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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Nathan P. on December 22, 2005, 01:24:23 PM

Title: [Carry] Figuring Out Endgame
Post by: Nathan P. on December 22, 2005, 01:24:23 PM
Hey all,

Finally, the revision to Carry is done! Well, kinda. But mostly!

For those unfamilier, heres some info. Feel free to skip to the substantive part below.


Carry was my entry for the Iron Game Chef 2005 competition. It was a "inner circle" winner, which means it placed in the top 9 of the ~30 (40? I don't remember) entrants, but not in the top 3.

The game is about a squad of soldiers in Vietnam, and how that circumstance brings out all the tensions and issues between and among them. It's based heavily on Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, as well as the movies Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. It's a tightly structured game - you choose a character in the squad, play through all the other characters getting killed, mustered out, etc., and then have an endgame that (should be) a kind of cathartic end-to-all-their-stories, a la My Life With Master. It's not about having big guns.

Some older Forge threads: [Carry] Burdens (, [Carry]Good playtest, Mediocre Play (


You can check out the revision here ( It's 22 pages.

I'm as happy as I can be with how Burden creation and Burden die work before getting some play experience with it. My big honkin' problem remains Endgame - whats in the rules right now sucks balls. I went back and forth with different mechanical things, and I'm not finding anything that I think works for the kind of endings I want this game to have. So I toss it out to the wise heads here - thoughts?

Sorry for not giving better direction here, but really, I'm looking for anything that I can work with. Maybe a better question would be, given the source material and play goals in the text, what kind of endings do you see happening with the game, and what mechanical shtuff do you see as being supportive of those endings?

Thanks muchly.

Title: Re: [Carry] Figuring Out Endgame
Post by: Callan S. on December 22, 2005, 04:29:01 PM
I'm crap at reading PDF's, could you give the jist of endgame here? I'll have a quick stab though - is it the emotional level that's missing? For example, dogs in the vineyard doesn't let a character die unless the player says they will for that cause. Death is like an endgame, but mechanics can't get that emotion in, except by prompting the player to say "There, that's it, that's my statement...bring on the endgame now"

Title: Re: [Carry] Figuring Out Endgame
Post by: joepub on December 27, 2005, 12:54:47 AM
I'm wondering something - Does endgame logically come when the fodder is all gone?

Strikes me as a sloppy mechanic to set up a REALLY cool idea.

I think that it'd be better if the mechanic entered into endgame when there was the Final Choice. Using platoon, if there was ever a moment where it was: Okay, Barnes or Elias. Your life depends on this, pick now.

Because you are in a war setting, you don't really need to wait for the fodder to die before starting endgame: If endgame happens in a social setting fade them into the background as wallflowers. If it happens in a combat scenario, just kill them in rapid succession, or isolate the characters, or wallflower them again.

Just my two cents - but I think a mechanic initiating endgame when all the options have run out is a better one than when all the fodder runs out.

Title: Re: [Carry] Figuring Out Endgame
Post by: Nathan P. on December 27, 2005, 02:05:33 PM
Callan - Sorry, was in a rush. Anyway, the gist is that the squad is made up of played characters (Grunts) and non-played characters (Fodder). When the Fodder are all killed, so it's down to the Grunts, the game enters Endgame - there's a couple more scenes until each Grunt gets into a locked "Profile", essentially their outlook and attitude, and then they all turn on each other. Each players picks another players Grunt as their Grunt's target, you roll some dice, which give Monologues of Victory and Defeat to the winner and loser in each pair, respectively.

The latest thing I tried was giving some mechanical backbone by having the Grunts Burdens (essentially Issues from PtA, but in the wartime/squad context) have fallout into the best and worst possible results of the Monologues. But, like, it sucks.

Does that give enough info?

Joe - Well, the intent behind waiting until all the Fodder are gone is that it gives the GM control over the game pacing, as it's decision how often Action scenes occur, and how long they run (which determines how many dice you're rolling at the end, so the longer the scene the more likely you'll get a high point score, which turns into killing Fodder).

That said, you're right, it's not particularly genre-emulative. I see what you're saying, but I'm having trouble turning it into a part of the game as it's written. Could you say a little more?

I mean, I can see something like, players can ask or tell someone when they think their Grunt is facing a Final Choice, as well as the player choosing for themself. But then, once the character has faced the choice, what happens? Unless all the Choices are in quick sucession, which I see as being a very forced option, even moreso than the current scenario.

Title: Re: [Carry] Figuring Out Endgame
Post by: joepub on December 27, 2005, 03:06:30 PM
Well, the endgame doesn't seem like it's going to be about "killing the bad guys" ever.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are these possible endgames:
-Julias needs to choose whether to side with Arnold in killing the villagers, or side with Conor in stopping him.
-Arnold is trapped in a beartrap that some sick enemy planted - Julias and Conor need to figure out how important it is to save this man they never really like in the first place.
-Conor watches as Arnold kills one of his own men, who opposed rule. Does Conor oppose and try to stop him now?

Are these endgame scenarios? If not, skip the rest of this post, it's off base. If so, here's some proposed mechanics to consider:

PITTING (as in, pitting people against each other)
Have a mechanic called pitting. (this is taken mostly from Barnes/Elias in Platoon).
The group dynamics have been shifting between 2 or more philosophies throughout the game.
Entering endgame means eliminating all "grey areas". You are forced to take a side.
Now, for Pitting, you can create your own side, the only rule is it can't be a middle ground.

maybe one of the members of Platoon could have created the third side: Let's join the enemy. Just for example.

Just like fate points or whatever, award Tension Points. Every time that there is a standoff, a pressure, a hard decision - award people tension points.
When a certain amount is hit (either one play has X, or the group has X, or every player has a minimum of X) the group is considered "ready" to enter Endgame.

As soon as the first trigger occurs, endgame is set off, due to the super-high tensions in the group: something is probably blown out of proportion, or they hit The Big Challenge.

People can spend tension points to gain a boost in their actions. When the scene ends, the players are all out of tension points, they are worn out, and they have hit the climax and are now done.

Once the players collectively decide to enter endgame, they enter a phase called Escalation. One player starts with narrating an action, and the tension/adrenaline/conflict increases as the next player one-ups the tension, or adds a new dimension to it.

This keeps going and builds up pressure to a climax.
This "escalation" could be done by spending points (tension points, maybe?), or without a limit.

And the higher it goes, the harder they fall.
If the stakes aren't high enough at the end of the escalation, then it's officially declared that it isn't endgame... It becomes just another conflict, and endgame surfaces later.