Despite the heavy workload getting a playtest draft of High Plains Samurai up and going, wrapping up Dial M for Monster, and editing both Beyond the Firelight and Little Heroes for Mystical Throne Entertainment throughout September, I’ve been bouncing back and forth on a few new ideas I’d work on as if I wasn’t burdened with the darkness that is my day job.
The kicker is most of these ideas are not up-and-coming, only two of them are currently in the hopper with the time I have available to design. And those two are BIG projects. All the same, it seemed like a good first step to gauge which should progress from lightbulb-in-my-head to rough notes would be to post them here and see what reaction they get, if any. What’s below is a list of
six seven nine six games I have stewing around in my head these past few weeks. Some of them are more specific than others, some of them would potentially use existing systems, all of them are ones I would start the moment the starter’s pistol went off if I won the lottery today.
High Plains Samurai
Now that these other big projects are (mostly) out of the way, HPS is first on the list. I’ve written about it before and won’t bother getting into any more now.
Ok, I lied. As of this writing, HPS is gearing up to start a play-by-post playtest on Gamers Plane with some members of the ScreenPlayers Guild and they’re working with the first draft of the High Plains Samurai Rehearsal Edition. Yep, just like I did with ScreenPlay, a free public beta test of HPS will be available in January 2017 before the Kickstarter goes live in March 2017. That’s happening.
Consider this the official unofficial announcement. In 2017, I will start work on the 2nd edition of Killshot, my award-winning modern day assassination RPG. This is not exactly a complete reboot of my failed attempt in 2013 at Reloaded as there are a few new mechanics I want to introduce or modify to create faster gameplay and play up on some of the strengths of the first edition while simplifying character options. As for the alternate genre versions of Killshot Reloaded (Wanted: Killshot, Killshot Noir, etc.), that’s still a work in progress.
The more I think about this game (posted on this blog a couple months back), the more important it becomes. I can’t help but have a feeling my design is missing that sense of innovation people look for and perhaps it’s not just in mechanics (which is how I like to look at my body of work). The concept of the game needs to be innovative and it feels like Threshold could meet that demand. I’ve yet to consider anything more about this game other than making it completely GM-less. Otherwise, reading through the original discussion on this idea will give you a good idea of what’s stewing for Threshold.
Now for something new! One serious advantage to my recent work, including Ironbound, has been dusting off very old ideas and turning them into RPGs rather than novels or screenplays. Pandora is one of them. The concept is a top secret hospital that is home to a handful of young people with strange, psychic powers. A kind of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters but in a building that’s more like an asylum than anything else. And their powers are nowhere near easily applicable to fighting crime. For example, one of the main characters is a “time traveler” in that he/she can slip into a deep coma for decades at a time and never age. Others can “sense death,” experience visions of a person’s past deeds, etc.
Their powers originate from a single person, a woman known only as Pandora who traveled to our world from another dimension where powers are as common (and powerful) as comic book characters. Her very presence has begun to unlock a chain reaction in these bizarre psychic powers that are nowhere near those of her home dimension because characters who can fly, break through walls and such would break the foundation of our dimension’s reality. (See Dimensions below to see how far I’m willing to go with this.) The main plot begins as a trio of super villains breaches through from Pandora’s home dimension to finish the job they started before she fled: killing her. Their very presence causes our main characters’ powers to build as they become exposed to these actual powers and reality bending experiences.
While I’m tempted to make this a Powered by the Apocalypse game, it’s also such a sweet and crazy idea that I want it to work with ScreenPlay as another gateway for those yet to try out my game. But using the AW engine could allow for higher sales. If this goes any further, the system debate is the first issue to tackle.
ScreenPlay for kids. Everyone plays one of four elementals in a Hogwarts-style school system with each element (fire, air, water, earth) choosing a champion (the lead characters) to compete in a tournament. Each element devises a challenge and the elemental who wins the most challenge is their school’s champion. A major design goal is that elementals have varying immunities to various other elemental powers and anyone caught attacking another elemental is banned from the tournament. That’s honestly as much as I have for this one and the sole reason for brining it up is that my wife really likes this pitch. As in, she’s asked me about it a couple more times since I first told her the idea and she almost never does that.
Back in the d20 heyday, I had an idea for inter dimensional travel in D&D to complete the trifecta started with magic and psionics. Everything about it felt right and I had close to an 80-page drafts… and then everything was buried behind other ideas. A few months back, I found my original notes again and now I’m pondering bringing that project back to the forefront once more, just not as a d20 game.
This one feels like it would adjust perfectly to a Powered by the Apocalypse game for the sheer reason that travelling between dimensions carries numerous risks, the worst being your current dimension wiping you from existence and closing up any gaps you’ve created. See, those who travel between alternate realities gain the ability to warp their current reality solely because they’re not supposed to exist. Reality can withstand a small amount of bending before it threatens to break and since such a reaction would be cataclysmic, reality instead tries to fix the cause of the break. Like white blood cells on a virus. The key is to use your dimensional powers wisely or else POOF! you don’t exist anymore. Anywhere. No one remembers you and history is rewritten to correct your existence. While I’ve yet to start any conversions to PbtA mechanics, the very nature of how this game is written and (more importantly) how fans of that system embrace the impact of failure and consequences makes me feel better about trying it with Vincent Baker’s modern classic than with d20, where players were accustomed to kicking ass and never bothering to take names, let alone face consequences.
And that’s what I have… that I can tell you about. There is one other project in the works, but it’s not mine to discuss. Still, I have so few loyal readers, let alone those who might make it to the bottom of any post, so let me simply say this.
That is all.