M&A #9 – Red Text, Blue Text
How about a little glimpse inside of how I revise…in the actual typing and organizing sense.
With outline in hand, first I make a copy of version 2 of the rules and title it version 3. Then I go top down in the text, making changes. After I update a section, I change the text to red. I chose red because it’s very noticeable. When I was struggling with real life stuff, I didn’t have much red text in my rules document and that made me sad. But now there’s a lot of red text and that makes me happy. I change the text to blue for anything that I’m going to skip and come back to later. Just as a reminder. Some stuff needs further thought and I want to keep the ball rolling on things I’m ready to change. In time, I’ll go back and turn that blue text red…and be even happier.
As I do this, I go back to my outline and do something similar. Blue text for items I plan to change. Red text once I’ve updated an item in the rules. Eventually I’ll have a rules document and outline that are all red. And then I’ll be very happy and much closer to running some playtests of the revised rules.
It’s time to share some of my red text.
The Character Sheet
I’ve revised the character sheet to bring it in line with the revised rules. I’m attaching it here for you, completely filled out for a character in the game, to provide a point of reference for some of what follows below.
Playtesters pointed out that I lacked full skill descriptions in the rules. The character sheet summarized what each skill governs, but the rules document lacked a discussion in any depth. So I’ve generated a few lines to describe each skill a bit more. I’ll need to expand them a bit, but at least the basics are laid out now.
It’s worth noting that I also revamped the skills a bit. I eliminated some skills by rolling some stuff into other skills and introduced a couple new skills. I also renamed the physical skills. While Troubleshooting was a fun name for shooting things, it was misleading more than it was fun. While thinking about the world of Murders & Acquisitions, I found myself wondering what a person in this world might put on their resume to represent their capability to beat someone up, shoot a gun, or move stealthily. After all, catchy buzz words are the norm on resumes. The physical skills needed catchy names that would be appropriate to the cut-throat world of M&A.
The physical skills are now called Bodily Grace (covering bodily dexterity), Force Application (covering bodily strength), and Manual Finesse (covering things based on hand-eye coordination).
SKILL DESCRIPTIONS PDF
Regaining Synergy Points
In Murders & Acquisitions, Synergy Points are a limited resource that players gain and spend over the course of the game. They can spend them to roll an extra boon/botch die on their skill checks, to take another action on your turn, to negate wounds just taken, and to manipulate the narrative of the story in minor ways.
Previously, you used Qualifications and Other Skills listed on your character sheet to determine when you could spend Synergy Points for rerolls or to gain an extra die on a check. Essentially, you had to have a Qualification or Other Skill that tied to what you wanted to reroll. And you were limited in how often you could call upon each Qualification or Other Skill to do this. This was meant to be a prompt for players to describe their characters doing something extra special, tied to the Qualification or Other Skill, when they spent a Synergy Point. This proved a bit forced, so I’ve eliminated this mechanic from the game. Instead, you can spend a Synergy Point whenever you want.
Regaining Synergy Points, on the other hand, requires a bit of work. Players can regain Synergy Points in a variety of ways, as described on the PDF you can check out here.
I thought I’d provide some insight into how I came up with the methods for regaining Synergy Points.
Once again, I looked at the world of M&A and, in a sense, at the real world. In an office environment (and in a lot of other work environments, truth be told), employees are constantly striving against one another to be the best at their jobs. They’re out to one-up each other, especially in a dog-eat-dog world like M&A. The “Competing with Each Other” subsection is an in-game representation of this phenomenon.
At the same time, employees are trying to be noticed by their boss. The “Impressing the Supervisor” subsection builds from this idea.
Finally, a lot of newer games utilize mechanics that allow players to reward each other. This is represented in M&A in the “Wheeling and Dealing” subsection. In addition to rewarding each other, players can bribe each other with Synergy Points. I expect this wheeling and dealing will generate some fun discussions among players at the table.
Several playtesters remarked that they were surprised Murders & Acquisitions was so cooperative, lacking any player vs. player mechanics. In fact, the previous version of the game didn’t even allude to this idea, though certainly some groups play that way anyhow.
I decided to create something for M&A that would represent inter-party conflict in game mechanics, or at least a simple version of such conflict.
I tried to keep this system simple, but provide for some bait and switch/outright lying complexity. Also, while it plays into the dice system of the game, it isn’t embedded deep within the mechanics. If a group doesn’t want to use these rules, they don’t have to. Ignoring these rules doesn’t impact the rest of the system.
I’ve really taken my playtesters’ feedback to heart. Version 3 of Murders & Acquisitions is still the game it was, but tweaked, adjusted, and (I hope) improved. There’s plenty of new stuff for playtesters to absorb in the coming months, but not so much as to make it seem like a totally different game.
I’m happy with the attempts I’ve made to introduce some non-traditional mechanical elements to my little game. They will need playtesting and revision certainly, but I feel like I’m well on my way to creating a game that is sort of a fusion of traditional RPG mechanics and some of the “new school’ of indie RPG rules concepts.
Will all of these changes remain for the final product? Will the new rules get dumped? Will I devise even more new stuff? Only time will tell.
But for now, I feel like I’m on the right track.
Back to designing,