the Fairgame Archive

2011-01-03: Caravan Solitaire
by Emily

I'm tapping in for the RPG Solitaire Challenge. I can't enter my own challenge (obviously), and I'm disqualified from the overall Favorite, and maybe should also for the Category ones too since I'm hosting the game—but I love the Scheherazade Challenge so much that it inspired me to work on a game anyway.

So my entry is Caravan. The challenges it will speak to are the Scheherazade or Campaigner's Challenge, and the Unlonely Your Fun challenge. It will also incorporate the Living in the Future challenge, since I think it will be wiki based.

The game is based around travelling from place to place, oasis to oasis. The player will visit a port of call and find mysteries and delights awaiting them. Their actions at the stop will change the balance of things. People die, fall in love, idols are stolen, taboos are crossed. These things will be recorded in an entry for that place in a wiki. Then the traveller moves on, and the next time you play it takes place at a different city or village or land.

More is discovered about each waypoint with each time it is encountered. And since the information is recorded, others can interact with the place. They will change it from how it was from when you were there last, so returning will find new mysteries, new challenges, new beauties to be revealed.

The travellers will change over time. Hopefully, the things left by others can become part of your outfit. Held for a time, then passed along, changed and weathered or newly adorned to be discovered to grace the days of someone else.

The challenges I see right now are: how do I make a simple set of information to be recorded at each place, that can easily be interacted with? What structure will be used. Narrative form only? With quantifiers? And how do things change or are introduced. Perhaps I can take a leaf from Neel K.'s lexicon game, and require that so many new things be created, so many existing be explained, and so many elsewhere be referred to? Yes to all those, I think.

And what if someone is playing alone? Are there ways change can be introduced so that the waypoints are always different, even without the interaction of others? And what will the setting be? Arabian, medieval, wide ranging fantasy, or determined by the player and players? How do you create a coherent world? Should there be a common theme chosen for a given Caravan route? Or do all roads lead to all places?

The games I'm feeling influence my thinking are Adventures in the Land of 1000 Kings, by Ben Lehman, the Lexicon Game by Neel Krishnaswami, 1001 Nights by Meg Baker, Before the Flood by Vincent Baker and narratives like the Rihla (titled A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities).

2011-01-03 07:23:01 jaywalt

Nice. So you're writing a game for Game Chef: Sojourner, just several months too late? :)

2011-01-03 11:08:02 Emily

Ha! I did love, love, love the ingredients, but had 0 time for it then. Delightful!

2011-01-03 21:55:24 Dr Pete

D'Oh!  This is unnervingly like my rough initial idea!  It looks fascinating!

2011-01-04 05:08:15 Emily

Uh oh! Darnit. Don't let me muscle in on your territory, Dr Pete. I'm just going with it for fun—we can compare notes in the long run. :)

2011-01-04 23:39:17 Evan Torner

Outfit mechanics - excellent!  Peter Molyneux tried something similar in Fable III, but was constrained by video game limitations that we in the tabletop RPG land simply don't have.

2011-01-04 15:51:28 Dr Pete

No worries!  I'm sure they'll be quite different in the end, just made me sit up and say "alright, if she's thinking in this space, I'm not totally crazy" :)

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