Posts Tagged ‘corona’

I’ve been buckling down and doing a lot of writing, and in between juggling a lot of ideas (some old, some new), I hadn’t really popped in to discuss what’s going on. So here’s what’s going on!

  • As I rewrite Corona, it occurs to me that I might want to not release it ahead of some of the other spin-off games I have in mind for it: rather, it might be served to put the weird hybrid-style game out after the IP has had a chance to get some traction in other forms. What those other forms are remains nebulous, but I think there may be a good game set among the nomads on the causeways, outside the reach of the autarchies and subject to their own interesting cultural dynamics. (Out there, there’s much less shell-hopping, so people are more attached to their bodies of origin, moreso when you consider that they’re subject to time dilation for so much of their existence that a nomad who looks young might be much older than they appear. Also, despite the perception by autarchy dwellers that nomads are bumpkins, they’re likely to be quite cosmopolitan, since they come into contact with so many distinct ‘bubble cultures’ in their travels.)
  • I’m planning a rather significant Delve supplement in the mega-dungeon vein, while being aware that the underlying premise of the mega-dungeon kind of flies in the face of what Delve is about. 🙂 My intention is to provide an example of what the Delve equivalent of a mega-dungeon would look like, as well as framework rules for how to devise your own.
  • I think the mini-games I did in October will be released as pay-what-you-want when I have them cleaned up and suitable for showing.
  • Ghosts of Atlantis hasn’t come out of its fallow period yet. I think I may cannibalize an idea or two from it for another idea that’s burgeoning – ironically, a revisit of the idea behind Daisho, from which I took a mechanical idea or two for Atlantis in the first place.
  • The horror game is out for playtesting, and I’m waiting to hear back. (And, as the sages tell us, the waiting is the hardest part.)

So that’s what’s up, apart from one or two things that are so sketchy at this point that they’re not even worth blogging about yet. Stay tuned.

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Checking in

So how have you been?

I’ve been away for a bit due to illness, and while I’m happy to report that I’m feeling better, I haven’t been able to do a lot of work lately other than scribbling in my notebook to revisit later. Sadly, as a result, I missed the deadline for NGDM completion with a half-completed Yūgen set that never got to see playtesting. The game will still be completed, because initial focus group response was highly positive, but I apologize for not getting it out the door sooner.

The other main iron in the fire is the still-untitled horror game, which is getting some flesh on the bones in the form of guidelines and optional rules for emulating specific horror sub-genres like slasher films or the Cthulhu Mythos. A bevy of “dashboards” will be provided in the deluxe version game for those who want to customize their play experience, while the basic rules will be available as a stand-alone unit. Essentially, you can get the bare-bones version and do the tinkering themselves, or pay a little more and get a lot of that work done for you already.

Corona and Ghosts of Atlantis will probably lay fallow until those other projects are out of the way, and I have the mental space to revisit them. Corona in particular may be resurrected in a significantly different form due to some feedback; players are at least as interested in the IP itself as in the game I created as a vehicle for it, which is both unexpected and welcome.

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Let us speak of empires.

In Corona, you have one. But can you keep it?

The universe of Corona is one in which humankind has spread across the Milky Way. Psychic autarchs have learned to harness solar radiation to magnify their powers across entire systems, and their rule is largely unquestioned. However, an autarch’s sun-mind powers are limited by the heliopause – the outer boundary where the star’s radiation and the interstellar medium reach equilibrium. As a result, there is no one dominant interstellar power, but instead thousands of island-like star-nations vying for any advantage over the others.

One turn, or span, in a game of Corona focuses on one of these autarchies: one player adopts the position of the Throne, playing the autarch overseeing this solar kingdom, with the other players adopting the various members of the court, divided into four Ministries responsible for different duties and powers in the system.

Not all agents in the court are loyal, however. Some might want power for themselves or their Ministry; others could be secret partisans for another rival autarchy; still others may be idealists who want to replace the authoritarian rule of the autarchs. The danger of treachery is heightened in this time of change, when serious threats overshadow the long-held equilibrium of power. The nomads who wander the causeways built for interstellar travel during the Emigration have their own independent agenda. A fledgling Free Alliance of systems newly emancipated from autarchial rule agitates for a new era.

Corona allows players options to explore one such autarchy’s saga, constructed by consensus, or even to string together multiple autarchies in rotating story arcs to build a truly galactic epic.

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Opting into the Corona playtest

Anyone interested in participating in the last big round of playtesting for Corona: Strategic Sci-Fi Roleplaying, please email me at parenthesispress (at) gmail (dot) com with “Corona Playtest” in the subject. One thing to point out: the game is intended for play with groups of 6+, though there are rules options for smaller groups, so bear that in mind.

When I finish the current editorial pass, I’ll pass along the download link and password for anyone who opts in.

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Pre-Gen Con productivity

It’s always nice to get some work done. With Gen Con less than a week away, the necessary materials are coming together.

For the game formerly known as Delve, the playtest character sheets have been printed; they’re double-sided with some of the most important rules on the back. I managed to get them down to a quarter of a sheet of letter-sized paper!

As for Corona, the game is a bit too sprawling to print out an easy playtest document for a table of completely new players, so I’m making agent dossiers that include specifics only on what the individual player needs to know: if you have a psychic power, you get the rules for that power, but none of the other ones, for instance. I’m a big fan of showing off all of a game, including character generation, during a demo, but I fear Corona‘s set-up is too involved for a group to have to absorb cold, especially at the end of a taxing day spent gaming, walking, and processing the vortex of sensory overload that is the exhibit hall.

For the wider Corona public playtest, of course, players will get the whole package, and create their own autarchies as intended. More on that after I get back from Indianapolis.

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While I ponder a bit more of the ins and outs of this new game, we’re approaching Gen Con, and there’s some exciting stuff to say about it, starting with the fact that Parenthesis Press is going to be there with a diverse slate of options.

First of all, for House of Cards fans, I’ll be running sessions at Games on Demand, which has been brought into the fold and given space on the second level of the Indianapolis Convention Center this year.

The most exciting part for me, though, is the announcement of the First Exposure Playtest Hall in the Sagamore Ballroom. For those who may remember me talking about Metatopia, this is in the same vein (and is in fact run by Double Exposure, the folks behind Metatopia, DexCon, Dreamation, and lots of other New York-area events): a ballroom full of new projects from indie game designers looking for playtesters drawn from the amazing crowd of gamers of which Gen Con is comprised. I’ll have (the yet-to-be-renamed) Delve there, but that’s not the biggest news – Corona will also be there. Regular followers will note that I’ve talked somewhat extensively about how the former works, its design philosophy goals, but Corona has basically only been cryptically mentioned by name with no further information.

Well, time to break that silence.

Corona is a strange specimen, to be sure, which is one reason I’ve been keeping info pretty hush-hush. It’s an RPG, but as much in the tradition of story games as House of Cards, if not more… yet it’s also very much like a board game. It’s a “strategic RPG,” to perhaps coin a term, in that your characters are the high-up movers and shakers of a solar empire, managing a domain against external threats and internal intrigue. In the tradition of Dune and its numerous antecedents, you’re a powerful and hyper-competent agent, or maybe even a psychic god-emperor overseeing the subjects orbiting the star that defines your territory and your power. When you take actions, you don’t wade into the fray personally: you give commands to legions, negotiate treaties, shape interstellar trade policy, or manipulate propaganda. The game is meant to be cerebral and stately, unfolding potentially over many different star systems, interweaving their stories with one another and with those the monumental figures that steer their destinies.

Final details will be available shortly, but the plan is to run three sessions of Corona, one each night on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, open to eight players interested in getting their hands dirty with the system in its current state. If you’re going to be there, please come by and take part! For more information on the First Exposure system, you can visit their website – registration will be managed through Double Exposure directly.

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