Quest for the Guffin – Temp. Card Art & Playtesting

Temporary character card art for the “Fish Person” card.

Near the beginning of this week, I started working on developing card art. I think I have created a good art style, yet I don’t know if it will end up being hard to manage as I will have to make multiple decks, making the cards number in the hundreds. One thing I am not certain about is some of the finishing touches on the layout of text. I also still need to make the card backs. I may have to spend this weekend’s game jam working on this, but it wouldn’t be the first time I spent a game jam working on card art.

Artwork for the “Wall” card.

One of the biggest challenges that arose during playtesting was helping my family understand how to be the Game Master, or the “Story Weaver,” a term my father coined. Because my game is meant for people new to RPGs, I need to observe the game being run by an inexperienced GM. Being the role that holds the story/game together, a lot of pressure is placed on the GM. If the GM doesn’t know what they are doing then the illusion of an engaging collective story is broken. This week has open my eyes to some of the issues causing my new GMs confusion. The first problem was due to confusing setup. I would give the GM a McGuffin, a place card, a character card, and 3 event cards and left them to devise a story from it. This was overload and they had no clue how to process it, especially when initially trying to set the scene for the adventurers. Often they would foreshadow a twist or event meant to be revealed as the story unraveled and struggled transitioning the story over to the adventurers who then didn’t now how to act. What my father suggested was to give the setup to the story more of a formula. We decided analysed how a game like Honey Heist sets up the story. One observation was that the introduction has to be clear and simple, giving the players a clear goal and motivations. While my game did give the players a goal, the introduction was so loose that they had little motivation to tell them how they should start acting to acquire said goal. My players still have little investment in the story and their character. To make things simple, I am considering having setup and gameplay follow this process:

  1. The McGuffin and location card is drawn.
  2. The GM/Story Weaver reads a Mad Libs-esque story introduction card filling in the McGuffin and location. This sets up a clear goal before characters are made.
  3. Characters are drawn randomly. I may need to make it more dynamic by giving characters roles in the group such as the thief, the brains, or the muscle. I may also need to throw in some more things to give characters more personality, letting the players get more invested.
  4. Characters now plan on how they are going to get to the McGuffin. They are going have to work their way inside the location where it is being held.
  5. The Story Weaver allows the players to make action and tells them to roll to decide the outcome of an action. The story weaver shapes events of the story based on the success or consequences of those actions.
  6. Twist/event cards are drawn as the story unfolds instead of at the beginning.
  7. The players may reach the McGuffin. I may need to consider additional twists or rewards to flavor this portion more, yet I’ll keep an eye on this for now.

My Family is planning on playing through Honey Heist so we get a sense for how the story flows. If anyone has other suggestions for how I can improve the story setup or the card art, feel free to share it.


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