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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 69 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: New, Call of Cthulu-esque, with a few questions.  (Read 2561 times)
ChrisJaxn
Member

Posts: 18


« on: February 06, 2006, 06:19:07 PM »

Hey. I'll start with the premise of the game, and a bit about how I envision it working, and then I'll ask my questions.

Quote
Players will take the role of investigators thrown into situations which quickly escalate into extreme weirdness. Through investigation and information gathering, the characters gather information which will ultimately help them defeat a foe which plagues the city/town/countryside.

Scenes will be resolved with a card draw mechanic. This will include rules for the excursion of weird elements whenever certain cards come up. Cards are not replaced until after the foe (cult, monster, conspiracy, &c.) has been bested, so weird things are more likely to happen. It will be conflict resolution.

Characters will be represented by Planar Graphs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planar_graph

A scenario graph will also exist, as a Toroidal Graph (the complexity of sufficiently large toroidal graphs is supposed to make it harder for the players to analyze what's going on, and to just increase the weird, incomprehensible nature of the universe). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toroidal_graph (I know this link isn't that useful, but, basically, edges wrap around the sides of the box).

Play will revolve around picking a node in the scenario graph, playing a scene for that, and then moving onto adjacent nodes for different scenes. Between each scene, something hideous happens that the foe is causing. Players can choose to face up to the foe at any time to prevent any further loss to the community, but the sooner they do this, the stronger their foe will be.

Sanity will be mediated by changing existing character traits (by changing the name, and the situations in which they apply). Example: Rob has Fists Like Lighting 5. Trying to punch out the Cultist Leader, he finds he cannot get a grip of himself, and so his fists just aren't helping. This trait then becomes: Catatonic Around Violence (Fists Like Lightning) 5, to represent that now Rob can't resolve scenes with his fists, but must instead find other ways (or succeed somehow, despite his insanity).

So, the most pressing of my questions is this one: Do you think the game needs a GM? The card mechanic and the narration rules seem like they could be specific enough. The problem, though, is who, then, is going to mediate the bad stuff that happens between scenes, and who is going to spend the time coming up with the foe, and the graph to represent all the scenes? It seems a lot to put on a player, but somebody has to do it.

Another question: Since I don't plan on selling this (at least, not at present), there shouldn't be any problems with using Lovecraft's names for things? Like Nyarlathotep, Azothoth, and such?

I think I had another one, but I don't remember what it was now.

Thanks,
-Chris Jackson
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timopod
Member

Posts: 29

I'm an art major for some reason


« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2006, 07:39:29 PM »

First-It sounds like fun.
second-don't get the math based map stuff. Is this anything like how the Greeks encoded and decoded secret messages by wrapping the code around a predetermined length of wood, and the matching up the letters?

3rd-check the copy write on the Lovecraft stuff. I think his stuff might all be in public domain now, unless of course the Micky mouse laws of copywrite cover his stuff to . (lets face it, as long as Disney decides to keep mickey out of public domain, nothing will ever enter public domain again (joking of course))
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Tim Goldman
Professional College student
TimOPod@hotmail.com
StefanDirkLahr
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Posts: 79


WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2006, 08:25:41 PM »

I'm very interested in visual presentation elements, so this is cool.

However, i don't really understand how your different things are supposed to work.

The game has three elements the players use: a deck of cards, a specificly-designed character sheet, & a specificly-designed situation sheet. How does each of these work?

Are these cards the full deck of Tarot? Or something customized for a lovcraftian game?
 
I'm especially interested in how the planar graph divides up the character's traits into different arenas or other zones. Does the division relate to positions on the situation sheet?

How does your system for "inverting" traits help portray the investigators' (internal) struggle with escalating wierdness?

Why not have a draw of the card deck decide the "bad stuff" that happens to set up a scene?

Or you could introduce another element - some sort of chart that counts down the time left in which the investigators have to stop the eldritch horrors, in terms of the actions taken & elements introduced. Or is that part of the situation sheet?

With the situation sheet - does it work in a sequence? That is to say, can the players - who all have characters - draw cards to determine how each step on the situation sheet, which i assume is a scene, is brought about, and what the result of winning vs losing the conflict in that scene will cause?
If you can do something like that you probably don't need a GM - the story elements are all randomly generated, and backed with mechanics to keep the players on their toes. (Using a Tarot deck that the players have guidelines for interpreting into conflicts might be great for this!)

Wow, I have lots of questions, & no answers. Hope they help! ;)
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Stefan Dirk Lahr, dreaming the impossible dream
TonyLB
Member

Posts: 3702


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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2006, 09:06:26 PM »

Do you think the game needs a GM?

Seems like the players want to protect the community.  So I don't see (absent any other drive) that you can expect them to really, really screw the community with the revealed horrors and such.

Yet, if they don't feel that the community is hugely imperilled, will they be motivated to fight?

If you don't have a GM, who's going to do the absolutely necessary job of ravaging the community?  How are you going to motivate the players to do it with relish and gusto?
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Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2006, 10:42:22 PM »

The problem, though, is who, then, is going to mediate the bad stuff that happens between scenes
Okay, what is bad stuff?

Bad stuff are things we don't want to happen. But that doesn't mean good stuff can't happen to the player, while bad stuff happens to the PC. Like, once the players get points for whipping their own characters, you don't need a GM to do that.

Traditionally we associate character pain with a player loosing all his resources "Argh! I just lost half my hitpoints!", so it's easy to think that the only way a character can be in pain, is if his player is suffering.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Arpie
Member

Posts: 83


« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2006, 10:55:22 PM »

Not much to say about your game, I'm afraid, but I'd strongly reccomend checking out the current universal copyright convention (UCC) before publishing anything that uses easily-identifiable elements of someone else's work. (Not as a lawyer or anything, but cause it's a good idea.)

If it helps, however, the rule of thumb is generally "whoever owns the copyright gets a piece of the action." (Even if the action is only a buck or whatever money was paid for your free web posting service by whoever's ads are running the site.) You always ought to write a letter or something to the people who own the material. It usually isn't all that difficult to pen a one-page note asking for permission and you'd be amazed how cooperative folks can be.

That having been said, the only information I have on the Lovecraft estate is that it's been tied up in messy legal limbo for decades. That may be one of the reasons you see so much Lovecraft out there. I don't think anyone's sure who actually OWNS it (well, Arkham House has pretty strong claims, but I've heard lots of rumours down that alley, too.) Here's what the web has to say on the who quagmire:

http://www.chuggnutt.com/2004/03/08/lovecraft_copyright.html

Here's a basic copyright info site:
http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl100.html

and here's the Berne Convention (which covers most of what I talked about:)
http://www.law.cornell.edu/treaties/berne/overview.html

You know, this is really good stuff for would-be publishers to know!

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ChrisJaxn
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2006, 06:11:53 AM »

Alright, I'll explain the graphs and my card-draw mechanism a bit better, to give people a better idea.

First off, a graph is basically just a number of points (called nodes) and a bunch of lines (edges) connecting them.

A Planar Graph, which is what the characters are represented by, is just a graph where none of the lines intersect.

A Toroidal Graph, which is what the scenario sheet is, is basically a planar graph, except that if one of the lines goes and hits the edge of the page, it wraps around the other side. (Think old school Final Fantasy world maps).

As for how characters are defined, every node in their graph is a trait, with some name associated with it. Like, as an example: Enjoys Flirting With The Librarian, or Collects Ancient Books.

Each of these traits also has a number associated with it, for its relative value. That number is the same as the number of edges (the lines) connected to the trait's node.


My card draw mechanism gives a base number. Then the character's trait is added, and the monster's trait is subtracted (the monster's traits will be based on the scenario graph). If the result is more than 0, the player succeeds. If it's less, the player still succeeds, but begins to go insane. Additionally, which card is drawn has an effect on how success is obtained. Higher cards, like the face cards and aces, should represent the outcropping of really weird elements.


How does your system for "inverting" traits help portray the investigators' (internal) struggle with escalating wierdness?

The insanity mechanism isn't really meant to a reflection of the internal struggle, particularly. It's more meant to represent the sorts of things that happen to people (externally) when their worldview is picked up and violently tossed about by things that they never even would have imagined.

The strongest way I thought to represent this was by effectively eliminating traits. Granted, they can still be used, but it's more difficult.

And the eventual mechanic is going to include rules for the spread of insanity across the graph of the character, to tie in very visually with just how much a character has lost it.

Do you think the game needs a GM?

Seems like the players want to protect the community. So I don't see (absent any other drive) that you can expect them to really, really screw the community with the revealed horrors and such.

Yet, if they don't feel that the community is hugely imperilled, will they be motivated to fight?

If you don't have a GM, who's going to do the absolutely necessary job of ravaging the community? How are you going to motivate the players to do it with relish and gusto?

I do agree with this, now, after having thought about it. The GM should be merciless when it comes to the bad stuff that has to happen.

Though I will probably have to add to the GMs responsibilities more than just the creation and interpretation of the scenario graph, and the bad stuff. Perhaps he'll have something to do with the insanity mechanic.


Thanks for the advice. I'm going to try and hash together a set of rules to encompass my ideas, which should hopefully appear within the week.
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ChrisJaxn
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2006, 06:12:31 AM »

Oh. Also, thanks for the copyright info. I'll continue to look into it, and avoid any possible violations for now.
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