Happy Bishop Games

If the bishop's happy, we're happy

Happy Bishop Games - If the bishop's happy, we're happy

One by One playtest results: Success!

We’ve been playtesting One by One, our upcoming story rpg, and the results have been uniformly positive. One by One is looking good!

Specifically, players are saying the love the resolution tables. Huh? What are those? They’re ways to add complications to characters–and even kill them off.

When a scene ends, players roll dice and compare the results to a table in their particular script (aka setting). For flashback scenes, this adds complications to the game. In the “Arkham County” script, one result is that your character has secretly been a cultist all this time! In the “A Cold, Dark Space” script, you might break the navigation controls so the ship–and the alien monster aboard it–cannot be turned away from Earth.

For continuing scenes, you can get similar complications. More importantly, the roll decides which character will die! Either the lead character dies, the supporting character dies, or the two players need to roll off with the highest roll surviving the scene.

Another bright spot are the central questions. Before starting a scene, you need to create a question that will be answered by the scene, such as, “Why is the serial killer going after everyone” or, “What clues to the monster’s origin can be gained from the library?” A common complaint about story rpgs in general is that players are sometimes lost as to what to do next. These central questions remove that problem.

What isn’t working? Not much, to be honest. The same tables mentioned above as a positive can sometimes be too random for players’ tastes, but that could be an issue of taste rather than anything being broken. That said, we will be adding rules that clearly state how to make things less random if it makes for a better story.

Special thanks to Stephen Whitehead and his group for running independent playtests. The data from those are always good, and we appreciate their time and effort. You guys rock!

The 4 scripts of One by One

As with Fiasco, One by One will have scripts that describe the particular setting to be used in a game session. Four will be included in the rulebook, including:

  • Arkham County: Massachusetts, 1923. You received a letter from an old colleague, begging you to come to Arkham County to help him protect its residents from some unnamed horror. Your friend had dabbled in the occult and read many ancient, strange books, but you have never heard him so disturbed. People have been disappearing in the county, and now whatever is taking them, is after you.
  • Camp Chippapuok: In the early 1980s, a group of teenagers are looking for a place to party. Someone mentions the old, abandoned Camp Chippapuok upstate. Hey, why not? No one’s there right now, not after all those kids died years ago. It’s the perfect place to drink some beer, smoke some weed, and maybe even get lucky! But the thing that killed those kids is still there, and it’s not happy to find all these teenagers in the summer camp.
  • Cold, Dark Space: The deep space exploration vessel Henry Hudson surveyed planet HN-112 as ordered. The scientists, crew, and Marines found the planet to be Earth-like, full of life and ripe for colonization. Samples of the local flora and fauna were taken as per regulations, and now the Hudson is on route to Earth. But something killed the captain, and whatever did it is still loose on the ship. And it’s hungry.
  • Whitechapel Vigilance Committee: Jack the Ripper is terrorizing London’s Whitechapel neighborhood. Ladies of the evening have not only been murdered but mutilated as well. With the police unable to protect the people or find the killer, volunteers have formed a “vigilance” committee to patrol the evening streets. But tonight, something is hunting the hunters–the volunteers are now being killed by this mysterious Jack.

These scripts do more than create the setting. Each has two parts:

The first is character creation. When you make a character for One by One, you’ll roll on tables in the chosen script to generate a connection between your character and the one on your right. In Arkham County, the two characters could be academic rivals, veterans of the Great War, or a bootlegger and a cop on the take. But in Cold Dark Space, the two can be clueless scientists, android and android-hater, or weary bughunt vets. This makes every character different yet perfect for the setting.

The second is scene resolution. When you finish a scene, the player whose turn it is picks one die and rolls on a table included in the script. For a flashback scene, this brings complications such as “The lead character is secretly a cultist” or, “The supporting character is not human and hasn’t been for years”. In a continuing scene, one character will die! (But since you can roleplay a flashback, you are never out of the game.) Again, these are tailored to the specific setting: Your character can be driven insane in Arkham County, chased by a madman in Camp Chippapouk, covered in acidic alien blood in Cold, Dark Space, and accused of being the killer in Whitechapel Vigilance Committee.

As we said, the core book will include four scripts. Additional scripts will be made available for free downloads at our website, and we will encourage other designers (especially new ones!) to create their own.

One by One: Survival Horror Story Game

As we said earlier, our game Teilhard’s Agents is on hiatus. It should be a big game (big as in scope and size), and we don’t have the time or resources to produce that game right now. Instead, we are working on a new game: One by One.

One by One is a survival horror storytelling rpg. As with the game Fiasco, players take turns creating scenes and building a story. But instead of focusing on a crime involving people with poor impulse control, One by One focuses on a monster stalking the characters, killing them off one by one.

Some of the key features of our new game include:

  • Different settings and monsters. Struggle to escape Mythos creatures in 1920’s New England, a serial killer in a 1980’s summer camp, or an alien creature aboard a spaceship trying to reach Earth.
  • Strong narrative control. When it is your turn, you frame the scene. Everyone playing in the scene can add details and shape the direction, but it is your scene–you can decide if new details are irrelevant or off-topic.
  • The Crisis. All games start halfway through the story. No struggling to decide where to go–you’re already in the story!
  • Flashbacks: While you will create scenes that move the story forward, you can also create flashback scenes that can impact the future. Does your character need a gun? Use a flashback to give her one!
  • One by one, characters are killed off until there is only one survivor. (But because you can play flashback scenes, you are never out of the game.)

One by One is currently in the early stages of production.