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the nautical game [unnamed]

By September 13, 2010September 22nd, 2010Game Chef 2010, ManofLettersManofWar

Here’s some sketches towards the Game Chef 2010 week. I’d love to hear your feedback on it.

game chef 10

theme: voyage
ingredients: city; desert; skin; edge

concept one:

Moby Dick. Sailors at sea. Fishing for whale in Northern waters. Deep water dangers vs. voids of searching vs. degradation of crew’s morale and captain’s behavior. gm-less. some sort of mechanical win.

concept two:

16-18th Century sailing. abstracted nautical battle vs. story back home as revealed through epistolary dialogue. tagline: “tactical storytelling with a chance of drowning.”

Characters would be sailors onboard tall ships. Each round would consist of a small tactical encounter pitting craft against other craft; weather; sea monster; land hazard. The outcome would dictate the *strength* of relationships(resources); grant assets for future tactical encounters; and generate the conditions of the correspondence back home. some sort of mechanical win.

game chef interpretation:

voyage would be implicit in the traveling ship and the way the tactical encounters change the weight of the correspondence. skin might be used with tattoos. Tattoos could be a level/healing mechanism. Desert is either abstracted as ocean. Using it metaphorically for an isolated patch with limited resources. Too much of a stretch? It could also be used as “to desert” and build a mutiny mechanic into the health of the boats. Edge could be the edge of the world? Edge of the page? Don’t know.

Is it frowned upon to abstract the ingredient values somewhat?

naval mechanics:

i’ve had it in me for some time to twist hard the abstract, relative mechanic that Hutton uses in 3:16. I’ve been trying to see if i could expand on the blocks used (if necessary) and add a wind direction and then too a compass orthogonal to each distance location. instead of moving from one range to the next, different ships would have probabilities to escape range increments. different classes of ships might *perform* better at different ranges or under different weather conditions which would change the math on probabilities.


it would be assumed that every man would share all capabilities in what would be a fairly light narrative mechanic story game. in order to shape the narrative, each player would have three characteristics — all salacious and loaded — that would steer later round discussion. Too abstract, i know. So an example: Whiskey Jack has three “humors” [unclear at this point if each humor is directly related to a specific npc] his humors might be: 1. violent drunk, 2. snide and bitter, 3. charming.

the numbering would be important as position would give more favorable odds to resolving things with “1. violent drunk” than with “3. charming”. Either the naval battle or the correspondence part of the play would shape / attack the humors to give possibility to lock out a mode of reacting to things. A gaming of the story shape; forcing people to interact in a specific way.


not clear yet if this is a dice engine that i’ve been working on or if it benefits from cards/suits/trumps.

correspondence mechanics:

the period for this game is bracketed around Epistolary novels that were popular in this time. i’ve been wondering if you could create a game about letter writing.

in concept, each player would have a stack of index cards in front of them. The result of the naval battle would shape the length and nature of the correspondence some how. I imagine that this is the crux of the game and i really don’t have an idea of how best to resolve this.

at present, the battle would dictate the humor that the pc enters into the correspondence with ( eg. from above: Whiskey Jack’s ship loses it’s battle with pirates. Some character “damage” is taken and the pc has selected to resolve the narration with 1. Violent Drunk. the humor either carries over from the Naval battle or the humor is decided as a result of the earlier skirmish.)

loved ones:

Each player would have access to as many as 3 pen-pals or as the condition of the character’s *health* dictates (campaigns would either reward or punish this aspect of the game so that you could play multiple games and your character isn’t truly “dead” until there is nobody left to write to.) Each npc pen-pal would have some sort of health barometer. The summation of which would be the decider for which player was the victor that game.


There will be some short flowchart with generated details to help you block in your character’s past. Abstracted from Traveller, i suppose. More like a Mad Lib, though. If i could fit it in the time constraints, i’d like to individuate the Mad Lib based on a number of the results, however the upfront version of this might be pretty vanilla. Ultimately, it would please me if this could be put in rhyme scheme so that each player generates a personal Shanty.