game-design-diary

The Lonely Cafe

April 27, 2020 - 2 min read

Some notes on a Forged in the Dark game I want to create.

Goals

  • Present the players with a series of human problems in a slightly fantastical setting
  • Drive resolution through bargaining, compromise, and empathy
  • Let the story flow along the channels the players create

Playsets

  • The space station or asteroid (DS9)
  • The 1930’s island bar (Louie’s)
  • The isolated restaurant or cafe (Nightmare Cafe)
  • The underworld hangout (John Wick, Hotel Artemis)
  • The cyberpunk bar (VA-11 HALL-A)

Setup questions

  • What’s ordinary about this place?
  • What’s extraordinary?
  • Why don’t people come here more often?
  • What draws people here anyway?
  • What are you doing here?

Character roles

  • The guest (this is the GM role)
  • The mechanic
  • The hostess/bartender
  • The manager
  • The barfly/The regular patron
  • The cook
  • The doctor

Advancement isn’t just about gaining new abilities, but also bringing in bits of your former life.

Things to do

  • Learn what someone really needs (uncover secrets)
  • Fulfill a need via connections
  • Fulfill a need via ability
  • Build, sustain, or change interpersonal relationships (friendship, romance, etc.)
  • Gain inspiration by interacting with a comrade
  • Flash back to a previous time in life
  • Celebrate human rituals (shared meals, hygiene, holidays and festivals)

Complications

  • We don’t have what they need
  • Someone does have it, but must be persuaded to part with it
  • Someone else has dibs on it - is this need more important than that one?
  • They won’t tell us what they really need
  • Fulfilling the need will be expensive or emotionally taxing

Interfacing with the FITD rules

Rather than Stress and Heat, characters can cause aggravation for the guest or the hotel management. This might force someone’s eventual ouster, or drive a guest away.

Position is how invasive you are in the guest’s life - are you pushing boundaries to help them?

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