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Title: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 12, 2006, 09:44:46 AM
I read 1984 and Brave New World and Fight Club not too long ago, and that got my kickstarted on brainstorming about RPing in a completely dystopic, controlled society.

My idea was that attributes/skills/abilities/classes or whatever the game offered... they would all be limitations and hinderances.

There would be three basic things that constituted a character - images, freedoms, and certifications.

[size=12t]IMAGES[/size]
Images are the things your character still clings too - the things that keep their humanity in tact and save them from becoming another drone.
The scent of your lost mother.
The taste of strawberry wine.
The game hopscotch.
Smoking in back alleys, because it was cool.

I'm still trying to figure out how to tie these into the game mechanics in a way that is actually usable.

My idea is to have a "humanity pool", with poker chips in it.
Every time you can tie "hopscotch" into the storyline, in a reasonable way, you get an extra chip.

The government wants to erase your Images.
Like in 1984... how they erase emotions in Room 101.
They have the ability to do too things to your Images:
Eradicate - completely remove that item from your character sheet
Reduce - make you rewrite the image in a way that's more limited, less applicable. (ie, narrow the range of.. .applicable-ness.)

Thus, the GM has ways of submitting you to mental trial, emotional abuse, etc, etc

When the GM does this, you can spend one chip to keep the image intact.
otherwise, it is an opposed die roll - d6s.
If the GM wins, or its a tie, the image is reduced.
If the GM wins by 2 or more, it is eradicated.


The humanity pool can also be used in trying to override Freedoms - see below.

[size=12t]FREEDOMS[/size]
The idea of doublethink would be prevalent in this game...
Freedoms are things which the "government" or "order" would be trying to protect.
You basically are given the ultimatum of "we can protect freedom X, so long as you do Y."
For example:

Freedom of Thought
Thoughts can be dangerous things, and if spread can cause harm to others.
Therefore, the government cannot protect freedom of thought if you have intent to spread.
We can protect Freedom of Thought, if you do not speak.
You cannot be submitted to mental alteration.
You cannot speak in public - violation exempts freedom.

So... on the character sheet, you would write:
protected from mental alteration.
not allowed to speak.

And now you are playing a character that cannot speak in public. You have to RP thoughts, body language, gestures... all without dialoguing with the other characters.

CERTIFICATIONS
These are the hall passes of the dystopic world.
Certain buildings, institutions, etc will require certifications.
Upgrading your job (ie, earning more money) will require certifications.

Again, like freedoms, these have certain actions that will exempt them (but they are much less impacting restrictions.)

Certification: Police Department Access
Permitted to enter police areas with a restriction rating of 5 or less.
Exempt if there is a warrant for arrest.

So basically... you need to either avoid "criminal" activity, or not get caught.
If you do get caught, you lose your access into the police department.



So...
as you can tell so far, the attributes are almost all narrative.
The game is HIGHLY narrativist.

Aside from the Image Destruction mechanic, there needs to be a generic one as well.

-if you  have access into an area, and you have no freedoms against carrying out a certain action... you can attempt it.
-if you have a freedom against the action you want to attempt, you can spend a Humanity counter (see in the images section) to override that freedom for this one action.
-If it isn't an illegal action, it goes through automatically.
-If it is an illegal action, you need to go through MECHANIC X.

I'm not sure whether mechanic X would best be a bidding mechanism, or a chance mechanism.
Basically, it needs to confirm two different things:
1.) Whether you succeed in the action you are attempting
2.) Whether you get caught or not

So...
I know there are some gaps that might need to be filled before these questions can be answered, but...


THE QUESTIONS
1.) Is the idea of attributes as a NEGATIVE thing appeal to you?
2.) Would you be interested in a game where your own self-control is at stake?
3.) How can I run the generic mechanic to test success and whether or not you get caught?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: Graham W on April 12, 2006, 10:04:54 AM
Superb. I love dystopian games. There were two in Game Chef this year: my game Euthymia (http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/Euthymia.php) and Eric Blair's T-Minus (http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/TMinus.php).

To answer your questions...

1.) Is the idea of attributes as a NEGATIVE thing appeal to you?

Yes.

2.) Would you be interested in a game where your own self-control is at stake?

Hell, yes.

3.) How can I run the generic mechanic to test success and whether or not you get caught?

That's an interesting one. Would you want them to be completely independent of each other: so you could have a "Success" die and a "Caught" die? Or something along the lines of: the more likely you are to succeed, the more likely you are to get caught?

Some random ideas: If you want the two to be independent, you could use two different dice; or you could reference the number on the dice for "Success" and whether it's odd or even for "Caught"; or you could use cards and use black/red for whether you're caught and the rank of the card for whether you succeed.

If you want them to be linked, you could use tied dice in some way: you roll 1d6 and 1d4. If the d6 is under your attribute, you succeed; but if it matches the number on the d4, you're caught. Or...I don't know...use poker hands. If you win a hand of poker against the GM, you succeed; but if your high card is a Jack or higher, you're caught.

OK, the last one was a bit crap, but does that spark off any ideas for you?

Graham


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: dindenver on April 12, 2006, 10:15:22 AM
Hi!
  Interesting idea, I think the setting has flair, but the mechanics can make or break it, in my mind...
  1) the idea of these attribute pulling you down is awesome. I feel like Images needs a re-work. Maybe use ideals or something that can be more broadly applicable (ideals like love, charity, whatever). My gues is after the second or third time you wrangle a radio flyer into the narrative its going to start feeling pretty contrived...
  2) Yes, this is a cool idea, depending on where you go with it, I may or may not want to play the final version, but the setting intrigues me. I am not really into "I will not leave you" style game play, but if it could be played in a "No one gets hurt" format, I could see it as very fun!
  3) Maybe you use what you have already. If you Image applies you are inspired to succeed, otherwise you fail? Or, if the Freedoms are different for each character, apply them as a positive or negative?
  I think you want to think about how freedoms work and which are aplicable. For instance, your Freedom of Thought example does not seem real practical, I mean, how do people do business? Even in countries that are down o capitalism, you still had to go out to the store and get food or whatever.



Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 12, 2006, 10:27:37 AM
Quote
I think you want to think about how freedoms work and which are aplicable. For instance, your Freedom of Thought example does not seem real practical, I mean, how do people do business? Even in countries that are down o capitalism, you still had to go out to the store and get food or whatever.

Actually, that's the point.
You, as a player, only pick Freedom of Thought if you are willing to deal with that huge roadblock.

The idea that you have to figure out how to do business without language IS part of the game.
Freedoms are meant to be crippling.

You pick your poisons.

Quote
Or something along the lines of: the more likely you are to succeed, the more likely you are to get caught?
*kisses your feet*

That is an amazing suggestion. I love it.
Logically, I'm not sure how it works...
UNLESS, you can opt to make it harder, in order to make it safer.
which would emulate extra security measures.

GREAT IDEA! Now, we still have no mechanic hammered out, but we have the guiding principles.

Quote
I am not really into "I will not leave you" style game play, but if it could be played in a "No one gets hurt" format, I could see it as very fun!

Can you elaborate on this? I am confused by what you are saying, a little.

Quote
My gues is after the second or third time you wrangle a radio flyer into the narrative its going to start feeling pretty contrived...

VERY, VERY TRUE.
there are a few solutions:
-have 3-5 images on average, so that you alternate which images you conjure...
-you have broad ideals, like you suggested...


Also, though... just playing devil's advocate....
these are the last things you have. The dying tendrils of a time that is lost.
The remnants of humanity, of hope, of dreams.

Maybe when you're willing to die, to protect that image of a radio flyer...
it doesn't seem so contrived.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: Chad on April 12, 2006, 10:35:02 AM
Hi Joepub,

I am totally impressed with images. And I think they are already broad enough - its really up to how they are brought into play, and to my mind there would be a hundred cool ways to bring "smoking in back alleys, because it was cool" into play. It speaks to childhood peer issues, or hardened upbringing, or even charisma. Taking the oppressive dystopian setting, that wants to erase these memories, makes the fact that they are these intimate, personal fragments, even more powerful -whilst enhancing the claustrophobia of the setting. I would play a game about that.

Juicy stuff.

Chad


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 12, 2006, 10:46:27 AM
Wicked.

okay....
So now I have two diametrically opposed views on images, don't I?

Well, I guess what I'm hearing, collaboratively:
-images are cool
-they are something that really defines a character
-there are many ways to bring them into play...
BUT
-some players might use them in a really contrived way.

I think that this makes tone and setting flavour huge.
The game needs to have a sense of desperate need, of NEEDING to cling to these things.
of NEEDING to break the law.
of NEEDING to stay human.

Currently, that driving need doesn't actually exist mechanically.
There is no mechanical reason to go against the flow.
It is hard to fight the system, and it becomes increasingly harder as time goes on.

CURRENTLY,
there is only the thematic, narrative, personal reasons for wanting to hold onto your humanity/hope.


Should there be a more concrete reward system for... fighting against the current?
because it is a narrativist game, can those rewards come primarily through narration?

In many ways... character advancement is negative and harmful for the character.
does story advancement act as a powerful enough force to keep players wanting to "keep their humanity"?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: dindenver on April 12, 2006, 11:38:19 AM
Hi!
  OK, Chad's example of an Image is off-the-hook. That to me feels easier to fit into the narrative than the smell of my mother. Not trying to diss on you, but ponting out that how often you encounter these images in daily life will dictate how contrived their appearance seems
  Also, I was not trying say that a memory of a childhood toy like a radio flyer is not worth defending, but rather, how often will it be relevant to an adults daily life. At some point you will have to start associating the color red with this toy in order to keep tapping into it, no?

  There is a theory of two basic types of groups/players: "No one gets hurt" and "I will not leave" the basic idea is what is acceptable behavior, what is encouraged behavior and what are the consequences of that behavior.
  • "I will not leave" - Pretty much any behavior is acceptable, You are encouraged to push the boundaries of the relationships and there are not supposed to be consequences for these actions
  • "No one gets hurt" - Pretty much behavior should follow the rules of polite company, You are encouraged not to push the boundaries of the relationships and there definitely will be consequances for unacceptable behavior.
  I bring it up because you want the "governemnt" to really push these hot buttons. This would be super awesome if it is kept in the realm of the characters experience. But if it degenerates into pushing people's buttons to get a reaction, or encouraging escalating outside of comfort zones, then it might not be the game for me.

  Part of me wants to suggest using Humanity for both freedoms and illegality.

  One thing that puzzles me, why would different characters have different freedoms? Wouldn't this government enforce them more or less uniformly? Maybe the freedoms are enforced uniformly, but either the character is monitored in certain areas more becaouse of some history of infraction, or their image triggers them to break certain Freedoms?
  Anyways, it sounds like a cool game! Don;t let these minor points/questions discourage you from pursuing it...


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 12, 2006, 12:00:07 PM
Quote
One thing that puzzles me, why would different characters have different freedoms? Wouldn't this government enforce them more or less uniformly?

Because, their freedoms are stated as "We can protect freedom X, if Y".
There are only certain freedoms that characters will have.

Also, I'm thinking of working in a character "status" rating.

Low Citizen must have at least 1 freedom
Citizen must have at least 2 freedoms
High Citizen must have at least 3 freedoms
Citizen First Class must have at least 4 freedoms

As you gain status, you are forced to take on more and more "freedoms'.
This is because when you enter the "inner party", you are just one step closer to the core of the dogma, and the core of the entire system.

Characters would be encouraged to gaining status, because it opens a lot of doors for them. They can travel, tehy can enter official sites, they can get favours done...
but at the same time, they have more of these crippling pieces.

The idea is that you have to, as social law, have a minimum amount of enforced freedoms.


I'm not sure how that would be worded to players, but something along those lines.
Make sense?

Quote
At some point you will have to start associating the color red with this toy in order to keep tapping into it, no?

Yes.
Exactly.
I have an idea now....
Whenever you bring in the image, you have to relate it to something.
So that you have "radio flyer", and you see a red brick building which reminisces it, so you write "radio flyer - red".

That way, when the image is eradicated, red becomes a harm.

Enter the fourth part of characters - Harms.


Harms are things which threaten to expose characters.
-a love
-someone you admire
-someone you care about
-something that you've associated with an eradicated image
-something you desire (money, food, a car, etc)
-certain ideals you fixate on.

These are things that make you sweat and twitch, when you know they are in harm's way.
Then, when you are resolving a scene using the yet-to-be-decided mechanic...
each harm adds +1 to the potential for being caught. or makes the "being caught" of +1 magnitude.


That way, every time you evoke an image, you add to how dangerous its fallout could be.
That way, maybe some usage is contrived... but you are careful about what stimulates it, and how often.


Does this create a common ground between Chad's like of the concept, and your concern?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: dindenver on April 12, 2006, 12:42:29 PM
Hi!
  No common ground is needed. I think Chad's suggestion with the old rule is right on. I just think players will need guidelines for adding Images to their char sheet. Examples of good and bad ones. Bad ones might be things that are too rare, too abbstract or requires too much effort to interject into the narrative, while ood ones will be easily identified, easily encountered and require less effort to interject into th narrative...
  I feel like images and harms are the same thing. I don;t think you need a new mechanic, just think you need to carefully guide the players to pick images that won't tarnish or stagnate the narrative.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 12, 2006, 12:54:19 PM
Okay.

Scrap harms for the moment.
But I'll keep the general idea in the back of my mind.
When I've got the mechanics and rule structures a bit more solid, I'll revisit the idea.


Okay,
chatting outside this forum, I had someone present a concern with terminology: my use of the word "humanity".
Humanity, it was noted, is used in several other games, to represent something different.

My version of humanity is trying to evoke individuality, sentimental attachment, a willingness to go against the stream, tendency, inclination, passion, impulse, human nature, confidence.

I'm considering switching that term to either Inclination or Impulse.
suggestions?

okay....
I'm going to do the Power 3 soon, but first I wanna talk about my proposed setting.


First, picture the height of Victorian "sophistication."
People are proper, and extremely confined by hierarchy, expectations, limitations, etiquette, etc.
In ways, it was a highly oppressive culture.

Now, picture dictatorial takeover.
The dictators push these proper behaviors to the point that we create a dystopic, controlled, oppressive culture, akin to the dystopic literature we all known and love.

Everyone wears scarves around their necks.
A bare neck subjects you to arrest and imprisonment.
The scarves are colour coded, to represent the different freedoms.

If your character has the Freedom of Thought, he wears an orange scarf.
That's just how the people are identified.



Can I have some feedback on the setting,
on images and freedoms,

and just in general up to this point?

If people want me to carry on, I'll move into the Power 3 then mechanics next.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: oreso on April 12, 2006, 04:47:04 PM
So, to cast it in unnecessary philosophy jargon, the proles have lots of negative freedom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_freedom), as in, freedom from constraint, but no actual power to change things, that is, no positive freedom[/ur]. If/As the characters progress into the inner circle, they will need to sacrifice more and more negative freedom in order to gain the ability to have an impact on the world. To gain the power, they become less of a person. To try and beat the system they simply end up becoming more of a part of it (or perhaps not this time... ^_^ )

I dont think the scarves do it for me. Part of the oppression of 1984 was not knowing what anyone else's agenda or abilities were, and these would remove some of that methinks. The badges that people wear should be a symbol of the control that the governement has (controlling how folk express themselves), but they shouldnt be reliable, they shouldnt actually dictate how the person behaves like the Freedom mechanic itself does.

On the other hand... perhaps you want that as a symbol of actual changes to the character for more sorta Brave New World engineering? A certain badge means you have been modified to suit the government's needs. To make actual not wearing the badge a dilemma for players, make it harder for them to do stuff while wearing it (either because the players are being constantly reminded to fear their oppressors, or perhaps even there's some psychic-control gizmo in them). So then removing the badge is a powerful symbol of raising the stakes, the players feel freer to do what needs to be done, but they also know they are even less likely to get away with it. Some kind of mechanical enforcement of their power needs to be there, i dont think it will work as just frivolous colour.

Which leads me to an important aspect of the colour. How is the government scary and horrid for the players? Constant observation and memory management as in 1984, biopower through drugs, indoctrination and genetic engineering as in Brave New World, the crazy ass religiously enforced hierarchy and ettiquette in a Handmaid's Tale?

As a stat name, Humanity does it for me from that list, but i think its pretty human to want to be a part of the system too. Perhaps Rebellion? Not so sentimental, but then for Winston in 1984 the sex was an act of rebellion as much it was passion. Depends on the colour i guess.

Cheers! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_freedom)


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 12, 2006, 06:01:53 PM
Hey, oreso....
Thanks for adding some more concrete terms to the discussion.

As far as the scarves...
they are to indicate to the law (Inspectors) which Freedoms a character MUST adhere to.

However, part of the game is breaking those laws and impositions.
So, each character must wear at least one scarf.
The more scarves, the closer you are to the inner party.

In much the same way that Proles don't need to wear coveralls, but outer party members do.
As you put it:
Quote
A certain badge means you have been modified to suit the government's needs. To make actual not wearing the badge a dilemma for players, make it harder for them to do stuff while wearing it

A bare neck is a crime, first of all.
Meaning all characters must adhere to at least one freedom (/scarf).
The more scarves you have, the more political sway you can garner...
but at the same time, the more you become part of the system.

Quote
To gain the power, they become less of a person.
Exactly.



Anyways...
the scarves are EXACTLY like the badges, as you describe them.
Players can opt which freedoms they take, scarves they wear...
They give them strengths, but cripple them as well.

but, scarf laws can be broken.
It's just at a risk to the character.


in that light... do you still dislike them?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 12, 2006, 06:05:38 PM
sorry, forgot to answer one important thing

Quote
How is the government scary and horrid for the players?

-ridiculously constrained etiquette and manners
-bleak and controlled social life
-friends are just enemies you trust too much
-everyone betrays friends to gain favours and access
-everyone feels powerless, therefore will do anything for power (inner party status, etc)
-everyone is status and reputation driven
-everything important (ideals, love, etc) has been trivialized.



Hope that paints a semi-solid picture.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: Chad on April 13, 2006, 12:34:44 AM
Hi Joepub,

About the term Humanity; maybe a suitable alternative would be something such as Identity, Selfhood or Self-image (which ties to images)? Seeing that totalitarian state wants to create sameness, impose hegemony, and annihilate individuality- it makes sense to look for the opposite concept.

An aesthetic observation; scarves are rather soft, comfort giving things - open to a lot of other readings. Perhaps something more oppressive could work? Like arm bands; these have been used by totalitarian regimes world over to mark people. The obvious example being the Nazi's during WWII.

Alternatively, seeing that the scarves represent status, how about something like pips or stripes. That kind of military uniform coding on clothing. Uniforms have been a classic staple for creating sameness in the societies.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: oreso on April 13, 2006, 07:17:41 AM
I think Chad has hit on a subconscious reason why scarves turned me off, they're just too comforting. The actual idea i think could work real well (i was only using 'badge' as an umbrella term).

Other ideas (depending what you want):
Ties, sashes and belts have nice imagery of being constrictive.
Jewelry and tattoos or physical scarring and/or augmentation could represent the manipulation.
Actual badges, clips and medals would suggest the status and authority of these things.
Armbands would be great not just through association, but cos they're slightly constricting, but much more of a symbol of authority (if that's what you're after).

Your colour sounds good. I'm mostly excited about how this is gonna be implemented now, so feel free to answer or go at your own pace.
Quote
-friends are just enemies you trust too much
-everyone betrays friends to gain favours and access
-everyone feels powerless, therefore will do anything for power (inner party status, etc)
player vs player a la Paranoid? What incentives are there to work together in the first place?

Quote
-everyone is status and reputation driven
Is this awarded by GM fiat on behalf of the anonymous overlords, by players fighting against their ambitious instincts or managing some (possibly hidden) resource, or what?

Quote
-everything important (ideals, love, etc) has been trivialized.
Like, how? Through being undermined (everyone only has time to look after themselves), or deliberate engineering (the words have been systematically stripped of meaning), sheer capitalism (just another commodity), etc?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 13, 2006, 08:16:11 AM
Okay.
In this dystopia, capitalism is still the system of the day...
but money is basically of no help.

Houses are government awarded. Vehicles are government awarded.
anything of importance is of government handout.
Food is "scarce" and thus government awarded.

The only thing people can spend money on is clothing.
And clothing and accessories are going to be a central theme of oppression (this is Victorian era, remember).

Think about what already existed in Victorian england -
people spent exorbitant amounts on clothing, and they followed strict and rigorous dressing guidelines.

Now... those guidelines have been restricted to almost-uniform state.
And the more money people spend on clothing, the more they are spending their own lifes dressing in new uniforms.
I'm trying to verbalize the concept, and it's not quite there...

But I want the government to basically have turned clothing into a "metaphor" for oppression and constriction, and have people basically oppressing themselves by spending their lives chasing a wardrobe.

Status is everything, just like how it really was in 1984.
But money does not equate status.
The government has basically designed a rat race where the only way to gain power is to conform, to lose identity, and to silence yourself (like Freedom of Thought has done).

In the end, you can only ascend to Citizen First Class if you take on several freedoms and several certifications....
and thus you have to become a deaf mute who isn't allowed to use their hands in public, or a man who has to attend mass 3 times a day and cannot let people into his home ever....

Basically, the government wants you to be ornamental.
Look pretty, don't think, don't speak, don't touch anything.
Do your job, and don't have any form of communication or escape.


That's my vision of the Victorian dystopic nightmare.

Which is why I was thinking scarves.
Because at the end I want to make sharp suits, umbrellas, billowing dresses and scarves objects of fear.

And... does this jive with your interests, guys?
Do you dig this approach?
scarves now? or change to armbands?


I'm still fairly mold-able at this stage, so give me some seriously critical feedback of setting and colour.

And just for reference,
my sources of inspiration are:
-Eyes Wide Shut
-Paranoia
-victorian literature (like The Importance of Being Earnest)
-Shock: Social Science Fiction
-1984


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: dindenver on April 13, 2006, 09:17:20 AM
Hi!
  I think that is a good question that was missed, What happens to those who do not conform? Torture, drugs, prison, conscription, deportation?
  Other than that mystery, the setting sounds pretty tight.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 13, 2006, 09:36:58 AM
there are two levels of punishment.

The first is subjugation to peer pressure. the pecking order. social outcasting. a drop in status.
And that's how the people and government suppress the more "individual" people.

The second is the real punishment. What the inspectors do when they arrest you. This is the torture.

All mental torture, emotional abuse, interrogation, confusion.
The government can also take your home, car, and anything they gave you.

Leaving you with nothing but your clothes.

I think Room 101, but withuot the physical elements, for the most part.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: Chad on April 14, 2006, 07:37:11 AM
Hi Joe,

Although I can imagine this Victorian dystopia of yours, and can see creatively what you are aiming for; I have a have a concern that Victorian dress is associated with opulence and wealth. And if everyone is dressed in this way, it seems to me to clash a bit with the oppression from the state. I have thinking about it a bit and came up with a suggestion.

How about this: instead of a signifier like a colored scarf or whatever; the signifier is the the extravagant Victorian dress itself. So the more status and 'freedom' the citizen has the more elaborate and luxurious is Victorian costume becomes. The clothes themselves become the symbol of earned privilege, yet perversely this privilege is brutally enforced by the state.

Ironically, the more elaborate the costume the more oppressed and psychologically controlled the citizen truly is. It would also mean that those who are dressed the best would also be the most cunning at turning friends in and other espionage. This ties nicely into themes about the social intrigue and betrayal of the Victorian era. A gilded cage, as it were.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 14, 2006, 10:04:51 AM
Quote
The clothes themselves become the symbol of earned privilege, yet perversely this privilege is brutally enforced by the state.

Beautiful.
Simply beautiful.

Are we not working magic here?


But, the idea with the scarves.... Freedoms are a mechanical part of the character sheet.
And they are a mechanical part of this society as well...

I need some way for the inspectors to be able to identify which citizens are enforcing which freedoms.
So...
the concept WAS that if an inspector sees someone with an orange scarf (free thought) speaking, then he ARRESTS him on the spot.



So...
I was thinking the two concepts worked together.
The dress represents status, for sure.
but I need a very distinct marker, for the inspectors.

Also... the idea of it being criminal to have a bare neck, and scarves having significance is huge.
If my character has a freedom which prevents him from using his hands in public, and a red scarf....

Maybe he has a mission that requires the use of his hands in public.
So... I rob a guy in the alleyway for his orange scarf, so that I can swap scarves and not have the inspectors arrest me.

But I'm still worried that if the inspectors for some reason do talk to me, they might check my papers.. which would prove I am wearing the wrong scarf, and what I'm doing is illegal.



Make sense?
I love everything you wrote about clothing, Chad.
But I don't see that marker the inspectors will need in that post.
So I think scarves fill that marker void.

Opinion?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: Chad on April 14, 2006, 12:26:56 PM
Hi Joe,

I did a quick search on Victorian costume, regarding distinguishing articles of clothing and I think I may have found a possible alternative to scarves which work well with the Victorian theme.

A quick quote: "Whereas in previous centuries a courtier or gentleman would be noted for his lavish and colourful style of dress in contrast to the modestly attired poorer classes, from around the 1850s good cloth in sober colours and immaculate tailoring and grooming became increasingly important. It was left to lively members of the working and lower-middle classes or the nouveau riche to indulge in a flashy tie or figured waistcoat. Both Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli received derogatory comments during the 1840s on their somewhat flamboyant style of dress with brightly coloured and decorated waistcoats" ( http://www.victorianweb.org/art/costume/nunn3.html )

How about the waistcoats? Colour coded waistcoats for men and bodices for ladies? It would work thematically and still meet the requirements. Inspectors could all have black waistcoats with a certain ornate insignia embroidered perhaps.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 14, 2006, 04:02:01 PM
Okay, Chad.

The scarves are gone.
*does a magician's trick, and poof*

I like the coloured waistcoats idea. its in the mix, for sure.

This obviously isn't about characteristics as hinderances right now is it?
I'll open a new thread for clothing/culture/inspector fleshing out.

Then sometime soon I'll open a new one for images/freedoms too.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: dindenver on April 15, 2006, 07:57:53 AM
Hi!
  OK, to get back on topic, If this Government values Freedoms (if only in a twisted way), why are they aucioning them off to the highest bidder? If nthey want to homogenmize the population, why not homogenize the rights/freedoms?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 15, 2006, 11:22:39 AM
the idea is that if the government homogenizes the population themselves, they will be hated and potentially brought down.

What they are doing is setting up a system whereby the people homogenize and destroy themselves.



With Freedoms, people do it to themselves. They accept a contract, by wearing the new colour stripe on their waistcoat.

To rise in social status, a person must take on more freedoms.
The technical legal wording is "It is culturally and legally expected that a high citizen will display no fewer than three colours upon their waistcoat."
And, of course, the only way to legaly display a colour is to be constricted to the corresponding freedom.


See, in order to:
1.) Have access to more colours
2.) Have access to more status and power


Also, just a final note on colours:
Colours, in the hands of the government, are symbolic of falsity, backhandedness, and a cheap facade.
In the hands of the rebels, are symbolic of freedom, humanity and struggle.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: TroyLovesRPG on April 15, 2006, 06:11:07 PM
I've been reading this thread and trying to understand the big picture. There are plenty of details regarding clothing, colors, culture, privileges, freedoms, etc. I see all of this as an analysis of a rigid pecking order. It can be found in the castes of India, feudalism of Europe and levels of government in the U.S. Its a part of society that people respect and as long as everyone plays the part, then it functions. As soon as dissent is expressed then the system must deal with that party or change if the new ideal emerges.

My friend arrived. I'll post more later.

Troy


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: TroyLovesRPG on April 15, 2006, 11:36:44 PM
So, the government controls the population. What if the levels of the government are rigid in their relationships within the hierarchy, but the methods vary by level? Look at school systems, the postal service, military, health clinics, local, state and federal governments. They all have chains of command, responsibilities, classes and missions. How they perceive all of that and achieve their goals are different. Apply that to the extreme in the game.

Imagine using the color coding as the level in terms of whom is "above" and "below" in any section of society. Let's use the colors of the spectrum. Infra-red is the lowest and the color is invisible except for those with the correct device to view it. Therefore, the majority of the population perceive themselves as color-less and not truly part of the order--but they are...  The reds are there to maintain the infra-reds (infrastructure?) The reds instruct the infra-reds how to serve society through the execution of commands from the red. The reds receive their instructions from the oranges on what goals they need to achieve yet tell them nothing about how they should command the infra-reds. And the reds no nothing about the commands and goals of the yellows. Each human (hue-man?) socializes only with those of their own color. They obey one group while commanding another. The interesting part is that they know nothing (or very little) about the other colors. This effectively makes parts of society hidden. No one knows how many colors there are above or below. Infra-reds, being colorless, give no indication to the reds that they are at the bottom. The infra-reds are unaware of the oranges because they are taught that the reds are the leaders.

So, you are born into a particular color and that's where you will stay. Curiosity will lead you to the society below or above, depending on what attracts you. The stats are a boon and bane depending upon the perception of the person. Perceptions are rigorously molded by the leaders. The infra-reds tend cattle yet don't eat steak. The reds process the meat and the cuts are sent to the oranges for inspection. The yellows receive the meat and distribute it.

My train of thought was derailed.

Troy


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 16, 2006, 01:19:29 AM
Quote
Perceptions are rigorously molded by the leaders. The infra-reds tend cattle yet don't eat steak. The reds process the meat and the cuts are sent to the oranges for inspection. The yellows receive the meat and distribute it.

Brilliant, Troy.

Everything you are saying is bang on.
Everything you are saying is solid.

I think that the Victorian "caste" system will be rigorously enforced, and the way you describe such a system gives some great inspiration.

Quote
So, you are born into a particular color and that's where you will stay.

Except this part.
This is a game that people will play.
I want the hierarchy to be something that people can climb through, albeit with great difficulty and personal sacrifice.

Because... I want that Orange to turn into a Yellow.
And then I want him to take on the job of beating down his old friends.

I want the players to feel disgusted with rising to power, and i want that ability to rise to be readily available.


Quote
Imagine using the color coding as the level in terms of whom is "above" and "below" in any section of society.

I like this Troy, except there are two things that need to be easily denoted in a person's clothing -
1.) their freedoms (ie, their crippling conditions)
2.) their status

I was planning to represent freedoms with colours,
and represent status with how elaborate thier dress and garb were.

I think that if I used colours to represent status, I'd be at a loss for how to represent freedoms.
Make sense?


Do you dig that?
dressing in a certain fashion - status
wearing a certain colour - freedoms (crippling conditions)


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: TroyLovesRPG on April 16, 2006, 10:45:17 AM
It took me a while to understand the use of the word "freedom". I gather that the meaning is "freed from certain thought, task or possession" instead of "able to think, do and have without restriction". The idea of status in terms of traditional exclusiveness now makes sense. To focus merely on the status and put great emphasis on desiring it becomes clear. A person must conform to the ideal of their status to maintain their status. Deviating from it pushes you in one direction or another.

The use of colors and garb is great. Their reverse meaning makes more sense to me. Articles of clothing, traditionally, were worn for functionality. Aprons allow you to work without harming or soiling your body or clothing. Hats protect your head. Scarves warm your neck while you work in the cold. Goggles shield your eyes from metal shards. When I see a person wearing a hardhat, I know he or she is in some type of construction occupation (purely subjective). Rawhide gloves give the impression of labor, while kid leather shows cultured society. When I wear a suit, I am free from menial tasks. I'm strictly a hands on the keyboard man. If I wore overalls then I would be expected to route cables and take out the trash.

Color reminds me of insignia; therefore, status. When I see a white hardhat, I assume the person wearing it is a supervisor or manager of that crew. Just as purple is a royal color, so the colors show status. In the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) color was a great indicator of status. It didn't matter how elaborate your garb was, only that you wore color appropriate to your status. Purple and ermin where reserved for the nobles.

In the school system, everyone had pins with the logo and an embedded crystal. The pin shown you were a representative of the school system (freedom) and the color indicated how many years you worked in the school system. The superintendent fussed about his pin and wanted one that reflected he had 30 years experience in education, although he only worked for the school system for 2 years. That opened up a whole can of worms, because the color changed its meaning. Eventually, the board voted to use only the number of years in the school system to determine the crystal color, and gave the superintendent a special plaque engraved with "30 years educating children". Within the school system, the pin had no status but the color was paramount. To the public, the pin shown we were school system employees and the color (guess what?) had no meaning.

I'm off to help my friend.

Troy


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 16, 2006, 11:28:25 AM
You're talking good stuff here Troy...

But I kind of have another thread open that I'm trying to focus "pure colour" in.
I was using this thread to solidify some of the basic fundamentals of the game "theory"...

Can we carry this colour/costume conversation over to that thread, just to keep things a bit tidier?

Thanks.
the other thread being the "waistcoat" thread.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: dindenver on April 16, 2006, 02:17:00 PM
Hi!
  To get us back on topic, I would suggest that a picture should be worth more that one refresh. If you want to balance it mechanically, may limit it to one per scene or something...


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 16, 2006, 03:18:42 PM
Maybe.
One per scene is too free ended, but maybe some time frame usage.

I think that the reason I suggested that after Restoring once, it became null was this:
It turns it into a constant battle to re-confirm the things you cling to.


The idea is also this...
If you have An Image... and you use Picture A to restore it....

Picture A becomes part of The Image.
Which means if the Inspectors Reduce that Image, they are taking the Picture down with it.


Does that make sense?


Also... if players want to search out pictures...
prove to themselves that they aren't the only sane ones left...
Maybe that turns into a real crux of gameplay.

Now, Dave, someone suggested to me that maybe Pictures have different Impact Levels.
Without having a clear concept what Impact Levels would look like or do, I definately like this idea.

Partially because it adds to the depth of the whole Images/Pictures thing...
And partly because saying "I have a Level two picture of a Ferris Wheel" just sounds bitchin'.


So, does this line up with what you would like to see Images be?
Because, having them refresh along a timeline seems superficial to what they are supposed to symbolically represent.
a restoration of faith.


So, here are my suggestions... which do you guys dig?
1.) Pictures can be used to Restore once, then are null

2.) Pictures have an Impact Level, which is amount of "Restore charges" it has. Every restore depletes this number by 1. (Also, maybe by completely draining a Picture, that has more than 1 remaining charge... can bring back an eradicated Image, not just a Reduced one.)

3.) Pictures have an Impact Level... and if you want to Restore an image, you have to make a test... If your dice is less than the Picture Impact Level, the picture becomes mechanically null in the process of restoring.

4.) any other suggestions?


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: dindenver on April 16, 2006, 03:45:04 PM
Hi!
  Sure, I think different pictures will have different effects. Not only that, but that value should change from character to character. A picture of my mother will be meaninless to you, but can restore almost my entire world...
  I think a picture of some non-descript family having a picnic in a park should be only available once, but a cherished picture never really loses that burning memory it evokes.
  As for if once a scene is too often or not, think about what a scene is?
  In my mind a scene is a conflict and in the context of this game, the stakes are going to be:
Humanity
Image
Status
Captivity
  Based on this, it seems like if, on average, you had an equal chance to swing it the other way per scene, you should be fine. So, I guess, I am saying you should be able  tol roll once per scene, with an odds of maybe 10 to 30% Maybe those odds are based on the level of the Image you are trying to restore or ot the Picture used...


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 16, 2006, 04:04:10 PM
Quote
Not only that, but that value should change from character to character. A picture of my mother will be meaninless to you, but can restore almost my entire world...

Oh for sure. I think that maybe Picture Impact is evaluated based on how close it draws to the original Image.

Let's say the image is your mother's smile, and this is how pictures are rated against it:
Level 1 - elements of the image exist in the picture (a picture of a family)
Level 2 - the picture depicts the image (a picture of a mother working)
Level 3 - the picture depicts the image, and the tone and feel of the moment is recreated for you (a picture of a mother smiling, and looking genuinely happy)
Level 4 - it is a picture of the exact image (A picture of YOUR mother).

And...
I think that over time that Level 4 can even become meaningless...
but it'd take more time, more restorations... more something.

you dig?

Quote
In my mind a scene is a conflict and in the context of this game, the stakes are going to be:
Humanity
Image
Status
Captivity

In my mind, any scene presents the following stakes:
-Status
-Captivity
........ possibly Humanity.

Only some scenarios, really only Interrogation scenes, put Images at stake.
Unless you choose to put them at stake yourself, by discussing htem with people... but that's social suicide.


So....
my version of scene is different than yours.
I'd rather go with one of the options I presented (1, 2, or 3) than go with time refreshing Pictures.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: TroyLovesRPG on April 16, 2006, 05:04:31 PM
The image/picture thought seems very mechanical and puts too much emphasis on photographs. Characters are limited in what they do because of conditioning, drugs, propaganda, etc. and it takes the image to overcome that.

The desire to venture outside of my community to seek out an old building requires an image. Conjuring that image requires objects that represent (in some part) the adequate focus, clarity and depth. A miniature of a landmark is the focus of building. An old atlas is the clarity of travel. A photo of a motorcycle is the depth (or effect) of far in that image. The image is complete, the used property of that object is marked out and the action of escaping the city (even just for that night) is complete. When I return I know what I've done, but have lost the desire to do it again...until I find objects that reinforce the image. Had I used a photo of a tricycle, I may have only walked one block outside my designated community, felt like a scared child and returned.

Objects (your pictures) have three properties: focus, clarity and depth. Focus is exactly what the object is (could be many different things at the same time.) Clarity is what it represents. Depth describes relative positioning of that object. These are single words describing the object in a very simple fashion. The miniature could have building/government/above. The atlas is paper/travel/far. The photo of the motorcycle is vehicle/move/far. Now the miniature is left with government/above, the atlas has only paper/far and the photo retains vehicle/move. I could have taken far from the atlas, but I choose to spread out the image. Objects have simple facts and together they form images. A person may have a toy top, rabbit's foot, picture of a woman, paper clip and a crucifix. The combination of those objects can conjure many different images, therefore reinforcing certain desires, memories or actions.

Characters receive objects during their lives and at that time must be defined. The GM describes the object and then assigns one property to it. The player holding the object defines one more property and then chooses another player to define the last one. This allows the GM to manipulate images subtly, have the character feel connected to the object and the other players can covet the objects. Also, the same object will have different meanings for different people. Most likely the players will choose words that will benefit their cause and strengthen their images.

Its possible that objects are taboo and can never be bought or given--they only may be found, lost, stolen or destroyed. That would keep envy, risk, theft, spite and destruction in the mix.

Time for a movie.

Troy


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 16, 2006, 07:28:13 PM
...
...
...

Cool.

I think that images were at first a really simple thing.
And then I added in pictures (which, by the way, weren't limited to pictures really... any physical objects.)

And now what your saying is brilliant, and I'm going to try to work it in.
I really like the concept....
and I feel like I want it to roll around in my head for a day or two, and see if I can add or tweak it at all...

but definately cool.
And I definately love the system.


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: Chad on April 17, 2006, 01:40:19 AM
Hiya,

Oh yeah, I like what I am hearing Troy. This configuring 'objects' mechanic sounds like power semiotic mojo. I also like your level structure Joe, its simple and intuitive. There might be way of combining the two. Say you have a colour picture of a smile + an object which belonged to your mother, lets say an article of clothing. That kind of thing.

C


Title: Re: [Perfect -working title] Dystopic gaming, attributes as a hinderance.
Post by: joepub on April 17, 2006, 04:30:32 PM
Okay guys.


I'm opening a new thread for Images/Objects.


I think I'd like to consider this thread closed from now on,
because this was really an idea generating thread....

And now that we have the ideas, I'd like to work on refining those ideas.
So, colour is being addressed in a different thread...
the image/object mechanics are going to be addressed in a different thread...
and freedoms/certifications will be addressed in a different thread.

This is just to make sure I don't feel like we're jumping back and forth unnecessarily.

So... consider this thread closed for the moment being.