Last week on Geek Native we introduced Curious Monk’s The APERTURE Guide. Issue 1 launched this month and delivered four different adventures and a new RPG system that makes clever use of an actual aperture mechanic.
It was not just the aperture mechanic that caught my attention, it was that there was an annual subscription option for The APERTURE Guide. So, last week, we had a free preview of issue one, this week, Geek Native can give one lucky reader an annual subscription.
The winner, by this time next year, will have 48 different adventures in their library and will be well placed with any short notice requests to run a game.
How do you become that one lucky winner? You need to login into the widget below. Yep, sorry. It manages entries for us. Then you need to click the button in it to find out what your mission is (spoiler: it’s a survey), complete it and win some points. Each point you have is once chance of being the lucky APERTURE Guide winner.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Geek Native spoke to Marin O’Conner of Curious Monk. He’s well placed to introduce The Aperture Guide and explain a bit about how the aperture gauge works.
Could you tell us about The Aperture Guide?
The Aperture Guide is a monthly gaming anthology series based on our custom Aperture System and offers four Scenarios for players to dive into each issue. Issues are priced at $5 apiece and should provide between 12 to 15 hours of gaming.
In the preview for the first issue, readers will be able to see a chart of numbers with an aperture gauge on it. Can you explain how that mechanic works?
Contrary to many other D20-based systems, Aperture treats Attributes and Skills differently. Attributes add to rolls, while Skills – areas of expertise and training – define how to translate a roll’s result, bending luck away from failure and heightening the effect of success.
It does the former by triggering a reroll of a die result equal to or less than the Skill’s level, and accomplishes the latter by using the Skill level to broaden the range associated with a Critical Opportunity. So, as a character’s Skill level increases, these two ranges – one low, one high – extend, leaving less of the available roll results to pure chance. The high risk area between them is referred to as ‘the aperture of the roll’.
But, this mechanic is also the core method for applying situational modifiers.
Where a circumstance is more challenging, the ‘aperture widens’, lowering the Skill level applied and making the roll more fraught with risk. Where circumstances are advantageous, the ‘aperture narrows’, increasing the Skill level applied and stacking the deck in the character’s favor.
Unless specifically directed otherwise, all modifiers in Aperture games work in the above manner. There are no obscure rules to remember. Widen or narrow the aperture by one step and move on.
Is this system going to be used in each issue of the anthology?
Yes, but there may be optional or unique mechanics for each Scenario depending on what it’s attempting to convey. Usually these involve interpreting one of the base mechanics in a slightly different manner or leveraging one of the system’s optional mechanics to achieve the desired effect. We have an optional mechanic called ‘Tandem’ that is heavily used through the 2nd Scenario in issue one, for example.
Why have you decided to release The Aperture Guide as a monthly anthology? Doesn’t that create a lot of work for you?
It does, but it allows us to showcase what Aperture can do and how much fun it is to interpret and play across a huge number of genres and settings. Further, it lets us generate interest and familiarity with the system in the run-up to larger projects coming in the future, as well as provide a broad ecosystem of content for people to play in a very short timeframe.
That said, we offer profit-sharing to anyone who wants to contribute to the monthly releases, so if folks are concerned about my health I’m happy to accept their help. :)
What’s in issue one?
The four Scenarios in issue one are intended to really draw players into the system and showcase the elements that make it unique and flexible.
“The Edge” is our take on a zombie apocalypse, in which players attempt to hold off the army of the dead while another group performs a ritual that may – I stress ‘may’ – bring the nightmare to an end.
“Collapse” is set in the immediate aftermath of a skyscraper falling in downtown Chicago. Players take on the role of surgical residents fighting to save as many lives as possible.
“Poughkeepsie” is a Wild West story that features an in-system take on poker, but also a lot of action as players attempt to retrieve their stolen possessions from a gang of criminals.
“Punk Engine” is a train heist set in the early 1900’s in a steampunk version of North America. Players try to rob a brutally armored American Imperium train filled with supplies… using a giant, steam-powered robot.
Will it be safe to start buying The Aperture Guide at any point or should people start at issue #1? For example, if I don’t have the funds until college term ends to buy any more RPG goodies but can then afford a subscription next year at issue #8 is there the chance I’ll need content from issue #7 or before to play all four scenarios?
All prior issues will remain available and all will contain Quickstart Rules for people jumping on at any given point. Also, there are no plans to create sequel Scenarios, so there’s zero risk from onboarding at a later time. Any unique or optional mechanics used in a Scenario will be covered in its overview, whether they bear some similarity to mechanics used in other Scenarios or not.
Further, subscriptions work like bundles in the sense that they cover a specific group of issues. A subscription for Volume I, for example, would provide access to all issues in the first year. But there’s no harm in starting one’s subscription with a later Volume if that’s what makes sense for that individual. The subscriptions are just a cheaper method for collecting all the issues over time.
We would recommend downloading the Free Preview from our website – Curious Monastery.com – before jumping in, though. But it’s not required at all.
Are you able to tell us what’s in issue two?
The 1st Scenario of issue two is entitled “Adventures in Rodentia” and is a fantasy game about anthropomorphized rodents trying to escape a maze. There are five species to choose from and five classes. It’s our way of showing that more traditional RPG elements, such as race and class, can be translated into Aperture with minimal effort.
There’s another about a horse race similar to that found in the film The Black Stallion Returns that pits players against one another; a science-fiction game about what happens when the current day focus on online stunts for attention mutates into its final form; and a horror story that I’ve had a hard time writing since I’m a bit of a wuss, so it may be swapped out if I can’t bring myself to finish it in time.
If you could have any game designer write and contribute a scenario to The Aperture Guide, who would they be and why?
Luke Crane. I can’t think of another designer whose work both impresses and intimidates me more, and there’s a lot to be said for his contribution to the overall industry, both with Burning Wheel and his work with Kickstarter. In short, I just really respect him and would love to see his take on Aperture.
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