This year's game is "experimental" for me -- that is to say, it is weirdly normal and down-to-earth. I've mentioned it before here (indeed, I mentioned it the day after I thought it up, a year or so ago): A Respectful Calm is going to be a somewhat dark, very real-world story, set in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a company downtown. Instead of being a game of violence, it's a game about the repercussions of violence, and the ways our society reacts to it. (It says something that the four major groupings of characters in the Factions list are "Employees", "Police", "Media" and "Politicians".)
It's an unusual game for me in many ways. One is the complete lack of fantastical elements: I think this is the first time I've ever written a game that wasn't at *least* satirical, and nearly all of my games have been fantasy or science fiction. Aside from a little bit of high-tech speculation in the background, this one is totally down-to-earth, with normal people dealing with an abnormal situation.
Maybe even weirder for me is the lack of uber-plot: for better or worse, my games usually have The Big Thing that takes precedence over everything else. I try not to let that overwhelm everyones' individual stories, but it's always there. Not in this case, though: The Big Thing has already happened, and we wind up with something of a fractal of reactions, as everyones' lives spin off of that in different directions.
I'm also trying my hand at writing gender-neutral characters, after having treated gender quite casually in all my previous ones. The topic of gender bias in games has come up a lot in recent years, and I've decided to run at it quite deliberately. I'm allowing myself to write gendered characters in the cases where it is seriously relevant to the character, but that's only a modest number; most are written gender-neutral, to the extent that the underlying Querki database has both male and female names for each one, and I'm planning on writing a few functions so that pronouns get adjusted automatically after casting. (I allowed myself ten specifically-gendered characters when I bid the game, but it currently looks like I'm coming out with four, out of thirty.) It's being an interesting exercise in challenging my own assumptions about how relevant gender is to character.
And of course, it's all written in Querki. This kind of brings the Querki project full circle: it started as a LARP-design system about ten years ago (I believe I originally built the prototype for Girl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne and the Hidden Castle). This time, I'm planning on not just writing the game in Querki, but doing the printing and casting through it as well. I expect it'll be a learning experience, as usual.
For those who care, I will admit that the game is not fully written yet: at this point, I have the character list, the major plots and a lot of the interaction web, but I'm still fleshing it out. I've never failed to have a game ready well before gametime, though, and I don't intend to start here.
It should be an interesting game, and I look forward to seeing where the players take the stories. I hope you'll consider signing up; it's scheduled for Friday at 8pm...