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Author Topic: Enticing drawback vs. weaker-but-desireable Traits  (Read 1682 times)
daMoose_Neo
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« on: May 24, 2005, 07:21:21 PM »

Hmmkay, as I'm unsure how to summarize this in a couple words to search by, I'd like to ask the assistance of Forgites.
A system/setting sprung to mind earlier today and I'm still picking it all out. As of now entitled "Return to Innocence", gameplay will feature characters of rival (re: Hate each other with the passion of the nine hells) nations/clans forced to adventure together for a greater good, with part of the overall question being "Can they grow past their own differences to succeed?"

To do this, characters will have Traits and Taints, at the moment starting out at an equalibrium or slight edge to the Taints. Taints will allow an awesome edge in certain situations, and may indeed be neccesary upon first analysis, but at a steep cost: loss of Trait effectiveness and distancing self further from the rest of the party. Traits will also bestow skills and abilities, but at a weaker or less desirable effect than the Taint, but it lowers the Taint as used, becoming more effective over time.

So, I want/need to know: where else is a similar mechanic used, so as to avoid stepping on toes as well as gauge the effectiveness of my own ideas?
*edit* Discussion of such mechanics is also welcome, outside of the setting itself. Without that I realized this may be more a Design thread than a Theory thread.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2005, 07:49:30 PM »

Most people have a very good intuition for such systems.  It's basically delayed gratification, right?  Be really cool today, or ultra-cool tomorrow.

About the only way I've ever seen people flub such things is when they misjudged how long the campaign would last:  I've seen folks who invested too much early effectiveness, then had the campaign fold before they cashed in.  Likewise, I've seen people who played for today then found that the character became comparatively boring when the game lasted longer than they thought it would.
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2005, 08:03:40 PM »

In my own application, I'd be especially keen on making both ends of the spectrum actually cool, but one closer to a stated goal than the other.
I suppose I'm thinking a Jedi/Sith arrangement, at least externally- we as fans for the most part think the Sith rock, but in the world of Star Wars it is widely considered a "Bad Thing". It also grants some awesome powers, but at that cost of a little bit of your 'soul' until its sucked you in.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
GB Steve
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2005, 12:31:03 AM »

I've written up a mechanism along those lines in Necronomicon, my take on roleplaying H.P. Lovecraft.

It's a bit sketchy at the moment but the basic idea is that Mythos knowledge is so mind-bending and corrupting that to learn of it is to loose something of yourself, and to cross out one of your regular traits for ever. That's possibly a bit more brutal than you'd want but as the game is all about getting forbidden knowledge and using that to resolve a situation it ties in well with the background.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2005, 03:58:06 PM »

Heya Tony,

It almost makes me think such effects should be on a per session basis, rather than being left to the meta game winds that control how long a campaign lasts.

So something like be cool now, at the start of the session, or ultra cool near the end of the session.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2005, 09:19:04 AM »

I dunno, Callan. Given pacing, I think everyone will wait. Unless you put important conflicts up front. But then you risk the session peak being anti-climactic.

Moose, thing is that what's bad for the character isn't neccesarily bad for the player. You have to look at the player incentives to see what will happen. For example, in narrativism play you frequently see players driving their characters to do things that seem unwise from an in-game persepective, but from the player perspective mean more fun.

Waaay back, somebody was working on a fantasy heartbreaker, and I told him that he had a problem - his chaos mages (or somesuch - ones that dealt with demonic energy) were supposedly disincentivized because of the negative repercussions of using the bad magic, like growing horns. I told him that this wasn't a negative repercussion for the player, and that, in fact, having a character with horns, no matter how inconvenient for the character, was just gravy for the player in most cases.

If you choose to play a character with a certain sort of issue, then the negative effects of that issue are just as fun as the positive ones, and represent an incentive, not a disincentive to play said sort of character.

Why are the Sith cool? Because they have made a deal with the devil for their powers. We know that they have issues that can be played. The Jedi, on the other hand, don't have an issue present, except, perhaps, whether or not they'll become Sith (or otherwise fall to the dark side).

Kewl powerz are only half of the equation.

So, you want to make the "weaker" option relatively more attractive? Well, don't go about it by giving the stronger option negative repercussions. Because it'll only make the problem worse. To "balance" options, just forget about the characters and what they think, and balance out what the players think is cool.

Mike
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2005, 09:24:00 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You have to look at the player incentives to see what will happen.


Just to clear a weird brain-fart before hitting the hay, I'm pondering somehow quantifying a player's desires as well as a characters desires.
To further use the Anakin example, Anakin the character has traits such as "Protect those I love", "Uphold the law of the Republic", "Become a Master Jedi" but Anakin the player has desires such as "Lure to Dark Side", "Defeat former Master".

*Possible* idea might bea character generation whereby the Character and Player goals are at a little bit of odds with each other, so you're not only bartering/competing against a GM/World, but your character as well...or maybe this is bizzare rambling...
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2005, 08:34:04 AM »

Sounds promising. Work on it when you're awake! :-)

Mike
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