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Scarlotti

Apart from the standard board games that everyone plays when they're young, my interest in game design really started back with tabletop and pen and paper role-playing games at the very end of the 1970's. I came across a copy of Imagine recently and was reminded of my first steps in game design.

 

The first game I got was Traveller in a distinguished-looking  boxed set. But having never played it before, or been involved with any role-playing group I had no idea how to approach it or run a session, so it wasn't the first I played. While I was figuring it out along came Dungeons and Dragons - the original boxed set, which was much more understandable.

 

At the time I was working at London Zoo as a keeper on the Cotton terraces (which is in the Northern part of the zoo where the giraffe, camels and antelopes are kept). London Zoo was a unique place to work, and I used to love it in the morning listening for the first sound of gibbons as I approached it through Regent's park.

 

The zoo was divided into sections, with each section being pretty close-knit. I was lucky enough to have several in my section that also seemed interested in Role Playing D&D and we set up a small group that met every Friday  (Garry Miller, Andy Raynor and Jeff Nicklin).

It was my first crack at dungeon mastering and the same game went on for years, one long story thread, characters even had children that went off adventuring.

 

Working with the same people also meant that the game would often leak over into mini-sessions at lunchtime or just after work. Sometimes we'd also experiment a bit. Scarlotti came out of that experimentation, and I think it was Garry's idea to begin with. I really can't remember why we called it Scarlotti, but it had a lot of play-testing during lunch-hours, something everyone had a hand in, Garry in particular.

 

It's a simple game played out on a 9x9 board (somewhere I have the original simple air-brushed one, and if I can find it I'll stick it up - but functionally and topologically its exactly the same as the magazine scan you see here).

 

The aim is simple to get to the middle and back again with a 'star'. The original used playing cards and 2x2 Lego bricks as counters 9which made them easy to stack). For the magazine version they published cutout cardboard counters - but Lego is better.

It's fun, and a game that lets you be very mean to your opponent. It also plays well with 2 or 4 players (though it's still OK with 3), and player status can change very quickly. I'm still pleased with it today

 

A few years later I submitted it to Imagine magazine as a game idea, which they accepted and published in their December 1983 edition as a Christmas game.

 

It became the very first game design I ever got paid for.

 

 

 

Fancy playing it?

Below you'll find scans of the board and rules.

Just download the images below (they're all pretty large) and print them out.

 

  • The board image is a big one (2256 *1615) so might be better on an A3 sheet.
  • The rules are slightly smaller and are fine on A4.
  • For the pieces I'd suggest Lego 2x2's : 4 each of 4 colours for the players and a single transparent (or different coloured one) for the pieces  - as with the original game. But really any coloured stackable counters would work fine.
  • A pack or two of ordinary playing cards

 

If you do play I'd really be interested in knowing what you think.

 

 

Terry Greer

Me - What I've done

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