Friday, January 06, 2006

Pretty as a Playtest

City of the Moon playtest version 1 is now available. This game came out of last year's Iron Game Chef competition.

City of the Moon is set in the classical period of Japan @the year 1000 CE, in the imperial court at the capital Heian Kyo (site of current day Kyoto). The game is "gmless" or all-gm'd. Each player makes a main character that is a female heroine, a high-born lady of the nobility who is serving as a hand-maiden in the imperial court, a position of high status. Art and cultural refinement were paramount in this society and women could rise high in society based on their artistic accomplishments. Creative endeavours were brought to an epic high by women during this time, with Murasaki Shikibu creating the form of the novel with her Tale of Genji.

The heroines each have a destiny they are seeking: attainment of their art, power in the court, realization of love. Each destiny is associated with one or the other of two powerful virtues held in high esteem at the time: aware, the sense of the beauty and transience of life, and miyabi, elegance and cultural refinement. Inner and outer, yin and yang, these differing values express the different courses through which the women of the game seek happiness and face trials.

Since everyone in the game shares in the game duties, each player choses another to present opposition to their character, and does the same for them. The characters become rivals or nemeses, who are vying for attention at court over attainment of the same art, or have dibs on the love or support of another, minor, character. The other players can take part each other's stories by taking part in scenes where they help the main character in her goals, and in smaller ways by creating elements in any scene that may assist or hinder the main characters. They do so by using counters gained during special Full Moon Party Scenes, where the players themselves make poetry in simple party games similar to what they would have played in ancient Japan.

The character's conflicts and efforts culminate in Festival scenes, colorful events involving the Emperor and Empress themselves, in which characters may gain, or lose, powerful allies. You can even cause your nemesis to become possessed by evil spirits, losing them all their support, though if you fail, you suffer the fate instead...

Duration of play is likely best for a short campaign (3-6 sessions). Preparation is quick and easy, though familiarity (and love) of the setting will assist in play. The playtest version includes brief background material and names, example characters from court, descriptions of festivals and Moon Cards, themes and motifs used to inspire the spontaneous poetry of Full Moon Parties. Resolution uses a standard playing card deck, and you will need counters or pennies to use during play.

If you have any questions, write 'em here, contact me at, or drop by at the Black & Green Games Forum at the Forge.


Blogger Brendon said...

I was skimming this game, and one thing isn't clear to me. What is the min/max number of players that can participate. It seems like 3 is the minimum, but I'm not sure. Thanks.

4:55 PM  
Blogger ecboss said...

Thanks, Brendon. Three would be the minimum. I'd say 5-6 would be the max. It might be that if you have more players, you would need to increase the number of aware and miyabi needed to accomplish your Destiny.

Also, an even number of players would seem to be better since it allows everyone to have one Rival/Nemesis relationship, but odd should be fine too.

1:21 PM  

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