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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: Flash - GM-less competetive. Dark and intensive war rpg.  (Read 2533 times)
BigElvis
Member

Posts: 48


« on: February 13, 2007, 02:59:19 PM »

My questions for this game is: do you understand how the narration and the mechanics work, and do you think they actually do work? Meaning what problems do you see in it, that I my self may not have uncovered. The game has not been playtested so take numbers of SD and PSD as not being established.

Flash is (supposed to be) a bleak game in which players take the role of warriors on two sides of an intense, gory and traumatic combat

situation. It is designed to be played by 2-4 players playing four characters.

Players do not only struggle to have their characters survive the skirmish. Through flashback scenes they also perform a sort

of backwards character creation where they try to pin traumas, insecurities and other such negative aspects to the opposing

players' characters. In the hope scene they give their characters a reason to survive the fight.

Characters
The game has four player characters on the two sides(or teams) of the fight. Before play and character creation the players

agree on what kind of combat situation the two sides are in. When, where and who is fighting. The game is intended for the

situation being on a not too grand scale but rather 10-30 fighters on each side, the characters being four of these. They

then "take a side" in the conflict and create a character.

Example:
Mark, Kathy, Thrish and Mike agree on playing out a game where a native american village is attacked by the US army.

Character creation
A character only consists of a short description and four flashback outcomes. The description shouldn't contain any

negative or positive statements about the character and his connections to other people, but things such as age, physical

description, important family and friends. Somethings in the description may be negated by what takes place in the flashback

scenes. This is ok.

The flashback outcomes are four possible outcomes of two flashbacks. A happy memory and a more traumatic memory for each

flashback. What actually "happened" and hence is the actual flashback will be determined in the flashback scenes. It is

important that the possible outcomes are connected in a way that makes it possible to reach either one of them without

bending the narration round system during the game.

All players can veto the creation of any character if they think there isn't enough meat on the flashback outcomes. If they

do, they are encouraged to add feedback as to how the outcome might be more traumatic or more suitable to the narration

mechanics.

example:
Mark creates a native american warrior, Flies with Eagle, defending the small village. He is 23, has both parents, has a

brother and 2 sisters, and a pregnant wife
his flashback outcomes are:

Flashback; encountering bear in woods with brother

Happy outcome: As teenagers his brother and he were hunting in the woods when they encountered a large bear, they were both

struck with fear as the bear approached them, but the bear only approached them and stood before them for a while then left.

They both felt a connection with the bear and see the bear as a messenger from the spirits.

traumatic outcome: the bear ran towards them and killed his brother while he stood petrified with fear, bringing shame to

himself, losing his beloved brother and his family being seen as cursed by the spirits

Flashback; the morning of the attack with wife
Happy outcome: after returning from collecting wood (or whatever) in the early morning Flies with Eagles returns to his tent

and his sleeping pregnant wife. He kisses her belly and cuddles up next to her
traumatic outcome: after returning he finds his wife having sex with the chieftains son

Mechanics and Gameplay
Story Dice, Power StoryDice and narration rounds
each character starts with 10 StoryDice (SD) and 5 Power StoryDice (PSD). Both die are six-sided but one color for SD and one for PSD. Every scene a certain amount of dice has to be

staked by each character, but the character chooses how many of these dice are SDs and PSDs. They lose the dice they stake if

they do not win two of the three narration rounds in a scene. To determine who wins a narration round players roll the dice

they have staked. PSD may be rerolled a number of times every narration round,  this number increases throughout the game

(thus the power of the PSDs increase through the course of the game). The rolled dice are added together and added for each

team (only in the final scene do individual rolls matter). The team with the highest result has won the narration round,

which is then respected by the players as they narrate the actions of their characters, NPCs and the environment.
In the hard flashback scene the players on the team with the player having the flashback stake only one dice each, while the

opposing team stakes two each, this means that the result is likely to be in favor of the opposing team winning the scene and

the flashback being the traumatic one.

Scene structure
Scene name         PSD rerolls   Dice staked by each character

Contact            1      1
Flashback player A                      1      1
Flashback player C                      1      1
Battle             1      1
Flashback player B                      1      1
Flashback player D                      1      1
Cut            1      2
Hard flashback player A      2      1/2
Hard flashback player C      2      1/2
Blood            2      2
Hard flashback player B      2      1/2
Hard flashback player D      2      1/2
Gore            2      3
Hope
Victory            3      5



Scenes
All scenes, except the hope scene, are divided into 3 narration rounds. SD are rolled before each round and when the winning

side is determined the narration should fall out towards the way they want it, as to reflect the dice. All scenes except the

flashback scenes take place in the current situation. Use the NPCs(but leave any NPCs that are important(in their description

or flashbacks outcomes) to the other characters out of your narration) and environment as props in your descriptions of the

starting, commencing and ending fight.

example:
Contact scene
Mark and Kathy are on the same team. They win the first narration round. Mark narrates a scout returning with haste and

yelling for the warriors to assemble. Battle ready the warriors prepare for the assault. Trish narrates the US cavalry having

riden hard for days but eager to kill some savages. Trish and Mike win the next round. They narrate riding over a hill

quicker than expected, firing their rifles from their sadleback. They include gory descriptions of their killings of NPCs.

Kathy narrates hiding behind a tent ready to take action against the oncoming cavalry. Mark win the final round. Trish and

Mike lose their staked dice and Mark and Kathy keep their own staked dice. Mark narrates killing a US cavalry man with his

bow and arrow, Kathy narrates throwing her axe to the temple of one riding past the tent she hid behind.

Flashback scenes
When a flashback scene is to be played out, the players opposing the player having the flashback select one of the 2 possible

flashbacks that they want the player to have in this scene.
In the  flashback scene the character experiencing the flashback is of course played by its player. This player distributes

any other roles among the other players. The players play out their roles in the 3 narration rounds while the action comes

closer to the fond or traumatic memory description. It is of course important that they act according to the result of the

SD. If one side wins the two first rounds then the second round will be the last one establishing the nature of the flashback

and ending the scene.

Hope scene
In the hope scene players take turns describing some future event that will happen if they (pay for the description and)

survive the victory scene. It could also be a description of something that happens to another character, maybe a future son

or daughter, but it only does happen if the character survives. It may be anything, although it cannot be something that

effects the other characters (and their possible hopes). There is a cost involved for describing hope though. For each stated

fact the player must pay one PSD or 3 SD. A fact is something which can be described in a simple sentence. Each verb and adjective in a description can be a fact. This is always up to the opposing team. Players shouldn't butcher each other descriptions with PSD expenses, but only have players pay for the important parts of the hope description. This is a negotiation between the teams as the hope scenes are described and payed for, and the hoping player can always edit his description to lower or raise the PSD cost.

example:
Mark describes a scene in which a young man, who looks somewhat similar to Flies with Eagle's brother, but is wearing some of

FLies with the Eagle's family jewelry, he is his son, is hunting in the woods. He encounters a bear in a bear trap. The young

man cautiously approaches the bear, which doesn't act aggressively towards him. He starts working the trap and releases the

bear. Concentrated in releasing he does not notice that a host of different animals have gathered around him as if to say

something to him. The bear licks his hand and humps off into the woods as do the rest of the animals.

this description would cost minimum 4 PSD because:
he has a son is a fact.
the son looks like his brother is a fact.
the encounter with the bear is a fact.
the son and especially the bears behavior in the scene is a fact.

Victory
The victory scene is the only one in which player characters can die. If your team loses two out of three narration rounds

AND you individually fail to roll higher than any of your opposing players individual roll your character dies in the

narration of the final scene.
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Lars
TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2007, 04:35:44 AM »

My questions for this game is: do you understand how the narration and the mechanics work, and do you think they actually do work? Meaning what problems do you see in it, that I my self may not have uncovered.
I think I understand what they do.  Are there problems?  That depends on what you want them to do, doesn't it?

It seems to me that it's a system, for instance, that encourages people to beat the snot out of their own characters, and that the most dysfunctional, miserable git is likely to win the final victory, but that the victory will be largely pyrrhic and meaningless (a low bid on Hope).  Is that the intent?
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BigElvis
Member

Posts: 48


« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2007, 03:06:59 PM »

Quote
t seems to me that it's a system, for instance, that encourages people to beat the snot out of their own characters, and that the most dysfunctional, miserable git is likely to win the final victory, but that the victory will be largely pyrrhic and meaningless (a low bid on Hope).  Is that the intent?

It is not the intent. I think I have found a way out of it that will give me what I wanted:

In the hope scene you can only use SDs to buy facts, at a rate of 2 SDs pr. fact. Each bought fact gives you an extra die to stake in the victory scene, so if you buy two facts, you can stake 7 instead of 5 dice in the victory(increasing your survival chance).

This revision makes the SDs more powerful giving players a reason to hang on to them; meaning they want to win the earlier scenes as well to hang on to their dice, and not "beat the snot out of their own characters". It is also gives a competetive incentive for buying hope.

This should solve the problem right?

The amount of starting dice is still just an educated guess.
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Lars
TonyLB
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2007, 05:25:35 PM »

Do the facts go to both sides, without a dice-off?  Or only to the winning side?  Or only to the losing side?
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BigElvis
Member

Posts: 48


« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2007, 08:16:08 AM »

I am not sure what you mean exactly but here is a reply to what I think you are asking:

There is no dice-off involved in the hope scene and as such no losers of the scene. People take turns narrating their own short hope scene and paying for the facts. Everybody wins, or more correctly the ones who pay for facts in the hope scene and also survive the victory scene win. Your hope-facts actually being realized depend on your survival.

You buy facts with the SD and the SD are "spent" meaning that you won't be able to stake them in the victory scene, but they have the effect that they increase the maximum number of dice you actually can stake in the victory scene. Thus your hope makes you stronger in the victory scene improving your survival chance.

If this did doesn't answer your question could you please rephrase it?

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Lars
TonyLB
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2007, 09:00:09 AM »

That answers my question.

So, at 10SD and 5 PSD, minus what I eyeball to be the statistically likely attrition of 6 dice over the course of the scenes, you're ending up with 4SD 5PSD if you've husbanded your resources optimally.  That looks (to me) to mean that you're doing a maximum of 1 fact (because spending for more than 1 will mean that you can't get the advantage of them).

But that's fixable just with more SDs at start.  I think my overall question about the system is whether it's intended to give more choice than (to my eye) it is doing.  Let me posit a few notions here:

  • It's clearly and patently bad strategy to stake a PSD in any of the 1-die, 1-reroll conflicts.  Yes, it marginally increases your chance ot winning that conflict, but the benefit (a slightly better chance of depriving your opponent of 1 SD) is in no way offset by the risk (losing one of your PSD).
  • It is also clearly and patently bad strategy to stake a PSD as your one die in the Hard Flashback against you.  It's not going to save you.  Odds are your opponent is going to roll seven or above straight out of the gate ... and that's if they're not staking PSD, which ...
  • It is clearly optimal strategy to stake at least one, and possibly two, PSD as your two die in the Hard Flashback that favors you.  You're pretty much guaranteed the win, and therefore lose nothing.
  • It is clearly optimal strategy to spend two SD in Hope for every 3 SD you have in excess of 5 dice.  If you've been careful, you should be working with 5 PSD and some number of SD.  You split those, 2 to get a fact, 1 left over to stake in addition, based on that fact.
If those all look solid to you then the conclusion I draw is that the only real strategy choices come in during the Cut, Blood and Gore scenes.  That's ... not a lot, for a game of the length you're describing.  Does that analysis seem sound?
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BigElvis
Member

Posts: 48


« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2007, 10:27:46 AM »

It does.

I will have to rework the scene structures rerolls and stakes, and I'll probably turn the hard flashback into a not so hard one. I'll post again when I have something that might work.

Thanks a lot for your input so far.
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Lars
TonyLB
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2007, 12:57:55 PM »

No problem.  I'm sorry that I've come across so negative ... it certainly does sound like a fascinating story structure.  If anything, I'd love to see your analysis of what the fundamental choices that players make in such stories are.  I think that might give some interesting insights in terms of what the mechanics should be doing.
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BigElvis
Member

Posts: 48


« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2007, 05:26:26 AM »

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Lars
TonyLB
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2007, 06:52:32 AM »

Okay, so what impact do the choices the player makes about narration and character creation have on the system?

Will player choice A lead to outcome X, where player choice B leads to notably different outcome Y?
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2007, 08:40:50 AM »

This is really cool, and an interesting way to mechanically invoke flashbacks.  I echo Tony's comments, and will add that the die currency for introducing facts seems a little shaky - personally, I'd either tighten it way up qualitatively or allow the narrator to establish what is and is not a fact, rather than their competitor. 
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johnwedd
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2007, 10:34:07 AM »

i just wanted to say how interesting the narration possiblities look like. keep going!
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BigElvis
Member

Posts: 48


« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2007, 04:37:50 PM »

Thank you all for input and encouragement.

I am a bit swamped at the moment, so I am not sure when I'll be able to make a new version. The new version will include a new resource system with a new flow with a larger emphasis on the player choices - effects on resources dialectic. Basically the only thing kept is the concept, the fight for narration rounds composing scenes, and a somewhat similar overall structure.

I would like input on two issues which are fundamental to the game's concept.

Originally I intended the flashback scenes to be open ended (as opposed to now where the player decides on a happy memory and a traumatic one, and the narration in the scenes just leading to one of these two). I would still prefer the flashbacks to be open-ended because all players are more involved this way, it calls for more in-game choice, and it was part of the original concept to have the "character creation" take place in-game.

There is a problem with it though. Because of the very competitive nature of the game the flashbacks lost would probably be overly perverse and the ones won overly happy. This was dealt with in the version you have seen with vetoing. Vetoing might work when it's vetoing the characters in creation. But I don't want the narration rounds to be veto negotiations.


The other issue is in the hope scene. I would like it to be narrated by all players as well and preferably competitively. On the other hand if you can lose your hope scene, there really is no point in you playing the final round. I like the way that investment in hope can give you a mechanical edge in the final scene, but I need to include the other players and a competitive element.

Any inputs welcome..
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Lars
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