Break-My-Game Meetup and Katsucon 2020
I was lucky enough to attend two local tabletop shows and show off my games.
SKRAP PACKS @ BREAK-MY-GAME
First, on January 25, I was able to attend Labyrinth Game & Puzzles in Washington, D.C. for the Break My Game meetup. This gathering brought together local tabletop game developers to show off their games to each other and customers of the game shop who wanted to try some upcoming games.
I brought Skrap Packs with me to show off, and people were very receptive.
This group ran through my "Shack in the Forest" scenario where they played as teens partying in the woods late at night and coming under attack from the supernatural.
I played with the relatively new "Title" mechanic where players were able to give a background to their character based on the setting and the items they have when they first begin playing. This can be used to judge how effectively their character can use the tools at their disposal, translating into a numerical bonus for their moves.
Like a character with a title of "Electronics Nerd" would only get a +3 bonus to using an axe, while a character with a title of "Woodsman" would gain a +5.
I found another way to use bonuses though: players are able to combine items together to create new ones. This can be troublesome, though, if they create items that are too powerful for the setting. During this session, the characters built a weapon on par with Thor's Axe from the last Avengers movie, and were able to destroy enemies incredibly easily as a result.
What I want to do going forward is have players roll to see how long their created items will work for them (before, created items had indefinite uses). So players will gain a numerical bonus to rolls they perform when making their items, meaning a character with a more appropriate background will be able to create a more effective tool than someone without an appropriate background. After their number of uses is exhausted, the item is destroyed.
ALTER ARMS @ KATSUCON 2020
On February 15, I ran Alter Arms at Katsucon, an annual anime/video game/general pop culture convention. It was here that I had three Kamen Rider cosplayers try out Alter Arms, and as a fun experiment, we build their respective characters in the system.
Gentaro Kisaragi/Kamen Rider Fourze cosplayer. It was neat having players use their belts to transform when their characters did in the game.
My intention with the system was always to have something that players could use to play out their tokusatsu fantasies, and was built with some of my favorite toku series in mind, including Kamen Rider. The catch is, though, that every series is different, and doesn't have the same mechanics in terms of how character transform/their powers work/how they transform/etc.
For example: the character Kamen Rider OOO is able to assume different forms based on what coins they use in a combination of three. This is compared to Kamen Rider W, who is able to combine multiple powers together by pairing up different Gaia Memories in their belt.
I try to get around this by having different "levels" of transformation, representing increases in the rank of the character's power in those forms, with the powers accessible within those forms as their gimmicks (the flavor for which they frame their actions, earning mechanical bonuses based on how well the gimmick used corresponds to the current situation/opponent).
Normally, I run lower-leveled characters for these demos but allowed the players to create their characters at a higher level to account for them wishing to play their characters as if they were the mid-season version from their respective shows.
The players created their characters in Alter Arms as:
Tool: Diendriver (gun) (+2 to Wit moves)
1st Arms: Diend Default Form
Gimmick: Rider Cards
Special Ability: Crowd-Control: Attack multiple opponents at once!
Tool: Fists (+2 to Might moves)
1st Arms: Fourze Standard Base Form
Gimmicks: Astro Switches, Rocket, Drill
2nd Arms: Fourze Standard Elec Form
Special Ability: Disrupt: Attack your opponents to disorient them!
Tool: Sword (+2 to Might)
1st Arms: Kamen Rider Shinobi Default Form
Gimmicks: Juitsu, Flame, Clone
Special Ability: Riposte: Immediately counterattack if damage is taken!
The scenario I put them in had them in an alternate universe setting where they were high school students. The school came under attack from an evil organization, and it fell to them to fight off the insurgents.
Players said they approved of how the system accounted for their respective characters' abilities, particularly in how they chose their archetypes and special abilities. They made an extra effort to incorporate what they know about their characters when choosing things based on personality, including what stats might be their strongest, and which archetypes reflect them best.
Overall, the system didn't line up 1-to-1 with the established characters' portrayals in the show, but I did like how the system was able to approximate them. The players' overall enjoyment also helped me come to this conclusion.
The transformation system didn't line up with their expectations going into the game, though. I designed it so that players are encouraged to stay in their lower forms longer in order to build a sense of tension and escalation. But in shows like Kamen Rider, it isn't unusual for Riders to transform as quickly as possible and into their higher-level forms for their fights.
In the current system, this is discouraged as transformations are tied to a characters' Drama level, which acts as their health pool. The more Drama a character has (taken from getting hit by enemies, or using certain abilities), the closer they come to defeat. When a character transforms, their Drama level resets to a value that is associated with the strength of that transformation. The higher the level a character transforms into, the higher a number of Drama the character's reset value will be.
For Example: A starting character can take 6 Drama before they're defeated. Their transformation into their 1st Arms will reset their Drama value - from whatever its current value is - to 3. This means that transforming later on in the fight, after taking a few hits (say, 5 Drama for this example), will effectively heal them because the reset will drop them down to 3 Drama. But, if a character transforms at the beginning of battle before taking any hits or Drama at all, then they will effectively hurt themselves by taking 3 Drama.
This mechanic puts players who wish to transform soon and often at a disadvantage compared to those that wait. I have encountered this criticism a few times before, but it hasn't been frequent. Regardless, I do want to keep track of this criticism if it comes up in the future. I do intend this system to be for fans of tokusatsu, and hope my intentions can meet their expectations and give them a fun experience.
An Alter Arms NPC
Currently, I'm still in the process of editing the Alter Arms' rules, and will soon be sending them out (hopefully) this year to get feedback from players old and new. If you're interested in trying this demo, please notify me.