[INGENERO] Its finished and available for print sale. Play like a HBO TV series!

edited October 2012 in Directed Promotion
Well, after tons of posts talking about RPGs to these forums, finally I have a game published of my own. Took over 2 years. Please ask me questions about it.

The website with a further summary available for download is here:


I wanted a game that supports play like Deadwood or Game of Thrones. A game where you could be Al Swerengen and the system would back that up. What does that mean?

* The characters and their disparate goals and motivations are the focus of play.
* Cinematic action.
* Emotion-charged drama.
* Character-driven pacing.

Ingenero’s system directly supports these vital ingredients. How?

* Character’s motives are strongly supported during character creation and integrate with the rest of the system.
* The game revolves around characters setting goals and going after them. Those goals can be things the characters wants to accomplish, or they can be things that feed the character’s emotional needs – internal goals.
* Internal goals are satisfied via dramatic scenes where characters use emotional manipulation and observation as their tools.
* There are two modes of play that switch when characters are close to achieving their goals, ensuring that play does not overly focus on events that arent that important.

Its $15 for the rules and five scenarios by different authors covering a range of genres, and the rules are unique and achieve what they are supposed to achieve.

I hope you like it.


  • How long is a decent campaign? How may times do you have to play it to get the intended experience out of it?
  • Sounds intriguing! I'll take a look.
  • @J_Walton Hi. I think it would take a few session to get used to the Ingenero way of doing things for some folks. For others, it might be close to what they already do instinctively - Ive tried to make the structure of the game support a player driven pace with the GM really just another improvising player with a set of NPCs rather than his own single PC. But while the system encourages the players to take control of focus and pacing, the GM still has 'traditional' GM authority in clearly defined area. (well I hope they are clearly defined).

    If I had to hang my hat on one thing, it would be the way social challenges are handled to achieve internal goals. Again, for some folks this might be the way they play already, but Im personally very happy with the way Ingenero makes it explicit with a few simple mechanics.

    If you visit the 'system' part of the website and download the 5 page summary, there is an imagined play example of a social challenge playing out between two small boys based on the Bogeymen scenario.
  • Cool. I'm not interested so much in the learning curve as much as how long an "arc" of play lasts. How many sessions should a group plan to play before wrapping things up and playing a different game?
  • edited October 2012
    @J_Walton Ah, thats a bit 'how long is a piece of string'. Ingenero doesnt have a predefined end-game/situation.

    I spend a couple of pages discussing arcs in the system - the types of arcs and how they play out. The 'situational' case where each session revolves around an independent short term goal, and an over-arcing backstory emerges over time. The straight 'campaign' where long term goals are established early and PCs strive to achieve those over as many sessions as it takes. The character-development arcs where the long term goal or situational sessions are really a backdrop for seeing how character motives develop and change over time, etc...

    So it depends on whether long term goals are achieved or players are generally satisfied with how plot or character has developed. Then pull the plug. Its an improvised game, so there is no 'plot' as such to complete.
  • BTW, there is a short discussion here about how Ingenero might play out in practice, demonstrating some of the ways Ingenero mechanics produce the play they were designed to produce.

  • Colored me intigued, Stef! The conflict mechanics in particular look really slick, though I'm normally not so fond of personality mechanics. Now if only I had $15 to fork over.

    About how long is the book? Are we talking cute little hip-pocket thing or doorstopper?
  • 70 pages of system and 100 pages of starting scenarios penned by various authors.

    The thing about the personality mechanics is they never take over your control of your character, and that goes for the GMs characters (NPCs) as well. They are there to inspire, not control.
  • Some examples of how internal goals and social challenges play out in Ingenero - this is one of the parts I am most pleased with. You can make other characters feel things, but how they act on those emotions is up to the player.

    Example: Wyatt is a little kid being bossed around by Bruce the big kid. Bruce has issues that make him act out - so he has a need to make himself feel better at others expense. So Bruce’s player sets an internal goal to get Wyatt to admit he is the leader because he is the biggest and strongest.

    Wyatt’s player might try to contest the challenge. That’s when we can use plays. Bruce would probably try to make Wyatt fear him (his best social play) - push him around, ask him “What’s he going to do if a monster comes calling, huh?” Lets say he wins and now Wyatt’s player is fearful of Bruce. But Wyatt decides not to show it (which reduces his soul by one point)

    Wyatt decides to make Bruce feel stupid. He says “There’s more to fighting monsters than muscles - it takes brains and you aint got any!“ He succeeds and Bruce feels stupid, and Bruce decides to act on that emotion, but not by backing down! He makes a physical play to wrestle Wyatt to the floor, and he succeeds easily. He says “Where’s your brains now Wyatt? How are you going to get out of this smarty pants?”

    Now Wyatt (being smart) tries to make Bruce ashamed - "Leaders don’t have to beat up on their team Bruce, if you were a proper leader you wouldn’t have to push people around!" He succeeds and Bruce feels ashamed. Bruce’s player decides to concede the emotion and he ruefully lets Wyatt up and apologizes.

    Now Bruce’s player decides to make Wyatt feel sorry for him - he knows Wyatt has the motive "take care of the other kids", so he uses this as a +4 advantage. He says, choking up, "Nobody thinks I can do anything!” And he succeeds. Wyatt’s player decides to accept the emotion and puts his hand on Wyatt shoulder "You can do stuff Bruce, but a leader has to lead by example, he cant make people follow him. If you can lead us properly, Ill follow you” So Wyatt’s player concedes the challenge to Bruce, and decides to modify his relationship motive with Bruce from "Bruce is a stupid horrible bully" to "Bruce needs to be handled the right way". (which gets him XP)

  • I'm confused! I thought this game was about making HBO shows, but the example is about kids bullying each other?
  • edited October 2012
    Im sure you could have a HBO show that includes bullying kids! The example is based on Bogeymen - one of the scenarios in the book. These scenarios present a situation and a bunch of interesting characters and play proceeds on the basis of improvisation from there.

    Here is another example based on the Goblin World scenario. It shows the other social skills in use - seeming, reading ,understanding, and leveraging motives, as well as emotional manipulation. Those are the five things total that you can do.

    Example: Blort the extortionist wants to convince Gurt the thief to steal a magical artifact from the wizard. He knows two things about Gurt – that he is distrustful due to previous dealings where Blort has got the better of him, and that he is very greedy. He hopes to use the latter to his advantage to offset Gurt’s distrust. What he doesn’t know is that Gurt is afraid of magic – a fear he keeps to himself.

    Blort’s plan is simple, to convince Gurt that the wizards lair is chock full of valuable items and that Gurt is quite welcome to the lot, as long as he returns the ‘trinket’. He really has no idea if this is true or not, but he tries his best to seem sincere and credible when Gurt reads the extortionist. He is unable to sense any falsehood.

    Blort expands on the glorious riches that wizards are reputed to horde, there for the taking! His intention is to make Gurt feel greedy . Gurt’s fear overwhelms his greed, and he is quick to make excuses. [Blort can make Gurt feel greedy, but Gurts player decides how his character reacts to it].

    Puzzled, Blort talks it out – wondering what is behind Gurt’s refusal. Is it simply his distrust of Blort? He makes an understanding play, and learns something new. Gurt seems very afraid of any and all magic. Curses! This is going to be harder than he first thought. Perhaps if he can make Gurt feel brave

    Taking everything into account, Gurt’s player decides, as tempting as the loot sounds, he is way too scared to enter the wizard’s lair.

  • edited October 2012
    @J_Walton although the example is about bullying kids, it shows the main way Ingenero supports dramatic showdowns such as commonly occur in HBO TV shows:

    1) Characters have diverse motives that can affect their behaviour, often these motives conflict.
    2) The main way motives impact the characters is through the characters choice of goals
    3) internal goals are just as valid as external goals, such as Bruces goal to have Wyatt admit that he is the leader
    4) The boys use emotional manipulation as their primary tools: trying to get the other character to feel a certain way
    5) The end of such a scene often results in characters modifying their motives as a result (tied to the reward cycle).
    6) Although characters can make each other feel certain ways if they have the skill, the player always has control about they will react to those emotions. This could be to hide veen the fact that they are feeling the emotion at all, if they have the reserves of soul (one of 2 stats in Ingenero) to pull it off.
  • Sounds cool! How would you compare/differentiate Ingenero from Primetume Adventures, which also simulates serialized TV narratives (including the HBO model, although it's inspired by a broader range of styles)?
  • Hi Felan. Ive been wracking my brains to try to deliver what the game is about for a pitch. This is what Ive come up with so far:

    ingenero five guiding principles

    Really, I should have listed PTA as an influence. A big influence. My bad. Its a great game but when I started to play it, I couldnt work out how to do it properly. It was so different from the games I had been playing up to that point, and I could see what PTA promised, but I couldnt get from where I was to where it was pointing. Our PTA games fell flat with a tantalising promise of what could have been.

    The type of game PTA wants to provide is more or less the same as Ingenero, but Ingenero tries to get there with different mechanics. Ones that I hope are easier to follow for 'story game noobs' such as myself.
  • Thanks! I think the pitch is great, and it sounds like you're presenting an interesting rejoinder to PTA. Looking forward to reading!
  • Go Blort! Always good to see an extortionist at work.
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