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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 67 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Converging Plotlines in the Land of Nodd  (Read 862 times)
Paul T
Member

Posts: 369


« on: May 13, 2007, 03:33:54 PM »

Hello.

I just wrote the first draft of a new game I'm calling "Land of Nodd". It's a roleplaying game, but a "GM-ful" one, as some people around here like to say. It draws inspiration from The Pool as well as Vincent Baker's Otherkind and, in some ways, the upcoming In a Wicked Age. The idea is to facilitate the telling of stories where multiple protagonists pursue independent plotlines.

The introduction in the PDF (first page) describes it in a little more detail.

http://ihousenews.pbwiki.com/f/LandofNodd.pdf

It's a short game--the first page is the introduction, the second page is a description of what to do before play, and then there are three pages of rules, and one page of examples. The last three pages consist of optional, additional rules. So, you could read pages 3-6 and pretty much get everything you need to know, if you're pressed for time.

I've never written a game like this before,and never really seen one like it either. I'm sure I must be reinventing some things, though, so if a similar game has already been written, I would appreciate it if someone would point it out to me.

First of all, here's a part I'm not looking for advice on, yet:

-Starting the game. The second page (part 1) describes how to generate a bit of material from which players may build a narrative. However, I haven't finished writing it; instead it just refers to another webpage. Feel free to ignore that page.

Here's what I would like your advice on:

-Do the rules for gaining and losing dice sound like they balance? I want to avoid one player ending up with all the dice.

-Along the same lines, I built in a very rigid procedure for play. Does this sound like a good thing to you, or might it hinder creativity? (For example, is it a good idea to cut away from a character after every roll, or will it break up the narrative too much?)

-I'm considering a simpler variation for the dice mechanic, which you can find at the bottom of the last page. I'd love to have some feedback on the pros and cons of that variation versus the one currently in place, which you prefer, and why.

-Does this game need something along the lines of Flags for players to specify? Adding some Flag-like elements might make it easier for Narrators to come up with material. On the other hand, each player has twice as many options as there are players to narrate, so I'm hoping writer's block will not be an option too often. If you think I'm mistaken, do you have any ideas of poweful but simple ways of incorporating some player Flags into this game?

-Ideally, I would like some incentive for the players to be very selective in calling for rolls. Right now, the incentive is winning dice, so you're encouraged to pick a tense moment in the story, a moment the current player cares about. Does this sound sufficient?

-Follow-up: Should any sort of rule be in place to keep an anxious player from calling for a roll simply because they know their turn is coming up, and want to "go next"?

-I envision each group that plays this game to develop their own pacing; i.e. how long does each person's turn last, on average? Do you play very short scenes, then roll, or is there a longer build-up? However, might it be a problem if one player really wants to play out long scenes with his or her character, but other players want to call for rolls much more often?

-Do you think a bunch of non-roleplayers could play this game, as written, and have fun? I'm not sure whether someone without RPG experience can GM effectively or not. The way the game is written, when you GM, you do not have to worry about any rules, or even call for rolls. However, in your experience, is that something that people can just pick up and do, or not?

-Finally, I'm excited about the potential of this game to play out stories with converging plotlines (like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, or the books of Steven Erikson). Do you think any rules support would be necessary for this sort of play, aside from what is already there. Can you think of any mechanic to encourage and reward, explicitly, drawing various plotlines together?

Thank you very much! Of course, any other observations or advice that come to mind is more than welcome.

Best,


Paul T.
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northerain
Member

Posts: 94


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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2007, 12:00:45 PM »

Hi Paul
I'll address some of your questions that I feel I'm capable of answering.
About the dice system, the only reasonable way to see if it works or not is to playtest. The limits you've imposed about choosing players with few dice seem like they'd keep the game rolling alright, but you'll never know until you actually try it.

I liked the alternative mechanic in the last page, it feels like it would work quite nicely what with players esentially ''gambling''.
About the scenes, I'd assume a scene will come to a natural end, when the conflict has been resolved. Even if a player tries to circumvent that, there won't be anything left to do in a scene with no conflict right?

I like your idea of converging storylines. Maybe some sort of mechanic that decides(or helps players decide) when and how the storylines actually converge?

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Paul T
Member

Posts: 369


« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2007, 12:46:11 PM »

Thanks for the reply!

A couple of comments:

About the scenes, I'd assume a scene will come to a natural end, when the conflict has been resolved. Even if a player tries to circumvent that, there won't be anything left to do in a scene with no conflict right?

Actually, that's in the rules--once the conflict is resolved, the next player takes their turn. The only way the scene could conceivably continue is if that player decides to narrate for the same character and picks up where the previous narrator left off.


Quote
I like your idea of converging storylines. Maybe some sort of mechanic that decides(or helps players decide) when and how the storylines actually converge?

Yes, that's exactly what I'm asking about. I've thought about it a little, and it seems to me that a simple mechanic that rewards people for drawing together plotlines might lead to predictable, forced stories. So I'm wondering if anyone has a better idea, or could point me to a game that does something similar.

Thanks,


Paul
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Paul T
Member

Posts: 369


« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2007, 12:49:37 PM »

It occurs to me that a possible reason I haven't had many replies is that I've asked too many questions.

Perhaps we can focus on one right now:

-
-Do you think a bunch of non-roleplayers could play this game, as written, and have fun? I'm not sure whether someone without RPG experience can GM effectively or not. The way the game is written, when you GM, you do not have to worry about any rules, or even call for rolls. However, in your experience, is that something that people can just pick up and do, or not?

You do not need to read the rules to answer this question--all you need to know is that a "GM" in Land of Nodd does not need to deal with any game mechanics (as in The Pool), and that the negative consequences of conflicts are decided by the other players, so that the only thing left to the "GM" is the narration, drawing together outcomes that have already been set.

Thank you,


Paul
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northerain
Member

Posts: 94


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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2007, 01:20:48 PM »

I'm not aware of any game that has that kind of mechanic. Maybe character will be able to use their dice to ''jump in'' a scene beeing played out, while keeping in mind their background story, thus creating a converging storyline.
I'll use an example set in a modern setting.
Player A has a scene where he's in a car chase with some very bad people that want to do very bad things to him. The scene is played out(the details aren't important) and he escapes(or fails, both work). The scene ends and Player B is the protagonist now. He's in a car arguing with a friend about money. Right when the scene is almost finished, Player A decides to buy himself in the scene. Player A crashes his car on Player B's car in an intersection. Converging storyline.

I think it will be playable for a group of non-roleplayers as long as the system is kept simple. Don't use much terminology, just try and explain everything with examples. Everyone get's gambling and everyone likes to tell stories, so this shouldn't be too hard.
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