Tag Archives: Raspberry Heaven

In The Cards

I wound up going in and filling out the online list of my RPG collection on RPG.net, which you can view here. Sometimes I forget (1) that I have some very strange, obscure stuff in there, and (2) just how many books I’ve sold off over the years. I own almost no Palladium stuff now, a lot less GURPS and Tri-Stat, and a whole heck of a lot more indie stuff. Anyway.

I wound up doing some brainstorming for Dandelion Complex, Raspberry Heaven’s twisted younger sister game, and I think I’m seeing the outlines of the game I want. It’s going to also use playing cards (I’m seriously thinking of putting them into the same book anyway), albeit in very different ways. Characters have cards dealt to them face down, and they can spend them on different things, whereupon they pick a card to turn face-up. For random events you check the card against a table, but certain cards will cause things to happen in the game regardless of what the character is trying to do. Additional cards are earned by pleasing the teacher NPC, a la Maid RPG.

Although I came up with the idea for Dandelion Complex as a game that would in some ways be a polar opposite to Raspberry Heaven (instead of Uno… 52 Pickup), they’re turning out to both be playing-card-based pickup games that actively defy any substantial attempts at preparation. They’re even starting to reference each other, since RH’s character color is perfectly usable in DC, and DC’s tamer random event tables could be used to get out of creative blocks in RH.

On a side note, I decided to get a box to hold my two decks of cards for these games. I was looking online and kept seeing boxes with capacities topping out at around 85 or so, but when I got to a local comics shop to look at them in person, it turned out that these are mostly sized for cards with protective sleeves on, so one of the boxes I picked up can easily fit three standards poker decks. The plastic cases meant for baseball cards and such that claim they’re for 100 cards could easily hold twice that for playing cards.

Cards found around my house last night:

  • A deck of One Piece playing cards in a plastic case, from a grab back at Anime Palace.
  • The cards from the combat game that’s included with the Dream Pod 9 Project A-ko RPG
  • A set of Clow Cards (from Card Captor Sakura), printed in Japan and bought well before the series came to the US. Now I kind of wish I’d bought that book they did on how to use them for fortune-telling. (Though as it turns out someone’s working on an English fan translation).
  • Six different Brawl decks.

Raspberry Heaven 0.2 Playtest 1

Sunday night was the first playtest of the new revision of Raspberry Heaven, and I think it’s promising (and a vast improvement over the old version) but in need of much more testing and tweaking. It probably didn’t help that I started coming down with a cold an hour or two before we started though. On the plus side I had time to go buy some Japanese snacks (Pocky, melon bread, rice crackers) to munch on during the game.

For those that are interested in looking at the current draft of the game:

Anyway, I was joined by Mike S., Elton, and Tim for the playtest. I’d e-mailed my current draft of the rules out to everyone, but Elton hadn’t had time to read it, so I had to explain the rules to him verbally. This is half of my usual gaming group. Although they’re a creative bunch (especially Mike and Tim), we haven’t had occasion to play many indie games yet (I’ve been working on it), and the players, myself included, weren’t always prepared to narrate on the spot. I’m not sure how much of it is simply not being accustomed to that kind of improvisation, and how much is just not being cut out for it. Anyway.

Me, Tim, and Mike got together around 5:30 p.m. and watched some Azumanga Daioh and played a couple rounds of Uno to warm up. I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like board or card games (Magic and Monopoly helped ruin both genres for me), but I find that Uno scratches roughly the same itch that Tetris does. I guess I have a thing for simple games with some simple logic tasks to them. I’m thinking of including (1) optional rules for playing Raspberry Heaven with an Uno deck, and (2) putting together rules for a custom Crazy Eights variant card game to play.

Character Creation
Elton showed up at about 7, and after another round of Uno we got into character creation. With the exception of Mike, everyone only really gave their characters a name and the requisite three Quirks. The PCs wound up being as follows:

  • Karin Takebashi (Elton): Tsukkomi, Tsundere, Physically Gifted
  • Yui Kinomoto (Mike): Boke, Obsession (Puppets), Genkisugi
  • Yama (Tim): Jock, Obsession (Eating), Busty
  • Kana Ninomiya (Ewen): Space Cadet, Slow, Genius

Characters

The decision to omit the fluff (likes, dislikes, best/worst subject, blood type, etc.) wasn’t conscious per se, and more to keep character creation from dragging on even further. I might try to have some game mechanical consequences to it (e.g., you can draw a card for a scene involving your Best Subject, but you have to discard one for your Worst Subject).

  • As I’ve been planning for ages, we took out my box of Pinky Street doll stuff and made representations of our characters that way. This wound up working pretty nicely, and it seems like after some fiddling everyone was pretty satisfied with that part. On the other hand I definitely need to see about getting some bases for the figures (they make them, but they’re mostly sold separately), since the dolls often fall down, and in Karin’s case the head would pop off every time that happened.
  • One thing I’m thinking about for character creation and such is to have a PDF for optional Quirk cards. You could use them to tangibly pick out Quirks and ensure each one is exclusive to one character, or randomly generate a character, or use them for reference.
  • Another thing I’ve been thinking about is making a small collection of iconic characters/templates that players can use to get into playing the game more quickly.

Scenes and Cards
I made a quick “Scene Template” that I think will prove indispensable to beginners playing the game. It contains all of the basic information for the core gameplay, and is a kind of visual guide as well. Everyone seemed to catch onto the mood values of the cards and the phases of a scene fairly quickly, though I think feeling out what does and doesn’t fit into a phase and the border between the narration part and role-playing part of each phase has a bit of a learning curve. We got through a total of five scenes, and ended the game where it felt appropriate to do so, partly because it had gotten kind of late on a Sunday night.

I had originally planned for the length of an episode to be measured in terms of how many times you shuffle the deck, but I also set it up so that characters get 3 new cards per scene, which means that with the base scene cards the four of us would burn through 18 cards per scene, and we’d get through as little as two scenes before needing to reshuffle. As is, those five scenes required three reshuffles. Playing with two or more decks shuffled together might be helpful–a basic Uno deck has 108 cards after all–but regardless I need to do something about the economy of cards. The 3 cards per scene did keep people from being stingy with cards as I had hoped at least.

Template
On the other hand, I’m not sure what to do with the basic way the cards are played. In practice the free-flowing Uno-style matching game is very non-confrontational, but it perhaps excessively rewards players who wait for others to play their cards. I’m not sure having it be oriented towards high cards is what I want exactly (it was interesting to see players choosing their cards in order to maneuver towards the mood they wanted for one thing), but perhaps a more structured turn order might help. Tim’s suggestion (which Mike seemed to dislike) was to have each player get a hand of five cards per scene, and set out one face-down for each phase, then flip them over all at once to determine the narration rights by high card (the 5th card would be usable for Special Moves, but you could only use one Special Move per scene).

Each Quirk gives a character a Special Move that lets them play cards differently (such as by treating certain cards as wild cards) at the expense of needing to include something related to it in the scene, but in the playtest there was only one instance of a Special Move being used for something other than a wild card. Some of them need to be tweaked to be more useful (I’m thinking you should be able to drop the tens digit of Addition Plays, so that e.g. a 6 and a 7 could be played as a 3), and some need to be tested period (like Draw Two). Still, on the whole I think I’ve found an effective way to motivate players to bring their character’s peculiarities into the game. It also eliminates the original version’s worries about checking for conflicting Quirks, though Play Adjacent is perhaps over-used in the Special Moves.

Emergent Story
The four girls are classmates in high school, and their homeroom teacher, Inoue-sensei, is a lazy, short-tempered otaku. The episode was about physical examinations (once a year students are weighed and measured), and anxiety about such. I’d originally thought it kind of a narrow subject for a full episode, but for the 5 scenes we played through it was about right. In homeroom, Inoue-sensei came in late, fuming that the release of the new game she’d lined up for had been delayed, and she decided to leave early. That Kana couldn’t quite tell the difference between Yui (who’d decided to jump in to “teach” the class) and the real teacher was enough to get Inoue-sensei to get back on track.

Lunch in the cafeteria led to Yama and Yui, massively laden with food, colliding in the middle of the cafeteria, while Kana watched helplessly.

Then we moved on to the physical exams. Yui gave plushies to everyone, and Kana went into the nurse’s office with a penguin on her head. Mr. Tuxedo wound up getting his own report from the nurse. Yui bragged about her own “secret weapon,” which turned out to be plushies stuffed into her bra. When it was Yama’s turn, Karin and Yui decided they needed to peek in, and Inoue-sensei (played by Elton at that point) came into the nurse’s office with a binder and started writing things down for some reason. Mike played a Joker, and got narration on the Resolution phase, so he said that the door Yui was leaning against collapse in, knocking down the privacy screens to boot so the boys could see in.

I had the next scene (which turned out to be the last) be in the principal’s office, where he was talking to Yui, Yama, Inoue-sensei, and the nurse to figure out what happened. He decided to let Karin decide Yui’s punishment. That scene wound up being all Spades, which means a Dream Sequence, so we wound up with Yui in some crazy bear costume, and then Kana waking up from sleeping in the middle of class to be scolded by Inoue-sensei.

Table

Conclusions
The use of scenes, phases, and moods from the cards seems to work pretty well, though it depends on the group playing, and I’d like to see how it turns out with players more accustomed to group improvisation type games. The major thing I need to do is work on how the cards are played, both in terms of the overall flow of the game and making sure Special Moves are sufficiently useful. We never actually used the rules for Memories, and while I think those serve a purpose in the rules, they no doubt need work too.

Raspberry Heaven 0.2

The stuff I ordered from Sunset Games has apparently been shipped, via EMS. That means that although the shipping charge was about 2600 yen, the package should come in a few days. I will of course post more about them when they’ve arrived and I’ve gotten a chance to read through them some.

Anyway, I think I have (the next iteration of) Raspberry Heaven basically figured out, at least enough for playtesting. The replies to the thread I started on Story Games helped immensely, and gave me more insight into how cards can be used in games in general.

The way the cards are used wound up being closer to Uno (which is in turn very much derived from Crazy Eights and its relatives) than poker. (And I’ve wound up playing Uno on Xbox 360 a decent amount of late). There’s a rotating “tutor” role, whose job is to deal cards and supervise the scene’s pacing. They set out four cards for the scene phases face down, and flip them over as they feel appropriate to the pacing of the scene, and move the played cards to the discard pile when it’s time for it to end. When a phase starts, the players then play cards, trying to match suit or rank, until no one wants to play any more cards, and the player with the top card gets narration rights.

Each Quirk gives your character a Special Move, which lets you play cards differently, but also introduces something which may or may not be flattering to your character, regardless of whether or not you win narration rights for the scene. I thought about giving characters two or more things per Quirk (and I really liked Filip’s idea of having an Aspect for each suit), but that gets to be too many different things to do with cards per character.

One of the major things that needs playtesting is the overall economy of cards. As I have it written now, players get 4 cards in the first scene, and one card at the start of each scene thereafter. I think that might not be enough, but of course it partly depends on the players’ behavior. I might try having the game run through the deck more aggressively, giving players more new cards per scene and having them discard down at the end. That way the desired length of an episode could be measured in terms of how many times you shuffle the deck.

Regardless, I’m going to aim for a playtest next weekend (the 19th for those keeping track). I’ll probably do the thing I was planning on, having the players make representations of their characters using Pinky St. dolls, though at some point I’d like to do an Azumanga Daioh game, and have each player take a plushie of one of the characters (since, weirdo that I am, I have the Azumanga cast twice over in plush form…). If only I could afford these Azumanga Daioh playing cards (the only one currently on eBay is for $70 plus shipping, though it is for six decks). OTOH I do see a Lucky Star deck for $4.75, even if it does look bootleg.

(Add a custom deck of cards with different pictures of Raspberry Heaven’s signature characters to the list of things I’d like to do but probably can’t any time soon).

Catgirls The Dark Raspberry

Malcolm Sheppard has put together an OGL system called “Opening The Dark,” which is very much like Storyteller with the serial numbers filed off and some changes to the chassis. I need to make time to digest it at some point, but the SRD is available here. I may end up using it for Catgirl: The Storytelling Game.

I’ve also made major progress with the new version of Raspberry Heaven. I’m much more confident about it now, and depending on how much I get done I may run a playtest in a week or two. The new game is even more of a not-quite-an-RPG scene building story game, and it should be pretty easy to tweak for other things. It uses a deck of regular playing cards, and players put down cards trying to get the highest value for each phase of a scene (Introduction, Development, Turning Point, Climax) to get narration rights, but suits, special cards, and certain combinations all affect the mood and such.

Falling Into Places

Mike had a really brilliant idea that he never got around to telling me about until last night. He was thinking of trying to make a Neko Machi RPG as a birthday present for me, but he didn’t get far before I posted about Raspberry Heaven. So the idea, which I think is exactly what RH needed all along, is to play cards for each of the 4 panels (kishoutenketsu again). I still need to figure out where to go from there with the idea, of course. I want to make a sheet with spaces for the cards and explanations of what goes where. It could be a deck of playing cards where highest card played gets narration rights (possibly with a requirement of a given suit for each stage of kishoutenketsu), or playing cards with some significance to what is played, or maybe (borrowing from the Bullwinkle RPG oddly enough) a deck of custom cards with plot elements. As Moonsick is already going to involve a deck of 90 or so custom cards, I’m not too hot on doing that with yet another game, but we’ll see. Regardless, quirks will definitely fit into how the cards are played in some way.

I’m not really into card games (or board games for that matter), but cards are really neat. :3

Also, Mike is working on his own music-fueled RPG, which we playtested last night. There’s an initial post about the idea here on Story Games, and more recent stuff here. IMHO he’s got a solid start on a game — a musical, rules-light Shin Megami Tensei/Persona kind of thing — that’ll be awesome after some more tweaking and whatnot. It’s tentatively titled “PodCasters”, which very unexpectedly is growing on me, despite how terrible it is.

Yet Another Game: Dandelion Complex

I think I’ve mentioned before that I was thinking about designing a game somewhat similar to Raspberry Heaven, but specifically based on maximum random zaniness. (So its main inspirations would be Pani Poni Dash and Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei instead). For whatever reason I wound up starting working on it, and it’s tentatively called “Dandelion Complex” (or “Tampopo Complex” in the imaginary Japanese version). It’s still very referential Engrish, but much more subtly so this time. So far the game is looking like a mashup of Maid RPG, Teenagers From Outer Space, and just a tiny bit of Best Friends. If I ever get both games to where I’m fully satisfied with them, I’ll probably put them in one book, though I have no idea what I’d call that book.

Anyway, in Dandelion Complex each player has up to three schoolgirl characters, and the GM is the Teacher. Players have tokens to spend on various things, including random events. The game is divided into “lessons,” in which the Topic, Setting, and Cast (which schoolgirls, if there are multiple per player) are determined by a mixture of the Teacher picking, players spending tokens, and random rolls. Both random events and the teacher deciding it should be so can require schoolgirls to do “Tests,” comparing attribute levels (1-4) to difficulty numbers, and they can spend tokens to make up the difference if need be, but doing too well on something brings out the Unintended Consequences tables.

I’ve been poking at Raspberry Heaven itself too. The main thing I’ve decided is to make it so that characters accumulate “Likes” rather than simply increasing bond levels, and (1) the total number of Likes is what determines how effective you are at helping, and (2) you can help even better if you have a Like related to the task at hand.

But mostly, I need to get through finals week before I worry too much about that kind of stuff.

Raspberry Heaven: Playtest Version 1

So, with the game proceeding at a nice pace, I now have an initial playtest version ready to go. I may be doing my first playtest in the very near future. :3

Get the Raspberry Heaven Playtest Version Here

Writing up episode descriptions turned out to be WAY harder than I expected (though I am kind of out of it because of school starting up…). I’ll definitely have to work on that more as I go along. Anyway, any and all feedback is greatly, tremendously appreciated.

Ichigo Mashimaro Characters
Okay, here goes:

Chika
Diligent
Tsukkomi
Plain

Miu
Boke
Genkisugi
Space Cadet

Matsuri
Delicate
Naive
Timid

Ana
Complex (English)
Nice
(crap I don’t know what the third one should be)

Nobue
Lazy
Obsession (Cute Stuff)
Obsession (Smoking)