're in need of some new news from beyond your city limits."

Roll. B1 B1 R6 R6. She keeps RR, for a total of 12. This will greatly displease her employer, but Megan can do her employer no good if she is thrown into jail.

GM: The man wipes the dirt from his eyes with a clean patch of his sleeve. "Ah, a journalist! Yes, we have such need of your services!" He escorts you into the fortress. "Tell me, what news comes from the war in Shiloh? Whatever happened to the Geldish baby trapped in the well? What are the latest fashions of the north…"

Master & Apprentice
In addition to the basic system described above, you can use Split Decision to model the relationship between a teacher and student trying to understand each other.

When you choose your pair of dice, the unchosen pair stays on the table and passes to the next player. This pair of dice is called the Lesson. Instead of rolling 4d6, she may either choose to accept or deny the Lesson.

If she accepts the lesson, she does not roll any dice. Instead, she just takes that pair of dice as her roll. She may earn or remove an extra blue or red point as she wishes.

If she does not accept the Lesson, she rolls two more dice. She then may choose whichever pair of dice out of those four she wishes. You may earn or remove an extra blue or red point as you wish. The pair she does not choose stays on the table and passes to the next player as a new Lesson.

More Ideas
Mischa: One player rolls 4d6 RRBB. Another player divides the dice into pairs. The first player chooses which 2d6 pair matters.

Insect King: Instead of having different colours the dice could be divided between two with number faces and two with dots.

Try working Split Decision into your own game!

Marain Script around the tubes

Marain Script was featured on the homepage of Iain-Banks.com and on this MetaFilter post! Awesome.

There is lots of great feedback from the Iain Banks forum on this thread, too.

Thanks for sharing it, folks!

[Lab] 4d6. 2 blue, 2 red. Keep 2d6. RR, RB, BB matters.

Here's an idea I tweeted that seemed to catch a lot of interest:
Idea: 4d6, 2 red, 2 blue. Roll all four, keep two. Short-term: 2-12 result. Long-term effects for choosing RR, RB, or BB.
And that quickly drew a flurry of responses, which I'll gather here for future reference if I use this system for something.





Free Painted Mural Textures



My wife says these look like the Martian skies in an old pulp paperback cover. Just one idea for how you can use these high-res textures in your projects.

» Download: Free texture set on Flickr
» Released under Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic license.

[Do] Editing Begins (Open Thread)

Got Ryan Macklin's high-level edits for Chapter 1 of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

Thus begins the process of shaping the slippery text into something firm. Once I come back with a revised draft, plus the new Actual Play chapter, Ryan'll do the deep edits.

We still see the end of 2010 as our goal for the final text.

Got any questions about Do and how it's developing?

Pebble Rebel is out of the lab!

Pebble Rebel
I'm happy to announce that Pebble Rebel is out of the lab. Pebble Rebel is a two-player strategy game where each player has very different goals, but still get in each other's way. Check it out here.

» Official rules for Pebble Rebel

[Do] Monday Night Group - Episode 2

Actual Play of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple
This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

» Previously, Episode 1

The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass gets in trouble by stepping on things and helps people by thinking clearly. (Jenn)
World Destiny: 2
Temple Destiny: 2

Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie gets in trouble by talking too much, and helps people using his wide variety of baked goods. (Mark)
World Destiny: 1
Temple Destiny: 3

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot gets in trouble by being knocked around a lot and helps people with his indestructible boots. (Daniel)
World Destiny: 2
Temple Destiny: 2

The Letter

"Excessive Elves" by Peter Aronson

The Story

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass listens to the elves signing incomplete songs and helps them figure out a beautiful melody.

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass steps on the elves' toes during a solo, accidentally creating an even more catchy and annoying ear worm.

Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie stuffs a scone in Pilgrim Clumsy Glass's mouth before she can reach the chorus about our furred brothers and sisters.

Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie screams the wrong ending to the song and the lead elf frowns in disapproval at him.

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot blunders into O'Malley's Bar, putting his boot through a wall exposing the hidden supply of booze to the elves.

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot uses his other indestructible boot as a door stop, keeping the elves from entering the bar and confiscating the secret stash.

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass spits out the scone, grabs Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie and runs away from the Head Elf

Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie hands each of the elves a sample of a highly processed, but sublimely delicious cookie.

As Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie hands out the treats, he talks about how much Frank  is beginning to start looking like an elf, causing the group to rise up in an UPROAR

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot becomes a courier for the humans, smuggling out bottles of beer past the elves.

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot spills some bottles of beer, enraging the elves as the beer despoils nature.

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass steps on a twig and can hear the trees swear at her.

The elves begin to use their Wisdom to start turning Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie into an ELF!

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot gestures with his foot at the cars and smokestacks that are the real destroyers of nature, thus redirecting the elves' anger.

The elves point out that as bad as the cars and smokestacks are, they're not nearly as bad as the spilled rotgut, which has already killed a six foot circle of vegetation.

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass notices the six foot circle of death grow towards the scary trees and jumps away from the impending doom

Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie takes a bite of a mass-produced, preservative-laden cookie, which shocks his mind free of the elves' spell.

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot digs a protective trough with his boot around the expanding circle of dead vegetation.

Aunt Matilda starts screaming at Pilgrim Bouncing Boot, who just dug the trough through her garden plot of prize petunias.

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass cries out "You are just upset you have no meat woman!" and grabs Pilgrim Bouncing Boot's arm to run away

Pilgrim Clumsy Glass steps on Frank's toe during the escape, breaking him from his spell and angering the sword-bearing elves.

Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie blocks the sword of one of the elves using an exceptionally stale baguette.

All the elf guards turn towards Pilgrim Loquacious Cookie as he screams out that their swords are made of mystical hooey!

Pilgrim Bouncing Boot swings his indestructible boot by the laces like a nunchuk, destroying the elves' swords in a dramatic flourish.

Epilogue

The elves whip out their curvy bows and start chasing the Pilgrims and Frank away

The humans seize on the elves' partial disarmament and start attacking the elves.

As Pilgrim Bouncing Boot lies away, dodging the thrown bottles and smoke bombs, he wishes he kept a bottle of that good beer.

New Names

Pilgrim Clumsy Mirror gets into trouble by falling down on things and helps people by creating an illusion. (Jenn)
World Destiny: 6
Temple Destiny: 6

Pilgrim Pugnacious Cookie gets into trouble by picking fights, and helps them with his selection of tasty baked goods. (Mark)
World Destiny: 5
Temple Destiny: 6

Pilgrim Revolting Boot gets in trouble by rousing rabble and helps people with his indestructible boots. (Daniel)
World Destiny: 7
Temple Destiny: 6

[Do] Saturday Night Group - Episode 2

Actual Play of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple
This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

» Previously, Episode 2

The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Delicious Shirt gets in trouble because he looks like food and helps people by drawing away danger. (Daniel)
World Destiny: 2
Temple Destiny: 2

Pilgrim Marvelous Candy gets in trouble by overdoing things and helps people by baking treats. (Raven)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 2

Pilgrim Reckless Brick gets into trouble because he can't control where he's going and helps people by building stronger relationships. (Matt)
World Destiny: 2
Temple Destiny: 1

The Letter

"Is It Safe To Allow Cabbages On Roller Coasters?" by Peter Aronson

The Story

Pilgrim Marvelous Candy flies down after Reckless Brick and throws him to safety, revealing a casserole he has just baked as a peace offering to the Coleslaw Front.

Unfortunately, the talking Sky Cabbages are outraged at Pilgrim Marvelous Candy and his casserole! "Why, there might be relatives of ours in that casserole!" they shout, as they gather menacingly around Pilgrim Marvelous Candy.

Pilgrim Delicious Shirt lures George out of the executive bathroom with promises of tonic to go with his gin.

The very, very drunk George sees pilgrim Delicious Shirt as a giant, talking, snack item who has escaped from one of the vending booths (why not? He's already dealing with giant, talking cabbages!) and begins chasing him angrily!

Landing inside the park, Pilgrim Reckless Brick encounters HAZEL HARRINGTON and decides to answer both of her questions at once. Should she open the park? Is it safe to put a giant cabbage on a roller coaster? Summoning his wisest sage voice, he says, "There is only one way to find out!"

Pilgrim Marvelous Candy calms the leafy fury of the mighty cabbages by showing them that the casserole is a delicious ALL MEAT casserole, and does not contain any cabbage by-products...or family members!

The talking Sky Cabbages remain skeptical of Pilgrim Marvelous Candy's casserole claims, but are willing to forego any future litigation on the condition that Marvelous Candy insures the safety of the Cabbage-modified RIDEs...by going first.

When Hazel Harrington tries to intervene between George and pilgrim Delicious Shirt, to explain he's a temple pilgrim here to solve the problem, he becomes furious with her for bringing outside food and drink into the park!

Intercepting Pilgrim Marvelous Candy and the talking Sky Cabbages, Pilgrim Reckless Brick truthfully points out that Marvelous Candy isn't tall enough to ride the rides - he isn't SIX-FOOT TALL!

The sky cabbages then notice that Reckless Brick is tall enough for the ride, and continue marching him off instead.

Pilgrim Marvelous Candy argues with the cabbages that pilgrim Reckless Brick is, in fact, not six-feet wide as would be required for him to ride in the carts.

This proves small obstacle to the talking Sky Cabbages, who are as ingenious as they are litigious. After a few raising the bottom of the ride, they force Pilgrim Marvelous Candy into a MODIFIED CART that's perfect for his height and width.

Pilgrim Delicious Shirt informs George that the Coleslaw Front is eating all the casserole, to which he responds "You're right, snack item! I must stop this consumption of outside food and drink on park grounds!"

Pilgrim Reckless Brick points out to George that the drunken park manager might not want to argue about rules regarding illegal foods stuffs with THE COLESLAW FRONT - they're crazies with machetes!

Pilgrim Reckless Brick is saying all this while barreling into the Coleslaw Front, bringing him within slashing range of their machetes.

Unbeknownst to Pilgrim Marvelous Candy or the talking Sky Cabbages, part of the track ahead of them is closed for MAINTENANCE!

Pilgrim Delicious Shirt sits on the Popsicore Park sign reminding Reckless Brick that he can fly, which he does, keeping him an inch too far for their blades.

GEORGE notices the giant food item (pilgrim Delicious Shirt) on top of the park sign, realizes that isn't supposed to be there, grabs a crossbow from one of the park's skill games, and takes aim...

Pilgrim Reckless Brick points out to George that although HAZEL HARRINGTON asked the pilgrims (some of whom may or may not be food) to come to the park, George himself signed a contract allowing a bunch of food items into the part - namely, the talking Sky Cabbages.

Pilgrim Reckless Brick, because he can't talk about something without flying into it, barrels into a group of talking sky cabbages at the turkey leg stand, causing a great hot flurry of turkey grease.

When the RIDE hits the maintenance section, it goes flying off the track, leaving Pilgrim Marvelous Candy to somehow "fly" the ride to safety.

Pilgrim Delicious Shirt, in a fit of cowardice, flies away from the park thus escaping George's crossbow-powered fury.

However, the sign was recently painted (green) and the color has come off all over Delicious Shirt, so when sets down in the middle of the thousand thugs of the Coleslaw front, they immediately believe he is one of the talking sky cabbages and turn on him.

Epilogue

Drenched in turkey grease, Pilgrim Reckless Brick accepts the thanks of George and Hazel...and the bill for damages from the talking Sky Cabbages.

Marvelous Candy's impressive flying of the modified cart to a safe landing creates a new ride for the park that the sky cabbages adore, and reveals the cabbages can fly -- they are talking SKY cabbages, after all.

Pilgrim Delicious Shirt lures the Coleslaw Front around the world over and over again, until they collapse from the cramps caused by the lack of vegetables in their diet.

New Names

Pilgrim Reckless Syllogism gets into trouble because he can't control where he's going and helps people by pointing out logical flaws.
World Destiny: 4
Temple Destiny: 8

Pilgrim Marvelous Cat gets into trouble by overdoing things and helps people by sneaking around.
World Destiny: 2
Temple Destiny: 6

Pilgrim Favorite Shirt gets in trouble by being soooo familiar and helps people by drawing away danger.
World Destiny: 6
Temple Destiny: 5

Jeff Tidball features Happy Birthday, Robot!

Holy cow, Jeff Tidball just featured three storytelling games on the Buffalo GameBuffs Blog: Once Upon a Time, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Happy Birthday, Robot!
All three of these games are critical successes, first and foremost, because they preserve the best features of both stories and games—the emotional hooks of stories and the intellectual creativity of games—rather than fighting against or discarding either.
Considering that Jeff calls Once Upon a Time the best storytelling game of all time, this is some auspicious company for a game less than a year in print. Neat! Thanks, Jeff!

» Buffalo GameBuffs Blog: Three Fantastic and Delicious Story Games
» Jeff Tidball and Will Hindmarch write GamePlayWright
» Once Upon a Time, Baron Munchausen and Happy Birthday, Robot!

The Leftovers in "The Pit"


Here's a new map for The Leftovers! The Pit is a relatively easy dungeon to get through in that it's small. However, that means the danger words and items are packed in tighter together, so it'll take a deft wit to work them into halfway coherent sentences. Test the limits of your olfactory senses against The Pit!

» Download: The Leftovers in "The Pit"

SageFight as a Madness Talent in Don't Rest Your Head

Andrew Smith posted a tongue-in-cheek Madness Talent for Fred Hicks' insomniac horror game Don't Rest Your Head. In the game, Madness Talents are exhaustion-fueled abilities that give you superhuman powers. The superhuman power that Andrew came up with? SageFight:
"But you played the game every day in your mind. As you walked down the street you could hear the beats of the movement all around you. The train. The joggers. The stock market. And now, even the universe itself has opened up its beat to you. That constant driving rhythm, like a drum in your mind, synchronising everything that exists like some great clockwork machine."
Yeah, that fits DRYH pretty well. Check out more at Andrew's blog. Thanks, Andrew!

» Andrew Smith's Blog: Tabletop Manifesto
» More about SageFight

[Do] Sunday Afternoon Group - Episode 2

Actual Play of Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple
This is a story created by playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

» Previously, Episode 1

The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook gets into trouble by overestimating his abilities and helps people by knowing about the plants and animals. (Written by Anders)
World Destiny: 2
Temple Destiny: 5

Pilgrim Clumsy Bell gets into trouble by being clumsy and helps people by warning them of danger. (Written by Daniel)
World Destiny: 5
Temple Destiny: 1

Pilgrim Fancy Voice gets in trouble by being too elaborate and helps people by talking. (Written by Nolan)
World Destiny: 1
Temple Destiny: 4

Pilgrim Strong Willow gets in trouble by rushing into tasks and helps
people by building compromise and consensus. (Written by Shane)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

The Letter

"Spun of Crystal and Gold" by Sophie Lagacé

The Story

Upon arrival at Greymist Estate, Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook asks to examine Grandfather Greymist, hoping to know some herbal remedy for his condition.

Upon arrival at Greymist Estate, Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook asks to examine Grandfather Greymist, hoping to know some herbal remedy for his condition.

As Amber opens the door for Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook, the doctors rush into the room, overwhelming Reaching Guidebook with their suggestions and protestations.

Pilgrim Clumsy Bell rescues Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook by shouting to the doctors that lawyers are on their way, causing them to flee the estate.

Pilgrim Fancy Voice begins poking around the automatons in the room, asking questions about everything in sight, until Amber Carnelian shouts "That's it, your a genius!"

Motivated by this praise, Fancy Voice continues poking until one particular flourish draws a twitch from an automaton, causing it to snag on his clothing.

Pilgrim Strong Willow speaks with the automaton grasping Fancy Voice and convinces the robot that pilgrim Fancy Voice can be released.

Strong Willow's speech works a little too well, as the automatons release everything, they've been holding onto... including there secret weapons.

While the other pilgrims are busy messing around with the automatons, Reaching Guidebook examines Grandfather Greymist to determine what's causing his illness.

Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook pokes and prods at Grandfather Greymist, accidentally flipping a clockwork switch, resulting in Grandfather Greymist grasping Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook with an iron grip.

Backing away from the giant robots with their terrifying weaponry, Clumsy Bell runs into a large angry man glowering down at her - Uncle Victor!

Pilgrim Clumsy Bell warns Victor of the danger his father's secrets are in now that the robots all have weapons charged and ready.

Pilgrim Fancy Pilgrim begins to bloviate about the virtues of peace and the menace of war, his long speech lulling the automatons into lowering those secret weapons.

Now convinced of the rightness of pacifism, the automatons set out to convince humanity of this, with Fancy Voice forcibly recruited as their spokesman!

Pilgrim Strong Willow rushes to the aid of Reaching Guidebook, but Amber Carnelian doesn't know what’s going on so she begins attacking Strong Willow.

Squirming around in the old man's iron grip, Reaching Guidebook manages to squeeze an oily fruit's juices into the joints of the clockwork arm, causing things to slip enough for him to pry himself free.

Pilgrim Clumsy Bell tells the pacifist automatons that Uncle Victor is a warmonger and profiteer, thus distracting them from their worship of Pilgrim Fancy voice.

However, Clumsy Bell's violent defamations convince the automatons that she is a threat to peace as well, so one of them is assigned to restrain her while the rest deal with Uncle Victor.

Pilgrim Fancy Voice still has enough of the automatons attention to get one of them to separate Pilgrim Strong Willow and Amber Carnelian.

Fancy Voice's command of the automatons and his grandiose style convince Amber Carnelian that the pilgrim must have taken a bribe from Uncle Victor, so she lays about him to prevent him from causing further mischief!

Pilgrim Strong Willow exposes the clockwork nature of Grandfather Greymist to Amber, convincing her that Pilgrim Fancy Voice is not in fact one of Uncle Victor's cronies.

Amber denies the terrible news and runs at Strong Willow, who raises his arm to defend himself, but before the two can collide (again), Grandfather Greymist stands, revealing his twirling mechanical parts and menacing Strong Willow.

Pilgrim Reaching Guidebook takes on Grandfather Greymist and in the struggle reveals a secret weapon: a blaster that knocks Reaching Guidebook to the ground.

Fortunately, the notebook, where Reaching Guidebook keeps his samples and notes, absorbs the force of the blow is mostly absorbed (although it's mostly incinerated) and he zips away before a second shot is fired.

Pilgrim Clumsy Bell warns the automatons that the most dangerous weapons in the room are themselves, causing a paralyzing logic loop.

Pilgrim Fancy Voice crosses through the crowd of automatons and convinces Uncle Victor of how unprofitable the automatons actual are.

Pilgrim Strong Willow manages to convince both Amber and her grandfather that he is not a threat to either of them and they both agree to stop hitting him (for now).

Epilogue

No longer needing (or able) to hide his mechanical nature, Grandfather Greymist resumes his work, finally showing Amber /all/ his secrets.

Uncle Victor loses interest in the automatons as war machines, leaving Amber to found a new company selling BRAIN TRANSFER technology.

Pilgrim Fancy Voice makes the automatons feel better about being so dangerous and convinces them that there are plenty of peaceful uses for blaster beams and rotating blades so that the automatons start a workshop of their own, making new bodies for all of the people on the planet.

Uncle Victor realizes the error of his ways and vows to himself become a pilgrim and enter into the worlds and help others. That and sell pilgrim insurance on other worlds that may have pilgrims visiting in the near future.

New Names

Pilgrim Reaching Satchel gets in trouble by overestimating his abilities and helps people by having something useful with him. (Anders)
World Destiny: 6
Temple Destiny: 7

Pilgrim Twisting Voice gets in trouble by being misunderstood and helps people by talking. (Nolan)
World Destiny: 9
Temple Destiny: 4

Pilgrim Strong Lens gets in trouble by rushing into tasks and helps people by telling the truth. (Shane)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 7

Pilgrim Clumsy Decoy gets into trouble by being clumsy and helps people by drawing attention to himself. (Daniel)
World Destiny: 7
Temple Destiny: 6

Notes

Wow, we JUST barely made it out of this letter with a Parades ending. The last goal word was literally used in the last turn of the last round. I thought this might be a fluke, but it looks like this is actually the norm. Turns out 20 Goal Words is just the right amount for four players to just barely scratch out a happy ending. Three players can do it, too, but they have to be judicious with their stones very early on.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.