Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Idea

I am at that exciting and antsy place that comes before starting a new game. Part of the problem is, of course, I'm not yet sure *which* game I'm working on. I have a few ideas, and I'll pitch them to the players, take their feedback and come up with something that we'll all dig.

I enjoy the pitching process. I don't have any really formal approach to it - sometimes the pitch is as simple as a line or two ("Feng Shui, only as serious conspiracy play rather than Hong Kong action"), sometimes it's a full write up (as in the case of Golden Century) but whatever it is it tends to summarize the bit that grabs me.

The rub of this is that I have the scattered debris of a fair number of campaigns lying around my notebooks. They're good ideas (or at least most of them are) but I'm unlikely to ever do anything with them. So I find myself wondering if this might be the basis for an experiment. Grab a few of the more fleshed out ones, like Golden Century, slap a CC license on them, and release them into the wild. Odds are good they would be met with a resounding "flop" noise, but all the same, I keep talking about how I think setting and situation design is the arena that really deserves exploration in the hobby. Maybe this would be a way to put my money where my mouth is.



  1. The problem is that, as you know, ideas are the easy part; the implementation is the hard part. Every GM I've ever met has more campaign ideas than he'll ever have time to run. Releasing them as CC might be an interesting experiment, and you might get some interesting feedback, but I would really be impressed and surprised if anyone picked one up and ran with it.

  2. @Jim Yeah, that's at least part of the rub, though I think that points to the question that is on my mind. I agree, ideas are easy, but I have occasionally bumped up against worldviews that disagree. I genuinely don't know if they're outliers or if there's a real gap that I have a blindspot for. I suspect the former, but when I inspect that suspicion, I have to concede that I have no actual data to back it up, and the folks I would use as evidence that ideas are easy have a definite self-selection bias.

    But yeah. Probably a resounding thud.

  3. I keep two folders on my hard drive, one for setting ideas, one for plot ideas. I'd never thought of putting them out there, though.

    I doubt that they'd make any money if I tried to sell them, but there might be interest if they were just there for download.

  4. Yeah, I have no illusions about monetizing such an idea. I just wonder what happens when you make such tools available for other people's toolboxes, without expectation or price.

  5. Just remember to be careful about "slap a CC on them". CC is easy to provide, but pretty damned difficult to revoke.

  6. Have a tournament: post a paragraph or three of, say, four of your ideas. Then collect votes.

  7. Golden Century was the first thing I read on your blog and it hooked me. I really enjoyed reading the process and the history, and especially the characters. As I commented then, it sounded like a decent fit for a favored rules set, but that's really neither here nor there.

    I don't know what other campaign/game ideas you're considering releasing to the wild, but this concept sounds very interesting. I guarantee I'd at least look at a GC release and see what I could do with it, though nothing may come of it.

    Heck, we're still kicking around the idea of a three or four night session series using TSR's old Top Secret/S.I. rules and setting it to the appropriate years. Spy movie camp and strangeness ahoy!

  8. I've often thought the same about some of my game materials. I definitely wouldn't expect to make money off them, but I know I've gotten a lot of value from some of the things people have released into the wild, as you say. People might not pick up and run with your materials wholesale, but they may very well get inspired, and inspiration is no small currency in gaming... just my two cents on it.

  9. Sketched out settings are very exciting to me! If they appeal to me, then I want to game in them, and I usually hack a game to run in the setting I like. I love that they inspire me, unlike a lot of fully fleshed out settings, which can feel limiting because they fill up all the creative space I'd want to turn over to the players...

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’d love to check out those settings… I often lament the fact that there so much personal gaming material out there, some of it quite possibly brilliant, that we’ll never get to see and be inspired by…


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