They're intentionally left to your interpretation here, for my personal game, the brain represents mental health, the heart represents emotional health, etc. I felt like giving the stats hard names would limit the sorts of activities some might assign to them. Hope this helps!
Sandy Pug Games
Recent community posts
Thank you so much! Very possibly, I struggled with Control when I first started playing Ironsworn too, it helped me to think of it as a token I gain or lose during actions, so if an action says "Gain control" I get the token, and if it says "Lose Control" I lose, and several moves require you to have the token before you use them. Like I said, took me a little while to get it but it's a really satisfying way to model that narrative push-pull of a fight.
For the next version update on this, I'll include an example of play around Control to make sure its a little clearer, thanks for the feedback!
This is the first time I've really produced anything with Epub or Mobi tools, please please let me know if they look funny. They looked fine on my kindle but as far as a test pool goes, 1 isn't v good
For sure! I'd recommend just starting off reading and messing around with some of the easier to hack systems - Fate, Apocalypse World, etc - and just tweak them, see if you get any cool ideas about how their systems might work for this idea or that idea, then go from there. It's how basically everyone I know got started, and it can be a really fun, easy and quick way to go from idea to playable without worrying about the underlying maths.
Generally tho, my process for coming up with a system tends to start with me coming up with a list of abstract concepts that I want the system to do (Be easy to teach, rely on only one kind of dice, be based on tarot cards, etc) and then spend a lot of time thinking about how to tick those boxes while also, simultaneously, considering what I want the system to "say" and how I want to accomplish that. It's a long process, and it can be super frustrating but really rewarding. But it's not inherently better than using one of the many existent systems out there as your base!
I can totally understand the feeling, I def. felt something of that when I first started.
It helped me to begin by designing in part - have an idea for a cool combat system, write it up, play around with it, maybe build something ontop of that, maybe leave it for later. Hack other games, play around with making content in other settings (playbooks, adventures, classes or monsters, w/e).
Another thing to keep in mind is that a game doesn't have to be "complete" in a traditional sense - it doesn't have to model *every* imaginable action or game, just making the part of the game that interests you, that you feel equipped to make, is fine, even if that's just prose.
Here's some work I did talking about some very common questions I get on Kickstarter
Here's a sort-of-guide on how to do Audio-book editions for TTRPGs
And while I'm here, this isn't really in-scope but I did a pretty extensive breakdown of my first Kickstarter that has a ton of great info for new people.
I'll be running a data collection and analysis project in the next few weeks to gather info on the exact kind of money people are making in the industry (both on Itch and outside of it). It's maybe a little larger than the scope of the jam but I think it's info that'll contribute a lot to what it is we do here.
Right, here's where I'm at right now, tweaked the core concept a little and there's still about 25-50% left to write, but I'm really happy with what I have so far. Check out these roles!
It's not ready quite yet, but I put the basics down for my entry, my idea here is that you'll be the runners for a show that has done pretty poorly, ratings wise, but that you all believe in and care about. You'll be trying to get this damn thing made, even thought you only have enough money for one last episode.
The gimmick here is that you're all playing as specific Groups of people, not just one person. The Lighting, The Crew, The Actors, etc. The game will also be non-linear, players jumping back and forth between moments during the production.
We'll see how it goes!
The best word I could find to describe this is "warm". It's similar to Ryuutama in that it feels like a game designed for playing out a Miyazaki film almost. Excellent work here. The cascading dice is a really neat idea too. Love to see that expanded somewhat.
I can't believe it. SPG went ahead and made a jam game without even knowing about the jam.
Disposable Heroes takes the Powered By The Apocalypse toolkit and throws out one of its most iconic aspects - the playbooks. In their place we have a deck of cards, each of which has a sort of micro-character. One class move, a weapon, some stats, and an animal. That's it. They take one hit, and they die, replaced with the next card you draw. This makes for some really fun, frenetic gameplay where players are constantly cycling through new abilities and playstyles. It's rad.
The setting and theme are based around some games we love here at SPG - Jet Set Radio, Lethal League, Hover, that kind of really funky fresh electro-punk styling. You play as package delivery people, trying to get demons and liches their packages on time, which makes for a v different vibe than most RPGs. You're not here to kill someone and save the day, you've got a job to do.
I asked permission, and it's apparently cool to submit an active Kickstarter to the jam, so I'm hyped to join you all here today, check out our KS over here - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sandypuggames/disposable-heroes-0
We also threw together a quick AP that shows off some of the rules, take a look!
I want to say it was in one of the earlier Fate Worlds volumes? I'll look through my books and see if I can find it. I was about to say it was a Transhumanity's Fate thing but I think I just carried it over from a different book
I don't have anything more to add here other than that I don't really consider the Platonic Session to be a critical tool - I think I'm largely the only designer to actively use this lens and plenty of great games are being made without a cohesive and singular vision. It's just something vital to my own personal work process and something I think many designers would benefit from is all.
Otherwise I think we might be at a bit of an endpoint here. Thank you for the discussion! It's forced me to rethink a lot of the specifics behind the idea and the way I present it, I really appreciate your viewpoint.
I think I have a better grasp of what you mean, thank you for clarifying. Apologies if I'm still off base at all here.
I think in a lot of ways this is tied somewhat to a slightly more common discussion about what happens when games hit players tables - about house rules and unintended rules readings and so on - and my reply is largely the same to that; that we can not control what the players and readers do with our texts doesn't seem to me to be something worth worrying too much about at the end of the day (Except in wanting to make sure our rules are clear and accessible anyway). It's inevitable that people will read our games and do things with our games that we simply have no way to predict or imagine, and regardless of what design lens, tools or lures we use, they may be missed, misunderstood, misread, re-worked or re interpreted. To some degrees nothing of our intentionality survives past first read/play, such is Death of the Author I suppose. You have no control over what the players ideas or desires are, only in how you communicate your own expectations of their play. A Platonic Session might also be understood as your work luring the players meshing perfectly with their desires and ideas. An impossible reality, but as a hypothetical, its a useful tool.
I'd also say that your platonic session isn't a set-in-stone thing established at the start of your project, I'm sure we've all had the experience of writing a game or a system and realizing the very essence of what we were aiming for wasn't working and had to rework the fundamentals or even scrap it. Understanding what you want people to do with your game in the end is just another part of the design process - The Platonic, or Perfect, session of your game may be very different by the time you finish writing, but there's still a lot of value in understanding it and being aware of it, even if it changes drastically after your first playtest or rewrite or what have you.
I should also maybe specify that my idea of a Platonic Session is strictly a design tool, it's not really useful to anyone after you've put your work out there - Think of it the same way some people write a guiding principle or a mood board. Its intended to keep you on track with what you're trying to make, rather than an attempt to bind players to that specific vision.
For the last part here, I'm worried the idea of a platonic session (the design tool intended to help inform a designer and guide the work process) is getting a little mixed up with the overall advice of providing narrative tools (a player-intended inclusion).. All games that intend to tell stories should have information and education for how those stories work and function, and its my belief that all games, fundamentally, intend to tell stories of some form. I'd also point out many of the games mentioned that have excellent narrative tool inclusion are actually fairly large games in the grand scheme of things - Spire is actually a great example of one, AW too. Blades was mentioned, etc. Smaller games can be good at explaining very focused, very intentional-narrative and guided experiences, but that's only really one form of what I'm talking about.
Also Edit: No worries! It happens, I should wait some time before replying. I have some thoughts about the specific stuff edited in but I think I largely addressed most of the stuff in some way here, at least, I hope so. Some of it doesn't make any sense anymore but I've already wrote a lot of words. To try and address the first part tho - By conscious or not I'm saying all games are ultimately saying something regardless of the designers intent, and being aware of that something is a useful tool, and many games are published without being actively aware of what that something is. If your intention during design is to make a bundle of machetes with which the players hack their own path through a jungle of your own design - that's your Platonic Session right there.
Sort of side-ways to this conversation, but relevent I think; this Twitter thread showed up on my feed today - https://twitter.com/the_strix/status/104247685907666944 - One area I think I failed to make clear is that the goal of including narrative toolkits shouldn't be to teach any particular specific field of media analysis or education - I'm not promoting the enforced monomyth, that would be a terrible mistake. These tools must, by default, be different for the game you make, they must be as tied to the experiences you hope to enable as your mechanics are. The monomyth and three act structure is a good place to start, but its not the best fit for a lot (most?) of games.
Quick Edit: Be sure to check the replies to that tweet too, some of the conversation in there is super good - and lots of good reading material in there.
It's interesting that you name AW as one of the games without platonic sessions - I actually built a lot of this idea from studying it in part and, in the abandoned longer write up I did of this a while ago used it as a prime example of a game that has a pretty solid "intended experience" (a flawed term, as it implies some kind of imposed thing) in spite of its relatively generalized nature. Not every story told with AW will look similar, but they are, by necessity of the games ruleset, told in similar ways.
But I digress - even the most general game has, in my mind, a platonic session, consciously or not, a designer is trying to make something for a particular purpose, to fill a need they see missing or to contribute to a particular ongoing dialogue. When you say you're building games that provide tools for players to do interesting things, the particulars of those interesting things are what make up the fundamental grounding of your platonic session (and the needed guidelines for narrative tools). Some of the comments I made in the thread above this speak on this a little - while it's absolutely possible to limit player (and designer, and GM) creativity with bad narrative design or poor educational frameworks, well made ones are liberating and further allow those wonderful interesting things we're all trying to enable. The goal of the tools I'm proposing and talking about aren't necessarily about telling a particular story, or even a particular type of story, rather it's about informing a reader what stories they can tell with your games they perhaps couldn't with another game - or how the storys they tell in your game would differ from another, similar game.
But, of course, I have to admit I have a personal bias for more focused experiences, so perhaps its some of that creeping in - either way, great points. I agree at the very least that the approach to narrative tools and education must be very different depending on the intent of your design and goals of your game.
Patreon is proposing some pretty drastic changes to how its platform works - including striping back a lot of the features we currently have, only allowing you to keep them if you chip in more of your monthly income.
This sucks, but luckily they're grandfathering in everyone with a Patreon account at the old rate. These changes aren't happening just yet, so I highly recommend making a Patreon right now if you're at all interested in using the service for your games, writing or whatever, even if you have nothing to post yet. Your account should maintain its Founder status and you'll get the better rate when you do start producing content.
I think that's absolutely a big concern - and one I think anyone who's had experience in a structured lit class has probably felt at some point. It's a pitfall to be avoided when writing this sort of thing, and something to actively educate against the use of. In my mind, and hopefully in my writing, the goal is to enable people to better embrace their ability to express themselves or creatively explore their ideas and unique stories through making people actively aware of how the sausage is made, rather than enforce specific and strict cookie-cutter plots. Blades is a really great game that does a lot of great narrative and media aware design/tools while encouraging GMs and players to have fun with and mess with those rules rather than stifling them.
I definitely have had bad art teachers who didn't know how to weave these two concepts (That of personal self expression/freedom and the education of the 'rules' of the artform), but I feel like I'm a better storyteller and writer for having learned the rules and media conventions in the first place, after all, its hard to break, bend or make new rules if you're not super aware of how they work in the first place.