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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 171 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Cops & Robbers] Childhood Memories?  (Read 1700 times)

Posts: 39

« on: April 26, 2007, 09:54:33 PM »

I'm working on a sort of roleplaying meta-game that's based on the way I and some of my friends used to play as kids. Rules are added with adult players in mind, but I want to preserve the spirit of immaturity. Here's the core ideas I have so far:

I call it a meta-game because it borrows resolution mechanics from other games. If the players want to play out a fight, they can do it through a video game, playing with squirt guns, foam dart guns, or boffer weapons, shooting rubber bands at little green army men, playing tag, just acting it out, or through any other means the players can devise.

Playable characters are drawn from a pool. If a player character dies, the player can take another one from the pool at no penalty after the fight is over. Players can switch characters freely (and probably will when the story calls for it.) The pool can be a literal basket of name tags or ID cards if the players are inclined to make them.

If there are enough players, they're divided into cops and robbers at the beginning of each game session. If the big group of players meets regularly, this division may be permanent if they desire.

Characters only have a few traits: a side (cop or robber,) a rank in his side's chain of command, and a Shtick (a cool personal characteristic that no other character can intrude on.) They can have more detail than this, but they don't have to.

Players have one resource - Guys. If a player character would die, and the player wants to keep him around, he can spend a Guy to make the character live to fight another day. Players get Guys when their side wins a challenging fight. If players get in an out-of-game argument, they can bid or give away Guys.

My question is this: Do any of you have any fond childhood experiences of playing violent make-believe that you would like to recapture? Any entertaining stories? I'm looking for source material that could inspire new or different rules (particularly positive, coolness-enhancing rules - not safety-related rules, which I'm assuming that players are smart enough to mostly work out for themselves.)

Posts: 3702

« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2007, 08:43:10 AM »

My question is this: Do any of you have any fond childhood experiences of playing violent make-believe that you would like to recapture? Any entertaining stories?
Yeah, I do ... but I'd honestly rather talk about your game than my memories.

How about you tell us a story of your memories, and what you think the core element of that story is, that you want the mechanics to support and encourage?

Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum

Posts: 39

« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2007, 04:45:00 PM »

Okay, I guess turnabout is fair play.

We called the game that was the inspiration for this game Matchbox Cars, for completely arbitrary reasons. You see, we started out telling the story mostly through toy cars, but we eventually moved on to other outlets entirely for the same story. It was a true breakthrough when we realized that we could bring Nerf guns into the equation. That's one of the main things I want to capture - the rules of competition changed all the time, but the story remained the same.

The story meandered, but it was mostly involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovering the conspiracies of the Federal Bureau of Crime (which wasn't really a federal department, we just called it that,) the Federal Bureau of Spacemen (same deal,) the French government, and the sinister Parasol Corporation. Those of us who played the bad guys during any particular episode (aliens, zombies, corrupt FBI agents, or whatever was called for,) did so under the understanding that we might die and that there was no real penalty for doing so. This is why I created the character pool in Cops & Robbers. Players might want to play a small number of recurring heroes, or they might want to tear through the character pool in a vast bloodbath on both sides, and I think my rules let them do either.

In our game, we put an emphasis on going up in rank within the structure of "good guys." We would agree upon ridiculous, arbitrary physical challenges for us to complete to make our characters go up in rank. I'm still not sure how this fits into my plan, or how important rank should be in my new game, but I'll get back to you.

Posts: 11

« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2007, 09:05:09 AM »

That sounds very interesting. I used to play the same thing when I was younger. I hope it works out it sounds very fun I like the whole idea of a character pool and guys. As for moving up in the ranks... you could do it by who's character has lived the longest ?

Posts: 39

« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2007, 09:09:52 PM »

As I'm working things out, here's the Power 19 for Cops & Robbers. My previous questions still stand; I just think it's better to use an existing thread than to start a new one.

1.) What is your game about?

Cops & Robbers is about two sides locked in constant struggle, the uncovering of conspiracies, and a world steeped in violence and bereft of safety and certainty. On another level, it's about having fun in a classical, immature fashion.

2.) What do the characters do?

Characters mostly fight each other. There may be a bit of investigation involved, but the unveiling of conspiracies comes largely through the smashing of face. Other possible activities, such as committing/solving crimes or inventing/stealing new technologies, probably revolve around the smashing of face.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?

Each player plays the part of one character at a time, but they have free access to the pool of characters in the story. One player, who otherwise plays just like the other players, is the boss. When it is needed, the boss plans a structure for the story and narrates the actions of characters that aren't being played by anyone.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

I provide a suggested setting, which is engineered to provide opportunities for a wide variety of violent encounters. It's delivered with a tone that tries to encourage players to mess with it and elaborate on it.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

Character creation is extremely simple, and the information required to play a character is sparse enough to fit on a business card. This allows for the fast creation of a character pool. Still, the existence of Shticks makes each character unique and provides some incentive to keep characters alive.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

The game rewards players who keep the game fresh by introducing new showdowns, playing different characters, and creating new characters for the pool.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?

Players are rewarded for proposing and excelling in different kinds of showdowns by being awarded more Guys. If players stick by the same methods of conflict resolution every time, or if they don't bother to learn how to excel at new kinds of showdowns, they'll receive fewer Guys. Players who what to play the same character every time are punished somewhat, since they need to protect them by spending Guys if they die.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?

Any player, not just the boss, can contribute to the narration by taking over any character that's not being played. The boss has to get things rolling initially, but the players might reach a point when they're all contributing equally.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)

The rules of competition and conflict resolution are always changing. In theory, the game can absorb the mechanics of any other game the players know. This means that "playing Cops & Robbers" isn't a single experience the way playing a tabletop RPG with hard-and-fast rules is.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

When players want to play out a conflict (almost always a fight,) it's done through a showdown, an event in which the rules of another game are used to dictate the outcome. A showdown might be played out through squirt guns, boffer weapons, a video game, etc.

For other kinds of arguments between players, they can use their Guys as a transferrable bargaining chip. If all else fails, the boss has the final say, just to keep things moving.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?

The mechanics try to keep out-of-game differences to a minimum and keep the in-game conflicts fresh and exciting.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?

Characters advance in rank within their side's chain of command. Naturally, longer-lived characters are more likely to advance in rank. However, players can still take control of any character in the pool, regardless of that character's rank. Of course, characters can be turncoats or double agents as well. Apart from that, no rules for character advancement are needed.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The game is meant to be fast-moving and played out through more than one means. This is why I try to keep the rules of character advancement to a minimum.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?

Above all, I want the players to have fun, free from pretentions or concerns over maturity. Many groups of players might also see it as an excuse to get some exercise.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?

I tried to provide an extensive list of suggestions for showdowns; since they are the core of the game and the main element that keeps it from getting stale.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

I'm excited by the idea of something complex and interesting growing out of something stupid and mindless. Maybe it has something to do with encouraging peple to create without putting them under pressure.

It takes players back to the kind of imagination and competition that comes naturally to children, or so I hope. Also, the character pool creates the opportunity for broad-scoped stories that go beyond the "adventuring party" dynamic and aren't usually offered in systems as gamist as this one.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?

My current plans are humble, especially since the rules text is somewhat short. Perhaps I'll make hard copies available through Lulu, or just post the complete rules on my own website if that doesn't work out.

19.) Who is your target audience?

I target immature people of all ages. I target tabletop roleplayers who get pooh-poohed and called munchkins at more "serious" tables. I target casual gamers who are interested in the opportunities for physical action that LARPing provides, but who want none of the bookkeeping, rules-lawyering, makeup, or social awkwardness.

If you see any weak points or fuzzy language in my Power 19, please feel free to point them out, since this indicates a likely oversight in my game design.
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