This is what I started with:
I’ve got a whole mess of LEGO and I want to play a story-ish/miniatures-ish game with them and my kids. There are characters. Players take turns. Because it’s based on LEGO, it must be, to some large extent, *about* building.
It’s a dawn of time, accelerated civilization type game in which characters develop technologies for improving the world and expanding what can be done.
I want a character to be able to pioneer a new technology, perhaps profit from it and commit it to the public domain, recouping some kind of investment when they do that last bit. I think that any character can know only one technology that isn’t in the public domain. They can hold it as long as they want
I need a short list of basic moves that represent the action of a single turn. Characters can buy custom moves, too. Every move has three states: failure, partial success and full success.
The game is played on a ‘map’ where players and neighbors all live.
This is what I came up with as a first draft:Resolution
Each player has a cup or sack or pile (or something!) with colored 1x1s of some kind. The cup starts with four success tokens (green?) and eleven failure tokens (red?). To determine and outcome for many kinds of challenges, the player draws out two tokens. Two red indicate failure. Two green indicate full success. One of each indicates partial success. Discard the tokens drawn into the general supply. After the discard, if there are more than five tokens in the cup, add one success token. Occasionally a move will call for you to use the cup of tokens in other ways. Any time there aren’t enough tokens for a draw, add the starting complement (4 green and 11 red, by default) to whatever is there before you draw.Your character
You’ll want to record some things about your character on a sheet of paper. Their name, the attributes of their shelter, some pools of points, secret technology and experience advances, at the least.Neighbors
Neighbors are humans who live in the vicinity of the players as represented by their position on the map. They might be great friends, terrible enemies or something in between. Here are the relationship options for how they might feel about you: blood enemies, rivals, dislike, indifferent, interest, like, friend Environmental Moves
After each turn (where every player gets a ‘go’), draw a card and do what it says. When the cards run out, shuffle them into a new deck. When newly developed technologies suggest new cards that should be added or that old cards should be removed, do alter the deck when all players agree. The deck starts with the following environmental moves that affect each player. Whenever you do this, however the events turn out, make up a little story about what’s going on.
Assuage your hunger – eat four pieces of food (take them from your personal food supply and put them back into the game’s supply) if you can. For each piece of food fewer than four that you eat, add a failure token to your cup. Add success tokens to your cup equal to the number of colors of food that you eat minus one.
Weather a storm – If you are living in shelter that has room for you to sleep and also has the +stormworthy tag, it’s all good. Otherwise, reduce the success level of your next move by one. If you draw a natural failure, it doesn’t get any worse, but don’t discard the tokens, just put them back in the cup.
Encounter a new neighbor – Someone new is living in the neighborhood. Whoever is doing worst or if you’re about the same, whoever wants to, should grab a minifig, pick a name, write it on the neighbor-list and put them on the map wherever they want to. Everyone who lives close to the new neighbor should draw. On a failure, the neighbor thinks you’re a rival. On a partial success you are met with indifference. On a full success, they like you. Keep track of the neighbor’s attitudes on the neighbor-list too.
Lucky strike – add a point of luck to your luck pool. You may optionally spend your luck pool to draw that many tokens from your cup. If you draw any success tokens, you found something special. Take a LEGO element from the supply that can represent something that you could find (naturally occurring or an artifact within the scope of the technology of the game) and give it to your character. Make up a little story about how you came by it.
Spoilage – discard half, rounded up of each color of food in your supply. If your shelter has the +goodStorage tag, round down, instead.
Rumors – people are whispering deceitful things about one another. Choose two neighbors (or fewer if there aren’t two) and reduce your standing with them by one space each.
Theft – ?Player Moves
Technologies will add to the list of public moves as they enter the public domain. But to begin with, everyone has access to the following moves:
Elaborate the environment – When you name a thing that you want to add to the map; a natural feature or an artifact appropriate to the technology of the game, if no other player comes up with a convincing argument for why it shouldn’t be there, build the item out of LEGO and place it on the map.
Gather food – When you spend some time gathering food, draw. On a failure, no food is found. On a partial success, gather one of your choice and on a full success, gather three: yellow food (grain), green food (vegetables), white food (tubers), red food (varmints) or blue food (fruit)
Hunt – When you go out hunting, choose the size of the animal you’re after (up to eight) by naming the number of red food (meat pieces) it will yield if killed and draw. On a failure, you’re injured; add a number of failure tokens to your cup equal to the size of the animal. On a partial success, you don’t bag the animal, but you did learn about their habits and if you hunt the same animal on your next turn, increase your drawn success rating by one. On a full success, add the meat you get to your personal food supply.
Find Shelter – When you search the natural landscape for improved lodging options, draw. Add a number of points to your local-area knowledge pool equal to the number of success tokens you drew (0-2). You may now spend points from your local-area knowledge pool to find a place to live, spending the points on the following at a cost of one each: room for one person to sleep, +stormworthy, +comfortable, +goodStorage, etc.
Make friends – When you choose a neighbor and give them a gift, if the other players agree that it’s a decent gift, improve your relations with that neighbor by one position. If the other players agree that it’s a great gift, improve it by two.
Make an offering to the spirits – When you give the spirits a ceremonial gift, if the other players agree that it’s a decent gift, add two success tokens or remove two failure tokens from your cup. If the other players agree that it’s a great gift, do both: add two successes and remove two failures!
Gather samples – when you spend your action at some physical location on the map, gathering samples of stuff; trying to take a part of what makes that place interesting back to your shelter, draw. On a partial success, the player to your left decides what you take home and on a full success, you decide.
Study – when you consume some physical thing that you have in your possession – studying and trying to elaborate uses for it, draw. Record the thing that you’re studying and the number of success tokens that you drew as research points. You can spend those research points to invent new technologies that work with the item or material you were studying. A new technology costs a number of these points equal to the number of technologies already in the world that are based on this same item or material. Spend the point(s) and work up a move with your fellow players to represent what you want. Make sure everyone thinks it’s cool. You are the only person who knows how to perform this action right now, but you may only know one secret technology at a time.
Make your knowledge public – When you tell everyone about your secret technology, it is no longer your secret move and anyone may engage in the process that represents. Mark an experience point.Experience
In the beginning, the characters are all the same – stone-age mooks out to survive the harsh reality. But the world will grow and times will change. So can your characters. You’ll do this by earning, collecting and then spending experience points.
You earn these points by increasing the knowledge in the world. Gather stuff, study it, develop new technologies and make your knowledge public. It’s time-consuming but that’s the path to personal development.
When you start the game, you have a single bubble on your experience track. That means that you’ll earn an advance as soon as you get your first experience point. When that happens, your character will improve in some way – it could be pretty much anything, but might include bonus effects to certain moves, new custom moves that only that character have, special items, changes to the ways the basic rules work for that character, etc. Pretty much anything could happen. When you fill your experience bubble(s), you tell the other player(s) what kind of ability or improvement you’d like to develop and they work something up that’s along the lines of what you’re after. This way, we know it’s OK with the other players. And they’ll offer it to you as an option. Assuming you like it well enough, write it down on your character sheet. Now you all decide how many experience bubbles your advance is worth – you’ll add that many to your experience bubble line and it will take correspondingly longer to gain your next advance. The standards for this will vary from game to game, but I think a simple mod like when you refill your cup, add an extra success token would be only one bubble. More powerful or game-changing advances would cost more. Make sure you all agree before moving on – each person should be content that the costs are reasonable and in keeping with previously established bubble-costs.