Here's an errant thought that's dancing in the mix of all the other crap that's occupying my brain. These are design goals for a game that, unlike FLFS and Agora, can be run quickly and easily, without much prep or expertise. If I can design a game that fulfills these, said game could be played instead of Monopoly, at the drop of a hat, anytime and anywhere.

  1. Plays in one two-to-four hour session
  2. Character Generation uses Chinese Menu (one from Column A, one from Column B) and takes five to ten minutes
  3. Character Generation employs significant flags
  4. Character Generation becomes Situation Creation through play
  5. GMless/GMful
  6. Uses handy tools: no polyhedral dice; perhaps playing cards
  7. Hand of playing cards = resources = diminishing resources = pacing
  8. Play can continue "next session" with different players

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Oh my god Josh! I've been

Oh my god Josh! I've been trying to design a game meeting these exact guidelines for years. Wanna team up?

Here's what I've got so far (roughly):

You can choose a 'total' to reach limits the length of the game. The total is based on the concept of a (possibly) numeric tension¹ level.
Instead of a menu, you use preprinted card. Pick one blue, three red, two white and et cetera. (Color Coding = Columns)
Each 'chara generation' card is topped with the flag / hook / key / driver the chara has.
Turn the cards upside down changing them from chara traits into story elements: Cliffhanger, Deathtrap, Discovery, Chekhov's Gun, Deus ex Machina, Eavesdropping, Flashing Arrow, Flashback, Foreshadowing, MacGuffin, Pistol Effect, Plot Coupon, Plot Point, Plot Twists, Plot Voucher, Quest, Red Herring, Reversal, Unexposed Content, Villain or et cetera (for examples).
If desired one player's 'hand' could be nothing but story traits making them the gamemaster (would that be dealer?). That player's 'job' is to form play into more of a story purely by nudging play towards themes or directions.
You could even take the idea of preprinted cards a step farther and make it a collectable card game (good for sales).
Make a player's 'hand' his tools to bring the play over to resolving his or her own displayed (or disguised) characteristics cards. Whoever resolves the most of their characteristics becomes the central chara in the climax point of play and everyone faces their 'biggest problem.'
And you can make the cards simple enough to jot them down as a 'chara sheet' to play again later.I was setting it up to land between How to Host a Murder and Steve Jackson's old microgames (Undead, The Awful Green Things From Outer Space, Battlesuit and others at in terms of market audience. That's pretty Monopoly to me. And a little Once Upon a Time and Whimsy Cards too.

If you don't want to collaborate, can we at least 'talk shop' about these projects?

Fang Langford

¹ As each 'scene' is played out, it can only transform, redirect or escalate the tension level. Once that level reaches the predetermined limit, the game moves to crisis, climax and resolution.


That sounds absolutely

That sounds absolutely awesome, Fang. My only hesitancy is on the custom-made cards. Those things don't come cheap, unfortunately. Do you know where you might manufacture them?

Otherwise, the design itself sounds promising!

Sorry for the delay

Sorry for the delay Jashua!

Well, the worldwide card publisher is Carto Mundi (they made most if not all of the Magic: the Gathering cards and almost all tarot cards).

As for prototyping, I've experimented with a lot of ideas (especially ones you can run through a laser printer). My earliest attempt was buying blank playing cards (available at any good magic shop) and using rubber stamps (from stamping places) with permanent ink. I was looking for one of those dial-a-word stampers from office supply when I thought of printers. My first printer attempt went with standard mailing labels on cheap playing cards (labels were free and cards were $1 a box), a little thick and work intensive but serviceable. My most recent attempts used die-cut, perforated blank business cards, a little small, but tough and easy to replace.

As for producing for the customer, I'm almost certain that one of the PoD servers offers playing cards. I'll have to look into that. However, money isn't my interest in design. I'm hooked on the actual act of design and test.

Still interested? I know I am.

Fang Langford

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Hrrrmm. That's annoying. I

Hrrrmm. That's annoying. I read your blog through the LJ syndicated account and posted there. Didn't show up here. Never occured to me the syndication was one way (should have, though) and now I've forgotten my post and can't seem to recover it from my friends page. I'll have to try to remember what I said, now.


Hi Josh, I remeber a bit

Hi Josh,
I remeber a bit from my lost post:

1) I had been trying to come up with household items a typical person would have in abundance. I still haven't come up with anything better than what I had a few weeks ago, which was eating utensils. Most people have multiple spoons, forks, and knives lying around. I'd even bet quite a few gamers have unuses chopsticks squirreled away. I suppose the different utensils could represent different qualities or resources.

2) You could fairly safely work with 2d6, as most people could raid said Monopoly box, or whatever else is handy.

3) In view of homemade tools, how about a spinner? You could include a cutout to be pasted onto a piece of cardboard provided by the players. A second piece of cardboard cut into a thin strip and attached with a brad or thumbtack to the center of the printout would provide a reasonable randomizer. (Been playing Hi Ho Cherry-O with my daughter, can you tell?)

I think that was the original post. Next time, I'll know better.