Spark Open Beta – Major flaws identified

I have gotten a variety of insightful comments on the first version (v1.0) of the Spark RPG Open Beta and I wish to thank all of you for your feedback to date. I will be making a revised version (v2.0), incorporating these comments. My current target is to release this revised version on August 1st, 2012.
Various astute readers have found two major flaws with the current version of the game text. I wish to correct these problems with the revised version.

What makes Spark Different?

I created the Spark RPG with two different, distinct goals in mind.
1) To create a game about exploring and struggling with your Beliefs.
2) To create a genre-agnostic system, on purposefully built to support world building. The system would be equally useful for adapting existing fictional worlds without requiring system modifications.

In the introduction, I did a tolerable job in explaining my first goal and failed utterly in explaining the latter. One of the game’s strengths is in supporting world building and I woefully undersell that in the current version of the text.

 

Fate

Fate is a major component to the game, functioning as the major currency that you gain by challenging beliefs in a scene. I failed to explain this crucial element of the game in its own dedicated section of the text to explain it properly. Amusingly, I actually originally dedicated an entire _chapter_ to Fate in an earlier iteration. All of the necessary rules for using Fate are in the text, but I never explained what Fate actually was.

You may gain Fate by:

  • When you challenging one of your three Beliefs in a scene, either directly supporting or refuting it, you gain 1 Fate during “Closing the Scene” phase.
  • When someone (Player or GM) challenges all three of their Beliefs over one or more scenes, everyone in the game recieves 1 Fate.
  • When someone siezes the platform/tilt/question from you during the Framing phase, they give you 1 Fate.
  • When someone uses the Inspire Resolution on you, they need to offer you an amount of Fate equal to the size of your Spark die.  Eg, if someone has a Spark of D8, they need to offer you 8 Fate if you change your Belief as they suggest.

You may spend Fate in these ways.

  • You may give 1 Fate to seize a platform/tilt/question in the Framing phase,
  • You may spend 1 Fate to maximize your dice in a conflict where you challenge your beliefs,
  •  You may spend 1 Fate to gain a resolution in conflict
  • You may give 4-20 Fate to inspire someone to change a Belief to one of your choosing.
  • You may spend 4 Fate in a Conflict or the Advancement phase to add a Rise Condition or remove a Fall Condition.
  • You may spend 8 Fate in the Advancement phase to add a new Talent.
  • You may spend 20 Fate in the Advancement phase to add another level of Attribute.
  • You may spend 1 Fate to gain a proxy die the same size as your Spark Attribute

 

Your comments are welcome!

Narrative Oracles

I know it’s taken a while, but I am back to the discussion of inspiring creativity in games. My last post on this topic dealt with Creative Constraints, where people built off the restrictions in a game system to create something new. This time, I would like to discuss Oracles.

Oracles are nuggets of information without context, that you can interpret for your game. As a group, you interpret the oracles use them to build some kind of cohesive context. The astounding work, “In a Wicked Age” by Vincent Baker is likely the earliest and best known work using this little technique. That game includes oracles like;
*A hermit priestess, practicing obscure deprivations.
*A fallen-in mansion, where by night ghosts and devils meet.

The group gets to use these evocative descriptions to build a cohesive setting. Our monkey-brains are remarkably good at pattern recognition and quickly build webs of associations. It turns out that with a few seeds of inspiration, we can quickly build a narrative. So long as the descriptions are open to interpretation, they can be very helpful.

Be sure to check out Houses of the Blooded for another interesting use of Oracles.

Edit: And of course, the playsets in Fiasco are full of Oracles which lead to such inspired play.  Thanks to @Linneaus for reminding me.

 

 

 

 

Dungeon World Alignment Moves

I am a fan of Dungeon World as a member of the Adventurer’s Guild.  When I heard about the idea of “Alignment Moves”,  I was fascinated. D&D was the perfect game for alignments to have mechanical effects and moves seem ideal for this.  Since I couldn’t find any of these in the text of v 2.2 of the Beta, I wanted to post them here as a hack.  Dungeon World is by Sage Kobold productions and the following text is public domain.

 

Alignment Moves

When you are faced with a complex ethical or moral problem that impacts bystanders or society on a whole, Roll+ Wis. When acting on the solution provided, take +1 Forward.  Each alignment has it’s own move with different lists of items to choose from. On a 10+ choose two from your list. On a 7-9, choose one.

Lawful Good 

  • You uphold the greater good
  • You uphold the law
  • Give one of your allies +1 XP

Neutral Good

  • You uphold the greater good
  • You uphold the status quo
  • Give one of your allies +1 XP

Chaotic Good

  • You uphold the greater good
  • You uphold freedom
  • Give one of your allies +1 XP

Lawful Neutral

  • You uphold the balance of power.
  • You uphold the law
  • You gain a personal benefit

True Neutral 

  • You uphold the balance of power.
  • You are confident in your alignment.
  • You gain a personal benefit

Chaotic Neutral

  • You uphold the balance of power.
  • You uphold freedom
  • You gain a personal benefit

Lawful Evil

  • You increase your personal power
  • You uphold the law
  • You hurt an enemy indirectly

Neutral Evil 

  • You increase your personal power
  • You uphold the status quo
  • You hurt an enemy indirectly

Chaotic Evil

  • You increase your personal power
  • You cause anarchy
  • You hurt an enemy indirectly

 

 

Lantern’s Legacy

 It has been a great pleasure to participate in GameChef 2012, where I completed a game titled “Lantern’s Legacy”  Here is the intro blurb.

Our world is ending, as it has countless times before. Our mortal worshipers are passing into the void as this apocalypse claims their lives. We hope to maintain our divine mandates with the ancient Lantern Rites handed down since the dawn of time. We can speak with the few mortals who remain and petition them to take our cause. Their final moments will give us the light we need to find a new world in the void. In exchange, we will remember them and provide them a legacy in our new home. 

Which of us will each Lantern choose? How will they spend their last moments? What legacies shall we pass along into our new world? Those are divine mysteries we hope to explore.

I have enjoyed the process of designing this game and I think it’s a great deal more playable than my 2010 entry. My take away from this process was that I need to seriously consider purchasing a copy of Adobe InDesign. Scribus was not doing the job and the errors were slowing me down significantly.

Here is the game for your enjoyment; I would love to hear any questions you might have.

Lantern’s Legacy