19 April 2006

Game Chef review: The Glass Bead Game

Next read was The Glass Bead Game by Dan Ravipinto.

First up, I have enormous respect for the author simply because they have created something like the game from Hermann Hesse's book. Strictly speaking, it would probably just count as one of the simpler ways to play that game, but that's still quite an acheivement.

Part of the game plays like Universalis. Kind of. Then you do more traditional roleplaying for a while. Then the results of the session feed into the setup of the next one.

Each session (4 sessions of 2 hours are required) starts with the players filling out emotions and related concepts on a graph (in the mathematical sense - nodes with connections).

Then you claim two nodes to form the basis of your character and fill out another graph with these and other related concepts to make up your character. That's the second section.

Then you play out scenes that revolve around a connection on the story graph - two related concepts. Conflicts are resolved by bidding counters to claim nodes on the story graph, after which a die is rolled to determine which node resolves it. The owner of that node wins (so getting more nodes is the key).

The last bit of the session involves finding the nodes that were most important in the story and character graphs. These are used to seed the next session, so that each of the games will build on what was important in the one before.

This game isn't to my taste, particularly, but Ravipinto has some really cool narrative control mechanics in there. I think the game needs some kind of setting - even one as open as the novel, in which the world is basically the same (as Germany in the 1950s or so) except for the game itself.
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