October 10th, 2010


Beatdown, Part 2 – Skin, Setting and Future Development

Originally published at Figures of Text. Please leave any comments there.

Continuing on from the last post about my abortive Game Chef entry, the one major thematic element I didn’t manage to handle properly was Skin. When a character loses a scene, he may suffer an Injury – a negative trait that breaks the character’s Skin.

If your Skin’s broken, the Desert gets inside you. The scenes in the final two acts of the game should be based around the character’s injuries. If you lose your girlfriend in Act II, and that’s marked down as an Injury, then she’s bound to come back as a ghost or hallucination in Act IV. If you get bitten by a rattlesnake in one scene, then in the Desert you run out of anti-venom.

Setting: As the parameters of the game are defined in the opening scenes, the setting has to remain nebulous. The Desert’s assumed to be somewhere in the American southwest, but not quite in our reality. Lots of low-key surrealism; a Moorcock heist movie.

(If I go with Ye Traditional Atomic Wasteland for the Desert, then the meaning of Skin may change. In this variant, character start with some form of protection against the hazards of the desert, but can lose this protection over the course of play.)

Future Development: The first thing that needs to be done is number-crunching and playtesting. The game lives and dies by the Edge economy, so the cost of winning has to be correctly balanced. The players should have to think seriously about whether or not they want to win the scene, but they should win enough that the game doesn’t become a completely oppressive beatdown.