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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: A Hero's Doom in RPGs  (Read 3287 times)
klsmith
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« on: December 30, 2005, 09:40:23 AM »

First, a short background on myself.  I have always been interested in designing games and have toyed around with the process for several years.  I worked for year and a half as the designer for a startup game/middleware company that ended up dissolving the game part because of more funding for the middleware part.  Over the past 2 years I have gotten serious about RPG design and have a game in the playtesting stage, despite spending most of my day in an office.  I found the Forge a couple weeks ago when i was wondering if there was an Indie RPG community.  I've since been reading a lot of material on the site and trying to get up to speed with all the vast variety of RPGs that are out there (I had no idea outside of what was sold at mainstream book and hobby shops).  I have recently been studying stories such as The Nibelungenlied and The Ring of the Nibelungen, as well as perusing "Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell.  The concept of the inevitable doom of a hero has fascinated me and I would like to incorporate a system into my game that allows the GM and players to battle fate while achieving great personal glory.  In my experience with my gaming group, there is just as much fun to be had (if not more) with the glorious death of a character as the life of the character.  Plus it makes for good stories, which is what I'm all about.

My question: What RPGs have tackled this issue before?  I would be very interested in seeing how existing games approach a Hero's decline as well as their ascent.  I know that several have ventured into that realm, but I wanted to tap into the knowledge base of the Forge to see examples of the concept done well.
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Kyle L Smith - Aspiring Designer
Iskander
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Alexander Newman


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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2005, 09:52:13 AM »

For "Chivalric tragedy at the utmost north", check out Ben Lehman's excellent Polaris. There's a forum for TAO games here at the Forge, and several enlightening Actual Play reports. Each protagonist in the game is doomed from the get-go.
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Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Darren Hill
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Posts: 861


« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2005, 01:13:00 PM »

Also, check out Conspiracy of Shadows at http://www.bobgoat.com/conspiracy.
In that game, characters have a Doom rating which starts at 1. During characetr design, you choose what your Doom will be.
Then, in play, when things are going bad, you can choose to increase your doom rating by 1 to get in immediate benefit. But, if your doom ever reaches 6 (and that only happens if the player chooses to do it), the character's story comes to an end as his Doom comes to pass.
It's a great temptation mechanic, since the benefit you get from calling on Doom scales with the current Doom level.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2005, 02:38:51 PM »

Hello KL, and welcome.

I'm the content moderator, so will provide a bit of guidance for you. You've given us a little background, but this isn't really a site for survey-type questions. Please talk a bit more about the project you have under way, in order to focus the discussion.

My recommendation would be to check out the game The Riddle of Steel and look over the Destiny mechanic, one of the potential Spiritual Attributes. It very often concerns the character's death.

Best,
Ron
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2005, 05:40:39 AM »

Three responses about a game focusing on the inevitable doom of valiant heroes, and no one has yet mentioned Scott Knipe's WYRD? Wyrd is written specifically with Norse heroes, and their inevitable doom, in mind. You draw stones from a bag to do things in the game world. When the bag is empty, your doom finds you. Now that I think of it, Scott's Charnel Gods, a Sorcerer mini-supplement, also focuses on the inevitability of the end of the world.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2005, 06:33:38 AM »

Welcome, Kyle, and looking forward to hearing about your project. 

For another take on deterministic endgames, My Life With Master brings the Awesome.

--Jason
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klsmith
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2006, 05:50:03 AM »

Well, here's a bit more of a description on the game that has taken over my creative processes for the past few years.

"Strife" is an action-oriented RPG which (from reading the various GNS discussion articles) leans very much towards the simulationist.  It is set in a futuristic Sci-Fi universe, which can be crafted by the GM on a scalable basis.  I am currently writing a default campaign setting, but it's not really intrinsic to the gameplay.

The GM's role is to moderate the setting, create scenarios for the characters, reward the players, and play as the NPCs.  The players accomplish goal-oriented combat missions presented to them by the GM, and provide feedback to the GM about where the storyline should go.  The characters are people struggling to survive in the chaos of an unregulated and overcolonized series of planets, while at the same time trying to make their mark in their faceless society.

In the original design, the game was to consist of a series of "Missions" which would essentially consist of tactical combat scenarios with a series of goals.  I personally enjoy accomplishing combat goals with clever positioning and imaginative tactics.  My playing group falls in the same boat, but Hack-n-Slash games like DnD (which is pretty much all we had access to in the RPG department) just didn't hold our interest.  One player created a game based on the Gundam mythos using an extremely freeform system that he created on the fly.  That was great for a little while, but it lacked enough structure to hold our interest.  However, the carnage filled combat that we achieved, and the interesting scenes acted out in between (not to say we didn't have a lot of RP during battles) was really what everyone liked.  So my overall goal was to capture that feeling with a structured system of resolution.

Strife is at a point right now where I have the combat resolution system on paper.  All rolls are made with a d10.  Its main highlights are:

1.) The difficulty to hit a target is based on their distance from you, how fast they are moving, the target's "Reflexes" score, and whether their body is obstructed from view.

2.) Your ability to hit a target is based on how fast you are moving, your character's "Accuracy" score, and the accuracy of your weapon.

3.) Armor worn by the target reduces the damage that would be taken by the attacker's weapon.  If at any point damage is not reduced to 0 or less, a "Weak Point" is created in the armor.  If the number rolled on the d10 is equal to or less than the number of weak points on the armor, and the roll still qualifies as a hit, then the armor does not reduce the damage of this shot.

4.) Every character has a number of hit points based on their "Endurance" score.  There is a hit location chart, using the d10.  Example: The target is hit on the arm.  First, their HP are reduced by the damage score of the weapon minus the armor score of the armor.  Next, they must roll lower than a number based on their "Willpower" score and their current hit points.  If this roll is failed, then the target cannot use that arm until it is healed.  The idea is that some people have a higher pain tolerance than others, and not every wound is the same.

Those are the main elements of the combat system that is done and in playtesting.  Because it was planned to be the centerpoint of most of the adventures, I wanted to tackle it and character creation first.  I'm running into two problems right now, however.

1.) I'm realizing more and more that a game based around a combat system is going to be unsatisfying in the long run.  I like epics as much as the next guy, and I would like to capture some of the other elements of them aside from the fighting and killing.  This is where the purpose of this post originally lie.  I wanted to incorporate the doom that seems to haunt characters in most of the epics I have read.  It seemed like a good choice to make a mechanic for because my play group tends to have a massochistic love of finding the perfect death for their character.  It seems to make them more interesting if they don't just become a bloated all-powerful being and "retire".

2.) A realization I've come to from poking around on the Forge is that I've been pitifully sheltered from the wealth of published games out there.  My experiences to date have been with mainstream RPGs and wargames like D&D and WH40K.  I have gotten a hold of a lot of the earlier materials for D&D and 40K.  I find their evolutions fascinating, but I feel that I need to expand my horizons a bit with existing Indie RPGs before I decide what my next step will be with Strife.  This also ties in with my original post because I thought I'd ask and see what RPGs used a system that governed the doom of its characters so I could take a look at how its currently being done.

That's the most accurate state of what I have and where I am with the game.  I should probably start a new thread, though, because this has expanded well past the scope of my original post.
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Kyle L Smith - Aspiring Designer
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2006, 06:36:10 AM »

Heya,

The Mechwarrior RPG and its sibling old school Battletech come to mind as something you'd be interested in.  However, to me it looks like you've thought out pretty well what you want your combat system to look like.  Pretty decent, IMHO, for someone who considers himself "sheltered."  Also, you're description of what your game is about is very good.

The name of your game "Strife" says more to me than combat.  It speaks of personal, inner battles as well.  If you want to add more than just combat, start there.  Character flaws and weaknesses should play a major role in your game.  Have you considered anything along those lines yet?  Perhaps based off the characters' flaws in Gundam Wing? 

From the weakness/flaw mechanic can come the Destiny mechanic.  Generally in games this is decided before play, but in yours do they have to?  I guess what I'd really like to know is what sort of things you want the characters to experience besides combat?  And what sorts of things do you want the players to have to consider during play besides tactics and firepower?

Peace,

-Troy
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