Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mascot-tan: Update!

A small update on Mascot-tan: the designs for the last two RPG girls (Twenty-tan and Story-tan) are complete. I'll be making some minor revisions to the game, not to mention making the descriptions of the RPG Girls match the illustrations better, and putting up a snazzy, with-art-and-everything final version of the game in a PDF whenever I get around to it. I've made some good progress on Thrash 2.0, but it turns out I have a little more to go on that freelance translation work I was doing, so RPG stuff goes on a brief hiatus once again. TT3TT



Sunday, June 25, 2006

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 14

I think I'm finally coming into my own.

So. The old Project Perseus building. The upper levels had since been leased out to other companies, but it was entirely too easy to get into the basement levels through the back. The research labs had been completely gutted, as though someone was trying very hard to make it appear as though there had never been a high-security government facility there. The equipment -- including some really massive stuff -- had all been removed, probably disassembled, and even the industrial electrical outlets were removed, the wires covered up by a new layer of drywall. The first four basement levels had a few desks, and nothing else. Apart from a keypad lock on the back entrance, there were no traces of the project's extensive security systems, no cameras, magnetic locks, key card readers, retinal scanners, nothing.

The fifth level -- which I'd never been to before -- was an entirely different matter. The room was pitch-black, save for a single cone of white light coming from the ceiling. The man who stepped into the light was Sam's missing tag-team partner, Wash. In spite of his tacky Hawaiian shirt, he began speaking of world-shaking events. And he had some friends with him: Pinnacle, and more clone soldiers. Pinnacle was unusually quiet, while Wash started gloating about how the experiment to create new metahumans was a resounding success. Raz was impulsive as usual, and found out that they had another force field set up. He did at least give us a few puzzle pieces. Glenn was not part of their plans, for example. And they still know far too much about us. He offered to answer one question, and while I was trying to formulate a question about the nature of the catalyst, Jack asked him how to take down the force field. Wash's answer was, "Take out the power for 15 city blocks." Which tells us a bit more than he probably intended. Their force field device doesn't have an independent power source, and it uses a large amount of electricity. The big question is whether they need to set it up in advance or they can simply deploy it quickly had have it somehow drain the power automatically.

They tried to work their vanishing act, but when Glenn opened the elevator, there was Pinnacle with four soldiers, and more started pouring in through the doors. Pinnacle was a formiddable opponent to say the least, but this time he seemed virtually invincible. He went beyond his usual inhuman combat skill, and everything we brought against him he either anticipated or outright ingored. He batted Glenn away, took Razmus' claw attack unfazed, my Rider Drill did nothing against his armor, he happily inhaled the burning steam vapors Sam brought to bear and ignored it when Sam froze them in his lungs, and he simply stepped out of the way every time Jack tried to use his shadow powers. Seeing that this was getting us nowhere, I used the Mega-Beam, firing it past him at the soldiers in the elevator and sweeping it upwards until I blasted the ceiling above Pinnacle. The falling rubble made a massive dust cloud, and when it cleared, there was no sign of him. The soldiers faded away and were gone. We beat a hasty retreat as the klaxons began to sound.

But there was still more in store for the evening. A massive motorcycle growl sounded in the streets, a 1000cc engine, and a sound I knew. A custom Fenrir bike streaked past us, and I swear I saw a long red scarf streaking behind it. The other Rider.

Razmus decided to spend the night at a hotel, to avoid my grandfather. The old man is proving to have a lot of information, though as Glenn pointed out, he's undoubtedly not telling us everything he knows. What he did tell me was that we were probably dealing with Wild Rider, a maverick Rider who wanders the universe on his own, and unusual in that he fights hand-to-hand. But what he was doing on Earth, he had no idea. When I asked him if it was normal that I was having so many dreams about my father, he just said, "I miss him too."

The next day Razmus showed up in time to go to Akiba with Suzuka, who had already made a little plushie of him to hang on her bag. She makes those of most of the boys she likes, though some wind up with pins stuck in them. I don't know how it went, and I'm not sure I want to.

Glenn and I went to visit the auto shop where dad's motorcycle was built. Mr. Shige Matsumoto was there, and he took us down to his hidden underground shop where he was working on his secret custom bikes. When we asked about Wild Rider, he was shocked too. He'd made three bikes for my father. One was destroyed in Paris (so it was the Eiffel tower), one was in the National Historical Museum (we need to check to see if it's still there), and the third was there in the garage, an updated version that was intended to be a present for Ryo's 18th birthday. Matsumoto was unfazed when he found out that there had been a change of plans, and he was happy to give me the key.

It turned out to be just in time, because Wild Rider himself pulled up in front of the garage just as we got back upstairs, pointed at me (and how the hell did he know that I'm a Rider?) and said, "RACE ME." So, I raced him. We both had a couple of the most powerful bikes in the world, and we tore through city streets before we found our way onto a mostly empty highway loop. I never quite got ahead of him, but I never fell behind either. I always liked motorcycles -- it's one of the few things where I'm a lot like my father -- but this was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Even now I'm itching to ride some more, just for the hell of it. But Wild Rider wasn't content to just race; he screeched to a halt, hopped off his bike, and took up a fighting stance. With the helicopters circling overhead, we fought. His punches hit hard, sending me flying a couple of times even in my heavy armor, but the Rider Gemini Slash apparently did enough damage to convince him to turn tail and leave the scene.

I got back to the house as quickly as I could without being followed. We'd been on the news, which was now buzzing with that "Rider Lady" nonsense. I really need to come up with a name of my own, but then I have no idea what my adapted armor will even look like. From the picture I took with my cameraphone before the race, my grandfather was surprised to find that Wild Rider's armor had changed somewhat, and from the description I gave, he said the voice had changed as well. If there is someone new who took up the mantle of being Wild Rider, then it had to have been someone with the Rider's genetic factor that makes transforming possible. With the sighting the Watcher mentioned, plus the two times I saw him with my own eyes, it can't be a normal human. Grandfather said the only other person on the planet who could do it would be Ryo, except he's not old enough. It could explain his simplistic fightng style -- nothing but big, powerful punches -- but I'm not about to jump to conclusions. If the catalyst let me use the Mega-Brace in spite of being a woman, there's no telling what might've happened to someone else. Even still, I took the opportunity to look through Ryo's room (I used Sam the wrestler to distract him) just in case, but there was nothing apart from the usual boatloads of Mega-Rider merchandise, even more than I remember (I should've guessed they'd have "10th Anniversary Memorial" merchandise coming out). I really hope he was just playing soccer. Oh, and Razmus called me to congratulate me on a cool fight.

The thing that's still bugging me is that Pinnacle and his friends have such good surveillance on us. They seem to know every move we make, though details of the conversation proved that they didn't know what was said in my house, at least, even while my grandfather wasn't there. I wonder if we could use their watchful eyes to our advantage somehow. And I can't believe Razmus actually thought I'd look at him differently because of his ancestry. Just being Raz is more than enough. And I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and someone to come tell me I can't be a Rider because I'm a girl. My mother has been quiet as ever (do I take after her?), my grandfather was a little surprised, but mostly just took it in stride, and Wild Rider said all of two words to me in the whole of his little test. I can't stop now; heroism is just as addictive as nicotine (my grandfather smokes too, indoors), and probably worse for your health in the long run.

Next up is Ryo's big soccer match, and we have four hours to kill until then, which isn't enough time to go to the museum. At the rate things have been going, we're probably due for another incident there. With more media coverage.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Moonsick Part I

I sort of "accidentally" wound up working a bit on Moonsick, one of the games in my planned trilogy of Superflat-inspired RPGs, we are flat, owing in part to having finally bought Takashi Murakami's Little Boy book, and in turn getting inspired to pull out Junko Mizuno's Pure Trance (which is very unlike any other manga I've ever seen, and a bit weird even compared to her other works). The thing with Moonsick is that I'm finding it surprisingly easy to control my writing style in the same way I do when writing pure prose. I think reading Schauermärchen and especially Lacuna Part I did a lot to help me get there.

Lacuna does certain things that could put off a casual browser (some of which I intend to avoid), and I didn't bother checking it out until a forum post tipped me off to why the game is the way it is. It's called Part I even though Sorensen has specifically stated that there will never be a Part II (Second Attempt notwithstanding), it was the inspiration for the unfunny (IMHO) April Fool's joke that got him banned from, and everything describing the game is full of vague, leading questions and almost nothing solid. Nothing about the city in the collective unconscious or that there's a fascinating set of game mechanics dealing with heart rate that's central to the game, just cryptic stuff about Spidermen and the Blue City. The thing is, reading the book doesn't actually answer all that many of those questions. There's no such thing as a "right" way to play any given RPG, and in the case of Lacuna Part I that's even more true than usual because it very deliberately forces anyone who plays it to fill in some gaps on their own. The back of the book gives hints, but even the GM doesn't know what the designer intended the true nature of the Girl to be.

Moonsick is about girls who can't grow up, who live on the moon and look down at an irradiated earth and wonder if the world was ever something different. It's about feeling powerless and having a hard time making meaningful choices. The works of Junko Mizuno, Aya Takano, and Chiho Aoshima (amongst others) inform some of the game's feel. The wording of the text, which stays rooted in this fictional world as much as possible, treats readers of the players' section like children, and the game mechanics force them to make several choices right off the bat that seem pointless and aesthetic but are potentially significant in a purely arbitrary way. The number 28 matters in Moonsick for the same reason it's significant in Akira.

The other thing with this game is that I'm winding up wanting to use visuals in very specific ways. The "rabbits" the game constantly refers to are not cuddly leporids (I'm not 100% sure what they are just yet), but the game text is not going to explain what they are, period. Instead I'll have an illustration of one. Similarly, the fact that the girls on the moon all wear the same kind of white slip will only be shown in pictures, and one of the choices in character creation will be to pick out a hairstyle from a chart. I'm considering doing something similar with the various mutants on earth (like the Meltyplane and Prettyhead), purposely making it so the GM holds up a picture when the thing appears in the game, because it's as close as he's got to a description himself.

I have some vague ideas, but I really need to sit down and think about what rules the game needs, and what I want them to do. I think I'm designing a narrativist game, but I also suspect that simply designing a game about girls who live on the moon with rabbits that aren't rabbits would be a better use of my time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Perfect Explosion

I sure have been posting a lot here lately. Writing up 80 or so maneuvers for Thrash 2.0 is going to be interesting.

My forum monkey habit has been really bad lately, but I do come across cool stuff now and then. Two games by other people I want to call attention to:
  • Perfect 20: Levi from has this stripped-down variant of d20 he created. It's not quite perfect (heh) but in many ways it's a thing of beauty.
  • Panty Explosion: I swear I am not making this up. I usually suck at titles, and this... this one just takes your breath away. It's an RPG about the fucked up lives of Japanese schoolgirls, some of whom have psychic powers, though it's rare for anything good to come out of using them. He's got a PDF of a playtest version he's showing around for comments. I want to give this a try some time.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hello, Old Friend (Thrash 2.0)

I haven't had a chance to do any testing with Halo: The Covenant War, but over at the Fudge Forum a fellow who goes by CmdrCody posted saying that he gave it a spin with his friends and they had a blast. I mostly design games because (1) I wanna play them with my friends, and (2) designing games is fun, but being able to share them is definitely nice. That third one is part of why my next big thing is to get back into working on Thrash 2.0, something that, if my old notes are any indication, I've been failing to do since 2002. Of course, I've mentioned here and elsewhere that this partly has to do with me getting so much more experience with RPGs, from every angle (designer, player, GM, reader, theory, etc.).

Thrash 2.0 has a lot of major changes, but compared to some of the things I could be doing with it in terms of creating a fighting game system (like going all Narrativist all of a sudden) it's still true to the earlier versions. And it's still doing a genre that no one else is really bothering with right now. There are some new martial arts related RPGs (like Weapons of the Gods and Final Stand), but they've tended more towards the kung fu movie end of things. Living Room Games had announced their Capcom World Tournament thing a while back (and I was very interested, even if I wasn't hellbent on playing it), but a few months ago they announced on their forums that it was going on "indefinite haitus." I don't think I've ever heard that from an RPG publisher before, but I think it's safe to say that CWT is kaput. The LRG guy was scant on details, and no doubt had to be for contractual reasons, but the combined weight of printing and licensing costs were apparently the main problem. This kind of thing is part of why I don't particularly aspire to run my own company. The indie approach I think would work much better for me.

While I've been a fan of Street Fighter for ages (and of KoF, DarkStalkers, Samurai Shodown, etc.), I'm planning to concentrate primarily if not exclusively on original content for Thrash 2.0. I already have a laundry list of things I want to add to the game (and Weird Powers is at the top), though I'm going to be putting out Thrash 2.0 under a Creative Commons license, so everyone will be free to make whatever they want for it anyway. I also want to try to be more active on the mailing list, and having a version of the game I can stand to look at will help make that happen. ^_^; I'm also thinking of putting together an inexpensive POD version, so that those who are so inclined will be able to order a nice printed book, but that'll wait until I've gotten through plenty of playtesting, feedback, and editing, and added some artwork.

At the moment, I've gotten the basic framework of the game all figured out. It was pretty simple overall, and what innovations and changes I've made were mostly either logical extensions of what was there before (like the more extensive rules for super bars) or stuff that should've been blindingly obvious (like getting rid of styles as a character trait). The bulk of the work I have to do right now is, unfortunately, the annoying grunt work of putting together the stats for all of the character traits, especially the maneuvers. Granted, I need to take care of writing the GM chapter too (which, like everything else, I'm rewriting from the ground up), but it's the maneuvers and whatnot that will fill the system out to the point where I can run playtests. Just like with writing novels, everything I work on has gotten more time-consuming, but of better quality when it finally does arrive. :P

After so long writing/designing RPG material, I think I'm starting to get tired of writing descriptions of skills and other traits. To a certain extent it's possible to design an RPG without these, or at least without too many of them, but apart from the annoyance it causes when I have to sit down and write descriptions--which inevitably becomes repetetive and boring--it's not worth it to try to fit the whole game around that design concept. Risus has only player-defined traits for a specific reason, but other games rely on pre-defined ones for specific reasons. I just wish I could figure out a good way to write them without getting bored, especially considering that if I'm bored writing that part of the game, the reader can't be all that enthralled either. The only time I ever manage to make that sort of thing remotely interesting is when I get sarcastic, but that only works for certain games (like with Mascot-tan).

Did you notice I've been trying to talk in terms of "designing RPGs" instead of "writing RPGs"? There was a blog post (and crap, I can't remember whose it was) that pointed out that there is a difference, and an important one. I think it's important to keep in mind that what I'm doing here is making games. There's a side of it that's similar to writing stories (but then, I do that separately), but I feel I need to try to give higher priority to the design aspect, and thereby make better games.

And once the beta version of Thrash 2.0 is done, I need to get back into Tokyo Heroes, my sentai/magical girl RPG (the combination makes sense if you read the game). All that one really needs is for me to finish up the rules for bad guys and write up some of the sample characters, and it'll be ready to playtest. I really do come up with too many projects for myself.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 13

Today was about me, apparently. I came to Japan wanting answers, but I didn't expect to be buried in them without trying.

On the plane, Razmus was relatively well-behaved, and he even apologized for the "sellout" comment. He also showed me a polaroid of him and his parents, obviously from a number of years ago, and said that he might've said such a thing out of jealousy.

Mom and Ryo met us at the airport, and neither has changed much. Ryo's soccer team is on its way to the division finals, and mom is... well, mom. For some reason Razmus felt the need to tell my mother, in broken Japanese, that he is "Hikaru's boyfriend that he met on the internet." He seemed annoyed that I shut him down ("こいつ、彼氏なんかねぇよ。"). He either has a poor sense of humor or doesn't understand that my mother wouldn't have believed it for a second. He forgets that we've only known each other for about six weeks.

The house is just as I remember it though. It feels like I've been away a lifetime, but really it's only been a matter of months. The next morning, Eri, Takeshi, and Suzuka arrived, and it surprised no one that Suzuka was all over Razmus. What surprised me was that she got him to agree to a date of sorts -- a trip to Akiba.

When mom asked me to go buy some salmon at the market, and I wound up with Razmus and Sam tagging along, and that's when business started trying to ambush me. There was a scruffy Westerner in the market, who was fitting in perfectly. He telepathically introduced himself as the Watcher, and told me to say hi to Glenn for him. He went on to say that he was born in the 1700s, that he had a premonition that something important was going to happen soon, that there was another Rider operating somewhere in Japan, and that we should check out Project Perseus' abandoned Tokyo facility. Razmus and Sam neither saw nor suspected anything at the time.

But that wasn't the half of it. I took Glenn and mom into the kitchen to talk about a few things. I'd been gearing up to confess about what I've been doing, but she'd already figured it out. No climax. "I wouldn't be your mother if I didn't know." What other surprises does she have? Glenn was surprised to hear about the Watcher, to be sure. Then my erstwhile grandfather made his appearance. He looked like a typical wizened old Japanese man, but he had a Brace of his own, and I could see from the look in his eyes that he is a man of experience and power. Then, he let Glenn and I ask questions.

My father really was an alien then, and so is my grandfather. The Riders consider themselves guardians of justice in the universe, and they send Riders to distant planets in need of heroes. Earth already has many native heroes, so they sent only one, my father, some 19 years ago (which would mean I was concieved not too long after he arrived...). The Braces are techno-organic, and contain a memory of sorts, though only some of the first-generation ones are sentient (the Mega-Brace is not one of those... and yet it's 9,000 years old). It draws from a dimensional pocket an organic inner suit that serves as insulation and interface, and an organic outer armor, that wraps around the wearer. My grandfather (his name is Yukimaru) was shocked that I could transform, and while inspecting my armor he noted that it was very close to finally adapting to me. I've been able to use the suit's main powers -- armor, jumping, the Mega-Sword, and the Mega-Beam -- but there's another level, which involves combining them in different ways.

Being a Rider is treated as a hereditary post, but passed down from father to son. Ryo would've been the one to recieve the Mega-Brace next, but (thank god) not until he turned 18. If dad's attitude was typical of Riders, Ryo would make a better fit, but it's a little late for that right now. What is puzzling is that in theory the Brace should've gone into hiding on its own, and then proceeded to appear to Ryo when he came of age. Instead it somehow wound up in the hands of Project Perseus, and then me. On the plus side, if I really do decide to retire, Ryo would be able to take up the fight, but not until he's old enough. On the other hand, when all's said and done he has the power to make the world a better place without becoming a superhero. He'll probably be furious at me for, in effect, stealing "his" superpowers, but that's ironic considering that far more than me he can appreciate a normal life.

The other thing is that my father's people have been waging a war against another race, an implacable enemy that is a bane to civilized life in the universe. And if my grandfather is to believed, Razmus is one of that race. I could tell the old man wanted to rip him apart, but he held back because Razmus is one of my comrades. When my grandfather finally left--vanishing in a flash of light--I went and told the others the parts I felt were safe to tell.

Raz, predictably, immediately went into denial, as though his ancestry somehow invalidated the experiences of his family, the circumstances of his birth. Neither the archeological evidence that points to Japanese people having come to the islands from the mainland, nor the fact that I've been living in San Francisco, nor even the fact that my father was an alien, make me less Japanese, much less not human. Razmus is still Razmus, and the man and woman in the picture are his parents. The problem is, we could find ourselves facing other shapeshifters who aren't so friendly as him or his family. And another thing. Although I know better than to be naive about it, there remains the distinct possibility that what my grandfather told me was only the truth as he knows it. There are two sides to every story.

In any case, with that done, I announced that we were going to investigate Project Perseus' Tokyo facility. And everyone went along with it. I don't think of myself as having leadership qualities, but Razmus is too independent for that, Glenn just doesn't seem to want to tell people what to do if he can help it (and I don't blame him), and Sam and Jack are too passive. Still, when I took the initiative like that, I didn't expect it to work out so smoothly.

Of course, we haven't yet entered the building, so we'll soon find out whether I made a good decision. What we're approaching--by train--is outwardly a fairly ordinary office building in the middle of the city. It's since been leased out to another, more innocuous organization. I have to try to remember where the research labs and such were located. I think most of that stuff was in the second and third basement levels.

I'm glad no one saw me the morning after we arrived. I woke up, and something about the dream I had made me wake up crying. I still can't remember what it was about, but I coudn't stop crying anyway. That isn't like me.

Monday, June 12, 2006

H:tCW continued/24-hour Hikikomori

I finally get Halo up (and Louis Wu at was kind enough to post a news item about it), and I've already got a laundry list of things to add:
  • Some more rules options for character creation, damage, and so forth. Some for putting the more standard Fudge rules back into the book, some new stuff.
  • Other optional rules for running a Red Vs. Blue style game.
  • Filling out the rest of the variants of the Covenant aliens (e.g., I have several flavors of Elites, but I need to add Rangers, Honor Guards, and a few others).
  • Stats for important characters from the games. Tartarus is going to be interesting.
  • Stats for semi-canon toys like the flamethrower and ATV.
  • Details for stuff relating to the Halo ringworlds themselves -- stats for the Sentinels and the Flood.
Anyway, in a few minutes I'll be starting my 24-hour RPG. I've posted about it before, but to reiterate (for myself as much for the miniscule number of people who actually read this) it's going to be a "solo RPG" about hikikomori. A friend of mine suggested making it a more standard RPG, but with the different players taking on the role of elements of the shut-in's deranged mind, but stuff like that has actually been done before, if mostly in the indie scene (Cranium Rats comes to mind) and in stuff like 24-hour RPGs. So for this exercise I'll be sticking to my original idea, which is a little bit choose your own adventure, a little bit RPG, and a little bit writing exercise.

I decided to start after a good meal (which makes my choice of having lunch at Denny's questionable), in the afternoon so that I work until late at night, then sleep, and wake up and get a few more solid hous in. At the moment I have some System of a Down playing in the background ("If it wasn't for bad taste I wouldn't have no taste at all") and on the way home I got a 2-liter of Coke, which I suspect won't last anywhere near as long as it should.

Wish me luck!

Update #1 (4:20 p.m.): Two hours in. I switched to Nine Inch Nails for my tasteless music, and the bottle of Coke is half empty. I should go easier on it. I've written just over 2,000 words, and I've actually figured out the basic framework of the game; I just need to fill in the details. If you try it out, you're going to get a lot of mileage out of those ten-siders.

Update #2 (7:15 p.m.): I realized that I hadn't eaten dinner, so it's time. I also switched computers, since my posture will be better at my desktop (sort of). It's currently up to about 5,300 words, and I really feel like I had the basic design (which was pretty simple, admittedly) in my head, and I just have to finish pouring it out and executing things. Still, five hours so far. I'm remembering the good and the bad about marathon RPG development. Ideally this thing would need a good amount of playtesting to get the numbers in order and balanced, but that's how it goes. And after this I'll be getting back to my freelance work, and then getting back into Thrash 2.0. I decided to switch gears and change from music (Lordi) to anime (Evangelion). Now, back into the action...

Update #3 (9:55 p.m.): After nearly 8 hours straight, and my brain is turning to Jell-O. I've written about as much as I think I can in one sitting, which actually has the game very nearly done. I'm going to write a little bit more, then go to bed and get an early start (I'm weird and I'll probably be up at 6 a.m., or 8 at the latest) and do the remaining writing and editing.

Update #4 (6:05 a.m.): Told you I'd be up at 6 a.m.

Update #5 (7:39 a.m.): Wow. That's it then. Download Hikikomori (I couldn't come up with a better title). Be afraid. I think next time I need to not have so much of it in my head before I start. Like, not even a concept.

Update #6 (10:11 p.m.): Yay! It's official!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Halo: The Covenant War, LAUNCH!

It's definitely nice to actually get a project moving. I've uploaded the initial draft of Halo: The Covenant War, the aforementioned Fudge-powered RPG adaptation of Bungie's Halo video games. It's completely untested, but them's the breaks. Any comments would be appreciated. New versions and new matieral will follow paytesting.

My artist friend also realized that I suck at inking and coloring, especially comapred to him (which was not a big revelation), and took it upon himself to re-do the coloring for the forthcoming paper minis:

Up next is an adventure scenario for Halo, then Thrash 2.0 (fighting game RPG), and then Tokyo Heroes (sentai RPG), and I have entirely too many ideas for what'll come after that. Plus a 24-hour RPG mixed in there somewhere.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Power 19: Tokyo Heroes

The Power 19 are a series of questions meant to help guide game designers. I decided to take a stab at answering these for Tokyo Heroes, and later on other RPG projects I've been working on or contemplating.

1.) What is your game about?
Heroes that work together to beat up bad guys.

2.) What do the characters do?
Seek out, confront, and defeat bad guys.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
The GM comes up with the Monster of the Week. The players try to do what they characters would want to do, building up to that episode's final battle.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The game has a milleu of sorts, but the setting is left up to the individual group. From the source material, there is a notion that heroes are the same in every setting. Despite the similarities and the crossover movies, each year's Super Sentai Series is a totally new setting.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Characters must be made as a group, with many important details decided by the group as a whole, and thus they have to be concieved as a team.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
Teamwork is strongly encouraged; going solo is difficult at best.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Hero Dice and Karma are the most important form of reward in the game. Hero Dice contribute to the teamwork side of things -- and are all but required to win battles -- while Karma points reward individuality and thereby create a certain amount of tension.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Mostly in a traditional fashion, except that at the end of each session players have an opportunity to give the GM input about what will happen in the next session/episode.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
The heroes in this game must participate and do things in accordance with their Keys in order for the group to gain enough Hero Dice to function effectively.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
It's a dice pool system using six-siders. The base target number is 4 (so dice come up as successes half of the time), but this varies depending on the circumstances. Hero Dice can be spent on any given action by any group member.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
The resolution mechanics are intended to strongly encourage teamwork. Characters can almost always assist their friends in some way, even if the target gets pushed up to 6. Unlike previous attempts at the game, it lets each player roll their own dice and see their contributions to the whole.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Basic character competence is improved by spending Karma points, while new weapons, giant robots, etc., are handed out whenever the GM feels like it.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The fact that Karma is the basis of character advancement adds to the characters' individual drive for achievement, and is meant to create tension. That the GM periodically plays Santa Claus draws in the source material's tendency towards deus ex machina, but also frees players to spend Karma on improving their characters' abilities over time.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
Primarily, I want to capture the fun, melodramatic, vivid, and cool style of sentai shows, and get them to play their characters to the hilt.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
The game is mostly about a genre, so the emphasis is very squarely on conveying that genre and why I think it's cool enough to be worth the effort of roleplaying to the reader.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
Aside from the fact that it's meant to bring what I consider to be a really fun genre into the realm of RPGs, I'm really excited to see how well the Keys/Hero Dice really work. To me it's at the heart of the game, and a big part of what makes it feel like it'll fit the genre.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
The sentai genre has been almost completely overlooked by RPGs, even in Japan.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
My main concern is putting together a fun game to play with my friends, but if I can put together something that other people would actually be interested in, I'll probably try to get it out there, on and RPGnow and such. I don't have the personality or resources to really concern myself too much with it as a commercial venture, but from the beginning I was eyeing this game as possibly something to sell.

19.) Who is your target audience?
People who are fans of sentai, or at least curious about it. It's a small niche hobby, but as I mentioned before there's next to nothing for it in the realm of tabletop RPGs.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Do I post too much?

Halo: The Covenant War is coming along nicely now that I can spare some time to work on it. At this point I have a few more rules to fill in, and I need to finish statting up some generic NPCs (both UNSC and Covenant), and I'll be ready to hand it over to some friends for preliminary checking before I throw it out onto the internet. Then it'll finally be time to actually try out the game. :3

The aforementioned we are flat idea is coming together better than I would've expected, and at this point I've pretty much decided to go with simple, forgey original systems for all three games to be contained therein. Tenatively, the three games are:
  • Magical Burst: For a long time the world was without magic, but one day the magic started to come back. The people of the magical worlds can’t survive in the human world themselves, so they would recruit humans to fight for them, to become magical girls. Only, the magic won’t stop coming. Magical girls are becoming a nuisance, and the more of them there are, the stranger and more dangerous they become.
  • Moonsick: Earth was blown up, so we all have to live on the moon, with the rabbits. Some day we’ll find a way to fix the Earth so it won’t make us sick, so we can go back, but until then the moon won’t let us grow big. Are we even human now?
  • Spores: Mommy always told you not to eat wild mushrooms, but for some reason you didn’t listen. The mushrooms don’t like you, not at all. Can you get home alright, or will the mushrooms change you?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

[In-Character] Truth & Justice, Episode 12

We spoke to Glenn about Razmus' findings, and the implications of what we've learned. We just don't know enough, and we keep finding ourselves thinking around in circles. Glenn told us about the history between himself and Amalgam -- they both became metahumans because of the same nuclear accident -- who may be the one behind all this. Or there might be someone above him. That raises the question of whether Glenn was meant to be involved in this, and so on. Circles.

Razmus and I both got our powers from our parents though, and Project Perseus was trying to use both in some way. Furthermore, there are similarities between the cellular breakdown that would theoretically be caused by normal humans using the Mega-Brace and that which we've witnessed in the clones of Razmus. It's not exactly the same, but the general process -- where chromosomes are broken down at specific points -- is very similar. In the case of the Mega-Brace this is because it's meant "attach" at a genetic level when activated, and ordinary human DNA can't withstand the stress that's being applied at the wrong points. In the case of the clones, it may be a deliberate self-destruct mechanism.

In spite of the excitement the water nymph incident caused, the people here in Aegis seem fairly blase about the matter, and reconstruction began promptly. I also visited the costume shop and got a riding outfit as intended. Thankfully that part went smoothly.

The big news today was that Aphrodite was visiting Aegis. At least in terms of PR, she is far and away America's biggest superhero. I don't share Raz's pathological need to insult her at every turn -- a need that in him exceeds any pragmatism -- but (apart from Jack) we're all in agreement that she's an arrogant bitch and not qualified to call herself a superhero anymore. It was her own arrogance and impulsiveness that cost Avatar her powers and split up the Watchmen (a lesson Razmus needs to remember I think), and the moment there were no cameras around she revealed her true colors, and it wasn't pretty. That she has fans doesn't surprise me; it's the absolute devotion she's afforded. No one, human or metahuman, can even stomach the idea of her being tarnished in any way, even by a 16-year-old who to all outward appearances should be of no consequence whatsoever. People act like she's above the law, and by now she probably believes it too. And the control of information about her on the internet and in the media is downright Orwellian. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt -- she does at least give the world a positive view of metahumans -- but that was a waste. She would be an impossibly powerful foe if it came to that.

Razmus has been a lot more friendly and such (and he even listened to me when I told him not to make pointless trouble by throwing a tomato at Aphrodite), but he still can't help but find ways to infuriate me. In one of his regular visits to the comics store he picked up a Mega-Rider manga tankoubon -- I didn't know they published them in English -- and when I mentioned about the extensive Mega-Rider merchandise (and Ryo's collection of such) he immediately went conclusion-jumping and assumed that my father (you know, the one that Raz knows nothing about, much less has ever met) was a "sellout." I'm going to let it slide this time.

I wonder if these dreams are because of the Mega-Brace. I hate feeling helpless. Two more weeks to go, and they're passing so quickly. I called mom and told her Glenn and I -- and three more -- were coming. When I asked about my grandfather, she just said, "We'll talk about that when you get here." I suppose since she married him she must know something about my father, but it never occurred to me that there'd be something she was keeping from me. She's always seemed so normal, and I think that's what dad liked about her.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Too Many Goddamn Ideas

As usual, the amount of inspiration I get far exceeds the amount of stuff I can actually work on. Here's a quick rundown of the various things I've been thinking about. I'm sure I forgot a few.

  • Thrash 2.0: The vastly overdue new version of my old fighting game RPG is turning out pretty nicely... so I just need to find time to actually work on it. Original system, though the original version was heavily influenced by Interlock/Mekton Z and SF:STG, and the new version shows a bit of Cinematic Unisystem influence too. Once I have it up and running it'll be time to put together second edition Weird Powers rules, amongst other things.
  • Tokyo Heroes: My crazy sentai/magical girl RPG. Also coming along nicely, but in dire need of playtesting once it's done.
  • Catgirl: A tongue-in-cheek White Wolf-ish RPG about catgirls in a modern-day setting. Powered by a weird variant of Fudge.
  • Halo: The Covenant War: A Halo RPG. Powered by a different weird variant of Fudge.
  • Distorted Futures: A dystopian ass-kicking RPG.
  • Hikikomori: A solo RPG where you play a guy who almost never leaves his room and may or may not be going insane. I want to try this as a 24-hour RPG.
  • Eternal Saga: A fantasy RPG in the style of Japanese CRPGs. I've been failing to work on this one for ages, though there are a few neat ideas in there.
  • Something along the lines of Alien Nine, using Sorcerer. Player characters are schoolgirls who have to live with alien symbionts. Will you stay human, or will you become something else?
  • Karyuu Densetsu: A revised version of my original Thrash campaign setting.
  • WFL: The World Fighting Leage, a WWE-ish campaign setting for Thrash.
  • Tiny Aliens/Battle Maids/Puzzle Girls: Three relatively self-explanatory campaign settings for Mascot-tan. Maybe in one book.
  • Aniverse: Exploring the anime multiverse. This was originally a BESM book, but I never really finished it, and now I have some new ideas to incorporate. If I ever get around to redoing it, I'd prolly use OVA and/or BESM d20, in order to freely use the rules on my own.
  • we are flat: Somehow I find myself wanting to try to do a mini-anthology of anime-inspired RPG settings that attempt to put some of the Superflat aesthetic into a roleplaying game. This may or may not be a terrible idea. I'm thinking there would be three in here, and one would be an even more twisted new version of Magical World. Not sure what system to use, but I'm eyeing OAV. Maybe Fudge instead, or maybe a forgey original system for each one. I have a ton of other ideas for less acid trippy anime mini-settings too.
  • Our Truth & Justice campaign has wound up developing a fairly interesting original superhero setting with a wealth of nifty characters, and once the campaign is finished I think it'd be cool to compile all of that into a book.
With this much stuff, plus a stack of indie games I want to give a whirl (mainly octaNe and The Mountain Witch), I'm thinking that when the current epic campaign finishes up I should try to organize a regular "anthology campaign," which is to say a weekly grab-bag of mini-campaigns, one-shots, and playtests.

I'm also considering attending GenCon SoCal this year and running something too. Halo is definitely high on the list.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I don't really have all that much of an ego (at least, I like to think so), but every now and then I google for my own name. Today I found this, and I'm kind of at a loss for words. ^_^;