Annex

Annex is a free game that was play tested at London Indie Meet. The setting is based on the book Ancillary Justice and the mechanics are inspired by the Occupy movement’s hand signals. You can download it for free here.

You don’t need to be familiar with the book, although reading at least the first two chapters will help (they are available as a free sample from Amazon, the one on Orbit’s website is only one chapter which isn’t enough to be helpful).

Your group plays collectively as a single artificial intelligence that controls multiple Ancillary bodies. You, and at least 2 other players (preferably more), have been charged with bringing order to a recently conquered planet… spreading order and civilisation with military precision.

The AI hive mind is simulated in play by using hand gestures that maintain consensus within the group. These are similar to those used by many activist groups (originally Occupy) for meetings and were easy to transfer into an RPG.

After about 40 minutes of world building the game proceeds in a series of short stories, each around 40 minutes long until you want to stop. I takes at least 3 players but works better with more.

Feel free to comment with thoughts about the game, I’m especially interested in other ideas for using hand gestures in games.

[AP & Redesign Thoughts] Marquis of Ferrara

Kevin looked at my work, an ashcan of a story game about Renaissance Game of Thrones, and then to me, his eyes sympathetic but unyielding.

“B-but, I need every part! Each rule is so beautiful!” I cried. How could he criticise my work so? How could he not appreciate the elegance of 15 interlocking mechanics and the resultant story they would no doubt produce?

“Looks like a mess, mate” he replied, placing a paternal hand upon my shoulder. “Like you vomited alphabet spaghetti on a Pollock painting”

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Ghosts of the Drowned – An RP Poem

I’ve written a short series of RP poems based on the music of “Apple of my Eye”, and this is the second one.

It’s written as a script for one player to read out as you play. When you should stop reading and play through the next section of the game there will be a note (♩♪♫♬).

Ghosts of the Drowned [link]

Players: 4+

Play Time: ~20 minutes

Props: None

You are the ‘Ghosts of the Drowned’, gathering by the town clock when the sun goes down and recounting your stories.

In turns, adopt the persona of a character and introduce yourself to the group, stating your name and a little about yourself (but do not mention your death).

Now anyone can ask questions about other characters lives, to be answered by that character’s player. Loaded questions are good (i.e. “what drove you to alcohol?” to which the answer shouldn’t be ‘I wasn’t’) and incorporating information from other character’s stories is also good. Continue for a few minutes until we know a little more about each character and everyone is happy to continue.

Next we explore each character’s’ untimely end. In the first scene someone should volunteer to play ‘Irony’… volunteer if you can think of an ironic way to end one of the other character’s lives by drowning, based on what you know of their life. Don’t say your idea, just volunteer and say which character it is.

Once we have a volunteer they frame a scene, saying where we are, who is there and what is going on. Stop before you narrate the first action.

The player whose character was selected plays that character, the volunteer plays the irony forces driving them to their doom and the other players are the rest of the world, taking turns to narrate the outcome of actions.

Narration alternates between Irony, narrating a problem for the character, the Character, narrating their attempt to solve it, and the World, who narrate the outcome.

The World should be cruel, a willing accomplice of Irony until such a point as they narrate the character drowning, at which point the scene ends.

We now need another volunteer, to play Misfortune, who will pick a second character to target. The second scene plays out as before but this time it is cruel bad luck that does for our victim.

The final scene is played out with a volunteer to take the role of Injustice, targeting a third character.

The game now ends. Any remaining characters were not ghosts at all but bystanders, who should consider the cautionary tales they have just heard.

Devils – An RP Poem

I’ve written a short series of RP poems based on the music of “Apple of my Eye” and I thought I’d share the first one here (more will be posted over time).

It’s written as a script for one player to read out as you play. When you should stop reading and play through the next section of the game there will be a note (♩♪♫♬).

Devils [link]

Players: 3+ (ideally 3/4)

Play Time: ~20 minutes

Props: A pen and a sheet of A5 each

Everyone take a sheet of paper and divide it into 3 roughly equal sections. In the top section write the name of a person, describe their life in a sentence and then what is troubling them. Keep this information secret.

Now pass your sheet to the right.

Read the sheet in front of you and in the second section, secretly write down what they wish for from the devil, keep it simple.

Fold over the top section of the sheet so it cannot be seen and pass it to right.

Read the wish on the sheet in front of you and write down the consequences in the third section. You are the devil for this section so be as cruel as possible.

Pass the sheet back to the original owner who should read the whole thing.

Finally, in turn, each player narrates a tale based on what is on their paper, fitting everything together and endeavoring to making the consequences more personal.

Each player should feel free to reconcile any inconsistencies between the first and last contribution and should try to keep their tale relatively brief.

The Railroad vs The Sandbox

Epistolary Richard has some interesting thoughts about “railroading” right here, using Witch as an example of a game that railroads a game from start to finish, but, ya know, in a good way (Cheers! Richard!). Richard is obviously correct here, but I’d never thought about linking it to the concept of railroading.We should reclaim this word as our own!

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The Bounty Hunters are Two

It’s an anniversary that matters only to me, but today marks two years since I released Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands.

I’ve not done much with BHAW in this past year as I’ve been occupied with Cyberblues City, however I can share an interesting statistic: the number of downloads of the game in its second year match almost exactly those for the first year. Roughly speaking as BHAW is approaching the 1000 download mark and I can see there about 500 last year and 500 this year; one or two each day, every day over two years.

If BHAW weren’t entirely free, I’d be feeling rather smug.

This consistency does surprise me. I would have expected the game’s downloads would have run out of steam by now, especially as I’m not really out there actively promoting it.

There are two things I can point as having boosted interest in the BHAW. The first, earlier this year, was the Mad Max movie. I posted about that before. I found it quite amusing that the spike in download matched the film release so closely.

The other was getting my games listed on E. Chris Garrison’s The Compendium of Free Role Playing Games (http://sillyhatbooks.com/about/games/). This site has been going since 1994 and has clearly quite a following. So much so that it has quickly supplanted RPGNet as the main source of referrals for BHAW.

I suspect it doesn’t hurt that BHAW as awarded the “Cool Game” icon on The Compendium of Free Role Playing Games, which puts the Bounty Hunters on the same category as Ars Magica, GURPS Lite and the current (basic) edition of D&D!