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Author Topic: [Shangri-La] A New Project #1  (Read 22133 times)
Lxndr
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2005, 05:06:08 PM »

Mike, and everyone else,

http://www.twistedconfessions.com/files/shangri.doc

has now been updated, taking into account Mike's comments, as well as comments from other readers in indie-netgaming and, well, me.

Thanks to everyone who's read through it so far and provided comments.  Let me know if I broke anything!

Things to note:

(1) The Weaver is now much more nicely defined. I was waffling in the last version between whether the Weaver was a traded role or a static role, and didn't fix all the text when I sorted it all out. Now it's better.

(1b) I also clarified some other text, and kind of rearranged it to hopefully be more orderly.

(2) I've slowed down the knot-gathering mechanism of failure - now, you only get a new knot if you forfeit (i.e. reroll and lose), rather than every time you get zero successes. The other method was stomping a bit too hard on new characters.

(3) Added a gimmick that pretty much means players will be rolling a minimum of two dice, not one.  This should overall increase victories.  We'll see.  I'm not totally sure if I like this gimmick, though.  Seems too permissive.  Plus, I think people should roll one die on occasion.

Quote
Here's a thought. How about leveling up with EXP equal to the level of the tier. So it only takes 1 EXP to get to second tier. Should happen sometime in the first session. Then it takes 2 EXP to get to the second? Or will this produce too many tiers over time? Is there some reason to keep threads limited?


There's no particular reason to keep threads in general limited. But I would like relationships to be the primary source of threads.  Each additional Tier gives someone an additional thread, in exchange for alienating themselves from their relationships. I want that to be a milestone, not something to be rushed through for the next one.

[/quote]True. Why not start with a level one relationship? Put another way, why force the players to do without relationships the first session. What's the purpose of the level zero relationships? [/quote]

It's vaguely like the starting Connections in My Life With Master - it tells you something about the character. Plus, having a level 1 relationship at the start kind of goes against the concept - that a starting Awakened character is completely cut off from the real world, and needs to put in some elbow grease to get back on track.
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2005, 05:39:29 PM »

Hey, Lxnder:  Are you quite sure that Threads and Knots are different things?

Because, y'know, a character with "Swords are for fighting" need not have a "baseline chance" at fighting.  He could be good with a sword, and bad otherwise.

Then the way to progress is much like Dogs in the Vineyard:  Get hurt.  Damage means more knots/threads, and the more you get roughed up the more powerful you become.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2005, 06:31:56 AM »

Quote from: Lxndr

(2) I've slowed down the knot-gathering mechanism of failure - now, you only get a new knot if you forfeit (i.e. reroll and lose), rather than every time you get zero successes. The other method was stomping a bit too hard on new characters.
That's very cool. It's like "Bringing Down the Pain" a little. Basically do you stick with failure, or gamble success vs. a knot. I like it. Also reminds me of Trollbabe rerolls. But more dynamic.

Quote
(3) Added a gimmick that pretty much means players will be rolling a minimum of two dice, not one.  This should overall increase victories.  We'll see.  I'm not totally sure if I like this gimmick, though.  Seems too permissive.  Plus, I think people should roll one die on occasion.
I agree. My thought (I didn't make clear) was that you should allow more uses of threads or have more places to get dice from. Perhaps a player just gets two free uses outside the ones he gets for his Tier? Something like that.

Or, howabout you can use a trait extra times, but risk a knot if you do?

Quote
It's vaguely like the starting Connections in My Life With Master - it tells you something about the character. Plus, having a level 1 relationship at the start kind of goes against the concept - that a starting Awakened character is completely cut off from the real world, and needs to put in some elbow grease to get back on track.
OK, that makes sense.

Mike
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Lxndr
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2005, 04:30:41 PM »

Tony:

Threads and knots are two sides of the same coin, but they are different, and should be represented differently. It's a dream-setting, so everyone has a baseline chance at pretty much everything - a thread gives a greater chance when someone goes along with it, and a knot gives a greater difficulty when someone goes against it.  A dreamer can have both a knot, and a thread that goes along with it.

Mike:

The thing is, I like the gimmick that connects the scenes; I've been pondering various ways to thematically connect the scenes, even when the stories aren't actively connected.

However, the more I think about it, the more I dislike the way it's currently written, which gives people a baseline of two dice, pretty much, after the first scene of a given night.  Making it always a thread, however, is part of the problem.

Ideally, there should be either (a) a thread, (b) a knot, or (c) a character from a previous scene (either PC or NPC) in the next scene, to maintain the sort of contiguity I'm imagining.  As long as there's at least one of those in each scene, I should be happy.

This makes me think the following:

"If any character, including the Speaker's character was, in the scene just previous, no additional rules apply. Otherwise, if the previous scene's conflict was successful, the Speaker must choose a knot from that scene to incorporate into the current scene. If the previous scene's conflict failed, the Speaker must choose a thread from the previous scene, and use it in the current scene - but they get to use that thread for free."

It's a bit wordy, but perhaps it accomplishes what I'm setting out to do.

This implies the following:
    [*]A player whose character was just in a scene can bring their character into the next one, thus cutting off a potential free thread for the Speaker (or perhaps protecting them from a knot).
    [*]A player could bring their character into a scene just previous, in plans for their turn coming up, to manipulate these rules somehow.
    [*]The Weaver could bring the same NPC into multiple scenes, again to blockade the Speaker from getting a thread (or protect from a knot) - or may refrain from doing so to allow a thread.
    [/list:u]

    It's something worth ruminating on, anyway.  It's got three more stomachs to pass through.
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    « Reply #19 on: April 29, 2005, 04:58:43 AM »

    Interesting. Can you make the metaphysics match this somehow? That is, what you have seems something like karma. Except that it passes from character to character.

    Mike
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    Lxndr
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    « Reply #20 on: April 29, 2005, 06:26:13 AM »

    Isn't it already similar to another part of the game's metaphysics (or at least, another part of the game mechanics, which reflect the metaphysics)- the Spindle? That also passes from character to character - one person can take a risk, and another can reap the rewards.

    So couldn't this just be another aspect of the same philosophy already inherent in the Spindle? - everything in Shangri-la is connected, even when it's not. What you do in one part of the world, will reflect itself in another part of the world. Everything is connected. In the dream world, even when you think you are alone, your actions have meaning, and impact others - and not always in the way you might desire.
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    Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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    « Reply #21 on: April 29, 2005, 11:08:47 AM »

    I'd buy that. You might have to make it more explicit for people to see it. Rather, is there any synergy that you might find by linking the mechanisms together somehow to make it clear?

    Mike
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    « Reply #22 on: May 03, 2005, 03:35:04 PM »

    Well, I decided that character continuity in Shangri-la is actually secondary to knot/thread continuity, and this is the result.  It'll be uploaded into the newest draft likely by the time you, Gentle Reader, download it.

    Quote from: newest draft
       As the Spindle already suggests, everything in Shangri-la is connected, even things that have no right to be. What happens in one part of the world is reflected in another. Every action an Awakened mind performs sends vibrations across the tapestry of the dream world, echoes seeking out other Awakened minds, having impacts they might not always desire. Shangri-la is a delicate and complex weave of disparate, often inimical elements, and any change encourages it to try to correct the imbalance elsewhere.
       So, if the previous scene's conflict roll was successful, the Speaker must choose a knot from that scene to incorporate into the current scene. Conversely, if the previous scene's conflict roll failed, the Speaker chooses a thread from the previous scene, and must use it in the current scene without cost. This way, the dream world attempts to bring itself back to a state of equilibrium.
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    « Reply #23 on: May 04, 2005, 06:47:34 AM »

    I'm not sure if this is a problem or a feature:

    Let's say that there are two players for argument's sake (though this works with any even number of players). Player A succeeds, and Player B ends up with an extra knot. So he fails because of the knot, and passes a thread back to player A who succeeds because of it.

    See the pattern. The same player gets shit on over and over again until he finds some way to succeed. The odds may be long on that, however, so there might be a tendency for cycles like this to occur. With an odd number of players it's not a problem really. And with 4 or 6 players you might see people team up with their partner across the table to ensure that the flow goes with them.

    At higher tiers this will be less important. But early on in the game it might be pretty significant, and actually lead to players advancing where others do not meaning that it becomes even more important to maintain this advantage.

    Now, all of this assumes that the hebbles don't mix things up appropriately. They might. But it's something to watch for in playtesting.

    Mike
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    Lxndr
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    « Reply #24 on: May 16, 2005, 01:48:46 PM »

    http://www.twistedconfessions.com/files/shang.pdf

    This is the new Shangri-la document, updated with new text and rules and whatnot.  The previous doc file is no longer available.

    Damn, Mike. For some reason I completely missed that you'd posted in this thread.  I've been sitting here thinking nobody'd posted, and then I got involved in trying to go back to school, etc., and other personal issues. I'm very sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

    First, I left something out, which might change the pattern as you're imagining it:  if player A wins, but there were no knots in his scene, player B doesn't get an extra knot.  Same if player B loses, and there's no thread in his scene.  You can't get something that's not there.

    Okay.  Even with that, though, there might be problems.  So let's look at this with heddles, and with the assumption that there's always at least one thread and knot in each scene (which, especially at higher tiers, will probably be the case).  

    We start the game with three people: Player A, Player B, Weaver.  This is their first game, so A and B each have one heddle, and the Weaver has none.

    The first scene is given to Player A (Weaver's choice).  Whether Player B spends his heddle right now or not is unimportant to turn order, because he'll be next anyways.  So let's say he chooses to hold on to his heddle for now.  Player A and the Weaver put some stuff in the scene, and whammo, Player A succeeds.

    So in the second scene, Player B starts out of the box with a penalty - a knot from the previous scene.  Player A spends his heddle to give Player B an additional penalty, wanting a free thread in the next scene - this heddle goes to Player B.  Player B rolls, and loses.

    Player B now has two heddles, Player A and Weaver both have zero.

    So, next scene is Player A's.  He now has a free thread.  But player B can go "ha!" and bring in not one but TWO knots with his two heddles.  These are both given to Player A, and changes Player A's chances of winning.  Player B is now more likely to get a free thread, but Player A, in return, will have two heddles.

    On the other hand, Player B can hold on to his two heddles, and not spend them at all.  Then, when Player A wins with his free thread, he gets another turn (since he's still the player with the least amount of heddles) and picks up a knot, since the previous scene was a winner.  Player B can now take advantage of that, spend a heddle, whatever.

    Okay.  At least with a small on-paper test, even a minimum amount of heddles can allow for changes in this situation, with only two players + one Weaver.  Additional players will only complexify this group's dynamic.  

    Nonetheless, I will definitely be keeping an eye on this in playtest, which hopefully will be happening soon.
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    « Reply #25 on: May 17, 2005, 05:42:33 AM »

    Aha! I had read the turn rule as saying that it passes to some other player with the least heddles. As opposed to the possibility of double turning, and the vagaries that this will toss into the mix.

    But I'm still concerned that the players have loads of incentive to spend all of their heddles on knots quickly. In order to get the next scene, after the other player has failed. Because players will want scenes, of course, and because they'll want ones with the free threads. I mean, let's look at another hypothetical like yours.

    Player B spends all heddles on knots for player A, and player A loses getting B the free thread on his scene (having the least heddles). That's one extra die. But A now spends the two heddles making failure quite likely. So they B loses, and A gets the scene with one thread. B spends the two heddles again...

    Basically everybody loses until somebody gets lucky. When that player does get lucky, then he can really slam the other player easily (three knots instead of two knots and a thread). So that player has to use your tactic and allow a success. Refrain from spending, just to get back to the "normal" cycle where the opponent has lost and has the most heddles.

    With the rash of discussions of the Prisoner's Dillema, actually it could be noted that the players could "team up" to make each other succeed back and forth. But then they run out of heddles quickly.

    I think a lot may depend on how often the heddles get replaced with respect to the number of rolls that happen in between. You may have to tweak that a lot. And with more players...who knows? This might be a complete non-issue.

    Mike
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    « Reply #26 on: May 17, 2005, 07:43:46 PM »

    Okay, let's take your example.

    We start the game.  Player A and Player B both have 1 heddle, Weaver has none. Player A starts.  Player B spends his heddle instead of holding onto it, giving player A a knot.  Player A loses.  Player B now has a free thread, but Player A now has two heddles he can use to make Player B lose.

    Now, if Player A spends both heddles, he's now given Player B that same power.  But that's not his only option.  He can spend zero, as we said before.  However, if he only spends one, he still gets the next scene, and at least has an even chance of getting a thread on that scene.

    I definitely can see a situation where B and A just continually slam each other with 2 whole heddles.

    Of course, B can throw two knots at A, and A can just go "ho de hum, I'll just not throw any threads in this scene" and thus B gets no benefit, because there's no thread.  B might be better off spending 2 heddles to give A a thread AND a knot, 'cause then he still has a pretty good chance of failing, and there'll actually be a thread on the table to take.

    The thing that worries me most about this potential scenario isn't even the comedy of errors until someone wins.  It's that the Weaver wouldn't be getting enough heddles, and the economy assumes that the Weaver would be getting some heddles eventually.  On the other hand, the Weaver's available free resources might eventually wind down.

    Let's consider an alternative.  Let's imagine that when the previous scene is a success, a thread comes over, and if the previous scene is a failure, a knot comes over.  So, inverted of the current Shangri-la situation.  All other items remain.

    Let's take Players Z and Y, along with the Weaver, playing with these alternative rules in another dimension.  They both start with one heddle, like before.  Player Z goes first.

    Player Y immediately spends a heddle on a thread for player Z, which is given to the Weaver.  Player Z most likely wins, thus giving a free thread to player Y.  Player Z now has 1 heddle, player Y 0, and the Weaver 1.

    Now it's Player Y's turn.  He has a free thread.  The Weaver spends his heddle on a knot, giving that heddle to Player Y.  Player Z wants to see Player Y win, so he spends his heddle on another thread, giving it to the Weaver.

    Hm.  Just from that quick blot test, that feels like a better way to go about it.  What do you think?
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    « Reply #27 on: May 18, 2005, 08:39:09 AM »

    I think that might work. The incentive here, however, is to spend heddles to help the other guy. I mean, he'll then be likely to help you, and you're both more likely to be passing threads on.

    But, fortunately, they'll run out of heddles if they do this. If you pass the heddle, with a knot, then it's like Unsung in that you're "gifting" the other player with adversity and a reward for accepting it. You could allow the recieving player to veto knots, too...

    Actually I'm not convinced that the original mechanism wouldn't work. I think playtesting both is really called for at this point. We could be missing all sorts of third party factors here.

    Mike
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    « Reply #28 on: May 19, 2005, 08:26:12 PM »

    The original mechanism, as much as I liked it aesthetically, seems to discourage, extremely, ever giving heddles to the Weaver (since giving a fellow player a knot will always be better for me than giving a fellow player a thread).  As opposed to inverting it, which seems to encourage heddles flowing to the Weaver a lot more while not being too discouraging of giving heddles to fellow players.

    So while I'm not completely giving up on the original, I'm inverting it in the text for now and will probably start my playtests with this.
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    « Reply #29 on: May 20, 2005, 08:16:39 AM »

    Sounds logical.

    Mike
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