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Author Topic: [Manaka] Power 19  (Read 3453 times)
dyjoots
Member

Posts: 91


« on: February 18, 2006, 01:19:39 AM »

Power Nineteen for Manaka (Actual Play here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=18737.0)

What is your game about?
   Manaka is about the conflicts, stories, and characters that the players want it to be about.  It's a setting-generic game that is designed to aggressively create stories with themes, rather than have a story just happen as a side-effect of play.  I realize that this sounds very vague, but it's really what I made the game for.

What do the characters do?
   Kick-starting from an event that can't be ignored, the character progresses through a series of related conflicts, resolving issues, gathering experiences, and risking his well-being to progress to a climactic confrontation, eventually resolving the situation for good or bad and dealing with the subsequent fallout.

What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
   The players and the GM collaborate to create a setting and characters.  Once the game has begun, the players ask for scenes, conflicts, pursue the goals of their characters and utilize the character development mechanics to build a story.  The GM plays non-player characters, frames scenes, puts pressure on the players to call for and resolve conflicts, and pushes NPC agendas.  Everyone involved with the game pitches ideas and in general cooperates on the social level to create gripping scenes and conflicts on the game level.

How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
   While there are some short example settings in the book, one of my biggest goals in writing Manaka was to give the players (including the GM) as much ability as they want to create the characters and stories that they want.  It's supposed to be a generic game, and as such, a setting is not explicitly included.  The kinds of stories that can be developed (as outlined in the answer to question two) can pretty much fit any setting that the players can come up with.

How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
   Character creation is a group process of coming up with ideas and developing them.  Any character is possible as long as it doesn't clash with the rest of the group, and any limits put on the character creation system are imposed from the group's conception of the setting, rather than arbitrary limits.  Characters are defined by Traits, which can be anything at all that the player finds interesting about the character, including superpowers and relationships; Conflict attributes, which define the amount of control that a player will have over the conflicts in the game, and Well-being; which represents the personal well-being that protagonists must sometimes sacrifice while pursuing their goals.

What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
   The game strongly rewards getting involved in conflicts, no matter what the outcome.  It also rewards participating in groups of conflicts that are related to one another.

How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
   Every conflict, whether the player wins or loses, come with a reward that increases the player's ability to succeed at future conflicts in some way or another.  The rewards are more useful if the conflicts they get involved with in the future are related to the ones that they have already been involved with.  Since the players get to write what is basically a “kicker” in Sorcerer terms, players get bonuses for creating the sort of stories that they want.

How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
   The players and the GM are all allowed to ask for scenes.  The GM sets the scenes that people request, and play proceeds much like a “normal” RPG, where the characters involved in the scene interact.  Anyone can call for a conflict (introducing the resolution mechanics into the game), and while the stakes and consequences of the conflict are set up beforehand, the loser of the conflict is the side that gets to narrate what happened within the confines of said stakes.

What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
   Part of what makes Manaka work is that it distributes a number of duties that are traditionally assigned to the GM in role-playing games to the players, and empowers the players to make decisions that are normally not allowed. Everyone has an equal say in the setting and set-up of the game, which in turn allows the players to create any characters that they can imagine. The character creation rules and the ability to call for scenes allows the player to determine precisely the story that he wants to play through and have a hand in it's development. When the player wants a conflict, which will develop his character in some significant way, he can not only call for that particular conflict, but also set it's stakes and use Well-being to ensure success when necessary. Players are also given narrative authority over their own failures in a conflict, simultaneously a big responsibility and a hell of a lot of fun. Lastly, the Experiences that a character gains have a direct effect on any related scenes later, allowing the player to build up the necessary resources to achieve his future goals. Failures and successes both build the character up, but never have to come into play mechanically unless the player chooses.
   All in all, the game has a lot of player choice, and it's all meaningful choice.

What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
   Manaka uses conflict resolution, where each side in the conflict chooses their stakes, and one side (usually the player, as most conflicts are GM vs. player) rolls 4dF, adding their conflict attribute and subtracting their opponent's.  If the total is 0 or more, the rolling side wins.  If it's lower than 0, then the player has an opportunity to sacrifice their character's physical and mental health to try and succeed.  The results of a conflict, whether they win or lose, give the player an “Experience.”  If they lose, then the Experience can be used to get a penalty for a conflict related to it, and an XP.  If they win, then the Experience can be used to get a bonus for a conflict related to it, if they spend an XP.

How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
   The ability to use Well-being to get a second chance to succeed means that the player can ensure that they get what they want, at the price of the character's health.  This sets up an interesting decision for the player, in the game.  What is the most important, the stakes that the player set themselves, or the character's Well-being?  It lets them constantly make this kind of decision, which is part of the core of the kind of stories that Manaka is designed to create.

Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
   Characters definitely develop in the game, by gaining a sort of character trait that allows them to gain bonuses to particular later rolls.  It's not quite the same thing as character development in other games, but it has a similar effect. 

How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
   By participating in conflicts, the character gains these traits, so doing so is, as mentioned above, positively reinforced.  The game is solidly about conflicts and building stories that consist of related conflicts that build to a head, so providing the players with resources that can be built by getting into a series of related conflicts, and that can be utilized to overcome adversity when the climax hits, I have hopefully provided a solid rules-structure for that kind of story.

What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
   Ideally, throughout the game the players will have a lot of fun developing the story arcs of every character at the table.  At the end of a game session, the players will all sit back and be excited about the things that happened in those stories, and the statements that were made about what is important to themselves and their characters.  In-game, the characters have started from a gripping situation and followed a story filled with conflict, pain, and finally triumph, and the players should get enjoyment out of having created all of it.

What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
   Conflicts (any point at which two characters want mutually exclusive things) are the core of the game and the vast majority of the rules are written to make them important.  I feel like the core of a good story, rather than being just a series of related events that may or may not be interesting, is conflicts that connect to and build off of each other, and conflicts that the players themselves create and want, so I've emphasized that through the rules in Manaka.

Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
   Really, each part is incredibly interesting to me. Manaka is a combination of all manner of game mechanics and ideas from other games that I have put together with my own.  My favorite individual bit is the Experience mechanics, which I described above.  I really like the idea of having rolls being affected by the outcome of rolls that came before them (something games like Sorcerer, TSoY and DitV feature), but combining with a player-initiated development mechanic makes it a nice little package that really drives the game forward.

Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
    I think that the explicit way which characters, conflicts, and experiences work together is something that no other game really does, but I hate saying that since it's hard to be familiar with everything.  I think the best answer to this question is that while most of the stuff in Manaka has been in other games (you know, nothing new under the sun), the combination of rules is definitely a new one.

What are your publishing goals for your game?
   I'm planning on getting it together as a pdf and selling it through an online pdf retailer, maybe RPGnow.  If it catches on, or I just get the urge, I may want to sell it through a print-on-demand retailer like lulu.com, but that's speculative at best.

Who is your target audience?
   My target audience was literally my wife, but the things she likes in an RPG aren't unique to her.  The most important thing to her is that the rules don't get in the way of the story and the game, that they are minimize and can be quickly used without having a lot of abstract and complicated mechanics getting involved.  The ability to create a variety of characters and play in a variety of settings are also an important feature of a game in her mind.  Basically, the target audience of Manaka is anyone who has ever watched a movie or read a book and thought “I want to play that in an RPG,” but every game they hit upon was too caught up in the the wrong kind of complicated rules, and didn't actually support the same kind of story as the media being referenced.



I'm not really sure where I could host a copy of the game for people to take a look at, but if anyone has any ideas towards that front, I'd appreciate it.
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-- Chris Rogers
D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Member

Posts: 6

Battlestations!!!


« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2006, 04:57:54 PM »

Chris:
   .01 Why have a GM if the players have so much narrative control?
   .02 You may have a problem with a sort of Conflict Spiral, if every conflict makes future conflicts easier, a lot of characters will get involved in every conflict and eventually be unstoppable. This could be solved, I think, by reducing character conflict effectiveness after climaxes( denouement.)
My two cents:
-Paul
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--D. Paul Wilson-Henry
TonyLB
Member

Posts: 3702


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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2006, 05:53:16 PM »

Also,
  03. Is "My character sacrifices his well-being to the point of dying well before when his conflict would otherwise climax" an appropriate ending for a story in your game?
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dyjoots
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2006, 07:13:13 PM »

Definitely good questions, guys.

D. Paul Wilson-Henry:

I think that the GM serves a necessary role in the game that is altered significantly by eliminating a single GM player and distributing all of the GM-duties to the other players.  I did actually consider eliminating the GM, but I'd rather keep one player as the "non-player character and conflict opposition person" rather than splitting it up.

I'm not sure that there is a Conflict spiral problem as you discuss; not every conflict makes the character more capable.  Each conflict that a character gets into will develop the character, by providing him with a Positive or Negative experience.  A Positive experience does make a character better, but only provides bonuses to the character if they have XP to spend on each use.  When a player chooses to use a Negative experience, they do get an XP to spend on future uses of any Positive experiences, but they also have to take a penalty to a conflict roll to do so.  I think there is a potential problem of everyone wanting to get involved in every conflict, but since Experiences are only useful in conflicts that are related to the Experience, I think that sort of thing will be minimized.

One of the things that I find interesting about the Experience system is that it means players can set up a series of conflicts that they will gain and use Negative experiences on (thereby failing them), while utilizing the XP gained from said Negative experiences to power their Positive conflicts in another area of their characters' lives.  Think of it like this: Peter Parker has a rough home life, but when he's Spiderman, he almost always wins.  In home-life related conflicts, he gains and uses Negative experiences (gaining XP in the process), while in superhero related conflicts, he uses that XP to power his Positive experiences and often comes out on top.  Does that make sense?


Tony:

Losing all of your Well-being doesn't necessarily result in the character's death, just their removal from the current story.  Also, since the player gets to make the choice that this conflict is worth dying over, then I think it may in fact be an acceptable end to the story.
I'm going to get very spoilery about the movie Serenity for a moment, so anyone who hasn't seen it would do good to skip the next couple of lines.

In the movie, there is a scene where Mal and his crew are beset with overwhelming odds.  Actually, there are a lot of these scenes, but the one I'm thinking of in particular is when they have just dragged a large portion of the Reaver armada into a head on collision with a large portion of the the Alliance armada.  There are ships and explosions everywhere, and Wash has to outmaneuver the entirity of both fleets to get to safety.  If you've seen the movie, then you know that he is able to do so, but, as in Manaka, he sacrifices his Well-being to do so.  When I watched the movie, this made an impact, and while it was sudden and happened well before the climax of the entire story, I think that it was a very cool scene.

End of potential spoilers!

That being said, I think you do have a point that I need to address about using the last point of Well-being a character has to try and succeed.  The above example is far from the only example out there of character's taking the ultimate step to achieve their goals, it's just a recent example and one that I thought was particularly good.  Perhaps the spending your last available point of Well-being should allow you to achieve your goals no matter what the roll is... I'll have to think about it.
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-- Chris Rogers
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2006, 04:48:32 AM »

Heya,

Quote
Characters are defined by Traits, which can be anything at all that the player finds interesting about the character, including superpowers and relationships

-How are traits in your game decided?  Like, what are the limits and constraints you give the players to help them create their characters.

Quote
The game strongly rewards getting involved in conflicts, no matter what the outcome.

-Does this include getting involved in other people’s conflicts?

Quote
Players are also given narrative authority over their own failures in a conflict, simultaneously a big responsibility and a hell of a lot of fun.

-What mechanics do you have to make sure that a failure “hurts” and that players don’t soften the blow of their own defeat.

Quote
Manaka uses conflict resolution, where each side in the conflict chooses their stakes, and one side (usually the player, as most conflicts are GM vs. player) rolls 4dF, adding their conflict attribute and subtracting their opponent's.  If the total is 0 or more, the rolling side wins.  If it's lower than 0, then the player has an opportunity to sacrifice their character's physical and mental health to try and succeed.  The results of a conflict, whether they win or lose, give the player an “Experience.”  If they lose, then the Experience can be used to get a penalty for a conflict related to it, and an XP.  If they win, then the Experience can be used to get a bonus for a conflict related to it, if they spend an XP

-Interesting.

Quote
Characters definitely develop in the game, by gaining a sort of character trait that allows them to gain bonuses to particular later rolls.

-Are these the same kind of Traits a character gets in the creation phase of the game?

Quote
Conflicts (any point at which two characters want mutually exclusive things) are the core of the game and the vast majority of the rules are written to make them important

-Very good.

Peace,

-Troy
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dyjoots
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2006, 07:07:39 AM »

I'm gonna go line by line, just to follow form.

-How are traits in your game decided?  Like, what are the limits and constraints you give the players to help them create their characters.

The current character creation rules come in two phases.  The first phase consists of the player writing a "set-up" for the character, which includes a narrative description, much like HeroQuest and The Pool, and like those games, a character's Traits are drawn from that narrative.  Traits mainly serve as a guideline for thinking about how and what a character does in a situation, like descriptors in Sorcerer, and have little mechanical impact.  The second phase is actually deciding how much control over particular kinds of conflicts you want to have as a player, and assigning points to conflict attributes.

Quote
Quote
The game strongly rewards getting involved in conflicts, no matter what the outcome.

-Does this include getting involved in other people’s conflicts?

Yes and no.  Any conflict you get involved with, by setting up stakes and consequences with an opponent, will result in you getting an Experience.  However, Experiences are only beneficial if you continue to get involved in related conflicts, so you have the choice to be involved in a large number of unrelated arcs, which means that the Experiences you gain will have fewer benefits, or a small number of related arcs, which means your Experiences will have more benefits.

Quote
-What mechanics do you have to make sure that a failure “hurts” and that players don’t soften the blow of their own defeat.

At the beginning of a conflict, the stakes of the conflict are set.  Here's what happens if Side A wins, and here's what happens if Side B wins.  The only mechanical rule about narration is that the stakes must be resolved by the dice.  There are social rules like "Don't be a dick," and "Be willing to take suggestions," but there are no mechanics to enforce them.
Since the resolution of the stakes is the only thing that the dice resolve, your character can be a badass and fail without "whiffing," or you can hose him narratively without suffering any mechanical issues. 

Quote
Quote
Characters definitely develop in the game, by gaining a sort of character trait that allows them to gain bonuses to particular later rolls.

-Are these the same kind of Traits a character gets in the creation phase of the game?

Oh, no, sorry.  Experiences don't work like Traits; they have a much larger impact on success or failure in conflicts when used.


Thanks for the questions!  They really help me sort things out and make sure that I have my shit together when I'm talking about the game.
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-- Chris Rogers
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