"I chose 'girlfriend' and 'rat' and wrote a game based on the prisoner's dilemma," says Ferry. The result was One Can Have Her.
A game in black-and-white inspired by film noir. Driven men in a dark underworld trying to stay alive long enough to set things straight. The Police Chief's daughter seducing them all, but only one can have her.
Ferry's game was selected as one of the event's winners and was recently play tested at The Forge member Peter Nordstrand's "OmniCon," which, according to Nordstrand, "is basically a bunch of gamers in a cellar"
"The short version of this report is that the game went very well," writes Nordstrand. "Finally a pick up roleplaying game that actually works!"
Players begin by choosing one of 10 character types (including Politician, War veteran, Journalist, Gangster) and one of 10 attributes (including Paranoid, Depressed, Idealistic, Hardboiled). Then, they decide upon their character's life goal (what they hope to achieve before they die). The Game Master (GM) then chooses who each character's enemy is, and introduces the femme fatale, the one woman each player wants, but only one can have.
"The character generation is quick," says Ferry, "because most important stuff about them is created through collaborative play. I want to provide real choices for the players, so they can shape the story. I want to have the least amount of stuff for the GM to prepare before the game. I want to give him just the right blocks for the story."
In One Can Have Her, players roleplay scenes established by the GM, in which their characters may come face to face with their enemies or get a chance to "rat" on one another. In One Can Have Her, no one is innocent, and the chance that your own crimes will catch up with you is as important a motivation as achieving your life goal and getting the girl.
"Players are not very invested in their characters pre-game," according to Nordstrand. "This is not a flaw. All character development happens in actual play, which is fantastic! Characters are developed in action, so to speak, and so is the players' investment and interest."
Each character's story is revealed through roleplay, providing the other players the opportunity to "rat" on that character - providing details of his crime to his enemies, lessening his chances of getting the girl and achieving his goals.
"I suppose one thing that attracts people to this genre and the characters is that they are allowed to have weaknesses," says Ferry. "It's very common in RPGs to play heroes or people who are perfect or are supposed to fight for what's good. But if you play a noir character - especially in One Can Have Her - you have to have a crime that you have committed, so you're not perfect. I think there's an appeal there to play people who are less than perfect.
"Usually, if you watch film noir, you have this point where the character is at this dark threshold, and you know [if they cross it] things will go bad. I really enjoy that point, the turning point. In One Can Have Her, that has already happened, so you don't get to experience that, but you can play out what happens after you take that step."