August 23rd, 2017

Kashira? Kashira? Gozonji Kashira?

#RPGADAY, day 23

Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?
I’m not a huge fan of really intricate page backgrounds — they tend to make it hard to read the text. (Tip: if you ever publish a PDF of your RPG, make it possible to hide the page background layer — customers who print and low-vision customers will thank you for it! If you want to know more, check out the tutorials on the Accessible Games website.)
That said, I really like the ‘Midnight’ version of The Sprawl, because it reinforces its themes so well. From page 1 until the end, you’re immersed in this 80’s-era futurism.
And the Great White Book edition of Nobilis (which you can see in this entry) has a very good layout as well: the text is easy to read, and the very wide margins leave enough room for little fiction vignettes that illustrate how the concepts being discussed work out in the game fiction. They are easily the best feature of the writing, because they spark the imagination.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.

Applying Blades-like flashbacks to The Sprawl

In Blades in the Dark, you play as a scoundrel, pulling of heists. And in The Sprawl, you play as a professional conducting raids on corporate facilities. There are… similarities in the types of actions that you undertake in those games — but they go about it in a different way. Now, The Sprawl, as a game, doesn’t really need any ‘fixing’: there are systems in place to deal with most of the drawbacks of traditional mission-based cyberpunk games (looking at you, Shadowrun!).
The worst thing about mission-based cyberpunk is the “analysis paralysis”: trying to come up with a contingency for every conceivable thing that could go wrong. I’ve played a Shadowrun module where we did this for about a year, before we even dared to progress to the action itself. (And of course, things all went to shit anyway.) The Sprawl fixes that by having a Legwork Clock: once it’s filled up, Legwork is done and you switch to the Action Phase. Rather, you would stop legworking before that. I write more about that in my review of The Sprawl.

And still, in my experience, the Legwork Phase tends to be kinda long and dragging. Blades has an interesting solution to this: there is no Legwork Phase. Rather, you just dive right into the heist. And if you need [gear] or [intel], you just have a flashback to describe how you got that. And I quite like that: you only do the flashbacks that you actually need, rather than do all the Legwork for the things you think you will need.
It’s still Legwork, it’s still happens, but you only have to play it out when you need it during the mission. The only thing that will be different is that the Legwork Clock (which can influence the Mission Clock) advances during the Action Phase, not before. Which means that the Mission Clock can jump up suddenly, while that should have been up there all along — maybe even to midnight, basically aborting the mission?
Still, I don’t see that as a big problem. Maybe the guards should have been on alert all along, but you only notice it when you’re already in and opening the locked door with the keycard (which you got through a flashback). Nothing too weird about that, and I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Crossposted from my blog. Comment here or at the original post.