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Paolo Jose Cruz

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A member registered Jan 27, 2018 · View creator page →

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If we're using the Test Maze in our own Hand Laid games, do we use the exact same PDF file, including the Haus of Valley logo?

The SRD isn't clear about whether the maze can be remixed/redesigned to match the fluff/themes/motifs of other games.

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An intriguing archetype with a few implicit built-in world-building details: 

  • In spite of the Blight, there must be enough soil and seeds available for the Herbalist to grow their component herbs.
  • The references to alchemy suggest that Herbalism is a learned skill, not something that can be discovered innately. So that's already one possible story hook in itself; how did the Herbalist learn to concoct and use their oils? What the massage techniques?

By design, it already sets a more cheerful, upbeat, light-hearted option to the Bloodletter.

That said, it feels like a slight missed opportunity to introduce multi-type Archetypes. By explicitly drawing on both arbularyo and hilot traditions, it feels like an organic way to make a class that heals both Pestilence and one other secondary type:

  • Flesh - The  massage heals physical symptoms of the disease (e.g. boils, lesions, rashes)
  •  Soul - The whispered orasyon and hand movements drive out the spiritual corruption at the root of the disease

This has a direct effect on possible world-building, since the rules state:

Make sure your character’s healing ability is related to the problems faced by people in your world or caused by the Blight

An explicitly multi-type class potentially invites new ways to conceptualize the Blight, especially when combined with options from the Post-Fall Features prompt table. 

Metal Dead is another fun graphic adventure game with a zombie outbreak setting.

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  • At first, I expected this to be a very specific kind of Lasers & Feelings scenario, and I wouldn't begrudge anyone who made the same type of snap judgement.  But I'm really glad I didn't pass on it.
  • It wasn't until I saw the sample ship diagram that I understood the difference between Systems Trouble and Scenarios. Based on the example, it seems like Systems Trouble deals with causes (Uneven Stairs, Beer Instead of Coolant, Exposed Wires) while Scenarios deal with effects ("Because of Exposed Wires in the Cargo Hold, it does not get cool enough to refrigerate the meds we're transporting.") I feel like that distinction wasn't clear enough in the rules-as-written. 
  • I'm a pretty dedicated fan of the space trucker/smuggler tropes that influenced this , and I like that it fits a very particular type of narrative set-up. It has a clear, well-defined niche within the broader space opera TRPG sub/genre that includes Lady Blackbird and  Never Tell Me The Odds.

Sooooo difficult to be objective when assessing a game like this.

  • The core premise is infinitely gratifying. I live in a congested, sprawling, car-oriented urban area (Metro Manila, Philippines), where traffic is so horrible, there just isn't enough road to speed on. Impatient drivers abuse their horn instead—fitting with fluff of this game quite nicely.
  • I really like the idea of using passing cars as a randomizing mechanic. Hope this particular concept gets re-used in many other games.
  • Making eye contact with speeding drivers as a resolution mechanic seems *dangerously* close to involving unwitting third-parties in the game. (And potentially making a dangerous situation worse, if they get distracted.) 
    • That said, depending on the actual speed + road conditions, this might actually be doing a public service.
    • Either way, it's another intriguing gameplay element.
  • That's why it's so disappointing that the actual resolution options feel so half-assed. I've joked about games that suddenly become less interesting, as soon as it's time to roll the dice. But in this case, the description feels quite fitting. The actual simulated fight doesn't feel nearly as exciting as the process of getting there.

I was impressed enough with the game to noodle around in Canva and make a fan cover + banner. Kinda generically indie-riffic, by design—I deliberately limited my resources to Public Domain Vectors + Canva's free-to-use in-house assets. But I'd like to believe even that fits the journeyman vibe of the gameplay.

You're most welcome to use them, if you please!  

  • Easily one of the quickest turnarounds between downloading a Community Copy and deciding to buy it.
  • Somehow manages to simplify the Belonging-Outside-Belonging format—shared evocative setting/environment, thematically distinct roles, token-based moves that drive relevant role-playing—and condense them into a clear, simplified 1-pager.
  • ... whilst still having enough space for gorgeous decorative layout and visual design
  • ... which also complements the core revelation-based story arc, with the clock at the centerpiece
  • ... and drawing on the appeal of hotels as fundamentally liminal spaces, in relation to memory. (If anything, I feel compelled to re-watch Last Year at Marienbad, but also The Shining, Byzantium, Grand Budapest Hotel, Lost In Translation... it really piqued my interest in this whole theme.)
  • This will probably count as a niche appeal game, but that's already the most damning thing I can say about it. 

Haven't done a playthrough (yet). Gut reactions, for now:

  • Downloaded the text-only version first, then decided the content was worth the price,
  • That said, slightly disappointed by the visual design of the full version. Not a flaw on your part: I guess I just had very particular expectations of the layout, based on the themes. (I was hoping for a look that's akin to the Xenofeminism Manifesto or Reza Negarastani's Cyclonopedia.)
  • This is by far the most hopeful and reassuring interpretation of the Cthulhucene premise that I've encountered; I generally associate it with Nick Land style r/acc cynicism.
  • One of the most difficult elements of writing/reading/playing a post-apocalyptic scenario is the idea of population-scale death as a starting point. For what it's worth, this game either seems to sidestep that aspect, or leaves it at the periphery to haunt the small moments/interactions/encounters represented by each of the cards.  
  • In concept, I'm admittedly put off by utopian narratives that draw on a mix of Wall-E scrapyard romanticism and/or neo-luddite back-to-the-land tropes, if only because it's often presented in ways that lack imagination. It ends up feeling like Walden on a folk punk commune. But this game avoids that conceptual trap by emphasizing moments over movements; individual experience over community. And while that might limit its value as a tool for imagining new worlds, it does make the gameplay experience seem more potentially appealing.
  • ... particularly in comparison to similarly themed games that are more influenced by The Quiet Year. Both systems have basic mechanical similarities: prompts tied to randomized card draws; a built-in countdown mechanic. But the narrowing of scope here—from  community to individual, from weeks into hours—makes all the difference. 
  • Impressed by how well-integrated everything is: the Sanity loss mechanic, the phrasing of the rules, the mood-setting visual design. It all meshes together so organically.
  • I've generally frowned upon gameplay that involves destroying the physical components. But not only does it play into the theme here, it's much easier to accept with a low-ink print-and-play one-pager.
  •  It's an intriguing choice to set the adventure after the characters have already figured out Innsmouth's secret. That puts is squarely into survival horror territory, if there's no pretense of mystery or discovery about the nature of the Deep Ones. 

Oh, I forgot to mention... Since you clearly put a lot of effort into the pacing, might as well submit this for the One-Page RPG Jam too. It definitely qualifies, being published squarely within the Jam period.

I might post again when I've done an actual playthrough. For now, my first impressions:

  • So far, they only solo pro wrestling TRPG I've encountered. That already makes it stand out.
  • The first pro wrestling TRPG I've seen that puts the focus squarely on 'shoot'/out-of-ring goals and actions, i.e. my player character is the wrestler/performer, not (necessarily) their gimmick persona... which makes perfect sense for a Second Guess game.
  • It seems to lack a recognizable end state. 
    • That is, spell it out: "At 6 Going Over points, you've won a crowd following and/or the respect of your peers and/or a backstage reputation as a solid worker". 
    • Conversely, what are the implications of reaching 6 Going Home points, beyond the obvious?
  • The wording assumes the player is a smark, or at least somewhat familiar with basic concepts (chain wrestling, "big moves"), and terminology (gimmick, heel, booker). That's fine if you know who you're writing for. However, even with a $1 price tag, there's a chance this might attract players who are into solo journaling games, but not necessarily indie wrestling.

On a more personal note, I live in a city (Metro Manila, Philippines) where there are still major restrictions on live sports (entertainment) events.  So this seems like *exactly* the kind of vicarious distraction I appreciate right now.

  • A smooth, organic mix of FATE and PbtA mechanics, combining Invoke-able and Compellable Aspects with 2d6 +Stat tiered resolution.
  • The rules are a natural fit for the high concept; essentially, a rules-lite Monster of the Week with BPRD-style fluff.
  • Doesn't quite fit the 1-page remit, because the Phase Trio structure—which seems designed for telling "recruit-the-misfit" origin stories—isn't mentioned in the Quickstart rules.
  • Not sure if a detailed Move list was necessary, other than maybe a one-line description for triggering each move. The resolution tables don't offer much narrative advice that's unique to the setting.
    • The "Heart to Heart" move refers to Gaining Trust and Relieving Stress, but those concepts aren't mentioned anywhere else in the Quickstart, so that's a bit confusing.
    • The table for "Mend A Friend" makes it sound like it requires Declaring a Story Detail (like 'Trained Paramedic' or 'First Aid Kit') in order to be effective. That feels counter to the free-form play encouraged by FATE and PbtA, if players *must* spend Story Points in order to recover from an injury.
    • Example scenarios for each Move from particular encounters might help to sell the mood/theme/flavor more effectively.  
  • Willing to overlook some inconsistencies because it's clearly labelled as an Alpha Build, but I noticed that the Character Sheet refers to Codename: Hathor and Project 27, neither of which are referenced in the Quickstart doc.

Overall, it's an intriguing premise, and I'd gladly play-test a more complete build.

 But I have my doubts if it can work as a 1-pager. 

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This game appeals to me on soooo many different levels: compelling world-building, tense faction drama, meta level commentary on outlaw figures, very humanized journal prompts...

Currently in the process of creating a video recommending the game, including a playthrough of Week 1.

It will probably take another (real-world) week to finish the video (I'm practically a newbie at it). But in the meantime, here's my Week 1 journal for my Spider, Shardul Athawale (alias: Vetala, Betaal):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qjv8QLFkI0RgtMJlDdzs20xXGGNUXgKOga8m1NYNWSM/...  

The minimalist design also leaves only a vague sense of tone. This can be a positive thing, for a play group the has a clear idea of the kind of story they want to tell, and just needs a structured framework to build on. 

But a more well-defined aesthetic could nudge a less-experienced group towards a specific mood or vibe. 

Given the subject matter, my gut instinct would be one of two trope-y approaches: the “Ghibli way” (or possibly the “Gaiman way”)—emphasis on mood and atmosphere to weave mundane concerns into a spiritual/existential realm, and vice versa—or alternatively, the “Pixar way”—humanize the abstract, and hope it all seems internally consistent enough. 

And yes, I realize that neither of these is mutually exclusive.

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Let me get one bias out of the way: I’m generally not fond of games that don’t have a well-defined end condition. It doesn’t need to be a ‘goal’, resolution, or question answered. But I prefer it to be framed as “play until X happens”. 

On one hand, there’s the practical consideration of knowing how long a session might last. But in a meta sense, it gives players an idea about how to move towards—or delay!—the end.

Monologue suggests possible ways to wrap things up. But in practice, the various options leave a bit too much room for narrative threads to dangle, which could leave some players feeling underwhelmed or left wanting.

As a person, a player, and a TRPG creator, I'm quite hung up on the idea of sharing mutual interests, at both the cultural and inter-personal level. I'm also fascinated with the concept of permanence and leaving a indelible mark on the universe (though not quite as fervently as those other themes). Needless to say, the premise of this game challenges and frightens me, on an existential level.

The mechanics seem to replicate the current milieu, just a bit too closely (especially for someone struggling with the vagaries of internet access in a 'developing' economy): atomized individuals sending desperate messages into the void; distance enforced by circumstance; the heightened uncertainty of connecting with someone else.

The game seems to challenge players to reframe this involuntary solitude as a blessing; an opportunity for silent reflection. I'm willing to consider that perspective, as a player, even if it seems anathema to me, as a person.

On a more practical level, I like that the game has a definite structure: five transmissions, 30 minutes... it sets real-world constraints that mesh with the theme quite organically.

Of course, all of this is based on my impression of the rules-as-written. The actual play experience may well prove more satisfying (and less foreboding) than it seems, on 'paper'. Would definitely consider signing up for this at Session Zero con.

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Played this after seeing the 'booth' at Indie Fiesta 2020.

Really fun concept,  but I'm definitely the wrong kind of player for it.  Even if it's fairly merciful in terms of hand-eye coordination, my 40-something reflexes just can't handle the pace. gave me traumatic childhood game-&-watch flashbacks within minutes.

Hopefully this is playable on mobile, because it might be a more satisfying experience with a touchscreen interface.

The characterization of the Warden and implied backstory are a wonderful narrative touch. small details like that go a long way to keeping me invested, as someone generally partial to story-driven games. 

I would have preferred to be able to spend the earnings to buy upgrades: extra mugs, consumable auto-alarms that can be attached to specific monitors, a patrolling guard dog that moves randomly into different areas, temporarily stopping prisoners from escaping... that kind of thing.

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Haven't played it yet. But in theory, the combination of move + token economy seems really well-implemented!

A bit unclear on how failed rolls are resolved. Let's use the Hot Pocket scenario. 

* Do the players agree beforehand that the Hot Pocket was found missing from the refrigerator on Y date at X time?  

* Or is that a component of the first accusing player's Query (and therefore X time and Y date can be contradicted by a future Query)?

Now let's say that player A spends the first Query token to target player B. Player B has already declared that:

(i) they work as a freelance coder

(ii) they are vegetarian 

(iii) they have a romantic partner "D" , who isn't a roommate

After spending the Query token, A claims B invited D over on Y-day at X o'clock, and let D eat the Hot Pocket. 

As an Alibi, B claims they had an anniversary dinner with D (+1) at Meat Is Murder on that day, so they wouldn't have the means or opportunity. And besides, D is vegan, so neither of them would have motive to eat a Bacon and Cheddar Hot Pocket anyway. 

* Is there another +1 for the vegetarian trait? 

Let's say B then rolls a natural 2, so they take a Suspicion token. 

That means at least one of these statements must be a lie: 

- B&D's anniversary 

- the dinner at Meat Is Murder 

- the timing of the dinner

- D being a vegan

* Can player A (and C?) insist that *all* those claims are false? 

* Can player A (and C?) now make counter-statements, which are marked on the character sheet for future rounds? For example:

- B posted a photo with D on Instagram, taken inside the apartment, and time-stamped at X o'clock on Y-day. 

- The Hot Pockets were actually vegan-friendly. 

- Player A was at Meat Is Murder during that time, and did not see B&D. (If so, can this be marked on A's character sheet to use as a +1 if A mentions it in an Alibi?)

Curious about the criteria for what may be treated as factual precedent during succeeding rounds. 

I think I've got a firm enough grasp of the spirit of this jam. One technical question though:

Can we use affordable, generic toys that aren't necessarily designed as weapons per se? 

Case in point: there are multiple kinds of toy guns that fire soap bubbles. These definitely meet the "toy weapon" definition. And they could be used as a  conflict resolution mechanic based on several criteria: 

  • greatest number of bubbles
  • largest bubble size 
  • furthest distance travelled before popping 
  • most time spent in tact

However, there seem to be far more non-mechanical soap bubble wand kits than bubble guns. 

In this case, it would be more accessible to design a game around bubble wands (even if they are less likely to qualify as toy weapons). 

And of course, if the game has a wizardry/spellcasting flavor, the wands might even be more thematically appropriate too. 

How do we limit the scope for that? 

  • Possibly one of the most cohesive settings in this jam. A solid case study in designing game mechanics to reinforce flavor. 
  • Call me biased, but mean-spirited dunking on the Smurfs guarantees a 4-star rating, at nimimum. 
  • Impressive table of thematic abilities! 
  • Gear options make clever use of the PC's mini scale. 
  • The variety of suggested encounters opens up a lot of possibilities. Even the throwaway gag about hippies is actually a potentially terrifying plot hook.
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My personal take: Tunnel Goons is defined by its straightforward action roll resolution. For better or worse, it's characterized by pass/fail zero-sum terms. 

Degrees of Success only matters when chopping away additional HP. But it doesn't add narrative flourish the way it would in, say, FATE. 

Other hacks may change how inventory is handled, or add a secondary risk factor (aside from losing HP) but the 2d6 + bonuses is always there. 

By introducing Gambles, Stunts, and Advantage Dice, it fits the genre 100%, and creates a more distinct play experience. But it also deviates fundamentally from the core simplicity of Tunnel Goons rule set.  

  • Definitely a setting that appeals to my sensibilities.
  • Could have done more to sell the thematic flavor, especially for the Communist aspects.
    • Would have benefited from sample locations and/or enemies
    • Suggested weapons or vehicles would have been helpful to sell the motif.
  • Another possibility: specific mechanics for using vehicles and equipment, especially for combat situations. 

Doesn't need to be overly complex. Just enough to distinguish your personal vision from the basic Tunnel Goons rules.

I'll address the elephant in the room: the flavor and setting for this hack overlaps with my own entry. I did my best to rate this on its own merits, without comparing it to Goon Fighter. That said:

  • Nice layout. Mixes theme and function very effectively.
  • Great idea to spell out explicit rules for multiple attackers. Makes perfect sense for the genre.
  • Would have preferred if the Combat example (from the comments on the main project page) had been integrated into the main game.

Congrats for finishing it so early though! 

It's a real shame that this wasn't integrated into the main PDF, because this gives a much clearer idea about how the rules are meant to apply to the setting. 

It's also a fine example of the kind of flavor that Refs and Players should encourage.

As it stands, I've adjusted my rating with this in mind. But please note that it's easy to overlook content like this if it's buried in a comments section. 

If you plan to continue working on this game after the jam, consider including this example in the revised version.

I really appreciate the feedback!

In retrospect, I really should have spelled out the PvP rules, because it's such a radical departure from the baseline Tunnel Goons mechanics. But that's exactly what I had in mind: simultaneous opposed 2d6 + bonus rolls, with both fighters taking damage based on DoS.  

Unfortunately, poor time management got in the way, so I wasn't able to update it before the jam deadline. 

  • Almost feels unrecognizable as a Tunnel Goons hack.
  • That said, it's a comprehensive rule set, for what it is, with rich, detailed world-building properly baked into the game mechanics.
  • The Gamble mechanic really helps to distinguish this from the other Jam entries (so far, anyway).
  • Hero Points are wonderful method for encouraging consistent, frequent role-play. 
  • Generally not a fan of adding a 4th stat/Trait but it makes sense here, given the clear distinction between the sci-fi and fantasy elements, in-universe.
  • All the PbtA style  touches (Agenda, Principles, Facilitator Moves) provide a solid groundwork for would-be GMs to run this with the intended vibe.

Ran this for myself. Super impressed by the overall game design!

  • effective use of the core Tunnel Goons rules
  • gorgeous layout and visuals
  • clever way to implement a pseudo-procedural "dungeon", but still include mandatory core rooms 
  • limited mechanical options can feel restrictive at times, but it always makes narrative sense (no point trying to Charm a rat or a venus flytrap!)
  • challenging but intuitive puzzles
  • item deck is just the right balance of quirky flavor and mechanical function
  • Hits that sweet spot between flavor, game mechanics, and narrative possibilities.
  • The work week structure is a really effective use of the setting. Makes it ideal for one-shots or conventions, but leaves the door open for a possible campaign.
  • Likewise, the Station set-up is an organic way to introduce thematic "Classes", without imposing specific min/max stats.
  • If there's any setting that benefits from a dedicated Teamwork mechanic, it's this one. Great call!
  • Great layout design. 
  • Very evocative theme. I got a Labyrinth or Mirrormask vibe from the premise.
  • The flavor could have been described more clearly:
    • More detailed sample encounter (for Dangerous Encounters); describe the kind of threats the player characters might face inside the Tower...
    • ... as well as the ways they can use their Memories to fight back or protect themselves.
    • Suggest possible floors/rooms/environments found inside the Tower.
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  • Fun, tight setup for a one-shot scenario. The countdown mechanic is a wonderful, relevant constraint. 
  • The intro phase seems like the ideal setup for a smoke circle, in the style of That 70s Show. 
  • It feels a lot like a guided Fiasco playset, because of the format, as well as the high likelihood of failure. 

Rated this game. Hope you can do the same, as honestly as possible. Cheers! 

Nice touch tweaking the default math. It goes a long way towards selling the idea that these are extraordinary heroes. 

The secret identity mechanic really fits the theme, and ups the stakes. It's a useful check and balance against spamming the crazier pulp abilities. 

Rated! Hope you can do the same, as honestly as possible. 

Thanks for checking out my entry. 

Just rated yours! Hope you'll do the same, as honestly as possible.

I'd consider keeping all the Ideas readily functional with at least 2 of the Classes. 

In any case... 

Rated! Hope you'll do the same, as honestly as possible.

Rated! Hope you'll do the same, as honestly as possible.

Thanks so much for the feedback!

Regarding the tournament setting, the combat isn't limited to just one "ring" or even a single venue.

I meant it to be like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, where the fights happen in different Arenas, with varied terrains and environments (including the possibility of location-appropriate weapons lying around). 

There was supposed to be a whole section for possible Arenas (hinting at flavor mostly), but I left it out because of space constrains. Now that you brought it up, I might attempt to introduce it before the deadline. Hmmm....

Really impressed. Never thought Fiasco's mechanics could be seamlessly adapted into a self-contained 3-act sitcom structure... and in a mundane/no-fantasy tavern setting no less! 

More than anything else, I'm wowed by how tight and compact everything is (conceptually, but also the space-optimizing layout). Cheers indeed!

Wow! I'm super impressed how literally swapping a few phrases from the Tunnel Goons rules somehow changes the entire focus and flavor of the game. And into something I feel more personally invested in, as a player and a DM. (It's the first jam entry that I actually want to run for TRPG newbies who have philosophy backgrounds.) 

I like the implied caveat -- that the Action Rolls are not a test of the Player Characters' beliefs/philosophies/ideologies, so much as their ability to win over hearts and minds. 

Some actions seem intuitive enough:

  • detective work = Explorer + Logical deduction + Pen & Paper

as opposed to...

  • forensic science = Philosopher + Empiricism + Pen & Paper

And others actually help to make useful rhetorical distinctions:

  • proselytizing = Cultist + Religious Faith + (Holy) Book

vs.

  • evangelization = Philosopher + Religious Faith + (Holy) Book

That said, it feels like some of the Ideas are conceptually tied to specific Classes, which goes against the spirit of the original rules.

For instance, I'm not entirely sure how Solipsism can benefit a Cultist roll unless perhaps the PC is a LaVeyan Satanist.

Likewise, if a player choose Falsifiability as an Epistemic Principle, can that be used with an Explorer roll while hunting a Dire Black Swan? (Especially if the other party members are convinced that it's a hoax, and we're on a wild goose chase.)

Suggested alternate Settings:

  • Agora
  • literal Desert of the Real

Suggested alternate play modes:

  • Cartesian rules - roll under the DS for the action to succeed (calculate damage based on the difference) 
  • Buddhist rules - losing all Certainty is the win condition

Suggested Items:

  • Map (for illustrating semiotics, among other things)
  • Pocket watch (mechanical)
  • Armillary sphere

Suggested encounters:   

  • Laplace's Demon (DS12 with resistance to Explorer actions and Empiricism)
  • Descartes' Demon (DS10 with resistance to Philosopher actions)
  • Neo-Zarathustra (DS10 with resistance to Cultist actions; will eternally recur at DS10 after being defeated unless all party members climb the rope of self-mastery above its abyss)
  • Anti-Oedipus (DS8) + Bodies Without Organs as minions (singular formless rhizome but represented as a variety of discrete oozes/jellies/gelatinous blobs for mechanics; DS6 per cellular element)