Indie RPG Spotlight - Dread
Dread is a special role playing game. It doesn't use dice or cards for conflict resolution. It uses a Jenga tower. The mechanics of this lead players into the careful buildup of tension, the punctuated climax (where someone typically dies), the backing off, and the resumed slow build. In a sense, this role playing game elegantly uses its rules to emulate the structure of that particular tension-driven style of horror story. It is an excellent example of mechanism design, in the sense that the rules are designed to lead players toward a particular outcome regardless of their individual intents or abilities.
Well, aside from their abilities at Jenga itself.
Rym and Scott of GeekNights presented "Beyond Dungeons & Dragons" at PAX Australia 2013. (They've previously presented this at ConnectiCon 2008, PAX Prime 2008, PAX Prime 2009, PAX East 2010, MAGFest X, and dozens of other conventions). This is a short excerpt from that full lecture, spotlighting one of the specific game examples they used.
Inspectres is an indie RPG by Jared Sorensen. Its mechanics focus on who controls the narrative at different points (depending on player success or failure), in order to essentially make Ghostbusters (the movie) happen in tabletop RPG form.
Primetime Adventures is an indie RPG that elegantly structures your role playing in the format of a serial television drama. Simple mechanics cause the same interleaving of characters and plots that professional writers use in actual television. Focus on what your character's story is REALLY about and abstract the rest.
A Thousand and One Nights is an amazing indie role playing game that centers around a sultan's court. But, rather than merely playing the characters in this court, you play these characters who are THEMSELVES playing characters in stories they tell to pass the time.
This is a game where characters don't have strength stats: they have senses and aspects of envy. They have goals and desires. When you can't express your frustration with the court poet directly without angering the Sultan, you find yourself doing so indirectly in your story.
This is a game where you are expected to lounge and eat dates while you play. Atmosphere and storytelling are paramount. To be sure, this isn't Dungeons & Dragons.
Rym and Scott of GeekNights (www.frontrowcrew.com) appeared on two panels at MagFest X, and also performed this lecture: Beyond Dungeons & Dragons. Herein, they discuss the nature of role playing games, what their mechanics really mean, how they affect play, and why D&D is probably not the best system for the kinds of games you're trying to play.
There is a huge catalog of "indie" tabletop RPGs just as there is for videogames. Burning Wheel, Dogs in the Vineyard, Inspectres, Lacuna, A Thousand and One Nights, Mouse Guard, Prime Time Adventures, Pendragon, Freemarket, Dread, Kagematsu, Apocalypse World, these are a TINY smattering of the possibilities. Play the game that affords the play style best suited to your story, not the one everyone just happens to know the rules for.
If you enjoy this, many more of our lectures from other conventions are available on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD03FB084B11A0454
Burning Apocalypse con (http://www.burningwheel.org/?page_id=111) showcased the triumphs of tabletop role playing game design from the minds of Luke Crane and Vincent Baker.
Here, Rym and Scott of GeekNights (www.frontrowcrew.com) asked the question "How did you find Burning Wheel?", and the answers are herein.
Thanks to The Al Holbrook Band for their song "Burning Wheel" - http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Al-Holbrook-Band/268856187844.
We have some related GeekNights content for those interested in more:
Interview with Luke Crane: http://frontrowcrew.com/geeknights/20061031/interview-with-luke-crane/
BAC Interview with Luke Crane: http://frontrowcrew.com/geeknights/20111108/burning-apocalypse-con-with-luke-crane/
Two episodes about Burning Wheel: http://frontrowcrew.com/geeknights/20060214/ubercon-and-burning-wheel/ http://frontrowcrew.com/geeknights/20071002/the-burning-wheel/