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Author Topic: Candycreeps -- aesthetics and mechanics  (Read 2850 times)
NickL
Member

Posts: 7


« on: March 06, 2008, 12:21:03 PM »

Hi, everybody,

I'm Nick, and I'm working up a game, tentatively entitled Candycreeps, that I'll publish through Green Fairy Games, the folks who do Fae Noir.  I've just now managed to get most of the system worked out in my head and down on paper, but I could use some feedback on a couple of the core concepts.

One day, I was thinking about the kind of "goth" stuff that I'm into, which is mostly really cute and not at all scary, and what differentiates it from horror like 30 Days of Night, The Ring, and a million other things that I'm too chicken to watch for more than 5 minutes.  Thus Candycreeps was born.  Basically, it's designed to facilitate play in settings in which the appearances of characters play a determining role in what they can do and how they relate to each other.  Chargen goes pretty much like this:

1) Think about how you want your character to look and what you want them to do
2) Draw a doodle of your character
3) Look through a big list of features and pick some that match with your character (you're encouraged to invent more if the existing ones don't work, of course)

So your "stats" are the bonuses you get from the features (or Features) you've paid for. I've tried to stick to the principle that there are no negative Features.  Everything gives you a bonus of some kind, even if it seems bad (missing limbs, for example).  The idea is that the game should encourage players to have cool characters rather than penalizing them for it.

What I'm having second thoughts about is the integration of aesthetics into the gameplay.  I've settled on a binary, non-opposed aesthetic system that, for the purpose of the base setting at least, consists of "Cute" and "Creepy."  The Features you take give you points in one or the other, so you could have, say, 3 Cute and 1 Creepy or vice-versa.  At the same time, for each of the aesthetic traits, you pick a plus or minus -- i.e., does your character like or dislike cute things and creepy things?  Every character in the game, PC or NPC, is assumed to have these preferences.  During gameplay, you've got pools of points equal to your ratings in the stats for each session.  You can use these points on people who like the corresponding aesthetic to influence them positively or on people who dislike it to influence them negatively.  They can do the same to you, of course.

The issue I'm struggling with the most is the question of temporary pools versus permanent ratings.  As I have it now, characters have the chance to use their looks to their advantage, but they have to do so actively; there's no passive bonus or penalty associated with being cute or creepy.  But it could easily be the case that there was, in which case the pools would just be replaced with penalties or bonuses based on your permanent ratings in the Aesthetic traits, and you'd *always* incur them.  I like that idea because it'd be a little simpler, but I'm afraid it might be too limiting and therefore not fun for players.

What do you folks think?  Any reactions to that or the rest of it would be greatly appreciated.  I really want to get this hammered out and fine-tuned, because I think the model would be useful for a whole lot of setting ideas I've got kicking around in the back of my head.
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Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 06:04:47 PM »

Hi NickL,

I'll lead with the easy part; my snail mail is addressed to Darcy Burgess, and it would make me happy if I could use a non-internet name with you, too.  If you're not comfortable with that idea, that's cool too.

So, I'm going to do a 'for instance', just to make sure that I'm understanding your character generation system.

1) I want to make an Edward-Scissorhands kind of guy.  Mostly, he's got that cute Johnny Depp look, with the pout and the puppy dog eyes.  And the hair, oh god yes, the hair.  As a nod to some of the kids I used to run with, his fashion is more Front >242< circa 1997 - lots of athletic wear, and mesh t-shirts.  Mostly monochrome, of course.  To pay tribute to Tank Girl, some kick-ass combats with buckles from hell.

2) No time for doodles.  Fill in the blank.

3) I'm going to just make the features up.  I'm also going to assume that about four is good.  I'll assign the Creepy and Cute ratings at the same time.

JS
  • Alabaster skin (+1 Cute)
  • Deep, wet eyes (+1 Cute)
  • Eclectic fashion (+1 Creepy)
  • Stilletto-esque fingernails (+1 Creepy)

So, JS totals out at Creepy 2, Cute 2.

Now, here's where I'm a little lost -- do I have to choose one "like" and one "dislike" for the Creepy and Cute?  Or could JS dislike (or like) both kinds of things?

This is fun.
D
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NickL
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2008, 07:45:29 PM »

Hi, Darcy!  My name's Nick Licata -- hence the L.

I'm glad you had fun.  This is just the kind of thing I'm going for!  A lot of these Features have suggested names in the game already:

Alabaster skin = Deathly Pallor
Deep, wet eyes: The closest thing I've got in the document now is Bright (Color) Eyes (suppose the color were Brown?)  This might be a good one to add, but if it doesn't make it in, people can of course just make it up.
Eclectic fashion = Fancy Wardrobe
Stiletto-esque fingernails = either Long, Thin Fingers OR Claws

As I have them, these are the way the Features you picked would set your character's "stats:"

(let's call them Deep) Brown Eyes: bonus for visual perception rolls (+1 Cute)
Long, Thin Fingers: bonus for all tasks requiring manual dexterity (+1 Creepy) OR
Claws: close combat damage bonus
Fancy Wardrobe: bonus for social rolls IF you have time to prepare beforehand -- only valid for one subculture at a time.  This is also a special Feature in the game that lets you temporarily change Cute and Creepy ratings (yours and others') by, basically, dressing up as stuff.  Your character is assumed to have enough stuff in his closet to outfit his buddies or to "cosplay" as a normal kid if he wants.  As I have it now, this is a Cute-granting Feature, but your example shows that it should be one of the Features that the player can pick to be either Cute or Creepy when taking it, so (+1 Creepy)
Deathly Pallor: makes it possible to pretend to be (un)dead (an important ability in the setting!) (+1 Creepy)

If one of these didn't catch your fancy, we'd pick one of the features you mentioned in your character description and figure out a bonus for it; the bonuses normally either give you some ability not everyone has (like flying) or a +1 bonus in some general situation.  I'm glad that you included a few details in your description that aren't yet matched with Features, too -- that's a good vector for advancement.

So my total for your Aesthetic stats would come out as Creepy 3, Cute 1.  You could certainly make the argument that snow-white skin could be Cute on your character, though, and if I were GMing, I'd let you take that as a Cute stat if you wanted. 

Okay, for the Aesthetic preferences!  You can absolutely pick to like or dislike either or both.  I envision, for example, that an "it girl" type would like Cute and dislike Creepy; a full-on goth kid might like Creepy and dislike Cute; a cute, round-faced little girl who hangs out with the goth kids but just makes the look adorable would like both; and a disaffected slacker would dislike both.

So here's a question: Should JS have pools equal to his Creepy and Cute totals that let him influence Creepy-likers and Cute-likers, or should the bonuses and penalties he gets in interactions be permanent and automatic?
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Adrian F.
Member

Posts: 18


« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2008, 11:13:21 PM »

Another option is a mix.A permanent base value that could be raised or lowered by a pool that is refreshed thought cute and creepy deeds.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2008, 04:10:43 PM »

Nick,

Have you read The Shadow of Yesterday? (http://random.average-bear.com/TSOY/HomePage)

They have three pools: Instinct, Vigor and Reason. The two parts of the system I think you should see are Secrets and Refreshes.
Secrets are special feats, options and abilities that characters have. Many of the Secrets are "fueled" by expending points from one of the three pools. For example:

Secret of Inner Meaning
    Your character's art carries a meaning beyond the surface. Use any non-physical Instinct-based ability at a distance via a piece of your character's art.
    Cost: 2 Reason.


It might be cool to think about fueling certain Feature abilities through Cute and Creepy pools.

Second, refreshes. Refreshes are how you restore your pools. Whenever you pursue, for pleasure, your pool... you can restore all spent points.

From the game text itself:

Whenever a pool is not at its full level, it can be refreshed, restoring it to its full level by the character performing an in-game action.

Vigor is refreshed whenever your character engages in an act of physical exertion (including physical abuse, such as drugs, drinking, staying out all night) with another character, specifically for the intent of enjoying yourself.

Instinct is refreshed whenever your character engages in an act of social pleasure (examples: a date, going to a party, playing a game of chance) with another character.

Reason is refreshed whenever your character engages in an act of intellectual stimulation (examples: a night at the opera, a philosophical debate, playing a game of skill) with another another.


So, if you do Cute and Creepy as pools, you could refresh them by being Cute for the sake of being Cute, and being Creepy for the sake of being Creepy.

For example:

MJ locks herself into her room on a Friday afternoon, instead of playing with the other kids. Mid Saturday someone comes to check on her. They find out she's spent the last twenty-four hours running twine back and forth across her room. She's now nestled all spiderlike in her homemade web. MJ restores all spent Creepy points!

MJ sees a boy reading Edgar Allen Poe. She's entranced. She races to the corner store and returns with two cupcakes with heart sprinkles. The boy puts down his book and smiles at her. Things look like they're about to get really serious when MJ smears her cupcake into the boy's nose, giggles hysterically, and runs off. MJ restores all spent Cute points!

So, those are two options you could exercise if you went with point pools.

Quote
I'm Nick, and I'm working up a game, tentatively entitled Candycreeps, that I'll publish through Green Fairy Games, the folks who do Fae Noir.  I've just now managed to get most of the system worked out in my head and down on paper, but I could use some feedback on a couple of the core concepts.

Hey... This will be arranged in a way that protects creator-ownership and independent press, right? Because otherwise there will be a barrier to discussion at The Forge.

*****

Finally, check out Spooky Beans, which seems to be very similar to what you're going for.
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Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2008, 05:08:13 PM »

Hey Nick,

I can't really answer your last question right now, because I don't have a clue as to:

1) What your resolution system resolves.  (What sort of stuff requires picking up the dice?)
2) How your resolution system works. (Stat + Skill vs Target Number?  Pool vs Pool?  Something else?)

Toodles,
D
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NickL
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2008, 07:13:54 PM »

Hi, folks.  Thanks for the feedback!

joepub,

I own my game outright -- I'm pretty sure that meets the Forge requirements.

The "refresh by doing Aesthetic-appropriate stuff" mechanic of which you gave an example is definitely a good suggestion!  It'd be nice to encourage some set dressing action that way, since set dressing is a big part of what the game's about.  I love your examples -- they're adorable.

I've got to decide whether I also want there to be a permanent modifier associated with certain base Cute and Creepy scores.  I'm less sure about fueling Feature abilities -- in fact, I'm pretty sure I want Feature -granted abilities to be permanent effects in all cases.

I checked out Spookybeans.  You're right, it's a lot like what I'm going for -- surprisingly so, in fact.  I wish I'd known about it earlier!  I think the system differences are substantial.  Thingies from Spookybeans are a good bit broader than Features as I've conceived of them -- I separate skill competencies out into Roles, which are largely based on stereotypes other people apply to the character -- and SB seems to be a lot more of a Story game as such (i.e., to contain a lot of "meta" mechanics), while CC is pretty plain-vanilla RPGish, mechanics-wise.  The setting info is also pretty substantially different, I *suspect*.  A Spookybeans version with extensive setting information doesn't seem to be publicly available, so I couldn't really check it out closely.  They're definitely drawing on much of the same source material I have in mind, and the names are oddly similar -- parallel thinking, I guess.

I'm of two minds on this.  On the one hand, it wouldn't be too hard to punch up the distinctive elements of CC to distinguish it from SB.  There's probably room in the market for a couple of games that have draw on the same source material, and I believe CC is, you know, good.  On the other hand, it could feasibly be worthwhile to contact the SB guys and see about the possibility of licensing their system or some other sort of cooperative effort.  I think I've got a lot of good material built up -- both writing and art -- that could add something to their game universe.  I don't want to let the Aesthetics-based system idea die, though; I think it's got potential applications for a few different game concepts.

What do you folks think?

Best,
Nick
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NickL
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2008, 07:22:52 PM »


1) What your resolution system resolves.  (What sort of stuff requires picking up the dice?)
2) How your resolution system works. (Stat + Skill vs Target Number?  Pool vs Pool?  Something else?)


Hey, Darcy,

Candycreeps is pretty plain as far as resolution mechanics go -- straight d8 rolls for versus GM-determined target number difficulties, plus whatever bonuses are granted by Features.  The mechanics aren't really determined by meta-level concerns (i.e., the flow of the plot).  I know a lot of people get a lot of mileage out of systems that delve deeply into the narrative mechanics of gaming, but it's always be easier to me, as a GM and a player, to incorporate that kind of stuff on a non-rules basis.  So basically, you pick up the dice when your character wants to do something they might fail at.

Best,
Nick
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2008, 07:44:14 PM »

Nick,

What you're describing could still use some clarification. I can think of these questions:

1.) Are characters testing to see if they succeed at what they do, or get what they want?
An example of the first: I attempt to break into Tom's room! GM: Yeah, you break in. He's not there
What's good about this: you can always try a different task to get what you want, if you fail.
What's bad about this: you can succeed at the task and still get robbed of what you actually wanted.
An example of the second: I attempt to break into Tom's room and get it on! GM: Yeah, you succeed. You guys get it on.
What's good about this: if you win the roll, you get what you want.
What's (potentially) bad about this: if you fail the roll, you don't get what you want.

2.) Are characters testing only interpersonal stuff, or also interacting-with-the-physical-world stuff? (ie, would picking a lock be a test in this world?)

3.) Is there a limit to how often or how many times in a scene dice are rolled?
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NickL
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2008, 03:23:07 AM »

Ahh, OK, I see what you mean:

1) Characters test to see if they succeed at what they do, not to get what they (or their players) want.

2) Characters test both interpersonal stuff and interactions with the physical world, with GM discretion over what requires a test.  Picking a lock would be a test, unless the GM thinks that for some reason, everyone in his or her version of the game world can pick locks.

3) There is no set limit on how often dice are rolled in a scene, but a character can only test for the exact same action twice, with a penalty the second time, unless he or she can recruit extra help.
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Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2008, 06:45:12 PM »

Hi Nick,

Please spell out the specifics of the current resolution system.  If you have a link to the document somewhere, that would be great.

D
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