Axe on stump

Chop, Chop!

I find that cutting content and ideas are always the most difficult to do as a designer.

Part of my struggle with cutting is that I’m never 100% certain I’ve made the best decision at that moment. Sometimes I have to live with the decision for a while and try to test the revised version. Sometimes the changes result in immediate improvements for clarity, and at other times it takes the project into an unexpected direction requiring further changes.

What helps me make and cope with the cuts is having a separate file with the chopped content saved as a backup. Should I ever consider a project finished I can delete this stored file of random bits. More likely I’ll keep it in a misc folder for future ideas. This reassurance helps me to manage my progress and expectations.

For my recent work with Space Station Omega, given the scope of the game, I’ve broken chapters into their own files, and then have used versions.

For the smaller NightMirror content, I’ve only needed a few different full version and now a bits file as I slowly write my way to a finished first draft.

For the two games I’m planning to take with me to Metatopia this November, I’ll be working to identify what I want to have playtested for each. At this point, I’m planning to take Dark Well and Vigilance. I’ll be weighing the strengths and weaknesses as a designer in September and perhaps (re)writing parts of the game as well.

NightMirror preview

Updates Since June, 2019

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.

Playtesting

Welcome to the AquaVertigo Playtesting post.

The following games are in playtest:

If you are interested in participating in a playtest of one or more of the above games, please let me know in the contact form below.

Games I'm Interested In (required)

 

Gamehole Con 2018 My Little Scythe

Gamehole Con 2018

I attended Gamehole Con in Madison, Wisconsin, for the first time in 2018, where I got to hang out and play a few board games with my friends, such as My Little Scythe.

Additionally, I was able to playtest several games which I have in development. See below:

Friday, 1-4PM – Dark Well: Ground Zero

The game began with an overview of related genres and influences, and introducing the four players to the eerie world of Dark Well. This was the first time that I had tested the diceless / random token-based system.

Friday, 7-10PM – Armageddon Accelerated: Miami Viceroy

The game began with an overview of the setting and with Fate Accelerated. Two had experience with Fate Accelerated; one had familiarity; one had none, but had just purchased Fate Dice.

Saturday, 1-4PM – Blood & Violence: The Road Not Taken

The game began with an overview of influences and the concept of magical realism at the heart of the game with the four players.

Saturday, 7-10PM – NightMirror: Walking Over Our Graves

The game began with an overview of the genre of gothic horror and influences with the five players.

Sunday, 1-4PM – Games on Demand Indie Grab Bag

I had table tents for six games for the four players to choose from: Armageddon Accelerated, Blood & Violence, Dark Well, NightMirror, Space Station Omega, and Vigilance. The group selected Space Station Omega (SSO).

Gamehole Con 2018 Space Station OmegaSetup: The players leaned heavily into their love for The Expanse and we built an exciting story involving space miners, a space religion, and an Earth-centric military power, with a mafia-like sub-organization and in-laws generated from the character relationships.

Story: There were a number of nice character moments in between the larger scenes and actions. Ultimately, all major factions put aside their differences, coming together and locating the terrorist cell. The game closed in a wonderful final scene the characters all contributed to dealing with the threat in their own way.

System: SSO is currently somewhere between Cortex Plus and Cortex Prime. The goal is to embrace Cortex Prime once it is more done and then tweak for the needs of the game. The creation of our Space and Station continues to really get the players excited and invested in the game. We made heavy use of complications and opportunities generated, and mostly used simple actions.

NightMirror preview

NightMirror

A Gothic Horror game about the search for humanity and salvation through a world of monsters and madness.

Story – What Is NightMirror the Roleplaying Game?

A DEATH! It begins with the scent of murder. A broken life, connected by sharp fractured edges to you, dear Seeker through pain and loss. The taste of blood, soot, and sweat heavy in the damp cold night as you push past what others might call fear, or dread. You step down into the dingy dark crypt under the cathedral, snapping a twig, alerting the dark thing gnawing on a bone in the corner of your presence. You steel your nerves and withdraw the small worn vellum book from an inner pocket. Opening it to the marked page and positioning it in the crack of moonlight, you read hastily. The words roll from tongue and soul and it, the slavering Agent of the Night moves closer and chatters staccato grunts with short sharp bloodied teeth. The chattering transforms into a whisper with each syllable read aloud. The secrets of its Master—the knowledge needed to complete the quest manifest through the maw of our mentor’s cursed child and murderer. And now we know its bane. The Master will come for us, and when it does, we will be ready.

NightMirror is a Gothic horror tabletop roleplaying game. It’s inspired by mid-1700 to mid-1900 fiction, which combines horror with romanticism and deals with both the unexplainable as well as new discoveries with science, religion, and industry. It is also directly inspired by the television show, Penny Dreadful.

NightMirror’s mechanics are inspired by Meguey Baker’s amazing Psi*Run game (from Night Sky Games, http://www.nightskygames.com) about amnesiacs with powers, Runners, who are pursued by mysterious Chasers. You play to find out who they are, who you are, and what happens next. However, instead of dice, a tarot deck is used to help shape the stories for the Seekers.

Every one-shot short story session or two or more sessions campaign novel of NightMirror begins with the death of someone meaningful. This is a death that draws the characters, whom you play called Seekers, together for a common purpose. All Seekers are extraordinary people who are discontent with their place in life and have burning questions that often exceed accepted social conventions, including into the private affairs of each other, esoteric topics, traumatic experiences, and the occult. Seekers are torn between the Night and the Light. In each case, this existence has created connections with the supernatural through abilities and desires. Inevitably, these desires draw the attention of others–agents of the Night or Light—Chasers, who pursue the Seekers to whatever ends that may be.

Gameplay includes shared storytelling over one or more sessions with riskier decisions determined through drawing tarot cards, placing the cards one by one into categories called Fortunes, and interpreting their results in ways evocative of the gothic horror genre and the shared tonal game space with the group.

It’s your job, as Seekers to find the Night or Light you are searching for and decide what to do with it once you’ve got it.

Along the way, the Seekers leave a Trail of information as they travel from location to location, and the Chasers pursue this trail relentlessly.

Will the Seekers learn the truth? Will the Night or Light destroy them?

Play to find out as you search for humanity and salvation through a world of monsters and madness!

Gothic Horror

Gothic Horror refers to a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. These emotions can include fear and suspense. This style of fiction began in the mid 1700s with a story titled, The Castle of Otranto (in 1764), by Horace Walpole. This story was about a doomed family and is filled with death, desire, and intrigue. This story is considered to be the first of the Gothic fiction tales, since it encompassed many of the characteristics of the genre. The term Gothic actually originated as a term belittling the architecture and art of the period, which was dark, decaying, and dismal.

Playing NightMirror

NightMirror is a tabletop roleplaying game for 3-5 players that takes about 3-4 hours to play. The game uses light rules, narration, and a standard deck of tarot cards. As you play and follow the fiction of the story, you look for when your character is risking something which could change their fortune during the game. When this happens the Host will ask the player to draw 3-5 cards, one at a time, and collaborate on the results. At times this may reveal something about the seeker or bring them closer to a direct conflict with the darkness within.

In NightMirror, players are seekers, people who are driven to look beyond normal conventions for answers to life and more. This leads them to experience the supernatural and supertechnology like that found in the stories of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde, H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Jewel of Seven Stars, or more recently from the Showtime television series, Penny Dreadful.

The World

NightMirror is set in a pre-20th century world where science and nature, industry and faith are mixed and in conflict between the old and the new world thinking. The supernatural maintains a strong presence while the microscope and telecommunications are being invented. This is a world of shadowy imaginings on top of the anxiety of an uncertain future threated by the industrial revolution, nationalistic military powers, and social upheaval like never before. In NightMirror, ghosts and artificial persons are explored by willful persons willing to defy the limits of society for their answers.

The Power of the Night & Light

The Higher Powers that manipulate events and people are known as the Night & Light. They have agendas and servants who work to execute the plans which are usually in opposition with each side, and they both prefer to have the seekers among their ranks as agents of Night or Light in the world.

Long-Term Play

NightMirror can be played as a one-shot, but is strongest when played through several sessions, as players reveal more about their seekers, the way of the Night and Light, and the beautiful eerie world that they inhabit.

Corruption & Redemption

Sometimes when seekers go too far or risk too much they become corrupted by the Night which hungers for seekers to join in union. When this happens it’s never certain that a seeker can or will be saved, but if it happens it’s usually through the work of redemption by one or more seekers.