When I edit designs, I like to invoke the rule of three. This gives a certain symmetry to design, but it also helps enforce editing. For example, in v3.0, bonds can be used for 5 benefits right now. Once I see what gets used the most by players and what makes the game the most interesting, I will edit those down to 3 benefits.
As I "think aloud" through design, I will also edit it down at different points. When it comes to answering world-building questions, the rule of three has another use: it helps me tap into the core aspects which should be reflected in mechanics.
What do I mean by that?
One of my great frustrations with Shadowrun 1e is how the awesome world-building flavor text is almost entirely disconnected from the game mechanics. Don't tell me that your life depends on who you know; force me to experience that reality through the mechanics.
(Shadowrun is certainly not the only offender; many games have some disconnect between flavor and mechanics).
I strive to intertwine the attitude of the game with the mechanics. This requires a lot of experimentation and editing down, but it's what interests me most about game design: how do I evoke the experience I want in play?
Dystopia in Threes
In my previous post, I brainstormed ideas about what I want "dystopia" to mean in my game. Not surprisingly, it is focused on relationships and power. If I want to reflect these ideas throughout the game, I need some touchstones.
My dystopian touchstones:
These three touchstones created the springboard for my next criticism response: What is the awakening in your world? Instead of making the awakening about a magical response to a technological world, in my game, the awakening is a response to these three aspects of dystopia.
In short, everything is connected in magic, everyone can access magic, and magic is a sentient force with a personality, drive, and self-agency in the world.
But the details of that are better left to another post.
This blog is a mix of game design analysis, commentary on issues affecting indie dev spaces, and some personal reflections.