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Evil Genius Summer Camp - Steve's thoughts

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 4:09 pm    Post subject: Evil Genius Summer Camp - Steve's thoughts Reply with quote

All righty, Evil Genius Summer Camp, by Matt and Debbie Cowans, is a game for probably 4 to 8 players. Most of the players play teenage Evil Geniuses (EGs) stuck together at summer camp in a House (just like at Hogwarts). The other 2 people play the Summer Camp Councillors (GMs) and the other Houses (the Opposition).

The structure of play is pretty simple:

*Debbie explains premise.
*Players all make up characters, including name, age, what their plan for world domination includes, a catchphrase, 3 handy skills, one weakness, and why the character wants to take over the world.
*Each player comes up with a name, strength and weakness for a rivel house.
*Welcomed to camp by NPCs, structure of camp (a series of inter-house contests) is established.
*Each player chooses a camp activity which the group will have to participate in.
*Players are given half an hour to come up with a game plan and decide what resources they want to assemble
*Draw randomly to see which house is faced in each event
*Play through each Activity (each challenge will have 3 stages or components. 2 or more successes out of 3 wins).

So, Activities kind have 5 parts to them.
1. Warm-up (filled with roleplaying and cheating)
2. Phase 1
3. Phase 2
4. Phase 3 (if necessary)
5. Determine who won + move to the next activity

Here’s a list of my observations from the game on Saturday. Let me know which ones you want to go into more detail about, which you're cool with, etc.

Basically, what the EGs do in this game is CHEAT. The rules need to clarify two things: “How difficult is it to cheat?” and “When is the cheating resolved?”

1. How difficult is it to cheat?

First off, what’s the best/simplest/most appropriate way to use the dice to resolve the cheating and the phases of each activity? My memory’s hazy, but currently it seemed like there was a mix between “Beat a pre-set total” (roll 6d6, beat a total of 20), and “Beat the total of an opposed dice pool?”

Maybe rolls should always be opposed? So you’re always trying to beat another dice pool? You could add dice to the opposing pool to reflect difficulty (based on the size of the EG’s pool). For example, an EG is rolling 6d6 and attempting a difficult task, like spying on ALL the other Houses. The GMs create an opposing pool that’s equal to the EG’s one, and then add 3 more dice (9d6), to reflect how difficult it is.

Adding totals seemed to take a while. Another possibility is to try and beat the highest dice of an opposed dice pool. Sort of a Risk / Sorceror system.

Scope was the next big issue I thought came up. Basically, that the difficulty for cheating needs to be based on how many other Houses or activities or phases of activities will be affected. I think the EGs need firm guidelines for their planning, then leave them alone.


That's the first bit; hope it helps.. I'll probably be able to post some more on Friday.


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multi-dimensional: my script-writing blog.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2. When is the cheating resolved?

Players come up with a lot of ways to cheat during that half hour. I believe there’s a lot of comedy potential in both players and GMs revealing how they’re cheating at the same, appropriate time. So I propose that when the GMs come back, they don’t find out everything at once; that the players shouldn’t reveal more about their plans than necessary.

Instead, while the players are planning their cheating, they should be able to specify how many phases it affects (see ‘Scope’, above). Now the players responsible for each Cheat can roll, either:

- before all the Activities start (a Cheat that affects all Activities)
- before a specific Activity starts (affecting all 3 phases), or
- before a Phase of the Activity starts (affecting either that Phase only or every Phase from now till the end).

(A specific suggestion, based on that particular session: Spying on all the teams, like Conan did with his omniscience, should only reveal one fact about each team. For instance, that the Seductresses are meeting with the Jocks. Or, if who you’re going up against in each Activity is restricted information, which teams are competing against you in each Activity.)

I also think there should be some sort of constraint on how many times an EG can rolls for a Phase:

- maybe each EG has to have a turn before someone can have another roll?
- or (and I like this one a LOT more) everybody could get a limited number of rolls over all the activities? Therefore, they choose when they use them (similar to how cheating is implemented – everybody gets 2). If you chose this, then you wouldn’t have enough rolls to win all of the Activities. You’d either have to choose to concede some Phases or (if you won an Activity in 2 Phases), you’d get another roll up your sleeve.

3. Other stuff to think about

At the start of an activity, the players could say which 3 EGs are involved in an activity. These are the only EGs allowed to roll during the Phases of that Activity.

Aside from specifying who’s rolling for cheating & when, you’ve got to keep careful track of how many dice are in the pool.

Can other EGs contribute their trait dice to a roll? I’m tempted to say ‘No’, due to EGs not co-operating.

2 GMs are cool – they’ll help spur each other’s imaginations when plotting how to cheat. I think they SHOULD be out of the room, while the EGs are plotting.

Maybe GMs need to nominate a specific House to target a player’s EG and their weakness. Therefore, GMs need to guess which EG will step up to which activity.

Before each Activity starts, there should be an opportunity to roleplay conversations with the other house and with the other EGs in your own house – gives you a chance to use your catchphrase.

What advice to give to players:
Nothing – about how to plan efficiently.
Solid – about how scope of what they’re attempting to cheat will affect difficulty of roll.

Players will look to exploit the system.

Is the game scalable for the number of players? If there were three players, there’d be three enemy Houses?

That’s about it. As I said, I thought this was a fantastic game; I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. (To answer Debbie’s question in the other thread - I’d recommend just developing it as a scenario at the moment, and publish it later, if you want.)

Well done!

Gametime! A Kiwi groupblog about RPGs. Come and join the conversation.
multi-dimensional: my script-writing blog.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome stuff, Steve. I will talk about this with Debbie and post thoughts as we work through stuff. Really quickly:

* Yes it's scalable - one rival house and one contest per player.

* I quite like the 2 GM dynamic for larger games (5+ participants)

* Limiting how many times each EG can roll is awesome. So is forcing everyone to have a turn before players can reroll.

* I agree that contributing traits to other people's rolls shouldn't be allowed - though contributing a cheat tactic that another player designed would be OK: cheats become group resources essentially.

* Having only 2 rolls per player, and thus possibly having to conceded some phases unopposed, is a cool idea.

* Interaction between challenges would be cool.

Excellent feedback! Thanks!
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