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Title: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 06, 2007, 10:19:59 AM
1.) What is your game about?**

No Greater Love is about getting the chance to die for something your say you would die for.  This is your chance to really see what you are made of and how much you love those who are close.

2.) What do the characters do?**

The characters face their arch enemies and own personal demons to save someone or something they care about.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?**

The GM plays the opposition and attempts to make the game as brutal on the players and characters as possible.  He is at liberty to afflict the characters any way he can.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The setting is a great city that has fallen into corruption.  A place that was once a bastion for charity and community has become a cesspool of violence and corruption.  This puts the character into immediate conflict with his environment and provides the GM with plenty of material he can use.  All this darkness and evil drives the character towards his chance to die for someone.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

The Character Creation sets up the conflicts for the game.  The players describe who is out to kill their character, who their character wants to save, and the weaknesses the character suffers from.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

There are several behaviors rewarded.  GMs are rewarded with more resources for forcing the characters to make tough choices.  Players are rewarded for overcoming their enemies, including other characters in their story, and staying focused on the person they love.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?

GMs gain additional resources to challenge players as the players defeat their enemies.  Players gain Dignity which is their main currency for buying advantages and increasing their other resources for including their fellow players in their story and for beating their foes.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?

The players drive the action towards their beloved.  The object is for them to save the one they love.  The player controls his character and the one he loves.  The GM is responsible for portraying the evil cutthroats who try to stop the PCs from succeeding.  His job is to make it so tough on the players that they might consider giving up.  The GM controls every character the players do not.

9.) What does your game do to command the player's attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)

The players take someone or something personal from their real life that they love and puts that thing in danger.  Few people ever have to face that in real life.  Thus in this game, they are challenged in ways they hope will never really happen to them.  With something or someone the player really loves at stake, their attention will almost certainly be engaged.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

The dice rolling mechanics are very simple.  The players generate a pool of d6ís from their stats and roll them against an equal number of dice used by the GM.  A result of  4-6 is considered a success.  The GM and the Player have a target number of successes they must get in order to win.  The winner narrates the outcome according to guidelines set out in the rules.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?

The resolution system is simple and thus keeps the focus on the story.  The guidelines spell out what happens if a PC kills a character, how a PC can die, what the limits on GM narration are and so on.  These guidelines are more like a funnel that keeps the story moving towards the decision a player will have to make, Will I really die for this thing- I say I will?Ē

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?

Characters advance by moving toward the climax.  As their Dignity decreases, their will to live also decreases.  Raising it requires the players to sacrifice relationships and abilities.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

Characters are born to die.  The advancement forces the players into making the decision to go for saving their beloved or to walk away from the situation.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?

I want the players to feel emotion in this game.  I want them to feel anger, despondence, fear, sadness, and so on.  By putting something the players truly care about at stake, I feel that the players will take the actions of the game very seriously.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?

I put extra color in the Setting.  I wanted the environment of the characters to mean something.  I divided the city up into five sections, each with its own distinct flavors and hazards.  The Setting serves as a context for the players and a resource for the GMs.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

Iím most excited to see how people react to using real life aspects of their lives in a fictional world.  To me, this is a very powerful aspect of this game.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games canít, donít, or wonít?

Not many games use real life as mechanics.  In fact, some RPGs see that as taboo.  But I donít for this game.  I want this game to challenge players to back up their talk and feelings. 

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?

This game will become part of DL-Quarterly Series #2.

19.) Who is your target audience?

My target audience is players who are hard core narrativists.  This game is not for people who just want to flirt with narrativism.  Also, the game is inspired somewhat by Sin City.  I can see fans of that comic book series really getting into No Greater Love.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: joepub on May 06, 2007, 11:40:56 AM
Quote
Iím most excited to see how people react to using real life aspects of their lives in a fictional world.


Troy, can you explain how this works? I can't find reference to it anywhere.


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Malcolm Craig on May 06, 2007, 12:11:27 PM
Quote
10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

The dice rolling mechanics are very simple.  The players generate a pool of d6ís from their stats and roll them against an equal number of dice used by the GM.  A result of  4-6 is considered a success.  The GM and the Player have a target number of successes they must get in order to win.  The winner narrates the outcome according to guidelines set out in the rules.

Hi Troy,

This all sounds very interesting, but I'd like to hear more about who sets the difficulty level and what the constraints upon it might be. Is it wholly up to the GM, players or the groups as a whole to decide what the level of difficulty in any given situation might be?

I love dystopian (if I can use such a cliche) urban settings, so the brief descriptions of your city sound fascinating. Any chance you'd be able to tell us more about the five areas and how you see them influencing play? On a personal note, this sounds very mcuh like what I should have done years ago with a|state, with a focus on hope and despair!

Cheers
Malcolm


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 06, 2007, 01:21:33 PM
Heya,

Quote
Iím most excited to see how people react to using real life aspects of their lives in a fictional world.


Troy, can you explain how this works? I can't find reference to it anywhere.

Sure.  During the character creation process, players will choose a person, place, or thing that is dear to them in real life.  It could be a child, a wife, a childhood home, a family heirloom, or whatever.  Then that -thing- becomes the character's Beloved.  The GM then puts the Beloved in some kind of mortal danger by people who have a grudge against the character for some past wrong he committed.  The child would be kidnapped, the house reposessed, the heirloom stolen.  It's then up to the player to decide how bad they would fight to get that thing back.  Would they really die for it?

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: joepub on May 06, 2007, 10:44:17 PM
Troy, that's hella cool.

I'm interested to know why, if there are real-life objects of affection involved, there is a detailed fictional setting in the game.

It's an interesting combination. What's the reasoning?


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 07, 2007, 03:38:18 AM
Heya,

Troy, that's hella cool.

I'm interested to know why, if there are real-life objects of affection involved, there is a detailed fictional setting in the game.

It's an interesting combination. What's the reasoning?

Because the Setting is what I wanted the player to not worry about.  Vincent says things like "design what doesn't matter" and let the players take it from there.  That's sorta what I did here.  The Setting enhances the opposition, gives context for the conflicts, and aids the GM.  The purpose for adding lots of color to the Setting was to better facilitate the System.  I'm dabbling a lot more with Settings that have actual mechanics that affect play.  No Greater Love is a step in that direction.  I'm glad you think it's cool :)

Peace,

-Troy

PS: Malcolm, I'm not ignoring your response, it's just that your question will take a longer answer and I want to get it right.  As soon as I can explaine my rationale for the dice mechanics, I'll reply :)


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Arturo G. on May 07, 2007, 05:28:23 AM
Hi, Troy!
Is this idea of "protecting a beloved person" inspired by your Game-Chef experience? Or was it already on your mind? Just curious.


13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

Characters are born to die.  The advancement forces the players into making the decision to go for saving their beloved or to walk away from the situation.

This statement is slightly confusing for me. You are forced to decide at the end if it worths to die for your beloved. But you say there is always the possibility to walk away from the situation.
Does it mean that you quit your beloved and you do not die? That you part away from the extreme situation and pressure? What is the benefit for the player of doing it? It sounds like you quit the game. Or are you talking about a closing scene?
I have the feeling I'm missing something, or that this statement is not fitting well with the rest.


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 07, 2007, 08:13:42 AM
Heya,

Quote
Is this idea of "protecting a beloved person" inspired by your Game-Chef experience? Or was it already on your mind? Just curious.

No Greater Love was written well before the Game Chef contest.  The two games might have somewhat similar themes, but go in very different directions with them.  Hunter Rose explores the Situation of the Huntsmen.  That game asks "What would it be like to be a Huntsman?"  Players are given the freedom to explore the Setting and Characters, but not much freedom to decide what a Huntsman actuially is or what defines the Huntsman society.  That's spelled out by the game text.

No Greater Love asks, "If you were faced with this crisis concerning a loved one, how would you react? Would you really put your life on the line for them?"  Players are given the freedom to define everything for themselves.  The rules for creating a character are minimal, with the only background for the character coming from the player's imagination.  The Setting does not affect the character creation in any meaningful way at all (which is very very different from Hunter Rose).

Now here is where I answer your second question.  In order to allow the players freedom to define the characters, conflicts, and resolutions for themselves, they must also have the freedom to decide not to address those things.  If I provided no avenue for players to give up, walk away, or extract themselves from the story, then I would be answering the question the game asks for them.  As the designer, I don't want to do that.  A "giving up" mechanic is absolutely necessary to preserve the sanctity of choice in this game.  But remember, you would be giving up on your own child, your grandmother, or your girlfriend.  That's not an easy choice to make.

As for what players gain by choosing to give up is a release from the preasure and tension the game forces on them.  I'm not sure how this will work in play yet.  To be honest, this game scares the shit out of me.  I'm almost afraid to try it.  I tell people what the game is about, and their eyes get really big and they say, "Really?!?! I gotta do that?"  Putting my wife or my sister or my father at stake in a game, to be used as bait by the GM any way he wants, is frightening to me.  I might have to start with something less "beloved" to me, like my diary or something.  This game has the potential to be really good, but I can see how potentially dangerous it can be too.  The mechanics are fine, I think, but it's the play that will show what No Greater Love is really made of.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Wormwood on May 07, 2007, 09:39:09 AM
I'm seeing several possible games here, and I'm curious which one you are actually designing. Much of it comes down to the protections awarded to the sacrifice of one's life for the beloved. If the sacrifice is sacrosanct - i.e. it will fully save the beloved, then the GM and the game should center on the aspects of a character's life other than the beloved, to accentuate the cost. If a player has no guarantee of the effect of the character's death, then the GM should rightly focus on the uncertainty of the risk, and perhaps even of the outcome, opening the chance that your character's death may have no real benefit at all.

Even if this is something that can me adjusted in the game, the distinction should be very clearly made before hand (perhaps in typical social contract form). After all, imagine the betrayal of a player who has risked all to get to a final confrontation, and whose character takes the place of her beloved in being executed, only to have her beloved killed a few minutes later regardless - because the GM decided the killer was lying.

   - Mendel S.


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 07, 2007, 11:15:23 AM
Heya,

Quote
I'm seeing several possible games here, and I'm curious which one you are actually designing. Much of it comes down to the protections awarded to the sacrifice of one's life for the beloved. If the sacrifice is sacrosanct - i.e. it will fully save the beloved, then the GM and the game should center on the aspects of a character's life other than the beloved, to accentuate the cost.


This is what the game does.  The Beloved is hardly "on screen" during play.  It is used as bait by the GM and as a goal for the player. 

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: joepub on May 07, 2007, 11:49:31 AM
Troy, I am not sure your answer really solved my question.

The question was this: why is the setting a FICTIONAL one, when the beloved is a REAL one.

Not why is the setting detailed.


Put another way, if the players are from New York, and someone says "My mother is my beloved" and she also lives in New York... Why isn't this game set in New York, which is similarly a very detailed setting? What does the juxtaposition of  real people and fictional setting  provide?


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Arturo G. on May 07, 2007, 12:09:21 PM
I see the game idea is focused in a complete different thing than Hunter Rose, but I was curious. It seems you have been playing with exploring that idea about self-sacrifice, approaching it from different angles. This game is focusing in the hard angle.

Now here is where I answer your second question.  In order to allow the players freedom to define the characters, conflicts, and resolutions for themselves, they must also have the freedom to decide not to address those things.  If I provided no avenue for players to give up, walk away, or extract themselves from the story, then I would be answering the question the game asks for them.  As the designer, I don't want to do that.  A "giving up" mechanic is absolutely necessary to preserve the sanctity of choice in this game.  But remember, you would be giving up on your own child, your grandmother, or your girlfriend.  That's not an easy choice to make.

As for what players gain by choosing to give up is a release from the pressure and tension the game forces on them.  I'm not sure how this will work in play yet.

I understand you want to make the players answer the questions on themselves. I also see that the tension of the game may be high at some points. It may arrive a moment when you really may want some release. But if giving-up means quiting the game completely, without the opportunity to come back, just sitting and watching how the other solve their situations, I doubt anyone will choose that option.

I would expect to continue playing. But I must say that I cannot see options.
- If you do not really part away, but come back later, you have not yet really answer the question. You have postponed it for later.
- If you do really part away, you may get to know about how your beloved died, which is even nastier. Not a real release, and you can not participate or really do anything.
- If you  decide to explore the consequences of failing to your beloved and let her die, it is a complete different game.

I suppose you want to make a game which leads to a climax scene, where you know that if you sacrifice your life, your beloved will be finally safe (and the game ends for you), or you decide to give-up (and the game ends anyway). But why not to die in such final scene? I suppose that giving-up perhaps may preserve some other, perhaps more selfish values (dignity, power), perhaps not so selfish (lives of others, the community prosperity, whatever...?) But this sounds me as another different concept and another different game.

I'm still not clearly seeing how you envision players quiting.
Is this of help? Or I'm just too stubborn?


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 07, 2007, 02:10:13 PM
Heya,

Troy, I am not sure your answer really solved my question.

The question was this: why is the setting a FICTIONAL one, when the beloved is a REAL one.

Not why is the setting detailed.

Oh, I see what you mean now.  There are several reasons.  The main reason is simple.  Setting the game in a city where the players have actual experience would make the Setting way to comfortable and familiar for them.  They can feel confident that they will be able to rely on knowing the geography, culture, points of interest, short cuts, and so on.  If the game is set in a ficticious world where everything is unfamiliar to them, they are not distracted by what they know about the Setting nor are they able to use the Setting as an advantage.  The Setting is an advantage for the GM, the players should have to fight and fight hard for everything they get from it.

Secondly, and more from a design perspective, it's easier for me to control and justify the mechanical effects the Setting has on the game if I design the Setting.  Using something from real life adds a variable I don't want to deal with.

Third, there are certain elements of the setting I feel are vital to play that I want to A) make sure get included and B) get highlighted by the text.  No city in America fits the bill of what I want exactly.  Imagine the setting is a mash-up of Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.  I'm not sure I can get that conglomeration out of New York or Boston for instance.

Fourth, more selfishly, I wouldn't want to do the research to include a real world city.  That's just not interesting to me.  Nor do I want to include rules that allow players to choose a real world city and then add relevant effects to it for the game.  That takes away the focus on the characters and the conflicts.

Does that provide the answer you're looking for, Joe? :)

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 07, 2007, 03:40:19 PM
Heya,

II'm still not clearly seeing how you envision players quiting.
Is this of help? Or I'm just too stubborn?

Heh, no you are not being too stubborn.  Walking away from the game allows the players to come to the realization that they aren't willing to die for whatever they said they were.  That might be for a million different reasons.  Each player will be different.  I imagine most players will try to save their beloved or die trying.  However, I do believe there will be some who say, "This isn't worth it." or "I can't take this anymore."  I want a mechanic that supports that.  Hence, the "quitting" mechanic.  It's not the easy way out.  The player is quitting on his wife, his child, his mother, etc.  That's not an easy thing to do.  But the option is always there.  And the GM can tempt you every moment.  It's delicious, but nasty and scary.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Arturo G. on May 08, 2007, 05:27:34 AM
Heya,

II'm still not clearly seeing how you envision players quiting.
Is this of help? Or I'm just too stubborn?

Heh, no you are not being too stubborn.  Walking away from the game allows the players to come to the realization that they aren't willing to die for whatever they said they were.  That might be for a million different reasons.  Each player will be different.  I imagine most players will try to save their beloved or die trying.  However, I do believe there will be some who say, "This isn't worth it." or "I can't take this anymore."  I want a mechanic that supports that.  Hence, the "quitting" mechanic.  It's not the easy way out.  The player is quitting on his wife, his child, his mother, etc.  That's not an easy thing to do.  But the option is always there.  And the GM can tempt you every moment.  It's delicious, but nasty and scary.

Peace,

-Troy

Well, I see. I think that most people will not go for a decision that put them out of play, whatever they are facing. But if you are really fed-up of the situation, you may always decide to quit (you really want to make the players get to that situation, this is clear).
But I see that if you tempt the players with any mechanical continuation or any possible enjoyment after quiting, then, there could be other reasons to quit that the real question, and you don't want that.

I'm curious to see how you plan to provide enough pressure to the characters/player to make them quit. I'm not sure I would like to play that, but I would say that most people have a kind of morbid attraction for fictional representations of extreme real situations.


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 08, 2007, 06:47:10 AM
Heya,

Quote
But I see that if you tempt the players with any mechanical continuation or any possible enjoyment after quiting, then, there could be other reasons to quit that the real question, and you don't want that.

Well, they are not totally out of the game.  If another player chooses, they can bring that character back into the story for a short time.  In fact, I imagine that will happen quite often it a person chooses to walk away.  There is a nice bonus for including other people's characters in your story.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Arturo G. on May 08, 2007, 07:49:15 AM
OK. This is more or less what I was expecting or looking for, and I was missing. The players who part away are not controlling the game as previously, they cannot initiate active play. But they are still around and can be summoned by other players to participate on their scenes. And you have already include an incentive for this to happen.

Now it is pretty clear to me.
Thanks, Troy!


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Mikael on May 08, 2007, 11:57:01 AM
Quote
I want the players to feel emotion in this game.  I want them to feel anger, despondence, fear, sadness, and so on.

This struck me as rather harsh. Is the whole point of your game really to make the players feel nothing but negative emotions when playing it? Not a sales pitch that would attract me. I mean, caring is fine, induced emotion and catharsis likewise, but I would still like to retain at least the chance for joy and fun. Do you see your game as some sort of a therapeutic tool?


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 08, 2007, 01:12:09 PM
Heya,

Quote
I want the players to feel emotion in this game.  I want them to feel anger, despondence, fear, sadness, and so on.

This struck me as rather harsh. Is the whole point of your game really to make the players feel nothing but negative emotions when playing it? Not a sales pitch that would attract me. I mean, caring is fine, induced emotion and catharsis likewise, but I would still like to retain at least the chance for joy and fun. Do you see your game as some sort of a therapeutic tool?

I forgot to list one:  Thankfulness.  Thankful that the beloved is saved and preserved.  Thankful that it's all just imagined.  And thankful that we don't face these situations every day.  I imagine the game will amplify the appreciation the players already feel for whatever they choose as their beloved.  The game does invoke a lot of negatie emotions, but those are contrasted by the knowledge that in real life, those beloved things are with us and not in danger.  They comfort us, and we comfort them.  Thanks for pointing this aspect out.  I should have elaborated on it more.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [No Greater Love] Power 19
Post by: Troy_Costisick on May 09, 2007, 01:59:56 AM
Heya Malcom!

This all sounds very interesting, but I'd like to hear more about who sets the difficulty level and what the constraints upon it might be. Is it wholly up to the GM, players or the groups as a whole to decide what the level of difficulty in any given situation might be?

I love dystopian (if I can use such a cliche) urban settings, so the brief descriptions of your city sound fascinating. Any chance you'd be able to tell us more about the five areas and how you see them influencing play? On a personal note, this sounds very mcuh like what I should have done years ago with a|state, with a focus on hope and despair!

I'm finally getting around to answering you!  I kept trying to think about the best way to answer your question and explain the resolution stuff to you, but then in came to me.  That's what the game's text does.  Why not just post that?  So that's what I'm going to do.  These are the sections on rolling dice and narrating the end of a contest.

On rolling dice...

Quote
In No Greater Love players use six sided dice (d6) to resolve conflicts of interest.  After Intentions are declared and the two players are ready for their characters to act out the conflict, they each roll a pool of dice.  The player of the Antagonist will always go first.  The Protagonist will roll a number of d6 equal to his Faith Pool.  The character opposing the Protagonist will roll a number of dice equal to the Protagonistís Weakness Pool. 

The opposing characterís player (usually the GM) will roll first.  He rolls his collection of dice and consults the table below:

-Each die that results in a 1-3, the roll is counted as a Failure.
-Each die that results in a 4-6, the roll is counted as a Success.

For each Success a player gets on a roll, his opponent loses 1 Resolve and he gets to narrate something his character does.  It could be anything from ďI throw a punchĒ to ďI shoot him with my pistolĒ to ďI successfully argue that he owes me a favor.Ē  After the opposing player rolls his dice and narrates his characterís actions, the Protagonistís player rolls his dice and narrates the actions of his character.  If both characters still have Resolve left in their Pools, then the above process is repeated (again starting with the opposing character).  If any characterís Resolve is brought to zero, move on to the next phase of Resolution.

On the limits of narration...

Quote
When a characterís Resolve hits zero, several things happen.  First, he loses the confrontation.  Second, if the loser was a Protagonist, he gains a Fate Point.  If a Protagonistís Fate Points ever equals his Fate Pool, he fails his quest to save his Beloved and dies (Death is explained later on).  Third, the winning player gets to narrate the result of the confrontation. 

There are some specific rules players must follow when narrating these results.  The death of the Protagonist cannot be narrated by anyone but the Protagonistís player.  So if the GM wins a conflict, he can narrate anything his character does, but he cannot kill the Protagonist.  This doesnít mean he canít mess him up pretty bad, though.  Also, if the winner was not the Protagonistís player, he cannot kill the Beloved.  Harming the Beloved is fine.  Hiding the Beloved is fine.  However, you cannot kill or destroy the Beloved unless the Protagonist dies. 

If the winner was the Protagonistís player, then he has a few more options.  He can narrate almost anything he wants.  He is welcome to dispatch any opposing character or destroy that characterís hideout.  He can also go into great detail about how he goes about getting what he wants.  If the Protagonist defeats an Agent, he learns that Agentís Secret- which is usually the location of the Beloved or a person who knows where the Beloved is.  If the Protagonist defeats his Antagonist, he saves his Beloved but dies somehow in the process.

I hope this sheads some more light on your question.  Let me know if you have any more :)

Peace,

-Troy