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Author Topic: [Hierarchy] Splitting the SIS for a large group of players  (Read 2681 times)
Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« on: October 24, 2005, 05:17:19 AM »


Hi there!

I want to express a couple of thought about Hierarchy. One of the October Ronnies entries.
The game is designed for a large group of people (8-15 players). To be able to produce a functional entertainment for so many players the game uses a couple of techniques that I think are really interesting:

1) It is based in a highly structured hierarchy: One emperor, two Daimyo, three Shogun, any number of Samurais. The objective is to fulfill quests to improve the character, challenge a character in a higher level and go up in the hierarchy. This way of structuring the game objective reminds me some tabletop games that were really engaging.

2) The emperor proposes a big quest for the people in the lower layers. However, the mechanics to solve the big-quest are simple. What it is really important is that during the quest-phase, all players will have the opportunity to play a "personal quest" for their characters. And that's the nice part for me. Getting free of the GM-centric idea, it is possible to split the SIS. Players are acting as GMs for the personal quest of others. Thus, in two rounds (one playing the character, one acting as GM for another player), everyone has played his personal-quest. These quest are not shared during play. The SIS is splitted!! But as they do not affect each other it is working. After that, the big-quest is solved (quickly) in the again shared space.

I think it is a nice idea to deal with the problem of a large group of players. I cannot foresee the implications of splitting the SIS before playing it. Perhaps the system become too rigid, as the interleaving of personal quest events could derive in more interesting stories. Anyway, I think it is something to try and think about.

BTW, the rest of the game has some other details to add interest to the interpersonal relationships and the fight for climbing in the hierarchy.

Thanks Troy for writting Hierarchy. I will like to see what Ron has to say about this game.

Cheers,
Arturo
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Troy_Costisick
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Posts: 802


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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2005, 07:12:35 AM »

Heya,

Quote
2) The emperor proposes a big quest for the people in the lower layers. However, the mechanics to solve the big-quest are simple. What it is really important is that during the quest-phase, all players will have the opportunity to play a "personal quest" for their characters. And that's the nice part for me. Getting free of the GM-centric idea, it is possible to split the SIS. Players are acting as GMs for the personal quest of others. Thus, in two rounds (one playing the character, one acting as GM for another player), everyone has played his personal-quest. These quest are not shared during play. The SIS is splitted!! But as they do not affect each other it is working. After that, the big-quest is solved (quickly) in the again shared space.

-You know, I didn't actually put all that together in my mind the way you did.  I like the way you pointed out that the SIS is split.  That's the way I designed it, but I didn't put it in those words in my mind as I did.  Splitting the SIS is an important feature of the game.  Like you, I'm not sure what the implications are.  I wonder if it will disrupt continuity?  I wonder in continuity is important? 

-You nailed the important parts right on.  Players are brought together to share in the challenge of moving up the hierarchy, but split apart to explore thier own storylines.  For large groups, I don't see any other way to keep everyone interested and happy.  I'm REALLY glad you got it when you read it!  That means I at least made half sense in there somehow. :)

-I'd like you to expand on the "system may become too rigid" thing you mentioned.  How exactly?  I'm fully ready to believe you, I just would like help seeing the pitfalls.  Do you see the main rigidity in the large-group play or in the one-on-one play?

-Thank you SO much for your feedback.  I really appreciate it. :)

Peace,

-Troy
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Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2005, 09:09:13 AM »


Hi Troy!

Quote
-I'd like you to expand on the "system may become too rigid" thing you mentioned.  How exactly?  I'm fully ready to believe you, I just would like help seeing the pitfalls.  Do you see the main rigidity in the large-group play or in the one-on-one play?

I have not yet try to play Hierarchy and I've only played a couple of times with two GMs taking care of a splitted group before the characters come back together. Thus, I'm only guessing.
I was thinking in the "Emperor says..., we go for our personal quests, we see how the big quest is solved, we try to improve in the hierarchy, the Emperor says again...". I think that the shared phase may be fun for everyone. You have add some options here and there to make it interesting on itself. And it imposes some rhythm to the game, improving the feeling of the group as a whole. It is also a perfect moment to comment about the result of the single-quests, about GMing experiences and such. Anyway, it is clear that the most interesting part for a player is the personal quest because it implies her character personal development.

The GM may be different on each personal quest, and her input surely makes each one unique. But my feeling is that perhaps, after several cycles, your character story-line is lacking something. Your are playing one solo quest after another. I was saying that the system may become too rigid in the sense that it has no support itself for crossing story-lines between characters. When the SIS is splitted your are always alone with your troubles.
But I have no idea about how the game dynamics may change --or even if they will work at all-- if you include and option to sporadically create mini-groups for the personal quest, mixing storylines and personal interests.

Cheers,
Arturo



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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2005, 02:14:39 AM »

Heya,

Quote
But my feeling is that perhaps, after several cycles, your character story-line is lacking something. Your are playing one solo quest after another. I was saying that the system may become too rigid in the sense that it has no support itself for crossing story-lines between characters. When the SIS is splitted your are always alone with your troubles.


-I can definately see what you mean, Arturo.  It might not allow the players to interact in small groups of maybe 3 or 4.  And PC's can't really cross storylines at the moment.  I think I know a few ways to fix that and allow more flexibility.  I'm really interested in what Ron has to say now.  I appreciate your comments, they're making me think...

Peace,

-Troy
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Ben Lehman
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Posts: 2094

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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2005, 02:49:12 AM »

Frankly, I think the only answer to the questions around the split-SIS is playtesting.

What I want to see is more room for alliance and maneuvering amongst the Samurai.  A couple of thoughts:

1) It would be nice if you mini-quests affected the outcome of the macro-quest in some significant way.  As I read it right now, there is no real connection.  Perhaps if you win your quest, you get the option of giving a bonus, and if you lose your quest, the option of giving a penalty.  (This isn't a well-thought-out suggestion, just an example of where the rules could go.)

2) It would be cool if you could call for aid on a mini-quest -- ask for someone's character to come in and help you.

yrs--
--Ben
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Blankshield
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Posts: 407


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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2005, 10:02:57 AM »

The main thing I noted, and this is a purely gamist-balance issue, is that whoever gets stuck as the Emperor first has a snowball's chance in hell of winning - he can't go on quests, so can never discover his talisman, which is required for the win.  So the Emperor has to wait until someone is powerful enough to knock him off, and then start over from the bottom of the food chain and hope like hell no one else wins while he's playing catch up.

Beyond that, while I'd like to have useful feedback I, um... don't.  The structure of the game seems pretty cool to me; I'll admit I find the oriental power structure mixed with the western quest mythos a little jarring, but I'm pretty sure that's just me; oriental isn't something that grabs me.

James
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I write games. My games don't have much in common with each other, except that I wrote them.

http://www.blankshieldpress.com/
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2005, 11:33:30 AM »

Heya,

Ben Wrote:

Quote
1) It would be nice if you mini-quests affected the outcome of the macro-quest in some significant way.  As I read it right now, there is no real connection.  Perhaps if you win your quest, you get the option of giving a bonus, and if you lose your quest, the option of giving a penalty.  (This isn't a well-thought-out suggestion, just an example of where the rules could go.)

-I like that idea.  Perhaps if you win, you may add your bonus if you want.  If you lose, you are in no position to be helpful to the Daimyo.  I like it, Ben.

Quote
2) It would be cool if you could call for aid on a mini-quest -- ask for someone's character to come in and help you.

-Yeah, you know I think that would be nice also.  The point of the game is to help the players get to know each other better.  What better way than that?  The intent is for the solo-quests to take longer than the big one, so I don't think this new wrinkle would add that much more handling time.  So, I'm not gonna sweat the logistics of it too much.  Good suggestion.

Blankshield Wrote:

Quote
The main thing I noted, and this is a purely gamist-balance issue, is that whoever gets stuck as the Emperor first has a snowball's chance in hell of winning - he can't go on quests, so can never discover his talisman, which is required for the win.  So the Emperor has to wait until someone is powerful enough to knock him off, and then start over from the bottom of the food chain and hope like hell no one else wins while he's playing catch up.

-Actually I did that on purpose.  I wanted the person who started as the Emporer to have to explore the other facets of the game.  And if he's knocked off, it can only be by a Daimyo, so he only starts one rung down instead of at the bottom with the Samurai.  He stands a good chance of losing his position early too, since moving up is a good way for the Daimyo to earn an extra Victory Point.  However, if Ron mentions the same thing, it's something I'd consider changing for sure.  Good criticism :)

Peace,

-Troy
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2005, 03:54:56 AM »

Heya,

One thing I've been thinking about changing lately is the rule where you can't GM the same person twice in a row.  The more I think about it, the more that seems needlessly restrictive.  I can see it being kind of nice if you are introducing a lot of new people to each other for the first time- sort of an ice breaker activity.  But really, if everyone has gamed together for a while, or is really experienced with RPG's, then why not let them team up on a semi-permanent basis?  If the players can talk about it before the game begins, they might even be able to create better storylines and conflicts for their partner.  What do you guys think?

Peace,

-Troy
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Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2005, 10:05:32 AM »


I'm not sure Troy. It may help the continuity of some stories but you will lose the input of different people on your personal quests, which may also be benefitial. After some solo-quests some fresh ideas could be also nice. It may become a problem to synchronize when to change GMs between characters.

Arturo
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2005, 10:15:46 AM »

Hello,

And Troy racks up another Ronny in two rounds, the only author to do so, I think. Let's make this the official feedback thread.

Right off the top: this is very ambitious, very interesting, new ground. The character creation system seems to offer exactly the right mix of structure and creativity for a large group, so that everyone can contribute but not get wrapped up in too many choices. What I'm envisioning is fundamentally a verbally-mediated role-playing game with some "breakout" group aspects, with hints of (but not including) LARP.

I suggest composing a very clear, instructive, one-page character creation guide for each social rank, for each person in that rank.

Heh ... I really like that you can be Emperor with no Nobility ...

It also seems like Daimyo assassination is definitely called for! Die! Rrrrah, I am so honorable because we assassinated you unexpectedly ... sorry, lost my head there for a moment.

I also suggest that you reconsider both the term and the concept for "tiles," which seems to hover between in-game and out-of-game status at various places in the rules. Also, when we hop over to the resolution rules, I really dislike the multiple-Tiles option, which seems to me simply to be gratuitous stacking. The Pool taught me that being forced to choose one item on one's sheet for a given conflict is a good thing, and Hero Wars taught me that even if you augment with other items, keep it clear which one is the core. Just stackin' "whatever seems to apply" is pretty bogus by comparison.

Honor mechanics always get up my nose, because in most cases, they are straitjackets for play rather than motors. In this case, I think you nailed a positive use for a concrete rule, you did manage to fit in "Cosmos" cleverly enough to evade (barely) my suspicious eye that you were shoehorning in the Ronnies term.

I have a question about resolution. Are the rolled dice kept hidden while pairs are pushed forward?

Overall, the game's primary current weakness concerns how scenes and scene-lets get established so that everyone in play simply knows what's going on out there, at least at the scene level. Who's in each scene or on what quest, basically. That seems important to me, rather than having it be more LARP-like with experiences restricted to individual encounters. Without this organization, the game would be composed of just dice-matching all day.

Now, I know you're on the right track with that issue, because the Seeking Fortune section provides exactly the right information or its potential. I suggest reading it over, maybe printing it out, then going over every procedure in the game with that in mind.

Looking over the whole game, I'm not really seeing any winning. What you call winning seems out of place, more like "all right already, time to end this." I suggest keeping that feature, but not calling it "winning," and adjust its conditions to be more events-driven rather than having a single trigger.

Best,
Ron
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Troy_Costisick
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Posts: 802


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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2005, 09:16:28 AM »

Heya,

Quote
Right off the top: this is very ambitious, very interesting, new ground.

-That is a very big compliement.  I am humbled.  Thank you.

Quote
The character creation system seems to offer exactly the right mix of structure and creativity for a large group, so that everyone can contribute but not get wrapped up in too many choices. What I'm envisioning is fundamentally a verbally-mediated role-playing game with some "breakout" group aspects, with hints of (but not including) LARP.

-You nailed it exactly.  That is precisely how I envision the game being played.

Quote
Also, when we hop over to the resolution rules, I really dislike the multiple-Tiles option, which seems to me simply to be gratuitous stacking. The Pool taught me that being forced to choose one item on one's sheet for a given conflict is a good thing, and Hero Wars taught me that even if you augment with other items, keep it clear which one is the core. Just stackin' "whatever seems to apply" is pretty bogus by comparison.

-That's cool.  The Tile-stacking idea was just a "Hmm you know what else they could do..." moment and I went back and forth on it a couple times.  Finally I just said, aw fock it and stuck it in there.  Your point is well made, and that option will be tossed in the re-write I plan on doing this weekend.

Quote
you did manage to fit in "Cosmos" cleverly enough to evade (barely) my suspicious eye that you were shoehorning in the Ronnies term.

-That's what I felt was the weakest part of the game as far as the contest goes.  I'm glad it was enough, but if I ever participate in a Ronnies again, I will definately have a more central role for the terms.

Quote
I have a question about resolution. Are the rolled dice kept hidden while pairs are pushed forward?


-I hadn't really thought about it. In playtesting the fact that the extra dice always rolled over as bonus kept people from min-maxing their matches.  Is there a method that generally works best for these sorts of opposed rolls?  I'd really love some feedback (from everyone) on that.  :)

Quote
Overall, the game's primary current weakness concerns how scenes and scene-lets get established so that everyone in play simply knows what's going on out there, at least at the scene level. Who's in each scene or on what quest, basically. That seems important to me, rather than having it be more LARP-like with experiences restricted to individual encounters. Without this organization, the game would be composed of just dice-matching all day.

Now, I know you're on the right track with that issue, because the Seeking Fortune section provides exactly the right information or its potential. I suggest reading it over, maybe printing it out, then going over every procedure in the game with that in mind.

-I agree, and these are the same kinds of concerns that Arturo raised.  I'm thinking of some kind of review of what everyone did after The Return Home, but it needs to be more than just a show-and-tell session.  There needs to be some kind of mechanic behind it.  Perhaps everyone is to inform the Emperor of how the Sought their Fortune and he is the one that awards the Honor as governed by the mechanics.  Needs work.

Quote
Looking over the whole game, I'm not really seeing any winning. What you call winning seems out of place, more like "all right already, time to end this." I suggest keeping that feature, but not calling it "winning," and adjust its conditions to be more events-driven rather than having a single trigger.

-Good call.  I would rather the Endgame be more event based rather than Trigger based.  I'll have to see how Seeking Fortune can play a larger role in things.  Thanks for the feedback, Ron.  I look forward to hearing more from ya.  I'll be developing both Cutthroat and Hierarchy simultaniously, but Hierarchy will be a higher priority.  I think it has the most potential of the two.

Peace,

-Troy


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