A Guide to Hacking Good Society: Part 1

This guide is adapted from the content of Good Society: Expanded Acquaintance. If you want even more detail about how to hack Good Society, you can grab the book or PDF for the full guide.

So, there’s a story you’re itching to tell, and you’re already starting to imagine how Good Society can
help to get you there. In this series of posts, we will walk you through the process of adapting Good Society to make your own game. We also explain how you can use the different elements of Good Society to create the best player experience.

There will be two posts in this series:

  • Part 1 (which you are reading) outlines the process of hacking Good Society
  • Part 2 discusses the elements of Good Society, and how you can use them to best achieve your design experience

If you are thinking of publishing a game based on Good Society, you should also check out our Penned to Good Society page for more information.

The Process of Hacking Good Society

When hacking Good Society, we recommend following the process. It’s the process we used to create all the expansions for the game:

  1. Determine the essential experience of your game
  2. Design towards this experience
  3. Remove unnecessary or conflicting rules
  4. Playtest your game
  5. Refine your game

Many of these steps apply to game design as a whole, and are useful for designing any game.

Step 1: Determine the essential experience

When hacking Good Society, you’ll need to determine the essential elements of your story
that best capture the experience you’re creating. This desired experience will guide your design, and help you decide how and when to change elements of Good Society. To determine the essential experience, ask yourself:

  • What are the essential elements of the kind of stories I want to create?
  • What do I want players to do and feel in my game?

Step 2: Design towards this essential experience

Your design should bring each element of the essential experience to life. In the first iteration of your game, this goal should sit behind every decision you make. Start this step by brainstorming how you could alter Good Society to achieve the different aspects of your essential experience. When you feel you’ve generated enough ideas, you can choose which ones you would like to include. When choosing, look over your essential experience again to make sure every component is addressed.

Step 3: Remove any unnecessary or conflicting rules

Once you believe all the elements of your essential experience are reflected in the changes you have made to Good Society, it’s time for a sense check. Consider these two questions:

  • Are there any rules or materials that conflict with those in
    Good Society, or with each other?
  • Are there any rules or parts of the game that are now

Don’t worry about getting this perfect! You can always return to this step and revaluate after playtesting.

Step 4: Playtest

It’s time to give your design a go! Get some friends together and play a game. To learn more about playtesting, check out our post about playtesting your rpg.

Step 5: Refine

It’s time to refine your game based on your observations from playtesting. Think about the following when making your adjustments:

  • Were parts of my essential experience missing? Or did the experience not play out as expected? If so, you may need to make further additions to your design or alter existing changes.
  • Were there rules that were confusing, slowed the game down, or did not produce the intended effect? If so, you may need to remove or streamline some aspects of your design or the original ruleset.

Once you’ve refined your game, you can playtest it again to see if you’ve fixed the problems you identified.

That’s it for part one. Part 2 coming shortly on the elements of Good Society.


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