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Metamechanical Games: Example- "Speak of the Devil"

Started by Crackerjacker, August 25, 2004, 12:18:38 AM

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So I can't stand having specific rules for everything, the rolling of dice around, the adding up and the keeping track of millions of different competing values and quantities.

And yet a game needs structure or else A. its damn hard to play and B. you dont have a game to sell

So, does this mean that one should resort to a system that is entirely meta-mechanics?

As in, rules for the player, not for the player character....

But what? How?

It would almost certainly change for each different kind of campaign setting, as it would bassically be a style and fairness enforcer

so, for example:

I want to make a metamechanical game about noir type characters that make deals with the devil in order to keep on going.

So lets lay down some ground rules for the players:

-One player has to be the Devil, and the devil of course controls all the hardship the Characters endure (so, a GM if you will)

-To enforce a claustrophic, gritty, isolated feel letsay that besides the Harships, all characters are the Characters, as in the players playing Characters and not the devil do most of their "NPC interactions" with each other.

-Since this is Noir, the players cant let their Character dodge or deflect bullets, fly, or do bassically any Matrix, superhero, or fantastical kung fu movie stuff. They can however come back from the dead, escape from an inescapable trap, get a glimpse of the future, and kill without a weapon or touching someone if they make a deal with the Devil.

-Deals with the Devil have to be made everytime the Character wants something. And lets say that while theyre talking to the Devil time passes, but not in real time. So the time passing for other Characters and for Harships happens at half-speed for a Character who is brokering a deal with the Devil. Also, the Devil always has to get the better part of the deal or no deal, unless he's tricked into thinking he has the better part of the deal.

-In the Climatic Moment, the Character will be on the verge of death, great loss, or tragedy and at that moment the Devil will collect his due. Climatic Moments are the only Harships where you cannot make a deal with the Devil to get out of. If you do somehow get out of it, it's through your own power.

now thats a good start.

See, thats how metamechanical games should be layed down.

And now, finishing my improvised rant, Im going to go pass out.

Sven Seeland

Cool stuff! I would love to see this worked out and polished. Not only because I could learn a lot from it but also because it sounds awesome! I'd love to playtest that thing once it's that far. Keep us updated!
- Sven

Mr. Sandman bring me a dream...


A cleaned up version:

Speak of the Devil
~a Metamechanical Game~

What it takes to play:
A knowledge of the player rules and at least two, preferably four or more, players.

Player Roles:
Each Player but one assumes the role of a noir type Character, such as a down on his luck detective or a dame in trouble. One of the Players however, has to play the Devil. The Devil's Player represent not only himself but also each Harship, be they people or just bad luck, that the Characters will face.

Player Character Rules:

The Player's Characters interact with each other, there are no NPC's besides the Harships and the Devil himself.

In facing the Harships the Characters have the option of making a deal with the Devil. These deals cannot superscede the feel of noir, but can be quite useful in solving their problems. For example, they can't make you bulletproof, let you fly, or do crazy movie stunts. They can however let you kill without a gun or touching someone, see into the future, escape and inescapable trap, or come back from the dead.

While making a deal with the Devil the deal-making Player's Character is operating in half-time, which means it takes twice as long for any outside Character or Harship to effect them. This goes on until either they've brokered a deal or the Devil has refused and left.

In their final Climatic Moment, the Devil will collect on everything you promised him in you're deals together. The Character must somehow survive the Harship while the Devil collecting, without making a deal. This is the last test of the Player's ability to solve his problems without the Devil.

The goal of Characters is to survive and overcome Hardships making as few deals possible and on the best terms for them. Then in their Climatic Moment they have to find a way without making a deal to overcome that last Harship without what the Devil took from them.

Devil Player Rules:

The Devil's role is to be open to making deals whenever the Characters wish, but he must always get the better part of the deal. The only way around this is for him to be tricked into thinking he is getting more from the deal when really he isn't.

The Hardships the Character's face may have ill omens, but they must follow the same noir limitations as the Characters. The only time this is not true is the Devil getting his due in the Climatic moment, which will give that Harship a supernatural edge, even if it's just from what the Character is missing.

The Devil's goal is to cause Hardships that are as close to impossible to solve without a deal with Devil, so that he can get as many Deals with as much promised to him as possible.

In the Climatic Moment the Devil sends his worst Harship yet, and take away whatever was promised to him in all the deals that were made.

In the Game, which is designed for one-shot session play, if the Character's suceed in overcoming the Climatic Moment they get back what the Devil took from them and get to keep their souls. This is their way of redeeming theirselves. The Devil wins if they succumb in the Climatic Moment, and are killed or their dreams shattered. If that happens he gets to take their soul.