giovedì 19 aprile 2012

First Review: Coyote Doctor by Julian Hyde

This year's ingredients have been able to suggest a wide variety of games based on oniric premises. Coyote Doctor makes no exception: the players take the role of godlike entities that struggle to save the universe from a threat known as the Coyote. Somewhere and sometime in the universe there's the Lantern, the only object that can destroy the Coyote. So the Coyote wants the Lantern and he's destroying the entire universe to gain it, while the players try to obtain it so that they can use it against the Coyote.

The four players have on their side six "concepts", that they'll spend to gain dice they'll throw during the conflicts that will arise when they'll find the "gates", the three (four, in reality) steps they need to cross to reach the lantern and gain it. Between them there's also the Coyote in disguise.

The setting would be, I admit, interisting, even if it gives me a sense of deja-vù; you know, the evil one disguising between the good ones so that he can reach his objective... I can think about a lot of situation like this, in videogames, cinema, literature... But that's ok.

The problems are linked to the system. First of all there are a lot of unclear situations: the characters are meant to reach the Lantern for the endgame to unlock, so what about the three previous gates? If they can't pass the first gate the game just crashes? And why is the Coyote playing against the character since the first scenes? If he wants to reach the lantern he should just stick to the party and wait for the last gate to open, isn't it?

Also the narrative authority isn't clear: who frames the scenes? Who controls the NPCs? There are only four scenes in the game (one per gate, I imagine)?

There are also some errors in the text that make the game not easy to understand, along with a series of other mysteries (why should you number your minor concepts from 1 to 4?) that sadly make this game actually incomplete.

Referring to the cookery stuff: I'm not convinced about the way the ingredients have been used. Coyote surely appears (even if just as name, I admit), and the Lantern too (good this one, as a ray-of-hope for the universe). Doctor appears only in the title and basically have no reference to the game, also because the coyote is trying to destroy the universe, not to heal it. The mimic one would have been used greatly in that disguising mechanic; I'm not sure it has been used, though, as it isn't specified in the handbook. I can't say if the author used a forge thread for the game, as also this point isn't specified in the text.

I have to say that the game's premises are cool, so not all of the work necessarily has to be trashed. I really like that disguise mechanic, if it surely need to be debugged, so I would start to work from that.

Anyway, I'll have to give a pat on the author's shoulder, 'cause I think that the game isn't fine enough to proceed in the ladder.

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