07 Aug

Coherent and Divergent Characters

A Character must have her own story quote

A Character must have her own story quoteImagine unboxing your latest Fantasy Extravaganza. It’s got it all: 17-sided dice, Authentic Glod Coated Doubloons(tm), Faux-leather game map. And your choice of character: barbarian warrior, scantily clad female elven mage, halfling thief.

Yay! Pass the d17 and let the immersion commence.

Archetypes provide your players with instant packets of information. If you’ve got a pointy-eared archer then your players won’t raise any eyebrows if she starts talking to trees.

Unfortunately archetypes have a major drawback: in order to become archetypes they need to be widely integrated into the genre’s cultural baggage. Archetypes are boring. They’re old, stale, yesterday’s news. They’re accepted tropes seen a thousand times before.

So why do we keep using them? Read More

24 Nov

5 Must-Play Analog Games for Every Designer

5 Must Play Analog Games for Every Designer

5 Must Play Analog Games for Every DesignerIt happens. You look at your game and feel that, with all the bells and whistles already there, something is still missing.

It’s easy to simply shrug, thrown in another type of unit, another element, another dude with spikes on his huge shoulder pads. Sometimes it works. Mostly it doesn’t.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of, amongst others, the children’s classic “The Little Prince” said: “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

It’s a wise way to look at it. Not what we can add, but that we can subtract. And the way to learn how to do that is to look for good archetypes, games where there is little, if anything, to subtract. And in the tabletop game industry paring down has been the leading star for the past 20 years (or thousands – see the end). So here, without further ado, are five tabletop games that every designer should play at least once. Read More