Saturday, February 17, 2024

Bigfoot Epic Fail and Five By Five Back To Basics

My last post spoke about the history and evolution of Five By Five. This was in anticipation of a coming play test of the game's newest version called, "Bigfoot." -- That play test flopped. The game crashed and burned. I spent more time trying to explain / justify the game's rules than actually running the game. 

It was an epic fail.

The experience left me bitter and angry. I was going to just give up, but I still wanted to run the game. That game being the 10 part Dragon Town / Darkness Below campaign by JP Coovert. Should I just give up and use Dungeons and Dragons? I considered it. However, despite the experience, my players profess to like their characters. Everyone had created anthropomorphic animal characters. These would not have been easily adaptable to Dungeons and Dragons rules.

I started looking at older versions of Five By Five.

I wanted to try to figure out what had gone wrong. I have played this game with this same play group in the past and things have gone swimmingly. The last "stable" version of Five By Five that I had run was version 3. I had in my head that we would go back to version 3 and just play the campaign with that. Sadly, version 3 contained a lot of "crunch" that I never actually used. I remembered just dropping a big part of those rules and playing without them because they didn't work. No wonder I've been fiddling with the game ever since. So, what's gone wrong? I think the biggest problem is that I've been changing, shaping and sharpening rules without actually playing them.

Game Design Rule #1: Play The Game.

I decided to read every version of Five By Five that I had ever written. (Believe it or not, there are like 6.) What I found is that the game that I wanted to play existed in only one version -- the first one. The original Five By Five is the cleanest, most accessible version. So, I decided to suck it up and run some more play tests, this time using the OG version of Five By Five.

Everything worked.

There are some minor tweaks that I wanted to make. There are some changes made to Five By Five that have worked in the 16 years since its inception. But, I didn't have the original Five By Five document anymore. 2008 was a long time ago. So, I decided to recreate the original rules from scratch. They were only 16 pages after all.

I have now done that.

I've recreated the original rules and fitted them to a 5.5 x 8.5 zine format. I've added a few minor tweaks from other versions of the game, but for the most part I stuck to the original. I matched not only the content, but the graphic design, layout, and fonts used (as much as I was able to.) I also changed the copyright on this version, releasing the text content to the Creative Commons Attribution license.

I'm very happy with the results.

The new zine edition of the original Five By Five actually looks quite nice. It's currently in the process of play testing, and it's holding up great.

Click Image To Open Document

Who knew that it would take me 16 years to figure out that I got it right the first time?

Character Sheet

If you want, you can get a form-fillable version of the character sheet: HERE. (You must download and save the PDF locally in order to edit its content.)

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