Category Archives: ideas

Here we are!

Yay! My first new post on WordPress! I’m still working on getting acquainted with the interface and whatnot. Anyway.

In case you’re wondering “yaruki zero” is Japanese (やる気ゼロ) for “no motivation.” It’s an “extreme in-joke” (meaning I’m the only one who really gets it and finds it funny); when I and some other students were forced to do a skit for a Japanese class, after the ordeal was over I was thinking, “Well, that’s what happens when you have a group made of up people who didn’t want to do this in the first place. We’re ‘Team Yaruki Zero!'” Like my Go Play keychain, it’s also a reminder to myself to actually do stuff.

My package from Amazon Japan came in the main on Thursday, so I now have shiny new copies of Ru/Li/Lu/Ra, Alshard ff, and the bunko version of Arianrhod. I will post about these more when I’ve had a chance to really read them. At the moment I’ve been distracted by the manga I ordered along with them (new volumes of Genshiken, Yotsubato! and Rozen Maiden), plus I want to finish reading Gary Alan Fine’s book Shared Fantasy, which is a sociological study of RPGs from 1983, before I have to return it to the library.

Although the setting of Alshard looks fantastic, the underlying system is very, very similar to Beast Bind and Arianrhod (and part of why I picked up Ru/Li/Lu/Ra was just to make sure I picked up something not from FEAR). Interestingly, FEAR has taken the basic rules from Alshard (specifically the version from Alshard GAIA) and created what appears to be an open system, called (heh) the “Standard RPG System” (SRS for short). I’ll have to sit down and read/translate it, and see just how much they allow people to do with it. I’m wondering if they’d be amenable to an English translation to it, especially since it would be perfect for some of my more mainstream RPG project ideas (notably Ether Star and Catgirl: The Storytelling Game).

I also got the newest issue of Role&Roll, Japan’s main RPG magazine, and was inspired to post about it on Story Games herehere. Admittedly in posting it I was sort of crossing my fingers and hoping, but I was still (pleasantly) surprised when Tad Kelson posted saying he was going to try to put together an indie gaming mag.

I’m also hard at work on my anime RPG project (I still don’t know what to call it; I’m using “Anime Dreams” as a placeholder). I have a small notebook I use to write down stuff when I’m away from my computer, and I’ve literally filled up about 40 pages just with ideas for this game. Right now I’m mainly working on the conflict resolution rules — which will be at the heart of the whole thing — and it’s taking a heck of a lot of work. I keep catching myself staring off into space on the train and thinking really hard about it. I’m exceedingly happy with how this is turning out so far, but how well the conflict resolution rules work is going to be the main test of how good a game it turns out to be. I’ll be posting more about the gritty details soon, when I’ve got my tentative version a bit more straight in my head. At the moment it’s looking like the game will be diceless and resource-based, which in turn means I ought to go look at Yuuyake Koyake again.

Another Random Game Idea

So, I got Wario Ware: Smooth Moves for Nintendo Wii. Like the other Wario Ware games it’s a collection of “micro-games” that are thrown at you rapid-fire, so fast that sometimes figuring out what you’re supposed to do is part of the challenge. I haven’t had a chance to try out the multiplayer stuff at all (because for some bizarre reason Nintendo felt it should be unlockable…), but the multiplayer on the GameCube version had some surprisingly meta-game stuff. Like, there’s a version where each turn a doctor tells the player to do something (“Stare At Player 2,” “While reciting a tongue twister,” “While yawning,” etc.) while playing the micro-game, and the other players tap the A button to applaud how well the player pulled it off. At the end, the score is actually based on applause, and success or failure at the micro-games is unimportant.

Anyway, I had this zany idea to do a “Game Thing” that sort of plays off of this idea in a tabletop format. The Host of the game has the players do weird little things with dice, a rubber ball, pencils, etc., that in turn determine success or failure at a main game, of which there are a couple different types, including a board game and a silly RPG. I’m tentatively calling this project “Neko Neko Wai!” on account of titles aren’t really my strong point. (Though if I do wind up keeping that title, it’ll be an excuse to get cute catgirl art for the game).

Tokyo Heroes Playtest! (and a couple other things)

The playtest of Tokyo Heroes is now well under way. Last week we made characters and such, and this week was the first session. The players seemed to have had a good time, and I’m finding the results of all this incredibly useful. I’ve started a thread in the Forge’s Playtesting forum about it. For this game I have a lot to think about and a lot to work on now.

I’ve also put the current draft of the rules online for people to peruse.

As a total side tangent, it’s worth noting that Greg Costikyan and company recently got Manifesto Games up and running. This is the thing he’s been talking about for a while, a site that sells quality independent computer games (so it’s sort of the video game world’s answer to IPR), and even though I really need to hold off spending money I’m sorely tempted to go buy some things.

The other day I had another random idea for a game that I probably won’t get to for quite a while. Toon was the first RPG I ever bought, and not many people seem to notice that it was basically set up as a light, silly version of GURPS. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, and the Toon-ified versions of Car Wars and CoC and whatnot in the Tooniversal Tour Guide book were actually really neat. But having been exposed to all this new indie stuff, I have to wonder what an indie take on Saturday morning cartoons would be like. The game idea I came up with was to do a game based around the sort of “predator vs. prey” cartoons, stuff like Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner or Tom and Jerry. And it occurs to me that I may have just come up with an idea for a CSI game. There would be two players, and while the predator character would pretty much always lose, the players would be competing, probably to be the ones who make the predator’s failures more interesting. And it would be called something like “I Hate You: A Cartoon CSI Game For Two Good Friends.” So, that goes right alongside Distorted Futures: A Dystopian Ass-Kicking RPG on the back burner.

Too Many Goddamn Ideas

As usual, the amount of inspiration I get far exceeds the amount of stuff I can actually work on. Here’s a quick rundown of the various things I’ve been thinking about. I’m sure I forgot a few.

  • Thrash 2.0: The vastly overdue new version of my old fighting game RPG is turning out pretty nicely… so I just need to find time to actually work on it. Original system, though the original version was heavily influenced by Interlock/Mekton Z and SF:STG, and the new version shows a bit of Cinematic Unisystem influence too. Once I have it up and running it’ll be time to put together second edition Weird Powers rules, amongst other things.
  • Tokyo Heroes: My crazy sentai/magical girl RPG. Also coming along nicely, but in dire need of playtesting once it’s done.
  • Catgirl: A tongue-in-cheek White Wolf-ish RPG about catgirls in a modern-day setting. Powered by a weird variant of Fudge.
  • Halo: The Covenant War: A Halo RPG. Powered by a different weird variant of Fudge.
  • Distorted Futures: A dystopian ass-kicking RPG.
  • Hikikomori: A solo RPG where you play a guy who almost never leaves his room and may or may not be going insane. I want to try this as a 24-hour RPG.
  • Eternal Saga: A fantasy RPG in the style of Japanese CRPGs. I’ve been failing to work on this one for ages, though there are a few neat ideas in there.
  • Something along the lines of Alien Nine, using Sorcerer. Player characters are schoolgirls who have to live with alien symbionts. Will you stay human, or will you become something else?
  • Karyuu Densetsu: A revised version of my original Thrash campaign setting.
  • WFL: The World Fighting Leage, a WWE-ish campaign setting for Thrash.
  • Tiny Aliens/Battle Maids/Puzzle Girls: Three relatively self-explanatory campaign settings for Mascot-tan. Maybe in one book.
  • Aniverse: Exploring the anime multiverse. This was originally a BESM book, but I never really finished it, and now I have some new ideas to incorporate. If I ever get around to redoing it, I’d prolly use OVA and/or BESM d20, in order to freely use the rules on my own.
  • we are flat: Somehow I find myself wanting to try to do a mini-anthology of anime-inspired RPG settings that attempt to put some of the Superflat aesthetic into a roleplaying game. This may or may not be a terrible idea. I’m thinking there would be three in here, and one would be an even more twisted new version of Magical World. Not sure what system to use, but I’m eyeing OAV. Maybe Fudge instead, or maybe a forgey original system for each one. I have a ton of other ideas for less acid trippy anime mini-settings too.
  • Our Truth & Justice campaign has wound up developing a fairly interesting original superhero setting with a wealth of nifty characters, and once the campaign is finished I think it’d be cool to compile all of that into a book.

With this much stuff, plus a stack of indie games I want to give a whirl (mainly octaNe and The Mountain Witch), I’m thinking that when the current epic campaign finishes up I should try to organize a regular “anthology campaign,” which is to say a weekly grab-bag of mini-campaigns, one-shots, and playtests.

I’m also considering attending GenCon SoCal this year and running something too. Halo is definitely high on the list.

24-Hour Hikikomori, Part Deux

A while back I posted about the idea of doing a 24-hour RPG about hikikomori, and today I accidentally brainstormed about it a little bit. I think it makes more sense for it to be some kind of solo game, but I think it should be different from a choose your own adventure type thing. I’m thinking the game would be played in the form of writing a diary, either on paper or in a blog, and rolling lots of dice for various things along the way so the character could accumulate real friends, imaginary friends, insanities, and other stuff along the way that have to be periodically rolled for (or maybe cards or something). It would be kind of a pointless game, but that would be fitting for something about the life of a hikikomori.

Right now I’m going to be too busy to get much done on the RPG front anyway though. Just when I thought the freelance translation work had finished its chain combo, it super cancelled into the biggest job I’ve had so far. By the time that’s all out of the way, it’ll be just about time to start graduate school (assuming I get in).

Catgirl: The Mewoing

Yet another RPG idea. On there’s a threat titled “Photoshop a game that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) exist,” and before long anime stuff started filtering into the thread, like Exalted: Kawaii Edition, and that was followed by covers for theoretical fatsplats, starting with The Catgirls. It helps that I have a thing for catgirls, but anyway I almost immediately started having ideas for an actual RPG, with a bit of White Wolf flavor.

So, a modern-day occulty setting; the catgirls are among those who secretly defend the world against beings that would steal the very power of existence (I’ve been watching Shakugan no Shana), but like every White Wolf protagonist group they have many other enemies. There are humans who want to keep them as pets, other breeds of kemonomimi who hold grudges against the catgirls, and more besides.

I’d probably use Fudge yet again, but purposely structuring things very much like a WW game, with castes and/or breeds and something analogous to Exalted’s Charms (but less numerous and simpler), and maybe even WW-style health levels for damage. Castes would define a character’s role and charms just like in Exalted, and Breeds (or somesuch) would explain the circumstances of a character’s birth, much like in Werewolf: The Apocalypse (born a catgirl to human parents, was originally a cat, a transformed human, etc.).

I should mention there’s now an unofficial Fudge Forum, still kind of small (about 70+ members), but pretty active so far. I never quite got the hang of mailing lists (though the people are supposedly working on a forum-style interface for the Fudge ML), so this is a good thing for me. Amongst other things, Bill Coffin mentioned that he’s interested in Fudge, and also that he likes the idea of going back to being able to do an RPG in 64 pages or so. If I actually do a Catgirl RPG (still don’t know what to call it yet), I think keeping it short would be a Good Thing.

Oh yeah, and on someone posted Snakes On A Plane: The Roleplaying Game. You knew it had to happen.

Untitled RPG Idea

I had another idea for an RPG today, though I doubt I’ll work on it any time soon, if ever. I don’t know what the title would be, but the subtitle would be along the likes of “The Dystopian Ass-Kicking RPG.” The idea is that the game is set up like a movie along the lines of The Matrix, Equilibrium, Ultraviolet, V For Vendetta, and probably a good number of others I can’t think of right now. The world is screwed up, and the player characters are bad-ass warriors fighting to fix it. Some assorted ideas, any of which could be tossed or mutated:

  • Have the game be geared towards having a single player, whose character is The One.
  • Something to make it worth the players’ while to get into weird philosophical stuff.
  • Make motivations (Violet’s lost daughter, V’s revenge, Neo’s love for Trinity, etc.) play a substantial role in the game mechanics.
  • Do something to encourage battles that come off as works of art. One of the coolest parts of V for Vendetta was the “Dagger-Time” fight, and almost the entire appeal of Ultraviolet was in the way they set up the fight scenes*. Play with colors, shapes, settings, debris, forms of combat, clothing for the hero, etc., etc.
  • Play with stakes. Let players make sacrifices and get rewards (e.g., you get X bonus dice for this fight, but your character will definitely die gloriously at the end of it).
  • It’d probably wind up stealing lots of ideas from Wushu and There Is No Spoon.
  • And while we’re at it, possibly Dogs in the Vineyard, notably the Button Men-esque action resolution system. RPGs need to pay more attention to other tabletop games in general anyway.
  • The object of the game, of course, is ultimately for the heroe(s) to figure out who they are and what powers they have and then go and kick the big boss’ ass, whether that happens to be the leader of the dystopia or one of its best henchmen (paging Agent Smith). That’s when the game ends (apart from a brief epilogue), though sequels are possible.

Sometimes I have too much inspiration for my own good. ^_^;

*Ultraviolet may have been substantially better before the studio decided to cut out about 22 minutes of footage against the director’s wishes. And people wonder why Alan Moore hates Hollywood. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a director’s cut. (P.S.: Samuel L. Jackson sez: “We got muthafuckin’ snakes yo!”)

Ether Star RPG: Coming Some Day Maybe

Yet another RPG I want to work on is “Ether Star” (formerly “Star Sorcerer,” possibly to be called something else if I can come up wiht something better). I came up with the setting a while back; it basically mixes bits and pieces of Xenosaga, Phantasy Star Online, and a few other things, the result being an anime space opera setting with a big emphasis on “ether powers.” Ether is sort of a distillation of psionics and magic into a single scientific practice, and is heavily used in the setting’s technology.

The original Star Sorcerer campaign I ran used Fudge (with very loose rules) and was generally a big success with my group. Writing the actual book has proven to be more daunting of a task than I expected. Still, I want to sit down and try some time, and I do want to use Fudge still. One of the things I like about Beast Bind is that its character creation has a lot of “flavor” too it that generic point-based character creation lacks. There’s just something about picking the Full Metal blood and then the Gospel Engine art to go with it. I’m actually kind of starting to dislike noodly point-based character creation. Granted you don’t have to deal with it after your first game session, but I think a game system can go a long ways towards helping create interesting or at least pertinent characters. octaNe‘s archetypes kick ass on that front, and Weapons of the Gods lets you spend Destiny points on loresheets to give your character more plot hooks, and of course good old D&D’s classes give you iconic characters with pre-defined niches.

Although I was toying with using Five-Point Fudge, my idea for Ether Star is to go for more Japanese-style character creation and have players select a race (human, variant human, android, simulant) and two professions (or your can double up on one), plus a few levels of stuff to personalize attributes, skills, gifts, and faults. That’s the thing about Fudge; it’s basically just an action resolution mechanic and a list of suggestions, but most published Fudge-based RPGs just use the Objective Character Creation rules as-is, making character creation much like every other point-based RPG out there.

OTOH I do want to come up with some kind of HP type rules for Ether Star; the damage rules of Fudge work, but for me at least they’re a little clunky, plus a death spiral isn’t quite the right thing for an anime-style epic space opera setting IMO. And there’s the matter of vehicles/mecha and the actual ether powers too. But realistically, I think I’d better try to finish up a playtest version of Tokyo Heroes before I get into yet another RPG project.

Plus the major problem with Ether Star right now is that it doesn’t have a good answer to the “What do you do?” question. In Tokyo Heroes and Thrash it’s pretty obvious, but as it stands now Ether Star is a pretty wide-open setting, a big galaxy where there’s all kinds of neat stuff going on, but nothing so pressing that anyone can assume it’s about a particular thing. My campaign had a pretty clear focus, but it was based on keeping the PCs in the dark about a lot of stuff for a long while, so I’m not sure how effective it would be to have the secrets of the ancient Terran Empire be the answer to the “What do you do?” question. The lack of this kind of focus is one of the major things that keeps me from doing a whole lot with most of the White Wolf stuff I own. Solar Exalted are tossed out into the world to find their destiny, Dragon-Blooded are mired in imperial life, Sidereals mostly have to do stuff for Yu-Shan, etc., and all of that is pretty vague compared to “kill things, take their stuff, get stronger to kill stronger things” or “kill monsters and make people less afraid so the DeadLands disappear” or “fight supervillains for truth and justice.” (Though I’ve been hearing on that the new WoD books tend to be chock full of plot hooks–like they should’ve been over a decade ago).

Housecleaning is pretty much done though, but then school starts up in about a week and a half, and my schedule’s going to be pretty heavy this time around.

24 Hour Hikikomori

Holy crap I’ve been posting a lot. But then I’ve been writing two RPGs and reading lots more (I’m about halfway through reading Dogs In The Vineyard, and I finished reading Primetime Adventures; more on those when I’ve had time to digest). Anyway.

I’d been thinking about trying my hand at the 24 Hour RPG thing for a while, and today I came up with an idea for one. I’ve been reading this weird Japanese novel called Welcome to the NHK (there’s also a manga adaptation, though AFAIK nothing published in English yet). It’s about a hikikomori — a guy who hardly ever leaves his apartment — and the bizarre adventures he has. It gets into some very weird territory, including religion, drug use, conspiracy theories, otaku, lolicon, and so on. I have no idea how this would translate into an RPG, but I figure that’s a good starting point for a 24 hour RPG.

The Other Side

My friends and I had a Christmas party — remarkable enough in itself just because we actually got together for a special occasion for once — and one of the things we did was watching Kwoon. The actual episodes are hilarious, but the bonus features are actually funnier in a lot of cases. One of the longest shows Todd Roy, the main guy behind the series, promoting it at trade shows. Seriously, promoting the hell out of it. He’s got a really entertaining title and he really wants to get it on the air, and he hasn’t yet let up, even though each episode costs him thousands of dollars to make.

And I can’t help but think, I’m so not cut out for that kind of thing. I’m not that much of a people person, and while I do like to go to cons on occasion, I find them mentally draining. Both professionally and creatively I’m more interested in working hard at typing stuff on a computer, because to me dealing with lots of people starts fun but quickly goes to that place where it ranges from boring to irritating. Designing RPGs is fun and satisfying, and while it would be nice to get a little monetary compensation for my work, I’m not sure I’m the right sort of person to be trying to sell stuff, least of all as a one-man operation. Granted, I’m perfectly willing to do it without making any money so long as it doesn’t cost me much more besides time, and I think that’s the kind of people the RPG hobby needs more of, but there’s also something to be said for getting your work out there and having it experienced by people.

So, I really have no idea what to do about it, but then it’s going to be a while before I have something finished enough that I need to worry about it.

Eternal Saga
I have some really awesome friends, for gaming with and other stuff. Between my various friends at the aforementioned Xmas party, I recieved two CRPGs for PS2 — Makai Kingdom and Dragon Warrior VIII. Where a lot of tabletop RPG gamers (online at least) seem to complain about CRPGs as overly limiting, I take them as what they are (an entirely separate genre from tabletop RPGs) and enjoy them a lot when I’m in the right mood. So, another project that’s been on the back burner for a loooong time (and every now and then I take it off, rip it apart, and put it back together again) is Eternal Saga, a generic CRPG-inspired tabletop RPG. I tend to get inspired to work on it whenever I play CRPGs, which is why the project never quite dies. It could wind up being another fantasy heartbreaker, and it is yet another combat-oriented gamist RPG (a friend of mine remarked that it’s a lot like a sister game to Thrash — being based on a video game genre and all). I still haven’t worked out the main resolution mechanic, but I did come up with a few neat ideas here and there:

  • I stole the XP system of the .hack games, where every level is 1000 XP, but how much XP a given thing is worth depends on its level relative to yours. (In ES I’m using this so that rewards for roleplaying and whatnot always count the same amount towards your next level).
  • There are three character creation options: classes (pick one class and stick with it; like old-school D&D or a lot of MMOs), jobs (gain levels in multiple jobs ala D&D3e and FF Tactics), and point-based (no classes, like a lot of newer CRPGs, just points to spend however you like to create a unique character).
  • Bonus Points are spent on advantages and disadvantages, as well as starting gear. If the GM ups the starting level, the value of BP relative to GP increases for buying stuff.
  • A lot of things are based around construction systems (so getting those right is critical to making the game work) to let the GM easily come up with new classes/jobs, items, monsters, etc., since even within the same series no two CRPGs agree on the stats and whatnot for things. (OTOH the game will have a healthy selection of samples).