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Author Topic: [Providence] Big Three  (Read 2568 times)
Kyle_M
Member

Posts: 4


« on: September 07, 2006, 10:24:29 AM »

Hey all, I'm totally new to this forum, but the information I've gathered from it so far has been invaluable.  It has truly helped me get organized and focused.  I would appreciate any feedback on my idea for the game I'm currently working on.  Thank you in advance for you comments and time spent!

Providence n. 1. Foresight 2.  The care, guardianship, and control exercised by divine direction. 

1. What is your game about?

Providence is a modern day RPG that examines an ongoing and all-encompassing conflict between “right” and “wrong”.  Providence is a darker game as it asks players to analyze themselves as much as their characters.  Although the tone is filled with fear, horror, and desperation, there are moments of triumph, heroics, and integrity.  The game is about making choices and how the choices we make directly impact not only those immediately around, but perhaps the entire human race.  This is not a game of good and evil and black and white.  I’m choosing to focus more on individuals trying to do the “right” thing, even if the tools they choose to accomplish this are less than moral.  Using the idea that agents of “wrong” are ever present around us at all times, the central characters (players) are individuals who are involuntarily thrown into this ongoing conflict and given the ability to not only recognize these agents of “wrongness” for what they are, but to stop them.  The trick is that they are left to their own devices in deciding what is “right” way to do it.   Providence takes the elements of moral choice, corruption, and redemption and analyzes them in a microcosm.  The setting of this game is an environment in which moral decisions are made by the second, where individuals decide their place in the world, and where some of the most frightening and fantastic events in a person’s life can occur:  College.

2.  What do the characters do?

Characters are college students at a pretentious University.  Each character has been gifted with the ability to perceive the darker elements of reality, be it moral corruption in their professors, hatred and revenge in the quiet girl in the back of the classroom, or the presence of actual, physical evil, looming in lonely classrooms of the college’s buildings at night.  These forces are the opponents the characters have chosen to stand against.    Characters will be tasked with investigating and eliminating these forces, all while adhering to the strict and sometimes harsh social rules of their university.  A demon is possessing a fraternity member and is using the boy to commit unspeakable acts to unsuspecting coeds?  Kill the frat boy? Exorcise the demon?  How does one go about exorcising a demon exactly?  Look it up online?  Is Andy going to want to go out tonight?  Do I believe enough for this spell to actually work?

Players will need to stay healthy, mentally stable,  and most important out of jail in order to accomplish this, and don’t forget about midterm examinations and pledge period.

3.  What do the players and the GM do?

The GM facilitates the story, creates scenarios for the players to engage in, and roleplays the parts of NPC’s.  The players portray “gifted” students who, against their own volition, have been thrust into a conflict that has waged since the beginning of time.  Players will be united by their (hopefully) common goals, but more importantly by the idea of safety in numbers, as their knowledge has made them marked men and women.  The players central purpose will be to make choices and decide how to deal with the problems they encounter, and specifically, which right is the most right and which wrong is the least wrong.  In providence, the moral choices made by the players and those they interact is paramount and far more important than any other conflict.  Every occurrence of violence, bloodshed, kindness, and hope are the results of a choice made by an individual.  It is the players responsible to give thought to their choices and the GM’s responsibility to take them to cross for it.

The players and the GM work together on one of the most important aspects of Providence, the University itself.   Players and the GM will create the social strata, course structure, fraternities, etc. of the world in which they will be playing, using a system which allows each player and GM alike to participate equally in the creation of the environment.

Thank you again!

Kyle
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Kensan_Oni
Member

Posts: 21


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2006, 10:33:20 AM »

I love your concept, I have no problems...

except for the name. Unfortunatly, it's already been taken. (Can't find an offical website, but here is an indepth review of the game world http://www.gamingoutpost.com/articles/unregistered_author/33/providence_main_rule_book/
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Kyle_M
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2006, 10:37:59 AM »

Good to know!  Thanks a ton, will get back to the drawing board.


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Anders Larsen
Member

Posts: 270


« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2006, 05:52:21 AM »

Hi and welcome to The Forge!

You have an interesting concept here. It seem like you have a clear idea for what kind of moral dilemma you what the characters and players to deal with, but it is unclear how you actually will get the players to engage in these dilemmas.

You write: "The GM facilitates the story, creates scenarios for the players to engage in, and roleplays the parts of NPC’s". This is very general, and don't say much about the GM's role. So I have some questions about this:

* What tools do the GM have that he can use to put the characters (and players) into situations that address the themes of the game?

* Is there some other motivations for the players to put there character into these situations?

 - Anders
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Kyle_M
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2006, 09:33:46 AM »

Hey Anders!

Thank you for your comments, I'll do my best to answer.


You have an interesting concept here. It seem like you have a clear idea for what kind of moral dilemma you what the characters and players to deal with, but it is unclear how you actually will get the players to engage in these dilemmas.

You write: "The GM facilitates the story, creates scenarios for the players to engage in, and roleplays the parts of NPC’s". This is very general, and don't say much about the GM's role. So I have some questions about this:

* What tools do the GM have that he can use to put the characters (and players) into situations that address the themes of the game?

* Is there some other motivations for the players to put there character into these situations?

 - Anders


I think it might help if I talk about a few of my influences for this game.  Alot of the "action" and plot that I see happening stems from situations in movies and books that I've seen/read.  Think Stir of Echoes, The Repairman Jack Novels, The Face by Dean Koontz, and The Shield tv show.   

The dilemma that I'm interested in examining with the players does assume that the characters will want to do the right thing in a situation.  The fun will be trying to decide not only what is right but how to accomplish it.  I am a social worker in the professional field, and it constantly amazes me how good people will sometimes do evil things in the name of good, and vice versa.  My thought is that the characters all share the common ability to percieve agents of "wrongness".  They either inherited it or recieved as the result of some kind of trauma(car accident, hypnotism, etc).  The "wrongness" could be present in people or an actual spirit of some kind.  I'm also toying with the idea that these people can sense that ability in others, sort of like The Shining and in Stire of Echoes.  As to actually engaging the PC's into these conflicts I have two ideas.  First, knowing that you can see these things that no one else can makes you an outcast, thus you would be drawn to others with the same gift simply out of seeking solace and safety.  My idea is that an initial scenario, exposes all of the characters to a nasty dilemma.  Like a football player at a peprally is shrouded in darkness, and the next day he turns up brutally murdered.  The other path of engaging the players would be these sinister forces are targetting them because of their very ability to see them for what they are.  The "right" (if you will) isn't going to help them. There in lies the free will vs. heart of darkness conflict.

Now to you actual questions!

1.  The GM will have the ability to use the landscape (both physical and mental) of the actual University to throw the players into situations in which these agents are involved.  Some preparation will be required, because aside from setting up the conflict, the important piece of this game is to ensure that the solution to said conflict is not clear cut, kill monster loot body.  There must be something to lose in each scenario, be it mental stability, freedom, etc.  More specifically, I plan on giving copious examples to GM's on the types of wrongness that the players can encounter.  The GM portrays the moral gray area, the majority of all life(and unlife) in the game.   Thus, through saturation, the GM will essentially be able to surround the players with a morally ambiguous environment.  The college theme just seemed so natural for a world like this.

2.  An excellent question!  Essentially, this game is about a war between right and wrong.  Basic moral codes include similar models for what is right and wrong.  I'm not looking to challenge law or religion, just basic principal.  The "right" does not intervene, except for choosing "champions" (player character) by giving them the gift of sight.  The "wrong" however surrounds us and subtly influences our actions.  On a macro level, learning instutions are a prime place because each side of the conflict can have a hand in shaping the leaders of the future.  Initially, the players and their characters will have limited knowledge about this conflict.  However, as they continue to be exposed to this world and (hopefully) make the right choices, they will metaphysically take the road less traveled and more towards enlightenment.  In game terms, soul is a statistic from 1 to 10.  All PC's start at a 5.   When you reach 0 you're unsavable, and aligned with the "wrong" and conversely 10 means you've chosen a place in the world and are on your own path and it is intact.  I see a campaign lasting several sessions to accomplish, but there is an actual endgame.

Thank you again for your comments!  I am really enjoying the feedback.  Keep it coming!
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Anders Larsen
Member

Posts: 270


« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2006, 05:29:38 AM »

Ok, I can see you have a very solid concept, so I do not have any further questions or comment about that. But I am interesting I your thoughts on the mechanics of the game. So here are some question about the system:

* How do the characters evolve through the game? (you have mention a soul stat - is there anything else)

* What is the reward cycle(s)? What are rewarded and what are punished?

* What resources do the players have to work with when they face a conflict?

If you have other interesting concepts in the system, I will, of cause, also like to hear about them.

 - Anders
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Kyle_M
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2006, 11:50:53 AM »

Thank you again for the feedback.  Let's see what we have here:

* How do the characters evolve through the game? (you have mention a soul stat - is there anything else)

I'm trying to keep the system simple, but not to simple.   During chracter creation, players would recieve a total amount of points to divide between the main statistics.  Right now I'm looking at Body, Mind, Personality, and Spirit.  Body is the physical stuff, Mind is the mental, Personality is the social aspect, and Spirit is basically how much your character "believes".  I haven't decided on hit point yet, but I'm thinking of just calling them health, and they're derived from your body or your spirit, whichever is higher.  (I always liked the idea of the puny character who is hard to kill).  Health won't increase during play, you are what you are.

The above characteristics will be improved with experience.  I'm thinking of using a PIP system of some sorts.   One of my big issues right now is conflict resolution.  I was thinking of using d4's because they're smaller numbers, meaning every dice you can squeeze into a situation will be helpful and it keeps things close.  I can expand on this more if you want me to.

The soul characteristic however is different.  You can use a soul point to double your dice in a given situation.  I haven't decided how long it will last, but I want it to be a big thing.  You can't regain soul points, when you use them, they're gone.  The only way to increase your soul points is through roleplay and vanquishing agents of the "wrong".  At the end of conflict during a scenario.  The players and GM will discuss each characters actions, motives, etc. and come to a consensus on how many/if any players moved closer towards finding their own path in the world.  So essentially, as your character matures and the player becomes more comfortable with their characters moral code, their soul moves closer towards the "right"

I'm also going to include some satelitte stats and abilities such as: Gifts(this is The Sight that all characters posess), Superstitions(Small, spell like abilities that are very limited in scope, but actually work against some of the entities the players encounter, like using salt to keep demons away, etc.), Status(Bonus dice when interacting with other students), Academic Focus(Players will be able to have a "Major" and a Minor"), and finally Student Standing(freshman, sophomore, etc. each class will have it's own benefits and detriments).

* What is the reward cycle(s)? What are rewarded and what are punished?

Extra dice will be awarded during a conflict for roleplaying your actions out.  I'm going to use a chart to define different actions and possible ways to gain extra dice as examples.  Roleplaying is awarded through experience points to spend on statistics as well as the the players and GM deciding if anyone moved further in their Soul stat.

The way I'm envisioning the system, punishment is built in, in the form of soul loss.  When people do bad things, bad things happen.  I'm interested in the roleplay that the degredation of the human soul can bring.   There will be consequences for actions, whether in the real world or on the moral battlefield.   

Did this answer this question sufficiently?

* What resources do the players have to work with when they face a conflict?

I outlined a of them above.  But resources will be based upon whatever conflict the GM creates.  The two primary tools to combating the Wrong are 1. Superstitions(Crosses keep evil spirits away, etc) and 2. Spells.  Spells will be in game learned devices that are based around a person's spirit or mind.   Spells will not have a real world mechanic and can be custom made.  They don't "do damage" to entities, they can banish them, or protect people.   For example, let's say that the players have discovered that the Wrong has convinced a Art Professor to form a cult, and it's victims that are sacrificed are them entombed in large sculptures around campus.   The players may discover a spell that can release the trapped souls of the victims and use it.  The spell, maybe they looked it up on the internet,or copied from an episdoe of Buffy.  The mechanics are important, it's the characters belief system that is at stake.  Again, not sure if this makes sense.

Also, the characters will have whatever resources they can imagine from the real world beyond the campus, as well as the Campus that they have created with the GM, which will vary each campaign. 

If you have other interesting concepts in the system, I will, of cause, also like to hear about them.

 - Anders


Thank you again for this discussion, just talking about has been extremely helpful!

Kyle
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Anders Larsen
Member

Posts: 270


« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2006, 01:11:05 PM »

Quote
The above characteristics will be improved with experience.  I'm thinking of using a PIP system of some sorts.   One of my big issues right now is conflict resolution.  I was thinking of using d4's because they're smaller numbers, meaning every dice you can squeeze into a situation will be helpful and it keeps things close.  I can expand on this more if you want me to.

Yes, please expand on this. It will properly be best if you make an example that shows how this work. (and what is a PIP system?).

Quote
(...) The players and GM will discuss each characters actions, motives, etc. and come to a consensus on how many/if any players moved closer towards finding their own path in the world.  So essentially, as your character matures and the player becomes more comfortable with their characters moral code, their soul moves closer towards the "right"

It will properly be a good idea to have the players write down their characters moral code one the character sheet. This will make the characters motivations much more clear, which will lead to less discussion.

Quote
(...) The mechanics are important, it's the characters belief system that is at stake.  Again, not sure if this makes sense.

The second to last sentence here does not make sense, or, I do not know what you mean by it. And a more detailed example of how spells work could be interesting.

 - Anders
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Spooky Fanboy
Member

Posts: 585


« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2006, 11:19:52 AM »

Kyle_M:

Have you read and digested Dogs in the Vineyard, by Vincent Baker? Because what you are describing to me sounds an awful lot like DitV, but with one crucial difference: The players are defining "What is Right" as they go along. In DitV, there are already broad outlines, but each character has a voice in how those broad outlines apply to this situation. Here, it seems the characters and GMs are starting with a relatively cleaner slate and adding/subtracting as they go.

If that's what the core of this game is about, then may I suggest something? Each session, the players reach consensus on what The Right Thing to Do in Regards to (Issue at Hand) Is. If they agree unanimously on it, it becomes a Hard Line, something that cannot be compromised. Any action that is taken with that Hard Line gets some sort of bonus to the roll. Also, perhaps, it "unlocks" the Gifts in the game, so as to give the PCs more supernatural ammo to fight the Wrong. These Hard Lines stay from game session to session. Thus, each victory makes the PCs that much stronger, providing they submit to the laws they lay down, and the more Hard Lines they use to guide their actions, the more of a bonus that action gets. 

The GM in this case has no veto power or say in regards to what becomes a Hard Line, although s/he is free to ask for clarification. However, once a Hard Line is ratified, the GM does have say in regards to which actions qualify for a Hard Line bonus. This is because it's the GMs duty to put character's into situations where their Hard Lines are going to come under question, and people might suffer horribly if they're stuck doing the Right thing, or the Right thing will still somehow give a Wrong-feeling result. Don't apply penalties, just let the players stew.

The players *do* have the option of, instead of adding a Hard Line, they can choose (unanimously) to modify/delete an existing Hard Line. However, in the session in which that's done, the side of Wrong gets a certain bonus to any action that furthers that particular Wrong. You can see the dilemma: either the players support, despite whatever happens, an expanding, and thereby constricting definition of what Right is, or they can choose to modify it, and risk Wrong claiming a victory. Either way, that choice is the players' alone, with the GM as the tester of their convictions.

Also, in regard to the college setting: If you want that as part of the game, go for it, and I would recommend that the individual characters get bonuses for meeting their obligations. This creates a secondary temptation for the players: choosing what's Right vs. choosing what's Right for the character. 

This is all suggestion; feel free to use/discard completely. but I still strongly advise looking at Dogs in the Vineyard, and digesting it thoroughly.
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