I was re-reading Charles Mackay's funny and horrifying and informative Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds recently and the chapter on alchemy grabbed me.
This happens a lot - I will read something and it will spur ideas for a game, either immediately or subconsciously. In this case it was immediate and over the course of a couple of days I had hammered out a functional game.
I feel like I've been doing this long enough to know when something is going to generally hang together and when it needs to go back in the parts drawer, and this feels pretty OK. It is also formulaic, if that makes sense - I built it to meet some very specific conditions, and those force it into a certain shape. The conditions I was thinking about are Larps on Demand at Gen Con, where you get a swirling, confused mass of 8-12 people, many first-time larpers, who have two hours to try something new and fun.
So my alchemist game works with that premise. Characters are pre-made and simple. The situation is fairly loose (looser than is wise, given the circumstances, and probably requiring a little bit of strong facilitation), and there are clear character goals. It is light and funny.
The premise is that a minor German noble in the 1500s has announced that they are seeking a court alchemist, and a bunch of alchemists - ranging from true believers to shady grifters - show up to apply for the job. You set up, play for 90 minutes, then Their Grace must choose a court alchemist (or not, as their Chancellor would prefer). Very simple, with lots of little roleplaying hooks and alchemical mumbo-jumbo along the way.
I've made games in this format before and it fell into place quickly. I'm hoping to playtest it this weekend! Unless it is a complete train wreck (always a possibility) it will show up here soon.
Having the freedom to build out little ideas like this is a direct result of your support here, and I appreciate it very much.