The Yetzirah Games Forums

I set up some forums here on the site, using Muut. Muut is easily integrated forum software, and the only viable solution for an embedded forum with my current host. The forums are actually hosted remotely, but with a bit of code injected into the page, it looks and acts like they're hosted locally. 

This solution comes with a few issues, but the main one is that we're stuck with the way Muut decides the forums work. One of the weird philosophical annoyances with this software is that the creators of it insist that no one be able to edit their posts after a few minutes. I, as an admin/moderator can "delete" a post from view, but that only really hides it. It never goes away, and they keep it on their servers. 

As you can tell, I'm not a fan of this restriction. I've never really seen the phenomenon that this allegedly protects against; people changing their posts after getting replies to make a fool of the people who respond- except in cases of people who need to be banned anyway. Forcing them to live with their posts won't magically make them into decent people, it will just make them plan a bit better. 

Regardless, it's the software we have now, and if we want to use it, it's there. Other than the above issue, it's not that bad. It's really like a comment system+ with a moderator who can't or won't help you. I know I'm a moderator/admin, but in this system, I'm actually not much higher than a user in terms of authority over the software.

I initially used the free version of the software, but recently subscribed at $20 a month. With no one really using the forums, and few additional features for subscribing, I decided tonight to cancel the subscription. That $20 will get me out of a couple of jams. That means that if you do use the forums, they might not be as feature rich as you might be used to. I apologize for that.  

It's up to you guys if we want to use the forums, and if you have any suggestions for a better forum (if we even need one at all), please let me know in the comments. Comments use Muut as well, for now. The idea of using the same system for both is to prevent you from needing to have separate logins anywhere on the site. If it doesn't work for you, let me know.   



The Tribute Playtest has begun

I've begun the playtest of Tribute Aleph, the first part of Tribute Source. Tribute Source is an Effects-based RPG design toolkit and series of related games. 

If you're interested, you can read more about it, and sign up for the playtest on this page.

If you've never been part of a playtest, be warned. The rules are not in their final form, and as of now, only the toolkit aspects of Tribute Aleph are ready for use. Like other toolkit engines like Fudge, you'll need to make some decisions to make it work. 

Thanks for reading. 


Tribute survives its Crash Test.

I ran the first full game of Tribute (Powers) ever, tonight. Tribute Powers is a specific Tribute Spin (version) of Tribute, one that only uses 10 Powers and the Experience Key rather than the full set of 33 Keys (modular rules bundles).  If you're interested, follow the link I posted for more information on Tribute. 

The players were Gregory and Sarah Connolly, and my son, Ethan Kennan. I've been working on the game for much of his life, so it was especially nice to run it for him. 

They were playing forces of nature/reality near the beginning of the universe. Greg was playing Faith, who is literally the concept of Faith, statted up, Sarah was Blaze, a hot-headed brava with a patience problem, and Ethan was playing Bandit; the iconic Trickster. 

Ethan's character Bandit was the first character ever to use the Tribute Mechanics for Limitless; an Effect that gives a state of being where all of the game's limits are removed, and you can essentially go nova; a spotlight moment. He used his to convince a tribe of people who were worshipping an evil goddess that the monsters that were attacking them worked for her. He did so by tearing a tattoo of her spider web sigil off of a monster, then enlarging it so the whole village could see it. This after creating a bit of a Rube Goldberg device to wake the village up and grab their attention. 

The idea for the adventure was that there were three factions:

  • The Weave, which was arguing about how to create the universe (even while much of it was already being created), 
  • The Void, which saw no point in creation, and tried to sabotage the whole thing. 
  • ...and The Cleave, who decided between them. It was because of their decision to side with the Void on an issue that Death came to exist. 

Blaze and Bandit were Weave faction, and Faith was Cleave Faction. The bad guys were all Void. 

The setup was this: they had formed a party, sent by the Weave and the Cleave to investigate a raging Void monster called "The Hunger", that was about to destroy a solar system that had a great destiny. Think Silver Surfer for the scale of this encounter. Cosmic Fantasy. 

stellar Nursery


A few issues; I used what I intended to be my boss fight as my first encounter, because of technical issues that delayed the game. We were playing over Skype and Fantasy Grounds

*I* also failed to use my own rules well, and the boss was one-shotted. It can happen. Blaze pumped a lot of Fuel into her attack, and I didn't have the monster Counter her attack, the way it should. Normally, you have a chance to reduce the impact of any incoming effects, and there are a few ways to do it. Since you only have a maximum of 10 health boxes, it's the smart way to fight. I didn't fight smart, and the monster was killed right away. I think I tried to use the wrong Power to avoid the damage. 

I did give Blaze some Tribute (for her Bank- to use later) for the one shot. 

I improvised a second adventure, with some cooperation from the players. This time they had to help a fledgling society that needed a code of Ethics. I figured I'd try some social mechanics, etc. I inserted an evil being calling herself a goddess to fill the role that the first "boss" monster was supposed to fill (An annexation problem), and the characters spied a bit, and found out her plan. She wanted them to give their souls to her, so she could use them for Fuel. That's a game term, but the idea should be straightforward.  They made their own Plan, and began to implement it. They tricked some of her minions into attacking a village, but swooped in before they could kill anyone. 

Bandit whipped up his Rube Goldberg device to wake the village, and get their attention Focused on him (an in-game Effect). 

Faith, invisibly, tripped up the bad guys, and kept them from attacking villagers (but not the PCs or property)- it was one Effect. 

Blaze blasted the big one with Fire, but it Countered, and was reduced to just under 1/2 health. 

The Monsters first attacked Blaze, and then Bandit. Blaze created a fire shield, and Bandit dodged. Neither was hurt. 

Bandit then pulled his tattoo-ripping stunt. The villagers truly understood that the monsters worked for their "goddess". 

The Monsters were taken out during this round.

We ended the session. The session was three hours, but the actual play time was about two hours, and a lot of it was explanations, and the characters making their Plan; said plan involves the Trickster writing the code of Ethics that these people will follow (since he's the best at making things). I can't wait to hear what it's like. 

We play next week to try to finish the adventure. We should get more done.  

I also found that I need some clarification on two things;

  1. What the mechanical differences between Annexing (taking) things , and Forging (incorporating and using them to justify your actions- i.e. MacGyvering) things are. They are different, but my explanation in the rules needs work. 
  2. What to do if you still have the Limitless Effect on you, but the Scene ends. I'm going to let you take Experience points equal to the number of Turns you would have been Limitless

I know some of this will mean virtually nothing to some of you, with the game terms for a game you haven't seen yet, but the point is, I ran a crash test, and the game didn't crash. It's ready for me to finish writing up the final playtest rules, which are about 90% done.  That means that sometime this week, I should open the playtest to a wider audience. We will be using Slack for that, and I'll post a link on the Tribute page when it's time. 

Thanks for reading. 




A Decision and a Review of Retrostar

If you just want to read the reveiw of Retrostar, skip down.

I was wrong

I made an incendiary post over the weekend that dredged up old issues in the game design community. I wrote it in a tone meant to entertain and make a point. I decided at the time that I wouldn't take it down no matter what. I've realized, though that there's no honor in keeping something up just to prove a point, especially if it's going to drive a wedge between me and other gamers. 

Now, these issues I dredged up are small in the big scheme, but I inflated them, thinking it would be more entertaining to do so. Here's what happened, in general: 

I accused a group of gamers of cultlike behavior. I made an effort to be an entertaining jerk, but was still a jerk. I was playing the jerk as a character, but I was drawing on exaggerated versions of my own prejudices. 

I did it in an attempt to let certain people know I was all right. "I'm cool, you can talk to me, even though my game is like those games in some ways." 

In doing so, I also used what I've found to be false information to back up my "case", and ultimately insulted a large number of people. It was a long, rambling post, which I wrote to get fired up emotionally, in order to have the energy to work. 

I've realized though, that I don't need to be controversial for its own sake, (even if that's not what I think I'm doing), especially here, where I plan to publish a project that means so much to me that I've spent 13 years on it, day in, and day out. If you see it, you'll wonder how so few pages came out of that amount of time, but most of it was research and experimentation. 

I'm not trying to hide the post in question. I believe it has been quoted at length online, and it's clear that I made a fool of myself. I've unpublished it, but not deleted it. I want it as a reminder. 

I'm sorry to those I personally insulted, even when I claimed I was talking about a movement/group of game designers, and not individuals. A group is composed of its members, and by attacking the group in the way I did, I was attacking its members- even if I didn't see it at the time. 

I haven't been intimidated into taking the post down, and some of my friends railed right there with me. If you think this is a cop out, I'm sorry.

However, I've learned that I serve no one in pushing away people for no reason, and by trying to cultivate my audience out of fear of ultimate rejection, I will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

From now on I'm going to focus on the good things in gaming here, as much as possible. I don't need to fill my life with unnecessary conflict, and I hope to bring people to my site who want to have fun, rather than fight old fights. 

There was one good thing about the article that I need to make sure people see. Included was a section on a good friend's RPG, Retrostar.

Warning: Major tone change

Here's the Retrostar Reveiw, in its entirety: 

Retrostar: A review and Reccomendation

Take my good friend Barak Blackburn’s game, Retrostar (an incredible 70’s TV Scifi game. Buy it.). The conceit of Retrostar -and I mean that in the writer’s shop talk way, not as an insult- is that the game play is actually a TV show from the 70s that focuses on the kinds of Sci Fi they made back then, and covers the hot button issues of the 70s, like “women’s lib”, “race riots”, “mustaches”, “latchkey kids”, “single moms”, “The drug epidemic”, etc.

I put those topics in quotes to indicate that I was speaking 70’s-ese, if that wasn’t clear. Retrostar's game play requires that any action you take fall into the categories of Adventure!, Thought!, or Drama!. In other words, actiony stuff, cool science technobabble or solutions, or melodramatic B-list over acting (just kidding, but kind of not). These three things are called “Intentions”, and are part of the “Intention System”, which is currently being adapted to other kinds of stories (which may have different sets of Intentions). The Intention System is really cool, and has informed my way of presenting Tribute.  

The thing is, in Retrostar, if you can’t find a way to make your action use Adventure!, Thought!, or Drama!, you might not be doing the kinds of things the game is about. It serves to help you stay in genre, and create the kinds of stories that Retrostar focuses on. It works amazingly, and without forcing you to tell the exact Stories the author wants you to. In fact, in Retrostar, you’re not "telling a story" at all, per se. What happens is open-ended, but guided by certain GM tools towards a logical, 70s appropriate end. These mechanics are beautifully done, as are all of the ones in Barak’s games. Barak… will you marry me?

I'd call Retrostar a Story Game with Traditional elements, in that the Story rules don't force you to a specified kind of conclusion. It has pacing mechanics based on 70's TV's five-act structure, but as long as you get everything in under time, with commercial breaks, anything can happen. 

Final Thought

One last thing. It's not up to me to determine how my game is received. It will be what it will be, but I'll have done it the way I intended, without any whiff of pandering. I lost sight of that. 

I'll remake the positive and Tribute-related points I made in the post I've taken down in the future, without directing bile at anyone.