Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Majokko - A Magical Girl Game

Right before New Years one of my normal L5R sessions didn't have game but instead a bunch of us just sitting around, talking, drinking, and watching AMVs. In all honesty it was probably one of the more relaxing evenings I've had and well, despite the lack of game, it was a lot of fun. One of the things that came out of that night was an offer to a friend of mine. The promise? Namely that I would attempt to make a Magical Girl game for him. Today, I want to talk about what is going into that.

Before going into the other things, one of the first things I decided upon was to use the Fate Core system for the core system. There are several reasons for this. The two biggest reasons are as follows. One, I wanted to try using an already established core system and Fate Core is pretty open to being used for almost any kind of game. Two, and more importantly, Fate Core is designed around representing and providing narrative elements for a story as opposed to trying to simulate physics. With a Magical Girl game - and the kind of games I like to run in general - the narrative focus is going to be very important.

When designing a game I like to start with a theme. Why a theme? Because a theme is most often what a game is about and will tell you what the stories told by those games are about. For Magical Girls the core themes resolve around a few concepts. The biggest one is Friendship. Regardless of what else goes on int he story everything revolves around friendship in these stories. The friendship of the girls involved is an endless fount of energy to pull from and it always seems to be strongest when things are at their most dire.

Justice, Good vs Evil, and Light vs Dark are the other core themes. Secondary to that of Friendship but still just as present. These are often the backdrop themes to what makes the magical girls and provides the opposition for them.

Finally, there is usually an element of romance involved. Along with the adolescent nature of the story these are coming of age stories and that means an interest in boys, or girls, and the beginning of some romance plot lines are just natural to happen.

Mechanics are going to be the hard part. Fate Core gives solid mechanics for basic things such as dispute resolution and such like that, but what is needed is a way to represent the magical girls themselves post transformation. For this I'm looking to the core inspiration for this game, which was a Pretty Cure AMV. In Pretty Cure the magical girls use actual combat (like DBZ fisticuffs) to fight. Now, the girls themselves aren't necessarily martial artists so something needs to happen to give them the ability to go into combat with monsters. The solution? Well, in time honored tradition I'm gutting mechanics from another system, namely Dresden Files.

Dresden Files has powers for supernatural abilities for enhanced strength, speed, and toughness. Using the core way those mechanics works, and adding in some other abilities for normal and special attacks. The question then becomes how to let a player customize who their character is in a fight while still allowing them to be pulling from the same core abilities. Not as insurmountable as all that, considering that is basic character generation, right?

Current Status
At present Majokko is in an early alpha stage. All the rules for the magical girls and how their things work is present. The rest of the mechanics are standard Fate Core (the joys of a pre-made system!) There are several ideas for the setting, including one in development, but that is actually what is taking the most amount of work. Fairly understandable considering it's also the only place I don't have a huge starting off point already provided.

I am hoping to test out the core system sometime soon, but that involves getting a test group together on a good day for it. With current time constraints I'm not sure how long that will take.

As this is a current game design project though, and part of this blog is supposed to be my meanderings on that subject, there will be more updates to come.

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