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Author Topic: [Twilight] Multiple Characters and Presentation  (Read 2784 times)
J Tolson

Posts: 46

« on: April 15, 2006, 04:20:03 PM »

Hello everyone,

Over the last week or so I have been trying to hammer out character sheets for my game and in doing so some potential problems have become more apparent. In trying to figure out how to represent certain information I have come to realize that my conceptions of those bits of information are not as clear as I thought.

Specifically I would like to ask you, the ever knowledgeable reader, as to how one might go about representing a series of “mini-character” on a character sheet. But as that is relatively vague, allow me to add some details.

The game, Twilight of the Gods, is designed to allow player to create and control their own divinities. The basic character sheet would then include those elements that many of us might find familiar such as (more or less) character stats, health/energy, abilities, etc. However, a lot of gods in mythologies have unique items that are often quite powerful: Zeus’ lightning bolts, Pluto’s helmet, Thor’s hammer, Frigg’s necklace, Sun Wukong’s Staff, etc. As such, players have the opportunity to develop (through “Traits”) their god’s innate powers or to develop the same powers in special items (called “Artifices”). A player might develop the Artifice instead of the god simply because improvements are usually cheaper, but with this comes the downside of being able to loose the item or having other’s steal it and use it against the god. These objects are basically mini-characters. They have stats (such as “Mind,” a must for weapons that can fight on their own) and they have near-magical powers (the ability to resurrect the dead, to heal, to embody lightning, etc).

Yet is this too much information for a player to handle? There would be the god’s character sheet, with a section for Worshippers (a post in itself, but basically controlling the culture of the god’s followers), and then at least one sheet to cover a god’s Artifice. However, a god can accumulate several of these and so it would not be impossible for a single player to need to keep track of four or five (or more) sheets of information. I have noticed that in other games people tend to just pay attention to one sheet and so I am slightly worried that by having the information so spread out that players will ignore a significant portion of their character.

Should I rework the artifice system so that there is less information? Other than not having their own worshippers, Artifices are almost exactly like Characters. Should I try to cram more information on a single sheet (it is quite possible, but could lead to overcrowding and thus overload)? Or should I explain Artifices, Characters, Traits, and Worshippers a little more so as to give a better idea of exactly how much information there is? I am mostly concerned with making the necessary information as easily accessible as possible to players.

Thank you for your time,

Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2006, 05:23:53 PM »

Is there really so much information? How much of information is there in relation to a typical d20 game?

What you wrote somehow brings Mutants & Masterminds to my mind. Maybe you should look for M&M character sheet for inspiration.

It certainly is possible to put a lot of information on a two-sided characted sheet, and d20 systems continually prove that ;) Character sheets from d20 are usually very dense, though, and maybe you want some more clarity. Actually we have similar problem in Crystalicum d20, where player can posses a number of artifacts with distinctive characteristics. Unfortunatelly the person responsible for making character sheets didn't finish them yet, so I'm not sure how it will look in the end (we have drafts where everything fits nicely).

If there really is as much information necessary in the game, I don't think it is good to drop out important things in the name of conserving space on character sheet. Probably it's better to have separate sheets in such a case.

Unless every artifact is as mechanically complex as an average d20 character, you can consider making one character sheet with place for a bunch of artifacts. E.g. you could put a chart with general characteristics on one side (one artifact under the other, and statistics in the columns), and provide place for any special traits on the back.

How many boxes do you need for one artifact exactly? How many descriptive traits there is on average per artifact? Do you need any place for detailed descriptive information or a picture?

Clyde L. Rhoer

Posts: 391

« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2006, 11:52:03 PM »

Hi Joel,

Perhaps you can reduce some of the information? You mentioned that the characters have health. Is this necessary? Can God's die? Do you have characteristics to represent physical characteristics, if so why? Are the abilities of Gods measureable by mundane things like Strength, Quickness, etc?

I normally wouldn't do this, but I'm really interested in a game where you play Gods, so let me ask you a few additional questions.
  • What is your game about?
  • How is your game about that?
  • How does your game enforce or encourage what it is about?
  • What do characters do?
  • What do players and the gamemaster do?

So you don't feel like I'm picking on you, variants of these questions used to be asked a lot of everyone posting about a game, but that seems not to happen as often anymore. Here's a thread where I had to first start stumbling with them that explains a little. There is also here, and here. (Scroll down to march 17th for the second link)

Theory from the Closet , A Netcast/Podcast about RPG theory and design.
clyde.ws, Clyde's personal blog.
Anders Larsen

Posts: 270

« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2006, 01:35:08 AM »

From my knowledge of mythology, I can not see why a god should have so many items with so many stats. I can not remember any god that have more than 3 or 4 important items; at least not so important that they could be called an artifice.

It as interesting to handling these artifices as living entities, but I don't think they need many stats, after all these items only have one very narrow purpose. As I see it you only need a short description of its power, a 'Will' or 'Mind' that indicate how hard it is to use and a 'Goal' for what it want to achieve.

But then again, I don't know how closely you want to emulate "real" mythology.

 - Anders

J Tolson

Posts: 46

« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2006, 01:41:00 PM »

Terribly sorry for the long delay, it took me a while to mull over the responses (well, that and college work).

It isn’t so much that a single character sheet will have a lot of information, but that there is certainly the possibility that they can. To start out with, a character would have the five “stats” (Might, Mind, Form, Speed, and Luck), the limits associated with them -- they don’t add a bonus but rather set a limit for how much a character can do an action before hurting themselves, so that a god with a Might stat of 10 might be able to lift a mountain with ease while a god with a stat of 5 still could, but would hurt himself in the process. There are roughly 30ish Traits (a fairly general category of potentially divine powers or associations) and I would like to list those on the sheet. With HP and energy, that isn’t so much. But when one adds a general category of Worshippers (with their own stats, energy, HP/population, and Traits) and Artifices (also with stats, energy, possibly hp, and Traits) then things start getting really long. To offer a mythological example, Odin is one extreme case: Gugnir (spear), Hugin and Munin (his two ravens), Geri and Ferki (his two wolves), Sleipnir (horse), Draupnir (ring), the Mead of Poetry, his Runic knowledge (processes can also be represented in Artifices), his Ase magic, his Seithr magic, his throne (Hlithskjalf, if I recall correctly), the Valkyrie, and the Einherjar (the slain warriors of Valhalla). At the least that is 14 possible Artifices (if the two last were represented as individuals rather than groups, that would be countless more). Thus, even a few details regarding each would quickly take up a great deal of space.

However, the responses made me realize that there is no reason to actually put all 30ish Traits on the sheet for each Artifice. A god may well take most of them at some point over a very long “life” but there I can’t find an example of an associated characteristic or symbol of that god having anywhere near that same diversity of power. Thus, the biggest waste of space (those 30 Traits) can be reduces to a few lines for about 2 or 3 Traits. Thank you everyone.

To answer some specific questions:

Filip, thank you for the tip. I will check out M&M as soon as I can (provided it doesn’t melt in my hand… sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun). On average, I would expect each artifice to have about 2 stats (inanimate having fewer, animate having all 5), a running total for their total cost, probably about 2 or 3 Traits, a place for the specific costs and date added for those traits (since if enough worshippers are killed or lost a god can be reduced in power), and a place for a picture (since often these object became symbols of the gods themselves). Not too much information, but with the possibility of growing a great extent with the addition of new Artifices.

Clyde, it will take a bit to answer your questions so allow me to address Anders first.

Anders, you do have a very good point, though at the same time certain “Artifices” could certainly be rather complex. To give one example, in Twilight Hercules or Sigmund could be represented as the Artifice of a god. These heroes would be fairly similar to a god (differing more in degree of power than anything else) but I suspect those will be far and few between (particularly due to the investment that one would need to devote to them). Hercules in particular would be a complex hero. He’d have his own stats, his own Energy pool, a few Traits (in order to give him his extreme might), but he would also have a few “artifices” of his own, such as his club and lion skin. But still, you have a good point, he wouldn’t be as complex as a god and thus I don’t need to allow for such complexities on a character sheet either.

Clyde, good questions. Yes, a god can die. Indeed, that is what Ragnarok is all about, though Aztec gods could also die, Egyptian gods aged, and Greek gods could starve to death. It certainly isn’t easy for a god to die, but possible. As for stats, well as indicated above they are generally only as “safe” limits for the amount of effort that a god can put into an action. Since several deities were defined by such characteristics (Thor by his might, Athena by the quality of her mind, Mercury by his speed, etc), it seems particularly important to allow players an in-game benefit from these distinctions. As for your “power 5” (to steal a term):

1) Twilight is about allowing players to enact and create their own mythologies by providing a system in which such divine powers can function across cultural spectrums (that is, allowing Quetzalcoatl, Ra, and Tyr to go romping about the universe together, to offer an example).

2) Twilight achieves the above by providing a general conflict resolution system specifically geared towards determining the outcome of divine powers in conflict (such as creating mountains, granting victory in battle to one’s worshippers even though their enemies also have a god on their side, etc). Divine powers are represented through Traits which help direct players into a general mode of thinking (such as, oh I am the god of Art) while still allowing a significant degree of freedom (is this art as literature, art as plays, arts as propaganda, etc) as well as through Artifices, which are themselves the tools of the gods. Further, direction is given to the player (and GM) through three game goals (survival as a god, the prosperity of the god’s worshippers, and the ever looming fate of the Twilight of the Gods). A GM essentially represents Fate itself and is constantly trying to move the gods towards Twilight itself, where the gods are Fated to die (though the characters can also choose to resist Fate and perhaps even live past the end of the world).

3) Actually, I think I answered this in the above, but more specifically the game encourages players to act the part of gods by placing “experience” as a physical manifestation in the game. Through actions worthy of retelling, gods gain more worshippers, and in turn the more worshippers a god has the more powerful that god becomes (while ignoring one’s worshippers can lead to them leaving the faith or being killed, with results in a decrease of power). The GM attempts to move players towards the end of the world through a series of events set up at Character creation (for example, Thor must obtain Mjolnir, Jormungund must be born, etc, all before he can die at Ragnarok). While players can improve their characters by following fate, if they specifically break with one of those events (Thor kills the Midgard Serpent before Ragnarok, for example) they will gain greater narrative control (or controlling fate itself, in game terms).

4) Again, I think I answered this above, but characters attempt to secure their position in the cosmos (Thor is a god of lightning, Zeus is a god of lightning, but there can only be one), they attempt to advance their worshippers (through improving their culture, answering prayers, and protecting them in battle), and they attempt to prepare for (or prevent) the end of the world.

5) Players, at character creation (and, to a lesser extent, throughout the game) define themselves what events must occur before their character can die at Ragnarok. These events, however, are rather vague, and it is up to the player and the GM to actually work out the specifics (how, for example, if Mjolnir made?). This can only be done through a significant degree of meta-gaming negotiation with the GM and other players. Beyond this, the GM provides the general frame work of the game while the player’s provide the specifics (having more control over their own characters, their worshippers, and the associated land).

Sorry if that is a tad… verbose, but I tried to be thorough in my answers.

Thank you everyone for your feedback,

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