I've been working on a storygame called Blade Bind since the start of the year, since just after the Shinobigami Kickstarter funded. It's no coincidence; I've always felt more comfortable writing quite rigid, almost board-gamey rules structures, and Shinobigami really showed me that it's possible to structure a fun, energetic game that generates great fiction around a simple structured rules-first approach.
I've been wanting to talk about Blade Bind on Storygames for a while now, because I think it may appeal to a lot of people here, but I've been holding back because I didn't really need any help with the rules and didn't want to seem like a scummy self-promoter. But now that I've got the game in its almost-final form, I'm bursting with enthusiasm and want to tell everyone about it! Its direct storygame ancestry can be traced back to Shinobigami (basic approach), Eternal Contenders (GMless, fighting, card-based) and Wield (the concept of weapons "wielding" their heroes).
Blade Bind is set in the modern world (although it's largely setting agnostic), but where people with strong convictions can attract the attention of powerful supernatural entities known as Blades. A Blade manifests as a six foot long sword with a giant eye. It will offer to give you the power to achieve your goals, and if you make a deal with it you become one of the Chosen — someone with the power to raze a skyscraper or an army, and who can shrug off the effects of lesser weaponry. Only another of the Chosen can stand in your way.
The game is GMless, designed for one-shots, character-vs-character, eschews "stats and skills" for "relationships and goals", has a power-vs-control gauge that inexorably steers you towards self-destruction, and uses a deck of regular playing cards to resolve Duels — which are the only form of mechanised conflict resolution.
The setup is a bit like Fiasco. You end up with a complex, conflicted situation, and the game explodes out of the blocks from the first scene. While there is a gradual build-up of Power as the game progresses, the stakes are high right from the beginning.
The duelling system is informed by my several years' experience learning historical European martial arts (specifically, the English backsword of George Silver, but the Blades are more like longswords). I've worked hard to make an abstracted system that really gives the feel of the back-and-forth of an actual swordfight without bogging down in fiddly details. Whoever wins the fight gets to either decide the fate of a focal plot device, or they can rewrite a goal for themselves or one of their defeated foes. This is a bit like rewriting Fates in Tenra Bansho Zero, in that it's a mechanical choice that creates new motivations and a revised picture of who your character is.
I've done quite a bit of internal playtesting, including white-room tests of the duelling system and the Special Techniques each Blade has, and also several full-length games. I'm at the point where I'm happy with the current form of the rules, and I've even done most of the layout. I still have several illustrations to do, as well as the final record sheet, and I'm playing about with setting up a custom deck of cards.
I'm strongly considering running a small Kickstarter for it in the next few months, using DriveThruRPG's at-cost coupons to keep things as simple as possible for my first Kickstarter, and to keep the final costs as low as possible for the backers. I partly want to run a Kickstarter so I can crowdsource a bunch of eyes on the rules and hopefully get some feedback from external playtesting so I can polish the book to a shine before I release the PDF and POD versions to the public. I'd love to raise enough money to pay for an editor, but apart from that, the KS would mostly be a pre-order system.
So... yeah! That's where I'm up to. I don't really have any questions for you guys, but if anyone likes the sound of it and would like to know more, I'd love to talk about it and answer your questions! I would also welcome any advice or feedback on my Kickstarter plans. I'm not too fussed if it doesn't fund though, as I can always finish the book off and release it myself like I did with my last game.