The Forge Archives

Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: greedo1379 on December 13, 2004, 07:07:00 PM



Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: greedo1379 on December 13, 2004, 07:07:00 PM
This is split from the Minis and RPGS thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=145632#145632)

Quote
One thing I heard that did seem interesting was the use of a character interaction map. That would involve spatial relationships. However, in the case of a character interaction map the "terrain" would be provided by the characters themselves. So what would move around on the map? You would have to figure out something else to use as "player pieces". Love, Lust, Trust, Hatred, etc. could make for an interesting game. I'm not sure how it would work though. How about: imagine a character map. The players sit around in a circle and then take turns moving tokens (Love, Lust, Trust, etc.) around between the different characters describing what happens each time. The result would some sort of Shakespearian, sitcom, Three's Company, mix up type comedy/tragedy (depending on what tokens were chosen). There would be a chance of getting the Murder token depending on what genre was chosen. This seems like an interesting concept to me but doesn't relate much to the original thread. I might start a new one about this.


Does anyone have any ideas on how this could work as far as mechanics?  Each turn a player gets to move a token.  How would characters be generated?  The map?  Would it just be decided by the players?

Edit- I feel I should add that the original idea of using a variable relationship map came from Callan (Noon).  (Don't mean to steal any of your thunder, man!)


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: timfire on December 13, 2004, 10:07:51 PM
This isn't exactly what you asked, but I think The Mountain Witch's Trust mechanics are relavent to this topic. One of the nice things about the system is that since players record how much they trust others, and how much the others trust them; at any time you can look at a given player's charsheet and see a real-time matrix of that character's relationships. However, this system doesn't have everyone's relationships on the same sheet, you would have to look at everyone's sheet to get a complete picture.

But I have to say, I have a hard time visualizing how a map with everyone's relationships would work if you expect movement along that map. I think its easy to visualize a static map. But I would think that a map where pieces moved between characters would be confusing. (But maybe that's just me.)


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: greedo1379 on December 14, 2004, 03:12:47 AM
I will have to look more closely into Mountain Witch.  I have read some actual play and it sounded interesting.

I guess I didn't explain what I was talking about very well.  I tried to set up an example but it got very confusing very fast.  I think it basically needs a picture.

I think you're right though, tokens actually moving will be very difficult.  How about a token with a word and an arrow.  Like if there are two characters Mike and Jane and Mike is lusting for Jane then a token would be placed with the label "Lust" with an arrow pointing from Mike to Jane.  Additional tokens could be placed between the two characters and sometimes tokens could be taken away (however always leaving at least one).

I guess I'm going for more of a group storytelling type thign where there is no PC type character.  All players are responsible for all characters.

At the beginning of the game the Players develop a stable of characters and then decide on how they connect.

Players take turns putting down tokens and elaborating what the different tokens mean (Mike lusts after Jane but then Player A put down a token showing that Jane hates Mike.  She explains that at a party Mike came up to hit on Jane and spilled his drink on her.)

Sometimes Players would draw special event type cards.  These would be, ummm, special events.  Like a Random Meeting (letting the player connect two previously unconnected characters), Murder (letting the player erase the character entirely), New Character (letting the player interject a completely new character).

Perhaps there would be phases of the game where the first X turns would be setting up the individuals and their relationships.  The next Y turns would be building up the tensions between them and building convoluted relationships.  And the last Z turns would be where it all goes to hell.  The different events would be keyed to the different phases.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: contracycle on December 14, 2004, 05:27:44 AM
I think there is room for devices of this nature, although I don't think that relationship maps strictly speaking are the right venue for the idea.  The relationship maps as conceived exist mainly as an aide de memoire for GM's coordinating activity behind the scenes in a live game.

If players are to be involved in the moving of pieces on what is de facto a board, then that board must be immediately present as a concern for the players.  So I think that something more topic, more in-your-face, more conventionally gamelike would be required.

One example might be a map of support in a chamber, rather like the swingometers used in elections.  Such a device would show the current state of support for a decision to made at some specified futurue moment.  Play would then proceed on the mechanical basis of persading seat-holders to support or oppose the proposition.

This sort of device is not the use of a relationship map per se but it is one that makes persuasion and interpersonal relationships the primary locus of play.  The simple model could be broadened by diagramatic representations of individuals with pressure groups, factions, even ideologies or theological positions.

The advantage of using diagrams to describe relationships is that doing so objectifies them, makes them things upon which we can legitimately act, are even expected to act.  That essence IMo is more important tha  the strict form of relationship maps as used at present.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: Emily Care on December 14, 2004, 06:49:56 AM
Hello greedo1379,

Shreyas Sempat uses a go board to position the characters in his game Refreshing Rain (http://www.geocities.com/torchbearer_rpg/rain.html), with respect to their relationships.

Quote from: In Refreshing Rain, Shreyas
The Sky is a diagram that represents the fabric of relationships in the game. It uses a kind of astrological metaphor to accomplish this. We use a Go board populated by white stones (Stars) and black stones (Planets). There are five Planets, representing the five Elements, and the Taiji, the embodiment of the dance of yin and yang. It helps to mark the stones so that you can tell them apart. The Stars represent various characters and societies; Stars linked in vertical or horizontal lines share allied relationships, and Stars linked by diagonal lines share antagonistic relations. As relationships change, Stars can be moved to reflect this.


It's very clever and seems like it would be an effective technique. Might be worth looking at as you develop your own system.
best,
Emily Care


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: greedo1379 on December 14, 2004, 06:07:09 PM
Quote from: contracycle
I think there is room for devices of this nature, although I don't think that relationship maps strictly speaking are the right venue for the idea.  The relationship maps as conceived exist mainly as an aide de memoire for GM's coordinating activity behind the scenes in a live game.

If players are to be involved in the moving of pieces on what is de facto a board, then that board must be immediately present as a concern for the players.  So I think that something more topic, more in-your-face, more conventionally gamelike would be required.


Yes, I see what you're saying (I think anyway) and I think that is kinda what I had in mind.  More of a boardgamey type game.  I think the relationship make in this case would be used similarly to the way a GM would use it.  Just that there would be multiple GMs and no players.  The mechanics would be based around who gets to control which NPCs and when.

Quote
One example might be a map of support in a chamber, rather like the swingometers used in elections.  Such a device would show the current state of support for a decision to made at some specified futurue moment.  Play would then proceed on the mechanical basis of persading seat-holders to support or oppose the proposition.


I'm not sure I understand.  A "swingometer"?  All I can think of is the little maps they show during an election showing the way each region is headed (Red states vs. Blue states with percentages shown for each state for example).

Quote
This sort of device is not the use of a relationship map per se but it is one that makes persuasion and interpersonal relationships the primary locus of play.  The simple model could be broadened by diagramatic representations of individuals with pressure groups, factions, even ideologies or theological positions.


You lost me.  I think I need a little explanation of the "swingmeter" before this will make sense.

Quote
The advantage of using diagrams to describe relationships is that doing so objectifies them, makes them things upon which we can legitimately act, are even expected to act.  That essence IMo is more important tha  the strict form of relationship maps as used at present.


I agree!

You guys are really helping me out.  I am sorely tempted to move into Indie Design.  Maybe after a little more work here...


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: greedo1379 on December 14, 2004, 06:11:53 PM
Emily -

Based on what you quoted it sounds a lot like what I'm talking about.  I need to sit down and read these rules through.  Thanks for posting them!


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: contracycle on December 15, 2004, 02:30:55 AM
Quote from: greedo1379

I'm not sure I understand.  A "swingometer"?  All I can think of is the little maps they show during an election showing the way each region is headed (Red states vs. Blue states with percentages shown for each state for example).


OK maybe that does fly across the pond.  Here are a couple of links with pics:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/655207.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1369188.stm

Neither of these is particularly interesting in its own right, but it should show the device I mean.  We are talking about a pendulum-shaped display which is used for showing the change in support for parties from one election to another (although this presumes a two-party system).

Lets propose something mo4re RPG-esque for the kind of system I am proposing.  Lets say we had a group of viking type raiders faced with a choice of attacking target A or target B.  We could therefore draw a diagram of the distribution of opinion rather like the swingometer, indicating support for each target.  New lets also suppose that the player characters have some interest in making sure the attack goes ahead against Ba rather than A - the swingometer serves the play group as a prop telling them how much of a problem they still have to overcome and tells them when they have succeeded.

The main point is that a game framed around such a prop clealry makes the prop a  object of play.  The fact that the distribution oif opinion is shown to you implies that it is something you need to no, at a procedural level quite distinct from the level art which PC motivations occur.

Any number of actions could influence the swingometer de facto, like arranging for a major leader to be bumped off and replaced with someone more malleable.  Or making a really stonking argument in the longhouse as to the richness and weakness of target B.  The point in all cases is to systematise this social aspect of the game world so that it is as visible, as valid an element of the GAME as abny other mechanic, so that it is a natural locus of character action, keeping itself in sight and therefore in mind.


Title: Generic pieces for tracking relationships or anything else
Post by: epweissengruber on December 15, 2004, 09:39:36 AM
These folks

http://www.piecepack.org/

Create attractive sets of pieces organized into suits.  They have elemental packs, tarot suits, etc.  

I have no concrete suggestions on how to use them but they sure are purdy!


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: Callan S. on December 15, 2004, 02:24:07 PM
I'd imagined another layout type actually. I'm interested in this one but I'll lay out my one for contrast value.

For mine, I'd imagined each player piece is an actual character. What each distance on the map represents is intimacy (and often not nice intimacy; keep your friends close, enemies closer!) between characters. So if Drake is twelve squares away from Case, he's not very intimate with him. But if he moves closer (movement isn't like walking in real life, its like a social approach), he can get up close and personal.

This intimacy is basically 'range'. Certain weapons/social attacks work at certain ranges. Up close is pretty nasty, as we know its people who are close to you that can twist the knife the most. But also you get your snipers...aloof people who cut you down with knife edged wit from afar.

I'd also imagine some of it as actual combat...people often fight not to the death, but to the determination of who has the upper hand. Nothing more funny than the idea of aloof nobles suddenly fighting in a muddy ditch, in all their fineries!

It could also accomidate actual wars going on, in terms of the effects of those wars on political climate and people trying to climb the ladder. Or indeed, in determining which battles are won, since human obstinance in the higher ranks has often been the weak point of a battle hundreds of miles away. This is something you can attack socially so as to win that battle by proxy(right word?).

That's my spin. I also like the idea that while I might be moving in to 'melee' social combat one character, I'm getting closer to others and what social ramifications that might have.

On a side note I got this idea after visiting a games workshop store and getting jelous about how people always perv at their store window. Dammit, if only roleplay had that basic mass appeal. I mean, I see all sort of people and not just nerds looking at the funky painted figures in the window. Talk about sell factor! And I even see attractive women take a glance or two. A social conflict game might attract them...and I think that leads to more people attracted to the game. Obviously this last opportunity applies to greedo's idea and mine.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: greedo1379 on December 15, 2004, 05:57:36 PM
contracycle - OK, so a swingometer is basically a graphical version of a percentage (35% for, 65% against, etc.).  Hmmm...

Noon - You should really look at that game Refreshing Rain posted by Emily.  They also add a way to tell love and hate apart (which you can actually see in the portion she quoted).


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: contracycle on December 16, 2004, 03:06:02 AM
Quote from: Noon

It could also accomidate actual wars going on, in terms of the effects of those wars on political climate and people trying to climb the ladder. Or indeed, in determining which battles are won, since human obstinance in the higher ranks has often been the weak point of a battle hundreds of miles away. This is something you can attack socially so as to win that battle by proxy(right word?).


Yes I can see something of this being built.  But I have to say that more so than many designs, such a design tacitly advances a claim as to "how society works" and that can be a contentious issue.

In my line we sometimes to refere to 'layers'; that is there will be a position held by a hardcore group, and around that group will be successive layers of less-hardcore devotees, attenuating the further away you get from this notional centre.  This could easily be presented as a circle enclosing a name or caption for the doctrine and coloured rings of decreasing intensity emanating outwards.

But I have become rather less optimistic about a general case social environment space that can be organised in two dimensions.  This is becuase membership of a layer surrounding a doctrine is not exclusive with membership of other layers surrounding other doctrines.  Even with a fully 3D representation, any complex or large social space will be a very complex map and very hard to read - and probably impossible to use in a printed paper format suitable for RPG.

Hence I think investigating specific and detailed social spaces is more likely to produce a usable result.  Something like say the closed environment of a ships crew, or a setting like a kings court, with sundry factions and major magnates as well as their hangers on organised by policy.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on December 16, 2004, 09:20:51 AM
To follow up on Gareth's post, the difficulty of making that specific two-dimensional claim about society is the precise reason that Refreshing Rain doesn't use spatial relations to indicate intimacy. It's all engineered to produce the "ascending relationship tensions leads to people flipping out" pattern of wuxia fiction, though, so Greedo may not find it too useful.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: Callan S. on December 16, 2004, 06:42:28 PM
Umm, my claims? I think my design goals are being second guessed here.

The purpose of the design isn't to say 'hey, this is how social interaction works in real life'. And I'm not forced into having this goal because something like: Otherwise suspension of disbelief will cave, and presumably since one can't have that I must be working toward how it really is (and therefore, I must still be making the claim 'this is how it is').

The design goal is to model conflict. If it happens to, during play, jive with how you think social conflict works, that's nice n' cool.

Probably a good idea for everyone to check what their design goals would be in relation to this. I'm sure weve all seen tons of realistic firearm rule posts. I think we can equally chase our tales around here. But I think the basic three rules that sums up those firearms debates are:
1. All games must have abstraction in them (zero abstraction is reality, after all)
2. There is no hive mind consensus among humans of what should be abstracted more, and what should be abstracted less.
3. Without consenses, there is no 'realism' benchmark to meet. Just do yo' own shit, peoplez!

Which all neatly apply here too.

Greedo: Nah, I don't like Refreshing Rain's idiology, it terms of the color it brings (I'm not arguing in terms of claims or such, of course). Personally I don't want to abstract out feelings to ideas like planets and stars and lines. Abstract space is fine, but much like a soap opera, I want to see the people there. Personal preference on my part, of course.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: greedo1379 on December 16, 2004, 06:55:24 PM
Quote from: Noon
Greedo: Nah, I don't like Refreshing Rain's idiology, it terms of the color it brings (I'm not arguing in terms of claims or such, of course). Personally I don't want to abstract out feelings to ideas like planets and stars and lines. Abstract space is fine, but much like a soap opera, I want to see the people there. Personal preference on my part, of course.


I didn't mean that you should pinch it.  Just look at it as something else out there that seems similar to what you're talking about.  You could just as easily use your miniatures representing each character on the board and rename planets or cut the concept altogether.  Just something to look at you know.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: contracycle on December 17, 2004, 07:22:08 AM
Quote from: Noon

The purpose of the design isn't to say 'hey, this is how social interaction works in real life'. And I'm not forced into having this goal because something like: Otherwise suspension of disbelief will cave, and presumably since one can't have that I must be working toward how it really is (and therefore, I must still be making the claim 'this is how it is').


IMO, I don't think you can escape that.  I do think whatever you put in place will be a baseline that must be plausible to some degree.  Short of surrealism, any presentation of a fictional setting must not immediately violate the readers/viewers sense of the plausible.

Now the problem as I see it with social system mechanics is that I can't imagine how you can link these things up in a formal, organised manner and not IMPLY a view of how reality really works.  Rather like the firearms issue, only more so IMO, your 3 rules apply but so does a fourth: the end-user will complain to the proportion the rules do not accord with their own prejudices.

Anyway, all I said was that it was "more contentious" not that it was impossible.  FVLMINATA triggered some criticism to its social rank initiative system, but not so much, as far as I am aware, that it has really suffered as a result.  As with many things, the more obviously fictional the setting as a whole is, the less implied the implied argument becomes.


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: Callan S. on December 17, 2004, 05:39:34 PM
Quote
IMO, I don't think you can escape that. I do think whatever you put in place will be a baseline that must be plausible to some degree. Short of surrealism, any presentation of a fictional setting must not immediately violate the readers/viewers sense of the plausible.

I already noted that this need 'not to violate' isn't an issue that forces any design goal.

Basically the three rules wonderfully eliminate the proposed fourth. They basically tell me to write as I please, since if I please myself I'll probably please some other demographic. There seems to be a bit of a dogma around RP that product design is not about meeting a market but all about portraying some sort of greater truth. If I were a book writer and writing a boys own adventure, I don't care if the mills and boons audience would gnash their teeth at my work. However I'm supposed to forfil all roleplayers preferences, despite our clear diversity? It reminds me of the geek falacies.

In context to this post, this is also some advice for those who design, to not get hung up on certain issues that might seem important at first and perhaps falter or give up the design.

Side note: It'd be rather interesting to write a social conflict game based on exploring how people construct many, many visions of how social conflict interactions. Ie, how their missmatched visions clash with each other. Of course, it might be seen as 'claiming' how reality works...but it would be rather ironic given the games exploration.[/quote]


Title: relationship maps
Post by: nellist on December 17, 2004, 11:06:19 PM
I tried a map, in the form of a Venn diagram for some politics in a tribal setting (Glorantha, using Hero Wars, the Pure Horse Tribe). The PCs were influential tribesmen, and there were counters in each area of the Venn diagram representing clan chiefs and other personalities. Not so much relationships but political/ideologcal views such as "imperial" vs "tribal", or "more swords"vs "tradition" were all represewnted.

The PCs moved around the 'map' convincing (or not) by various means the chiefs to cross a line into a neighbouring area.

I think if I had planned it a bit better I could have made it a gamist puzzle to move pieces from one area to another in a way that achieved the desired result. It turned out to be a moderately interesting piece of immersive character play with in-character speeches to persuade chiefs.

Keith Nellist


Title: Maneuvering Emotions on a Relationship Map
Post by: contracycle on December 21, 2004, 09:14:26 AM
Quote from: Noon
If I were a book writer and writing a boys own adventure, I don't care if the mills and boons audience would gnash their teeth at my work. However I'm supposed to forfil all roleplayers preferences, despite our clear diversity? It reminds me of the geek falacies.


That is not precisely what I meant.  I mean rather, almost anything will be forgiven as long as it signposted as being part of the game, rather than something the game is trying to preach.  In the present climate in certain quarters - often those in which global warming and evolution can be dismissed as "just" theories - even sound peer-reviewed methodical work is criticised.

So what I mean is that I think these ideas will work best when operating very overtly as a mechanism, prfereably a central mechanism, of the game, rather than being an add-on.  It's also the kind of thing that should be just as discussed as abstractions as hit points might be discussed as asbtractions.