My Game: Sorting Through the Ingredients

Hey, so I’m going to blog a little bit about trying to design something for Game Chef 2012. It’ll only be occasionally, as I don’t want to take too much spotlight or be distracting, but I thought it might help some folks who are feeling stuck or unsure how to proceed.

The threads I got aren’t that inspiring, honestly, which is why this is a good example:

  • This game called Escape from Hell sounds cool, but the thread doesn’t contain any details, and is mostly a discussion about whether you need to explain certain mechanics in your game.
  • This thread also doesn’t have much information, though I’m intrigued by the mention of “Dark Ambitions,” which reminds me of “Dark Fates” in Tim Kleinert’s classic Game Chef 2004 game, The Mountain Witch.
  • This thread is about a hack of Dogs in the Vineyard for handling Catholic geomancers in Indonesia (??!!), but the thread itself is mostly about negotiation and how to resolve actions that are tangential and not directly opposed.
  • Finally, I got this thread from 2003 about “resurrecting” a game that’s no longer available (a great idea!), in this case a space opera game involving “snake-aliens.”

So, sorting through these, the things that stand out as potentially interesting are:

  • making a game about escaping from hell
  • making a game with “dark ambitions” (inspired by The Mountain Witch?)
  • a game about geomancers or unopposed actions
  • resurrecting a currently unavailable game (The Mountain Witch is currently only available as a PDF, interestingly enough) or doing something with “snake-aliens”

The other options are, of course, the other list of ingredients: Coyote, Doctor, Lantern, Mimic. I’ve already seen a bunch of people doing neat stuff with Coyote. The combination of Doctor and Lantern makes me think of something pulpy and gothic, like Dr. Abraham van Helsing peering into a darkened crypt and looking for Lucy in “Dracula.” A geomancer might also be called “doctor,” especially in Asia. Mimic is perhaps the most interesting ingredient, because it’s a verb, as well as the classic D&D monster. I’ve recently been excited by the Old School Renaissance movement in roleplaying, so the monster reading — while a bit obvious — is pretty interesting.

Combining all this together, the image in my mind is a bunch of Victorian figures with lanterns, moving slowly through an underground tunnel (a sewer? a crypt? a tomb?), maybe including a geomancer or two (maybe they are a geomantic society, since the Victorians were obsessed with mysticism?), hunting in the dark for a monster that can mimic everyday objects.

Where does that get me in terms of ingredients? I count Doctor, Lantern, Mimic, “dark ambitions” (though that needs to be more clearly expressed), “geomancers,” and maybe the idea of resurrecting some game that isn’t available anymore, such as The Mountain Witch. That’s 6 ingredients when I only need 4, which gives me room to drop 1-2 of these as I actually begin working on the game, since I still haven’t figured out exactly how my game will relate to the theme. I could just make the game a one-shot — that’s straightforward but fine — so maybe I’ll start with that in mind and see where it goes from here.

Anyway, that’s me. How’s it going for you so far?

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