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Author Topic: [Burn (Working Title)] - 19 Questions  (Read 4805 times)
reaction
Member

Posts: 30


« on: February 18, 2006, 03:00:07 PM »

All right, obviously I'm incredibly new here, but I'd like a little bit of feedback on my game. So far I've gotten a little positive feedback, but no actual criticism, so I don't really know where I need improvement. First of all, Burn is obviously a working title, I'd no sooner release a game called Burn than one named 'Oh, Snap!' ...although...  Anyway, it's kind of a superhero game, but more a game about mortality and morality.

1.) What is your game about?
The game is about trading away your life for power and trading power for life. Sometimes about the fear of death.

2.) What do the characters do?
The characters use what time they have left to try and make the world a better place, or try to retreat from mortality, living as long as possible.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
The players create superheroes, buying abilities and powers; any remaining points are reserved to represent the time the characters have left. The Narrator works with the players to create epic stories.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? *weak/no answer*
Damn good question.... The setting needs to push back against the characters to give them something to fight against, but must also contain a reason to risk their lives.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Any powers bought by the player take from the amount of time the character has to live.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)? *no idea*
The game should reward heroic and selfless acts, but I don't know that I want to punish players for being selfish.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
If a player sacrifices the last points of the character's life, he may author a dramatic death scene.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Narrator holds most story control, except when players spend points to exert more control.

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?)
Players are involved in a fairly deep char-gen, and are drawn into the story by the tension of time.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
Resolutions are dice pool based.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
The players may sacrifice time points to add successes and otherwise temporarily enhance their character.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Characters do not necessarily advance, but adjust, trading time points for abilities and powers, and vice versa. Also, every session, the character loses a random number of time points, when the character is out of points, they die at some point in the session.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Players have the constant choice between the power to help and the fear of dying. The threat of death is always present.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
Players should feel the tension of the themes of death and potence.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
I need to spend the most time on the trade-offs between points and powers/health regeneration/etc.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
I'm psyched about a superhero game with more inherent choices than "What power should I blast that with?"

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games canít, donít, or wonít?
This game, very obviously, addresses fears of mortality and a person's legacy.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
This will be a free text RPG, and if it's any good it will get a layout and art, and probably be Lulu'd.

19.) Who is your target audience?
My target audience is made of superhero fans who are willing to try something new.


How you can help me:
1.) Do you think the loss of time points is the most effective way to illustrate the theme of mortality?

2.) Would you personally play a game where your character is guaranteed to die, albeit while creating an interesting story?
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Marus
Registree

Posts: 3


« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2006, 04:15:17 PM »

Other than not being able to play the same character again, are there any downsides in the game mechanics to characters running out of time?† Are there any game mechanical benefits of staying alive?† I ask because from your description so far, I think I would always want to play a high powered hero who burns out quickly.† My thought process goes like this:† 1)† No matter what you do, your character has a ticking time bomb on his back anyway, so don't get too attached.† 2)† You can create a very powerful character that'll be able to do lots of cool, fun things and have a high impact in the game, or you can create a schmoe you can play session after session.† 3)† The faster I hit the timeout jackpot, the faster I get special narrative powers.† 4)† And I get to start all over again next session with a new awesome guy!† Now maybe that's a pretty shallow way to think, and maybe there's some other hook in your game that I'm unaware of that would make me think differently if I had more information.† You say that there's "fairly deep char-gen", so maybe that takes care of it -- by the time the player finishes designing the character, he's already invested in it, and wants to see what he can do for a few sessions before burning him out.† How many sessions do you imagine the average character lasting?
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D. Paul Wilson-Henry
Member

Posts: 6

Battlestations!!!


« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2006, 04:49:56 PM »

         My first major criticism lies in the nature of "fairly deep chargen." If the characters are doomed to death any way around it seems    like a lot of time would be spent grinding through deep chargen just to have them die quickly, and end up rinsing and repeating. However, if the chargen isnt mind-bogglingly deep and they don't die too quickly, it could work very well.
        Again, as Marus mentioned, it doesnt seem like there might need to be something to prevent players from going the route he mentioned.
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Daily fighing the forces of Drudgery
"Listen to the Ether" RPG
--D. Paul Wilson-Henry
reaction
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2006, 05:12:42 PM »

Thank you both very much for your feedback, I'm trying to take it directly to heart.

To address the first concern, I've started considering a sort of Time Out, where the player is out of the current storyline, only creating a new character when the story arc is resolved. I'm not sure yet whether or not I like taking a player out of the action for that long, but it does address it.

As for chargen, I'm starting to waffle on that, seeing as I only wanted it to have depth in the hopes that it would create an attatchment. I'm considering a simpler generation, a few stats and then powers, mostly.
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Marus
Registree

Posts: 3


« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2006, 06:10:30 PM »

Matt, if these suggestions aren't going in the direction you want to take your game feel free to ignore them.

I'm assuming your game is set in a gritty superhero world where being a superhero is incredibly dangerous, and heroes generally operate in teams.† I think you ought to design the rules to expect a certain amount of character churn, and you can use the "super team" environment to your advantage.† What I would propose is something like a "trust building" mechanic that allows players' characters to help each others' characters (like lending them bonus points or dice or whatever) but which is capped by the strength of their characters' mutual relationship, which has to be somehow built up over time.† That would encourage characters to stay around in order to build up their bonus ceilings.† Then, when characters do burn out, it can create a big hole in the team and their tactics, and the other character's players will notice a tangible loss something analogous to the loss that their characters are feeling (and the loss of friends and loved ones is a very intersting aspect of mortality).† Personally, I'd be tempted to go even further, and use the strength of relationships with dead characters in some way (e.g. the death of so many of a hero's friends saps his will to keep fighting and he has to operate with penalties, or maybe he draws inspiration from his fallen comrades and "wins one for the gipper").

Also, right now your "time left" countdown mechanic seems very predictable, but mortality usually isn't.† Maybe you could change it so that the "time left" represents a probability that your character lives through the fight, but it's never guraranteed.
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reaction
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2006, 07:34:19 PM »

I like the idea of maybe a Teamwork stat between characters, which increases every session that two characters work together successfully, and could be used to add successes to team actions.

As far as the countdown being predictable, I think I'll wait until I can playtest it to see how it actually works out. Also, the amount of points lost each session is variable can change, as detailed in my reward system idea from my blog:

Quote
During a campaign, each player starts every session by rolling a die type, and losing that many points from their time pool. The die size starts at, say d12, and can be reduced, say to a d10, then to a d6, by roleplaying to the heroic themes of the game.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2006, 09:25:24 PM »

Quote
As far as the countdown being predictable, I think I'll wait until I can playtest it to see how it actually works out. Also, the amount of points lost each session is variable

For some reason, this really rubs me the wrong way.
The randomization bit of it.

For a few reasons:
-I'd hate to die because I rolled a 12, instead of a 1 or 2. That'd be unjust, unfun... and I'd bitch about it.
-The idea is you take a calculated risk in how many life points you spend. Having all that calculation and balancing, and then a huge randomization like 1-10 disappearing seems to ruin what was going to be a fun part of the game.
-What emphasis does this put on your game.

That said, I like the idea of losing points every session. Just not randomized.


Quote
Other than not being able to play the same character again, are there any downsides in the game mechanics to characters running out of time?

Trust mechanism sounds good...
but I have a few other suggestions to throw out there:
  • you gain a "vitality bonus" to rolls, which is equal to your life points. This represents your youth and life energy.
  • every time you generate a new character, you have less life points to spend.

Personally, I like the second suggestion better. If I stay with  3-5% less points each time, staying in means a damn lot more... and it becomes more strategic and less min/maxing.
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reaction
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2006, 09:58:51 PM »

For some reason, this really rubs me the wrong way.
The randomization bit of it.
The method of loss could change in playtesting, since it's the loss itself that's important to the game, not how it's decided. On the other hand, it's quite possible that losing a set amount each session could make it too predictable. I'm sure this will be seen better later.

Personally, I like the second suggestion better. If I stay with  3-5% less points each time, staying in means a damn lot more... and it becomes more strategic and less min/maxing.
The problem with this, is it seems like it tends to punish the heroic players, which would make them over-cautious. I think I need to spend more time on *exactly* how I expect/want the players to play.
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knicknevin
Member

Posts: 105


WWW
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2006, 05:01:15 AM »

I really like this idea; my superhero game, Larger Than Life also gives players a pool of points with which to create their character, but there is no additional result to running out of points.

So, to address the dominant issue here, the time points, what about these suggestions:

1. There is no automatic loss of Time per session

2. A player can spend Time points for guaranteed (?) successes. Given that I don't know the ins & outs of your system, I can't be too specific here, but say that 1 Time point can be spent to give you the maximum possible result you could roll on your die.

3. Is there a combat/threat system? Are injuries represented by a loss of further Time or by action penalties? If the latter, players could buy off the penalty with another Time point.

4. Make it possible to gain Time: obviously, you don't want grant too many Time points per session or players will get an increasing number of points. Again, not knowing the specifics of your rules, how about gambling on actions? A player may invest an additional Time point on any action which carries a genuine risk of failure (maybe there has to be a 75%+ chance of failing the roll?) and collect back 2 Time if they succeed.

Anyway, hope that's all food for thought.
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Caveman-like grunting: "James like games".
reaction
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2006, 05:35:28 PM »

2. A player can spend Time points for guaranteed (?) successes. Given that I don't know the ins & outs of your system, I can't be too specific here, but say that 1 Time point can be spent to give you the maximum possible result you could roll on your die.

Thanks for your input, this is pretty much identical to the basic idea I had for the game. It also works well in contrast to the Grief mechanic that Marus gave me the idea for. Which brings me to a question, is it better for me to continue to post mechanics in this thread in response to ideas, or would it be better for me to start, for instance, [Burn (working title)] - Teamwork and Grief mechanics, and continue discussion/feedback in there? Just wanted to ask before I committed a massive Forge Pas and stretched this thread to infinite.
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David "Czar Fnord" Artman
Member

Posts: 246


WWW
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2006, 11:52:28 AM »

Quote
would it be better for me to start, for instance, [Burn (working title)] - Teamwork and Grief mechanics, and continue discussion/feedback in there

I'd say, yes; in particular as this is a Power 19 thread. I have been informed that Power 19 threads require you to ask about your particular process, not mechanics or specific issues. For instance, "I am having trough with questions 3, 4, and 5--what am I misunderstanding about them or what am I missing in my design?"
(I learned this because I thought Power 19 threads were for a "formal introduction" to your design in general, not the process specifically, until I was corrected and did more reading of Power 19-related posts.)

Besides, it will make it easier for folks to stay involved in a specific issue, if each has it's thread; otherwise, a reader (tends to) get tired of skipping over the subthreads that are "interwoven" among the subthread in which the reader is interested. Tired readers don't post.
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