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Author Topic: [Roguelike] Alone against Infinite Peril  (Read 15925 times)
Marshall Burns
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Posts: 485


« on: January 29, 2008, 04:48:30 PM »

i]Rogue was a computer game designed in 1980-something, and Roguelikes are later computer games that utilize its principles and features (NetHack, SLASH, Ancient Domains of Mystery, and Angband<extreme<Narrativist<ALONE[/u].

Is it just me, or is this a Story Now goldmine<in media res<The Rustbelt<DonjonNetHack, SLASH, Ancient Domains of Mystery, and Angband<extreme<Narrativist<ALONE[/u].

Is it just me, or is this a Story Now goldmine<in media res<The Rustbelt<Donjon
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Adrian F.
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Posts: 18


« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 03:21:50 AM »

The predetermined end takes a lot away from the game.No matter what actions the protagonist takes he will be destroyed in the end,either by the dungeon or the problem that send him on his quest when he flees.That makes everything between entering and leaving the dungeon meaningless.In the moment only dungeon and past can win.There is no way that present can reach a endstate.
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David Artman
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 09:28:36 AM »

Hear, hear! I, too, suggest you get rid of the presumed-failure mode. Story games can occasionally tell stories with happy endings, can't they?

If the dungeon is going to be randomized (Oracles, anyone?) then why not dispense with the "GM" role and let the players handle all of the opposition themselves?

Or flip the mode: one player controls the protag while the others bid/share in the roles of internal (past, present, future) and external (traps, monsters, sustenance) pressures. It's us against him, to the death... NO! To the pain....

So, maybe you bid resources on some sliding scale to instantiate adversity; and the protag has to mechanically overcome them (good parallel: Universalis Facts and Destroying Facts). Equipment, pets, magic, skills, etc all contribute dice to counter opposition, if their invocation is ratified by the other players (e.g. DitV Traits). Stack up the valid dice, roll, and for every value greater than FOO, you can narrate how you knock out one of the obstacle's risks or outcomes (ex: a Trap might have a poisoned and loss of HP outcome). [Maybe FOO is 4, so that d4 Traits are "Weak"; d6's, "Average"; d10s, "Potent"; d12s "Super"; and d20s, "Godlike"?]

Maybe, to refresh the dungeon-makers' resource pool, they have to instantiate some beneficial element--potion, better or different equipment, fountain. Whether or not it's identified can be worth more or less refresh points (and if it ends up Bad for the protag, they must refund some of those refresh points, ASAP).

Hmmm or protag sustenance--food, drink, light--could be mere counters (in my vision) that rotate down every "room" (I'll call them zones). Thus, the GMs could (basically) kill you by fiat. SO... for each zone they make which doesn't provide some kind of sustenance, they pay resource points (i.e. no sust = 2 "Coin" fee for every room; poor sustenance = 1 "Coin" fee--they get to narrate the ick factor of it, when eaten OR it can be Bad for the protag, if they pay out an additional 2 "Coins" upon being consumed). Do the same with light (but no Bad light, right? Can't recall any such thing in the roguelike tradition).

Anyhow, just some thoughts to use or abuse as you see fit. In general, I am trying to keep some kernal of the original roguelike feel while opening up to "modern" story game techniques for authority and narration, while leaving the "angsty, doomed" dial up to the play group (being emergent from play and the GMs' "Coin" spending versus protag's "Trait" defining when leveling).

Oh, yeah...  leveling. Gotta have some "Exp" payout for overcoming adversity which, in turn, lets the protag player add new Traits (or amp up existing ones). BAM. You get "classes" that way, too: one's Traits will basically develop as one's favorite "mode" of play.

Man... II might have to hack together a mini-PDF with just this very mishmash of existing game techniques, to give it a shot. I won't. however, if you're heading in the same basic direction....
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Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
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Marshall Burns
Member

Posts: 485


« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2008, 03:03:23 PM »

Hear, hear! I, too, suggest you get rid of the presumed-failure mode. Story games can occasionally tell stories with happy endings, can't they?

Not this one.  Sorry, guys, but I'm not yielding on that point.  The inevitability of failure doesn't make the protag's actions meaningless, it makes them tragic.  Nor does knowing it beforehand ruin "suspense" or anything -- it creates Dramatic Irony.  Those two things are what I'm really going for here, ramped up to Oedipus Rex levels.  I am not concerned with making the game appealing to as many people as possible, only with whether it will do what I want it to do.


Crap.  Running out of time.  Will return a day or so with more detailed response.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2008, 04:46:49 PM »

Hi, Marshall,

I like this idea for a game so much that I'm going to retype the big post that was just deleted. Your idea for certain doom is pitch-perfect. This idea of the lonely, frightened, hungry adventurer is one that appeals a lot to me.

Since you know the adventurer is going to fail, and you know the adventurer is hungry, wet, and alone, it seems like maybe Fortune isn't the way to go here. I'm going to throw out an idea, and you can take whatever you like from it:

You have a Past, Present, Future, and Dungeon role, right? Make four decks of cards, one for each. The cards have the names of events, memories, items, hopes, or dangers, as well as a danger type (for dungeon cards) or a save type (for adventurer cards.) Players draw some subset of the cards per dungeon level for their role. Play might look like:

Dungeon player: "I play 'Owlbear!' A giant owlbear pounces from behind you in the dark. Save vs. damage."

Present player: "I'm out of damage saves! Help, someone!"

Past player: "I have 'Memories from My Mother.' You remember being in the forest with your mother as a child. She was from the Southlands, where the people sang to the animals of the air and field. When a black bear snuck up on you, she sang a soothing song to it before it could eat you and it left, peaceful. You sing the song, and the owlbear grows calm."

Dungeon player: "Not so quick! I play 'The Monster's Brood.' An owlbear cub comes out from behind its mother, the rusty sword of a previous adventurer stuck in its foot. It cries out, and the mother roars accusingly. Save vs. complication."

Future player: "I got this. I play 'I Quest For Justice.' You entered this dungeon to bring back a treasure for a better world. Do not these beasts deserve justice, too? You look the owlbear in the eyes and show it your honesty. You drop your weapons and it lets you approach. You remove the offending sword of a bastard - a bastard somewhere below."

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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Marshall Burns
Member

Posts: 485


« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2008, 09:25:30 AM »

Clinton,

That. Is. Absolutely.  PERFECT.
I don't know what else to say Smiley

David Artman,
I like this idea right here:
Quote
Maybe, to refresh the dungeon-makers' resource pool, they have to instantiate some beneficial element--potion, better or different equipment, fountain. Whether or not it's identified can be worth more or less refresh points (and if it ends up Bad for the protag, they must refund some of those refresh points, ASAP).

And I think it'd be easy to mesh that with a card-based system -- give the Dungeon two decks, one for Peril, and the other for Treasure.  Which sounds kinda like Munchkin, but the rest of the game's structure would make the effect totally different.

I really don't want Experience involved -- it would be a terrible mixed-message, given that doom is guaranteed.  Of course, when you suggested it you were already operating on a non-doom premise.

Your ideas as a whole definitely sound functional; I just think they wouldn't accomplish what I'm trying to accomplish (I suspect that they might be more likely to produce unconventional Sim play) -- you could probably make them into your own vision of a Roguelike RPG.  That's what I'd do if I were you, at any rate.

-Marshall
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David Artman
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2008, 10:54:49 AM »

Your ideas as a whole definitely sound functional; I just think they wouldn't accomplish what I'm trying to accomplish (I suspect that they might be more likely to produce unconventional Sim play) -- you could probably make them into your own vision of a Roguelike RPG.  That's what I'd do if I were you, at any rate.
Yeah, I can dig it: you  want the angst, the doom. Mazes and Monsters it up a bit, yeah... Wink

And thanks for the good-natured 'permission' to move ahead. I might (MIGHT) start to bang something up... but part of me is saying "Universalis does this already." Then again, Universalis does everything already. But a mash of Red Dogiversalis Hack might be pretty cool. It needs the reward mechanism to be more tightly integrated into the bidding and refreshing process, though....

DOH! Thread-jack! Sorry;
David
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2008, 01:19:41 PM »

In terms of narrativism, I think the root of it is missing. He was 'sent in'. Why did he choose that? I mean yeah, eating freshly killed goblins raw, shitting in a corner, all that - it is degredation, but that doesn't make it meaningful. That's a horrible thing about real life too - just because you go through some difficulty or degredation, doesn't mean it was innately meaningful. Piling on a series of horrible experiences in play isn't going to add up to anything by itself. I think when it's cross referenced against the mans reason to face what is apparently (and actually is) certain doom, then it will have meaning in some narrativist story now sense. That's from my understanding of the term narrativism, anyway.

Further I think an option where if he heads back up the first staircase he gets out alive but can never come back, is needed, to keep impressing the idea that he is staying for his reason. Otherwise, yeah, he chose to go in, but whether the character would want to continue or run screaming out of the dungeon, he continues on because that's a reflection of the games design, rather than a reflection of the character.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
David Artman
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2008, 11:29:36 AM »

I agree with Callan: without some motivation, some belief or inspiration, then this seems like a torture game. In fact, the choice of Why might well be a useful hook onto which to hang other mechanics: how does the PC do stuff; what won't the PC do; what can undermine or change the Why?

Also, it's not trivial that the Why will inform the nature of the "dungeon." A Crusader won't go crawling in some goblin rathole; he's gonna be ransacking some Muslim cliff-side fortress. A rogue trying to pay for his daughter's healing isn't grubbing in a lichlord's crypt, he's digging into a dragon's hoard.

Maybe Contenders can provide a bit of inspiration, as those fighters definitely get beat down and feel the pain, but keep going back because of their Hope. Hmmm... In fact, this game might just not work WITHOUT some sense of Hope (even doomed Hope), because it could just degenerate into "Fuck it, fuck the depravity, I'm gonna strap myself on The Bomb and ride that bitch into the ground! WOOHOO!"

(Aside: I couldn't resist: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dgf9k524_1f4cgr3x9 --I'll make a new thread for it once it's had at least ONE playtest, to check the economy, which I am SURE is currently broken.)
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Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
Marshall Burns
Member

Posts: 485


« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2008, 12:18:13 PM »

Darnit, guys, you make up the "Why" for each game.  I thought I already said that.

And "hope" is the Future Aspect's province.  I thought I already said that too.


Clinton,
I wanted to expand on what I like about the card thing.  The way I see it, and the way it looks in your suggestion, is that the cards have a somewhat vaguish Name, and probably a picture of some kind for inspiration, and, in the case of the Dungeon and the Present (whose decks I see overlapping a touch, with the Present deck containing gear, and the Dungeon having a Treasure, or special gear, deck), "types" of functions (Damage, Hunger, Armor, Recovery, etc.).  That is, the cards (esp. Past and Future) would be vague enough that you have to create story in order for them to have any in-game effect, and just descriptive enough to springboard you into that story creation.  The great thing about this is that you could tell myriads of different stories with the same deck, and expansion is as simple (and as easy on the player's end) as making up a new deck.  I love it!

-Marshall

PS, David, your bidding system is way cool.
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David Artman
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2008, 12:35:44 PM »

Doh! Sorry, Marshall. I did re-read and see that you have the Why and Future....

No offense but I guess that the Why as you wrote it didn't feel very grabby to me--"get the McGuffin just because" reads like "play this dungeon because it's the one I designed." I didn't see it really hooking into the predominant mode of play: hacking one's way deeper into a foul pit facing certain doom; it was "just" a handwave spur to play at all.

And for the Future stuff, again, I didn't really 'see' the hope aspect (there is no hope,after all) but rather just saw it as more of a creative means of mechanically pinging Traits.

Maybe I'll fade back and watch you build up the game elements more, and then hop back in for "tuning time." I am new to designing story-heavy TT (as evinced by the fact that my Roguelike is a mash of DitV, Universalis, and Red Box Hack) and I don't always get the Story Now out of a pile of system elements (or, worse, a general description of a pile of system elements). Hell, I can't even get DitV right in my head, most times (as evinced by the number of questions I have on the lumpley games board), and it's pretty explicit about its techniques and what one is reaching for during actual play.

With interest and patience...
David
(P.S. Thanks, but it was nothing--that took maybe four hours and could have been a 24-hour RPG. It's just Universalis pared down to raw resource, with a minor tweak of an "ante" or "blind" of one Token to even start a bid war. But I think I'm gonna push it onward... I am getting some WILD ideas for internal ASCII art--actual screen shots, bubbie!--cover and layout graphics, and such!)
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Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
Marshall Burns
Member

Posts: 485


« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2008, 01:26:44 PM »

Clearly, when I'm trying to communicate my ideas, there's a lot of stuff that I tend to take for granted that I shouldn't Smiley

For instance, I don't do "play this dungeon because it's the one I designed."  I've only ever done that once.  I've never run a game in a Story Before manner -- only no story at all (of which I am inexplicably fond), or Story Now on accident (since coming to the Forge, I've been exploring intentional Story Now).  Now, since I'm mostly ignorant of the history of RPGs, I sometimes forget that other people do "play this dungeon because it's the one I designed," which can apparently lead me to seem like that's what I'm saying when I really mean, "let's all decide what this dungeon is and what it means."  I've always been high on collaboration and improv in play.  (A related but tangential fact is that I hate the word "Game Master." Erg.)

Regarding the Future, the idea I'm going for is that the character has hopes of accomplishing the quest, motivated and perhaps deluded by ambitions for reward, fame, illustry, plus solving the Problem that instigated the quest in the first place.  But, of course, he's wrong, there is no hope, he's doomed.  We, the players, know this, but the character doesn't, and acts accordingly (this is, of course, Dramatic Irony).  While this happens, as an audience we cringe, we slide up to the edge of our seats, because we know something he doesn't know, and we know that what he doesn't know is going to kill him.  Every time something dangerous crops up, we think, "Could this be the moment? Is this how it will end?"

Now, we have to care about the character for dramatic irony to work, and we have to Know about the character to care about him.  This is what I like so much about the cards idea -- every time there's a conflict, you would learn something about the character!  His actions would be an expression of who he is, what he believes, what he feels, because they would have to be (as I mentioned last post).  Which excites me to no end.

-Marshall
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2008, 01:28:49 PM »

I wanted to expand on what I like about the card thing.  The way I see it, and the way it looks in your suggestion, is that the cards have a somewhat vaguish Name, and probably a picture of some kind for inspiration, and, in the case of the Dungeon and the Present (whose decks I see overlapping a touch, with the Present deck containing gear, and the Dungeon having a Treasure, or special gear, deck), "types" of functions (Damage, Hunger, Armor, Recovery, etc.).  That is, the cards (esp. Past and Future) would be vague enough that you have to create story in order for them to have any in-game effect, and just descriptive enough to springboard you into that story creation.  The great thing about this is that you could tell myriads of different stories with the same deck, and expansion is as simple (and as easy on the player's end) as making up a new deck.  I love it!

Marshall,

I'm really glad you like this idea. All the ideas I've been having lately are very mechanics-light, games pared down to their minimums, and I worry they're too light.

The way I was looking at it is pretty much exactly what you're thinking. I was also thinking the Past and Future cards had a function - or multiple functions - on them, but maybe you don't need them.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Callan S.
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2008, 03:54:11 PM »

Darnit, guys, you make up the "Why" for each game.  I thought I already said that.

And "hope" is the Future Aspect's province.  I thought I already said that too.
Well darnit, Marshall! Cheesy I thought I already told you there's no focus on 'why'. It's about as relevant as choosing my character hair colour. Just because you leave a space for something on a character sheet, doesn't mean its part of the game. You've left it as a background detail, already told you that. And you brought in hope just because you wanted more player roles, not because it's otherwise important in some way. Telling us how it's handled as a peripheral detail isn't already telling us how it's included.

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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Marshall Burns
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Posts: 485


« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2008, 09:33:15 AM »

I don't know what you're talking about.  Of course there's an emphasis on Why, otherwise there's no game at all.  It's not a background detail, it's just highly customizable.

Besides, I don't put irrelevant blanks on character sheets; there's no percentage in it.  If I put a blank for it, assume that it's important.

And I didn't introduce "hope" to create room for more players; I merely split up the three roles to make room for more players, and made "hope" the province of one of them.  "Hope" would have been there all along; a character in any other game has all three of those roles controlled by the same person.

Just because I didn't mention these things before doesn't make them not true; I can only mention so many things at once, darnit! Smiley
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