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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: ch1kopp1 on September 06, 2003, 12:58:32 AM

Title: Plot Determination Mechanics
Post by: ch1kopp1 on September 06, 2003, 12:58:32 AM
Hi all, I'm looking for reference material for a game concept.

I'd like to build a game in which the GM assigns basic elements to a plot, such as antagonist(s), milestones (key challenges that net the player's a reward once accomplished), mentors (key NPC allies), etc.

In game-play I intend to build a system that allows the plot to develop organically from the player's actions and input. In part, I'm thinking along the lines of Jared Sorensen's "InSpetres." As such, players will make assumptions and those assumptions will prove true or false based on a game mechanic.

I also have an idea that the plot will be represented by a partial deck of cards. Some cards represent plot elements pre-determined by the GM. Other cards will represent twists, turns, and developments.

At key moments of game play cards are either added to or randomly drawn from the deck. When a player's assumption proves true, a particular card is added. When the players successfully complete a milestone, a card is drawn. In this manner play progresses until a winning hand is achieved and the players reap some reward.

I can even envision multiple plots managed silmultaneously by multiple decks of cards.

I'm looking for examples of games that use a similar premise. I'm aware of Whimsey Cards, but hope to find examples of games that have a more intentional structure than mere introduction of random plot elements. I should also mention that I'm not specifically looking for games that make use of cards, but am open to any form of intentional plot development mechanics.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have.

Title: Plot Determination Mechanics
Post by: RaconteurX on September 06, 2003, 03:17:24 AM
Have you ever looked at the boardgames which use card-based turn, event and initiative systems? Avalon Hill's Hannibal and We The People spring to mind, plus West End Games' Tank Leader. All designed by one John Hill as I recall. Those might give you decent ideas as to how best to implement aspects of your design, as could Jo and Ken Walton's various wonderful storytelling card games ( (which are more genre-evocative, in my mind, than Atlas Games' otherwise marvelous Once Upon A Time).

Title: Plot Determination Mechanics
Post by: Sparky on September 06, 2003, 06:05:36 PM
I see that you are not specifically interested in card mechanics, but I could not find the thread I really wanted to show you. That one dealt with some ideas on how to make player assumptions into concrete game world facts. I searched for it for awhile, but could not find it. Instead, I offer you this.

There was a very recent discussion in the Indie Games forum titled Whimsy Cards (plus something else in parenthesis) initially authored by 'Gobi' (I think I have all the facts straight.) The idea I took from it was to use playing cards to simultaneously affect task resolution and plot development. This is the bit I saved to notepad:

"I've tentatively assigned the four suits to mechanics, scenery, inconvenient events and convenient events. The "events" mostly relate to NPCs' actions, but there is some room to expand it a bit.


Convenient - "Don't kill 'em. They'll be more valuable as prisoners."
"You made a good impression."
"You go unnoticed for a short while."

Inconvenient - "It's a trap!"
"An ally is jealous of you."
"The tables have turned."

Scenery - "Your investigation uncovers a vital clue."
"The weather turns in your favor."
"You manage to escape by the skin of your teeth."

System - "Re-roll your last action, taking this roll as the official one."
"Reroll your last action, taking whichever is most beneficial as the official one."
"Your selfless action is automatically successful."

Note that the interpretation and resolution of the cards can vary wildly depending on whether their held by the players or the GM.

For example, the suit would correspond to a broad story element like NPCs and the number within that suit would correspond to the relative impact that card would have on the story with regards to that plot category. Let's say hearts represents NPCs. A two of hearts would be something minor like "A deepthroat NPC anonymously gives the group a clue" a 10 of hearts could be something like "An antagonist reveals he/she is actually on the PCs' side."

Hope that's in the neighborhood of useful.


Title: Plot Determination Mechanics
Post by: anonymouse on September 06, 2003, 06:31:25 PM
Said thread is:

Keep in mind it should've technically been left dead and a new thread started, so any interest in continuing it should be done in a new thread.

Welcome t'the Forge, ch1. =)

Title: Re: Plot Determination Mechanics
Post by: M. J. Young on September 06, 2003, 07:21:34 PM
Quote from: ch1kopp1
I should also mention that I'm not specifically looking for games that make use of cards, but am open to any form of intentional plot development mechanics.

Multiverser uses the General Effects Roll, often to this end. I've always thought E. R. Jones lifted the idea from another game, but I don't think he remembered which one, so I can't credit it.

In essence, when the outcome of something is uncertain 3d10 are rolled (summed). Higher rolls mean that things go very strongly against what the player character hopes, low ones that they favor what the character wants (although it is considered possible that the result can be better than the character can tolerate--such as yes, the queen reacts favorably to you, and in fact seems to have a crush on you and is interested in having you spend a lot more time here). Middle rolls tend to be more along the lines of maintaining the status quo. Especially when the players take the game off on a tangent, GE rolls can build entire adventures based on whether things go as they hope or not.

Although GE rolls are a fundamental mechanic in Multiverser, they aren't so often used in so basic and essential a manner, although they are so used, generally when the referee is not certain what would happen in that situation.

--M. J. Young