[Make Game$ Fast] Sugarfighter Black by Joe McDonald

edited October 2007 in Story Games
Sugarfighter Black says it's is a game about 'unsustainable experimentation', but really, it's about kicking ass and taking names. The characters are drug-enhanced supersoldiers who are running out of drugs. With just 90 pills left, they have the barest chance of revenge against their creators.

The system is straightforward. Players set Goals they want to achieve and another player sets Obstacles against them. The player and opposition are dealt cards and look for reds (worth a point) or face cards (also a point - so a red queen would be worth 2). Failure at this point leads to fatique which reduces the player's hand later on. The opposition has a set number of cards they can add for threat or difficulty.

The player can add drug cocktails, which are really nifty. You buy little packages of bonus cards, draw from three flavors of pill - Body, Mind and Kill. Say the player needs three cards to give them a chance against a tank. They spend 3 pills as a base, then add 2 Body and 1 Kill for a cocktail called 'Hulkout'. It grants armor and extra strength. Reusing the cocktail is cheaper than creating a new one, but as it's so broadly useful, the discount is just one pill. A +3 card cocktail with a narrow use would get a 2 or even 3 pill discount.

The setting as written is undeveloped but looks like a wacky version of now. The text notes that gonzo elements brought in are down to the group's choices.

What do I think? There's not enough Sugarfighter Black! 5 pages is barely a taste. I'd like to see this game develop into a hard-hitting 15 page game I can drag to demos - I'd like to see more GM-rotatey competitive games.

I'd like to see more scene mechanics, perhaps a way for characters to snowball bonuses from one scene to another. I'd like more background for the world. And I'd like more of a system around goals - perhaps break down a major goal into sub-goals, one of which has to be personal, one of which has to be a bloodbath. And I'd be interested to see some personality, issue or motivation systems. And perhaps shared goals addresses by multiple PCs.

Altogether? Tasty game. I want more.


  • Thought: as things stand, pills are the only thing risked. If the characters are spies (rather than soldiers out in the field), what else would they risk?
  • I have no plans to father children. But if I do, the first shall be named Sugarfighter Black.
  • I played my first game of Sugarfighter Black with a roommate the other night. It was fun.

    We drank a fair bit while playing, which informed a ridiculous narrative.

    Here are the things that worked:
    -Creating cocktails was often pretty cool. Patrick made one called Jellyfighter, which made you jellylike which improved your fighting abilities while submerged underwater or in liquid. He used it to fight off the fuel pirannahs.
    -Pacing was about right. Every goal had 1-3 Obstacles before the Goal itself. So 2-4 conflicts per turn, with an average conflict being 2-5 minutes.
    -I felt like 5 discretionary cards for the opposition didn't work that well. It should be like 6 or 7.

    I agree about what you're saying about staking more than pills on conflicts. So, I'm proposing a solution:

    Flashbacks and Flashforwards

    Once per Goal, a player may frame a Flashback or a Flashforward.

    Flashbacks are scenes which justify your revenge. If you're in a giant mech battle with your previous overseer, you can Flashback to your training, when your overseer taught you to never think twice about killing someone. Then, you flash back to the action, and get an extra card towards this battle.

    Flashforwards put something at stake for the conflict. If you're in a giant mech battle with your previous overseer, you can Flashforward to his aides dragging your daughter through a cold corridor. If you don't get there in time, she could be tortured or killed! Then, you flash back to the action, and either:
    a.) Get a card towards this test (if it's your Goal test), or
    b.) Get two cards toward your Goal (if this is an Obstacle).

    I'm not sure if that is exactly 100% what I want, yet... but the basic idea is that both Flashbacks and Flashforwards make it personal, but involving revenge and personal stakes into the ass-kickery... but they do so in a way that doesn't make it all about your sucky, whiney feelings.

    Oh, in case you were wondering, our Goals and Obstacles were:


    1.) Get the CIA's secret mech,
    by crawling through their fuel lines (after all, they always check the air ducts).
    a.) But, fuel pirannahs attack!

    2.) Defeat the President, revealing the true mastermind behind it all!
    by fighting a mech death match with the President at his Hawaiian vacation home.
    a.) But Hawaiian elephant riders attack you in the jungle,
    b.) and even though you beat them, a jungle assassin tracks you through the wilderness

    3.) Defeat the supercomputer, and assimilate into its mastermind program,
    by manually overriding its commands, in the command room.
    a.) But first you must pass through the malfunction room!
    b.) And even though you pass through it, you must work your way through the defeaning echo chamber!
    c.) But your echoing footsteps bring the attention of the trained ninja snipers in the next room!


    1.) Kidnap my daughter back,
    by disguising myself as someone authorized for entry into the CIA Special Holding Compound.
    a.) But there are extensive security measures, including a fingerprint scanner
    b.) And even though you get past that, there are guards with lasers and super keen reflexes!

    2.) Train my daughter in the ways of the ninja,
    by stealing the world's largest diamond from a giant museum.
    a.) But the museum curator appears with gun in hand!

    3.) Use our ninja skills to wage war on this Japanese mega-corporation,
    by blowing up their factory!
    a.) But ninjas attack, testing our ninja steel against their ninja steel!
  • Nice one, Joe!

    The Flashes look like a clever solution. Really clever, as they're both so focued on the task at hand: tasty vengeance. I'm still impressed that you snuck through a game with no character traits at all.

    And I'm glad you got to see how the obstacle cards worked. Presumably the whole thing took 90 minutes?

    a.) But Hawaiian elephant riders attack you in the jungle,

    What a cliché!
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