Make-as-You-Play Games

Imagine games where you begin with little more than a blank slate, games where the rules guide your imagination in creating and defining the components and building and exploring the game world. Imagine games where you direct the story and each story leaves its mark on the game. Imagine games that can grow indefinitely, each new play enriching its content with your creations. These are “make-as-you-play” games.
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The Release of Star Charter 1.0

The rwinder
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The Stars are Right; the Galaxy is Yours

Board Game: Star Charter


Hello, everyone. Now that we have explored quite a few worlds in a shared galaxy together powered by the Star Charter rules, I thought it was time to let you all have a chance to create your own galaxies and discover your own worlds.

To that end, version 1.0 of Star Charter is now available:

Star Charter Rules of Play

These rules contain all the tables and printable components you need to play. Coupled with some index cards, pens, cubes, and your imagination, you will soon be zipping sector-to-sector finding horrible and hilarious distopian worlds. It's my fervent hope that this little game captures your imagination. My aim was to make something quick and fun in its own right but also with enough creative hooks that you could dive deeper into the worlds you find (e.g., using them down-the-line in rpgs or stories or the like).

Most importantly, Star Charter is free. Please download and enjoy and if you have ideas for expanding the game or riffing on it, go for it! All I ask is that you give me an acknowledgment if so. One of my hopes is to take the "make-as-you-play" genre and make it more and more accessible by aiming at some smaller, simpler games that can seed your own creations. Not everything has to be a complex labyrinth like Deep Future!

Other Creativity Tools

I imagine Star Charter as (1) a light, fun board game, (2) a kick-off for a journaling RPG (as evidenced by my paragraph descriptions), and (3) a creativity tool for spawning new worlds. This is hardly the only entry in this third arena. So if you find that this game doesn't quite fit your needs in creating vivid planets, I also wanted to direct your attention to the other games out there that are worthy of consideration when it comes to generating vivid worlds:

GURPS Space (Fourth Edition), which is great for both "hard science" worlds but also for populating them with civs and aliens; this was a major influence for me
Diaspora, where you create interconnected worlds with high-level aspects at the outset; another key inspiration
Traveller (Mongoose), or any number of other versions of this classic RPG
2400, the lo-fi, sci-fi series of RPGs with very evocative tables (you can find them for $2 each on drivethrurpg.com)
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (or Worlds Without Number if you want a more fantasy focused game); this is going to give you much more specific and rich descriptions than the high-level Star Charter prompts
Space Aces: The New Guidebook, an adorable space romp for those who like the idea of Star Charter and world exploration but want some more narrative
Ironsworn: Starforged, the solo rpg with its own baked in world generation tables and rules
Ask the Stars: Planetary, a fresh and evolving example of rich world creating
Across a Thousand Dead Worlds, an on-going kickstarter that looks to offer a solo-rpg experience with built-in worldbuilding.
Five Parsecs From Home: Solo Adventure Wargaming, which only recently came to my attention; I still need to take a look at how world-building is done there, but it does seem like part of the game.

What's Next and the Next Game

OK, that's all well, and good, but what about Star Charter? I do have ideas for how to grow from the seed of the base game, but I want to let those evolve a little before I discuss them as it's a tricky prospect to make something that folds into the game at any stage of development and still lets you play Star Charter as written too.

In the meantime, I plan to play a few more games of our shared galaxy. I had speculated about doing another block of "12 Days of Star Charter" but I think that might tie up the blog for too long and I want to switch topics to some other game ideas, including one suggested to my imagination by codermike in his WIP fantasy / dungeon game idea: "Beneath The Rock - a fantasy Make-as-You-Play game work in progress". So more to come on that one.

In the meantime, I don't want to slow down on playing some rounds of Star Charter, so I might move those entries over to the "Solo Games on Your Table" geeklist. I think I will simply link to them in this blog (in the comments of this entry).

That said...what the heck, let's play a game of Star Charter right now! Here's the next game, complete with opportunities for you to vote (and links to the old worlds)!

(Also, given the scheduling of when this appears, you might already have seen this same content on the solo-play geeklist).

The Game: Our Path through the Galaxy
SECTOR 46 – Yeongam-Drumrock, the Garden Plutocracy world
S
NEW WORLD #1
SECTOR 45
NAME: ??
BIOME: Urbanized
SOCIETY: Democracy
TRAIT 1: Fleeting Entertainment
TRAIT 2: Innovative Satellites
PROMPT: Why does itchy further describe the innovative satellites?

NEW WORLD #1 Names
Stonybrook https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stony_Brook_Gatehouse
Hirsch https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Days_(Beth_Hirsch_album)
Grondal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Gr%C3%B8ndal
Poll
What is the world name?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
Stonybrook
21.7 percent
21.7% 5
Hirsch
26.1 percent
26.1% 6
Grondal
52.2 percent
52.2% 12
Voters 23
What is the first sentence?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
XXXX’s sweltering urban sprawl means life is a busy and sweaty affair for most of its inhabitants, who spend more than half their lives in transit trams jetting from one gig to the next, as they maintain XXXX’s ever-more-complex infrastructure, busy lives interrupted only by “standing dreams” as the workers don one of the ubiquitous headsets to get a brief burst of reprieve through neural stimulation.
62.5 percent
62.5% 15
Life on XXXX is relegated to one of the two-dozen megastructures that dot its blasted surface, the vast bilesquid-infested stretch where criminals are sent to perish for the entertainment of the law-abiding who are always eager for the next gladiatorial bout to appear in their vid queue.
37.5 percent
37.5% 9
Voters 24
What is the second sentence?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
There is no central authority on XXXX, and all governmental decisions are handed over to votes, which are incoming at a rapid clip, the notifications orchestrated by a vast orbital network of satellites that issue reminder buzzes to every citizen to vote within the next five minutes or face being labeled a criminal dissident.
54.2 percent
54.2% 13
The elected government of XXXX reside in satellite offices, overseeing the planet and watching the minutest detail of its citizens for signs of discontent, an irony considering these elected officials are constantly suffering from boils and eczema from prolonged exposure to the rash-clouds that float at high altitudes.
45.8 percent
45.8% 11
Voters 24
This poll is now closed.   24 answers
Poll created by rwinder
Closes: Sun Apr 24, 2022 6:00 am

Continuing our journey...
S
SECTOR 44 – Thamanin, the Desert Monarchy world
S
NEW WORLD #2
SECTOR 33
NAME: ??
BIOME: Toxic
SOCIETY: Fractured
TRAIT 1: Esoteric Ancestors
TRAIT 2: Poisonous Luxury
PROMPT: How have the esoteric ancestors biased the toxic biome?

NEW WORLD #2 Names
KCNG2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KCNG2
Lambshead https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Still_Life_of_a_Lamb%27s_Head_...
Toneisha https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toneisha_Harris
Poll
What is the world name?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
KCNG2
26.3 percent
26.3% 5
Lambshead
47.4 percent
47.4% 9
Toneisha
26.3 percent
26.3% 5
Voters 19
What is the first sentence?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
Once a barren rock, the forgotten Progenitors of XXXX transformed the surface into a thriving world of plant and animal life, most of which unfortunately evolved to find humans as ideal prey, leading to a world suffused with lethal poisons.
55.0 percent
55.0% 11
The XXXX Ghosts left a peculiar legacy for their descendants, black-density boxes with slits that release a slow and fatal toxin into the atmosphere, which many speculate was intended originally to keep away off-worlders even though the inhabitants no longer possess an immunity to it either.
45.0 percent
45.0% 9
Voters 20
What is the second sentence?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
The profusion of poison on XXXX means that there are constant skirmishes between different factions who each refine it into some peculiar and horrible substance, whether mind-altering drugs, life-extending tonics, or an energy efficient fuel.
45.0 percent
45.0% 9
As XXXX changed over time, the once unified society broke into different nations, each with a wildly different ethos on how to survive the poisonous biome, some few of them acceding to a shortened lifespan and most others run by boutique assassin guilds.
55.0 percent
55.0% 11
Voters 20
This poll is now closed.   20 answers
Poll created by rwinder
Closes: Sun Apr 24, 2022 6:00 am

Continuing our journey...
S
SECTOR 22 – Missillac, the Garden Oligarchy world
S
SECTOR 11 – Bos Cotranc, the Gas Giant Plutocracy world
S
SECTOR 65 – Poidevin, the Storm Corporate world
S
SECTOR 61 – Glaa, the Volcanic Theocracy world
S
NEW WORLD #3
SECTOR 54
NAME: ??
BIOME: Ruin
SOCIETY: League
TRAIT 1: Strategic Resources
TRAIT 2: Booming Drugs
PROMPT: Why does mobile describe an important milestone in world history?

NEW WORLD #3 Names
Dai Hong Dan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai_Hong_Dan
Lalonde https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_E._Lalonde_Accelera...
Liga IV https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020%E2%80%9321_Liga_IV_Mure%C...
Poll
What is the world name?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
Dai Hong Dan
35.0 percent
35.0% 7
Lalonde
20.0 percent
20.0% 4
Liga IV
45.0 percent
45.0% 9
Voters 20
What is the first sentence?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
Once a center of commerce across multiple sectors, XXXX has collapsed into a confederation of petty druglords, each one silently plotting against the others in the trade of the only remaining resource of tremendous value: the marcopiate plants that can grant inordinate peace when used as a sleeping shell.
71.4 percent
71.4% 15
The tycoons of XXXX have built their entire economy around the repurposing of decaying tech and rotting commodities, the most important of which is the firechip, which can induce visions of alternate realities when ingested—provided it doesn’t make your head explode first.
28.6 percent
28.6% 6
Voters 21
What is the second sentence?
 Choices Your Answer  Bars Vote Percent Vote Count
XXXX did not always used to be in this sector, but long ago it was shattered in a tumultuous transfer to these coordinates by the inscrutable Xeno who intended to arrange the stars in a specific configuration for some plan long-forgotten and perhaps still yet to transpire.
57.1 percent
57.1% 12
XXXX claim to have invented the first FTL technology, which is plausible considering how widespread their commodities have reached and considering the devastation of forgotten days that still bears the hallmarks of a vast warp-space mishap.
42.9 percent
42.9% 9
Voters 21
This poll is now closed.   21 answers
Poll created by rwinder
Closes: Sun Apr 24, 2022 6:00 am


Polls will run through the week. Here's a picture of our charted course. A nice question mark shape!

From gallery of rwinder


Alternate Universe

In addition to the on-going game set in our shared galaxy, I thought it would be fun to compile an "alternate universe" where the losing names, losing descriptions, and AI Dungeon descriptions describe the galaxy, just to give a sense of what other directions can emerge from the same mechanics.

You can find the complete descriptions of these alternate worlds here:
Star Charter - Alternate Universe

Here's a picture of that galaxy:
From gallery of rwinder


I'll aim to maintain this alternate universe too as I add more games to the "real galaxy" we make together!


The Make-as-You-Play Genre

This is a stub for anyone encountering this blog for the first time. If you are unfamiliar with the whole "Make-as-You-Play" game concept, I'd recommend the following links:
Welcome to the Make-As-You-Play Games Guild! – an overview of the genre at the Make-as-You-Play Games Guild
Making Games as You Play – the inaugural blog entry on the topic
Deep Future – a representative game in the genre about interstellar conquest
Big Picture – a representative game in the genre about making hit movies and flops
Star Charter – a representative game in the genre about discovering bizarre worlds
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