Ashcan

I finally got some time to talk with judd_sonofbert this week. It's been a crazy few months for me, but oddly GenCon marks the point where things will finally start slowing down. Now I can get back to work on Giants.

I've recently heard some buzz about the Ashcan Front, and Ashcans in general, and thought I should say something about my expeirence. Take it with a grain of salt, because while I consider Giants a successful "ashcan" I am not publishing the final version yet.

What do I mean by successful ashcan you ask. Well, by my account, the number of ashcans I sold paid for the costs of creating it. Second, I got a fair amount of good feedback; somewhere near ten groups contacted me. Third, everyone that contacted me with feedback said they enjoyed playing the ashcan. They obviously had suggestions, and most answered the questions I listed in the back of the book, but some gave me ideas that I never would have considered on my own.

I saw the Front as an opportunity to get people to be part of my game design, and help me pay for the cost of the materials it would take to get it to them. I don't think anyone there ever tried to "pull the wool over anyones eyes" about what that offer was. Hell, being part of the design process means that you could be the one guy (or girl) that convinces the designer the game is not any good and should be scrapped.

Buying an ashcan is not for the feint of heart. It's a commitment. Well, it's suppose to be. Between you and the designer to TRY and make a game better.

I will certainly miss being at the Ashcan Front this year at GenCon. It was a wonderful expeirence, and I learned quite a lot from each of the other game designers there. But be sure I will proudly wear my Ashcan Front shirt and stop by the booth to talk about the good old days.

A long overdue update

I have been horribly lax in posting to this blog. I apologize to anyone that has been looking for updates on the progress of the game.

Unfortunately Giants will not be released at GenCon08 as I had intended. Things have just been so busy for me as of late I feel that the game would have suffered if I had pushed for that deadline. Right now I am looking at a release date early next year (Dreamation 09).

I am still very excited about the game and I am looking forward to being able to spend a little more time making it as good as it can be.

Jeff

Too Little Time

Having only run several Con games of Giants I have noticed there is not enough time to make the map and characters. It's not a hard choice of which one to do, map making always wins. I come with a half dozen pre-made characters and let the players choose between them.

I don't think this is a problem when I am running a one shot, but it means I have had less feedback on the character creation aspect of the game.

The one part of character creation I have had the most problem with is the Breed Powers. Players have a difficult time with the enormous amount of freedom they have in creating their powers and seem a bit shell shocked. Not everyone is like this, but more than one player has suggested a list of Breed Powers to choose from. While I did make a list, it is a list of examples meant to inspire players to create their own.

Again, I can't spend too long letting players pick / create powers if I have a time constraint.

I've addressed this issue a little in the book. I hope that bringing peoples attention to it in the text will be enough to help them determine how to manage their own time when they play the game.

Demo Thoughts

Last year at GenCon my demos at the Ashcan Front were ok, but they didn't really stand out. The map has always been neat, but I wanted it to stand out just a bit more. I even spent a few hours walking around the convention floor looking for little Giant like miniatures to use on the map.

I was running a game of Giants Monday and had a thought when I saw a chess board one of my players had. What if I could use this cool looking chess board to set the map on, and use some of the very cool chess pieces for the locations of the Giants.

Here is a pic of the board set up with a slightly smallish map.  I'll post a higher quality one some other time.

Maximum stat thoughts

Right now there are only two ways for a Giant to gain experience. The first is at the end of each game session a giant gets to raise one of their Little stats by one point. The second is by completing a Hunger Accomplishment, which allows the Giant to raise one of their Big stats by one.

At game start the max a Giant can have in a Little stat is five, and a ten in a Big stats. These maximums are imposed at character creation, but should they stay throughout play?

I am not so wild about Big stats going above ten, but little stats going above five sits well with me. The longest session of Giants that has been run (to my knowledge) lasted five sessions. Enough to allow a Giant with a little stat at five to increase it to a nine. Granted thats one kick ass Giant, and after four sessions I think thats ok.

During that same five session time they should have finished one or two Hunger Accomplishments and raised two Big stats (or one by two). Again, this one caps at ten, but the other two Big stats should be tempting enough to not cause a fuss.

Squashing a few things

I thought I should point out a few things that that are obvious changes on the newer character sheet.

Health - The health stat is now just a total of your Size and Action. Size being the prime factor in your health is now much more important. Also, there are no damage penalties. This was something I always felt a little unsure about and after a few playtests decided that it needed to go.

I talked a little bit about this and some other stuff over at the Ashcan Front a few months back.

Summon Breed powers

One of the things I've never been quite 100% happy with was the way that summoning creatures works. Along the same lines, getting a force from your town to help your Giant gave me the same feeling. It added this whole new thing to a conflict, a separate entity that had to be kept track of and just added to slowing things down.

A suggestion was made at Dremation to use the summoned force just like a Breed power roll. You would attempt to summon your creature(s) by making a breed roll and the number of successes (max three) would determine the size of the force you get. The force would give you a number of bonus dice equal to that number (dedicating the dice to one of the little stats), as well as one health box for each die. You could of course decide when the force took damage. If that "force" does take damage then your town would permanently go down in size (one for each point lost).

Ok, lets try and example: The Wolf Lord attempts to summon his pack of wolves. He gets three successes on a Breed roll and marks off the use of his breed power for that action. He determines that the wolves come from his wolf wood town temporarily lowering the towns size by three. He then decides that two of the forces dice will be allocated to the Action stat, and the remaining one will go to the influence stat. He can't use them this turn and must wait for the next for their assistance. His next turn they join in the fight giving him a +2 action, +1 influence bonus. As the fight goes on the Wolf Lord is badly wounded and he is down to his last heath box. He gets attacked and suffers two points of damage, which he allocates completely to his summoned wolves. When the scene is over his wolves return to their town and the town will suffer a permanent loss of two size points. At least they died helping protect their Giant.

Another thought on this: This is like being able to summon an item to your Giant. Items are valuable because they are pretty much guaranteed to give you a bonus every action / round. Some item bonuses are restricted by the size of the Giant it's made for. That being said I think that the summon is balanced out by the chance of loosing some of your towns size.