Friday, October 6, 2017

I'm Not Publishing A Game Today


There are two schools of thought regarding motivating yourself, particularly on a long-process endeavor. The first suggests that you should keep it to yourself, because the brain registers the recognition you get from "I am going to do a thing" as progress to doing a thing or as doing a thing. Talking about what you could do and never doing anything. Self defeating. I do this part a lot because I confuse my need to be heard with the good of the project, I suppose.

Another school espoused by twelve step programs and Crossfit Bros calls for not just transparency and being forthcoming but being VERY open, even forward about your goals. The idea is to encourage accountability by putting it out there, making your friends and those around you complicit in keeping you on track. I think this is a productive idea but there's a lot of social anxiety and shame that can get caught up in that for people. For myself my friends are too amiable and accommodating to be a stricture for me.

There's a common ethos espoused on the DIY scene (and we really do need a better name for this community because just as I've never truly been whatever OSR is I've never thought DIY D&D was more about this ethos than any process) that if you have a game thing you want to do just fucking DO it because there is nobody stopping you. A lot to recommend this but a lot of people follow this advice only to be greeted with an indifference bordering on antipathy if you aren't already something of a name. Even then god help you if what you published was some kind of fantasy ruleset. For every Beyond the Wall you HAVE heard of there are a hundred games swallowed like ghosts. Certainly I've done basically a whole game before to a resounding hollowness.

But there's also a good point made in the recent LotFP podcast appearance by Raggi, Zak, and Patrick, made BY Patrick, which is that too many people are putting out stuff that is just an echo of an echo of an echo without ever going back to a primary source or doing any of their own research, like one would if writing a novel. I think this is a smart suggestion but I've run aground many a project with the idea that I've got to do more reading first, get some mastery of subject before attempting...usually arriving at the conclusion that I've got no business casting my ill-equipped voice into the darkness. It can be its own paralysis if you let it, and while I have no doubt that Veins is everything I've waited for so long (I've yet to afford it) I also am keenly aware of how long that process took and ehhhhhhh no thanks on that.

Keep it to yourself, just do it, keep yourself accountable by telling everyone, take your time and do your research right. It's all good advice in turn and I'm not great at deciding when to take which part.

This is NOT a post where I ask for that advice.

The game is currently called Hunger City.

It began as an attempt to strip down the Gamma World and Mutant Future rules, with some elements of TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes, in order to make things more streamlined for public play. When that campaign never materialized I repurposed a lot of it as a post-apocalypse DuckTales rpg that resulted in two decent little campaigns and a fun antigencon game. It was revisiting the rules for a third go at this and abandoning it that I decided to strike out and do something different instead.

This is an rpg about how David Bowie starred in The Running Man. Not a desert ruin crawl or a Fury Road chase, this would be a game about living in a dead city. I had some side-experience with that. Not a destroyed city, just a city that had ended. I based the list of mutations entirely on Diamond Dogs. I wrote up a list of magic powers and rules that involved potentially killing yourself in using them. I tried to work fashion in as an integral part, and I wanted to make Jeff-style carousing into a bloodsport spectacle used to sow legends, change alliances, and invent identity. Inventing identity would be a big part of this.

I took some skill ideas from Raggi and modified them. I built in some rules about diminished returns even from what you're the best at, and the price of scarcity, and stripped down armor and equipment and encumbrance options. I have a document file I haven't merged with the rest yet which contains, I think, a pretty common sense solution to gear that I also find pretty funny.

It works. It's not done. I may try to move some things away from D&D rolls and LotFP rolls. I may try to monkey with the "race" options available currently. I may try to move things away from HP, even, but probably keep levels... A lot of the changes from here on are going to depend on my making a lot more bad guys and seeing how they work. That'll require more play. Right now, for every reason that has prevented me from playing in all of your games or from running some fucking regular D&D, that's kind of a problem.

What do I want to do with it? Well, certainly not get rich, which is a fucking good thing. I want to basically take this to product as a dry run toward making something even stupider that even fewer people will want to play because I am a fucking idiot. The idea for format is basically zine style. Do the first "issue" as everything you need to play, the most essential rules. Only make a comparative few of these, send them to people who do cons and stuff to sell with no obligation to send me a dime. A gift. Taking a loss altogether on that printing. Then, if there is any interest beyond that, I'll do another print run and put the pdf up for PWYW. If there is no interest I'll just put the whole thing up for FREE-free and call that a failed experiment and move on, hopefully having learned enough to make the next thing work.

If I make enough on that run to cover the cost of the printing then I'll do another "issue" of the zine, keep going, up to a dozen of these. Some are filled with enemies, some are filled with sci-fi gadgets, some are small adventures, some are maybe more spells. Then maybe just leave it like that forever. If there's enough interest down the line then a few years from now maybe I put everything together in one big book.

Keep in mind that I have no expectation of getting to...almost any of these steps beyond that first "gift run." But I am going to get this to something approaching usable and put it out physically because I need to know the things I'm going to learn from doing that. And I'm telling you all

ALL of this

NOW

to KEEP myself from just putting it all up here on the blog and saying Fuck Off and going on to another project. I could call this done and move on but it'll be better for me if I don't. I don't know that the end result will be any better. I guess we'll find out together, or not.

So if you want to be a mutant cyborg who doesn't have acid spit and kangaroo legs but DOES become a Ghost because they believe all the world is a jellyfish delusion then watch this space.