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Sheet Happens

This is a creative game-design contest / exercise which I got from Kevin Allen Jr – his version is called Reversed Engineer.

How it started

I announced the challenge on 20th September 2006. The idea is that participants design a character sheet for a game that does not yet exist. Just the sheet – no rules, system, anything else. These sheets are then submitted and redistributed randomly among the participants, such that each gets allocated someone else's sheet. They then have to come up with a game idea which will fit that sheet.

The sheets

We had 6 character sheet entries in by the deadline of 8th October 2006, and here they are:

The allocation

Having rolled the dice, and had someone check that it hadn't assigned anyone their own one, this is how the allocation came out:

  1. TonyP
  2. Me (Mo Holkar)
  3. Lathany
  4. Dom Camus
  5. Smiorgan
  6. GBSteve

The next step: design the game

So, the next step for the players was this: download your allocated sheet, by clicking the appropriate link above, and by the next deadline of 29th October 2006, design a game that will fit to it.

Some important things to say about the potentially rather daunting task of designing a game in this way.

  • It should be a pure round-the-table roleplaying game, requiring accessories no more complex than pencil, paper and dice.
  • We're not looking for a complete system including terrain-specific wandering monster tables, etc. Just a couple of sides of notes which cover, at minimum:
    • the game's name, if the character sheet designer didn't provide one;
    • what the basic setting and theme of the game is;
    • what the characters are;
    • what they're trying to do;
    • any important and/or novel system mechanisms.
  • For each element on the character sheet, the rules should make it apparent how it relates to playing the game, but not necessarily in detail.
  • The overall idea is not that a novice can pick up your rules and right away run a session of the game, but that an experienced GM will be able to say "aha, OK, I see what that's about and roughly how it would work in real life".
  • The other important thing to say is that you're not attempting to recreate what was in the mind of the character sheet designer when they produced it. So don't feel bound by thoughts of "this new idea of mine probably isn't what X had in mind for that particular stat". For one thing, their idea might not have been as good as yours: or they might not have actually had a firm idea, but just bunged the box down because it looked nice. Better to treat the sheet as an alien artifact dropped from space, not necessarily the product of an intelligent mind!

No doubt more points for discussion will come up – probably LiveJournal is the best place to raise them. (Tony, you can post comments there without having to be a member yourself.)

The games

And here are the results:

I've added the sheet in question on to the end of each file, for convenience.

Do please let us know your comments and thoughts about the results!