Category Archives: ideas

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 RPG.net 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 phoenyx.net 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 RPG.net 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 RPG.net 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).