Game Designer Workshop Episode 6: Playtester’s Progress

433px-The_Lion_Bas-Reliefs_LACMA_46.27.5It’s been a while since we’ve done a proper episode of Game Designer’s Workshop, so Caleb and I decided to bring you guys back up to date. We’re still playtesting Red Markets and Ruin. We talk about the pains, progress, and lessons we have learned so far. It’s a lively discussion so if you want to geek out about RPG game design, this is the podcast for you.

Music: Sand x Slow by Admiral of the Red

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  1. For the GM section, Caleb could go with “Planned economy”.

  2. I think for Red Markets doing some kind of milestones & shifting around of resources to a new balancing act (almost trading more money for less sanity or picking up new dependents to keep things all in order) is a fun mechanic that should be good for the story/character end of things but not sure how it’d work in comparison to the other game mechanics. It sounds like the rest of what’s going on with Red Markets, while a severe loss of words fatally wounded on the way, could be good. It seems like the way of doing minor play testing just on minor mechanics should speed things along to where the mechanics can get tweaked to where it just needs the fiction/explanations written out after that when it’s working fine.

  3. Can “Playtester’s Progress” audio plays be a stretch goal for one or both of the coming kickstarters? That was in my opinion the funniest intro joke on this podcast.

  4. at this point I’m preeetty sure we’re listening to the next Unknown Armies being built here. it might (unjustly) fail to make anyone rich, but it’ll be a touchstone for designers for the rest of forever.

  5. Morality/sanity/economy min-maxing? “I need to go pick up a couple of orphans to take care of so I can KILL MORE THINGS”

    So different games often have different names for the GM, like Dungeon Master or Keeper of Arcane Lore. Are you going with The Market on this one? Or The Invisible Hand?

    The roleplay mechanic could incorporate the red die/black die thing as well. At the risk of making something modeled after Facebook spam actually useful, you could have a table like thus:

    Black Die:
    1. Where were you when…
    2. Who did you call when…
    3. How did you rescue someone when…
    4. Who do you think is responsible for the fact that…

    Red Die:
    1. … the infection started.
    2. … the local government collapsed.
    3. … your home burned down.
    4. … someone close to you lost their mind.

  6. Oh man Capitalocracy! I really like that idea! That’s great!

  7. When starting a game of Ruin, how about using a voice recorder app to record each player introducing themselves (like most of Ross’ APs) and when the game is over everyone records a second snippet saying what they did to survive. You can listen to each recording and reflect on the horrible things the characters have done to highlight how each character was corrupted or “Ruined”.

    Just a thought.

  8. Glad I could be a part of the playtests at Springfield G.A.M.E. Both Ruin and Red Markets were super fun in themselves.

    Especially Red Markets — though seriously, I cannot think of a non-supernatural explanation for that many double-seven critical failures. I hope the AP goes live someday, just so we can relive hearing my brother lose his shit about the 9th time they came up. 🙂

    When the Kickstarter comes around, I’ll pledge at whatever level is necessary to make Dr. Shorty an official pregen in the book.

  9. I’d back the kickstarter for the negotiation mechanics alone. They sound fantastic!

  10. Glad to hear both games are coming along nicely. And that Caleb is back working full-time in education (the world needs more Professor Whites).

    Also, I REALLY like Capitalocracy’s idea. That would fit in well. Add it!

  11. Black Die
    7. What the fuck is…

    Red Die
    7. …wrong with these dice?

    But seriously, yes to Capitalocracy’s idea. Very cool.

  12. I think doing micro-releases of Ruin settings (Ruins?) is actually a great concept. Similar to the campaign books from AD&D. Call them Episodes and it works. You could also revisit a setting and do a “sequel” where things have changed a bit.

    Red Markets – I may have missed this, are there mechanics around market fluctuations for the characters assets? I.e. you have x,y,z and y crashed this quarter so it is no longer valuable? Some kind of random occurrence that becomes more probable over time. That may drive them to push to retirement sooner. Also, does a retired character have any benefit to the group? So, if I retire my character and roll up a new one – can the old one be a benefactor or an asset of some level?

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