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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: Marshall Burns on January 29, 2008, 04:48:30 PM



Title: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on January 29, 2008, 04:48:30 PM
Here’s the basic idea:  an RPG derived from Roguelike games.  I don’t expect everyone here to be familiar with Roguelikes, so I’ll explain them a bit.

Rogue was a computer game designed in 1980-something, and Roguelikes are later computer games that utilize its principles and features (NetHack, SLASH, Ancient Domains of Mystery, and Angband are probably the most popular).  There’s quite a bit of variation between the different games, but here’s the basic, defining features of a Roguelike:  a single character delving into randomly generated dungeons in quest of a McGuffin, fighting monsters and collecting treasure along the way; really high danger curve matched with pretty low power curve; incredibly detailed gameplay, involving a plethora of commands (every key on the keyboard has at least one command mapped to it, usually two, and sometimes more), crunchy combined-arms strategy and resource management (heavy management of food, because you can starve to death), and huge amounts of exploration of not only the dungeon, but the system and items as well (f’rinstance, scrolls, potions, wands, and such are usually unidentified when you obtain them; to find out what they do, you must either use a “Scroll of Identify” or experiment, and experimentation can have deadly consequences.  The kick in the pants:  THIS is also randomly generated every time you start a new character); and “Permadeath,” which means that when your character dies it’s dead, you can’t even re-load from an earlier save.

Due to the depth of strategy and extreme level of challenge, these games pay off greatly for Gamist agendas (or, rather, the video gamer’s equivalent; I don’t think it’s quite the same as RPG Gamism).  Due to the detail of the system and the fact that the game is literally different every damn time due to the randomization, allowing for unlimited exploration, these games also pay off greatly for Sim agendas (again, the video gamer’s equivalent).  I think they do this so well that I’m not interested at all in transferring it to RPG form; if I want those things, I just get on my computer and start up ADOM.  What I want to deal with is the vast, unexplored Narrativist potential.

Now, here’s some details that I want you to envision with me for a second:  you’re a young adventurer of (just barely) journeyman training and skill, sparingly equipped, sent into a vast, uncharted underground complex in quest of some vaguely described Amulet of McGuffin.  It is dark.  The passages are winding and confusing.  You hear noises that could only originate from monsters.  You have a limited supply of food.  You step on a loose tile and a spear flies out of a wall, missing you by centimeters.  Many of the doors are locked, and you have to kick them down, at risk of triggering booby-traps.  You search frantically for the stairs downward, for it is at the bottom that your goal lies.   You confront monsters and fight or flee.  You barricade yourself in a room to gain security while you treat your injuries and rest.   You find the stairs downwards, and there’s just another level, with a different layout, more monsters, more traps, and it’s more dangerous than the first one.  You run out of food, and you have no choice but to eat the goblin you have just killed—raw.  You sleep on cold, stone floors.  You shit and piss in a corner.  You have nowhere to bathe, and no changes of clothes, because you had to pack light.  Your equipment is gradually destroyed, stolen, spent, or lost.  You go on, and on, and it gets more and more dangerous.  You become more and more haggard.  There is no end in sight.
And, the worst of it, you are ALONE[/u].

Is it just me, or is this a Story Now goldmine?

Now, the big problem is that a Roguelike, by definition, has a single protagonist.  How to structure this for collaborative RPG play?  ADOM, during charGen, gives you a random lifepath that tells you what your childhood was like and so on.  That game me an idea:  one player represents the protagonist’s Past; memories, loved ones left behind on the surface, homesickness.  The next steps were obvious.  One player is the protagonist’s Present—fear, hunger, self-preservation—and another is the protagonist’s Future—what is he looking forward to, what does he stand to gain from this impossible quest, what ambition is there that drives him forward?  The meat of the game is these three forces in conflict with each other.  A fourth player plays the Dungeon itself, and it’s their job to put pressure on the protagonist and his psyche.  Some Roguelikes include pets for the character, so that might be an interesting optional role for a fifth player.  Or, additional players could also help out with the Dungeon, since that would be a pretty involved role.

The concept I’m looking at is that the quest is indeed impossible (as it seems to be in NetHack); the only way for the protagonist to survive is to give up the quest and flee the dungeon.  Basically, the story’s going to end with the protagonist failing the quest.  The process of play fills in how the protagonist ends up at that failure, and what the specific nature, circumstances, and thematic significance of that failure are.  This means that the Future aspect must always be naïve at best, if not flat-out delusional, but I’m fine with that.

The protagonist would of course be newly created for each game, and the reasons for seeking the McGuffin should be custom-made, kicker style.  In the original Rogue, it was just to finish your apprenticeship; in NetHack, you’re commanded by your god to bring it back.  Just assume that whatever the McGuffin is, it is the solution to any conceivable problem, then give the protagonist a problem so bad that the McGuffin is the only remaining solution.  Or maybe it IS just to complete an apprenticeship, and behind the protagonist is the wrath of a violent master, while ahead is certain doom.

In addition to the quest itself, I want to see flashbacks instigated by the Past, and ambitious fantasies instigated by the Future.  Oh yeah.  Or, hell, maybe starting in media res and establishing the WHY of the quest through such processes.

The setting’s also up for grabs; most Roguelikes are based on D&D, with monsters ripped straight out of the Monster Manual, but other settings have been used (post-apocalypso and Castlevania, for two examples), so you can create your own or raid your favorite games, books, movies, or combinations thereof.  And I plan to include at least one of my own design in the text.  And the “Dungeon” doesn’t have to be an underground complex; it could be a city, a jungle, an ancient ruin, a space-station, whatever.  ADOM takes place in a huge valley featuring a variety of caves, tunnels, villages, ruins, and even a pyramid.  So for this game, “Dungeon” is a very loose concept; as long as it has only one entrance/exit, it’s dangerous, and there’s tons of room for exploration, it’ll do the trick.

I’m thinking resource-driven Drama conflict resolution for the 3 character aspects (specifically, I’m thinking a set number of tokens that get traded back and forth between the three, such that to win a conflict you must pay off the others to some degree), and resource-driven Karma+Fortune conflict resolution for protagonist vs. Dungeon (but with much less crunchiness than a Roguelike; if I tried converting any of those systems to RPG in entirety, the Points-of-Contact would be astro-frickin’-nomical).  Or maybe the “price-based” task resolution I’m using in The Rustbelt, where success is guaranteed if you’re willing to pay for it, the question being not “can I succeed at this” but “how much must I sacrifice to succeed at this” (of course, “is it worth it” would have to be decided between the 3 aspects).  I’m also thinking some Donjon-esque Director stance—although not to as extreme a degree; the protagonist must fail, after all—because I think it’ll put a neat spin on the “unidentified item” feature of Roguelikes.

So.  Does this sound viable?  There’s still a lot of holes here, of course; does anyone have ideas of how to fill them, or can anyone direct me to games that do similar things, so that I can analyze them to see how they did it?  Also, who else thinks it’s as cool as I do?  For the record, I think it’s pretty damn cool.  Grim, yes, but I like grim.

Also, if you are curious about Roguelikes, just PM me and I can probably tell you just about anything you want to know about them.  I’d rather not clutter this thread with discussion about Roguelikes themselves.

-Marshall


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Adrian F. on January 30, 2008, 03:21:50 AM
The predetermined end takes a lot away from the game.No matter what actions the protagonist takes he will be destroyed in the end,either by the dungeon or the problem that send him on his quest when he flees.That makes everything between entering and leaving the dungeon meaningless.In the moment only dungeon and past can win.There is no way that present can reach a endstate.


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: David Artman on January 30, 2008, 09:28:36 AM
Hear, hear! I, too, suggest you get rid of the presumed-failure mode. Story games can occasionally tell stories with happy endings, can't they?

If the dungeon is going to be randomized (Oracles, anyone?) then why not dispense with the "GM" role and let the players handle all of the opposition themselves?

Or flip the mode: one player controls the protag while the others bid/share in the roles of internal (past, present, future) and external (traps, monsters, sustenance) pressures. It's us against him, to the death... NO! To the pain....

So, maybe you bid resources on some sliding scale to instantiate adversity; and the protag has to mechanically overcome them (good parallel: Universalis Facts and Destroying Facts). Equipment, pets, magic, skills, etc all contribute dice to counter opposition, if their invocation is ratified by the other players (e.g. DitV Traits). Stack up the valid dice, roll, and for every value greater than FOO, you can narrate how you knock out one of the obstacle's risks or outcomes (ex: a Trap might have a poisoned and loss of HP outcome). [Maybe FOO is 4, so that d4 Traits are "Weak"; d6's, "Average"; d10s, "Potent"; d12s "Super"; and d20s, "Godlike"?]

Maybe, to refresh the dungeon-makers' resource pool, they have to instantiate some beneficial element--potion, better or different equipment, fountain. Whether or not it's identified can be worth more or less refresh points (and if it ends up Bad for the protag, they must refund some of those refresh points, ASAP).

Hmmm or protag sustenance--food, drink, light--could be mere counters (in my vision) that rotate down every "room" (I'll call them zones). Thus, the GMs could (basically) kill you by fiat. SO... for each zone they make which doesn't provide some kind of sustenance, they pay resource points (i.e. no sust = 2 "Coin" fee for every room; poor sustenance = 1 "Coin" fee--they get to narrate the ick factor of it, when eaten OR it can be Bad for the protag, if they pay out an additional 2 "Coins" upon being consumed). Do the same with light (but no Bad light, right? Can't recall any such thing in the roguelike tradition).

Anyhow, just some thoughts to use or abuse as you see fit. In general, I am trying to keep some kernal of the original roguelike feel while opening up to "modern" story game techniques for authority and narration, while leaving the "angsty, doomed" dial up to the play group (being emergent from play and the GMs' "Coin" spending versus protag's "Trait" defining when leveling).

Oh, yeah...  leveling. Gotta have some "Exp" payout for overcoming adversity which, in turn, lets the protag player add new Traits (or amp up existing ones). BAM. You get "classes" that way, too: one's Traits will basically develop as one's favorite "mode" of play.

Man... II might have to hack together a mini-PDF with just this very mishmash of existing game techniques, to give it a shot. I won't. however, if you're heading in the same basic direction....


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on January 30, 2008, 03:03:23 PM
Hear, hear! I, too, suggest you get rid of the presumed-failure mode. Story games can occasionally tell stories with happy endings, can't they?

Not this one.  Sorry, guys, but I'm not yielding on that point.  The inevitability of failure doesn't make the protag's actions meaningless, it makes them tragic.  Nor does knowing it beforehand ruin "suspense" or anything -- it creates Dramatic Irony.  Those two things are what I'm really going for here, ramped up to Oedipus Rex levels.  I am not concerned with making the game appealing to as many people as possible, only with whether it will do what I want it to do.


Crap.  Running out of time.  Will return a day or so with more detailed response.


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on January 30, 2008, 04:46:49 PM
Hi, Marshall,

I like this idea for a game so much that I'm going to retype the big post that was just deleted. Your idea for certain doom is pitch-perfect. This idea of the lonely, frightened, hungry adventurer is one that appeals a lot to me.

Since you know the adventurer is going to fail, and you know the adventurer is hungry, wet, and alone, it seems like maybe Fortune isn't the way to go here. I'm going to throw out an idea, and you can take whatever you like from it:

You have a Past, Present, Future, and Dungeon role, right? Make four decks of cards, one for each. The cards have the names of events, memories, items, hopes, or dangers, as well as a danger type (for dungeon cards) or a save type (for adventurer cards.) Players draw some subset of the cards per dungeon level for their role. Play might look like:

Dungeon player: "I play 'Owlbear!' A giant owlbear pounces from behind you in the dark. Save vs. damage."

Present player: "I'm out of damage saves! Help, someone!"

Past player: "I have 'Memories from My Mother.' You remember being in the forest with your mother as a child. She was from the Southlands, where the people sang to the animals of the air and field. When a black bear snuck up on you, she sang a soothing song to it before it could eat you and it left, peaceful. You sing the song, and the owlbear grows calm."

Dungeon player: "Not so quick! I play 'The Monster's Brood.' An owlbear cub comes out from behind its mother, the rusty sword of a previous adventurer stuck in its foot. It cries out, and the mother roars accusingly. Save vs. complication."

Future player: "I got this. I play 'I Quest For Justice.' You entered this dungeon to bring back a treasure for a better world. Do not these beasts deserve justice, too? You look the owlbear in the eyes and show it your honesty. You drop your weapons and it lets you approach. You remove the offending sword of a bastard - a bastard somewhere below."



Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on January 31, 2008, 09:25:30 AM
Clinton,

That. Is. Absolutely.  PERFECT.
I don't know what else to say :)

David Artman,
I like this idea right here:
Quote
Maybe, to refresh the dungeon-makers' resource pool, they have to instantiate some beneficial element--potion, better or different equipment, fountain. Whether or not it's identified can be worth more or less refresh points (and if it ends up Bad for the protag, they must refund some of those refresh points, ASAP).

And I think it'd be easy to mesh that with a card-based system -- give the Dungeon two decks, one for Peril, and the other for Treasure.  Which sounds kinda like Munchkin, but the rest of the game's structure would make the effect totally different.

I really don't want Experience involved -- it would be a terrible mixed-message, given that doom is guaranteed.  Of course, when you suggested it you were already operating on a non-doom premise.

Your ideas as a whole definitely sound functional; I just think they wouldn't accomplish what I'm trying to accomplish (I suspect that they might be more likely to produce unconventional Sim play) -- you could probably make them into your own vision of a Roguelike RPG.  That's what I'd do if I were you, at any rate.

-Marshall


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: David Artman on January 31, 2008, 10:54:49 AM
Your ideas as a whole definitely sound functional; I just think they wouldn't accomplish what I'm trying to accomplish (I suspect that they might be more likely to produce unconventional Sim play) -- you could probably make them into your own vision of a Roguelike RPG.  That's what I'd do if I were you, at any rate.
Yeah, I can dig it: you  want the angst, the doom. Mazes and Monsters (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084314/) it up a bit, yeah... ;)

And thanks for the good-natured 'permission' to move ahead. I might (MIGHT) start to bang something up... but part of me is saying "Universalis does this already." Then again, Universalis does everything already. But a mash of Red Dogiversalis Hack might be pretty cool. It needs the reward mechanism to be more tightly integrated into the bidding and refreshing process, though....

DOH! Thread-jack! Sorry;
David


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Callan S. on January 31, 2008, 01:19:41 PM
In terms of narrativism, I think the root of it is missing. He was 'sent in'. Why did he choose that? I mean yeah, eating freshly killed goblins raw, shitting in a corner, all that - it is degredation, but that doesn't make it meaningful. That's a horrible thing about real life too - just because you go through some difficulty or degredation, doesn't mean it was innately meaningful. Piling on a series of horrible experiences in play isn't going to add up to anything by itself. I think when it's cross referenced against the mans reason to face what is apparently (and actually is) certain doom, then it will have meaning in some narrativist story now sense. That's from my understanding of the term narrativism, anyway.

Further I think an option where if he heads back up the first staircase he gets out alive but can never come back, is needed, to keep impressing the idea that he is staying for his reason. Otherwise, yeah, he chose to go in, but whether the character would want to continue or run screaming out of the dungeon, he continues on because that's a reflection of the games design, rather than a reflection of the character.


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: David Artman on February 01, 2008, 11:29:36 AM
I agree with Callan: without some motivation, some belief or inspiration, then this seems like a torture game. In fact, the choice of Why might well be a useful hook onto which to hang other mechanics: how does the PC do stuff; what won't the PC do; what can undermine or change the Why?

Also, it's not trivial that the Why will inform the nature of the "dungeon." A Crusader won't go crawling in some goblin rathole; he's gonna be ransacking some Muslim cliff-side fortress. A rogue trying to pay for his daughter's healing isn't grubbing in a lichlord's crypt, he's digging into a dragon's hoard.

Maybe Contenders can provide a bit of inspiration, as those fighters definitely get beat down and feel the pain, but keep going back because of their Hope. Hmmm... In fact, this game might just not work WITHOUT some sense of Hope (even doomed Hope), because it could just degenerate into "Fuck it, fuck the depravity, I'm gonna strap myself on The Bomb and ride that bitch into the ground! WOOHOO!"

(Aside: I couldn't resist: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dgf9k524_1f4cgr3x9 --I'll make a new thread for it once it's had at least ONE playtest, to check the economy, which I am SURE is currently broken.)


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on February 01, 2008, 12:18:13 PM
Darnit, guys, you make up the "Why" for each game.  I thought I already said that.

And "hope" is the Future Aspect's province.  I thought I already said that too.


Clinton,
I wanted to expand on what I like about the card thing.  The way I see it, and the way it looks in your suggestion, is that the cards have a somewhat vaguish Name, and probably a picture of some kind for inspiration, and, in the case of the Dungeon and the Present (whose decks I see overlapping a touch, with the Present deck containing gear, and the Dungeon having a Treasure, or special gear, deck), "types" of functions (Damage, Hunger, Armor, Recovery, etc.).  That is, the cards (esp. Past and Future) would be vague enough that you have to create story in order for them to have any in-game effect, and just descriptive enough to springboard you into that story creation.  The great thing about this is that you could tell myriads of different stories with the same deck, and expansion is as simple (and as easy on the player's end) as making up a new deck.  I love it!

-Marshall

PS, David, your bidding system is way cool.


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: David Artman on February 01, 2008, 12:35:44 PM
Doh! Sorry, Marshall. I did re-read and see that you have the Why and Future....

No offense but I guess that the Why as you wrote it didn't feel very grabby to me--"get the McGuffin just because" reads like "play this dungeon because it's the one I designed." I didn't see it really hooking into the predominant mode of play: hacking one's way deeper into a foul pit facing certain doom; it was "just" a handwave spur to play at all.

And for the Future stuff, again, I didn't really 'see' the hope aspect (there is no hope,after all) but rather just saw it as more of a creative means of mechanically pinging Traits.

Maybe I'll fade back and watch you build up the game elements more, and then hop back in for "tuning time." I am new to designing story-heavy TT (as evinced by the fact that my Roguelike is a mash of DitV, Universalis, and Red Box Hack) and I don't always get the Story Now out of a pile of system elements (or, worse, a general description of a pile of system elements). Hell, I can't even get DitV right in my head, most times (as evinced by the number of questions I have on the lumpley games board), and it's pretty explicit about its techniques and what one is reaching for during actual play.

With interest and patience...
David
(P.S. Thanks, but it was nothing--that took maybe four hours and could have been a 24-hour RPG. It's just Universalis pared down to raw resource, with a minor tweak of an "ante" or "blind" of one Token to even start a bid war. But I think I'm gonna push it onward... I am getting some WILD ideas for internal ASCII art--actual screen shots, bubbie!--cover and layout graphics, and such!)


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on February 01, 2008, 01:26:44 PM
Clearly, when I'm trying to communicate my ideas, there's a lot of stuff that I tend to take for granted that I shouldn't :)

For instance, I don't do "play this dungeon because it's the one I designed."  I've only ever done that once.  I've never run a game in a Story Before manner -- only no story at all (of which I am inexplicably fond), or Story Now on accident (since coming to the Forge, I've been exploring intentional Story Now).  Now, since I'm mostly ignorant of the history of RPGs, I sometimes forget that other people do "play this dungeon because it's the one I designed," which can apparently lead me to seem like that's what I'm saying when I really mean, "let's all decide what this dungeon is and what it means."  I've always been high on collaboration and improv in play.  (A related but tangential fact is that I hate the word "Game Master." Erg.)

Regarding the Future, the idea I'm going for is that the character has hopes of accomplishing the quest, motivated and perhaps deluded by ambitions for reward, fame, illustry, plus solving the Problem that instigated the quest in the first place.  But, of course, he's wrong, there is no hope, he's doomed.  We, the players, know this, but the character doesn't, and acts accordingly (this is, of course, Dramatic Irony).  While this happens, as an audience we cringe, we slide up to the edge of our seats, because we know something he doesn't know, and we know that what he doesn't know is going to kill him.  Every time something dangerous crops up, we think, "Could this be the moment? Is this how it will end?"

Now, we have to care about the character for dramatic irony to work, and we have to Know about the character to care about him.  This is what I like so much about the cards idea -- every time there's a conflict, you would learn something about the character!  His actions would be an expression of who he is, what he believes, what he feels, because they would have to be (as I mentioned last post).  Which excites me to no end.

-Marshall


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on February 01, 2008, 01:28:49 PM
I wanted to expand on what I like about the card thing.  The way I see it, and the way it looks in your suggestion, is that the cards have a somewhat vaguish Name, and probably a picture of some kind for inspiration, and, in the case of the Dungeon and the Present (whose decks I see overlapping a touch, with the Present deck containing gear, and the Dungeon having a Treasure, or special gear, deck), "types" of functions (Damage, Hunger, Armor, Recovery, etc.).  That is, the cards (esp. Past and Future) would be vague enough that you have to create story in order for them to have any in-game effect, and just descriptive enough to springboard you into that story creation.  The great thing about this is that you could tell myriads of different stories with the same deck, and expansion is as simple (and as easy on the player's end) as making up a new deck.  I love it!

Marshall,

I'm really glad you like this idea. All the ideas I've been having lately are very mechanics-light, games pared down to their minimums, and I worry they're too light.

The way I was looking at it is pretty much exactly what you're thinking. I was also thinking the Past and Future cards had a function - or multiple functions - on them, but maybe you don't need them.


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Callan S. on February 01, 2008, 03:54:11 PM
Darnit, guys, you make up the "Why" for each game.  I thought I already said that.

And "hope" is the Future Aspect's province.  I thought I already said that too.
Well darnit, Marshall! :D I thought I already told you there's no focus on 'why'. It's about as relevant as choosing my character hair colour. Just because you leave a space for something on a character sheet, doesn't mean its part of the game. You've left it as a background detail, already told you that. And you brought in hope just because you wanted more player roles, not because it's otherwise important in some way. Telling us how it's handled as a peripheral detail isn't already telling us how it's included.



Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on February 04, 2008, 09:33:15 AM
I don't know what you're talking about.  Of course there's an emphasis on Why, otherwise there's no game at all.  It's not a background detail, it's just highly customizable.

Besides, I don't put irrelevant blanks on character sheets; there's no percentage in it.  If I put a blank for it, assume that it's important.

And I didn't introduce "hope" to create room for more players; I merely split up the three roles to make room for more players, and made "hope" the province of one of them.  "Hope" would have been there all along; a character in any other game has all three of those roles controlled by the same person.

Just because I didn't mention these things before doesn't make them not true; I can only mention so many things at once, darnit! :)


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Callan S. on February 04, 2008, 03:13:20 PM
Rebuilding my post because the forge keeps timing out recently...

I'm reminded of this, in terms of assuming it's important
Quote
Then David hit me with a bombshell.  He suggested a hypothetical re-structuring of SAN! that was clearly and without a doubt Gamist in the manner I had described.  Specifically, it would outlaw poker faces up front, TILT! would be awarded proportional to the intensity of reactions, and players would keep track of gross TILT! earned.  The person with the highest gross TILT! would, after a time limit, be declared The Winner.

I call this a bombshell because although it would clearly lead to the sort of Gamism I had described, I don't want to play it that way.
In a similar, but narrativist vein, the game 'The riddle of steel' has characters have spiritual attributes (SA). They list their hopes, their loves, their destinies. And their on the character sheet - so you could assume their important, right?

No - the significant mechanical weight added to them shows they are not by themselves important. Every time a character tries, successfully or not, to pursue a SA, they get a bonus dice to any actions related to that SA. Up to five dice. That's a massive bonus in the TROS system!

Now I'll be rough for a moment, just ignore this if it doesn't help. NO, I will not assume their important, I would like you to put your money where your mouth is! The riddle of steel already puts it's money where it's mouth is by giving these SA a really important mechanical bonus.

But, it occurs to me this change might be like when David suggested the change to TILT - it may make a game you don't want to play. And that's cool and fine - but you might want to ask yourself if its a narrativist game.


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on February 05, 2008, 04:37:54 PM
Callan,

Does the initial reason for the quest have any mechanical significance?  No.  Does it have narrative significance?  It has to.  You can't have story without exploration of a protagonist's motivations, beliefs, and general character to some degree, whether it's a book, a play, or a game.  When I said I intend this as a Narrativist game, i.e. a game in which the players create a story, I felt that detail was implicit, so I didn't dwell on it.  But I'm not neglecting it.  My post ain't the text, it's just an enthusiastic description of my plan :)

As for putting my money where my mouth is, that doesn't do much right now.  But be sure to ask me to do so again once I have something playtestable, k?

-Marshall


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on February 05, 2008, 05:29:42 PM
Marshall,

You're hinting at something really important here: mechanical effects can not and should not answer the questions asked by a narrative. They can influence them and make them interesting and point out the question, but they can't answer the questions, or the game ceases to be fun. It's the "fruitful void (http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=119)" in action.

Good luck with this project, and please post as you think on it: it's an exciting concept.

- Clinton


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Callan S. on February 05, 2008, 10:09:19 PM
Hi Marshall,

Your going to have exploration of character motives a means to an end, and not the end itself? The 'end' you'd play the game for is story creation? Exploration of character motive would just be a means of getting to a story?


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on February 06, 2008, 02:45:29 PM
Callan,

In a nutshell, yes.  But not just any story.  What I'm looking at is, since the general ending is known, the objective of play is to establish the circumstances and thematic significance of that ending, respective to the character in question, in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing to and that has emotional impact on the players.  Which, by definition, would create a story (of a certain type).

Clinton,

Yeah, Ron pointed me to that discussion in some thread or other.  I totally dig it.  I'm trying to apply it consciously to another game I'm working on about stylized teenage street-gangs, in the manner of The Warriors.  (I have too many ideas.)

-Marshall


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: David Berg on February 06, 2008, 10:52:09 PM
Marshall,

I also think the "why?" question is interesting.  My first question wasn't "what's the impact of answering that question?" but rather, "how do you come up with a good answer for that question?"  Because I'm a little fuzzy on what a "good" answer to "why?" would be.  Personally, I worry that, without textual guidance, I'd default to an answer that simply makes logical sense, rather than an answer that'll optimally help produce the kind of play you're going for.

I also think it's worth noting that a game with a similar structure and ending could be played without a relevant-to-play "why?" at all.  If your character just got thrown into a dungeon to die, that might be all the more fertile an arena to explore the psychology of facing hopelessness.  I'm not saying you should go this route, but I'm interested in if not, why not?

-David

P.S.  An idea just occurred to me that play could be about defining that character's "last inch", like in "V for Vendetta".  What is the point at which you draw the line and say, "Fine, kill me, but I won't do that"? 

Is that in line with what you see this game producing, or should I run off with this idea on my own?  :)


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on February 08, 2008, 11:32:49 AM
David,

I want the game to be about ALL of those things you just mentioned (even in the PS).  Personally, I can't imagine how they'd be separable!

A "good" answer to WHY is any answer that gets the players interested in the character as a protagonist; anything that hooks 'em in the heart, or the gut, or the head, or any combination thereof, in such a way that they're interested in this character as a protagonist -- that the character is one that they'd root for in a book or a movie -- and enhances that protagonist-identification by introducing things that say, "This probably isn't going to go well."  Even if we know it's not going to end well (we know that Oedipus Rex is not going to end well, because it tells us so, and we progressively learn that it's going to be even worse than we initially thought, but we still care about Oedipus, and we still wish that things could work out okay for him, even though we know it's impossible).

So, the answer to WHY is essentially a Kicker, pretty much right out of the Sorcerer book.

-Marshall


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 09, 2008, 07:31:37 AM
Hey everyone,

I suggest reviewing how you've been interacting in this thread, with the following in mind.

1. People who are themselves just beginning to dip their toes in Narrativist play (not just essays, play) are frequently disastrous participants in threads by people who are just beginning to dip their toes in Narrativist design. Everyone ends up trying to explain stuff to one another, and the game gets lost.

2. Interrogation is not the best method to help someone with game design. It's easy to poke "why" "why" "why" at someone all day long. It's harder to buy into what they are trying to do, period, and dedicating oneself to helping with it, which includes critique. Generic critique is useless (one reason why I'm not a big fan of hitting things with the Power 19 stick).

I was asked to examine this thread by Callan. Here's my call: Callan, butt out and let Marshall think, without you getting ever more detailed about ever-smaller components of a given chain of thought. It is not necessary to debate whether his notion is or isn't the same as Kickers in Sorcerer. Also, if it were, then that debate would be best conducted by people who were experienced with the technique in play.

Others didn't ask, and I'm not going to moderate their participation. I do think that most of you should sit back, as David Artman has rightly chosen to do, and pay attention to how Clinton is helping Marshall.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 09, 2008, 05:12:27 PM
Disclosure: Callan's PM to me stated that he wasn't going to ask more questions, which I carelessly forgot. He's rightly called me on it, and my above post is unfair. It was good advice, but he'd already acted on it.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril
Post by: Marshall Burns on February 13, 2008, 02:36:19 PM
Funny thing is, I regretted mentioning Kickers the moment I hit the post button.  FacIn fact, my entire previous post is poorly phrased and barely makes any sense at all.  I think this is because I was talking about two or three functionally different things that are wrapped up into a common "package" in my brain, and I am unable to disentangle them and talk about them individually; instead, I try to talk about them all at once, which produces a post that doesn't communicate what I wanted it to at all, thus both confusing the people I'm talking to and frustrating me, which can only lead to me making even less sense as I become more and more flustered (to tell the truth, I've been wrestling with this problem the whole time I've been here).

So, yeah.  That's all about that.

Clinton,
I wanted to come back to a thing you mentioned, about putting functions on the Past & Future cards.  I'm curious to how you would see this done; for a specific instance, what sort of function would the "Memories of My Mother" card have on it?

-Marshall