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Author Topic: [Gamblin' Men] A possible new system  (Read 4758 times)
timfire
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« on: December 09, 2004, 08:08:59 AM »

Hi everyone,

I had some ideas for a new system based off an old homebrew I use to play. (Actually, I may help the original author revamp the game, but that’s another story.) At this point I’m not sure where I’ll go with this, but I thought I would make this post and see what people thought.

Anyway, the old homebrew was a Tolkien/DnD-fantasy Western. The system was a generic heartbreaker, but here’s the deal: It had this brutal resolution system. Normal skill was 30-60%. Failure was frequent and horrible. *Rarely* did anyone survive a session of play. But noone cared. It became a running joke. People would just throw themselves into crazy and stupid situations knowing that they probably wouldn’t walk out. The players would take pride in their character’s injuries, happily having them limp around for half the session. Obviously, the game involved a lot of humor.

This system worked because of the group we played in. If the game is to be revamped, I think it should be reworked from the ground up to more reliably produce the type of play we use to have.

Since the system I've outlined is so big on the Gamble, I thought I would tenatively call it "Gamblin' Men". Anyway, here are my ideas…

Inspiration: The Great Ork Gods
Metal Opera
Poker
The Pool
(or rather, the game that inspired James to write The Pool)

Goal: Be the last PC standing. The expectation should be that everyone will die.

Idea #0: As in the old homebrew, the resolution system will still be pretty brutal, though I'm not sure exactly how it'll work.

Idea #1: As the characters are injured, they will receive some type of currency, represented by poker chips.

This currency will allow director stance –type stuff, though I’m not sure what exactly they will let the player do. They may grant some sort of defensive capacity, or they may just allow the players to increase the adversity for other PC’s. (“If I’m going down I’m taking you all with me!”)

Idea #2: Another way to gain this currency is through “Stunts”. With a stunt, the player can decide how many dice they want to roll. Basically, the more dice they roll, the higher the payback but the higher the chance of failure. Maybe… if any of the dice fail, they lose everything. (There will be a maximum number of dice the player can roll, depending upon the exact mechanic I choose.)

Stunts will also require some sort of elaborate set-up/description/etc.

I may possibly say that players can declare one action for each die they roll. The more dice they roll, the more they get to do.

This also has the potential to become the basic resolution sytem, but I'll have to think about that.

Idea #3: Side-bets. At anytime, on any roll, players may bet each other if the player will succeed or fail.

Along with this, players can join in on a stunt. Again, they can bet whether the player will succeed or fail. With a stunt, though, there may be some sort of sliding scale buy-in (“the odds”) depending on the number of dice the player is rolling.

Idea #4: There seems like there should be some sort of greater consequence for failing a stunt. I thought about this: Given the number of failed dice the player rolls on a stunt, the player must narrate one fact for how the situation worsens for the party.

Idea #5: A possible use for the currency: When something ‘bad’ is going to happen to your PC, you can use the currency to reflect the ‘bad thing’ on another PC.

Idea #6: I may require that each character take some sort of mania/disadvantage/personality-quirk/etc.

Anyway, what does everyone think? One question I had was whether having the players use the same currency for betting and director-stance-stuff would work, or whether it would cause a conflict of interest for the players (in a bad way). Thanks!

[edit] PS: This will have a traditional GM/Player split. [/edit]
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
jknevitt
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2004, 09:24:00 AM »

This is a really neat idea, Tim. It's like Jackass: the RPG.
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James Knevitt
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2004, 01:46:59 PM »

Heya,

Check out Elfs at Adept Press.  It's sorta along the same lines.  I like your idea tho.  Looks like fun :)

Peace,

-Troy
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Tobias
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Posts: 446


« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2004, 12:40:44 AM »

Did you see the Last One Standing thread?

First look I got at this, and I got the same vibe. Then your poker-chip and currency mechanics and game feel came along, and the vibe started differing.

(Although your poker chips might be similar to the replenishable pool of hero points, as suggested in that thread).

Maybe you 2 can jam together. :)
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Tobias op den Brouw

- DitV misses dead gods in Augurann
- My GroupDesign .pdf.
arete66
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2004, 10:27:18 PM »

Timfire,

Although both of our ideas have a high mortality rate involved, the end goal is vastly different.  You're going for comedy and I'm going for horror.  

I like that mortality is being investigated as a viable theme, though, since it is the Sacred Cow of RPGs, usually. (Paranoia was the only mainstream game I can remember that made PC death a top priority. :) )

Cheers,
Tom
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timfire
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2004, 01:17:36 PM »

Thanks everyone for the replys.

I've done a little more thinking about this design. For the basic resolution, I'm debating using a slightly modified version of Jonathon Walton's mechanic from Seadog Tuxedo. The way it went was basically this: After a conflict has been initiated, the participants can narrate pretty much whatever they want, except they can only narrate what their character does, not how that action effects the other particiapants or what the other characters do.
Quote from: example
Player A: I swing my sword!
Player B: Well, I duck under it and go for a tackle!
Player A: I kick you before you can tackle me!
Player B: I roll to the side, then grab a chair and throw it at you!
Etc, etc...

Players can go back and forth like this for as long as they want. However, at any point any of the particiapants can call for a roll, which decides the final winner and ends the conflict.

Here's the twist I'm adding in (obviously inspired by Poker). Initiating a conflict is free, but in order to add narration, you have to bet chips. If the other particiapants see's your bet, then dice are rolled. If they choos to raise your bet, then they get to narrate something, and so on. When the dice are finally rolled, the winner takes all the chips.
Quote from: example
Player A: I swing my sword! (free initiation)
Player B: Well, I duck under it and go for a tackle! (bets 1 chip)
Player A: I kick you before you can tackle me! (see's that chip and raises it 1)
Player B: I roll to the side, then grab a chair and throw it at you! (see's and raises 2)
Player A: (see's those 2 chips) Alright, roll!

(They roll, B wins.)

Player B: I win! (takes all the chips) That chair totally hits you in the head!...
Etc, etc...

Besides losing the chips, they would also suffer the appropriate consequence for failing the conflict.

I think along with this, if one of the participants doesn't want to see a bet, they fold, which grants automatic success to the other participant.

Implication of idea:
If I use typical task resolution for this, where different actions are resolved according to different skills/abilities, then betting/adding-narration would allow the player to shift the focus of the conflict to some skill where they have an advantage over the other participant.

Problem:
The big problem with this idea is that it works great with players who only have a limited amount of chips. But what about the GM? Should the GM only have a limited number of chips to bet?

Also, I'm not sure how this will work with more than two participants involved.

Also, I'm not sure if this is really a problem, but I wonder if this would put too much emphasis on betting chips in relation to spending chips.
__________

Another idea:
Going with the 'mania' idea, I thought characters could have two - one thing they are obsessed with (ex. whiskey) and one thing they hate (ex. people who smoke). [edit] Though I'm still not sure how to encourage the use of these mania's in play. [/edit]
__________

I realize that what I really need are some good uses for spending chips. I really like the reflecting idea above. I imagine a scene where a conflict just gets passed from player to player to player. I'm thinking that when a failed roll is reflected/passed to another player, that player still gets to make a roll/whatever to see if they can win it.

The only other idea I've come up with so far is using chips to buy re-rolls - but with a twist. You have to buy re-rolls before your initial roll, whether you end up needing a re-roll or not.
__________

The way I envision play is that the game will start with a lot of betting and with the players basically collecting chips. But as the PC's start taking wounds, there will be a downward spiral where players start spending chips in desperate attempts to stay alive.
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
timfire
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2004, 01:35:48 PM »

Oh! one other idea:
Your Hit Points would be divided into levels, probably 4. For example, you might have 5 HP in each level for a total of 20 HP. With each level, you would get an increasing amount of chips for each point of damage taken.

Maybe 1 chip for the first, 2 for the second, 4 for the third, and 8 for the fourth?
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Brendan
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2004, 06:48:39 AM »

Man, Tim, that betting/conflict escalation mechanic is brilliant.  As for the "how many chips for the GM" question, I'd suggest that the GM have unlimited chips, but that NPCs (or conflicts!) have a limited number of chips to spend from that pool--maybe 1 per HP.  (I'm not sure what to do if the PCs manage to get all the chips and the GM runs out.  Shout "you win, game over?"  Run out and buy more chips?)

I'm curious as to how the skill system will affect the resolution of bets.  Do PCs have chip pools that can only be used for certain skills?  Do bets made using a given skill count more?
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timfire
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2004, 08:55:21 AM »

Nice to meet you, Brendan.
Quote from: Brendan
I'm curious as to how the skill system will affect the resolution of bets. Do PCs have chip pools that can only be used for certain skills? Do bets made using a given skill count more?

I'm still thinking about your other comments, but to this I can say: PC's will likely only have a single pool of chips to bet. I also wasn't thinking that skills would affect betting per se. Skills will likely affect the resolution of conflicts, but would not affect betting other than deciding who wins and who loses.

In other words, if there are 10 chips at stake, no matter what skill you use, if you win, you just get 10 chips. The skill you use, however, will just make it easier or harder to win... At least, that's what I'm thinking right now.
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
timfire
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2004, 08:37:47 PM »

Quote from: Brendan
As for the "how many chips for the GM" question, I'd suggest that the GM have unlimited chips, but that NPCs (or conflicts!) have a limited number of chips to spend from that pool--maybe 1 per HP.  (I'm not sure what to do if the PCs manage to get all the chips and the GM runs out.  Shout "you win, game over?"  Run out and buy more chips?)

This made me think a little. A character doesn't die just becase they don't have chips to bet. But I don't want a situation where players can just constantly out-bid other players and win all the time, which would happen if I had a strict rule that you needed to see a bet in order to even roll dice.

So I had an idea. If you're in the middle of a conflict, players can buy extra chips with complications. But not a personal complication - a group complication. (Low on chips? You can get more by narrating something bad happening to the group.) So you gain chips to bet/spend - but now the situation is worse, and likely the other players are pissed at you for making things worse! Sound fun?!

Anyway, that's one way to handle it. I'll give it some more thought.
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
timfire
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2004, 08:46:42 PM »

I ran a preliminary test of the basic mechanics with my brother on Christmas. In all honesty, it's too early to really to worry about it, and it's questionable if the test really helped me at all. But I wanted to try the rules out so I did it anyway.

I made up a couple of rules as I went along. First, I didn't worry about skills, but I needed some stats to make resolution work. So I just used DND's 6 stats. I arranged them in this order:

STR > AGL > END > IQ > WIS > CHA (> STR > etc)

I ordered them this way because I made up a rule - when a conflict was announced, the player had to declare which stat they were going to use to determine resolution. If a player then upped the bet and added narration, they could not use the same stat as before, or the two stats before in the order. In other words, if the first 'round' was END based, the second 'round' had to be either IQ, WIS, or CHA. That way, a conflict wouldn't become strictly I hit-You hit - it forced the players to change up what they would do.

This seemed to work fine, though I might want to change/add some of the stats. My brother seemed to like changing the conflicts from purely physical to mental based and back again. An issue I had, though, was that I wanted only the player to roll, and all the rolls were based off the player's stats. This made for weird narration issues. For example, if I called for some sort of IQ-based roll, and then my brother saw my bet, I had to narrate some sort of action that would play into my brother's IQ - which meant that the action my NPC was taking wouldn't neccessarily be IQ-based.

I also added this rule about stunts - a player could use up to 6 dice, but for each die they rolled, they had to associate it with a different stat. I had the crazy idea of someone rolling all six dice and incorporating all of their stats into the stunt. I did this because I wasn't sure which stat to use for stunts, and I didn't want the player to just always use the same stat over and over.

My brother seemed to like this general idea, but it meant that we had to keep track of which die was associated with which stat, which was a little annoying.

My brother liked attempting stunts, but he never actually succeed at one. Which brings up a problem with the test. I only wanted to roll 1d6 for  resolution, so for each stat, my brother just rolled 1d6. Like in the old homebrew, I wanted his skill to be low, so I made him reroll 5's and 6's (and 1's, because I was feeling kind). Resolution was based on rolling under the stat. But this made resolution too difficult, in my opinion.

The other problem with the test was that it was just me and him, so their was no competitive group dynamic, which I'm hoping to encourage with this design.

Oh! but a couple of things I realized the game needed. First, the player needs a couple of chips to start things off. I gave my brother five to start in this test. Also, I gave the GM his own pile of chips to bet. This worked well, I think that's the way it should go.

Anyway, that was the first "playtest".
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2004, 04:21:23 PM »

Hey Tim,

Initiating a conflict is free, but in order to add narration, you have to bet chips. If the other particiapants see's your bet, then dice are rolled. If they choos to raise your bet, then they get to narrate something, and so on. When the dice are finally rolled, the winner takes all the chips....If I use typical task resolution for this, where different actions are resolved according to different skills/abilities, then betting/adding-narration would allow the player to shift the focus of the conflict to some skill where they have an advantage over the other participant.

I like it. It's like the Amber resolution mechanic, except with dice.

I think you fell down on your choice of playtest stats though. They don't suggest the range of capacities you need for the player characters. And I'm not sure Amber's Psyche, Strength, Endurance, and Warfare would be much better. What about Fastlane's People, Assets, Nerve, Guile, Sobriety? You roll the number of dice you have in the stat you used last during the bidding.

If NPCs have starting chip pools, you could create some interesting conflict dynamics. If an NPC were to win against a character, he'd collect chips, and it would make him more effective against other characters. To avoid this, you could allow a player to bid in against an NPC opponent immediately after another PC has lost a die roll to him. The NPC would not yet have reaped the chip windfall from the victory, but without actually having to spend any chips would be considered to have bid the same against the second PC as he used to earn that victory. Give the player who bids in the ability to narrate the exchanges.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
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