Narrative Control – Episode 35 – A Penny for my Paul Tevis

This week’s episode was recorded in EndGame at Oakland during Good Omens Con 3 in July 18th. Paul Tevis, author of A Penny for My Thoughts, played a game of Penny Justin and me and then recorded interview with us about the game. And now you have it… the story behind Penny.

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Justin Evans

Guest Host: Paul Tevis

Length: 37:55

Show Notes

[00:25] Intro to the show, an interview with Paul Tevis at Good Omens Con.
[01:49] Excerpt from “A Penny for My Thoughts” from the Orphic Institute.
[04:19] The rules are simple, but this piece shows “how” to play this game.
[05:18] Design decision: A book that could teach you the game during play.
[06:33] The three ingredients for Penny at Game Chef: Currency, Memory and Drug.
[07:43] Penny is a very procedural game, so the rules can unfold as you’re playing it.
[07:59] The trick is making it fun. Memory triggers and presenting the rules in the fiction.
[10:09] Everyone sitting at the table is playing. One player takes the role of the Reader, but they still play with everyone else.
[11:10] Excerpt from play. Learning the rules.
[12:52] Structure of the game divided by ritual phrases. Inspired by Polaris. Helps transition into and out of the game.
[15:37] The ritual phrases bakes in the reflection scene.
[16:07] Keeping things short, specific and evocative. Based on experience with improv.
[17:37] Elements inspired by improv: “Yes, and…” “And” is harder than we think.
[19:15] “Yes, and…” also acted as pacing mechanic to string the questions together. And creates momentum.
[20:00] Sometimes “No” means “Yes.” Divining what people want.
[21:24] Specific influences for Penny: The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen and 1001 Nights. Creating incentive to do collaborative storytelling.
[22:07] Core principal: Listening to what kind of stories the others want to tell and giving them what they want.
[24:07] If the character sheet is a love letter to the GM, Penny is an ongoing dialog.
[24:31] Penny engages all the players all the time. Avoids the turn taking that leaves players out.
[25:28] Compared to In a Wicked Age. The Facts and Reassurances document is analogous to the Oracles. It makes sure everyone is on the same page about the content of the game AND allows that content to be swapped out for any setting.
[28:10] Playing without a net. I made Paul an international bank robber.
[29:09] Publisher hat kicked in. Support for new settings on the Orphic Institute.
[30:14] Penny as a character creation session. A rich development of the characters on an emotional level.
[31:45] Creating connections between your characters in the memories.
[33:12] Design question: How much of explaining the rules and the implications of the rules during the procedural text.
[34:11] Some competition to offer the best actions. “A Smack Talk for my Thoughts”.
[36:56] Continue this conversation over at or

Direct Download: NC_Episode_034.mp3: NC_Episode_035.mp3

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