Announcements - [Chronicles of Skin] Help in November

Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Nov 15th 2010 edited

It's been a while guys. I miss you.

I've been buried by FUN stuff. Part of that stuff is the stupidly hippy, pictographic storytelling game of war and atrocity. Gregor, I robbed from Best Friends—the game I adore but haven't played. I've acknowledged you, of course. Your push currency is gorgeous, so I lifted it (and added in a random element to squeeze it in right).

Here's the blurb (taken from a post I dropped over on Gente Che Gioca):

"I just uploaded a new, super-shiny and thoroughly playable (?) version of Chronicles of Skin. I've been playtesting, meddling around, and robbing from other people's game ideas to get it into shape. I think it's fun. Here's the premise:

It's a pictographic story of war. Collaborating, you build the personalities of two cultures (using cards and symbols, like oracles). In a series of four scenes, you tell of the atrocities each side commit, and you record all this in a procedural way, shaping the fiction of the war. Players are pushing for themes, there's a bit of meta-discussion between scenes, and other funky, HIPPY shit.

A few of you wanted to play before. Would you care to read the new rules? It's 12 pages. It's not a layout masterpiece, by any means, but it's easy enough on the eyes.

Here's the linky."

Posted by: Iain McAllister On: Nov 21st 2010

I'll try and give it a look over in the next week sebastian. I am on crazy shifts at work and it'll give me something to do on the bus ride in.



Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Nov 22nd 2010 edited

That's super-sound of you Iain. Have you got some fancy, PDF-reading gadget? I'm totally jealous of people with those.

Incidentally, due to the low-volume playtests at Game Chef so far, Chronicles of Skin is not doing so badly. How important is the Game Chef award for a game? Is that something I should get jealous about?

Posted by: Iain McAllister On: Nov 22nd 2010

I was just going to print it out on my fancy laser printer. Don't know if Ill be able to give it a play but Ill certainly give it a read through.

Other people are probably better suited, Joe and Gregor coming instantly to mind, to answer the game chef question.



Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Nov 22nd 2010

Don't know if Ill be able to give it a play but Ill certainly give it a read through.

Thanks millions.

Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Nov 23rd 2010

I can't think of a game that's won GameChef that has gone on to be published. Moyra Turkington's Crime & Punishment almost kicked that general rule, but never saw the light of day as far as I can remember.

All the successes have been from games developed in the competition and then followed through afterwords.

The new awards for Game Chef are untested. They're simply too new to say anything about their effect on the success of a published game.

But... participating in Game Chef builds networking of you as a designer, and exposes your game to other interested people. So, if you do proceed with it there are people conversant in what your game is about, and in many cases invested in it (as boosters, since they helped with the game's development).

Feel free to steal mechanics and ideas from wherever you find them. One cautionary note, though is for you to find the essence of the game and to not overcomplicate it.

A recent shining example, to me, is Mars Colony by Tim Koppang. Tim really reduced the "clutter" from his playtest version and clipped it to a fine point for final publication.

Too often it goes the other way, with more things being cobbled on as the process goes on (I'm currently in the middle of that myself and trying to find a way of hacking clear of the undergrowth).

Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Nov 23rd 2010

Feel free to steal mechanics and ideas from wherever you find them. One cautionary note, though is for you to find the essence of the game and to not overcomplicate it.


And thanks for your wisdom. I'm encouraged to give my puppy a little more room now (to let him breathe for a while) and to attempt to cull some of the clunkiness later on. Cheers!

Posted by: Iain McAllister On: Nov 29th 2010

I have had a chance to read over Chronicles of Skin and here are my initial thoughts, ideas etc.

The first thought that occurred was that the Skin is a very small area for all the drawing that is going to happen on it. I thought it might be better to suggest the players use A4 sheets of paper turned on their side so it is a bit more like the Bayeux tapestry. Could it even be setup in a more storyboard style?

I was also not entirely clear on what the player sheets were used for as they were not referenced in the rest of the text.

Artist: I think you need to clarify the role on the first page, as it isn't highlighted like a lot of other terms and is immediately important. I would also be tempted to keep the same term for the person who is drawing throughout, even though the role rotates in the Free Play section of the game.

Setup: Decks should be placed in order of their use during the setup, just to make things easier. You could also just deal cards until you have 1 of each suit, just taking the first card of each suit as your bit of the emblem. Oh you also don't mention jokers, but I assume they are removed. Could be included for some kind of crossover mechanic like Contenders?

Locations: I think you should mention here that the position of locations on the skin is important, i.e. the further to the right the later in the war.

Votes: I think you could do these with coins or counters. This would tie into the game being more visual.


So the meat of the game is here. I'll split my thoughts up into the sections to make corrections easier.

Scene Phase 2: Deal
You mention swapping cards here but there is no real explanation as to why you would. Probably worth mentioning.

I like that the number of Push cards dealt is the same, should keep the game the same length with different numbers of players.

The Glyph of Purpose and War seem quite important but both are in a boxout. I suppose there are multiple schools of though on this but to me a boxout is usually further explanation or an aside and could be overloooked.

Scene Phase 3

You use "location" to mean the icons drawn earlier on the skin and somewhere within those icons. I think it would be worth using different terms for clarity. Maybe "location" for the skin and "situation" for the things that happen within it?

Parity just strikes me as an odd term, but that is purely personal preference.

I would be tempted to make ace low and then you have a very neat division between minor characters, ace - 10, and more important characters, the face cards. I am not sure if this screws up your card values for later on but it would just seem more obvious to me.

Free Play 4

There is a very strong incentive for the enemy to close early and the other players to string out the story if either side merely wants to go for the "win". Also is there any real incentive for the enemy to play omen cards? Apart from to increase his ability to bribe, it seems like a weak way for him to add to the narration.

I think that is all I have for now. The idea seems good, and it gave me the impression you were out to get a sort of Bayeux tapestry from the game, is that correct?

I want to give it another read, especially the attack stuff, but I hope this helps in the meantime.



Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Dec 1st 2010 edited

Hi Iain,

Really helpful stuff. Out of all the suggestions, there is only one item worth quibbling over, and that is my preference for the term 'parity.' This and the rest of your suggestions are sound and wise. They'll all go into 1.4. You have been very generous with your comments. Thank you so much.

I'd like to highlight one other change that you rubbed against—the "is there any real incentive for the enemy to play omen cards" question. During play, in my sessions, the Enemy has only ever contributed to the narrative when playing an Omen card. In v1.4, I'm going to codify this tabletop behaviour, strictly prohibiting Enemy interaction to Omens, Bribes and Pushes. The meta-roles of the Enemy are editor (closing a scene and threading in new/off-screen action), antagonist and audience, the latter role supporting the former two. That is, when the audience gets bored, he has the tools to make things interesting for himself (and, therefore, the rest of the group).

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