I’m introducing a group to Ars Magica—they’d all heard of the game but not played it. Two out of three of this group are generally more comfortable with storygames, and one of them was primarily interested in Ars Magica because of the shared/rotating GM structure. After our first session, they asked if it would be possible to have a flexible free-form magic system like Ars Magica in a Powered by the Apocalypse game.
I of course immediately said ‘no’, because PbtA doesn’t have difficulty levels, and doesn’t even really have rated skills in most iterations. Generally, either you can do a thing or you can’t, and if you can do it you do it just as well as someone else does.
One of the things I prefer to put into a Game Chef entry is at least a little bit of commentary on the design–process, reasons, maybe discarded ideas. This year, I didn’t have time, so I’m putting the commentary up here.
First of all, here’s a link to my Game Chef 2013 entry, (D)Evolution Terraforming, Inc.
The mechanics are inspired by Swords Without Masters, Durance, and Zero, with a significant helping of my own ideas, and with the number of scenes for a game based on my experiences playing Fiasco and Project Ninja Panda Taco.
The setting & tone are inspired primarily by Office Space & Hyperdrive, perhaps salted with a few bits of Brazil, Fawlty Towers, and Red Dwarf.
Now on to the notes.
I just sent off an email to the person outside of the designers who best knows Four Colors al Fresco. I’m trying to polish a couple rough edges (Masterminds, character advancement, gaining Storypath cards), and hoping he can put together a playtest group and help me out. But if anyone else out there can do the same or has played before and discovered/invented a solution—or just has an idea from reading this—please feel free to chime in.
Following is the slightly-edited message I sent.
Well, as usual, I lost when we played Mechaton. In fact, this time around, I didn’t just not-win–I was the first to be eliminated, and was the only one to end the game without a single mech still standing, and not even my own station still on my side.
Mr. Green, flexin’ his claws
And I had a blast getting there! I’m not sure whether that speaks to the awesomeness of Vincent’s game, or just to the awesomeness of blowing up little Lego robots with other little Lego robots, but I never fail to have fun with Mechaton, no matter how the game goes.