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Started by Walt Freitag, April 23, 2002, 09:35:20 AM
Quote from: On Pale Fire's 'Ygg take 3' thread in Indie Game Design, Gareth (contracycle)I propose we reconsider a setting thread - an active discussion of manipulating and protagonising setting, and how and to what end such an idea can be used. I think several people have been groping toward a concept which walt has neatly packaged for us.
Quote from: On that thread WaltWhat I'm imagining, in a vague way so far, is a system of metagame rules akin to a complete narrativist game system that is executed in secret and entirely by the gamemaster. This system uses its hero dice or whatever to regulate the GM's (or setting designer's) use of rule exceptions in such a way as to increase their effectiveness while minimizing the adverse effects, such as by keeping the GM on the right side of the fine line between "protagonizing the setting" and arbitrariness. For example, the system could give free-form attributes to parts of the setting ("The Old Forest is Semi-Sentient, Pathless, and Energy-Sapping") and rules exceptions occurring there would each have to tie into an attribute, perhaps with a die pool roll to determine a cost for the exception, paid for out of a limited currency whose starting value would represent the overall "wonderfulness" of that place. A player's direction-finding magic spell is countered by the GM drawing upon the "Pathless" and "Energy-Sapping" attributes of the forest, and if the GM pays the cost the dice determine, the player's magic fails. In other words, let's consider "protagonizing" setting and situation using the same metagame design techniques that have already proven effective at protagonizing characters.
QuoteIncidentally, it was mentioned in the Dramatica article - about how the setting like "driving storm" takes over the confrontational role filled by the supoprting cast.
Quote from: wfreitagFinally, cc (again), all good points. I'm not keen on the recurring setting unless there's a thematic purpose. Coming back to the haunted wood and being spooked yet again would need to have a cumulative or changing meaning of some kind to be worthwhile; merely being spooked in a new different way wouldn't do it for me. In practice I try to minimize recurring settings, which is dodging the problem. A system for characterizing setting might lead to a whole different approach (characters, after all, can be interesting when encountered repeatedly, even if they aren't changing, even more so if they are). A starting point might be, what does a setting learn? (Places don't learn, but characters do, and in stories the one reflects the other.)
Quote from: contracycleSo - is there any reason we can't just declare the setting to be an NPC?For example, HeroWars character description is carried out at least in part by drawing keywords from a 100 word paragraph. There seems to me no reason that a 100 word paragraph about a settlement could not also be mined for keywords and that setting entity attributed with appropriarte values. Especially in the case of social structures, there are a number of parallels with biological organisms, but even ecological habitats can exhibit some of these properties. A mountain range could be given attributes, and this, for example, used as a counter value against the likes of earthquake magic or whatever. The landscape would consist of systemitised objects which are capable of interaction. This would also provide a natural vehicle for locating more exotic elements such as animist spirits, or for rating fortifications and so forth. Again, precedent lies in some of the city supplements which attribute social and economic ratings to neighbourhoods.
Quote from: wfreitagThe descriptions are filled with fantasy adjectives: steep, forbidding, gloomy, ancient, rugged, misty, arid, rocky, vast, stormy, verdant, blasted, icebound, bewildering, broken, bottomless, craggy, splintered, ruined, starlit, eerie, oppressive, trackless, relaxing, broken, torrential, chilling, forgotten -- and no mechanism for making any of these adjectives meaningful in play. Instead, setting descriptions are filled with often poorly play-tested special rules effects ("any character stopping to rest in the peaceful shade by the pool will fall asleep for 5-20 turns") that have no connection to whatever the players are trying to do at the time and so end up being just annoyances.