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Author Topic: Grifter, First Draft... Please review this system!  (Read 2571 times)
Gavinthorne
Member

Posts: 4


« on: August 24, 2004, 04:57:27 AM »

OK guys, lay it bare and tear it apart!  http://GriftersWorld.homestead.com is where you will find the system. I do want to clarify that a character's Grifts can be as specific or as general as the player and Dealer want to make them. For instance, you could choose Scientist, Chemist, or Paleoxenobiologist; Singer, Actor or Elvis Impersonator; Fighter, Boxer, or Student of the Pei Mei Eagle Claw Style.

I still need to come up with some kind of "magic system", even if it's just a specified description of Chips... It might work good that way: $20 Telekinesis, $10 ESP, $30 Summoning, etc. Minimum bids can be set to do certain things: $5 TK for pulling your bong-saber from a rack across the room, $5000 for summoning an Ancient One.
 
While I haven't gotten around to putting it in text, I know that weapons and equipment will provide a certain amount of Chips that can be bid when using them. For instance, a knife could have $5 Concealable and $3 Sharp, while a blaster could have $20 Powerful but a $10 Loud Debt. These "ratings" should be free and loose and definable in game play, but consistent enough that they are easily determinable.
 
What follows is my concept for the Grifter's World. Everyone I've run it past thinks it's an irreverant and funny concept that could work for a game if presented properly. However, I'm probably going to burn in hell for eternity for even thinking it up... like the rest of you sacreligious heathens!
 
So the overall idea is a "colony" of inter-linked spheres that house a very large city. Doors to many worlds and galaxies are scattered throughout the city, but the city itself is surrounded by an eternal void (the essence of nothingness?). The city is home to a multitude of races and beings, including old gods, fantastical creatures, and beings from other worlds and times. Bronze-age barbarians do business with the star-faring aliens at the same time an Angel runs the Roulette tables at the Golden Gates for a certain gastropod-headed god of chaos and destruction. Ruling over the city with grace and simplicity is the mayor, Lady Luck, who ensures that even if a deal isn't fair, things will come out even in the end. The Lady smiles and the Lady frowns and everyone sees both at least once in their lifetimes.
 
All gods, old and new, are the creation of human beings: the only race with enough collective belief to construct archetypical beings from the ether. However, this raises the question, "If we made the gods/God, then why do all of our creation mythologies say they made us ?" As of yet, few deific beings have chosen to approach this inquiry and then only to answer, "meh..." and shrug.
 
The gods of days gone by and the Ancient Old Ones make the city a retirement home of sorts, but most try to remain active in at least some way on their world of origin. However, they do so at risk of running into "The Big Three": God (a.k.a. Yahweh, I-am, the Godfather), Allah of Islam fame (often mistaken for God as they have the same tailor), and Buddha (a.k.a. The Big Guy); these relatively young upstarts in the divine business of belief have taken over the soul-rackets on Mud, or Dirt, or Earth... whatever it is those pink-skinned worms call their homeworld.
 
Like the Roman gods before them, the Big Three have strong-armed entire families of deific beings into a mythological status. Now most gods are in the pocket of the Big Three one way or another and pay up by either working for them directly, doing the occassional favor, or being forced into paying Deinar (the currency of the city) for protection.
 
Of the Big Three, the divine forces of Christianity led by Little Jesus (a.k.a. The Lamb, The Lion, Son of the Godfather, etc.) is the most aggressive. The Unitarian policy introduced by Little Jesus has brought many cultures and religions under the proverbial thumb of his multitude of angels.
 
The few deities that manage to stay away from the Big Three usually end up running into their rivals Lucifer, Iblis, and Mara. While these three were once members of the organisations of their origin, they have banded together as the "Underground". This triumvirate has been making guerilla-style attacks (theft, destruction of property, kidnappings, etc.) on the Big Three since taking up residence in the city. They have managed to procure five entire spheres and have held this property against various machinations of the Big Three. A number of fallen gods, angels, and several races have committed themselves to supporting the aims of the Underground, which seem to focus on individual freedoms and less restrictive government, almost a kind of Libertarian party...
 
While it may seem that the Big Three and the Underground's private war on each other may consume the city, it is a big place and the influence of both groups is rather localized to the arm of spheres known as Celestia. Lest it be forgotten, while divinities and deific beings make their home (however temporary) in the city, it is still ruled by Lady Luck whose influence if felt by all residing in the city. Even God has bad days at the tables...
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statisticaltomfoolery
Member

Posts: 37


« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2004, 11:58:11 AM »

I note that part of the whole deal here is the resolution mechanic which dovetails with the theme. I'm going to ignore that for this analysis:

I don't really like the resolution mechanic; this is of course, the whole point, but playing craps or blackjack to resolve actions seems lengthy: a good run of 6 or 7 rolls could easly take a minute or more. Let alone the situation where the person with $2 tries to heroically batter down the $32 door, which could take 5-10 minutes or so to resolve the five necessary craps games.

Especially considering that you can replace the craps roll with essentially: "Roll d100: 01-49 win, 50-00 fail." and do roughly the same thing for blackjack.

There are nuances here of course, but I'm not seeing where they're worth the sacrifice in time to resolve. I'd hate trying to run a good combat with this: every time you described an action, you'd stop dead, have a run of bets, check to make sure nobody wants to use any special powers or jump in, and so on.

Anyway, you're missing margin of success for craps, and notably, it's a completely different margin of success scheme than blackjack: blackjack emphasizes betting heavily to get big results. Craps just emphasizes getting lucky to get big results.

In addition, having large numbers is completely very very emphasized in this game. Having a $64 strong means that you can simply ignore all $32 or less challenges, which is huge, as well as that when you actually do bother to stake in blackjack, you'll always have either overwhelming successes or minor failures. People with all-around abilities have nothing on a group of people with each one or two overwhelming abilities.

I'd like to note that I don't think that a resolution mechanic which has a very gambly sort of feel with minor skill bits isn't viable: I just think there's way too much stuff going on here, too many fiddly bits.

For example, I don't know if you ever watched the card game card sharks, but that'd be a great base:

1) Player with lower skill goes first.
2) Deal one card: player says whether to go higher or lower or to stop
3a) If they say higher or lower, deal another card: if they were right, opponent narrates a positive effect in their goal, go to step 2. If they're wrong, player narrates a negative effect in their goal, remove all their cards and go to step 4.
3b) If they stop, their result is the number of cards they have out.
4) Go to the other player: the winner of the contest is the one with the more cards out.

An extended contest could easily be represented as a goal of getting to a certain goal of cards, where any time you stopped during a streak, you would be frozen at that many cards.

That seems very gambly, has a bit of skill to it, and where the decisions are pretty interesting, narrative is interwoven through the contest, and it shouldn't take too long to do or explain.
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Hudson Shock
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2004, 06:19:32 PM »

Quote from: statisticaltomfoolery
For example, I don't know if you ever watched the card game card sharks, but that'd be a great base:

1) Player with lower skill goes first.
2) Deal one card: player says whether to go higher or lower or to stop
3a) If they say higher or lower, deal another card: if they were right, opponent narrates a positive effect in their goal, go to step 2. If they're wrong, player narrates a negative effect in their goal, remove all their cards and go to step 4.
3b) If they stop, their result is the number of cards they have out.
4) Go to the other player: the winner of the contest is the one with the more cards out.




This interests me, but I don't quite understand 3a, possibly because I'm not following who the pronouns refer to.  Could you re-explain?
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statisticaltomfoolery
Member

Posts: 37


« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2004, 08:17:35 PM »

Quote from: Hudson Shock
Quote from: statisticaltomfoolery
For example, I don't know if you ever watched the card game card sharks, but that'd be a great base:

1) Player with lower skill goes first.
2) Deal one card: player says whether to go higher or lower or to stop
3a) If they say higher or lower, deal another card: if they were right, opponent narrates a positive effect in their goal, go to step 2. If they're wrong, player narrates a negative effect in their goal, remove all their cards and go to step 4.
3b) If they stop, their result is the number of cards they have out.
4) Go to the other player: the winner of the contest is the one with the more cards out.




This interests me, but I don't quite understand 3a, possibly because I'm not following who the pronouns refer to.  Could you re-explain?



Sure, I was in a huge rush there.

Let's say you have someone with Tough Good versus Tough Great. The person with Tough Good goes first.

You deal Good a face up card (say a 9). Good then chooses whether to stop there, taking a result of 1 card, or whether to bet if the next card is higher or lower than the next card.

After Good predicts whether the next card is higher or lower (let's say he said lower), deal out another card (a 6). Good predicted correctly, so he can now stop, and take his result of 2 cards, or whether to continue on. If at any point he guesses wrong, then his result is 0 cards, a failure.

Now, after Good busts out or stops, Great goes. He goes through the same process, knowing Good's result. More cards is a success, less cards is a failure, same cards is a tie.

Even though this is quick, and exciting, I think the proper way to keep it going is to have it such that the higher/lower/stay are hand symbols (thumbs up, thumbs down, flat hand), so that the player can keep narrating the results through with no interruption from mechanics. That's always something I like a lot: the ability to go completely silent and not say anything that isn't actual storytelling.

Maybe another way to do this is have players go back and forth, one decision at a time. That has some neat effects too.

The obvious gimmick is that players who use some resource (or have a high enough skill or whatever), can replace a card they don't like. Unopposed challenges can be represented by a number of cards to beat or something like that. Maybe a person's skill rating is representative of the card they start with: a poor skill is represented by a 7 or an 8, the worst card in the deck to start with, while a great skill is an A, the best card to start with.

Continued challenges can be represented by a goal target. In fact, you could easily do all actions as this: a combat is represented by two sides trying to get to six cards first. The difference in a continued challenge is that if you stop, you save your progress to that point. Even if you fail on a later turn, you go back to the last point you froze at.

This is, uh, pretty good stuff I think. I might use this.
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Hudson Shock
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2004, 09:51:32 PM »

What did you have in mind by this:

"if they were right, opponent narrates a positive effect in their goal, go to step 2. If they're wrong, player narrates a negative effect in their goal"

?
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Mark D. Eddy
Member

Posts: 157


« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2004, 05:38:55 AM »

My interpretation, with some rewrite is as follows:
1) If this is a player vs. player contest, the player with the lowest skill becomes the betting player. If this is an NPC or object vs. player contest, the GM sets the stakes in the form of a number of cards needed to acheive sucess.

2) The GM deals one card. The betting player says "higher," "lower," or "stop"

3a)If the betting player says "higher" or "lower," the GM deals another card. If the card matches the prediction of the betting player, then either the GM (if the opponent is an NPC or object) or the player of the opposing PC (if this is a PvP contest) gets to narrate a positive occurence towards the stated goal of the betting player, and play continues. If the player is wrong, then all cards are discarded, and the betting player narrates his failure. (Note: I personally like the kind of distributed narration rights that this gives, and was Stat's intent. You may not like it, and have the right to change it for yourself...)

3b) If the betting player says "stop," the result is based on the cards the player has out. If the player has bested the GM's stake, the character has been fully successful, and the player gets to narrate the final results.

4) If this is a player vs. player contest, the player of the character with the next higher skill becomes the betting player, and the cycle continues. The winner of the contest is the player with the most cards out, and, again the victorious player gets to narrate the final results.

What do you think?
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Mark Eddy
Chemist, Monotheist, History buff

"The valiant man may survive
if wyrd is not against him."
statisticaltomfoolery
Member

Posts: 37


« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2004, 07:57:58 AM »

I've thought of something really cool extending the system: I think as mentioned before, I'm going to grab the kernel of the idea and run with it. I'm going to meditate on this and  have something typed up by the weekend I think on this.
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