Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zack's Weird Boxed Set Dream

In a sign I have been spending way too much time on all this lately, I had a pretty clear dream last night that I had a company that produced an introductory-style boxed set. I think it was some sort of licensed property, because there were bunch of people wearing matching t-shirts in the background. It was a white box with blue markings on the front, and in my hand, I held a fancy laminated card that had a list of things in the box.

I remember the following (I didn’t read them, but someone was marking them off as they went):

1d20 (red)
1d20 (blue)
3d6 (red)
3d6 (blue)
5 Player Cards
24-page Referee (yes, Referee) guide
3 sheets paper minis and map
4-page Beginner’s Adventure
16-page Veteran’s Adventure (yes, Veteran’s)
1 Box

No idea on where the page counts came from, or why there was no color for the d10s.

Then, we were giving them away as some promotion with a catalog. We were on a radio show as we went through a mall announcing it.

I sort of feel like the guy who wrote the poem “Kubla Khan”. I just wish I knew what system it was.


Bonemaster said...

Hmm, that is odd. Still, that's better than not having any dreams at all.

It would be interesting to know what system this is suppose to be for. From the contents, it seems to be for some sort one-shot evening game. After all you have player cards and no player's guide.

JimLotFP said...

I did this post on the same subject six months back.

I'm pricing box printing. Hopefully 2010 will mean showing instead of telling what I mean. :)

Joseph said...

On Internet did Zack the First
Describe a boxed set RPG
With dice of many colors and
Two adventures (for veterans!)
And rules for the referee.

Zachary The First said...

@Bonemaster: It may be too much to ask to ever know.

@Jim: Hey, maybe I saw a glimpse of the future. ;)

@Jospeh: lol x 10!

HinterWelt said...

I found this site.:

I was contemplating it for Chevalier...just not sure...there are no squirrels...;)

Zachary The First said...

I think for many people, there’s still an expectation and mystique surrounding the boxed set. It’s a deeply-ingrained legacy of the hobby.

I also think it makes for an awesome gift/starter set.

1d30 said...

Taking nothing for granted in the supposed system, we can't really assume what those players' cards are. Maybe they're plastic placards that you write on with dry-erase markers or grease pencils. It makes sense that the box doesn't include writing implements and spare paper.

Or the player cards are things that the DM writes on to keep notes on the characters.

Maybe the cards are character sheet blanks, and there are five varieties. This would make sense, as otherwise you're limited to five players at once. I'm thinking along the lines of the old goldenrod paper character sheets for 1E AD&D. Fighter/Ranger/Paladin, Thief/Bard/Monk/Assassin, Cleric/Druid, Magic-User/Illusionist. This suggests there are five archetypes, or five sets as the above, or perhaps only four with one general-purpose sheet.

A game will be shipped with rules for a standard type of play involved even if it's a multi-genre system. A game with no special features (like magic, technology, cyberspace, psionics, vehicle rules) will probably have one type of character who is the standard fighting type. Each other special feature of the system will likely have a character that specializes in it. From this we can conclude that your system is neither an archetype-free one nor is it one that contains more than three or four special features. Because without archetypes there would be no reason to have multiple varieties of player card, and with more than four special features in the system you'd need more varieties of card than five.

The difference in dice color seems important. As is the fact that the die colors are repeated for the d20 and the d6s. Note no color on the d10s.

You can roll a wide variety of tests using those dice. You can get 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, etc. And you can roll curves of 2-12, 3-18, 2-20, and 2-40. But you can't roll 1-8 without reference to a table, which I've found problematic in the past.

Also note the progression of die numbers vs. die sizes. 1/1 of the largest, 2 of the middle, 3/3 of the smallest. 2, 2, and 6 dice, 10 dice total.

It appears that the players are meant to share from a common pool of dice. Which means each player needs to have access to the entire supply of dice, and none of them are used for placeholders or markers. They must all be available to be rolled by the next player.

The short referee guide suggests a rules-light system. Perhaps something with ad hoc descriptors rather than lists of skills and spells and such. You could have a a character who is "Gunfighter 3", "Bar-Room Brawler 2", and "Popular With the Ladies 1". And the book just has to suggest guidelines for the referee against abuses with too-general descriptors. Like "Is Really Awesome 3".

I suggest this as a possibility because 24 pages isn't enough room to include lists of anything really. You're going to blow a whole page on an equipment /cost / weight list, and another page on a list of skills. Going that route you quickly run out of space for any actual rules.

Furthermore I think we can assume the referee book holds most of the rules for the game, and that individual adventures won't contain new rules. Sure one adventure might contain vehicular rules when the referee guide doesn't, but that just spreads the rules around multiple books. Not a smart design decision.

By "map" I assume it's a basic battlemap thing with a grid. Something setting-independent. But with such a simplified game I wonder - using a ruler would actually be easier than including grid rules. And by "sheets of paper minis" I assumed cut out flat top-down view minis. But they could have been ones you cut out, fold up, and glue to make stand-up game pieces.

In all, I could definitely see this game as a simple vehicular wargame, or a naval game, or some other type of strategy game. But it could also be a roleplaying game, who knows?

Zachary The First said...

@1d30: Wow! You have given me a lot to digest here! Nice analysis! I find myself curious about the Player’s Cards, too. Were they dry-erase character sheets, perhaps?

I think you're right on rule-light. 24 pages is a strange number, huh? I'd think one of the usual 4 multiples--16, 32, 64, etc...

I have any more dreams like this, I'm going to you first! :)

da Trux said...

i gotta tell ya, yours is the only RPG blog i regularly visit. and it is because of posts like this!

i also read the comments, and 1D30's comment made my head spin. (in a good way)

aren't you on the Palladium Forums as well, Zack?

Zachary The First said...

@da Trux: Thanks! I think the commenters make up a lot of what makes this blog work—I firmly believe that, and that’s why I do things like the Friday Discussion. A lot of times, I’ll have a basic idea, but the comments are what fleshes it out. The blog is a partnership in a lot of ways, I think.

Yes, I am on the Palladium forums. I don’t post too often there these days, but do pop in time to time to see what’s going on.

Narf the Mouse said...

? The red dice are rolled offensively; the blue dice are rolled defensively. The d10 is random factors.

Zachary The First said...

Could be. I thought the red were perhaps GM dice, the blue player dice, and the black dice shared. But that's an interesting idea, as well!

1d30 said...

You didn't mention the d10s were black! :P

I like Narf's idea. If there's two die colors, it means they're used for something with only two possible options. For example, if your system had you roll for Quality, Speed, and Cost you'd need three colors.

Another possibility is that the game uses dice pools. You roll some dice for your base skill and some dice for your pool. And the rules make it important to note which dice were which. Maybe if you roll a complete failure on your skill, the pool can't help you.

CAPTCHA: scrudier. adj. More scrudy.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

In another dream I bought this set.

I couldn't find my glasses so I couldn't read the rules, otherwise, i'd tell you what a great game it was.

Zachary The First said...

Well, maybe you can dream a good review and let us know about it!