Short Rules

Short form of Matrix Game rules

Start with a problem. Say what happens next. There is no order of play. Anyone can add to or alter what happens. All players may ask a player to roll if they don't like what they said. Roll 2d6. 7+ The action happens and cannot be altered. 6- It does not happen and cannot happen in the game. The game ends when the problem is solved.

Chris Engle,

Proposal for a simplified matrix game

1. Define the nature of the game in the briefest way possible. A one page scenario description, maps, a list of possible goals and maybe a cast of important characters is more than enough to suggest a world matrix. The player’s own imaginations fill in the blanks without any additional effort from the designer.

2. Start with a problem. Make it a simple statement. This is the question the game tries to answer.

3. Players do not take on roles. Everyone cooperates to make the game happen. They all work towards answering the problem statement. Naturally players will identify with various characters in the story but they are not locked into only acting through that person.

4. There is no order of play. Players jump in as they have ideas. This follows participant’s energy. Rigid procedures can stifle creativity.

5. Players point to a scene or location and say what happens. They should write this down so there is a record of events for post-game analysis. Actions may be done in the form of arguments (an action, a result, and three reasons why) but don’t have to be. Novice gamers tend to just tell stories and that is okay.

6. Other players may add to or alter the previous statement. This overwrites what the last person said. There need be no dice rolling, the effect is automatic but may lead to a discussion. It is possible for players to go entire sessions without ever using dice.

7. Any player may call for another player to roll dice to see if their action fails. Each roll is 50/50. As many players as wish may ask for rolls. If multiple players do ask for this then it is appropriate to discuss why. If the action passes the roll then it happens and cannot be changed. If it fails, it does not happen and cannot happen in this game.

8. Players may shift around from scene to scene inside the game as they wish. This allows the flow to go from critical event to critical event rather than get bogged down in minutia.

9. Play continues until the initial problem is resolved. My experience is that this generally takes no more than an hour and can be done in less time if that is required.

10. There is no game moderator but it helps to have a game host to encourage players to stay focused on the problem at hand. They do this by inviting players to say what happens next.

11. All sessions should end with a debriefing period during which participants and spectators discuss what they learned.

...I invite people to take these rules and adapt them for their own purpose. All I ask is that you share your methods and results with the simulation community.

Chris Engle,

The Open-Ended Machine (TOEM)

Of all participant, one is named the referee. The game could go without one, but it makes things easier if some players are not familiar with the system. All other players are assigned an actor, with proper background and game objective(s). The first actor to act is said to be "holding the conch". The conch holder proposes an event or an action and its outcome. Everyone is then invited to argue in favour or against the outcome. Each independent and significant supporting fact increase the chances by 1, each counter-argument/fact decrease by 2. The effect of these arguments is tallied and added to 10. The outcomes becomes true when the sum of the roll of 3 6-sided dice (3D6) is equal or less than the target number. If the initiative is successful, the same player keeps the conch for the next round. Otherwise, the referee assigns the conch to the player who managed the best to draw the control of the narrative toward him/her.

There is a bit more, but that is pretty much it for rules. The value of these rules is more in the statistical framework than its complexity of implementation.

Christian Blouin,