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Author Topic: horror rpg mechanic problem  (Read 2569 times)
Comte
Member

Posts: 129


« on: May 12, 2004, 12:09:20 PM »

I've come up with a concept for a horror roleplaying game.  One of the universal things that I have noticed about horror as a genra is that people have to die in order for it to be scary...or at least dramaticly interesting.  This is difficult to roleplay out as players get annoyed when I have some uber monster rip thier charecter limb from limb in order to scare the other players.  

So I decided that I wanted to make a game where the flow is reversed.  Instead of the charecter's attempting to stay alive as the scary monstor tries to eat them they are trying to die.  The of course can't suicide.  I am thinking that I would like this to be a heavly gamist game with emphasis on the metagame.  The goal is to die, but in order to do so the players must work within a series of rules dictated by the horror genra.  In essence I want it to be difficult to just get yourself killed.  


Note: I've also been through the Drama resolution mechanic thread before writting this but none of that seems to really hit it.  Although I was considering a sort of anti-karma system.  The everway system summery seems interesting but I am unfamiliar with the game so I am not certain.
Once the players dies they get to spend thier turn being the monster which can have its own perks and benifits.  

So this all sounds very exciting to me but I am frankly at a loss as to what sort of resolution system I would want to use.  I'm considering a sort of barter system where players negotiate with each other.  Essentialy the players need each other to set up situations in such a way so that the monster can kill them.  The catch22 is that the players want to die as quickly as possible so while they need each other they can't help each other to much or else they will be the last one alive.

The current way I am planning this out is through interpersonal relationships.  One of the easyest ways to invoke a reaction is to have a best freind, parent, signifigant other be the one with thier life on the line.  So while in the game two players may be boyfreind in girlfreind but in the meta game they are working in direct opposition to each other.  

So for example:  The gribble is chasing the generic girl and her jock boyfriend.  Through some sort of metagame bartering she earns the right to trip and sprain her ankle, in the horror movie tradition.  Not wanting her to die first her Jock boyfreind bravly turns around and either tries to carry her off for further plans, or to fight off the monster.

I just don't know how to set this up mechanicly.  So a couple of nudges in any direction would be much apreciated.

Thanks for your time
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"I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think.
What one ought to say is: I am not whereever I am the plaything of my thought; I think of what I am where I do not think to think."
-Lacan
http://pub10.ezboard.com/bindierpgworkbentch
Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2004, 07:43:46 PM »

I would have thought that its better that they want to survive, but the way to win points is to keep calling misfortune on themselves. They can have a list of missfortunes to drop on themselve. Players can also dare each other to use a missfortune on themselves...either have a mechanic for this daring, or just suggest it a lot in the game texts.

Personally I prefer the idea of near and dear as hit points. Eg your the frightened girl. Your jock boyfriend counts as one hit point, your stupid blond friend counts as another, etc.

Every time the monster technically should have killed you, you narrate some blarney way out. But one of your nearest and dearest dies by the monsters hand either now or at whatever point the GM decides is the most horrible.

Once your out of significant others, your gone, punky! :)
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Philosopher Gamer
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M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2004, 09:40:15 PM »

If you're trying to create a horror game that is frightening, I think that's a major challenge. A lot of what you describe sounds like Jared's Squ3em, or whatever it's called--a game played mostly for laughs, as players try to get their characters killed in the most entertaining way possible.

I thought about fear in a thread here some time back; I'm afraid my search abilities are a bit limited, and I'm pressed for time, so I'll recap a few essentials.

Players must actually care about something that exists in the game.
That something must be at risk.
It must be that the players cannot prevent the loss of that thing.
They must still care.

It is an extremely challenging task. I wish you the best in your efforts.

--M. J. Young
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Kaare Berg
Member

Posts: 158


« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2004, 01:46:43 AM »

Just a quick 2c.

One of the best sources of fear is the fear of the unknown. How do you propose to do this mechanically?

Iron Crow Enterprises once release a little thing called These nigtmare of Mine, which is an excellent treatise on horror in rpgs. You  ight want to check it out.

Back to the mechanics question,

My experience lists these points (an there are more):

Death/dismemberment and other nastieness must be a real threat. Bullets kill, knives does too, only even more horribly. And so on. This can be suported mechanically.

There must be a slim hope for the characters to make it, IF they play their cards right. This I belive you can also do mechanically (for the lack of better words: Karma points).

But these only support the creation of Fear/horror/terror, they can not themselves instigate fear. Thats left to the groups CA (hope I used this term correctly).

Or are you looking for a fear/horror mechanic? (aka Chaosium's Sanity check.)
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-K
Comte
Member

Posts: 129


« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2004, 08:38:26 PM »

Quote from: Negilent
Just a quick 2c.


There must be a slim hope for the characters to make it, IF they play their cards right. This I belive you can also do mechanically (for the lack of better words: Karma points).



Hmmm perhaps I am not being clear.  What is fun about a horror movie is the death, carnage, destruction, and mayhem.  I am trying to bring that to the table top.  The idea of the game is to die.  The last one to die is a sissy.  I do not want a slim chance of survival if they play thier cards right.  I want a dauntingly large chance of survival even though the knife swinging goal is charging at them.  I want the players to strive twords their own spiraling bloody destruction while simutaneously preventing others from doing the same.  I want this all to happen is a stirct social frame work as presented by a horror movie to simply avoid people throwing themselves infront of buses.  I want them to orchistrate thier own spectacularly violent demises while plotting the survival of thier freinds.  And I have no idea how to do it.
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"I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think.
What one ought to say is: I am not whereever I am the plaything of my thought; I think of what I am where I do not think to think."
-Lacan
http://pub10.ezboard.com/bindierpgworkbentch
Ben O'Neal
Member

Posts: 294


« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2004, 10:30:18 PM »

I see what you're trying to get at, and it does sound interesting. But from what I can see, your goals would make play more "fun" than scary. This is perfectly fine if the players are meant to be laughing and having fun whilst their characters are terrified and screaming. But this, I think, necessitates pawn stance or director stance, or some very skilled actor stance. If this is acceptable to you, then great! Your goal may very well be achievable.

For starters, I think you'd need some really cool incentive to making your character die. Without incentive, players may just wonder what the point is. You mentioned allowing the dead to play monsters. This could be really really cool, especially if the "Monster" player got GM-like priviledges. But you would, as you've noted, have to make getting your character killed very hard.

Characters would have to put themselves in risky situations. Walking down dark hallways backwards with a flickering torch or candle, making sure their character is alone as much as possible,.. that sort of thing.

Here's an idea.... What if every monster has a number, say, Ridiculously Terrifying (RT). This number is inversely measured, such that a smaller number means the monster is absolutely fantastically stupidly ugly and scary, and a larger number is merely "meh" scary. In order to let your character be killed by a monster, you have to have attributed a number at least equal to that monster's RT. Let's call this attribute Dumb Luck, and it too is inversely measured. So if your DL is less than the monster's RT, it can't kill you. Every time a monster fails to kill you, your DL goes up 1 point. So players have to try to avoid many encounters before a not-particularly scare monster can kill them, or else they have to seek out the really big mofos with low(high) RT in order to be killed.

Alternatively, you could have the scores not be inversely measured, and instead make it so that whatever type of monster kills them, that's the type they "come back" as. Which again, will lead to them seeking out the big ones.

Now you could add in a rule that says that the characters can't seek out the big one unless there is a reason, so they can get directorial powers to decide why they will be seeking out the big monsters and what purpose they will strive for (the characters, this is). So the players can use their characters to drive the plot and along the way the GM will throw various high(low)RT monsters at them so they can build up their DL, and the players must narrate how their character gets away from/kills off the monsters.

Then you could give bonus DL if they narrate well, or survive in a particularly stupid situation (like being alone in a dark hallway walking backwards).

I dunno, just a thought. Is this along the lines of what you were thinking?

-Ben
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simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2004, 11:11:39 PM »

Quote from: Comte
I want them to orchistrate thier own spectacularly violent demises while plotting the survival of thier freinds.  And I have no idea how to do it.


It seems to me you're after a storytelling mechanic such as is found in 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' and 'Pantheon' by Hogshead Press.

Supose each character gets a pool of tokens which they trade, auction or spend in order to determine who has narration rights. Either your character can only die once you're out of tokens, or only after you're accumulated a certain number of them.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Kaare Berg
Member

Posts: 158


« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2004, 11:20:29 PM »

To expand upon Raviens idea (and to shamelessly steal from Jack Aidley);


What if one creates different ways to die, like the Great Orc Gods, e.g.

Eviscareted by gardning tools
Fall from great height.
Impaled on blunt objects
Locked in freezer trapped in furnace

Call them Killing Ways.
Then let the players control these like they do the gods in GOG, setting the difficulty for the characters death instead of survival.

Instead of Spite you call the mechanic Dumb Luck, and if some one survives against your Killing Way, then you get a point of this you can use against your fellow players.

A bit unsure how to convert the Ooog, one idea is to change it into a Death Clock, [/color]that grows as you fail to die. When the DC strikes twelve your character meets his fate. Making death inescapable.

Death Toll would then be the final score with he who manage to blunder his teenagers/marines/cheerleaders and so on into the most deaths gets the coveted title of Master Slasher. Heck you could even make a score board

10 kills Slasher
7 kills Serial Killer
5 Kills mass murderer
3 Kills bad guy
1 kill Desperate
0 Kills Cheerleader


Heck you could also loose kill points if you played safe.

- 2 Kills "You really are not getting this game are you?"

However, this would not be a game of you rmaking, but rather a version of GOG.

Please forgive my irreverence for your creation Jack.

K
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-K
dragongrace
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Posts: 61


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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2004, 08:13:54 AM »

you mentioned that you wanted a Gamist orientation but have you thought about approaching it in a Narrativist fashion, perhaps using a modified SOAP engine.

Having a goal of dying, at least in my mind as a player isn't going to frighten me in the least.  I'm going to be joyously skipping to my doom and laughing all the way.  Perhaps in game as well.  To promote a real sense of fear in a horror genre I would think that fear of imminent death is truly what makes it.  Horror movies trhive on the shock and paranoia of "Boo, a scary monster jumped out at me", "I can't get away but there is that glimmer of hope, I must try," and "What was that noise? You go check it out, I stay here and guard this bloody chainsaw to make sure it doesn't move again."

So how you do you inspire fear in the players that they might loose their character, despite knowing full well that at least one of them if not many of them will die?  

I think having some decent metagame rewards might be encouraging if characters survive from session to session.  And the longer a player survives the more likely other players will leave him high and dry.  As each player dies they step towards the GM side of the table to take the role of a monster, rampaging garden instrument, haunted room.

Surviving conditions for a session should be reasonable, but difficult, like get off the island without swimming the entire lake.  Kill one bad guy before leaving the ghost town to call for help.  And each session a player with a dead character rolls up a new one, perhaps using points earned from a previous session to modify his chances of survivng.

JOE--
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M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2004, 11:24:40 AM »

Yeah, let me repeat--this sounds a lot like Jared Sorensen's http://www.memento-mori.com/squeam/">Squ3am, and you should take a look at that.

--M. J. Young
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2004, 01:35:43 PM »

Callan's idea above was essentially the concept behind Scott Knipe's game, "Human Wreckage." Here's Ron's review. http://www.indie-rpgs.com/reviews/12/

I love the name of the stat "Blood on Your Hands". :-)

Mike
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