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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 82 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [metasystem] Frames  (Read 2474 times)

Posts: 302

« on: March 17, 2005, 06:39:40 PM »

(I apparently wrote this back in October and promptly forgot about it. wanted to get it posted, just because; I still think it's a cool idea, I've used it a little, it's fun. maybe someone else can get some use out of it?)
Frames are my solution to a problem I've had in my offline RP situation; there's basically just me and my sibling, we both want to play roleplaying games but neither of us want to GM/"run" one, and neither of us has the inclination to spend long hours prepping in any way, shape, or form.

So, how do we play something if neither of us wants to really take control?

Console RPGs, at least since the SNES days, have "frame" or "window" selections hidden away in their Option menus. These frames are the backgrounds, the windows, that all the dialogue happens in. You usually have anywhere from 4-8 patterns, and may or may not be able to change the colors (using simple R/G/B sliders) of the pattern or the text.

So, this seems like a pretty cool concept to steal for distribu-GM games. These are, in fact, used to do just what the name says: scene frame! You can imagine all the dialogue and description and action playing out against one of these frames.

The players sit down and decide on the kind of game they're looking at; discuss setting, genre, tropes, flavour.. all that fun stuff. They come up with at least one, but no more than 4, default frames. Every character has these frames in their Frame Inventory. A frame consists of up to 10 descriptive traits such as colors, moods, or proper nouns.

As you play, you use some kind of drama-reward mechanic. When you trigger some condition (a funny little dialogue scene with a hidden kid, completing a sidequest, finding a rare item), you can add a new frame to your character's Frame Inventory. Default frames should only be created when new environments are explored (like moving from, say, the European Kingdom area to the Sengoku Japan continent), or really big events are shared by all characters. All other times, creating and collecting character frames is a personal thing.

-- using frames --

The person pulling GM Duty at the moment aggressively - and we're talking RIGHT NOW - wrenches the situation to match the currently selected frame.

-- switching frames --

You can switch your frame anytime there's a break in the story; basically, any time you'd be able to "access the menu", to analogy-ise from the source. If you're in the middle of conflict resolution, a conversation, or anything like that, you have to keep the current frame until it's paused enough to switch.

-- comments --

I like using sounds, even proto-sound themes, in the list of frame traits. It gives you a really good idea of the mood of a place, along with any colors, while the rest serve to populate and decorate the encounters.

the example FRAMES all have 5 traits. I'd swear when the idea first hit me I had something like 10 down for my character-frame example, but I lost the mood a bit between then and writing this document, so who knows what they were originally going to be.

I think there should be some way to tweak a frame - add a new descriptor, or modify a current one - but not sure what extent that should go to.


game's default frames:

frame 1: castle-city
    color dirty-white
    low bass, moderate recorder
    Official Kingdom

frame 2: mysterious stranger
    hot wind
    color just-this-side-of-daylight
    a handful of stars

my character's first frame:

frame 1: drum machine loops
    color blue
    school hallways
    ocean breeze

finding a new frame:
  TEAK wants a quick, fun little frame for setting up light-hearted (but hook-rich) encounters in the tropical-coast city of Conch. He and NEMO play out a scene where the characters stumble across some kids playing in a plaza. One game of hide-and-seek later - involving a brush with the local bandit lord in disguise, a lovelorn pirate queen, and an imp belonging to a wizard who disappeared ten years ago - TEAK writes up a new frame that deals with the city, fast movement, a brisk tune, and a bright clear morning.

You see:
Michael V. Goins, wielding some vaguely annoyed skills.
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