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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Jack Aidley on November 19, 2003, 07:08:01 AM



Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Jack Aidley on November 19, 2003, 07:08:01 AM
“You’re Green, You’re Ugly and the Gods Hate You.”

The Great Ork Gods is (yet another?) game based on the twist of playing the Orks for a change. It’s intended to be light hearted in tone, and to offer a few sessions of fun rather than a long term campaign. Example games might be: Burn and Pillage! Recruited by the Evil Overlord! Catch those Hobbits! Hunted!

Basic Mechanics

You have no stats, feats, skills or attributes. Instead you have a measure of how much each different Ork God hates you. Each will be a number in about the 1 to 5 range. Whenever you attempt an action it is decided which God opposes your action (for example, combat would be determined by the God of War, while lifting a rock would be determined by the God of Strength). Now, in addition to playing an Ork, each player controls one or more Gods, whenever an action is opposed by one of the Gods you control you get to decide what the difficulty factor is for the action (from 0 to 9) – this should be your fair, balanced assessment of how hard it should be (heh).

The player then rolls a number of dice equal to the Gods hate, if ANY of the dice comes up less than or equal to the difficulty factor the action fails.

If a player’s actions would be opposed by one of ‘his’ Gods, the GM rules on the difficulty factor. Also Orks CANNOT perform magic. They can try all sorts of outrageous stuff, but they can’t do outright magical effects; e.g. no creating fireballs, teleporting, turning invisible or walking through walls.

The Gods

I’m not yet sure of what Gods there will be, or quite how to assign them, so I’m looking for help/advice on this part of it. Here’s my list of Gods so far:

God of Physics – The God of Physics is special – he hates everyone, like really a lot. Orks always have a Hate of 4 or more in this God.
God of Death – When an Ork should, or could, die, he must face the wrath of the God of Death or perish. But hey, there’s always more Orks.
God of War – Controls combat.
God of the Gab – In the unlikely event they try to talk to anyone.
God of Stealth – Orks can be sneaky too.
God of Artefacts – If you want to make something, work doors, light fires, etc.
God of Movement – If you want to run along a tight-rope, leap over a stream, etc.
God of Strength – Pretty obvious?

I’ve considered always assigning the Gods of Physics and Death to the GM, but I’m not sure it’s really necessary.

Any comments on the idea, mechanics, or God List welcome. I’d also be interested in knowing about any other games that employ a similar principle (assuming there are some).


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on November 19, 2003, 07:16:46 AM
Ork! by Green Ronin has a very similar principle. It uses only one god, but he definitely hates you, and resistance to tasks is determined by how much he hates and and doesn't want you to succeed.

Don't let that discourage you - you're on to a good idea here, and Ork! was, too. (I'm proud to say I own the fifth copy taken out of the first box off the print run.)


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 19, 2003, 09:38:07 AM
Seen Raven's Orx? Just thought I'd mention it - has little relation to this, really.

How about there are potentially infinite gods. When a player wants to do something, he invents the god on the spot, and the level of hate is generated at that point (I'm thinking randomly). Anyhow, the GM is free to go to the character sheet at any time to force a roll against any already generated god. Outside of that, it's always the player's choice to appeal to an old god (with GM approval), or create one with a new slant. Thus if the God of Strength particularly hates me, then if I want to lift a rock, maybe I'll appeal to the god of stone.

I'm also thinking that the gods hate to be bothered. So each roll against a particular god increases his hate of the character by one. Keeps players searching for new gods. Also, perhaps the god can be ameliorated somehow.

Just a thought. More importantly, however, what do Orcs in this game do? What sort of action happens in adventures? And why no magic for orcs? I wanna be the shaman!

Mike


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: greyorm on November 19, 2003, 11:42:26 AM
I suggest some sort of additional tactical balancing mechanism for player-Gods in regards to the difficulty of tasks. Otherwise, you can just say, "Nine! Nine! Nine!" all the time, and get beaten up by your friends after the game.

Something where the higher the difficulty set is, the greater number of penalty tokens of some sort the player accrues? Of course, there would have to be something beneficial for occasionally assigning higher difficulties, and avoiding too low difficulties, so that doesn't really work.

Perhaps the gamemaster guesses a difficulty, and the closer the player is to assigning that difficulty, the better -- the further off they are, the worse?

Another item which comes to mind is a web of deific relationships which affect the players of those Gods? The God of War and the God of Love don't like each other much, so when one makes something difficult for someone, the other tries to make sure they give the guy an easier time -- sort of a slap in the face to their rival.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: lumpley on November 19, 2003, 01:59:52 PM
Also feel free to mine my Before the Flood (http://www.septemberquestion.org/lumpley/flood.html) game for ideas.

-Vincent


Title: Collected responses
Post by: Jack Aidley on November 20, 2003, 04:06:46 AM
Thank you for your comments, I'll reply in turn:

Quote from: Clinton
Ork! by Green Ronin has a very similar principle. It uses only one god, but he definitely hates you, and resistance to tasks is determined by how much he hates and and doesn't want you to succeed.


It's funny how often this happens. You think you have an original idea and it turns out to have striking similarities to what someone else thought of in the same situation. From what I can track down about Ork! on the net, it looks different enough from what I have in mind for Great Ork Gods to be worth continuing with, although I think I'll have to get hold of a copy.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
How about there are potentially infinite gods. When a player wants to do something, he invents the god on the spot, and the level of hate is generated at that point (I'm thinking randomly).


I had considered that line of thought. However there are two reasons I chose against it. Firstly, I like the idea of the players taking responsibility for individual gods, and those gods having influence; ad hoc gods would weaken this concept. Secondly, I wanted the Orks to have a defined character, with strengths and weaknesses - but with those strengths defined by how much, or how little, the different Gods hate them. Ad hoc gods essentially provide a way to 'dodge' an Orks existing character (strength hates you, appeal to stone; death hates you, appeal to the god of stabbing, etc). Which is not to say I don't think it would work, it just doesn't quite fit with what I wanted.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm also thinking that the gods hate to be bothered. So each roll against a particular god increases his hate of the character by one. Keeps players searching for new gods. Also, perhaps the god can be ameliorated somehow.


I have been thinking about ways of increasing hate. I have an idea where the Orks acquire hate as they continue to survive, but also accumulate some kind of advantage as well. Balanced so that Orks follow a curving power that rises initially but falls off afterwards. I don't know how I'd do it yet, and it would also require play over a longer period than I initially imagined. I'd also considered having a way of pleasing the Gods. But, again, I think it goes against my original concept of the Gods hating you. I like the idea that it can only get worse.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Just a thought. More importantly, however, what do Orcs in this game do? What sort of action happens in adventures?


In essence I see the players trying to acheive the things they usually try to stop. A game might start with a ordinary seeming raid on a village (pillage and burn, I think - not rape and pillage) the Orks rampaging through, killing those who stand in their way and infighting a bit. Throw in some hero's to protect the village and you can have some fun. Or a rival Ork tribe turning up to stake their claim. I'm hoping to acheive a feeling where the players need to co-operate to succeed but need to compete to gain any rewards.

Another example adventure might be a good old fashioned find-and-retrieve, whether it's a mystic artefact, or an individual. The Orks will generally be serving under some kind of Evil Overlord who has troll, ogres and just plain Big Orks to keep them in line. Maybe the PCs are gathering ingredients for a diabolic rite?

I figure in a typical game, something should get smashed, there should be a fight or two, the PCs should mess something up, and at least one of the PCs should die (there's always more Orks).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And why no magic for orcs? I wanna be the shaman!


I specified no magic to place a limit on what the Orks can achieve. Since this is a pretty loose mechanic, I saw potential for abuse here. I agree the concept of Shaman has potential, but it's not part of my orginal vision for the game. I will need to think on it.

Quote from: Greyorm
suggest some sort of additional tactical balancing mechanism for player-Gods in regards to the difficulty of tasks. Otherwise, you can just say, "Nine! Nine! Nine!" all the time, and get beaten up by your friends after the game.


In a word, reciprocity. Since each player controls at least one god, they can get back at other players who treat them unfairly. I'm hoping for a situation where the players start off being fair and nice to one another, but when it comes to the crunch they heartily put the boot in. Kind of like it works in Munchkins (as in, Steve Jackson's card game). I haven't seen how this works in Actual Play yet, but I think it could work out well.


Title: increasing hate
Post by: Loki on November 20, 2003, 06:52:07 AM
A mechanic for increasing/decreasing hate came to me while reading this thread (btw, I DIG this game idea).

How about if every time an Orc fails against a certain god, he gets a +/- the amount he suceeded/failed to his next hate roll with that god. So if an Orc is on a roll, he stays on a roll.. and if the gods really hate him, they keep hating him. The Orc Gods love a winner and really hate a loser.

And, since I like the possibility of inter-player rivalry (seems pretty Orcish to me!) how about if an Orc offs a rival that is a big loser or winner, he gets the absolute value of the rivals largest hate modifier. Let's face it, the Orc gods love to see a loser go down, but they also love to see a winner put in his place (basically, the Orc gods are a bunch of total ***holes). Making char-gen really simple and no real penalty for death would keep this rivalry fun and light-hearted.

Some mechanic for rewarding looting, pillaging, etc might be in order (and would explain a lot of Orc behavior). Although my inner Orc tells me "pillaging is it's own reward". ;)


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Lxndr on November 20, 2003, 07:45:44 AM
You know, perhaps the "shaman" is the only one who's able to decrease hate values.

How?  I don't know.  But it seems an appropriate place for a shaman to be.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Jack Aidley on November 21, 2003, 03:56:50 AM
Hi Loki,

Quote
So if an Orc is on a roll, he stays on a roll.. and if the gods really hate him, they keep hating him. The Orc Gods love a winner and really hate a loser.


I don't know. I get the feeling that this kind of system would be really annoying in actual play. I've always found that dice tend to produce such runs anyway (clumping is a natural property of truly random systems).

New Idea for a Mechanic: Respect and Boons

I'm thinking the Orks will get one 'stat': Respect - although I really need a more Orkish name for that, any ideas?. Respect is a measure of how much weight the Ork has with his brethryn. Every session of play the Ork can spend their Respect Points on Boons, the points being refreshed at the start of each session:

Every time the dice are rolled the player can choose to spend one respect point to reduce the difficulty by one, or three points to reduce it by two. The points must be spent before the roll. Difficulty cannot be lowered below one in this way.

Alternatively a God can choose to grant a boon, also costing the Ork a respect point. In this case the God assigns a difficulty of zero (automatic success), in a change to the above, this will be the only way a difficulty of zero can occur.

I'm thinking each Ork will start with d6 or so Respect points. At the end of every session extra respect points are granted as follows:

Survival: A respect point is granted per player. These points are divided among any Orks that survive the whole session. If this would give an uneven distribution of points, the extra are assigned according to who got the most other respect points. Failing that they are randomly assigned. If no Orks survive the whole session, no such points are assigned.

Killing: If an Ork kills another player Ork they gain a respect point, if they kill an Ork of higher Respect they gain two.

Goals: The GM will assign goals at the start of the session, and can add more as the game goes on. These goals should be acheivable by only one Ork. A respect point is granted for any goals the Ork hits. Example goals might be: Retrieve the ring, be first to the well or kill the elven wizard.

Tread mill: Any Ork who gains no respect from the above loses a point of respect. Orks who don't succeed fade away.

Finally at the end of each session each Ork gains one additional point of Hate, but the Ork (or Orks) gaining the most Respect gain Two points instead. I'm not sure as whether to assign the Hate randomly, by player choice, by choice of the other players, or according to some in-game criteria.

What do you think, does it sound good?

I'd also appreciate some feedback on the basic mechanic as described above - do you see it as working out OK? Are there any problems you see with it?


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Loki on November 21, 2003, 05:30:33 AM
Quote from: Mr Jack
Quote
So if an Orc is on a roll, he stays on a roll.. and if the gods really hate him, they keep hating him. The Orc Gods love a winner and really hate a loser.


I don't know. I get the feeling that this kind of system would be really annoying in actual play. I've always found that dice tend to produce such runs anyway (clumping is a natural property of truly random systems).


You are probably right about that. It just sounded good to have the Gods keep putting the stones to the Orcs.

I think the game as outlined will probably work well. Incidently, I took one of the earlier poster's suggestion to look at the Green Ronin game (actually I read the reviews) and you might do the same (http://www.greenronin.com/reviews.php?product_id=1001). There are a lot of similarities in "feel" and I bet it'll give you some ideas/feedback to see what they've done.

In fact, the concept behind their method of having the God (there is only one) set difficulty levels is worth ripping off wholesale. Instead of God assigning a difficulty number, he decides how much he hates you. If you're in his good graces, he rolls 2d6: the result is the difficulty number. If you're a hobbit-loving disgrace to goblindom, God rolls 3, 4 or 5d6(!). The result is the difficulty number. I like the added randomness (sometimes the little guy wins) and think that the element of the dice will give the player running the God more leeway to try to screw over the Orc--since it relieves him of some of the responsibility. That's funnier than the jerk God just saying "difficulty level is 150. Beat that, monkey-boy!". Plus it removes the necessity for the very un-Orcish notion of "fairness". :)


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Mark Thomas on November 21, 2003, 10:00:08 AM
I like the base idea here, and this is just a random thought on a slightly different mechanic (numbers below for the sake of example):

Difficulty is fixed (2)
Base dice rolled are fixed (2d6)
Task resolution is the same as the original concept.

At the beginning of the session each player is given N hate-dice per god they control. When an orc-player is making a task roll versus an area a god-player thinks they have influence, the god-player explains their influence and adds one or more of the god's hate-dice to the orc-player's roll. More than one god can influence a task, but perhaps only one god per god-player. The task is resolved using the base dice plus any hate-dice added by other players. After the roll the orc-player adds any god-dice assigned to the hate-dice pools of any of their own gods.

This places something of a limit on the difficulting picking -- you can only assign dice you have. It also provides for revenge -- the player receiving hate-dice gets to spend them later.

Just a random thought.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Loki on November 21, 2003, 11:36:07 AM
Very cool idea. I *really* like that spending your hate puts hate in the hands of your (new) enemy.

Does that mean that there is a finite amount of hate floating around the game?


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 21, 2003, 12:08:22 PM
Hiya,

Mark, that's a good idea - and Jack, if you want to go with something like that, I urge you to check out Orkworld (Wicked Press), in which the mechanic Trouble plays a central role in exactly this way.

Best,
Ron


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Mark Thomas on November 21, 2003, 12:44:01 PM
Quote from: Loki
Very cool idea. I *really* like that spending your hate puts hate in the hands of your (new) enemy.

Does that mean that there is a finite amount of hate floating around the game?


In my thinking it was fixed, but I could see ways to make it flexible:

One god can nullify another god's hate with a die of their own, resulting in both dice getting removed from play.

Over the course of several games new dice are added.

The GM tosses hate dice to players that do cool stuff.

I think there's probably a way to reverse the thought behind this and use it as a more friendly task aid system too.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Belac on November 22, 2003, 07:48:14 AM
If you wanted Ork-like combat in your game, you could also have a Combat XP system that works as follows:

An Ork gains one Respect for every (100/200/whatever you decide) Combat XP he earns.  For every combat-capable creature the Ork deals a killing blow to, he gains 10 Combat XP.  (He gets 1 XP for every noncombatant creature or person at least the size of a squirrel he kills but cannot get more than 10 XP for a single action that kills a lot of noncombatants, or otherwise you get the "pour burning oil on an ant hill for XP" trick that doesn't work well for Ork culture generally.)  You might want to award different amounts based on the toughness of the foe.  Anyway, the Ork only gets the XP if he strikes the killing blow.

In a D&D 3e game I ran once, an amusing situation happened where PC A was fighting a goblin, PC B finishes he goblin and runs up to hit PC A's goblin, and kills it, possibly saving PC A from taking any more damage.  PC A yells at PC B and hits him for taking his kill.  The two decide to have a duel.  PC A is a twinked-out munchkin character, PC B is rather average.  PC B manages to win the initiative, gets incredibly lucky, and nearly kills PC A with a critical hit; he gets a shocked look on his face for a moment, then gasps and drops his sword and quickly patches PC A's wounds.  PC C, who thinks the whole thing was stupid, angrily charges at PC B and tries to punch him, but rolls a 1 and punches his target's shield instead, falling to the ground holding his hand and yelping in pain.  NPC D tries to yell at all of them but instead falls to the ground laughing.  (Note: in case you don't know, you get the same XP from a hostile encounter you overcome regardless of whether or not your party kills the enemies, and you get the same XP whether or not you actually struck any blows in the combat.)

Now, imagine the chaos that would erupt if there actually was a benefit to striking the killing blow, and you only got combat XP for killing enemies.  I imagine players would see a 100 XP knight and try to figure out ways to convince their friends to wound the knight so that they could sneak in and deal the finishing blow.

Just a thought.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: David "Czar Fnord" Artman on November 22, 2003, 11:19:14 AM
Cool thread; I have arrived a little late to comment upon everything, but I will hit a few points that you might find useful.

First, let me present a resolution mechanic that may work to balance use of hate by players and simplify character creation (such as it is).

Resolution Mechanic
1) Every difficulty is 7.
2) An orc gets, by default, 2d10 to try to equal or exceed that 7.
3) If the orc has a Specialty ("Knack", in game terms), the orc may add a d10 to their pool. If another orc is helping, the player may add another d10. If another orc is helping with a Knack, the player may add 2d10. If more than one orc is helping, the player may add another d10, up to a maximum of 5d10 for any single roll. NOTE: If the action is opposed by another entity, and that entity has a Knack that counters the orc's, then the orc player loses their d10 bonus for their Knack.
4) The player who controls the god for the action's domain may take a d10 from the pool. Doing so put the god-player's character "down a die" on all future rolls, until someone takes a die from him or her.
ex) I take a die from GROG. My orc, TUG, is now at a default 1d10 on rolls until another god-player takes a d10 from me, at which point I am back to 2d10 (after the roll during which I am hated). Obviously, if a god takes a d10 when I am down a die to do something with no Knack and no help, I am rolling "0d10" and will automatically fail.
5) The Rule of Three: If the TOTAL of any roll equals exactly 3, something good happens. If down a die for using hate, the orc's player is no longer down a die, regardless of god involvement in the current roll. If not down a die, the orc gets a Critical Success--rare, and worthy of future hate. I include the Rule of Three because orcs can't count higher than three, and are thus quite pleased when all the pips add up to The Big Number.
6) One success (roll of 7+) = Success, Two successes = GREAT Success (double damage, whatever), Three or more successes = Critical Failure!!! The gods don't like uppity orcs....

God Names - Take inspiration from HOL (Human Occupied Landfill) and come up with some god names that reflect Orcish sensabilities. "God of Physics"?! My Orc says, "Fizz chicks, whassat?"

To do this, start by coming up with an exhaustive list of "domains" for your game system, which represent core types of conflict or fundamental game elements. There is one god per domain, and no player may control more than one god (the GM handles the rest). Then, don't make names that sound like someone gagging on a mouthful of marbles, but instead choose names more along the lines of Native American names. For example, God of Physics would become "The All-Hater" [B no player should be able to control a god whose domain is "all actions"]; God of Artefacts would become "He Who Makes Stuff Confusing"; God of Strength would become "Crushing Hand, Stomping Foot".

Character Abilities & Stats - I haven't yet noticed anything having to do with character abilities, i.e. stuff on a character sheet.

For Character Abilities, all I would do, were I you, is include specialties ("Knacks," in my mechanic above) that correlate to god domains and represent another "axis" of game elements. You can get a LOT of rule content out of a list of twenty or so Knacks under ten or so domains.

For example, my orc has the Knack "Bully The Puny" which is in the domain of the god of war, who is known as "The Pounding In Our Heads That Won't Stop". In contests against smaller or weaker opponents (using my White Wolf-esque mechanics above), my orc gets an additional die to roll (3d10, if I am not down a die for hating, 2d10 if I am).

Character Stats are not relevant in my mechanic above. I favor this because, like HOL and Fight Club, no orc is a "unique and special butterfly". If you MUST have a third axis of elements, define Stats that are "supersets" of the god domains, and give orcs a 1, 2, or 3 in them, representing the default number of d10s for rolls in the domains of that Stat.

Thus, an orc could roll 1, 2, or 3 dice based on the applicable Stat, then add one more for an applicable Knack, and add one or more for help (up to the absolute limit of 5d10).

Loot - Special items, wealth, etc are not for orcs, though they dream of them (poor bastards). Thus, Loot is an abstract in the system that represents a way to, perhaps, get back a die lost for hating or use a Specialty that isn't on the character's sheet. The "Shiny Sword That Tells Me What To Do" would not grant +2 to hit or anything mundane like that, but would instead be a 1d10 bonus to dice pool when the player & GM thinks the situation is appropriate. Note: the gods loath seeing such Loot in the hands of an orc (as do most NPC enemies... and other PCs, for that matter); Loot is more akin to a hot-potato than a boon.

Experience - I am disinclined to favor a quantifiable Experience system, simply because that makes character creation also quantifiable... and no orc is a unique and special butterfly.

Instead, I would write guidelines for the GM for granting new Knacks to orcs, based on in-game success. Each Game Goal could confer a particular Knack to the orc most instrumental to accomplishing it. Defeating victims--er, enemies--could be tracked by the GM in some quantifiable way but, at the end of the session, be reduced to a single Knack award to the most aggressive or effective (or both, with two Knack Awards).

Shamen - I want them, too. Perhaps they would be one of the "classes" of orcs, if you introduce classes as a way to limit which Knacks an orc may have at game start:
Skinny - Wily, smaller orcs, whose list of Knacks reflect avoiding combat, getting into places, and being harder to hit.
Ugly - Hulking, brutish orcs, whose list of Knacks reflect combat dominance, stamina, toughness, and bullying others.
Crazy - Clever, manipulative orcs, whose list of Knacks reflect unusual abilities (magic-esque), influencing others, and shifting blame.

In particular, there needs to be some kind of "wannabe-leader-type" that will incur the gods' wrath for attempting to do things that would qualify as "good ideas". Shamen would try to figure a way past the human village guards other than sneak up to kill them or charge head on. Often, this is the "best" choice (for surviving) but it is very un-orc-like. Thus, the god of going places, "He Who Sneaks Through Shadow While Bellowing", would likely heap hate upon the shamen.

Furthermore, orcs misusing magic is one of the best sources of humor in the game; don't let it slip by the wayside. If you can't stomach orcs casting fireballs and such, that's fine. But let them get the Knacks of "Sniff-Out Weak Prey" (detect spell) or "Speak With Menace" (command spell) or "Vivid Imagery of Demise" (fear spell).

And I'm spent....
HTH;
Czar Fnord


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Mark Thomas on November 24, 2003, 10:25:30 AM
So I was thinking about this game a bit more and my suggestion to have hate dice that god-players can force on orc-players to increase the difficulty of their tasks. I've also been thinking about applying this as a means of positive support in other settings (i.e. players can pass on luck dice to others). After thinking about this for a bit I realized there needs to be some way to limit the dice passing or you end up with dice being passed for every task roll, especially in the beneficial case. A couple ideas came to mind for limiting dice passing:

GM fiat - the player must justify their dice passing and the GM rules.
Group vote - players vote on the applicability of the dice.
Limited dice - dice passed are discarded.
Limited reuse - dice passed cannot be reused until some event occurs (scene change for example).

The more I think about it the more I like this general concept, but I'm not happy with these mechanisms for limiting dice passing. Anyone see a better way to limit dice passing?


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: David "Czar Fnord" Artman on November 25, 2003, 09:50:07 AM
Quote from: Mark Thomas
Anyone see a better way to limit dice passing?


I am of the opinion that the idea I suggested above would work (a god-player may pass one hate die, but is down a die on all tests for his or her orc until some other god-player passes him or her a hate die).

Of course, you could include some mechanics for "writing up" gods such that the number of hate dice a god-player may pass is determined by the Wrath rating of their god. Then you need only develop (a) the rules for creating gods and (b) the situation(s) that refresh a god-player's hate dice.

No matter what method you adopt, the passing of hate dice must be encouraged--mechanically or narratively--in the game play. If the penalty for passing a hate die is greater than the potential gain for the player spreading around hate, then no one will do it. In other words, the game will have to have strong competative elements to encourage using hate dice, or their use will become something players only do to be peevish or for reasons external to the game (for example, one player had an argument with another a couple of days ago).

What think you of the Rule of Three, God Name issue, character elements, and reward issues I brought up?


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Mark Thomas on November 25, 2003, 04:52:10 PM
Quote from: Czar Fnord
What think you of the Rule of Three, God Name issue, character elements, and reward issues I brought up?


Honestly I got stuck in the passing dice as a group benefit action mindset for a while and didn't read it in detail. I've looked it over now. Here are a couple thoughts:

I think I would stick with the 'don't screw up' dice rolling mechanic rather than counting successes. Somehow it seems a better fit to the ork mindset. I think it would be pretty easy to reverse your proposed mechanic however, so that's a quibble.

I like the rule of three -- but an ork that has a Knack and that's being helped by an ork with a Knack can't roll a three can they? Maybe that falls under the gods don't like uppity ork category?

I definitely agree that ork god names should be something barbaric or difficult to pronounce. Your method certainly could work, but it may fall under GM choice as well.

Loot -- I think orks need loot! I mean they're supposed to be pillaging and looting. What's the point without stuff to get? I'd probably make it more concrete but not permanent. I don't have any good idea about this right now, so I'll shut up now.

As for the character development stuff, to me it seems a bit overkill. I'd be inclined to keep the game much simpler and free form, almost beer-n-pretzels level of play. Orks seem to go with beer anyhow...

I'd be curious to hear from the original poster and his current thoughts.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Jack Aidley on November 26, 2003, 04:57:15 AM
Quote
I'd be curious to hear from the original poster and his current thoughts.


And, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared.

I've retreated to gather my thoughts, and consider the many suggestions and responses this idea has garnered. I'll hopefully have a regathered rule set for posting early next week.

But I'll post some comment now anyway:

I originally saw the game as being Great Ork Gods, it is clear that most posters are seeing it as Great Ork Gods. It's an idea I'd been kicking around for a long time, under the name Greenskins, but it never really had any distinct bite - it was just 'you play Orks'. Until I got the idea of having Gods hate the Orks. So I saw the Gods as being simply a different mechanic for task resolution.

God Names: You're quite right, Czar, the names are rubbish. I chose to go with them because the idea of giving them names such as Khagrahv or equally jaw-bending things struck me as unwieldy. I like your idea of native indian style names, but I've come up with an idea I prefer: taking my inspiration from Gurgli, I'm considering names such as The God of Slashing and Slayings, or The God of Heavings and Hoings.

Dice Passing: While mechanically I think this is sound. It establishes a causal link between a player's God(s) and their Ork, i.e. bad things happening to the Ork affects the God. I don't want this kind of link if I can avoid it.

Knacks: I was originally aiming to have an Ork descibed entirely by his Name, and how much the Gods hate him. This all goes into (as you most excellently put it) No Ork Is a Unique And Special Butterfly. I really like the idea that Orks would be a wonderful success if the Gods would just stop kicking them.

Reward Issues: I'm thinking that rewards should be entirely game useless. I have any idea that Orks are simply trying to gather 'Oog' - a kind of respect. Orks would gain Oog as per the Respect mechanic I discussed earlier, but it would have no in-game effects. I rather like the idea that Orks are driven by the acquisition of something that does them no good what-so-ever.

Cheers,

Jack.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: David "Czar Fnord" Artman on November 26, 2003, 12:56:30 PM
Quote from: Mark Thomas
I think I would stick with the 'don't screw up' dice rolling mechanic rather than counting successes. Somehow it seems a better fit to the ork mindset. I think it would be pretty easy to reverse your proposed mechanic however, so that's a quibble.


I like that better, too. And it is basically the inverse of the successes mechanic, and so easy to convert from a success-based system.

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I like the rule of three -- but an ork that has a Knack and that's being helped by an ork with a Knack can't roll a three can they? Maybe that falls under the gods don't like uppity ork category?


You got it. Two orcs with Knacks trying something TOGETHER?!? They are either cowards or uppity. Gods hate em. No cookies (i.e. no critical successes).

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Loot -- I think orks need loot! I mean they're supposed to be pillaging and looting. What's the point without stuff to get? I'd probably make it more concrete but not permanent. I don't have any good idea about this right now, so I'll shut up now.


Nah, Loot is just a generalized mechanic, in my mind. I mean, who's ever seen a RICH orc? C'mon. :-)
That's why it's just a source of a die, in specific situations. It's like a Knack, in that respect. When it becomes a resource, you aren't playing GOG, you're playing some weird version of D&D.

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As for the character development stuff, to me it seems a bit overkill. I'd be inclined to keep the game much simpler and free form, almost beer-n-pretzels level of play. Orks seem to go with beer anyhow...

Overkill? Wild. All an orc is is a list of Knacks. ONLY IF the creator wants them to have stats would I include them, and then they are just categorical adjustments to the "default" 2d10. SO an orc "character sheet" might--at most--look as follows:

Grog, The Stinky - Leader of the Unseemly Clan
Class: Crazy Orc
------------------------------
Smash : 1d10
Sneak: 2d10
Connive: 3d10

------------------------------
Knacks:
Make Others Agree
Shift Blame
------------------------------
Loot:
Shiny Helmet (provides "Impress Dummies" Knack)
A Fistful of Coppers (provides "Get Stuff" Knack)


Everything above in italics is an optional "bolt-on" if the creator wants to have Stats and Loot.

Quote from: Mr. Jack
So I saw the Gods as being simply a different mechanic for task resolution.

Well, that's all they are, at the moment. A source of a -1d10. The only "rules" for playing a god relate to refreshing or managing those die passes. And THAT's only needed if the GM isn't given total control of gods.

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I've come up with an idea I prefer: taking my inspiration from Gurgli, I'm considering names such as The God of Slashing and Slayings, or The God of Heavings and Hoings.

It's your baby. I would encourage you not to use the static "The God of _____" because it becomes stale, and all the readers will see, in time, is the stuff after the "of". Mix it up, much like orcs would--do you think a damned orc is CONSISTENT? Are you sure you're qualified to design this thing? ;-)

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Dice Passing: While mechanically I think this is sound. It establishes a causal link between a player's God(s) and their Ork, i.e. bad things happening to the Ork affects the God. I don't want this kind of link if I can avoid it.

But you have to then deal with MORE mechanics to encourage passing around hate dice. I thought a close coupling to the player character would suffice, in particular in a player-competative environment.
And besides, I don't see the "bad thing happen to orc -> bad thing for god" point you make. A GOD that send hate to an orc has his ORC undermined, until someone hates his ORC. The god never suffers a penalty, other than the consistent "penalty" that a god can't keep passing hate around without receiving some first.
If you add mechaincs for gods (like a Wrath rating), THEN you can de-couple the god from the orc. But a penalty for an orc is NOT a penalty for the god... just its player. Gotta keep that very straight, in our discussion: the distinction between orc-character, god-mechanic, the player-as-orc-character, and player-as-god-mechanic.

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I was originally aiming to have an Ork descibed entirely by his Name, and how much the Gods hate him. This all goes into (as you most excellently put it) No Ork Is a Unique And Special Butterfly. I really like the idea that Orks would be a wonderful success if the Gods would just stop kicking them.

So a "orc-character" is just a name and a number, at best?
Be warned: "rules light" often leads to "why should I bother buying/learning these rules?" You don't want to have such a rules-light system that it is nothing more than a setting... and then nothing more than a page of text, at most.
Also, you should keep in mind the opportunity to EXPAND this idea: not everyone wants to play fantasy, but the notion of playing "scum" is appealing in a lot of genres. In fact, I would go ahead and rework the whole game into something called "You're Scum And The Gods Hate You" and provide generic rules for mechaincs, with specific setting information for several genres (fantasy orcs, modern thugs, sci-fi goons, maybe Paranoia clones, with the "gods" being computer algorythms?).

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I'm thinking that rewards should be entirely game useless. I have any idea that Orks are simply trying to gather 'Oog' - a kind of respect. Orks would gain Oog as per the Respect mechanic I discussed earlier, but it would have no in-game effects. I rather like the idea that Orks are driven by the acquisition of something that does them no good what-so-ever.

UGH. Bookkeeping with no reason. you're going from rules-light to rules-contemptuous.

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That covers all the major points so far, and I reckon I haven't much more to offer, if this way-too-rules-light philosophy prevails. I just can't see the point in designing a game with almost no mechanics (or worse: mechanics that MEAN NOTHING), and a setting lifted almost wholesale from other games.

Don't think I am trying to rant or be mean; I just don't know what your goal is, anymore. It was shaping up into a nifty game--in mechanics and (some) setting elements--and now it seems to be having the "punch" stripped out of it. Perhaps One Page Press would like it, though....

Trying to help; not sure I can;
Czar Fnord


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Jack Aidley on November 27, 2003, 02:29:14 AM
Czar,

I think you misunderstand me, either that or I simply don't get your answer. Mark's suggestion means that passing hate to an Ork, gives hate to a God. That, to me, is a causal link between God & Ork. I see the players playing an Ork, and having a God (or Gods), not playing an Ork-with-a-God-thing. I don't see the Ork as having any in-world link to the God(s) controlled by the same player.

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It's your baby. I would encourage you not to use the static "The God of _____" because it becomes stale, and all the readers will see, in time, is the stuff after the "of". Mix it up, much like orcs would--do you think a damned orc is CONSISTENT? Are you sure you're qualified to design this thing? ;-)


That is a good point. I'm still working on naming.

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So a "orc-character" is just a name and a number, at best?


No. An Ork is a name and a collection of numbers, just like in most games. Now in Great Ork Gods, these numbers are hugely broad (war, or strength, for example) and the numbers refer not to how good an Ork is at something, but instead to how much the different Gods hate that Ork (in effect, how bad they are at something). Keeping the Orcs low on numbers is vital, since they need to be much more disposable than characters in RPG's usually are.

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UGH. Bookkeeping with no reason. you're going from rules-light to rules-contemptuous.


Think of it as Score, like in the old arcade games. It gets you no benefit; you're just trying to get a high number. Seems Orky to me.

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Don't think I am trying to rant or be mean; I just don't know what your goal is, anymore. It was shaping up into a nifty game--in mechanics and (some) setting elements--and now it seems to be having the "punch" stripped out of it. Perhaps One Page Press would like it, though....


I'm sorry you feel that way; I considered your input most valuable.

I'm not sure what you consider to be the 'punch' of the game, but I'd like to know.

Cheers,

Jack.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Rich Forest on November 27, 2003, 08:11:34 AM
Jack,

You must be doing something right here.  When I first read the thread title, I’ll have to admit: I was a bit skeptical.  Of course, I’ve always been pretty attached to the D&D “how to play orks” rules in the Orcs of Thar Gazetteer, and after reading Orkworld, I thought the Orcs had done been done.  

But there’s something interesting about this game.  People are finding something in it that they’re getting emotionally invested in.  Czar Fnord’s rather strong response is, I think, a good sign in that respect.  I would like to say, Czar, you gotta relax here.  Just because Jack hasn’t taken every piece of advice doesn’t mean he’s not listening.  It’s still his game, man.  I know how you feel.  I’ve been there myself—I’ve given advice that folks have chosen not to take, and it made me think, “Hey, what’s going on.  My advice was so good!”  But you gotta let the game be Jack’s game.  

If I've overstated your reaction in your post, sorry, by the way.  I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way.  

Now here’s my take on some things.  First, I like these spiteful gods, in particular.  Honestly, my instinct was still to say, “please, please make it about something other than orks!  Please, make it be about, um, I don’t know… Goblins (although this has been done as well, of course), or Kobolds, or Ogres, or Trolls, or… anything but Orks!”  That was, of course, until I read your post about it being first and foremost about Orks.  So you’ll probably want to ignore that little bit of advice.  I do think it is revealing that people are showing more interesting in the Ork Gods part than in the Ork Gods part.  It seems that perhaps it’s the Ork Gods part that is the hook that is getting people interested in the project.  One thing that differentiates it a bit from Orkworld, for example, is that these Ork gods are a bit more personalized than "Trouble."  It’s like these Ork gods are so petty and vindictive that they actually have it in for specific Orks.  Man, they must be busy if the Ork populations in this game are anything like the ones in most game worlds.  And so what if they are busy.  They hate a lot of Orks.  Is that so wrong?  Oh, and whatever you decide on naming the Gods… please don’t have a god of physics.  The Ork god of physics?  Ugh.  Too science-y for Orks, IMO.  Regardless of what you name him.

I’m torn on your recent idea about “Oog.”  I think, on the one hand, that the idea of a stat that doesn’t do anything is interesting as a sort of game designer’s comment.  But is this really game effective?  I mean, you want to encourage certain behaviors on the parts of the players, right?  Having a stat that doesn’t do anything is more just a comment than it is a game mechanic.

But on the other hand, I’m not sure that it’s true that “Oog” doesn’t do anything, in actual play.  You’ve pointed out yourself that it’s a score.  I think that could make it pretty important, actually.  I mean, it certainly would do something for me.  If I were playing this game, I’d gather up all kinds of “Oog.”  Then I’d taunt my fellow Ork players.  I have more points than you.  Lots of games outside roleplaying have you gather points to win.  One could argue that those points don’t “do anything” in most of these games, by the same logic that "Oog" doesn't do anything.  But in fact, those games are all about getting those points.  So I suspect with “Oog,” even a mechanic that you think doesn’t do anything is actually going to do something.  It might even become a central aspect of play.

Final thought—I say don’t fall to the overwhelming pressure to add shamans.  I’ve seen enough ork shamans.  Where are all these ork shamans coming from, anyway?  I like my orks simple.  

Just my two cents,

Rich


Title: accumulating hate
Post by: Loki on November 27, 2003, 12:00:56 PM
I can see where you are coming from re: a link between God and Orc being a bad thing. I am the Wargod, and your Orc is trying something War-related... but my Orc is going to have to appeal to your God next turn, so I don't want you to have too much hate lying around. Therefore, I don't pass hate to your Orc in anticipation of seeing it come back at my Orc shortly.

So here's a thought: make the amount of hate accumulated by a God dependent on the number of times he's thwarted in his plans to ruin some poor Orc's day. Every time some sucker successfully beats a God's difficulty number, that God gets a hate die to add to his pool. It's a nice mechanic because it means that most Gods will bide their time, allowing those little monkeys to be successful just so they can really screw them when something important comes up. So you have lots of successes and a few major show-downs. It also means that by making it easy to spend hate (you can spend as much as you want on a single roll) but slow to build up hate, you have a theoretically infinite pool of hate, but most of the time hate will be flying around in small, manageable amounts.

It also feels Orcish: every time your Orc doesn't screw up, he just pisses off God a little bit more. Dammit! Nothing chaps my immortal soul like an uppity Orc who thinks he's better than me! Just you wait, little monkey!

Plus it disconnects God behavior from Orc behavior. Gods can be malicious and awful, but their doing so doesn't set up the same player's Orc for a royal screwing shortly thereafter.

There's one thing about this game that I haven't quite been able to figure out yet... how will the game actually play? It sounds like you are hoping to run a party-based, attack the "dungeon" type game. But I'm wondering if it will play out that way, with the Gods all working at cross-purposes to cooperative play.

In fact, it seems to me that what has captured everyone's imagination is this God v Orc, player v player dynamic. That seems to be the core of this game to me. There are games like that out there, where the "opponents" are both the other players, and some random element... it sounds more like a card game to me. The cards provide some randomly chosen obstacles, the players compete to beat the obstacles (using dice) and acheive some winning condition. That's not to say it can't work as a rpg, just that it would have to be structured differently than the players v GM model.

Great thread, and a great game idea...


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Mark Thomas on December 02, 2003, 02:32:25 AM
Quote from: Mr Jack

I think you misunderstand me, either that or I simply don't get your answer. Mark's suggestion means that passing hate to an Ork, gives hate to a God. That, to me, is a causal link between God & Ork. I see the players playing an Ork, and having a God (or Gods), not playing an Ork-with-a-God-thing. I don't see the Ork as having any in-world link to the God(s) controlled by the same player.


I see where you're coming from with this thought. However by definition I believe you have a link between Ork and God(s), they're both being run by one player. It may not be as direct as the I hit your Ork with hate so you can hit my Ork with hate next time I try something, but it's there. Looking back to your original post, I can see that we've gone pretty far afield from your original idea of Orks being defined by the hate each God has for them, so I can understand your view here. I'll be very interested to see what you come up with as a next iteration of this game!

(Yes this was really just a bump t see what's up with the game)


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Loki on December 02, 2003, 09:38:28 AM
For me, the thing that needs to be examined/resolved is the contradiction in the gameplay: on the one hand, you've got Orc PCs running around as a gang beating up on the rest of the world (team play). On the other hand, you've got Gods beating up on the other Orc PCs (adversarial play).

I think in order to stick with the "party of PCs v the world" traditional game play, something needs to be done to disconnect/distance the Gods from the PCs. One way to do this would be to make it unimportant if an Orc PC was killed/disadvantaged by a God. Or even to make it enjoyable or offer a tradeoff to being an object of hate. That way the players can get into their roles as God without having the gameplay discourage it.

It's true that with players that are into the spirit of the game, this can be avoided, but if it's actually part of the game it'll be more satisfying.

One possibility might be that spent hate can be used by players to make their next character--so if there's been a lot of hateful Gods, the next generation of Orc PCs is more powerful, and so on (tough love, so to speak). Hate contributing to advancement... (loot + hate == more chargen points?)

That way the players can screw each other over locally, while making each other happier globally.

Yes, this was just a glorified BUMP! I want to play this game!


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: greyorm on December 02, 2003, 12:45:23 PM
Heya Jack,

I'm still liking what I'm seeing. You (and others) are hitting on alot of the same ideas I did for ORX, but in different ways.

I think the idea of gathering loot -- which is utterly useless to the orc -- is great. Loot actually has a use in my game, but you can fight with your fellow players over it, steal it, lose it, and so forth (and there are various nasty consequences to things like that occuring).

I like the Respect idea: I call it "Nasty" in ORX, and it is an actual attribute that doesn't really go up in an experience-point sort of way. Anyways, "Nasty" might work for you in this context -- after all, orcs don't really respect one another, it's more of a fearful hatred (ie: the chieftan's the leader because he's the worst, and you don't want to get on his bad side).


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Jack Aidley on December 03, 2003, 03:01:38 AM
Man, this is generating a lot of interest!

I'm glad you all like the idea, and I want to thank you all for your suggestions, comments and enthusiasm. It's at a stage now where I want to go off and cogitate on all the feedback and develop the ideas into something concrete and, perhaps more importantly, try it out in actual play with my gaming group.

Hopefully I'll have it written up for playtesting in the new year. When I do I'll post a link and start up a new thread.

Thank you all,

Jack.


Title: [The Great Ork Gods] Early ideas.
Post by: Loki on December 03, 2003, 06:09:39 AM
Rockin' Jack, my inner Orc can't wait to see the results.

However, my inner Orc God is pissed at having to wait. Give yourself extra difficulty in getting this together!!!!!!

jk, best of luck and keep us posted.

Loki