APE/Raspberry Heaven/Slime Story

APE 2010 Report
I went to the first day of APE (Alternative Press Expo), an indie comics event held yearly in San Francisco. If you want to see my thoughts on it you can check out my blog post over on Neko Machi. I’m really jazzed to have a booth there next year, which may include some RPG stuff, depending on what we can get together.

Raspberry Heaven: Rethinking
I’m thinking of giving Raspberry Heaven another major rewrite. This mostly came from looking at what I want it to do and comparing it to how Fiasco does what it does. It’s becoming a major theme in my grappling with RPG design lately that there’s a sharp distinction to be made between guided and unguided creative input. While as a player I don’t want a game to constrict what kind of character I can make too much, starting with a totally blank canvas is much harder. If I want to make a fully realized GURPS or BESM character, it’s going to be a major project, best undertaken a week or more before a campaign starts. Compare that to a game with more input provided be the rules, whether it’s a Fiasco playset, an In a Wicked Age oracle, or even just the suggestions inherent in picking a race and class in D&D, and I have a starting point to hold onto so that the whole thing goes much more quickly.

With the current version of Raspberry Heaven there’s a tension between the game wanting to be a light pickup thing and it requiring lots of unguided creative input to really get off the ground. While the source material (slice of life 4-panel manga about schoolgirls) lends itself to long-term storytelling (in an episodic kind of way), the tone of the genre and game are such that I think it needs to be more about getting into role-playing situations with ease and finding out where it goes from there. Although for a variety of reasons it’s definitely not going to be a clone of Fiasco, the generation of the situation and characters definitely needs to have something of Fiasco’s ease of use. That still leaves the question of what will go on during the actual play, for which I’m getting various ideas from Jeepform and Norwegian Style, and the Jeepform adage of “structure but not rules” is proving particularly helpful. The end result isn’t going to be much like a typical RPG, and it’s likely not going to be much of a “game” in any traditional sense, but I think it needs to be that way.

Slime Story: Relationships and Stuff
Right now the major thing I’m struggling with for the next revision of Slime Story is the relationship/connection rules. While I have the combat rules pretty much where I want them, the connection rules and the stuff surrounding them should pretty much be the entire other half of the game, and they need to both be interesting and have incentives to engage them. I’m still working out how to do that exactly, but the ability to strain a relationship in order to help you out with other things is likely going to be part of it.

Another thing I’m adding is explicit guidelines for “Stunts,” which is just a codeword for “stuff not explicitly laid out in the rules.” They are my attempt to pull back a bit from stereotypical D&D4e “pick a power and use it” combat, with the added advantage that in Slime Story if a proposed stunt seems especially difficult the GM can have it cost Awesome Points.

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3 thoughts on “APE/Raspberry Heaven/Slime Story

  1. I’ve been doing a lot of work on NexiaRPG recently, and all the mechanics I create fall into one of two categories (and hopefully both): narrative and technical.

    When possible, I want to give specific abilities quantities that players can keep in mind, while also giving examples of how they work “off the grid” (non-combat).

    That is my answer to “stunts”, with the caveat that if some action doesn’t have a power or something that explains how it should work, the GM should adjudicate in the player’s favor.

    On another note, I hear ya about the tabula rasa of GURPS or BESM, while I love the open-endedness, it is pain to get players together, many of whom will have varying levels of energy and motivation to play in the first place. While my system will be open-ended, it will make use of profession templates, which are similar to a build in D&D (or any game, really). So, if you want to be a fire mage, we have a template for that. Dual-wielding kensai? Buy your powers in this order.

    In this way a players can jump in immediately, even they’ve never played before, while the templates can easily be broken out of once they are comfortable doing so.

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with in the rewrite. I need to play Fiasco. I think there is an ongoing game at End Game, in Oakland.

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