Less is More

Perhaps if I write a great treastise on game design, that will be the title.

With Messiah, I did a very bad thing.  After talking with Paul Czege about Messiah, I came away with some very ambitious ideas.  (Incidentally, it should be stated that I don’t blame Paul.  Paul inspired me to really go for it with Messiah and I overreached.)  I wanted to write a game that modeled the world and then introduce a Messiah that would destroy the model.

I wanted to mechanically represent the ideas of a people and then show how the Messiah would swoop in and shatter them.  I had this idea of playing cards and deep moral and questions.  So I pretty much pitched the Game Chef version of Messiah into the trash and went about the business of creating this thing.

And then I had two disasterous playtests.

Did I mention they were diasterous?  I mean I played a game that really, really, truly, and horribly sucked.  I was shooting sacred cows right and left and getting bloody and it was just bad.  Even my wife said it was bad.  It was so bad that the dogs wouldn’t eat (which is my hallmark as a chef, by the way.  I’ve never made something the dogs won’t eat.)

So yesterday while waiting to pickup my son’s lunch I came to the conclusion that what I loved about Messiah was in the draft I threw away.  I had done a good job of laying down the infrastructure of the game I wanted to make, I just needed to chip away at what was good about it.

And so I’ve done that.

At least I’ve tried and I think I’ve got a pretty good start.

The basics follow sort of what I’ve been talking about.  Factions get four stats:

Resources: The ability to get things done
Infrastructure: The ability to ward off attack
Charisma: The ability to influence the people
Influence: The ability to influence the Messiah

There are five scenes available to players:
1.  Discipleship Scene (raises Charisma)
2.  Audience Scene (raises Influence)
3.  Recruitment Scene (steal another player’s personnel)
4.  Attack Scene (lower another player’s stats)
5.  Influence Scene (Ask the Messiah for a miracle)

Each of these scenes will hopefully have a good mechanical reason to happen.

I’m using a modified version of the Destiny Cube Fight! system (that’s the tongue-in-cheek name I’ve given the system for Mecha)  Attributes are rated in die steps (D4-D12)  Skills give you the number of dice you roll.  You roll against a success threshold of >=4.

You want more successes.

In the coming days I’ll talk about each scene and how they work.


~ by Chris Perrin on June 28, 2008.

One Response to “Less is More”

  1. I love your site! 🙂

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