Game Designer Workshop Episode 17: Ruin and Party Fowl Update

Even though Red Markets is out, Caleb is still hard at work designing new games and fulfilling stretch goals. He gives an update about Party Fowl, a new card game currently in development. Meanwhile I have made a few breakthroughs while working on Ruin. I now have concrete ideas on how a game should work and have made progress on character generation rules. Hopefully I will have playtest rules at Gen Con this year!

  6 comments for “Game Designer Workshop Episode 17: Ruin and Party Fowl Update

  1. Dan Kassiday
    February 15, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t know that this is a good idea for Gencon housing but it could get you a quiet space

  2. February 16, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Great episode! Ross, I have few questions that I hope might help a little in designing mechanics:

    1. What sort of campaign scope are you expecting Ruin to have? Does a complete game of Ruin last for several sessions, or more like just one or two? That could affect how quickly PC resources should deplete. E.g. if food and water deplete too slowly for a short campaign, they never end up having any real bearing on the story. Or if mental health depletes too fast, a long campaign becomes unsurvivable.

    2. What does a specific scene or challenge in Ruin look like? Is it a sort of “Kick in the door and deal with what is in the room” type of set-piece? What sort of objectives or goals will be common for a scene — e.g. overcoming a barrier, escaping a danger, gaining information, gaining resources or tools, etc.? Could those be classified in the book, so that a GM can tell what sort of encounter each written event is?

    I think the Leg table in Red Markets is a good example of how this can be helpful: every Leg is fundamentally about either achieving a gain or avoiding a loss. I don’t expect Ruin to have a a simple and unified a resource economy as Bounty in Red Markets, but it might be a good thing to look at for thinking about what types of scenes you want to have in Ruin.

    3. What sorts of decisions and actions will PCs typically employ in completing the narrative beat of a scene? How will their capabilities in meeting those challenges be expressed in their skills, and how much will those capabilities vary from character to character? I know this is pretty basic stuff, but it’s really true that a character’s statistics are their primary handles on the world. So think about how those handles correspond to the ways in which you envision PCs interacting with the world.

  3. February 21, 2018 at 8:07 am

    Hm, unethical AirB&B landlords? Sounds like the system working as intended.

  4. AxiomaticBadger
    February 27, 2018 at 5:06 am

    Really liking what I’m hearing about Ruin, especially the Storylines.
    Are you intedning to have a seperate resource mechanic, or will “status effects” like hunger/thirst work like scars and take up character slots.

    Also, and I’m not sure how cool this is, but I had an Idea for a Dice Mechanic which popped fully formed into my head when you were first describing the game.
    Seeing as you’re apparently somewhat ambevalent on the subject, would this be a place to post it?
    To be clear, “No” is fine – I don’t want to be a backseat designer 😛

  5. March 6, 2018 at 7:33 am

    I forgot to ask earlier, in which version of Ruin do the PCs become aroused by the angle between two walls? 😉

  6. March 20, 2018 at 1:21 am


    1. Ruin is meant to be playable as a one shot to a shortish campaign 3-10 sessions long.

    2. I think scenes will either be active (PCs initiate action – i.e. try to solve a problem or learn something about the maze they are in) or reactive (deal with a problem threatening PCs in some way – monster, hazard, etc)

    I want most scenes to be active – i.e. you have to do something to advance the plot. Ruin is partially a game of puzzle solving, only the puzzle is the maze itself. How does it work? What is different about it than earth? PCs use their limited resources to learn certain things about the maze and then attempt to use that knowledge to gain more resources or get closer to escape.

    3. Typical decisions will be things like should I spend time to try and map the maze out or search rooms for more food or attempt to build a new weapon or tool with this weird object I found? I have observed a pattern in the maze – does it provide a clue to navigating the maze or is it a trap? Do I trust this NPC survivor and try to talk to them or do I sneak and avoid them?


    I need to write up the game mechanics myself, at least for now. Once I publish an alpha or beta – feel free to suggest changes.

    @Bryan – uh, that will be a third party supplement.

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