Posts Tagged ‘Game Chef’

[Game Chef 2013] Brain Bugs vs Cyber Minds

So, I have now finished my game for Game Chef. This is where I post it for reviewing pleasure. I would welcome feedback!

Brain Bugs vs Cyber Minds

I had a bit of a crisis in the end, when I suddenly decided I needed to change the Awareness Meter (counting upwards to 20) to an Awareness Countdown (counting down to 0). I hope I got it all fixed. Anyway, now off to post on the official thread.

Edit: And here’s a pdf: Brain Bugs and Cyber Minds.

I didn’t make one at first, because I know from my work that, though pdf’s made from Word are usually accessible, this is not always true. As accessibility is one of the requirements for submission, I wanted to make sure it was accessible. (And accessible in this context means it can be read by people with screen readers – that is, blind people).


[GameChef2013] Introducing Brain Bugs vs Cyber Minds

I’ve decided that I want to write a game for this year’s Game Chef competition. For those who don’t know, Game Chef is an annual competition in which you design a game within a short period of time (nine days this time – I believe it may have been a week before?). You are given a theme and a number of ingredients to include in your game. Below is a description of the game I’m planning to write – a game I’ve so far entitled “Brain Bugs vs Cyber Minds”. I’ll describe how I’m using the different ingredients, and how I interpret the theme.

Outline of the game.

[Pictured: A black and white icon. A thick double-ended white arrow is in the middle of a black background, pointing up and down. In the middle of the arrow is a simple stylized icon of a person, looking toward the viewer.]

“Humanity is caught between opposing forces.” (Source:

The game is centred around the first thematic premise:

Humanity is caught between opposing forces, pressuring them from above and from below.

Humanity is caught between two hostile forces. From the stars the Cyber Minds have sent forth their Mainframes to capture more ground for the Synaptinet. This incursion have stirred the Hive Mothers of the Brain Bugs from their resting places within the earth, and they are now sending forth their daughters to fight the intruders.

Despite their differences, these forces have one major thing in common: their main force is not in crude physical combat, but in dominating the mental forces of their domain – and their warriors are few but strong. As such, both rely on occupying the most powerful hosts within the domain – in other words, they try to possess more powerful human hosts than their opponents. How they treat the humans in the process – well, the human hosts are just barely sentients; who cares about them !?

The game is to be an adversarial roleplaying game for five (or perhaps three) players: two Brain Bugs versus two Cyber Minds, with one “Human Host” (GM/MC/referee/common opponent). Throughout the session, the contenders try to possess the most highly ranked Humans within the community.

Creating the setting

[Pictured: A black and white icon. A thick double-ended white arrow is in the middle of a black background, pointing up and down. In the middle of the arrow is a simple stylized icon of a person, looking toward the viewer.]

“Every person in human society have someone above them and someone below them.”

The setting (and cast) is created from the second thematic premise:

“Human society is inherently hierarchical. Every human has someone above them and someone below them.”

Before each game, the participants need to create a setting. After a quick brainstorm, the players agree upon a brief description for the setting. The setting should be a place with a very clear hierarchy: a medieval village, a castle, a royal court, a university campus, an army barracks, a monastery, or so on. The participants also agree on a few aspects of the location, special things that will influence play. For instance, for each side (Brain Bug/ Cyber Mind), there will be something that will serve as an advantage (decided by the side, but the opponents may veto) and something that will serve as a hindrance (decided by the opponents, but the side may veto).

After creating the basic setting, the participants create a cast. They lay out 15 pieces of paper in a pyramid, with one piece in the top row and five in the bottom row. Each piece of paper is equal to one person in the setting. Participants now go round the table, taking turns to define one member of the cast: name the person, say who they are are in one phrase, and give them three traits – for instance, you might write “Sir Archibald, the wizened and surly captain of the Duke’s guard. Faded Strength, Old and Shrewd, Set in his Ways.” In this way, each participant will describe three characters.

Care should of course be taken to maintain a clear hierarchy, so that the cast members in the second row are clearly superior to the ones in row one, while below the ones in row three. It may be a good idea to have a cast members be somehow directly subservient to one of the the characters immediately above them. It would be a good idea to include rivalry between characters on the same level, though that may spring up during play.

I think each cast member will also be assigned three stats: Rank, Physical Capability and Mental Capability. Rank is simply their place in the pyramid (so the top card is Rank 5 while the bottom cards all are Rank 1), while Physical and Mental capability is somehow assigned by the players. I am considering having the Brain Bugs assign Physical Capability, while the Cyber Minds assign Mental Capability. Or else, each player simply divides 6 points between the two, or maybe each side has 12 numbers to assign to the characters they define.

Flow of the game

The flow of the game springs from the third thematic premise:

It is possible to move up and down in the hierachy.

This applies particularly to the Brain Bugs and the Cyber Minds: their objective is to have the highest placed Cast Members as their hosts as the game ends. This is usually obtained by jumping from host to host – however, it is also possible to move a cast member up or down in rank.

All Brain Bug and all Cyber Mind players have two “riders” that they control, plus a certain amount of resources to use during the game. Each must then decide whether to try to place one rider in a high position, or whether to place both in medium positions.

Note: I have considered whether to give each player one or two riders. I think that things might get confusing with two; on the other hand, having two riders means you are less careful with each rider, as you can afford to lose one. I might also allow brain bugs two, but give Cyber Minds better access to occupying new minds…

The game begins without the riders occupying any of the cast members. Passing round the table, each player must frame a scene in which their rider occupies a cast member. Each player can start out occupying one Rank 3 cast member and one Rank 1, or they can occupy two at Rank 2. From there on, the players frame scenes in which they either try to move from one host to another, try to gain an advantage for later, or try to hinder their opponents.

Meanwhile, the Human Host draws attention to the humanity of the Cast Members. Also, throughout the game, he tries to sow conflict between the two opponents, and to help the Cast Members discover what’s going on. The game ends when one side wins, or when the Cast becomes aware of what is going on.

Resolution Mechanic

The Resolution Mechanic follows from Thematic Premise 1. I think it’s going to be a dice-rolling mechanic, with Brain Bugs wanting to roll low, Cyber Minds wanting to roll high and humans wanting to roll in the middle.

For this purpose, each side will be adding particular dice to the dice pools. Brain Bugs add d4s, Cyber Minds add d8s and the Human Host adds d6. On all dice, Brain Bugs count results of 1 and 2 as successes. Meanwhile, the Human Host counts results of 3 and four as successes, while Cyber Minds succeeds on anything of 5 or above – except on the d4, where a result of 4 is a Cyber Mind success. Whichever side has the most successes wins the encounter, while the losers gain resources. Brain Bugs and Cyber Minds gain one die to add to another roll for each success, while the Human Host gains to add one to their Discovery track – when it reaches the end, the Cast catches wise, and the invaders will have to give the setting up for lost.

What do you think?

And that’s it, for now. Questions, suggestions and comments are more than welcome.