Spark RPG, current iteration

Thanks to the incredible feedback over at the two threads here from the Grand Roludothon, I have made some fairly significant changes to the Spark RPG.

Here are highlights of some of the most significant changes.  I have also attached the new and improved version of that summary sheet which I will be using when I run “Seeking Suki” at GenCon.  Yes, this is the first time I am actually publicly posting the outline of my system.   I would love to hear your thoughts!

1) Trainings have been renamed as Talents
2) Pillars have been renamed as Beliefs
3) The old way of framing scenes has been replaced.  Now one person picks the basic situation, one person states what drives people act and one person decides the fundamental question that people want to answer.  I stole this partially from 3:16 and partially from Microscope/Primetime Adventures.
4) I cleaned up spending Fate.  Now you can only spend it in one specific way during a scene depending on the phase, or as a result of a resolution.
5) Fortune is gone.
6) A difference of 1-3 between sides in a conflict now gives each side a Resolution.  It is impossible to get a “wiff” result since every conflict has _something_ happen.
7) I simplified the list of Resolutions and added “Question” since it seemed to come up constantly.
8) Paradigms still exist, but only as an option and not one that I will bring out during the con demo scenarios.
9) Ritual Phrases will define when a conflict is started or when a scene ends.

Please let me know what you think about the changes and thank you all for participating!

Jason Pitre


The gameplay is built from a series of scenes, each of which has 5 different phases.


Phase 1: Open the Scene and define what the scene is about.

Phase 2: Collaboration between participants in freeform roleplaying.

Phase 3: Conflict between participants, when the collaboration stops and participants disagree.

Phase 4: Resolution of the conflicts and dealing with the outcomes of the conflicts.  Go to Collaboration.

Phase 5: Closing the Scene and determine what the scene meant.


1 – Open the Scene

1)    Three different participants cooperate to create the scene.

2)    Roll your Spark dice or Support and compare what you rolled.

3)    The highest roll gets to pick the Platform, Tilt or Question.  The second highest gets the next pick one of the two remaining options.  The third highest gets the last option.

  • The Platform:  Define where the scene takes place and who is present.
  • The Tilt: Define what event or action forces players to interact with the Scene.
  • The Question: What is the essential question that you are trying to answer with the scene?

You can spend Fate to Decide;

Spend 1 Fate to immediately pick the Platform, Tilt or Question before the dice are rolled.



2 – Collaboration

1)    Roleplay freely, speaking in character and declaring actions.

2)    All participants can declare what their character tries to accomplish.

3)    If no one opposes what you declare, it occurs.

4)    If you want to add extra details about someone else’s declaration, say “yes, and” then elaborate.

5)    You can declare things outside of your character such as objects, events or non-player characters so long as they have already been introduced in the past.

6)    If you want to prevent someone else’s Declaration, say “We are in conflict” and move to the Conflict phase.

You can spend Fate to Flashback;

Spend 1 Fate to narrate a short flashback which introduces something new to the story.

Immediately after that flashback, reintroduce that new element to the current scene.

3 – Conflict

1)    Each participant picks sides in the conflict.

2)    Determine what dice you roll, based on your Attribute modified by any Conditions.

3)    Determine the highest Talent bonus on their side, used in step 5.

4)    Roll your dice

5)    Each side has a score made of the highest number rolled, plus their Talent Bonus as determined in step 3.

6)    Compare the scores of each side, with the greater score winning the conflict.

7)    The number of successes is equal to the difference between scores.

You can spend Fate to Confirm;

Spend 1 Fate to switch dice between two participants, if one of your Beliefs is confronted.

4 – Resolution

Every die which shows a value of 1 gives the opposing side 1 Resolution

If you have 0-3 successes, each side gets to choose 1 Resolution

If you have 4-5 successes, the winner may choose 1 Resolution

If you have 6-7 successes, the winner may choose 2 Resolutions

If you have 8-9 successes, the winner may choose 3 Resolutions

If you have 10-11 successes, the winner may choose 4 Resolutions

If you have 12-19 successes, the winner may choose 5 Resolutions

If you have 20+ successes, the winner may choose 6 Resolutions

Below are the 8 different types of resolutions.  You may pick them multiple times.

  • Heal:  Remove a Damage marker from an Attribute
  • Harm:  Add a Damage marker to an Attribute
  • Question: Force a character to answer a question
  • Compel: Force a participant to perform an action.
  • Boon: Add or remove a Boon condition from a character, potentially with a cost in Fate.
  • Bane: Add or remove a Bane condition from a character, potentially with a cost in Fate.
  • Inspire: Offer another participant Fate so they adopt a new Belief of your choice.
  • Summon:  Summon supporting reinforcements to help you in a conflict.


You can spend Fate to Push;

Spend 1 Fate to gain one additional Resolution for every level of Spark Attribute that you have.


5 – Close the Scene

Once the Question has been answered, any participant may close the scene by stating “And we move on.”  Proceed to open the next Scene.


You can spend Fate to Preview;

Spend Fate to narrate a conflict in the near future where you will need an Attribute or Talent. You will gain that Attribute or Talent just in time when that conflict occurs in the next Scene.


Salut a tous les Francophones et Francophiles!

Je m’excuse que j’attendais jusqu’a ce point d’écrire un poste en Français pour vous.    Mon Français est loin de parfait, mais je suis entrain de le pratiquer et j’espère qu’il serait au point que je pourrais traduire mes jeux de table dans cette langue. Un de mes priorités c’est de le produire mes jeux sans frais supplémentaires; je trouve comme frustrant comment chère les livres traduit sont d’acheter.

A tout les Montréalais qui ont été dirigées ici par la Grande Roludothon, bienvenus!   La plupart de mes commentaires ici sont en Anglais, mais je serais content de discutez en commentaires dans ce que vous vouliez la langue officielle de votre choix.  En addition, chaque page de mon site web présente l’option de le traduire par le service de Google.  C’est loin de parfait, mais il me semble comme une option que pourrais être meilleur que des toutes lires en Anglais.

Merci pour me rejoindre et si tu la aucun question, je t’invite de le partager ici.

Seeking Suki – The Cangames Running

The Friday evening and Saturday at Cangames 2011 in Ottawa passed rather successfully. As soon as I post this I will dash off to “run” a game of The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by John Wick’s Wilderness of Mirrors. I just thought I would give a quick report on the first running of the Spark RPG yesterday.

It worked. The game held together and encouraged exactly the kinds of conflicts that I wanted to support. We had our cold and callous corporate scientist have a epiphany and change one of the pillars of her personality into “All people deserve respect”. The practical village headsman was inspired by the Shinto android and they were able to overcome great challenges.

There were problems, certainly. I had to alter how the dice were evaluated since botches were a mite too extreme in the old approach. Much of the rules presentation could be improved and I might need to rework some of the Resolutions (mechanical outcomes of rolls). Still, it was fun, fast and lively with excellent players who really seemed to get into it.

Speaking of which, if any of you fine players have found this post, welcome! I neglected to record your names so if you would like to be credited in the book and/or receive some other goodies, please email me!

Now back into the fray.


Seeking Suki – Developing the Scenario

I will be running a convention game of the Spark RPG at two local regional conventions.  The first of these is Cangames on the May long weekend in Ottawa,  where I will run my session on the Saturday morning (9-1).  The second convention will be the Grand Roludothon in Montreal on the 11th and 12th of June.

I would absolutely love people to attend these sessions, if they are available.  I will provide any participant with electronic access to my game as it is developed and add them to the credits if they are interested.  The adventure takes place in a “Kurosawa does Firefly” type of setting where the players try to discover what happened to a village and seek the headswoman Suki for reasons of love and honour.


Working on the design has led to a few delays in producing part 2 of that mechanics article, so please bear with me.  I will post that as soon as I can.

Spark Icon

Third major revision outline

I am half producing this post simply to spur myself on to my design work.   This may only be interesting to a few diehards, but I figure that it is better to post something then nothing.  If anyone in the crowd has questions, comments or death threats, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

I have finished off a series of 3-4 story structured playtests which have been remarkably useful on my end.   Feedback from the three players (M., C. and J.) has led to me trashing the Glory mechanics where I had given thousands of words of examples with no consistency and unique mechanical effects.    I mentioned this a while back, but I thought that it should be emphasized seeing as it has been one of the most significant changes.  While I am not at the stage of a real externally playable draft, I am getting closer.

One of the other modifications that I am making is based on Vincent Baker’s innovative work “Apocalypse World“.   He decided to explicitly name all types of action as discretely named and very specific Moves.  In that game. players and GM’s alike are restricted to certain listed moves.    While I won’t be moving to that extreme with Spark, I am targeting a set of ~14 different “Resolutions”.  Most of the Resolutions performed can be done through mundane means, such as causing Damage or digging a hole.   Some of the Resolutions can be limited to the use of supernatural or superhuman Powers, such as the ability to Resurrect a character or to Transform into a wolf.    I am planning on tossing all of these into the old Powers Chapter, which will now deal with everything _after_ the dice have been rolled and counted.   My working title for this is the “Resolution” Chapter which may mess up some of my art as commissioned.    Oh well, I knew going into this that early art commissions were foolish.

This is what the new outline of the free / players content looks like;

Chapter 1: Character which focuses on exactly the process and traits used in Character Creation.

Chapter 2: Task which focuses on the task resolution system that involves rolling the dice.

Chapter 3: Resolution which focusses on the interaction of the dice roll and the world.

Chapter 4: Story which provides tools for enhancing the narrative, using character-focused tools such as Fate, GM techniques and storytelling principles.

Now, back to the revision process!