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Author Topic: [Listen to the Ether] Power 19  (Read 1580 times)
D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Member

Posts: 6

Battlestations!!!


« on: February 14, 2006, 11:55:00 AM »

Hey everyone, this is my Very First post to the forge, though i have been lurking and studying for quite some time. I have this idea for a game mildly borrowed mechanically from DitV, at least from what i have read about it. I need some mild prodding to getting all my ideas fleshed out fully, but here is a mostly complete Power 19.

“Listen to the Ether”

1.) What is your game about?
Listen to the Ether is about characters adventuring in two realities: the World and
the Ether. The World is intrinsically tied to creativity, in steam power, invention, mechanics, etcetera, in an early Victorian style setting. The Ether is a reality where the characters are “living a lucid dream.” The game is primarily about exploring the characters personalities in both realities. In the World the characters are tied together by chance, where in the Ether they are bound by the greater will of <insert thematic ideology here>.
2.) What do the characters do?
The characters essentially perform less than heroic tasks in the World, but in the Ether are capable of Grand Things, such as eliminating great evils and changing the fate of the Dualverse, etcetera.( This topic needs work. Hopefully the other topics will clarify this.)
3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
The players each control one character and the GM controls the NPCs and the Will of the Ether (in whatever form it takes.) The players, after Character Creation, use their characters Attributes and Traits to act in the World and the Ether, working together or apart to achieve their characters aims.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The game is about exploration of characters in two realities and I think that the setting accomplishes an environment allowing the characters to do so.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
At the beginning character creation all that is assigned is 25 points worth of attributes, which could be anything from Strong 1 to Dances in the Kitchen 5. after this step the characters go through the Introductions, in which they reveal traits about themselves which start as one trait in each of the following categories: Advantages, disadvantages, backgrounds, possessions, relationships, and condition. Traits are rated by some combination of dice, such as 1d10 or 2d8+3d4. after the Introductions, characters go on an Ether Journey, where they reveal their Ether Traits, two traits in each of the categories. The characters are all capable initially of doing more in the Ether than in the World, which I believe reinforces the overarching theme of the Ether.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
The game rewards players who creatively use their traits and attributes to perform actions, and punishes those who seek a narrow path of specialization, such as applying a boatload of combat traits.
7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Character effectiveness is a direct result of how creatively traits and attributes are used.
( Both topics 6 and 7 need more work.)
8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Narration is shared between the Players and the GM, with credibility going to the player group’s consensus before GM decisions in Ether situations, the reverse in World situations.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
The game allows the players to create the story they want to create in the Ether, where they have real influence.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
A basic resolution involves any trait dice applicable to a given conflict rolled in advance of a conflict minus up to the applicable attributes total able to be subtracted from the total, hoping to be as close to 21 as possible without going over. In the case of opposed conflicts, the smallest margin of failure succeeds. In any case, the winner of the conflict outcome gets to determine the narration of the conflict. In the case of a non conflict, there is no resolution mechanic other than narration and GM fiat.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
( here I have a definite problem, in that I see no way for the mechanics to reinforce the game idea)

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Characters advance by obtaining new traits from conflict success or by being awarded via another players observation. ( You must really love your mammoth chef’s knife, I suggest  awarding you: Love’s Chef Knife 2d6.)

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
(again, I feel like this doesn’t directly reinforce the game concept)

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
A sense of being able to do things that wouldn’t be possible by our bounds of reality.(How this makes my game different than others I do not know)

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
The characters actions in the Ether, due to their central focus in the game concept.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
I like the way that the mechanics reward creative application, because they create interesting styles of play.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
The game takes players between two very physically different worlds in very rapid succession.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
I plan to release a PDF version of the game at completion, and if interest makes it possible a print release to be sold on the internet.
( of course I don’t know if it would even sell at all)

19.) Who is your target audience?
People such as myse
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Daily fighing the forces of Drudgery
"Listen to the Ether" RPG
--D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Bill_White
Member

Posts: 202


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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2006, 05:43:25 PM »

I want you to tell me more about the relationship between the World and the Ether.  Are they in contention?  Is there the possibility that one can slip into, affect, or dominate the other--that the Ethereal can "load the dice" in the World, or that the World can introduce blind fortune into the Ether? Does doing cool creative steampunky things in the World "drain" the Ether?  I think the choice you make here will powerfully shape the theme of the game *and* give you hooks to hang mechanics on.

For example, if you decide that the Ether is a wellspring of creative force that provides characters with the insight they need to create fabulous wonderful arcane devices of cogs and bellows and pumps and so forth (which they want to do because, um, they are trying to achieve higher status within the Regal Society), then the Ether becomes a place where characters go in order to get a game-resource (let's call it "dice") they need in the World.  They use the dice to build the machines--maybe each die represents a particular component, with larger dice being more complicated apparata.  Rolling the dice invested in a particular machine make stuff happen in the world--the bigger the dice total, the more impressive the result (but multiple dice with the same number indicate complications).

So there's tons of dice being rolled while characters are in the World.

But the Ether works differently, because there it's not about effectiveness or instrumentality, it's about meaning.  So a player taking an Ethereal turn for his character (i.e., he's "dreaming") doesn't worry about rolling; he has to make sense of a dream image provided to him by the game system.  An "easy" way to do this is some sort of Tarot spread:  the player has to narrate a dream invoking one or more motifs from a tarot card, or multiple tarot cards.  The more motifs invoked, the larger the die gained.

And I know you're going to want to make whatever happens in the Ether somehow consequential, either because it changes something about the character (i.e., invoking certain motifs requires either character actions in the World or a shifting of the potentials of the Ether, or something).

But the fundamental question I think is "How is the World connected to the Ether, and how are the two distinct?"

Bill
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D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Member

Posts: 6

Battlestations!!!


« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2006, 06:52:51 AM »

Alright, Bill. I'm going to try and answer as many of your questions as is possible, starting with the most important: "How is the World connected to the Ether, and how are the two distinct?"
             The World and the Ether are at the most basic level attached at the subconscious mind of every cogniscent being in the World, in other words, the Ether is shaped and formed by the World denizens by their hopes and dreams, fears and nightmares, etcetera. The two are not in any sort of contention, without the World there would be no Ether, and the Success of the World is dictated by the happenings in the Ether.
             Yes, the intent was to have "cool steampunky things" influence the Ether and vice-versa; how to do this I'm not entirely sure of yet. But the entire "steampunk" culture of the World is a direct result of happenings in the Ether, peoples' dreams of Grand Things leaked into the World because of inspiration from the Ether.
              Another important thing left previously unmentioned is "How do people get to the Ether?" This being so key to the game, the answer may be complicated in the hands of a skilled GM, but as such follows simply: To get into the Ether a character must be in an altered state of mind, via some of the following possibilities:Dreams, Drugs, Meditation, Verge of Death, a variety of Device that allows Ether contact, or any other way to alter mental state.
             As much as the Tarot Interpretation is cool to me, I don't think it is something I want to include, being that the Ether is very much a real place with semi-real things, and that Ether Trips are very much group oriented, the card narration just doesn't pan out with what I would like to see.

Thanks Much
-Paul
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Daily fighing the forces of Drudgery
"Listen to the Ether" RPG
--D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Bill_White
Member

Posts: 202


WWW
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2006, 11:05:15 AM »

Hi Paul --

Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to tell you how to write your game.  Everything starting with the 2nd paragraph of my previous post is just an example of how mechanics flow from the conception of the setting and what's important in it. 

As I read you, characters gain inspiration from the Ether, and that lets them create cool things in the World; those cool things then push back against the mundanity of the World, changing it in accordance with the creator's dream or vision.  Notice how mechanics are beginning to suggest themselves:  inspiration is a resource, cool things (you've suggested they'll involve boilers and cams and gears and bellows and rheostats and the like) are purchased with inspiration and used in opposition to attributes in the World that are associated with the mundane.  For example, I can imagine players showing up at a place where they learn, "Aha!  The problem here is that there's too much Drudgery!  We need to listen to the Ether and create a device that embodies Efficiency!"

I think I see how the Ether pushes against the World; how does the World push against the Ether?  You've said you're not sure, but you must have some idea.  I think I see a possible answer based on what you've said, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.

Also, I want you to clarify something:  you want players to participate as a group in Ether travel, but the methods of getting there you've listed imply that characters don't have to start together in the World to show up together in Ether.  Do I read you right?

Bill
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D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Member

Posts: 6

Battlestations!!!


« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2006, 12:01:13 PM »

Bill: First and foremost, YES! Characters do not have to be together in the World to end up in the Ether together. Inspiration is definitely a resource to be used for character effectiveness in the World.
Second, feel free to put words in my mouth if they are relevant to the topic.
And lastly, for now, I think you are directly reading my ideas properly.

Additional thanks,
Paul
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Daily fighing the forces of Drudgery
"Listen to the Ether" RPG
--D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Bill_White
Member

Posts: 202


WWW
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2006, 09:09:17 AM »

Okay, then just to continue the conversation and think more about your game.  From reading your answers to the "Power 19" I get the impression that the thing you think is problematic about the game is that the mechanics of resolution (rolling dice from relevant traits) and advancement (assigning new traits) don't reinforce what the game is about, which is "adventuring in two realities," one of which is mundane and the other of which is sublime.

I think it's clear that if you really want to rules to reinforce that idea, both of those mechanics have to grapple with the tension between the everyday, prosaic World and the sublime, exalted Ether.  That will probably mean that how things get accomplished in the World will be mechanically different than how they get done in the Ether, and that traits that help you in the World don't help you (or even hurt you!) in the Ether, and vice versa.  Now that's interesting!  How will players make the trade-off?

Aside:  I'm reminded of short stories by either Lovecraft or Lord Dunsany, where powerful Dreamers who lived as kings in palaces in dream were homeless bums on the streets of London in the real world.

Some more questions:

1.  How do characters gain inspiration in the Ether?
2.  What do they want in the World?
3.  How do changes in the World affect the Ether?
4.  How do changes in the Ether affect the World?

Let's talk about your vision of the game-world some more.

Bill
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Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2006, 09:27:20 AM »

Heya,

Quote
one of which is mundane and the other of which is sublime.

-This made me think, and I might have just missed it, but do the characters change in any way mechanically between worlds?  Like is their Mundane self mechanically different from their Ether self?

Peace,

-Troy
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
Member

Posts: 246


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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2006, 10:34:42 AM »

Just a quick follow-on or redirect of this statement:
Quote
I think it's clear that if you really want to rules to reinforce that idea, both of those mechanics have to grapple with the tension between the everyday, prosaic World and the sublime, exalted Ether.  That will probably mean that how things get accomplished in the World will be mechanically different than how they get done in the Ether, and that traits that help you in the World don't help you (or even hurt you!) in the Ether, and vice versa.  Now that's interesting!  How will players make the trade-off?

I don't think they need to be mechanically different—in fact, I think that undermines the Ether>World influencing he's already made a part of the setting.

Rather, I would approach it as the same mechanics which are in conflict: a static tension much like the balance between locomotive boiler pressure and net rail speed. Thus, a character who is really "doing well" mechanically is able to maintain that tension and, perhaps, even gain a knock-on or additive effect the closer to "perfect tension" that he or she is.

Such a notion, however, really requires that there be an World>Ether influence also. Perhaps that can be the seed of the "metaplot" or "metaconflict" of the game: the death of Dreams in the face of rational empiricism.

Or maybe I am WAY too influenced by games like Mage and UnderWorld. :) I see something like Paradox and Paradigm being played out in LttE. The Ether breathes life into a World that will choke the Ether to death with its cold logic. But without the rational framework of the World, there would be only chaos and nothing "important." Ether is primordial; the World is engineered. The Ether is hopes; the World is facts. The Ether gives motivation; the World give sustinence. [Ad infinitum]

I'd at least kick these notion around some, before setting pen to paper on rule mechanics. Because, I think, if you get your setting nailed down—the pseudo-science (anti-science, quasi-science?) of World-to-Ether relations—you will begin to have mechanics that are "obvious" in light of the game setting's metaphysics.

Hope this helps;
David
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Bill_White
Member

Posts: 202


WWW
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2006, 11:42:59 AM »

Quote from: David
Rather, I would approach it as the same mechanics which are in conflict: a static tension much like the balance between locomotive boiler pressure and net rail speed. Thus, a character who is really "doing well" mechanically is able to maintain that tension and, perhaps, even gain a knock-on or additive effect the closer to "perfect tension" that he or she is.

Yes, yes, that's better.  Characters are balancing the tension between the inspiration (which may become too dreamy) and the instrumental (which may become too, what, ruthless? mundane? trivial?)  At some ideal point, things work perfectly; as you fall away to either extreme, things go haywire.

Paul, what are you thinking are the consequences for characters who fail to achieve this sort of "balance"?  That is, what interesting or fateful thing happens to the World or the Ether if characters mess up?

Bill
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D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Member

Posts: 6

Battlestations!!!


« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2006, 06:02:27 PM »

Ok guys, i have added some new character facets: Inspiration/Desperation and Dreaming/Nightmare.
              Inspiration and Desperation are gained as results of Ether adventuring, and wind up influencing the World, Inspiration/Desperation can be used to build Devices to fight Drudgery, with positive or negative results, I'm grinding out the mechanics currently but will post them as soon as i get it down. A success creates an Inspired Device, failure a Desperate Device. Inspired Devices can have "kewl powerz" in the world and create Efficiency, whereas Desperate Devices also have "kewl powerz" only they can create more Drudgery, and other genuinely uncouth effects.(Most devices in the World are Desperate Devices.)
          Dreaming and Nightmare are gained through World adventuring, and are used to influence the Ether. They result in Ether manifestations of the characters dreams(Ephemera.) Ephemera are also in two forms, Blight Ephemera and Boon Ephemera, Boons create Wellspring in the Ether, where Blights create Anathema. Again the mechanics are being ground.
      About the "perfect tension balance": I'm considering some way of making too much Inspiration increase Nightmare, and too much Dreaming increase Desperation. I think that makes good sense.

Another question to answer is : how are characters different in the World and the Ether?
        It's in there but slightly muddled that the characters effectively have two sets of character facets, one for the World and one for the Ether, therefore, characters are able to be entirely different between World and Ether.
       
  Oh, a few things about Drudgery/Anathema and Efficiency/Wellspring: Drudgery tends to result in things like slavery,large income gap, violent revolution, basically things that happen when people become unhappy. Anathema results in things like civil unrest, rebellion, mass insanity, metaphysical instability, etcetera. Efficiency and Wellspring are good things, efficiency results in a higher standard of living for the masses and keeps people happy( so long as their jobs arent lost to automation of course.) Wellspring keeps the flow of forward thinking ongoing, which is a Good Thing.

     
             
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Daily fighing the forces of Drudgery
"Listen to the Ether" RPG
--D. Paul Wilson-Henry
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