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Author Topic: [Shock:] Request for feedback  (Read 3619 times)
Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2005, 08:31:13 AM »

Here's the Wikipedia entry on genderless pronouns. It's science fiction in action!

I'm not under the misapprehension that these words will become in common use. I am certain that writing that way brings attention to a language-based assumption the reader (and writer, frankly) has. As such, it's a Shock.

This book clearly needs a glossary. The pronouns should be in it.

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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2005, 08:46:11 AM »

"I liked" section:
Issue/Shock matrix and the Praxis scales. Your intro at the beginning, explaining the aim of your design in terms that felt relevant for me. The fact that your PDF reformatted itself nicely on my PDA.

Good, good.

Quote
"Typo" section, I think:
- In two consecutive sentences you state that Antagonists can have Traits and Relationships and that they can only have Traits.

Ah, that's probably just unclear. Antagonists don't start with Relationships, but they can have them later. Do you have page references?

Quote
"Please explain more" section:
- Something more should be said in terms of Antagonist creation. I guess it's all clear to you, but I missed some guidelines on the order of Antagonist creation and placement on the matrix. Comments like "the same Antagonist can appear on several places on the matrix" are a bit confusing on first read - is the Antagonist then the same Antagonist, played by the same player, or two different "versions", played by two different players?

Good question. Not a good answer: I'm not sure. That's a super-muddy rule!

I suspect what I'll decide is that Protags don't actually share Antagonists, though there can be color that connects them. For instance, two agents of the same government who work together.

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"Feels like here there should be some more rules" section:
- To me it feels like there should be some connection between the Shock/Issue matrix and the Praxis scales. (Perhaps there is, in the Conflict section. I did not get that far.) Feels a bit stupid, since I do not know what kind of connection would be most useful, but in "game design aesthetic terms" the game would feel more complete that way.

I feel similarly, but can't figure out how to connect them. The thing is, the vast majority of Conflicts are with your Antagonist, so your tendency is going to be to push toward your Shock and Issue, anyway.

Quote
"Just a stupid question" section:
- What makes the mechanics especially suitable for exploring contemporary/old issues through the strangeness of new science? What would prevent using the exact same rules for a fantasy game, as long as the focus was on examining specific issues?

This is a biggie: the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy (according to me — I don't want a debate about this in this thread, though we can talk about it at the glyphpress forum if you like) is that Science Fiction starts with the world we all know, then adds changes one by one. Those are Shocks. Fantasy starts off with a distant premise: there's a Feudal system, there's magic, there are elves, pick and choose. Then it follows single characters on their heroic cycles. Science Fiction is about the society and Fantasy is about the individuals. The individual is suppressed in Shock:, an organ for showing what the society is like. There's not that much to describe hir, frankly. Were I to do a Fantasy game, I'd have mechanics for the Campbellian Cycle to push the character forward and as many ways to describe the character as there are the society in Shock:. Maybe, someday I'll do that. I dunno.

So, sure, you could make Fantasy color. Go to it! Enjoy! Give a 14th century level of technology to everyone, have dragons exist, etc. But you'll be talking about your own society, not the lives of the heroes. Shock: would make an uninteresting hero in a socially fraught world, which will look like Fantasy but feel like Science Fiction.

Note, for instance, the importance of death and violence in so much of Fantasy. Now note that there are no explicit rules for fighting or dying in Shock:.

That was a bit rambly, I reckon, but I have to get back to answering the giant question C.S. asked.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Jon Hastings
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2005, 09:19:26 AM »

Hi,

First off: I'm really interested in playing this game.

Quote
"Feels like here there should be some more rules" section:
- To me it feels like there should be some connection between the Shock/Issue matrix and the Praxis scales. (Perhaps there is, in the Conflict section. I did not get that far.) Feels a bit stupid, since I do not know what kind of connection would be most useful, but in "game design aesthetic terms" the game would feel more complete that way.

I feel similarly, but can't figure out how to connect them. The thing is, the vast majority of Conflicts are with your Antagonist, so your tendency is going to be to push toward your Shock and Issue, anyway.

My gut instinct is not to connect the Shock/Issue Matrix and the Praxis scale (at least through an explicit mechanic).  After all, I can imagine an Asimov story and a PKD story that both have the same Shock/Issue, but deal with them in completely different ways (i.e., a different Praxis scale).

Otherwise, my only concern with the game as written was that I was a little fuzzy on what might happen when you get a 4 or 5 people playing.  Is everyone supposed to own a shock AND an issue?  Can protagonists share a space on the shock-issue matrix?  If 4 people sit down to play, coming up with four "Shocks" that fit well together might be a little much.

Also, I wonder if the idea of shock/issue  "ownership" is important, or if the same effect can be achieved by choice of who plays an Antagonist.
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Spooky Fanboy
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Posts: 585


« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2005, 10:12:45 AM »

I'm also not sure about the need for Shock/Issue Ownership, although I'm glad that it can (under the current rules) be switched between stories.

Also: It seems like Conflicts are resolved in one die roll. Are there mechanics forthcoming for those situations where a player is unsatisfied with the outcome, and can somehow request a "roll-over"?  Is there a system where the roll is "best out of X", where X is 3, or it goes turn-by-turn in really interesting Conflicts?

BTW: I like where I believe this game is headed. Social Science Fiction has gotten really short shrift in RPGs, and it's good to see a game where the issues being raised are forced to the front of the stage, rather than languishing behind the action and "kewl stuff", deperately hoping that someone, somewhere, somehow will notice them and pay attention.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2005, 10:19:21 AM »

First off: I'm really interested in playing this game.

Go to it! Let me know how it went in an AP thread!

Quote
My gut instinct is not to connect the Shock/Issue Matrix and the Praxis scale (at least through an explicit mechanic).  After all, I can imagine an Asimov story and a PKD story that both have the same Shock/Issue, but deal with them in completely different ways (i.e., a different Praxis scale).

Well, that's why it's like the way it is now. Lumpley and I talked about this a bit and he feels like this is enough starter information. I wish it were a little more integrated, but I see neither how, nor, frankly, why.

As it stands, you use the Grid when:

• Creating the world
• Creating a Protagonist
• Creating and Antagonist
• Finishing a story to move on to the next story.

You know what? I didn't say anything about adding Shocks and Issues at the end of a story. You can.

Quote
Otherwise, my only concern with the game as written was that I was a little fuzzy on what might happen when you get a 4 or 5 people playing.  Is everyone supposed to own a shock AND an issue?

Why don't you guys ask easy questions, like "What's the top speed of a Police spinner?"

I haven't yet come up with a good measure of the number of Shocks and Issues to start with. It should be something like: where S=# of Shocks; I=# of Issues and P= # of players, S=1/3P, I=2/3P, where the number of nodes is not much higher than the number of players at the start. As time goes on, you'll add Shocks and Issues, and that's cool; there will be vacant ones. No problem! But to start with? There should be thematic connections to get everyone started.

This is one of the big reasons I decided it was time to send this out for playtest. I don't know how many this should be. In general, I find it best when there are only a couple of Shocks at a time, but that could be a matter of taste.

Quote
Can protagonists share a space on the shock-issue matrix?

Yep.

Quote
  If 4 people sit down to play, coming up with four "Shocks" that fit well together might be a little much.

I agree. When time goes on, a few Shocks might be added, but mostly, I suspect players will want to talk about Issues.

Quote
Also, I wonder if the idea of shock/issue  "ownership" is important, or if the same effect can be achieved by choice of who plays an Antagonist.

Hooray! A hard question I know the answer to!

The reason it's important is that the buck has to stop with someone when you ask about, I dunno, Space Travel. Because you're likely to have lots of *Tagonists on that column and it can't be one behind your Protagonist, because then you're making up your own challenges, which is lame.

You know, though, you might be right: the only time that really matters is when you're first making up stuff about the world. Like, "When I say 'Democracy', I mean, 'The Democracy of this society is absolute; people all vote over the Net on anything they care about.'" or "When I say 'Democracy', I mean 'The Democracy of this society is in crisis. The President has declared martial law and is clearly an arm of Corporate interests.'" After that, it might really be in the hands of the APs. Huh.

Huh.

I'm open to more discussion of this.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2005, 10:26:29 AM »

Hey, Spooky, what's your name, anyway?

I'm also not sure about the need for Shock/Issue Ownership, although I'm glad that it can (under the current rules) be switched between stories.

Me neither, as you can see.

Quote
Also: It seems like Conflicts are resolved in one die roll. Are there mechanics forthcoming for those situations where a player is unsatisfied with the outcome, and can somehow request a "roll-over"?  Is there a system where the roll is "best out of X", where X is 3, or it goes turn-by-turn in really interesting Conflicts?

You gotta read the game, man. That's what bidding is for.

Quote
BTW: I like where I believe this game is headed. Social Science Fiction has gotten really short shrift in RPGs, and it's good to see a game where the issues being raised are forced to the front of the stage, rather than languishing behind the action and "kewl stuff", deperately hoping that someone, somewhere, somehow will notice them and pay attention.

That's my feeling, too.

Part of the idea here is that you and your friends can generate your own kewl stuff. The Minutić Sheet is for that stuff. The only caveat is that's it's actually gotta be cool to at least one other player. So if someone else thinks that a huge caliber handgun is cool, that's cool, and using the BFG gets you a bonus. Likewise, if you describe that a particular genemod is having lungs like a dolphin and someone thinks that's cool, you get a bonus. It depends on the tastes of the players. Eventually, if you play long enough, you'll have sheets and sheets of descriptions, drawings, maps, all sorts of stuff that you get a bonus for using.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Spooky Fanboy
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Posts: 585


« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2005, 11:34:49 AM »

Hey, Spooky, what's your name, anyway?

Carl.

Also: It seems like Conflicts are resolved in one die roll. Are there mechanics forthcoming for those situations where a player is unsatisfied with the outcome, and can somehow request a "roll-over"?  Is there a system where the roll is "best out of X", where X is 3, or it goes turn-by-turn in really interesting Conflicts?

You gotta read the game, man. That's what bidding is for.

AHA! I am a bad reader! So, to make sure I grok it, it still comes down to one roll, but the tension and "never-say-die" of the characters is expressed with the Tokens. Negotiation after the roll, in this case. The more they care, the more they spend. Right? 

Quote
Part of the idea here is that you and your friends can generate your own kewl stuff. The Minutić Sheet is for that stuff. The only caveat is that's it's actually gotta be cool to at least one other player. So if someone else thinks that a huge caliber handgun is cool, that's cool, and using the BFG gets you a bonus. Likewise, if you describe that a particular genemod is having lungs like a dolphin and someone thinks that's cool, you get a bonus. It depends on the tastes of the players. Eventually, if you play long enough, you'll have sheets and sheets of descriptions, drawings, maps, all sorts of stuff that you get a bonus for using.

Having read the game, I missed that, too. It seems like a small game-within-a-game to figure out which is going to be cool scenery, and which is going to be important cool scenery, one that the Characters are going to want to use within their Narrations to get that bonus. That to me is a good thing, as it will, through the attention paid to it, give feedback to what players find interesting about the game.

I like it, and have one request: when you find the time, could you take a fairly familiar science fiction novel and break it down into your game, showing how the World Creation steps and character generation for that might go?
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2005, 11:50:54 AM »

AHA! I am a bad reader! So, to make sure I grok it, it still comes down to one roll, but the tension and "never-say-die" of the characters is expressed with the Tokens. Negotiation after the roll, in this case. The more they care, the more they spend. Right?

Yep! The randomness comes in waaay at the beginning of the conflict. It's not random events that it represents; it's showing how much your character has to do to make the moral choices represented by the Praxis Scales.

Quote
Part of the idea here is that you and your friends can generate your own kewl stuff. The Minutić Sheet is for that stuff. The only caveat is that's it's actually gotta be cool to at least one other player. So if someone else thinks that a huge caliber handgun is cool, that's cool, and using the BFG gets you a bonus. Likewise, if you describe that a particular genemod is having lungs like a dolphin and someone thinks that's cool, you get a bonus. It depends on the tastes of the players. Eventually, if you play long enough, you'll have sheets and sheets of descriptions, drawings, maps, all sorts of stuff that you get a bonus for using.

Having read the game, I missed that, too. It seems like a small game-within-a-game to figure out which is going to be cool scenery, and which is going to be important cool scenery, one that the Characters are going to want to use within their Narrations to get that bonus. That to me is a good thing, as it will, through the attention paid to it, give feedback to what players find interesting about the game.
Quote

You got it.

Quote
I like it, and have one request: when you find the time, could you take a fairly familiar science fiction novel and break it down into your game, showing how the World Creation steps and character generation for that might go?

I'm working on an example scene from Blade Runner right now. It's long and complicated, so it's taking a while to cook up.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Kaare Berg
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Posts: 158


« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2005, 01:18:10 PM »

Hi Joshua,

First off I think you are dead on when you say that this is the first Science Fiction game,  to qoute Wikipedia:
 Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology upon society and persons as individuals.

Dead on.

I also like the way you have everything boiled down to what the games is about. Both Issue - Shock and praxis scales.

I read the Actual Play:[Shock:] Digging for Mold in the Company town and I must say I understand it better now.

I'll have to let it stew in the brain before I come back with more concrete feedback. Right now it is late and bed time.

Kaare
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-K
Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2005, 07:07:30 PM »

Excellent link, Negligent. I'm'a make a copy of your link as a Sticky at the glyphpress forum.

Thanks!
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Mikael
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Posts: 206


« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2005, 09:23:19 PM »

Ah, that's probably just unclear. Antagonists don't start with Relationships, but they can have them later. Do you have page references?

No, I do not have the PDF with me right now. Anyway, it was right there in the section where you describe Antagonists and their creation for the first time.

Quote
This is a biggie: the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy is that Science Fiction starts with the world we all know, then adds changes one by one.

Well, maybe I should have given some examples of what I meant with fantasy. I most decidedly did not mean your basic "fantasy heartbreaker", but more something like what you described as "fantasy color": start with a standard fantasy world, but with humans and very low magic only. Define Issues like racism, combined with Shocks like Progenitors - we were all created by elves, and go from there, creating Praxis scales and using Minutiae sheets.

Or another example, from our Everway game, where I am currently running a "Nature of Magic" trilogy. In the first scenario, a peaceful farming society is reeling under the impact of freely available magical powers. In the second, we essentially have a modern society where the laws of rationality start to break, and it is discovered that science is a religion. And in the third, we have a completely modern society, but all the conveniences are fueled by magic (we have magicians instead of electricians, for example), and the power for all of that magic is taken from the carcass of a god, soon depleted.

While the Everway examples are not all directly translatable to Shock: Issues and Shocks, I hope they illustrate the kind of fantasy I am talking about. Social Fantasy Fiction?

Please do not get angry with me, I am not trying to remove or dilute the focus of your game. I was just interested in how your mechanics would support this angle. Right now my assessment would be - why not? Most technology is as good as magic to the common man anyway, and "we all live under the sea" seems further removed from our daily life than a low-magic fantasy society. But perhaps that´s just me.

Cheers,
+ Mikael
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2005, 09:45:05 PM »

Well, maybe I should have given some examples of what I meant with fantasy. I most decidedly did not mean your basic "fantasy heartbreaker", but more something like what you described as "fantasy color": start with a standard fantasy world, but with humans and very low magic only. Define Issues like racism, combined with Shocks like Progenitors - we were all created by elves, and go from there, creating Praxis scales and using Minutiae sheets.

No difference. Go forth and play! It would be welcome in Analog or Asimov's, I'm sure. Post some AP!

Quote
Or another example, from our Everway game, where I am currently running a "Nature of Magic" trilogy. In the first scenario, a peaceful farming society is reeling under the impact of freely available magical powers. In the second, we essentially have a modern society where the laws of rationality start to break, and it is discovered that science is a religion. And in the third, we have a completely modern society, but all the conveniences are fueled by magic (we have magicians instead of electricians, for example), and the power for all of that magic is taken from the carcass of a god, soon depleted.

This sounds like fun.

Quote
Please do not get angry with me, I am not trying to remove or dilute the focus of your game. I was just interested in how your mechanics would support this angle. Right now my assessment would be - why not? Most technology is as good as magic to the common man anyway, and "we all live under the sea" seems further removed from our daily life than a low-magic fantasy society. But perhaps that´s just me.

I'll only get angry if you don't play this.

Just play by the rules and write your Shocks down thoughtfully.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Tim Alexander
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Posts: 304


« Reply #27 on: October 28, 2005, 12:27:55 PM »

Hey Joshua,

Got a few comments for you, but let me first say that Shock definitely has me interested. So first, I think you've got a couple of typos in your examples, or at least some inconsistencies that make them somewhat more confusing:

Page 8: in the character praxis number selection, it should be 7,5 to match the picture.
Page 10: Neither Soul, nor Coercion are on the Praxis scales you keep referencing, but they show up here.

Some other stuff I'm not clear on is:

Coin Spending? You talk about spending more than one coin on a trait, does that double/triple its value in moving the die? I don't think that's explicitly stated if so. If not, why/when do you ever spend more than one coin to activate a trait?

Shifting Praxis scale with a relationship? I understand what's going on mechanically, but I really want an example to help me get my head around how it works in the SIS. On this I also think the whole conflict section needs a heavier spattering of examples.

Multiple Protag contests? I'm pretty confused by these directions. When they're mutually exclusive you have two die rolls that you're modifying simultaneously. This means both can win and or lose and I'm like... huwah? By contrast contests that aren't mutually exclusive you have a single roll with one person taking the lead? I'm lost.

World Facts? Who decides what Praxis these align with? Does using them cost a coin in a conflict?

Last, I agree you need your play outline above somewhere in there, as well as a section that fleshes out the conflict to conflict cycle a bit more. As it is I'd have a hard time playing Shock and being confident I'm playing by the rules. I'd really like to play though.

-Tim
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Spooky Fanboy
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Posts: 585


« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2005, 12:14:04 PM »

I have a question, regarding character numbers. You leave the character's number for the Praxis Scale blank, coloring all the other numbers in. The larger side is a success, the smaller is a failure. What happens if the character rolls exactly that number? Is it a success?

I feel dumb for asking, but...
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2005, 12:43:19 PM »

Ah, that's not strictly correct.  You can want to succeed by either means. You're just more likely to succeed by one.

Now, if you roll on exactly that number... holy shit, did I never write this down?

Anyway, your Antagonist can push you toward failure if sHe's got the coins for it. Bidding happens normally.

Even so, you can land exactly on that number. That means that the Stakes are raised and you declare and roll again. Something has gone wrong — things went in an unexpected way in some way, and now there's more at risk and more to gain. The go back to bidding normally. Eventually, someone won't have coins for bidding and it will go one way or the other.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
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