Tag Archives: Anime Dreams

The Status of My Games

I have no idea who I picked it up from, but I came down with a cold the day after I got back from GenCon. On the plus side, I also came back feeling inspired about gaming in general, so it’s time to look at my various back burner projects and figure out where I am and what I need to do. The most important thing, unquestionably, is that I need to make much more of an effort to playtest the stuff I create.

Raspberry Heaven
Today I finally finished typing up the descriptions of Quirks. I need to fill in a few things here and there, but at this point the only thing I really need to to for playtesting is have a single episode write-up ready to play. I actually slipped some elements of this game into a weird dream episode of my Divine Machine campaign (a long-term dimension hopping game using OVA), but the rules never really came into play. I’m trying to do a “Bonus Indie Gaming Night” kind of thing with my friends, and I think the first real playtest of RH will come after The Mountain Witch.

Anime Dreams
I looked through what I currently have the other day, and I’m thinking that I’m closer to having it testable than I realized. Mostly I need to work a little on how I’m presenting what I’ve already got, and maybe do a little bit of trimming. The game is essentially a conflict engine, a diceless version of games like DitV, FATE, PDQ, TSOY, etc., and while the setting creation rules have the potential to be really interesting, they’re a distraction from getting the engine running.

I also want to come up with a more evocative title. In no particular order, here are some titles and bits and pieces thereof that I came up with:
Anime Stars
Defenders of Tokyo
Dreaming of the Sunrise
Round Zero
Zero Saga
Zero Requiem
Zero Spark
Sea of Miracles
Starlight Breaker(s)
Raging Heart(s)
S, R, J, Super, Z, A’s, Zero, 1/2, +

Tokyo Heroes
I think I mentioned this before, but Filip sent me literally 8 pages of feedback. I know more or less what I want to do with the game — an overhaul to make it much, much less handwavey — but it’s going to be pretty time-consuming. The main thing is I’m going to delineate game session structure according to kishoutenketsu as mentioned before, which in turn will require retooling several other widgets in the game to match. In particular, I want to take a cue from the GUMSHOE system and put the emphasis on when and how PCs find clues, rather than rolling dice to see if they figure things out.

Slime Story
I came up with this setting idea ages ago (and even put it in an episode of Divine Machine), and I’ve been wanting to do it in RPG form, either as a setting or an independent game. Right now I’m thinking I want to create a game that uncomfortably marries simple hack-and-slash with hippie/story game stuff about the protagonists’ hopes and dreams in the face of a bland reality brightened only by the monster hunting hobby that they’ll eventually have to give up. It’s still very much in the preliminary stages, and I honestly have no idea how I’m going to tackle the latter part of the game’s concept.

Thrash 2.0
The eternally delayed, hope to do it some day second edition of Thrash. Every time I get even remotely motivated Real Life starts dumping stuff on me, plus my tastes have changed enormously since I wrote Thrash in my first year of college, and while I still want to make a game-y hand-to-hand combat thing, I find assigning lots of points to be bland and cumbersome. I’m thinking that characters should just have set selections of maneuvers (say, 3 Special Moves and 1 Super to start with), and applying similar simplification all the way through. I’ve lost count of how many total rewrites I’ve done, but if I go this route it’ll be yet another.

we are flat
This is intended to be an anthology of three short-form games inspired by Superflat: Moonsick, Magical Burst, and Black Hole Girls. Right now it’s WAY on the back burner. Each game is going to be radically different from the others, and require its own development cycle.

Anime Dreams: Conflict Resolution

This will be the first (and probably most important) of a series of posts about my attempt at what I call a “melodramatic anime RPG,” tentatively titled “Anime Dreams.”

I have to admit, I’m not all that experienced with conflict resolution; I’ve only played one game (Panty Explosion) that really used it as a game mechanic per se (though my group’s most recent long campaign was with Truth & Justice), and I’ve certainly never tried to design one before. But, at least I’ve got something that could be workable.

In game terms, characters are defined almost solely by Traits. These can be good or bad (though occasionally a good trait will hinder you and vice versa) and they’re divided into characteristics (actual things about your character) and bonds (connections to the world; friendships, rivalries, beliefs, etc.), rated 1-5. If the campaign’s Sentimentality is Low or Medium, Bonds are limited in their effectiveness in non-social conflicts, but if it’s High then they become interchangeable with Characteristics.

There are action resolution rules, where you basically just compare your trait level to something to see if you succeed, but you can take Xs (i.e., temporarily lose trait levels) to boost your effective ability. Action resolution is used for small stuff, and also for specific types of actions that can be taken during a Conflict.

When a full conflict starts, you have to determine the Scope (how many points worth of traits each character can use and how much Momentum a character can accumulate) and Stakes (what’s gained or lost at the end; success and failure may be enough, but existing and potential traits, amongst other things, can be part of the stakes).

Players take turns taking certain types of “conflict actions.” The most basic ones are Pushing (trying to either damage the opponent or gain Momentum) and Pulling (defending, or trying to reduce the opponent’s Momentum). Each time a character does a Push or Pull with a trait, that trait takes an X. However, Momentum points can be spent on Rest (to remove Xs), Effort (boosting your effective trait level for a Push or Pull), or a Finisher (spend lots, and try to finish off your opponent). There’s lots of leeway for how these things are narrated, so a “Finisher” doesn’t necessarily have to be an epic hisatsuwaza attack. Characters can expand the Scope of a conflict in progress if they wish, by raising the Stakes in some way.

There are a few other things involved, and no doubt plenty more I’ll have to figure out as I go along, but that’s the gist of it. Having traits take an X each time they’re used, but allowing Momentum to be spent to remove Xs, was the most critical thing, since I was thinking in circles trying to figure out how to make it necessary to mix up what traits you use while still allowing a given trait to be used multiple times. I still have concerns about this, particularly that it has the potential to get too drawn out, but that’s what playtesting is for.

Anyway, here’s some other things about the game, some of which I’ll post about in more detail later:

  • Character Questions: Inspired by DRYH, and tweaked for anime, character creation begins by asking: What do you look like? Who are you? What do you want? What will you become?
  • Power Scale: Originally inspired by the question of how the heck to model Dragon Ball Z in an RPG, Power Scale is similar to Fudge’s scaling rules, and adds a bonus to one’s effective trait rank when in a combat conflict with someone with a lower Power Scale. Very useful not only for DBZ, but for stuff like magical girls (where no one but them can stand up to magical monsters) and mecha (for obvious reasons).
  • Character Development: Characters grow and change mainly through conflicts, either as part of the stakes or by “Exploding” in response to an opponent’s overwhelming Momentum.
  • Series Creation: Devising (or selecting) a setting is an important part of preparing to play an RPG, so this game will have rules and guidelines for it, including formalized “round robin setting creation” rules, which in turn have a set of alternate rules for campaigns based on existing anime series.
  • Stars: A currency in the game used for all kinds of metagamey stuff.
  • Fan Guide: As mentioned earlier, it’s part of the game that for longer series the participants work together to put together a guidebook to their campaign. The GM rewards entries with Stars.
  • Canned Settings: I intend to include three pre-made settings: Tiny Aliens (Keroro Gunsou, Bottle Fairy, and Invader Zim put in a blender), Angel Soul (sort of like a more mystical version of S-cry-ed), and Fullmetal President (the U.S. President and his VP and cabinet don power suits to stop a military coup. Very much inspired by Metal Wolf Chaos, the greatest Japanese Xbox game that never made it to the U.S. Each does some neat stuff with character creation.

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.