Advanced Keep It Weird, Beach City

After getting some great feedback on the current version of Keep It Weird, Beach City, my Steven Universe story game, it’s going through another round of development. The big change here is the addition of “trigger cards” for the characters.

The feedback I got on the current version was that while the cards did a good job of capturing the personalities and behaviors of each character, the single “take a gem” trigger meant that they would be rather one dimensional. The Crystal Gems are multifaceted (heh, gem pun), and character cards that reflected this would be nice to see. I thought for a while about how to do that, and eventually came up with “trigger cards”.

The idea here is that each character has three (or possibly more) cards representing major parts of their personality. Each card is double sided, with a trigger instructing the player to take a gem when a certain condition is met on each side. One side has a neutral or perhaps a positive trigger; something that won’t cause too many problems. The reverse side has a more extreme or a negative trigger; something that will cause issues or make things more difficult.

Trigger cards start the game neutral side up. When a player narrates their character meeting a condition on one of their cards, they take a gem and flip that card over to the reverse side, usually the “negative” side. If all three of a player’s trigger cards are negative side up, they all flip back to the neutral side.

This does a number of things. It gives the characters more personality facets, rounding them out. That increases the replay value of the game. A player can keep things “light”, only triggering the neutral conditions on their cards, as they’ll all flip back to the neutral side. Or if they keep triggering the same card, they’ll have to escalate the situation a but by narrating something that causes problems.

For example, Garnet might have the cards Direct, Intense, and Independent. Pearl would have CautiousClever, and Dramatic. Amethyst would have Impulsive, Irresponsible, and Fun-loving.

The trick now is to come up with neutral and extreme triggers for each of those cards.

Advanced Keep It Weird, Beach City

Keep it Weird v4.4.17

I’m looking for feedback on a little story game I’ve been developing on and off since last summer, called Keep it Weird, Beach City. It’s based on the cartoon Steven Universe, which I really enjoy. Familiarity with the show will help, but I am also interested in seeing if the rules and instructions make sense to people who don’t know anything about Steven and the Crystal Gems.

This is a rules-lite narrative story game. There’s no GM, and the “crunch” simply involves taking or spending tokens when you perform certain actions or narrate certain things happening. It’s based on Avery Alder‘s Keep it Sunny game, which made a huge impact on me. It really opened my eyes about how mechanics, even simple ones, can encourage a certain style of play in an attempt to emulate a specific character. This was before I had encountered either Fate or Cortex Plus and I think it was also the first GM-less game I read as well.

I’m not entirely sure what made me think of using the Keep it Sunny rules for a Steven Universe game. Maybe it was because the Crystal Gems have flaws that cause drama and drive narrative (though the Gems are generally good people, unlike the It’s Aways Sunny in Philadelphia gang). I’m not really interested in making it more complex, and if you only like tactical combat games I highly doubt you’ll like Keep It Weird, Beach City. Still, I’m interested in hearing any and all constructive criticism or critiques. I would love actual playtest feedback (you’ll need three to six players, some tokens, and the files below), but read-thru feedback is also appreciated.

Note: There are potential spoilers for seasons 2, 3, and 4 of Steven Universe here. So if that matters to you, you might want to avoid looking at these.

You can grab the files for the most recent version of the game by clicking on the image below. They’re meant to be printed out (they’re three sheets of letter-sized paper), cut up, and folded into double-sided cards. The cards are the same size as other typical CCG cards, 63mm x 88mm, and so can fit into those clear card sleeves. You’ll also need about 20 tokens (coins, buttons, dice, those clear glass beads, whatever) and two to five friends to play with. If you do play, or even if you just read the cards, I’d love feedback.


Keep it Weird v4.4.17