(Ramble warning.)

You know what’s great? Buying a game, being a fan of it, being able to go to your friendly local game store and get more for that game and incorporate it into your play, reinvigorating it and helping you keep enjoying this game you love. Or maybe you don’t even have to buy it, if the designers release it for free—less support for the FLGS, but easier on your wallet. Or maybe you don’t have to buy it, but you do have to do something for it, some kind of weird activity.

At this point, we’ve moved beyond the “single simple perfect game” vs. “supplement treadmill” debate, I hope. The problem isn’t supplements, it’s poorly-thought-out supplements, it’s supplements with too many moving pieces to interact with the core and the other supplements cleanly. It’s supplements produced cynically to keep milking a property.[1] But neither is a single-book game perfect. If the book is a seed to the random number generator of our brains, we sometimes want or need other books (or content) to get more seeds to get more outputs.

So, we’ve started to see some games doing an interesting thing, making free well-considered content that fits in and adds to the replay value of the original game. The two big examples of this are, to my mind, Fiasco‘s playsets and Apocalypse World‘s playbooks.[2]

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  1. Let me say: I don’t think that any but the second of these claims can be made substantively, but the other two are at least perceived to be the case sometimes. []
  2. While the names are very similar, they’re importantly different: playsets are collections of content for different settings, to be used one-at-a-time in each game. Playbooks are types of character, to be combined in the same game with the other playbooks and with the playbooks in the core Apocalypse World book. []
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So we recently had a request from the brilliant @strasa for a post about meshing multiple arcs together when running Becoming Heroes. It was always our intention that it be done, as closely as possible, to give everyone an epic sense of destiny at work. Nothing is as iconic to fantasy as this particular story structure—that everyone arrives at the crossroads of destiny at once, at the same time, for one last final battle between good and evil.

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So a thing came up on the Googles (over here) and it reminded me that we had not, in fact, posted about our experiences running a booth at Gen Con. This oversight will now be remedied, if only to pay homage to my feet.

Running a booth at Gen Con was simultaneously exhausting, exhilarating, manic and fun. Much like game design, actually. Also, like game design, it’s difficult to relate the experience—like an idea that’s just too big to convey all at once. I happen to love lists, so here’s a list of the top ten things (in random order) we learned by doing. Fair warning: this is all based on our experiences, and may not match other people’s experiences for the matter. Also, it’s based on running a first time, 10’x10′ booth for selling RPGs. So, caveats in place, here’s our list.

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So Kit keeps pestering me to write, and since tonight was particularly productive for developing Piece of Work, I thought I should write about that. Also, I’m in a writing sprint with the indefatigable Nora Last, so apologies if this ends up rushed. It’s for a good cause.

Tonight we settled out how motives work, figured out how to do gear and money, and fleshed out how cyberization and longevity research play into the work economy. We’ve come a long, long way with Piece of Work, and I’m really fortunate to be working with two brilliant designers. What started out as the “most trad game Transneptune will ever write” has become a thing of indie sensibilities after all.

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