Friday, 7 February 2014


One of the great celebrities of gaming culture is Mike Krahulik (maybe better known by his cartoony alter-ego CW Gabriel) from Penny Arcade fame. He brings his cartoon style to many projects and one I have been interested in is his deck-centric tabletop roleplaying game, Thornwatch. When I first saw it I was fascinated by the idea and had read Lookouts issue 1 without even realising it was a Penny Arcade thing and it all related together - chuckle!

Anyhow, I am not sure if there is a secret stash that reveals far more of the Thornwatch details but the blog posts are really interesting (even if the white text on blue is making my eyes look all big and cartoony).

Posts of note:
Thornwatch, Part One
Thornwatch Update

There is lots to like here, bringing together boardgame/cardgame mechanics with more story-driven play. It was here that I noticed the use of card protectors for playtesting games with cards. This seems like it should have been obvious, but simple printing can be put into the little sleeves and hey presto you have cards (I will be getting some for Loch Maiden testing for sure!)

Here are a couple more pics showing how nicely Thornwatch is bringing the theme and some interesting mechanics together and I am sure this game will get plenty of love when it becomes gettable. I love how humble Gabe is through this process and it is nice to see his thoughts on the games design and evolution.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Loch Maiden Update

For some reason, the holiday season wasnt kind to me working on the Loch Maiden game and visualisations. It should really be the opposite, there are way more hours that arent eaten up by normal work, therefore I should be able to get heaps done on personal projects like this. Alas the opposite happened as it was trumped by family and all manner of other things...

Over the last few days though I have been working through through the mechanics in great detail again. It is quite fun to see elements of the design thrown away, evolve, return, shrink, mutate, combine, reappear, perish, expand as I work on it. This simple compilation of s-note pages shows a fair number of the changes as they go through - It is like a conversation with my tablet, putting the ideas down 'on paper' helps the design develop and triggers new pathways to explore.

The game is now much more sensibly focused on winning the heard of the maiden, she is nore more central and in control of the game - not a passive pawn in proceedings at all. Until last night the game was pretty confrontational with hearts only being rewarded to the victor of any one Impression. Now all monsters who generate enough mood (from dice) collect the minor reward, the victor gets a bonus on top of that for being the most impressive. I will bring the rules together in their current form over the next few days and see if it looks like a complete game.

I have been trying to think through what the players are thinking about at each stage of the game, what the meaningful decisions are. Looking for ways to inject surprise and joy within a game flow that has a narrative beginning, middle and end. One thing is for sure, game design is very complex - fascinating stuff.

Current components:
Large Map Tiles, Monster and Maiden pieces (heads, humps, tails), Mood Dice, Maiden Deck, Heart Counters, Start Stone, Maiden Boards, Monster Boards, Trait Deck, Date Deck and the Bonus Deck. It seems like alot of components when listed like this, but they all link together nicely and bring the narrative to life. The Trait deck works quite well as an optional rule (stretch goal) as would individual Maiden and Monster boards - but I like them both for narrative reasons!

Here is a sketch from last night of a groovy little Monster waiting to impress the Maiden, isnt he cute...

I have been trying to play various board games to get a feel for where they excel, what intrigues me and what I can learn from for LochMaiden. Some of the things that have hit the table of late: Eldritch Horror, Red November, Ticket to Ride (Europe), 7 Wonders, Lords of Waterdeep, Apples to Apples, City of Horror and my current favourite Avalon!! This evolution of the Resistance logic is wonderful to play and the amount of discussion afterwards shows how intriguing it all is (stressful yes, but very intriguing).