Spark RPG Open Beta: Revised Version

Thanks to all of your kind feedback, I have revised the Spark RPG open beta text. You can find the expanded text, with slightly improved formatting, under the link below!

I would love to hear what you think about this iteration of the game. I welcome all feedback especially more constructive criticism so I can further revise the game. The layout is still rudimentary, but I think that the text is a bit more functional.

I will be happy to run this version of the text for you at Games on Demand at GenCon. I hope to see you there!

Thank you for your time!

Open Beta Feedback and Revision

Hello all.

I have gotten some incredible feedback on the first version of the Beta, enough that I am now revising the game text to prepare the next version of the beta.  I wanted to let you know what the major findings are and explain my next steps.

Findings and Flaws

  1. I utterly failed to explain how Fate worked or how it interacts with the Beliefs.  This will get its own section in the game text, either within the Introduction or Mechanics. I would love your feedback on which area would be appropriate.
  2. I need to promote and expand the setting-creation and faction mechanics, as that is one of the areas that make my game unique.
  3. The advancement system that I included in the game, where you simply bought yourself new Attributes, Talents and Conditions with Fate, doesn’t quite work out.
  4. The layout and cross-referencing in the text were poorly done. The next version of the beta will still be laid out via word processor, but will be better graphically designed in improve comprehension.
  5. The text fails to teach effectively or communicate my passion for the game. In short, it’s a dry reference text to the detriment of people trying to get into the game.
  6. I didn’t really understand my audience. I was writing this game for story game designers and people who had never heard of RPG’s before. The next version of the text will be calibrated to serve players of story games.
  7. I need to provide large amounts of descriptive advice on how declaration work and how they serve to encourage roleplaying.
  8. I need to remove all references to Proxies, rename them “Influence” and describe in great detail how they function in play. Influences are to be used in all Conflicts where you are not using a PC to support or oppose the declaration.
  9. I need to generally reorganize the text and work most of the advice and examples directly into the game text. I had originally intended on strictly separating the different kinds of content, but that has proven to be an ineffective technique for game organization and teaching.
  10. I need to explain the resolutions and why you should pick any given one during a conflict. The Walking Eye playtest was very PVP and they went for the throat, so I need to explain why you would want to use some of the kinder resolutions in play.


Next Steps

I am attempting to revise the text and release the next version of the game as quickly as I can, for another cycle of open beta playtesting. I will be running a number of game sessions at GenCon during Games on Demand with the most recent iteration of the rules, and I would love to invite you to participate.

Thank you for reading

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 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.