YepNix GameCraft

Welcome to YepNix GameCraft, home of Blom,HirelingsStorybox, and more.

The experience of playing games means more to me than most other experiences. I love to share with others as well. I hope that, by sharing my games with you, you'll have enriching experiences you'd not have otherwise.

Publishing Yesterday’s Tomorrow via Different Play

I wanted to give a brief notice that my newest story game/RPG is being published with the support of Different Play.

From the Different Play announcement:

Yesterday’s Tomorrow, based on D. Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World, is the latest game from Dylan Nix. It sends players’ modern day characters forward several millennia to a time where humanity has evolved past their current form. Once there, the characters find themselves outside the post-scarcity system set up to care for the other citizens’ welfare. Yesterday’s Tomorrow asks, “What do you do when the whole universe fails to acknowledge your humanity, when your humanity is all you have left?”

The game will be a small, powerful package, providing meaningful play in the balance between narratively-driven mechanics and mechanically-driven narrative. It crosses over in places into the digital game realm with the use of character and game generators. I’m quite excited about it.

If you’d like to read some notes from one of my playtesters on the latest iteration, head over to Sean Nittner’s blog where he’s posted a play report from our latest session. Otherwise keep looking here for updates.

Letting the Fiction Decide when Hacking Apocalypse World

There are a couple of important paragraphs on pp. 108-109 of Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker that say (bolded emphasis mine):

Play to find out: there’s a certain discipline you need in order to MC Apocalypse World. You have to commit yourself to the game’s fiction’s own internal logic and causality, driven by the players’ characters. You have to open yourself to caring what happens, but when it comes time to say what happens, you have to set what you hope for aside.

The reward for MCing, for this kind of GMing, comes with the discipline. When you find something you genuinely care about —a question about what will happen that you genuinely want to find out — letting the game’s fiction decide it is uniquely satisfying.

This is basic stuff when it comes to being MC of an Apocalypse World game, and admittedly, something I find myself having missed almost every single time I’ve read through the book. Having questions and seeing where the fiction leads play towards answering them is fundamental to the game. It’s not that I haven’t been letting the fiction decide what happens, it’s that I’ve missed out on having questions to answer. I’ll definitely be rectifying this during my next MCing of any PbtA game. However, that’s not what I want to talk about, as important as it is.

The other revelation I had when going back over this passage is that this appears to be great advice for creating a game based on Apocalypse World.

If the core of Apocalypse World is to let the fiction guide the play, along with the rest of the agenda, and part of what is most important is to let the fiction answer questions, then it follows that having charged questions at the start of the design process that influence the rest of the creative process could be a big help in focusing the game as it’s being built — a few nice, broad questions that take a couple handfuls of sessions each to figure out, explore, and maybe-just-maybe answer; and/or several practical questions that come into play each session. Some examples of these come in the Why to Play section on pp. 16-17 of Apocalypse World and in the pitch on the back of the book.

Combine with the concept of the Fruitful Void (whatever your mechanics point to and never address directly is what you’re game is really about, if I may attempt to paraphrase it), and I think you’ve got a good thing going on. I think you’ll have play that’s attempting to answer the posed questions with a grace, an elegance, a sophisticated approach rather than dictating answers through mechanics.

This is, at least, what I’m striving for in my own attempt to write a game based on Apocalypse World; I hope I succeed.

Content Signals in Apocalypse World

Just a thought:

If character choices (Playbook moves in PbtA games, Aspects in Fate, etc.) are signals from the player to the GM about the kind of content they want to see, stats and moves (especially the basic and MC moves) in Apocalypse World and its offspring are signals from the designer to the MC for the kind of content they had in mind for the game.

When a player makes a choice about their character in terms of abilities, characteristics, instincts, and the like, it should send a clear message to the GM saying, “I want to use this in this game, please work with me to make that happen.” Otherwise, why make those choices, if they go unanswered? (This is an important point in and of itself.)

Likewise, MCs can look to the stats and moves (again, especially the basic moves) as clear choices the designer has made to indicate the sorts of situations they had in mind that the characters would find themselves in, and more specifically, the significant parts of the situations, those that they want in the spotlight and incorporating the dice to help decide what happens in the fiction. Not that MCs should be pre-planning storylines, mind you, but instead looking to the stats and moves and seeing if they get excited by the inherent stories set up by those elements.

Furthermore, the MC moves count here, too! They’re just as important a signpost for suggested content as player moves and the Agenda, Principles, and “Always Say”s, e.g. when there’s not an explicit player move for harm against another, look to the MC moves for guidance on adjudicating violent situations.

So, whether you’re designing, running, or playing a PtbA game and you’re coming up short, look to the stats and moves, not as prompts for circumventing the fiction (“I Go Aggro.” “Roll to hit.” “11!” “Okay, you deal two harm. Next?”), but as indications of fictional elements that are supported mechanically, and are therefore charged with risk and reward.

Thoughts?

(Reposted almost entirely from this Google+ post)