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Different goals at different scales of play

Started by Julian Kelsey, April 19, 2002, 12:35:24 AM

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Julian Kelsey

I've had two game ideas on the boil for some time, now I'm thinking that although they have different goals they may fit together well in play.

System One revolves around a simulation of the give and take of advantage in conflicts. It favours actor and author stances, but allows director stances in describing why advantage is gained or lost, before final moments of resolution.

System Two is focused on balancing narrative power, it allows players to call for scenes, creating new or involving existing elements (characters, locations, objects, facts), setting limits on consequences, and proposing levels of risk.

Todays bright idea: Use System One as the mechanism for in scene play, with System Two being used to establish scenes. The risks and limits set for the scene in System Two become a resource spent by the mechanism in System One.

Questions: 1. I'm wondering if there are other deliberate blends of this type around? 2. Any thoughts about potential problems in working on this type of design?

Ron Edwards

Hi Julian,

Both Violence Future, by Dav Harnish, and Trollbabe, by me, are deliberate attempts at this very thing. Neither is available yet but both are near completion and should be available before GenCon.

I've moved this thread to RPG Theory because it brings up a comparative question about existing games, and does not present an actual game design. I didn't close the thread because I do think it's relevant and important.



I am... contemplating... a design which emerged from thoughts around mesopotamia and the long term setting developement.  Part of the concept would in effect mean designing two games... one in which society is experienced, and one in which it is manipulated.

Another thought on the relative experience of players and GM's, in a conventional play structure.  From the GM's perspective, A Character is a set of mechanical values within the broad structure of the mechanics.  From the players perception, the mechanics realise the character and then radiate out, attenuate, across the game world (note: not the broad mechanics per se, from the players perspective).  Does this offer the potential for variable mechanics - for different characters to actually have different mechanical rules on their character sheet?  The rules the GM uses then become a nexus for mediating rule types, rather than rule results.  The rules the players use exist to define action, not to "measure against a yardstick" for generic comparison purposes.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Gordon C. Landis

I think Story Engine approaches these goals, though it may not reach them.  I actually think that these "themes" can be traced back through a lot of the discussion here on the Forge (even back to GO), that many people (including me - my current thoughts/design is uncannily mirrored here, especially as far as the "resource from 2 are spent in 1" bit goes) are working on game designs that are focused in this direction, and I'm really looking forward to what everyone comes up with.

I guess that's question 1 - I know of no existing RPG that does this EXTENSIVELY/explictly, though Story Engine - and now that I think of it, Hero Wars via the "resource" of (e.g.) a relationship being applicable to gain a current-scene advantage - moves in this direction.  On question 2 . . . the issues I'm looking at center around making sure that what the "system" encourages is the kind of play you desire.  I think some of the issues folks pointed out in The Pool apply here - will it always be to your advantage to "risk it all" by spending your resource?  Is there a "break point" - always risk half your resource?  What are the play-style consequences of these issues?

I'm at the point where my ideas in this area will probably best be expressed by completing my system (sigh . . . there's never enough time), but hopefully there's something useful/interesting here.  Like I said, I think this is a GREAT area for inquiry/design effort, and I'm looking forward to the results.

Gordon (under construction)

Walt Freitag

I have to enter a "me too" here as well. My particular quest is to nest them. System 2 establishes a story framework whose reasouces are spent in System 1. System 1 on occasion creates new, smaller, temporary instances of System 2 (call them chapter frameworks) whose resources are spent in smaller-scale instances of System 1 and so forth down through "scenes" and possibly smaller units of dramatic action. All very sketchy and I'd really rather have one system rather than two that alternate in layers, but the two-phase approach has appeared more practical so far. This is because it doesn't work to have the level of abstraction increase steadily with each level down, as the transition from System 2 to System 1 does; instead, it's necessary to return to thinking at the situational level (which is what System 2 does) at each new level of (smaller) scope.

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere