I’ve been very busy with RL commitments this summer so gaming has had to take a backseat until recently.
That being said, I did participate in Game Chef 2019 and will share more details about my experience with the game design competition in a future post.
Other than Game Chef, Corridor Games on Demand has started its relationship with the Cedar Rapids Public Library where we are running our Playing in Public events in one of the library’s meeting rooms once per month. If we have the resources we’ll try to scale our efforts. We’ll be part of an intro to gaming event this September. I’m looking forward to that.
I also had a strange obsession to work through an idea about mutant animals using a combination of DOGS and Powered by the Apocalypse. Don’t worry, it’s only 4-pages and scratched a sudden itch. If I do more with it, I’ll need to file off some serial numbers and flesh it out to make it playable.
Later in September, I’m planning to attend MinnLoCo to game with some amazing friends in MN. I’m considering running three separate yet connected RPGs during the event with the same group of players. The games are Questlandia (the world-building part), The King Is Dead, For the Queen, and then end with Queslandia (with characters). It’s an experiment of related narrative collaboration RPGs with a monarchy. We’ll see how this goes.
In November, I’m attending Metatopia for the first time. Metatopia is a game convention for playtesting and networking in the game industry. I’ll be bringing two games to have playtested.
Regarding my own game design projects:
- I’m waiting for the next version of the Cortex Prime System Reference Guide before updating Space Station Omega.
- I’ve returned to write and edit NightMirror in between other projects.
Now that the Cortex Prime System Reference is out I’ve been working my way through revisions to match up with it as time permits. I’ve gotten feedback and hope that the next version will be ready for a more thorough test of the rules and content. Just have to keep writing and editing.
> Space Station Omega
I’ve created a mockup cover for fun (see the featured image above in a graphic novel form factor for about 300 pages) to help keep the motivation going as I work on sections, one paragraph at a time.
The feedback is coming in and it’s great to hear that people are reading and thinking about how Space Station Omega can be improved. It’s making me feel like the spirit of great sci-fi shows lives on through the game.
> Space Station Omega
Version 1 was very much influenced by the Leverage Roleplaying Game. Version 2 was me rethinking everything after going through the Cortex Prime handbook with many concepts on the brain. Version 3 is me thinking about feedback from the draft with the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game in the background as a result of listening to many MHR actual play games online.
Here’s a look at the most recent character sheet design (front), version 3. It includes the list of actions for this version of SSO. [Edited: even newer version listed below.]
> PDF version
And so it continues…
I’ve got a draft of Space Station Omega (SSO) ready to undergo a closer inspection and more ruthless editing after Gamicon, 2019. I already know that there are sections which need cutting—even after adding them in to remind me to not forget about them, but the question for me will be to see how important it is to salvage the essence of those parts for the game.
What I’m attempting to construct is a game that pulls together parts of the Cortex Plus/Prime RPG system to emulate a subgenre of science-fiction television stories, such as Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, and The Expanse.
I’ve reviewed many of the game sourcebooks and the Hacker’s Toolkit. I’ve studied the releases for the Cortex Prime Handbook. For SSO, I feel that I need drama, action, and politics. Cortex Prime uses traits to build out parts of its modular toolkit system, so here are the ones that I’m working with:
- Drama Traits: Values, Beliefs (value statements), Relationships
- Action Traits: Roles, Talents, Abilities, Specialties
- Politics Traits: Backgrounds, Factions, Sectors
- Other Traits: Signature Assets, Extras, Scene Assets
Areas of Consternation
I’m wondering how much of the game I can simplify or leave with more system mastery pieces. The Abilities for one are quite long and serve a game with powers at its core very well. However, in SSO, I feel that Abilities are rarer and should fit into the specific story.
For example, what if my group decides that they don’t want telepaths, but do want genetically engineered super soldiers? And the next one wants mystical space magic but not teleportation? How much of the Ability structure needs to remain to give a group enough content to confidently build their own without requiring a significant number of pages to read and understand or to see enough examples to understand how it would play out in your particular situation?
Also, I’ve dropped the use of the Effect Die and it’s raising alarms specifically for the Abilities. I don’t want to break something that would work normally out of the sake of wanting to simplify the game.
Another long-ish area that I like and want to simplify is the use of Events. Similarly to dropping the Effect Die I’ve dropped the use of Milestones and XP, again to make things easier so I’m not certain how Events will play out mechanically at this point.
Since Cortex Prime updated mid-January, 2019, I’ve worked to do extensive writing and editing on Space Station Omega (SSO). Version 2.5 is coming along nicely and I’m getting a better sense for how the whole system hangs together, as well as how it differs for SSO.
> Space Station Omega RPG
Today I created a new bare-bones character sheet based on the revisions and have a version that I feel confident to use with the next round of playtests. I went ahead and made it landscape, double-sided with the front hosting the following categories: Profile (Background trait), Views (for The War, The Alliance, Homeworld), Values and Beliefs, Stress and Trauma Tracks, Roles and Specialties, and a space to list Plot Points. For the back, the categories include Talents, Resources (Factions, Sectors, Relationships, Signature Assets, Extras, and Scene Assets), and Growth (Callbacks and Challenges).
> Space Station Omega Personnel Datafile 02-09-2019
The next step is to have a mostly done first draft ready for review by late winter or early spring for friends to read and comment on regarding obvious issues and provide feedback related to the Cortex Prime RPG experience. Depending on how well this step goes it will either be a fair amount of rewriting and/or revisions for clarity and crafting examples specific to SSO.
Hopefully, with a new round of robust playtesting on the way this year, it will shake out remaining stumbling points and provide a next draft which I can share with other GMs to run and report back to me for improvements.
On a side note, I can’t wait to watch season 5 of KillJoys and season 4 of The Expanse later this year. Bring on the Sci-Fi shows!
Photo: Promo piece from The Expanse TV show, now hosted on Amazon Prime.