Council of Magisters: Power 19

I orginally wrote Council of Magisters as part of the Game Chef competition.  You can find a PDF copy of it here:

Anyway, I'm gearing up to write a totally new and better version.  I thought I'd do a Power 19 to get me focused on what's what.

1.) What is your game about?

A group of politicking fantasy wizards, each trying to get their way.  Parliamentary procedure with mind control spells.

2.) What do the characters do?

Bicker, vote on one of their own to lead them, vote on various side topics, cast vote-influencing spells on each other.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?

Bicker and talk in character, cast their characters votes.  Track their character’s Emotional
State.  There is no GM.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The only defined aspect of the setting is the presence and role of the player characters.  That’s all there is.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

Character creation really only involves picking a superpower, a motivation, and determining the relative ages of the players.  The game is about spellcasters, what they want, and the ages is a bizarre pseudo-parliamentary thing

.6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

Shrewd political maneuvering and deal-making, and decision-analysis.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?

There’s a definitive winner at the end of the game.  To get there, you’re going to have to be clever, make and break deals and friends, and blast those who get in your way with mind-control spells.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?

Everyone has (almost) complete control and agency over their character, and is expected to be responsible about their character’s motivations.  Actor stance is encouraged.  For anything outside the characters themselves, any differences are solved, as always, by voting on them.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)

There’s the carrot there of ‘getting to win,’ and ideally the mental problem of analyzing the Emotionally-influenced decisions of others to figure out your own decision will be a really weird game-theory problem that people will enjoy over-analyzing.The Issues are there to make sure defeated players still have some stake in the outcome.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

Everything, and I mean everything, is solved by a majority vote.  There’s no room for ties or tie breakers, which means that the game only works with an odd number of players.  (I’m looking at either 5 or 7.)  Some of these votes give other people voting constraints, which makes future votes more bizarre.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?

The game is about politics and voting, pure and simple.  The game mechanics are also about voting.  When you vote, you’re simultaneously doing so both in and out of character- it blurs the line between player and character.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?

They don’t advance, but characters who lose big votes get screwed up with Emotional States- basically a spell that influences how they have to vote.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

It only comes into play when people are voting, so that’s highlighted.  On a very large level, the Emotional States are a big part of what the game is about.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?

Bizarre wonderment at the absurd nature of things, coupled with cutthroat backstabbing.  Hopefully both at the same time.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?

Optional old-timey-style protocol get a lot of attention, because I think pomp and circumstance is fun (think Silent Football, which is neither Silent nor Football) and it brings to mind images of the British Parliament.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

I’m really excited about the whole thing, but then it’s a short game.  But I’m especially enthused about the whole, “Ok, I have to guess how player A is going to vote so I can cast mine.  But player A has to guess how I’m going to vote so he can cast his.  Aaargh!” situation.1

7.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?

The resolution system lends itself towards mindfuckery.  You don’t see that a lot.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?

Publish a decent looking free PDF.  Have a Lulu version available.  Make enough money to take myself somewhere nice for lunch one day.

19.) Who is your target audience?

Indie gamers looking for a weird read, and an odd game they might play once or twice.


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