Thursday, November 27, 2008

News Dump!

  • The Fifth World now has its own Twitter account. With a game that lives on a wiki, I've put some thought into forums (including some special play-by-post tools), play-by-Skype tools, podcasts and other alternative means of publishing RPG's, and how we might incorporate other social networking sites. Have any ideas?

  • Look for "The Fifth World: Jimmy's Haunt" at Dreamation 2009. I'll have the Restless People out by then, v0.4.2 of the rules, and a custom-designed region of Morristown, NJ (where the convention takes place), including the local legend of Phoebe's ghost.

  • An idea to replace the "Questions" mechanic: Can the story itself have relationships that the players share in common?

  • Looking for a way to combine Blessings and Curses into one thing.

  • Starting a playtest campaign at GASP Game Days starting in December. If you live in Pittsburgh, we'd love to have you! This will become the first ever Fifth World campaign, so we'll test how the game works over long-term play.

  • Which sets a deadline for me to really revamp the character options by December 13. I'll have until December 21st to edit the document and get it all on the wiki after that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On the Schedule

Getting the obvious out of the way, Awe Kooda bilaxpak Kuuxshish of the Crow tribe, grandson of a Luo medicine man from Kenya, has become president of the United States. We finally got a shaman in the White House!

I apologize for that interruption, but I've had to deal with my condition lately. Anyway, with the public playtest now begun, the next big date looms on December 21. Then, we'll release:

  • v. 0.4.2, which will include an expanded, edited and generally smoother version of the rules already presented. I hope to revisit the Land of the Three Rivers, too, with some improvements to the oracle, spirits, blessings and curses available (see last post).

  • The wiki re-opened. I'll start adding material soon; on December 21, the new skin and functionality will all go live, including

  • The community site. Forums, blog, etc., and

  • The podcast. We'll include news, actual play, game advice, and more.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Big Day

I have to apologize for the lateness of my posting here. The hotel had a firewall that made it difficult to access the Fifth World, so I had to wait till this evening to upload the latest rules.

We ran the first public playtest at GASPcon 9. We ran the first pre-generated region yet; I hoped to cut the time down by removing the initiation process and jumping straight to the game. Against a stark white background with some professional printing, Dani Kaulakis' art simply arrests you visually. I had the region with the questions and inhabitants printed, high-resolution and full color on a full poster-sized map, along with character sheets printed out with the full relationships and blessings, a text introduction and even a family tree. I think in visual presentation if nothing else, I had nothing to hang my head over.

My estimation that the number of players would determine the length of the game proved true. With six players, we might still have made it all the way through, but when combined with the necessary rules explanations that a setting like this requires, we only got through the end of the second act. We had a strong story emerging, though: the intrigues of a boss and his ambitious younger nephew, a false-flag operation intended to start a war, and even a young child coming to grips with the truth about her sainted ancestor, and her own capacity for evil.

We also learned some things:

  • Particularly in a convention context, a one-page quick reference guide to the rules could help a lot. The Fifth World departs from the norm for role playing games to such a degree that players can't fill in the gaps with their usual expectations. That can make things difficult.

  • So far, everyone has agreed that the game has a lot of potential, works well, plays fun, and so on, all of which I've compared to calling a woman "handsome." Nobody's gotten very excited about it, which had me rather disturbed, but I agree with what Mike told me, that excitement about a game has to follow from exciting options for characters and stories. The Land of the Three Rivers already has a few: the Buzzard's Undertakers, the Hinneray's secrets, the Ordo Arcanum, to some degree even the blessings offered by Iron. But the game really offers only a small number of these. In the beta phase, we'll need to focus on designing really interesting and exciting blessings, curses and spirits.

  • Traditional role playing games sell adventures. Story games typically do not, because they typically involve so much "play now", at-the-table input to create the story that such a thing would not contribute, and in fact would undermine the whole point. The Fifth World won't ever offer packaged "adventures" like these, but it certainly can offer pre-defined regions, which I plan to include in the Land books. Just imagine what you could do with, say, a region based on Centralia.

Version 0.4.1 now sits on the wiki. I wouldn't call it a great text, but it has enough to start playing. So, for the first time in years, The Fifth World exists as a publicly available game worth playing!