Over on the Play This Thing blog, master game designer Greg Costikyan describes "My Life With Master:" "as seminal a work in the history of tabletop role-playing games as Frankenstein was for literature."
Imagine a gothic countryside burg, like the quite Bavarian steppes where Victor Frankenstein might have lived, or the brambly swamps of Dracula's castle. We're talking Eastern Europe before communism, when science was just kissing the brittle lips of superstition and stable poverty. The game begins by the group collectively designing a "Master", the otherworldly antagonist who dwells in some archetypal castle or haunted house or ancient catacomb. This master has some kind of M.O. - discovering the secret of eternal life, rejuvenation, astral projection, or maybe just a nice skin suit, get creative. Then the players design their characters, minions of this master, complete with a tragic flaw and constrained power. Then the real game begins.
The game is based on a few variables: Love, Self-Loathing, Weariness, and Fear. If you have any game design experience, you may be experiencing a form of cerebral arousal right now - we're talking about a spreadsheet soaked in procedural theme, yet elegant to the scale of Euclidean geometry. This sets the incentives for players to act a conflict of love versus self-loathing, where doing work for the master increases self-loathing, and making overtures to villagers increases love. Remember in Bride of Frankenstien when he smokes the pipe with the blind man? Stuff like that, but in the context of your character design, and acted out with your own pathos.
Eventually the contours of the dynamic, the way the spreadsheet algorithmically tends to move, puts the dramatic arc toward a climax, with one minion swelling with enough love to rebel against the master. Then everything goes crazy, the villagers start attacking the minions, and the fight with the master goes back and forth. After the master is killed, each character gets their own epilogue scenario based on what their numbers were at the finish.
Rough metal dice, fresh off the forge! Dice so heavy and clunky and sharp you can ruin tables and kill cheats without brandishing a dagger. But is this ren-faire fun fair play? I decided to put them to the test and see how random they were. I’m not great at math, so I’ll just show […]
Vince Weaver is reimplementing Portal — “the cake acquisition simulator released in 2007” — to the Apple II series of computers, bit by bit — inspired by the fact that the Apple II hires mode has “the perfect Aperture Science orange and blue colors.” He’s released a disc image of the game in Apple Basic, […]
I think someone on the BBS mentioned that Manifold was a fun origami puzzle challenge (thank you, whoever you are!). I ordered it on Amazon for $8. It’s a pad of 100 square sheets of paper, printed with white and black squares on one side, and nothing (except folding guides) on the other side. The […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]
With countless applications for modern life, artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most in-demand fields of study in tech. Beyond modelling human decision making processes and learning abilities, AI can be used to analyze massive volumes of data and create complex interactive systems.This Machine Learning & AI for Business Bundle made mastering these concepts possible for […]