The Forge Archives

Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Jonathan Walton on May 20, 2003, 09:21:45 AM



Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 20, 2003, 09:21:45 AM
Hey All,

So this thread is a combination of several things I've been thinking about recently:

1.  My game concept Argonauts, which basically involves doing a supers game set in classical Greece.

2.  Narrativist d20.  That is, whether it's possible to create a Narrativist framework within the limitations of the d20 system, or whether you can encourage enough Narrativist drift to create a non-incoherant Sim-Nar hybrid game.

3.  Mutants & Masterminds.  Picked up this game recently and boy does it kick ass.  Takes almost everything I don't like about d20 and pitches it out the window.  Only pet peeves left are GM-determined Difficulty Levels and Fortune, but I'm used to those.

So, here's my outline for a game supplement that could probably be released for free, bearing the "M&M Superlink" thing that Green Ronin has set up.  The purpose is to take M&M, set it in classical Greece, and then drift it to be As Narrativist As Possible (ANAP).

The Basic Idea

You're one of the heroes of classical Greece.  Heracles.  Odysseus.  Orpheus.  Jason.  Achilles.  Atalanta.  Phaethon.  Theseus.  This is the time of real heroes.  The monsters have all the superpowers and you get jack.  Maybe a little superstrength.  Maybe a magic ball of thread.  Maybe some winged sandals.  The bad guys, however, are equiped to kick ass and take names.  Fire-breathing, regenerating, 12-foot-tall, scaly, 6-headed, teeth-sharp-as-swords, flying, turn-ya-to-stone, maiden-eating monstrosities.  And you're supposed to take 'em down.

On the plus side, assuming you don't die a horrible death (and the beast's cave is surrounded by the bodies of those who failed), you recieve fame as word of your deeds spreads.  As your myth grows, you increase in power until you might even rival the gods themselves.  And they respond in turn by raising the bar, sending you even tougher Trials to test your valor.  Gee thanks.

Finally, the bigger they are the harder they fall.  Having a Big Myth might be fun for a while, basking in the glow of the masses, but all Greek heroes are pretty much doomed to come to a tragic end.  And the bigger your Myth is, the worse your end will be.  Just ask Agamemnon.  *shiver*

Concepts

1.  Low-Powered Heroes. M&M characters start off at 10th level by default.  In Argonauts, 5th would be more like it, or even less, depending on the hero.  They would also be limited to certain kinds of superpowers, mostly Feats, super-attributes (Super-Strength, Super-Constiution, Super-Skills, etc.), and other things that would fit the source material.

2.  Suffering Heroes.  Probably have a pretty extensive system for determining just how hurt a hero can get before he/she dies.  After all, when you put relatively-normal humans up against super-powered monsters, the humans are likely to get tossed around a good bit (or poisoned, or have their flesh burnt off, or get broken bones, etc.).  Being a hero should be glamourous, but also very dangerous.  Players should be encouraged to try risky things, but should also be encouraged to think them through a bit.  Oftentimes in Greek myths, the clever hero is the one who succeeds.

3.  Dynamic System of Protogonism.  Argonauts die all the time.  It's the ones that manage to survive that go on to become famous.  If your character Praephon, Prince of Thebes, gets eaten by a Minotaur, pick another crewman to be and don't make the same mistake again.  Balance between characters is not especially desired.  It makes sense for Jason and Heracles to be the most important characters in the story.  They're surivivors.  They have a higher Myth and (consequently) higher power levels than the rest of the crew.  But if Jason is stupid and dies, some of the other crewman can certainly step forward into the spotlight.  This also leads to another great theme in Greek myth: betrayal.  Maybe if we slip Heracles this poisoned tunic, we'll actually get some girls too.

4.  The Myth System.  There's a new ability/resource called Myth.  You add your Myth modifier to any roll to see if people have heard of you.  It can often be combined with Charisma if you're trying to impress or gain influence with others ("Yes, well, if you continue to defy me, I might have to treat you just like that Nemean Lion...").  When you kill a creature or pass through a trial with a higher Myth level than your own, your Myth increases (yes, Shreyas, yet another Torchbearer-influenced mechanic).  However, every so often you are forced to roll against your Myth, with a higher Myth making the roll harder.  Failure means that a piece of your tragedy has occured.

5.  And the Rest is Silence.  Tragedy works like this.  Each character sheet has a "Progress Chart" that shows the character's tragedy enacting itself.  I might divide it into a 5-act structure, with interesting names like "The Prophecy/Warning," "The Setup," "The Lure," "The Sinker," "The Climax," and then end with a conclusion phase like "The Aftermath."  Each time you fail a Myth check, part of your tragedy enacts itself.  All tragedies end with either the character's death (Heracles) or the character no longer able to be a hero (Oedipus, Orpheus).

6.  Life After Death.  The shifting protagonism makes it totally possible for long-term campaigns to happen, even with characters dying all over the place (either from monsters or from tragedies).  You can have new characters take up the causes of old ones or take the group in entirely new directions.

7.  Player Antagonism.  Nothing says that the players have to be on the same side all the time.  Just as you can raise your Myth by becoming "The Hero Who Killed Scylla," you can alsoi raise your Myth by becoming "The Hero Who Killed Hector."  This isn't the default playing style, of course, but you could totally enact the Trojan War with the model, getting a few players to play the Trojans and a few to take the Greeks.  !0 years of War?  No problem.  The Myth just keeps growing and growing as players kill each other, and the victors evntually succomb to their own tragedies.  When Hector dies, you just bounce into another hero.  Same with Ajax, Achilles, Paris, and the rest.  By the time Odysseus leaves for Ithica, his Myth is so high that it's no wonder his tragedy gets him stranded for 10 more years :)

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Would these additions help create the kind of Narrativist or Sim-Nar Hybrid game that I'm trying to build?  What other things could I do to further support this goal?  How well do you think players would react to dramatic protagonism and regular character death/tragedy?  Are there any real problems inherant in this kind of system that I'll need to address?


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Sidhain on May 20, 2003, 11:16:17 AM
Ok question:

What makes this about superheroes? To me superheroes is not about being /powered/ heroes--but about attitude and flavor. This is why many Pulp protagnisits aren't called "supers", just as your average D&D character may well have powers beyond mortals but isn't a superhero.



Now that out of the way--Consider suffering, must it all be physical /damage/--you don't say so but your first setnance under this header of Suffering Heroes mentioned /hurt/. Something to consider is that there are levels of damage, and then there is HURT--Hercules family was killed IIRC by him in  a mad rage after he'd been poisoned. Greek Myths tend to have very tragic things happen to those around heroes that impact the heroes--Odysseus entire crew died--they survived the Trojan war, but eventually he alone was left. This suggest that the Mythic hero is benefitted by his cleverness so that while he suffers emotionally, pschologically, and physically he's hardier than he may seem.


I'm not a fan of switching heroes, frankly while heroic seeming people die in those stories, usually the /actual/ Hero survives to the end (even if the end of the story is his death.) which complicates matters--do you want to have games simulate Greek Myth, or do you want it to /be/ a re-telling of Greek myth? The two are distinct in /one/ the primary characters such as Heracles, Jason are girded a bit by harm (re-telling) in the other, you may lose main characters (or those specific ones may not exist.)


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 20, 2003, 11:43:07 AM
Quote from: Sidhain
What makes this about superheroes?


The attitude and flavor, just like you said.  I'm not setting out to make the game like Fvlminata, where the setting tries to be an as-accurate-as-possible emulation of the classical world.  I'm trying to drift away from that kind of Sim play.  I'm also not trying to emulate the tone of classical myths, so the stories will be incredibly anachronistic in style, though not outrageously so.  Heracles isn't going to pull out a gun or talk about Mickey Mouse, but his way of talking and acting will have more in common with Kevin Sorbo's version than classical Greece.  The idea is low-powered-supers-in-the-ancient-world, with all the trappings that the supers genre brings.  Not costumes and secret identiies, but power & responsibility, might vs. right, who watches the watchmen?, and all the modern tropes of comic-dom.

Quote
Consider suffering, must it all be physical /damage/


No, and that's a damn good point.  I'm sure that the damage system in M&M could also be adapted to handle stress and emotional pain.  In fact, it might make sense to have a general threshold, where pain and emotional damage all built up on top of each other until the hero can't handle it anymore.  In fact, now that I think about it, what if, instead of a damage system or hit points, failing any kind of damage check (emotional or physical) would simply move the character closer to the tragedy that will ultimately destroy them?  That way, heroes can't be killed; they can only be destroyed by the tragedy of fate and their own making.

I like that :)

Quote
Do you want to have games simulate Greek Myth, or do you want it to /be/ a re-telling of Greek myth?


Here's a possibility that just struck me.  Let me know what you think.

Players, upon starting the game or losing their character to tragedy, can create a new character using one of two methods:

1:  Create a higher-Myth character based on a well-known Greek hero like Jason, Heracles, Theseus, etc.  However, due to the character's high-Myth, parts of their tragedy have already taken place.  They are already half-way to destruction.  Additionally, the early details of their tragedy should match the tragedy that befalls then in their actual real-life myth.  When their tragedy comes about, the players should try to mimick the myth as much as possible (or as much as the campaign desires; some groups may want to depict alternate myths and not hold fast to the originals).

2:  Create a low-Myth character based on a lesser-known hero (one of the 'unknown' Argonauts, minor characters from myths, etc.) and start out with no set tragedy.  This character advances as normal and lives or dies according to circumstances.  Eventually, it's possible for the character to become as famous (or more so) than the great heroes of myth, but it's just as likely that the character will reach their tragedy without ever achieving greatness.

Does that offer a solution to the problems you pointed out?


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Valamir on May 20, 2003, 11:48:32 AM
Quote from: Sidhain

I'm not a fan of switching heroes, frankly while heroic seeming people die in those stories, usually the /actual/ Hero survives to the end (even if the end of the story is his death.) which complicates matters--do you want to have games simulate Greek Myth, or do you want it to /be/ a re-telling of Greek myth? The two are distinct in /one/ the primary characters such as Heracles, Jason are girded a bit by harm (re-telling) in the other, you may lose main characters (or those specific ones may not exist.)


Actually I kind of liked that.  It puts the horse back in front of the cart so to speak.

Did Jason and Hercules survive the the argos because they are heroes.  Or are they heroes because they survived the argos.

The illiad is the same way.  In reading the actual work (as opposed to say that travesty of all things holy "Helen of Troy mini series) there are dozens of heroes...honest to god player character quality heroes on both sides.  One by one you tick off their deaths until by the end you're left with just the survivors.  

There's a bit of forshadowing involved at identifying the survivors with the introductory scenes of Agammemnon, Odysseus, etc...but there was also such scenes for Achilles and Hector.

Lots of heroes will make their name.  Few will survive to become legends in their own time...  I like it

But I'm not seeing anything particularly narrativist about it...


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 20, 2003, 11:57:51 AM
Quote from: Valamir
But I'm not seeing anything particularly narrativist about it...


Hmm...  Maybe not.  It is looking kind of Sim (esp. Character, Color), despite my attempts to try and drift it.  Maybe I'm misguided in that desire, then, and what I really want is just a different kind of Sim experience, one that is focused on certain themes like "all heroes are destined for tragedy" and "the powerless can still be heroes by outwitting the powerless," which serve as Color for the Sim-style play, rather than as the primary purpose of play in a more Narrativist model.

Or maybe I should just stop worrying about GNS and just design some good games, because each time I start dealing with it I end up confusing myself.  Maybe it's just not my thing, huh?  I'm starting to think I should just ignore it.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Valamir on May 20, 2003, 12:06:01 PM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton
 Or maybe I should just stop worrying about GNS and just design some good games, because each time I start dealing with it I end up confusing myself.  Maybe it's just not my thing, huh?  I'm starting to think I should just ignore it.


In that regard:
I don't think GNS is, was, will be, or was intended to be a tool for blueprinting design.  The way I use it, have used it, continue to use it, recommend how to use it, is to simply design your game.

There will come a point when you've added a zillion cool things to it; all of which you like because you sweated and bled over them.  Unfortuneately, the result is a mess.  You look at the individual parts and you smile.  You look at the game as a whole and its a clunky cumbersome "where the hell am I going with this" mess.

THAT's when GNS comes in IMO.  When its time to start pruning.  After you have a game that's far enough along to tell you what it wants to be.  Then armed with the theory (i.e. keeping the ideas in the back of your head) you start making the tough choices like "wow...what a brilliant set of encumberance rules I just invented...unlike anything I've ever seen before...so easy to use...so effective...SNIP...so out of place and irrelevant to what I'm trying to do"

Thaz howz Iz seez it anyway.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Emily Care on May 20, 2003, 12:14:40 PM
Hey there,

Glad you're continuing work on this. It looked good in the competition, and I was sad not to get to see more of it.

One aspect that you may already have considered (and possibly discarded) is the influence of the Gods.  Athena's meddling with Odysseus helped him turn out to be one of "those remaining", and the jealousy and requirements of the gods are easy protagonizing forces that could be used to frame the plot and introduce complications for your merry band.  They were important even in the heroic myths and could lend the appropriate air of periodicity etc.

That's my unsolicited suggestion for what you should add. :) (No pressure, it looks fine how it is.)  But if you want to go for narrativism, the gods are such an appropriate prod to use. Your setting begs it.

Respectfully,
Em Care


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Matt Snyder on May 20, 2003, 12:34:57 PM
Quote from: Emily Care
One aspect that you may already have considered (and possibly discarded) is the influence of the Gods.  Athena's meddling with Odysseus helped him turn out to be one of "those remaining", and the jealousy and requirements of the gods are easy protagonizing forces that could be used to frame the plot and introduce complications for your merry band.  They were important even in the heroic myths and could lend the appropriate air of periodicity etc.

That's my unsolicited suggestion for what you should add. :) (No pressure, it looks fine how it is.)  But if you want to go for narrativism, the gods are such an appropriate prod to use. Your setting begs it.


I'm with Emily, here. Give EVERY player character an immortal patron, a god who favors the hero, which of course sets up conflicts for gods who do NOT like that god, nor the hero. Someday, in futures I'll likely never reach, my Iliad: the RPG game will have this.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Sidhain on May 20, 2003, 01:03:26 PM
Quote


No, and that's a damn good point.  I'm sure that the damage system in M&M could also be adapted to handle stress and emotional pain.  In fact, it might make sense to have a general threshold, where pain and emotional damage all built up on top of each other until the hero can't handle it anymore.  In fact, now that I think about it, what if, instead of a damage system or hit points, failing any kind of damage check (emotional or physical) would simply move the character closer to the tragedy that will ultimately destroy them?  That way, heroes can't be killed; they can only be destroyed by the tragedy of fate and their own making.

I like that :)


I like the sound of that, feel very approrpiate (already have someone adapting my supers game--yet unreleased to Lyric Greek style so I suspect it's highly doable, just wasn't sure if you were taking this kind of direction.



Quote
layers, upon starting the game or losing their character to tragedy, can create a new character using one of two methods:

1:  Create a higher-Myth character based on a well-known Greek hero like Jason, Heracles, Theseus, etc.  However, due to the character's high-Myth, parts of their tragedy have already taken place.  They are already half-way to destruction.  Additionally, the early details of their tragedy should match the tragedy that befalls then in their actual real-life myth.  When their tragedy comes about, the players should try to mimick the myth as much as possible (or as much as the campaign desires; some groups may want to depict alternate myths and not hold fast to the originals).



Well I like the idea of having the choice between "established but halfway doomed" or "unestablished, and not yet on the doomed path" it makes it interesting. But again I don't like the idea of losing main protaganists--I disagree that those characters Val mentioned were main protaganists. I don't mind the built in replacement for heroes though--it creates at least a better precedent for adding new characters/new parts of the game.


However when I say losing--I usually mean it in the "Hidden Path" way that is a character dies because of the opposition and GM's decision/random roll causes such trauma as to slay them. In my supers game--character death is discusses for the /campaign/ at the outset. Something similar "Yes your character can die, but you choose when based on certian game factors" may be a better solution that does away with my concern--I feel in supers games death should be rare and pivotal, it is likely to be more common in Argonauts style game than traditional 4 color so it may be something to do with a Mythic goal. For example: Character has goal "kill Hydra and bring back its blood for maiden cursed by Hera." in this case one of the heroes has achieved such mythic status--high Myth that he's "maxed" out the game element--and so to cement that  (rather than it dwindling and fading) the player chooses to die tragically saving his cousin/brother/ what have you whose goal is to return the blood now. THey get a new character--perhaps with some myth because they are tied to the Heroic/mythic death of the previous hero played by the same player.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 20, 2003, 01:47:27 PM
Thanks for the thoughts on when to use GNS, Ralph.  That's sorta the point I was getting to myself, but you nailed it and left me free not to worry about it anymore.

Quote from: Emily Care
Glad you're continuing work on this. It looked good in the competition, and I was sad not to get to see more of it.


Actually, the version of this concept that I was working on for Iron Chef was VERY different.  Had some pretty out-there concepts in it that I wanted to test.  Assuming I get time tonight, I might type up the original version and post it here, just so you guys can see what I was doing with the "wheel of the journey" and "character-attributes" and the other zonky stuff.

Quote
One aspect that you may already have considered (and possibly discarded) is the influence of the Gods.  That's my unsolicited suggestion for what you should add. :)


Actually, I did solicit for suggestions and had strangely not even considered the gods, really.  However, my first instinct is to set them aside and leave them as color (little 'c') for the setting/background.  Here's why:

To do gods right, I'd really like to have individual players taking on control of them.  This gets problematic.  SOLUTION A: Have a player represent both a character and their parton god.  However, this makes it hard for there to be a real relationship between to game entities represented by the same player.  Also, it's much harder to have a falling out with yourself.  SOLUTION B: Have each player represent a hero and a god besides their patron.  But wouldn't the god just become their patron anyway, if left to their own devices?  How do you encourage certain kinds of god-hero relationships?  SOLUTION C: Have the GM represent all the gods.  Crappy.  You miss all the fun of godly squabbles.  Also, potential for Illusionism and Deus Ex Machina all over the place.  SOLUTION D: Have extra players who just play gods.  All of a sudden the game becomes huge, unless each player handles multiple Argonauts (which could be used as replacements later?) and we have almost a seperate parallel game going on that involves the gods and a competely different style of play.

Basically, I can only really imagine D working well, and I don't think that's the game I want to write right now.  Anybody else see other good options?

Finally, Sidhain, I don't think character death is a problem if it's made clear that character death is the whole point of play, really.  It's about playing heroes through their tragedy.  If that's up front, I don't think anyone will have problems.  If it's not your thing, cool.  But I don't see it as being a real problem for the game as a whole.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Paul Czege on May 20, 2003, 03:14:12 PM
Hey Jonathan,

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods,
They kill us for their sport

- King Lear, IV, i

Randomize them. Gods are petty and political, but really only broadcast a few different "channels." Take a look at Vin Diakuw's The Reverse Role-playing Game. Randomize a god's status quo every so often, maybe at the beginning of of every session, interpret the result in the context of their ongoing politics, and allow the players to decide if their characters want to avail themselves of their patron's favor.

Paul


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 20, 2003, 06:27:02 PM
Quote from: Paul Czege
Randomize them.


Oh right, Fortune.  You mean people are still designing games that use that stuff? :)  Yet another instance where personal play preferences are blinding me to the obvious.  Thanks Paul.  I'll try to whip something up.

The Original

In the meantime, here's the wacky, wacky game I was planning to whip up for Iron Chef Sim.  It's pretty character sheet based, so let's start there.  The first version is for printing, the second for reading online:

http://www.godmachine.org/Argonauts.pdf
http://www.godmachine.org/Argonauts2.pdf

The Crew

There is a single GM.  All the others players collectively represent the crew of the Argo, and they select one player among them to be Jason, the captain of the vessel, who ultimately declares the decisions of the crew, after consulting with the other players.  Think like a Team Captain in a sport or gameshow.  This makes it easy for the game to be played one-on-one, with one player as Jason and one GM.

The Journey

In the bottom right hand corner of the character sheet is the "sphere" (wheel, really), that represents the progress of the Argo.  You start on the Alpha spoke (in Iolcus), progress towards the Nu spoke (Colchis, where Jason has to recover the Golden Fleece), and then return around the circle, bypassing Omega and going home to Alpha and Colchis.

Each spoke on the wheel represents a seperate encounter, often a seperate island that the Argonauts visit on their way to or from Colchis, but it could also be an encounter at sea (Scylla and Charybdis, the Rushing Rocks, the Sirens, etc.) or seperate encounters on the same island (the Labyrinth and the Minotaur could both be seperate encounters taking place on Crete).

Heroism Resolution

The majority of the game takes place in this manner:

A.  The crew discusses what should be done about a specific situation ("We've just arrived in Crete, what should we do?")

B.  The captain (Jason) delegates responsibiltiies and crew control among the players ("You take Heracles and see if you can find out what kind of mood Minos is in.")

C.  All non-Argonaut narration is arbitrated by the GM.  The GM cannot narrate any direct injury to any Argonaut, but he is free to have them locked up or turned into pigs or whatever.  The GM has full narrative power over every story element besides the Argonauts themselves.

D.  In any situation where the players do not happen to like what the GM is doing, their Argonauts can attempt something heroic and try to change the action of the story ("Hercules isn't going to let Minos chain him up.  Instead, he'll take the chains and use them to kill all the guards in the room.")  In this case, the player who has been designated control of that character rolls 1D4.

E.  Consult the table at the bottom of the page, under the list of npn-heroic crewmen.  If the player attempting heroism is non-heroic (aka a disposable "redshirt Argonaut"), consult 1-4 as rolled.  If the charcater is one of the heroes in the upper table, could the result as 1D4+2, giving you a result between 3-6).

F.  The results are read in the following manner:
    1.  Failure, kill a crewman
    2.  Failure
    3.  Success
    4.  Success
    5.  Sucess, kill a crewman
    6.  Failure, kill 1D4 crewmen[/list:u]

    The player who rolled the die has the responsibility of narrating the result, based on the outcome obtained.  A roll of 6 means that the hero has surpassed the bounds of what's safe, and their heroism has become dangerous, leading to the deaths of several crewmen ("Heracles, blinded by his rage, kills several Argonauts during his battle with Minos' guards.  Afterwards, succombing to grief, he is easily carried away and bound.")

    In order to pass each encounter, there must be one conflict which is named the Key Conflict, where the Argonauts finally overcome the difficulty and move on to the next encounter.  Beating a Key Conflict always requires a roll of some kind, and the hero who finally triumphs over the conflict has his name filled in on the "wheel" of progress, beside the encounter letter.

    G.  Each hero is only allowed to beat one Key Conflict in the course of their journey, though they can be involved in many conflicts and encounters.  After a hero has bested their Key Encounter for the game, fill in one of the triangles beside their name, indicated that they either "used up" their Key Encounter during the journey to Colchis (">") or on the way back ("<").  Note that Heracles is only with the Argonauts during the first part of their journey, so if he is to pass a Key Conflict, he must do during the first half of their journey.  Likewise with Medea, who only joins the crew for the latter half.

    H.  Every time a crew member is to die, cross out the box next to their name.  You can choose to kill either red-shirts or heroes, but you must encorperate their deaths into the narrative.  You could also fill in their box with the letter of the encounter they perished in, so as to keep a record of your journey.

Superpowers

The powers listed next to each hero can be incorperated into any narrative involving them as long as its one in which dice have been rolled.  Powers, you see, are always dangerous and, though they make success very likely, also run the risk of leading to disaster.

But Back to d20...

Anyway, so that's what the Iron Chef version would have looked like.  The whole point was to make it back with the fleece and still have some crewmen alive.  Very different from the kinds of games I usually design.  but with that out of my system, I go back to tinkering with M&M.  Thanks to your great suggestions, I may have more details up in a few days, along with the SRD for Ever-After (outlining the basic mechanics, which I'll be explaining in narrative form for the actual game).


Title: Re: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: talysman on May 21, 2003, 02:04:05 AM
hi, Jonathan... I like the way your game is looking, particularly this part:

Quote from: Jonathan Walton

4.  The Myth System.  There's a new ability/resource called Myth.  You add your Myth modifier to any roll to see if people have heard of you.  It can often be combined with Charisma if you're trying to impress or gain influence with others ("Yes, well, if you continue to defy me, I might have to treat you just like that Nemean Lion...").  When you kill a creature or pass through a trial with a higher Myth level than your own, your Myth increases (yes, Shreyas, yet another Torchbearer-influenced mechanic).  However, every so often you are forced to roll against your Myth, with a higher Myth making the roll harder.  Failure means that a piece of your tragedy has occured.


... because it's sort of a twist on the standard FRPG as well -- argonauts kill monsters, but the reason for killing monsters is glory and heroism, not wealth. and since it's essentially a reaction bonus, it ties the heroism into the rest of the role-playing.

also, it reminds me of something I'm about to do for one of my "fantasy inversions" (more about the "fantasy inversions" in the post-mortem thread...) I have a game concept I am calling "level-up", which is just a working title that embodies the original idea. in this game, I invert the usual "kill monsters and get treasure, earn experience" process. instead, "level-up" is a social game set in a pseudomedieval fantasy town; the social interactions, intrigue, haggling with merchants, looking for trainers, etc., are the ways to earn experience points, which you then spend on "adventures" and "treasures", all of which happen off-screen, but which improve your character.

not quite useful for what you are trying to do, I guess, since it sounds like you want the heroism to have equal screen-time with the social interactions. but maybe you can use that as the basis of a rules-tweak. maybe whatever-it-is you want to reward (Narrativist play?) boosts the amount of Myth you earn from an adventure?


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Emily Care on May 21, 2003, 08:15:24 AM
Hi Jon,

I realized I mis-spoke a bit in my last post. The gods may be useful to protagonize the characters in Argonauts and are easy hooks for prodding your characters into action etc.  I like Paul's idea for handling them. The classical gods are principles after all: love, war etc.  A shtick and a roll could direct their actions handily.  

If you want to have the game be more narrativist, then you'd probably want to include some theme/Premise that each of the heros is exploring through their life and actions.  The gods could be useful in expressing this.

Just realized I'd been fuzzy in my use of the term narrativism.  Glad if the suggestion is useful.

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
F. The results are read in the following manner:

                           1. Failure, kill a crewman
                           2. Failure
                           3. Success
                           4. Success
                           5. Sucess, kill a crewman
                           6. Failure, kill 1D4 crewmen


Yow, that's some elimination you've got going there.  Are pc characters exempt?

--EC


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 21, 2003, 09:32:04 AM
Quote from: Emily Care
The gods may be useful to protagonize the characters in Argonauts and are easy hooks for prodding your characters into action etc.  I like Paul's idea for handling them. The classical gods are principles after all: love, war etc.  A shtick and a roll could direct their actions handily.


Totally.  I like your idea of gods-as-principles, actually.  What if a few random rolls before each session would determine the "divine modifiers" for that session?  You might get something like War +2, Love -2, Thievery +1.  Then, whenever characters performed actions related to those principles, they would recieve the appropriate penalty or bonus to their actions, depending on which gods' powers were waxing or waning.  And perhaps characters could have patron gods who provided their own bonuses or penalties, which would change from time to time.  For instance, maybe the Feat "Favor of Ares" would allow you to ignore any War Penalties that came from the god's changable nature.  

Quote
Yow, that's some elimination you've got going there.  Are pc characters exempt?


Actually, there were no PCs in that version of Argonauts.  The players, collectively, were the crew of the argo, all 50-some crewman, including the heroes and redshirts.  And, since the players got to narrate the deaths of various crewmen, they would decide who got the shaft, either a redshirt or a hero.

In the new version, based on Mutants & Masterminds, characters only die through meeting their Fate, and then only sometimes.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 22, 2003, 04:20:36 PM
Replying to myself...  Clearly a sign that I'm a loser :)

Anyway, I've synthesized my own concepts and the fabulous suggestions I've gotten here and created something like a proposal.  It's basically a draft of what I plan to send Green Ronin when I apply to use their "M&M Superlink" logo.

http://www.godmachine.org/argonauts/

At this point, since this looks to be a "quick and easy" project (famous last words, I know), I'm thinking that I might sit down and do this in a couple of weeks (writing, art, layout, everything).  That way, I could try to build some recognition for 1001 Designs and myself, before I release Ever-After in the early Fall.  This comes from Phil Reed's experience and some other comments, where getting some attention for d20 stuff carries over to non-d20 stuff.

Still, mostly looking for comments on the document above and not on my business plan.  Specifically, I'd like y'all's thoughts on:

1. Myth as a Modfier?  In game terms, Myth is basically going to be treated like a modifer and added to certain rolls, so I'm having players keep track of it that way (+1, +2... +20).  However, functionally, they also have to roll over it on some occasions, so it sometimes functions just as a number.  Should I ditch the whole modifer business and have it just represented as a number?  This is not a big issue, but mostly aethetic and relates to accessibility and clarity.

2. Specific Fate vs. Fatal Flaw:  The example Fate I give for Heracles is "to destroy and be destroyed by those closest to you," which is pretty different from a Fatal Flaw like "Violent Rage."  What kind of difference will this make in gameplay, do you think?  Is there a reason I should choose one form over another?  The Flaw is certainly less specific than the Specific Fate.  Perhaps the character's understanding of their Fate could develop over time?

3.  Prophecy/Spin/Measure/Cut:  What do you think of this system for having the tone of the campaign switch to reflect different character's progress towards their Fate?  Are Spin, Meaure, and Cut evocative enough?  I chose them to reflect the Three Fates, but they don't really tell the players much about what "being Measured" or "being Spun" is supposed to feel like to a character.  Should I switch terms or just try to offer concrete descriptions of what I'm going for?

4.  Patronage System:  I based this mostly on Emily Care's insightful suggestions (thanks, Em!).  Does it sound workable?  How do I balance the benefits of being patronized by minor dieties (Muses, locus dei, titans, etc.) compared to having an Olympian patron?  Obviously, minor dieties would have less servants and more time for you, but how do I reflect that in game?

5. Any Other Issues You Want to Bring Up:  Those are just the things that I myself have concerns about.  If you see anything else in the design that bothers you or looks like it could be ever cooler, don't hesitate to wax poetical.  Thanks to your earlier suggestions, it's now twice as neat as it was before.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 23, 2003, 06:50:57 AM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton

1. Myth as a Modfier?  In game terms, Myth is basically going to be treated like a modifer and added to certain rolls, so I'm having players keep track of it that way (+1, +2... +20).  However, functionally, they also have to roll over it on some occasions, so it sometimes functions just as a number.  Should I ditch the whole modifer business and have it just represented as a number?  This is not a big issue, but mostly aethetic and relates to accessibility and clarity.
Hmm. Sticky. What About both? Like 20/+20. Nah, that's probably worse.

BTW, have you seen Primeval? They have a mechanic that's a lot like your Myth mechanic.

Quote
2. Specific Fate vs. Fatal Flaw:  The example Fate I give for Heracles is "to destroy and be destroyed by those closest to you," which is pretty different from a Fatal Flaw like "Violent Rage."  What kind of difference will this make in gameplay, do you think?
How will this be used in the game (like a destiny SA?). What are you trying to get out of it. If it's a certain end, that is, the character can't likely escape it, then I'd say go for the Fate. If it's just meant to affect play along the way, I'd go with Flaw.

Quote
Is there a reason I should choose one form over another?  The Flaw is certainly less specific than the Specific Fate.  Perhaps the character's understanding of their Fate could develop over time?
Sure, do both. Have a mechanic where the player has to specify his fat more pointedly as his Flaw comes into play or something like that. When the Fate is perfectly defined, that's when it happens. Just an idea.

Quote
3.  Prophecy/Spin/Measure/Cut:  What do you think of this system for having the tone of the campaign switch to reflect different character's progress towards their Fate?  Are Spin, Meaure, and Cut evocative enough?  I chose them to reflect the Three Fates, but they don't really tell the players much about what "being Measured" or "being Spun" is supposed to feel like to a character.  Should I switch terms or just try to offer concrete descriptions of what I'm going for?
I think it's cool as is. Just explain them well, and link mechanics that evoke them. Maybe the character gets his Flaw as a result of being Spun. Then he gets his Fate as a result of being measured. Then he meets his Fate as a result of being Cut.

Quote
4.  Patronage System:  I based this mostly on Emily Care's insightful suggestions (thanks, Em!).  Does it sound workable?  How do I balance the benefits of being patronized by minor dieties (Muses, locus dei, titans, etc.) compared to having an Olympian patron?  Obviously, minor dieties would have less servants and more time for you, but how do I reflect that in game?
Have you seen the In Nomine rules for Invoking your superior? Basically it's a roll to see if they show up when you want them to. Pretty straightforward.

I'd also balance by having the lesser patrons be less of a burden on the character. If your patron is Zeus himself, then he's always got something for you to do in return. A lesser diety gives their lesser ability for less in return. Does that work?

Quote
5. Any Other Issues You Want to Bring Up:  Those are just the things that I myself have concerns about.  If you see anything else in the design that bothers you or looks like it could be ever cooler, don't hesitate to wax poetical.  Thanks to your earlier suggestions, it's now twice as neat as it was before.

You need a hubris characteristic. One that a player can add to for something like re-rolls, which drives him towards his Fate, and earns him the enmity of the gods. This would be altered by his relationship with the gods. Thus, do what Zeus says, and reduce hubris, and make his patronage stronger. Don't do what Zeus says, or make enough re-rolls (avoiding fate), and Hubris becomes an unstoppable force driving toward disaster.

Mike


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Sidhain on May 23, 2003, 08:20:35 AM
I'd probably supplant the role( of Hero points with "Myth" score ir better yet an axis of Myth Vs Hubris) it does two things creates a non-limited resource--one which can be tested against/used without loss, but also can risk some suffering (for example a High Myth failure means the hero banked on his fame/myth and failed--obviously he was showing hubris at this time, so the Gods take note.)


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Piers on May 23, 2003, 08:28:53 AM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton

1. Myth as a Modfier?  In game terms, Myth is basically going to be treated like a modifer and added to certain rolls, so I'm having players keep track of it that way (+1, +2... +20).  However, functionally, they also have to roll over it on some occasions, so it sometimes functions just as a number.  Should I ditch the whole modifer business and have it just represented as a number?  This is not a big issue, but mostly aethetic and relates to accessibility and clarity.


You know, I'd be tempted to conflate the Myth attribute with Mutants and Mastermind's Power Level, while decoupling power level from number of points used to build the character.  Thus Power Level/Myth goes up when the characters add to their mythic stature, and may well outpace or lag behind the rate of 15pts per level.  (Or maybe the players get a lump of points when they jump to the next level.)

At the same time, the increase in Myth level, while making them explicitly more powerful, runs them down the road to their fate, with specific way-stations along the path.  Thus, your suggested PL 5 start would be the level at which the characters get a hint as to their fate, and it becomes more defined either every level, or every other level (as they gain hero points).  I agree with Mike's analysis above, about the difference between Fate and Fatal Flaw.  I'd go with Fate myself (it is actually very like the Fate mechanism in the game I'm working on, but I'll tell everyone about that when I have time), but it really depends on your intent.

The advantage of this approach is that it conflates a mechanic of the system with your mechanism.  In view of which, I'd also suggest that you might want to reconsider the use of Hero and Villian points in the game in terms of Patrons.  If these become the explicit intervention of the Gods, then favour can be distributed in terms extra points, and antagonism in terms of Villian points to be used by the GameMaster.  Narrate them specifically as divine intervention and you're all done.

Actually, thinking about it, if you want to go down this road for the favour/patronage system, it might be even more appropriate to set down an unspecified number of Hero points for the heroes, depending on the god's favour.  Then the characters get to call for favour as often as they like, invoking a specific God or Goddess, never knowing when they have overstepped their welcome.  And if they do, the deity adds to the Villian pool instead.  Or, maybe make it something like this:

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You need a hubris characteristic. One that a player can add to for something like re-rolls, which drives him towards his Fate, and earns him the enmity of the gods. This would be altered by his relationship with the gods. Thus, do what Zeus says, and reduce hubris, and make his patronage stronger. Don't do what Zeus says, or make enough re-rolls (avoiding fate), and Hubris becomes an unstoppable force driving toward disaster.


Hubris is good, and I must say, I like the way you are taking this.

Piers


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 23, 2003, 10:38:54 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Sticky. What About both? Like 20/+20. Nah, that's probably worse.


What I've got right now is a place on the character sheet that says "Myth: +BOX" (with "BOX" being a box and not the word "BOX"), which kinda illustrates the effect of Myth being both a modifier and a value.  Haven't seen Primeval.  Is it somehting I can get my hands on easily?

BTW, have you seen Primeval? They have a mechanic that's a lot like your Myth mechanic.

Quote
Maybe the character gets his Flaw as a result of being Spun. Then he gets his Fate as a result of being measured. Then he meets his Fate as a result of being Cut.


Stolen.  And thanks.  I was thinking of something along those lines anyway.

Quote
Have you seen the In Nomine rules for Invoking your superior?


I was a hardcore In Nomine fanboy for a while.  So are you suggesting that maybe patronage could be a value that you could roll against, attempt to invoke your Patron's aid?  And maybe minor dieties would be easy to invoke, but wouldn't be able to help you much, while major dieties would be rather hard to invoke, but would offer serious help.  That leads to a prayer-like system where Heracles says "O Mighty Zeus!  Drive my blade straight into the breasts of my enemies!"  And characters could always add their Myth into any attempt to invoke the gods, risking their Fate.

Quote
You need a hubris characteristic.


How's this: I need a mechanic for getting rid of "X" anyway, and since that involves running away from your oncoming Fate, what if you can trade "X" for points of Hubris, and vice versa, at any time.  You gain Hubris by running away from your Fate and can loose Hubris by accepting your Fate.  Then Hubris becomes a negative modifier whenever you want to invoke the gods.  Since you are arrogantly avoiding the Fate the gods have given you, they decide to stop giving you their aid.  That way, like Sidhain said, both Myth and Hubris tie into Fate, but in very different ways.

Quote from: Piers Brown
You know, I'd be tempted to conflate the Myth attribute with Mutants and Mastermind's Power Level, while decoupling power level from number of points used to build the character. Thus Power Level/Myth goes up when the characters add to their mythic stature, and may well outpace or lag behind the rate of 15pts per level.


Hey, Piers!  Cool to hear from you again.

Can you explain more about why you want to "decouple" Myth/PL from Power Points?  My intent was for GMs to build Mythic Deeds for the characters using the same system, so you get 150 points to build a Myth 10 creature/adversary/labor for them to take on.  And then, once the characters overcame it, they would all go up a Myth level and gain another 10 points to invest, making their powers grow with their Myth.  Are there specific advantages in making them seperate?

Also, I wasn't intending for Argonauts characters to be able to gain Power Points in any other way.  Unlike superheroes, mythic heroes' power only grows through raising their Myth, and they can only raise their Myth by committing Mythic Deeds.  Are there issues here that I haven't considered fully?

Quote
In view of which, I'd also suggest that you might want to reconsider the use of Hero and Villian points in the game in terms of Patrons.


Ooooo.  I like.  Not quite sure how to implement it yet, but it's definitely a good idea.  Perhaps a successful invocation, instead of providing yet another modifier, could provide the hero with an allotment of hero points, depending on how successful the role was.  And, of course, really bad failures would lead to the GM getting more villain points to play with.  Definitely something worth thinking about.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Piers on May 23, 2003, 11:50:38 AM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Can you explain more about why you want to "decouple" Myth/PL from Power Points?  My intent was for GMs to build Mythic Deeds for the characters using the same system, so you get 150 points to build a Myth 10 creature/adversary/labor for them to take on.  And then, once the characters overcame it, they would all go up a Myth level and gain another 10 points to invest, making their powers grow with their Myth.  Are there specific advantages in making them seperateAlso, I wasn't intending for Argonauts characters to be able to gain Power Points in any other way.  Unlike superheroes, mythic heroes' power only grows through raising their Myth, and they can only raise their Myth by committing Mythic Deeds.  Are there issues here that I haven't considered fully??


Well, pulling the two apart creates a dichotomy between trained characters, and heroes.  One is good at a great many things, the other is much better at a few.  But, other than accomodating 'realistic' training or some such, nope.  Not that I can think of.  And this is the Forge, after all.  Realism, phooey.  You'll just need to be very careful about how and when the Myth score goes up.

Quote

Quote
In view of which, I'd also suggest that you might want to reconsider the use of Hero and Villian points in the game in terms of Patrons.


Ooooo.  I like.  Not quite sure how to implement it yet, but it's definitely a good idea.  Perhaps a successful invocation, instead of providing yet another modifier, could provide the hero with an allotment of hero points, depending on how successful the role was.  And, of course, really bad failures would lead to the GM getting more villain points to play with.  Definitely something worth thinking about.


Exactly.  Maybe you'd want to tie their base Hero points to a particular Patron, and when they need more, they can invoke that Patron or another God.  They make a Myth roll against a particular target number, and gain Hero Points based on their success.  Failure gives Villian points to the GameMaster.

Then, there are penalties for multiple invocations during a given session.  Which encourages characters to invoke someone else, which probably gets their Patron's back up.  Like this, perhaps:

Base Target Number 15
Gain 1 Hero Point plus an additional one for every five over the target.
Give the GM 1 Villian point for every 5  or part thereof under the target.
-5 cumulative, for second and susequent invocations of same God(dess) during the session.
-3 cumulative, for each invocation of different deity.

And characters could have Feats of the form: +3 to invoke Patron Deity, -3 to invoke Rival Deity.

That's a bit knobbly, but it should lead to a cycle where if you call on your Deity too much, they'll get annoyed with you, and where it may become better to switch to a new Deity, which will get the first Patron annoyed, etc.  But maybe the mechnic you have is better:

Quote
Quote from: Mike Holmes
You need a hubris characteristic.

How's this: I need a mechanic for getting rid of "X" anyway, and since that involves running away from your oncoming Fate, what if you can trade "X" for points of Hubris, and vice versa, at any time.  You gain Hubris by running away from your Fate and can loose Hubris by accepting your Fate.  Then Hubris becomes a negative modifier whenever you want to invoke the gods.  Since you are arrogantly avoiding the Fate the gods have given you, they decide to stop giving you their aid.  That way, like Sidhain said, both Myth and Hubris tie into Fate, but in very different ways.


And, characters should probably get Hubris points for invoking the same God multiple times ("What, you again?  Haven't you had enough help?"), as well as for not invoking the Gods at the right time, until, "Okay, Ullyses, Poseidon's putting down 10 Villian points towards stopping you getting home. For the first one, we'll have a big storm...."


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 23, 2003, 12:44:34 PM
Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Haven't seen Primeval.  Is it somehting I can get my hands on easily?
Almost impossible. Contact Unheilig at RPG.net if you're brave. Mention my name and it'll either help, or get epithet's thrown at you. Tom, you reading this???

Quote
So are you suggesting that maybe patronage could be a value that you could roll against, attempt to invoke your Patron's aid?  
Yeah, you got the idea.

Quote
That way, like Sidhain said, both Myth and Hubris tie into Fate, but in very different ways.
Sounds sweet. Yer on a roll.

Mike


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 23, 2003, 04:38:53 PM
Quote from: Piers Brown
Base Target Number 15
Gain 1 Hero Point plus an additional one for every five over the target.
Give the GM 1 Villian point for every 5  or part thereof under the target.
-5 cumulative, for second and susequent invocations of same God(dess) during the session.
-3 cumulative, for each invocation of different deity.


Hmm.  The only problem I see with this system is that players, after a certain point, will stop calling on the gods altogether, as long as invoking the gods is optional.  They'll figure out the likelihood of getting Hero Points, and if it doesn't seem like they have a chance, they won't go for it.  Hero Points aren't SO good that they're worth risking a lot for.  So, it'll be unlikely that Poseidon will ever rack up enough Villian points to strand Ulysses for 10 years.

Here's a new idea that I've been thinking about:

1. Any time during the session, the GM or Players can try to gain the attention of the gods.  This is done through an invocation.  Characters gain a Charisma bonus, if they are actually speaking the invocation aloud, and an additional bonus for invocing your patron.  There's a minor penalty for non-patrons.  You probably don't want to invoke your Patron's rival gods, but the GM might.  Just like in In Nomine, you can do certain things to make it more likely that the gods will pay attention.  Being in a temple is a plus, or doing something within their sphere (having just won an archery contest and invocing Apollo, for example).  Invocations do nothing accept gain the gods attention.  Invoced gods are considered to be "Attentive" for the remainder of the session (unless you make them go away).

2. Gods have spheres of influence.  Apollo's is Archery, Music, and Prophecy.  If Apollo is currently "Attentive," any time you attempt something that involves one of the elements of his sphere (shooting someone, playing the lute, going to Delphi), you have to roll to see if he intervenes.  There are plenty of modifiers here.  Bonused for Patrons, big penalties for Rivals, but mostly GM fiat.  If you're doing something the god would like, you get bonuses.  If not, penalties.

3.  Success on the roll gives you Hero Points (a mark of the god's favor).  Failure gives the GM Villain Points.  So if Ulysses is about to begin a long sea journey, most likely he's going to fail the Divine Intervention roll(Poseidon is his Rival, he's currently on the Ocean, the god is really pissed at him, etc.), giving the GM plenty of Villain points to throw around.   Failure, under certain conditions, could make a god go back to being Unattentive, meaning you'd have to invoke them again (with penalties).

4.  This way, the GM could try to invoke gods during play, depending on what the characters were doing.  Also, the characters could call on the blessings of various gods.  I'd probably have to change what exactly Hero/Villain points can do, and encourage the "Inspired Editing" (basically Author/Director Stance) that M&M mentions on p.106.  

EX.  Paris is about to shoot an arrow at Achilles.  He invokes Apollo's aid in the matter, and rolls high enought to make Apollo become "Attentive."  Next, he lets fly his arrow.  Now, Apollo's sphere means he has something to say about this archery business and Paris has plenty of bonuses (he just invoked Apollo, Apollo is a Patron of the Trojans, Paris' is a beautiful male youth and fits Apollo's archetype, Apollo would really like to see Achilles taken down, etc.).  So Paris rolls pretty high and gains 2 Hero Points towards the action.  He spends a single one to give a bonus to his Archery skill, and spends another to say that, if his aim is true, the arrow will hit Achilles heel.  Additionally, since he already gained the god's aid for this particular task, additional modifiers will make it hard for Paris to earn more of Apollo's favor with Archery, at least for the rest of this session.  Unless, of course, Paris is shooting someone else that Apollo really hates.

Sound workable?


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 27, 2003, 07:27:33 AM
Quote
Sound workable?
Very. What else you got? When's it available to playtest?

Mike


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 27, 2003, 05:04:21 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote
Sound workable?
Very. What else you got? When's it available to playtest?


Ideally, I'll have a playtest version in the next week or so.  Need to come up with basic Mythic Character/Monster/Deed creation rules, which will be used both to create the PCs and to create the things that they try to kill/overcome (one system for everything, yea!).

Again, ideally, I'd like to have example Characters/Monsters/Deeds for each Myth Level ("besting the Cretian Labyrinth is a level 8 Mythic Deed, add +3 if the Labyrinth includes a suitably formidible Minotaur"), complete with stats and advice on how to run them.  Kind of a mini "Myth Manual."  But that's not really required for a playtest version.  Just a few examples should be enough.

My only weakness is that I've never actually played or run any d20 stuff, so it'll be ciritcal for me to get some good playtesting in myself as well as listening to other people's experiences.  Then again, I did play Palladium games for years, which is a similar system in many ways, so hopefully it won't be too alien.

I'll keep you informed.  This has been a priority ever since the Forge's birthday party, where I wished R. Sean Borgstrom would write a game on the Trojan War.  But if you want something done... :)


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 28, 2003, 03:31:04 PM
Replying to myself again... sigh.

I finally finished the first page of the character sheet (so far, the second page is only going to be Super Powers and Gear).  Since it has most of the new mechanics on it, I thought I'd throw it up here.  All of the text is saved as vectors, so it looks 200% better if you actually print it out.  Thoughts on layout, clarity, readability, etc. are welcome.

http://www.godmachine.org/Argonauts-M&M.pdf

Assuming that Green Ronin approves my use of the M&M Superlink, I should have a free playtest version out in a week or so.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: John Harper on May 28, 2003, 03:51:26 PM
I'm really digging this game, Jonathan. The character sheet looks very nice, too. It's clear, easy-to-read, and the pseudo-greek font kicks ass.

I have a question for you about pace. Let's say I start out with a Myth 1 character. I then need another 19 mythic deeds before I face my doom and (maybe) die. How long in real-world time should this cycle take, from beginning to end? Are you thinking there will be a mythic deed done every session? That's about 20 sessions for the whole arc of the character (not accounting for X's coming and going through the process), which, at 1 game session a week, is roughly 5 months of play. That's pretty much as fast as I can imagine it getting done.

I don't know if I have point, after all. I'm just musing about how real-life time relates to the built-in storyline of an Argonauts character. Did you have anything specific in mind about how long the cycle would take to play? It's easy enough for each play group to tweak this factor to taste (by managing how common the mythic events come up) but maybe it's worth saying a few words about it in the full text.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 28, 2003, 05:05:27 PM
Thanks for the comments, John.

As far as speed-of-play goes, I imagine that characters will be constantly attempting Mythic Deeds.  This doesn't mean that ever session has to be completely filled up with the attempt, but that the attempt will probably be the focal pooint of every session.  The rest, interacting with family members and lovers, travel, being hosted by the kings of foreign lands, drinking with your comrades, etc. still happens, but it's not the focus of play.  Real heroes, after all, live for Doing Great Deeds.

Some deeds, of course, could be multi-part and take several sessions, like the quest for the Golden Fleece.  Some, like the Trials of Hercules or the Odyessy could really be broken up into several seperate Mythic Deeds (the Nemean Lion, the Hydra, the Stables of Whats-his-name, Cerberus, etc.).  But there should probably be a suggested maximum speed of one Mythic Deed per charcater per session.   And GMs will be encouraged to make bigger Deeds for all the characters to accomplish together.

However, I don't think this'll mean 20-30 sessions to reach their ultimate Doom.  Since the damage system is based on Fate, I imagine characaters will reach their Doom at various speeds, depending on the GM and the amount of risk they enjoy.  If you want to have characters that embody the "live fast, die young" philosophy, it's certainly easy to have a micro-tragedy in only a few sessions (3-5).  In that case, though, I'd probably let the players keep raising their Myth as fast as they wanted.  However, if you want to give the characters time to die dramatically, or to try to escape their Fate, that's possible too.  You just drag things out and give the characters time to build up a ton of Hubris.  Finally, the wrath of the gods should be enough to strike them down.

So, to try to answer your question, I don't know that there's a specific speed that I'm aiming for.  Actually, once we start playtesting, one of the things I'm going to be looking for is suggestions for how groups can pace things.  For instance, if the players thinks the tragedy is happening too fast, what should they do?  Likewise, if things are dragging and the characters don't seem to worry about their Fate, how can they speed things up?  I'm definitely going to press the point that the GM shouldn't be the one who decides when tragedy strikes.  The GM just builds potential Deeds and lets the players decide what to do with them.  S/he's an equal participant in the tragedy, not the arbiter of Fate.

How's that sound?


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: John Harper on May 28, 2003, 05:13:49 PM
Ah... I had forgotten about damage being tied to Fate. That clinches it, in my opinion. In fact, that was one of my favorite things when I first read the idea -- strange that I would forget all about it a day later. Anyway, I think that will address the pace issue very well. The GM can manage the frequency of mythic accomplishment (i.e. Power Level growth) and the player's choices will affect how much suffering they have to endure (pushing them closer to their Fate). Very nice.

And did I tell you how much I love the idea that characters can start at any Myth level? No? I love it this much.

Also, I can't wait to playtest this. My group has been itching for an ancient Greece/hero thing for a while now. We did something with it in Universalis, and they're just going to eat Argonauts up.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 28, 2003, 06:18:16 PM
Quote from: Feng
And did I tell you how much I love the idea that characters can start at any Myth level? No? I love it this much.


Wow, bold.  That's a lot of love there :)

Actually, I meant to mention Myth levels above and didn't.  If you don't have the time to invest in a long campaign but don't want to have characters (in the words of Boston) "living to die," you can always just start out at a higher Myth level.  Maybe even high enough to have your Flaw and/or Fate already determined.  That way, the hero already starts out with a black cloud over them.

Playing a Myth 0-5 Heracles would be very different from a Myth 6-10 one, or a Myth 11-15 one.  Sure, a Myth 12 Herc (havinug finished his Trials) would have a +12 modifier to throw around at will, but anytime he used it (to slaughter an entire army single-handedly, for example), he'd have a 3/5 chance of moving closer to his Doom.  And he wouldn't have very far to go... >;)


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 05:53:09 AM
So when can we see a write up for playtest?

Mike


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 29, 2003, 01:57:19 PM
Chris Pramas approved my use of M&M mechanics today, so as soon as I can get my fingers on a keyboard for an extended period of time, you should have it.  I'll try to get the writing done by next weekend.  But since Green Ronin has to approve the final playtest version before I can release it publically (to make sure I'm not violating OGL with their support), two weeks would probably be a safer bet.


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Sidhain on May 29, 2003, 03:35:51 PM
Good luck! :)


Title: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on June 03, 2003, 06:18:02 AM
This thread's a few days old, but I didn't want to hog the indie design board, so I'm going to post updates here.  Here's the intro portion that I worked up last night.  Tell me what you think.

INTRODUCTION

"For you it is the will of heaven and destiny that ye shall return here with the fleece; but meanwhile both going and returning, countless trials await you.  But it is my lot, by the hateful decree of a god, to die somewhere afar off on the mainland of Asia.  Thus, though I learnt my fate from evil omens even before now, I have left my fatherland to embark on the ship, that so after my embarking fair fame may be left me in my house."
-- from The Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius (c.250 BC)

A Time of Heroes

It is a time of real heroes.  When men are real men, women are real women, and mythology runs in the veins of the masses.  Who will step forward and take up the mantle of the hero?  The son of a king, the daughter of a god, or the orphaned child of mystery.  The call to greatness pounds in the ears of every mortal that draws breath.  With every splash of your heart, a legend is summoning you to be a part of it.  It says, "if you will only give yourself to me, dear child of the Achaeans, I will raise you above those others around you, up to the pinnacle of this Age.  Others will look to you and say, 'That is how a life is to be lived.'  I will burn you bright and fast, and you will not last long, but I will make of you a beacon that shines eternal.  And you shall never truly die."  This is the promise made to every hero, and the bargain, once made, is never broken.

The Labors of Heracles

You did not decide to become a hero while sitting beside a roaring hearth.  You decided with your sweat and sword and blood and bone.  When you bested the monster that had stalked your village for decades.  When you dared to drive the chariot of the gods.  When you escaped the clutches of your enemies on wings of wax and feathers.  When you sang a song that made the trees weep.  This is the path of the hero.  For you, there is no other.  This is what your own heart expects from you, and it is only satiated by the thrill of victory and the exaltation of thousands.  You were not born to do this, but you have made this life your own.  There is no turning back.  The headiness of adoration is sweeter than wine.

No Happy Endings

Joining the few and the proud, you have given up all hope of every leading a peaceful and boring life.  You will never grow old as you watch your grandchildren and great-grandchildren blossom in the springtime.  You will never clutch your true love to your chest, hold them tight, and promise them forever... without knowing it to be a lie.  For the hero, there are no happy endings.  There are no sunsets to ride off into.  There is only disaster and weeping.  It is not a question of "if."  It is only a matter of "when" and "how."  But this is the sacrifice you have willingly made in order to become myth.  Nothing is gained without risk.  And so you have risked all for a single chance at everything.

Fatal Tragedy

It is not as if you are going in blindly, without full knowledge of the agreement you have made with Fate.  Troy, after all, was not destroyed in a day and the indomitable spirit of a hero is not so quickly crushed.  Instead, it is slowly disassembled, piece by piece, as you look on, helpless to stop the ruin of everything you hold dear.  Your existence has become a grand tragedy of epic proportions.  Act by act, scene by scene, line by line, it plays out on the world stage for all to see.  And, when it's all over, there will be no curtain call for you to hear the applause.  The rest, as they say, is silence.