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Author Topic: Idea: Motivation as Attributes  (Read 1327 times)
SlurpeeMoney
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Posts: 69


« on: May 30, 2005, 06:21:58 PM »

Hey y'all. Just got back online (and I'm sure most of you don't remember me), but the Forge was one of the first places I hit. I've had an idea running around in my head for the last few days, and I thought it prudent to get some feedback on it.

Attribute, as we commonly understand them, are numerical representations of character ability. Though there are still some notable exceptions, Attributes usually play an integral role in conflict/task resolution. But what if Attributes quantified, rather than ability, a character's motivation towards blanket goals.

As a simple example:

Each character has four blanket motivations that drive his or her actions. The selection of motivations is open-ended; you may choose whatever you like, but I would suggest that all but one be very broad in scope. "Love," "Money," and "Power" are examples of broad motivations. "Exacting revenge against Oroku Saki for the death of my beloved mentor/father figure" is an example of a narrow motivation.

Motivations are rated one (1) to four (4), where one is the least important to the character. It should be noted that these four motivations are only the most important driving factors for your character, so even a rank of one denotes a level of incredible personal significance.

Whenever the character wishes to perform a critical action that is directly affected by one of his or her four key motivations, the player rolls one six-sided die and adds the rating of that motivation to the result. The total is then compared to a difficulty number selected by the Game Master.


So, my concerns. Has it been done before (and if so, where)? In what kinds of game would Motivation-as-Attribute be entirely inappropriate? Is there gamist/simulationist merit in such a rule, or would it be best served only in a narrativist climate? Should it be utilized as a key mechanic, or would motivation be better suited to use as a supplimentary bonus (if at all)?

Glad to be back. Missed this place.
Kris
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TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2005, 07:16:14 PM »

Hey Kris.

(1) I think the technique as written is generic enough that it could work for any CA, depending on how it is meshed with reward systems, character development, and all that other jazz.

(2) I think it would probably be more compelling as a key mechanic than as a supplement.

(3) It strikes me that it's not always easy to decide which motivation would be the most applicable for a given situation.  That's the case with other abilities too (if Superman pushes the moon out of orbit, is that Strength or Flight?) but with motivations the combinations are so inherently interesting that it highlights the question.

If Buffy has "Be a normal girl" and "Kick vampiric buttocks" as motivations, shouldn't there be a difference between when she's kicking butt in support of being a normal girl (e.g. these vampires stand between her and a social event) and when she's kicking butt despite wanting to be a normal girl (e.g. these vampires are at the social event)?
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PlotDevice
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2005, 09:22:01 PM »

Hi there.

I am a long time lurker here, but interested.

The 24 hour game I wrote last year (SinZen) was based on a concept similar to this, taken to an extreme.

My answers to your questions:

1) Yes, or something similar. But is a little explored are in my experience and one that might bear some very interesting fruit.

2) Inappropriateness is a hard call. I would say that this is a thematic choice that has not often been made, but is one that actually suits most modern literature and pop culture exceptionally well. They key struggle in most work is motivational. It is only after the protagonists clarify their motives that they can succeed, and/or villians generally start with very clear but very misguided motives. What you might want to consider is the terms 'cinematic', or 'leterary' since the first has action genre connotations that may not be relevant for your game. If you can sell someone on a game with a built in level of 'unreality' in the sense that the character's desires have a direct effect then any setting would be appropriate.

3) Oh it can work in gamist fashion for sure. Doing what needs to be done to get a character into the frame of mind so that they can win, yes indeed. Simulationism... often the numbers take away from the role play, but if you consider that tokens are often used in LARP to represent how much a PLAYER wants their character to succeed in an action, I think it is a small step to have the character's motivation be rated, and thus supporting the sim. IMHO it is just different applications for the same tool.

4) It is currently used in the latter sence (support role) as mentioned above "action points", which revolves arround player wants rather than character motives pulling the strings. I am working on a game at the moment that takes the leap of putting the character motivations at the heart of the Attributes, and the concept has been a pet project of mine to develop, so it encourages me that others are thinking on similar lines. The game, interestingly enough as far as your question goes, is to do with cartoon characters.

Summary: I think that the word "un-realistic" will get bandied arround with regards motivation based attributes, and I see the point being made but object in principle. In the post modern era of relativistic thinking about reality (see What the &^@%@ do We Know?) who is to say that motives are not a more powerful real force than muscle strength and damage resiliance. I think this is a fine idea, go with it as central.

Warm regards,
Evan
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Evangelos (Evan) Paliatseas

"Do not meddle in the affairs of Ninjas, for they are subtle and quick to radioactively decapitate."
Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2005, 03:12:58 AM »

As written I think it has a certain gamist inclination. In terms of how each motivation is rated from 1 to 4. Now, if I'm gunning for motivation number 2, that's not great. But hey, what if I can do clever things to bring in number 4? So even though I'm gunning for 2, I'd try and make sure I'm rolling for number 4 the most to obtain number 2. I see alot of SIS resource management ensuing. Interestingly not in a direcly combat related area, for a nice change!
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Philosopher Gamer
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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2005, 06:42:38 AM »

Heya,

Quote
Each character has four blanket motivations that drive his or her actions. The selection of motivations is open-ended; you may choose whatever you like, but I would suggest that all but one be very broad in scope. "Love," "Money," and "Power" are examples of broad motivations. "Exacting revenge against Oroku Saki for the death of my beloved mentor/father figure" is an example of a narrow motivation.

Motivations are rated one (1) to four (4), where one is the least important to the character. It should be noted that these four motivations are only the most important driving factors for your character, so even a rank of one denotes a level of incredible personal significance.

Whenever the character wishes to perform a critical action that is directly affected by one of his or her four key motivations, the player rolls one six-sided die and adds the rating of that motivation to the result. The total is then compared to a difficulty number selected by the Game Master.


This is nice and simple.  It ought to be able to support Gamist and Narrativist CA's very well.

The main things you still have to consider are rewards system and advancement system (if there is one).  A good number of designers like to start with stats.  I can only guess it's becaue either they've always seen that as the first real chapter in the RPGs they've played and are following suit for some reason, or because the stats drive their creativity.  In your case, it looks like the latter is more true.  The stats are driving your design and definately look like they could drive play.  Which is why Rewards and Advancement are also important to consider.

I think you've begun to answer the two standard questions for a RPG: "What is your game about?" and "What do the characters do?"  But only just barely.  Have you thought about the Setting or the Situation? These are all questions probably better reserved for the Indie Game Design forum, but still are important to think about.  In short, though, you have a solid foundation to start from.  Good work :)

Peace,

-Troy
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Picador
Member

Posts: 15


« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2005, 07:02:38 AM »

This has been done as a supplementary mechanic several times: right now I can only think of Unknown Armies with its Obsessions and Passions. As a primary mechanic, look at Paul Czege's games: MLwM uses Self-Loathing and Weariness, both motivational attributes, to determine all outcomes.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2005, 08:20:47 AM »

Have you read Riddle of Steel?  It is very similar in many ways.  You might be able to learn something from their implementation.

yrs--
--Ben
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