Thursday, 26 March 2015

Trials of the Magi: Now on Kickstarter

Hello World,

After over half a year of work, Trials of the Magi has officially launched on Kickstarter! With all that has been accomplished so far, with the game, moving and starting up school, these past months have gone by so fast. It feel as though it was just last week I was frantically submitting Trials of the Magi as an entry for National Game Design Month. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out are Kickstarter at the following link and support it if you are able.

If this is the first time you are hearing about this game however, let me give you a brief rundown of the project. Trials of the Magi is a tabletop role-playing game created to make introducing the hobby of story games to newcomers as easy as possible. This is done in two major ways. The first is by having the characters in the game be direct representations of the players. Allowing players to ease into their first RPG session by being able to act like themselves. Allowing them to get antiquated with all of the subtleties of how an RPG plays. The second major method this game uses to ease in new players is the game’s mechanics, which are easy to learn and play while still creating a large depth of options for players to explore. Trials of the Magi achieves this by having a stat-less system that relies on suited cards which the players make for themselves. These cards create a visual and hands on experience that lets everything that’s going on be clearly displayed with minimal confusion.

Arcana Cards Used in the Game

Never will a player say something like “I rolled a 17, what does that mean?” Outcomes are clearly understood the moment they are played, and for the most part, players have complete control over whether they pass or fail an action.

If this Interests you at all you can read more about the game from the following two posts, HERE and HERE. You can also head to the Kickstarter page for even more info about the game.

Thanks for reading,

-Patrick Lapienis

Thursday, 12 March 2015

An In Depth Look at Trials of the Magi

Hello World,

As a continuation of my last week’s post, today I am going to be diving into some of the gameplay and mechanics of Trials of the Magi. If this is your first time hearing about the game and you want to learn more, I recommend that your read THIS before continuing.

With that established, let’s get this party started. From my previous post you may recall that players within Trials of the Magi are tasked with guiding a projection of themselves through a crucible of strange and abstract trials. The powers possessed by this Persona are derived from the player’s life experiences and are portrayed by a hand of suited Arcana Cards. These cards each display a single word that describes the player's memory, and a suit which ties the card to the type of memory used. Within the trials, players must play cards from their hand onto the table in order to overcome obstacles. The more difficult the obstacle, the more cards the players are required to be played.

When playing a card, the player must justify its relevance to the current action in order to use it. As an example of this let’s say that I have a card with the word “Insects” written on, as I use to catch and collect insects growing up. And let's say that my Persona in this situation needs to cross a small chasm, this is a minor challenge and would only require one card to overcome. This means I could play my insect card, and justify it by saying “I use my insect card to grow moth wings and fly over the chasm”. With that said my card is laid on the table and my Persona crosses the chasm.

With my insect card no longer in my hand, it can’t be used for future obstacles. That card is no longer available to me and in order to get it back I must spend an Entropy and pick up the card.

Entropy is form of currency within Trials of the Magi and is represented by a deck of pass or fail cards. When trying to overcome an obstacle, a player can choose to draw a card from the Entropy Deck instead of playing an Arcana card from their hand. If the player draws a positive entropy card, the Persona succeeds as though an Arcana Card was played. Draw negative entropy however, and the Persona’s situation is complicated and made worse. Each Entropy Card drawn is then held onto by the player and can be spent later in the game pick up their played arcana powers.

The last major mechanic in Trials of the Magi is fracturing. The connection between player and Persona is the most vital part of a Persona’s strength. As this connection weakens, a Persona can begin to fracture and crack. Even to the point of shattering entirely. In the mechanics of the game, this connection is represented by the number of Arcana Cards available to the player. In order to get through difficult parts of a trial the players will be required, discard some of their Arcana Cards a for temporary boost. These gains come in two forms:

1.    The player can discard a card, and treat a negative entropy card as though it were a positive entropy, and therefore succeeding the action.

2.  The player can discard an Arcana card to invoke the special ability contained in the card’s suit. These powers were explained in the previous article.

Each time a player does this their connection weakens and the Persona fractures. If a player is forced to discard all of their Arcana Cards, their Persona shatters and they are not able to participate in the trial. It is the goal of the player to get through each trials without discarding all of their cards.

Trials of the Magi will be launching on Kickstarter on March 20th and if the game sounds like something that interests you I encourage you to check it out.

Thank you for your time and support,

-Patrick Lapienis

Thursday, 5 March 2015

What is Trials of the Magi?

Hello World,

With the Trials of the Magi Kickstarter just around the corner [March 20th to be precise] I would like to take this time to talk about the game and share a bit about how it plays.

First up let's start with a general description of the game.

Trials of the Magi is a quick and simple role-playing game centered around a Harry Potter inspired world, where arcane scouts track down and gather those with the potential for magic. These gathered candidates are then required to overcome a crucible of mental simulations in order to prove that they are capable of becoming a fledgling magus.

These tests compose the core fiction of Trials of the Magi as players must guide mental projections of themselves through the strange and treacherous landscapes of the crucible.  The psychological nature of these landscapes allows the Game Master to create interesting and creative locations that bend the laws of reality.  Locations created where the direction of gravity changes on a whim, or a world where time only passes when the players are moving. [Like SuperHot]

While the Game Master's freedom with realm creation can be a lot of fun, it isn’t the main focus of the game. Where Trials of the Magi tries to shake the RPG formula is that in the game the  "real" players are the ones actually being tested by the arcane scout. As such the mental projections that navigate the trials are literal representations of the players. Meaning they look, act and talk just as the players would. Not surprisingly, it is really easy to role-play yourself, making Trials of the Magi a great game for first time players of the hobby. Allowing them to get comfortable with creating a shared fiction before trying their hand at more complex storytelling. This idea of the player being the character is expanded upon even further in the game’s mechanics. Where a character’s strengths and abilities come from a player's real life experiences. These memories are written on custom dry erase cards [or blank Index cards] and a hand of these cards act as a player’s character sheet. No complex calculations or overabundance of stats. Just simple tactile mechanics that allow players to get into the game easily and quickly.

These writable slips are called Arcana cards and come in 4 possible suits, Swords, Wands, Coins, Cups. When players are creating their character they have to pick and fill out 4 cards. These cards can be chosen in any combination of the suits. With each suit both influencing the type of memory associated with the card as well as granting a special power within the game.

Memory: Created from emotionally strong memories
Power: Discard to deal a substantial blow to an enemy or difficult task.

Memory: Derived from a players knowledge and education
Power: Discard to ask one objective question to the Game Master that must be answered truthfully

Memory:  Reliant on memories of possessions and achievements
Power: Discard to grant a power boost to themselves or another player

Memory: Comes from a player’s past relationships
Power: Discard to recover the injuries of any character.

Now while this is only a bare bones description of each of the suits, it should give everyone a general idea of how each suit works and feels. This is important because it is up to a player to choose the playstyle they are interested in. If a player wants to play a heavy hitter, they can pick the majority of their cards from Swords, or possibly focus on Coins and Cups cards if they are interested in a more supportive style of play.

This is all I am going to talk about in this week's post, but be sure to check back next week where I will discuss in greater detail how the game is played, and dive into some of the mechanics. However, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Trials of the Magi’s Kickstarter campaign which will be launching on March 20th!

For now though, thanks for reading,

-Patrick Lapienis