A recent discussion with a friend bore some intriguing fruit for Time & Temp. Jason Keeley, of Pantheon Press and Imagination Sweatshop fame, was chatting with me about splitting up the party . . . in time. Time & Temp has mechanisms for dealing with situations when the temps want to remember to go back in time and give themselves a hand, but what about when the party is already split between decades? How can handle a situation when half the temps, working with a young Thomas Jefferson, wants to help out the rest of the temps who happen to be trying to save Abraham Lincoln from an antebellum assassination attempt?
November 30, 2009
November 20, 2009
The commute in Time & Temp is rather deliberately designed. Large enough to seat several temps comfortably for the ride, but not so comfortable that they’ll spend all their time in the Domed Room and not working. The door is inconspicuous enough to hide if one is clever, but not so inconspicuous that it can’t be found again. It can be a base of operations, if needed, but it’s pretty much a single purpose tool unless the temps take the initiative to trip it out–in which case most anything is possible.
But we’re not stuck with this commute. R & D at BCE, Inc., has access to technology spanning far and wide across the arc of history. The Domed Room is but one of many options available to the temps. That is, if upper management approves the new equipment acquisition.
The TARDIS model.
One of the most easily recognizable commutes, the TARDIS model has a lot of offer. Tremendously spacious, nigh impervious to attack, comes stock with a wide array of useful tools and technology, and if fully operating, you can disguise it as just about anything. Temps will no doubt enjoy this ride, but there are some pretty significant drawbacks. This is a very temperamental machine. Operating it almost always requires major effort and to operate it with any sort of accuracy, and even with 400 years of experience, can even be extensive effort. If your chameleon circuit isn’t working, the TARDIS will be locked onto a particular shape, increasing the odds of you conspicuously popping into a time or place that shape shouldn’t exist in. Perhaps even causing an extensive effect on your insertion roll. And all that extra space means either more maintenance staff or, more likely, the temps will have to spend a lot of their precious time just cleaning and sustaining a healthy work environment. (more…)
November 17, 2009
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This past weekend was JiffyCon, and what a beautiful con it was. Good folks, good games, and a lovely rainy day to boot, which made it easy to stay inside all day and game. And it was a lovely opportunity to pull out and test drive two new projects.
I’ve been working on this Dread variant over the past year with Emily Care Boss of Black & Green Games. Designed for a younger crowd (ages 10 and up), it uses Jenga, like Dread, and it’s a spooky game, but that’s about where the similarities stop.
In it you play teenagers who have dared each other to spend the night in a clearly haunted house. As you spend the night there, you explore the rooms, experiencing various chilling events and uncovering the occasionally useful item. Each player has a character which fits into a specific role (the gossip, the athlete, the nerd, the scaredy cat, etc.). The hosting duties are shared, as you get to narrate all the spookiness for the player on your right. Doing anything requiring courage–such as entering an unexplored room, splitting up the party, or eventually confronting the monster that dwells in the house–also requires a pull. If you refuse to pull, you run screaming to the other kids, who must then pull or run screaming with you.
I was perhaps most terrified of this playtest. We had three kids with us, one of which was a bit below our estimated minimum age. This was a discriminating audience who would not be the least bit shy about telling us if they were bored. They dove right into it and appeared to relish the chance to narrate the spooky events as they unfolded. It was a smashing success, but also taught us some important lessons on the limits of their attention span (the game should, once we get done fine tuning it, run for no longer than an hour).
We also learned that it is rather easy to make the game scalable to age. We found a type of rule we could write that added depth to the game, but would be naturally ignored by folks too young to care about it. There’s definitely a solid game here. Expect to hear more about this soon.
Swords Without Master
This sword and sorcery descendant of MonkeyDome has possessed me since almost the very moment MonkeyDome was finished. I talk about it here, and intend to talk about it more. But right now I just want to play, play, play it.
At JiffyCon I got to test it with the largest number of players yet (five not including myself) and it worked beautifully. We went from zero-prep to final confrontation with a three-headed simian god in just over two hours.
Listen well as I tell you the tale of “The Tomb of the Monkey King.” There are many glorious deeds to recount, and I cannot touch upon them all in this space, but I will strive to show you how they came about.
A band of five adventurers join a caravan traveling across a desert expanse that once was a lush jungle. At night they are set upon by scorpion-men who drive them into a rocky outcropping. There, under a barrage of flaming sling stones and through a bit of folly, they discover they are sitting on the entrance to a long forgotten tomb. With nowhere else to go, they flee into the catacombs.
There, in the tombs, a young light-hearted rogue named Slake finds, in the moonlight, sitting ominously alone on a pedestal a single silver coin engraved with three monkey heads. A little theft and desecration later, and the party is set upon by various guardians of the tomb, including the ghosts of monkey warriors, a mad monk, and a three-headed monkey god who seeks their blood to wet the soil so the long-dead jungle above them can once again grow. (more…)