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Author Topic: [Neverwake] Point-based resolution system  (Read 3629 times)
Keith
Member

Posts: 27


« on: February 13, 2006, 06:52:54 PM »

So, I'm working on a little thing called Neverwake - specifically, the mechanics, right about now.  The idea is that the PCs play characters who experienced a great and horrible loss - losing a child, their husband, having all their possessions burned down before their eyes, being betrayed and abandoned by her friends.  The group of PCs - who most likely have no idea who each other are - go to sleep one night, and start to dream of a fantastic midieval kingdom, a place with castles and knights and unicorns and ogres, your typical whimsy fantasy setting.  The characters are portrayed by whatever types of fantasy creatures they make up as their avatars - satyrs, knights, nobles, giants.  In this realm, which their collective dreaming invents as they go, they find the object of their tragedy and loss is still alive and present, and that they have another chance at regaining what they each lost.  Except, they come to find, the price comes at losing things which are far greater, and mean a lot more to them once they realize it.  The theme revolves around: Where do your priorities and responsibilities lie, and what are you really prepared to lose?

Anyway, the system works as such.  Instead of rolling dice to see about resolving an action, you spend points.  You get, say, 30 points to start with, and each task will cost a certain amount of points.  You spend the requisite amount of points, you complete the action.  Each action starts at costing 3 points.  For each obstacle or challenge related to it, you add a point.  (Making a potion is 3 points - making a potion with unfamiliar ingredients is a +1 penalty, and using hazardous, flesh-eating chemicals is another +1).  For each bonus your character would have, based on traits and skills and such, you then subtract a point (The potion-maker has a large staff of helpers on hand: -1).  The end result is the required amount of points needed (3+1+1=5-1=4!).

The characters also have four d4s which they can roll to add points to the task.  Each PC gets four d4s - a Force dice, a Balance dice, a Dream dice, and an Empathy dice.  The Force die relates to physical abilities, alteration, endurance, that sort of thing.  Balance relates to mental prowess and resolve.  Dream relates to the special magic each character gets.  Empathy relates to morality, willpower, and inner-strength.  Basically, what the PCs can do here is, optionally, select one of those four dice and explain how it relates to the task at hand.  (I'm trying to knock down a door, so my Force die - which relates to physical strength, brute force, and alteration - could be used here.  Or for trying to outwit a crafty politician - Balance applies here, because it deals with knowledge, wits, and brainpower).  If this is accepted by the GM, the player rolls that d4, and gets that amount of free points towards the task.  After rolling, you can then add more points.

So, let's say a task required 5 points.  I roll a d4 and get a 3.  Therefore, I only need to add 2 more points to achieve the required 5.

Only one of those d4s can be rolled for a task, and it can only be rolled once.  The result must be used.  Each die also has a penalty associated with it that is applied to the character when the die is used.  Force, for example, may say that your birdman starts to molt and can't fly as well when you use the Force die.  So, after that, for a few scenes, your birdman will probably get a few +1 penalties when he tries to fly.  The penalties are only temporary, but hindering.

Now, here's the tricky part - I can't think of a way for the characters to replenish the points they've spent.  Any suggestions?  I want to set it up in such a way that the characters each have a small personal pool of points that only they can use, and then there's a large community pool that everyone has to share.  Then, somehow, the community pool points will start to trickle into each players' personal pool.  But, the question is still at hand - how can I replenish the characters' community pools and personal pools?
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- Keith Blocker
CommonDialog
Member

Posts: 31


« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2006, 10:06:26 PM »

I think the easiest way (and likely the most cliche way as well) is that when the characters either do something that gets them nearer to their goal in a measurable way to attaining their goal OR if they make a choice that they are not willing to make a sacrifice they get a certain number of points.  (The second case is trickier as those points should be used to waking from the dream or to a goal not in line with the source of their original loss.)

I guess what I am trying to say is that as they work towards a end state of the game, the GM can award points.  The idea being that they can award points.  It could be argued that brewing a potion is going to help a character work towards a goal (hey, it's a healing potion and I am pretty sure my lost girlfriend is being held by a dragon) however the action needs to have a dramatic impact on the overall story line (slaying the dragon, dropping your pet donkey on the dragon so he can charm the dragon and they can have half-donkey, half-dragon kids, etc., etc.)

The other thing I was thinking was that PCs could pick avatars AND traits for those avatars.  Acting in accordance with the traits of the avatar either gives points or deductions on difficultly.  And I don't necessarily mean my avatar is a bull, my trait is surly.  Instead, the avatar could have traits like loyal, giving, etc.

Now that I've rewritten your game, I have an another idea...

As an alternative, you could allow players to spend a certain amount of points to buy a roll on their Empathy dice.  They get that number of points back (I'm not horrible enamored with this idea, but I thought I'd toss it out.)
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2006, 04:09:26 AM »

Heya,

What kind of opposition do you plan on the PCs meeting in-game?  Who controls that opposition, a GM or other players?  Lastly, are the players to act cooperatively, competively, or indifferently with each other.?

Peace,

-Troy
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Keith
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2006, 08:35:42 PM »

First, the point concept:

I like the idea of giving the Avatars traits, and that roleplaying and following those traits results in extra points (Avatars in this game are called Myths, since they're mostly mythical animals).  I could also work with the idea of certain deeds and actions that further the plot and goal resulting in points, but I'll have to narrow it down a bit more, figure it out.  But so far, the first idea is definitely going in.  The Empathy roll can work, using one of the d4s in some capacity, but I'm not sure if I'd want it exactly like that.

As far as opposition goes, so far it'll depend on the world that the PCs create.  This will be long, and go off on a tangent, be warned - how it'll work, is that each character has a Realm.  Their Realm is what area of Neverwake they hail from - be it alone in some bubbling swamp, a city in the clouds, or a small dwarven community in the hills - and it is completely of their own invention.  The characters in the story are collectively dreaming up this world, and to reflect that in the game, the players will get to make up all on their own the Realm they hail from.  They can decide what the geography is like, who rules what, how the economy works, and so forth.  (An idea I'm tossing around is to bring a sheet of blank typing paper and to have everyone cooperate to decide where each Realm is located, the boundaries and borders, and basically create a rough map of Neverwake as their dreaming characters envision it).  I'm not sure exactly how much detail will be required, I want to see what people come up with first.  But, yes.  They'll make their own Realm, and decide how their character fits into that Realm.  They could be king of their society, or simply a peasant worker, or some sort of noble or scholar, or soldier, or whatever they think of.  When the PCs visit a certain player's Realm, that player will have narrative control over introducing it, and influencing what happens and how things work (still working on exactly how much freedom, and what they'll be able to do - maybe just let them GM for the duration of the time there?).

So, the characters will basically create the setting for themselves so as to (hopefully!) completely immerse themselves in it, and feel a sense of familiarity with it.  I'm not sure if I want to create standard organizations or antagonists who'll be in every setting or not, but the PCs will be able to create their own such opposition all their own.  Maybe certain players could control certain factors or villains - I haven't delved too deeply into that aspect yet.  Any suggestions?

The players will be working cooperatively, though plot-based conflict and antagonistic roleplaying is definitely possible.  But all in all, they'll be on a team - they'll discover that they're all in some sort of other world, and that they have control of an unusual form of magic.  Magic is common in Neverwake, but this particular magic is a forbidden art - it's a school of magic called Lucidity, and affects the actual world of Neverwake in ways that tug at the very strands that hold it together.  In short, clever abuse of Lucidity could wake the characters from their dream world - something the residents of Neverwake don't want.  The dream-residents don't understand that they're only a dream, but they DO understand that Lucidity could destroy their world.  The PCs may not be considered outright fiends or hated sorcerers, but they will be met with suspicion in most places.

I'll detail the magic system in a later post, but, in summary - the actual spells of Lucidity are relatively tame and simple, but their very use messes with the world of Neverwake.  It's not what the spells are intended to do, but the nasty side-effects they have that the PCs unintentionally cause.

So - any comments so far?  And thanks for the feedback thus far!
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- Keith Blocker
Malcolm Craig
Member

Posts: 263


WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2006, 04:18:21 AM »

Another potential method of refreshing the pool of points is perhaps not have additional points getting added in, but to have the points flowing around the table from player to player. Gregor Hutton used this very effectively in his 'Best Friends' game, where each character has a pool of three 'friendchips' that they can use to complete tasks which are above the level of their abilities.

In essence, what you could have is a situation where the traits/avatars of the characters allow you to accomplish certain things without recourse to using points. However, if you try to push beyond your abilities, you have to resort to using points. Now either these points could be lost and refreshed by a method such as that suggestioned by CommonDialog (sorry, don't know your real name, any chance we could find out?), or order to use point you, have to transfer them to someone who has an appropriate trait/avatar for that task. In essence, you 'borrow' the abilities of the other characters in exchange for points. In a co-operative game, this would result in simple exchange. In a game with more adversarial content, the stakes could be raised by other players spending points to stop you using that ability, encouraging you to spend more to achieve your goals.

I'm not sure how clear all of the above is, but I hope it helps in some way.

Cheers
Malcolm
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Malcolm Craig
Contested Ground Studios
www.contestedground.co.uk

Part of the Indie Press Revolution
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


WWW
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2006, 05:24:50 AM »

Heya,

Quote
The characters in the story are collectively dreaming up this world, and to reflect that in the game, the players will get to make up all on their own the Realm they hail from.  They can decide what the geography is like, who rules what, how the economy works, and so forth.  (An idea I'm tossing around is to bring a sheet of blank typing paper and to have everyone cooperate to decide where each Realm is located, the boundaries and borders, and basically create a rough map of Neverwake as their dreaming characters envision it).  I'm not sure exactly how much detail will be required, I want to see what people come up with first.

-This is cool.  I'd suggest starting each player with a certain ammount of points.  They can spend these points however they wish to increase the size of their Realm, add cities or town, and buy their character's position in the Realm.  Later, the unused points can be speant to create the monsters, traps, and villains the PCs will face.  Perhaps they can even earn more as time goes on.

Quote
When the PCs visit a certain player's Realm, that player will have narrative control over introducing it, and influencing what happens and how things work (still working on exactly how much freedom, and what they'll be able to do - maybe just let them GM for the duration of the time there?).

-I like the idea of letting the players be the GM while the PCs are in their realm.  If that's the way you went, what would happen to a player's character while he GMed?

Quote
plot-based conflict and antagonistic roleplaying is definitely possible

-Two things.  First, what are these things in your mind.  And two, do you want them in your game?

Quote
In short, clever abuse of Lucidity could wake the characters from their dream world - something the residents of Neverwake don't want.  The dream-residents don't understand that they're only a dream, but they DO understand that Lucidity could destroy their world.  The PCs may not be considered outright fiends or hated sorcerers, but they will be met with suspicion in most places.

-Sounds interesting.

Peace,

-Troy
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Keith
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2006, 04:59:22 PM »

Malcom - I looked at the Best Friends game, and I get what you're suggesting.  I think a similar system would help here, since the world is being cooperatively composed, and that so many things already tie the characters together as a team.  I like the idea of them having to share resources and rely and trust on one another - in a world where they've lost so much, maybe they've finally found someone stable they can hold on to.

What I'm going to try and work with is using both CommonDialog's idea and this one here, so that there will be a replenishable pool of points, yet not enough points to be comfortable with - the players will have to borrow and use other points and other traits.  Say, following along with your Myth's traits deposits 3 points in the community pool of points.  When you decide to use another player's traits instead of spend your own points, they would get a certain amount of points from the community pool into their own personal pool.

Now that I have a more solid foundation for the point system (though not entirely complete, and I still welcome opinions on it!), I want to work on Realms, because I'm getting good feedback and ideas about them, and I'm realizing the potential they can really have in this game.  I'm definitely adding in Troy's idea of using points to build certain aspects of the Realm.  The game seems like it'll start to resemble not only an RPG but a city-building sim as well, and I like that idea.  I want to find a way to tie the Realms more into the character, such as having aspects of the Realms provide bonuses, or something like that. 

About the PCs being possible antagonists with each other - the players will have to decide the relationships between their Realms.  Are any at war with each other?  Are their diplomatic issues going around?  One player creates a tyrannical Realm of warrior-mages, and targets another player's nearby utopian society to invade and plunder.  How does this affect the players?  What about if one Realm gets threatened, are the others likely to help, thus starting large-scale wars and battles?  There would have to be some way to counter the Realm-based patriotism with a common goal so that warring players wouldn't just tear each other apart.  The basic motivation for sticking together is sort of strained so far, I need to add more to it - perhaps a thick strand of destiny looms over them all, requiring them to interact and accomplish certain things and change the world in order to get their lost loves back.  Either way, the status of the Realms and their connections can add a whole new layer to the characters (and also acting as a huge source of story and adventure ideas).

So, while the point system is still open to suggestion and molding, what about Realms?  What could I do to enhance them, and tie them more into the character?  I'm going to work on that tonight and tomorrow, but I'm definitely open to suggestion.
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- Keith Blocker
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


WWW
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2006, 05:57:24 AM »

Heya,

Quote
So, while the point system is still open to suggestion and molding, what about Realms?  What could I do to enhance them, and tie them more into the character?


-You could tie character abilities to the geography and society created by the player of each Realm.  For instance, if someone creates a Forest in their realm, they get to pick three Abilities (or skills if that's what you'd rather call them) that have to do with a Forest.  Example: Tracking, Animal Mastery, Foresting.  If they create a big city, they might get Haggling, Fade into the Crowd, or Streat Smarts.  Whatever fits their character's profile.

Peace,

-Troy
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