How I wrote City of Judas (part three)

How I wrote City of Judas (part three)

How I wrote City of Judas (part three)

Again about the design process of City of Judas. I’d love to hear your opinions – as fellow game designers and as players as well.

First part: 

Second part: 

Designing the Playbooks

Designing the Playbooks was very easy at the start. It’s not a coincidence that a lot of AW-hacks begin with Playbooks: they contain a great deal of the game flavor and color, they’re what you hand out to Players, they say who and what the characters (the protagonists of your story) are, they say what they can do, they contain all the Moves with their exciting options and possibilities…

Of course, after the first couple of drafts, things started to get harder: there are a lot of interactions between the Playbooks to consider, there are the various fields of expertise to define, areas where characters can overlap and others where you want to make sure they don’t; there are some things to keep in balance, and others that clearly need to be out of balance so that the game gets rolling. There are Playbooks that feel easier to design and others that feel a bit boring at the start, until you don’t find the way to turn the concept around and give it the right twist.

At this stage, I still thought: alternative playbooks, alternative combat system, but this game is still going to be running as basic Dungeon World. Or perhaps as a Dark Age spin-off, or maybe under AW. It didn’t go exactly that way.

The Counters & their Moves

I liked so much the Health Counter used in the combat system, that I made more Counters.

There was a counter for Gold (how much money the character had), for Equipment (did the character have all the necessary gear?), for Rings (that were the ranking system of the mercenary company of the Iron Fist), for Taint (how much the character’s soul was dark). Some of them were a different take on classic RPG stuff like money and equipment, and others were tied to the setting (the Rings and the Taint).

I was initially afraid to move to so many Counters (and in the end, I simplified this part in my latest design) but the feedback on the SG forum was that indeed this was an interesting feature. All of those Counters had Peripheral Moves associated with it. This lead to a high number of Moves (which is a painful topic I will discuss further in a dedicated paragraph).

The idea behind this, was to avoid tracking static numbers (how many Rings you have, how much money, which exact equipment you have), and instead make all those components to work basically like Stats.

And now, for two totally unrelated questions:

What is your favorite City of Judas playbook? (if you didn’t play it yet, we don’t mind, just tell us which one looks cooler!!)

Have you played and used the Health, Equipment and Spirit counters? Did they make book-keeping easier?

3 thoughts on “How I wrote City of Judas (part three)”

  1. Oh well, I immediately fell in love with the Scout, not only because it’s a nice twist on the classical thief/assassin theme, but also has social moves like uncover their secrets and streetwise.

    So you can be as lonely or as involved in society as you please.

  2. I really like what you’ve done here, especially everything about the setting. However, after our first game, I had a couple questions concerning the raider or more particularily his gang :

    – Does the Raider PC make a move for his gang in battle AND another one for himself using the regular moves? Or does he just fight with the gang as some kind of weapon? I asked that because the Player asked me what are his stats relevant in combat if he gets only to roll for the gang and no move of his own.

    – in our group there were a raider and a veteran and they were fighting a small gang. is the other character considered to be part of the gang and if so how about his own moves (as asked in my previous question above)? If not part of the gang or doesn’t want to be part of it, does he have to fight the gang using the Face Death move as if he were alone?

    I stated back then that he could use his own moves but wasn’t considered outnumbered as the Raider’s gang kind of took care of the numerical problem. But I’m not sure and it seems a bit overpowered to me (unless I throw a bigger gang at them).

    Anyway hope i was clear enough for you to get my point here but again it’s a brilliant game you made here and I’m looking forward to have a next shot at it! 🙂

  3. Thanks Palin Majere for the comment.

    Grégory Doizi thanks for the feedback and the questions. I will address that in a specific post where I speak about the Raider; these are good questions!

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