Haven Swirl, a One-Page RPG

This was from a randomly-generated prompt:

Atmosphere RPG: Rock paper scissors resolution for a game about Farm focused on Discovery


Haven Swirl

The world was broken long ago, and life has been hard since. Wandering, you came upon Haven, a handful of people eking out a living on what was once a farm. Everyone has a story similar to yours, but nobody remembers who founded it.

In this game, you alternate between playing a member of Haven, and the world.

It uses two kinds of Rock-Paper-Scissors resolution:

Group Resolution:

Choose a reference player (the rules will tell you how). Everybody makes a fist, then simultaneously throws Rock, Paper, or Scissors. Compare your results against the object thrown by the reference player. Depending on if your result is Win, Lose, or Tie, the rules will tell you what to do. The reference player always ties with themselves.

Single Resolution:

You play one round of Rock Paper Scissors against another player.

Win – you get what you want
Tie – you partly get what you want, or it costs you
Lose – you don’t get what you want, and it costs you

Create your character:

Pick a specialty (duplicates between characters are okay):
– Crops
– Animals
– Technology
– Buildings
– Fiber arts
– Food

Pick what you’re looking for now:
– Protection
– Redemption
– Respect
– Belonging
– Knowledge
– Love

Decide why your character was wandering.

Decide what order your characters arrived at Haven. The character who arrived the earliest is called the First.

Choose one other character. You had an encounter with them that made you decide to stay. It could be someone who arrived after you.

Create the Map

Haven has one main house where everyone lives, and a few other buildings for the various specialties.

In the center of some large paper, draw the common room of the house.

Each player, draw the room of the house you live in. Draw a new building, plot of land, or room where you practice your specialty. If one exists, you can extend it.

Draw a rough multi-armed spiral extending from Haven, with one arm for each player. Each player claims a sector of the spiral; they have first say over what happens and what can be found in that sector.

Now decide on starting resources. Use Group Resolution with the First as the reference player:

  • Win – there’s a surplus of a resource relating to your specialty. Draw it in or close to Haven, in your sector.
  • Tie – you have just enough to practice your specialty most of the time. Draw the resource most limiting you in or close to Haven, in your sector.
  • Lose – there’s a lack of a resource relating to your specialty. Draw something in your sector or in Haven representing or explaining the lack.

Play

You will play out 12 months at Haven, each focusing on a different character in turn starting with the First.

Each month, do these three things in any order:

  • Have a scene with another character
  • Explore
  • Practice your specialty

Have a Scene:

Decide whether this is a flavor scene (just roleplay to develop character) or a goal scene (you want something from them).

If it’s a goal scene, roleplay until the outcome is in doubt, then use Single Resolution.

Explore:

Decide what you’re looking for, which direction you’re going from the 8 compass points, and how far. The player whose sector that falls in will frame a scene where you encounter something related to what you’re looking for. Roleplay until you feel the outcome is in doubt, then use Single Resolution.

Practice your specialty:

Describe your goal for the month and how you practice your specialty to achieve it. E.g. Have enough food for the winter by canning all the fruit that was just harvested.

Use Group Resolution with you as the reference player

  • Win – the player’s character or sector benefited from the activity
  • Tie – the player’s character or sector benefited, but the other (sector or character) lost something or was damaged
  • Lose – the player’s character or sector lost something or was damaged as a result

Special: the active player’s result counts as a Win

Draw something on the map representing the overall result.

Retrospective

At the end of the 12th month, reflect on how the year has gone. Take turns reminiscing about something that happened.

Then Use Group Resolution with the First as the reference player to determine your outlook, either for this year or the next:

  • Win: Rosy
  • Tie: Cautious
  • Lose: Pessimistic

Each narrate an epilogue about the coming year based on the result.


Influences:

  • Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year
  • Ben Robbins’ Follow
  • Becky Chambers’ A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
  •  Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Shopping Trip

January Game-A-Month: Cat Cafe

It’s done! (For certain values of done.)

I could keep polishing it (and it could use more), but it’s a reasonably complete game.

CatCafev1.0

Stroke the cats by clicking and dragging the mouse. When you’ve stroked them enough, they’ll be happy and give you points. But if you stroke too much, they’ll hiss and bite you! If you neglect them, they’ll leave unhappy and you’ll lose points. The game ends after one minute or three bites. Try to get the highest score!

Update to Midnight at the Library of Worlds

I’ve made some text revisions to Midnight at the Library of Worlds, clarifying some rules and adding more explanatory and advisory text. I’ve also made a try at a basic layout.

Midnight at the Library of Worlds v1.1

I’ve had Scrivener kicking around for a while and mostly been using it as a glorified notes bin. This time around I decided to use it document compilation features. I copied the text of Library of Worlds into it, and made each section and sub-section a separate node. At the moment my Frankenstein workflow is Scrivener->MultiMarkdown Export to HTML->Open in LibreOffice->Copy Paste into Serif PagePlus. MultiMarkdown seems to be the only Scrivener export format that preserves the header hierarchy instead of converting to font+size markup. PagePlus doesn’t have an HTML import, but copying from LibreOffice seems to preserve the header hierarchy. This means I can set up all the font and paragraph styles in PagePlus and any text I bring over will automatically have them.

Brainstorming for Game Challenges

Michael Machalko’s Thinkertoys is a great catalog of brainstorming techniques. If your idea of brainstorming is “sit down with a blank sheet of paper and list things,” definitely check it out! The examples are all business-focused, but there’s one technique, the Idea Box, that I’ve found especially helpful for game design challenges.

The core of the idea box is to break your problem up into a few components, generate ideas for each, and combine them in an explosion of possibilities. Start by writing down a few categories–five or six is usually good–as column headers. Then come up with several concepts or associations for each, writing them under the headers. Think of at least five each, more is better. Then take one item from each column and combine them. I like to roll dice or use Inspiration Pad Pro to generate prompts.

For Game Chef 2016, my categories were Technology as a Theme, Use of Technology, and the four ingredients: Alarm, Dance, Sketch, and Sunlight. This produced combinations like “Anonymity, music playlist, waking up, clubbing, sketch comedy, and bright” or “Intellectual Property, spam, heists, manners, inspiration, and bleach”. Draw Fortress came out of “Security, Wiki (revise and add to what has been written), fire, ballet, pens, and the Sun.” I wound up dropping ballet and the Sun when I couldn’t make them fit, and transplanting the “revise and add” aspect onto paper.

For the Nontraditional Fantasy RPG Design Challenge, there were criteria about settings and about rules, both phrased as “Must not include X.” I found it hard to brainstorm in the negative. So I came up with a list of themes and settings that would easily meet the setting criteria, and a list of mechanics that would meet the rules criteria, and started mashing them together. Midnight at the Library of Worlds came from Bookbinding + Night-time Animals Save the World.

My full lists:

Theme/Setting Mechanic
Arabian Nights
Filipino mythology
Greek mythology
Chinese mythology
Wuxia
Steampunk/Victoriana
Dream worlds
Modern day with magic
1920s
Biblical
Babylonian
Gaelic
Bards
Court intrigue
Small town life
Fairy tales in modern-ish day (post 1900s)
Some other myths in modern-ish day (post 1900s)
Book characters
Other musicians
Teachers
High school
Witches
Inquisition
Miyazaki
Dryads
Nature spirits
Dragons
Unicorns
Baby gods learning to control their domains
Fantastical Colonial Philippines
Fantastical India
Gemcutting
Bookbinding
Painting, drawing, other art
Lightweaving
Dream weaving
Rebellion against an evil government
Ninjas
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Rome and Greece
Otherkind Dice
Do Pilgrims of the Flying Temple
Drawing stones or tokens
One-Roll Engine
Rock paper scissors
Night-time Animals Save the World
Something like NTASW, but with dice
Die pool where successes buy effects
Simultaneous blind bidding
Poker hands
Draw cards instead of rolling dice
Trick-taking
Yi Qing
Tarot
Spend finite resource
Throw yarrow stalks
Dollar auction
Second price auction

Midnight at the Library of Worlds

A game for the Fantasy RPG Design Challenge, a challenge to design the most un-D&D-like fantasy games.

Midnight at the Library of Worlds is about an interdimensional Library on the eve of apocalypse. Players scramble to collect what books they can before fleeing.

Blank Book Cards

Contest Edition (v1.0)

Update: Midnight at the Library of Worlds won the competition!

Ryuutama Inventory Sheet

Ryuutama tracks inventory with a combination of slots and containers, and it can sometimes be tricky to figure out exactly how much you can carry. Here’s a sheet to help you visualize it.

The left column counts your actual carrying capacity. Use the right columns to show the space you get from containers. e.g. a Large Backpack takes up 5 carrying capacity, but gives you 10 slots, so block out 5 rows and extend them two columns wide to get a total of 10 slots.

Inventory Sheet v1.1 (Sample)
Pack Animal Sheet v1.0 (Sample)

Older versions:
Inventory Sheet v1.0 (Sample)

Draw Fortress

My entry for the 2016 Game Chef competition is called Draw Fortress. It’s like The Quiet Year crossed with a tower defense game after reading too much Bruce Schneier.

Draw Fortress v1.0.1 (PDF)*
Draw Fortress v1.0 (PDF)
Draw Fortress v1.0 (RTF)

Ingredients: Alarm, Sketch

The combination of “Technology” as a Theme and “Alarm” as an ingredient made me think about security. Security is always about trade-offs. Nobody has the resources to protect against everything all the time, so you have to choose what’s most likely. Any user of the system is a potential weak point, but users are why the system exists. While the initial inspiration was computer security, physical systems are much easier to brainstorm and represent.

Despite a busy schedule, I was lucky enough to playtest the game twice during the week, leading me to cut some needlessly complicated rules and streamline the turn flow. Thanks to my playtesters A. U., D. K., E. G., and T. N.

*After the Game Chef deadline, I added a CC-BY badge to the PDF and fixed a typo in the rules.

Creative Commons License
Draw Fortress by Selene Tan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Ryuutama Town Generation Tables

If you’re stumped during town generation, you can use these handy tables! With inspiration from Courtney Campbell’s awesome Treasure supplement. Add in Doug Anderson’s Fantasy Market and Vendor Generator to round it out.

A supplement entry for the 200 Word RPG Contest.

Population:
1-3: Village
4-7: Town
8-9: City
10: Large City

Ruling System: 1d10, -1 for Village, +1 for Normal/Large City
0: As Needed
1-2: Eldest
3-4: Elected Head
5-6: Elected Council
7: Lottery
8-9: Hereditary Council
10-11: Hereditary Head

Ruler Personality: 1d10
– Resistant to Change
– Secretive
– Cynical
– Lazy
– Inexperienced
– Crude
– Forgetful
– Generous
– Meticulous
– Idealistic

Environment: d8
– Forest
– Valley
– Coast
– Cliff
– Wasteland
– Plains
– Trees
– Hills

Building: 1d6, +1 for Normal/Large City
– Bridge
– Market
– Shrine
– Specialty Production
– Civic Center
– Monument
– Castle

Specialty Goods: 1d10, +2 for Town, +5 for City, +8 for Large City
1: Cotton, Wool, Flax
2: Grain, Vegetables, Staples
3: Raw Metal
4: Lumber
5: Wine, Ale, Liquor
6: Furs, Hides, Cloth
7: Livestock, Pets
8: Leather Goods
9: Wooden Goods
10: Housewares
11: Herbs, Salt, Spices, Sugar
12: Clothing, Armor, Weapons
13: Exotic Fruits
14: Painting, Sculpture
15: Jewelry
16: Perfumes, Potions
17: Scrolls, Books
18: Magical Items

Sights: 1d6
– Greenery
– Festive colors
– Drab buildings
– Gleaming buildings
– Organic shapes
– Geometric designs

Sounds: 1d6
– Running water
– Birds
– Market hawkers
– Clanging metal
– Children
– Livestock

Smells: 1d6
– Animals
– Cookfires
– Forest
– Water
– Specialty Good
– Waste

Threats: 1d10
– Famine
– Drought
– Monsters
– Natural disaster
– Bandits
– Plague
– Unfair treatment
– Missing people
– Vermin
– Isolated

 

Super Planet Force

An entry for the 200 Word RPG Challenge.


You seem like ordinary teenagers, but together you are SUPER PLANET FORCE!

Choose a unique Robot Part to pilot: Head, Right Arm, Left Arm, Body, Legs. Draw your Robot!

When piloting or acting like your Part, roll 6d6; otherwise roll 2d6. Every 5+ is a success.

  • Head – Leadership, planning
  • Right Arm – Forceful, straightforward
  • Left Arm – Underhanded, subtle
  • Body – Courageous, resistance
  • Legs – Fast, graceful

The episode starts with a mundane issue: bullies, classes, dating, family, friendship.

Then a (Lightning | Fiery | Icy | Poisonous | Cyber) (Dinosaur | Spider | Moth | Ape | Blob) attacks! Describe how you secretly change into SUPER PLANET FORCE.

Take turns describing the monster’s rampage, then attacking it. Successes charge its Rage Pool. At [Players x3], it transforms and doubles the Rage Pool!

Describe your transformation into TECHNO PLANET WARRIOR!

Together you have [Players x6]d6. Choose one Part to act with all dice in their style. Every success destroys a Rage die. If it’s out of Rage, finish with your HYPER PLANET BEAM!

Otherwise, the monster rolls Rage. Each success destroys one of your dice. If you run out, it leaves you injured until next episode. Otherwise, keep fighting.

Describe how the mundane issue is resolved or worsened by the outcome.