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Author Topic: [heroes and villains] character sheets and mechanics  (Read 1369 times)
sean2099
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« on: December 11, 2006, 09:36:23 AM »

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=22159.0 is the thread I am coming from at this point.

On the character sheet itself, I am going with the method suggested by Ken.  In a sense, it is the classic "dossier" combined with game mechanics.  Within each revelant category, I might put a reminder like Powers: (+temptation, -drama) and then have space for powers to be listed.  I will make a new sample, post it on lulu, and then submit the link.

Mechanics:

At this point, I am debating between using karmic bidding system or fortune based.  I am using IN Spaaaac! pools for both right now but I am not married to it.  The purpose for using the pools is to eliminate any overpowering tactics (a method where the player is safe to choose the same option over and over again).  More importantly, I would want the core mechanics to emphasize story and to explore themes connected to super people, not cardboard comicbook cutouts.

Again, I will post examples of what I am thinking about in the near future...hopefully this evening.

I haven't forgotten about this game even as I am trying to finish up another one.

Thanks,

Sean

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Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2006, 10:41:22 AM »

Heya Sean,

Okay. Imagine a time during play, make it sorta long, when the players might be using the resolution system.  Forget about all your rules to this point and all the mechanics.  If you were just an innocent bystander, what might their play look like?  What would you actually be seeing them do?

Peace,

-Troy
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sean2099
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2006, 11:43:55 AM »

Play example:

Well, I have thought about for a few days.  (Darn Troy and his habit of offering good advice and his sense of timing:))

My understanding of this advice was to imagine someone observing or listening to a group of people playing this game but not participate.  In particular, to focus on the resolution system and present a natural play example.  With that mind, here's a short list of the cast of characters:

Larry Johnson:  He is the innocent bystander, the one is who not playing the game.  He can hear the people in the apartment above him and enjoys knowing he can listen in on their conversations.

Mike Smith:  For the play example, he is hosting the game in his apartment and has invited two other people to play.  He is also the one responsible for keeping the plot moving (and tracking) even though he is a character as well. 

Dan Mitchell:  The in-game character of Mike Smith.  He is the mayor of a small town who recently discovered that he had the ability to control other people's emotions.  Since he lack moral scruples, he has managed to use his powers to help win an election and garner personal wealth and power.  He manipulated his wife into staying with him even though she does not love him any longer.

Matt and Michael:  They are friends of Mike.  They like doing different things together like playing on MMPORGS, having guys night out, and playing RPGs.

John Haney: In-Game Character for Matt.  He is a twenty-something college dropout who is working in a pizza parlor.  He can pay the rent and other utility bills but thats it.  He actually rides a bike when delivering his pizzas.  (The town is small enough to make this reasonable.)  He shorted out his electronics by accidently causing a surge of electricity to enter them.  Since then, he realized he could power items needing batteries or plugged into an outlet by touching them.  He likes using his powers, a lot...perhaps too much.

Rex Hunter:  Michael's in-game charcter.  He is a local police office for the town of Mayville.  He lives an ordinary life, keeping people from cruising down the main road and addressing the occasional juvenile prank.  He is now experiencing visions where he has predicted the future of people he knows.  They have escalated in duration and severity.  He had to take sick days off to recover from a vision of his wife and daughter dying in a car wreck.  Unfornately, his vision came to pass and he is on paid leave now.

After the chatting and social niceties are observed...

Mike:  Ok, guys.  I thought we would start off by each having one scene focusing on a character.  I'll start the first two scenes and then the two of you can focus on Dan.

Matt and Mike nod in agreement...

Mike:  So, what's John doing?

Matt:  Let's see here...He is getting ready for work in a couple of hours.  Right now, he is cleaning his apartment.  He's trying to hide the trashed TV and stereo from his meltdown.  Then, he has a date tonight with Tammy after work.  Pretty ordinary day.

Mike:  I hate ordinary days.  Let shake things up a bit, someone is knocking on your door.

Matt "switches" to character mode...

Matt as John:  "Who is it?"

"It's your landlord.  It's the first of the month or did you forget?"

"I have the check right here."

"Open up then before I have to fish out my keys."

"Ok."

Matt:  He opens the door and lets Mr. Dickson in.  I cleaned up enough so he won't be ticked at me for having a messy place.

Mike:  That's fine with me.

Matt as John:  "I have your check right here."

Mike (pantomines looking at a check and squinting at it):  "I think you made a mistake here.  You only have one month's rent on here but you owe me two."

Matt: "I object." 

Mike:  "Ok, come up with a bid.  I assuming you are going with resources and/or drama then.  I am just bidding one drama."

Matt:  "I am bidding one resource and one drama. He can pay his bills even though he doesn't live a glamourous lifesytle.  He has me confused with someone else."

Mike: "I am sorry, I had you confused with 2A.  I suppose it doesn't really matter though.  I sold this dump to a developer and they are tearing at the end of next month.  I'll finally be rid of the lowlifes.  Oh, you'll do fine...you can move in with that hot little tramp you hooked up with.  I like watching her come around..."

Mike:  "You know, he has a pacemaker.  I wonder what would happen if it would just shortcircuit...who would believe you'd control electricity?  If I recall correctly, John dislikes authority figures...4 point temptation coming at ya.

Matt: "I would like that but I don't want the bad karma on my soul. *winks* "I spend 5 resolve to resist the impulse to do.  John ponders the idea but finally decides to let him live."

Troy, I hope this example was long enough to discern some value from it.  Since I tried to watch through the eyes of the innocent bystander, I noticed some things.  I would like the resolution system to be bidding-based.  I think it fits with the type of game I would like to run in terms of theme and "Narrative with enough structure to keep from being a freeform story or theather exercise." 

*Tangent* For some reason, it hammered in the idea of currency in RPG lingo.  The player is given coins (gliders, florins, drachmas, etc.) which contain the same amount of gold but depending on the area (i.e., use) they are more or less valuable at the given moment.  With these coins or tools, everyone is able to contribute to the story. *End Tangent*

Anyway, I hope this example illustrates some of the idea I am pondering. 

Thanks,

Sean

PS When I first typed, it seemed longer...I guess I didn't want to belabor the example of the resolution system I want to use.
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dindenver
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2006, 04:18:52 PM »

Hi!
  I see two weaknesses to the mechanics as you have vaguely described them:
1) What happens when a payer doesn't have enough points to have fun? In our first example, what happens if the player does not have one resource or one drama to spend, they lose control of their character?
2) What is an appropriate use of temptation? How do prevent spamming of Temptation and/or setting the required payoff to the wrong number of points? In the second half of your example, the pro-tem GM seemed to just arbitrarily decide that the landlord has a pacemaker. If that happens too many times, the player can never have enough Resolve. And how can we be sure that this temptation is worth 5 Resolve? Or what happens if the player doesn't want to kill the NPC, but doesn't have 5 resolve left anymore?
  I am not saying your idea is wrong or bad, just pointing out potential flaws in the mechanic before it gets fully baked. Keep up the good work man!
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sean2099
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2006, 10:55:11 AM »

Hi there,

I need brakes right now.  As it is now, the system goes on without stopping.  I was thinking of having a generic scale for temptation...something like inconvenient equals a 1 point temptation, serious =3 and deadly equal 5.  Then, have a rule stating a scene can have 3 easy temptations (or other choice), one moderate and one easy or one deadly...

I was thinking of allowing other pools to change on a 1:2...i.e.  I need one resource...I take 2 points for another pool or one point from two pools.  Then, I would pool regenerate at the end of each scene...

I come with more details...just some initial thoughts here.

Sean
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dindenver
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« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2006, 01:54:35 PM »

Hi!
  That sounds great, but how do you get those points back? If you lose on average 6 pts per scene, then the chars should be able to replenish those points at a rate of 6 points per scene, no?
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Dave M
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sean2099
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« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2006, 02:27:03 PM »

Hi Dindeaver,

You probably have said this implictly but I wanted to respond.  I agree there should be some sort of rate set for pool regeneration.  I would want this value to ensure steady play but at the same time, I want to have some sort of consequence for spending points.  Perhaps there should be a slow downward spiral set...

What do you think of the following?

Of course, the rate would change based on various factors.  At the moment, I was wanting to set the rate based on scenes.  I want the scenes to help make the characters more well-rounded.  i.e. if all the scenes are combat after combat scene, then less points should be regained.  The character is pushing himself or herself closer and closer to their limits (in this case physical) without taking any sort of break.  INHO, that character is also more one-dimensional.  On the other hand, if the player takes time to show how the character is having a love affair, stressing out over work and looking for their missing son...then perhaps a higher rate of regeneration is available.  They are still pushing themselves but they are also using more of their available abilities, evening out the load a bit.

In addition, helping to set scenes for other people and perhaps tying them into their own scenes should merit an additional bonus.  In other words, rewarding people for having well-rounded characters and helping other people narrate their own scenes is a good idea (INHO of course.)  ***A potential thought...perhaps if someone would be willing to completely set out of the limelight for a scene would merit an additional regeneration bonus.  In a sense, one could pick being a major player, a supporting member or out of the scene (ots).  Major players would be like Matt listed in the above example, supporting would be Mike, and michael would be OTS.  Of course, to keep people for sitting out all the time, they would only get the bonus for one scene and then perhaps they would no points thereafter until they join in again.***

In answer to your question about temptation, there was some talk about it in the previous threads.  The temptation pool work differently from the other pools in the sense it is more of a fallout pool.  It represents the character's weaknesses.  However, to keep it from being completely bad, one could pay for half of their point exchange with temptation points.  i.e.  I want two resource points.  I could use two temptation points and two points from other pools.  In addition, the player would have selected weaknesses beforehand.  One could only tempt a player with those weaknesses.  As an example, if I don't pick greedy, then you can't tempt me with money.

Anyway, more food for thought.

Thanks,

Sean
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dindenver
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« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2006, 03:06:14 PM »

Hi!
  Well, you don't want it to be such that it is a one-for-one system where every scene gives you 6 points and costs you 6 points. But you should design the game were "Ideal Play" balances out over the long haul.
  For instance, players can expect to spend 6 points per scene, but they might not be able to recharge their pool for 3 scenes, but on average they will get 18 points... Forces both tactical and strategic thinking, but does not force the player to abandon all hope, lol
  Have you tried Shadow of Yesterday? This game is great, in that you have pools of points, but instead of resting or doing something else that is boring to refresh those pools, the character has to do something active with other characters to refresh those pools. You might wanna check it out.
  I think for a super heroes genre, you want the opposite. You want to start out the scenario a little clueless and without the resolve/tools to overcome the challenge. While as the story progresses, they become more resolute and have access to more info/tools/contacts to overcome the opposition. I see what you mean though, the char usually gets the crud pounded out of them until they pull it out in the end. That might be hard to do both...
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Dave M
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sean2099
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2006, 10:53:42 AM »

hi there,

I have been continuing to bake the game, so to speak.  I have some more thoughts here.  What if I kept temptations around but did not use them as a pool?  Instead, what if there was a complications pool?  Each use of a pool (other than complications) would add one point to comp. pool?  i.e., I use two resource points, I generate two complication points.  Regenerating pools would involve removing comp. points, which would generate more complications for characters? 

I would to make a scale so it wasn't one for one but average out over time.  I think the tempation pool was being used as a "complication"....Anyway, I would post scale soon. 

sean
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sean2099
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2006, 09:34:35 AM »

I have done some thinking about the pool regeneration and their interaction with each other.  Here are some possible changes to the pool system.

New Pool:

Complications:  This measures the character's bad luck, divine rebritution and general suffering.  They start off with a twenty in complications...important later.

Kept Pools:
Resolve, Resources (defined by player at time of creation), Skill(knowledge and connections), Drama, Powers

Disbanded Pool:
Temptation:  They are now a part of rules for using Resolve pool.

Players are given a 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 to place in each pool.  Each pool will work slightly differently but in essence, the number placed in the pool represents the maximum number of points.

New Mechanic:

When a player is tested, they subtract the bid made by the player running the scene. i.e.  they present a one point challenge to resources.  The player being tested can spend two points to say "no" to the scene-runner.  In any case, one point is subtracted from complications.

When complication pool reaches reaches zero, all pools refresh.  In the meanwhile, the players being tested can tie additional pools together.  Using the same challenge...(one point resource test), the tested player could spend one drama point and one connection to say they run into somebody that owes them money and have them pay off the challenge.  If they can't come up with anything, they can exchange points for a 2:1 basis...that is take two points from other pools to gain one point in the pool you need.

To prevent challenge spamming, the scene-running player can only challenge a particular pool once per scene.  By having pools refresh when complications reach zero, the players are hopefully doing something exciting.  I know a bunch of easy tests could drain a player worse than a few big tests (I believe stress can add up over time and such a mechanic would represent this.  I will address issue further...)

Food for thought.

Sean
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sean2099
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« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2007, 09:11:26 PM »

Hi all,

I do have additional ideas for Heroes and Villians but I have another roleplaying game that is begging me to finish it.  So, I am off to finish Divinity (paid for some of the art and stuff:))  Without turning this into a promo thread...if you want additional info, please free to ask.

Thanks for all the help and I will come back to that,

Sean
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