Welcome to Candycreeps Development Diaries! This series of posts is like our transparency policy — it’s designed to paint a picture of the ideas and motivations that went into putting the game together. Keep an eye on this space for future updates.

Development Diaries 5: Roles

As we started putting together Candycreeps characters, we found that Features didn’t always let us define them to a degree that would support all the stories we wanted to tell.  Sometimes, we needed to describe an aspect of the character’s knowledge base, or of his or her place in the Pembrigan Academy ecosystem, and a single bonus or special ability on par with other Features wasn’t enough.  That’s where Roles came in.

We never wanted to give Candycreeps a fully-fleshed-out system of skills.  That was one of the main ways we wanted to make the game “rules-light” — by trusting the judgment of the GM and players to determine what the core competencies of a particular character would be.  For a while, we considered going with pure “skillsets” — i.e., you could buy a group package of skills in Science or Business or whatever.  As we kicked that around, though, we realized that the main goal of suggesting it was to let us make characters that did specific things in the setting — like, for example, a Science Teacher should have a certain broad range of abilities relating to science, but also to running a classroom.

So we decided to cut out the middleman and go after that goal directly, and that’s where the idea for Roles came from.  Each Role a character has grants him or her two separate kinds of bonus.  Some of these bonuses are right in the line of skills, but many, if not most, are broader than any single skill would be in a full-on “attribute plus skill” game (the Punk role confers a +1 bonus to anything that involves breaking rules, for example).

Most Roles, with a few exceptions (again, Punk is an example), also confer a broad set of appropriate knowledges and competencies; so a character with Superfan, for example, knows the teams and players for any sport that might come up in game.  We left these intentionally vague to encourage players and GMs to be as inclusive as possible, on the grounds that it’s more fun to spend time talking about what the characters can do than worrying about what they can’t.

Since Roles cover a lot of ground, they’re twice as expensive as individual Features in the chargen and advancement processes.  Given the range of abilities that most of them grant, I think they’re still cheap at the cost.  Theoretically, a character could just take Roles without taking any regular Features.  In practice, though, we’ve found that most players are interested enough in the unique elements of their characters’ appearance that they gravitate toward Features.  Lots of characters have Features but no Roles, which is just fine — that just means that they don’t have a stereotypical position that they occupy in the society of the game, or that their jobs don’t play an important enough role in their lives to define them during gameplay.

Next post, we’ll take a look at the Crunchy stats that support in-game fighting in Candycreeps, and at the same time, we’ll talk more about how Candycreeps strives to be “rules-light.”  Until then,

Stay sugary,
the Candyman

Welcome to Candycreeps Development Diaries! This series of posts is like our transparency policy — it’s designed to paint a picture of the ideas and motivations that went into putting the game together. Keep an eye on this space for future updates.

Development Diaries 4: Features

The Features mechanic bridges the gap between an intriguing sketch on the page and a playable Candycreeps character. The process is simple; you pick out the parts of the character doodle that you’re the most excited about and associate them with official Features that make up the stats and special abilities your character will use during play. Features are the flip side of Aesthetics; in addition to giving you kewl powerz, they build the Cute and Creepy pools that your character will leverage to recruit others into his or her mayhem.

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Welcome to Candycreeps Development Diaries! This series of posts is like our transparency policy — it’s designed to paint a picture of the ideas and motivations that went into putting the game together. Keep an eye on this space for future updates.

Candycreeps chargen relies on the super-secret, high-tech technique of “doodling” to create compelling characters.  Basically, with a little inspiration from the setting material, you picture a character that catches your fancy and sketch him or her out on the character sheet.  The game system then guides you in picking out elements of your sketch and turning them into stats and special abilities that will help your character navigate the labyrinthine halls of the Pembrigan Academy with style.  (For more on that process, see the next post in this series, on Features.)

The idea for a visual chargen system came early on.  As soon as we’d decided on the Cute-Creepy style dichotomy that the game was to capture, we knew we wanted some kind of interactive chargen mechanic to encourage players to picture their characters in detail before worrying about stats.  At one point, I had a crackpot idea about getting people to produce three-dimensional models of their characters out of folded paper or something.  Fortunately, my genius crowd of collaborators and playtesters managed to talk me out of that craziness, and we settled on the much more practical doodling method.

People tend to have extreme reactions to the sketch-based chargen.  Some folks take to it instinctively and get all excited about adding more and more stuff to their characters.  Others resist the idea of bringing a different kind of activity, one that might invite comparisons of skill, into the gaming process.  I can totally sympathize with that — I’m no great shakes at drawing myself, as the sample character pictured here makes all too clear.  We’ve found, though, that the craziest, weirdest-looking, and sketchiest sketches are usually the most fun.  (Take a look at the “Resources” page for some of our favorite examples.)  Just like Karaoke Night, it’s less about skill and more about enthusiasm and a sense of fun.

Candycreeps Sample Character
To encourage players to relax and go with it, we put in some structure to help with the drawing-chargen process.  The default Candycreeps character sheet comes equipped with a blank maquette to build sketches on, so you can simply add on the key elements for your character if you don’t want to draw the whole thing out.  If you’re having trouble picturing your character, you can flip through the extensive list of sample Features for some inspiration.

We’ve had a lot of good responses to the doodle-based chargen model.  It conveys the style of the game quickly, and the character sketches are fun conversation pieces that help the other players see your character the way you do — this was a particularly nice icebreaker for con games.  In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at the Features mechanic that converts your character from an image on a page to a larger-than-life personality ready to take on teachers, bullies, and other creatures of nightmare and legend.

Stay sweet,
the Candyman (Nick)

Candycreeps Development Diaries 2: Aesthetics

Welcome to Candycreeps Development Diaries! This series of posts is like our transparency policy — it’s designed to paint a picture of the ideas and motivations that went into putting the game together. Keep an eye on this space for future updates.

Aesthetics are one of the key mechanical concepts behind Candycreeps; they link the style of the game setting to the mechanics of character interaction. The essence of the Aesthetics mechanic is that:

1) each character has certain qualities that make her more or less Cute and Creepy;
2) each character can draw on her Cuteness and Creepiness to sway other characters during social interactions; and
3) each character has defined opinions on Cute things and Creepy things that can affect her interactions with others.

The inspiration for Aesthetics came in two separate chunks, as the game setting and the game system fused together into a delicious custard of gaming sweetness.

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Welcome to Candycreeps Development Diaries! This series of posts is like our transparency policy — it’s designed to paint a picture of the ideas and motivations that went into putting the game together. Keep an eye on this space for future updates.

Dev Diaries 1: Why Candycreeps?

Once upon a time, when we saw how much fun our buddy Justin of Green Fairy Games had with Fae Noir, Liz and I started kicking around the idea of putting together a small-press game. The kernel of an idea that grew into Candycreeps came from some of our earliest ideas for what we wanted to do:

1: Rules-light. We wanted the game to be short and sweet, with just one or two easily explained core mechanics, and to work off of a single die. The goal was for the whole game to fit into forty or fifty pages at the most. Once we got to writing, we found that there was a lot to say, and the document itself grew to more than twice that size. But the core mechanic stayed short and sweet — simple addition and subtractions, with an element of bidding to keep the players thinking.

2: Easy to picture. We wanted the game to have a defined sense of visual style, so that you could picture just what a character would look like. This led directly to the core mechanic of Aesthetics, which ties together the style and stats of your character.

3: Fun to read. Over the years, I’ve probably read at least five games for every one we actually played; and even for the games that led to long, satisfying campaigns, I’ve read way more supplements than ever made it to the gaming table. There’s nothing wrong with that! Some of my best memories from college are of late nights sitting around with Justin, poring over the Rifts Worldbooks, and laughing about all the crazy stuff you could make up with them. When I decided to write a game, I wanted to make it fun like that — something that you’d laugh while reading, even if you never played a single session of it.

4: Good to look at. Filling the game with cool-looking art to pull the reader into the game world was a priority from the start. When the plan was to have a forty-page game, this was a way less daunting prospect! But we stuck to our guns as the manuscript grew, and I believe that the result is one of the best-looking small-press games out there. That’s all thanks to our fantastic artists, Jorge Munoz and Ben Powis, who really captured the style we were going for.

5. Engaging chargen. For me, making up characters is half the fun of gaming. I’ve got whole notebooks full of all the guys I made up but never had the chance to play. We wanted our game to have a chargen process that lent itself to that kind of obsessive fun, encouraging you to make up a whole bunch of really distinctive characters to populate your headspace.

These ideas melted together into the smooth, cheesy fondue of a gaming experience that is Candycreeps. In the next few posts, we’ll take a closer look at the role each of these aspects fills in making Candycreeps play like it does.

As most of you probably know, the second print run of Candycreeps is currently being funded on Kickstarter. But today I’d like to talk about a different Kickstarter that’s going on right now: Prismatic Art Collection.     Whenever people start debating the lack of diversity in gaming art, someone comes along and says, “So how do you fix it? How do you get artists to draw more fantasy heroes of color? How do you get more publishers to include more diverse art and characters in their games?” Prismatic Art Collection answers those questions by saying, “We’ll get artists to draw the pictures by paying them to do so, and we’ll get game publishers to use them by giving them away for free.” It’s so simple, I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of it first. Organized by Tracy Hurley of the ENnie-nominated SarahDarkmagic.com and Daniel Solis of Smart Play Games, Prismatic Art Collection is raising money to hire artists to generate fantasy art featuring more diverse characters. The art will be put up under a Creative Commons license so anybody looking for RPG art can use it for free. It’s an awesome plan, and the art so far looks spectacular. So go check out Prismatic Art Collection on Kickstarter and tell your friends.

Welcome to Candycreeps

Posted on August 18 2011 - In: Candycreeps by admin

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CandyCreeps is a tabletop role-playing game that brings together the living, the dead, mascots, monsters, and everybody else who treads the thin line between Cute and Creepy.

In the adorably dystopian burg of Crowley City, the dead don’t just walk; they wash cars, write checks, teach classes, and run companies. Living cartoon mascots called Pops aren’t just entertainment anymore; they might be your boss, your accountant, your classmate, or your drinking buddy. Bogeymen rent beds to sleep under, vampires open butcher shops, and folks down on their luck dabble in the dark arts to make ends meet.

The Pembrigan Academy for Gentlemen, Ladies, and Creatures of Good Breeding is the fiery crucible in which all these folks’ kids melt together to form a new, creepy-cute society. Living or dead, human or monster, every student can count on a world-class education to go with all the other, lethal drama that happens from K to 12. With a Pembrigan diploma, you can write your own ticket – if you can survive until graduation!

The Candycreeps role-playing game core book gives you everything you need to explore the delightfully uncanny world of the Pembrigan Academy. The versatile, doodle-based character creation system lets players’ imaginations run wild, and the quick, easy core mechanic keeps gameplay quick and lively.

Candycreeps and all content on this website is © 2011 Nick Licata, all rights reserved. A game by Green Fairy Games.