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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: Jye Nicolson on September 19, 2006, 08:49:37 PM

Title: [Last Exile] Healing damage, Breaking the Ice Style
Post by: Jye Nicolson on September 19, 2006, 08:49:37 PM
Hi guys,

I'd love some feedback on an idea for a recovery-from-damage mechanic for my Last Exile game, ripped off from inspired by Breaking the Ice.

I'll try to keep the context short:

  • The game is based on the anime of the same name, which features lots of airborne dogfighting, artillery combat, family members shouting at each other, brainwashing techno elves and other things that could mess up the protagonists quite badly
  • However, PCs can't actually die until the final scene of the game, so they'll frequently need to get over these problems in time for the next burst of adventure
  • In a lot of TV shows, and particularly anime like Last Exile, the hero picks themselves up off the floor when they're angsty/wounded/furious by means of a heart-to-heart scene with a devoted off-sider, friendly rival, family member or the like.  I want to make that part of the game.
  • During character creation, NPCs who consider a PC important to them are written onto the PC's sheet by other players.  These NPCs are called Crew

I'm currently planning for Last Exile to use a scene-budget system very similar to Burning Empires.  In each session, each player would have a Support Scene, which they can use to recover from the "damage" they've accumulated - whether that be literal injuries, loss of people important to them, emotional states, loss of signature items, whatever.  When you call for your support scene, you choose another player to play the NPC that will be supporting you.

That player then chooses one of the Crew from your character sheet, who comes to your character to try to support them.  The Crew starts with a pool of dice (some fixed number, 10?).  They offer the dice to the PC player, one at a time, narrating some tangible piece of intimate support - a little pep speech, a hand on the arm, a challenge, a confession of love, a gift, whatever.  If the PC accepts the overture, they get the die.  If they don't, the die is put aside.  The Crew player keeps narrating overtures until they're out of dice, at which point the PC rolls the pool.  Successes erase damage.

What I'm hoping this mechanic will do is:

  • Make having bad things happen to you == needing people more
  • Create an incentive to be more receptive to the NPC than you strictly need to be (hence the dice roll - if acceptance translated directly into healing, you'd know how much you'd need, but the random factor encourages extra acceptance just to be on the safe side).  This hopefully will tend to deepen the relationship between the PC and the NPC.
  • Weak but amusing objective: Create a fair bit of anime-style soap opera, since the player has no way of making it the same NPC every time
  • Allow PCs who aren't seriously "damaged" to rebuff overtures until they hear one they like.  Technically, any PC can do that, but mildly "damaged" ones can afford to

Does it sound like it would hit those objectives?  Any thoughts?  Have I left out any context?

Title: Re: [Last Exile] Healing damage, Breaking the Ice Style
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 20, 2006, 07:08:13 AM
Hey Jye,

I've only seen a couple of episodes of Last Exile but it's certainly neat material to pull from, and I like the sketch of a mechanic you lay out here. In order to inject a little more strife, and to play up the anime soap opera aspect you might want to consider how the NPCs will interact relative to each other (and therefore to the PC) based on these support scenes. I'm seeing individual tracks of dice for each crew member that grow or shrink based on whether the PC takes or spurns support. Something like this:

Bill: "Yokoni's pretty trashed from that last fight. I want a support scene in the galley of the Wunderskiff where he's having a drink."
Tom (who's sitting next to... or who's turn it is to play support, or whatever) looks over at Bill's sheet, seeing:

Sheila (Plucky Mechanic): 4
Warren (Dour First Mate): 2
Corrine (Battlin' badass): 2

Tom knows that Sheila's been a big impact on Yokoni, and there's a burgeoning romance there. He decides to pick Corrine. "Ok Bill, in swaggers Corrine, still flushed from fighting. She claps you on the back and says You were spectacular out there... as she grabs the bottle from the table, a lusty twinkle in her eye.

And so Tom has to decide, will he take the dice from Corrine knowing that Sheila will be pissed when she (inevitably) finds out about the flirting she was doing, which perhaps reduces her dice in some way? Not only does this sort of thing give the support player a chance to add some adversity, it also helps model some of that drama of misunderstood relationships and half steps towards and away from love.

Make any sense?


Title: Re: [Last Exile] Healing damage, Breaking the Ice Style
Post by: Thor Olavsrud on September 20, 2006, 11:48:15 AM
Hey Jye!

Looks very interesting. I'll back Tim up and say that you may want to consider the price of accepting a die.

I often try to create tension between game elements, especially when there are choices that need to be made. Here you have an element where you want to make the decision to accept a die into a meaningful choice. That's cool. We know there's an up side to accepting the die. It will help you recover from injury. But to make it a meaningful choice, there should be a down side to accepting.

What do you think?

Title: Re: [Last Exile] Healing damage, Breaking the Ice Style
Post by: Jye Nicolson on September 20, 2006, 02:29:39 PM
What do you think?

I think you guys give awesome feedback :)

I like the idea of the Crew having some rating that changes based on the amount of acceptance/rejection they get, and having that as a flag for how they interact amongst themselves and with the PCs.  It makes a lot of sense that if these scenes are meaningful, they're meaningful to the NPC too and have tangible impact.

What I don't want to do, however, is put the Support player in a hard position. 

Let's say Claus has some big holes in him, there's holes in his vanship, he's depressed because he saw a bunch of musketeers get needlessly mown down, and he badly needs a support scene.  We'll say he needs 4 successes to get over his "damage", which we'll say means he needs about 8 dice.

On his sheet, he's got under Crew

Lavie (spunky red-head navi in love with me) 10
Alvis (last child of House Hamilton, who I protect) 8
Tatiana (piloting rival who's always angry at me) 2

Sophia's player is handling the Support, so she gets to pick Crew.  I want her to be able to choose Tatiana if she thinks it's interesting to do so, without Claus' player saying "WTF?  I need 8 dice minimum, and you're giving me Tatiana?  You want me to keep bleeding here?"

I've got two thoughts about how to deal with that:

1.  Don't make the scene 1-1.  Let multiple Crew be used, in paralel or serial, so that low-rated Crew can be involved without dooming the PC to hobble on unhealed.

2.  Have some sort continuum rather than a single rating for the Crew.  So maybe they all have 10 dice, but those dice are meaningfully divided (between Angst and Happiness, whatever), and shift back and forth depending on acceptance and rejection.

Title: Re: [Last Exile] Healing damage, Breaking the Ice Style
Post by: muddlepud on September 20, 2006, 05:47:21 PM
This is a very neat idea. What I'm wondering though is what is the consequence or upside of rejecting an overture dice?
Firstly, what is the social effect? Does the NPC feel rejected in some way? Are they taken aback when you shrug off the embrace? Secondly, mechanically, then does it help keep points in that connection for use in a Support scene later down the track. Or help regenerate the ability to reuse that Crew again later with full points again?

Title: Re: [Last Exile] Healing damage, Breaking the Ice Style
Post by: muddlepud on September 20, 2006, 06:03:42 PM
Another thought: Does each player only have a certain number of dice to put into their entire Crew list? So a player could put them all into one, and they might be their best friend for example. So whenever they have an overture scene with that NPC then it's likely they'll be able to heal any damage from a previous scene. The downside to doing this is that this one NPC might not always be available. So the other choice then is to spread points. These other NPCs wont be able to support the PC as strongly as before, but there's more chance of them being around.

So how do players improve the connection with their NPC? I think the old Conspiracy X system had a neat mechanic where during Downtime between stories, you would have a number of weeks to train up or improve influence or strengthen pulling strings and so on. I could see a similar thing here - you could either spend time in game or during downtime to improve the connection with an NPC. This is an investment that would be important later on should the PC take some kind of game damage.

What about what happens when the NPC Crew dies? Is the PC refunded the points they've put into the crew at that stage for use elsewhere later? Or are they simply gone forever?

This could be pretty important if say the NPC is involved in a battle of some kind - at some point, the NPCs life might be at stake. And to have that threatened also threaten's the PC because if they should lose that NPC they lose a good chance at recovering from the game damage.

Title: Re: [Last Exile] Healing damage, Breaking the Ice Style
Post by: Tim Alexander on September 21, 2006, 01:13:17 PM
Hey Jye,

Your thoughts about not wanting to screw the Support player by creating an awkward situation are valid. I'd like to suggest though that having to return to the next action scene without being fully healed could present a variety of interesting possibilities as well. It very much depends on how injury is structured. Have you read/played Trollbabe? Part of the elegence of it's injury mechanic comes from:

a) The character is always able to continue to effect the game in spite of injury.
b) The end of the injury path (incapacitation) inevitably serves only to further embroil the character in the story.

Scott raises some interesting points in his posts, and it may be worth persuing how the crew will be defined (if at all) beyond the pool of dice used for support. Off the top of my head I can think of all sorts of neat things you could do with a seperate track how in favor you are with a given member of the crew that might in turn end up effecting how much of the total support available you could draw from them. I'd caution though about going too deeply into a single mechanic though without thinking about the implications it has on the rest of how you perceive play going.


P.S.- You could always just randomize which member of the crew comes to support the character.