To paraphrase one of my favourite childhood movies, let’s set the wayback machine for about three years ago. Enter a wanna-be game designer with aspirations of rocking the world.
Yeah, I wrote a little thing for an ancient Game Chef contest, and I’ve been hammering away on it ever since. It’s got a hold over my creative energies and time, and it’s meant that other projects have been back-burnered.
But it’s worth it.
I’m so very proud of The Adventures of Sir Swords-a-Lot and the Brave Knights. It’s repeatedly done what I want it to do, and each time I play it, I learn a little more about my hobby. (As an aside, it also does stuff I don’t want it to, but that’s ok.)
Swords-a-Lot grew out of a desire to build a game for my then-four-year-old-son to enjoy with me. In fact, it originally bore his name (“A Game for Philip”). It’s seen several iterations, some outside playtesting (some very successful, some very unsuccessful), and a fair bit of open playtesting by yours truly at conventions (hey, Hammercon and CanGames, who loves ya?)
I’m finally satisfied with everything important about the design. It’s now a often-enough-requested-event at my house to feel satisfied with it, and I’m quite happy with all of the mechanical fiddly bits’ complexity and integration into the imaginary action. It feels right.
So, I’ve been using some of my time granted me by being laid-up by a hideous back spasm to sit down and do the awful work of re-writes. The game is done, it just needs to be written.
To give myself a side-goal, I’m going to spend the next little while talking about the process I went through to bring Sir Swords this far. Hopefully, one guy’s experiences over four years hold your interest.
I’m calling this series of posts “In praise of taking it slow” both as an act of apology for its duration, but also because I think that more people should. Take the time; do it the way you want; if this isn’t your living, you don’t have to act like it is!
Also: the image is one of the earliest cover sketches for the game, by the excellent Marc Meyer.
I’m off to HammerCon II in slightly less than 24 hours.
I’ll be running a session of Caddies (a spiffy flip on the Afghanistan scenario I ran at CanGames earlier this year) as well as Speed Gaming sessions of The Adventures of Sir Swords-a-Lot and the Brave Knights. What’s speed gaming? What’s that game with the really long title?
Guess you’d better make tracks for Hamilton…
Sir Nimble and Sir Ungainly are assaulting the hilltop fortress of Dread Lord Redblade. Their quest? To discover a digital document format that allows hyperlinking within itself. They’ve looked at HTML, and they don’t like having to use a web-browser interface. They like .pdf, but their sovereign can’t seem to make Acrobat Professional 7.0 do this.
They need your help. This is their most desperate hour. You are their only hope.
The (ongoing) War of the Roses playtest of Black Cadillacs has validated a lot of rules changes that came out of GenCon 2009. One of those new rules is the prep instructions and setting creation procedures.
Here, you can see a game set up with a Great War (WWI) play-kit. The kit includes:
- a custom play mat (central)
- a map of the area (right)
- a photo collage that distills key points of the prep research (lower)
The first two items are cool, but they’re not critical. The collage is much more exciting; sessions of the game are so much more vivid when you have a visual reference for the tone of the game. They help to influence so many aspects of play, including the campaign prep.
I’ve got other items to dish about, all of them related to prep. I know that others have ranted at me for the lack of prep in the game. Rest assured, you’ve been heard, and yeah, you were right.
The cracks appear!
This sort of emergent contradiction is exactly what I love about Black Cadillacs. This is exactly the sort of stuff I experienced with Dad’s war stories.
Also, Andrew is such a dick. Oh, he’s an asshole.
Kinda speaks for itself. I can hear this one running the court circuit.
Oh, this one’s a goodie, and not just because it’s mine.
This is the first of the Stories to come out of our game (the previous four are all Rumours). So, the swank bit about Stories is that they’re accounts of actual in-game events, but they’re not entirely true. Here’s how that works:
- you choose a moment from the game to Story-fy.
- you re-tell it, but you don’t regurgitate it. Change it.
- the magnitude and the nature of the change are in your hands.
- you write it down.
So, cannons in the 16c. weren’t really a threat on the battlefield. They were primitive, cumbersome and slow (a rate of fire of 10 shots/hour was exemplary).
They were, however, just the tool for turning a walled town to a rubbled town.
I like to think of the doom and gloom versions of this rumour that would be bouncing around the Lancastrian ranks.
Our characters are all in the Earl of Warwick’s retinue. The historical detail about the Wars of the Roses that makes this especially cool is that it was commonplace for individual nobles (and their retinues) to switch sides mid-battle.
- Actual Play
- Black Cadillacs
- Secret Projects
- Sir Swords-a-Lot
- June 2012
- November 2010
- March 2010
- January 2010
- November 2009
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- August 2009
- July 2009
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