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Narrativist Diplomacy (long)

Started by xiombarg, May 14, 2002, 09:20:35 PM

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xiombarg

Really more of a Narrativist/Gamist mix, but what can you do? This comes from this thread.

I'm looking for feedback and tweaks, especially from people who, like me, both enjoy RPGs and Diplomacy. If you've never played Diplomacy and want to, I recommend BOUNCED. Comments are still welcome from those who haven't played Diplomacy, of course. ;-)

Narrativist Diplomacy

Familiarity with standard Diplomacy is assumed. Familiarity with RPGs, particularly Narrative ones, helps. The idea here is a game of Diplomacy where one is not aiming to win, but to produce an interesting neo- or pseudo-historical story.

The Premise here is the exploration of the Great Man Theory of history. Even if you think it's a crock, you have to admit it makes for  great, sweeping stories. The idea here is to create such a story, where the actions of a few individuals change nations. Where, in a sense, individuals ARE nations.

1. Gather together players. At least three are needed, five and up is ideal.

2. Pick a Diplomacy map. The decision has to be unanimous, and there needs to be a number of powers on the map no more, and no less, than the number of players. You don't want to have a  country that doesn't have a player, or vice-versa. Check out http://devel.diplom.org/Online/variants.html to find a varient that suits everyone. It shouldn't be hard.

Optionally, one player may sit out and be the GM. This is extremely optional.

3. Unless decided otherwise by unanimous consensus, the rules of Payola Diplomacy, as modified for the board being used, are in effect. (See http://devel.diplom.org/Zine/W1995A/Payola/ for information on this variant.) If you have a GM, you may want to consider playing the game Blind, as outlined in http://devel.diplom.org/Zine/W1995A/Payola/notes.html#blind.

As an aside, Payola Diplomacy is used to add an additional piece of "currency", in this case literally: money.

Another aside: The Payola rules assume a GM. If there is no GM, it is assumed that eveyone will be honest. Perhaps physical money tokens can be used. After all, if the point isn't to win, but co-operate together on a story, why cheat? However, if this bothers you but you prefer not to have a GM, just use the normal Diplomacy rules, as modified below, rather than Payola. It's almost as good.

If all players agree, other rules varients can be indroduced; there are too many to mention here.

4. Everyone chooses countries as is usual in Diplomacy , or as the group prefers. Money is associated with a particular power, not a particular persona. (More on this later.)

5. Once powers are chosen, the players should brainstorm a context, a historical situation that they are going to act within. Some sort of historical or pseudo-historical context is associated with the map, and the players can choose to go with this or to make something else up that uses the same map. The idea here is to create a context to creat personas in.

6. Each player creates a set of personas associated with their country. Essentially, one is creating the Great Men (and/or Women) associated with the Great Power in question. The important things to define is the way the persona relates to his/her country, and their major personality quirks, especially in regard to negotiation. Also, the player may want to define "recent events" in their country, as Narrativist Diplomacy is often an exercise in alternate history.

A player can create as many or as few personas as he likes, but he has to create at least one.

Example: Bob is controlling Italy on the standard map. Bob has decided that in this particular version of history, Italy had a Soviet-style communist revolution in 1898, and has created pesonas appopriately. The first is Benito Travia, who is has the position of "party negotiator" -- he conducts the most important negotiations with foreign countries. Benito is fiery, insistent, passionate about communism, and unwilling to compromise. In contrast, the "less important" foreign policy is handled by the Party President, Luigi Vancetti. Luigi is cool, collected, cynical, and has a weakness for pretty women. When talking to other countries, Bob will take on the role of either Benito or Luigi, describing either a face-to-face conference with one or the other or correspondence.

Each player should decide the connection between their own personas, and how they feel about each other. Bob decides that Benito hates Luigi, because Benito suspects Luigi slept with his wife. However, Benito hides this under a veneer of professionalism and communist zeal. On the other hand, Luigi likes Benito, considering him a dependable ally with a beautiful wife.

Players can create new, "minor" personas at will, as needed for the story. For example, Bob may choose to define the personality of Benito's wife, as she has effects on the story, even if she never directly negotiates with foreigners.

These "minor" personas (personas that affect the story but do not directly decide/affect a country's policy), may be "gifted" to another player, if the creating player and the player recieving the "gift" agree. This adds some interesting randomness to these relations, and the controlling player may choose to add some depth to the character. Bob asks Mary to play Benito's wife, Tara. Mary accepts, and expands on the character, deciding that Tara is, indeed, having an affair with Luigi, and secretly desires a return to monarchism, with herself as Queen.

7. After everyone has created personas, choose a player at random and then proceed clockwise around the table, each player taking a turn.

On each player's turn, the player must make a statement that links his character to another player's character. It doesn't matter how odd this linkage is, just so long as it makes sense. If there is a GM, the GM can veto connections that don't make sense.

This becomes an established fact for the purpose of the game, and cannot be contradicted by the players that follow the player making the statement. It may help to draw a diagram of these connections as they are created.

After everyone has had a turn, players can propose other connections as well, if they like. These optional connections become a fact only if both the players whose personas are being connected agree.

When everyone is done with their turns and proposing optional connections, proceed to the next step.

8. Going in reverse order from the previous step, each person gets to add an "exception" to the game. An "exception" is a rule that reflects a certain reality of the game in a direct game-mechanical fashion. It can be anything, really. The idea here is not to create something that give you a huge advantage, but to represent those odd little hiccups in history that even Great Men have to consider, such as the quirky histories of individual places on the map.

When it is Bob's turn to make an exception, he decides that whenever someone conquers Rome, they have to pay 10 silver pieces to make sure they handle the potential propaganda problems surrounding the Pope correctly. No silver in the account and the order that takes Rome is considered to be a NMR (hold) instead. To make things more interesting, however, he decides if Rome is taken and he has to re-capture it, he has to pay 20 silver pieces, considering the antipathy between the Vatican and his communist regime.

8. Everyone is issued a certain number of Story Tokens, usually equal to 5 minus the number of supply centers you control. Yes, that's right, the weaker you are, the more tokens you get. A token can be spent at any time to do one of the following:

* Turn any order, once revealed, into an NMR (hold). The player spending the token then has to explain why that happened, and make it as interesting as possible. The remaining players then vote: If the majority like the explaination, the unit NMRs, otherwise it does not NMR and the token is lost. Either way, the token is lost.
* Kill off any persona. The person who controls the persona decides how it dies, and can spend a token to turn it into a "brush with death" instead, with an appropriate story. If a player runs out of Great Men (non-minor personas) this way, he can always create a new one. Also, at that time, the player may decide there has been a "change in government", and select new personas to reflect this.

For example, in 1903 Mary decides to spend two tokens to kill Luigi and Benito. Bob is out of tokens, so he has to let them die. He decides that Benito kills Luigi when he discovers Benito in bed with Tara. Luigi is then executed by the state, Bob decides soon afterward a new government is swept into power, controlled by the Vatican. He creates a new leader for Italy, Carindal Vincetti.
* A token can be spent as an extra vote to end or not end the game (see below), and for an extra vote during endgame.
* Introduce a story element. This is a temporary rule change, like an Exception, lasting no longer than one game year, and usually no more than a season. If there is a GM, he can veto these story elements, but the player gets the token back.

For example, later on, in 1906, Bob decides to spend a token to create a Story Element. He declares a particularly harsh winter in Russia. Throughout Fall 1906, no unit in the borders of Russia can move, but neither can they be dislodged.
* Give a token to another player. In that case, just hand your spent token to another player.
* Temporarily disable a persona. By spending a token, a player may declare that a particular persona disabled for one season. The reason for this is decided upon by the player that controls the persona. If all the major personas (those that can negotiate in the name of a country) are disabled, new minor personas may be created to serve as temporary negotators, and existing minor personas may be allowed to negotiate temporarily. This may have the effect of having a player negotiate for another player, but the player that controls a given country ultimately decides what orders are written.
* Extend negotiation by five minutes (see below).

Mary, always the troublemaker, spends two tokens to disable Luigi and Benito. Bob decides Luigi has the flu and Benito has been queitly placed in a sanitarium to recover from the stress of his job. Bob decides that Tara will be negotiating for Italy this season, which means that Mary actually peforms all negotiation for Italy. After Mary tells Bob some of the outrageous things Tara is doing, he invents a new minor character, Mario Calvino, Luigi's mousy and stuttering aide, who takes over for Tara.

9. A "normal" game of Payola Diplomacy is then played, with the following changes to the rules:

* There is no time limit on negotiation. However, for two countries to negotiate, they must agree which persona is talking to which persona, and how (face-to-face, correspondence, exchange of diplomats, whatever). Without such an agreement, no negotiation is possible. During such a negotation, the players must act as appropriate for the personalities in question: The quirks of Great Men are important. Negotiation ends, and orders are written, when a majority vote determines it ends. For the purpose of this vote, a Great Power has one vote per Supply Center it controls. Once a majority of votes declare negotiation over, players have five minutes to finish their negotiations, though tokens can be spent to extend this time (see above).
* At the end of each "year" (during the build phase), there are a number of Story Tokens generated after build orders are put in, equal to the number of players in the game. These tokens are given to the player whose Great Power controls the least number of supply centers. If several players are tied for last, divide the tokens evenly between them, with any "odd" tokens lost. The players who recieved those tokens must give at least half (round down) of their tokens to people who have not recieved any tokens that year.

Example: It's Winter 1910, and Bob is down to only one Supply Center: Rome. His only rival for "least number of SCs" is France, who has 2 SCs. Since Bob is playing on the standard map, there are six other players, so he gets 7 Story Tokens, at least 3 of which he has to give to someone who didn't get any Story Tokens. He decides to give two to France and one to Russia, because Russia's player always does interesting things.
* An "elminated" player can still negotiate and spend Story Tokens. In fact, by definition, someone with no Supply Centers has the least number of supply centers on the board. An eliminated player is still considered to exist for determining the number of Story Tokens generated each Winter (build phase).
* The game does not end until at least 5 build phases have occurred. Also, all standard victory conditions are suspended. Instead, on the 6th and subsequent build phases, there is a vote. Each player gets 1 vote for every supply center controlled, plus one for every token spent. The players vote whether or not to end the game yet. If the majority vote to end the game, proceed to the next step. If not, the game continues.

10. Endgame! Each player gets a number of votes equal to the number of supply centers they control, plus one for each Story Token they still have. The players vote on who gets to perform the Monologue of History. Whoever gets a plurality of votes wins; if there is a tie, hold a run-off election. If there is a GM, people can vote for the GM.

The person who gets to deliver the Monologue of History gets to tie up all the loose ends of the story. Starting where the story generated so far left off, speaking with the voice of a historian, the player describes what happens in the future, the fate of all the personas and countries involved, ending that chapter of history.

Example: Bob's game has ended. Italy and Austria have ceased to exist; most of the map is controlled by Russia, with France, England, and a Turkish-Government-in-Exile hiddling in the West, and a unfied Germano-Austrian state stradding the center of Europe. Bob is elected to give the Monlogue of History. Bob describes, in the dispassionate voice of a historian form the future, how internal dissent caused by the tension between two of the major Russian leaders [two of the Russian player's personas] rips Russia apart, allowing Germany to step in, growing even stronger. In the meantime, the Moorish lands controlled by the exiled Sultan are absorbed by England, and France is forced into a humiliating armistice treaty. The Sultan dies years later of a drug overdose. Bob explains how this sets the stage for the rise of fascism in France, which leads to [an alternate history version of] World War II.

The entirety of the game is oriented toward creating a interesing story upon which to draw for the Monologue of History. Make it good.
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Mike Holmes

Hmmm... Still very Gamist it seems to me. Make it so that you can't possibly win (unless maybe other player make you win), and then you'll have a Narrativist game. Just have different endgame trigger conditions.

Oh, and while I'm at it your metagame tolkens are more desructive than constructive. They should be less about twarting others, and more about creating action. IMO.

Mike
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xiombarg

Quote from: Mike HolmesHmmm... Still very Gamist it seems to me. Make it so that you can't possibly win (unless maybe other player make you win), and then you'll have a Narrativist game. Just have different endgame trigger conditions.
I thought it was clear that you couldn't win. At best, you could force the game to end. Which isn't the same as winning.

QuoteOh, and while I'm at it your metagame tolkens are more desructive than constructive. They should be less about twarting others, and more about creating action. IMO.
I agree, but I couldn't think of a good way to be more constructive. Perhaps if you could spend a token to insert yourself into a negotiation, as a minor character or a spy?

Hmmm, using tokens for espionage has a lot of possibilites. But I'm also welcome to suggestions as to how to spend them "constructively".

I assume, then, Mike, you understand where I'm going with this... ?!Historical narrative IS a story, but not one most Narrativist RPGs support.
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Le Joueur

Quote from: xiombargThe Premise here is the exploration of the Great Man Theory of history.
I've given it the once over, and if 'system matters,' where's the 'system' that makes you a "Great Man?"  Did I miss it in all the links and Diplomacy stuff?  If you plan to explore being a "Great Man," shouldn't that be a force in the mechanics allowing, I dunno, 'Great Deeds?'

Like using your 'Great Man'ishness to force a game situation in your favor?  I remember a simulation we did back in high school of the prelim to world war one.  I got stuck with Switzerland (the names were changed to protect the guilty).  We pulled our team together and in 5 minutes determined, if there was a war, we'd lose.  I charged all our team, as ambassabors, to get out there and find out what the problem was and bring me proposals to fix it.

By force of personality alone, I managed to hammer out some essential treaties and concessions (although frequently I didn't tell who I was dealing with whom they would be 'paying off').  We quickly averted world war, the first and only time that happened in the class (as far as I have heard).  I guess that would make me a "Great Man" of that time.  The funny thing about it was I was very unpopular in school due to certain medical conditions.

Where's the mechanics that support what I did, except in game terms?  If 'system matters,' wouldn't that be what'd make it a Narrativist Diplomacy game?  Just curious.

Fang Langford

p. s. Did I mention that all the A+ students formed Switzerland?
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

xiombarg

Quote from: Le JoueurBy force of personality alone, I managed to hammer out some essential treaties and concessions (although frequently I didn't tell who I was dealing with whom they would be 'paying off').  We quickly averted world war, the first and only time that happened in the class (as far as I have heard).  I guess that would make me a "Great Man" of that time.  The funny thing about it was I was very unpopular in school due to certain medical conditions. what'd make it a Narrativist Diplomacy game?  Just curious.
You've never played Diplomacy, have you? :)

What you describe happens routinely in every game of Diplomacy. It's not explicitly outlined in the rules, but the rules (and the way most maps are designed) set up a condition where it is next to impossible to accompish anything without aid from another country, and this requires hardcore negotiaton abilities. I've done things similar to what you describe several times in face-to-face Diplomacy. Sometimes several times in a single negotiation. Sheer force of personality is more important than supply centers, money, or anything else. It moves mountains.

So the rules of Diplomacy already support this. They have for years. It's an extremely good ruleset for forcing that sort of thing, without explicitly seeming to do so. That's why I think it has untapped potential as a Gamist underpinning to a Narrativist game.

Therefore with Narrativist Diplomacy, I wanted to keep this aspect of the game, while removing the gamist need to "win". This aspect of the game is really contained in the basic Diplomacy rules for "support" -- check out http://www.hasbro.com/instruct/Diplomacy.PDF to see what I mean. It's really quite clever. You CANNOT push a unit around without another unit to help, and more often than not, you don't have the units needed to to this yourself. Consider that, at the start of the game, most ocuntries have at most three units for both attack and defense.

So the trick is to keep those gamist elements of Diplomacy that support/require negotiation (limited resources, the need for support, the convoy move, etc.), while removing the stuff that prevents long term co-operation (the fact that in the vanilla version of the game, only one person can "win"). And while I was at it, I wanted to enhance the role-playing aspects of the negotiation -- which is one of the reasons I eliminated the time limit on negotiations, and made it possible to extend negotiations with tokens, and added "personas", which many Diplomacy players adopt anyway. (Or, at least, I do.)

As an aside, if you've never played Diplomacy before, ignore the Payola Diplomacy rules and try to understand the game in terms of the basic Diplomacy rules: http://www.hasbro.com/instruct/Diplomacy.PDF All Payola Diplomacy does is add an additional layer of treachery and another arena for negotiation, but the heart of why I thought Diplomacy could be played "Narrativist" is in the basic ruleset.

In fact, if anyone doubts that negotiation is more important than anything else in Diplomacy, I'll be happy to try and set up a "Forge only" game on the BOUNCED server, and within, oh, two years of game time (four turns) you'll probably see what I mean. The need for hardcore negotiation is already there. What I want to do is add a layer of story on top of it, and remove "winning" as a relevant issue.
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contracycle

Oh, I totally agree - I remember playing Dip with about a mover per hour, not becuase they are hard or anything, but because everyone had to update their secret deals with everyone else after every move.  :)  It's great.  This is not a wargame called "diplomacy" by accident.

I very much like this princicple, although I do have some concerns about translation into RPG.  My current project is based on Brehon law and I think I now understand enough to track every cow in the celtic cattle economy - what I am trying to do now is build the underlying game aspect of cattle farming on top of which another rules layer governing characters would rest.  The idea is that, both as characters and players, the participants must play the objective cattle game as well as their subjective character personality game.  I'm struggling slightly with developing such an internal mechanic, but its interesting (yes, that is a dangling lure if anyone has suggestions).

PS: I would be willing to play in Forge game of diplomacy, or history of the world, and other stuff like that (matrix games frex) on the basis that I think there IS a gap here (which both Birthright and Aria tried to fill) and that much of what I think we need has been developed or at least examined from the board gamers point of view.
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Le Joueur

Quote from: xiombargYou've never played Diplomacy, have you? :)
Sorry, no.  Nobody around here wants to play board games. :(

Quote from: xiombargWhat you describe happens routinely in every game of Diplomacy. It's not explicitly outlined in the rules, but the rules (and the way most maps are designed) set up a condition where it is next to impossible to accompish anything without

...which is one of the reasons I eliminated the time limit on negotiations, and made it possible to extend negotiations with tokens, and added "personas", which many Diplomacy players adopt anyway. (Or, at least, I do.)
Now, I'm just asking out of curiosity; I'm not trying to be difficult or annoying, but the above suggests to me that while Diplomacy has no Narrativist rules, it both 'doesn't get in the way' and 'leaves no other option.'  That'd be Abashed Narrativism, wouldn't it?

Next, so you've increased the rules for negotiations and characterization.  To me this suggests that in order to become what you want, Diplomacy does need more system.  It sounds like it goes 'part way' towards what you want, close enough you can 'taste it,' but definitely doesn't get there without a fair amount of change.

Finally, what does this have to do with Narrativism?  Sure you've added more formal negotiation, personifications, and such, but I don't see any implicit or explicit exploration of Premise.  "The exploration of the Great Man Theory of history" is listed as the premise, but that poses no question.  In my understanding, Narrativism is about players exploring a Premise to create a theme that 'answers' its question.  (I'd like to quibble; wouldn't that, more accurately, be joining a premise to explore a theme and producing a message?  That's the way I learned it in English.)

Again I ask, where in all the stuff about negotiations, personae, and the like, do you talk about answering this question?  This is why I don't understand why this is anything more than Abashedly Narrativist.  I don't want to sound annoying, but can you explain it to me?

Fang Langford
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

Mike Holmes

Well, the victory conditions are supposedly suspended, but everyone will know what the normal victory conditions are (heck, it's obvious even if you haven't played Diplomacy previously). In other words, the winner is the one that has the most supply centers at the end of the game. Add to this that the player with the most supply centers has the most power in determining when the game ends (tokens can be spent on other things, and are wasted if used unsuccessfully to swing a vote). And worst of all, the player with the most supply centers is most likely to get the MoH. Which is the big prize.

That's not winnning? Every player I know will see it as Gamist and play it as such to win.

Having played quite a bit of Diplomacy, I agree with you that negotiations and whatnot are an unavoidable part of the game. But I think that Fang wasn't speaking to that, anyhow. What he's saying is that there is no link between the force of personality of of the "PCs" and their ability to get things done. They're just window dressing. That's all that the characterization part of the game seems to do. So what if I lose my "Great Men", it only affects the color of the story. You have these relationships that are created, but what do you do with them? Can they be used to force people to do things? Can it affect the actual game play, other than in how the player chooses to characterize the Great Man in question? Fang and I are just saying that it should.

On another note, the separation of currencies for "Exceptions" and the other events that the tokens are good for is unneccessary. Simply allow everything to be purchased with tokens. Create costs for each. Make it 7 minus supply centers or whatever if neccessary, or always give a minimum of 1. I like your idea for espionage sorta, but I see these all as pretty much the same thing. Essentially, you spend a token and something changes in the game, be it a rule, or a character, whatever. So you should be able to use them to dig up new relationships, for example. Most anything, really. I see this as something like Fairy Chess for Diplomacy. Allow a fairly wide lattitude.

But then find a way to limit powers. Start with rewarding good story creation instead of "winning". The diplomacy game being played should be a background, not a foreground with a sorta Narrativist looking backdrop.

Mike

P.S. Fang, I play more board games and wargames than RPGs.
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xiombarg

Okay, I'm going to reply to several people here. Those who don't want to hear me whining at Fang should skip down a bit, where I suggest one-and-a-half rule changes in response to Mike's suggestions. ;-)

Quote from: Le JoueurSorry, no.  Nobody around here wants to play board games. :(
I feel your pain, man. My current group is nearly 100% RPG oriented. But I'm converting some of them...

QuoteNow, I'm just asking out of curiosity; I'm not trying to be difficult or annoying, but the above suggests to me that while Diplomacy has no Narrativist rules, it both 'doesn't get in the way' and 'leaves no other option.'  That'd be Abashed Narrativism, wouldn't it?
I dunno. What's Abashed Narratvism? Wanna point me at a thread? I think I've seen the term thrown around before but I didn't participate in that discussion.

QuoteNext, so you've increased the rules for negotiations and characterization.  To me this suggests that in order to become what you want, Diplomacy does need more system.  It sounds like it goes 'part way' towards what you want, close enough you can 'taste it,' but definitely doesn't get there without a fair amount of change.
Well, yes, that's the idea.

QuoteAgain I ask, where in all the stuff about negotiations, personae, and the like, do you talk about answering this question?  This is why I don't understand why this is anything more than Abashedly Narrativist.  I don't want to sound annoying, but can you explain it to me?
Explain "Abashed Narrativism" to me, and I'll explain why it it's "anything more than Abashedly Narrativist". Deal?

No offense, Fang, the reason I posted this on "Indie Game Design" rather than, say, Publishing, is it's an idea I've been mulling over for a few days now and wrote up in an afternoon, and I'm looking for suggestions on how to make it work. Now, I appreciate your insightful questioning, but, no offense, I'm not sure it's very helpful. Okay, so maybe the game as I've presented it is "Abashedly Narrativist", whatever the Hell that means. I get the impression from the way you keep picking at it, that this is a bad thing. Therefore, how do I fix it? Mike has been making some suggestions, and I'd love to see some from you as well, rather than a game of 20 questions. ;-)

And speaking of Mike...

Quote from: Mike HolmesWell, the victory conditions are supposedly suspended, but everyone will know what the normal victory conditions are (heck, it's obvious even if you haven't played Diplomacy previously). In other words, the winner is the one that has the most supply centers at the end of the game. Add to this that the player with the most supply centers has the most power in determining when the game ends (tokens can be spent on other things, and are wasted if used unsuccessfully to swing a vote). And worst of all, the player with the most supply centers is most likely to get the MoH. Which is the big prize.

That's not winnning? Every player I know will see it as Gamist and play it as such to win.
Okay, point conceded. It's that way because that was the easiest way I could see to set it up, not because I'm totally wedded to doing it that way.

Also, the MoH was a last-minute inspiration. I've been toying with the idea instead of doing it at the end of the game, allowing it to happen at different points during the game, sort of like a Confessional in InSpectres. You speak as a historian for the upcoming turn, and if people act the way you characterize, they get bonus tokens.

QuoteHaving played quite a bit of Diplomacy, I agree with you that negotiations and whatnot are an unavoidable part of the game. But I think that Fang wasn't speaking to that, anyhow. What he's saying is that there is no link between the force of personality of of the "PCs" and their ability to get things done. They're just window dressing. That's all that the characterization part of the game seems to do. So what if I lose my "Great Men", it only affects the color of the story. You have these relationships that are created, but what do you do with them? Can they be used to force people to do things? Can it affect the actual game play, other than in how the player chooses to characterize the Great Man in question? Fang and I are just saying that it should.
Okay. I'll buy that for a dollar. How should it be done? Are there any examples of using a relationship map as a mechanic to force an action out there that we can use as a model?

QuoteOn another note, the separation of currencies for "Exceptions" and the other events that the tokens are good for is unneccessary. Simply allow everything to be purchased with tokens. Create costs for each. Make it 7 minus supply centers or whatever if neccessary, or always give a minimum of 1. I like your idea for espionage sorta, but I see these all as pretty much the same thing. Essentially, you spend a token and something changes in the game, be it a rule, or a character, whatever. So you should be able to use them to dig up new relationships, for example. Most anything, really. I see this as something like Fairy Chess for Diplomacy. Allow a fairly wide lattitude.
I like this idea. I like it a lot. Expect to see a revision in this direction soon. I'm thinking perhaps a cost structure based on the cost structure for powers in Everway. If the rule change comes up Frequently, then that's one token. If the rule change is Versatile, that is, it can be used in all sort of ways, that's a token. If the rule change is Major, that is, it affects everything in the game in a serious way, that's another Token. Whether a power is Frequent, Major, Versatile, or whatever is determined by the other players, or the GM is there is one.

For example, let's say Bob proposes that the climate has been rapidly cooling, making the Fall like a harsh Winter, so dislodging a piece during a Fall turn always counts as having one less support than usual. The other players decide the power is Frequent (it's in play every other turn) and Major (it affects everyone), but not Veraitile (there isn't too many ways it can be applied), so it costs two tokens to enact.

Obviously, this ain't written in stone, either, I'm open to other costing methods, but it's one that springs to mind, and one I've used in a least one unwritten, unpublished wargame. (Another thread on that later, perhaps...)

QuoteBut then find a way to limit powers. Start with rewarding good story creation instead of "winning". The diplomacy game being played should be a background, not a foreground with a sorta Narrativist looking backdrop.
I agree with that, and that's my aim. But how do you reward story creation, especially without a GM? I must admit that applying Narrativist techinques to Diplomacy is turning out a little harder than I thought. ;-)
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Mike Holmes

The reason that Fang says that it's Abashedly Narrativist, and that it's been problematic making Diplomacy into a Narrativist game, is that you aren't addressing a Premise. There's only one side to this sort of conflict from each player's perspective, and that is to "win the war". What you need is something else that will make a player want to explore the other end of things and do something that might end up in loss, instead.

For example, you could give each character a reason that he might go against his country. Something that they believe in that can be used to make them act in a way that is not in the best interests of their country. Then players can try and find those weaknesses. Players that play one of their characters acting against their country should be rewarded, somehow. Thus the player is rewarded if he plays to win, or plays to lose. For example, players could vote to give another player tokens to reward him when he does something against his own countries' best interests.

In any case, the Premise here would be "Is anything worth the betrayal of your country?". In addressing that Premise, you'd get Narrativist play. "How do Great men contribute to winning a war?" is mostly a Gamist Premise, especially if they can't actually contribute. When making additions, just make up stuff like a particular character's presence in a space counts as an extra army. Once more exceptions are in play, there will be more things to add to your character's abilities. Once someone creates an international trade arena, you can say that one of your Great Men is adept at manipulating it in some way.

I like your idea for for the additions currency. I see a player proposing a rule, and the other players voting Yea or Nay on each of the three criteria (perhaps after short orations on the pros/cons). This would be cool because it would extend the Diplomacy idea in that you'd have to make the rules palatable to the other players to get it for a reasonable cost. Before voting on cost, though, have a basic suitability vote. If the players don't like it at all, then it doesn't happen for any cost. Prevents players from making up silly rules ("my country develops a weapon that automatically destroys all other nations entirely"), and increases the diplomacy neccessary to get anything off the ground.

There is a game I got off the net somewhere a long time ago called "Evolution"which has a lot of similarities to what you are proposing.


Mike
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Le Joueur

Quote from: xiombarg
Quote from: Le JoueurSorry, no.  Nobody around here wants to play board games. :(
I feel your pain, man. My current group is nearly 100% RPG oriented. But I'm converting some of them...
Actually?  When one of the 'alphas' (like me) isn't running they play more Hearts, Bridge, or Magic: the Gathering, than anything.  Sigh.

Quote from: xiombargWhat's Abashed Narratvism? Wanna point me at a thread?
This is the best I could find.  There don't seem to be any definitive threads, but other than this one, a search for 'abashedly' or 'abashed' is about all I can suggest.

Basically an Abashedly Narrativist game is a wannabe Narrativist game that has nothing that serious impedes or contradicts Narrativist play (forcing Drift in order to be Narrativist).  A Narrativist game would provide rules that have or focus play on creating themes on a Premise (see below); abashed, they lack that.

Quote from: xiombarg
Quote from: Le JoueurAgain I ask, where in all the stuff about negotiations, personae, and the like, do you talk about answering this question?  This is why I don't understand why this is anything more than Abashedly Narrativist.  I don't want to sound annoying, but can you explain it to me?
Explain "Abashed Narrativism" to me, and I'll explain why it it's "anything more than Abashedly Narrativist". Deal?

Okay, so maybe the game as I've presented it is "Abashedly Narrativist", whatever the Hell that means. I get the impression from the way you keep picking at it, that this is a bad thing. Therefore, how do I fix it? Mike has been making some suggestions, and I'd love to see some from you as well, rather than a game of 20 questions.
Deal.

The twenty questions were necessary to get an understanding of what you want.  I could hardly make reasonable suggestions about a new game based on adding to an old one (especially one I haven't played) without knowing what you wanted to do with it.

Anyway.  Like I was trying to suggest, there are two things I'd add to make it a Narrativist game of Diplomacy.  First of all, it's going to need a Premise (not a premise); as Ron puts it, "Narrativist Premises have the distinctive property of being dilemmas," in other words, they pose a question.  Being 'about the Great Man theory' wouldn't be good enough.  Perhaps 'Can a Great Man change history' might be better, but than the application in terms of rules goes way outside my experience.

Better would be a specific Premise about what 'Great Men' can do (I have no suggestions); then you could have rules 'empowering' a 'Great Man' to do those 'Great Men' things.  Like give the 'Great Men' some extra of those tokens, and limit who can use or benefit from the 'Great Men' tokens.  I really can't say, I've little experience creating Narrativist empowerment tools (especially for a boardgame I've never played), so I'm probably not much help.  Mike seems to know where you're going; maybe he can advise.

Fang Langford
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!