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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Do or Die]  (Read 1669 times)
angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 132


« on: January 08, 2007, 09:52:21 PM »

Okay, I was recently inspired by a friend to try some design.  The envisioned setting is inspired chiefly by the Warhammer Fantasy novels, and the Myth games.  Grim and gritty high-magic fantasy, very little morality confusion.  Here's what I have so far.

The most important unit-of-play of the game is the Struggle.  A Struggle pits one player, who portrays a force called the Hero, against another player, who portrays a force called the Opposition.  The Hero wants to complete a certain goal, the Opposition wants to destroy the Hero before that goal is completed, and it is their respective player's jobs to push for victory as hard as they can.  When one of them gets what they want, the Struggle is over.  The Struggle is divided into two parts, the Buildup (consisting of moderate-level foreplay conflict) and the Climax(consisting of nail-biting pants-messing conflict).  A Struggle should take a moderate sized group no more than an hour or so to complete, so that a few may be gone through in the course of one evening.  After one Struggle, it is likely that new players will take the Hero and Opposition roles.

Players who are neither the Hero nor the Opposition are the Supporting Cast.  Each Supporting Cast player portrays a force of their own.  The force may be firmly on the side of either the Hero or the Opposition, but the player is not (allied forces can aid the enemy through betrayal or incompetence).  The job of Supporting Cast members is to reward entertaining description by empowering the player who provided it.

(I refer to players portraying 'forces.'  A force could be one character(like Conan), or several characters(like the Fellowship of the Ring), or an army, or a nation, or an environment, or whatever.

Okay, that's what I know I want.  What I'm not sure of is the resolution system.  I envision the Hero and Opposition players each sitting with a big pile of pre-rolled dice, going back-and-forth matching values sort of Dogs-in-the-Vinyard style, while the Supporting Cast throws each of them extra dice when cool things happen.  When one of the two runs out of dice, the other one wins the Struggle.

I need advice on:
- The resolution mechanic, the basic back-and-forth.  I'd like there to be some basic tactical choices so the Hero and Opposition aren't completely reliant on pandering to the Supporting Cast.

- The mechanical distinction between the Hero and the Opposition.  The two roles need to play differently.

- The distinction between the Buildup and the Climax.  The two stages need to play distinctly differently.

- The transition from the Buildup to the Climax.  This is the shot where the warrior-monk crests the hill, sees the army of undead between him and the temple, and realizes just how slim his odds are.  That moment needs to evoke the same 'oooh, shit' feeling from the player of the Hero.  Also, what is the mechanical trigger for the transition?

My current thoughts on the above: The Hero begins in a strong position in the Buildup, but must conserve his resources for the Climax, so he starts with more dice than the Opposition.  When he uses too many dice to 'take the blow,' the excess become extra (and possibly unusually large) dice for the Opposition, but those extra dice are not rolled and added to the Opposition's pool until the Climax begins.

Okay, that's where I am.  Your input is welcome.
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-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
Valamir
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Posts: 5574


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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2007, 09:58:59 AM »

Couple of thoughts:

I found it interesting that you indicate that Opposition's Goal is to destroy the hero, not just prevent the goal.  Is that an intentional design element.  i.e. would the opposition be motivated to allow the hero to obtain the goal in order to have a chance at destroying them.  Or is the opposition more motivated to prevent the goal even if that means the hero survives.

The difference is a pretty profound one and I think whatever you choose has some big implications for your game and setting.  It boils down what is actually special.  Is it the hero that's special such that its the hero that the Opposition is looking to destroy?  Or is it the goal that's special such that the hero is just the tool for achieving the goal.  In Lord of the Rings its the latter...destroying the Ring was the special thing...the opposition needed to stop that goal regardless of who was the ring bearer.  In, say, Greg Keyes' Kingdom of Thorn and Bone its the character of Anne Dare herself that's special.  The opposition specifically needs to destroy her, regardless of what goals she achieves along the way.


Secondly, I recommend taking a look at the War of the Ring board game (published in the US by Fantasy Flight) for resolution ideas.  Both sides roll a fist full of dice and then take turns spending dice back and forth, but rather than being interested in the totals on the dice as in DitV, each face of the die displays a different action that the player can pursue (mustering allies, moving troops around, moving heroes around, launching battles, that sort of thing). 

The interesting feature is that the options available to each are different...i.e. the types of actions found on the dice are unique to each side giving each side a very different strategy to play.  Its a board game, so in the game the strategy for the good side is to focus on moving heroes (i.e. the Fellowship) and getting them to Mt. Doom while armies need only to delay Sauron.  For the bad side the focus is on moving armies to quash the good side before the fellow ship can complete its task while using Ring Wraiths to slow the fellowship down. 

For your game you'd want to create actions suitable to your setting and the scale you're looking for (personal adventure where the opposition is traps and individual monsters, or epic adventure where there really are armies mustering).

One cool possibility here is to customize what the dice represent for each scenario.  In one scenario the role of a 3 could represent the mustering of an army, in another the role of a 3 could represent the hiring of an individual henchman.  You'd just design custom tables for what the dice mean for each side for the scenario (possibly with some scenario building rules or something rather than just free form design).

You could then combine this with a situation generation system similar to A Wicked Age where players then select from the generated items the characters they want to play.  Each character could then have a small number of their own dice that they could provide to one side or the other that had custom results based on what they do.  In a small scale adventure the "shifty thief" supporting character might have a die that included actions like scouting and setting/removing traps that could be helpful to whichever side that character joined.

How all the different actions interact might prove a challenge.  Whether they'd be primarily narrative driven, or whether they'd trump each other outright, or whether they'd thrown the resolution into another little mini game where my Scouting Action is rolling off against your Mustering Army action, or whatever.  That would require a bit of work to figure out.  Burning Empire's Fire Fight system might be a useful inspiration here as it involves taking a conflict, mapping it out abstractly, and then choosing actions to achieve victory.  Victory involves taking down a Hit Point like score of the opposition (the exact name of which I can't recall) which could be done through any number of tactics from shooting them to outmaneuvering them or what not.


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angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 132


« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2007, 10:41:13 AM »

Thanks for weighing in, Val.

I found it interesting that you indicate that Opposition's Goal is to destroy the hero, not just prevent the goal.  Is that an intentional design element.  i.e. would the opposition be motivated to allow the hero to obtain the goal in order to have a chance at destroying them.  Or is the opposition more motivated to prevent the goal even if that means the hero survives.

The difference is a pretty profound one and I think whatever you choose has some big implications for your game and setting.  It boils down what is actually special.  Is it the hero that's special such that its the hero that the Opposition is looking to destroy?  Or is it the goal that's special such that the hero is just the tool for achieving the goal.  In Lord of the Rings its the latter...destroying the Ring was the special thing...the opposition needed to stop that goal regardless of who was the ring bearer.  In, say, Greg Keyes' Kingdom of Thorn and Bone its the character of Anne Dare herself that's special.  The opposition specifically needs to destroy her, regardless of what goals she achieves along the way.

The two outcomes of 'prevent the goal' and 'kill the hero' aren't distinct.  In the inspirational material, the Hero is usually likely to die whether or not he succeeds, the question is whether he can get the job done before that happens.  At the same time, the 'destroy' action could easily be defined by the group and the scenario as 'corrupt,' 'dominate,' 'conquer,' or what have you.  The implication is that the Hero is willing to die to accomplish the goal in any event, or when the Climax began he'd probably just say 'game over, man' and go do something else. 

Quote from: Valamir
Secondly, I recommend taking a look at the War of the Ring board game (published in the US by Fantasy Flight) for resolution ideas.  Both sides roll a fist full of dice and then take turns spending dice back and forth, but rather than being interested in the totals on the dice as in DitV, each face of the die displays a different action that the player can pursue (mustering allies, moving troops around, moving heroes around, launching battles, that sort of thing). 

The interesting feature is that the options available to each are different...i.e. the types of actions found on the dice are unique to each side giving each side a very different strategy to play.  Its a board game, so in the game the strategy for the good side is to focus on moving heroes (i.e. the Fellowship) and getting them to Mt. Doom while armies need only to delay Sauron.  For the bad side the focus is on moving armies to quash the good side before the fellow ship can complete its task while using Ring Wraiths to slow the fellowship down.

First off, I am an enormous fan of War of the Ring.  The two-arena battle it presents (destroy the ring/conquer the world) could easily be adapted to (complete the goal/destroy the Hero), and I think I could get a lot of value from examining the set-up of that game's resources.  Excellent thought.

Quote from: Valamir
For your game you'd want to create actions suitable to your setting and the scale you're looking for (personal adventure where the opposition is traps and individual monsters, or epic adventure where there really are armies mustering).<snip>

Okay, there's a lot of cool ideas there, but I'm totally uninterested in having the resolution mechanics touch the narration aspect, except where the Supporting Cast players come in.  Now, having options like Muster/Rest (giving up progress for more resources) or Press Hard (burning endurance for extra effectiveness right now) appeal to me.  So it looks like there's definitely going to be a speed vs. endurance aspect.

More please, y'all.
Logged

-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
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