Monday, November 27, 2023

Making dirigibles out of dice rolls

 It’s been over a year since I last looked at the Legends of Dsyx series. Which actually surprises me a bit, since I think it’s an interesting exploration of both Print and Play and Roll and Write. 

The Legends of Dsyx is a series of twelve games that are simultaneously one page, rules and all, while really pushing the envelope about what you can do with Roll and Write. Seriously, I get the sense that Robin Jarvis was trying to create ‘big’ games in a very small design space. 

And when I first ran across them, I was fascinated. It was relatively early in my exploration of Roll and Writes and the Legends of Dsyx were part of my realization that Roll and Writes could go well beyond just writing down numbers. 

Those ideas now seem old hat but they were pretty wild to me at the time.

All that said, the Legends of Dsyx are a mixed bag. Some are very solid. Hall of the Dwarven King is a hidden gem of a game. But some of them feel half-finished. I think some of them genuinely suffer from the one-page format.

So, I tried out Derelict Dirigible. How did it measure up?

Dsyx is a kitchen-sink fantasy universe that is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Derelict Dirigible is about gnomes building airships out of salvaged junk. Clearly, Dragonlance casts a long shadow.

Derelict Dirigible last fifteen turns and each turn has three parts. Salvage, where you roll dice to get materials. Building, wheee you spend materials to add parts to your airship. You actually draw the part on a blueprint grid, creating an increasingly complex dirigible as the game goes on. Adventure. There’s a list of adventures with lift and speed requirements. Meet the requirements and you check it off for points and improvements to your scavenging.

Derelict Dirigible feels like it is 75% there. The designing and building of your airship, which is where most of the actual gameplay is, is good. It requires some real planning and decision making. Every part has trade offs. Boilers, for instance, are necessary for powering props but weigh your airship down and require coal.

Adventures, on the other hand, feel like a missed opportunity. Adventures are just a checklist. You build an airship and then you just see if it’s up to spec. And this is where the one page restriction really shows. Having additional pages devoted to adventures, giving them narrative weight and gameplay would add a lot and make sense with the idea of the game.

Honestly, I enjoyed Derelict Dirigible on the strength of the airship building alone. I do want to return to it and work on making better dirigibles. But I also think it could have been a lot more.

No comments:

Post a Comment