Tue, 9 December 2008
In this episode, I talk to Seth Ben Ezra of Dark Omen Games about his game, Dirty Secrets. Dirty Secrets is a modern crime/noir/mystery game without the mystery being predetermined. Our conversation touches on many issues surrounding the game, including how it intersects with Seth's religious faith and the roles of race and class in the game and in society. We also talk briefly about Seth's new game, A Flower for Mara.
NOTE: This episode was shot in a hotel room where the air conditioning kept popping on and off. Hopefully it's not too distracting. Sorry!
This episode is 63.6 MB big and 1:09:25 long.
00:00:57: Dirty Secrets is a "detective crime noir" game, similar in tone to the works of Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and Dashiell Hammett, but it's set in "your home, last week," and thus also bears similarity to the movie Brick or the show Veronica Mars
00:02:05: Robin Laws covers similar ground with his GUMSHOE rules system in a somewhat more traditional way (with a gamemaster and pre-plotting, for example)
00:03:03: Fred Hicks describes the game as having one player and many GMs
00:05:46: Situation generation
00:07:40: Scene framing
00:10:10: Conflicts use liar's dice and has a back-and-forth similar to Dogs in the Vineyard
00:12:05: Structuring the session
00:14:18: I make reference to the HBO TV series The Wire which is, in the context of this interview, absolutely obligatory
00:16:50: The crime grid
00:22:08: "When Ron Edwards in [The] Sorcerer's Soul talks about relationship maps and drawing them out of detective novels, he's using Ross Macdonald novels as an example."
00:26:31: Seth blames John Tynes and Greg Stolze, and their game Unknown Armies (which was pitched as James Ellroy meets Tim Powers, for his designing Dirty Secrets
00:27:58: The darkness of Ellroy's books and the perhaps-surprising implications for Seth as a Christian
00:30:56: The place that Dirty Secrets has vis a vis Seth's other games, Legends of Alyria and Mara
00:32:28: Ben Lehman describes Alyria as something C.S. Lewis would have written if he'd grown up playing Final Fantasy VII, but Seth sees it as the "intersection of Tolkein and Gene Wolfe"
00:35:41: An obligatory Chinatown reference
00:40:04: Seth loves In A Wicked Age..., and feels that Grey Ranks, Steal Away Jordan, and Dogs in the Vineyard are really "about stuff"
00:42:08: The demographics system, the racial implications, and my issues with it
00:47:14: Challenging design issues
00:47:32: Seth was inspired by the The Iä! Iä! Ph’iles by Christoph Boeckle, which reminds me of Kat and Michael Miller's Serial Homicide Unit
00:49:22: How many times was the game played before you published?
00:55:51: Anything you'd change in the book as published?
00:57:49: Defining success
01:00:18: A bit about Flowers for Mara, Seth's Jeepform game.
Closing song is Toccata and Droog by the Hub City Stompers
Logo courtesy of Daniel Solis: http://danielsolis.com/