Alright- well let's get to it. I've had a bee in my bonnet for a while about Dime Stories.
A few years back, a game designer I respected made the comment that while Dime Stories was fun, it lacked anything mechanically that tied it to the theme. I'm paraphrasing, but the idea stuck. And somewhere in my noggin, wheels started to turn. Sure, Dime Stories was always the red-headed stepchild of my creations. Most of my time and attention had been spent on Superhuman and my freelancing projects and I would make sidelong comments about Dime Stories calling it "barely a game" and "utterly terrible." So, I let the doozers in the back of my head work on the problem for a while. A long while.
Every now and then I jumped in to make things pretty with a new logo and a new cover for the rulebook. I talked to artists about making new and improved art for a print edition of the rulebook, but I never more than skimmed the surface while avoiding the main problem. The game had problems- not unfix-able problems- but problems. And even if I fixed them, the initial comment that the game did not mesh with the theme was still the mountain in front of me.
Every now and then, I touched on something that worked and ran with it. I ran an amazing mod of Dime Stories last year at Gencon with a Shadowrun theme called Nuyen Stories- to be fair, this mod was far better than the original. One time I dipped my toe in to fix Dime Stories and accidentally wrote a GI Joe RPG in the process (more about Battleforce at another time). I even decided to keep much of the core principles of the original game (though fixed with two minor changes) to be used as a generic role-playing system (something else for me to come back to another time).
But ultimately, it was something I had set aside for a wholly different project that proved to be the true impetus for change- cards.
Despite set in the far future on an alien world, Dime Stories is, at its heart, a western. And when I don't think about gunfights in the old west, I think about a handful of unsavory types playin' cards in some seedy bar or brothel. So, I naturally wanted to make a few sets of cards. I briefly toyed with the idea of making some in-world poker variants when I realized that an ancillary game wasn't what I needed to do. Great thematic games like Aces & Eights and Dogs in the Vineyard had found ways to incorporate poker in their games- why hadn't I? Not to mention the SAGA line of games that WotC created in the late nineties to try to change up the aging game systems of RPGs at the time.
So now, it's months later. Dime Stories no longer has dice. Like at all. Cards have replaced just about everything- with each player using their own deck, playing poker for physical and social combat situations, and using a trumping system similar to my beloved Marvel and Fifth Age SAGA rules from years past. And I love it.
Does it work?
No idea, but it will be with me at Origins and Gen Con for alpha testing with the public before I send it out for beta testing without me involved (yep- I'm looking at you, my fearless reader- reach out and be a part of it!)
Of course, this get's my inner designer going. So on top of the first of Dime Stories' new poker decks (available now at DrivethruRPG), I needed to redesign the pregen PCs and NPCs in Easy Money for convention play. Those that have played Dime Stories with pregens before will see a lot that looks familiar. Thinkin' has been split to two abilities (Thinkin' and Socializin'), traits no longer have numerical scores, but everything else seems pretty similar, right? Well... it looks the same, but holy hell is it different. Everything interacts in new ways that actually feels like it belongs in theme (more on this later)
Non player characters needed similar changes. Gone are the "come up with three traits and give them numerical scores" days. They need to work the same way (albeit with a few simplifications) as Player Characters- a lesson I learned from running the awesome Nuyen Stories mod (Drew- if you're reading this, that's what I keep forgetting to tell you).
Which leads to the important question my five fans will have- what happens to those that have bought earlier Dime Stories products? Well, that's simple. Anyone that has ever bought a dime stories product has bought the product in pdf or received a free pdf if they bought a printed adventure. Every single one of those products will be updated to 2e after testing is complete (so likely Q3 or so). I will add free downloads of the new material and rules for those customers and as new product moves in, I'll take old products down so limit confusion for new customers.
As far as where to find us at Origins this week?
Saturday Morning Games will be running several events in the GCCC Union Station Ballroom Foyer.
Thursday,-Jeph will be running games of Punk's Been Dead since '79. At 1pm is the 1996 Northwest Ohio Battle of the Bands and at 7pm is Blackjack's Revenge.
Friday- Jeph is running the same two scenarios, but Blackjack's Revenge is at 9am and the 1996 Northwest Ohio Battle of the Bands is at 1pm.
As usual, Saturday is a doozy for us. at 9am I'll be running the 10 cent tale Easy Money updated for Dime Stories 2nd Edition (as I talked about above). At 1pm, Jeph is running his bible camp follow up to PBDs79 in an adventure called Paint over Piety. And finally, at 2pm we're returning to Centennial City in the convention adventure for Superhuman- The Bank Job.
Hope to see you there!
An also, I'm not avoiding you, Fearless Reader. I promise I'll write soon. I... I love you.