Physical Bits

June 22, 2011 at 9:20 am (Uncategorized)

I was reading a post from Ryan Macklin where he was talking about a Dresden Files game he had played recently where the GM had the Fate chips in a bag on the table. Ryan made the point that the shared resource at the center of the table added significantly to the game experience.

Add that to Amy Garcia’s article last night on her playtests of rem which has some very interesting physical elements to it. You may be able to tell that the physicality of gameing has been on my mind recently.

I strongly suggest in Boarsdraft that the HM put the Mystery Pool and Struggle Pool out as tokens in the center of the play space to give all of the players a good idea of how far along the year and the story is. This does a lot of things that I think help reinforce what I want players to be doing in the game.

I like the idea that there is this physical presence for an abstract concept just sitting there, mocking them. A concern of one of my playtesters is that there is too little incentive to go after the piles. I felt pretty sure that there was enough there, as long as the HM kept pushing that there was something going on, to keep them at the pool. I have concidered adding an extra benifit to pulling from the Mystery Pool, earning extra effort perhaps. I’m going to wait and see if any change is really needed before I go patching the system.


  1. Ryan Macklin said,

    I strongly suggest in

    Don’t strongly suggest. Dictate.

    There will always be readers who don’t do whatever social and physical things you tell them to. That’s cool. That happens. But trust that many of your readers are going to assume that you know what you’re talking about regarding your game, and trust them as well. They’re smart.

    – Ryan

    • JBMannon said,


      I get what your saying and I agree for the most part. My fear is that by insisting on another physical requirement to play the game (it already requires a lot of dice) I will be adding another barrier to entry. I’ve tried very hard to make Boarsdraft as friendly as possible to players who have never seen a roleplaying game before. I’ll definately give it more thought though, as I’m moving forward. Your statement rings true to me and its more likely that players will have more things they can use as tokens than dice so I may be worried over nothing.

      • Ryan Macklin said,

        as friendly as possible to players who have never seen a roleplaying game before.

        This is dangerous territory, for two reasons. One, simplification is not about removing components. It’s about reducing the mental handling time — which is often caused by removing components, but not always. Some graphic designers make great character sheets that are filled with information presented in a way that helps people understand the game sooner. Some might argue that needing that paper is less simple, but they’re just confusing the common solution with the problem’s root cause.

        Two, that’s not your target audience. Unless you have mindshare & marketing that taps into people who haven’t played before, or you have a very hot IP that doesn’t normally have a gamer crossover, you’re not writing a book for new gamers. New gamers might play your game, yeah, but not because of your book directly; instead because someone in the subculture is interested in playing your game and has convinced some friends to try it. In that case, it’s far more on that guy to give his friends a good initial experience as a GM than you as a designer. You have very little influence over that moment.

        I say it’s dangerous because trying to chase that promotes second-guessing and inaction. It causes poor decisions to be made to to be stuck with longer.

        – Ryan

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