This is a game about the power of ideas and groups. This is a game about the might of gods and kings being wielded by men and women. This is a game about standing tall before the storm, about letting the waves crash over you, about being the light in a world of darkness. This is a game about doing good in the name of something greater than yourself.

In the last post, I talked about the three phases of the “vessels” game: disrupt, discover, and direct.

The “Vessels” game I’ve been working on has been a struggle. Questions needed answering: what do emotions really do in a group situation? What is the right way to model influencing those emotions?

Let’s start with some of my deeper goals.

  1. The game should teach you how to play a game focused on emotions rather than actions. You shouldn’t need to bring your own skill at this for the game to work for you.
  2. Rising tension and the unpredictability of human emotion is the only real enemy the players will contend with.
  3. Double-edged mechanics - ones that work in your favor sometimes and against you at others - are an interesting tactical twist.

One of the things that’s kept me from doing this game already is my fear about point 1. I want to write a game that conveys a specific experience. I want a game that plausibly approximates the shifting nature of peoples’ feelings. The uncertainty that I feel is found in this question: Do I really understand what that is like?

Points 1 and 2 are what keeps me from just writing a DW/AW hack and shipping. I actually had written Simple World rules but I was unsatisfied with them. The main reason is how I interpret how the World games handle difficulty. And the way I think of that is like a train robbery.

What do I want out of this game? While this isn’t an AW/DW game, that design vocabulary is useful and I am using it here.

  • The game should be built around emotional resolutions for a series of specific crises.
  • Rules should tell you what’s on your character sheet, or how moves work. All other rules should be moves.
  • Whenever possible, character sheets and moves should be self-documenting.