After attending several game design seminars at Gen Con over the last few days, I’ve decided to buckle down and try a bit harder at formalizing the Collectors/Devils Debtors game I’ve been working on for several years. In the past I’ve tried converting The Collectors into several different systems, from its original incarnation using C.J. Carella’s Unisystem line, to Fate, then Savage Worlds, and most recently Monte Cook’s Cypher System. This went on and on until eventually I arrived at the fact that none of them really captured the heart of what I wanted the game to be about.
I’ve got the themes and the general tone of the game in mind, but I can’t shake this crippling sense of “analysis paralysis” I get when it comes to codifying any part of the system.
As one of the most basic steps of game design, many writers have suggested using the Big Three, three questions which help the prospective designer to focus what they want their game to be about. So, here’s a tentative Big Three for The Collectors:
What is your game about?
The Collectors is a tabletop role-playing game about revenant bounty hunters doing battle against the forces of Heaven, Hell, and their own faltering humanity.
What do the characters do?
The titular characters do what their name implies: they collect. They collect the souls of the damned and send them to Hell, they collect the heart and essence of slain supernatural foes, and they collect the physical and emotional wounds that come as the price of their work.
What do the players do?
The players create their Collectors, create their territory, and manage the supernatural, physical, and emotional resources of their characters and those around them.
I’m not sure how helpful these sorts of questions are to the nitty-gritty bits of the design process, but there you have a few truncated blurbs describing the game I’ve been mulling over for years. I know there are myriad other design questionnaires bigger than the Big Three (such as the Power 19) but I don’t know if all of that is really necessary just yet.