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Author Topic: Starting a game and quite lost...  (Read 5345 times)
earwig
Member

Posts: 52


« on: September 29, 2006, 05:23:41 PM »

Okay, this is my first post here, so be kind. :)

Anyway, I am putting together an RPG where the characters all wake up in a city with complete amnesia.  There is a reason in the backstory why this happens, but players and characters will have no idea why right away.  Rolling up the characters will be completely random.  Not just stats, but actually the skills as well.  The characters know how to do things, they just have no idea why they know.  At certain points in the game, characters will experience flashbacks, where a piece of their memory is returned to them.  When this happens, the other players actually act as temporary Game Masters, becoming characters from the memory.  They are able to control the story to an extent, however, the character having the flashback will have a pool of points by which he or she may override the elements of the story the other players have created, though he or she must do so through role-playing. 

***
Ex: (Flashback Character, Player 1)
Player 1: You, how could you have done that?  How could you have murdered him?!
Flashback Character (Spending the points to override): It wasn't me!   You know it wasn't me!  You were with me that night!
***

That's obviously a oversimplified example, but you get the idea.

Eventually, the characters will be completely developed, with interesting back stories, and some insight into how and why they know the things they know (Ex. their randomly generated skills).   There will still be the story of the city and why they were brought their to contend with, but that's another post.

Anyway, my question to you all is what type of system would lend itself to complete random character generation.  D20 is too rules heavy for what I'd like to do.  I really like FUDGE for something like this, but I really don't like the fact that FUDGE uses special dice (even though they're easy enough to make).  I would like to use either D6, D10, or, D20 dice as they are the most common. 

Can anyone point me in the right direction?  I have some great ideas, but systems have never been my thing. 

Thanks in Advance.

Chris

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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2006, 06:49:03 PM »

Hey Chris, welcome to The Forge.

Quote
Anyway, I am putting together an RPG where the characters all wake up in a city with complete amnesia.  There is a reason in the backstory why this happens, but players and characters will have no idea why right away.  Rolling up the characters will be completely random.  Not just stats, but actually the skills as well.  The characters know how to do things, they just have no idea why they know.  At certain points in the game, characters will experience flashbacks, where a piece of their memory is returned to them.  When this happens, the other players actually act as temporary Game Masters, becoming characters from the memory.  They are able to control the story to an extent, however, the character having the flashback will have a pool of points by which he or she may override the elements of the story the other players have created, though he or she must do so through role-playing. 

Love the general concept.

"Not just stats, but actually the skills as well."
What do you mean by this? What would the "stats" and "skills" be?
Are you implying that the game would have d20-ish stats and skills?

I am a little leery about the "have a randomly drawn up character" concept.
What if I start with a blank character, and can kinda introduce stuff as I use it?
Like... I'm being chased by some man in black, and I have no idea why (damn amnesia!)
I duck into a back alley, and... *makes a certain roll, spends some points, or does some kind of test*... realize that I have Climb Walls (Superior).

And then, from that point on, I just happen to have Climb Walls at a Superior rating... But at some point need to justify that with flashbacks.

I dunno. Just a thought.

Quote
Anyway, my question to you all is what type of system would lend itself to complete random character generation.  D20 is too rules heavy for what I'd like to do.  I really like FUDGE for something like this, but I really don't like the fact that FUDGE uses special dice (even though they're easy enough to make).  I would like to use either D6, D10, or, D20 dice as they are the most common.

My suggestion - This is a really cool idea. One that doesn't benefit much from the types of systems you mention.
Why not create your own system - one that's CENTERED around the idea of recovering your identity, and one that's totally designed for facilitating flashbacks, confusion, and amnesia?
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TroyLovesRPG
Member

Posts: 150


« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2006, 06:56:22 PM »

This sounds great. Use d6 as they are readily available and have at least 10 dice for each player. The players will have no idea how the game works. Part of the amnesia is that they don't know the game system. It will affect the players as well as the characters.

As the characters encounter whatever it is you throw at them, they get to say what they are doing. The players agree on what that action is called. They all write down the action and secretly choose to have that action or not. Players reveal if they do or don't. If only one person has the action then they get 6 dice. That character rolls 6 dice for the action and successes are 3 or greater showing on each die. If two people choose that action to use then they have a 5 in that action. Three people means a 4 in that action and so on. Players are then encouraged to act in a variety of ways to balance their characters. However, they are developing their characters and will act they way they want. Also, not every player will want to have that action as more people means less skill in that action. The process of developing continues until one character has 10 actions. Those characters with less than 10 actions must fill their remaining slots and will have only a skill level of two. This process of development will create a variety of characters as they may share some actions, but not all characters have the same actions. A character can attempt to perform any action but can only roll 1 die.

Action Difficulty
Very easy - 1 success
Easy - 2
Average - 3
Hard - 4
Very Difficult - 5

Finally, the 10 dice come into play. Each player can keep all 10 dice in their action pool or allocate as many as they want to actions. They can increase the number of dice they roll in an action by 1 by permanently discarding two dice. They can also increase another player's action by 1 by permanently spending only one die. Players are allowed to "help" each other by mutually spending their dice to increase actions. If a player started with 10 action dice and wanted to increase "drive mecha" from 3 to 4, he would spend 2 dice, reducing his action pool to 8. If he wanted to increase another player's action then he would only need to spend one die. An action can only be increased one time. Action dice are used during the game when a player wants to roll an additional die when performing an action. Their pool is reduced by one. At the end of the adventure the players receive another action dice.

At this point, the characters have their actions and skill level in each.

During the adventure each player has the option of selecting a new action for their character as the story unfolds. The other players choose to have that action or not and the same process applies. One player get 6 dice, two players get 5 dice each, and so on.

I'm not sure what's next.

Troy
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TroyLovesRPG
Member

Posts: 150


« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2006, 07:02:32 PM »

An action can only be increased one time.

My mistake. This should read:

An action can only be increased one time per adventure.
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earwig
Member

Posts: 52


« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2006, 08:40:10 PM »

Hey Chris, welcome to The Forge.

Quote
Anyway, I am putting together an RPG where the characters all wake up in a city with complete amnesia.  There is a reason in the backstory why this happens, but players and characters will have no idea why right away.  Rolling up the characters will be completely random.  Not just stats, but actually the skills as well.  The characters know how to do things, they just have no idea why they know.  At certain points in the game, characters will experience flashbacks, where a piece of their memory is returned to them.  When this happens, the other players actually act as temporary Game Masters, becoming characters from the memory.  They are able to control the story to an extent, however, the character having the flashback will have a pool of points by which he or she may override the elements of the story the other players have created, though he or she must do so through role-playing. 

Love the general concept.

"Not just stats, but actually the skills as well."
What do you mean by this? What would the "stats" and "skills" be?
Are you implying that the game would have d20-ish stats and skills?

I am a little leery about the "have a randomly drawn up character" concept.
What if I start with a blank character, and can kinda introduce stuff as I use it?
Like... I'm being chased by some man in black, and I have no idea why (damn amnesia!)
I duck into a back alley, and... *makes a certain roll, spends some points, or does some kind of test*... realize that I have Climb Walls (Superior).

And then, from that point on, I just happen to have Climb Walls at a Superior rating... But at some point need to justify that with flashbacks.

I dunno. Just a thought.

Quote
Anyway, my question to you all is what type of system would lend itself to complete random character generation.  D20 is too rules heavy for what I'd like to do.  I really like FUDGE for something like this, but I really don't like the fact that FUDGE uses special dice (even though they're easy enough to make).  I would like to use either D6, D10, or, D20 dice as they are the most common.

My suggestion - This is a really cool idea. One that doesn't benefit much from the types of systems you mention.
Why not create your own system - one that's CENTERED around the idea of recovering your identity, and one that's totally designed for facilitating flashbacks, confusion, and amnesia?
Logged
earwig
Member

Posts: 52


« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2006, 08:53:29 PM »

Sorry about that last post.  Still new to the forum thing. :)

Not just stats, but actually the skills as well."
What do you mean by this? What would the "stats" and "skills" be?
Are you implying that the game would have d20-ish stats and skills?


Well, sorta.  I was thinking of using an attribute+skill vs target number system mechanic.  But what I meant by this was that the stats would be the attributes and the skills would be chosen randomly.  This wouldn't be a point buy system of character creation.  So the attributes would be random as well as the skills.  Players would know nothing about their characters before they play.  Only through the play would they learn who their characters were and where they came from.

When they arrive in the city, they are placed together as a "Family Unit"  They are issued living quarters and jobs and exist as a family unit.  However, as they begin to learn more of who they are, those relationships may strengthen or fall apart depending on their pasts.  I don't know that this would be everyone's cup of tea, but it would require true role-playing by its very nature.  Which is why I want to develope a rules-lite system so that there would be more room for developement of character uninhibited by crunchiness. 

Imagine that your character has been the voice of reason in the group.  His skills are combat heavy, but he uses his skills for defense rather than the offensive.  Yet, through the flashbacks, you discover that he was a violent and relentless criminal, wanted in several states.  How does he react to this?  If the other players find out, can they still trust him? 

Those are the types things I'd like characters to be able to explore. 

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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2006, 09:07:35 PM »

Quote
I was thinking of using an attribute+skill vs target number system mechanic. 

Hm. I think you might be putting the horse before the cart here. I think you should start with your premise, and create mechanics that help you deliver on this kind of game.

I think a task-based system (by that, I mean a system which says "roll to see if you can pick the lock/stab the bad guy") isn't well suited to this kind of game.

Quote
When they arrive in the city, they are placed together as a "Family Unit"  They are issued living quarters and jobs and exist as a family unit.  However, as they begin to learn more of who they are, those relationships may strengthen or fall apart depending on their pasts.  I don't know that this would be everyone's cup of tea, but it would require true role-playing by its very nature.  Which is why I want to develope a rules-lite system so that there would be more room for developement of character uninhibited by crunchiness. 

Imagine that your character has been the voice of reason in the group.  His skills are combat heavy, but he uses his skills for defense rather than the offensive.  Yet, through the flashbacks, you discover that he was a violent and relentless criminal, wanted in several states.  How does he react to this?  If the other players find out, can they still trust him? 

Those are the types things I'd like characters to be able to explore. 

Me and Troy have both suggested totally different but cool ways you can create a game about flashbacks, rediscovering yourself, and such.

What do you think of them?

I think mechanics that let you either do-awesome-stuff-now OR remember-part-of-your-past would be really cool to incorporate.
If the game gave you the option to focus on becoming the person you were, or the person you will be... Yeah, it'd rock.
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TroyLovesRPG
Member

Posts: 150


« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2006, 09:36:22 PM »

Earwig,

I like the role-playing aspects you would want for the players to experience. Maybe you should forget about mechanics and think about the setting and what the characters will encounter. Honestly, every way of expressing stats, attributes, skills, etc. has been done. Numbers and some mathematical symbols don't contribute to good roleplaying. It takes ideas, words and conversation among the players. Also, imagination and a willingness to let go of current RPG standards will make your game stand out, instead of it landing on the 20th page of the forum.

I would want to play in a game like this, where the characters are naive and evolve. Remember Goldie Hawn's character in Overboard. She is thrust into a family, thinking she is the wife and mother, learns about her abilities "I can speak French!" all along developing relationships she would never have otherwise. That goes against the grain of most RPGs where you have to calculate, cross-index and thumb through 20 books trying to develop a character whose soul purpose is to just survive.

Think about the characters as if you are writing a story. Tell us about their actions, thoughts and emotions. I can remember playing D&D in high school when we seldom looked at our character sheets. I was a dwarf miner with a love of beer and long stories. I whispered to the rocks and they told me secrets about the depths. I could plant myself where I stood and withstand the most fearsome charge. My hammer was taller than me and reached where I could not. I ate with hands and let my faithful hound licked my face clean. I learned my great-grandfather died at the hands of the drow and I vowed to avenge him.

Where have the RPGs gone?
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Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2006, 12:08:55 AM »

***
Ex: (Flashback Character, Player 1)
Player 1: You, how could you have done that?  How could you have murdered him?!
Flashback Character (Spending the points to override): It wasn't me!   You know it wasn't me!  You were with me that night!
***
Just an idea, but instead of a 'spend points to stop the other player entirely' perhaps they can spend points to bend the other players idea, like "Yes, I shot him. But I had a gun to my head myself" or require they add even more "a gun held by my ex lover". They can only spend the point if they add a twist (whatever a twist is to them).

Wanky hypothesis: I think weve all been stung by GM's pushing certain stuff down our throats, so 'make that stop' points seem good. Probably a good idea to forget the past pushing and realise a mechanic that handles this will protect you even if it involve blending what you want with what the other player wants. So no need to make it that the player can spend points to just stop another players input.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2006, 02:34:40 AM »

earwig, I'll chime in and let you know that there's at least one other person who finds your concept very cool.

I'll also reinforce what Joe said -- don't just try to slap some other system on your idea.  Your idea's good.  it deserves its own system that makes it shine.

finally, you mentioned a stat+skill combo.  In my experience, this is a really bad idea.  However, the wonderful thing about the internet is that someone else has already articulated my thoughts on the matter pretty well.  Check out this older thread, specifically Ralph's comments on the subject.  Not only does he do a good job of explaining why S+S is a quagmire, but he also goes on to suggest some creative ways out.
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Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.
earwig
Member

Posts: 52


« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2006, 11:56:55 AM »

Perhaps I would be better off with something closer to Over the Edge or Dead Inside's system.  No attributes, just abilities. 

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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2006, 03:34:16 PM »

Quote
No attributes, just abilities.

Chris, reading this line makes me think, "He's probably not had a lot of exposure to indie games and really innovative game concepts."
So... what games have you played? what ones did you like (as far as system and involvement) and why?

You sort of ask "where do I go from here?" in your first post, and I have some ideas:

1.) Post in the Actual Play forum with a time that you played and had fun, and say, "That's what I want my new game to be like. What is that called? What games help deliver THAT coolness?"

2.) Think about the question "What do you want the characters to do?" Is this a track-down-your-past-self mystery? Is this an action game that very much opens in media res?
Do the characters search for themselves? Do they kick ass, but also wonder where their powers come from? Are they ordinary people, superheroes, supernaturally touched, etc?

3.) Some people say that, when designing a system: Come up with a script for the ultimate game session of your game. Write what the players say in-character and out of character. Write where the action is. What tension and excitement arise from. Write this screenplay of awesomeness, then look at it and start to create a system to DELIVER this kind of play.

4.) Read. www.1km1kt.net would be a good place to start: The games are free PDFs, and many are probably a BIG departure from what you're used to. Check out the games produced in Game Chef (a yearly design competition) for some really, really awesome stuff.

You don't need to do all 4 in that order. I'm just offering you up 4 ways to get in the designing headspace, I guess.
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Call Me Curly
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2006, 04:22:02 PM »

Chris,

I am pretty sure that if you google "Random Character Generator" + "d20", you'll find that someone has computer-automated that process; and is probably giving it away for free.   So perhaps the complexity of that system's character sheet isn't an obstacle?

Are you picturing starting the game with a blank sheet and randomly filling-in each item during play.  I like starting with a blank sheet.  Am less into the idea of pure randomness dictating the 'remembering'.   I'd have a harder time caring about a meaningless random character, than one with some story-logic built into his past.  But if that doesn't bother you, go right ahead.

If I were developing this idea, I might start with 2 sheets for each character.  One made by the GM or another player; and one by the person who will play the PC.   The other-player sheet is who each PC starts-out being told he is.   The 2nd sheet is who the PC was before the amnesia.  One by one, items from the 1st sheet are replaced by items from the 2nd sheet.

From what you've told us so far, I don't see anything that screams "that simply won't work".  Instead, I think "hmm... how's he gonna handle that?" --while still being sure that it can be done.    And your little sample dialogue is very reassuring-- that you're building a game around an economy of buying 'facts'.  Now all you gotta do is figure out a workable economy for the buying. Are you familiar with Universalis?  That game has a powerful fact-buying system.  Although it may put more of the game design and world design in the players' hands, than you currently envision.

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earwig
Member

Posts: 52


« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2006, 07:29:30 PM »

One thing I had been tossing around was the idea of "memory points".  The characters start with nothing.  When they want to try something, they can see if they remember it.  They would roll against their memory points.  If they succeed, they gain that ability, and thus spend those "memory points", lowering their pool.  At that point, they could go into a flashback, showing a snippet of their life revolving around actions covered by that ability.  This way a character could still have some control over their creation, but not complete control over their background. 

So for instance, if someone is injured and needs medical attention, the character can try to see of he or she knows anything about that.  He or she would roll against her current memory points pool.  If successful, that player can spend points out of his or her memory pool in order to to gain that ability.  The player would then go into a flashback, giving insight into how they had that ability in the first place.  A medical skill could be a paramedic, an army field doc, and back-alley clinic for criminals, almost anything. 

This would prevent having to use a skill list, give the players a bit more control over the investment of their characters, and still keep within the basic premise of the game.

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earwig
Member

Posts: 52


« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2006, 07:54:19 PM »

JoePub-
Pretty new to the indie-thing.  I think Dead Inside would be considered Indie?  But even so, I just downloaded it a few weeks ago. 

I will check out the sites you suggested. 
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