Mars Colony has been out of print since December. Due to my busy schedule, I wasn’t able to organize a reprint until just last week. One reason for the delay is that I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to comb the text for any lingering typos (finally, the glaring error on the back cover will be fixed!). The other is that I was debating whether I wanted to keep the glossy cover or switch to a matte finish (I went with matte).
Well, the good news is that the reprint is on the way. I anticipate receiving the books within a week or so. When I do, I will ship some of the books off to IPR, and keep the rest for direct order sales. Thanks everyone for making the first print run a success.
The Indie RPG Awards were announced at Gen Con this weekend. First of all, congratualations to Vincent Baker for his commanding first place finish. Apocalypse World won both Game of the Year and Most Innovative Game of the Year.
I am also happy (and flattered) to see Mars Colony listed as a runner up in the same categories, with some kind words no less.
Runner Up for Game of the Year:
[Mars Colony is an] insightful game that embraces difficult real world political issues under its sci-fi trappings.
A tight and thoughtful two-player RPG, that doesn’t pull its punches. It leaves room to let the story breathe but dares you to push your luck.
Mars Colony brilliantly delivers a two-player experience, something we will see more of in the future. But those future games will always reference this one, because it is elegant, fun, and first.
Tight, focused, and remarkably re-playable.
Runner Up for Most Innovative Game of the Year:
Distilled down to its absolute core, Mars Colony is a welcome antidote to the bloated, sprawling mess of systems past. Sweet, short and to the point.
Games with social/political rulesets should also not still be innovative 35 years into the art form, but they still are.
If you are looking for a list of great games from 2010, check out this year’s awards.
Tazio recently emailed me with a wonderful account of his recent Mars Colony game. As part of his email he also included a sketch of Kelly Perkins. Now, obviously I decided on a very stark, photographic, direction for the artwork in the Mars Colony book. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a soft spot for well-done illustration. Take a look:
I just found this short comment about Mars Colony, by the user SevenSidedDie. I think it’s worth sharing here:
Mars Colony doesn’t have a reward cycle. You either save the colony, leave a false saviour, or leave in shame. Only your character’s fiction changes – status, emotions, personal relationships – none of which is reflected in the mechanics.
Arguably this is the point of the game. The mechanics are about the successes, failures, and moral compromises the saviour can make trying to save the Colony. The mechanics stay away from how the saviour might be changed by their struggle, leaving it up to the players to answer how their actions and moral compromises trying to save Mars Colony should change them.
SevenSidedDie’s conclusion is accurate. I tried to design a game that emphasized the personal struggle of a very public figure. People often tell me that they wish Fear Cards or Kelly’s Sympathy had a direct mechanical affect on the core conflict mechanic. But that wasn’t my design goal. The point of Fear Cards and Personal Scenes isn’t to feed into Progress Scenes. Rather it’s the other way around. Progress Scenes are meant to feed into Personal Scenes. Conflict and Deception are meant to inspire the use of future Fear Cards. In other words, a Progress Scene creates tension that the players are then able to explore on a personal level via the rest of the game’s mechanics.
Elizabeth Shoemaker has very generously put together a charity bundle of RPGs in an effort to raise money for her friend Karla. Karla is a young mother who was recently diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Long story short, Karla is going to be blind by the time she reaches her 40s or, if she’s lucky, her 50s. You can find out more about Karla at the Two Scooters Press website.
All proceeds from the the charity bundle will go to Karla, and it’s a very nice bundle indeed. You can get six games for $10. The games include:
Please consider making a donation. Any one of the games listed above sells for around $10 on its own. You can get them all for that same price, and help a worthy cause while you’re at it.
I received a wonderful email from a Mars Colony customer in Italy by the name of Tazio. He had given the game a try with great success. However, his concern was that there was no way to keep track of the lies that Kelly was telling throughout the story. As he put it, there was no sense that Kelly was “actually creating a new skeleton in his closet, which could be discovered and turned up.” To fix this problem, Tazio created a simple solution. Every time Kelly chose the route of deception, the players would take a new index card and record whatever lie, or “skeleton,” Kelly had created in the scene. As Tazio put it:
This had the side effect of creating truly edgy situations, as the skeletons became de facto flags just like the fear cards.
I thought the idea was a good one, and wanted to share it with all of you. I especially like how, if a Scandal occurs later on in the game, these Deception Cards would provide a reminder of exactly the sort of things that Kelly had done in the past to create such a furor. They might also help to inspire the Governor, for example, to create certain related types of opposition in future scenes.
The U.S. mid-term elections are fast approaching. I encourage everyone to go out and vote next Tuesday, November 2, 2010.
In honor of the political system that has given us all so much, I’m offering $2 off your next order of Mars Colony (pdf or book) or Hero’s Banner (pdf only). All you have to do is post, tweet, or otherwise tell me what politician, living or dead, you’d most like to play Mars Colony with. Send me your response (or a link to your response) along with you PayPal payment, and I’ll refund your order by $2.
Sale ends midnight, November 2.