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Author Topic: [WGP] Idea for "minor" or "maturing" asp  (Read 1882 times)
Murwiz
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« on: August 26, 2004, 05:26:23 AM »

I played in one of the GenCon demos of "With Great Power..." and enjoyed it. I had an idea for a minor addition to the game, and Michael asked me to post it here for discussion. So, discuss away!

Let's see if I can summarize this the same way I did in email to him (I don't have that email at hand):

Often in comics, we won't know everything about a character at the start of their larger story. Perhaps we know their powers and secret identity, but not that their estranged brother is a CIA agent, or that Red Zoomerite has a different effect on them than Green Zoomerite ... thus, the concept of a "new" aspect being forced on them, or adopted by them, as the story progresses.

My idea is to introduce a "minor aspect", one with some limitation. Such an aspect could be introduced during play, ad lib, as a story evolves. What jumped to mind was to construct the aspect just like a starting aspect, but to indicate that you could assign only one point of Importance to that aspect per adventure. (I.e., "X" out all but one of the Importance circles on the character sheet.)

Each time you did actually assign Importance to that aspect, you would "clear" one more of the Importance circles for later use. Eventually, the aspect would "mature" into a full-fledged aspect. Or maybe not. It would be the player's choice as to how this aspect developed. Or maybe the GM could override that choice, and (gently) force an aspect to mature.

To return to my initial examples, the player might not want to develop the sibling-agent aspect, but the GM might have plans to introduce a major adventure-spanning plot in which the CIA becomes corrupt and tries to take over the US government ... or the player might want to introduce Red Zoomerite into every adventure, because it "randomizes" her powers in a way that the player enjoys, but it drives the GM crazy and makes the other players jealous ...

I hope this idea proves useful to Michael, or players & GMs of this very intriguing game. I've already solicited a few of my local friends into giving this a try sometime later this year.
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Jeff Boes <>< mur@qtm.net
Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2004, 06:24:35 AM »

Hi, Jeff.

Thanks for posting. I very much like the idea of customizing one's character as one goes along. Putting a constraint on an Aspect's Importance is a cool way to do it, particularly to get that "slowly rising tension" effect you're talking about.

A great example of this from the source literature was the original Spiderman's black costume storyline. IIRC, he had the costume for over a year without it really doing much of anything, story-wise. Then, he starts to feel more and more exhausted, then finally--whammo!--we find out that the costume has been "possessing" him during the night and that he can't get it off.

Another way to address a change in Aspects is the whole cycle of Devastation and redemption. The rules state that when an Aspect has been Devastated and is subsequently redeemed, it must be rewritten somehow. That constraint may not seem like much, but I intended it to have sweeping effects.

F'r instance: If your Romance is Devastated, when it is redeemed any of the following (or more) could happen, depending on what makes sense for the story:
    Its Type changes to Acquaintance, either because she rejects the hero for being a trouble-magnet, or the hero rejects her because he doesn't want to put her at risk.
    Its Type changes to Partner if the supervillian's plot embued her with powers of her own.
    Its Type changes to Origin if she dies, and her memory inspires your hero to greater heights.
    Its Type changes to Duty if she falls comatose and your hero must a way to cure her.
    Its Type changes to Family if her brush with death convinces her that life is too short, and she marries your hero.
    Its Scale changes from Personal to Municipal if she publicizes her harrowing tale and becomes a local celebrity.
    Its Scale changes from National to Personal if she is too deep in shock to return to work at the international espionage organization.[/list:u]

    That's just off the top of my head, but for your story, you will get to decide. The point is that every story must have an Aspect Devastated and redeemed, and that requires real change of the games "story stuff."
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Murwiz
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2004, 07:53:18 AM »

Along the same lines, Michael: how do you envision "WGP..." handling the evolution of a character's power level? Or has that no place in this game?

I must say one of the things I like about the game at first sight is the *absence* of power levels; nothing about "my 17 dice of Solar Vision vs. your 16 dice of Mystic Armor", reducing what should be storytelling to mere accounting. That being said, *players* are going to want to evolve their PCs into something greater. Iron Man's armor got better and better. Superman evolved from being "merely" bulletproof, to being able to fly into the core of a sun. And so on.

In the WGP system as it stands, it's cool to think that a Batman-type hero could take on a Hulk-class threat, because the threat might have a hand of crap, and the Batman-type could draw a handful of face cards (of course, the player here is gonna have to come with a heckuva story...). So in some sense all power levels are the same; each hero has a potential to do anything as long as the player can explain it. (Batman might not be able to stop a building from toppling by catching it, but he might *deflect* it by knocking out one brick with a Batarang ...)

But the question remains: how does a hero evolve? What is the equivalent of XP in this system? (I've not read every word of the book yet, so maybe it's hidden in there somewhere.) To be more explicit, if my Power Armor Dude can fly and bullets bounce off his chest, how do I give him a missle launcher after play has begun?
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2004, 08:59:40 AM »

Hi, Jeff.

Good point. Gamers will want their powers, etc. to improve. The heart of that comes back to rewriting the Aspects after they've been Devastated. To rewrite the Aspect, you need to change either its Scale, its Type, or its Name. For your power armor hero, you can simply change the name of the Aspect from "Flying, Bulletproof Armor" to "Flying, Bulletproof, Missile-Equipped Armor." Or you could change its Scale from Personal to Municipal.

To be honest, I've never really liked the continuously-rising power level built into most RPGs, for two reasons:

1) it often ends up sapping the story of meaning. Beating up bigger and bigger things matters less and less. To cite a superhero story that fell prey to this, simply compare Buffy: the Vampire Slayer seasons 2 & 3 (smaller Bads, better stories) with seasons 6 & 7 (bigger Bads, worse stories).

2) The power advancement curve is often held out as a carrot that you will never actually get to distract players from flaws in the game. D&D, of all editions, is the poster child for this. The game implies "your character is pretty weak at 1st level, but when you hit level 20, you'll be godlike!" when it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to carve enough actual play time out of your Real Life to make it from 1st to 20th level. I've never played a D&D campaign longer than a year, real time.

I designed WGP to be much closer to instant gratification: Play a card--BAM!--something changes. Redeem an Aspect--POW!--your hero's story is different in a way that matters.

You said you have some friends willing to try the game. That's great. I thank you and them. But are they really about to commit to playing an unfamiliar game for months & years to come? If they commit to one story played out in a handful of sessions, I'd be pleased as punch, and I think they will, too. That's the timeframe the game was built to exploit--the timeframe most gamers have available to them.
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Murwiz
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2004, 09:07:11 AM »

Quote
If they commit to one story played out in a handful of sessions, I'd be pleased as punch, and I think they will, too. That's the timeframe the game was built to exploit--the timeframe most gamers have available to them.


Ah, that's something I hadn't considered: most RPGs are *explicitly and only* aimed at a "campaign setting" rather than one-shots. The players "improve" at playing because their character gets to roll more dice, not because the player got any better. In your game, there's no explicit advancement: which suits the short-term game just fine. Or else, the advancement is that the player (and GM) get better at weaving a story that pleases both of them. The reward is still there for a long-term game, but it's much more subtle and esoteric. I'm fine with that, but you may want to work that into your next edition's Introduction ...
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If life doesn't offer a game worth playing, then invent a new one.
________                Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book
Jeff Boes <>< mur@qtm.net
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