There are always a handful of games on the drawing board and another handful on the cutting room floor (if you don’t mind a mixed metaphor). The games listed here are in various stages of development, but each one is expected to reach completion on of these days.
Scouts of the Taiga
Gnomes (Hobs, Nisse) brought empathy and community, which allowed mind and society to evolve. These empathy and community manifest in a speech-like level of communication and cooperation, which allows the PCs to talk to each other as though their animals are talking. However, these animals are not “talking,” and no outsider would recognize it as such. It is empathetic combination of gesture, sound, expression, etc. Predator to scout communication is impossible, as the predators are evolved to kill and eat. It isn’t evil or bad. There are no “bad guys,” but these predators are beyond empathy and behave as forces of nature. The bear is a storm, the tiger an earthquake. Even the weasel is tragic illness or sudden accident. They simply are. We, the scouts, must survive them.
Other books have “good” animals and “bad” animals, a la Redwall. That’s too essentialist for us. Gnomes would have bonded with the predators species, but they could not because those predators would have eaten the gnomes before much contact. Pretty basic causality there. However, there is nothing evil or bad about the predators; they obey their natures as do all animals.
Free will is a bubble of opportunity that exists within a sea of nature, a mode of mind or thought that is but the experience of complicated conflicting instincts.
The “mindful” species are all taken to have mind and society by default. However, rogue individuals may exist or wander into the Taiga from other clan-lines of the same species. So, a new family of voles might arrive that do not have mind and would be something akin to the Neutral species.
“Mindsome” clans of otherwise neutral species have a set chance for being mindful individuals: Raccoons, Otters, Badgers, Fairies. Mindsome individuals can be empathized with at a difficulty and sometimes understood?
“Mindless” species are in all ways removed from the player-characters. While we can empathize with them as living beings, they are as animals–and even worse in a way, since as predators they have evolved to kill the player-character species on instinct. For a human to empathize with a dog is one thing, but for the mouse to empathize with the owl is another. It is like a human empathizing with cancerous tumor or bacteria or the Borg.
The resolution mechanic is based on experiencing Wonders and uncovering truths or answering questions of the environment more so than combat. In fact, direct combat requires specific augments to the character to even occur.
To demonstrate progressive theories of mind and forefront empathy and community as the prerequisites for mind and society. Buddhist themes along with ideas engaged in Attachment Theory therapies.
Set in 1876 on the North American continent. The United States of America, however, no longer exists. Instead, a collection of nations vie for control of the new world, including a new Japanese colony, greedy European players, the Republic of Texas, and coalitions of native populations. Centennial Gothic mixes 19th century Western, Eastern, and Victorian worlds to create a place brimming with showdowns at high noon, passion-dead vampires, the alchemy of mad scientists, clockwork automatons powered by coal and magick, and lawless hills of gold and gambling.
The game runs without dice, using ordinary playing cards and poker chips to create characters and settle all challenges. Play with or without a game master.
Centennial Gothic is in early stages of development. We have an in-house quickstart we use to test out the basic mechanics and share the world of the game with friends and players at conventions, but things are still open and up in the air. We are avoiding the typical ‘steampunk’ setting and including more elements of horror, coal, clockwork, soot, and filth. One of the sample characters is a ‘Tesla Punk,’ a mad scientist equipped with electrical gear and occult magicks.
Lots of changes are sure to come as we tighten up the system and include new features, but the basics are there. We’ll be running a contest for actual-play videos from the site this winter. It gets pretty raucous when a four-way battle turns lethal.
Ever had an imaginary friend? Ever know a kid who couldn’t live without her favorite stuffed animal? Ever own a lucky charm? Ever hear voices in your head? Ever feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself?
Our newest title is being developed quick on the heels of Early Dark, already taking priority over Centennial Gothic in development hours. The engine is light, tight, and creative, using a single roll of 3d10 for all resolutions. Around the testing table, we’ve come to think of Assemblage, I as “Akira meets the Goonies.” We even scare ourselves with the twisted stuff we come up with. The game is growing fast, almost writing itself.
Each player controls not a character but an assemblage, a cluster of psychically linked bodies that function as a single emotional being. Most of these bodies are young kids aged 14-17, and the powers they possess attract the attention of corporations and governments that work to stitch together some semblance of civilization in a world shaken by First Impact. You play this group of bonded beings, balancing the rage and the calm of each member.
Ever want peace? Ever crave power? If you could only have one of the two, which would it be?