Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dread and First Games for a 3 Year Old

Today I read through The Impossible Dream's Dread. For those of you who are not aware, Dread is a narrative horror game where the main mechanic is pulling blocks from a Jenga tower. The idea is that as the session progresses things get more tense as the tower becomes more rickety. If the tower falls while you are pulling a block, which you are required to do for actions you might fail at, your character is removed from the game. The book is very well written, and pleasant to read on its own. Using a Jenga tower to simulate the tension in a horror game is a stroke of genius.

The basic premise is so simple, and the book is so well written, that I was getting ideas for games the entire time. It is very easy to extend the game beyond the usual horror settings, and even beyond the idea of a small group working together. You could use it to have a game where some players played Mission Control and others are the astronauts in a capsule on the way to the moon. Obviously something will go wrong on the capsule and everyone will have to work together to set it right. Of course the people on the ground need to be put in danger, so we should have foreign agents seize control of Mission Control. Are they connected? Why did they choose this mission?

As the game allows for some player versus player interactions you can extend it further. Set the game in the Cuban Missile Crisis, some players are key Americans, others key Soviets. Both sides have the goal of preventing nuclear war, but they have individual goals that will put them at odds and complicate this. The individual historical goals should even cause friction within each side.

I have also been thinking more about the Castle Whale. I think I may want to develop this idea further, either for my Castles & Crusades group or try to go all the way and use Searchers of the Unknown. I had an idea for what the World Pearl is that I am actually pretty excited about. I also like the idea of having the regular exploration take place in the larger framework of running an expedition.

On Friday, I went around to most of the area game stores and posted notices looking for players. I still game with my group from down in Southern Maryland, but I haven't made much of an attempt to reach out here. The distance between me and the rest of the group means I do not get to play with those guys often, and I would like to have another group that is closer for more regular gaming. Today, I stopped in Eagle and Empire, the game store down the street, and while they are not really looking for RPGers, they do have a varied miniatures scene. I met some people who play Star Wars Armada twice a month and I am thinking of joining them.

I also introduced my three year old to board games today. I picked up Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, and Candy Land. Three is not a great age for board games, they have limited math skills (counting), patience (super short), and no real ability to think about options yet (not even lunch choices). That means that, on the whole, games aimed at this age group are terrible. All three of the games above are pretty bad, but they do teach valuable skills for later, more complicated, gaming. They teach turns, moving spaces. rolling dice, win conditions, and limited choices in Trouble. We are already playing Memory with her.While some better choices come in around 5 or 6, pre-reading games are pretty rough on the adults that have to play them. We are a long way from Clue (one of the few mass market games I like), so I am open to suggestions.