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[Downtown] My first attempt at writing a game.

Started by Temple, November 29, 2006, 03:03:33 AM

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This is more of a mental excersise than an actual attempt at designing a playable game.
Ive never made a game before, by any degree, but this idea struck me last night and I just had to jot it down. I thouht Id post it here for some feedback, and who knows? Maybe it can be developed into something actually playable?

Read it and give me some feedback. Any thoughts are appreciated, even if it is just to tell me that this is unplayable and needs to be totally reworked.
Ive been influenced by Nicotine Girls, My Life With Master and this thread by Greg Stolze.

Anyway, the thing needs a name; as the title suggests, Ive chosen to call this little experiment Downtown.

The premise is pretty simple:
Characters are beat cops in a not too distant future, patrolling the streets of a nameless metropolis. On a deeper level, its about deep personal suffering, and keeping up appearances.

Pain is a Trait from 1-10 that describes the emotional stress the character is going through as a result of his line of work and his stuggle with inner demons. A character with Pain 10 is suicidal, while Pain 0 signifies a character perfectly content and at peace. Pain starts at 5.

Anger is a Trait from 1-10 that measures the amount of aggression that is building up within the character from exposure to the criminal world and internal stress. It is also the Trait a character uses to affect the world violently. An Anger score of 10 represents a character completely mad with rage and hatred, while a score of 0 is a happy character at peace with the world.

Integrity is a Trait from 1-10 that describes the hold a character has on his core personality, how far he is from loosing himself, betraying his principles or acting against his nature. Low-integrity characters have no scrouples, while high-integrity characters would never betray their principles.

A character also has three Fears, traits from 1-10 that describe fears the character is inhibited by in his work and daily life. A Fear isnt a trivial fear, like a mild phobia. Instead, it represents a more fundamental fear that is actually a hindrance in some way to the character. Sample Fears include Fear of Rejection, Fear of Loosing Control, Fear of Intimacy and Fear of Violence. Players are encouraged to come up with their own Fears, as Fears are central to a character. Fears start at 5.

Lastly, all characters have one Relationship. This Trait has no rating, but represents a person or persons central to the characters life: A wife, a sibling, a family, a soccer team or a dear friend are all valid Relationships.


A character also has a Vice, a weakness he must sucumb to from time to time. Players should describe their characters Vice in some detail. A character with a Vice of Alcohol should have a bar he frequents often, for example. Like Relationships, Vices have no rating.


The only conflicts actively rolled in Downtown are those conflicts that relate directly to a characters Fears. When a character is faced with an obstacle that requires him to overcome his Fears, he rolls 1d10. If the result is equal to or greater than the relevant Fears rating, he has overcome his Fear and the task is accomplished. The player then narrates the result. Overcoming a Fear reduces the Fears rating by 1, as well as lowering Pain by 1.
Should the roll fail, the character fails to overcome his Fear, and is instead ruled by it. The player narrates the result. Failing a Fear roll increases the Fears rating by 1, as well as increasing Pain by 1.

Whenever Pain increases to an odd number (3,5,7,9) the player gains an additional Fear, rated at 5. The player is free to describe this Fear, but it must be related in some way to the situation that brought on the increase in Pain.

A Fear that is reduced to 0 is overcome completely, and is erased from the character sheet. A Fear that reaches 10 can never be overcome, except by taking 1 Pain as if the character failed an attempt.

Anger, Pain and Integrity
Anger increases by 1 every time the character comes face to face with the harsh realities of his work. Seeing an underage prostitute, witnessing a violent crime, meeting a drigdealer who sells crack to children, seeing a rape victim; all these things are valid reasons to gain Anger.
Whenever a character is in a position where he has the opportunity to take his Anger out on a person who in his eyes deserves it, he must make a roll against his Anger as described under Conflict. If he succeeds, he manages to keep his cool, while a failiure indicates that he gives in to Anger. Acting in Anger alleviates Pain by 1, but causes a loss of 1 Integrity.

There are three fundamental types of scenes in Downtown: Conflict scenes, Comfort scenes and Filler scenes.
Conflict scenes are scenes where a character must grapple with his Fears, or comes into contact with something that rouses his Anger.
Comfort scenes are scenes where the character alleviates his Pain and Anger by seeking comfort in his Relationship or endulging his Vice.
Any time a player feels his Pain or Anger is reaching uncomfortable levels, he can call for a Comfort scene. The player chooses wether the character wants to spend time with his Relationship or seek out his Vice. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Seeking comfort in Relationships decreases both Pain and Anger by 1, and increases Integrity by 1. Spending time with Relationships can be dangerous for characters with high Anger however. When a character with an anger above 5 seeks comfort in his Relationship, he must make an Anger roll. Failing this roll means that the character looses control of his Anger in front of his Relationship. If this happens, Anger is still reduced by 1, but Pain increases by 1 instead of dropping, and he looses 1 Integrity.

Conversely, a character who seeks comfort in his Vice reduces his Pain by 2, but increases his Anger by 1.

Filler scenes are scenes that contain neither conflict nor comfort. They could be anything the characters do between conflict and comfort scenes. If players wish to skip scenes instead of roleplaying them, filler scenes are the least "important" scenes and should be skipped first.

The Endgame

The game ends when one of the characters Pain or Anger reaches 10, or a characters Integrity reaches 0. At that point, the players each describe an Endgame, an epilogue to their characters, and how their lives were affected by the loss of their friend or co-worker. Did his suicide (Pain 10) change their lives? Did his insanity (Anger 10) force them to face their own shortcomings? Did his turning to crime (Integrity 0) make them think differently about their jobs?
An Endgame could be set at the characters funeral, his arrest or court hearing, for example.
With regards,
Skjalg Kreutzer


Hello Temple,

I'm not by any means a good person to give advice so I'll not even try. I wish you all the best.

I just wrote here because the title of being a first time in creating a game also concerns me although I don't even know if it's qualified as a game.

What I''ve just done is create an Army of Shambala in which people enroll just as in the Army. Then they receive the paraphernalia and regalia of military status on the site in the way of promotions and the weapons that they will be using in their line of duty.

It's a moral code that they must swear to also. It'a about freeing the world of evil and making good triumph worldwide in a world campaign,- a Blitz-Krieg,- over evil. This is presented as a Lightning-War wherein the more recruits one (players) can enroll, the more status and promotion one gets within the military and this obviously follows the same real-life military ranks and chain of command and leading all the way up to high (four star) generals commanding whole theaters of operations, and many hundreds of thousands of men.

If anyone wants to check it out it's here at this adress :

Happy playing ! Geir.


Heya Temple,

Glad to see you at least thinking about design.   I've read your post, and I have a question.   What sort of feedback are you looking for here?  What do you want from us, as readers, to do in response to your post?




Quote from: Troy_Costisick on November 29, 2006, 07:42:21 AM
Heya Temple,

Glad to see you at least thinking about design.   I've read your post, and I have a question.   What sort of feedback are you looking for here?  What do you want from us, as readers, to do in response to your post?



What I am primarily looking for is feedback on the ideas Im presenting; do they seem to work, am I making obviously flawed assumptions/decitions, or does this actually look good?

I know I wrote
QuoteThis is more of a mental excersise than an actual attempt at designing a playable game.
But in hindsight that was more of an escape-clause, in case I met some form of cruching criticism. A cheap trick, but I guess I felt pretty inferior presenting my idea here.

Its kind of humbling to come to The Forge with your own seemingly inferior ideas, when the site is host to such brilliant minds as Ron Edwards, Paul Czege and Vincent Baker..

Anywho, try to ignore the dismissals on my part in the original post and treat this as you would any other idea: As a serious attempt at making a small roleplaying game.
With regards,
Skjalg Kreutzer