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Speak the Sky

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A member registered Mar 17, 2019 · View creator page →

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A monument? A memorial? An oath's final symbol?

I approach the sword through coils of moonlit mist that seem to alight on the earth and heavy air, revealing things not seen by daylight...

A blood-red trailing flag, fluttering and flicking out of the mist in a breeze that isn't there, like a tongue tasting the still air of the Barrowlands. A curious thing. I return to the path - if it can be called that - and carry on towards the cloth, drawn almost as if by a magnetic pull.

What silhouetted thing does the flag lead to?

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I'm a warrior seeking peace and an end to bloodshed. I'm on a pilgrimage to the Temple to No Gods in the distant City of Gulls. I have a long knife under my shirt and a vast and deadly patience. 

The next leg of my pilgrimage is over the Barrowlands, through the Sky River, and then on to the Cadaveryards. These places are inhabited by serene cannibal traders, fever-ghosts, and the half-eaten remnants of giants. My goal is to pass safely through, rest a short while at the Cadaveryards, and continue on my pilgrimage. There is still a long way to go to the City of Gulls.

You, DREAMJAMMERS, play the world. Your goal is to make life complicated, interesting, and beautiful.

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Pilgrim’s Price is a long-form, episodic adaptation of Vincent Baker’s PbP game A Doomed Pilgrim in the Sundered Land. Instead of battling over whether or not the pilgrim survives, the World players instead add colour, mystery, and danger to the world the Pilgrim player navigates through. The game is divided into Legs of the journey, each of which covers two regions and one settlement at which the Pilgrim plots the next steps of their pilgrimage. The goal of this playtest is to hopefully get through one Leg before the Jam finishes!

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Here are some suggestions:

  1. People can be monsters.
  2. Monsters can be people.
  3. Strange is not necessarily bad.
  4. Familiar is not necessarily good.
  5. The Pilgrim is a stranger in a strange land.

And here are the ground rules:

  1. Only respond to my prompts.
  2. If you don’t know how to respond, make something up.
  3. Keep your responses short.
  4. If your response is disruptive, I’ll ignore it.
  5. Earlier responses take precedence over later ones that contradict them.

The form of each prompt will tell you how to respond:

  • If it ends with an ellipsis (…) it’s an invitation that allows contributions. Anyone can post a short piece of description that helps to build the pilgrim’s world. All contributions are true.
  • If it ends with a question mark (?), it’s a closed question that requires a single answer. Anyone can post an answer to the question, but only the first will (and must) be accepted as true.
  • If it ends with an ellipsis followed by a question mark (…?), it’s an open question that solicits choices. Anyone can post a short description of a choice the pilgrim could make in that situation. All the possibilities are true, but I will only choose one.
  • If it ends with a dash (--), it’s a shock that demands resolution. Anyone can post a twist or resolution to the uncertainty, but only the first will (and must) be accepted as true.

Any prompt in quotation marks (“”) should be responded to likewise with communication, verbal or otherwise.

At certain times I may defy your responses, but this comes with its own risks.

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I’ve been travelling for days now through this pale and undulating land - the Barrowlands. The chalky soil blends too well with the mist and sometimes I feel as if I’m wandering in circles, but I have yet to pass the same burial mound twice, so surely I must be making progress. Still, I am tired now, and the suffusing grey glow of sunlight is fading, so I should find a place to rest my head – or so I think, but that’s when I see the things ahead, jutting from the mist.

 Something arouses my curiosity. What intrigues me about this place…?

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Anyone know any good tools for playing map-games online? I'm aware of these so far:

  1. Google Drawings: serviceable, but slightly limited, though it probably won't need a subscription or go offline in the near future.
  2. miro: and other whiteboard apps, but miro looks like the best from what I've seen. In my experience it's smoother and more functional than Google Drawings (and includes stuff like a huge library of scalable icons and smoothening when using freehand drawing tools), but I've already had to drop one whiteboard app for going subscription-only even for personal users.
  3. roll20: there are some map-games for sale here, but at least some are only for use with roll20 (e.g. their version of The Quiet Year), and the tools are pretty clunky. On the plus side, it's designed for RPGs, so it has dice and cards built in, plus macros for more complex things if you pay for premium.

They're all free (for now), but who knows in the future.

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Here's an example of a TQY map part-way through a game, made with miro (originally called realtimeboard):

I've uploaded two games this month so far:

  • Letter Bearer - a solo game about a messenger magically bound to carry letters between two Powers either side of their Forest home
  • The Cromlech Archives - a found-footage weird horror game for creating fragmentary cinematic stories of mystery and foreshadowing

Letter Bearer is free and The Cromlech Archives is available for a minimum price of $2.

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In the forest, you can wander and find

Old friends and strange treasures.

In the forest, you can take your time

Before it's taken from you.

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Letter Bearer is a short solo role-playing and world-building game in which you carry letters for mighty and regal Powers through the Forest you call home, about the dull work you do, the detours you could make, and the punishments your life costs you before you have a chance to break free.

To play this game you'll need a standard deck of playing cards, a writing implement, and a stack of index cards, among other things.

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You’re the ones who watch, take notes, and analyse – detectives, academics, government agents, the like – and you’ve got a highly unusual and most disturbing case on your hands. There are things on these tapes that shouldn’t be real, that can’t be real. Are you prepared to peer beyond the veil? To know that the world is not entirely as it seems? To leave with more questions than answers? You could turn back, but you won’t.

Welcome to the Cromlech Archives.

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The Cromlech Archives is a 1-page game for creating fragmented found-footage weird horror stories filled with mystery and fear. It's designed for 2-5 players, though it plays best with 3-4.

To play this game you'll need a standard deck of playing cards, a sheet of paper, and a pen or pencil.

Note: This game based on a subsystem of a larger game that is still in development. You can use it as a stand-alone game, or as a story-creating tool with another game.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to finalise the design and put something together in time for this jam, but I'll continue working on this and release it some time soon under the same license.

Just ran a playtest that resulted in some pretty major mechanical changes to my design. I should still have enough time to assemble it all into a streamlined game, though.

I finally managed to run a playtest with someone else and it turned out to be incredibly helpful, even only as a partial play-through of the first half of the game. I'd already updated the rules a bit from what's here, but even during the playtest we were chopping and changing mechanics to focus and streamline the game and I've still got more updates to make.

Probably the biggest single change is replacing the interview mechanics in part 2/the shoot with the questions and answers from part 1/setup. It's almost seamless, since both mechanics are just questions and answers with people from different age groups, but it dumps an unwieldy creative burden (the playtest actually stopped dead in its tracks at the first interview) and lets players establish and challenge the backstory/official narrative at the same time.

Google Drawings is pretty good. I tend to use miro (formerly realtimeboard), since it has a couple of other features that are handy for map-games: a library of simple icons for a huge range of things, the ability to lock objects in place (and unlock later), and an in-built chat.

It has a couple of drawbacks, though - unlike Google Drawings you always have a white background rather than transparent, there's a text watermark in the lower-right corner, and if you're using the free version your export options aren't quite as good as Google Drawings. You can also only have up to a certain number of boards at a time, but that's less of a problem unless you want to keep old games around.

In this vein there's When2meet (https://www.when2meet.com/) and Doodle (https://doodle.com/).

Ah thanks, but I have a translation, I was asking whether the Italian designer community has made any other games based on it (and if so, whether there are any translations).

Here's a summary of what I've put together so far for my entry-in-progress, After Kaiju, in which the players make a low-budget documentary about the origin and aftermath of a kaiju attack (think Japanese kaiju film, not Pacific Rim, but the game can take place anywhere and really could be about anything). The design goal comes in with how the people featured in the film and who see the film are split into three Ages: the Young who were born after the attack, the Adults who were Young during the attack, and the Old who were Adults during the attack. DISCLAIMER: This game is in no way meant to be a realistic depiction of film-making and doesn't necessarily use terminology in the industry way.

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Part 1, Setup: The players collectively draw the kaiju while answering questions about its origins, attack, and aftermath. They take it in turns to pick an age, answer a question from their perspective (questions roughly like "how soon were people allowed into the exclusion zone?", "when did the government take decisive action?", and "what human activity happened near where the kaiju emerged?", but probably more pointed), and then draw a feature of the kaiju (like its atomic breath, impenetrable scaly hide, or mechanical brain) that's linked to their answer somehow. They also add a feature to that age group's style (use of colour, shape, annotation, text, or texture) to build up a visual style for each age group. Ideally this ends up making something creatively insane like a giant gorilla with a robot heart, a spider face, chitinous claws, and so on.

After some number of turns, setup ends with everyone (secretly?) picking one answer to doubt/challenge.

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Part 2, Shoot: From now on, the players are a small creative team working on a low-budget documentary about the kaiju attack. The shoot takes place over one day (because hiring professional gear costs money), and is where the main physical/geographical map-making takes place. The map starts off blank, but it'll cover the whole range from where the kaiju emerged to where it died/left earth/met some other fate, ideally in one city. The film crew starts off somewhere and Players take turns to either:

  1. Record A-roll using both sound and camera (e.g. the main interview footage).
  2. Record B-roll using sound and camera separately (e.g. random other voiceovers, panoramas, closeups - anything optional added on top of the A-roll).
  3. Travel somewhere new on the map (e.g. from a suburban residential area to a university campus or CBD or the exclusion zone or a residential area from a different economic class).

Each piece of footage is, for the most part, an interview with one or more people who belong to an age group the active player chooses. That could be anything from a pretty impromptu interview with some parents watching their kids at a playground that overlooks the path of devastation, to a formal interview in an academic's office to discuss the science behind the beast. Camera footage lets you draw a visual cone of the map from the team's current position (so your arc is limited but you can draw things that are near and/or far); sound footage lets you add sounds to the map. In either case, they're drawn/written in the style of the chosen age group. That aside, each piece of footage gets its own index card with the visuals and sound (or just one for B-roll). For camera you write down what the camera shows in that shot (both the things you see and other visual details like light/shadow, movement, focus, etc.). For sound you write down just one sentence or sentiment - the most important one that sums up the recording. If you choose A-roll you can also do a longer Q&A with 1+ other player(s) acting as the interviewee(s), then pick the best answer. Through all of this, each player keeps their doubt in mind and steers the film accordingly.

Taking any one of these actions costs 1 point (ideally represented by 1 coin, with a stack/pile of coins representing your scraped-together funding). At any point, if everyone's on board, you can end the shoot.

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Part 3, Edit: You get a new supply of cash, plus whatever was left over from the shoot, to edit the film together. This works a little bit like Microscope, in that you're shuffling around index cards representing moments or periods of time. Players carry on taking turns and spending points/coins, but this time their options are:

  1. Edit a piece of footage into the documentary (A-roll (camera+sound) or one piece of B-roll). You can edit in footage over the top of other footage (e.g. pair together some B-roll or put some B-roll video with A-roll audio etc.). Either way, move the card(s) into place in the film's timeline.
  2. Go out to record some more A-roll or B-roll, but with lower-quality personal gear. This works as before, except everyone can change 1 word by 1 degree per piece of footage (e.g. change it to one with a similar, but not identical meaning). If you choose this you might also have to write it poorly, I haven't decided.
  3. Reveal some B-roll you recorded earlier (either camera or sound, not both) using the high-quality professional gear.
  4. Find some archive footage, which is either A-roll or 2 B-roll based off one of the answers to the questions from setup (alternatively, A-roll or 2 B-roll made collectively by the other players based off a prompt/suggestion/request you give them). It probably won't be exactly what you want.

Editing ends when you run out of points/money or when everyone agrees the film is as good as it'll be. Lastly, you add narration to tie each piece to the next, on separate index cards.

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Part 4, Showcase: This is where things get hazy at the moment, but here's the general idea: going through the finished film timeline piece by piece, the players say how each age group sees and reacts to that part. Control rotates, so for one part you might have complete say over how the Young react, then the next how Adults react, then how the Old react, then back to the Young. This will involve making another artefact (on top of the kaiju drawing, shooting map, and timeline), a second map that shows how people respond to the documentary and how society develops into the future as each age group grows older and passes away, drawn on tracing paper over the first map.

As I typed this up I realised it'd might work better to have a realistic-ish or stylistically consistent first map during the shoot, then return to the age group styles for the second one.

Nice inspiration, and I like the sound of the game so far. I've been working on something inspired by The Seven Messengers for a little while now, so I'm curious about any other games people may have been designing around it - are there any English translations?