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Author Topic: [Vices and virtues] Seeking options on my game system  (Read 2912 times)
Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« on: February 05, 2008, 08:57:41 AM »

Hi,

I've pondered a lot on the game before seeking opinions. I've been sporadicly working on that project for many months. I'll try to keep it as consise as possible.

The game focus on 2 aspects: 1) All characters have a bit of good and a bit of evil in them. 2) cinematic combat action.

A sub focus is a player agreement about the main plot of the game.

The game is played in a typical 1 GM + N players.

So character creation brings 3 aspects:

1) the players (GM included) agree on a main plot and it enters in character creation process. It could be an epic quest, what I would call a link of "open-ended quests" or about upholding a common ideal.

Example:

- epic quest: the land is plagued by an evil wizard and the players set up to vanquish it. It's a world (global) changing quest

- "open-ended quests": THIS part of the land is plagued by THAT evil. We'll do that and then we'll see. It changes the lives of a part of the world.

- Upholding an ideal: We set out to fight poverty *everywhere*.

Consider the case 1 to be a long term (real time) single shot campaign, case 2 to be unrelated mid term campaigns and case 3 to be short term mini series. To pick a movie example, case one is LOTR, case 2 is Die Hard serie or Rocky and case 4 is the TV serie 24.

This part is kinda an excuse to introduce the more central aspects of the game.

Aspect 2 consists in listing character vices and character virtues. The players will determine in aspect 1 if the common goal is "good" (saving people) or "evil" (spreading it, serving a demon lord etc) or "neutral" (amoral goal like making money or exploring a new found land). From then on, they will list "vices" and "virtues". The ratio of vices and virtues will be determined by the nature of the common goal.

Aspect 3 gravitate toward cinematic action combat scenes. Combat is important and will happen often in the game.

Ok. We're almost there...

The resolution mechanic should be quick to resolve to allow many combat scenes to occur in a session without them taking ALL game time space. So it consists of a generic pool dice (D10) opposed rolls in the spirit of "say yes or roll the dice", "task, intend, consequences of failure". In a fight, in very few exchanges should the one of the characters be defeated. Since the game isn't intended to be about "stepping on up" during fights, there will be a bias in favor of the players under "normal" circumstances. I want to keep the mechanic the same to ANY conflict resolution (from casting spells to killing monsters or cooking meal or sneaking or etc)

So here comes my problem. The basic idea is to have the character bind their vices and virtues to the main goal part AND to the action combat part in order to have them tap "vices and virtues" dices from a "vice and virtues" pool in order to either a) make the story move foward the way the players (GM excluded) wants or have the characters perform stunts that are highly cinematic. Think of the mines of moria battle in the FOTR movie.

Character death is solely in the hands of the players. They are virtually "immortal" unless the player thinks seeing his character dying is appropriate to the game (and/or he just want to make a new character for whatever reason)

So the question is: How should I make the players pick up their vices and virtues during character creation? How should they be phrased to make them playable? How can I "encourage" player to resort to "vices" when they are playing a "virtuous" character? How can I tie the "vices and virtues" pool to the "story development" aspect and to the "action scenes" aspect?

These questions could probably be summarize as "how can I build the reward system and currency expenses to achieve these designs goal?"

(On a side note, it's intended to be played in "D&D fantasy setting but I believe it could be used in virtually any type of setting as long as it's "party-based".
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Sebastien
Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2008, 01:09:32 PM »

Anyone can suggest how to generate more feedback? Thanks!
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Sebastien
danielsan
Member

Posts: 29


« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2008, 12:24:22 AM »


As for your first post, I think I can boil it down to "Here's what I want to see in my came. How can I make this happen?" Those questions are pretty broad and I, for one, can't really begin to answer it without, in effect, writing the rules for you. (Maybe there are others here who read your questions differently, but hey, I'm kinda new here.) That said, it's not really my chosen genre of game anyway, so I won't be of much help.

I'd ask another question, what games are you drawing your inspiration from? Some of those ideas like ("bind their vices and virtues to the main goal part AND to the action combat part") sounds similar to things in like FATE or Spirit of the Century already.
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Marvel Flipside: fanfic and faux covers in a Bizarro-Marvel Universe (http://www.marvelflipside.com)
The Unofficial Spider-Man's Guide to New York: the fan-made supplement for the diceless MURPG (http://ozbot.typepad.com/spideyguide)
HDTVDinner
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2008, 03:32:25 AM »

Vices and virtues are something that greatly interest me in games, yet no matter how well they are executed, I still sometimes get the "tacked-on" vibe off of them. While reading your post the things that jump out are, goal oriented play, and the vices and virtues. The goals you provided are examples of the players striving to better others, be it on a global scale or a much smaller community level. I've always had this idea that virtue is your yearning to help others, and vices are yearnings to help yourself. Maybe you could use them as resources to determine how close the players are to achieving their goal?

Like for instance, Let's say a battle is fought and the characters find a magical doo-dad on one of the baddies. The goal of this particular campaign is to rid some community of this certain thug and his band of less than merry men. The characters could either take the doo-dad for themselves to aid in the upcoming battle with the thug, or give the doo-dad to the town in order to help them defend themselves in the future. Option one would be invoking a vice, and option two would be invoking a virtue.

 If the characters invoke a vice it's possible they gain some small short term advantage but the thug would gain something better in the long run. Maybe if they choose to keep it for their own, it is actually a device used to spy on them. If the characters decide to give it to the community however, it turns out to be some kind of device that amplifies magic power so the towns only wizard becomes much more efficiant in defending his turf. If your system uses some kind of fate chip mechaninc  it could be as simple as , Selfless acts gain characters fate chips, while selfish ones grant the GM one.
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Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2008, 06:03:39 AM »

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Sebastien
Alfryd
Member

Posts: 45


« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2008, 01:47:10 AM »


@ HDTVDinner
Quote
I've always had this idea that virtue is your yearning to help others, and vices are yearnings to help yourself.
I dunno. Personally, I'd say there's nothing wrong with helping yourself as long as it doesn't come at others' expense.  (Conversely, there's nothing particularly virtuous about helping others if it actively benefits you.)
Quote
The characters could either take the doo-dad for themselves to aid in the upcoming battle with the thug, or give the doo-dad to the town in order to help them defend themselves in the future.
Well, since the Doodad would assist in vanquishing the thug and therefore help free the town from his predations, there's nothing selfish about using the Doodad here.  It's a win-win situation.  There's also nothing to stop you taking the Doodad, using it against the thug to free the town, and THEN giving it to the townsfolk.  -again, a win-win situation.
Quote
Maybe if they choose to keep it for their own, it is actually a device used to spy on them. If the characters decide to give it to the community however, it turns out to be some kind of device that amplifies magic power so the towns only wizard becomes much more efficiant in defending his turf.
I dunno.  That smells like high-handed enforcement of arbitrary moral standards to me.  No-one would ever choose vice.

@ Bastoche
Quote
http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?t=320023
The general gist is that while all the various Vices and Virtues have significant drawbacks, they'd provide morale bonuses when suitably indulged, and morale penalties when denied.  So, that could apply to variosu skill checks or combat actions.
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So for the reward system, my idea was to have "story points", "vice/virtues points" and "action points". Which are earn when a successful acheivement served the "point type" purpose. "...
Whoa whoa whoa.  I'm afraid I'm finding your exposition a little hard to follow.  Could you back up a bit and add some bullet points, etc., plus some clear mechanical examples?  I fear that your description suffers from being too open-ended to coin useful rules or guidelines offhand.
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Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2008, 10:06:12 AM »

About the doo-dad example, I got a better one:

The PC are excorting a caravan in a far away colony. They are actually bringing tools, supplies and money to help the lives of these guys who are having it rough because of barbarian orc tribes attacking them The very lives of the people in the colony depends on the arrival of the caravan.

On their way, an orc band suprise them! The orc leader manages to take the caravan leader (a PC) from behind and put a dagger on his throat: "Give us your cargo and we'll let you go unhurt!" say the orc. Hearing this, the caravan leader whip his head, knocking the orc straight in the face. At the same time, he twists the orc's arm and steal his dagger and stick it in his skull. "Never" says the caravan leader as the orc tumble down dead.

Taking cue, the other caravan guards (the other PC) rain a volley of death over the orcs

( snip heroic cinematic battle scene where 3 civilians from the caravan dies, say out of 50 ).


Ok. So the heros don't want to let the cargo go because the lives of the colony depends on it. Yet 3 innocent people die in the fight. Which is "virtuous" which is "viceral"? You could imagine the caravan leader PC sheet part on vice and virtues to look like this:

Virtues:

  • Life is to be preserved
  • Those who can't defend themself require my help

Vices:

  • Losing is, well, for losers. I'm not a loser
  • I don't take insults

Now, the reasons that lead that PC into doing what he did could arguably be due to the first virtue (thinking of the importance of the cargo toward the colony) and the first vice which made him believe that killing the orcs was to be an easy task. Now that his decision cost the lives of 3 innocent people in the caravan, it kinda goes against virtue 1 and arguably 2.

I don't want to detail the "system" too much as this is what I want to "think about" with this thread. But let's just say that this is a rough sketch of how these elements should come into play.


About the link to the other forum:

While I can get ideas from there, it seems like a VERY VERY heavy sim take on the concept which is diametrically the opposite of what I want to acheive. For ex:

Quote
a character might have a selection of Virtues and Vices that determine what sort of activities they enjoy and so in turn, determine their general patterns of behaviour.

Would have to be reshaped for my game to:

Quote
a player might have a selection of Virtues and Vices that determine what sort of activities their character enjoy and so in turn, determine their general predispostion toward the game and the story it unfolds.

In other words, it seems to me that from that to you, vices and virtues are a tool for the (individual) player about how he should "control" "puppet" or "drive" his character inside the game. To me, it is a tool for all the players and the GM to figure out what the game should be about, when the GM should expect the players to react toward in-game stimulus and what kind of scenes the players expect the GM to frame.

In your game, the players must sort of "abide" to the rules of the character (i.e. play the vices and virtues as appropriate). In my game, the player himself decides when, how, where and why a given virtue or a given vice comes into play. So what I'm looking for now, is a mechanic that allow:

  • The players to decide when they play a vice/virtue
  • The granting of rewards for resorting to a vice or a virtue in play
  • A way to spend those rewards to make them relevant in game

Hence the idea of "points". If a player ignores vices and virtues, he isn't penalized per se. However, he will miss the rewards. I will also include a mechanic to replace vices and virtues as a form of evolution. Later...

So to further comment on you last question, The character sheet consists of 3 generic categories: A category about the story/goal/ideal the GROUP of players should strive for. A category for the vices and virtues and a category for combat-oriented stuff.

The first category should be a tool that help the player tell the GM what they want the game to be about. To encourage using it properly, I want a reward system for this. And so I need a way to convert the reward into in-game benefits

The second category should be a tool that sorta justify the first category. If the first category is the target, this category is the bow and arrow aiming it. The virtuous/viceral stuff is just some form of color that I think is cool and slightly original. However, the first category also sustain the focus of this category.

The last one is a practical one and could probably be discarded without affect the above 2 too much. It's there because it's an aspect of RPG my group of players like and I figured that having a pseudo sub-game about combat was a good idea. Just like people like to watch the super-bowl special commercials and/or the halftime show. They both are useless the the super bowl itself but they are entertaining. That being said, while being there, why not tie that aspect into the first too in the first place?

So now we get to my "points" idea. The 3 category of char gen related above prescribes some expected behavior around the table: 1) players should have their character "jump for" the story agreed upon beforehand 2) characters should have a light and dark side and they should both contribute and both hinder the point number 1) and 3) characters are expected to get into fights and these fights are expected to be relevant to the other 2 above points (fight for virtue, fight for vice and fight for the "main goal"). When these behaviors are encountered in the game, the players earn "experience points". That part is fairly easy to figure out. What I'm having troubles with is, how could that "experience" be spent in a relevant way with regards the the 3 behaviors quote in this paragraph?

I'll try to give a clear mechanical example, but since I'm working on the mechanics themselves, it may be hard and/or clunky :/

Alice plays Jerry the fighter and GM is Bob.

Example 1: story points:

( the players must find a witness in a murder case )

Alice: We know that the guys was here last night. I want to question the employees to persuade one to tell me where he lives.
Bob: Ok roll your persuation. If you fail, the manager will throw you out before you find anything.
Alice: Can I buy the check with a story point?
Bob: sure!

Example 2: Vices and virtues points:

Bob: Ok so the count grabs the princess saying: "At last! I got her. The king will never find her alive again. Bwouhahahahahaha!" and he begins his run toward the tunnel door
Alice: Jerry says while sprinting toward him: "Not so fast Count! You'll have to kill me first". I want to block the entrance.
Bob: Ok. You will have to roll a "running" check. If you fail, he goes in before you.
Alice: I must make it. I throw 3 virtue dices in. Which totals to 10 dices.
( they roll and let's say Alice got more successes )
Bob: Ok, you beat him. You are now standing between the tunnel door and him.

Example 3: Action points:

( A Giant is closing to the village want to rampage the place. The PCs cornered him and are about to attack! )

Alice: I want to make him tumble flat on his belly
Bob: He's 25 feet tall, how will you do that in the middle of a field?
Alice: Well, with the help of Brutus the barbarian, I'll first get his attention from the front. I will then stride between his legs in hope he'll bend over...
Brutus' player: Meanwhile, I manoeuvre around him and get ready to slash his feets to make him fall.
Alice: I'll throw in 5 action dice
Brutus' player: Yeah, we can't fail this one. I throw all mine!

That's about it. Thanks for the feedback!
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Sebastien
Alfryd
Member

Posts: 45


« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2008, 04:25:19 AM »

Thanks.  That's considerably easier to follow.

Quote
Ok. So the heros don't want to let the cargo go because the lives of the colony depends on it. Yet 3 innocent people die in the fight. Which is "virtuous" which is "viceral"?
I think 'sinful' might be a better terms than 'visceral'.  But in any case, I don't see the immediate relevance in terms of game mechanics.  The point is, if the character had a set of vices/virtues that made them predisposed to resist those orcs, they get a bonus to involved skill checks.  If they were predisposed not to resist those orcs, they get a penalty on any actions involved.

Another way to look at it is that Vices and Virtues determine the character's 'Basic Nature'.  Acting in accordance with one's nature is easier than going against one's nature, so skill bonuses/penalties would apply accordingly.  Players are not required to act in accordance with their vices and virtues, but they are much more effective if they do so.

If, for instance, you have the Bloodlust vice, then you'll get a bonus to any combat checks where you are the agressor, or in any other prolongued combat after a few rounds, as long as you intend to kill your opponent.  Conversely, you get a penalty to any combat checks where you need to keep your opponent unharmed or alive, and must make a successful willpower check to refrain from combat if provoked.  That sort of thing.

Of course, if you want your players to be able to specify their own custom vices and virtues, you'd need to spend some time and effort to ensure that they'd have a significant impact on play.  I would be inclined to at least supply some prefabricated examples, if only to give them the gist of what's expected.
Quote
In your game, the players must sort of "abide" to the rules of the character (i.e. play the vices and virtues as appropriate). In my game, the player himself decides when, how, where and why a given virtue or a given vice comes into play. So what I'm looking for now, is a mechanic that allow:

The players to decide when they play a vice/virtue
The granting of rewards for resorting to a vice or a virtue in play
A way to spend those rewards to make them relevant in game
I'm not sure how players could decide which vices or virtues would apply in a given situation- it seems to me they either do or they don't- but rewards and spending them can be combined simply enough- skill bonuses/penalties for either indulging or denying your nature/beliefs.

I suppose that you could temporarily suppress a given vice/virtue if the player can suggest a plausible way that short and long-term satisfaction of that quality were in conflict.  For instance, to take your example of the orc raid, the short-term violation of the character's virtue (protect innocent life weighed against the death of 3 civilians) can be ignored for the sake of the long-term satisfaction of that virtue- protecting the citizens of the entire colony.  A sort of 'for the greater good' (or, conversely, greater evil) argument.
Here is an excellent example.
"You have a duty, Belkar.  A duty to serve the Greater You.  Saving one life- though regretable- is a small price to pay for a whole lifetime of unfettered slaughter."

Perhaps a willpower/intelligence check to ensure that the player can resist the temptation to serve their immediate impulse?
Quote
Hence the idea of "points". If a player ignores vices and virtues, he isn't penalized per se. However, he will miss the rewards.
I fail to see the meaningful distinction here, but go on.
Quote
I will also include a mechanic to replace vices and virtues as a form of evolution. Later...
Sounds good.  Perhaps suppressing a given vice/virtue temporarily, done often enough, can eventually abolish it entirely?  I'm unsure of how you'd introduce new qualities, but still.
Quote
So to further comment on you last question, The character sheet consists of 3 generic categories: A category about the story/goal/ideal the GROUP of players should strive for. A category for the vices and virtues and a category for combat-oriented stuff.

The first category should be a tool that help the player tell the GM what they want the game to be about. To encourage using it properly, I want a reward system for this. And so I need a way to convert the reward into in-game benefits

The second category should be a tool that sorta justify the first category. If the first category is the target, this category is the bow and arrow aiming it. The virtuous/viceral stuff is just some form of color that I think is cool and slightly original. However, the first category also sustain the focus of this category.
Since the first category- story/goal/ideal, etc, is both common to all players, prescribed by the GM, and may not be fully revealed from the start of play, I don't think it's useful to have it on every character's sheet.  But, certainly, you could have some mechanical benefit to checks that help further the plot.  You might also use this information to help determine the long-term or larger goals, (which players can use to temporarily suppress their vices and virtues for the sake of better performance.)

I have no particular problem with your given examples otherwise.  It looks interesting.  I don't fully understand how the combat bonuses would work- it seems to me your example is a subset of plot imperative, if they really have to take down that giant- but you said yourself the combat subsection might not be neccesary.  Do you intend this game to be largely narrativist, or involve more crunch?
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Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2008, 04:28:30 PM »

First some precisions:

Quote
[...] the first category- story/goal/ideal, etc, is both common to all players, prescribed by the GM, and may not be fully revealed from the start of play, [...]

The goal is NOT prescribed by the DM nor anyone else. It's agreed by consensus. It's a detail but an important one to me.

Second, it seems to me you approach my idea completely from the other way around that I want to take. I'll try an analogy.

Each characters have 3 cans. One labeled "story", one labeled "vice and virtue" and another labeled "Action/combat".

Whenever a player has his character playing "toward" story, he can fill his "story can" with paint. Whenever he makes his character acts according to his vice and virtues, he can fill the "vice and virtue can" and pretty much after every combat, he can fill his "action can".

With the paint, the player can make his character do paintings during the game. When the vice and virtue can is empty, he can decide to fill it with another color (and probably the same feature will ba available for the two other cans) where the color stands for a specific vice or a specific virtue or a specific set of vices and virtues.

You see, it's not "Because you are X, you get bonus Y". It's rather "When you play as X (where X was picked by the player at character creation), you get "tokens" you can use in ANY situation later". Why? That's the idea of the reward system I want to use.

Now my question is how should I make my cans to make them behave like my analogy above?
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Sebastien
Alfryd
Member

Posts: 45


« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2008, 08:25:27 PM »

Quote
The goal is NOT prescribed by the DM nor anyone else. It's agreed by consensus. It's a detail but an important one to me.
My mistake.  So, you're saying that acting in accordance with story goals, or the player's vices/virtues, gives them... the right to narrate a portion of the plot?  I couldn't pick that up from the examples.
Quote
You see, it's not "Because you are X, you get bonus Y". It's rather "When you play as X (where X was picked by the player at character creation), you get "tokens" you can use in ANY situation later". Why? That's the idea of the reward system I want to use.
I understand it, I just don't understand why you'd use it.  There's no particular reason why acting out your vices/virtues would make you better at anything other than acting out those vices/virtues.  Unless it's a general 'morale' dice pool?

Well, free free to use that if you want.  'If you act in accordance with a given vice or virtue, add 1 die to your morale pool.  If you act against a given vice or virtue, remove 1 die.  Morale dice may be freely spent on application to any action check.'

Then you'd have a seperate pool for story goals, though how you'd resolve conflicting goals between players is an open question.  ...what actions in combat do you want to reward, exactly?
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Alfryd
Member

Posts: 45


« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2008, 10:16:38 AM »

Or are you saying that you want seperate dice pools for each vice/virtue, which fill up each session or under special conditions, and can be applied to relevant tasks/actions?  (I should point out we've been having a substantial debate on how to arrive at plot by concensus in another thread.)
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Bastoche
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2008, 04:18:13 PM »

Or are you saying that you want seperate dice pools for each vice/virtue, which fill up each session or under special conditions, and can be applied to relevant tasks/actions?  (I should point out we've been having a substantial debate on how to arrive at plot by concensus in another thread.)

Sorry for the late reply. I just got a new job and had to re subscribe to an internet provider...

Yes. That's exactly what I had in mind. It fills under special conditions (player defined most probably) and empty when applied to relevant tasks/actions.
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Sebastien
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