Monday, August 21, 2006

Sort of like the Game Chef

I just heard about the Reversed Engineer Challenge. Kevin Allen, Jr. has noticed that the character sheet is often the final thing in an RPG manual. In his challenge, folks are to design a character sheet only, as the first, most primal thing about the game. A shuffling bit of randomness later, and everyone then has two weeks to design the game suggested by their assigned character sheet. (More discussion going on over at Story-Games and the Forge.) The deadline is the 28th; I should have something non-Katrina together by then.

There's more than twenty PDFs up now; many of them are very well-crafted. Some, however, make me very frightened of the final game.

Some time ago, I found an article focusing on the importance of the character sheet; it fundamentally tells the player what is important about the character in terms of the game engine. If you look down at your sheet and see that 90% of the page is devoted to weapon plusses, then you know that you shouldn't expect to have deep moral debates over the nature of good versus evil. A character sheet should inform the player what to focus on, which ties directly into what the game is about.

My occasional lunch buddy S. John Ross is a big advocate of multiple rounds of character sheet design and testing. This ties in to a similar design methodology by Ian of the Flywheel), where he takes all of the protoype bits for a boardgame and sees how they could work together, evolving the rules from the interaction.

It's all about the gamecraft, baby.

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