Last winter I was working on a game called Frontiers. The design goal was a game that let players create interesting, complex worlds.

I went through a few iterations last winter, including playtests, and found that the game was fun but there was too much going on. Players would explore and create the world by controlling characters that would go on adventures. It was exciting but there were really two games: the character adventure game and the world building game.

This month I’ve revisited the design goals but taken a more minimal approach. I trimmed out anything that wasn’t directly tied to world building, including any bits around adventuring or a crew of player / characters. I also cribbed more strongly from Microscope for some of the basic mechanics.

This weekend I ran two playtests and I’m excited by the results. The game is fun to play and succeeds at creating detailed, consistent worlds with nuanced relationships between organizations and individuals. There are some interesting, unresolved design questions about how to better flesh out individuals in the world - and there are plenty of other design tweaks - but I’m excited at how it’s shaping up.

I’m hoping to do another playtest or two soon, tweak the rules a little more, and then I’ll share the rules online.