Daisho Design Notes – 02/05/2014

Well a fairly quiet week in which we did all the preparatory work on our shared drive.

Charles set up all the folders and sub-folders and we filled them with templates based upon what we perfected during writing the three IHMN books. We also set up the status sheet that splits the work out between us and allows us to keep each other up-to-date during the writing process.

This level of organisation is critical to a shared project. Before Charles joined me on the first IHMN book I was doing a bit here, doing a bit there and following my muse. I had essentially wasted six whole months like this and, although I had created plenty of material, it was about as organised as a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. As a result, and despite Charles’ best efforts, we went to print with enough errors to fill a page of errata. You will note that there has been no errata since he came on board as my partner.

You must understand that as well as being a good writer Charles is one of life’s organisers. By dint of logic, cool professionalism and just a hint of OCD he brought order from the chaos. Without him I would not now be writing this.

What I brought to the partnership was several years of applying the KISS principle to rules writing. As some of you may know I have other blogs, most importantly Gawd ‘Elp Us games (http://thegamesshed.wordpress.com/) and Dead Simple Roleplaying (http://deadsimplerpg.wordpress.com/). In each of these I have worked hard to produce playable games which are only one page long. With the help of a merry band of collaborators – the inestimable Forge of War Development Team – I have spent years whittling rules down to their bare essentials. I did this for two main reasons:
1. Famously I have the short-term memory of the dog from the film UP! (Squirrel!). I really cannot remember long winded rules sets. For example; I have been playing Warhammer 40K since the first days of Rogue Trader and I still have to be reminded of the turn sequence.
2. Most gamers play games for enjoyment, it is their hobby. Therefore the rules should not get in the way of that.

Now this does not mean that rules have to be ultra short or overly simplistic. We are not firing matchsticks out of toy cannons here. However, they should be written in such a manner that the key mechanisms are very clear and have an understandable logic to them. For example:
– You can play a game with a simple reference sheet at your side that after two games you generally ignore.
– Any action has no more than one dice roll with no more than half a dozen possible modifiers, of which only a couple will apply at any one time.
– You need no in-game paperwork and only a few counters (if any).
– There is a simple rule for deciding situations not covered by the rules.

We are not writing tournament rules here. These shall be rules, like those for IHMN, which will allow players to have a fun game that, in the end, will have a story to it. One of the things we have both loved from IHMN are the number of marvellous AAR’s and stories about games submitted by players and which we have featured on the blog and IHMN board on the Lead Adventure Forums. I believe that it shows that we have hit the mark on this objective, and is something we shall carry through to Daishō.

So our guiding principle is always KISS. We do not add anything that is essentially unnecessary to the playing of the game. This does not mean that the game cannot have depth or character. I hope that any of you that have read the IHMN series will agree that they have plenty of both. We spend a lot of time researching the background to our games trying to capture the spirit of the period and instilling it into the very heart of the rules and thus the way the game plays.

We are now beginning to fill in the foundations such as armour and weapons, upon which all the companies shall be built. We are also talking through a few core concepts such as karma, honour and ki. If I say any more Charles will probably kill me.

I’d like to thank all of you that have contributed to my question on what makes a Samurai. These opinions are very important to us, and we shall be asking more of you.

5 thoughts on “Daisho Design Notes – 02/05/2014

  1. Once upon a time I too played overly complicated games of 40K, however the amount of rule books needed to play 40K was and still is becoming ridiculous. The size of your book good sir is what first attracted me to IHMN, I though to myself no way could that be a good game with such a small rulebook. But its like I’m always telling my Mrs its not the size that matters its the quality. IHMN has that in spades, but more than that its the first game I have ever played where I have wanted to create a story to surround the games I play. I am sure this will also be true of Daisho. So stop reading this and get on with it man.

    P.S. Where are the samurai minis in the header from…


  2. Very much looking forward to this and following the development of this game. Been a long time Japan fan especially the mythology & have over the past 6 months found myself burdened by the sudden irreversible urge to paint Feudal Japanese miniatures & start working on terrain. I’ve yet to really get to grips with any of the current rules systems for it seeing as most have the mythical aspect kind of bolted on.

    Good luck with your endeavors! I hope that you have all the success!

  3. Thank you for the kind comments.
    We are working on this every spare moment we can.
    I am currently researching the Sōhei, as it is one of the companies I will be writing. I shall be included the legendary Benkei in this company. He is just a character that you cannot ignore.

  4. He is also one of my favourites, but I read of him in a history of Samurai Japan back in the 70’s. I still have that book somewhere.

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