I want to test-drive the Villages social bartering network (good description, Sebastian) that we've been discussing here
. For this purpose I thought up a lightweight, useful exercise from real world game design. As I've been discussing in the other thread, I think that the real stumbling block for formalized barter of work in a creative scene like this is that our needs for help are intermittent, occur randomly and differ widely in nature and seriousness. This makes for a very inflexible economy where currency circulates slowly and difficulty. For example, my exercise here is a bit of an artificial one in that if we weren't discussing Villages here, it wouldn't have occurred to me to seek outside help. I figure that it'll be useful for everybody to see how the system works, so as to enable us to decide whether it's worthwhile in the long term. Perhaps having an explicit currency encourages us to rely more on each other than we otherwise would, at least for those of us who usually work alone.
Before I explain the exercise I'm seeking help with, a paragraph about my game design project:
As many of you are probably aware, I have a particular albatross hanging around my neck in the form of a substantial game-writing grant that I received in 2008. The grant was for writing a radically beginner-friendly, all-ages roleplaying game called "Eleanor's Dream" for the Finnish market. Various matters (such as writing the third edition of TSoY, say) have delayed the project, but now it's finally coming to a finish after six different iterations on the game system and other associated shenanigans. Those who've been following the game's development may find it amusing that the final form has become what I myself characterize as "a narrativist OSR D&D".
Another paragraph in fact, I need to explain what the game is about:
Eleanor's Dream is about people from our world (the players of the game, in fact) who travel to a wondrous fantasy world on the other side of the veil of imagination. Think Narnia, Ultima games, H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands, Burroughs Mars novels - there's a rich tradition in fantasy literature for this sort of thing. The other world of the game is a sort of fairy tale environment that I'm calling "Sariola" (a mythical land of the dawning sun in Nordic folklore). It's a world of talking animals, trolls, witches, princes and princesses, that sort of thing. Visitors from our world are known as "dreamwalkers" to the Sariolans, some of whom revere these visitors as angels or gods. What the dreamwalkers do in Sariola is pretty simple, as it should be for an all-ages roleplaying game: you explore the environment, encounter funny NPCs and perhaps resolve some problems in the best traditions of morning cartoons; what the game is "about" will pretty much depend on what the players want to do. I'm writing the setting in a pretty experimental manner that I hope facilitates use and makes the material flexible, enabling the playgroup to scale the material up or down depending on the player base. (I'm not much of a believer in dumbing down stuff for children, so I'm not particularly writing Sariola as a children's fantasy world - it's as adult as it needs to be.)