A General Update

I had started writing a design journal post about Fantasy Friends, and then I realized I had made such a post before and I was mostly rehashing stuff I’d already written about. In a way that kind of typifies a lot of what’s been going on with me in terms of game design: there are a lot of things I have more or less figured out in my head but still need to finish doing the actual writing and such. I think that has a lot to do with the Golden Sky Stories Kickstarter eating up so much of my time, but the good news is that for the purposes of the actual shipping of physical goods part my own work is very nearly done. All of the many physical items are variously already at the warehouse, on their way to the warehouse, or will be going to the warehouse once printing is done. All that’s left for me is to post some updates and handle letting backers update their mailing addresses when the time comes. After that we still want to get the remaining PDF stuff done in a reasonable amount of time, but it’s not going to be nearly as much pressure. Anyway, I decided to write a blog post about what I’ve been generally working on.

Friday Knights
One of my major projects right now is Friday Knights, a playset for the currently-Kickstarting Costume Fairy Adventures RPG, the inaugural product from David J. Prokopetz’s Penguin King Games. The game is about cute fairies who wear costumes that give them magical powers (there’s a deck of costume cards) and how they generally get into trouble. I’m writing a scenario/playset where your fairies wind up in a house where there’s a D&D game going on. I’ve made a good start on it, but there’s plenty of writing left to do.

Adventures of the Space Patrol
The other day while googling to see what people were saying about Golden Sky Stories I came across something that gave me pause. Someone had pointed out that in describing the Space Agents I had portrayed the male characters in a variety of ways, but managed to talk about pretty much all of the female characters in terms of being young and pretty. I’ve generally been trying to be better about inclusiveness and diversity, both to better serve my audience and to challenge myself to break dumb cliches, so it caught me off guard that I’d managed to do such a thing without even realizing it. On the plus side, that promptly gave me the idea to make Billy Smith’s mother a playable character, which is a dynamic that you pretty much never see in RPGs. Generally tweaking and playing around with the other characters is also going on my to-do list for the next revision of the game, whenever I can make time for it.

I’m also planning to include more robust rules for creating original characters. While I like having premade ones in many different ways, it seems pretty clear that a big chunk of the RPG audience wants the ability to make solid original characters. I also picked up the Fate System Toolkit. It’s packed with all sorts of ideas, but the one that interests me most is Conditions, though I’m not at all sure whether they’re really the way to go. Something to experiment with in playtesting.

Magical Burst
A few people have been asking about Magical Burst. It’s another one of those projects where I’ve pretty much figured out what I want to do, but need to find the time to actually do it. That puts it pretty much at the top of my list of things to do when GSS isn’t eating up quite so much of my life. I also need to find time to sit down and watch more of the magical girl anime that’s come out (the Madoka movies, Day Break Illusion, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, and I’m sure I’m missing something). Of my many neglected projects Magical Burst is easily the one I most want to make happen, and a Kickstarter is a very distinct possibility once I get the rules nailed down. (Though after my experiences with GSS, I’m definitely going to keep extras and stretch goals on a tight leash next time around.) As I mentioned before I want to continue having a free version of Magical Burst available, something along the lines of how Anima Prime has a no-frills free version and a fancy book with illustrations and such.

Other Stuff

  • I haven’t gotten around to posting it, but I did a revision of America’s Next Top Reality Show, making it so that each card has two title words, plus a demographic listed between. That way the game has 144 title words out of a 72-card deck, and doesn’t need for the players to have dice on hand. The game is working pretty well, though it has a very different energy from Channel A, plus we tend to feel kinda dirty after playing it, in a way that doesn’t happen even with Cards Against Humanity. ANTRS parodies something really prevalent in our culture right now, and potentially in a pretty cutting way, since sometimes it does feel like reality shows use some kind of randomizer.
  • Fighting Fighters Coliseum is the title I’m tentatively giving to a game that’s going to be a kind of successor to Channel A, still a party game, but with a little bit more in the way of rules. The idea is that instead of titles, you assemble your final attack name from words on cards. The game would also have a set of character cards, which double as both player avatars and opponents, with different special abilities for both. There’s still some details to work out, but putting together a list of words from special attacks was pretty much just a matter of culling through lists of such.
  • Something’s going to be happening with Maid RPG soon. Nothing earth-shattering, but something. I should be revealing it in about a month or so.

7 thoughts on “A General Update

  1. Maybe for Magical Girl Burst, if you do a Kickstarter for that – which I will back – you could do something like the Ryuutama one, where they’ve got milestones instead of stretch goals, which are essentially more limited in scope to reduce the workload. Also looking forward to the Maid RPG reveal!

    1. Yeah, that is one thing I’d been thinking about. While I’m really grateful to our GSS backers, the pressure to do more stuff was stifling at times. I wouldn’t necessarily mind doing stretch goals again as long as they’re reasonable. The thing I really want to avoid is adding too many physical items, since that bloats the list of things we have to get done before we could do proper fulfillment. (I’m definitely going to be writing a postmortem about the GSS Kickstarter and the lessons learned.)

  2. You can count me in for a Magical Burst Kickstarter too!

    “ANTRS parodies something really prevalent in our culture right now, and potentially in a pretty cutting way, since sometimes it does feel like reality shows use some kind of randomizer.”

    Channel 4 in the UK, which has a lot of reality TV shows, has one at the moment called Gogglebox, which is just filming people in their homes as they watch TV. A member of one family on that show, watching another Channel 4 programme – Up All Night – The Nightclub Toilet (a documentary set in the toilets of a nightclub) wondered that if this is what Channel 4 actually commission “can you imagine what they reject?”

    I discovered anime a couple of years ago – Madoka Magica was the very first anime show I watched, after seeing more than one blogger mention it with the words “this isn’t the sort of thing I would normally watch but . . .” Watamote was the most recent show I watched. I’ve also watched J-drama and music videos, and read manga and light novels. I’m really impressed by the Japanese media’s willingness to be imaginative and push the envelope of what’s possible, and to maintain high standards too. It feels like the UK media is rather conservative and timid in comparison.

    1. Wellll, Japan has its share of utterly banal movies and television too. In particular Japan has a tendency to fall into ridiculously long institutions, like the Tora-san movies, of which there were 48, or Sazae-san (which some have described as the Japanese equivalent of the Simpsons), which had over 2000 episodes. Japan has produced some pretty brilliant stuff over the years, but its entertainment industry basically has a different set of dumb problems compared to the US and UK, but problems nonetheless. We get to see the stuff from Japan that suits a Western audience, and we don’t really see the stuff that NHK uses to fill up the rest of its schedule. And us Americans tend to think of the BBC as where Doctor Who and Sherlock and such come from, and probably don’t think too much about, say, EastEnders or the UK’s take on reality shows.

      But anyway, thanks for your support! :3

      1. Well, regarding Doctor Who, I think it was way ahead of it’s time back in the ’60s, had some great scripts in the ’70s and ’80s too, and has always had good actors, but the new Doctor Who shows (post ’80s) have been so dumbed down and childish! I can’t watch it! I’d much rather have the crappy special effects of the old Doctor Who than the crappy scripts of the new Doctor Who. I was born in 1988 BTW.

        I’ve read some of the Doctor Who novels that were published in the 1990s when the show was off the air (that’s how I got interested in Doctor Who). If you like Doctor Who, and can find them, I recommend reading Just War by Lance Parkin and Alien Bodies by Lawrence Miles.

        I’m sure you’re right that we just get the cream of the Japanese media here in the west, and there are lots of talked-about UK and US TV shows I haven’t seen, such as Misfits or Breaking Bad, so perhaps I’m just romanticising Japan.

        BTW despite my whining previously, what I really want regarding Magical Burst is for you to take the time to do it right to your own satisfaction.

        In fact, I haven’t actually seen any Magical Girl shows from beginning to end other than Madoka, and I haven’t played any RPGs other than D&D. I know the rules say “This isn’t really a game where you as the GM should come to the table with lots of plans” and I appreciate that . . . but still it would be nice to have a concrete example of what a good Magical Burst adventure might look like. I will have to check out some of the shows you mention in the appendix. I definitely want to watch Card Captor Sakura and Lyrical Nanoha.

        What happened to Magical Suite Prism Nana? I hope we get to see that next year.

  3. I’d be pretty stoked for a Magical Burst KS. I got some friends that need to have Magical Girl Time That is Always Suffering. And definitely don’t feel the pressure to add large number of stretch goals. I’ve noticed several KSs get bogged down by their own success because of stretch goals.

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