Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Ø2\\‘3|| is LIVE (buy this book?)

It basically went live the night after I posted yesterday, so I'll talk a bit more about the game today, collecting all the bits I shared all over the place here for one big preview ...

Why buy this book?

Well, for one, it would make me happy or you are obligated because you are family :D On a more serious note, it's the culmination of the work I did here on the blog over the last 9 years (5 years of those dedicated to designing, testing and writing this game). So if you appreciate what I do here, there's a good chance you will appreciate the game I wrote for that alone (it's worth 30 posts here, I suppose, but edited and shit).

It's furthermore one step closer towards getting Lost Songs of the Nibelungs done and published. I've alluded to that before, but it bears repeating: Ø2\\‘3|| is me testing what it takes to get a game written and published. My success with that will impact how I proceed with LSotN. So supporting this will go a long way in making that other game happen (which will happen eventually, just to be totally clear, but it is determining how much effort I can and will put into it ... Kickstarter, maybe?).

Purely speaking in technical terms, it is a proper artifact. Over 42 illustrations thoughout, many of them filling double pages, all of them from a professional artist and in harmony with text and layout. The book is full of little innuendos and easter eggs. The text itself is heavily edited and I've heard no complaints so far about how the rules are explained or arranged. It's proper quality and I believe it needn't hide behind the books other publishers put out there, Print on Demand or not (I know, PoD isn't ideal, but you have to start somewhere).

Many professionals working in publishing helped making this happen and it holds up to their standards. It is the best book it can be under the circumstances.

We are still not talking about buying a game here, you see, but about buying a book. And there's one more aspect to it that still doesn't need you to ever actually play this: it is novel design with a setting that allows for deep exploration. Seeing this unfold and come together, seeing the research that was put into it, reading it as a playground of ideas and inspiration, if you will, has merit in its own way (as you very well know if you read blogs on a regular basis ... the book is just long form, if you will).

If you are designing games, this might give you a kick as well (with an OGL coming, if you'd like to talk shop).

Now for the meat and potatoes, the game proper. Here's the blurb about the setting (as found on the product page):

The setting is Europe in the year 2081, unified under one totalitarian party called The Family. The United States of Europe (USE, for short) are a playground for all the bad ideas this century has already come up with (and some of the classics from the last 100 years). Citizens are rated by an arbitrary and mean Social Status system, puberty blockers are mandatory for all but the Elites. All of this is shrouded through a huge media ruse: reality is hidden behind a fully augmented and gamified layer, maintained by an AI implanted at birth and controlled by The Family. Citizens never grow up, just grow older and if they aren't high in social status, they are bled and used for everything they have, most of the time without even realizing it. That veil is lifted for some, and with that comes resistance (or opportunity).

It’s a game that assumes players are open to exploring all kinds of ideas and willing to put some thought into the stories they tell and experienced DMs who want to explore a system that challenges them as well. It is also a satire of a dystopian future that may not yet fall upon us …

All of those are no easy topics, and I believe they are handled with the care they deserve. I was asked recently if this is a game a novice DM could handle, and I'm of two minds in this regard. If this is the first game you'll DM, and you can make it happen, you definitely achieved something.

In some sense, it is a very lightweight basic system (as you can see in yesterday's post), but it goes in-depth and the whole DM part is extensive and constitutes its own little system, opposing what the players use (which seems to be unusual for most rpgs out there, is my observation). I know experienced DMs who'd play it for that alone: it challenges them while they challenge the players. A game within a game. However, it's a daunting proposition for inexperienced DMs, especially with those heavy issues on top.

On the other hand, it is complete and excessive with examples and support for those attempting to DM it. That's something I believe to be necessary for games that feature novel designs. You just can't assume that people are familiar with what you are proposing, so you have to make sure it'll work for someone who can't ask for support every other page (although people can contact me, of course).

And it's funny to play. Funny in a way where the players and the DM try to make sense of the absurdity that is this weird, dark dystopian future the game describes. Funny in the way you only have to apply common sense to be considered a problem or go along to make it work for a character. The satire emerges from play, not from the text. One test group reported they discussed the topics presented here three hours before they could even begin to make characters ... but had fun doing so (and the DM was up to the challenge).

Yes, it's high concept. Getting it done properly was the task on hand. Time will tell if I succeeded by any measure. I am proud of the result, however, like someone that build a functioning car, very well knowing that it won't be a Porsche but that it'll pass a test for certification nonetheless ...

So, should you buy this book?

To be totally honest, I couldn't tell you. I published it, and I stand by that. But one of the big open secrets about books is that you never can tell. It's special for me. Sure. Does that translate? Maybe. Then the above should do the trick. I can't tell you, however, if you'll be happy with it. You have a measure of what I can and can't do by checking out the blog. Beyond that, you are at your own right now.

But that's also a chance, actually. You can be among the first to see this new game, to read it, to get hyped about it. You could be among the few to play it and actually have an exchange with the author. You have a chance to make this your own, to grow with it. To challenge the game and be challenged by it. You could take a side, join the team, make a difference ... Maybe?

So if you ask me, sure, you should invest in my creation here. You should support the artist, for all or some of the reasons summoned above. Roll those dice, see what you get. I'll celebrate every purchase. Over time people will get an understanding of the game and probably even share their thoughts, which might help (or not). But take my advice with a grain of salt and make it an informed and conscious decision.

You can buy the game here (at the time of this writing with a heavy discount). And you can get a free preview here (with a collection of important files for the game).

Mature Readership Intended

Some in my circles seem to anticipate that this game will be somehow politicized. I want to make clear that, if anything, this is about challenging ideas, not individuals. If someone is invested enough to have their ideas do their bidding, I will not take them seriously. Taking this personal is like taking an episode of Black Mirror personal. Taking offense at the ideas and mechanics presented in the game is like taking offense at what Orwell wrote in 1984. It's foolish and shows a lack of character, imho.

Don't be that person ...

Instead, I'd rather have you engage with the content and (hopefully) be better for it.

If you need to know where I stand, read the back ...
 This is about love, isn't it?

If you decide to buy this book, I'd humbly ask you to also leave some form of evaluation with the site you bought it from. Stars go a long way, a short review would almost be too much to ask for (highly appreciated, nonetheless). This is a learning experience for me, every feedback is welcome.

In a way, this is an end and a new beginning for me. The book is out there, and whatever happens with it, happens. That's mainly out of my control at this point. Still, for whatever it's worth, I'd like to thank my readers here on the blog for tagging along, the community on MeWe for being the chill and inspiring lot they are (g+ is dearly missed, but MeWe really manages to fill that void somewhat) and all friends and family who endured me over the last 4 to 5 years. Love you all :)

You can buy Ø2\\‘3|| here.

You can get the free book preview here.

You can join the Ø2\\‘3|| MeWe-group for updates and discussions here (might need an account for it, but as far as Social Media goes, MeWe is alright, imo ... for now, anyway).

If you'd like to read more about the design, the philosophy behind it all or the writing, here, here and here are good places to start.

The book itself has some more informations about how to reach out. Next up is a collection of all the Sheets one might want to use for the game as a free pdf (here, on OBS and MeWe).

Feel free to spread the word on this, of course.

Once this is done and on its way, we'll talk some more about what YOU can do to prevent The Rise of Robo-Hitler (and how much fun that will be). I'm in dire need of some simple splatter right now ...

Monday, May 24, 2021

Ø2\\‘3|| is still coming! (now for sure AND soon)

Sorry about the silence on the blog, folks. It's the same old mantra: if I have nothing to say, I will say nothing. Still, I always feel bad when the blog runs on empty for months. To be totally honest, sometimes I have the energy to do all the writing I want to do, and sometimes it's a struggle to get anything done at all. Covid politics did a number on me, for sure (I know I'm not alone). Anyway, we have good news here at Disoriented Ranger Publishing! That game we wanted to get published close to half a year ago? It is about to go public. Time to talk about it in more than vague terms ...

Rules? What rules?

I kept this one close to the chest for some time now. It's an original system and I sat on it like a mother hen even after it had hetched and I knew it worked. Now it's a fully grown up gamecock, ready to stand its ground in the arena of published games fighting for attention ...

All grown up and ready to game ... [source]

With the book done and ready, only waiting for approval, I can start showing the engine a bit. While we are at it, I'll showcase the layout and the writing as well:

Open in new tab for details ...

As you can see, this is just a short summary, very much at the beginning of the book. It is followed up by an extensive glossary of all the game terms a player might need and then we go into character generation, advancement, combat and social media interaction. That's roughly a quarter of the book.

After those basics are presented, the book will feature a roughly 150 pages strong part with all the information and material a gamemaster might need. It all builds up if you read it in a linear fashion.

The basic idea driving the game is that characters have 10 slots they can fill with gadgets, contacts or skills over the course of a 'Season' (which streamlines levelling up into a cooperative endeavor). Damage (physical or mental) will block slots, as will missing 'Episodes' (which means sessions, of course).

Players come up with slots as the characters need them by describing them and manifest them into the game by randomly determining how strong the described slot actually is (a player might claim that the character can Judo, but the roll might reveal that he just saw something on TV and copy that with mediocre success). DMs collects slots in a similar way and when all slots are filled, the season has its finale.

Rolls are described as shared in the picture above: players roll 3 dice, take one of them versus a difficulty and might activate or buy the other two, depending on the situation. That 'buying' is part of a feature where the DM is stronger the more 'Pennies' (the game currency) they have. If the players keep buying dice, the DM gets stronger. If they don't, the DM has other options to get stronger. Either way, it will fluctuate and that struggle is part of the game.

Since it's all playing in a dystopian future, there's also a full blown system for social media interaction that has a strong impact on a character's social standing. The game will play very much like a TV series, strongly leaning towards anime, but mostly due to the setting. A different setting will change that feel (we've tried our hand successfully on a Stranger Things clone, for instance).

All this is rounded up with tools for the DM to construct and manifest a narrative (similar to what is used in Lost Songs, see here) and build a sandbox for the characters to play in (also a variant of what's happening in Lost Songs).

And that'd be the rules, roughly speaking. The book will also feature examples, infographics, a collection of all the information (for easy access during the game), an extensive glossary (including DM terms), essays on all aspects of game and game world, an index, cheat sheets for documentation of all the lose parts and even some ideas on how to use just the setting, how to alter the rules or how to play the game in another setting.

It's very much a unique and complete game. The over 40 illustrations are just icing on the cake :)

Open in new tab for details ...
Soon, now. Very soon.

As I said, it'll be released any day now (we are waiting for approval from OBS, it'll go live shortly after that). It'll be print on demand only (I thought long and hard about this). All the work was put into making this the best book it can be, not a pdf. There is a difference, and I stand by that. I also want people to actually engage with the game and not just download something that'll ultimately just get forgotten on some hard drive ...

Anyway, how's that for a first impression? I'll make a full blown preview as soon as we go live. (Update: here we go ... I'll write a post top that effect right now, but if you've read this right now, you can get the game right here) This is it for now. Check out the follow up post here :)