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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: Corey_at_Keene on February 16, 2010, 07:06:37 AM



Title: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Corey_at_Keene on February 16, 2010, 07:06:37 AM
The Idea
Knights of the Temple in the Middle East after the crusades are offered "wonderous powers" by demons as a means of corrupting their souls.

The setting
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outremer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outremer)
Outremer, or a mythical version thereof.  Players will most likely play second generation Knights of the Temple whose fathers took part in the great crusades to reclaim this holy land. The land is ancient and full of  old gods and old magic, with many dangers to the young kingdom of invaders. These knights are famed throughout Outremer for their mystical powers, but it is not generally known that these powers come from the knights giving in to the temptations of the demons.

The Particulars
The idea for this game came to me after playing such games as Dogs in the Vineyard and Polaris.  I want to explore the themes of dealing with temptation, and duty.  I also want to push my core group of gamer friends into new creative territory by removing the tactical wargaming aspect of our typical DnD sessions.

To this end I would like to make a narativist game that does not rely on the randomness of dice to resolve conflict, and which puts the power of narration into the hands the players.

As this is really just the kernel of an idea the only mechanics I have in mind as of now is the basic set up of the player's stats.  Instead of the usual body/mind/heart stats I would like each player to  have a list of the knightly virtues; Faith, Largesse, Prowess, Humility...etc.  It is my idea that these virtues will be rated in some manner, and the gifts that they accept from the demons will modify them in various ways while adding to a Corruption stat.

What do I want from this post?
Well first of all, does this sound interesting in the slightest?  But also my knowledge of independent games is still fairly small, and is there anything that I should be looking at that seems to get across what I'm going for with this idea?

Thank you all for the time you take to read this and/or respond, I hope that any discussion that this post begins will lead me on to develop a better game.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Falc on February 16, 2010, 11:50:37 AM
Quote
I also want to push my core group of gamer friends into new creative territory by removing the tactical wargaming aspect of our typical DnD sessions.

While such a game does sound interesting to me, you might want to ask your gamer friends whether they'd be interested in such a game, with such a different ruleset. I mean, if your ultimate goal is to get them on board, then you're looking at a very different approach then if your goal is to become filthy rich selling your game. *wink*

As far as your next step, I'd say answering the 'power 19' questions is pretty standard around here. Try those out and see what you learn from them.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Corey_at_Keene on February 16, 2010, 02:00:49 PM
Well, push may not have been the right word.  We have always played DnD with a greater emphasis on storytelling than perhaps the system could accommodate. With the advent of the new edition of DnD it has felt even harder to keep that up so we have been experimenting recently with both Dogs in the Vineyard, and In a Wicked Age.

I have only briefly heard of the Power 19 so I will have to do some checking into that.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Callan S. on February 16, 2010, 02:15:26 PM
Hi,
I also want to push my core group of gamer friends into new creative territory by removing the tactical wargaming aspect of our typical DnD sessions.
How would you feel if one of them moved to push you into even more tactical wargamming by removing creative territory?

As much as you might want to be asked if you want to do that, and be genuinely able to say no, the same goes for them no doubt.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Corey_at_Keene on February 16, 2010, 04:26:32 PM
Yes, I see where that statement came across as me forcing my group into things they may not want or be ready for.  What I was actually trying to get across was that as a whole we are a bit unfamiliar with the narrative freedom offered to players in these types of games. 

For instance, in our first game of DitV, the players were relying heavily on the GM to describe everything, even their own actions.  To combat this, we decided to start trying out other games that share an attitude and get ourselves used to the concept.  I am blessed to be surrounded by gamers who are actually very open minded, we just havn't had a lot of exposure.



Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Falc on February 17, 2010, 12:21:04 AM
Well, that's good to hear. I do think that it still leaves the question of your goals a bit unanswered, though, since now we seem to have the goals of 'narrativism training' and 'designing my own game'.

Making a whole new game, especially if you want to stick to some rather narrowly defined design parameters instead of just writing whatever you feel like, will take time and effort, while there exist enough games to get your 'training' done right now. Heck, you could certainly argue that reading and playing more games can only help your design effort.

One game that springs to mind as being a nice entry point is Feng Shui. It doesn't force the players into any sort of creativity, like Dogs does, but simply rewards them when they do.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Corey_at_Keene on February 17, 2010, 05:56:29 AM
This thread has been very helpful in calcifying my thoughts and goals on this project. Let's see if we can condense them into a concise list.

Project Goals

To create a fun, and well crafted game that myself and others will enjoy.
To fill my constant desire to create.
To enhance the fun that my group is already having with strong narrative games.
To explore an era of history that excites me through the lens of of the mythic.

I have answered the first several questions of the P19, as I feel that they are the most applicable to a project so young.  Indeed the forum guidelines tell me that answering all 19  at once is not conducive to receiving appropriate feedback.

What is your game about?
Knights in a mythical Outremer protecting their people while dealing with the temptations of Satan.

What do the charectars do?
The charectars travel around the land fighting infidels, mystical creatures, and old gods of the land.  They face nearly overwhelming odds to their young country, and must deal with the offers of increadible gifts by Satan.

What do the players do?
The players tell the stories of their charectars. The players are strong advocates of their protagonists, and must make decisions about whether it is worth it to accept the gifts of Satan for the greater good.  The players narrate the truth of the world.

How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Outremer is an old and dangerous land. The knights are but newcomers to the foreign place and are surrounded on all sides by dangers that they are charged with defeating. Ancient magics and hostile peoples inhabbit every corner of their Kingdom. At time it seems that the land itself, arid and unforgiving, is out to crush them.  In many situations they may have to accept Satan's gifts or be defeated by their many enemies.



Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Mike Sugarbaker on February 17, 2010, 11:58:37 AM
Okay, so, say I'm a player. Satan wants to give my character an awesome power. Enemies will crush me without it. Why, specifically, would I ever say no?

My character wants to protect her people: okay. How are you making me, the player, feel that?

Also:
What do the players do?
The players tell the stories of their characters. The players are strong advocates of their protagonists,

Telling someone's story and being their advocate are two pretty different things. I'd actually say that you cannot possibly do both at the same time. How is your game going to either juggle the two (doable), or take care of one so the players can focus on the other (also doable)?


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Corey_at_Keene on February 17, 2010, 01:16:01 PM
Hello Mike.

As to the first  half of your post, I have been tossing around ideas that get to the heart of that tension.  Because I want the choices that the player makes to be meaningful, the demonic powers need to give them an edge that comes with a price.  My initial thought is that one of the stats that represents all that the character is will be a corruption stat.  I would like the corruption stat to carry more weight with it as time goes along. Perhaps this will carry along with it a set of mental/physical degradations.  Perhaps the order has become something along the lines of the Order of St Lazarus.

Quote
The Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem— OSLJ— is an order of chivalry which originated in a leper hospital founded by Knights Hospitaller in the twelfth century by the crusaders of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Order of Saint Lazarus is one of the most ancient of the European orders of chivalry. It was originally established to treat the virulent disease of leprosy, its knights originally being lepers themselves.[1] It is one of the less-known and less-documented orders.

How am I making the player feel the need to protect the people?  Setting for one. Situation for the other.  And hopefully the social contract.

As to the second part of your post, can you clarify for me what you mean about not being able to both tell your story and be your advocate?  Is it a division of labor issue that you bring up?  That by being a strong advocate for your character you have less incentive to tell a decent story?


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Ar Kayon on February 17, 2010, 02:12:47 PM
The Idea
Knights of the Temple in the Middle East after the crusades are offered "wonderous powers" by demons as a means of corrupting their souls.

The setting
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outremer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outremer)
Outremer, or a mythical version thereof.  Players will most likely play second generation Knights of the Temple whose fathers took part in the great crusades to reclaim this holy land. The land is ancient and full of  old gods and old magic, with many dangers to the young kingdom of invaders. These knights are famed throughout Outremer for their mystical powers, but it is not generally known that these powers come from the knights giving in to the temptations of the demons.

The Particulars
The idea for this game came to me after playing such games as Dogs in the Vineyard and Polaris.  I want to explore the themes of dealing with temptation, and duty.  I also want to push my core group of gamer friends into new creative territory by removing the tactical wargaming aspect of our typical DnD sessions.

To this end I would like to make a narativist game that does not rely on the randomness of dice to resolve conflict, and which puts the power of narration into the hands the players.

As this is really just the kernel of an idea the only mechanics I have in mind as of now is the basic set up of the player's stats.  Instead of the usual body/mind/heart stats I would like each player to  have a list of the knightly virtues; Faith, Largesse, Prowess, Humility...etc.  It is my idea that these virtues will be rated in some manner, and the gifts that they accept from the demons will modify them in various ways while adding to a Corruption stat.

What do I want from this post?
Well first of all, does this sound interesting in the slightest?  But also my knowledge of independent games is still fairly small, and is there anything that I should be looking at that seems to get across what I'm going for with this idea?

Thank you all for the time you take to read this and/or respond, I hope that any discussion that this post begins will lead me on to develop a better game.

Narrativist wouldn’t be my first thought for an RPG about the Templar.  In fact, war gaming and intense swordplay would be my first thought!  Unless of course, you were playing characters from the non-militant branch.  However, I’m not sure how you could create an interesting game about medieval bankers - Renaissance maybe, hahaha!


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Mike Sugarbaker on February 17, 2010, 04:51:47 PM
As to the second part of your post, can you clarify for me what you mean about not being able to both tell your story and be your advocate?  Is it a division of labor issue that you bring up?  That by being a strong advocate for your character you have less incentive to tell a decent story?

Essentially, yes. In a good story (of the kind that I think you're talking about, anyway), terrible things have to happen to people you're rooting for. Your system is going to have to see to that, because dammit, I'm not gonna wanna. I'll be busy advocating! (Unless you don't build it that way, of course.)

Quote
How am I making the player feel the need to protect the people?  Setting for one. Situation for the other.  And hopefully the social contract.

If you don't have more specifics than that right now, that's fine; I'm just saying, you're gonna need something stronger. Because right now, the mechanics are telling me to sell my soul or else be ineffective, and that's more compelling, given that we sat down to play a game. Making setting feel more powerful than that feeling is seriously bloody hard.

And, situation, okay; but you'll need a very good engine for putting players into said situations. Just telling the GM to do it is not gonna fly. (Again, not saying you've done any such thing - I just stand and give the dire warnings like the old crazy guy I am)

(A.K. - OMG, now I wanna play the transition from medieval finances to centralized currency. What an awesomely rich scenario that is!)


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Callan S. on February 18, 2010, 01:24:16 AM
Hi again Corey,

As I understand DITV and narrativism, it's about moral dilemma. Like in spiderman whether he saves the bus full of kids or Mary Jane.

Quote
Because I want the choices that the player makes to be meaningful, the demonic powers need to give them an edge that comes with a price.

I think part of narrativism is that a players depiction of a character might be that there is no price involved for that character
"Kill the child if you want power"
"*Wap* Done, hand me my powers now"

Can you enjoy finding the dreadful discovery that what you want, as a human being, to be meaningful to a character, isn't? Would that be engaging for you? Or if something is a price as you see it, it's cheating or playing wrong if they don't treat it as a price as well?


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Corey_at_Keene on February 18, 2010, 04:33:49 AM
Hmm, I do like the moral relativism implied by not attaching a price to the demonic gifts.  Maybe what makes it an actual decision whether or not to take them is that Satan is kinda like a drug.  The more you use his gifts, the more you come to rely upon them, and then one day....Satan isn't there for you and now what do you do?

Originally I had been interested in making a GMless game, however over time I have come to see that having a GM play the wilyness of Satan as well as providing the conflict seems more appropriate to me.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Callan S. on February 20, 2010, 02:51:01 AM
Well, do you need to make it an actual decision? Perhaps for some characters it's such a no brainer it's no more a decision than breathing is? For other characters it wracks them and makes them weep publicly, or even contemplate suicide rather than make such a choice?

What it sounds like would suit you is having a pressure point, a point at which you go 'now what do you do?'. But I think that's sort of part of the examination of any particular character - you customise a particular hell...sorry, pressure point I mean, for that PC.

But I'd grant that leaves the satisfaction of having a 'what the fuck do you do now, eh?' moment not definately there - and that's the big pay off moment for not just play, but making the rules for this sucker, so that shouldn't be left uncertain. It's your reward for making the game (not just for playing it)

Perhaps you could have the drug element, but realise that play may bring in/in play you may discover other issues on top of the drug element. Indeed those other issues might well become far more important than the drug element and it slides well out of the main spotlight. Or maybe not and the drug element remains the main issue. However it rolls.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Falc on February 20, 2010, 01:53:24 PM
The question I'm now asking myself about this is: what exactly do the 'bad guys' want? Because if they're one big bunch of evil, then they seem to be fighting themselves: there's all the big bads that are trying to ruin the kingdom, who are opposed by the knights, who get their powers from the big bads.

Or do they get them from other big bads?
Or is the corruption of one knight enough of a win that they can afford to lose some ground troops?

I think delving a bit deeper into who the actors on the large scale are and what they want to achieve exactly, would help to define what sort of coruption the knight would be faced with.


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Callan S. on February 20, 2010, 05:39:36 PM
Perhaps the villains have their own moral conudrum as well? Corruption or lose troops? Choose! Perhaps players could actually help invent details to make it even more of a hard choice?


Title: Re: Fleshing out an idea.
Post by: Corey_at_Keene on February 21, 2010, 01:32:59 PM
You guys have definitely given me lots to think about.  As always here are some thoughts and ideas floating around in this brain of mine.

At some point before the Crusade a collection of knights made a pact with the fallen angel Azazel (a fallen nephillim in hebrew lore who taught man the working of weapons and armor), and part of the benefit of this pact was to help these knights in their upcoming quest.  This angered god and he cursed these particular knights with leprosy.  After the success of the crusade, the knights formed a hospital to take care of lepers..partly in an attempt to atone for their sins and partly to hide their own growing curse.  They named themselves the Order of St Lazarus.

The pc knights are probably for the most part the children of these knights, or possibly just new recruits. 

In this model, the players completely control their own access to the powers granted by Azazel, not the GM, however doing so still invokes the anger of God, leading to corruption and over time to the effects of leprosy.

As for who the antagonists are, there really are countless options.  The conquered heathens who lived in this land before the crusade, other demons and fallen angels, archaic babylonian deities all but forgotten,  scorcerers and satanists..and the list goes on.