ScreenPlay Video Journal #1: ScreenPlay, Ironbound & Kickstarting It All

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a video must be like a million, right? As ScreenPlay moves closer and closer to its Kickstarter launch, The Warden has decided to start a regular series of video journals updating everyone from existing fans to curious onlookers what it’s all about and what to expect.

In this first entry, learn what makes ScreenPlay unique, how Ironbound will introduce everyone to how it works, and the Kickstarter campaign’s goal.

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A Final Update & A Look To The Future

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As the public playtest for ScreenPlay winds to a close, the latest version of the Rehearsal Edition has been posted on our ScreenPlayers Guild G+ community. If this game has kept you up late at night or you’ve been itching to read through and give it a try with your group but don’t know if you’ll be able to do so before January 29th, join the community today. (Version 1.5 of the rules will NOT be provided through DriveThruRPG/RPGNow.)

Now work progresses on taking ScreenPlay to the next level and after careful consideration, we’re turning to the public once more to make its official launch bigger than ever. Yep, we’re crowdfunding it! (Either Kickstarter or Indiegogo are on the table and a final decision has not yet been made.) The response from playtesters has been fantastic and it feels right to try and give this game a fighting chance to rocket out of the gate with more than our original plans. Expectations are to launch the campaign in Spring of this year and we’re working on building up some stretch goals to make the offer even sweeter than ever. If this sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee), stay up to date right here on brokenrulergames.net or through the ScreenPlayers Guild.

Talkin’ ScreenPlay: An Update From The ScreenPlayers Guild Community

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Use the #ScreenPlayRPG hashtag to help maintain the hype!

It’s been a couple of weeks since anything for the ScreenPlay playtest has graced this page and it’s not because everything’s gone quiet. Far from the truth, the finishing touches are going into Version 1.4 of The Rehearsal Edition with hopes to release it by early next week to everyone who downloaded this free PDF from DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

600+ downloads later and we’ve collected a fantastic group of avid playtesters are not only giving this game a run for their money, they’re creating new stories, settings, and genres to play. Playtest surveys are still rolling in with two additional unlocked treatments putting it at over 100 pages. The shining crown of this playtesting is the activity going on in the ScreenPlayers Guild, our online G+ community. Here’s a sample of the most recent discussions and events.

  • Ironbound Play-By-Post: Already into its fourth scene, this rendition of ScreenPlay’s dark fantasy tale of witch hunters features Derya (the scout), Gareth (the blade), Drachen (the archanist), Philip (the shield bearer) and Lyonesse (their new commander). If you’re looking for an idea on what makes this game tick, be sure to check out the Ironbound PbP thread.
  • Necronomicon Stories: Based on an idea created by one of our playtesters, we’re experimenting with a Lovecraftian tale of monstrous terror… in the future! The ball has only begun to bounce on this upcoming story and with only two Writers currently signed up, there could be room for a couple more.
  • EscapeFromTheX_logo_CMYK_preview2Escape From The X: The third treatment recently unlocked from playtest surveys, this sci/fi-horror story takes place in Mystical Throne Entertainment’s Mercenary Breed. The short and sweet of it: mercenaries hired to deliver an alien prisoner to a secret installation find themselves desperately outnumbered when someone mysterious releases every inmate to wreck havoc and spill as much blood as possible. Look for it in Version 1.4 next week!
  • Optional Rules For Building Potentials: With many core mechanics locked down, some optional rules are being considered. Such as building your dice roll’s value based on the number of details you apply in a scene.
  • Kickstarting It Up A Notch: Finally, we’re also looking at Kickstarter to help elevate the finished version of this project. With playtest surveys averaging a score of 4.6 out of 5 and ideas bouncing around for a small product line built using ScreenPlay, all options are on the table right now.

This and more is taking place at the ScreenPlayers Guild. Join us and see what all the fuss is about before the cool kids see what we’re doing and want to make it a crowd.

Stepping It Up To Version 1.3

ScreenPlay_Rehearsal_GoogleForms_banner_v1p3With almost 20 pages of new and updated rules, options, and a brand new treatment, Version 1.3 of ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition is now available for download on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. If you’ve already clicked on this free (that’s right, FREE!) playtest edition of the upcoming storytelling RPG, check your message to see what our awesome playtesters have helped up improve and expand upon. And if you’ve never heard of this ScreenPlay thing, you’ll want to click on this fancy blue text to read all about the game reviews and playtest surveys have awarded an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

You say you want bullet points of all the new goodies available in ScreenPlay? Well, why didn’t you say so?

  • New rules for adding motivations and hindrances to your characters. Adding motivations not only provides roleplaying incentives for your lead and supporting characters but also provides opportunity to earn more milestones (think of them as XP points) and hindrances are personality flaws and obstacles your characters must overcome during the course of the story… plus they’re opportunities the Director can use against your characters to make a scene more challenging.
  • Creating advantages for your allies with step bonuses, maintain a description’s effects over multiple turns, and prepare/concentrate on a description to gain step bonuses.
  • Refined rules and explanations on conflict rolls and complications making them easier than ever to understand and apply.
  • Expanded and clarified rules for resources
  • A revised 2-page character sheet with room for additional in-game tables, notes for character roles, initiatives, even your own sketch of the character.
  • New rules and guidelines for using super powers, perfect for the freshly unlocked treatment called Nightfall, a superhero tale exploring the concept of multiple people taking on the role of a single masked vigilante.

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The work is not done yet and the door is always open for more playtesters to join in the quest to make ScreenPlay better every day. Earn playtest points for free copies of the game, maybe even a print copy of the upcoming Director’s Cut of the game. Join the ScreenPlayer’s Guild community and enter in-depth conversations on various aspects of the mechanics or join in a play-by-post game. Help us make the game you want to play and create the stories you’ve always wanted to tell.

ScreenPlay Playtest Report (Week 1)

ScreenPlay_Rehearsal_GoogleForms_banner_v1p2What a brilliant, crazy week it has been! Our first week of playtesting for ScreenPlay has now moved into the second week and the results have been helpful, insightful, encouraging, and so much more. There’s a risk in throwing out something unfinished to the void and hoping that most of it will stick to the wall. So far, it seems those of you who have decided to help us out have really latched onto it.

Here’s a brief bullet point update on what’s transpired over the past week.

  • Version 1.1 of the Rehearsal Edition is averaging 4.4 out of 5 on our surveys
  • A lot of terrific comments have been shared on the same surveys, as well as some constructive feedback. On Tuesday, October 26th, Version 1.2 of the Rehearsal Edition was updated to everyone who has downloaded the original PDF on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. The primary focus was a revised approach to Act Two: How To Play using a more traditional approach to mechanics presentation and character creation, along with some modifications to milestones and the additional of character hooks.
  • The current number of playtest points awarded sits at 11 as of the time of this writing, meaning we’re only 4 more points away from unlocking Nightfall, a modern day superhero story of multiple people acting as a single superhero/vigilante.
  • Page views to this site for October have tripled the previous highest month and the month isn’t even finished yet.
  • On the ScreenPlayers Guild G+ Community, we’re getting ready to start a play-by-post rendition of Ironbound, the dark fantasy treatment provided in Version 1.1 of the playtest. If you have yet to join the community, feel free to join in. It’s a great opportunity to see the game in progress and laying down the foundations for how Directors and Writers can set up their own take on a story.

Fifteen weeks remain and the wheels are turning faster than ever. Huge thanks goes out to everyone who has joined in the effort with more than just enthusiasm and has shown this tale is far from over. And remember to keep using the #ScreenPlayRPG hashtag to help get the word out and fill out those surveys to collect those playtest points. Now let’s close out this post with a trio of gracious comments from surveys completed this past week.

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Learn To ScreenPlay: Hitting Those Milestones

ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition launches October 20, 2015.
ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition launches October 20, 2015.

If you’re reading this post immediately after it’s been published, there’s only one more week until you can stop reading about what ScreenPlay will be about and try it for yourself. But it’s even better if you’re reading this post AFTER publication because that means the wait will be even less or not at all. Patience is for suckers.

Stories are about more than pacing, action, drama, and more. Without characters, stories are nothing more than descriptions without meaning, actions without purpose, and tension without resolution. Characters are what make stories captivating and connect with the audience. Part of what latches us onto a character is their growth and development as people, whether they learn to overpower their enemies physically or their deepest fears. If a character remains the same at the end of a story as they were in the beginning, the audience loses interest in them and that is why such development remains an important part of ScreenPlay‘s characters too. But how?

So glad you asked. And even if you didn’t, this next instalment of Learn To ScreenPlay’s gonna talk about it anyway through milestones.

Developing A Character, Rewarding A Writer

The key to a successful story in ScreenPlay is moving the story forward by working together with your fellow Writers and the Director, using the material provided to create a logical and exciting tale of heroes, villains, and the people caught between their struggles. As Writers must tell the story through the eyes of their characters, it only makes sense for an experience system common in RPGs to reward players through the development of their characters as it relates to the story and for doing so co-operatively with their fellow players. Milestones are points awarded to Writers for not only playing the game and keeping the story moving, but for doing so in a unique and engaging fashion based on what they’ve created with their characters, be they leads or supporting.

Milestones are handed out by the Director at the end of a scene as they relate to its goals and character motivations, as well as excellent gameplay, use of descriptions, and anything else the Director feels made the scene a memorable experience. The guidelines for awarding milestones are fairly loose as this is a game built on improvisation, but many treatments that will be available in the Rehearsal Edition will showcase some examples for handing out milestones. For example, in the Tracking The Scarab Witch scene in Ironbound (a dark fantasy story of holy warriors tasked with slaying all warlocks and witches), Writers are awarded 1 milestone whenever they can describe their lead character(s) utilizing clues from the previous scene where local village children are killed or captured using the skills and traits established through each character’s potentials and their primary role.

While milestones are awarded in response to character descriptions, these little babies are handed to the Writer playing them. Regardless of which character earned them those milestones, Writers can redeem them for any character in their pool, even those later brought into their fold. The key is milestones are points handed out to the Writers to make their characters stronger and more prominent in the story.

Beefing Up The Heroes

Milestones can be spent over the course of the story to create one of two types of effects: immediate bonuses or long-term increases. To be specific, there are four ways milestones can be spent to improve the chances of survival for any character under a Writer’s control as they exist in Version 1.1 of the Rehearsal Edition.

Increased Maximum Stamina: A Writer can redeem 2 milestones to increase a character’s maximum Stamina by 1.

Conflict Re-Roll: A Writer can redeem 1 milestone to re-roll one of their conflict rolls immediately after it is rolled and before complications (if any) are applied. Whatever the new result, it must be honours and multiple milestones can be redeemed for the same conflict roll.

Step Bonus: A Writer can redeem 1 milestone to gain a one-time +1 step bonus for one of her characters. This must be redeemed on the same turn the step bonus is applied and can only be done once per scene.

Additional Resources: A Writer can redeem 3 milestones to permanently gain an additional resource slot for one of her characters.

Playtesting to date has revealed a lot of Writers plan to use their milestones to increase a lead character’s maximum Stamina, but the temptation to make that suddenly important conflict re-roll complicates this character growth. Which is exactly what they were intended for, but this point assignment is one of the key ingredients for moving forward with a public playtest. How quickly can characters grow in your average ScreenPlay? What is the average number of milestones awarded per scene? Per session? Per story? These are the answer we’re hoping players like YOU can help answer.

While there may be another class in this series of lectures we call Learn To ScreenPlay, this is the final lesson for now. There is only one other way you can learn about this game and that is to download the completely free, totally-up-your-own-discretion download of ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition. In the meantime, we invite you to join in the ScreenPlayers Guild, a Google+ community dedicated to nothing but creating a discussion on what works, what doesn’t, and how to make it better. Hope to see you there.

Wheels In Motion

ScreenPlay_logo_earlyWith only 12 days before the launch of ScreenPlay‘s Rehearsal Edition, it seemed a good time to update everyone on the state of things and where the playtest stands at this very moment.

First, the promotional wheels have begun to spin as the Warden (OK, me) spoke about the game and exposed his true feelings about Michael Fassbender on the Dr. Tom the Frog show.

As for the release itself, there are a couple of areas to explore and we’ll take a look at each of them individually.

The Playtest Itself

ScreenPlay‘s editor, Vincent Harper, has completed his edits for the current draft (version 1.1) and submitted revisions based on his suggestions and in response to some additional alpha testing conducted over the weekend. (To that end, big thanks to Matthew, Jake, Darina, Matlock, and Fraser for writing a great story of Ironbound: The Curse of the Scarab Witch at Capital Gaming Expo on Saturday. Your input and outcomes definitely helped create a sharper version for everyone to enjoy on the 20th.) There are a couple of mechanical aspects under review for different reasons and I’m debating leaving them in as optional rules or leaving them inserted with everything else to see how they hold up in beta playtesting. Decisions, decisions.

There’s also the matter of expanding the third act of the Rehearsal Edition, which is the advice chapter for Directors (or Gamemasters). Reading some comments, posts, and shares about this game has given me some concerns about whether the game will meet certain expectations and I want to make sure those expectations will be met. For example, quite a few people have compared the concept of the game to Primetime Adventures, a story game in which players develop a TV series and play out the story arcs of characters across an entire season. It’s a flattering comparison and while it may be personal last minute jitters, I want to make sure anyone who expects to find similar themes from that game will be happy. The mechanics of ScreenPlay focus on the storytelling and gameplay, but it’s the actions of the Director that make it cinematic. Once I know those tools are clearly delivered, I can breathe a sigh of relief.

The ScreenPlayers Guild

Discovering how Writers, Directors, and casual readers feel about the game is the key to a successful playtest and there will be two means of accessing that input. First, each draft of the Rehearsal Edition will include three surveys, one for the three levels of participation (reading the game or playing as a Writer or Director). Second, there will be an G+ community for everyone to get together and share their comments publicly, ask questions for myself and other players, hang out, maybe start up a play-by-post game. Either way, the ScreenPlayers Guild is a way to connect with other playtesters and I encourage anyone who’s thinking about giving this a whirl to sign up now and receive 1 bonus playtest point if you join before October 20th.

What’s a playtest point? I’m glad you asked.

Playtest Points

Simply asking nicely doesn’t always do the trick, not when there are so many different games to play and so many released on a weekly basis. What we needed was to offer an incentive and that’s where playtest points come in. Anyone who provides feedback on any of the various drafts or shares a link to a draft during these 16 weeks will earn playtest points. The more points you earn, the greater your reward will be at the end. Get your name listed as a playtester in the finished product, earn PDF copies, even unlock additional adventures to playtest. And the top five people will unlock free print copies of ScreenPlay: The Director’s Cut. While I had hoped to share the current point structure with everyone, there are still come adjustments underway and it’s probably best to wait until the Rehearsal Edition launch to see for yourself.

#ScreenPlayRPG

Maximizing the number of playtesters means spreading the word and that’s where we could use YOUR help. Hence the #ScreenPlayRPG hashtag. Anyone who shares a link, posts on their blog or Facebook page, tweets, or whatever will earn 1 playtest point. That’s enough to get you credit in the finished product alone. And we’d love to see your comments, video reviews, and podcasts about it. It’s all about passing it on to the next player.

The response to date has already been rewarding and has given us cause to tighten up a few screws to ensure this first playtest draft is as ready as possible, while still leaving room for flexibility and varied feedback. The clock is counting down and the suspense is building. Soon, it will be out in the world and I will have a stash of paper bags to hyperventilate in or jumping up and down for joy on the wing of a plane 10,000 feet in the air.