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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: SpoDaddy on February 18, 2010, 01:32:56 PM

Title: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: SpoDaddy on February 18, 2010, 01:32:56 PM
Hey all, I've been away for a while but I'm getting back into game design.  I'm trying to create a 24 RPG from the ground up, and I've decided that it needs to take time into account in a major way to emulate the show. I originally thought about making the game run in real time, but upon further review I realized that real-time gaming just wasn't that fun. Now I'm thinking about something more abstract, like giving each player a pile of dice that depletes as their character attempts actions. This would require carefully balanced adventures, and I'm thinking the dice should probably refresh every encounter.  I'm either going to use D6's (since the game should be newbie friendly and everyone has tons of D6's) or D12's (since they offer a bigger range, are thematically appropriate, and are just plain awesome).  My initial idea for the mechanics is that the player rolls a number of dice equal to the attribute, and the skill determines the number they need to roll under for a hit.  Using D12's, if Jack Bauer's Agility is 5 and his firearms skill is 8, he rolls 5d12 looking for 8's or lower.

The question is, how to manage the dice running out?  My original thought was to have every rolled action take away the dice used in the roll from the player's pile of dice, but that penalizes characters with high attributes (when those characters would probably be more efficient, not less).  Perhaps a die gets added to a pile each time a player attempts an action and fails, with the Disaster Event (nuke goes off, President is assassinated, etc.) occurring if the pile reaches 24?  That would require a ton of calculation up-front for the GM; laying out the adventure, determining how many rolls the average player would have to make to be successful, calculating the failure rate, etc.  I need a method that is fast and easy, yet intuitive.  Perhaps players should be able to remove a die from the pile each time they're successful?     

I want the mechanic to somehow be open ended; perhaps if two successes are also doubles they can both be rerolled?  Or, any dice that roll the same number as the hour in real life can be rerolled?  The problem with that mechanic is that it's biased against night gaming (which is when almost everyone games); if the hour is always 8, 9, 10, or 11 when you're playing then only high level characters can take advantage of the exploding dice to keep rolling successes.  Perhaps it should be changed to rolling the hour in-game?  This introduces the problem of forcing the GM to keep close track of the game time, which detracts from the fast-moving feel the game needs to have.  I could always just make 1's reroll, but I'd like to do something more thematically appropriate or clever that allows everyone to have a shot at doing anything at any given time.   

All thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, etc. are appreciated!  Thanks for taking the time to check this out!

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: Lance D. Allen on February 20, 2010, 10:07:47 PM
Hey Spo,

I have a game where I considered the same sort of thing, where the PCs had X number of hours until some event occurred. I struggled with different ideas, including only allowing a certain number of scenes, but eventually discarded them in favor of simply handling it by what felt right. "Checking the entire building for fire hazards? That'd probably take about an hour." I suspect this approach isn't what you're looking for. Another idea I considered briefly, but discarded is to have "time counters". The time issue wasn't that urgent for my game, and thus this felt like too much bookkeeping. It might be right up your alley, though.

Essentially what I mean is to have a certain amount of counters representing one unit of play. If a session is an episode of 24, then you've got to cover an hour's time. So give each player 30 tokens, each representing 2 minutes. Every fight takes one token. Driving a couple blocks takes a token, unless you're dodging someone trying to shoot you, so your detours eat up additional tokens. Each player gets their own pool of tokens so if they're in separate places doing simultaneous things, it's accounted for.

This is just an idea. Take it, tweak it, make it work for you.. Or discard it for something better. You might even mix it with some of your own ideas expressed above, such as having the hour have an effect on the dice, hence ramping up the action as time grows short.

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: Brendan Day on February 24, 2010, 01:43:23 PM
I like the idea of using time as a resource.  What about a system where the players have a pool of minutes, which they spend to reroll dice?  Once they spend 60 minutes, the story enters a new hour and the crisis escalates, and the group receives another 60 minutes to deal with the new complications.

At the same time, the gamemaster is spending those same minutes to buy scenes.  Let's say that every hour defaults to two 25-minute scenes of moderate difficulty, leaving the players only 10 minutes to spend on dice.  If the players want to have more points to spend on dice, they need to push for shorter scenes with higher stakes.  If they manage to succeed in less time without spending minutes to reroll dice, they'll come out ahead.

Perhaps the group has to successfully resolve 48 scenes by the end of the day, in order to avert the crisis.  This gives the them an incentive to race against the clock, because they have to either succeed at every single 25-minute scene, or push for shorter scenes with higher stages.  The problem is that some groups will have a run of bad luck, and get to hour 24 before accomplishing 48 scenes.  It might be disappointing just to have the bomb go off and end the game, but there has to be some real risk here.  Maybe the gamemaster could roll dice to determine what happens next -- there's a chance that the players will simply fail to avert the crisis, or perhaps one of them dies or becomes a traitor, or their loved ones are killed.  If the group does survive the roll, they get another 60 minutes.

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: Locke on February 25, 2010, 07:33:40 PM
Ill chime in too.  I would make the time it takes to do anything into a mechanic.  This way the players can learn what they are doing and will know how long it takes.

- a combat round lasts 6 seconds.
- going without sleep 18 hours incurs a -1 to skills
- sleeping for 10 minutes relieves 1 negative point.
- a player wants to research something, they roll to anticipate how long it takes, they then roll again to see what they get done over that time period, they may have to take more time to keep researching
- time it takes to travel one mile by car, in traffic, at night
- time it takes for a helicopter to fly 10 miles to pick the group up

I would look at shadowrun for their success mechanic over time.  Its one of the best mechanics in that game.

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: thadrine on February 28, 2010, 07:21:52 AM
Here is an idea. Players will a die based up on the difficult of a task, lower the die the more difficult the task is, higher means it is easier. Record the number in grid box on a campaign tracking sheet. When you have two numbers that are the same next to each other this creates another complication. Any time a complication is created you circle it and make a not about what is happening, and in what episode. You gain advancement based upon the number of complications you resolve in a given episode. You only have so many boxes per episode, until you need to make it to the cliffhanger box to the side. Advancement could be spent on the ability to roll an extra die of a specific size, or possibly a re-roll under certain situations.

The grid would look something like so:


This shows the finite amount actions you can make in a show, and the cliffhanger you must connect with in the middle.

There should probably be some sort of minor penalty for not completing a complication from a previous episode. Like maybe complications that did not get resolved can no longer award XP. Or even they can still award XP but will automatically fill certain boxes in the next episode. Maybe they fill the boxes in the middle fist so that players have to "Work around" the complication.

I am really liking this idea I will have to write it up.

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: Falc on February 28, 2010, 02:11:08 PM
You know, I haven't watched 24 in a while now, but from what I can remember, it's not always about time, is it? The CTU team isn't under a constant time pressure where they need to consider every move they make in terms of time efficiency. Furthermore, there isn't always a deadline and if there is, it's not always at the 24hr mark.

Basically, my point is: the characters in-game aren't aware that they're in a scenario that will be wrapped up in exactly 24 hours. I think that makes the difference between player mindset and character mindset very big, which I'd see as a hurdle to making an enjoyable game.

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: pells on March 02, 2010, 03:05:46 PM
My tow cents, because the I just love the subject (my own "game" is like 24 on speed), but I'm not sure you want to take my advice seriously ...

I think your answer might not reside in mechanic : how about using metatime (real time occurring in the fictional world) ?

Stop the nuck or save the president : take your pick !!!

You will also need to divide the "storyline" into segments (see here episodes) with "resume" (on the last 24) and "what's coming up next" and a way to manage the impact (did the PCs prevent the nuke or save the president ? Maybe none !!) ...

I won't go into any details, but still, go luck !!! I love the show, btw.

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: Excalibur on March 02, 2010, 07:29:52 PM
Time being used in a more concrete fashion in a game is pretty interesting to me. In the game I'm designing, everyone is given 16 hours (16 turns) to do things before night falls at which point they can push it or rest for 8 hours (8 turns). If you push it, your skills degrade each turn you continue past the first 2 of your 8 remaining hours and when your skills reach 0, you're exhausted and must rest for 8 hours straight while your skills regenerate.

One option is this: I think you could take a mechanic from D&D (current versions, I think from 3.0 on up) and warp it to your purposes. In D&D 4e at least, each encounter has a level associated with it (Level 3 encounter, level 10 encounter, etc.) and I think you could examine your encounters and assign a base time cost to each one. The trick, though, is that you create several "distraction encounters" that also suck up time. At the end of each encounter there are a list of choices, not a definitive list, but a generic list of what the players may do next such as follow up on a lead, retire for the night, fly somewhere, answer a distress call, etc. Each of these leads to another encounter. There may be encounters on the way (detour for 6 blocks to get to destination) which also add to the time. For the adventure as a whole, set a time limit, it doesn't have to be 24 hours, it could be a week, a few hours, what have you. Just add up the time from each encounter that has been completed (whether successfully or not...I would add more time to an unsuccessful encounter to show the "wasted time") and then compare it to the time for the entire adventure. If they complete the required encounters within that time, the adventure was successful otherwise it wasn't.

Another option is a bit more math intensive but less preparation time. Treat time as a resource and have all actions take a certain amount of time to accomplish. The higher the skill, the lower the time (due to the practiced nature of performing the skill). No action should take less than a certain amount of time (say 1 minute). Give each player a number of tokens equal to the amount of time required for the adventure's success. As the players complete their tasks, travel, use skills, etc. they forfeit tokens. (You could use another form of time keeping like a clock face or something that the players can "tick off" minutes). Anyway, if the character's sum total of skills takes longer than the period of time allotted, the adventure fails otherwise, it succeeds. It would also be pretty neat to use spinners or other means to keep track of time as physical gimmicks for the game (gimmick in this sense is a good thing, something interactive). The only problem might be people fudging the clock or forgetting to subtract the time.

I think the first option might be the best overall option. Since you can also provide time detriments as features of the encounter. While it would be a good thing to help an old lady across the street, that's 2-5 minutes that is added to the adventure's you help the old lady at the expense of the mission?

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: dindenver on March 03, 2010, 09:57:19 AM
Personally, I would keep the mechanics around time simple. Just set it up so that when a certain event happens, the clock advances.
Like if it is a 2d6 mechanic, if it comes up 2-4 or 4-2, the clock advances.
Or if it is a roll vs roll mechanic, set it up so that if the players tie, the clock advances.

The problem I have with a resource-related timer is, usually, the most exciting and awesome stuff happens at the end and that is when you would have the least amount of resources...

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: Locke on March 03, 2010, 12:59:52 PM
another thing you could do is to have a time speed u and slow down mechanic.  such as the group tries something, but when they fail they run out of time.

- an attempt might take 5 minute if they succeed, but if they fail it takes 15.
- this could be done on a person to person basis, so if one member fails, the other have less time as well.

Title: Re: RPG based on the TV show 24, mechanics that simulate time running out?
Post by: JoyWriter on March 04, 2010, 06:46:33 PM
What if your actual chance of success is based on rolling over the current time, but you add the start time to the roll?

It would mean that as you approach the end of an "episode", everything would begin to go pear shaped, but you can have confidence that it will all get resolved surprisingly quickly!

Perhaps you could still get successes by accepting complications, and could boost your roll with some kind of character points that you would build up through the campaign. You could balance those two with each other (maybe the number of character points would be powered by complications but limit the amount you could have?) in order to make it have a final climax where it big parts of it resolve, despite it being near the end of the timeslot!