[Svart av kval, vit av lust] I will answer any questions

edited January 2013 in Story Games
So after being away from the RPG internet for quite a while, I come back, and I go on Story Games and I read the thread What was new and fresh in 2012?. Little did I expect that Rickard had been talking about my game Svart av kval, vit av lust, and some people are interested in it. But of course it's not easy to find anything in English about it, and the threads that explain the rules are hard to understand even without the filter of Google Translate, since the game changed a lot during development and playtesting. The game has developed in forum threads, PM discussions and personal discussions in playtests, on conventions and all sorts of other places. Most people who play it have played it with me at some point, or at least with someone who has played with me, and the rules are mostly spread by word of mouth.

The game is an intrigueful, angst-ridden vampire game where the characters struggle with their inner Beast, which grants them powers but threaten to take control and make them do horrible things to the people they love.

So if anyone wants to know the rules, they're pretty minimalist and quickly explained, but it's easiest to explain it through conversation, and I won't bother writing them out in English if nobody's interested. The thread suggested that some people might want to know about the game, and I'll answer any questions and explain anything and everything gladly. I'll copy Rickard's description of the game which is pretty accurate:
Svart av kval, vit av lust exist in several forum posts, and has mostly been spread by word of mouth. It's a game about vampires, their desires and their inner beast. It's a setting free and GM free game so you have to discuss an environment that has some sort of vampires in it. We've been playing in worlds like the Caribbean with voodoo priests as vampire hunters, and in a futuristic North Korea with bio-created vampires and a revived Kim Il Sung.

You take the roles of elder and younger vampires that are connected through a relationship map, and where a situation has come to change the status quo in the city. It's time put your agenda into work. All vampires has an anchor - a human - that they really care about. It's their last connection to humanity. To loose the anchor is to loose humanity. As you probably understand, the game is about putting a vampire's anchor in the way of anyone's agenda.

The conflict resolution is simple. Elder vampires always win over younger vampires, unless the younger ones let loose the Beast. The Beast is the violent side of the vampire and hate it's human side. It wants to be fierce. To create chaos and despair. It also wants to ridicule it's host. To unleash the beast, is to solve a conflict in the most violent way possible. This means that if the younger vampires wants to reach their agenda, they path must sooner or later be filled with blood.

The Beast always tries to get control over the vampire, which is done by the other participants commanding a player to do something violent, cruel or to do something that humiliate the host. The vampire may resist the urge, but must in that case take a token. At any time the vampire unleash the Beast to win a conflict, anyone may take away a token. That means the Beast is refusing and the vampire has lost the conflict.

I can give an example of what happened during a game at a convention. A young vampire's anchor was a human that he loved. During one scene, a participant gave him a Beast command by saying "Take her as yours". He sat for a couple of minutes, trying to make the love interest to answer his feelings. The thing is, he had something else going on (fulfilling his agenda), so if he got a token, it would mean that he forfeited his plans. He went through with the command, but left then the table shouting "I hate you". He came back after a visit to the loo and played on. :)

What I like with this game is that it with really small means can create strong feelings.

Comments

  • Okay, so Jerome Larre said to me in a whisper that he's at least curious about the rules, so I'll start to sketch out the basics. The name of the game is "Svart av kval, vit av lust", which means something like "Black with despair, white with lust" and comes from a poem called "Liliths sång" ("Lilith's Song") by Swedish poet Karin Boye. You can find the beautiful original here and a much less melodious English translation here.

    Structure
    I've outlined what the game's about above, so now I'll sketch out the rules. The game is GMless and very light on the mechanics. Play is structured in a way that should be familiar to seasoned indie gamers: The players take turns framing scenes, the non-PC characters are handed out by the scene framer (called the scene's "owner") to players whose characters aren't in the scene, and the scene's owner decides when to cut the scene. Players who do not play any characters at all in the scene can still affect it through the Beast Command technique, which I'll describe later. There is no endgame condition; play continues until the group feels like it's finished. If the game is meant to be a one shot, this should be specified and the story needs to be tied together at the end. There are no mechanical tools given for this, so players need to rely on "story feel" and communication inbetween scenes.

    Prep
    Before play can commence, the players will choose a setting and a situation. Based on this, they will brainstorm a number of roles which they bind together in a relationship map, amking sure there are plenty of pontential conflicts and instabilities. Then they pick a character each to play. Characters don't have stats, but each character has an Anchor. The Anchor is the thing keeping the vampire from becoming completely inhuman. The Anchor is always a person, but does not have to be human, i.e. a vampire can have another vampire, even another PC, as Anchor. It's important to stress to the players that the Anchor is very important to the vampire. The vampire feels genuine love, but not necessarily romantic love, towards the Anchor and will do almost anything in order to protect and help the Anchor. A vampire that loses their Anchor will quickly start to lose their humanity and become a monster, unless they meet a person that can become their new Anchor. I guess it's possible to have several Anchors, though it's never really come up in our games.

    Mechanically relevant actions
    There are two mechanically relevant actions the player can initiate from the "freeplay" state of the game: a Conflict and a Beast Command. Conflicts are power struggles inbetween physical characters in the fiction whilst Beast Commands are power struggles inbetween a PC vampire and their inner Beast. In addition, within the context of a conflict, a character may choose to Unleash the Beast.

    Mood
    All of these three techniques (Conflict, Beast Command and Unleashing the Beast) are associated with specific hand signs. The purpose of this is that "metagame" information does not need to be verbally communicated. Rather, a player can stay verbally within the fiction whilst signaling the mechanical technique the action described represents. For example, a player might describe their character as pulling a gun and firing upon another character, but if this is not accompanied by the hand sign associated with initiating a Conflict (raising a clenched fist and shaking it towards the other player), it does not trigger the conflict rules and the other player is free to react in any manner they see fit (such as dodging the bullet or describing that the shot misses). In this way, the mechanics are not engaged unneccesarily in cases where the players are merely adding color to the game, and one doesn't need to break the "mood" by clarifying what is and isn't a Conflict.

    "Mood" is important in the game and players are encouraged to ask each other questions about how things look, feel, smell and taste, in order to make themselves more vivid images. Descriptions should not only reflect what is happening, but also how it happens and what that means to the people involved.

    Conflict
    The Conflict resolution system is based on a strict hierarchy of who wins over whom. The only way to win a Conflict over someone higher in the hierarchy is to Unleash the Beast. However, if the character has repressed the Beast earlier (by refusing to obey a Beast Command), there is a chance that the Beast will refuse to help and the character is helpless. This is handled by a simple token economy in which you recieve a token every time you refuse a Beast Command and you remove one token when you obey a command. If you have at least one token when you Unleash the Beast, any player can reach out and take a token from you, which signals (again without the need for verbal communication) that the Beast refuses to help you.

    Social Conflicts
    Unleashing the Beast also means you gain access to the supernatural powers that vampires are endowed with. What these are depends on the flavor of the game, but they always at least include the power to dominate others through one's willpower and force them to obey. This is the only way you can have a "social conflict" mechanically. Usually talking is simply roleplayed and if you cannot roleplay your way to convincing the other person, your only mechanical way to enforce it is through domination (and thus Unleashing the Beast).

    Beast Commands
    Finally, Beast Commands are commands given by any player towards any PC. One cannot give Beast Commands to NPCs. Beast commands are direct and tersely phrased orders from the Beast that the character must choose to obey or not. The commands should be given in a clear voice whilst looking in the eyes of the player and pointing towards them with the entire hand. Commands should be short and they should be consistent with the nature of the Beast, which is egotistic, violent, cowardly, insensitive, sexually aggressive and sadistic. The character is always able to refuse the command, but doing so will weaken the character's power and cause them to lose conflicts in the future. Giving good Beast Commands is a difficult skill that takes some practice to master, so players should be encouraged to try it out, and it might take a session or two before some players get a feel for when to use them, how to phrase them and what scope to give them.

    ---

    I realize I haven't given enough information above to play the game, but there should be enough for you to decide whether or not you want to play it, and enough for people to draw inspiration from if they have similar projects. I'm perfectly happy to keep explaining all of the details and all my tips and tricks to make the game run well, but I don't want to write if nobody's interested. So if you want to hear more, let me know.

    Oh, and so we're clear: I consider any game text or explanatory text like the above, and of course any and all of my ideas, to be free and open for anyone who wants to do anything with it. If you guys like this, do whatever you want with it. Steal ideas, print out the texts, add your own ideas and make a book and sell it for profit, translate it to German and claim you wrote it. I have no problems with any of that. In the cases where I go all the way and layout, print and publish games, I sell them on a POD site for the production costs and I won't make a dime even if you did want to buy my games.
  • I'm very interested. Keep going!

    I particularly like the hand signals as marker for "game mechanics now engaged"; Ben Robbins' new game Kingdom also does this in spots and I thought it was swell.
  • Same here. It's really interesting.
    A few mechanics are a bit "unsettling" for me, but some others are quite elegant (token economy, hand signal...).
  • edited January 2013
    Quite interesting indeed, not sure my group is ready for a GM-less game yet, they are currently enjoying their first ever contact to an indie game. But I would buy that book in pdf if it were available in english.

    Mind if I make a suggestion? Kickstart or IndieGoGo tyhe english version, if there is interest you get money to pay for editing, layout and art, if there ins't you won't need to start writing. :)
  • edited January 2013
    Mind if I make a suggestion? Kickstart or IndieGoGo tyhe english version, if there is interest you get money to pay for editing, layout and art, if there ins't you won't need to start writing. :)
    Actually, if there'd be any layout and illustration, I'd most likely do it myself. I'm not a professional or anything, but I like the DIY factor. There's actually a gallery here (WARNING: contains nudity) with a few of the photomanips I've made for the game.

    Anyway, I'm not gonna say it's never gonna happen, but in general I'm not a big fan of static game texts. This game is small enough to be communicated through forum threads like this one, through play reports and through actual play. It's a more efficient way of communicating it, it's more fun for me to get some feedback and it frees up time for me to do the things I enjoy.

    ---

    So hey, thanks for the kind words and for showing some interest. I'll write out the details later tonight.
  • Can you tell me how to think to create good beast commands?
  • Simon, since the actual mechanics are so simple, would you talk a bit more about the organizing of play?

    For example, a bit more about the hierarchy, relationship map, character creation, and so on.

    Does someone usually have part of this done ahead of time? Are there tips and hints for facilitating this? Are there some written up suggestions/guidelines/best practices for a person facilitating this or introducing it for the first time?
  • Can you tell me how to think to create good beast commands?
    Gladly!

    A good Beast Command should come organically out of the situation. Usually, Beast Commands are usually reactive rather than proactive. The vampire doesn't walk down the street and then suddenly rip somebody's throat out for no reason (unless they're hungry and wounded). There's usually something in the situation that awakens the beast and makes it try to break out. When the vampire is threatened, the beast will want to respond with either overwhelming force or by crawling in the dust, prostrating itself or fleeing, depending on who's doing the threatening. It will then never forget it and try to wreak vengence when the opportunity presents itself. When it has the upper hand, it will take pleasure in dominating and torturing people. When the vampire feels love, the Beast feels aggressive sexual desire (and probably doesn't care much about the vampire's sexual preferences, either). Sex is a power game to it, a way to show its dominance. The thing about the Beast isn't that it's inhuman, but rather that's it's scarily human. It's all of our basest, most vile impulses and primitive urges. It's the id, it's Mr. Jekyll. It's something that's within all humans, that makes people steal, murder and rape, but amplified and given superpowers.

    So some of the situations that might be good triggers for Beast Commands are:
    * In any threatening situation, either socially or physically
    * When the vampire is weak, wounded or tired and the beast wants to feed
    * When the vampire confronts someone weak and there's a way to take advantage of the situation for pleasure or profit
    * When the vampire faces great beauty or purity

    So that's sort of the mindset. Game-wise, one should be wary of trying to use the Beast Command to satisfy one's "it'd be cool if you did this" impulses. That's not what it's for. If you want to make a suggestion, by all means, do it, but don't do it through this technique. And be mindful of when people comply and when they refuse. If they comply, the next time you should up the ante. When they refuse, the next time you should dial it down slightly. This will keep it on the angst-ridden edge of indecisiveness. Also, you can sometimes try double-whammy commands. Order the vampire to "Kill the priest" and then if they comply, follow up with a "Burn the church". Do this sparingly, though. In general, a scene shouldn't have too many Beast Commands. Let people play them out and explore the consequences. If you feel they're trying to fast-forward through it, you can ask questions like "How does this make you feel?" (assuming you know your players and can read your group and you're sure the player isn't fast-forwarding because they're really uncomfortable in a non-enjoyment kind of way).
  • edited January 2013
    Simon, since the actual mechanics are so simple, would you talk a bit more about the organizing of play?

    For example, a bit more about the hierarchy, relationship map, character creation, and so on.

    Does someone usually have part of this done ahead of time? Are there tips and hints for facilitating this? Are there some written up suggestions/guidelines/best practices for a person facilitating this or introducing it for the first time?
    Well, there's not that much written down, no. There are bits and pieces in forum posts, but no fixed lists that you print out and start from. Here's how the prepwork is done:

    There's no prep done ahead of time. The players start by discussing the general setting of the game, what vampires are like in this setting, and decide on a starting situation. The starting situation is something that will trigger the story. It's important in one-shots and shorter games, less important in campaigns. Basically, it's an event that breaks the status quo. It's kind of like the "tilt" from Play Unsafe, if you've read it. Here are some starting situations I've played :

    * The old vampire has died and now there's a power vacuum. Also nobody knows who killed him.
    * A new group of vampires have infiltrated the city and is causing humans to pay attention.
    * A famous musician has been made into a vampire and the media is running all sorts of speculative stories. He's loose and wild and nobody will take responsibility for him.
    * Three vampires are the only ones known, and have been for hundreds of years. Now one of them has made a new one.

    Rickard has played in his group with some pretty crazy situations involving, I believe, a vampire Kim Il-Sung in the future and one about Julius Caesar, I think. A good starting situation is unstable, that is, it cannot continue unchanged, and it shouldn't be too obvious how it will turn out.

    After a situation has been agreed on, the players make up some roles and draw relations between them. A good idea is to draw the relationships in triangles, so A relates to B, relates to C, relates to A. These triangles usually make for interesting dynamics. The map should contain interesting conflicts and should make sure most or all roles are involved in more than just one thing. Just like a triangle is a good shape, a star with one central character and lots of peripheral ones is a bad shape. Also make sure there are some real agendas in the map. Don't just put a bunch of "Doesn't like X" in there, write "Wants to overthrow X" or "Suspects X of murdering her sire" or even better "Is searching for evidence of X murdering her sire".

    Now the players choose their characters from the relationship map and they've got their characters. They need to come up with the Anchor for their characters. In a short game, the anchors should be in the back of people's minds when they make the map, since they need to be included in the story. In a longer game, it's ok to have more peripheral anchors, as they're likely to get involved sooner or later. Oh, and it's possible to play a human, if one wishes. Most of the rules don't apply to humans, though, and they lose pretty much all conflicts, so if you play one, it's with the understanding that you'll be somewhat of a supporting character.

    Since characters have no stats, the prepwork is now finished. Play can begin.

    ---

    Regarding the hierarchy, it goes like this:

    The beast unleashed
    Mobs and vampire hunters
    Elder vampires
    Younger vampires
    Humans
    The beast refusing

    This is the general list. It can be modified by the group in the setup stages sometimes. I think Rickard added a "Vampires in sunlight" one below humans, and I've inserted werewolves inbetween Elder and Younger vampires. The list is intentionally vague and where it's unclear (how many people constitute a "mob"?), it's up to the current scene owner to decide.

    Conflicts are very straight-forward. Like I said, as a basic rule, people higher on the list beat people lower on it. If there's a tie on the list (two younger vampires, for example), the winner is the one with the fewest number of markers. If there's still a tie, the scene owner decides. However, you can also, during a conflict, choose to Unleash the Beast. When you do that, you use the hand sign, which is a fist with the pinky and index fingers pointing out (like the "rock" sign). This means you make it to the very top of the list and win. However, if you have at least one marker in front of you when you Unleash, any player can reach across the table, pick it up and discard it. This means the beast refuses to help you and you lose the conflict.

    Two vampires cannot Unleash the Beast in the same conflict. If one of them does it, either they win or the beast refuses. This means that if you don't have any markers, you can win pretty much any conflict by beating the other one to the punch and Unleashing straight away. That's by design. Oh, and of course Unleashing the Beast will involve some ferocity. In physical conflicts it usually involves very brute and savage violence, and in social conflicts it will mean threats and domination.

    Speaking of social conflicts, remember what I said earlier about them not being possible unless you Unleash the Beast? Here are the rules that generally go for initiating conflicts: The parties must both be physically present (no using your influence from afar) and use physical actions to accomplish an instant goal. Fighting, running away, capturing someone, but also sneaking poison into someone's glass of blood or throwing away the evidence without getting seen can be examples of physical actions. Using one's vampire powers to dominate (through Unleashing) gets you a pass from the "physical" part, but you still have to be present and the goal has to be immediate. You cannot dominate someone to do something tomorrow, but you can order them to do something right now.

    ---

    Whiew, that's most of the rules, I think. Have I left any gaps? Any more questions? The only really imporant piece I can see is missing is the Anchors. They're very important, and the players need to know this. The Anchor is the vampire's link to their humanity. Lose the Anchor and you lose your humanity. Game-wise, they're also great tools for getting the vampires motivated. Place the anchor in harm's way and the vampire will be motivated to act, which is a surefire way to involve PCs who have gotten a bit sidelined in the story, or players who are a bit shy.
  • This sounds pretty cool. So I'll ask -- why can't you play the game without Anchors? (Are they there to inherently thematically tie the game to humanity alone, or is there something I'm missing?)
  • This is fascinating! Thank-you Simon for translating and explaining. I look forward to reading the rest.
  • This sounds pretty cool. So I'll ask -- why can't you play the game without Anchors? (Are they there to inherently thematically tie the game to humanity alone, or is there something I'm missing?)
    They're partly there as a thematic element—a counterpoint to the beast. But mostly they're actually for the benefit of the players. When playing vampires, it's easy to get stuck in an intriguing, cold-blooded machine, especially if you've played a lot of V:tM the way some people play it. This game will fail completely if the players can't relate to the PCs as human beings as well as vampires. There has to be some reminder of this. In an earlier version of the game, all vampires had a Passion, like art or religion or justice, that kept them human. This had the problem of not coming into play enough and when it did, it was mostly just "I make a picture and stare at it, contemplating the thing I have become" and it was static and unengaging. The Anchor is a person, and as such you can talk to them, take them capture, seduce them, confess your secrets to them, try to justify yourself in their eyes, betray them and be betrayed by them. It's so much more powerful and relateable. When the vampire interacts with their Anchor, we see them as a person, and that personhood is integral to the game. Playing a monster that commits horrible crimes is bland and unengaging. But playing a person that commits horrible crimes is scary and engaging. Especially when you get to see the softer side of that person.

    So the purpose of the Anchor is to make sure the player doesn't forget this. It's right there on your sheet. In fact, it's one of the very few things written on your sheet, since you don't have any stats. You love this person. Not in a twisted, monstrous and parodical way, but in a genuine and human way. It's possible to play a genuine and relateably human vampire without the Anchor, but it's harder, in my experience. The path of least resistance becomes disengaging and playing a cold, aloof, uncaring monster, even if you know that's not what you're supposed to be playing. That's what the Anchor is there for.
  • Damnit, I forgot one important rule about conflicts: NPC vampire characters count as having 0.5 markers. So if they're in the same category as a PC vampire and in a Conflict, the PC wins if they have no markers, but the NPC wins if the PC has at least one.
  • If I may add something about the Anchor:

    We (me, Rickard and a bunch of people living in or around the city of Norrköping, Sweden) play this game a lot and when we play there is always a collective ownership of NPCs. The toughest scenes, in my experience, are the ones involving the Anchors and especially when the Anchor is in some way violated by its "Ship" ("Ship"?). Even though your vampire character may be a murderous beast the Anchors seldom are and playing them will put you in a very exposed position where very dark scenes and feelings can be explored. Your Ship is genreally someone who wields power over you and when that person will use her influence to sell you out for his own benefits cool and deeply disturbing stories are created.

    Would you agree here Simon or would this be missing the point of the design?

    Anchors should always be in the line of fire, especially in one-shots.

    The collective ownership of NPCs is also something that has deeply influenced our games and often an often played NPC will have more of a central part in the story than any of the PCs. I guess this is a matter of taste but for me the pleasure of this game comes from exploring feelings and dilemmas and it doesn't really matter which character I use as a medium for experiencing that.

    ...and just to let you know, the mechanics are awesomely intuitive and flows beautifully into play without taking any verbal space or has the need to make cuts in the narration to determine stakes or to make The Big Roll. The dynamics created through the ability to alter power relationships in the Karma Resolution is brilliant, this truly is a game of dilemmas!
  • edited January 2013
    Rickard has played in his group with some pretty crazy situations involving, I believe, a vampire Kim Il-Sung in the future and one about Julius Caesar, I think.
    Some selections from what we've played.
    × Maya indians with vampires that could transform into animals.
    × A deadly disease has taken a grip of human kind and vampire blood is the cure for the disease.
    × Bio-engineered vampires with a reanimated Kim Il-Sung in a futuristic South Korea.
    × Vampirates of the Caribbean with witch doctors as vampire hunters.

    One thing that we (in my gaming group) think is important is to define a vampire (and vampire hunters) during the prep. That's why we had "a vampire in the sun" in the hierarchy during one game, because it fitted the setting. By suggesting a setting and then defining a vampire, you can create some far off settings. :)
  • Indeed, the definition of what constitutes a vampire has been an important part of our prep. We usually break the vampire down into:

    *Strengths
    *Weaknesses
    *Sleeping
    *Feeding
    *Creation of new vampires

    ... am I forgetting something?
  • Would you agree here Simon or would this be missing the point of the design?
    Of course, since NPCs are communal there's a lot of interesting play to be had when playing from their perspective as well, and a vampire mistreating their own Anchor (usually but not necessarily under the influence of the beast or another vampire) is going to be a powerful scene, both for the player of the vampire and for the one playing the Anchor.
    Indeed, the definition of what constitutes a vampire has been an important part of our prep. We usually break the vampire down into:
    That's a great list, Rasmus! I think I'll take that with me. This thread has motivated me to go back and maybe do some more writing on this and at least make a freely availible PDF of the rules and tips for playing. You guys have probably played this game, or at least the latest version of it, more than I have, and I'll be looking to you for tips on how to get the most out of playing it. I'll make a thread about it at rollspel.nu, but feel free to add any tips and tricks in this thread as well, for the benefit of our international friends. :)
  • edited January 2013
    You guys have probably played this game, or at least the latest version of it, more than I have, and I'll be looking to you for tips on how to get the most out of playing it.
    Should the document add our theories about active, reactive and passive relationships or are they in a too early state to be shared? The triangles in the relationship map work, but can create flawed games with purely passive and reactive relations. To make the document be less theoretical, I think it's better to give out example relations as the ones that you got in Utpost (eng. Outpost).
  • Simon, I find this discussion interesting not just because of the game itself, but also because I'm getting to watch you work through figuring out how to write this all down so that it can be handed off to someone who doesn't know you or the people you've gamed with and the game culture they come from.

    I hope I can pick up some tips from your experience.

    One part that is fascinating to me is that it seems very obvious that gathering a group of interested people togther and just plain playing this is someting that probably takes 10 or 15 minutes at most, maybe 20 if you do all sorts of discussion of what vampires are and what the setting is and actually draw out a rather complicated relationship map. It probably takes even less than that, and you're off and playing, and playing successfully.

    Watching you figure out how to write all of the relevent details out for making this simple concept work is something else entirely.

    It's also interesting watching what I assume are cultural differences coming into play. I think somewhere in the anglo-speaking gaming sphere, there's always some kind of thought process that ends with "...and now that I've got this nifty, fun thing, what can I do to make it into an attractive, sellable product?"
  • Should the document add our theories about active, reactive and passive relationships or are they in a too early state to be shared? The triangles in the relationship map work, but can create flawed games with purely passive and reactive relations. To make the document be less theoretical, I think it's better to give out example relations as the ones that you got in Utpost (eng. Outpost).
    I might have a paragraph or two in it mentioning the difference between a relationship that's an active agenda (i.e. the person isn't happy with the current situation) and one that's reactive (will defend the current situation) or passive (as I've said elsewhere, I don't think passive relationships should be on the map at all). But to go deeper than that is probably beyond the scope of the text, and some of the theories I've written about on WRNU have yet to see actual testing.

    I don't think I'll have a list of relationships to choose from the way I do in Utpost (for non-initiated, Utpost is a different game I wrote which is published, but only availibe in Swedish), but I'll probably have a list of good examples and maybe a couple of the sorts of relationships that don't work that well.
  • Simon, I find this discussion interesting not just because of the game itself, but also because I'm getting to watch you work through figuring out how to write this all down so that it can be handed off to someone who doesn't know you or the people you've gamed with and the game culture they come from.
    I find that games are best taught in conversations and I actually don't really like game texts. I write them because other people want something to refer back to, but often my games work like this: I come up with some good ideas and post on rollspel.nu (a Swedish forum). People there will say what they think and have some comments. Then I'll ruminate and discuss and change some things and do some playtests. At playtests, both at home and on conventions, I'll talk with people and change some things and then I'll make some new threads on the forum and after a while I'll have a good, playable game. Often there's a final post that says "Here's how the game turns out", but that post is for people who have followed the discussions and/or played the game with me, and it's not enough to learn the game from. At this point I feel happy about the game and I'm ready to play it some more and then move on. Sometimes people start to really like a game and they want me to write it down properly, and do a layout and publish the game. This part is not as much fun to me and I require a lot of encouragement to do all that work. At the moment, there's this game and another one that some people like playing and want me to publish, but I've got all sorts of new ideas in my mind and kinda want to move on.
    One part that is fascinating to me is that it seems very obvious that gathering a group of interested people togther and just plain playing this is someting that probably takes 10 or 15 minutes at most, maybe 20 if you do all sorts of discussion of what vampires are and what the setting is and actually draw out a rather complicated relationship map. It probably takes even less than that, and you're off and playing, and playing successfully.
    Actually it tends to take a bit more time than that. It can certainly be done in 15-20 minutes, but often people get stuck talking about details and discussing what would be cool. In the ideal situation, though, you're right; one should only need to hash out the bigger details and draw out the map and then get going, and it shouldn't need to take too long.
    Watching you figure out how to write all of the relevent details out for making this simple concept work is something else entirely.
    Well, since I'm not writing a game text and not selling anything, the only people who will need to understand this are people who are genuinely interested. And I'm here to answer any questions, so if there's anything that's unclear, just ask. I think I've pretty much explained the entire game now; there should be enough info there to play it should anyone wish to.
    It's also interesting watching what I assume are cultural differences coming into play. I think somewhere in the anglo-speaking gaming sphere, there's always some kind of thought process that ends with "...and now that I've got this nifty, fun thing, what can I do to make it into an attractive, sellable product?"
    It might be partially cultural, but partially personal. I do this for fun and I don't like to mix it with money. I've written dozens of games and published three and not once have I payed anyone for helping me, nor have I been payed for the sale of them. But that's a personal thing and I don't think that's representative of my culture. To me, roleplaying is very much a community thing and I don't have a lot of interest in people I've never met (IRL or on forums like this one) to play my games. I like meeting people and playing my games with them and if they've made games I love playing their games, too. But when it gets far removed from that, when the game is a product that I or they paid money for and that someone I don't know made, I lose a bit of that community feeling. This way I also mostly play games I wrote or games I've played with the designer, so I can be sure I'm getting all the good stuff out of them. Also it's cheap, since I rarely pay for games. To me, paying for a game is like paying someone else to have half of the fun for you.

    So, that's an off topic rant, but that's why this thread exists, I guess.
  • edited January 2013
    [cancelled]
  • edited March 2014
    The game about vampires and their intrigues has been written and published. For you who understands Swedish (or who can stand translation through Google), check out the game.

    Page 5 - Introduction
    What this is and it can sound like when playing it.

    Page 7- Preparation
    Creating a theme for the world and a relationship map with young and old vampires, humans, vampire hunters, relations, a starting situation, agencies, and anchors.

    Page 17 - Scene Framing
    How to frame a scene and play it out. There are suggestions of scenes.

    Page 23 - Techniques
    What the The Beast is and how others invoke it. The chapter is also about hand gestures and how to sustain the mood of the game.

    Page 29 - Conflicts
    The (dice less) hierarchy, which involves the Beast and the people on the relationship map.

    Page 39 - To Play Well
    Spontaneity, curiosity, accept and encourage, play honest, play boldly and vulnerable, be attentive and caring

    Page 43 - Details
    About the author, people and the artists who contributed and Creative Common information.

    Page 44 - Flowchart for conflicts

    Page 45 - Summary
    Suggestions for relations, starting situations and hierarchy.
  • Torva ran a game for us in London, and we had one suggestion to stop the Unleashing the Beast being an auto win race- when someone Unleashes, then while they win the conflict, their actions are narrated by the uninvolved/Beast players. So you might win, but do something terrible as well. And if you don't want to lose control of your character.. Then don't unleash.
  • edited March 2015
    That's a terrific idea! Will tell that to Simon when I meet him in Gothcon (during Easter).
  • The previous link to the game no longer works. Here's a new one: http://urverkspel.com/sakval-nedladdningar

    Click on "Svart av kval, vit av lust" for the game, and "Rollformulär" for the character sheet.
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