On this blog and on many of our promotional materials, we like to throw around the terms “Magical Realism” and “Urban Fantasy.” To us they more or less represent a spectrum with cerebral arthouse stories on one end and unforgettable action-adventure romps on the other. How do you balance your setting between such things? You do what any good sovereign should do: invest heavily in infrastructure.
First of all, if you’re reading this we want to say thank you. Thank you for your interest, your time and all the incredible input you've given us. This has been a fantastic project to work on and we feel like it’s going to get even better this year.
Time and resources are the great challenges of independent development. As we scramble to fit updates, releases and milestones around growing lives and unrelated careers we’ve had to take several breaks over the last two years. Again, thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for staying with us.
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.
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.