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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [No name yet] Fight with a monster game.  (Read 1608 times)
Callan S.
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« on: December 25, 2007, 06:35:04 PM »

Ron recently said
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My usual recommendation, though, is to start by posting in Actual Play. People make this ten times harder than it is. If someone were to post, "We played AD&D2 back in 1991, and my brother back-stabbed me right after we made second level. The bastard!" it would be perfectly cool.
Damn, he's right - been putting off writing this playtest - so now I'm going to blather some important points to atleast write something.

Ok, I wrote a short game mechanic eight months ago and have played it with my son back then. Recently he remembered it and wanted to play again, so I wrote down what I remembered of the mechanics and we played again. It's all in a gamist context.

Basically the monster has 50 hit points, and 150 tactical hitpoints. Tactical hitpoints are damaged through the player giving a description of his moves, doing up to 25 damage. Also each prop used adds +2 damage, up to +6 extra damage. Last time we played in my sons room and he drew from the various toys (messily) strewn around the room. This time we played in the lounge room, but he diligently ran off and got some toys, figures and cardboard boxes from his room. They came into heavy use before and this time - really he introduced the heavy use though. Oh, did I prep? No, none. Pretty much my son did the prep with what he brought to use as monster, protagonist and surrounding props.

The player has just 50 hit points. Importantly as well as his tactical attack he does a very conventional roll to hit, roll damage (D20, 5-20 hits, 20 crits, 4D6 damage). This is important because the whole game does not pivot on narrated attacks alone - once all the monsters HP are gone, the 4D6 damage chews into tactical points. It's possible to win without narrating even once - its just pretty clear that its fun and profitable to narrate, rather than damn well required. Also, the monster does 2D6 damage, same to hit roll (no tactical attack but I'm thinking about that). On the flip side, once all tactical hit points are gone, tactical moves do very little damage to HP - up to 2 HP only, plus 1 per prop (up to +3 extra damage). 5 damage max, as you can see.

Play went well - My son used some barrel rolling attacks on the attacking dinosaur. Then some throwing objects, then a slide down a ramp, and some other stuff. Pretty over the top attacks, hardly down to earth. I guess I engaged his way of imagining it, then tried to push that, rather than start with my own imagined way and then pushing him whist inside it. I think he got tired after about four attacks, getting a little silly (did last time as well). I think it's a fatigue - it's hard to do that much imagining. I think perhaps 100 tactical points would be a better number - I was weak and suggested that mid play, but he assured me 'No, 150 is okay'. He was wrong, but it was good to try it as is.

During play he spontaniously compared it to the online game adventure quest, but you can make your own moves. Perfect, just the sort of thing I was aiming for. So eventually he won. My monster missed quite a few hit rolls - can you imagine while just needing 5+! Curses! I wanted to get some hits in! I was thinking of increasing the monsters damage to 3D6, but I'm not sure if that's my design sense or my desire to win sense pushing for that.

It went well - I'm not sure I like how much 'voice' I have in deciding up to 25 hp of damage. I want to have a say, but not primarily - sort of like an influence rather than being in the driving seat. I don't think I was in the driving seat, but I think I can push at the wheel a bit if I try. If anyones interested I can talk about my ideas and hear others on it and discuss that. In terms of playing it again myself, I think it needs work there - I only feel some uncertainty about how a game would turn out. I need some more uncertainty to really feel a need to find out how it will go (enough of a need to pay off the setup involved, even though there isn't much). Some kind of 'Oh yeah, you won...but 'what if' factor X had happend, what then?'. And factor X is mechanically initiated - not just forced in there.
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David Berg
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2007, 11:47:37 PM »

What behavior were you hoping to reward with the description damage bonuses?  Did you care what he described?  How he described it?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2007, 05:02:44 PM »

Hi David,

I'm not trying to encourage behaviour. It's interesting that you should ask that, but that'd be a side topic. No, it's more like a cake competition at a local fair, and I'm a cake judge. I taste the cake and give it a score - I'm not trying to encourage certain types of cake to be made. In fact the whole score thing would undermine that - how could I say I want more almond cakes by giving a low score, for example? The person might just try to make the same cake but better. By just giving a score I'm relatively cut off from asserting directions (note: for an extended number of tests, you could give low scores until by chance they do what you wanted then rate it highly, but that's a pretty awkward way to get what you want. It's there, but only with horrible support).
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David Berg
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2007, 11:51:18 PM »

Oh.  So, you think your damage-amount decisions on his first three attacks in no way influenced his fourth attack?  I'm having a hard time envisioning that, unless he:
a) simply didn't care how much damage he was doing, or
b) felt that your first three rewards gave him zero information on "what descriptions get you the most damage"

I thought I was partway to formulating a response to your statement:
I'm not sure I like how much 'voice' I have in deciding up to 25 hp of damage. I want to have a say, but not primarily - sort of like an influence rather than being in the driving seat. I don't think I was in the driving seat, but I think I can push at the wheel a bit if I try.
but now I'm not so sure.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2007, 01:16:41 AM »

After your post I thought again on what I meant by voice, and I mean in terms of deciding if the whole game is won or lost, rather than deciding specific behaviours during it. It's funny, if I imagine a game where max damage has been earned every time and yet mechanically the player still manages to lose, I feel tingly. Good tingly!

I also though about your question in another way and almost posted it. In that, if I wanted to encourage a specific behaviour, for the behaviour to exist the game would have to continue. There'd be no point to encouraging a behaviour if the game doesn't continue for it to exist within.

But this game ends. It resolves. Any desire to encourage behaviour is rooted up the arse, to use Australian colloquial. Because it all ends anyway.

Really yes, I expect the damage on the first three attacks to affect what he does for his fourth attack - that's the idea, indeed! Improvement, training, sharpening skills!

But yes, if the game were to go on and on, a GM could use this to...lets face it, manipulate players into behaviours he desires. Indeed I think some GM's find it a feature, though they might not be able to articulate that they want it (or if they could, wouldn't admit it), not to mention I think mmorpgs use a psuedo gamist design in order to ingrane certain behaviours.

Oh, but you know what else makes me tingly? The idea of giving the player zero description damage each turn, and him still winning! It's a real 'Fuck you, I don't need your hand outs, Mr GM!' statement. It shows you play for gamism - the GM either just runs the world as is, or doesn't take the job. Cause he aint gunna get any satisfaction from manipulation...er, I mean 'encouraging' certain behaviours. It's possible with the design, but I'm looking to push that edge even further. Particularly now from having thought about it, cause of your question.

But yeah, none of that's possible with a game that just keeps going on and on. Didn't really realise that - thanks for pushing me. I mean good push!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2007, 01:22:51 AM »

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After your post I thought again...
Oh, I meant after your first post I thought about, even before you second post. Err, lame to note this, but I was thinking about it even from the first post.
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David Berg
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2007, 11:09:29 AM »

Oh, but you know what else makes me tingly? The idea of giving the player zero description damage each turn, and him still winning! It's a real 'Fuck you, I don't need your hand outs, Mr GM!' statement.

"I refuse to be bribed!  I'll do it my way, and let the chips fall where they may!"  That does sound like a ton of fun, provided the GM's power is sufficiently constrained. 

I don't think I've ever played in a game where two players both had vested interests in beating each other, and their attempts were arbitrated solely (or close) by rules, and one of them could be called a "GM".  But in your example, you and your son seem to have different tool kits for affecting play, so the "GM / player" labels clearly reflect something.

Tangent:
I wonder if a game where traditional GM powers are divided out amongst competing players could be fun and workable...  "You may have Bonus Point Awarding, but I have Plot Authority and Fred has most of Scene Framing!  Let's go, you bastards!  Last one whose character is still standing wins!"
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here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2008, 05:06:11 PM »

Hi David,

It's not so much the GM's power is constrained, it's that his capacity to enjoy that power in certain ways has been cut off. It's like a eunoch in charge of a harem of beutiful women. His power over them isn't any less than a man with, err, the full set of gear would have. But his capacity to enjoy them has been removed*. Not a reduction in power, a reduction in the capacity to enjoy that power.


* I feel kind of bad about saying this - I bet Eunochs could feel love and stuff. But saying that would spoil my analogy.
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