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NWod Mage PBEM system
Topic: NWod Mage PBEM system (Read 756 times)
NWod Mage PBEM system
August 30, 2007, 04:19:23 AM »
Hello, my name is Thiago, and although this is my first post here, i´ve been already lurking through the forum for some time, and some of the work you´ve done here has really inspired me to look a bit further inside rpg theory. I´m not native speaker, so i´d ask some leeway concerning my english....
There´s some time I´ve been thinking about converting the system of mage: the awakening and storytelling in general to something more friendly to pbem´s and pbf´s format. The idea was to cut down most of the rolls and to develop some mechanics that delt with the written medium better then the normal Storytelling system
I´ve been looking to sources like Prime time adventures and Dogs in The vinneyard for ideas, since narrativistic approuches seem to work better then their simulationistic counterparts at enviroment over which the storyteller must share its tasks with the players and isn´t able to oversee every small step of the rules aplication.
The frame work i came up with was something like this:
The game would be split in "scenes" as a normal table top session. The scenes would be created either by the player or the storyteller, which would be responsible to provide a starting setting for it and give a general idea of what he would like to see coming to pass and how his character would try to achieve it - chosing the dice pool that mostly represented it.
The other players involved would then say what they would like their characters to accomplish and how they envision them doing so, chosing dice pools as well. The storyteller would represent the interests of the plot antagonising the other players actions.
Every player would roll the attribute+ability or supernatural power more appropriated to their intended outcome. the storyteller would roll some set number of dice. The players who obtained more succes then the storyteller would accomplish their intended tasks, and those who did not would fail.
once the outcome of the scene was set, the person who initiated it would them write as if he was the storyteller and the other would then add to this text what they found apropriated to their characters, respecting the outcome of the dice and the aproval of the real storyteller.
ex: Jullie, the player of Anabelle, a thyrsus mage, wants to see her mage exhibiting all her sensuality (which she thinks is a important trait in the character concept) by charming a guy at the local pub. She wants to highlight the new life spell she developed, so she chooses to use her gnosis+life as her dice pool. Philip, playing an Acanthus GotV, is trying to get a bartender to work for him, reporting unusual activities, he uses his manipulation+persuasion as a dice pool for such thing. The storyteller rolls 4 dice as his dice pool and say he wants to see some unlikely paradox score anabelle due to vulgar magics she casted earlier and would like to see the bartender refuse to deal with the gotV asking for some of the bouncers keep an eye on him for trouble for a few weeks.
jullie scores a single success while, the storyteller rolls two and philip astounishing three successes. As such, jullie suffers the paradox, while the GotV makes a agreement with the bartender by giving him some money.
Once everything is Set Jullie knows she will suffer a paradox, so she will try to writte a good scene with this in mind, and once she covers the paradox as well as the pub enviroment, Philip adds his character to the scene describing how he lured the bartender. The storyteller makes any alteration and the scene is over.... now, on the next scene, it would be a good time to see if Philip will investigate/sense, the paradox and how the poor anabelle will deal with it.
Using this basic guide, i thought to expand it to encompass a few other concepts also borrowed from the source games.
All scenes must be created with a conflict and intention in mind. The player creating the scene is encouraged to suggest other players what kind of interest they could have in the scene as well as advise the storyteller what kind of oposition his character intent could create or what the npcs could try to gain over the character.
The dice pool employed by the storyteller is be gauged by how close a given person or place is to the interest of the exarchs.
- Mundane places or people - 4 dice. (these dice correspond to places or people without significant supernatural ressonance.)
- Supernatural Actions - 6 dice. (these dice correspond to places or people with some connection to some supernatural effect, even if the character´s doesn´t know or perceive it)
- Interacting with Seers/Abyssal Entities - 8 dice. (these dice portray a place or person aligned either with the abyss or with the seers, unknowing paws or mages unaware of this influence also count, although they must either live close to the seers or in contact with the abyss or, at least, be under some spell from such sources)
This exarchs subtle influence is the only actions most of the players will see from these legendary elements (unless, of course, the storyteller chose otherwise). This can be attributed to blind luck or reinforce the pentacle beliefs and is a subtle way to alert player of interference from the supernatural they might want to investigate or not.
Some rare few characters deserve more attention then a generic number of dice. Such characters, representing order leaders, important supernatural figures and the nemesis of the players instead of using the previous rules, are treated as if they were characters themselves, with all the rules as appropriated. When they are in a scene, the storyteller exchanges the dice given by the exarchs influence to the appropriated traits of the character. these shouldn´t be done lightly, though, as these signals to the players they are dealing with someone worth notice.
Sometime antagonists trait may be used indiractly as they enchant other beings to deal with the characters or may set supernatural traps and other things. The storyteller is advised to use these differentiated dice pools scarcely unless he thinks it would really add to the story.
The whell of Fate:
Everytime a character fails a scene, in the next scene he participates he receives a +1 cummulative bonus die, as every being has it´s favored moments. On the other hand for every successful scene, a player gains a cumulative -1 penalty to his following rolls unless he chooses to use a completely different set of attribute+abilities/powers.
If a player really wants to see something accomplished he may choose to sacrifice something he values in order to gain extra success in a scene. Things elegible for sacrifice are: dots of wisdom, attributes, paradox unleashings, lethal health levels, flaws (which, obviously are gained instead of lost) or dots in merits. Once at stake, each of such things gives a player an extra success that, if needed to win over the storyteller roll, force the player to describe how he lost the sacrificed thing either in the scene, or on the next scene he creates. Alternatively a player may freely sacrifice such thing during his description of a scene if he see it as appropriated in exchange of success in a future roll, no more then 3 such success can be stored no matter what.
- Players shouldn´t be afraid of inflicting more damage to their characters when they envision a fight grittier then what the dice suggest, and may feel free to describe their characters own fails and misteps if they would contribute to the story.
Health and Death:
Every time a player enters in a combat, he receive damage equal to the success scored by the storyteller in his rolls. This damage stays on the character scheet until the player elect a scene in which he uses life magic, stamina+medice, Stamina+allies(medic), Stamina + resources (paying for medical treatement), or similar, where he cures a point of lethal, agravated or concusive damage for each success if he is successful. These scenes represent either the character retiring for recovery, lie low for a time or simmilar situations. Even if pass time enought for the character to recover himself, if he doesn´t roll, the next scene in which he is inflicted damage is considered more grievous and the old wounds are onpened again. Only a single recovery scene is allowed for every combat. (obviously, this can be a roll for which there´s few mentions in the story, something worth only a paragrath or two in the next scene the player calls)
- Antagonists normally doesn´t heal over time, and when they actually do its a matter of a few points. The damage accumulated dosn´t represented opened wounds, though. it´s just a way to gauge how close to dying he will be in the next combat scenes he enters against the characters.
Multiple scenes per mail/ multiple topics:
Instead of going chronologicaly foward one scene at a time, in each email two or three scenes are solved at the same time. They should be scenes chronologically distant in time or shouldn´t present much interference one with the other. Once a scene is finished, another one is opened, so there is always a constant number of conflicts being solved. This allows for economy as the storyteller and the players use posts/mails where they write a scene to roll dice concerning others. Whenever a penalty or bonus would be applied to ' the next scene" it is applied to the newest scene to be created, no matter if it is chronologically disconected as long as it doesn´t create some sort of incoherence.
The player responsible for opening a scene receives a total of 3 exp, while player only paticipating receive 2 exp. Anything bought with exp point should receive at least a paragraph if not a whole scene to portray the character evolution. If the player decides abandon or to kill his character as a resolution of a scene, he may create another with all accumulated exp + 3 for the trouble of doing so ^^.
Could you guys help me to turn this into a useful system.? The mechanics are quite rough, but it´s just a general idea, and i don´t have much experience with narrativistic or pbem-based systems.
Re: NWod Mage PBEM system
Reply #1 on:
August 30, 2007, 05:41:10 AM »
That's a very clear and interesting post ... but the answer is no, we cannot help with it. Not in this forum (First Thoughts), because this site is aimed at developing self-published role-playing games, and this forum is specifically for first thoughts about doing that.
I do recommend something, though. I'm the content moderator here and can move threads around. If you're interested in telling more about your experiences with Mage, and how that led you to the decisions you're describing, then we can have an incredible discussion in the Actual Play forum. In that forum, it doesn't matter a bit what game we're talking about.
Let me know if that's something you'd like to do. If so, then I'll move this exact thread to Actual Play and ask a few questions. If not, then this thread can't go any further.
Re: NWod Mage PBEM system
Reply #2 on:
August 30, 2007, 05:50:32 AM »
Sorry for the mistake... Move it wherever it would be fit, as i said it´s my first post here and i´m not aware of how the forum rolls ^^
Re: NWod Mage PBEM system
Reply #3 on:
August 30, 2007, 07:28:34 AM »
Excellent! Here we are in Actual Play. I am asking you to tell us more about your real, actual experiences with playing Mage, and how that led you to the decisions you're describing for this game. Who have you played with? How long did that last? Have you played face-to-face as well as PBEM, and what are the differences, in your experience?
Re: NWod Mage PBEM system
Reply #4 on:
August 30, 2007, 08:18:04 PM »
My experiences with awakening are limited to some small introduction sessions with my current gaming group. Although i´m in love with the title, i´ve been much busy with girlfriend, colege and a mad search for a job, so my schedule never meets my friends´ these days.Some time ago, when i also had dificulties keeping my old gaming group together, i got involved in a web site about Mage: The Ascension and met what would be my on-line group for the following years.
My experience with pbem and online gaming is extensive. Doing a fair job at substituting my table top sessions, chats and pbems not only allowed me to play when i didn´t have oportunity to do so with a group but opened an avenue to explore some different aspects of rpg i had never oportunity to do.
My experience with On Line gaming
The games i used to play on the internet were more akin to improvisational theater and free-form roleplaying then the normal table-top adventures most simulationist games suggest. Each participant of the game developed multiple characters and as a group all involved decided to ennact scenes where some of these character were together Interacting.
In the begining, while the group was still toying with the idea of an online chronicle, we still clinged to the idea of a controling central storyteller, someone charged with designing the plot and move the game foward using npcs, setting events and arbitrating conflicts. From the begining, due to lack of experience and unwilliness to implement any kind of structured system to solve disputes this model of game was abandoned.
As the games went on, naturally, the role of a central storyteller was removed in favor of what we called " flowing storytelling". All characters, already tied to some commom locations in the game setting and sharing some reasons to get together didn´t need outside interference or much justification to be put in a scene, So, once we decided to play, one of the players would simply describe the location where the scene would take place, and give a basic idea of what was going on at the moment there, and from there on, everybody simply worked their chosen characters in. As ideas striked, any player could describe aditional events or bring npcs into the scene shaping it as they see fit.
It was a matter of empathy. The game was mainly about the relationship of the characters and their growth, and each player was responsible to portraying it, either devising scenes to confront the other´s characters or inviting others to scenes portraying sides of their own characters they thought could grow into entertaining conflicts.
As Players interests diverged, some days more then one scene was played at the same time, either in different chat windows or as multiple entries in an e-mail. The player who opened a scene was supposed to lead it to an interesting development, and by being able to design the scenes for things they would like to see coming to pass, we avoid conflict of inpiration or fight for attention - someone wanting a love scene, wouldn´t feel the need to disrupt a scene with another theme (like vengeance, for example) or that was focused on another character business, because he could simply start a new one more fit for him.
OnLine X Table Top, and Theory
While Most table top games must focus on a plot where all attention is focused on some limited part of the characters life (i.e. the life they share with the other´s player characters and their involvement with the plot), i discovered that the system we used for pbem and online playing, allowed exploration of things that couldn´t confortably find space during a standart game session. Personal scenes, in most games, mean all focus on a single character and may make the other players bored, and a few themes, such as romance, friendship and grief are hard to explore. On the other side, Pbem and online games suffer from a slow interaction which hinders some task reslution systems and, in general may turn even the most simple dispute into a problem that may persist for weeks. It´s very hard to "storytell" a pbem, as one cannot be as present and take as much responsabilities as in a game-top chronicle, and sharing the game setting also means giving up some control over the direction the game will flow.
Most of my life as a gamer i only knew simulationist and gamist systems. My experience was mainly with the storyteller/storytelling system. My recent contact with this forum and games such as Dogs in the Vinneyard and Prime time adventures, expanded my horizon concerning rpg rules and design. The wholle concept of narrativism striked true with my experiences in pbem. The ideas of conflict resolution and every scene as a conflict sounded a very fertille ground from which to devise a game system fit for online gaming and pbem. What i once called "flowing storytelling" was just a implementation of a narrativistic approuch were each one adds their own elements to the story with greater freedom.
Mage: The Awakening Into a Pbem System
Adapting mage to a Pbem system, though, presents some challenges that put it appart from developing a brand new pbem system, and the most significant one are tied to keeping the original character scheet and mantain the same "feel' of the game. Although the original game mechanics for many elements must be cut to a simplifyed version, i thought that the ability of taking a pbem character and use it in a table-top game is paramount as well as, in the conflict resoultion system, most of the original stats matter so there is minimal distortion in the setting to which they were designed for.
I struggled i bit concerning simplified version of the scheet, or some porting rules that facilitated the transition to table top to a eletronic medium, but doing so i´ve been wondering " how much is too much?" when we come to warp the system. As there´s no easy answer to such, keeping the original scheet and doing the easier rule possible seemed the best option to avoid problems.
Help Please! ^^
As i´ve said, my last post is only a framework and, although i do have some experience with pbems and, even not playing much, i´m very familiar with the setting and mood of awakening, i´m just begining to mess with narrativism and conflict resolution systems. I´d glad if you guys could help-me with some problem´s i have.
- Health and death:
I´m unsure of how to deal with a character dying and what wounds would mean in a pbem. I´m divided between enforcing imposed character death and letting character death be only its own player concern. The system of stacking wounds that must have a scene dedicated to their healing is based on the idea that, as each scene represents a conflict and that a player has only one "significant action" each scene, healing the character and avoiding death means that a player will have to spend some measure of his "narrativistic power" portraying his character increased care with his health.
I´d like to implement a better stake system, where a player would spend some of his " narrativistic power" portraying problems for his character in exchange for some edge while dealing with scenes and conflicts they would really like to see happening in a certain way. I´d like to make the stakes something that keep people on the edge of the chair during the resolution of some scenes, something that makes some achievements more precious because of the price payed for them.
I´d like to implement some system so that the storyteller could make a few scenes more difficult then usual, stiring players to up their stakes in order to accomplish deeds specially important to the story. I need help into ruling how much points the storyteller should get and how he can renew them.
- Boons and banes:
I was wondering how to implement a system where the players could gain and spend a few tokens concerning their achievements during the scenes. Maybe a +1 or +2 bonus dice for things they conquered that could be spended later when appropriated. something like this: In the first scene, player a suceeded in stabilishing that his character is seductive, so he gains a token named Seductive+1.... Latter in the game he can use it to gain +1 die as long as he links his current action in the scene to something related to the scene where he got the token (Maybe he is reassured by a call from the lover he gained in that scene, or he spend extra time to dress once again in the same clothes, or uses that old perfum that never fails.... whatever. I need, though, some help to regulate how this things would come into play in a balanced way.
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