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Unformed, incomplete ideas thread

A topic by D. W. O'Boyle created 45 days ago Views: 204 Replies: 23
Viewing posts 1 to 9

I thought it could be a fun idea to have a thread where we share some ideas that never found their way into games, never got passed the initial "this could be fun" stage, or you just haven't had time to work on. Maybe they'll inspire someone else use them, or you'll find that someone already made a game like it.

I'll start:

A game where you play a civilization that discovers am unmanned exploratory satellite and have to make sense of culture that sent it based on what they included in it.

Great thread idea. Should the norm be people jump in with what someone else's idea gets them thinking about? 

Like for you idea, my first thoguht was "everyone brings something: weird, vintage, they made it, something else" and that's part ofthe stuff included in the satellite.

I figured folks could just reply to individual posts to build off ideas. :D

That makes sense too... though your first idea requires us to respond to the whole thread. Forums are weird. :D


I was thinking once about games about social change (initially based on the climate change struggle, I believe) and I had this idea about actions not being resolved when you take them (eg. you wouldn't roll dice at the same moment). The idea was to simulate that you cannot know what the effect is until later.

For example, imagine an activist group, or maybe a government, that is trying to fight climate change. Every time they do something (raise certain taxes, run certain campaigns to change the citizen's minds about something), it would be a while until you could see and measure the effects, and you would have to keep on acting and doing things without the certainty of what the effect of your last action was. So, you would wait for several "turns" (or whatever) before you actually roll the dice to see the effect and change whatever stats you were trying to correct. I guess for that you would need a log of the actions that you have taken in the past, and when you have to resolve them. You could even play with different actions having a different "feedback" time (but possibly lesser effect).

Does that make sense? I thought it was a really neat idea, but I never really developed it into anything useful.


That is a pretty neat idea. I'm thinking of this something like with Quiet Age's projects where there is a timer counting down to actually resolving a project. All along you'd be defending various interventions like raising taxes, issues, and people would be trying to disrupt it politically (possibly resulting in cancelled projects) and you still only find out about it after you put a bunch of other stuff in play. It's a brilliant idea, possibly best suited to a game inspired by Microscope or Quiet Year that allows the global or regional scale to be the focus with zoom ins for scenes.

Aah, I know of The Quiet Year, but have never read it (I'm a big fan of Ribbon Drive, though, by the same author). I guess I should get it sometime :-D

Thanks for the reply!


no worries. I love weird ideas. The basic mechanic of Quiet Year is a map and card based hard decisions as well as creating projects. If you listen to the first story arc of An Atlas of the World Unknown podcast, it gives a pretty good idea of the mechanics though it does hack it to include some other stuff like Spindlewheel and his own hacks. But it shows how the projects work and can be canceled and that sounds like it really serves your idea.


I wonder if this should be its own section instead of just a thread. There's going to be a bunchof these if everyone buys in.

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Dumb game idea I'm never going to make:

A hack of Swords Without Master based on the TV show MASH, where the two tones of the dice are replaced with "Irreverent" and "Maudlin".


I wish I knew more about Swords Without Master. I like the idea of a gm-less mash game. And the tones you use have great names.


Swords Without Master has a GM by default, but the way it's set up into structured phases would be super-easy to make GMless.

On the other hand, I don't know anything about MASH except what I learned from that episode of Futurama.

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Time travel character generation idea:

All the PCs are the same historical person, but from different timelines. To begin the game, you establish 5 facts that everyone knows about that person. (These don't have to be true, maybe Napoleon really was extremely short in most timelines, just not ours. but they need to be common knowledge about that person.) So for Amelia Earhart, you might have facts like "daredevil pilot" and "disappeared flying over the ocean".

Once you have those five facts, every player will create their specific version of the character. You have several responses, that you distribute between them. "Yes, and...", "Yes", "Yes, but...", No, but..." and "No, and...". Choose one response to match each fact, then finish the sentence. e.g., "Yes, I was a daredevil pilot, but it wasn't with airplanes. On our world, we had giant insects that I helped tame and turn into useful flying mounts." "No, I didn't disappear flying over the ocean, and I became famous as the first person, man or woman, to circumnavigate the globe by air."

So everyone gets a character that is recognizably that historical person, but also is weird and different than the other PCs.

Variant: instead of always having one of each response, you could instead roll some dice. 1=No, and  2=No, but  3=Yes, but  4=Yes  5=Yes, and  6=player's choice.

Come to think of it, this is also ready made for an Into the Spiderverse / Crisis on Infinite Earths / What If...?Batman Who Laughs superhero game, where everyone can play variants of the same superhero.


The title should be 5 Napoleons! Or something else. This is great.


The idea was partly inspired by Jason Morningstar's unfinished game Nine Roosevelts Against the Impossible. And also some mechanics I had in an early draft of a completely different game, where it was used to make a family of people who were similar to each other but not the same as each other.

I like this idea so much. So how can I help it along? I was listenign to the interstitial podcast and I've heard the option for using interstitial to use that to use playbooks to form the different versions of hte same person but I like the way you're approaching it instead. Maybe a combination of this separate section on the character sheet that is also like "how this impacts actions" for example.

So my Mecha-Earhart has the her no buts and yes ands but the next step of chargen is that: 
Earhart doesn't eat, has enhanced phsyical ability, flies under her own power now, and is powered by steam and eats it. That might make it interesting. That way the changes go from "quirky observation" to "game effect"

Feel free to take it and incorporate it into any game where it fits.

I would tend to use it in games with simpler mechanisms, where it's just "If you can justify how your coldbloodedness helps Lizard Amelia escape from danger, then you get a bonus die" or something like that. Because then every statement could be relevant, in the right contexts, without additional rules overhead. 

But I could see working this into a game with more concrete, spelled out powers as well. (Nobilis 3rd edition tried something similar, with an inspirational phase of character creation and then a more concrete mechanical phase, but it wasn't really successful.)

oh i like simpler mechanisms too. i was htinking as a mental exercise to help someone see how they relate. instead of just "i brood and am lincoln" something about "broody lincoln ends up doing x" in scenes might be a helpful hint. like how the moes work in pbta or belonging. haven't seen nobilis 3. is it worht a look? 


Nobilis 3rd edition is deeply flawed, almost to the point of being unplayable. I wouldn't recommend it. 

(2nd edition Nobilis, though, is amazingly beautiful and elegant and a great game.)

Ok. My love of 2nd is why I have interest in 3rd. I wonder what went wrong.

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A Forged in the Dark game where you play a crew of thieves who go on heists to take cultural artifacts back from the museums and private collectors who stole them. You take jobs from government officials representing colonized countries and shady rich oligarchs. Inspired by this article about Chinese art heists in GQ.

But at the end of the day I'm a white dude with imperialist ancestors. I would love to play this game, and for someone who isn't like me to make it.

Here is the barest skeleton of an idea that I have on the backburner: 

The Players are time travelers, tasked with stopping an evil wizard who is hell bent on planting more and more evidence of the New Chronology. 

Interesting. I like the idea. So is the evidence of the New Chronology something that is a lie convincing something didn't happen or stuff that pushes changes in the time line? 

Well, I was going to toss in an idea I'd been poking at, but trying to write up my thoughts on it gave me a little inspiration and now I think I might be able to do it after all... Whoops!

I do have something I want to put in here, though. I own Ten Candles and I really, really love it, but almost since I got it I've been trying to figure out if there's some way to make a game with a similar use of candles but where loss and death isn't inevitable? Maybe something where candles can both go out and be re-lit, so the goal is to protect and rekindle the other characters' hope in a very literal way and try to make it to the end of the game with enough light still there to drive away the darkness? I'm not sure how to implement a re-lighting thing, though, or how to figure out whether the number of lit candles are "enough" in the final scenes.