RIPE: This is a weird game, y'all

RIPE: This is a weird game, y'all

With the conclusion of Tempered Legacy and Marsh Goons I’ve taken a little break. Don’t worry, I kept busy!

What’s the deal with RIPE?

RIPE is a game about Elder Adventurers fighting cosmic horrors.

This is the first game I’ve developed publicly. You can actually see ALL the previous versions of the game in this folder.

And it looks like it’s gonna be while before RIPE is done. I want to take my time with it, make sure it’s something I can be proud of. I don’t have any “big” games yet, so this is my chance.

I am gonna go over some of the big design changes, my goals, and my worries. Let’s dive in!

ripe_dive.jpg Photo by Laurie-Anne Robert on Unsplash

Didn’t we already do this?

Yup, a few months ago! I feel no shame. It’s my blog, and writing indulgent introspection helps me think.

Previous Design Goals

Every decision matters. Provide the players with several opposing choices and tasks to accomplish.

This remains the primary focus of RIPE; what all the other mechanics and ideas revolve around. This is also resulted in a game that’s MOSTLY about resource management.

Time and Energy are limited. This drives the above point; characters don’t have the resources to do EVERYTHING they want to do. They must pick and choose.

I abandoned the time limitation. RIPE used to have a very strict turn structure that ended up not being much fun in practice and felt too limited. So now time-keeping is less strict, but energy and resources are still limited.

Creative Teamwork is the most effective solution.

Since Elders can pool their rolls together, this is even more important than before, and has become a much larger part of the game that I am eager to explore further. In the current rules (Beta 22) teamwork is REQUIRED for some of the bigger tasks.

Empower the fantasy of growing older and more experienced.

So far players have really enjoyed playing as older characters! It’s been fun to give players interesting tools to bring their character to life. Elder bards are the best bards!

ripe_bards.jpg Photo by Ronny Sison on Unsplash

Core rules are compact. The character sheet teaches the game.

This remains true; in fact I hope the character sheet will also explain all the rules and concepts of the game. Fingers crossed!

Worldbuilding through random tables/generators.

This…has not been as big of a focus lately. I am unsure if I want to pursue random tables or put more work into designing more complete adventures/content. We’ll see.

Elders always have initiative.

Actually…let’s talk about this concept in more detail.


Initiative in More Detail

Tabletop gamers LOOOOOVE to talk about initiative. They usually mean “Who goes next during combat?” but the core concern is really “When does my character get to be in control?”

And the answer for RIPE is…always? D&D is about DRAINING the resources of the players to create a sense of urgency and danger. But RIPE is supposed to be about players CHOOSING how to spend those resources. This has some weird side effects…

No saves. If a player is saving up their energy for the big boss, I can’t just throw fire traps in their face and say “roll your dice”. If there is a fire trap, players need to be able to say “Whatever, I need to save my energy. I take the hit.”

And somehow I need to find a way to make that decision matter; no matter which one they choose.

ripe_fire.jpg Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

Choose Your Consequences. Let’s say a player decides to save their energy and take a fire trap to the face. What happens?

  • If the obvious thing happens (horrible burns over their body) then it’s not really a decision. Spend resources or die. That’s not an interesting choice.

  • If the consequence is mechanical (they lose resources) then they’re choosing between:
    • Losing resources.
    • Spending resources to reduce the chance that they’ll lose resources. (Numenera does this and it drove my players crazy when they spend points only to roll badly and lose even MORE points)
  • If there is no consequence at all, then the fire trap doesn’t matter, and that’s not a choice at all.

My current solution is that player chooses their consequences (in an indirect way) by Marking Numbers. It’s explained better on the sheet, but so far this has worked well.

Known Consequences. Players choosing their own consequences works fine for something like a fire trap, but what about narrative dangers? How do we handle those in RIPE?

“A dragon swoops down over the town, breathing fire and causing destruction.”

The first and most important thing is that players understand the consequences of failure. If the dragon is just scaring the townsfolk and then flying away, then it might still be worth SOME resources, but not all. But if the dragon is going to destroy their favorite tavern, then players might be willing to risk a lot more.

Unlike other games where consequences are kind of vague, RIPE always describes the consequences of dangers in order for players to make an informed decision.

This is just another aspect of giving players the initiative.

This is a weird game y’all

A lot of these concepts rub against traditional RPG frameworks. The group almost never “rolls to see what happens” but rather is offered a stream of difficult choices to make.

I’m still exploring this design space, but it may be that RIPE is better suited to a board-game with RPG elements, or a solo “choose your own adventure” kind of experience.

For now, I’m still trying to make RIPE work as a traditional RPG with a game master and several players running through an adventure.

But who knows where things will go? These design constraints have forced me to try some weird ideas that are still very rough and disjointed. I’m more excited than anyone to see them come together…or fail miserably!

fundeath.jpg I just like this image.

Future Plans

So far I’ve been running RIPE using traditional D&D adventures (UVG and Neverland). And I’m starting to wonder if RIPE would shine brighter in a custom built setting/framework.

While the rules will no doubt change in small ways, I intend to shift my focus on writing adventures specifically for RIPE. Maybe that will help me solve some of these awkward bits.

If you have any suggestions or ideas, leave them in the comments below! If you’re curious about the game you can grab the latest version of the rules here.

Thanks for reading, and for sticking with me on this wild adventure. Join my newsletter for updates and such!