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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 195 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Need advice to simplify mechanics and increase randomization obtained from a D20  (Read 7972 times)
Alexandre Santos
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Posts: 35

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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2007, 08:46:05 AM »

Continuing on the absence of choice about using the Power. It's true that actually there is no choice. This is a Duel game, if people do not fight, there is no game. So people will fight, and they will use the Power. The question then is not whether you will use the Power and pay the price.  There will always be a price, the issue is how you will pay it. This will tell who you are.

I thought further on the humanity issue, and came up with two new gauges to replace Humanity: Care and Hope. The way they function is not so different from the previous Humanity gauge, but hopefully they will be more useful in bringing up issues on the humanity of the Warriors.

Care: Care is a gauge that indicates how much the Warrior cares for others, himself, and is cared by others. Care increases when the Warrior makes something significant that shows that she cares for others. Even better, it will increase further if others show that they care for the Warrior. A Warrior with 0 Care has lost attachment to others, the world and herself.

Hope: This gauge quantifies the state of the Warrior beliefs. Every time the Warrior acts on her beliefs at a personal cost, this gauge will go up. It is also possible to envision that other's acts can increase a Warrior Hope. A Warrior without hope has lost faith in her beliefs, and in the world in general. Having high Hope does not mean that the Warrior thinks things will go well for her. It means she believes she will remain worthy of her own respect until her end.

Initially I thought about using a thirg gauge: Resolve, but in the end I think it conflicts with the Willpower attribute and the Hope gauge. I think all Warrior goals can impact on either Care or Hope.

So, how does this work?

Each Spring Warrior starts with a stock of Care and Hope. Everytime she uses her Power, she rolls Effective Power vs Willpower + either Care or Hope. If she loses, her level of Care or Hope is reduced. She will awaken if any of both gauges reaches zero.

In order to increase her Hope and Care gauges, the Warrior needs to act on her Passions and Beliefs. A Warrior who does not earn Care or Hope points by developping Passions or Beliefs or acting on them,  will run out of her initial stock, and undergo Awakening. This can be exemplified by Elena, a fellow Warrier of Claire. Elena starts at the same time as Claire, but spends her moral ressources rapidly, because she fails to find something to hang on to. Claire survives longer because she develops Passions that orient her life.

I would say that a Warrior changes from Spring to Summer when she has sufficiently developped her Passions and Beliefs to survive beyond the initial Care and Hope stock.

How do these Passions and Beliefs develop? They can be suggested by the GM, or picked up by the player. What is important is that as the PC Warrior starts to act upon these Beliefs or Passions, not only will she win more and more Care and Hope points, but her story arc will be more and more influenced by them. Eventually, these Passions and Beliefs will come to define the PC. What is also important is that these Passions and Beliefs will ultimately put the Warrior on a collision course with her existence within the Organization, ushering the Warrior to her existencial crisis and Autumn phase.

In this way I think both gauges can better frame the humanity issues that the Warriors face, while powering the PC story arc development.
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2007, 10:29:25 PM »

Awesome.  You've got some really great ideas for you game here.  I especially like the idea of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Warriors.  I think it's a really cool structure around which to build your story.  Have you thought about mechanically differentiating between each of the stages?

What I mean is that since fighting and defeating demons is an essential part of the story, you can pretty much assume that it's going to happen.  That makes it a pretty poor motivation for the players.  What's cool to me is the idea that, as a Spring Warrior, my goal is to develop into a Summer Warrior, so I'm trying to develop hopes and beliefs, and I do that through fighting.  I develop Passions in this stage as well.  Perhaps there's a mechanic that lets me buy off damage by adding a new hope or belief relevant to the situation, or I can add a Passion relevant to the situation to increase my power.   When I have a certain number of these, I progress to a Summer Warrior.  As a Summer Warrior, I'm complicating the picture.  I don't know exaclty how you'd work this, but maybe you'd introduce mechanics about the truama here.  The idea is that during combats I can do things with my beliefs and hoppes, passions and Trauma, that move me towards the Autumn phase.

I like the idea of the whole game being a kind of extended character creation.  You're always building your character (through combat) towards completion, which is also the end of that character's story.

Something I noticed writing this was that you seem to have a lot of fiddly bits on the character sheet: Beliefs, Hope, Trauma, Passions, Care, and so on.  Are they all essential?  I can't say, but it's probably a good idea to keep this list as tight as possible.
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Alexandre Santos
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« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2007, 05:47:44 AM »

Something I noticed writing this was that you seem to have a lot of fiddly bits on the character sheet: Beliefs, Hope, Trauma, Passions, Care, and so on.  Are they all essential?  I can't say, but it's probably a good idea to keep this list as tight as possible

Very true... So far, here are all the elements of the game system:

Attributes: "Strength", "Speed", "Willpower", "Perception", "Leadership"

Gauges: "Total Power", "Released Power", "Available Power", "Stress", "Care", "Hope", "SOC"

Traits: "Trauma", "Passions", "Beliefs", "Techniques"

I can't really touch the Attributes, because of canon issues, but with respect to Gauges there are possibilities. I am not happy with the way I implemented "Stress", and think so far it has been more of a distraction. I created this gauge to model the fact that a Warrior in pain or in panic has more difficulties to control her "Released Power". But I think instead of having a "Stress" gauge to model this, I can directly use the "Released Power" gauge. So off with "Stress".

Next comes "Care" and "Hope"... These two gauges have essentially the same function in the game mechanics. I only created two to show to the players that there are different ways to cling to humanity. But I think the overhead is too much to justify the distinction, so I fuse both into a "Hope" gauge.

Furthermore, "Total Power", "Released Power" and "Available Power" are all related to Power and linked together. So I think only "Total Power" should be in the Character Sheet. I would then provide to each player an "Operational Sheet" which would indicate the Power-Attribute reference table, the SOC and Released Power gauges (so that players can put a marker on the current level of Power released by their PC Warrior) plus the Available Power gauge (either as a blank field where players write the value, or perhaps better just a marker that players put on the reference table indicating from which column are they reading now). In this way the Operational Sheet remains always clean and tidy, since only markers are used on it, and it provides info on the current status of the Warrior, whereas the Character Sheet provides data on the Warrior in a very similar way to the format used by the databook.

As for Traits all are headers of a list of empty fields. Techniques must stay. I could fuse "Passions" and "Beliefs" under "Passions" (for me Passions related more to people, whereas Beliefs were connected to core values of the Warrior, but all can be gathered under "Passions"). One could also file Trauma under Passions, since so far there is no mechanistic difference between both. It's just that Trauma is the primordial Passion, the one that explains why the PC became a Warrior, the problem that will keep messing the Warrior's life.

So I now have:

Character Sheet:

Attributes: "Strength", "Speed", "Willpower", "Perception", "Leadership"

Gauges: "Total Power", "Hope"

Traits: "Passions","Techniques"

Operational Sheet:

Power-Attribute reference table

Gauges: "Released Power", "Available Power" (in the header of the reference table) , "SOC"

Quote
I especially like the idea of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Warriors.  I think it's a really cool structure around which to build your story.  Have you thought about mechanically differentiating between each of the stages?

What I mean is that since fighting and defeating demons is an essential part of the story, you can pretty much assume that it's going to happen.  That makes it a pretty poor motivation for the players.  What's cool to me is the idea that, as a Spring Warrior, my goal is to develop into a Summer Warrior, so I'm trying to develop hopes and beliefs, and I do that through fighting.

Originally I had thought of this concept as a reference device for the GM. I want to write a rulebook which provides a "ready made" game, targeted to school Claymore fans that do not yet roleplay, but are initially attracted to the book because the artwork would make it a collectible item. Another target population is overworked/young parent GMs. Both should be able to approach their friends, make a short pitch and start playing immediately, without any prep work, before or between game cessions. Under this optic, I want the book to provide everything the GM needs to play a cession: NPCs, locations, scenario snippets, Techniques, Beliefs, Passions. In order to facilitate usage of the book and play, all these elements would be categorized according to which season they belong to (this concerns specially NPCs and scenarii, which change considerably from one season to the other). I even thought about writing a little computer program that would produce a Warrior cohort on demand, so that players can pick up Warriors (within 30-47 ranks) as PCs, whereas the GM would pick up the rest of the Warriors of the cohort as NPCs.

This being said, your idea of implementing mechanical differences between each season has interesting implications: The Warrior's season would not simply be a way to tell the GM what kind of issues he has to care about (Spring: provide Passions to the PCs, Summer: let PCs grow, develop Techniques and make sure Passions pave the way to the Autumn crisis, etc). As you suggest, it could also be a neat way to ensure that the Players do that type of work (reducing GM's workload), and at the same time provide them with a more diverse set of goals.

So let's try to build this:

Hope points are the essential dramatic currency of the game. PCs win Hope points when they manage to make their Passions show up and have an impact during a Duel (well, I guess it could also be at other moments, but most of the game is Duels anyways).

Spring

Player Goal: Ensure that the Warrior becomes viable by acquiring Passions, Beliefs and defining her Trauma

Reward: the player gets interesting problems to explore with the PC, and the PC does not awaken and the end of the Spring season.

Mechanics
: The Warrior receives missions that present opportunities to develop Passions and Beliefs. The GM and the player can make suggestions,  and they will keep trying new possibilities until something "works", and the Warrior starts to earn Hope points from it. The GM should only accept Passions that can realistically be used for an Autumn crisis (a Passion for stamp collecting can hardly create a motivating Autumn crisis). The player also has the right (duty!) to invoke an event that reminds the PC of her Trauma. Both player and GM then develop the Trauma through a  flashback.  I guess Trauma exploration should happen once per cession, so that if there are 3 players + the GM, all Traumas have been defined after 3 cessions, and all the PCs are ready to become Summer Warriors.

So ideally a Spring Warrior should receive enough Hope points to sustain her for 4-5 game cessions.

Summer


Player Goal
: Turn the PC into a unique superb Warrior by acquiring new Techniques, and develop her Passions to ensure that the PC is earning enough Hope points to survive her Power increase.

Reward: Learning of new techniques and increase in the Warrior's Power are the main rewards

GM Goal: Make sure that Passion development prepares the coming of Autumn

Mechanics: Either the player or the GM suggest Techniques that the PC could learn or develop. Once this is agreed the GM sets up the game in such a way that the Technique can only be acquired if the player develops further the PC's Passions. If the PC is getting really low on Hope, the player can also suggest more Passion development that is not directly connected to Technique acquisition.

One could even formalize things further and decide that Technique X "costs" N Hope points. The system then makes explicit usage of Hope as a game currency.

On a side note, and developing your suggestion, one could also decide that if a Duel is really going badly for a PC, he can "burn" Hope points to increase the SOC level in her advantage. Maybe one should only allow this if the player (with the help of the GM) can come up with a way of "rationalizing" this, once the duel is finished and the player narrates the PC's victory (ex: in order to win the Duel, the PC did something against her beliefs, or ignored human suffering, etc. Whatever works for the PC's Passions).


Autumn

Player Goal: Find a way out of the PC's mess by deciding what will be the new foundations of her life (i.e. develop new Passions to replace the old ones, or adapt the old ones).

Reward: Obtain a functioning PC despite the breakdown she went through

GM Goal: Make sure the PC's Passions put her in a tough spot (i.e. cause the PC's Passions to become mutually incompatible). Prepare conditions for the resolution of the Trauma story arc.

Mechanics: Not a lot of mechanics here. The GM sets up conditions that make it impossible for the Warrior to continue a summer existence. Autumn starts when the Warrior stops following the Organization orders (if this is impossible for the Warrior, this is the end of her story arc, which is also nice, if it fits the PC personality). Autumn finishes when the PC knows what she wants to do of her life. Mechanically, this involves a reorganization of the Warrior's Passions. The PC will spend large amounts of Hope during the crisis and struggle to find new Hope sources, or to "repair" her old ones.

Winter

Player Goal: Solve the Trauma's story arc.

Reward: witness the end of the PC's story arc in a sad/happy but ultimately satisfactory way.

GM Goal: bring the Warrior's story arc to a closure.

Mechanics: Very simple... The GM sets up the context for the Trauma resolution, and lets the players go for it.

Quote
I like the idea of the whole game being a kind of extended character creation.  You're always building your character (through combat) towards completion, which is also the end of that character's story.

Yep, you formulated in a couple of words what I'm trying to achieve with the game.
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Alexandre Santos
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Posts: 35

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« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2007, 04:09:56 AM »

Jason suggested a different system of resolution, based on D10. I quote (slightly modified):

The idea for a dice pool, which keeps your balance points intact, and makes use of the +/- system, is below.

The dice pools always represent the Defense.  The defender rolls a number of d10s equal to (Defender's Rank - Attacker's Rank + 2)x3.  If the defender has a + or -, she adds or subtracts one to her pool, and does the reverse if the attacker has a + or -.

Any 1s on a normal die mean a successful defense.  5 normal dice can be combined into a Tetradie.  On a Tetradie, any 1-4 means a successful defense.  3 Tetradice can be combined into an Octadie.  On an Octadie, any 1-8 means a successful defense.  A good idea to handle this would be to figure out if the dice pool is over 15, convert 15 dice into one Octadie.  You really should never be rolling over 8 total dice if you do this conversion, and in balanced fights, the dice should stay around 4 or less.

If a Defender has zero dice (because the Attacker beats her by at least 2 grades), then the Defender will have to spend some resource to actually build a defense pool to be able to defend at all.

So for example if fighter 1 has Strength B+ and fighter 2 has Speed C-, then the defense for Fighter 1 would be:

(B minus C+ 2) x 3 +1 +1 = 11D10 : B minus C = 1, Always add +/- after multiplying by 3

11d10 = 2 Tetradice and 1 Regular Die.  Any 1-4 on the Tetradice, or any 1s on the regular dice would mean a successful defense.

I like the system, because it gives regular steps of advantage to Attribute differences, and because of the elegant folding of dice into Tetra and Octadie.

A couple of questions:

- Why not consider that the player is rolling for Attack, instead of being for Defense? Mechanically it seems equivalent, and the player feels more "active", and less "passive". If a player does not have enough ressources to attack the enemy, the player could rationalize that as just fighting a player too powerfull...

- Would one use only one Attribute on a roll, or several? In the example provided only one Attribute is used. Until now I was thinking that each roll would mix a physical and mental Attribute, but I think it's also ok to use only one of the 4 Attributes. However I would like for instance that Leadership gives an edge in a duel involving a faction, if the faction has a recognized leader.

- With the previous system, the number of "hits" was used to pool results of the fighters of the same faction, and to qualify victory (if a faction had double the amount of "hits" than the other, SOC moved two steps in advantage, instead of one). In this system, it only matters if a defense is successful or not. Would there be a way to qualify the advantage gained?

- How do fighters in a faction mechanically cooperate to provide an advantage? Is defense rolled for each fighter? Does one compare the number of successful defenses?

- Finally, how does Power influence these rolls? Are calculations done as without Power, but simply the final number of dice rolled doubled for each Effective Power difference?

I would like to replay the Patricia vs Claire Duel that I described in the first post, but I would need more info to try it..
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2007, 05:13:36 PM »

The way you've formulated each season, with a clear goal and reward for the player and GM, is really, really cool.  Make sure that clarity remains in the final text.  I recently played a game of The Mountain Witch, and it really highlighted for me the value of really knowing what your goal is in playing your character.  I think what you've got here is gold.

I like the mechanical distinctions as well, but I think maybe the lines between the different seasons could be clearer? For example, I'd like to see something that says "A character enters Summer when she has X Hopes points, and X Passions, and her Trauma has been revealed", and "A character enters Autumn when she has X techniques" and so on. 

Are you familiar with "Keys" from The Shadow of Yesterday? I don't think they're precisely what you're after, but they might provide some interesting inspiration for how to make "Passions" work in your game.  I'm also seeing a parallel between TSoY Experience points, and your Hope.  That's cool.

Here's a possible way of doing this:
In Spring, a character can get a power boost of some kind, maybe reduce damage or do a really powerful attack, if she decides to take some aspect of the current situation as a "Passion".  If they're defending a town, maybe she takes "Defending the Helpless" as a Passion, or maybe she chooses a "Love" for a particular person in the town as the Passion.  Also, for a mechanical bonus, the player can choose to have a flashback to the Trauma.  I don't know much about trauma, and how it should work, but these scenes should just introduce the character's Trauma without resolving much.  Once the character has a certain number of Passions, and has introduced her Trauma, she enters Summer phase.

In Summer, a character gets Hope points for acting on her Passions.  This could work like Keys in TSoY.  If you've got "Defending the Helpless", maybe you get one Hope point every fight in which you're defending a helpless person.  Maybe you get three hope points if you take a big risk to do it, and five hope points if you abandon your friends to defend someone helpless.  If you've taken love for a particular character, maybe you get one hope for being with them in a scene, three hope if you take their advice about something, and five hope if you're put in danger because of them.  Something like that.  During Summer, hope points can be spent to buy Techniques.  This provides a big motivation for acting on Passions.  Something should happen with Trauma here too, just to keep it in people's minds.  Perhaps one time during Summer the GM must introduce a scene involving some aspect of the character's Trauma.  The character gets a Hope reward for dealing with the scene.  Once the character has several Techniques mastered, she enters Autumn.  Here is where the GM needs to present a special scene, for that character, where her goals or passions come in conflict with the rest of the organisation.  The player can choose to sacrifice her goal (and end the character's story) or to go against the organisation, and continue it.

In Autumn, I think, is where things get interesting.  I think that here's where the "Buyoff" from Keys will be really useful.  The character still gets Hope for acting according to her Passions, but now she has another option: Act against the Passion, and gain a really big reward of Hope.  But, the Passion is gone forever.  The character lets a helpless innocent die to persue her own goals, she turns her back on her loved one, and so on.  You need some mechanics for Trauma in here as well, but I don't know how you want that to work.  Can you talk more about Trauma?  Anyhow, Autumn ends when the character only has a single Passion remaining, and all others have been sacrificed. 

Winter is all about the Trauma, and the last remaining Passion.  I don't know how the rules should work here.



Anyway, that's one way of doing it.  I'm sure you'll see lots of ways of improving it, and making it fit with the ideas you have more.  I'd really like to hear more about Trauma and how you envision that working.  I think this game idea is hot, and I really want to see where it goes.  I love the idea of different characters having different goals in play, centered around the seasons, so you've got grizzled Autumn veterans slowly coming to terms with themselves, while Spring warriors are just discovering what they really care about.  A game that lets you play out these stories side-by-side is super hot to me.
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J. Scott Timmerman
Member

Posts: 164


« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2007, 08:28:02 AM »

Aloha, Alexandre.

My focus on the resolution mechanic should in no way imply that I find it more interesting.  In fact, I like your descriptions of "what the game is about" at different times in a warrior's life.  I just don't have much time to comment on that. ^^

- Why not consider that the player is rolling for Attack, instead of being for Defense? Mechanically it seems equivalent, and the player feels more "active", and less "passive". If a player does not have enough ressources to attack the enemy, the player could rationalize that as just fighting a player too powerfull...
I think the reason I described the mechanic as being a defense mechanic rather than attack is based around how I calculated things in the first place.  Basically, I calculated the math based on the desired failure rate of the attacker, which seemed to make more sense as a roll made by the Defender.

But since I can see no reason (at the moment) why "Preventing one's opponent from moving one step in their desired direction along the success track" is different from "Moving one step in your desired direction along the success track," the math should work perfectly in reverse (though my brain refuses to actually work it out right now).  So, essentially, yeah, you could think of it as an attack instead.

- Would one use only one Attribute on a roll, or several? In the example provided only one Attribute is used. Until now I was thinking that each roll would mix a physical and mental Attribute, but I think it's also ok to use only one of the 4 Attributes. However I would like for instance that Leadership gives an edge in a duel involving a faction, if the faction has a recognized leader.
The mechanic is based on an earlier comment you said about each Warrior deciding which rating they would use in each conflict.  So it's only based on using one.  To use this particular mechanic with multiple ratings, I suppose you might use the average of the ratings being used, or make multiple rolls a round (adding roughly 7 dice to defense or subtracting same from offense for every split of action).

- With the previous system, the number of "hits" was used to pool results of the fighters of the same faction, and to qualify victory (if a faction had double the amount of "hits" than the other, SOC moved two steps in advantage, instead of one). In this system, it only matters if a defense is successful or not. Would there be a way to qualify the advantage gained?
Other than the "splitting action" idea above, which (adds or subtracts) 7 dice every time a single action is split into two, I can't think of one.  Of course, subsplitting actions is definitely possible, though in the case of "rolling for attacks," this could quickly reduce pools to no dice.

- How do fighters in a faction mechanically cooperate to provide an advantage? Is defense rolled for each fighter? Does one compare the number of successful defenses?
Defense could simply be rolled against each attack.  Or, versus a single coordinated attack of 4 attackers, you could simply subtract 14 dice from the defense and use the average attacker's score.  Either way should work fine.  Maybe even to represent the coordination effort, you could use the highest attribute between the attackers in a coordinated attack, provided it doesn't exceed their Leadership score.

- Finally, how does Power influence these rolls? Are calculations done as without Power, but simply the final number of dice rolled doubled for each Effective Power difference?
These calculations are based on:

1. Your assessments of the power relationships between different types of beings.
2. Perhaps assuming those relationships you mentioned involved no "conscious" use of power.
  (I.E., they take into account "naturally released" power, but not anything that would alter normal power level)
3. Assuming that humans, such as weak soldiers, farmers, etc. would have ratings of F, G, H, I, J, etc.

Of course, the difference here is that I see the Warrior ratings as designations set by the Organization based on a Warrior's level in each as a Warrior (which would INCLUDE their ability to channel Power), not as a human.  You see those ratings as Human levels.

My justification for this is that every time anybody says "She's the fastest Warrior in the Organization" or whatever, they're always talking about her ability to use superhuman techniques to achieve that speed etc.  Every time a warrior compares their abilities with another warrior, they are talking about their effectiveness as a warrior, not the traits that their human body would have if they had remained human, which you see as "innate."

While I think that's the primary source of our disagreement, I don't think that this mechanic is incompatible with your view, and you can throw out my assumptions # 2 and # 3, and have naturally released power always affect the dice.  Basically, using your view, every "doubling" of effectiveness achieved by power release (even natural power release) would have the same effect as having a whole grade higher (+3 dice to your rolls and -3 dice to your opponents rolls, per the formula above). 

Personally, I think using a Grade for this power rather than numbers of 100+ would be more effective with this particular mechanic, as the doubling could simply be represented by the grade difference in the Power score.  This would still keep Power the most important score, as you wish, but it would simply be ranked on the same scale as everything else to make the math easier.

-Jason Timmerman
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J. Scott Timmerman
Member

Posts: 164


« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2007, 08:49:36 AM »

Err.  Wait.  I already thought of a problem with that last comment, on how to use the system with your vision of power.  Thinking of Power as something that basically stacks naturally, as various warriors have different default levels of released power, would upset the balance of the power relationships that we already set into motion.

Fixes might be:
1. more rolls per round (making a power-based roll separately)
2. averaging of power with another attribute and adding dice
3. thinking about Power the same way I did when devising this mechanic
4. changing the way you see power balance
5. lowering the multiplier of dice for each grade (1.5???)
6. giving up on this mechanic entirely

-Jason Timmerman
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Alexandre Santos
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Posts: 35

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« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2007, 02:51:05 AM »

Hi Jason,

My focus on the resolution mechanic should in no way imply that I find it more interesting.  In fact, I like your descriptions of "what the game is about" at different times in a warrior's life.  I just don't have much time to comment on that. ^^

I know, and it actually suits me fine, because I would really like to sort out the resolution system in order to complete the other mechanics of the game.

Following your discussion I agree with you that in its current state, it's going to be very difficult to adapt the system to my view of how the Power works. Either we get bogged down with divisions, multiplications, or split rolls, etc. Stuff that makes the system unwieldy...

Which does not mean that I'm happy with the other system (scaling is somewhat clumsy, number of dice is higher than I would like, and I have the hunch that conflict resolution will drag more than what I would wish). Simply it seems to accommodate most of what I want to do (specially the geometric progression of power) and looks more or less playable (I still have to gather people to playtest it, before I can be sure about that).

I also thought about adapting your roll mechanic to the other system, but it does not work, since in the other system die successes happen not only with "1" but with different values.

So it looks like we are stuck!...

Quote
Of course, the difference here is that I see the Warrior ratings as designations set by the Organization based on a Warrior's level in each as a Warrior (which would INCLUDE their ability to channel Power), not as a human.  You see those ratings as Human levels.

My justification for this is that every time anybody says "She's the fastest Warrior in the Organization" or whatever, they're always talking about her ability to use superhuman techniques to achieve that speed etc.  Every time a warrior compares their abilities with another warrior, they are talking about their effectiveness as a warrior, not the traits that their human body would have if they had remained human, which you see as "innate."

I think you have accurately described the way in which our views differ. More precisely, the difference in the way you see things, and the way I want to implement them in the game, because my view is less strict than the way I want things in the game to work: actually, I even think that considering the notation system in the databook, it's likely that your view agrees better with the one of the Organization (if not the author's manga). We've been through that (cf. priority 1), but let me tell you, for the sake of the argument, that if I adapted your view on how Power works, and considered the databook stats as absolute measurements of the Warrior capabilities, and not her human Attributes, THEN I would be in dire straits...

This is because the system chosen by the Organization (I'll spare the manga author...) is really bad at doing its job of quantifying Warrior's abilities, and even worse to be used in an RPG system:

Their system has low grain and limited range: For some obscure reason, they chose to use letters instead of numerals to quantify abilities. This means that the range covered by the system is restricted to the Warrior class, and with very low grain. Like you say, humans (and probably Demons) get completely out of the range. That's not a big problem, since the Organization's aim is not to quantify human abilities, but Warrior's. But then they use the same broken system to quantify Awakened ones, using values such as SS, or SSS+ (S for special? super?), which means (1) they are out of the range of their system, (2) they are starting to mix a qualitative with a quantitative system. They would be better off by scrapping the whole notation system and going for numbers.

But their system is broken even to quantify Warriors. It is clear that Warriors abilities are improving with time and with newer Warrior generations (this escalation effect is why I need an open ended system). The result of this is that the Warrior's stats are migrating out of the system's range (some Warriors are having S Attributes, by now).

With the way I want to implement the system, many of these problems go away:

The notation system can describe values of characters, starting from average soldiers (barely) to anything better than that. Also I don't have to worry about Warrior's abilities migrating out of the system range. Only farmers are out of the range, which is an acceptable annoyance. I think the way I recycle the notation system allows me to keep the databook notation flavor while preserving some sanity in the way Attributes and Power interplay. So I can make fans happy, since I'm using the databook*, and have a working system. If I implemented your view, I would have to scrap the notation system completely, because it's internally inconsistent (mixing quantitative and qualitative factors), has limited range and grain, and because it totally ignores the fact that Power changing levels affects the abilities of the Warriors (since Power effect is taken into the Attribute value, you can't model Power variance, unless you doubly modify Attributes because of Power).

This being said, I really appreciate your energy in looking for solutions! I would really like to find a more efficient system that respects priority 1 while being open ended. I'm just as frustrated as you by not seeing a way to adapt your system...

* Of course, I expect a significant minority of them to come up with the same issues you mention, I already foresee that I will have to write a FAQ about this ;-)
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Alexandre Santos
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Posts: 35

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« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2007, 06:51:56 AM »

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your enthusiasm! To me it's clear that the quality of the game system has dramatically improved thanks to the input Jason and your have provided. This thread has been a godsend for the game design process.

I like the mechanical distinctions as well, but I think maybe the lines between the different seasons could be clearer? For example, I'd like to see something that says "A character enters Summer when she has X Hopes points, and X Passions, and her Trauma has been revealed", and "A character enters Autumn when she has X techniques" and so on. 

I agree, and want to do that, but before I can give precise parameters, I need to stabilize the resolution system. But it would look like this:

Spring is expected to last (number of players +1) cessions (and so the initial Hope stock should run out by the n+1th cession), and ends when the Warrior developed a minimum of 2-3 Passions, earned a minimum of X Hope points, and experienced her Trauma. During Spring, a Warrior cannot develop Techniques.

Summer length will be more variable, and accounts for most of the game cessions in which the player will use his PC. Formally, it's the player who ends the Summer season, when he decides that the Warrior stops blindly obeying the Organization. Of course, the player will have been "forced" by the context, but for me it's important that he actually starts the process, since Autumn will affect his PC so much that it would be bad if the season change was fully automatic. By disobeying, the player accepts that things will inevitably get rough in the future, and shares a bit of the responsability. A Warrior who choses NOT to disobey the Organization will stay a Summer Warrior. However, the GM should only lead the PC's passions into a Autumn crisis once the PC has learned at least one Technique, and earned a war name (like "Teresa of the faint smile", "Miria the ghost", "Flora the windcutter"). A Warrior can only earn a war name when her Power is comparable to those of the top 10 Warriors. At this point the Warrior has reached her zenith, and is ready for her trial times.

Autumn length is also variable, but shorter. I guess it will typically take 2-3 cessions to play out, even though in some complicated cases it might drag longer. Formally, Autumn ends when the player modified PC's Passions so that they are not in conflict anymore, but already capable of supply her with enough Hope points to survive. Somehow, Passions should only stop being in conflict when the PC has reached a decision about what is important for her, and what is her fate. Autumn should only end when most issues of the PC have been settled, and she can concentrate on her Trauma.

Winter should last one or two cessions, and concentrates on Trauma resolution. Winter ends when the Trauma is solved. At the end of Winter, the Warrior is either dead, or she has become an NPC. The player should never again use her as a PC.

For me it's important that the players have a limited time available to play with their PCs, because this adds to the feeling of poignant tragedy that is part of the Warrior's life (and in objective terms, the estimated 15+ cessions is more than what I played with most of my PCs). I think that players will also value more the time they have with their PC, when they are aware from the beginning that this time is limited. In-built character obsolescence is nothing new (cf CoC mythos and SAN mechanics, not to mention Paranoia) but I think it's a bit uncommon that a campaign type PC has a strictly limited game cession span. I mention this because I think one should probably have game mechanics that at the same time favor player's attachment to the PC, and help him cope with the loss, avoiding having him frustrated with the GM or withdrawing attachment to his PCs, to protect himself emotionally.

This is why for instance I want Autumn to only start after the Warrior has earned a name for herself. In this way the character will be remembered, and evoked by her war name. I also wanted that the loss of the Warrior as a PC is somehow compensated by the future impact in the game's world or characters. One way of implementing this would be perhaps to transform all remaining Hope points of a Warrior into "plot building" ressources for future game cessions. These could be used by players to suggest events, locations, NPCs that will have an impact in the scenario. These would of course have to be in connection with the former PC. These ressources would not be used to improve the new player PC, but could affect her fate.

Of course, closing the story arc is not the only way for a Warrior to become an NPC. The two other ways are by wakening, and defeat at a Duel. I think in such circumstances, the player should also be able to negotiate with the GM how the former PC could affect future developments. PC closure before Winter can be problematic, because it breaks the story arc. Usually I don't like systems in which PC removal is decided mechanically, and leave that for the GM and players to decide. The Duel SOC mechanic allows for that. The GM can impose a lot of costs to a Defeat, none of them involving permanent retirement of the PC. Actually defeat can also be a good source of new character development (new Passions, etc). The problem rests more on the awakening risks. As a PC raises her Power above 50%, she needs to make Willpower rolls to avoid a runaway Power surge to 100%. These rolls become harder and harder until, at 80%, the PC becomes unable to avoid awakening. Of course, the risk can be mitigated by the expense of Hope points, or by other (N)PC intervention. But the risk should not be null, otherwise it means that the mechanic is broken (why mechanically provide a risk that players and GM will always "cheat" to avoid?).

So the game system should somehow expect PC retirement before Winter, either by awakening or PC death, and provide mechanical support to manage that loss. And perhaps the best way to do that, would be to provide plot edit ressources that will affect the game in a way that is connected to the former PC.

Let's imagine an example: Teresa, a player's Autumn Warrior PC, dies before entering Winter. However, Teresa's player would still like to explore her Trauma theme and close some of his former PC issues. The player obtains some plot edit ressources that he will use to connect his new PC to the former. So the new PC (Claire), will have a past connection to Teresa, and inherit some of Teresa's issues, despite being a different PC from Teresa.

Of course, a new PC does not need to inherit the former PC's issues. The player can instead decide to create issues or NPCs that will affect the group in general. One example of this could be a Warrior awakening. The player should be allowed to design the Awakened One, give him some motives and obsessions, etc. This new NPC will come back later to mess with the PC's lives.

I'm not sure these plot ressources should necessarily be Hope points (otherwise there is the risk that this will interfere with normal usage of Hope points), but maybe one can extract ressources from the former PC sheet (for instance one plot edit per PC feature developed: Passions, Techniques, war name, etc). This is not unlike the "buyoff" Key mechanic of TSoY, that you mentioned.

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Are you familiar with "Keys" from The Shadow of Yesterday? I don't think they're precisely what you're after, but they might provide some interesting inspiration for how to make "Passions" work in your game.  I'm also seeing a parallel between TSoY Experience points, and your Hope.  That's cool.

I did not know TSoY - not in John Kirk's book ;-) but I see your point, and I also find the Key mechanics quite useful. There clearly is a parallel between XPs and Hope points, both are used as general game currencies for game advancement, and the buyoff mechanic is brilliant!

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In Spring, a character can get a power boost of some kind, maybe reduce damage or do a really powerful attack, if she decides to take some aspect of the current situation as a "Passion".  If they're defending a town, maybe she takes "Defending the Helpless" as a Passion, or maybe she chooses a "Love" for a particular person in the town as the Passion.  Also, for a mechanical bonus, the player can choose to have a flashback to the Trauma.  I don't know much about trauma, and how it should work, but these scenes should just introduce the character's Trauma without resolving much.  Once the character has a certain number of Passions, and has introduced her Trauma, she enters Summer phase.

I like that. I think giving an immediate mechanical boost to the PCs abilities is probably a good idea, it will definitely motivate them to develop Passions. This is something I wanted to do in general: PC rolls should be affected (in positive and negative ways) when they are rolled in the context of a PC's Passion. For instance, if the PC Passion is "Hate Priscilla", she should have more difficulties with her Willpower rolls, when she tries to contain her Power in Priscilla's presence. On the other hand, the Passion should give her a boost when using her fighting skills against Priscilla. In both cases, the fact that the PC's Passion was activated should yield Hope points (the PC wants to survive to punish Priscilla).

You also seem to imply that during Spring, Passions only work when they are "activated" for the first time. This is probably a good idea, since it will force the player to search for other Passions during the Spring season to maintain his PC.

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In Summer, a character gets Hope points for acting on her Passions.  This could work like Keys in TSoY.  If you've got "Defending the Helpless", maybe you get one Hope point every fight in which you're defending a helpless person.  Maybe you get three hope points if you take a big risk to do it, and five hope points if you abandon your friends to defend someone helpless.

Yep, that magnitude effect is pretty cool.

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During Summer, hope points can be spent to buy Techniques.  This provides a big motivation for acting on Passions.

Exactly.
 
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Something should happen with Trauma here too, just to keep it in people's minds.  Perhaps one time during Summer the GM must introduce a scene involving some aspect of the character's Trauma. The character gets a Hope reward for dealing with the scene.

That's pretty much how I see it, except, I think Summer is actually an important season for the Trauma. It's during that season that Trauma's dramatic tension is accumulated, so there should probably be more than one scene involving the Trauma. But as you suggest, these scenes should have an immediate Hope payoff.

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Once the character has several Techniques mastered, she enters Autumn.  Here is where the GM needs to present a special scene, for that character, where her goals or passions come in conflict with the rest of the organisation.  The player can choose to sacrifice her goal (and end the character's story) or to go against the organisation, and continue it.

In Autumn, I think, is where things get interesting.  I think that here's where the "Buyoff" from Keys will be really useful.  The character still gets Hope for acting according to her Passions, but now she has another option: Act against the Passion, and gain a really big reward of Hope.  But, the Passion is gone forever.  The character lets a helpless innocent die to persue her own goals, she turns her back on her loved one, and so on.  (...) Autumn ends when the character only has a single Passion remaining, and all others have been sacrificed.

I think this is excellent! The buyoff system should assist the player mechanically while he's sorting out the PC's issues, by providing a sufficient Hope payoff to sustain the PC while her Passions are retired. Like I mentioned previously, one could also recycle the buyoff mechanic to turn PC features into plot edit ressources, when the PC herself is retired.

I also like your suggestion that only one Passion remains at the end of Autumn. I think this Passion should be the Trauma, or even if not, it will be the issue that will be explored in Winter.

So Autumn mechanics would thus be clarified: During Autumn, the PC does not earn points by acting Passions, but by giving them up (buyoff). In this way, if the player wants his PC to survive Autumn, he will be mechanically forced to find ways of giving up the PC's Passions. One could also think that giving up the Passion is not the only way to remodel them. The player could also fuse two Passions to modify them (or alternatively spend Hope points to directly remodel a Passion). I think about this because to the player, the goal would be to end up with the Passion/issue that he wants to explore during Winter.

Winter itself would start once the PC has only one remaining Passion, and cannot develop new ones. Thus, during Winter the PC can only earn Hope points by seeking to solve her last remaining Passion, which is more likely also a redefinition of her Trauma. If she fails to do that, she will inevitably awaken.

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Can you talk more about Trauma?

The way I see presently Trauma is as follows:

Trauma is the main narrative theme of the PC, the undercurrent thread of the PC's story arc. Its foundations are set during Spring, the theme developed and dramatic tension built during Summer, and released during Winter.

Because during Spring the player does not yet really know where exactly he wants to go with his PC, he should simply think about a general theme, which is the conflicted wish of the PC (guilt, need to please, wish to help), and a starting scene, that will be relived through a flashback (the day her parents/siblings died, etc). In Summer other scenes will be played in relation to the Trauma, that will further develop circumstances of the Trauma, how the Warrior copes with it (behaviors, Passions), but specially how the PC interprets the Trauma. This interpretation should lead to some kind of objective.Winter will be the sorting out of that objective.

If we take Claire as an example, Claire's player decides her Trauma starting scene is loss of her foster mother, her conflicted wish will be her desire to help those in pain and be loved by them. The Trauma is then her guilt of being unable to help those are in need.

During Summer her Trauma is developed: the player decides that presently she copes with her Trauma by adopting an human orphan, despite all the problems that this entails for a Warrior. Additional Trauma scenes further explore the Trauma circumstances, and lead the PC to interpret her Trauma: she decides that she will only have peace when the murderer of her foster mother ispunished, and that her goal is to carry out this punishment. At this moment the PC Summer Trauma development is complete, because an objective has been defined in relation to the Trauma.

But before going to Winter, one needs to speak about Autumn:

Autumn is the existential crisis of the Warrior. If she survives it, she will enter Winter as a much more mature person. Accordingly, she is very likely to see things in a different light, and the objective defined during Summer will have to be reframed. It's this change of perspective that I would really like to set up, with the Autumn crisis. The Autumn crisis matures the PC, but this will only be proven by the way she sorts out her Trauma, or at least the way she views it.

So in Claire's example, she could still punish, or not punish her foster mother's murderer. But in any case, she would much better understand why this happened, and perhaps realize that she could have been in her the murderer's position, or realize justice is different from revenge, and that her motives were more motivated by revenge than justice, etc.

To wrap it up, I think a successful Autumn crisis should enable the PC to reframe her Trauma issues, and thus modify the way she intended to solve them.

Mechanistically one would still have many things to define:

In Spring, the player needs a Trauma scene, in order to finish the season. Since at that moment earning Hope points is only possible by creating Passions, not acting them, he really has a motivation to finish Spring as soon as possible by playing the PCs Trauma scene. But one should also give a more direct payoff from the scene flashback.

In Summer the player should also get payoffs from playing more Trauma scenes. Also, he should get to the point where he has defined a goal for the Trauma, in order to be able to proceed to the next Season. Maybe one could decide that before a Warrior can earn a war name, he needs to have defined his Trauma goal. In this way the Summer high point and final reward is obtaining the war name, symbol of the Warrior accomplishment.

In Autumn, the player will need to synthesize all the PC's Passions into a final one, which will be the only one explored during Winter. This should naturally lead the player to produce a single Trauma related issue.

In Winter, this issue is addressed. Mechanically, the PC only gets Hope points when she strives to advance this final Passion resolution.

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I love the idea of different characters having different goals in play, centered around the seasons, so you've got grizzled Autumn veterans slowly coming to terms with themselves, while Spring warriors are just discovering what they really care about.  A game that lets you play out these stories side-by-side is super hot to me.

I would also like to encourage development of situations in which Warriors from different seasons interact together. But in order to obtain that I need to further refine the PC retirement and transmission mechanics, so that players are not put off by the loss of their PC and go on developing new ones.
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J. Scott Timmerman
Member

Posts: 164


« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2007, 01:23:20 PM »

Alexandre,

The d10 system I offered up has geometric progression.  Dice represent multiples of effectiveness.  This extends to power as well, the way I envisioned power working.  So the difference isn't so much in Geometric Progression (both systems do that), but in handling your vision of Yoki.

Their system has low grain and limited range: For some obscure reason, they chose to use letters instead of numerals to quantify abilities. This means that the range covered by the system is restricted to the Warrior class, and with very low grain. Like you say, humans (and probably Demons) get completely out of the range. That's not a big problem, since the Organization's aim is not to quantify human abilities, but Warrior's. But then they use the same broken system to quantify Awakened ones, using values such as SS, or SSS+ (S for special? super?), which means (1) they are out of the range of their system, (2) they are starting to mix a qualitative with a quantitative system. They would be better off by scrapping the whole notation system and going for numbers.
I contend that Low Grain is not a problem, especially in a dice pool system.  What you call "limited range" I see as using designations which get across, thematically in fact, the power differences the authors of the guidebook see.  My thoughts are that going halfway on whether you want to use the guidebook are not would leave me with an uneasy feeling regarding immersion.  I say use the guidebook, or don't.  That's not to say that your game wouldn't have numbers that convert from the designations.  But the designations are there as flavor, at the very least.  Yes, SSS+ is part and parcel of the databook flavor, and to get rid of "broken" designations would undermine that flavor.

I suppose my point is that, if you don't want to use their range of designations, why use letters at all?  Why bother with their limited range if you don't like it?

In the system I presented to you, you would not have to scrap the notation system at all.  All that would have to be done is base the mechanics around the balance points.  What you see as "Internally inconsistent" is just flavor.  It does not have limited range, and limited grain is partially solved by +/-, not that it is ever that much of a problem, especially if you are trying to implement geometric notation.

The system I presented does not ignore the fact that Power can modify effectiveness.  It includes my vision of Power, which is still geometric.  Perhaps I should never have presented it to you.  If I let my ideas try to taint your vision, I apologize.

I believe I've helped you enough with the system, in any case.  You've seen what can be done to create a geometric progression.  I think you can figure out from here how to adapt a functional geometric progression to your vision of Power.  But that's not something I want to do.  The other discussion going on in this thread is perhaps a tangent from the original topic of this thread, but still much more interesting than discussing the mechanics.

As I've said before, there is no real problem in finding randomization mechanics that reasonably fit your balance, your math and your desired theme.  However, in trying to answer the original question of this thread, I have attempted to convince you to change the way you see your own math, and for that I'm sorry.

-Jason Timmerman
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2007, 05:35:14 PM »

Alexandre, it sounds like you've got some pretty solid ideas now of where your game is going.  I'm really glad that I've been helpful to you.  I think what you need to do now is sit down and write up some draft rules, and if possible, playtest them a little.  Even if you're not able to playtest yet, I think getting some concrete rules written will really help with future discussions, where we can hammer out the finer points. 

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing your next thread.
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Alexandre Santos
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« Reply #26 on: November 08, 2007, 03:29:47 AM »

Hi Jason,

The d10 system I offered up has geometric progression.  Dice represent multiples of effectiveness.  This extends to power as well, the way I envisioned power working.  So the difference isn't so much in Geometric Progression (both systems do that), but in handling your vision of Yoki.

Totally agree. I don't think I said your system lacks geometric progression (geometric progression is clearly spelled out in the formula). If I led you to believe so, my bad.

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My thoughts are that going halfway on whether you want to use the guidebook are not would leave me with an uneasy feeling regarding immersion.  I say use the guidebook, or don't.

That makes perfect sense, and I also resent the compromises I have to make. Nevertheless, in my opinion it would be impossible to slavishly adapt the guidebook. The manga's author was not designing a RPG, so did not have the same consistency requirements. The notations are fraught with various inconsistencies (there are marked differences between what the grades predict and what the manga describes). So by partially recycling the grading system you gain some flavour, but you also risk some inconsistencies. Personally I think that in this case the balance is advantageous, specially because in most cases the fans will be able to use the grades straight from the databook into play, if they wish so.

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I suppose my point is that, if you don't want to use their range of designations, why use letters at all?  Why bother with their limited range if you don't like it?

Well, with my interpretation of Power mechanics, I don't need to worry about the limited grade range, since I totally bypass the problem.

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In the system I presented to you, you would not have to scrap the notation system at all.  (...) The system I presented does not ignore the fact that Power can modify effectiveness.  It includes my vision of Power, which is still geometric.

Once again, I totally agree. You hit the nail in the head, when you say that your system describes your vision of Power. What you seem to have some difficulties to grasp, is that I don't need a system that models your view of Power, but one that models mine. You see, there are plenty of beautiful game mechanics around. If I could, I would just have re-used those from HeroQuest, which I am quite fond of. But I can't, because they can't model my view of Power, which I find central to the game concept, as I described in previous posts. By the same token, I can't really use a system that indeed models PCs abilities in geometric fashion, but not according to my needs. It's a bit like someone lending me a toothbrush, when I need a screwdriver.

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Perhaps I should never have presented it to you.  If I let my ideas try to taint your vision, I apologize.

I'm sorry if I hurt you, maybe I'm just not very good at discussing ideas without offending?

Look at it this way: Game design is a creative process. You get ideas, consider them, remodel, reject or improve them. A creative process shared among several people is often much more powerful, because more ideas are generated, and each idea is considered by many more angles, leading to more possibilities of remodeling, rejecting or improving them. The complication with group creativity is the following: if you are alone, you can have your ideas, twist them, turn them upside down, and reject them at will. In a group, anytime you do this with someone else's idea, he runs the risk of feeling it as a personal attack. Now for a creative process to work within a group, there must be some kind of trust and optimism in each participant about the other people's behavior. That means that if someone else takes up your idea, and modifies it, or criticizes it, or rejects it, it's not a rejection of you, or your participation. It's not personal, but part of the drive to improve the concept. 

If you can't take up someone's else idea, and work on it by twisting it, remodeling it, etc, because you are afraid that you will upset that person, the creative process as a group dynamic will very quickly stall.

Now, I'm not totally naive, and I realize that there will always be an emotional component in the discussion of one's ideas with others. It's nice to see people taking up your ideas, or parts of it, and it's satisfying to feel that one left a mark on the process. This is legitimate, and so one needs to be mindful of the other person's feelings when discussing their ideas. So I think the best approach is to have an healthy dose of optimism about the other's willingness to actually listen and work your ideas by remodeling them, and to make sure that you respect the other's input when you work on their ideas.

In any case we are speaking about games, and games are about having fun. If I have the feeling I'm often hurting you when I discuss your ideas, then the discussion will hardly be a pleasant activity.

One thing is certain. I appreciate a lot your input, and you certainly helped me to improve the game (as I see it), even if not always in the way you intended. And for that I'm very grateful.
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Alexandre Santos
Member

Posts: 35

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« Reply #27 on: November 08, 2007, 03:32:24 AM »

I think what you need to do now is sit down and write up some draft rules, and if possible, playtest them a little.  Even if you're not able to playtest yet, I think getting some concrete rules written will really help with future discussions, where we can hammer out the finer points.

Same opinion. I think that now I have to reach the point where I am able to playtest the rules. I hope my next post will be an Actual Play.

Thanks for the input!
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