I’ve been having some problems with Game Chef.
Now, admittedly, that’s not unusual. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve given up on an idea jam or other creative challenge only to get a new idea and run with that until the end, I’d have about a nickel for every idea jam or creative challenge I’ve completed. But it does frustrate.
Mad scientists killing one another through a game of Hearts gone awry is what I got last time, but I’ve got no steam in working with it, so I want to keep thinking and see if something else comes forth.
Elements that I want to keep:
- It should be a Story Game. In part because, historically, those are served well in this contest (as opposed to what I’ll call Setting Games for the moment… games in which the rules allow for interactions but don’t create inherent narratives), and in part because, well, that’s what I’d like to make.
- It should be fun. What I think of as fun, specifically. I should want to play it, because that will make me care.
- It should do something new and strange mechanically. At least something unusual.
So. With those in mind, let me again consider the elements.
The uppy-downy person. I still like this as “Human but not quite human,” an indication of distance, be it physical or metaphysical. Scientists, sure, but what else? Anyone who might be considered an “Observer” would fit in just fine. A superhero. Or perhaps a mutant… a post-apocalyptic post-human.
Face. Snow. Hell if I know.
The world ended. The apocalypse came and went and humans with it, and all that survive are the mutated remnants of what came after. Ah, sounds fun already!
Let’s take a similar tack, with a sci-fi twist. We’re on a spaceship, a billion light-years from earth. All the occupants died long, long ago. All the human occupants. But where humans go, they bring rats. Rats, which reproduce and overpopulate and die off and find the grain stores and sleep on the nuclear pile and mutate and change and create a rudimentary system of agriculture.
Maybe it’s not on a spaceship. Maybe it’s on Earth, and all the animals that are human but not quite are there… rats, crows, and roaches. City-animals, synanthropes, folks who emerge from the trash into a world with a huge legacy.
And maybe some of them are explorers.
And maybe some tall buildings have survived.
And maybe the explorers… the anthropologists… are seeking out information on the human legacy… discovering what the past was like, and sharing the legends of humanity from long ago.
We arrive at the remaining skyscraper. A team of creatures, the Resource War only recently over. Rat-folk, Crow-folk, Roach-folk and some others. Raccoons and foxes, pigeons and gulls. The creatures that once relied on humanity’s existance, but not their care… cattle and chickens died off, and domesticated dogs and cats just went feral. It was the synanthropes who gained sentience, emulating the now-missing humans.
And where are the humans? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? The answer is at the top of the tower. We just have to get there. Every floor is a scene… a challenge, a discovery, and a legend. We find an artifact and consider it not as humans do, but as rats and crows and roaches do… as cultures that don’t know what this technology could be.
Every player represents a different species, each sees the humans differently. They are like gods to the rats, demons to the roaches, but powerful to everyone. Much of the game will be about this interpretation. And every species is different, and the dangers that do crop up (though they will be fewer indeed than the artifacts which must be studied) will be handled differently when, for instance, one explorer can fly and the others can’t. Will there be arguments? Fights? Will someone be left behind? More importantly, will they make it to the top, and when they get there, will they discover where the humans went?
Feeling good about this one.