It had been a long grey autumn of discontent. The air had become cool and thin enough to let the winter chill come spilling around the edges of the buildings and trees. Strong breezes splashed cascades of red and brown leaves down on the ancient village. From the patchwork quilt of yards and farmsteads, the smell of dug up earth mingled with apples, pumpkins and wallflowers. Late blooms rang uncomfortably beside the dirt roads like lingering memories.
In our last installment we discussed the ideas and goals that are guiding Asylum. We’re going to take a closer look now at how it works in practice. Using everything we discussed, we sat down and asked what exactly makes an RPG an RPG. What happens? What are the working parts? The Leader – Always the director and head writer, the person leading the game is also a supporting actor and usually the producer as well. In Asylum we call this person the Narrator. The Players – Both cast and writer’s room.
As the other designer and co-creator of Asylum, I normally focus on the fictional bits and let Ben and his incredible mind handle the mathemagic and elegant balance we try to put into our system. That’s kind of a false distinction, though. Ben’s ideas have created vast swathes of the game’s setting and my input has resolved some very tricky system issues. When we first sat down to write all this, we wanted to go all the way to the core and figure out exactly what it is that gives people a good game experience.
Well we haven't done this in a while, so we decided to start in our comfort zone. . .
Asylum kicks off another year of public appearances, play tests and general tomfoolery with a visit to Boston and PAX Prime! Look for us in the RPG area on Saturday afternoon.
If you're in the New England area and would like to visit, grab beta playtest packets or just want to bust a cold chill with us. Let us know here or on Twitter!
We've been busy putting together material for the public release of the Asylum playtest packet. It probably won't be ready for a little while, but if you're itching to try Asylum out we're going to be running it at two gaming events in the next couple of weeks. The first event is Escapist Expo in Durham, North Carolina. We'll be running Asylum in the table-top area on Friday, October 4th from 6pm to 10 pm, and then again on Saturday, October 5th, from 2 to 6 pm.
No Design Diary this week, as I'm getting over a nasty case of Bronchitis. I do want to tell you about some more public playtests that are on the way! Our next big event is the Escapist Expo in Durham, North Carolina. We'll be playtesting Asylum in the table-top area on Friday, October 4th from 6pm to 10 pm, and then again on Saturday, October 5th, from 2 to 6. We have a couple of very polished playtest modules to run for you, so you can get a sense of how the game's shaping up and maybe give us more feedback.
The road was an oily black ribbon unraveling quickly ahead of them. The car blew through the bends, crooks and hollows with the low, loud scream of a man falling from the sky.
Inside, Huck turned and craned looking for their pursuers. The forest canopy's dark, flickering static blotted everything out. Somewhere behind it, giant black shapes scattered and swung. The only way Huck still knew they were there were by the shifting pinpricks of light and sudden rushes of wind. It was as though the night sky itself reached down with huge silky hands to sift through the trees.
The previous Design Diary introduced you to our playtest process and design goals. Consequently, there wasn't much room to talk about the details of the system. This time I want to talk about a personal expertise of mine: dice mechanics! While there are plenty of innovations scattered throughout the system and setting of Asylum, we're not trying to reinvent or complicate what already works.
We just got back from running several very promising playtests at Gen Con, so this is probably a good time to start explaining our playtest process and what we've learned so far from it. I'm looking forward to going over the specific details and lessons from the playtests, but there's too much to cover in just one article. Instead I'll address each lesson in regular Design Diaries here. This time I'm just going to cover the general goals of our system and playtests.