• Publishing Psi*Run

    by  • March 19, 2012 • Design & Art • 5 Comments

    My game Psi*Run has been out since January 2012. It’s a great game and it’s getting good AP reports, but there’s one question that has popped up a couple of times. It goes kind of like this “Hey Meg, what are these other names on the cover?”, or sometimes like this “Psi*Run? Didn’t a couple of guys write that a couple of years ago?” So I figured I’d tell folks the whole story, and hopefully clear up any confusion.

    Short version: Yes, I wrote Psi*Run. Every word, start to finish. The other names on the cover and in the credits are there because I want to give credit where it’s due, and Chris Moore and Michael Lingner (who helped him) were integral to the process of publishing Psi*Run.

    Longer version: Back in 2005, Vincent posted on his blog (anyway) about a dice mechanic we’d been calling Otherkind dice. In Otherkind, you roll some d6 and then assign each one to one aspect of the issue at hand. It worked *great* for all sorts of things, but especially for gritty combat and higher-stakes situations.

    Chris saw it and thought it might work for a game about people with super powers. He wrote the first design ideas for Psi*Run, and Vincent, Emily (Care Boss, of Black & Green Games), and I play-tested the heck out of them. We encouraged him to publish! Chris Moore and Michael Lingner put out an ashcan version (essentially a playtest version) of Psi*Run at GenCon 2007. I took that ashcan and ran Psi*Run all over the place, for school groups and library teen activity clubs and groups of friends. I came up with solutions to issues in the ashcan—the expected holes in the rules and places where the text didn’t support what happened at the table. I kept waiting for the finished game to come out, and kept tweaking my wrinkled, note-covered, and folded ash-can.

    Finally I got tired of waiting. In June of 2010, I wrote to Chris and asked him what his plans were for publication. Chris said he wasn’t planning on publishing, and he said “If you wanted to actually take the game and fix it and finish it and publish it, well…that would be wonderful!!” So I did! I rewrote the game from the ground up, keeping the seeds Chris had at the beginning: you play someone with psychic powers, who has amnesia, on the run from dangerous forces that want you back. Chris and I agree that I’m the person to talk to regarding this game, because I wrote it. I feel strongly that giving credit to Chris and Michael (who was a key support person while Chris was writing the ashcan) is the ethical thing to do.

    I have three main goals in publishing Psi*Run. First is to get in people’s hands, especially younger hands. I have donated a copy to each of the libraries I demoed in, and am planning a couple more library appearances for later this year. I love the game, and want folks to play it. Second, to encourage my own kids and other kids to play games and publish games. Psi*Run is not a big book. This is a scale of project that is very doable for teens. I have seen the lights go on in a group of kids when I get to the part of the demo where I say “One more thing: you can do this too. I made this using programs I know you have access to here in the school/library computer room. I printed it at your local copy store. If you have an idea, write it down and get it out there.” Third is to push myself towards making my next game and Chris towards making his next game. Publishing Psi*Run has certainly fanned the flames of my next project. I wrote Psi*Run by the light of a spark Chris caught from Vincent and Emily and my fire, and I hope to return the favor.

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    About

    Meguey Baker has been playing RPGs since 1978. Her most recent game is Psi*Run, a game about people with psychic powers and amnesia, released in 2012. She is currently working on Miss Schiffer's School for Young Ladies of Quality, a game about bold adventurous women scientists and explorers in the 1890s. Meg is also the mother of three sons, a sex ed teacher, and a textile conservation specialist.

    http://www.nightskygames.com/

    5 Responses to Publishing Psi*Run

    1. avatar
      Timo
      March 19, 2012 at 16:20

      thank you for the information! I remember hearing the name Psi*Run from Ron Edwards a while back, and was excited when I heard it was being wrapped up. the game is excellent, and I’m looking forward to exploring it more.

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    2. avatar
      Graham
      March 19, 2012 at 16:29

      It’s great you published it and I look forward to playing.

      Is it, perhaps, worth crediting Chris and Michael as doing some of the game design and writing? The text and mechanics have changed since the ashcan, but not completely. I liked your description in the book: Chris and Michael constructed the bones of the game; you put the flesh on it and got it running.

      It is quite an achievement and a model of collaboration, which it would be nice to see in other games.

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      • avatar
        March 19, 2012 at 19:18

        Graham, I credit them for the ashcan at the beginning of the book and thanked them at the end. It’s a little circular, since they also thank Vincent and I directly for the basic mechanics design and for play-testing, which included tweaks to the game design for their ash-can. Finally, Chris and I are in accord that this game is my work. In our initial conversation, he was ready to hand it off entirely and just have the thrill of seeing something he had a hand in reach publication, but I wouldn’t stand for that. He’s my friend, and I want to see what he does next.

    3. avatar
      Dmol
      March 19, 2012 at 22:35

      OK I love psi stuff and d6 dice RPGs. This game sounds tailor made for me. How can I get a copy of it?

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