Monday, August 18, 2014

High Strung Makeover

I spent yesterday completely reworking High Strung. What had started out as a fairly clean game mechanically had become clunky and over-wrought, as I added bits that *had* to go in, or fixed problems one by one. The last session of High Strung in our  Alpha group had become far too mechanics focused - too much dice rolling, of all different kinds, and not enough roleplaying. Twice I used the wrong procedure - one for a different situation - and got bad results. It was a mess! That we actually still managed to have fun was a testament to my awesome players!

When I looked over the game, I saw patch job after patch job, each one OK in itself, but leading to a point where each and every situation was handled differently. It had become a god-awful chimera. Sometimes you have to do major surgery. I proceeded to anesthetize my patient, and cut it open.

I cut out chunks of system and grafted in a fairly consistent manner of handling things, cloned from the same chunk of mechanics. This is huge! A big help was a suggestion from Klaxon on players who weren't taking a lead. Here's how it works:

In performing the music, there are four aspects or performance - Vocals, Riff, Bottom, and Rhythm. Only one character can take the lead in any one aspect. Since every non-wind instrumentalist - horns and reeds - can sing while paying their instrument, and even the horns and reeds players can sing while they aren't playing - Ian Anderson springs to mind - most bands have more than one person performing in the same aspect. Since only one can have the lead in an aspect, the others can either Help - make a roll and try to add a success to the Lead, enhancing their performance like singing harmonies - or Usurp the lead by attempting to outplay the lead and thereby gaining Hope. If the usurper successfully outplays the nominal lead player, they can gain any Hope points the lead player would normally get.

That mechanic was wonderful! Perfect for a game where players are constantly undercutting each other to snatch a scrap of Hope! It also by itself replaced an awkward, kludge of a mechanic that infected several other fix-it patches, enabling things to stay relatively clean and straightforward.

I have Hope again! :D


  1. Glad you listened to Klaxon because that makes so much sense.

  2. Oh, it's elegant as hell, and perfectly suited for this game! I owe him big time for this one!