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Author Topic: [Avalanche] How design influences many aspects... and some questions  (Read 5290 times)
pells
Member

Posts: 192


« on: February 06, 2006, 11:41:44 AM »

I'm currently working on a rpg project, based on content (i.e. setting/plot) and I intend to produce soon (well, this means weeks, at least) a teaser, that will be available, here, at the forge. My thougths are to put it into publishing, but I guess I would need to present how I work on this project. As this is closely linked to my design, I thougth I could present it here, for further references (hey, that's one thing I like to do, use the forge as a library).
The specifics of my project are two things : mutli plots and calendar based adventures. I don't intend to reproduce here my whole design, this is not the point of this thread. For more information, see my theory and design links in my signature.
So, what's the point of this thread ? To show how I'm working, and how my work is related to my design. I'll also present the similitudes with how it affects play.

But, first things first, a little introduction. What does my game do ? how is it played ?
As I said before, my game is related to content, I don't have, yet, specific mechanics for it. What I'm trying to acheive is to find a new way to present setting/stories. I'm trying to elude the old chapters based scenario and the endless setting with too much information. As I'm describing a setting in motion, I use a calendar to describe the different plots happening at the same time. One important thing about my design is that everything (related to content) fits into a 'case'. I'd say I write in a modular way. Also, I wish to only propose a backbone as a story. I don't go into details, there are left on purpose for the DM to create them. For all the following, keep in mind that I'm in the context of a prewritten scenario.
The game is played in a traditional way, with players and a DM. One big difference is that, since there is no predefined holes for the players, they have to make choices all the time. What are they going to do ? Also, since it is multi plot, the players do have the lead on which interests them more. So the DM is not responsible for pushing them in any direction. He manages the calendar, playing with his players, helping them build their own story.

I guess those premises, put my work into the narrative aspect of the game. Not only the do the players will be confronted to dilemmas inside plots, but also, between plots, as they can't do everyting in a given, limited time. Most of the time, I guess, players will jump from one story to another. Also, as it needs to be played day by day, it is the DM's responsability to create all minor locations (inns, for example) and secondary characters.
Some examples of actual play :
[Avalanche] - encouraging SIM/NAR, my problems
[Avalanche] - with prepared players
[Avalanche] part I - with unprepared players

My work. How do I procede and does my design helps me ?
I present a one year calendar, divided into four seasons and each season has five stories. I prefer to work along a given story, till it meets another one in the plot, than work along the calendar itself (i.e. writing weeks after weeks for all the stories). I also wish each story to be written in a different style. Some will be about heroic adventures, others, investigations or horror. That said, I am now working with two other authors. They each have a story of their own to write. I'd like to say I do have the chance to work with people to whom I make comments and will gladly rewrite some parts.
I provide each of the writer with something like 'non official events title', a glimse of what's going to happen. I need to do that as the different stories overlapped each other. So, for one thing, my design is quite helpful for having other writers. I just distribute some parts of the modules. But, there is another interesting thing. We only write a backbone of a story. So, what I distribute to them is a 'backbone of a backbone'. Quite strangely, they manage to come up with something different than I had in mind. An example ?
A writer is working on the story of orcs establishing a stronghold. I had thougth of undead attacking them. Well, I had in mind something like one assault. It came out the battle lasted for three weeks with the introduction of new characters. In fact, it was quite better than what I had in mind.
I also like to present two sides of the same story. In one of the subplot, orcs are confronting brigands. I wrote down all the events concerning the lattest, leaving the orcs' point of view to another writer. It came out better than what I thougth, offering an all new perspective.
Now, the illustrations. My design is made as to be illustrated. And it's quite simple. One event, one illustration, one element of essence (i.e. setting) one illustration. I'm currently working with two illustrators, each one having a story of his own. That said, when describing an element of the setting, I don't provide physical descriptions. It is up to the illustrator to add his own vision. Well, each time, it came out different than what I had in mind. And each time better in fact.

I do realise that working with other people not only 'discharges' me of some work, but also adds something to it. It betters my product. It is possible because what I'm doing is not directive, so, the authors and illustrators can add their own visions to mine. And the fact that my design is modular, it facilitates work with others.

Play. How my design affects play in a similar way ?
Then again, as my product is not directive, as there are holes to be filled (day to day, characters), I suppose the DMs will also be able to add their own visions. In the same way, almost, other writers and illustrators do.

In those two aspects (work and play), I think I use a kind of superposition and appropriation.
Superposition : I bring some ideas, nothing more, and other people puts their own on top of it.
Appropriation : adding their own vision, other people (illustrators, writers, DMs) appropriate the story and make them their own.

Publishing
I'll mention it, thus it is not the purpose of this thread. I intend to sell my project thru html. My desing serves my needs, because there is a lot of things you can do on a web page that you can't in a regular book/pdf. So, my design is as it is because it is meant to be accessible thru a database.

So, as you can see, my design serves three different purposes : work, play and publishing.
----------------------------------------
Well, while I'm at it, I'll present some of my objectives and ask some questions.

What my game does (or at least try to do...) :
- present a setting always in the context of stories
- present a scenario in a way that is fun, exciting to read, but still informative for the purpose of rpg. I know this balance is not easy to find.
- multi plots : many stories occuring at the same time
- avoid meta plotting by avoiding predefined hole for the players (for me metaplot is there is a way out, don't bother, the solution will come)
- present a fully illustrated setting and stories
- provide a way, by modular writing, to access easily the information
- provide a way, by modular writing, to manage the impact of the players on the game
- allows space in the plot for the DMs to put their own stories
- offer mature subject
- provide something that no one will dare to do for a home brew campaign, unless they're crazy. I can't imagine people writing down five stories, in case their players choose one over another.

What my game doesn't do (or at least try to avoid...)
- overflow of informations. I want to provide something not too long to read.
- details about every little things, on how exactly they happen. The DMs will have to improvise and create during their game.
- endless list of names of mayor, inns, towns.
- precise direction into which push the players. Their story is not there. At least, not yet...

That said, I'm well aware of the problems of such a product.

So, my questions
My trade is content, not rules. This is my battleground. My design defines a new way to write setting/plots for the purpose of rpgs. What I'm doing is best suited for narrativist group, or so I think.

There seems to be a need for content, or so I think. Living campaign, althougth free and of poor quality, seems to have some success. From what I understand, thousand are playing them. But I can't find figure about that. Anyone knows more ?

In the first place, I won't provide a dedicted system for my product (I know, what a shame). But still, I'm looking for systems that encourages NAR play in DM/players context, to see what I'd like to do. Any examples ?

My design won't change much, since the database is already built. That said, I'm looking at something more I could offer. I'll give an example. In the first place, I thougth no system was needed. But I learned here I needed one (even a bad one, I guess. I'll use d20 first, as their licence suits my needs and the game is well common and played by many). I realise it would take me a couples of hours (well, more than a couple, in fact) to add it. Better me to do it once than all my costumers to do it themselves. So, what could I add ?

I know content is not the cup of tea of the forge, but still, I'm looking for some examples of design related to content, let's say outside the chapters based/separated setting thing. Any examples ?

Final notes
I don't like to say that, but before asking me about details my design, please refer to my theory. It's all there (see my signature). Beside that, I'd be my pleasure to answer any questions concerning it.
One last thing. Building up a website as I intent to is a hell of a job. It takes time to build a cool interface, a good lasting database, and a lot of functions without bugs. But, it's in progress. That's one of the main reason I don't have something real to show for the moment. What I intend to do is provide a real value added service thru the website.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2006, 02:49:37 AM »

Quote
My trade is content, not rules. This is my battleground. My design defines a new way to write setting/plots for the purpose of rpgs. What I'm doing is best suited for narrativist group, or so I think.

I don't think thats a safe assumption.  Depending on how the plot threads are really constructed, it may be that Narr players find this design pretty much unusable, on the basis of the usual problems tthat arise with stories that are laid out ahead of time.  But on much the same basis, Sim and Gamist players might having such a layout highly useful.

Quote
There seems to be a need for content, or so I think. Living campaign, althougth free and of poor quality, seems to have some success. From what I understand, thousand are playing them. But I can't find figure about that. Anyone knows more ?

I don't know anything about these myself.

Quote
My design won't change much, since the database is already built. That said, I'm looking at something more I could offer. I'll give an example. In the first place, I thougth no system was needed. But I learned here I needed one (even a bad one, I guess. I'll use d20 first, as their licence suits my needs and the game is well common and played by many). I realise it would take me a couples of hours (well, more than a couple, in fact) to add it. Better me to do it once than all my costumers to do it themselves. So, what could I add ?

I would think, if you don't have a resolution system in mind, it would be better not to have any than to force-fit your idea to d20.  The point behind advocating a dedicated system is that system controls how things are done in play, obviously, and thus how your game will ACTUALLY be played.  But if that is not the purpose of the porduct, then adding an external system will likely only distort the idea; even the very presence of the d20 system will convince some players it is is intended to be played like any other d20 game.

Quote
I know content is not the cup of tea of the forge, but still, I'm looking for some examples of design related to content, let's say outside the chapters based/separated setting thing. Any examples ?

Well one of the best I think  is the "What My Father Told Me" sections for HeroWars/Quest.  Some can be found on the glorantha.com site.  These are innovative in that they not only ask and answer questions in the voices of the people of the game world, but the very issues they address are those that are definitional of the culture.  Hence this is quite a good way to convey how the culture views itself, regards itself in terms of its own history and mores.

One thing you do not seem to have touched on is systemising the cultures themselves.  Aria would give a culture things called "social determinants" which described a general policy, things like "Traditional".  Your design is based on events rather than cultures as such, but by systemising groups you might set indicators for the end-users as to what kind of principles to apply when filling in the actual action in play, which is purposefully not prescribed in your product.

---

I think theres going to be a limit to what can be said further without seeing an example of your proposed story design.  At the moment we can only see your intent, not the actual design as such.  If you can show us a single strand strand as you intend it to appear, we could examine that model for problems, and get a better idea of what you mean and how the data might best be conveyed.



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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
pells
Member

Posts: 192


« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2006, 10:42:22 AM »

Thanks for the answer, but now, I have other questions that come to my mind.

General note about the forge
I really don't know if I get this right, but I see this site, somehow, as a library. Personnaly, I use it in that way : present design, go into actual play, then come back to design, and finally publishing (later on). I guess the point in this is not repeating myself over and over, restating all the time the same thing. But there is a big counter point. It means that when writing down a new post, I'd have to ask people to read back the previous ones. And I know this is not easy to ask, as the number of threads increase. Unless some people 'follow' my project, but I wouldn't bet on that. So, I guess the use of the forge, as I see it, is kind of paradoxal.

For the purpose of this post, I'll quote myself from an actual play post I've written. In there, I didn't present my design, since I thougth it wasn't its purpose.

The purpose of my product
Quote
I don't think thats a safe assumption.  Depending on how the plot threads are really constructed, it may be that Narr players find this design pretty much unusable, on the basis of the usual problems that arise with stories that are laid out ahead of time.  But on much the same basis, Sim and Gamist players might having such a layout highly useful.
I really came to think that this design would encourage NAR. One quote :
Quote
As you can see, the use of the calendar is not much as "time bomb", but rather as a way to impose dilemmas. What I want to avoid, is seeing my characters say "let's prevent the war, then we'll go against the orcs." It is not possible, as the two plots occur at the same time. They can't do both. The calendar is useful when players go 'in' and 'out' of stories. And this is why I say that multi plots, using a calendar, encourages, intuitively, NAR play.
I'm quite surprised about SIM and GAM. Do SIM players really need a plot based on event related to a specific story ? Do gamist players really need a good story ? Anyway, in both cases, they'll be confronted to the plot, to the obligation to make choices, to take sides.
I think, as long as players are looking for a good story, well, then they'll be glad with that product. I suppose I have to separate the way I play, the way I use my product, from what other people might do with it. As far as I'm concerned, it is clear to me now, that I really play narrative games.

I'd say now I feel kinda lost about this subject. Any input/insight are welcomed.

Quote
I would think, if you don't have a resolution system in mind, it would be better not to have any than to force-fit your idea to d20.  The point behind advocating a dedicated system is that system controls how things are done in play, obviously, and thus how your game will ACTUALLY be played.  But if that is not the purpose of the product, then adding an external system will likely only distort the idea; even the very presence of the d20 system will convince some players it is is intended to be played like any other d20 game.
I'm quite surprised about this statement. Althougth, sure, I think this is not going to be played like another d20 game. For one thing, I will need a BIG advice page on how to use my product. That said, I'd like to come back to systems.
I don't think d20 is the greatest choice. In fact, it doesn't really serve my needs 'in play situation'. But there is a couple of things useful about this system, althougth, I might be wrong on my assumptions. I believe the use of d20 is a jungle. It has the advantage of being well extended, commonly played by many players, everywhere. That said, how many pages from the source books do people really use ? Who really distribute xp by the book, for each monster killed by the players ? D20 is designed to kill monsters and take their treasure. It is gamist oriented. But I think many people use it in different ways. Why ? Because there are used to it, they're confortable with it. Or, at least I know many people who use it, but not for gamist purposes.
Anyway, for me, d20 is just a question of time spent. For Avalanche, I would need about a hundred characters sheets (main characters, and for organisations, like the military, the soldiers and officers and general). I guess I'll need about forty hours to do so. Honestly, that's not much. And, at least, I can provide my customers with some stats. Also, d20 can be 'read' by most people, even if they don't use it. I'm not happy or excited with d20, but I have to say that, somehow, it serves me.
That said, I'll mention something. The database is meant for multi systems, meaning, if I can provide more than one, customers will be able to choose the one they want among them. So, if I read you well, what do you think about this : proposing (depending on their licences, my choices might still be limited there) a gamist, narr and sim systems ? Does it even seems like possible ?

The design in itself
Quote
Hence this is quite a good way to convey how the culture views itself, regards itself in terms of its own history and mores.
History is an important aspect of my work. I'll quote myself :
Quote
First, I believe the story/plot should be rooted in 'history'. Characters, protagonists are linked by a common history. This is the glue that tie them together. And I think this is also true for all relationship (lovers, friends) : it exists because of a common history. From that point of view, I also believe no one can't understand the present without understanding the past. I believe that this reference to the past enables the plot to be thicker, richer.
Here are two examples of 'history part' taken from Avalanche. They concern two races, the black and gray orcs.
Quote
History - gray orcs
0 : not so many, they have been living in the exile’s land for many millennium. As time goes by, seeing both victories and defeats, a race of half orc has emerged.
25 : the first exiled gray orcs appear on the exile’s land. They are fleeing from the capital and take refuge in the mountains.
326 : the gray orcs, being lead by the black orcs, take part in the assault against the three dwarf strongholds. More than ten thousand of them will die in the battle at Murdithorn.
330 : the gray orc’s village are now emptied of their fighters. Many generations will be needed to replenish them.
430 : as the white orc’s kingdom grows, the gray orcs retreat in the mountains.
1050 :  brigands take control of Murdithem and chase the gray orcs who live there. Fierce clans will try to oppose them.
1100 : two generations of gray orcs are forced to war against the brigands but they will not be able to prevent them from taking over the stronghold. Sporadic assaults will remain, but the war is obviously lost.
1330 : gray orcs are hunted by humans in the mountains but also in the moon’s forest in what seems a total war for their opponents.
1351 : the gray orcs allied themselves, voluntary or not, to the black orcs as to reconstruct the tower on the lake, but also to confront the brigands. Thousands of gray orcs will be lead by a handful of black orcs.

History - black orcs
0 : they lead their people’s exile out of the Outer World. Gulmther has finished the tower of the many mirror and Guhnvack has completed the construction of the city in the clouds. The black orcs take refuge in the volcanic mountains where they establish their capital.
325 : the black orcs lead an army to strike and take control of Madyernack, the dwarf’s capital.  Many smaller battles will follow in the surroundings of the capital, even up to the exile’s land.
950 : the black orcs lead an army who defeats the man at Hoperya. Many orcs are banished from Ethernya.
1100 : the black orcs who are now established at Hoperya begins to trade with Carcandasse. Prosperity for both capitals.
1351 : Gulmther sends three distinct groups of black orcs to take back the control of the tower on the lake. As to insure the success of his plans, Gulmther asks Dragneckry, who is known in the exile’s land as the human goddess Thikrum, to organize the liberation of Tarm from his icy prison. The black orcs who are sent to rebuild the tower will need the help of the gray orcs as they will be oppose to brigands, the nature’s dark side, humans, white orcs and even undead. Their task is not an easy one.

As for culture, it is also another important aspect. For each race, I offer : 'presentation', 'arts, culture and womens' place', 'politics' and 'trade and relations with other races.'
But, as important as culture might be, my main concern is always the plot. The presentation of the background is for the purpose of the story. There is no such things, in what I'm doing, as a setting without a plot.
Also, I do not wish to write a philosophical essay on the culture of the races (althougth that might be very interesting, it is not my purpose). I'd say I leave, on purpose, some holes into the culture presentation. It is up to the DM to fill them, as he sees fit. So, he has to add his own vision. But still, I wish to offer enough informations that this can be possible to acheive.
This is very important. What I do is plot oriented, not setting oriented. And like I said, I wish it is played by superposition.

Last thing. If you want a complete example of an element and events related to it, just take a look at my design (link in my signature). You'll also find there the presentation of the five first plots.

I can also present here the gray and black orcs, if it could help.
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pells
Member

Posts: 192


« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2006, 07:20:22 AM »

I'll post here the complete gray and black orcs. I'll comment on a following post. Then again, sorry for the translation.

Quote
Gray Orcs
Presentation
Considered as inferior by the black orcs, most of the gray orcs have fled the capital to take refuge in the mountains. There are many dozen of thousand of gray orcs present on the exile’s land, mostly in the mountains, but also in the moon’s forest. Although this race is sickly by the sunlight, they can still bear it. Of peaceful nature, the gray orcs are often constraint to war, by adversaries who hunt them or by black orcs who lead them to battle. The gray orcs is a race who has suffered much by the decision of others.
Arts, culture and woman’s place
The gray orcs have developed a culture of their own where nature has a predominant place. They have developed a particular bond with it, retiring magic abilities from this harmony. Those druids are wrongly named shamans and are not to confound with the real shamans of Raijuvak, half orcs who exploited the nature. Women do have an important place in their society. Often shamans, the future of this race was in the hands of women many times during their history, notably after great battles. As in all orc’s culture, songs have an important place in the oral tradition, but here, it is more often question of nature than victories.  Finally, those orcs owns a savoir faire for many crafts, but they do not produce any excess.
Politics
The gray orcs live in small clans, almost family structures. Most of the time, it is the old ones who lead those gatherings. It is not rare to see a women shaman in this role, as they are known for their wisdom, but also their magic; the potions they prepare, among other things. The gray orcs do not seek wars and only wish to leave in peace. So, there is almost no battles between clans of these races, as they prefer to move than to confront aggressive neighbors. That said, gray orcs might reveals themselves great warriors if constraint to fight. And some clans, few among them, are well known for their ferocity.
Trade and relation with other races
The gray orcs would gladly trade with their neighbors but they are scorned and considered inferiors by them. So the gray orcs are at war with the humans : brigands and young rangers for the most. The first ones hunt them in the mountains as the second try to evince them from the moon’s forest. The gray orcs are also hunted down by the dwarfs near Murdighar for the only reason that they represent the orc race. As for the white orcs, they affront the gray ones in the hope of seeing their territory, the kingdom of silence, grow. Finally, the gray orcs are tolerated by the Luciomes in the moon’s forest as they are seen to live peacefully at nature’s side. The gray orcs have their own forge where they create their weapons and armors. They use primary shorts lances and javelins in battles, wearing light armor and shield.

Black Orcs
Presentation
The mightiest people among all the orcs, the black orcs are mostly encountered underground, buried in his deepest depths. This race fears the light of the sun at the exception of the eater of the flesh. These elite orcs are exposed from their birth to the sunlight. Only one out of ten will survive their deadly training. But this is how the black orcs make their greatest warriors, the eater of flesh, the mightiest among the mightiest. Those warriors are tremendous colossus of more than two meters and a half, which the only sight inspires fear. They are the ones who led the exile of this race from the Outer World.
Arts, culture and woman’s place
Most of the black orc’s culture has disappeared during their exile, but this race still owns a ancestral knowledge. So, for example, the black orcs know how to forge the noyrme, although their competence seem pale compares to those of the dwarfs. The flesh eater are always wearing splendid armors and using weapons made out from this rare metal. This race also inherit the ancient art of tattooing. As magnificent as they might seem, those tattoos are from a magic kind, conferring abilities, varied and powerful, to their wearer. Songs to the old heroes of this race are always present during any celebrations. The eater of flesh take their names from the fact that they literally eat their enemies, sometimes even on the battlefield itself. The female black orcs are reputed to be crueler and more dangerous than their male counterpart. Powerful wizard are also known to be present among this race.
Politics
The politic system among the black orcs is quite simple since it is based on the law of the strongest. With the exile of this race from the Outer World and the massacre that took place with it, their ancients gods were killed. Thought, those who led the exile became the new gods of their race. Among the flesh eater, a small group parts from the lot, representing the leader of those warriors. The Vark’Grak’Khran, “those by whom victory befalls”, constitutes a group of a hundred orcs who makes tremble from fear not only their enemies, but also those they command. It is said that a single warrior from those orcs can defeat more than a hundred adversaries. Note that all black orcs present in this scenario are from this elite formation.
Trade and relation with other races
The black orcs consider themselves the supreme race amongst the orcs. So, all the other orc’s races must submit themselves, voluntary or not, to their so-called leaders. The black orcs are far better at destructing than constructing. They don’t see any real interest from conquests outside domination. Native to the Outer World, the black orcs are used to be at war against all their neighbors. They tolerate the presence of the humans in the exile’s land because they gain a real advantage from the trade they make with them. In the context of this scenario, the black orcs might form an unnatural alliance with the white orcs if they can’t reach the tower on the frozen lake. To where this alliance might take them ? As to attain their objectives, the black orcs will need the help of the gray orcs. The latest will surely appreciate the offer, especially to oppose the brigands.
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pells
Member

Posts: 192


« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2006, 08:09:46 AM »

I'll complete my point about my design.

The purpose of my product
I've been doing some homeworks, returning to one of Ron's article about SIM : Simulationism: The Right to Dream
Althougth I clearly think I'm playing NAR will my players, I found some informations about SIM, in that article, that describe what I'm doing. Some quotes :

Quote
Rules-lite Story or Character priorities
This section is likely to get me into trouble, so I'll tread carefully. I suggest that many self-described "rules-lite" or "story-oriented" role-playing games represent a derived version of the High Concept model, slanted heavily toward Situation - especially Situation which is under complete GM control, overt or covert. Players get to contribute tons of Color, even content, but never outcomes or final-resolutions, and playing the character as conceived is the first priority, sometimes taken to extremes of Actor Stance (e.g. Turku play, see the Glossary). Character and Situation are prioritized with Color, with Setting next, and lastly the formal System, which is slanted strongly toward Drama-mechanics. This mode of play may be strongly linked with LARP crossovers.
(...)
From the introduction to Theatrix (1993, Backstage Press, authors are David Berkman, Travis Eneix, and Brett Hackett):

    Making a story come to life can be a difficult task. Previous generations of game systems have been rules bound, trapped within their own structure and rigidity. We wanted to produce a game that would help you in every way, not hinder you. So we developed a system of rules that is written to evolve along with your style of storytelling and roleplaying. These rules can be used to guide every facet of the game's progress, without becoming intrusive. You can use all the rules, or easily peel them away in layers, until you're running free-form games. The rules heavily encourage adopting this style of play, making themselves unnecessary.

In other words, the system helps create story by fading away, much like the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. I think that this whole design effort arises from a desire for "big story" in the face of Purist-for-System design and mainly Fortune-driven High Concept design. In the effort to get out of that sort of Simulationist play, the thought is to get rid of the System that supports it, with any explicit System being perceived as that sort of system. I consider this a problematic design goal but it's widespread enough to merit a category. What makes it difficult to discuss is that its explict story-creation goals are similar to those of Narrativist play, but the operational process is stripped-down High Concept Simulationism. (See the GNS stuff below for further discussion.)
This looks like what I'm doing. For me, story is first, setting next. And like I said in another thread, what I'm doing looks alot like LARP.

One thing also that interested me is the mention of time. In this article, Ron spoke mostly about space, little about time. But I discovered that the Metagame time was, maybe the most important aspect of my design. One quote :

Quote
Metagame time is rarely discussed openly, but it's the crucial one. It refers to time-lapse among really-played scenes: can someone get to the castle before someone else kills the king; can someone fly across Detroit before someone else detonates the Mind Bomb. Metagame time isn't "played," but its management is a central issue for scene-framing and the outcome of the session as a whole.
(...)
The following text is also from the first edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide (TSR, 1979); the author is Gary Gygax.
You may ask why time is so important if it causes such difficulties with record-keeping, dictates who can or can not go adventuring during a game session, and disperses player characters to the four winds by its strictures. Well, as initially pointed out, it is a necessary penalty imposed on characters for certain activities [making magic items - RE]. Beyond that, it also gives players yet another interesting set of choices and consequences. The latter tends to bring more true-to-life quality to the game, as some characters will use precious time to the utmost advantage, some will treat it lightly, and some will be constantly wasting it to their complete detriment. Time is yet another facet which helps to separate the superior players from the lesser ones.
Keeping track of the metagame time is essential when playing my scenario, as it is not chapter based.

But I think I might be asking the wrong question. one quote from Narrativism: Story Now
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The mere presence of story as the product of role-playing is not a GNS-based issue.

Sorry for reproducing long quotes, but I really got a problem understanding the exact purpose of my product. Or, at least expressing it thru forge concepts.

The design in itself
As you can see the setting is very light, very open. Since my design is story oriented, my setting is there to support it. The gray orcs, in play, will be how the DM sees them. What are the exact details of their culture, such as their songs, liquors, prayers, the DM will have to generate them during play. But it might be very different, based on the DMs' preferences. If their players meet the gray orcs, who will it be, the shamens, warriors clans, pacific people ?
But maybe, the players will never meet the gray orcs. Then the DM will not know nothing more of them then was is written, since he won't need to play them.
All the details about the setting are meant to be generated thru play, not given in the scenario.
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contracycle
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2006, 12:55:09 AM »

I really don't know if I get this right, but I see this site, somehow, as a library. Personnaly, I use it in that way : present design, go into actual play, then come back to design, and finally publishing (later on). I guess the point in this is not repeating myself over and over, restating all the time the same thing. But there is a big counter point. It means that when writing down a new post, I'd have to ask people to read back the previous ones. And I know this is not easy to ask, as the number of threads increase. Unless some people 'follow' my project, but I wouldn't bet on that. So, I guess the use of the forge, as I see it, is kind of paradoxal.

Fair enough, its not necessary to repeat everything, but it might be an idea to include a link to your previous thread.

But while I have seen posts that describe your intent, I'm not sure I have seen a post discussing your methods.

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I'm quite surprised about SIM and GAM. Do SIM players really need a plot based on event related to a specific story ? Do gamist players really need a good story ? Anyway, in both cases, they'll be confronted to the plot, to the obligation to make choices, to take sides.

NEED, probably not, but "find useful", yes.  Because it provides a framework, and might be entertaining in its own right.  Otherwise we might pfaff around achieving nothing.

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I think, as long as players are looking for a good story, well, then they'll be glad with that product. I suppose I have to separate the way I play, the way I use my product, from what other people might do with it. As far as I'm concerned, it is clear to me now, that I really play narrative games.

Perhaps, I would not know of course, but inasmuch as you are determining events, this MAY be contradictory to the Nar desire to tell the story themselves, rather than listen to a story being told by the GM.  Basically, Nar might chafe at following your story, while Sim and Gam might enjoy it precisely because it is not the MOST important issue for thrm.

But that would depend on exactly how much direction you are giving.

I'd say now I feel kinda lost about this subject. Any input/insight are welcomed.

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But there is a couple of things useful about this system, althougth, I might be wrong on my assumptions....It is gamist oriented. But I think many people use it in different ways. Why ? Because there are used to it, they're confortable with it. Or, at least I know many people who use it, but not for gamist purposes.

And precisely because they are comfortable and familiar with it, they will use it in the same old way they always do when they play your game, and your page of play advice is going to have no impact on these embedded habits.

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Anyway, for me, d20 is just a question of time spent. For Avalanche, I would need about a hundred characters sheets (main characters, and for organisations, like the military, the soldiers and officers and general). I guess I'll need about forty hours to do so. Honestly, that's not much.

Haha come on man, I only work 37.5 hours a week, and they pay me real money.  You're looking at a full working week here just for a bunch of NPC's that are intended purely for illustrative purposes?  How many readers are actually going to steadily work through a hundred character sheets and internalise the data?  Not many I will bet.

Anyway, this is an expectation you are working to because it is normal for d20, I suspect.

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That said, I'll mention something. The database is meant for multi systems, meaning, if I can provide more than one, customers will be able to choose the one they want among them. So, if I read you well, what do you think about this : proposing (depending on their licences, my choices might still be limited there) a gamist, narr and sim systems ? Does it even seems like possible ?

Phew.  I think thats possible, but such a major idea that I have never heard it proposed before.  In effect, that would be like writing three games, simply with the same setting.  It would also likely mean that local play is widely divergent.  Possible, yes, but I don't think you should you should try to take that on.

Instead, concentrate on what you actually want the system for.  So far your positive reasons are weak: they amount to familiarity.   Thats a really, really poor reason to select something as fundamental as your resolution mechanism.  If you have not read it yet, look at the essay "system does matter" to see why this is a critical point.  The system will heavily control how your game is ACTUALLY played, much more so than any instructions you might give.

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The design in itself
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Hence this is quite a good way to convey how the culture views itself, regards itself in terms of its own history and mores.
History is an important aspect of my work. I'll quote myself

You didn't hear what I said.  I don't dispute the importance of history, I was proposing a method by which history can be conveyed.




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First, I believe the story/plot should be rooted in 'history'. Characters, protagonists are linked by a common history. This is the glue that tie them together. And I think this is also true for all relationship (lovers, friends) : it exists because of a common history. From that point of view, I also believe no one can't understand the present without understanding the past. I believe that this reference to the past enables the plot to be thicker, richer.
Here are two examples of 'history part' taken from Avalanche. They concern two races, the black and gray orcs.
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History - gray orcs
0 : not so many, they have been living in the exile’s land for many millennium. As time goes by, seeing both victories and defeats, a race of half orc has emerged.
25 : the first exiled gray orcs appear on the exile’s land. They are fleeing from the capital and take refuge in the mountains.
326 : the gray orcs, being lead by the black orcs, take part in the assault against the three dwarf strongholds. More than ten thousand of them will die in the battle at Murdithorn.
330 : the gray orc’s village are now emptied of their fighters. Many generations will be needed to replenish them.
430 : as the white orc’s kingdom grows, the gray orcs retreat in the mountains.
1050 :  brigands take control of Murdithem and chase the gray orcs who live there. Fierce clans will try to oppose them.
1100 : two generations of gray orcs are forced to war against the brigands but they will not be able to prevent them from taking over the stronghold. Sporadic assaults will remain, but the war is obviously lost.
1330 : gray orcs are hunted by humans in the mountains but also in the moon’s forest in what seems a total war for their opponents.
1351 : the gray orcs allied themselves, voluntary or not, to the black orcs as to reconstruct the tower on the lake, but also to confront the brigands. Thousands of gray orcs will be lead by a handful of black orcs.

History - black orcs
0 : they lead their people’s exile out of the Outer World. Gulmther has finished the tower of the many mirror and Guhnvack has completed the construction of the city in the clouds. The black orcs take refuge in the volcanic mountains where they establish their capital.
325 : the black orcs lead an army to strike and take control of Madyernack, the dwarf’s capital.  Many smaller battles will follow in the surroundings of the capital, even up to the exile’s land.
950 : the black orcs lead an army who defeats the man at Hoperya. Many orcs are banished from Ethernya.
1100 : the black orcs who are now established at Hoperya begins to trade with Carcandasse. Prosperity for both capitals.
1351 : Gulmther sends three distinct groups of black orcs to take back the control of the tower on the lake. As to insure the success of his plans, Gulmther asks Dragneckry, who is known in the exile’s land as the human goddess Thikrum, to organize the liberation of Tarm from his icy prison. The black orcs who are sent to rebuild the tower will need the help of the gray orcs as they will be oppose to brigands, the nature’s dark side, humans, white orcs and even undead. Their task is not an easy one.

As for culture, it is also another important aspect. For each race, I offer : 'presentation', 'arts, culture and womens' place', 'politics' and 'trade and relations with other races.'
But, as important as culture might be, my main concern is always the plot. The presentation of the background is for the purpose of the story. There is no such things, in what I'm doing, as a setting without a plot.
Also, I do not wish to write a philosophical essay on the culture of the races (althougth that might be very interesting, it is not my purpose). I'd say I leave, on purpose, some holes into the culture presentation. It is up to the DM to fill them, as he sees fit. So, he has to add his own vision. But still, I wish to offer enough informations that this can be possible to acheive.
This is very important. What I do is plot oriented, not setting oriented. And like I said, I wish it is played by superposition.

Last thing. If you want a complete example of an element and events related to it, just take a look at my design (link in my signature). You'll also find there the presentation of the five first plots.

I can also present here the gray and black orcs, if it could help.
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pells
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2006, 04:38:14 AM »

The purpose of my game or how it will be played ?
I honestly don't know. What I do know, it's story oriented.
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Perhaps, I would not know of course, but inasmuch as you are determining events, this MAY be contradictory to the Nar desire to tell the story themselves, rather than listen to a story being told by the GM.  Basically, Nar might chafe at following your story, while Sim and Gam might enjoy it precisely because it is not the MOST important issue for thrm.
But that would depend on exactly how much direction you are giving.
I think it depends on the DM. All the events presented occured outside the players' influence. There is no one waiting for them, there is no metaplot, there is no predefined holes in the story, ready for them to fill in. Now, given that, what will a DM do ? Prefer a story over another and lead his character into this story, leaving them few choices ? This might happen. Will he decide to put a lot a battle, because there are rooms for them, althougth I only present the major conflict ? This might happen. I don't know. In some ways, I don't event know what I would like to encourage. Taking sides, trying to make a difference ? To see emerge in play the question what are you doing with your time ? But, even if you want to encourage that with mechanics, isn't it better to try to encourage it with content itself ?
I really think the mere presence of story as the product of role-playing is not a GNS-based issue.
That brings me to the rules.

The rules
I'll be honest. My main concern with my product is the content, plots/stories. I didn't really care about the rules, until recently, discovering the forge. I would like not to go again thru one of my earlier post About dices, rules and narrative. I do realise system does matter, no problem with me there. I also think that I need a system for, at least, actually have a game, not a novel.
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And precisely because they are comfortable and familiar with it, they will use it in the same old way they always do when they play your game, and your page of play advice is going to have no impact on these embedded habits.
I understand what you say, but my question is how do they play it ? I believe people use wrongly the system, in most cases. I know people who play d20, are more than thirty years old, I'd say they play it in the wrong way. They should be playing something else. What can I say ? There seems to be so many d20 players, some must be looking for a good story.
The important thing is I don't write for d20. Magic, for instance, is awkward. I can translate it in d20, but it's definitly not exact.
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How many readers are actually going to steadily work through a hundred character sheets and internalise the data?  Not many I will bet.
I don't think readers will need to translate all the 100 sheets before, since he wouldn't know which story his players will choose. Anyway, if the DM has chosen a story beforehand, then he'll need about 20 sheets, maybe. The idea is that there are there for references.

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Phew.  I think thats possible, but such a major idea that I have never heard it proposed before.  In effect, that would be like writing three games, simply with the same setting.  It would also likely mean that local play is widely divergent.  Possible, yes, but I don't think you should you should try to take that on.
Let me try it. I offer a light setting as my base product, describing a large place, for a given year. Something quite open. That would be the essence.
Then, I propose a list of dungeons in the realm, with a little story behind. Essentially reasons to move from one dungeon to the other, and some powerful magical items. You add some events in the outside, but almost nothing.
Then, I propose, in a different module, an extension of the essence. Complete demography, economic ands social system, traditions, legends, secondary characters. The kind of things I don't provide since I wish the DM to create them as he plays. You may have some events, but it is not the most important.
Then, I propose, in a last module, what I do, multi plots adventure based on a calendar.
Then, I propose, let's say three systems.
I'm not quite serious about this, I don't want to go that way. Too much work. I don't even know if it would work. But the main thing is, my design, behind modular, encourage the separation of things. So, adding and removing elements are quite simple. And, it comes to my mind, that the rpg for a game of throne, has been published in two differents system. Same setting/plot, sice it comes from the books.
Is it so divergente to present two systems, let's say d20 and shadows of yesterday (I have to check for the licence of this game) ? If mechanic reflects how it is going to be played, while not let the DM choose ? Will my story/setting changes for the system ? No. .

I don't see how can I lose by adding a system ? Does this mean that if I present my story in d20 I can't present it using another system ? I guess having my own system should be better. But can it wait or do I have to do it as soon as possible ? And that said, I'm afraid my system will reflect my personnal preferences over how I play it. I think it can be played very differently. The way I write is open for that purpose.

My design
What I've designed, somehow, is rules for content creation. When designing a setting and a story, I have designed rules that puts everything in a box. I don't put constraints on the content itself, it just needs to be modular (you'll have to cut things apart), so it's classified.
I chose an open writing, to only offer a backbone of a story, so the DM has to create teh details of the world as he plays (maybe that's something I want to encourage). But I could have gone in many more details, or even write it chapter based, as my content design, also supports chapter based story.
What I'm designing is a complete new way to present setting/plot. The final product looks like a storyboard. I hope people will find it attractive and want to play it, the content, in this setting, those stories.

One last thing
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Haha come on man, I only work 37.5 hours a week, and they pay me real money.  You're looking at a full working week here just for a bunch of NPC's that are intended purely for illustrative purposes?
I'm not complaining. I've been working on this project for almost four years, designing my theory, designing a website and writing down the text. It's been my main hobby for those years. And there is much left to do. There are currently nine people working on this with me, illustrators, writers, webdesigner, webmaster, english translator... There had been numerous hours spent already. I can always externalise the translation for d20. Designing my own system is surely more time costly.
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2006, 06:59:17 AM »

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In the first place, I won't provide a dedicted system for my product (I know, what a shame). But still, I'm looking for systems that encourages NAR play in DM/players context, to see what I'd like to do. Any examples ?

… an example. In the first place, I thougth no system was needed. But I learned here I needed one … Better me to do it once than all my costumers to do it themselves. So, what could I add ?

If I may comment on just this question, I say don't do it.

Why? Because, though you believe that your setting creation methodology and presentation format is conducive to NAR play, I think it is suited to any form of play that the group likes (as is clear, by the way, in the Big Model: Creative Agenda supercedes Setting).

A GAM group might look at the timing and conflicts and see ways to play it to advantage; a SIM group will love the depth of setting detail and want to become immersed; a NAR group will enjoy the fact that they can see the "backbone" of the interrelated, varying stories and pick-and-choose the themes that they wish to explore.

It's possible that your favorite mode of play for Avalanche is NAR; but don't assume that your overarching method of setting development drives a particular style of mechanics or conflict resolution system. If I were you, with this very interesting methodology, I would instead pick "paragons" of GAM/NAR/SIM mechanics and make sure that your setting content makes it crystal clear where the "interfaces" to your setting are for particular system types. Maybe even go so far as to organize the content presentation to mirror the Big Model. Clearly delineate the challenges, thematic import, and details of situation--even use those as major sub-headings for a given story module--and let the customer easily find the hook that they need for their favorite mode of play and system.

If I may be so bold: I especially do not feel that you should add a system if you are approaching it as some kind of "necessary evil" or "throwaway" thing you're going to knock out in a few hours. You will surely make quick assumptions about the system's mechanics that will reinforce your (un)consicious play preferences and will, probably, become abashed or at least not satisfy 2/3 of your play type market. System follows from Agenda, and yet you have a setting method which--in an interesting way--"arrows back" out of setting to subsume Agenda, in a way. SO leverage THAT: make your setting content so thoroughly detailed that a GAM will think it's rife with challenge and rewards, a NAR will find many threads of theme to explore, and a SIM will not ever lack for specific details of timing, culture, and conflict.

As a final note: please look into some "nonlinear narrativism" and other modern (post-modern, really) literary theory: I recall some folks at UC Berkeley doing "experimental English" which your setting design method reminded me of. You are, it seems to me, bringing some bleeding edge literary criticism theory into the RPG market; you might take inspiration from what they have done.

Hope this helps;
David
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pells
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2006, 09:57:39 AM »

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I think it is suited to any form of play that the group likes (as is clear, by the way, in the Big Model: Creative Agenda supercedes Setting).
I begin to think so too. Then, that changes a lot of questions for me.

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If I may comment on just this question, I say don't do it
(...)
If I were you, with this very interesting methodology, I would instead pick "paragons" of GAM/NAR/SIM mechanics and make sure that your setting content makes it crystal clear where the "interfaces" to your setting are for particular system types.
Do you mean I should put no system ? What do you mean exactly by paragons ? Presenting three mechanics, each one from a clearly different type of play ?

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Maybe even go so far as to organize the content presentation to mirror the Big Model. Clearly delineate the challenges, thematic import, and details of situation--even use those as major sub-headings for a given story module--and let the customer easily find the hook that they need for their favorite mode of play and system.
Well, it's almost that. Everything is already segmented. But, that's the idea.

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make your setting content so thoroughly detailed that a GAM will think it's rife with challenge and rewards, a NAR will find many threads of theme to explore, and a SIM will not ever lack for specific details of timing, culture, and conflict.
As it is story oriented, it contains a lot of details on events occuring in the world. So many details on the timeline, that the use of a data base will be greatly appreciated. But it does not provide so many details on the setting. I assume the DM will create them as his players explore the world. That said, my design may support a lot of details about the setting, and most useful, in a way to classify them. As for minor rewards, there is no much to be said. But again, my design may supports many. But, then again, that's the idea.

I agree with you say. But I still think I need a system if I'm going to hope to sell more than three copies.

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As a final note: please look into some "nonlinear narrativism" and other modern (post-modern, really) literary theory: I recall some folks at UC Berkeley doing "experimental English" which your setting design method reminded me of. You are, it seems to me, bringing some bleeding edge literary criticism theory into the RPG market; you might take inspiration from what they have done.
I don't know their exact work, but I'm quite familiar with those kind of theories. To make a long story short, I work with computers, but in my earlier years, in another life, I studied philosophy. I do have a degree in it. I studied in details analytic philosophy, among which the theory of language, but also of action, decision and intention. So, yes, I guess it's normal you find similitudes. That's good sign for me, by the way.
As for, bringing some bleeding edge literary criticism theory into the RPG market, I guess a little bit. I want to redefine how prewritten scenarios are designed. How you write down a story for the rpg. But content creation, theory are not easy topics.
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2006, 11:01:53 AM »

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Do you mean I should put no system ? What do you mean exactly by paragons ? Presenting three mechanics, each one from a clearly different type of play ?

Yes, I mean put no system into your setting methodology or into your modules. But, I suggest you choose a set of three (or more) iconic, popular, standard, exemplary existing systems (paragons of each type of Agenda) and be sure that your story modules speak to all mechanics-related questions the users of such systems might have.

And I don't mean have "conversion charts" or some-such, quantifying everything for every possible major game system that could be used with your settings. I mean, rather, speak to each Agenda goal<
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I agree with you say. But I still think I need a system if I'm going to hope to sell more than three copies.

Considerations of marketability are wise... but do you want to be in the system business or setting business? Would you rather make GURPS source books or White Wolf Clanbooks?

Even better question: Do you want to be in competition because of system (providing an opening for critique), when your earliest notions seem to speak to your innovations with theme, setting, and situation? Put simply, do you want to compete with every Tom, Dick, and Harry... when the real meat of your product is something no one has ever fully developed? Why muddy the water? Why take a chance on being judged "derivative, abashed, broken, unbalanced, untuned, haphazard," and any other critique of system... when you are inspired by situation methodology and theme? In my opinion, the market has PLENTY of systems, with PLENTY of die-hard users, and a truely wise developer will provide content that ALL of them can employ in their regular campaigns, without requiring them to adopt a whole, new system.

But of course, do what makes you happy. I am only trying to focus your light and magnify its unique hues, not dim it. Smiley
David
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2006, 11:34:51 AM »

One more follow-up:

I think you might mean "system" as in "the system by which one creates these setting and story modules" rather than the "system by which players resolve conflicts once exploring such modules."

If you mean the former (what I have called "methodology") then you really have to decide something else:
Do you want to (a) sell modules or (b) teach folks to make modules "your way"?
If (a), then the last thing that you want to do is show your method and methodology. Develop it, sure; that'll help you tune it. Provide it to your writers, of course (after they sign their NDAs); they have to know it. But sell off the methodology itself? Nah! Let folks reverse-engineer that, if they have the energy, before they can go into direct competition with you using your own method.

If you mean (b), then be prepared to compete with professional writers, perhaps with significant credits, who will appropriate your method as a "mode" to employ, not "your style" that they are plagiarizing. And they'll be write, so long as they do not adopt your method's terminology--which will be easy, as systems can be retooled quite quickly while keeping their functional core. But content (settings and situations) are just as easy to protect as systems are to steal: who could re-write Journe or the Dune universe or the Wild Cards settings without cries of "hack!" and "copycat!" ringing across the land?

Of course, if you mean "system as player tool for conflict resolution": see my earlier posts; think hard about doing so before you just jump in to tack on your flavor of d20/Hero/Palladium/GURPS.

David
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2006, 02:19:50 AM »

Very interesting David. I'd like to answer in details, but I have to take a train for the weekend... but some quick questions :

Does that means that I can present my product with more than one system ? Is that still coherent ? Would the major error be to tag a system on my product ?

If so, the problem of systems, does it become a publishing issue ?

Does the design problem of the system should be thougth out as a whole ?

Would it be interesting to dissect the narrative stream (or so to called it) and find out what DMs would need, when, depending on their of play ? Here, I'm thinking about add-on on the events, some kind of properties, a link toward a system ?
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2006, 06:50:05 AM »

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Does that means that I can present my product with more than one system ? Is that still coherent ? Would the major error be to tag a system on my product ?

We are stumbling on diction, I think. I am proposing that you include no System at all: a setting/situation-only product that can be used with any of the three Creative Agendas (and any of a number of Systems that serve each Agenda). I also recommend that you do not include your method for creating your modules (it's your Trade Secret); this is what you seem to mean when you say "system," but The Forge has a fairly rigorous meaning for System, and it does not pertain to the content-creation process.

Err, well, it only pertains to such a process if the point of the game play is content-creation. Not to be confusing, but there could be a (probably Narrativist) game that has a complex system whereby situations and setting elements are created during play. I don't think that's what you are selling at all, though, right?

Anyway, to use a metaphor (uh-oh!): You want to sell fish, not teach folks to fish nor sell folks fishing gear.

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If so, the problem of systems, does it become a publishing issue ?

I believe so: if you make a System, you will invariably make that System serve a particular Agenda (or will make an abashed System); that's what drives the whole notion of System as subsumed under Agenda in The Big Model. But I believe the strength of your product is the afrementioned method of content-creation. You are selling a "versatile" product, not a "targetted" one, yes? If you provide a System, you will probably cut out 2/3 of the possible Agendas.

Further, I would not be eager to enter the competative space of System products: there are a LOT of solid Systems already out there, with big marketing and big followings. You want to leverage that by providing a product that is non-System-specific, and basically be able to use all that marketing and following to your advantage. That means a product that is System-independant and, yet, which has content available to support any Agenda (and, thus, any System).

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Does the design problem of the system should be thougth out as a whole ?

Not sure what you mean. System should serve the Agenda of your game--but you are (it seems) working lower-down the Big Model than that. You seem to want to deliver Setting (and its child, Situation) and, thus, you don't need to "step up" to the System level at all. Rather, just be sure that you address challenges, theme, and immersion: the three hallmarks of the three Agendas. In general, study the Big Model a bit and "map" it to each of your models to see if there are any shortcomings or omissions with regards to supporting any Agenda.

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Would it be interesting to dissect the narrative stream (or so to called it) and find out what DMs would need, when, depending on their of play ? Here, I'm thinking about add-on on the events, some kind of properties, a link toward a system ?

I couldn't hurt to have a sample module, perhaps--even the outline for one--to begin to give concrete examples of where each Agenda is served by your method of content creation. Bring it on....
David
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2006, 11:50:18 AM »

Most interesting David. I had to give it a lot of thoughts this weekend. I guess this will be a long post, but I think I can understand where I stand now.

My theory - content vs container
I sell content written for the rpg. To acheive what I had in mind (multiplot, calendar based adventures), I had to come up with a theory on how is design a story, or how can you cut down the narration stream ? It happened I design a system for managing space and time. Well, after all, I guess this is what a story is about. This container can, in fact, support any thing that relates a story. Newpapers, books, movie, teleseries, comics, manga, even blogs. A company could use it for managing its employees. The field of applications are countless.
There are two main concepts :
essence : the setting. Could be of any types.
existence : something (an event) happening, at some time, that is reffered to one or more elements of essence.
You can see Heiddeger here.
There are some rules on how to manage events and their interaction and how time is segmented. For more information, see my theory

What I'm doing
There is not constraint in my theory about content, or how to fill in the container, as it could contain anything. I chose to develop a pretty common fantasy world. I chose to write down very openly. I chose it to be multiplot, based on a calendar. And I also chose the smallest time unit as being the week. The final product looks like a story board. But it could have looked all different.

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If you mean (b), then be prepared to compete with professional writers, perhaps with significant credits, who will appropriate your method as a "mode" to employ, not "your style" that they are plagiarizing. And they'll be write, so long as they do not adopt your method's terminology--which will be easy, as systems can be retooled quite quickly while keeping their functional core. But content (settings and situations) are just as easy to protect as systems are to steal: who could re-write Journe or the Dune universe or the Wild Cards settings without cries of "hack!" and "copycat!" ringing across the land?

So, I guess, people can write using my theory (well, in fact, I should say taking advantage of my theory) and produce all kind of things. I would still have my own style and my final product, the content, will be as protected as any novel. My specific product, even with a story board looks can be copied. But it is something very strange, that doesn't exist, between comics, novels, newpapers. I guess I should be glad if other people would like to produce things like that. Shouldn't I ?

Adds-on
I work by adds-on, you have to understand that. It's quite easy. An add-on is something you put over either essence or existence. So , everything, or almost, is add-on outside this two concepts. An example ? Even the text for a given description of a character (i.e. an element of essence) is a add-on. There is nowhere in my theory where it is said that an element of essence to be defined by his text. So, illustrations and maps are add-on too. Texts, maps and illustrations, for element of essence and existence for Avalanche is my main craft. This is what I'm selling. I don't have, yet, other adds-on.
This is where the system questions arise. But first, the big model.

The big model
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We are stumbling on diction, I think. I am proposing that you include no System at all: a setting/situation-only product that can be used with any of the three Creative Agendas (and any of a number of Systems that serve each Agenda). I also recommend that you do not include your method for creating your modules (it's your Trade Secret); this is what you seem to mean when you say "system," but The Forge has a fairly rigorous meaning for System, and it does not pertain to the content-creation process.
I think this is it. What I design has nothing to do with GNS. Designing setting, plots have nothing to do with the creative agenda. Is it coherent if I say that for me system is behind (or even hidden behind by) the story ?

Publishing
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I believe so: if you make a System, you will invariably make that System serve a particular Agenda (or will make an abashed System); that's what drives the whole notion of System as subsumed under Agenda in The Big Model. But I believe the strength of your product is the afrementioned method of content-creation. You are selling a "versatile" product, not a "targetted" one, yes? If you provide a System, you will probably cut out 2/3 of the possible Agendas.
Further, I would not be eager to enter the competative space of System products: there are a LOT of solid Systems already out there, with big marketing and big followings. You want to leverage that by providing a product that is non-System-specific, and basically be able to use all that marketing and following to your advantage. That means a product that is System-independant and, yet, which has content available to support any Agenda (and, thus, any System).
My comment about tagging my product was about how I relate the product to system. The major point is that using d20 is not designing a d20 product. Not to associate my product to a specific system. If an abashed system would be used, it doesn't mean my product is abashed, it means that the actual play experiment was abashed. My desing has nothing to do with systems.
I think the idea of putting a system is not to exclude 2/3 of the players, but to include 1/3. Juste have to put more than one system. I need to look for representative one with licence I can use. This is, of course, the purpose of another thread.

Systems and design
That's where it hurts. For me system is too often related to characters sheets. That's quite simple, I can provide that for elements of essence, as adds-on. But, outside the element of essence, what do you need ? Here, I'm thinking about adds-on on events. I just have an idea...
In what I'm doing, all my events present conflict. I never go to the level of task resolution, for the purpose of an event. Of course, there are tasked resolved into the description of an event. That might be important. But I may be wrong on my understanding of the terms.
So, my question is how can I help a DM into a specific conflict resolution or into the task resolution at hand into the conflict. Outside the characters sheets of the protagonists taking part in the conflict, what can I provide the specific conflict ? I've already thougth about maps recently, could be useful during large battles. But that's content related. In adding a system, what do I have more to do than character sheets ? What are the other impact and what can I bring ? I'm taking about mechanics.
Also, what is the impact and influence about having a product that present story based on conflicts, not taks ? But then again, I may be wrong about those concepts.
And again : I provide description of confict, not how to resolve them.

But, I think somehow the story should speak for itself. I don't see the benefit of putting let's say, a single number over each event. It should be clear enough if it's important and what are at stakes. Should be clear enough what is the exact impact of this conflict not resolving (to different degrees) according to the original text.
Also, the story in itself should present a certain type of play. If there is a secretive, diplomatic plot in the south while men are fighting over a long lost city, now at the hands of undead, I guess Gamist should be encline to do one story. One of the idea is to provide content for all the tastes. This is what I call the menu. It's all there My design

Modules, you said modules ?
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I couldn't hurt to have a sample module, perhaps--even the outline for one--to begin to give concrete examples of where each Agenda is served by your method of content creation. Bring it on....
I think I see what you mean by modules, but I think I don't work that way. I have no modules. I don't believe in a setting without a plot. So, I have a setting, but it's not a module (well, maybe, but useless in itself). I do have stories, subplots. So, I guess I can provide some excerps. We can probably work around that, specific events.
It's all content, naturally. Don't look for a single part of mechanics, there are none. Althougth, you'll see parts of the mechanics for the story building. I have had produced some excerps here. Some on this post (black and gray orcs), some on my theory (the black orcs at Murdithem) and design (events happening on the crest of the world). Note that these two plots are presented for the same time. They occur at two different parts of the world, very distant.
So, just tell me what you need. And I think it might be a good idea to look a it thru the actual play prism. I believe you'll some to say you can't tell how this will be played.
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2006, 09:52:18 AM »

Thank your for your clarifications, and with all of the above in mind, I say, "Go for it."

Your Method of Content Creation ("method") is, I think, worthy of Trade Secret stauts; but you feel that your personal implementation will be competative with those who might copy the method. Then go for it.

You think you need a System that players can use to generate their own content, using your source material and your method; if there are elements in the method that rely on some mechanics to resolve, say, who has Director Stance or, say, how specific content that a player adds can be, then go for it.

Personally, I would leave all of that "at the factory" and only provide Settings, Situations, Color, and (as necessary) Character details. But I tend to protect intellectual property (IP) when it is a method or process or System far more than I would content that can be trivially copyrighted. As I mentioned in a past post in this thread, a System can be stole whole-cloth with minimal renaming and tweaking of interrelationships. Thus, I would be fearful that the System (i.e. your method) would be re-appropriated by someone doing, say, a specificly targeted NAR game; it would suck to see someone out there selling your hard-developed system by itself while you tried to sell a "copy" of it with some Setting material. But I am a jealous creator, and if you are not (or don't think thatt is a real risk), then go for it.

As for Systems that work to serve your method: I do not own or reference any NAR systems, because I am fairly SIM-oriented and because I usually find them to be "micro" systems that I can memorize and, thus, borrow in my normal play IF I need to address Theme or manipulate Stances for players or distribute GM duties. In my experience, most NAR Systems tend to involve some sort of resource bidding or some sort of randomizer to manage Director Stance/control, and the rest use something even simpler: social interraction and voting. How codified can such a System be—unless it is seriously intrenched in the Setting, in which case it is usually bloated with Color disguised as System?

With all that, I guess my helpfulness is at an end. We have left my baliwick (SIM) and you are more willing to share IP than I am. But there are many folks here who are experimenting with NAR systems and who should be able to inspire you with their System styles or methods.

Good luck!
David
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