In the midst of my reviewing duties I forgot to check out my fellow Stockaders’ work:
Blood Tragedy by Timothy Fergurson is interesting. It’s a competitive storygame that seems like it could be played very quickly – like in twenty minutes, which is nice. Players choose a way they will die, a fatal flaw and who they might be in the royal court, and get 10 points in their stat. Each Act they have set duties – reveal a plot, have it foiled, build a new one etc – that they must complete, and basically one scene each to do it in. Each person gets to set a scene and if he doesn’t put your character in it, you have to roll to get there, and if you come on stage late, you’ll be at a disadvantage. So you’re generally going to want to pitch up your scenes as being all about you. Then you basically talk until somebody says or does something you don’t like, at which point you can roll off your stats plus a d10. There’s some complex rules about modifiers that I won’t go into and could use a table (it gets fiddly on the details), but you get the idea.
I like the idea of trying to kill yourself, and nice strict acts, in these regards it reads a lot like a theatresports game (and you’d need that kind of creativity to keep the momentum going). Unlike theatresports, however, it rewards blocking, because you win by denying your fellow players a way to die, or to die as they wished, or to get a word in edegways in a scene, or to not have their plans confounded. Some of these can be broken with die rolls, but since losers lose the stat they add to these, I can see a downward spiral leading to not much fun. I could be misunderstanding the rules though, I had a bit of trouble pushing through the middle.
I really like the concept of this, especially the idea that the setting and characters are disposable but the act structure is inescapable, and the inclusion of a simple scoring mechanism to build a winner, but the execution isn’t quite there. As it stands I think it might just collapse under abuse – but on the other hand, I’ve never liked competitive RPGs because they always tend to encourage blocking (like Robin D Laws’ Pantheon) and that just seems a way to kill story. I may yet be convinced, and I’m glad Mr Fergurson put the idea in my head again.
As an aside, many game designers were very very big on act structure, and while I’ve always love Shakespeare’s strucutre, I’ve always also liked how invisible it is in action. I find it interesting how many people chose to take the act structure and case it in stone as meta-rules. Does that come from reading plays more than watching them, or an emphasis on his act structure at school? Did everyone read the same wikipedia article? Curious.