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Author Topic: [Fight Sphere] Ronnies feedback  (Read 1970 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: November 05, 2005, 11:16:21 AM »

This is a really difficult game to assess. I'm still not sure whether I've completely missed a brilliant gem, or perhaps am applying standards that shouldn't apply in some way.

The core is found in these sentences:

Quote
Initially, it may be a little difficult to see why we should care about the Gladiators as characters or indeed why the Gladiators should care about anything except their personal survival.

The idea is to re-construct the Gladiator's personal value system from the ground up during play.

Is there anything in the game that facilitate this? As far as I can tell, it might be in the reactions among the players regarding the various characters' relationships. The problem is whether the attraction of fighting it out until the last guy "wins" will outweigh it. And at the moment, it seems as if it might.

The same problem lies in the source material, of course. If you can get revved about a computer game based on The Cube, in which you figure out the rooms' various dangers and also the pattern in which they change places, surviving through luck and wits ... then that's different from enjoying The Cube as basically a desert-island survival movie, in which the ostensible leader of the group turns out to be its primary internal threat. These two aesthetics exist in a very uneasy and ultimately inconsistent relationship across the vast spectrum of similar stories and game contexts, including all zombie movies except for the really nihilistic ones.

I guess I'm saying you can take two batteries and push their negative ends together really, really hard, but ultimately all that force you're providing will only be expressed as the velocity at which they slide past one another. At first it looks as if they're getting closer, but they simply cannot meet. That's what Gamist and Narrativist agendas do, when placed in the same SIS.

Now for some mechanics discussions ...

1. The relationship mechanics seem to me to be two-layered. One is the effect on Conflict Pools when two Gladiators meet. The other is the bringing in the relationships and gaining their values. How do you see these interacting?

2. I'm a bit skeptical of the damage ... seems like a death-spiral that hits really fast. Perhaps the only solution to losing a lot is to build relationships, and to have a Reason to Live? Jesse, is that a hidden reward mechanism, or am I missing other methods of recovering from a beating?

3. One feature of "sphere" that could be utilized more effectively is that as you approach its core, the chances of crossing paths need to increase. You're all closer together, you see. This effect should be independent of how many individuals are left.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2005, 12:35:37 PM »

Hello,

Thanks for the feedback.  I completely agree with you about the source material.  These kinds of "under pressure" stories are some of my favorites but role-playing them is next to impossible.  Killing zombies always takes precident over all the conflict between the motley crew thrown together for survival.  And of course, as you point out, my big fear was that fighting would win out over the other stuff.  In fact if you take a look at the three games I've tried designing they're ALL attempts at solving this problem.

Isolation - Dealing with an external threat vs. engaging with conflicts between "allies"
Silent Sound - Solving supernatural mysteries/exploring alien environment vs. confronting guilt for past actions.
Fight Sphere - Battling in almost epic anime like clashes vs. dealing with the real human condition that surrounds you.

My thought process went like this.  Fight and Sphere jumped out at me imediately because the words "Fight Sphere" were so similar to "Fight Club," a movie I love.  (And judging by a comment in another thread I'm guessing you're not a Pahlanuik fan?)  So, I thought about a futuristic version of Fight Club.  That led to the image of sort of a futuristic roman empire civilization with a huge spherical gladiatorial arena in the center.  That's where the name, Fight Sphere: The RPG of futuristic gladiatorial combat first entered into it.  The images I had in my head I realized would make a great video game but would suck as an RPG.  So I tried to come up with ways of making life outside The Fight Sphere revelvant to the gladiatorial clashes.  But it wasn't working for me.  That's when the films Series 7, Cube and Escape From New York all sort of came together in my head at once and formed the basis for the game as it now stands.  There is no outside The Sphere, there is only The Sphere and people forced to kill each other if they have any hope of returning to their former lives.  The Kill or Be Killed thing being complicated by all the OTHER forgotten and kidnapped denizens of The Sphere.

Now to your questions specifically.
Quote
1. The relationship mechanics seem to me to be two-layered. One is the effect on Conflict Pools when two Gladiators meet. The other is the bringing in the relationships and gaining their values. How do you see these interacting?

2. I'm a bit skeptical of the damage ... seems like a death-spiral that hits really fast. Perhaps the only solution to losing a lot is to build relationships, and to have a Reason to Live? Jesse, is that a hidden reward mechanism, or am I missing other methods of recovering from a beating?

Here's the central goal of the design: Your ass is grass in a fight unless you can make the fight count with regards to the Relationships you've built.  So building relationships is the reward mechanic.

I'm not sure if having a Reason to Live is part of that reward.  I'd like to think a person with Deathwish could come out on top too.  The idea behind the Reason to Live and Deathwish comes straight out of certain source material.  People driven by a Reason To Live generally don't form a lot of relationships (hence, they're worth less, requiring more time to deepen a small number) because they're driven by something else that draws all their focus.  In the end they tend to have one or two solid allies.  People with Deathwishes on the other hand tend to end up with TONs of relationships (hence they're worth more, taking less time to deepen a larger number) all rallying for them despite their desire to die and get it over with.

The death spiral is kind of intentional.  But here are some more system thoughts you may or may not have noticed:

1) Pool style gambling becomes less and less valuable as time goes on if you've got lots of high value relationships.  You can either gamble five dice or spend one die permanently and bring in a five die relationship and those five dice are relatively low risk dice.  Especially, in NON-gladiatorial encounters.  High dice, low risk, good potential of turning a five die relationship into a six die relationship.

2) This works in your favor if you have the Initiative in a gladiatorial encounter.  You can set the gambal limit to almost nil and then bring in a ton of high level relationships for much smaller cost than if you were gamboling anyway.  The opposition has no choice but to try and match you on a Relationship per Relationship basis.  And this is where I really see the "value system" thing coming into play.  Gladiatorial encounters are the opportunity for players to say, "This is what I have wrought, what have you wrought?"

Potential Problems:

I do see recoverning from a beatdown to be rather difficult.  Originally, that's why you could disengage from a gladiatorial encounter to give you an opportunity to get involved in some non-gladiatorial conflict to rebuild your conflict pool.  But as it stands there's nothing stoping the other players from simply draging you back into the gladiatorial encounter on their next turn.  A good rule might be that you can't be draged into another gladiatorial encounter for a number of turns/scenes equal to your margine of victory on your disengage roll.

Another idea might be to limit the re-use of relationships from scene-to-scene of a gladiatorial encounter.  Reverse the normal rules.  If you won last scene you can't use the relationships you used for a number scenes equal to their value.  But the person who lost CAN use the same relationships.

Quote
3. One feature of "sphere" that could be utilized more effectively is that as you approach its core, the chances of crossing paths need to increase. You're all closer together, you see. This effect should be independent of how many individuals are left.

Yeah, that was the idea behind the "must be two in an episode" rule and having NPC Gladiators at all.  The idea was that as NPC Gladiators get knocked out more PCs have to share episodes up until the core.  But you're suggesting it be independent of the number of character's left.  It would be neat to tie that into relationships some how.  Maybe adding rules about how shared relationships can/can't interact between simultaneous but different Episodes but do the trick.

I have an idea.  In the initial design pass (it's amazing how much a game can change in like an hour of note scribbles) you could only take so many relationships with you to the next level of the Sphere.  The deeper you got the more relationships you could transfer to the next level.  But I chucked it because I really did want the players strengthening those relationships over time.

But maybe the rule could be salvaged interms of SHARING relationships.  The deeper you go the more relationships you can SHARE with another PC.  Thus giving the sense of getting closer together.

Thanks again for the feedback.

Jesse

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2005, 02:34:38 PM »

Hi Jesse,

Regarding the sphere-based "winding tighter," here's my suggestion: have the rules regarding encounters among Gladiators change as the levels approach the core.

For instance, on an outer level, Gladiators might not even encounter one another at all. Whereas at the core, they flatly have to be in the same scenes. In between, the rules would be a lot like you describe, but with the proximity/inclusion getting tighter and tighter as you go.

Conceptually, reverse the causality - as the Gladiators' rules for including one another get tighter and tighter, that means they are approaching the core, until they are forced to place one another into their scenes (all at once) - which means they're there.

Best,
Ron
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