[In the Lab] X.O.K.O. - SageFight as a Scott Pilgrim LARP

Huh. You know what? #SageFight could be an engine for a Scott Pilgrim LARP.less than a minute ago via Echofon

So yeah, about that...

Tentative Title: X.O.K.O.

Inspiration: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Premise: Epic love and silly fights among the youth of an unnamed city. Each player's character is trying to be in a relationship with another character, but is thwarted by their exes. Each player is assigned to another player as their love interest. Each player also has two other players who are their exes. (So, in total, you have pre-existing relationships to three other players.) No one can fulfill their romantic ending until both people engage in two fights. (I'm sure I'm missing some serious bugs in the logistics of this relationship map.) If you have already done your fights, you can team up with your SO to complete their fights.

Situation: A big going-away party for a mutual friend. All the characters' baggage and lingering history will be settled tonight. Other party guests who are not involved in the drama will serve as timekeepers and referees during the fights.

Names: In the spirit of "Knives Chow," "Ramona Flowers," and "Scott Pilgrim," every character has name like that. Find random objects in your house, add a normal first name to that. Julia Pen, Graham Book, Quinn Cup, Emily Bat, Kevin Curtain, etc.

Structure: The game begins with a few minutes of free RP, but quickly the fights begin. A fight begins with one player calling out a character's name and challenging them to a fight. (For example, "QUINN CUP! I CHALLENGE YOU TO A FIGHT!") The challenged player responds by deciding the type of fight, of which there are several including Duel, Melee, Clan vs. Clan, etc. (For example, "I ACCEPT YOUR CHALLENGE, KEVIN CURTAIN! A DUEL!")

One Fight at a Time: Only one fight happens at a time. When a fight is over, neither of those players may be called out until another pair have had a turn to fight.

Power-Ups: Somewhere in the middle of all this, it would be cool to introduce a number of meta-fight coupons like "GET A LIFE: Turn in this coupon to re-do a fight." or "IN A MINUTE: Turn in this coupon to postpone a fight." or "MY WAY: Turn in this coupon to set the terms of a fight when you challenge someone else."

BOSS BATTLE: I love the idea of all this drama leading up to an epic boss battle of some kind, between all the players and a big baddie's gang of minions. Dunno what those minions would be doing in the rest of the party though, so it might not work.

There are plenty of logistics to work out in general. As Graham notes below, when fights actually matter, the stakes are raised. However, I hope this is mitigated somewhat because everyone is trying to achieve their romantic ending by engaging in two fights. It's simply getting into those two fights that matters, not necessarily winning them.

This is one of those odd projects because I'm not so much into LARPing, at least insofar as I've experienced the "LA" in boffer LARPs or the "RP" in Vampire LARPs. Boffer stuff feels so cumbersome. Speaking in-character is sooo awkward. (Again, these are all my own perspectives.) This comes close to a happy middle ground for me, at least in my head.

Sent these ideas to other people and they came back with a lot of good advice.

Quinn immediately tossed out a bunch of ideas:
--An achievement system (most duels, last one out, first one out, win a 2 versus 1)
--XP system (maybe just a ticket punch system for duels won, withe XP letting you purchase perks)
--perks sytem (modifiers to a combat, that let you alter the rules of a combat in some way)
--factions and faction goal system (a few sides to the conflict and allow players to chase overall goal to increase faction reputation)

And HM posted a TON of ideas on the official SageFight page. This one seems to have potential:
Ninja Vanish: pose — legs together, standing straight, arms down, wrists crossed in front of waist, head bowed; effect — you are invisible and cannot be touched. On the next ‘fight’ freeze, you may exit the scene without losing.

Graham cautioned about transitioning SageFight into a game where the stakes matter:
Who determines when a move has ended? Let's say that I accuse you of moving, suddenly, after your move finished and tapping me on the back of the hand. You thought you were just completing your move. How do we resolve that?

What happens if I am very tall? Can I avoid fights simply by holding my hands in the air?

I run up to you when you're having a conversation with someone else and tap you on the hand. Did you just lose a fight?
What happens if I am very tall? Can I avoid fights simply by holding my hands in the air?

I run up to you when you're having a conversation with someone else and tap you on the hand. Did you just lose a fight?

These questions probably sound stupid, but that's the problem: there's a difference in perspective. When you make fights matter, either to a narrative or to a competitive player, the rules start to matter too.

Kevin advised stepping away from past LARP models:
LARPING in America has gone on undeveloped since people started doing it in the 70s. Seriously, there has been zero innovation. People are still using the first draft of thirty year old rules. It's like the dark ages.

Europe did the opposite, it evolved the form so far that it's another activity entirely, and now is unrecognizable from it's origins. Just another beast entirely.

I think the less you avow yourself of those forms the better off you'll be. And that's not usually my advise to any creative, but in this case a knowledge vacuum might be helpful.

By contrast, Emily had recommended some references:
Neat! It seems like it would make a great mechanic. Esp. since it works for big groups, which can take a long time and be a hassle. Lisa Padol was involved with writing the Ghost Fu game. She'd be another good person to talk to about this.

Julia also suggested GhostFu: The Jade Emperor's Celestial Tournament:
Check out some of the larp descriptions at Intercon this year. Movement, dance, singing, scavenger hunts, etc., are all possible in parlor larps. I'm working on a larp now about secret societies and cannibals that incorporates food (vegan meat substitutes dressed up as human meat and personalized fortune cookies) as part of the mechanics. Parlor larps are often mechanics light, and improv heavy. There are stricter ones, of course. I played in Vampire: The Requiem based larp that was not quite just the table top game with costumes, but it was close. It was successful if you liked the system, which ultimately I didn't care much for, but I had fun until the system drove me nuts.

So yeah, this is a huge can of worms. :P For me, the toughest part of designing a tabletop RPG is the RP. I can handle the G pretty well, but it's the fluffiness of RP that gets me every time. With LARP, it seems to be even MORE focused on that fluffy, ill-defined type of non-mechanized interaction.

[The Leftovers] Working on New Maps: Requests?

Heyo, so I'm probably going to have some free time on a plane the next two days. Probably going to put together some new maps for The Leftovers. Here's the Spleen as an example. (Click to embiggen.)

I'm tinkering with The Pit, The Bunnies' Burrow and The Room of Spiky Things. If you have thoughts on new dungeons, post your ideas. For example:

The Bunnies' Burrow


The Pit



Any requests?

[Do] Saturday Night Group - Episode 1

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

The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Delicate Brick gets in trouble by being frail and helps people by build stronger relationships. (Written by Matt)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Red Shirt gets in trouble by having a bad temper and helps people by drawing away danger. (Written by Daniel)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Marvelous Mollusk gets in trouble by being overly-dramatic and overdoing things and helps people by polishing things up. (Written by Raven)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

The Letter

"Swallowed Whole" by Ben Lehman

The Story

While the whale remains startled from Mollusk's approach, pilgrim Delicate Brick goes down the whale's blowhole, looking for MELANIE.

The blowhole seems to narrow as pilgrim Delicate Brick crawls down, until finds he can only push his head out to look around inside the WHALE.

Pilgrim Red Shirt draws the whale's attention away from Pilgrim Marvelous Mollusk and calms it down.

Pilgrim Red Shirt succeeds too well at getting the whale's attention, and the whale decides he is another tasty morsel and EATs him!

Pilgrim Marvellous Mollusk gets the whale to spit out pilgrim Red Shirt because (and reveal with a flourish) he has a giant plate of the most incredible COOKIES ever baked!

Because they are the most delicious cookies, the whale swallows Pilgrim Marvelous Mollusk and he crashes into the Melanie's trees.

Stuck in the whale's blowhole, pilgrim Delicate Brick strains and strains until POP! he goes flying out of the blowhole and lands on some...trees?!?

In the branches of the trees, Pilgrim Delicate Brick finds himself facing a vicious, hissing CAT that he most certainly can't defend himself against!

Pilgrim Red Shirt flies to the Pilgrim Delicate Brick's rescue, catching Melanie's cat as it leaps at him!

Unfortunately, trying to fight with an angry cat and flying at the same time sends Pilgrim Red Shirt careening towards the HOUSE!


Pilgrim Marvelous Mollusk dusts himself off and floats down to the ground as the whale burps from the cookies, and out pops Melanie's planet.

Pilgrim Delicate Brick negotiates between the whale and Melanie, so that the whale will protect her and her planet (and cat and trees), in exchange for more cookies.

Upon returning her cat, Pilgrim Red Shirt suggests that the whale protect her world from anything else that would try to eat it.

New Names

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


This is the last of the first episodes for any of the groups. From here on out, each group chooses their own letters to answer and thus choose the direction of their journey.

Looking back at how the different groups approached this letter, I can say with some certainty that I the whale's blowhole is about as well protected as a Death Star exhaust vent. Dude needs to watch that orifice better. :P

Interview on Little Metal Dog

Interviews with Daniel Solis
The Little Metal Dog is a podcast with some focus on the UK gaming scene, but also game professionals in general. Episode 9 highlights games for kids, including Happy Birthday, Robot!

Then we discuss Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple and its relationship with HBR. Namely, that HBR introduces the very essential elements of RPGs, then Do introduces just a little bit more while still maintaining the essential story-building gameplay.

Michael is very pleasant to talk to and we could've gone on quite a bit longer. Oh boy, though, my stammering is such a harsh contrast to Michael's velvety English accent. Hear for yourself!

» Little Metal Dog: Episode 9

Free Font: Marain Script

Here's a new free font for you to install: Marain Script. It's my first one! I'll be using it in Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

I used a web service called Fontifier, so the quality works best at small sizes. At large sizes, you see the slight pixelated corners the web service creates. At small sizes, those pixelated corners just look like a grainy texture that fits an alphabet written by a brush. Hey, happy accidents!

The letterforms are based on the Marain alphabet, from Iain M. Banks' "Culture" novels. In those novels, the spacefaring Culture use the Marain alphabet because each character is unique and can be read in any rotation. That seemed to make sense for use in Do, since the monks and pilgrims are not bound by gravity either.

» Download MarainScript.tff Creative Commons License
Marain Script by Daniel Solis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

» More about Marain
» More about the Culture novels
» More about Fontifier

[Do] Monday Night Group - Episode 1

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

The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Elegant Glass gets in trouble by dancing around and knocking things down and helps people by her clear thinking. (Written by Jenn)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Loquacious Candy gets in trouble by talking too much, and helps people by giving them candies to make them feel better. (Written by Mark)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Heavy Boot gets in trouble by being quite large and helps people with his indestructible boots. (Written by Daniel)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

The Letter

"Swallowed Whole" by Ben Lehman

The Story

Pilgrim Loquacious Candy talked and talked and missed the whale coming at him and EATING ALL OF US

The Pilgrims end up in the stomach, where Pilgrim Loquacious Candy lands in a pool of digestive juices. They eat a hole in one of his pockets, but the pocket contained tasty antacids, which neutralized the pool.

Pilgrim Heavy Boot shoves his left boot into the whale's blow hole, forcing him to breathe through his mouth.

The pilgrims get sucked by the breath toward a house, which Pilgrim Heavy Boot crashes into, leaving a big hole.

Pilgrim Elegant Glass screams out to Pilgrim Heavy Boots "Grab my hand when you come out the other side so I can save you by grabbing this tree!"

Pilgrim Elegant Glass moves around so much that she rescues Pilgrim Heavy Boot but knocks herself deeper into the whale's gullet.

Pilgrim Loquacious Candy tosses a length of string candy toward Pilgrim Elegant Glass, and used it to tow her in with Melanie's help.

Pilgrim Heavy Boot puts Melanie in his right boot, swings her around by the laces and tosses her out as the whale opens its mouth.

Melanie's cat wants to go with her master and jumps really high onto Pilgrim Heavy Boot's large face, scratching it up.

Pilgrim Elegant Glass quickly grabs some lotus potion and puts it in Pilgrim Heavy Boot's mouth to help heal the scratches internally.

Pilgrim Elegant Glass quickly grabs some lotus potion and puts it in Pilgrim Heavy's Boot's mouth to eat to heal the scratches internally

Pilgrim Elegant Glass accidentally knocks Melanie's spicy gingersnap cookies into the whale's stomach, causing it to spew slimy goo all over her while it suffers gastric distress.


Pilgrim Loquacious Candy crumbles some peppery candy by the whale's nose, making it sneeze out the house and planet.

Pilgrim Heavy Boot removes the left boot from the blow hole and warns the whale not to eat any more inhabited worlds.

Pilgrim Elegant Glass eventually cleans the slimy goo from her clothes and apologizes to Melanie about stomping on her cookies.

New Names

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.
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.
World Destiny: 2
Temple Destiny: 2

[Do] Sunday Night Group - Episode 1

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

The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Green Goggles gets into trouble by being inexperienced and helps people by seeing things clearly. (Written by Anders)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Rolling Glass gets into trouble by being clumsy and helps people by being honest. (Written by David)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Yellow Balloon gets into trouble by being afraid and helps people by celebrating. (Written by Jamie)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

The Letter

"Swallowed Whole" by Ben Lehman

The Story

As they travel toward Melanie and the whale, Pilgrim Green Goggles notices how few moons there are for whales to eat.

But while looking around at the sky, he flies straight down the gullet of the whale!

Pilgrim Rolling Glass asks the whale to open his mouth, and the whale says, "OOOOKAAAAYYYYY!" just long enough for Green Goggles to fly out.

As Green Goggles flies out, Yellow Balloon flies in - and he lifts Melanie’s spirits by giving her a balloon and dancing with her.

Once he's clear of the whale's mouth, Green Goggles points out a bunch of tasty moons, so he won't have to eat Melanie's planet again.

The inhabitants of the moons hear what Green Goggles has said about them and come out of their houses, enraged, and say, "No! Don't eat us."

Rolling Glass attempts to explain the situation to the moons' inhabitants, but his analogy comparing the moons to cookies only makes them madder.

Pilgrim Yellow Balloon throws a party on the whale, inviting all the inhabitants of the moons to come, and they have such a good time they forget their anger with Pilgrim Rolling Glass.

During the party, Green Goggles sees his chance and sneaks away.

Pilgrim Rolling Glass once again asks the whale to open his mouth and let Melanie and her cat out, so the whale replies with a gigantinormous yawn.

Melanie and the cat fly out and are safe, but Melanie is upset that Pilgrim Rolling Glass didn't save her precious trees.

Pilgrim Yellow Balloon makes Melanie happy by giving her another balloon.


With all the moons' inhabitants living on the back of the whale now, the whale has plenty of food for years to come.

Melanie learns to forgive Rolling Glass, and eventually becomes his good friend.

After all, they are now Flying Temple Pilgrims together.

New Names

Pilgrim Hesitant Goggles gets into trouble by having a hard time deciding what to do and helps people by seeing things clearly. (Anders)
World Destiny: 4
Temple Destiny: 3

Pilgrim Rolling Star gets into trouble by being clumsy and helps people by guiding them to new ideas. (David)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 5

Pilgrim Yellow Moon gets in trouble by being afraid and helps people by shining light on their problems. (Jamie)
World Destiny: 3
Temple Destiny: 6


Jamie was really aggressive about keeping all those stones! Fortunately, the group managed to use all the goal words before that point. This was Anders regularly scheduled game, but because he also sat in on the afternoon group, he already had a sense of how the game plays out. David actually Skyped in all the way from China!

[Do] Sunday Afternoon Group - Episode 1

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

The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Reaching Book gets into trouble by overestimating what he can do and helps people by knowing stuff. (Written by Anders)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Wooden Bell gets in trouble by being stiff and helps people by warning of danger. (Written by Daniel)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Tattered Card gets into trouble by looking like someone unsavory and helps people by taking chances. (Written by Marc)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

Pilgrim Fancy Tablet gets in trouble by being too elaborate and helps people by making them feel better. (Written by Nolan)
World Destiny: 0
Temple Destiny: 0

The Letter

"Swallowed Whole" by Ben Lehman

The Story

Upon arriving at the whale, Pilgrim Reaching book recalls whales are allergic to grass, and attempts to make the whale sneeze.

The whale inhales sharply, sucking in Pilgrim Reaching Book and sneezes, causing the world to be stuck in its blowhole.

The whale inhales sharply, sucking in Pilgrim Reaching Book and sneezes, causing the world to be stuck in its blowhole.

Pilgrim Wooden Bell tries to get through the blowhole, but gets herself stuck on some trees.

Pilgrim Wooden Bell calls the remaining pilgrims to pull her out of the branches.

Pilgrim Tattered Card dives into the mouth of the whale, finding Reaching Book and leading him to Melanie's house on the planet.

After helping Wooden Bell get down from the trees, the Pilgrims find Melanie sobbing hysterically so Fancy Tablet does his best to console her.

Fancy Tablet manages to make Melanie feel better, but her crying makes him inconsolably sad himself.

Looking around inside the whale, Reaching Book realizes the whale ate Melanie's world because he doesn't have enough sky plankton to eat.

Pilgrim Wooden Bell warns the pilgrims about sky whalers chasing the whale out of its usual habitat AND THEY'RE RIGHT OUTSIDE!

The whalers respond by throwing a net over the meddlesome Pilgrims, but only Pilgrim Wooden Bell is too slow to get out of the way.

Pilgrim Tattered Card thinks that the sky whalers might like some of Melanie's cookies, and offers them some if they'll let the pilgrims and the whale go.

Unfortunately, the whalers like Pilgrim Tattered Card so much that they decide to make him part of their crew!

Pilgrim Fancy Tablet, seeing an opportunity to make up an elaborate plan, forgets all about being sad and starts plotting against the whalers.

Pilgrim Reaching Book remembers seeing the knots for the net in a book somewhere, and extricates Wooden Bell.

Pilgrim Reaching Book knows the knots quite well, but underestimates how heavy the ropes are and becomes buried beneath them.

Pilgrim Wooden Bell calls the cat to play with the ropes, freeing Pilgrim Reaching Book.

The cat gets so frenzied by playing with the ropes that he tries to eat Pilgrim Wooden Bell.

Tattered Card explains to the whalers that he is a Pilgrim, not a Pirate, and convinces them to take them all back to the Temple in their sky boat.

When they arrive at the temple, they find the gates barred, and angry-looking monks glaring down at Tattered Card, whom they think has become a pirate.

Pilgrim Fancy Tablet yells out their story to the monks, calming them down enough to convince them to open the gates.

Pilgrim Fancy Tablet's fancy cloak is caught on the prow of the pirate ship, making it seem like he's leading the pirates as they storm the temple.


With another handful of grass, Pilgrim Reaching Book provokes another colossal sneeze from the whale, sending Melanie's little planet hurtling into the whalers' boat.

Pilgrim Wooden Bell lures the cat onto the whaling ship to scare off the whalers away from the temple.

Their ship smashed to flinders by Melanie's planet, Pilgrim Tattered Card leads the remaining whalers back into the Temple, where they give up whaling and become Pilgrims themselves.

As the monks gather the Pilgrims together for a hearing, Melanie arrives, overjoyed with all the help the Pilgrims gave which gives the monks no choice but praise them for a job well done.

New Names

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

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

Pilgrim Friendly Card gets into trouble by talking to people he shouldn't and helps people by taking chances.
World Destiny: 4
Temple Destiny: 3

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


Shane was supposed to be in this group, but he couldn't make it so Anders filled in. This was my first time gaming on Skype, but it went fairly smoothly. I handled all the stone-management and kept a live ustream vid for any visual references. When goal words were used, I just striked them on the letter's page. The players all seemed to like getting their pilgrims in trouble a lot, but only once or twice skipped the opportunity to use a goal word.

Interview with Adam Dray on Jennisodes

Interviews with Daniel Solis
I met Jenn Wong at Dreamation this year but it seems like we've known each other far longer. (Hi, Jenn!) She was in the first public game of Happy Birthday, Robot!, which put HBR down the road to publication a short time later.

I met Adam Dray in the mean streets of the Story-Games forum and discussions of his game Verge. When it came time for HBR to go to publication, I knew I needed a good editor. Adam came highly recommended, so I hit him up. :)

You can hear all about these stories on Jennisodes #5: Editors and Layout Guys. Jenn interviewed Adam and I in this odd time right before HBR was published, right before my wife and I got married, right before we moved to a new house. You can hear all those stories in the podcast. Check it out!

[In the Lab] Belle of the Ball

The Belle invites you to attend a most festivitous, celebratious, ostentaneous party! All guests should be on their best behavior! Seriously. Behave. Belle of the Ball is a saucy Victorianic tile game. Invite guests to a grand party and score points by entertaining the Belle.

» Development Status: Definitely Alpha. See notes at bottom of post.

Stuff You Need
2-4 Players
Download and cut out these tiles and tokens.

You'll also need a 7x7 grid like this (Click to embiggen):

Lastly, you'll need a paper and pencil to keep track of each player's current score.

The Guest Tiles
The Belle enjoys inviting both peasantry and nobility, delighting in the culture-clashing mayhem that ensues. Some guests are loud boors, others are known to get into fights, and more than a handful are known philanderers.

On each Guest tile, you'll see the distinct family crest for the Goatsbury, Lordhurtz, Richminster, Dundifax, Boarbottom and Crawhole families. On the lower left or lower right, you'll see symbols representing what that guest is doing at the party.
Flirt: Eat: Dance: Snub:

The Belles
There are five Belles, each with their own effects on how you play the game.

Lady Lara Lately's Libatious Luncheon
If this is your first time playing, use Lady Lara as your Belle to learn the basic game.

Sally Swansea's Saucy Soiree
On your turn, inviting a Guest with a [Flirt] earns you 1 point.
At the end of the party, each Honored Guest with a [Flirt] earns +1 point.

Felicia Fawsley's Felicitous Feast
Inviting a Guest with a [Eat] earns the player 1 point.
At the end of the party, each Honored Guest with a [Eat] earns +1 point.

Ruby Rosen's Receptious Riot
Inviting a Guest with a [Dance] earns the player 1 point.
At the end of the party, each Honored Guest with a [Dance] earns +1 point.

Alexandra Avendale's Aloof Affair
Inviting a Guest with a [Snub] earns the player 1 point.
At the end of the party, each Honored Guest with a [Snub] earns +1 point.

How to Play
Set Up
Step 1: Choose a Belle to be in the center of the Ballroom. Each Belle favors different behaviors at her party. In play, this means some tiles will be worth more points than others and some slight tweaks to the rules may be enacted for this game. Set aside all other Belles for the rest of the game.

Step 2: Shuffle the Guest tiles and keep them face down. If you are playing with only two players, remove the tiles marked with a star at the bottom. If you are playing with three or four players, use the full deck. If you are playing with two players, the guest deck will have 36 tiles. With three or four players, the deck will have 66 tiles.

Step 3: Deal four tiles to each player. Do not reveal your tiles to the other players.

Turn Order
Play proceeds with each player taking a turn, starting with the youngest player and continuing clockwise around the table.

On your turn...
Step 1: Draw a Guest Tile from the deck.

Step 2: Inviting a Guest: Take a tile from your hand and put it on the board. Your tile must be next to another tile that is already on the board, either vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally. If you're playing a two-player game, you may only place tiles in the lighter spaces of the ballroom. If you're playing with three or four players, you can place the Belle on any space in the ballroom.

In this example, the green checks note places where you may legally place a tile on your turn in a two-player game. The purple checks note places where you may legally place a tile in a three- or four-player game.

Step 3: Score Points: If your Belle is Lady Lara, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you score points by inviting guests with symbols noted by your Belle.

For example, in Felicia Fawsley's Felicitous Feast, you will gain one point whenever you invite a guest with [Eat].

Honored Guests
Throughout the game, you use the family tokens to keep track of Honored Guests of the ball. The Honored Guests are the smallest group of guests for each family. A group is comprised any tiles from the same family that are next to each other horizontally, vertically or diagonally. A group may be as small as one guest.
 Keep the family token on the smallest group of guests for that family.

For example, the Honored Goatsbury Guests are currently a group of three Goatsburys highlighted below:

You put down another Goatsbury on the board, completely separate from that group. That single tile is now the smallest Goatsbury group, so it is now the Honored Guest. Move the Goatsbury token to that tile.

If at some point this new group grows to three Goatsburys, they will still be the Honored Goatsbury Guests.

If the new group grows to four or more Goatsburys, then it is nor longer the smallest group on the board and the token would move back to that first group.

If this situation occurs and there are multiple groups that tie for being the smallest, then the current player chooses which group to Honor.

End of the Party
The game ends when the ballroom is full of guests.

Step 1: Determine each family's point value: Each family is worth a different number of points, based on the number of Honored Guests from that family. For example, if the family has 1 Honored Guest, that family is worth 1 point. If the family has 2 Honored Guests, that family is worth 2 points, and so on.

Step 2: Reveal the tiles in your hand and score points for the Honored Guests if you have a tile of that family in your hand. If you have multiple tiles of the same family, score those Honored Guests again. 
In other words, you get points equal to the size of the smallest group multiplied by the number of matching tiles in your hand.

For example, the game has just ended. The players currently have these scores:

Player 1 has 3 points.
Player 2 has 2 points.
Player 3 has 4 points.
Player 4 has 4 points.

The board at the end of the game looks like this:

Boarbottom is worth 3 points, because it has three Honored Guests.
Lordhurtz is worth 1 point, because it has one Honored Guest.
Richminster is worth 3 points.
Dundifax is worth 1 point.
Crawhole is worth 2 points.
Goatsbury is worth 3 points.

Tallying up each player's tiles and points:
Player 1 adds 8 points. New Total: 11
Player 2 adds 8 points. New Total: 10
Player 3 adds 8 points. New Total: 12
Player 4 adds 4 points. New Total: 8

Step 3: If your Belle is Lady Lara Lately, you can skip this step. Otherwise, your Belle makes some tiles more valuable.

For example, in Sally Swansea's Saucy Soiree each Honored Guest with a [Flirt] is worth an additional point. Let's look at the board again:

Boarbottom is worth +1 point, because one Honored Guest has a [Flirt] symbol.
Lordhurtz is worth +1.
Richminster is worth +1
Dundifax is worth +0.
Crawhole is worth +0.
Goatsbury is worth +1.

Player 1 adds 3 points. New total: 14
Player 2 adds 4 points. New total: 14
Player 3 adds 2 points. New total: 14
Player 4 has 1 points. New total: 9

So yes, all that rigamarole just to produce a three-way tie. I think adding one more card to each family will reduce the chances of this happening, though.

In the current distribution, no players had any Crawholes or Boarbottoms. That significantly reduced the chances of there being wider point spreads in the endgame.

I also think making the Belles more persnickety will help. Perhaps decoupling the in-play point scoring from the endgame point scoring. That seems less of an issue than the basic distribution of tiles, though.

Interview on the Walking Eye [Video]

Interviews with Daniel Solis
Jen Dixon of the Walking Eye podcast interviewed me in a meeting room of the Embassy Suites at GenCon 2010. This interview was held on the much-fabled Sunday Night SageFight, as you can tell from how much I'm talking with my hands.

We just topped off four straight days of gaming, carousing, merrymaking with many hours of synchronized martial arts poses. (Sorry if I seem a little tired. :P )

Thanks for letting me gab, Jen!

More Game Ideas

This post is part of a series compiling random game ideas I tweet occasionally. Some develop into full games, some not, I leave them here for my own future reference.
  • Game Idea: A train/railroad board game rethemed for a parade. Visions of Paprika in mind.

  • Game Idea: Chess var. Open w standard pawns. Other pieces set aside. On turn, move a piece or place new piece behind pawn. Cont. as normal.

  • Game Idea: Play involves laying out cards for combos. (Doubles, Triples, etc). Can use other player's cards + your cards for other combos.

  • Reading "More Information Than You Require." Struck by idea for game based on Batman ep "Almost Got 'im"

  • Game Idea: Oshi, with slightly larger board and triomino pieces. On your turn, move or rotate one of your pieces.

  • Game Idea: Tiles w Straight/Turning paths. Tiles move 1 space unless passing over another tile; follow paths til reaching open space.

New Video on Sagefight.org

Sensei Sage was kind enough to post the LeNaire/Solis duel to the videos page of sagefight.org. (It's down at the bottom.

Pebble Rebel

Pebble Rebel
Pebble Rebel is a strategy game for two players. Each player has different goals and different ways of playing, but still get in each other's way.

» Thanks to Pete Figtree for coming up with the title!
» Original art source: Memo Angeles, Black Rhino Illustration and ensiferum

You need four sets of colored stones, fifteen stones in each set. Keep these stones in a bag or bowl nearby. The game board is a 6x6 grid. Arrange twelve stones on the board as shown below.

Turn Order
Two players take turns. One player is called Pebble. The other player is called Rebel. Pebble takes the first turn.

The Pebble
On her turn, she may move a stone on the board in straight horizontal or vertical lines as many times as she wishes to until the stone reaches its final destination. She may not pass through any occupied spaces along the way. Diagonal movement is also not allowed.

In the example above, Pebble moves the black stone down, then left. She is trying to build a line of black stones along the bottom of the board.

The Rebel
On his turn, he randomly draws a number of stones equal to the number of moves Pebble took. Then he places those stones on any unoccupied square.

In the example above, Rebel draws two stones because Pebble moved a stone twice. He then places those stones on the board. He chooses these spaces in particular to block Pebble's efforts.

If Pebble gets four stones of the same color in a row, horizontally or vertically, she wins. (Diagonal four-in-a-row does not count.)
If Rebel fills up the whole board, he wins.

The above example shows how Pebble or Rebel could win.

In the example on the left, Pebble succeeded in creating a four-in-a-row, thus winning the game.

In the example on the right, Rebel successfully filled up the board before Pebble could get four-in-a-row, thus winning the game.

Pebble's play style suits fans of puzzle games with randomized elements, like Tetris or Bejeweled, but against a much more clever computer. Pebble has to be sneaky, arranging a four-in-a-row using as few moves as possible.

Playing Rebel is great for button-mashers, "take that" players, and those who just choose tactics on a whim. Still, Rebel must be wary of placing stones where they might easily be used by Pebble.

Before the board fills up, there will probably be an obvious "checkmate" situation, in which it is clear Pebble cannot create four-in-a-row. 

[Do] Schedule of Games

This looks like my schedule for the next couple weeks.

Sunday Afternoons
Sep 19, 26, Oct 3
3pm CST
Players: Shane, Nolan, Marc

Sunday Evenings
Sep 19, Oct 3, 10
9pm CST
Players: Anders, Jamie, David

Monday Evenings
Sep 20, 27, Oct 4
7pm CST
Players: Jenn, Mark

Tuesday Evenings
Sep 21, 28, Oct 5
7pm CST
Players: Brett, Ro, Megan

Saturday Evenings
Sep 25, Oct 2, 16
7pm CST
Players: Matt, Raven

Wow! It's going to be a busy few weeks.

[Do] Letters to Heaven

This is an introduction to letters in Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

Whenever there is a problem that can't be solved, a worldly person can call in the Pilgrims of the Flying Temple to help. Each letter describes the situation on this world, any relevant characters and a bit of back story to give some context. Your Pilgrims visit this world and help solve the problem as they see fit, hoping not to cause trouble in the process.

Instead of a giant infodump, you can choose which parts of the setting you find important. You do this by choosing the letters that your Pilgrims will answer. You only respond to the letters you find interesting.

Letter-writers are unreliable narrators.
Each letter reflects the letter-writer's particular, sometimes skewed worldview. Some overestimate how much a Pilgrim can accomplish, thinking them to be angelic beings of divine omnipotence. Imagine their disappointment.

Pilgrims try to abide by local beliefs. If the letter-writer believes the universe is an inky void and Pilgrims are aliens, a Pilgrim will act the part if it makes her job easier. If she's on a world where people don't like the temple meddling, a Pilgrim won't mention it.

On a more personal scale, a letter-writer's description of her problem comes from her side of the story. When a Pilgrim arrives on this world, she knows she only has half the story and will keep an open mind to any other viewpoints. 

Still, there's a limit to every Pilgrim's pragmatism. Faced with prejudice or injustice, you get pilgrims teaching small town bigots a lesson through the judicious application of kung fu dinosaurs. Depending on the scope and mood of your stories, kung fu dinosaurs might cause more problems than they solve.

So, when in Rome, just put on a toga.

Letters are story seeds.
This chapter presents letters written by people from around the universe. (Actually, they're written by real people who were kind enough to contribute their creativity to this game.)

Each letter offers you a fruitful beginning for a fun adventure and plenty of opportunities for your Pilgrims to get into trouble. By picking a letter, you decide how a story will begin, but neither you nor the other players knows how the story will end. You will have a letter written by someone on a distant world asking for help, but that only sets the stage for your adventures there.

From that starting point, you and your friends will create your own story together. You could even play the same letter with different groups of players and it would result in a different story.

Letters have Goal Words.
Each letter has a list of words and phrases called Goal Words. As you play the game and tell the story of your pilgrims, you will use Goal Words in that story. Your goal is to use all the Goal Words in your story before a player gets eight stones. (You can see more about how to play in the basic rules.

There are eight kinds of trouble.
When you browse through the letters, you will see some symbols on each one. The symbols stand for a particular kinds of trouble your Pilgrim might find on this world. Use these symbols as rating system, so you can tell whether this subject matter is appropriate or fun for the group.

Book represents affairs of tradition, law and custom. These are troubles involving tradition and laws. There may be times when your Pilgrim acts against accepted norms, either by defying a cultural taboo or outright criminal intent. Expect encounters with local authorities. Arrest is the most common and immediate trouble.
Example: Fed up with the local governors, Pilgrim Anointed Tree declares herself new emperor of this world. Suddenly, Pilgrim Anointed Tree is whisked away to the "special jail" for "special criminals.

Flag troubles involve relationships and politics between nations, towns or whole worlds and empires. Worldly diplomacy impacts large groups of people, usually ruled by some kind of noble. Pilgrims’ meddlesome irreverence makes them quite infamous among the ruling elite. Pilgrims are only tolerated if their unorthodox methods work in the nobles’ favor. Well-intentioned Pilgrims may accidentally instigate border disputes, break treaties, and spread rumors.
Example: In dark of night, Pilgrim Electric Glass flies to the demilitarized zone between Cobar Province and Five-Peak City to parley between the generals. Unfortunately, both sides mistake her flashing static charge as a signal-flare for surrender.

Heart troubles in which your Pilgrim is in love or is involved in worldly love lives. Love is a delicious problem. Sometimes the “trouble” with love is that it is forbidden by some cultural taboo. More often, the trouble is the other emotions that might come with the romance, including jealousy, attachment, and vulnerability. Your Pilgrim may find herself falling in love with a worldly person, or vice versa, which is definitely a distraction from her duties.
Example: Struck by her thorough understanding of philosophical treatises, Pilgrim Sage Hook falls in love with Xieu. The only problem is that she’s already betrothed to the prince of this world.

Knot troubles are anything involving families and their peculiar manner of getting on each other's nerves. Family connects people across the universe, like invisible strings waiting to ensnare an errant Pilgrim. Tread around family affairs lightly. A cunning word can't erase years of bad blood between rival heirs. A swift kick can't sweep away tension between a stepparent and her new child. Pilgrims sometimes get personally involved in family troubles when they are mistaken for long-lost sons and daughters.
Example: Pilgrim Witty Pen cheers up a sick child by writing a funny poem about being raised by wolves. Rumor spreads that she is one of the long-lost wolf-people who left this world long ago, promising to return with new medicines.

Lotus troubles in which the Pilgrims interact with gods or their followers. The gods embody aspects of the human condition, yet are endowed with superhuman abilities. This is a volatile mixture of insecurity and power. Gods break promises, and then direct their flock’s rage against another god's people. They can cause wars, famine and demand devotion. Their moods are fickle and can be enraged at impropriety. Unfortunate pilgrims have been cursed, turned into toads and otherwise just been messed up.
Example: The arrogant Pilgrim Glorious Rose comfortably assumes the title and duties as figurehead of the local religion. Angry at the pilgrim’s insolence, Thaderelius, local god of vengeance and wine, floods the world in grape juice.

Pen troubles are generally academic or investigative. These troubles are a challenge to the mind, testing a Pilgrim's ability to deduce the root of a worldly problem. Your Pilgrim may find herself wrapped up in a labyrinthine mystery, uncovering dangerous secrets. A Pilgrim might also be forced to hide from scrutiny, trying to keep a secret. Pen troubles may also be distracting tests of mental agility, like puzzle rooms and riddles.
Example: Pilgrim Diving Banister discovers a conspiracy is afoot when she notices a false bookcase along the wall. The bookcase falls forward and a rush of wind sucks her into a room full of mathematical puzzles.

Sword troubles involve warfare, violence and weaponry. These troubles are the most straightforward, but carry the worst consequences. When punches are thrown, a Pilgrim failed to keep the peace. A Pilgrim should solve problems without violence, but all are trained to use their flying talents to defend themselves and escape danger if necessary. Still, sky ships, nets, weights or other contraptions may overcome the best flyers. Even the threat of violence may be troublesome enough.
Example: Pilgrim Limber Brush deftly strides into battle, acrobatically dodging the hundreds of spears lobbed at her. That is, until she realizes those spears actually formed a cage, leaving her trapped and unable to fly away.

Tree troubles have the environment itself challenging the Pilgrim. A Pilgrim could be caught in a dangerous storm, hunted by wild animals or disoriented after being puffed by a strange mushroom. These troubles also manifest as spirits, embodying aspects of the natural world. Using nature spirits in your story lets you turn the environment into a worldly character with whom your pilgrim can interact.
Example: Pilgrim Bookish Scrolls has a dozen different nature spirit languages in his supply of scrolls, so begins the negotiation with the river spirit. Unfortunately, this is technically a spirit of tributaries and is offended by the association with those degenerate river spirits.

Here are some letters that you might like to use in your game.

[Do] "Swallowed Whole"

by Ben Lehman

This is a letter for use in playing Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

Dear Monk(s)
Hi how are you! My name is Melanie. I come from a very small planet.
There is me, my house, my cat, and two trees (see drawing).
I am not so good, because my planet has been eaten by a whale.
It is a very small planet. I woke up and I was inside a whale. I don't want to get (more) eaten.
Please help!
your freind
Melanie (age 8)
P.S. Drawing is on the other side.
P.P.S. I will make you cookies.

Goal Words
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.