Friday, November 20, 2015

Random Musings: Pandemic Legacy and Other Thoughts

Ok.  With Desert Bus going on, and my own lead up to other things getting weird, I figured I should do a more rambly kind of blog blog.  So let's go into random thoughts after playing Pandemic Legacy.

Wanderings.

Pandemic Legacy have been stirring up weird ideas for me.  Pandemic Legacy has this nice effect.  It makes a favorite board game of mine (Pandemic) feel more like a RPG than anything else.  As a GM, it kind of just makes my heart go a-flutter.

I realized the other day that Pandemic Legacy makes telling a narrative better than other board games I've played.  Others have tried to inject flavor into them, like Eldritch Horror.  Eldritch Horror has diminishing returns on its narrative for me.  Especially after playing Pandemic Legacy.  Some mechanics work well.  But others don't, and the story of one session doesn't carry on.  Worse, sessions can be erratic if you don't go out of your way to parse and control what cards get chosen.  It tries to tell several kinds of Lovecraftian stories, which result in randomness.

I've enjoyed how things from one session carry over from one session of Pandemic Legacy to the next.  The idea of opening secret things that add tiny details that end in a big changes.  This makes each session a dynamic experience.  Can I adapt the feeling opening a secret that changes the status quo by adding new rules to a tabletop RPG?  How?

Microscope

Microscope has a component in it each round of play, where one player gets to pick an element and make it into a Legacy.  In future rounds, it has the potential of coming up again and again.  Because Microscope is about exploring a history, this element is great.  It means Legacies are an element akin to, although not quite the same as, the Pandemic Legacy mechanic of opening secret boxes.

Microscope is more about a history.  Not necessarily about the same characters over time.

I've toyed with messing with hacking Microscope for something within a RPG game.  Microscope relies on procedure content generation: players making content.

Pandemic Legacy uses pre-made content.  In contrast, this is feels like part of the difference between board games and RPGs.  Pandemic Legacy isn't looking to encourage roleplaying, but implies a story along the way.  This is pre-made and none of the players know what the content is.  Microscope is about creating content.

Setting Lite.

I think the best way would be to do something that was like Apocalypse World.  Part of what I like about Apocalypse World is how classes for characters feel compartmentalized.  With options laid out one spot.  There feel like neat choices to make, and they are there to see.

Maybe the key is making the setting and rules lite.  A book with blank spots, that each player has copies of.  I don't like pre-plotting that much.  But then again, maybe the blanks should be procedurally generated (ala the players).  Or to borrow from Apocalypse World, be multiple choice in places.

I've been thinking about having players generate a history for the setting before character creation with Microscope elements.  The periods are pre-created, with rest of the timeline filled out.  This might be too granular, but it could be revisited each session.  A round of Microscope before each session, adding changes to the setting core book.

Unlocking more complicated rules as things go along seems like it has legs of some sort.  Still trying to process the right way I could do a thing with it.

Madness.

So instead of character advancement, things get unlocked.  Instead of character sheets, each character gets a book.  Maybe specialized for classes, maybe not.

At the end of each session, giving the characters the option to answer a question or choose a new rule to enter play, could be interesting.  The idea would be that questions and rules would be in each rule book.  Blanks would get filled as sessions went on.

Perhaps having a definite number of sessions is the best solution.  That means that by the end of a string of them, you hit the end of the arc and the end of the story.  A small book full of character details, rules and the like.

I need to munch on this some more I think.

Also: Commissions are open for any regular readers who enjoy my artwork.  Check it out if you want to try and commission for me.  Always open to at least trying something.  :D