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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Jonathan Walton on April 19, 2003, 08:13:49 PM



Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 19, 2003, 08:13:49 PM
Hey folks,

Still trying to bang out the final details of my game Ever-After (formerly called Storypunk, formerly called Quixote & Coyote).  In this thread, I'd like some specific help in getting the currency system set in stone.  Ever-After uses a currency system to create/manipulate story elements in a manner similar to the way coins work in Universalis.  However, the re-distribution system in Ever-After is rather different.

Whereas, in Universalis, character recieve coins from conflicts and by being refreshed at the end of scenes, in Ever-After, there is a specific character/player who gets assigned the Duty of being the Piper.  Once all the Drops have been spent that are going to be spent in a specific situation ("Drops" are the currency of Ever-After), the Piper "recycles" the spent Drops by redistributing them to the group, one at a time, around the circle, until the Piper runs out of Drops to redistribute.  The first player to get a recycled Drop is often the one that lost a given conflict and/or the one with the least Drops (depending on how the Piper is feeling).

Originally, I was thinking that each player would start with 7 Drops and that they would be used to create story elements, being recycled back so that no one would ever run out.  The distribution of the Drops would be the only thing that really changed.  The recycling method would ensure that everyone would get a chance to participate, since active players would run out of Drops and less active players would be forced to act in order to keep the Drops moving around.  Also, players could spend 3 Drops to support/sustain one of their Themes (defining character traits in Ever-After), causing it to grow/advance/whatever, which would cause the number of Drops to gradually descrease over the course of a story, bringing everything to an eventual halt/conclusion.

However, in recent off-forum conversations with Shreyas, I think we developed another solution that seems to support the kind of play I want more.

Quote from: I
-- What if Themes were the main source of stones? So instead of starting off with no Theme-stones and having to gain them. Characters start out with an allotment of Themes and some Theme-stones.

-- To allow some leeway within the game, there are a very, very small number of additional stones allocated among the members of the Troupe (one per Player or less).

-- Theme-stones can only be used on things that relate to their Theme, but once they are spent they are redistributed just like normal stones and BECOME, for all intents and purposed, normal stones.

-- So you start out with a very small pool of stones that migrates around the group, but then, as players start bringing their theme elements into the story, the pool grows. This provides the rising action of the story.

-- As it currently stands, the "prime time" for a story is the first 20-30 minutes. After which, for every 2-5 minutes the story continues, it deteriorates, losing one Mask (story element played by a character). This provides a way for things to close down and end, as the story breaks down and story elements disappear, even though the stone pool is increasing.

-- Since the types of stories you could tell would be limited by the Themes your group had, development would happen by (somehow) working to change your Themes (instead of increasing their potency or gaining new ones). You might start out with a bunch of Dark Fairy Tale themes and want to migrate towards telling Space Opera stories, and would have to tell some pretty interesting yarns along the way.

The advancement it still up in the air, and needs more thought, but what do you think of the concept? Does it sound workable?


I hope what I'm describing there is clear.  Basically, I'm trying to follow the Torchbearer model of experience, which is "Experience doesn't make you stronger; it makes you different."  Gaining addition Theme-Drops of a specific type wouldn't necessarily be all that useful.  What would a character do with 6 Drops of "Sibling Rivalry & Betrayal"?  Do you really need 6 occurances of that in the same story?

It seems to me that 3 should be the maximum number of Drops you can gain for a single Theme.  After all, 3 is the magic number for stories, and many things come in threes.  However, it's not entirely clear to me how one should gain and/or lose and/or change the themes/theme-Drops you already have.

The themes you choose for your own character should be closely related to the types of stories you want to tell.  If you like "Sibling Rivalry & Betrayal" then pick that theme, get some theme-Drops, and spend them to make it occur in the story.

However, there are other issues besides just the experience/advancement one.

1.  Why should characters use Theme-Drops, which have limited, specific uses, when there are going to be other general Drops migrating around the circle, which have no limitations?  Especially, how do I get players to spend Theme-Drops late in a story when there will be plenty of general Drops to use (since many Themes would have already been invoked).

2.  How many general Drops should there be to start the story moving?  Do I even need them?  Can people craft stories using just Theme-based Drops?  Should all Drops originally have come from a Theme in the first place, but are released to be used for other things once they have initially been spent on creating an instance of a Theme element?

3.  Originally, I was thinking that the Muse (another Duty, like the Piper; the person in charge of starting stories off) would have a specific number of Drops that s/he could use to get things moving at the beginning.  Perhaps one for every 2 minutes spent in the After-Once (the time between stories), so a standard 15 minute stint between stories would give him/her around 7 Drops to begin the next story.  Good idea?  Bad idea?  If i go with the plan that all Drops should originally come from Themes, does the Muse get non-circulating, imaginary "ghost Drops" to start the story, and  the players together continue from that point by spending their own Drops (which would be recycled back)?  Or does the Muse spend their own Theme-related Drops in building the initial situation.

All ideas, comments, and such are very helpful, since I'd like to have a system soon for my next playtest.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on April 19, 2003, 08:33:52 PM
Here's a link to the second page of the currency (http://indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=289&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15) thread. Scroll down a little to the post where Ron goes over how he would change TOON and a few other games. Reading your post immediately brought this thread to mind.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 19, 2003, 09:00:36 PM
Hmm... Neat thread Jack, but I fail to see how it relates to what I'm talking about here, aside from using the word "currency."  The currency that Ron et all are talking about in that thread is the currency used in character creation, while the currency in Ever-After and Universalis is used in actual play of the game.

Am I missing something?


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: deadpanbob on April 20, 2003, 06:23:48 AM
Johnathan,

I think that perhaps the Theme drops should be the only one's fueling the story.  As each story is being set up by the Muse (that's right isn't it?), the members of the Troupe get to invest a certain number of Theme drops from one of their character's themes.  The size of that investment would indicate how powerful the setup should reflect that theme.  The piper could collect those theme drops invested and re-distribute those before the story begins, and that becomes the limit of the general drop currency during the specific story.

Any theme drops not invested in the setup could then be used to support a specific theme in the course of the story.

In this way, if you limit the members of the Troupe to between 1 and 3 drops per theme, the amount of general currency will be limited, and it will force the troupe to use their remaining theme currency within the story.

In terms of advancement/change - perhaps at the end of the story, and Themes that are down to 0 drops (either through initial investment or use during play) could said to be spent - and at that point could either be changed or re-invested.  Any general drops in a Troupe members possession would have to be either re-invested in a Theme at 0, or used to constitute a new Theme for that Troupe member.

Just a thought.

Cheers,


Jason


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Piers on April 20, 2003, 07:09:52 AM
Maybe you shouldn't have any free drops to begin with, but at the same time give every player a small pool based on their role in the story--so the Muse has drops specifically for getting things going and so on.  That way the characters' roles are reinforced by drops dedicated to that purpose, and only once things get going does play open up.

Of course, I'm not sure how well it would work with all the different roles--the piper for instance--but it might be something to think about.

Piers


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on April 20, 2003, 09:46:23 AM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Am I missing something?

Perhaps I'm seeing something that's not there. Earlier in the thread, Ron did mention that currency is traditionally handled at character creation, but some games have currency issues throughout play.

What I saw was a similarity with this question:
Quote
1. Why should characters use Theme-Drops, which have limited, specific uses, when there are going to be other general Drops migrating around the circle, which have no limitations?

And this bit here:
Quote
So, if you're well beefed on Plot Points, then spending 5 or more points initially for a Schtick is idiotic - you should buy NO Schticks, take your 8 possessions, and then spend Plot Points as you go for whatever Schtick you feel like at the time.


What I saw was the similarity in "why should the player use *this thing here* when they can get the same effect with *this other thing.*

For TOON Ron says to chuck starting Schticks since you can get them by spending Plot Points anyway and Plot Points are not hard to come by. This streamlines the game without sacrificing a thing as far as play goes.

So the question is, can you bag the Theme-Drops and just use the general drops to the same effect without having to muck about with the Theme-Drops at all? Can the game be streamlined by doing this or would something be lost by doing so? Is the something lost important or can it be ditched as well or replicated somehow using the general Drops?

These are all questions to ask yourself. I suspect you've already asked yourself these questions since you've posted the question here.

There is a chance that you had already found that Theme Drops can be romved from your game but are reluctant to do so. This is normal and I have a bit of advise I found in Stephen King's On Writing. When talking about little thing that should be removed from a story but the writer is reluctant to remove them because the writer enjoys them, King quotes Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, "Murder your darlings." If this is the case, and I can't tell you if it is or not, then you are best to take Sir Quiller-Couch's advice.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 20, 2003, 10:13:59 AM
Thanks for all the comments.  The different perspectives are really helpful to hear.  Like Jason, I was originally leaning towards doing away with general Drops in favor of all-Theme-Drops, but I also really like Piers idea of Duty-specific Drops (however, similarly, I'm not sure what they would be used for in some cases).

Couple other options to think about:

-- After Drops are recycled, players have to reinvest them in particular Themes, so there are no general Drops.  I get 2 Drops back from the resolution of a big conflict, and put them back in "Sibling Rivalry & Betrayal" and "Cold-Hearted Authority."  The problem with this is that players are limited to spending Drops on the same Themes over and over, so unless there's a really easy way to change your Themes, I don't think this will work.

-- A better idea: give general Drops a more limited scope whereas Theme Drops give you director/author stance over the entire story.  For example, in Ever-After story elements are defined by Masks, which are created by the Masker (another Duty), and are represented by names written on index cards.  General Drops are spent whenever you want one of your Masks to do something.  The prince talks to the king.  The cow jumps over the moon, whatever.  If there are conflicts, then you bid general Drops and try to resolve it.  However, Theme Drops allow you to change the entire nature of a conflict or insert new story elements into the game, by creating an instance of your Theme.  The Muse then constructs the beginning of the story using donated Theme Drops, because only they can create new elements.  General Drops can only manipulate what's already there.  Theme Drops would also supercede whatever other Drops were being used to affect a scene.

However, while I like option 2, I'm still unsure about an advancement system for it.  Perhaps, we could follow Jason's suggestions, and have spent Theme Drops, at the end of the story, be refreshed or alloted to new Themes.  However, it makes sense to me that you have to create instances of a Theme in order to strengthen it.  

Perhaps, if you create an instance of a Theme just through Mask manipulation, and not through spending Theme Drops, you can cause your Theme to grow to a larger capacity (gaining another Theme Drop).  This could also be a way to create new Themes.  You come across a Theme occurance during the story and claim it, then, after the story is over, you can allocate an existing Theme Drop to that new Theme.

Thoughts?


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 20, 2003, 01:57:41 PM
I'm not clear on how general Drops (Drops of what?  Tears?  Blood?) are weaker than Theme Drops, so I'm going to try for an example.

Julnar the mermaid is trying to find a bride for her son, Badr Basim.  She finds out that the Sea King's lovely daughter Jauhareh is just coming of age.  Someone starts a conflict about whether the Sea King will find Badr worthy.
With general Stones, they could just bid it out and narrate something like, "The Sea King finds it unthinkable to wed his daughter to a landsman" or "Badr handily impresses the Sea King with his excellent manners and radiant presence."

With Theme Stones, one could create a Quest for the Treasure, "Badr, I will only allow you to wed my daughter if you retrieve for me my crown, that the Roc of Alexandria stole from me."
Or a Duel: "Only the man that bests me in combat my have the hand of Jauhareh."
Or a Meddling Princess: "Badr, I will not marry you unless you pass Three Tests..."


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 20, 2003, 05:12:18 PM
Drops are drops of water from the Ocean of Streams of Story.  What else? :)  I had pondered blood or tears too, but I think Story Water is best.

I think the problem is that, technically, you could use general Drops to do anything that Theme Drops can do.  So the character who has the Mask of the Sea King spends drops to have the Sea King declare a Quest or a Duel.  Or the character with the Mask of Juahareh spends Drops to meddle and create three tests.

Remember that characters/elements in Ever-After aren't created like they are in Universalis.  They're made into Masks and then assigned to a player/character who determines everything about them.  There's no trait buying or that kind of stuff.  It's all about what characters do, not what they are.  Also, this means that the players aren't fighting over what happens in the story.  Nobody can say "I think the Sea King should reject Badr Basim as a son-in-law" except for the character with the Mask of the Sea King.  Now, if there is a dispute between the Sea King and Badr Basim (or they have that duel) then the two players with those masks could bid Drops to determine the outcome.

However, in the new framework, Theme Drops allow characters/players to control the larger structure of the story.  Say I'm playing Don Quixote, who is the Piper of his Troupe, and currently has the Masks of Badr Basim, the Sea, a magic ring of power, and a storm.  Now, Don Quixote wants the Sea King to give him (as Badr Basim) some great task to accomplish, but there's no real way for him to ensure this, especially if the character with the Mask of the Sea King has other ideas.  Still, if Don Quixote wants to spend a Drop from his Theme "Against Impossible Odds," he can declare that the Sea King places a hopeless task before Badr Basim (which he or the Sea King's player would then determine).

Is that clearer?


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Piers on April 20, 2003, 06:39:30 PM
To sort of come full circle--and I hope this doesn't bring you back to exactly where you started--maybe you don't need to differentiate between Theme Drops and ordinary Drops, but instead have Themes control what you can do with your Drops.

In other words, rather than separating the Drops, the player consults the Themes to work out what they can do with the Drops--it has to be in Theme if you want to introduce new elements (if that isn't your role).  

If that works, then the number of Drops used under the rubric of each Theme during the story can be recorded, indicating the strength of particular themes associated with the player.  At the end of the story some sort of assessment of the use and change of themes, as well as the accumulation of new themes would be made for each player.   This could even be done without any record, because what you remember about the story should indicate what was important about it.  

Would this work, or is it goes back the way you came?

Also, another, much more radical idea:

What do you think about the merits of unequal distribution of Drops?  

What I mean is this: One way for the roles in the troupe to become hardwired, is for the Drops to redistributed unequally amongst the different players, based upon their roles, and according to the stage the story is at.  Thus, the Muse would start out with an excess of Drops in order to initiate the story, but as the story was established, these Drops would be reallocated more and more to other members of the Troupe as they became more important.  By the end, the Ender (or whatever they are called now) would end up with almost all the Drops to carry into the After-Once and only there to be handed over to the Muse so they could begin again.  And the Piper would control the pace of the story by deciding when to shift reallocation of Drops between characters.  

As far as how that might work, I'm thinking of something as simple as having the different players sit in a specific order based upon the point in the tale when they are most important, and simply having every reallocation start from the person whose 'stage' is in the ascendant.  The cycle would begin with the Muse work its way through to the ender, with the Piper sitting between the two, and deciding when to switch.  This way, whoever is most important always gets a drop when they are reallocated, and is the first to get two when there are more than the number of troup members to hand out.  

Taking a momnet to look again at the way you have the roles defined currently, I'm not too sure how well it fits in.  Muse and Masker pretty obviously start things out and the Gardener gather things up, but the Intermediary and Grand Comptroller are sort of parallel to the whole system. The dynamic might work though.  

Anyways, I think this sort of shifting responsiblity would give an interesting momentum to the stories, and give the Piper a concrete way to 'call the tune'.  It'd just be important to balance a preponderance of power with enough opportunity for everyone to contribute.  

Hope my wild ideas are useful in some way.

Piers


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 20, 2003, 08:54:33 PM
Piers, your suggestions rock, but would you mind deleting the 4 extra copies of you last post that accidentally showed up?  It would make reading this thread a lot easier.

Here's a weird model that just came to me, based on Piers suggestions, some unrelated ideas that were floating around in my own head, and, strangely enough, the new Marvel Universe RPG that's getting released about a month from now:

1. When players recieve Drops, either at the beginning of a story, or by the Piper recycling spent Drops, the players allocate them among their resources, including:

- their Duty
- their various Masks
- their various Themes

2. Drops allocated to a Duty can only be spent on performing that Duty.  The Muse is likely to allocate the majority of their starting Drops to Duty, because they have to use them to create a beginning to the story.  The Piper has to spend a Duty-Drop to recycle the pool of spent Drops.  The Maskers has to spend a Duty-Drop for each Mask s/he creates.  The Conductor spends Duty-Drops to communicate OOCly with all the players, coordinating things.  The Intermediary doesn't spend Duty-Drops during strories, but has to save some up over the course of the story, in order to use immediately afterwards.

This opens up the possibility that jobs can be performed badly.  If the Piper suddenly doesn't have any Drops in Duty, but the pile in the middle of the table is growing and growing, and players are running out of other Drops to spend, the Piper's in a bind.  They needs Drops to do their job, but they have to do their job to get refurbished with Drops.  Likewise, if other situations creep up (and they always do) when you need Drops in Duty and haven't allocated them, you're going to look bad.

3.  Drops placed on Masks are used to make that Mask do something (talk, walk, sleep, fight, fly around, etc).  Conflicts between various story elements can be solved by bidding the Drops their various Masks have been allotted.  This means that certain Masks can look more powerful and intimidating simply due to the amount of Drops that have been allocated to them.

4.  Drops placed on Themes, as I have explained before, allow you to control parts of the story outside of simply manipulating Masks.  They also allow you to create new elements in the story (which should then probably be assigned Masks by the Masker).

5.  Like Nobilis' Rite of the Last Trump, there needs to be a way for players to reallocate Drops when they are in dire need.  Maybe the Piper needs to recycle the pool, maybe the protagonist is in danger of losing to some schmoe, maybe it's just the perfect time for one of your Themes to occur.

My first thought was a system of "strikes," where characters basically recieve bad marks for mismanaging their resources.  Maybe when the character recieved 3 strikes, they would be ejected from the story and have to wait for everyone else in the After-Once.

WHAT THIS WOULD DO TO THE GAME

Injecting this degree of Gamism and resource-management into the game does a great many things.  First, it gives the Intermediary something real to do.  If the success of the story really depends on people performing their jobs well, allocating resources properly, communicating and anticipating when they'll be needed, and picking up the slack when someone fails or gets booted out of the story, the social contract is going to be in constant need of work (the way I originally intended it) and the Intermediary can try to sort things out.

However, a great many people who might otherwise be attracted to Ever-After might balk at the seeming competitiveness and the feeling that you can "lose" (in a way) by playing it badly.  The game would want to uphold the belief that characters failing at particular roles could be just as exciting and dramatic as them succeeding, but whether that could be properly communicated to players is another matter.  It might run the danger of becoming Diplomacy the RPG, with people becoming more cooperative than competative.  The drafts I've seen of Ron's Gamism essay seem to warn against accidentally letting Gamism become the focus when you didn't intend that, and this looks exciting but scary because of that.

All in all, I think this system is full of potential, bringing some themes back to Ever-After that I thought had been shunted off to the sidelines, but I'm a bit uneasy.  While watching "The Real World" is amusing, it's probably much less fun to be one of those people squabbling in the apartment and having to liev through it.  Would players be able to seperate themselves from their characters enough to not make failure personal?  Would that destroy my whole attempt to make Ever-After into "Universalis, but with immersion"?


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: deadpanbob on April 21, 2003, 03:15:50 AM
Johnathan,

Rather than ejecting a Troupe member from the story for bad mis-management, allow one of the Duties (probably the Piper) to 'loan' out Drops to Troupe members in need of them - and then provide some counterbalancing by allowing the Muse to add complications to the story for the offending Troupe member one a one per Drop basis.

Alternately, if you are going to allow the players to use Drops at the end of the story to replenish some of their Themes, or start new ones, the borrowing character would need to pay off her debt before being allowed any kind of story awards in this regard.

Just a couple of suggestions, because I beleive that a 3-strikes rule would highlight Gamisim more.  That's not a bad thing, but it does change the tone of the game in subtle and far reaching ways.  My guess is, that since the game appeals more to those tending to prioritize Narrativist decision-making, Troupes playing the game in that vein may well drift the rules by jettisoning the 3-strikes rules.

Cheers,



Jason


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 21, 2003, 05:02:56 AM
Hmm...  Well, see how this works to you.

Any player can give/loan Drops to any other player.  However, most of the time, the other players are also going to have their Drops invested in various resources (Duty, Masks, Themes) and can't just let you have them, because invested Drops have to be spent on that resource.  Now, if the Piper recycles the pool and there's not enough Drops to go around (or players think that a specific player needs more Drops), they can choose to invest their Drops in another player.

But, it would be quite possible for another player to take a Strike, free up a Drop, and give it to another player.  For instance, if your Piper has 2 Strikes and needs another Drop to recycle the pool, maybe someone else should take a Strike to help them out.  Otherwise, somebody else is going to have to take over as Piper for the rest of the story.  

While I'm definitely sympathetic to preserving the Narrativist feel of Ever-After, I think being booted out of the story, along with the destruction of Masks that happens after the time limit, helps support some of the themes that weren't getting supported in the old model.  If the only way to get rid of your Strikes is to bail in the middle of a story, everybody'll have to do that eventually.  I really think it would be fun to watch a group scramble to try to cover for a member who's waiting for them in the After-Once.

However, maybe it would be possible to make Strikes part of the social contract.  The Intermediary would help the group reach consensus about how many Strikes would be appropriate for a given session.  Default could run anywhere from 3-10, depending on the experience of the group, since beginners would take a while to get a handle on this distribution thing.  Troupes, if they liked, could even agree to jettison Strikes entirely, but they would, by default, be a part of the rules.

And I'm still wondering about the number of Drops that each character should get in the beginning.  Perhaps there could be a Troupe-wide advancement system, where a Troupe starts out with a certain number of Drops (20-30, depending on the number of members) and then gains Drops for accomplishing various things.  The Piper would then be in charge of distributing Drops at the beginning of a story, and wouldn't necessarily have to do so equally (though that would be an obvious way to do it).


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Valamir on April 21, 2003, 05:28:44 AM
Hi Jonathan.  I've been wanting to comment on this thread but I'm having a little trouble getting my mind around the concepts in the abstract: Themes and Masks and such.  I having trouble linking ideas like "use a drop to support a theme" with actual in play activity.  I tried checking out your site, but the link for storypunk seems to be broken.

Could you write up perhaps a play example that demonstrates what a player is actually doing when he invests in a mask.  Perhaps I'd be better able to help if I understood it better.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 21, 2003, 07:46:46 AM
No problem, Ralph.  This has all been pretty abstract.

EXAMPLE:

Here's a little mini-Troupe, with members, duties, and themes (and the capacity of the Theme in parens):

Quote
Scheherazade
-- Duty: Muse
-- Duty: Conductor
-- Theme: A Story Within a Story (2)
-- Theme: Love That Burns Radiant (1)

Anansi
-- Duty: Piper
-- Duty: Masker
-- Theme: The Clever Man Always Triumphs (1)
-- Theme: Bad For Some is Good for Others (1)

Monkey
-- Duty: Intermediary
-- Duty: Gardener
-- Theme: Luck is Always With the Downtrodden (3)
-- Theme: Laughter Cures Everything (1)


They all sit around in the After-Once discussing what kinds of stories they want to break their way into next.  Monkey wants to do high adventure stories.  Anansi wants to do a quiet, domestic tale of friendship and struggle.  Scheherazade is indifferent as long as there's magic in it.  Monkey, who still has some Drops invested in Intermediary from the last story, spends a point to arbitrate an outcome: the story will begin as a domestic tale of friendship & struggle, but a myserious magic entices the characters off on an adventure.  Monkey might also spend Intermediary Drops on things that might be "Rules Gimmicks" in Universalis, changing the number of possible Strikes, moving Duties around to different players, changing the way you gain or strengthen Themes, etc.

But, a basic outline of the story decided upon, Anansi collects all Drops (spent and unspent) and rations them out to the players.  The group currently has a full allotment of 21 Drops, so Anansi gives 7 to each player.

They distribute them as such:

Quote
Scheherazade
-- Duty: Muse 6
-- Duty: Conductor 1
-- Theme: A Story Within a Story 0(2)
-- Theme: Love That Burns Radiant 0(1)

Anansi
-- Duty: Piper 1
-- Duty: Masker 5
-- Theme: The Clever Man Always Triumphs 0(1)
-- Theme: Bad For Some is Good for Others 1(1)

Monkey
-- Duty: Intermediary 0
-- Duty: Gardener 0
-- Theme: Luck is Always With the Downtrodden 3(3)
-- Theme: Laughter Cures Everything 1(1)

Monkey, having little use for all 7 Drops at this point (both his Duties don't come into play until much later) invests 2 points in Scheherazade's Muse Duty, giving her a total of 8 Drops there.


Scheherazade has 8 Drops to spend in opening the story.  She begins the tale thusly:

1.) Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Wu...
2.) there were two friends, the King of Wu...
3.) and one of his closest advisors, the eunuch Zhou Wen.
4.) Every day, the King would sit and play chess with Zhou Wen...
5.) causing all of Wu to fall into disarray, because it received no attention from its King.
6.) Because of this, many of the people were angry at Zhou Wen and wished for his death or removal.
7.) The King of Wu began to fear for the life of his minister and called Zhou Wen to a private meeting in the palace.

Notice that each Drop is spent to introduce a single fact (the setting, a specific character, a specific action, a specific situation, etc.).  With 7 of her 8 Muse Drops spent, Scheherazade declares that she is finished.

Next, Asansi creates some Masks.  Each Mask requires two thing to make it up, a designation (name, description, etc) and a character to wear it.  Anansi creates the following Masks:

1.) The King of Wu (assigned to himself)
2.) Zhou Wen, eunuch minister (assigned to Monkey)
3.) Angry People of Wu (assigned to Scheherazade)
4.) Mysterious Magic (assigned to Scheherazade)

Notice that Anansi doesn't have to create a Mask for everything that the Muse describes.  There is no Mask for the Kingdom of Wu, after all, just one for the angry people in it.  Also, Anansi has created a mask for the mysterious magic that they all agreed would be a part of the story, even though it hasn't made an appearance yet.

There are now 11 spent Drops in the center of the table (7 Muse Drops + 4 Masker Drops).  Since nobody has any Drops allocated to their Masks, and therefor can't do anything besides spend Theme or Duty Drops, Anansi chooses to spend one of his Duty Drops to recycle the pool.  With the Piper Drop added to the rest, a total of 12 Drops are recycled.  Anansi allocates them as follows:

Anansi -- 5
Monkey -- 5
Scheherazade -- 2


Scheherazade gives Anansi a look, but Anansi explains that Scheherazade has just exerted a ton of influence over the story, and that she should give Anansi and Monkey a chance.  Besides, her two Masks probably won't make a major appearance for a while.  Scheherazade nods agreeably.

The players allocate the new Drops so that it now looks like this:

Quote
Scheherazade
-- Duty: Muse 1
-- Duty: Conductor 1
-- Theme: A Story Within a Story 1(2)
-- Theme: Love That Burns Radiant 0(1)
-- Mask: Angry People of Wu 1
-- Mask: Mysterious Magic 0

Anansi
-- Duty: Piper 0
-- Duty: Masker 1
-- Theme: The Clever Man Always Triumphs 0(1)
-- Theme: Bad For Some is Good for Others 1(1)
-- Mask: The King of Wu 5

Monkey
-- Duty: Intermediary 0
-- Duty: Gardener 0
-- Theme: Luck is Always With the Downtrodden 3(3)
-- Theme: Laughter Cures Everything 1(1)
-- Mask: Zhou Wen, enunch minister 5

Monkey allocates all 5 of his points to Zhou Wen's Mask, anticipating the conversation with the King.  Anansi does similarly, placing 5 Drops on the King's Mask, quite forgetting his responsibilities, for now his Piper Duty has no allocated Drops, which may spell trouble later on.  Scheherazade puts one Drop into her Theme "A Story Within a Story" and one into the Mask of the Angry People of Wu.


Since there are no scene divisions in Ever-After, play simply moves around the circle starting to the left of the Muse, with each player either playing a Drop and adding something to the story, or "tapping out" (passing by tapping on the table, letting the action continue around the circle).  Play follows this line (A = Anansi, M = Monkey, S = Scheherazade):

A: spends a Drop from Mask: King of Wu
    "So, Zhou Wen, it seems that we cannot continue like this, playing chess all day and leaving me no time to tend to my duties as lord soverign of this land."[/list:u]
M: spends a Drop from Mask: Zhou Wen
    "So it seems, Your Majesty.  However, I believe I can convince the people that our daily chess games do more to benefit the Kingdom of Wu than would Your Majesty spending all his time on matters of state.[/list:u]
S: taps out

A: spends a Drop from Mask: King of Wu
    "Ah, Zhou Wen, you are very clever indeed, but this task is beyond even you.  However, if it pleases you to try, go ahead.  If the people kill you and tear your body apart, I will ensure a proper burial for any limbs that I can recover.[/list:u]
M: spends a Drop from Mask: Zhou Wen
    "Your Majesty is most gracious.  Your servant will depart immediately."[/list:u]
S: taps out

A: taps out

M: spends a Drop from Mask: Zhou Wen
    Zhou Wen departed the capital of Wu and went about the countryside, pretending to be a minister who tired of courtly life and planned to become a hermit in the Western mountains.[/list:u]
S: spends a Drop from Mask: Angry People of Wu
    Everwhere Zhou Wen went, the people complained to him, "That damned Zhou Wen!  Every day our King plays chess with him and ignores matters of state!  If he were only here right now so we could tear him to pieces!"[/list:u]
A: spends a Drop from Theme: The Clever Man Always Triumphs
    But Zhou Wen explained to the people that it was better that the King payed no attention to them.  After all, were not the warlords always burdening the populace with harsh taxes, drafting peasants into the army to go off and die in faraway lands, and forcing them to build massive public works projects?  Wasn't it better that the King of Wu played chess all day, growing wiser and more virtuous and letting the people live as they please?  Then, when the day finally came that the people needed their King to defend them in battle, the King of Wu, thanks to his incredible tactical mind honed on chess, would be undefeatable.  This convinced the people utterly.[/list:u]
M: spends a drop from Mask: Zhou Wen
    So Zhou Wen returned to the King of Wu and annouced the success of his endeavours.[/list:u]
    Etc.

THOUGHTS?

So what do people think of that kind of model?  Can you see it working?  I haven't really gotten to the point in the example where the problems would have arose, but that's a basic model for things working.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Piers on April 22, 2003, 10:04:16 AM
Jonathon,
               this looks good.  The play example really catchs the flavour I'd imagined for the game, especially the cooperative aspects of things, where everyone is taking responsibility for different aspects of the story.  I can't actually see anything I'd want to change from what you have here, but here are a couple of questions, and some thoughts about some of the surrounding mechanics that came to me:

i) Okay, I understand where the Theme ratings (the bracketed numbers beside the actual drops in a Theme) came from (the number of drops invested in them from the previous game), but what are they doing mechanically right now?  Do you need them or does just having a theme do everything at the moment?

ii) On that point, one thing I think you might consider moving away from with this game is the idea of individual experience.  So of implicit up to now, though you only mention it from time to time is the idea of players spending drops to acquire, maintain and change themes attached to the player.  This might interfere with the flow of the game because it encourages players to hold back so they can spend for new themes, etc.  The 'troupe-style' aspect of the game is one of the strengths of it in my opinion.  Would it work better to have this be one of the jobs of the intermediary--to spend Drops allocated to his/her Duty during the After-Once as part of a collective decision about what themes to carry with them.

iii) On this topic, if players can carry themes with them, I don't see why they shouldn't carry Masks too--these can become favored or recurring characters who turn up in different stories, or who the troup tells a series of stories about before dropping them.  The Gardener, together with the Intermediary, would be the one who had control over this.  (And the Gardener's Duty Drops should perhaps be used to tear Masks.)

iv)I really like the idea of the troupe having a pool of Drops to play with, and expansion of that pool being the 'advancement' of the group--the ability to tell larger and more complex stories.  I'm really not sure how or when to give more Drops.  Thematically I think it would be really cool if they got more when a Troupe member shed tears over a story, of either laughter or sadness, but that might well be setting the bar far too high.  

v)  In conjunction with that though, one way to control Drops in themes, masks etc would be to say that each Troupe has a set number of Drops between them which are used as a pool in play or to allocate Themes etc between the players.  Thus adding an extra theme or mask to your abilities would reduce the common pool, giving up a theme would increase it.  The intermediary would then, as suggested above, spend drops to change the allocation of Themes.  

vi)  This might be a better way to handle Strikes--when you screw up you have to burn one of your themes or a favorite mask in order to get out of trouble, converting it into a Drop.  This would sting badly enough that players would pay atytention to their duties without having add another system to the game.  

Anyway, enough for now.  I'll leave you to chew that over while I go do some real work.

Piers


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Valamir on April 22, 2003, 10:33:21 AM
Ok, this helped alot.  Let me ask a question before I offer any actual feedback on it.

As I read it every player gets a certain number of Drops as allocated by the Piper.  Before play continues the players must allocate these Drops to either the Duty, Theme(s), or Mask(s) that have been assigned to them.  When drops are spent to perform a duty, incorporate a theme, or have a mask act they must come from those Drops currently invested.  When the drop is spent it is no longer invested (i.e. it doesn't regenerate) it is gone, and may or may not be reallocated after the next Piping.

Ok...if I've got that down right...here's the question.

What is the intention behind the Investment requirement?  What is the forseen benefit from allocating the Drops in advance vs keeping all of the Drops in the players possession to be allocated on the fly during play?


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 22, 2003, 01:14:38 PM
Yea, comments!  I'm going to respond to these in revese order...

First one from a PM from Jack, because it's very relavent to what's been brought up here:

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
You may wish to give more thought to how drops are handled in the game. Scheherazade is right to give Monkey a look for only giving her two drops when he gave himself and Anansi five. Next time she may not nod agreeably.


Quite true.  I was worried that, in some cases, certain characters might need more Drops than others, but, if that happens, the Piper can just keep recycling spend Drops and passing them out, in equal numbers to each player.  There would be a diminishing return for big spenders, since Drops would slowly move to those players who weren't as active, but that's good.  Then, it slowly shifts narrative power to those who aren't participating, bringing them into the action.

Quote from: Valamir
What is the intention behind the Investment requirement? What is the forseen benefit from allocating the Drops in advance vs keeping all of the Drops in the players possession to be allocated on the fly during play?


To add a strategic element to things.  If you take away investment and allow the players to "channel" certain Masks/Themes/Duties by spending Drops, there's no resource-allocation going on.  There's no risk of running out of something (unless you end up spending all your Drops).  Investment means that players will often be making story choices based not just on what they want to happen, but what kind of Drops they have available.

Why limit what players can do?  Ever-After has different goals than Universalis.  Uni is about enabling players to tell the stories they want to tell.  Ever-After is about the process of players learning, through trial-and-error, how to tell the stories they want to tell.  It's about the journey, not the result.  It's about building a suitable social contract and choosing the right Themes and learning the strengths and weaknesses of various players.  And sometimes the story will be more interesting because of the limits placed on it.  You'll find yourself inspired to make choices that you wouldn't have made otherwise.

Does that answer your question?  I thought about it for a while, but that's the only thing I can really come up with.  I considered "channeling" too, orginally, but it didn't feel quite right.  This feels right, whatever that means.  It's strongly Gamist (remember scenes of Magic games, where various cards would have piles of tokens on them?  That's what this would look like) but maybe Ever-After was destined to be a kind of Gamist-Narrativist hybrid.

Quote from: Piers Brown
Okay, I understand where the Theme ratings (the bracketed numbers beside the actual drops in a Theme) came from (the number of drops invested in them from the previous game)


Actually, that's not what those are.  The numbers in parens are the "capacities" of the various Themes.  It tells you how many Drops you can have invested in that Theme.  Duties and Masks don't have a maximum capacity; you can put as many Drops on them as you like, but since Theme Drops effect the larger story, I didn't want those flying around constantly.  That's why the limit is there.

Still, I don't know how effective it is in doing what I want.  If you keep spending Theme Drops and then re-investing in the same Theme, even a Theme of low capacity could be pretty disruptive.  Maybe Themes should suffer "burn-out," where you can only invest a certain number of Drops in them per story, period.  Each time you invest in a Theme, you mark off a box.  When you have no more boxes, you couldn't invest in it until the next story.  Theme capacity would still grow by creating an instance of the Theme using normal Mask manipulation (without spending Theme Drops).  

Does that work better?

As far as point II goes, characters no longer spend Drops to support Themes.  They have to manifest in the story without spending Theme Drops to create it.  Then, in the next story, that Theme would be increased by one.

Having Troupe-wide Themes instead of individual Themes is a neat idea, but it would take a huge amount of time to decide on what your group's Themes were, even with an Intermediary arbitrating.  What do people think?  Maybe if each player got to pick one Theme, but they could all invest in them and spend invested Theme Drops?  I don't know.

Quote from: Piers Brown
On this topic, if players can carry themes with them, I don't see why they shouldn't carry Masks too.


Hmm, damn straight they should.  Maybe any Mask that doesn't get destroyed by the Gardener can be carried into the next story?  Whether they gets used or not is up to the players (the King of Wu might not be appropriate in a space opera), but it would be cool if there was a kind of "story drift" that happened, where elements from the last story would spill over into the next.

At the end of a story-cycle (one session), the Masker would recover all the Masks, which could be redistributed at the beginning of the next session.  However, if each Mask only costs 1 Drop, I could see a Troupe building up an enormous number of Masks very quickly.  Is there a way to make sure only certain Masks get saved?  Maybe the Troupe could also have a seperate Troupe-wide trait (like the number of Drops in their collective pool) that measures the number of Masks they can carry into the After-Once?

Quote from: Piers Brown
I really like the idea of the troupe having a pool of Drops to play with, and expansion of that pool being the 'advancement' of the group--the ability to tell larger and more complex stories.


Damn straight.  Troupe-wide quantification was another thing I wanted to be a part of this game, and it looks like it's sneakng it.  Great!  Troupe-wide advancement is a tricky subject though.  Shreyas' Law is that "experience changes you," instead of making you quantifiably better, but this is a case where numerical advancement might actually work.  It makes sense that an older Troupe would tell more complex stories and have more Masks stuffed in their trunk.

Anybody got a suggestion on how this might work?

On V & VI: the Common Pool

Really like this stuff.  So the Troupe has a common pool of Drops that they use to tell stories.  Say it starts at 5-7 per member and there's some unknown advancement system that we haven't determined yet.

For each point of capacity a Theme has, players have to permanently invest a Drop in it, lowering the total number of Drops.  Likewise, Masks also require a permanent investature.  However, at any time, players can "burn" a Theme or Mask (more Magic terms, I love it!) to retrieve the Drop that has been invested in it.  This fixes the Strikes problem.  If you really need another Drop, burn something.

In order to keep the story going, the Gardener has to spend Drops that don't go back into the pool for recycling.  They get removed from the game until the story is over.  So, the Gardener is slowly removing the currency from the story.  However, the story can continue as normal if the Gardener burns Themes or Masks or the other players give the Gardener things to burn.

Having a larger pool for your Troupe means that you could either tell longer stories or more elaborate stories.  Not both.  Stories that required a great many Masks or Themes would be very short, because you'd be burning things very quickly.  But simple stories could drag on for a long time.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Valamir on April 22, 2003, 01:48:42 PM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton

To add a strategic element to things.  If you take away investment and allow the players to "channel" certain Masks/Themes/Duties by spending Drops, there's no resource-allocation going on.  There's no risk of running out of something (unless you end up spending all your Drops).  Investment means that players will often be making story choices based not just on what they want to happen, but what kind of Drops they have available.


Ok, got it.  So that means that the perk of being the Piper is that you are essentially immune to resource allocation issues.  As long as you keep 1 drop on your duty you can call for piping whenever you like meaning you never have to run out of anything.  In other words while other players are stymied because they've run out of drops the piper never will be, if there's something he wants to do but has run out of drops for it he just Pipes himself some more.

Further, the piper only needs to keep one drop on his duty because he knows he can reallocate it the instant it is spent.

What prevents the piper from keeping the lion's share of drops for himself?

That brings me to another question set.  How do the duties look during play.  Is Monkey ONLY involved in determining the type of the next story but does nothing during the story?  If so, are drops assigned to the duty spent during the in between time.  Are drops and piping involved at all during the in between time?  What about Muse.  After dumping a ton of drops on Muse to start things off, is there ever a need for the Muse to invest in duty again during that story?  The gardner has a responsibility to tear up a mask every X time limit...does this require he invest in his duty to do it?  If so, what happens if he does not so invest...do masks never get destroyed and the story go on forever?

Currently I'm seeing the Piper as being in the bully chair.  "Do things my way or get no drops", such that defacto they begin running the whole game.  Is the only check and balance the idea that the Gardner will target all of the Pipers masks first in revenge?

If you're going to introduce some competitive elements to the game I think you'll need some more explicit checks and balances.  Does the Grand Comptroller / Conductor have the ability to take duties away and reassign them?  Can he do this at will or does it require group consensus.  Does it require a drop, putting him at the mercy of the Piper also?

Why limit what players can do?  Ever-After has different goals than Universalis.  Uni is about enabling players to tell the stories they want to tell.  Ever-After is about the process of players learning, through trial-and-error, how to tell the stories they want to tell.  It's about the journey, not the result.  It's about building a suitable social contract and choosing the right Themes and learning the strengths and weaknesses of various players.  And sometimes the story will be more interesting because of the limits placed on it.  You'll find yourself inspired to make choices that you wouldn't have made otherwise.

Quote
Quote from: Piers Brown
On this topic, if players can carry themes with them, I don't see why they shouldn't carry Masks too.


Hmm, damn straight they should.  Maybe any Mask that doesn't get destroyed by the Gardener can be carried into the next story?  Whether they gets used or not is up to the players (the King of Wu might not be appropriate in a space opera), but it would be cool if there was a kind of "story drift" that happened, where elements from the last story would spill over into the next.
Quote


Perhaps any mask that still has an investment in it when the story ends...lives till the next story.  But other than an easy source to burn for a drop...what purpose would they serve.  As you say, do you really want the King of Wu wondering around your space ship.  Maybe on occassion for a bit of comedy...but other than that?


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Piers on April 22, 2003, 02:58:47 PM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton

Having Troupe-wide Themes instead of individual Themes is a neat idea, but it would take a huge amount of time to decide on what your group's Themes were, even with an Intermediary arbitrating.  What do people think?  Maybe if each player got to pick one Theme, but they could all invest in them and spend invested Theme Drops?  I don't know.


I wasn't actually suggesting common themes, but rather that the choices about what is carried in the next story should be made by the group as a whole, and then those themes allocated to individuals who would be responsible.  So instead of the players individually choosing to 'advance' themselves, the Intermediary having to spend the Duty drops to change things around.  Which is pretty much where you get to below.

Quote from: Jonathan Walton

Quote from: Piers Brown
I really like the idea of the troupe having a pool of Drops to play with, and expansion of that pool being the 'advancement' of the group--the ability to tell larger and more complex stories.


Damn straight.  Troupe-wide quantification was another thing I wanted to be a part of this game, and it looks like it's sneakng it.  Great!  Troupe-wide advancement is a tricky subject though.  Shreyas' Law is that "experience changes you," instead of making you quantifiably better, but this is a case where numerical advancement might actually work.  It makes sense that an older Troupe would tell more complex stories and have more Masks stuffed in their trunk.

Anybody got a suggestion on how this might work?


You know, thinking about it, one Drop a session, maybe two if it went really well, might be about right, seeing as that Drop has to be shared amongst everyone.  Even in long term play the tendency to tie these up in Masks and Themes would stop things getting too out of hand.  

Quote from: Jonathan Walton

On V & VI: the Common Pool

Really like this stuff.  So the Troupe has a common pool of Drops that they use to tell stories.  Say it starts at 5-7 per member and there's some unknown advancement system that we haven't determined yet.

For each point of capacity a Theme has, players have to permanently invest a Drop in it, lowering the total number of Drops.  Likewise, Masks also require a permanent investature.  However, at any time, players can "burn" a Theme or Mask (more Magic terms, I love it!) to retrieve the Drop that has been invested in it.  This fixes the Strikes problem.  If you really need another Drop, burn something.

In order to keep the story going, the Gardener has to spend Drops that don't go back into the pool for recycling.  They get removed from the game until the story is over.  So, the Gardener is slowly removing the currency from the story.  However, the story can continue as normal if the Gardener burns Themes or Masks or the other players give the Gardener things to burn.

Having a larger pool for your Troupe means that you could either tell longer stories or more elaborate stories.  Not both.  Stories that required a great many Masks or Themes would be very short, because you'd be burning things very quickly.  But simple stories could drag on for a long time.


Sounds good to me.  

Final thought.  Starting out, you should probably give each player a theme, maybe two, and a Mask.  Who are Scherazade and Monkey, Quixote and Coyote but Masks.  (Burning this Mask is probably a bad idea unless you have a replacement.)  You wouldn't want them to turn up in every story, they'd be just as incongrous as the King of Wu on a space-ship (though if you put him in a jumpsuit and renamed him Glactic Emperor Wu...), but I love the idea of Scherazade starting a story with "There once was a monkey who was three times immortal..." and Monkey perking up and saying, "Hey! This is a story about me!"

Piers


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 22, 2003, 05:35:48 PM
Quote from: Valamir
Ok, got it.  So that means that the perk of being the Piper is that you are essentially immune to resource allocation issues... What prevents the piper from keeping the lion's share of drops for himself?


Okay a couple points on this issue:

1) Something you might have overlooked in the last post... Thanks to Jack's noticing this earlier, the distribution scheme used in the example (basically, Piper fiat) is scrapped for the original method: Piper goes around the circle giving one Drop to each player until s/he runs out.  So none of this 5/5/2 allocation that Anansi pulled in the example.  It'd be 4/4/4.  However, the Piper does have some leeway, choosing where to start passing out Drops and which direction to go in.

2) The Piper, while definitely having an advantage in this area, is not totally immune.  You'll never have enough Drops to do everything you want.  Piping when there are only 3 Drops in the pool, just because you need to invest in a Mask, is very bad form.  One of the key features of Ever-After is that there are in-game means of dealing with social contract issues (the Intermediary/Conductor), so if the Piper is being abusive, there are people to deal with it.  You don't have to say what the GM should and shouldn't do all the time.  Sometimes, you can trust people to act responsibly.

Quote
Is Monkey ONLY involved in determining the type of the next story but does nothing during the story?  If so, are drops assigned to the duty spent during the in between time.  Are drops and piping involved at all during the in between time?


Okay, as things currently stand, there is no Piping in the After-Once.  Whatever kind of place it is, there's a big "NO PIPING" sign as soon as you get there.  However, there are Duties (especially the Intermediary's) that have to be performed in the After-Once.  This means that, before the story is over, the Intermediary has to make sure to store up some Duty Drops.  Otherwise, when they get to the After-Once, s/he won't be able to do anything.  So Drops can definitely be spent in the After-Once, but they are not recycled.  If people really needed Drops, I suppose you could still burn things, but that would be the only way of regaining them until another story started.

Quote
What about Muse.  After dumping a ton of drops on Muse to start things off, is there ever a need for the Muse to invest in duty again during that story?


Currently, no.  The Muse takes care of all of their responsibilities at the beginning of each story.  If I wanted to suggest an expansion of that, I might make the Muse responsible for any places where the story drags to a halt.  Then, they could regain control and try to get the story moving again.  However, in most of those cases, I figure the group would probably just bail from the story altogether.

However, I'm started to think that the Conductor Duty may be superfluous.  If we ditch it, we can divide up those responsibilities between the Intermediary (out-of-story Troupe Leader) and the Muse (in-story Troupe Leader).

Quote
The gardner has a responsibility to tear up a mask every X time limit...does this require he invest in his duty to do it?  If so, what happens if he does not so invest...do masks never get destroyed and the story go on forever?


Yup.  Burning other people's Masks requires a Gardener Drop (because it's something you can't normally do).  If the Gardener wants to burn their own Masks, they can do it for free.  If the Gardener doesn't burn a Mask at the right time, the story just ends, period.  The Troupe gets immediately kicked back out into the After-Once.

Quote
If you're going to introduce some competitive elements to the game I think you'll need some more explicit checks and balances.


I'm sympathetic, but I want to be careful about doing too much of this.  Part of the fun of Ever-After is resolving social contract issues.  I don't want to give people a broken game and make them fix it, but I also don't want to heavily pad everything to prevent any problems.  Some of the mechanics are intended to cause friction among the group.  I think that's just part of the game.  Remember that the Diplomacy model works and that player-player tension isn't necessarily negative.

Quote
As you say, do you really want the King of Wu wondering around your space ship.  Maybe on occassion for a bit of comedy...but other than that?


Well, also, I think it's totally possible to take the Masks as metaphors or general categories, instead of specific individuals.  Maybe there is a monarchical nation of Chinese spacetravelers in your new story, or maybe the spaceship is actually called the King of Wu :)  As the Monkey King would be sure to tell you, there are 10,000 ways to use the same Mask.

Quote from: Piers Brown
Who are Scherazade and Monkey, Quixote and Coyote but Masks. (Burning this Mask is probably a bad idea unless you have a replacement.)


Hot damn, Piers.  I should be paying you for this.  Where have you been (posting) all my life? :)

Right now, you can invest in everything that would go on a character sheet (Duties, Masks, Themes)... except the Name/Indentity of your Troupe member.  But it only makes sense for Scheherazade to invest a few Drops in herself, in order to become part of the story.  After all, why can't you wear your own Mask?

Of course, if you decide to burn your Mask, you have to immediate choose one of your other Masks to be your new Identity.  Because going without any Mask at all... it's just not done.  Who knows what you might look like?  In fact, perhaps the "you" of the narrative is just that, a Troupe member who doesn't yet have a Mask.  And, at the end of the game narrative, "you" can decide to pick up any Mask they like and start their own Troupe.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: deadpanbob on April 22, 2003, 06:13:57 PM
Johnathan,

This looks like it's developing along nicely.  So I hesitate to throw a monkey wrench into the system you've designed so far.

Having said that, you did invite me to post my comments, so here goes.

First, I would say that you should carefully consider how the Troupe as a whole, or individuals within the Troupe should be able to advance.  I would tie it to in game results/actions in some basic mechanical way.  I can't think of one that fits your scheme yet - but if I come up with an idea, I'll let you know.

I would say that the number of permanent Drops that the Troupe has to work with are all invested into Themes permanent ratings.  If you're giving everyone 7 drops to play with at the start of play, each character would get to invest those drops permanently into Themes.

This investment is considered the bank from which all in-game drops will come.  At the start of play, when the Muse is beginning to build the story, each character marks off a number of Drops from one or more Theme, and this pool becomes the initial investment.

The Muse collects this investment, and must spend all of it to create the situation of the story.  As these Drops are spent, they flow into the story through the function of the Masker.  The Masker is required to invest all the drops into Masks for the story.  Each player who invested at least one theme Drop should get at least one mask.  In fact, for each Theme that a player draws from, they should get a mask.

Now, all the invested Drops are invested in the Masks.  On each players turn, they get to do a most one each from the following:

1) Perform a duty
2) Dramatically shift play by invoking a Theme that they own
3) interact with the story via one of their Masks.

At most then, each player will get to take three actions on their turn, one each from the above list.

Any duties that are performed cost one Drop, which must be Faded from a Mask.  This Drop goes into the 'pool', to be recycled by the Piper at their whim, by the rules you set out in your most recent post.

Any Themes that are invoked similarly cost one Drop which must be Faded from a Mask.  Again, this Faded Drop goes into the Pool.

Any interactions with the story via a mask cost a Drop, which is Passed to a mask controled by the Player to the left of the Acting Mask's player.  The Acting Mask's Player gets to choose which Mask.

When the Gardner Tears a Mask, the Drops are Faded into the Pool.

Part of the Advancement Scheme would involve 'Burning' drops into Themes and Masks to make them Permanent for that Character.  Burning a Drop removes that Drop from play.  These Themes and Masks would be a 1 Drop Theme or Mask permanently added to the Character, sort of.  Alternately, the Player could Burn a drop to increase the maximum capacity of a Theme or Permanent Mask they already control.  For added fun, you can Burn Themes or Masks for other Player's characters.  They must explicitly agree with your choice.  When doing so, instead of the Drop being remomved from play, it Fades into the Pool.

Any Theme or Permanent Mask not used during the course of a Story (even for Themes not used to invest in the Story) - and by used we mean a Drop is either Faded, Passed (Mask Play) or Burned from within the context of that Theme or Permanent Mask, loses one level of potency.  If a Theme or Permanent Mask drops to '0', it is removed from that character.

The payback on the initial Investment comes at the end of the Story.  Any Drops in the Pool at the end of the Story are piped by the Piper (a free Pipe that MUST be done - no choice here except where to start).  These Drops go evenly to each player to reinvest in a Theme or Permanent Mask that already exists on their characters.  They can't invest in these ratings above their max, which is determined at character creation and raised by 'Burning' a Drop into an Existing Theme or Permanent Mask.

During play, anytime more than one Mask is in play during a given instance (i.e. when the King and the Advisor are interacting), a net gain of Drops is acheived along the following Formula: for each Mask beyond the first involved in and investing in an instance of play/interaction causes a free Drop to Fade into the Pool.  So the King's Player Passed a Drop to the Player on their left, the Advisor's Player passed a Drop to the Player on their left, and a single Drop Faded in out of nowhere into the Pool.

Those would be along the lines of the changes I would make at this time.  I'd have to give it a lot more thought on how to make this really sing, but thems my ideas for what they are worth.

Cheers,

Jason.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 23, 2003, 10:54:57 AM
Oww! Oww! Terminology burn!
Sorry.  Why do Drops 'burn' and 'fade'?  What hapened to flowing, evaporating, freezing?

On to meatier topics.

I definitely prefer the round-the-circle method of Piping to the fiat method.  It takes a lot of the drippingly delicious abusable power that the Piper had and turns it into useful responsible power.

What is the natures of the After-Once and the activity that occurs there?  If we're to take Piers' idea that the character personae are just Masks they carry around, is there really an After-Once apart from the stories?  Maybe the After-Once is an outlook rather than an environment; the Troupe switches back and forth from story attitude to troupe attitude, and somehow the Troupe's abilities change depending on if they see themselves as the Mask or the Wearer-of-the-Mask.
Of course, this would cause problems with some of your mechanics regarding being 'kicked into the After-Once': they'd become something like 'kicked out of the Mask', which is a lot less interesting unless you get kicked right into something else.  I imagine that this is a lot more like the Storypunk incarnation of the game than it is Ever-After.

Suppose that Identity and Duty are inextricably linked - any Identity Mask has a Duty welded into it, and can use that Duty's powers.  A Troupe could have a small collection of these, and pass around the Masks as they felt the need to switch Duties - and they'd be switching roles in a different way at the same time.

Regarding bob's comments:

Every time you make a rule that says 'you must', you lose an opportunity for the game to do other things.  If Scheherehade has to start the story every time, all by herself, all the stories are going to be that much more her stories than if she was able to let other people help her out.  If the Masker has to make a Mask for every fact that Scheherezade sets, then there'll inevitably be Masks that no one wears.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 23, 2003, 11:03:49 AM
Quote from: Shreyas Sampat
Oww! Oww! Terminology burn!
Sorry.  Why do Drops 'burn' and 'fade'?  What hapened to flowing, evaporating, freezing?


You know what things 'burn' and 'fade'?

Pages.

Mike


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 23, 2003, 11:21:52 AM
To clarify my comment about "must" rules:

I would counter your suggestion that, for example, the Muse's Duty be performed to exhaustion before anything else occurs, with one that requires the Duty to be performed in that place in time, but leaves the magnitude of the performance to the Muse's discretion, as Jonathan's original model holds it.  I might also add the requirement that this particular Duty function can only be performed exactly then; once the Muse ends her turn, nothing new can be Mused into the story.  Similarly, the Masker has a single chance to create a Mask for any particular element (maybe immediately after that element's first mention).

As I understand the point of the game, the Troupe are trying to find the balance of Duty work and Mask time that tells the stories that they want to tell.  So the rules are intended to make this seeking-of-balance the point of play, rather than set a single functional balance and make the Troupe work with it.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 23, 2003, 11:25:32 AM
Quote from: Shreyas Sampat
Oww! Oww! Terminology burn!


I was thinking about this earlier today.  Maybe "parch" is a better term.  Without Story Water, stories can't survive.  They simply dry up and die.  That's part of the reason why the Gardener has to keep spending Drops to keep the story alive.

But Mike's right about the pages metaphor.  On of the things I wanted to include in the mythology of Ever-After is the Islamic concept, 'Um Al-Kitab, which is the "Mother Book" that supposedly exists in Heaven.  All other books in existence are merely shadows of this celestial volume.

Quote
What is the natures of the After-Once and the activity that occurs there?


Hmm, perhaps the After-Once is just an empty story that hasn't been Mused.  Nothing has been created, so there's just this empty void where a story should be.  Maybe it should be possible for a Troupe to go straight from one story to the next, without a stop-over in an empty story, but most beginning Troupe need a time out to catch their breath.  I sorta imagine the After-Once like an internet chat room.  The players walk in, put on aliases (Masks), and have conversations.

Here's an interesting concept.  I've been thinking so far about the characters traveling in and out of stories, but maybe that's problematic.  Maybe they exist in a single place.  They create stories there, but the stories eventually crash and burn.  Then they create new stories.  The situation when no story is currently going on is called the After-Once.  That would make it more of a state-of-mind, like Shreyas said.  So the characters aren't traveling through stories; they're bringing stories to them.

Also, I've been thinking about the distinction between Duty/Mask/Theme.  They are all basically tools that you use to effect story.  Duties affect the metagame, Themes affect the metastory, and Masks affect the story directly.  Identity is just a word for the Mask that you personally identify with.  Maybe it should be possible for Troupe members to not have a specified Identity, but keep switching between various Masks.  However, that kind of behavior would be a bit unusual.

One more thing.  I think the Conductor role has bitten the dust.  Here's the new Troupe:

Intermediary -- You
Muse -- Scheherazade
Masker -- Monkey King
Piper -- Anansi
Gardener -- Persephone

Coyote was the former Intermediary, but he discovered that he wasn't really Coyote.  That is, he parched his Identity Mask and vanished into the void of non-self.  So "you" were recuited to replace him.  But I think Coyote might show up at the end and hint about how Identity is just another Mask.


Title: Ever-After: Currency & Advancement
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 23, 2003, 12:45:30 PM
Quote from: Shreyas Sampat
As I understand the point of the game, the Troupe are trying to find the balance of Duty work and Mask time that tells the stories that they want to tell.  So the rules are intended to make this seeking-of-balance the point of play, rather than set a single functional balance and make the Troupe work with it.


In a nutshell... yes.

I think this is what I was intending to create all along (a game about how to play the game), but got sidetracked along the way.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts.  I'll try to have a basic system document with examples done up in the next couple of weeks so we'll have a finalized system to ponder and playtest.  Sending art notes and money off to Ramon Perez this week (Shreyas, he says he can probably send you some preliminary sketches soon after, so you'll have something to work from).

On a related note, I read the first story from One Thousand Nights and a Night yesterday at Story Time (this weekly gathering of college students where we read stories to each other), so I'm in a Scheherazade mood.  Time to get this project moving...