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Author Topic: look for critical feedback of game system  (Read 10480 times)
Joshua A.C. Newman
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Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


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« Reply #45 on: February 01, 2006, 08:19:16 AM »

• The GM can not have the responsibility of both providing the challenge and adjudicating results. That's a conflict of interest and an endemic problem in older RPG designs.

Most traditional games, like mine, do not leave much interpretation of results in the GMs hands (at least for combat rules).  Can you give me an example of what youre talking about?

Well, OK. Let's take D&D, which I've played enough over the years to have a good idea where the action is and how it works.

I'm the player. You're the GM.

I've got hit points. Let's say I've got 10. These are my primary resource. I have resources used to protect these, like armor and healing spells.
I've got weapons, offensive spells, and other stuff. Let's say I've got a sword.

Let's say I have to face a herd of Restnoms. They've each got 1 HP and a pointy stick. I wade in and kill lots of them, but they start wearing me down. Let's say you make some lucky rolls and I make some crap ones, and we discover that I'm going to die at the hands of a bunch of crappy little critters instead of getting to the Big Bad Guy. So you fudge a roll so that I survive, or you say, "The remaining Retsnoms run away!"

You've just removed my challenge, but if you hadn't, something totally unfun would have happened. That's not your fault as GM. That's the fault of the rules.

So now I'm forced to acknowledge that any challenge I confront, I succeed or fail at your whim. All of a sudden, those combat rules evaporate as a waste of time: just tell me if I won or not. Or you know what, better yet, let's play something else.

Quote
• The GM must have resources to spend, probability to weigh, and stuff like that. It should be as explicitly cheating to throw in extra monsters (or take them out) as it is to have a referee grant points to a team in soccer.
• Every choice you give the players must be meaningful. In Gamist terms, that means that they have to be able to trade their resources (or weigh risks, or however you want to do it) in direct proportion to their gain.

This is basic GMing skill isnt it?  A good GM challenges the players just enough so that they can use their resources and ingenuity to overcome.  To use the langauge of the forge, why would a narative driven GM present a player with meaningless challenges, or swamp the players with challeneges they have no hope of overcoming?
Quote

Narrativism requires a strict adherence to rules so the players can confront theme. It's not up to the GM alone (assuming a game has one) to decide anything to do with the meat of play: that's the purview of each of the players (which includes the GM).

But you're not talking about Narrativism-focused design. You're talking about Gamism-focused design. Let's deal with one thing at a time. Fortunately, the analogy is pretty easy: what thematic challenge is to Narrativist play, tactical and strategic challenge are to Gamist play.

You're using a system that (according to the rules I've read, both of yours and those of The Window) runs in mostly Narrativist territory with acknowledgment of the challenges (unconfronted in 1997) of providing thematic power to the players without GM fiat. That's no longer the case.

Quote
Quote from: Joshua A.C. Newman
Even though it's focused on Narrativist play, Dogs in the Vineyard's "Town Creation" system is something you might want to look at. It's used to generate a Situation in which the players can do their stuff and it works beautifully. If you don't use that system, not only are you breaking the rules, but the game you play really sucks.

Your goal for a Gamist design must be the generation of satisfying challenges for the players (never mind the characters for now). Those challenges will have to be understandable by the players and no dice can be fudged. If you're hosing your players, the rules are broken, and if they're hosing you, the rules are broken.

Now, I haven't played The Window, so I don't know how it works for this, but I don't see rules for the Storyteller anywhere in the rules; everything's up to their judgement, which causes the conflict of interest I mentioned above.

GIven your stated Gamist design goal, I'd like to see you dive into the Gamist aspects of this wholeheartedly. Make it so the challenges are real, objective challenges for the players. Make the setting demand that the characters the players are playing meet those challenges so that it all matches, it all makes sense. Give players hero cults like Achilles had so their society demands that they go out and do heroic things, challenging monsters and demons.

yeah, I not really aiming this game at people who have never gamed before.  Im not trying to push a personal philosophy of roleplaying on anyone.

I'm not talking about "personal philosophy of roleplaying" anywhere here. If you answer the questions I asked, you'll find that they're about design specification, not personal philosophy.

Quote
So there is no guidlines for the GM, other than the best way to use the rules to arbitrate certain situations.  How and when to apply penalties and bonuses.  How to resolve different types of cooperative taks etc...

I'm not talking about guidelines. I'm talking about rules. What does the GM do? In my experience, GMs:

• Provide opposition
• Arbitrate the outcome of that opposition
• Stay a step ahead of the players
• Apply a bunch of techniques to making this more fun, usually by taking input from the players and surreptitiously inserting the ideas.

Quote
I definately understand the classification scheme you guys are using, and I think its fine as far as it goes.  What I dont particularly agree with is the need to specialize 100% in one direction or another.  

I think its possible that you guys are maybe trying to cram everything into the one GNS box.  It is one valid model that could be a helpful way to look at things, but there are other models available.  Personally, I dont think it makes sense for me to classify this game as 75% narrative 25% gamist, which is how I would need to classify it using only that model.

I think you're under some misapprehension about the nature of GNS. You can read the seminal articles on the terms in the Articles section at the top of the screen. They'll say what I want to say more eloquently.

Quote
Im probably thinking more in terms of the spectrum of how much interpretive power is placed in the hands of the GM.  On one hand you have diceless gaming where the GM holds full interpretive power.  You dont need many mechanics to facilitate that -- merely a set of GM guidelines or whatever.  At the other end of the scale you have a system that tries to have a rule for everything so that the GM merely presents the situation and 'runs' the NPCs while the players use the game mechanics and dice to resolve it their own actions.  Neither model is right or wrong - they just ways of looking at the same thing.

There are other, better options. The GM can be bound by rules that make the game interesting for everyone, for instance.

Quote
So.  I lean away from the GM having too much interpretive power, for several reasons.  Mostly for the same reason that I like to believe we humans all have free will and not everything is pre-ordained.  I tend to dislike the feeling of helplessness that you can get in the hands of a GM who tries to force the players down a certain narrative path.  What, it doesnt really matter what we the players do, the GM is going to resolve this situation in a way that fits the story regardless?  well why have us players here at all then - just go and write a book!

Having said that, the challenege is to provide a mechanic to resolve situations that is fun for the players to use, rather than an a burden.  With the combat rules for example, the basic rules are quite simple.  During a round of comabt the iwnner and loser of the round is resolved with a single dice roll each.  The loser resists damage caused by the winner with an armour resistance roll (if any) and a body resistance roll.  some penalties for injuries, multiple opponents and carrying equipment may be applied.  relatively simple.  The added complexity kicks in with the 'moves' which allow the players to bend and break the basic rules in almost any way.  Although there is theoretically an infinite number of different moves and associated rules (because the players are encouraged to make up their own to meet their characters style), the complexity is manageble because each player is responsible for thier own moves only.  Each character can play by their own rules, without having to know more than a handful of general rules.  So thats a kind of design philosophy I suppose.  Keep the rules that apply to everyone as simple as possible, while allowing the rules that apply to individuals to be complex.

Interesting. You may want to look at Universalis for that kind of player-generated rulesmithing.

Here's the thing I see, Steve:

You want your game to be 75% Narrativist design and 25% Gamist. The problem is that they detract from each other: you wind up with the 75% losing 25% and the 25% losing 75%, so you wind up with 62.5% of a game.

Here's an example: you want the combat to be the "Gamist" part, right (it doesn't work like this, but I'll try to meet you halfway for now)? So, when I'm playing in the "Narrativist" part of the game, I can't confront theme by going into combat. That is, I can't say, "This is worth fighting and dying for" in any meaningful way; all of my resources mean something new as soon as combat starts, and rather than playing my character's demise in a way that allows me to say something about his death (or triumph), I'm just playing to win. If I'm not playing to win, I'm irritating everyone else at the table by wasting time in combat; if I try to do something to confront theme in combat, it will probably cost me resources to do it. And, of course, if I lose my character, I've lost my ability to address theme later on.
Logged

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.
stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #46 on: February 01, 2006, 03:36:13 PM »

What are the cool things about your world which will capture the players imagination?  (This is not a facetious question.  I could take a stab at answering it based on what you've already posted, but I think it would be better for us to work from your list.)
Steve 

So far I am attacking the cultures.  I dont have a map.  I dont even have names - I have culture XXXX and culture YYYY and so on.  the culture of the inhabitants is what is going to make my setting unique compared to any other setting.  Just as Glorantha set the bar for presentiation of religion in an RPG setting, I want to set the bar for the culture and society that the characters will come from - their beliefs, customs, likes, dislikes, morality, the whole bit.  I want players thinking that maybe this world actually existed or does exist somewhere, because it seems so real.

As for the world itself, I had several broad aims which I can list here:

1) I wanted a dawn of history feel.  I didnt want this world to be in 'the 5th age' or whatever, so that there was layer apon layer of ancient ruins and the land was covered with civilizations that were thousands of years old.  I wanted the world centered around a relative oasis of civilization huddled against a sea of uncivilized unknown.
2) its post apocolyptic.  I find the apocolyptic parts of human history the most interesting, and especially from a a roleplaying point of view, becaues thats when things change the most.  evolution happens in spurts kind of thing.  The most interesting period for me is around the 1400BC time when the great bronze age empires fell and led to a dark age (only becaue there wasnt much written material for us to find from that period) that is refelcted in the stories of the odessy and the illiad etc...  and ultimately resulted in the flowering of classical civilization.  Its the dark age that is the most interesting because its a mystery as to exactly why it happened and what went on for a couple of hundred years in places where there used to be high civilization.  So my fantasy world is set in a 'dark age' after the flowering and destruction of the very first great empire in the history of this world.
3) mystery.  each culture has its own world view.  no world view is invalid although some are more prevelent than others due to the 'winner writes the history books' situation.  So there isnt a definitive timeline of events that actually took place that will be presented in this setting.  there are a multitude of culture-dependent timelines of what certain cultures think happened, and there is a multitude of different philosophies and rationale for why certain things are the way they are.  some of these thigns will agree but most will be mutually exclusive.  But all will be equally valid.  So GMs will be able to come up with scenarios based on different viewpoints of the same event, or events that one culture thinks happened that other cultures arent even aware of. etc...
4) zombines, there will be lots of zombies.





(actually, kidding about the zombie part)






(mostly)
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stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #47 on: February 01, 2006, 04:37:37 PM »

• The GM can not have the responsibility of both providing the challenge and adjudicating results. That's a conflict of interest and an endemic problem in older RPG designs.

Most traditional games, like mine, do not leave much interpretation of results in the GMs hands (at least for combat rules).  Can you give me an example of what youre talking about?

Quote
Well, OK. Let's take D&D, which I've played enough over the years to have a good idea where the action is and how it works.

I'm the player. You're the GM.

I've got hit points. Let's say I've got 10. These are my primary resource. I have resources used to protect these, like armor and healing spells.
I've got weapons, offensive spells, and other stuff. Let's say I've got a sword.

Let's say I have to face a herd of Restnoms. They've each got 1 HP and a pointy stick. I wade in and kill lots of them, but they start wearing me down. Let's say you make some lucky rolls and I make some crap ones, and we discover that I'm going to die at the hands of a bunch of crappy little critters instead of getting to the Big Bad Guy. So you fudge a roll so that I survive, or you say, "The remaining Retsnoms run away!"

You've just removed my challenge, but if you hadn't, something totally unfun would have happened. That's not your fault as GM. That's the fault of the rules.

So now I'm forced to acknowledge that any challenge I confront, I succeed or fail at your whim. All of a sudden, those combat rules evaporate as a waste of time: just tell me if I won or not. Or you know what, better yet, let's play something else.

I see what you mean.  But again I see it as a universal problem.  its almost a philosophy of RP gaming although it can be addressed with rules, yes.  But generally, either you come from the camp of:  I have to rescue these idiots otherwise characters will die and the story will stop dead in its tracks, OR the camp of:  they got themselves into this situation through being overconfident and dismissive of their enemies and obstinately refused to get while the going was good, now they learn.  hopefully with their next character, they will treat challeneges with a little more intelligence and savoir faire rather than wading in blindly.  and everyone will have more fun as a result...

Ill add that a common tool to use in situations like this is the 'luck roll' or 'hero point' or whatever you want to call it which is the PCs get out of jail free card that they have and posiblly the BBGATEOTL has, but the Retsnoms obviously wont have.  Its a resource that a lot of games give to the PCs to allow them to dig themsellves out of a hole that they created either through their own dubious actions, and/or as a defence against particularly unlucky dice rolls. 

Quote
• The GM must have resources to spend, probability to weigh, and stuff like that. It should be as explicitly cheating to throw in extra monsters (or take them out) as it is to have a referee grant points to a team in soccer.
• Every choice you give the players must be meaningful. In Gamist terms, that means that they have to be able to trade their resources (or weigh risks, or however you want to do it) in direct proportion to their gain.

This is basic GMing skill isnt it?  A good GM challenges the players just enough so that they can use their resources and ingenuity to overcome.  To use the langauge of the forge, why would a narative driven GM present a player with meaningless challenges, or swamp the players with challeneges they have no hope of overcoming?
Quote

Narrativism requires a strict adherence to rules so the players can confront theme. It's not up to the GM alone (assuming a game has one) to decide anything to do with the meat of play: that's the purview of each of the players (which includes the GM).

But you're not talking about Narrativism-focused design. You're talking about Gamism-focused design. Let's deal with one thing at a time. Fortunately, the analogy is pretty easy: what thematic challenge is to Narrativist play, tactical and strategic challenge are to Gamist play.

You're using a system that (according to the rules I've read, both of yours and those of The Window) runs in mostly Narrativist territory with acknowledgment of the challenges (unconfronted in 1997) of providing thematic power to the players without GM fiat. That's no longer the case.

Quote
Quote from: Joshua A.C. Newman
Even though it's focused on Narrativist play, Dogs in the Vineyard's "Town Creation" system is something you might want to look at. It's used to generate a Situation in which the players can do their stuff and it works beautifully. If you don't use that system, not only are you breaking the rules, but the game you play really sucks.

Your goal for a Gamist design must be the generation of satisfying challenges for the players (never mind the characters for now). Those challenges will have to be understandable by the players and no dice can be fudged. If you're hosing your players, the rules are broken, and if they're hosing you, the rules are broken.

Now, I haven't played The Window, so I don't know how it works for this, but I don't see rules for the Storyteller anywhere in the rules; everything's up to their judgement, which causes the conflict of interest I mentioned above.

GIven your stated Gamist design goal, I'd like to see you dive into the Gamist aspects of this wholeheartedly. Make it so the challenges are real, objective challenges for the players. Make the setting demand that the characters the players are playing meet those challenges so that it all matches, it all makes sense. Give players hero cults like Achilles had so their society demands that they go out and do heroic things, challenging monsters and demons.

yeah, I not really aiming this game at people who have never gamed before.  Im not trying to push a personal philosophy of roleplaying on anyone.

I'm not talking about "personal philosophy of roleplaying" anywhere here. If you answer the questions I asked, you'll find that they're about design specification, not personal philosophy.

Quote
So there is no guidlines for the GM, other than the best way to use the rules to arbitrate certain situations.  How and when to apply penalties and bonuses.  How to resolve different types of cooperative taks etc...

I'm not talking about guidelines. I'm talking about rules. What does the GM do? In my experience, GMs:

• Provide opposition
• Arbitrate the outcome of that opposition
• Stay a step ahead of the players
• Apply a bunch of techniques to making this more fun, usually by taking input from the players and surreptitiously inserting the ideas.

Quote
I definately understand the classification scheme you guys are using, and I think its fine as far as it goes.  What I dont particularly agree with is the need to specialize 100% in one direction or another.  

I think its possible that you guys are maybe trying to cram everything into the one GNS box.  It is one valid model that could be a helpful way to look at things, but there are other models available.  Personally, I dont think it makes sense for me to classify this game as 75% narrative 25% gamist, which is how I would need to classify it using only that model.

I think you're under some misapprehension about the nature of GNS. You can read the seminal articles on the terms in the Articles section at the top of the screen. They'll say what I want to say more eloquently.

Quote
Im probably thinking more in terms of the spectrum of how much interpretive power is placed in the hands of the GM.  On one hand you have diceless gaming where the GM holds full interpretive power.  You dont need many mechanics to facilitate that -- merely a set of GM guidelines or whatever.  At the other end of the scale you have a system that tries to have a rule for everything so that the GM merely presents the situation and 'runs' the NPCs while the players use the game mechanics and dice to resolve it their own actions.  Neither model is right or wrong - they just ways of looking at the same thing.

There are other, better options. The GM can be bound by rules that make the game interesting for everyone, for instance.

Quote
So.  I lean away from the GM having too much interpretive power, for several reasons.  Mostly for the same reason that I like to believe we humans all have free will and not everything is pre-ordained.  I tend to dislike the feeling of helplessness that you can get in the hands of a GM who tries to force the players down a certain narrative path.  What, it doesnt really matter what we the players do, the GM is going to resolve this situation in a way that fits the story regardless?  well why have us players here at all then - just go and write a book!

Having said that, the challenege is to provide a mechanic to resolve situations that is fun for the players to use, rather than an a burden.  With the combat rules for example, the basic rules are quite simple.  During a round of comabt the iwnner and loser of the round is resolved with a single dice roll each.  The loser resists damage caused by the winner with an armour resistance roll (if any) and a body resistance roll.  some penalties for injuries, multiple opponents and carrying equipment may be applied.  relatively simple.  The added complexity kicks in with the 'moves' which allow the players to bend and break the basic rules in almost any way.  Although there is theoretically an infinite number of different moves and associated rules (because the players are encouraged to make up their own to meet their characters style), the complexity is manageble because each player is responsible for thier own moves only.  Each character can play by their own rules, without having to know more than a handful of general rules.  So thats a kind of design philosophy I suppose.  Keep the rules that apply to everyone as simple as possible, while allowing the rules that apply to individuals to be complex.

Interesting. You may want to look at Universalis for that kind of player-generated rulesmithing.

Here's the thing I see, Steve:

You want your game to be 75% Narrativist design and 25% Gamist. The problem is that they detract from each other: you wind up with the 75% losing 25% and the 25% losing 75%, so you wind up with 62.5% of a game.




Quote
Here's an example: you want the combat to be the "Gamist" part, right (it doesn't work like this, but I'll try to meet you halfway for now)? So, when I'm playing in the "Narrativist" part of the game, I can't confront theme by going into combat. That is, I can't say, "This is worth fighting and dying for" in any meaningful way; all of my resources mean something new as soon as combat starts, and rather than playing my character's demise in a way that allows me to say something about his death (or triumph), I'm just playing to win. If I'm not playing to win, I'm irritating everyone else at the table by wasting time in combat; if I try to do something to confront theme in combat, it will probably cost me resources to do it. And, of course, if I lose my character, I've lost my ability to address theme later on.

You make a few assertions there that I dont agree with.  I understand that a player who is concerned with theme might find gamey rules to be burdonsom and/or restrictive.  But thats as far as it goes.  Can you give me an example of what you mean here?

I think the best way to approach this is for me to provide an aim for individual parts of the rules:  i.e. what Im trying to model with combat, with magic, with the general rules, and the general flavour of the rules.

You have  got me thinking about abstracting some of the more reductionist parts of the rules.  Ive done that in some parts but not in others.  For instance there is a whopping great table of missile fire modifiers that model things which I find important to model for missile fire.  Ditto for the rules on perception.

Ill give an example of a place where I have already done this to good effect (I hope).  Encumbrance rules.  Most games either pretend that players can lug around a small caravan worth of stuff, or go into excrutiating detail about how hard every item is to carry, and players are supposed to keep track of it.  The latter is the reductionist way of modelling it.  But abstracting it can help:  arbitrarilly Ive lsited three sizes of 'packs':  tiny, normal and big, and an action penalty of none, -1 and -2 to go with them.  thats it.  Your stuff fits in a certain size pack and you either get a total penalty or not.  the obvious question is why is that even important.  Well only for the reason that sometimes it is important and dramatic if the players are faced with a situation where they are forced to decide between a keeping or dumping their stuff in order to move quickly or perform a physical activity at full efficiency.  so you either drop your stuff, or you dont and thats all there is to it.  It models that important situation in a way that is not burdonsome to the player.  I should try to apply that abstraction process to any and all parts of the general rules that I can.  (individual rules, as I ve said, can be complex and open-ended)

hmm, maybe I am giving myself an idea for the magic system as I write this...  A simple set of general rules for magic, coupled with the possibility of complex and open-ended individual magic rules...  thats so crazy it just might work!
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stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #48 on: February 01, 2006, 09:18:00 PM »

this is my notes for a playtest scenario I ran called 'sheepherders', based on a minor barbarian culture.  Perhaps it will help with the colour of the world.

Summary:
--------------
Basically this is a mystery scenario.  Another clan is hammering this clan, and being unduly vicious about it.  Usually raids will entail absconding with a horse or two, with a minimum of fuss, and hopefully nobody injured or even dead, but recently this other tribe has been raiding the players tribe particularly hard, and not particularly caring about any collateral damage they do.

One of the players is the chief’s son, he should get a few extra creation points.  All of the other players play the sons of other influential clan members or just generic clan members.   One of the other players is the son of another influential clan elder.

The scenario is based around the fact that one of the players fathers is making a political play to discredit the current chief, and thus replace him, himself.  He has made a deal with a member of the other tribe, such that he tells them where guards are likely to be posted, where the best horses are etc…  he keeps leaking information to the enemy such that their raids tend to succeed while our counter raids tend to fail.

His intent is that the current chief will be replaced with himself, and then the raids will end (presumably).  Whether or not this pans out, is up to the players.

Scene 1: 
There has been a council called. It involves about 20 of the most influential males in the village.  The reason (obviously) is that the other clan has been making an unusual number of raids on us over the last months, having made 3 raids, and generally being successful, absconding with 10 horses so far from two  successful raids.  The only reason the 3rd raid wasn’t successful is because Chief Durnal discovered them  lurking around his horses while he was taking a slash, and managed to drive them off, although he was badly wounded.  If it wasn’t for the fact that the commotion raised others, he may have even been slain – who knows?  As it was, the clan shaman was found dead, apparently murdered by throat slitting by the raiders – a calamity!   The raids have been occurring on almost a weekly basis, and the last raid occurred about 5 days ago.

Before the meeting, he takes his son aside and asks him to help him out during the meeting, since he will probably one day replace him as chief, and given his current wounds and the current situation, now would be a good time to start asserting himself in public.

People are pretty upset at the meeting, with a few of the VIPs and others complaining about their stolen livestock and wanting to know whats going to be done about it.  The Chief tells everyone that he is putting his son in charge of the situation for the duration of his incapacitation.

During this scene, Taja asks why a young one is being put in charge instead of one of the VIPs, and gets a lot of ra-ra support.  The chief starts to defend his decision and one of the other VIPs asks for the youngun to speak for himself, since he has pretentions of leadership.
 
What happens next is up to the players to a certain extent.  Will they wait for another raid, will they take the fight to the others?  Regardless of what they decide, Taja will sabotage their attempt.  If they get the shaman to investigate it, it will take the shaman about 30 hours to prepare for the ritual.  During this time, another raid will occur, and the shaman will be killed (stabbed in the back)

If they conduct a raid themselves, it will be as if an ambush was waiting for them, with the party being attacked in numbers.  Others will be Injured.

If they decide to wait and ambush the other clan when they make their next raid, that plan will backfire.  A commotion will be made near the sheep pen drawing defenders to that area (I suppose it depends on how well the defenders organize) and more horses will be taken.

How will the players decide whats going on?  A wise woman might be able to help, suggesting after contacting the spirits that there is a traitor in their midst.

Alternatively, they could spot the clues from asking the right questions.  For instance, although taja has many horses, none of his have been raided.

Also, tajas increasing outspokenness at whatever councils are called, should bring some suspicion on him.

Two types of  NPC:  VIP NPCs who have

D10 riding and fighting skills.  And others who have D12 riding and fighting skills.

Taja has D8 oratory and persuasion skills.
Details of the clan
---------------------
The clan  consists of about 20 wagons, each the possessions of one extended family, so going on about an average of 8 people (from kids to grandparents) per wagon, that’s about 150 people in the clan.

The clans major hero descendant is Nhaskur of Khlelig and his brothers.  Nahskur was a particularly heroic guy who became chief and saved the clan from raiding nomads.  His brothers were particularly good as well, and supported him well.

It was he who brought the clan here after defeating the nomads, because he realized that although he had won a battle, they could not defeat the nomads indefinitely, so they moved from their previous lands to their current location.

The following is the list of the most influential people in the clan.  There are other various members who are less wealthy or respected, and thus although they have some influence aren’t worthy to mention here.


Chief:   Durnal, of Durnal       (one player will play his son)
Shaman: Gritter, of  Kaylid

VIP:  Taja of Roosto             
VIP:  Batae of Kolin
VIP:  Jamu of  Khlelig   
VIP:  Kafko of Jan
VIP:  Serv   of Serv

Wise woman:  Trish of Holly
Wise woman:  Batae of Soo


One player will play son of the Chief.  Other players will play sons of other VIPs in the clan, thus they represent some of the more wealthy families in the clan and are guaranteed to have a horse and some half decent equipment available to them
 
Meanwhile…politics.

A shaman must be picked.  It is unusual for a clan to have two shamans, and generally the existing shaman will have one or more apprentices, he will choose a successor, and the other apprentice will leave, generally to look for a job as a shaman somewhere else. 

Taja has the problem that the spirits will know of his betrayal and murder of the previous shaman.  The elder, less talented apprentice can be won over with political support, so he promotes him as shaman.

The various elders take their sons aside and say”


Durnal:  Son, I believe that the clan will not prosper under the leadership of Taja – for it is Taja who is pulling the strings of his sons who are now our joint leaders.  I distrust him and his sons… his only interest is in the promotion of his own family.

I suspect treachery is involved with the murder of the shaman, but I can prove nothing.  Without a shaman, such things cannot be known to us.  I want you to make sure nothing untoward happens to either of the apprentices.  One day they will be powerful enough to find out the truth of this matter.  It seems that Matius thinks the same as I do.  I think you can trust him to help you in this matter, although he is something of a hothead.  Keep him out of trouble also.


Hazacoin:  Listen to me son.  It is not good that our clan is without a shaman.  It makes us seem weak to our enemies.  Usually it is the existing shaman who will appoint his successor, but unfortunately we will have to choose him ourselves.  I have talked to both boys, and it seems to me that the eldest lad should be chosen.  The younger is too immature… if a situation arose where we had to depend on him, I have grave doubts about his ability to function under pressure.

However, we cannot be seen to be picking favorites, even if it is for the good of the clan.  Both  boys relatives will certainly complain if their one is not chosen, and we cant afford any more dissension in the ranks.  Therefore a publicly fair selection must be made – a test of skills if you like.  I am confident that the elder boy will prove his worth.  For the good of the clan, we must do everything in our power to ensure that the right boy succeeds… or the wrong boy fails. 

If at some point, a situation arises where we must depend on one of the boys for shamanic duties, ensure that the right boy is given the opportunity to impress.  Although to be fair, if it is very dangerous, perhaps the younger boy might appreciate the opportunity to prove that he can perform under great pressure.  Im sure you will make the right decisions when the time comes.

Lastly, listen to your brother in matters of war.  Defer to his public judgements, for his reputation as a leader rests on his warrior credentials, and without that reputation, your combined position will suffer.  Im sure you are aware that not every clansmen has a high regard for your martial abilities.  It will take time to convince them otherwise, so in the meantime  Martoc can help us in that area.


Martoc:  Martoc!  You were supposed to be here half an hour ago…  never mind (sigh).  Listen to me boy.  You must be seen to be taking an active role in the leadership of the clan.  Your brother is very smart, but not everybody respects him.  We need to show that the sons of Taja can deal with problems in war as well as times of peace – and you are our warrior.  You will be the one to lead our raiding parties and defend the clan against attack.  You will choose the warriors and direct their actions in battle, with the help of your brother of course.

It is important that you decide wisely the tasks assigned to each warrior, for our position as clan leaders is not yet firm.  It would be a pity if the sons of some of our supporters were killed in botched raids, leaving only the sons of those who selfishly seek to gain leadership of the clan for their own families.  Im sure you will make the right decisions when the time comes – but do not talk to your brother about this.  He has enough to worry about as it is.


Frango:  Sit down my son.  I want to talk to you about the future of the clan.  I do not like Taja and his useless sons.  One always laying about, as useless as tits on a ram… and the other without even a proper moustache.  It’s a disgrace. Yet we must bow to collective wisdom of the elders for now.  Taja himself is the worst.  A snake in the grass if ever Ive seen one – and at my age Ive seen a few.

What this clan needs is solid, steady leadership.  Durnal was a fair chief if you ask me, but this trouble with those vermin across the hills has brought him undone – its always a mistake trying to sweet talk strangers inmy opinion.  And his son!   A few sheep short of a full flock if you get my meaning.  Anyway, it is entirely possible that Taja’s sons will also stuff up, and if they do, the elders may look for a leader from outside those families – a solid leader that just gets the jobs done.

If this occurs, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be considered.  I know you are up to it son, but you just have to show the others that you are worthy too.  I would never ask you to endanger the clan by sabotaging the current leadership -- that’s something that a Taja might do – however, if there is an opportunity to show them up and prove yourself a better choice, then by all means take it. 

Now go and catch me a rabbit, boy, Im getting hungry.



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stefoid
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« Reply #49 on: February 02, 2006, 04:23:33 PM »


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Here's an example: you want the combat to be the "Gamist" part, right (it doesn't work like this, but I'll try to meet you halfway for now)? So, when I'm playing in the "Narrativist" part of the game, I can't confront theme by going into combat. That is, I can't say, "This is worth fighting and dying for" in any meaningful way; all of my resources mean something new as soon as combat starts, and rather than playing my character's demise in a way that allows me to say something about his death (or triumph), I'm just playing to win. If I'm not playing to win, I'm irritating everyone else at the table by wasting time in combat; if I try to do something to confront theme in combat, it will probably cost me resources to do it. And, of course, if I lose my character, I've lost my ability to address theme later on.

So can you give a more detailed example of what youre talking about here?  I dont really get what you mean in terms of
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I can't say, "This is worth fighting and dying for" in any meaningful way;
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #50 on: February 03, 2006, 12:59:38 PM »

So can you give a more detailed example of what youre talking about here?  I dont really get what you mean in terms of
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I can't say, "This is worth fighting and dying for" in any meaningful way;
Ah, thanks for clarifying your question.

So, let's say I'm a hero with a cult. My patron god is Ubuk, who's supports rulers who gain power by fighting. I'm using my character to talk about the two often opposing,aspects of being a king: the desire for power and the responsibility toward one's people. Ubuk gives me power. My people are my responsibility (and being remembered by them is the prime value to a hero).

So let's say I'm fighting with some Myrmidons of Ponto, a rival hero. They're gonna come into my city, steal my sheep, kill my men, and rape my women. Also, Ubuk supports my fighting behavior. So far, there's no choice to be made. We're cool with whatever system works well enough to have fighting that can be played out in an exciting manner. All I'm risking is wounds or whatever.

But what I want is rules that support this kind of choice: if I take the fight to Ponto's city, my city will die at the hands of Ponto's dudes, but I will have gained a new city, and Ubuk will support me because I've taken power by force, making me a more powerful hero and more feared king. On the other hand, If I stay and defend, my people will survive and remember me for a thousand years, but Ubuk will abandon me or even curse me and my decline will begin.

Note that neither of those choices have to do with my combat resources in the rules you've described. Either way, I'm fighting  a fight I can win, but winning or losing the fight has no bearing on the thematic content of my struggle. In fact, if I'm a real hero, dying should be one of the tools I use as a player to make stuff happen in the world.

The main thing The Window has going for it is its Narrativist bud, but you want a fighting simulation to graft onto that. Those are simply contradictory design specs; you'll wind up with a sterile hybrid of agenda support.

I recommend that you look closely at The Shadow of Yesterday, a game with some really excellent Narrativist tools and a really fun conflict system. Dogs in the Vineyard will give you good guidance on GM responsibilities, and Prime Time Adventures will give you a good look at how focused a rule set can be and still encourage coherent, story-building behavior.
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stefoid
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« Reply #51 on: February 03, 2006, 10:18:22 PM »

So can you give a more detailed example of what youre talking about here?  I dont really get what you mean in terms of
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I can't say, "This is worth fighting and dying for" in any meaningful way;
Ah, thanks for clarifying your question.

So, let's say I'm a hero with a cult. My patron god is Ubuk, who's supports rulers who gain power by fighting. I'm using my character to talk about the two often opposing,aspects of being a king: the desire for power and the responsibility toward one's people. Ubuk gives me power. My people are my responsibility (and being remembered by them is the prime value to a hero).

So let's say I'm fighting with some Myrmidons of Ponto, a rival hero. They're gonna come into my city, steal my sheep, kill my men, and rape my women. Also, Ubuk supports my fighting behavior. So far, there's no choice to be made. We're cool with whatever system works well enough to have fighting that can be played out in an exciting manner. All I'm risking is wounds or whatever.

But what I want is rules that support this kind of choice: if I take the fight to Ponto's city, my city will die at the hands of Ponto's dudes, but I will have gained a new city, and Ubuk will support me because I've taken power by force, making me a more powerful hero and more feared king. On the other hand, If I stay and defend, my people will survive and remember me for a thousand years, but Ubuk will abandon me or even curse me and my decline will begin.

Note that neither of those choices have to do with my combat resources in the rules you've described. Either way, I'm fighting  a fight I can win, but winning or losing the fight has no bearing on the thematic content of my struggle. In fact, if I'm a real hero, dying should be one of the tools I use as a player to make stuff happen in the world.

The main thing The Window has going for it is its Narrativist bud, but you want a fighting simulation to graft onto that. Those are simply contradictory design specs; you'll wind up with a sterile hybrid of agenda support.

I recommend that you look closely at The Shadow of Yesterday, a game with some really excellent Narrativist tools and a really fun conflict system. Dogs in the Vineyard will give you good guidance on GM responsibilities, and Prime Time Adventures will give you a good look at how focused a rule set can be and still encourage coherent, story-building behavior.

great story, but specifically how does a gamist flavour of combat rules prevent your character from making his crucial decision? 

so you see my graft as a fighting simulation?  that interesting because I was aiming at a cinematic fighting system.  you think there is too much detail?

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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #52 on: February 04, 2006, 08:20:25 AM »

great story, but specifically how does a gamist flavour of combat rules prevent your character from making his crucial decision? 

If I lose, I don't get to make that decision. My people are overrun and I lose all my power. If I win, we haven't done anything to decide if I save my people and earn their legend of me, or if I gain power at their expense. It's either been a waste of time to my interests in the character (if I have a Narrativist agenda) or a rare bit of challenging fun in a sea of time wasting character crap (if I have a Gamist agenda).

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so you see my graft as a fighting simulation?  that interesting because I was aiming at a cinematic fighting system.  you think there is too much detail?

A cinematic fighting system, in my opinion, has to take into account the motivations of the protagonists. Perhaps the primary factor has to be the motivation of the protagonists. It's not a matter of detail — detail's really important — it's a matter of the detail having meaning. Since I have sincere doubts that you're looking for a system that denies meaning in favor of player challenges, I suggest that you're creating a 100% Narrativist system.

As such, I suggest that you look at some favorite movies, comics, and novels. I don't know what you like, of course, but here are some examples off the top of my head.

In Blade Runner: Roy gains strength from driving a nail through his hand. Deckard finally learns about humanity by having his ass beat up one side and down the other by Roy.

In any Frank Miller comic, all the strength the protags have comes from the abuse they receive, losing everything to save the one thing they care about.

In the Illiad, Achilles dies for the only thing he cares about, Petroclos: he choses between being a hero and being a human, and chooses humanity.

In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it's Li Mu Bai's petty revenge and split passions that kill him, not his lack of skill: he couldn't choose to love or leave the world and the world killed him.

In my opinion, The Window leaves too much on the shoulders of the GM to effectively support Narrativist or Gamist play. I think you've got two separate games here: one is your Narrativist, theme-addressing game, perhaps using a system derived from The Window. The other system is your Gamist, character building, fight-having game, probably using a different system. I think you'll find that, once you distill your interests into their separate humours, the game design will click into place much more readily.

GNS is linked to the rewards a player gets from an activity. In a Gamist system, you're rewarded in both in-game rewards for player success and having beaten the system or another player. In a Narrativist system, you get rewards (in the form of both satisfaction and mechanics) for addressing theme passionately.

Devise the cycles of reward first with those things in mind, and you'll discover the way your system should work. If I were writing this system, I'd think very carefully what resources I'd want to reflect the Protagonists and what would be abstract, player resources. That way, your character can die for a purpose and the player doesn't lose resources.
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stefoid
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« Reply #53 on: February 04, 2006, 10:42:26 PM »

great story, but specifically how does a gamist flavour of combat rules prevent your character from making his crucial decision? 

If I lose, I don't get to make that decision. My people are overrun and I lose all my power. If I win, we haven't done anything to decide if I save my people and earn their legend of me, or if I gain power at their expense. It's either been a waste of time to my interests in the character (if I have a Narrativist agenda) or a rare bit of challenging fun in a sea of time wasting character crap (if I have a Gamist agenda).

hang on.  you make the decision, then you fight.  having made the decision to RISK your characters life fighting in one way or the other, you want there to be no actual risk once you have made the decision?  isnt that a bit lame?  isnt that like one of those books that says : "if you decide to attack the city, turn to page 54.  if you decide to defend your own city, turn to page 65..."

in your scenario, its obviously a crucial decision.  I think what you might be trying to say is that there is no mechanic available for the player to influence an outcome that is more important than the average run of the mill outcome.  If thats what your saying, then i agree, its something to think about.   What I currently have is Favour which is a renewable resource that the player can tap to gain small influence.  Specifically to push up a failed roll by one level from fumble to fail, or fail to draw.  I can defiantely see the point that players should be allowed to influence a result in a positive way as well. (apart from signature moves which only realte to combat).   Perhaps tapping Favour before the roll gives you a one level boost to any test...

however, that still doesnt allow for major influence of a major outcome.  What about permanantly reducing the Favour stat in return for a much greater boon, such as unlimited favour points for the duration of a critical situation?  You could colour that any way you please.  In your situation, the king spends all night seking guidance from his god, pledging this/that or the other in return for victory on the crucial day...  But although his success is much more likely, it shoudlnt be guarenteed, surely?

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stefoid
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« Reply #54 on: February 04, 2006, 10:55:01 PM »

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so you see my graft as a fighting simulation?  that interesting because I was aiming at a cinematic fighting system.  you think there is too much detail?

A cinematic fighting system, in my opinion, has to take into account the motivations of the protagonists. Perhaps the primary factor has to be the motivation of the protagonists. It's not a matter of detail — detail's really important — it's a matter of the detail having meaning. Since I have sincere doubts that you're looking for a system that denies meaning in favor of player challenges, I suggest that you're creating a 100% Narrativist system.

So you dont think that tapping Favour in order to positively influence a test is enough in this regard?




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In my opinion, The Window leaves too much on the shoulders of the GM to effectively support Narrativist or Gamist play. I think you've got two separate games here: one is your Narrativist, theme-addressing game, perhaps using a system derived from The Window. The other system is your Gamist, character building, fight-having game, probably using a different system. I think you'll find that, once you distill your interests into their separate humours, the game design will click into place much more readily.

GNS is linked to the rewards a player gets from an activity. In a Gamist system, you're rewarded in both in-game rewards for player success and having beaten the system or another player. In a Narrativist system, you get rewards (in the form of both satisfaction and mechanics) for addressing theme passionately.

i understand what you are saying, but i dont see that they are neccessarilly mutually exclusive.  why not have rules to support both? 


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Devise the cycles of reward first with those things in mind, and you'll discover the way your system should work. If I were writing this system, I'd think very carefully what resources I'd want to reflect the Protagonists and what would be abstract, player resources. That way, your character can die for a purpose and the player doesn't lose resources.

Im not sure what you mean by this.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #55 on: February 05, 2006, 09:58:27 AM »

So you dont think that tapping Favour in order to positively influence a test is enough in this regard?

I think that, if you want Favor to matter, it should a) be deeply connected to player input through non-character means and/or b) the primary statistic used.

I need to know the focus of the game to help you figure that out. But a mere modifier doesn't focus the game sharply enough to give thematic control.

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In my opinion, The Window leaves too much on the shoulders of the GM to effectively support Narrativist or Gamist play. I think you've got two separate games here: one is your Narrativist, theme-addressing game, perhaps using a system derived from The Window. The other system is your Gamist, character building, fight-having game, probably using a different system. I think you'll find that, once you distill your interests into their separate humours, the game design will click into place much more readily.

GNS is linked to the rewards a player gets from an activity. In a Gamist system, you're rewarded in both in-game rewards for player success and having beaten the system or another player. In a Narrativist system, you get rewards (in the form of both satisfaction and mechanics) for addressing theme passionately.

i understand what you are saying, but i dont see that they are neccessarilly mutually exclusive.  why not have rules to support both? 

Because then you'll be writing two games. I cannot have thematic control over a character while simultaneously requiring their well-being in order to continue playing. I think that writing both games would be an excellent exercise and that you should do it. Making the games simultaneously playable would be excellent but a significant challenge, probably confrontable by having different players playing by different rules. I understand Burning Wheel does this well between Gamist and Narrativist agenda support. You might want to check it out.

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Devise the cycles of reward first with those things in mind, and you'll discover the way your system should work. If I were writing this system, I'd think very carefully what resources I'd want to reflect the Protagonists and what would be abstract, player resources. That way, your character can die for a purpose and the player doesn't lose resources.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.

Well, the stuff you have written down on your character sheet are really the resources that you, the player, have at your disposal, right? The fact that those resources are named after fictional stuff doesn't change the fact that they're your resources as a player. You use those resources to effect the story. In a lot of older games, those resources are closely tied to the character. So when your character died, you lost all your resources. That's potentially (though not necessarily) cool from a Gamist design perspective, because you're risking your current resources in order to get more, and that's a potentially fun game. (There are Gamist designs in which this would be inappropriate, too.) From a Narrativist perspective, though, there's no reason your tools have to be strictly tied to your character's well-being. Sometimes you want your character to suffer in order to address theme. Sometimes you want the dude's strength to be that he's a wounded soldier who's lost everything. You want those to be your resources, or you want the resources to be totally abstract; like only having Favour.

Hey, if you're interested, you might want to check out Nine Worlds. It has a cool mechanic where you define features of the world as your resources. Universalis and Prime Time Adventures have the most abstract player resources I know of.

Hey, are you familiar with Troy Costisick's Power 19 questions? They're a refined way of looking at your game design. It would help me a lot of you'd post your answers, even if it's hard to find an answer to some of them.
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stefoid
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« Reply #56 on: February 05, 2006, 03:25:42 PM »

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I think that, if you want Favor to matter, it should a) be deeply connected to player input through non-character means and/or b) the primary statistic used.

I need to know the focus of the game to help you figure that out. But a mere modifier doesn't focus the game sharply enough to give thematic control.

Favour is quite important, in fact it may be the most important stat a character can have.    This is a bronze age world where the gods, spirits and demons are demonstrably real, so courting the favour of the gods and such concepts as being blessed or accursed are of prime importance to the characters.  It is luck, favour and 'a certain derring-do'  all rolled into one.  Ultimately, however, the players can choose how heavilly they rely on it when they create a character.  They can have a super-favoured character, an average-fated character, or even create character who is turned away from that side of life, and relies onstead on his own skills and 'makes his own luck'.

I think youre right in that I need to go over every part of the game where favour impacts the rules and ensure its consistant in its use and effects. 

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Because then you'll be writing two games. I cannot have thematic control over a character while simultaneously requiring their well-being in order to continue playing. I think that writing both games would be an excellent exercise and that you should do it. Making the games simultaneously playable would be excellent but a significant challenge, probably confrontable by having different players playing by different rules. I understand Burning Wheel does this well between Gamist and Narrativist agenda support. You might want to check it out
Well, the stuff you have written down on your character sheet are really the resources that you, the player, have at your disposal, right? The fact that those resources are named after fictional stuff doesn't change the fact that they're your resources as a player. You use those resources to effect the story. In a lot of older games, those resources are closely tied to the character. So when your character died, you lost all your resources. That's potentially (though not necessarily) cool from a Gamist design perspective, because you're risking your current resources in order to get more, and that's a potentially fun game. (There are Gamist designs in which this would be inappropriate, too.) From a Narrativist perspective, though, there's no reason your tools have to be strictly tied to your character's well-being. Sometimes you want your character to suffer in order to address theme. Sometimes you want the dude's strength to be that he's a wounded soldier who's lost everything. You want those to be your resources, or you want the resources to be totally abstract; like only having Favour..


ah, ok, I get it now.  player resources and character resources.  I think I can almost speak your langauge.  Im not interested in creating a game where the player resources are seperate from the character resources.   I dont agree that the only objective for players playing this game will be to 'get more resources' although thats one possible fun aspect - powering up your character.   Obviously the aim of any particular game depends on the scenario the GM presents - for me that usually involves resolving situations that are important to the characters.  And I think thats where the richness of the cultural setting comes in.  What do characters from this/that  culture think about the world, what do they believe is right and wrong, etc..  If the game and/or the GM doesnt provide details of what is important to the characters, then its quite hard for the players to have an interest in anything other than 'powering up'.

Ill definately check out those examples, thanks.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #57 on: February 06, 2006, 12:29:13 AM »

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I think that, if you want Favor to matter, it should a) be deeply connected to player input through non-character means and/or b) the primary statistic used.

I need to know the focus of the game to help you figure that out. But a mere modifier doesn't focus the game sharply enough to give thematic control.

Favour is quite important, in fact it may be the most important stat a character can have.    This is a bronze age world where the gods, spirits and demons are demonstrably real, so courting the favour of the gods and such concepts as being blessed or accursed are of prime importance to the characters.  It is luck, favour and 'a certain derring-do'  all rolled into one.  Ultimately, however, the players can choose how heavilly they rely on it when they create a character.  They can have a super-favoured character, an average-fated character, or even create character who is turned away from that side of life, and relies onstead on his own skills and 'makes his own luck'.

My point is that, since it's used for your "signature moves" and other dramatic stuff, why do you care about Body, Coord, Speed, and everything else? They don't matter. Only Favour matters; it's where the features of the character come through.

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I think youre right in that I need to go over every part of the game where favour impacts the rules and ensure its consistant in its use and effects. 

You need to figure out what you need to eliminate. "If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter."

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ah, ok, I get it now.  player resources and character resources.  I think I can almost speak your langauge.  Im not interested in creating a game where the player resources are seperate from the character resources.

That's not actually what I meant. All resources are player resources. Some of them can be named for fictional stuff having to do with the character, if you want, but it's all the same if you call it Body or Humperdihoo.

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I dont agree that the only objective for players playing this game will be to 'get more resources' although thats one possible fun aspect - powering up your character.   Obviously the aim of any particular game depends on the scenario the GM presents - for me that usually involves resolving situations that are important to the characters. 

So what are the rewards? And how does the GM avoid the conflict of interests I talked about before?

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And I think thats where the richness of the cultural setting comes in.  What do characters from this/that  culture think about the world, what do they believe is right and wrong, etc..

That's much, much less interesting than what the players think and believe.

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If the game and/or the GM doesnt provide details of what is important to the characters, then its quite hard for the players to have an interest in anything other than 'powering up'.

Explain how these other rewards work. While you're at it, answer the other 18 questions. You'll find them very useful and they'll help me help you.
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stefoid
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« Reply #58 on: February 06, 2006, 03:50:33 AM »

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My point is that, since it's used for your "signature moves" and other dramatic stuff, why do you care about Body, Coord, Speed, and everything else? They don't matter. Only Favour matters; it's where the features of the character come through.

seems too narrowly focussed and bland to me that way.  I want to model those other aspects of the character.  let the players decide which aspects of their character is most important to them.

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I think youre right in that I need to go over every part of the game where favour impacts the rules and ensure its consistant in its use and effects. 

You need to figure out what you need to eliminate. "If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter."

I know exactly what you mean.

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ah, ok, I get it now.  player resources and character resources.  I think I can almost speak your langauge.  Im not interested in creating a game where the player resources are seperate from the character resources.

That's not actually what I meant. All resources are player resources. Some of them can be named for fictional stuff having to do with the character, if you want, but it's all the same if you call it Body or Humperdihoo.

give me an examlpe of a player resource that isnt a character assocaited then.

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I dont agree that the only objective for players playing this game will be to 'get more resources' although thats one possible fun aspect - powering up your character.   Obviously the aim of any particular game depends on the scenario the GM presents - for me that usually involves resolving situations that are important to the characters. 

So what are the rewards? And how does the GM avoid the conflict of interests I talked about before?

people love to solve problems, resolve situations - in the immortal words of that dude from the A-team - I love it when a plan comes together.  Lets not forget that this is role-playing we are talking about.  The process is fun in itself, people like to engage their imaginations and immerse themselves in character.  If its important to the character, then it becomes important to the player.  The way i see it, the GM is there to provide a situation for the characters to resolve.  There is some opposition there in the sense that ideally the situation should be neither too easy or too difficult for the players to resolve with the resources they have available, but thats as far as it goes.  To a certain extent, all bets are off when in play, as long as the game provides ways and means for the players to avoid no-fun runs of bad luck, and also to heroiclly ( or thematiclly if you like) emphasize their actions at dramatic moments.


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And I think thats where the richness of the cultural setting comes in.  What do characters from this/that  culture think about the world, what do they believe is right and wrong, etc..

That's much, much less interesting than what the players think and believe.


well, if i cant provide a setting that can capture the players imagination such that they do care what their characters think and feel, then it doesnt really matter about the mechanics.  Id like to think that I can, however.


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If the game and/or the GM doesnt provide details of what is important to the characters, then its quite hard for the players to have an interest in anything other than 'powering up'.

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Explain how these other rewards work. While you're at it, answer the other 18 questions. You'll find them very useful and they'll help me help you.

Not sure which ones I havent answered, Ill have a look tomorrow.


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TonyLB
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« Reply #59 on: February 06, 2006, 05:13:21 AM »

this is my notes for a playtest scenario I ran called 'sheepherders', based on a minor barbarian culture.  Perhaps it will help with the colour of the world.

Y'know what would really help?  If you went over to the Actual Play forum and posted an example (or contrasted two or more examples) of how this game turned out when you ran it, what specific moments you really liked, and what specific moments you really didn't like.  People get confused by "I want to explore the culture."  Nobody gets confused by "And then he made up this whole tradition about feathers on the grave, right there on the spot!  And Sylvie said 'That's totally why my character hunts death-eagles, because she feels like she can never find the feather that will express her grief for her father.'  It was SO COOL!"

And then, after those specific help you and others focus on what you really want, and the whole thing makes the conversation work much more cleanly, and gets you focused on the game you actually want, you might thank Ron for posting the same advice four pages ago.
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