Game Chef - boon or curse? I've been wondering since its very first days as a one-off "hey why not" by Mike Holmes at the Forge. So far, in official consulting, when someone shows up with "this was in last year's Game Chef," or even more so, "won last year's Game Chef," my count is about 50:50 between that's-cool/oh-fuck.
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Here's where I post about my current role-playing game design consulting, with the permission of the clients. Sometimes it's a text piece, sometimes it's video or audio. Sometimes it's a discussion, and sometimes it's a playtesting session. Check out the Testimony and What I Do items below to see what it's about.
- If you want to become a client, please click on the "Come into the Lab" link to contact me for initial discussion.
- If we agree it's a good fit, then the fee is $100 (~925 SEK; ~90 Euro) for three sessions.
This was my first scheduled consult session at Lucca. As usual, I had no expectations, but if I did, they would have been challenged by the degree that people came prepared. Francesco brought a deck of cards that looked ready to print.
Contrary to a lot of play culture right now, I'm not too invested in single-session, highly staged play. I don't mind the technique itself and have myself written some games along those lines, especially It Was a Mutual Decision, but there are so many of these at present, I find myself attracted mainly to "hey, we make up characters and play them for a long time," at least at the moment.
When I finally got to the Indie Palace area at Lucca, in the Palace Hotel, Beatrice Da Vela and Filippo Zolesi, the latter a.k.a. our very own Pippo Jedi at the Patreon, came to see me with their game Quella Volta Che. It's not funny or cute, but head-on, headlong into the thick of sexual harassment as experienced by anyone. It's intended to be published with a collection of survivor/testimony accounts of harassment.
Francesco Zani is busy with lots of game designs, as you'll see in the videos of my consulting sessions at Lucca. Dictat is a joint effort among him, Davide Cavadni, and Francesco Rugerford Sedda, whom (the latter) I met at Modena Play early last year. Dictat's a card game that relies on LARP-like subroutines, "oh shit" card draws that demand attention, and voting, managing to represent and parody the (dys)functions of a distressed democracy at the same time.
Stefano first talked with me about this game about a year and a half ago, at Modena Play. At the time, he was anxious about how it might be received, about whether or how one might be designated unsuited or ineligible for authoring such a thing, and about representation in general. Dozens of playtests later, and having weathered at least one internet storm based on exactly those things, he's not anxious any more. He's certain now - and pissed off in the very best way.
Consulting for Tales of Entropy has become almost a way of life, considering the multiple sessions, the length of the sessions, and the processing throughout. Especially for a game which is entirely finished and published, thus system development isn't the point, and for a game whose typical play-time is single-session and relatively short, in the two-hours-plus range.
"Let's try it out" became a genuine hydra of extended play, especially for a game conceived as a swiftly-coiling drive into final conflict. We ended up with five sessions, some pretty long, and here are the last two.
My judgment calls, consulting thoughts, analysis, whatever you want to call it, are reserved for conversation with Petteri, but here are some things to throw out for general discussion.
... then maybe the corruption isn't so bad!
Because there's no other way to fight; in this game, Aslan isn't coming, there's no cool tattooed bunch of rebels to locate, there's no haven to escape to. You have to join the evil. Rise in it. Grow powerful. And not give in.
The question being, what is the anchoring procedure for playing Tales of Entropy? When it is so easy to go awash and awry when one's character twists into what you didn't anticipate, or when one is now cast as Narrator with no idea of where to go.
Something has to make sense, to begin, to change, and to end. And that is the Grains. Neither "my character" nor "the plot" will work.