I spent the last week in Tahoe with some friends and fellow game designers. We designed, playtested, and talked a ton about theory and techniques. It was incredibly productive and I hope we’ll take another trip like it sometime soon.

I focused on advancing two of my designs. First, I tried a variant of Behind the Magic that could work over video chat or podcast, with a dedicated Bard. The game is definitely best when played freeform, acting out the scenes, but I’m confident that the voice-only version is going to be good, too. The game is close to completion; I just need to add a little more scaffolding and write the final version of the rules.

The second game I worked on is a lightweight competitive storytelling game. Players took on the roles of rival families trying to take over a fantasy city-state.

At the core of the game is a simple conflict resolution engine with a rock-paper-scissors dynamic. When two players face off, they each choose an approach of Steady, Bold, or Sneaky. The winner gets an advantage in the ensuing dice roll that determines the victor. As the game goes on, players have bonuses when to specific approaches, which leads to mind games as they try to predict each other’s moves.

The game is still pretty raw but the playtest went well and the core loop works. I look forward to working on it more once Behind the Magic is finished!

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