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Author Topic: Epic Fighty Robots game in the embryonic stage  (Read 3808 times)
dindenver
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« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2008, 04:43:32 PM »

Hi!
  I hate to say this, but have you thought about ditv? I think unlike some other suggestions, it might fit. The dice and narration is closely tied. The characters are willing to die for their cause and relationships are a good mechanic for their followers/leaders/factions...
  And for the gunfam, maybe insted of wing gundam 2d10, i could be verniers 1d8, gundam cannon 1d6, flash armor 1d4, Gundam remotes 2d8, etc. And these can be alongside Daring 1d8, reckless 1d4, etc.
  I dunno, just spitballing.
  Thanks Ben, I did not know if Eva was on target or no. I did preface it that I never played it. The one person I know who played it LOVED! So, there's that...
  Good luck Joel!
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Dave M
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2008, 04:47:26 PM »

Weird, I was just starting to think about Dogs as you were typing that.

Man, with all the great Indie designs around it's starting to feel like there's no new games ideas left!

Could be room in the gaming world for a horrible frankenstein cobbled together from a bunch of disparate games, though. . .
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2008, 06:50:33 PM »

Hmm. . .just had a flash of an idea, which could at least get me pointed in the right direction for how to handle Dueling. Instead of attack, damage, hitpoints, etc I could use a Struggle track, which would function like a sort of reverse tug-of-war: When one Duelist scores a succes, it pushes the Duel's position on the Struggle track closer to the far edge and victory; when the opposing Duelist succeeds, he pushes the track in the opposite direction, toward his victory. An attempt to gain advantage would probably be fraught with risk; a sort of gamble, so that the greater you push to win, the greater the chance of losing ground dramatically when you fail. That could account for all kinds of back-and-forth, sudden reversals, and so forth, and provide a robust scaffolding on which to hang all the stuff about passions and ideals and world-changing.

peace,
-Joel
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Creatures of Destiny
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Posts: 66


« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2008, 01:47:20 AM »

Joel, that idea's great!

Another thing is having the mech reflect the pilot in a direct way - this could be physical - the big tough guy has a big tough mech and the agile spry guy has an agile spry mech - or personal - the girl with fury has a plasma cannon that burns like her own rage, the guy with a sense of honour has a force sword that cuts like a knife (you know the idea of samurai swords and honour and all). The longer pilots keep a mech, the more it reflects them. They could have a Reaction time based on a) the characater's reactions and b) the attunement with the Mech.

Maybe the Struggle track could be on several levels:

Blast (as in shooting):
Maneover (as in dodging, getting behind):
Close (as in grappling):
Passion (Drawing on an emotional reserve or affecting the other duelist in some way - provoking or pleading or whatever):
Mission (Moving towards some goal other than attacking the opponent - say sttitng up a communication link if that's the mission while under fire, or actively trying to prevent the opponent from achieving mission by say attacking the communication link or attempting to block the signal):
Honour (Playing on a sense of honour either by forcing a challenge, or for the dishonourable by playing some sneaky tactic):

or whatever. Characters can push on any track they want, perhaps having different amounts of push available in each track, and the opponent can counter push. Both players decide in secret and players win by pushing where the opponent is weak. Every time a player succesfully pushes the opponent they gain that many resources for the next attack.

 If any of the tracks are reduced to zero then the player loses. If mission goes to zero, then the mission has failed - if blast or close are at zero then the mech is FUBAR, if maneovuer is at zero then the mech is stuck in a mountainside or whatever, if  Passion is at zero then the pilot is psychologically defeated/crushed and if honour is defated then that could either be that the pilot's honour led to a foolish tactical decision or that the pilot's lack of honour led to cowardly flight (depending on the character).
Just some ideas of the top of my head.
Daniel
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2008, 11:53:25 AM »

Maybe the Struggle track could be on several levels:

[SNIP]

or whatever. Characters can push on any track they want, perhaps having different amounts of push available in each track, and the opponent can counter push. Both players decide in secret and players win by pushing where the opponent is weak. Every time a player succesfully pushes the opponent they gain that many resources for the next attack.

Thanks, Daniel! You've got some intriguing ideas there. I think I'd want to keep "smash-up-mech" down to one track, with Blast, Maneuver and Fight being simply two different ways to push along it. But separating out Battle and Mission at the very least seems like a good way to go, giving a nice matrix of Duel outcomes: Victorious-and-whole, Defeated-and-broken, Victorious-but-broken, and Defeated-but-whole. I like that.

Passion or Honour I think I'd like to keep out of the mechanical arena and more within the realm of narrative choice (well, I do want a Duelist's passions to aid him in combat, but that's a matter of Passion points or whatever fueling progress along the other tracks). Still, the stuff you describe, like swaying an opponent's emotions or a duelist experiencing dishonor/disgrace, are things I'd like to see facilitated. Maybe there's a way to encourage those outcomes in a more fruitful void kind of way.

Peace,
-Joel
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Creatures of Destiny
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« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2008, 03:04:49 PM »

Hi Joel,

Yeah I think I went for two many tracks. I think three would be a good number - has a good vibe, goes with the rock, paper, scissors seems intuitively right.
Maybe:
Battle
Mission

so 3? Integrity, or simply - Human Factor - non duelists could contribute to this (and the mission pool).
?

Basically this third would cover anything where you defeat the pilot rather than the mech. So then you have possibilities like - Defeated and spiritually crushed

Passion points could be fun. Maybe they narrate how they come in - Mayumi fights for the honour of her family and maybe teh mech is a family relic (newly outfitted of course, but with a force-blade degned by her grandfather and honed by each generation or whatever). You could even play an opponents passion against them - Jiri places his opponents wife in jeopardy - forcing him to leave the mission to save her (or whatever gets narratesd).

Maybe players could get points from different sources that can be spent on some taracks but not all.
E.G. Red - Weapon systems, Mech Systems, Software, Interface - can be used for battle or Mission,
 Green - Pride, Vengeance, Love, Rage, Family can be used for Battle and Integrity,
Blue  Duty, Loyalty, Spirit can be spent on Mission and Integrity etc...
 Basically it's not just important how many points you've got, but which kind. An imbalnce (having lots of Red points and few others, means that you have one badass Mobile Suit but there's a gaping whole in your defence - you as a pilot, as a human being are the "weak link" - maybe cowardly or dishonourable or whatever). Lots of Green points and you can kick ass but may let the mission slide. Lots of Blue only and your a great pilot and can focus on missions but maybe don't have the best mech or that "killer instinct". So players will want to be balanced. But maybe the reward system makes it easier to get more of what you have lots of - so if you have lots of Greens from Pirde, it's easier to win Greens and it's hard to build up your weaknesses. But players working together can cover all three well (maybe pooling on the tracks).

Not played Truthful Void so I'm not sure what you mean exactly.

Daniel
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2008, 04:33:16 PM »

"Fruitful Void" is a concept, coined by Vincent Baker as I recall--basically, it's the principle of designing around a central concept, but leaving it alone mechanically, so that the mechanics point toward it and facilitate addressing it, but not in such a way that they "answer the question" for you. Hence, in Dogs in the Vineyard, the game's all about moral judgments, but there's no "moral judgment" score, or "do I shoot him or not?" roll, 'cuz that would take the  question of whether or not to shoot him out of the hands of the players as surely as a GM citing a Paladin's code of conduct would.

So in my case, I think behaving honorably and so forth is definitely Fruitful Void territory--I don't want a rule telling a player "Your Pilot must now act in a cowardly or treacherous manner." I do think there's fertile ground to explore in setting up a situation where the player has a hard choice to make: "Does Yoshi act honorably even if it means losing the battle or letting her nemesis escape?" however that choice is facilitated.

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Creatures of Destiny
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« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2008, 12:30:53 AM »

Ah I get you.

So what if the third factor was simply "Cool" (or maybe something else? Being reduced to zero Cool means some kind of psychological defeat (but the player decides what this actually means - an NPC might simply flee, while the PC could flee, go berserk, make a stupid mistake or whatever). Another posssibility, and further from the fruitful void of this game is "Bond" - as in the bond between the pilot and the Mech. At zero bond the pilot has no control over the mech - whether because the physical neural connectors are fried, or whether because the pilot has been taken out of the pychological state necessary to bond with a 30ft high metal death machine.

Coming back to the Red, Green and Blue power points - the idea was that these are abstract, but players/te GM choose how to narrate them - so I decide that I have Red power points because I'm a brash, daring kind of guy, another because he's got a big ass gun, another because she's a deadeye shot and cool as ice. The only thing where this could affect duels is in the known/unknown factor. If your mech has a big gun, then you have points on battle and everybody knows it (if you have have a big concealed gun then maybe they don't, but once used they know). Other stuff might be outside this known factor. Basically duelists start a duel with all the known points placed in the appropriate collums and a certain number of points in hand to represent things the opponent doesn't know about. players secretly assign these then compare - the higher pushes the opponnent along the Struggle track (it's possible that both could win and lose on different tracks - Yoshi's mech takes massive damage (losing on the battle track as he flies the civilians to safety (winning on the Mission track).

Part of strategy could be finding out about your opponent - Yotsumi San has a concealed plasma cannon but he's a coward- if I know that, then I can maybe guess that Yotsumi's going to have points a plenty on battle and few on Bond - so that gives me an edge in the duel. You know losts of gundam stories I seem to remember had a big build up to the duel - this build up in play, could all gain knowledge that makes the actual duel resolution less random (because you know more stuff), hopefully you've kept your secrets concealed, and there'll still be a few surprises in the fog of war.

Non-duelists can all provide points to be used on the various tracks (a mechanic could provide Red points that can boost a pilot on the mission or battle track (making guns/modifications/hotwiring power sources whatever), while a mentor might provide Blue points or whatever.

Is that more what you want? You know saying - your pilot has lost control of the mech and the player going either - "Yeah, he's just so damn pissed at Yoshi's death that he can't hold the bond- he's just out of control" or "The neural board is toast - shit how am I gonna deal with this". Obviously the flavour players give to it will affect the solution (the second a mechanical solution, the first some kind of personal solution) but mechanically they're the same  -the character needs Green or Blue points that enable them to boost/repair the mech/pilot bond.
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dindenver
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« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2008, 09:05:43 AM »

Hi!
  I think we can take a page from Point of Collapse and make the bars two sided and user customizable.
  For instance, one player might have:
MegaCannon <-> Armor
Honor <-> Freedom
Bravery <-> Survival
  While another player might have
Flechette array <-> Verniers
Love <-> Independence
Compassion <-> Ambition

  Define each bar as a Mech Bar, Personality Bar and a Passion Bar.
  Then, when players go to do something, they pick one end of one bar as their as their drive for this scene. They get a bonus (or penalty depending on where they are on the bar) to all actions in that scene. And when the scene is over, it goes one notch towards the drive they chose. Maybe something like that.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
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Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2008, 01:01:05 PM »

OK, so this is the rough scaffolding that I'm working with t the moment:

Mecha Battle will utilize two or more Struggle Tracks: A Battle Track and any number of Goal Tracks.

They'll look something like this:

-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
*----------------------------------O-------------------------------*

The number scale is somewhat arbitrary, I can adjust it as I develop the idea. The basic concept is: to accomplish something, you push the marker along the track. Your opponent pushes back, creating a furious CLASH! in which the winner pushes the loser back. The track would probably be placed between the players, so that one end pointed at each physical person.

When you push the bead to the opposite end of the track, something happens! For the Battle Track, you damage the opposing Mech, both bringing it closer to defeat and possibly incapacitating specific weapons/systems. For lowly grunt machines, they can't take any punishment-one "hit" and they're toast (though we could also treat large numbers of grunts as a single mass unit, as well). For the heroic machines, they could take two, three, or whatever hits before going down. And even if they're taken out, that can mean disabling or capturing, it wouldn't have to be total destruction.

For Goal tracks, pushing to the end means you make progress toward your goal--for a concrete mission, there could be a series of objectives, one completed each time you push through, or for more abstract goals. . .well, I dunno just yet. But there'll be some significant progress, progress that you couldn't make without climbing in the suit. And if your opponent pushes you back all the way, your goal is damaged somehow. An objective could be prevented or stonewalled; like if you're trying to penetrate a base, a push back means you're pinned down by defensive fire, and you have to overcome that before you can even attempt the penetration goal. And if your goal is "protect so-and-so" for instance, a defeat there would be disastrous: your charge is killed, wounded or captured.

So here's the rough system I've worked out for Clashing:

Each player has a certain number of dice to assign to any of the tracks on the table. The dice can be different sizes based on Pilot ability or Mech size or whatever. Say a heroic pilot is battling an inferior but talented foe: D10 vs. D8. So they've each got five dice to assign in this case (never mind the source, we'll work that out later, like Traits and whatnot). There's one Goal on the table (let's say it's a Mission with three stages, Penetrate base, Rescue Prisoner, Destroy Base). Both players assign between Battle and Goal: Hero Pilot assigns Battle 3, Goal 2, and Enemy Pilot assigns Battle 1, Goal 3, leaving 1 unassigned. They roll and compare highest dice. Hero got 10 in Battle, 3 in Goal; Enemy got 5 In Battle, 5 in Goal. Now: the victor pushes the loser back a number of spaces equal to the difference in the roll--times the number of dice the loser rolled. So Hero pushes Enemy back 5X1 spaces in Battle (narrating a furious assault against Enemy's cautious and stalwart resistance), and Enemy pushes Hero back 2X2 spaces in Goal (narrating how his staunch defense keeps Hero at bay, blocking him from the main gate). the tracks now look like this:

Battle:
-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
*-------------------------------------------------O----------------*

Goal:
-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
*---------------------O--------------------------------------------*

the number of dice assigned represent effort and risk: the more recklessly, furiously you push to win, the better your chances-but the greater your defeat when you lose. If they keep this assignment up, Hero will continue to push Enemy bit by bit along the track (multiplier X1), but if he ever does roll shitty, he'll suffer a stunning reversal (X3!). With lots of dice and wide margins of victory, the results can be quite dramatic.

So far the only reason I have for not assigning all your dice (as Enemy chose in the example) is that risk factor. Put more of yourself out there and you risk losing big. In practice, though, I wonder if anyone would actually chose this, especially since they're not running probabilities in their head moment by moment (and I don't want them to! I want this to be fast and furious with snap decisions). I'm thinking if dice held in reserve were good for something, like storing up power points or advancing side goals, or whatever, there'd be more appeal and strategic nuance to assignment.

So what do y'all think? I've also got some ideas for overall pacing to the story, including the advancement of the more abstract or long-term goals I mentioned, as well as what goes on in the game outside the Mecha, but that's probably best reserved for future posts.

Peace,
-Joel
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dindenver
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« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2008, 02:27:33 PM »

Hi!
  I am a b ig fan of Win-Win Mechanics, such as ...In Spaaace! To implement something like that here, why not have it so that the pool of dice you have are all you have for the duration of the conflict. That motivates you to save dice for the next round. And follow it up with the fact that the winner loses the dice rolled, and the loser keeps them.

So,Think of it Hero vs Villain
Hero: 10 dice, Battle 0, Goal 0
Villain: 8 dice Battle 0, Goal 0

Round one
Hero throws down 3 dice for battle and 2 for Goal
Villain throws 3 for battle and 1 for goal

Hero: Wins the goal (8 vs 6) and loses the Battle (6 vs 5)

Round two
Hero: 7 dice Battle -3, Goal 4
Villain: 5 dice Battle 3, Goal -2

Hero throws down 4 dice on battle and 1 dice on Goal
Villain throws down 4 dice on battle and 1 dice on goal

Hero wins battle (10 vs Cool and loses goal (6 vs 4)

Round three
Hero: 3 dice Battle 5, Goal 2
Villain: 4 dice Battle -5, Goal 0

Hero throws 1 die on battle and 2 dice on Goal
Villain throws down 3 dice on battle and 1 on goal

Hero loses the battle (9 vs 7) and wins his goal (10 vs 6) and now has a 10 Goal!

And with this last round, his goal is complete and he leaves the battle.
  Does that make sense? Or, more important, does it seem cool to you?
  Either way, its food for thought, good luck man!
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Joel P. Shempert
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Posts: 451


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« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2008, 09:16:40 PM »

Hey, Dave!

  I am a b ig fan of Win-Win Mechanics, such as ...In Spaaace! To implement something like that here, why not have it so that the pool of dice you have are all you have for the duration of the conflict. That motivates you to save dice for the next round. And follow it up with the fact that the winner loses the dice rolled, and the loser keeps them.

Hmm, interesting. That last twist there is rather Pool-like, which is cool. I like the idea of a tradeoff between winning and losing-call it the "Consolation Prize" school of game design.

I was shying away from a fixed pool that had to last the battle, honestly, because I'm already drawing plenty from Panty Explosion/Classroom Deathmatch, and I wanted to explore a different direction--a system that was entirely risk management, without the resource management. But there's no point in being different for difference' sake (hell, when I met with PE/CD's Jake Richmond to discuss my design he practically begged me to steal his game ideas!). If something's workable I'll go with it.

I'm thinking maybe the pools do refresh every turn, but they start at totals that are a bit spare to divide between all the stuff you want. So if you hold back any dice, those dice go into a Charge pool that you can spend later, essentially increasing your pool size for later volleys in the conflict. Then again, if you gain Charge points one for one, there's no net gain--you're trading probability of success early on for greater probability later on. So while you're building up to win the fight, you're losing ground. That's no good.

Unless Charge points were spent differently. . .like you could roll them after you see the other die results. Or you roll them at the same time but assign them after you see the results, like the White Dice in Mechaton. Either one of those ideas appeals to me. It plays into the Heroic Mecha Pilots are Special! theme nicely, and makes those Charge dice something to fear.

One thing I want to explore is giving Duelists a reason to break off a fight before the bitter end-in essence, to Give. The consumable pool that dwindles throughout the fight would seem to provide that, but I don't know. . .in these stories pilots seldom retreat just 'cause they're losing--there's usually some other concern more important than the fight that forces them to disengage, or some interference that forces the abortion of the Duel. You hinted at something like this when you mentioned Hero Pilot disengaging once accomplishing his mission, but I'm looking for something even stronger than that. Hero could still press the fight and defeat Villain in addition to completing the Mission; I'm looking for something that'll sometimes force Hero to decide if waging the battle is more important than something else he cares about. I'm not sure how to address that, but maybe when I start examining the larger narrative structure (next post!) I can hash that out a bit.

Peace,
-Joel
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dindenver
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« Reply #27 on: April 15, 2008, 06:07:09 AM »

Joel,
  I think you might be overthinking it. Instead of a funky mechanic to encourage players to not go for the throat, try and figure out what happens in the follwing circumstances:
Hero wins both
Hero wins Battle, but Goal is inconclusive
Hero wins Battle, but loses Goal
Hero wins Goal, but Battle is inconclusive
Hero wins Goal, but loses Battle
Hero loses both
  There is room in here for most of the Gundam drama. Meaning the "I'll destory you, but wait, you are my one, true love's long, lost brother and I couldn't bear to make her sad" change of heart type action (could be winning the goal, but not the battle maybe?).
  I'm not sure, or you might just want to have all the stats drama related (Like a Love stat or whatever) and have different mech stats be modifiers to that. For instance, a Mech's heavy armor may give a bonus to willpower. I dunno, I guess it depends where you want to emphasize the action.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Joel P. Shempert
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Posts: 451


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« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2008, 03:49:05 PM »

  I think you might be overthinking it. Instead of a funky mechanic to encourage players to not go for the throat, try and figure out what happens in the follwing circumstances:
Hero wins both
Hero wins Battle, but Goal is inconclusive
Hero wins Battle, but loses Goal
Hero wins Goal, but Battle is inconclusive
Hero wins Goal, but loses Battle
Hero loses both

Well, that is what I'm trying to figure out. Or rather, I'm trying to figure out what I can do to make that matrix of outcomes occur in the game. I think once those outcomes occur in play, it'll be fairly obvious to the group in question what they mean in terms of the narrative.

So I'm tinkering with an engine that'll spit out that range of results. The "Wins" or "loses" results are pretty straightforward: give up, or get beaten back to the end of your track (possibly, get beaten back to the end of your track a certain number of times). Where I'm still hung up is 1) what, besides imminent defeat, would make players give up? and 2) What would cause a result to be "inconclusive?"

I suppose any result where one or both Pilots break off the Duel would be "inconclusive," no matter how lopsided their status. After all, either could have possibly won, right? Id it certainly won't satisfy the Mecha Pilot obsessed with beating his rival to have the guy turn tail for whatever reason. So the contest is inconclusive and the obsessive pilot must continue to pursue closure. I like this.

But it brings me back to what makes a Pilot's player choose to back off? I'd like to leave this decision as open as possible, not deterministic--after all, in DitV a Dog can Give any time for any reason, even if they're winning the fight, or they can stick it out to the bitter end, no matter how grave the consequences. It's awareness of those consequences that makes the game sing and allows for informed moral choice. That's what I'm looking for here.

To some degree I've got that in the fact that you've only got so many dice to assign between different goals. it's kind of like Capes--everyone's got a certain amount of resources to compete in any number of arenas; victory is a combination of good fortune with the art of creating (and battling in) the right arenas to draw opponents' attention away from the arena you really want to win in. it may be that that's enough, here. It certainly needs some playtesting once I've got a sufficient rough draft of the mechanics. I'm just wondering if I shouldn't try to work out a direct way to challenge a goal such that a player might withdraw rather than face a consequence-like, "If you continue this battle with Zechs, Releena's in the way and she'll be killed." Maybe by linking goals? Like, success in one harms the other?

Peace,
-Joel
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Joel P. Shempert
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« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2008, 04:11:36 PM »

Also:

A few nuts and bolts I wanted to add and clarify; I'm thinking that any goals that a Pilot doesn't assign dice get something crappy like a single D4, or if the Pilot really doesn't care they can waive that and just take a zero (the minimum multiplier would still be one). Of course, this has all so far been considered from a perspective of dualistic conflict--there are two "sides," and each combatant picks a side of each goal. In reality I'd like to have goals free-floating, so that any and all players in a contest can throw in on whatever side they choose. The GM will likely have some amount of "default resistance" dice to assign even when there's no NPC duelist involved, so that goals the players are united on don't go entirely uncontested.

Another thing I'm pondering is a basic set of special abilities, representing special weapons, mech systems, and the like. Instead of a laundry list of equipment, I'd like to handle it with a basic, generic range of abilities that tweak conflict rolls in different ways, which can then represent any sort of specific weapon or system you want. Like: "Defense--one die the Pilot rolls for defense does not count toward the Defeat Multiplier; when using this ability, you must leave a die unassigned, which does not go to your Charge pool." I'm thinking every ability has a tradeoff like that; nothing's just purely good. So far I haven't thought of a lot of abilities; perhaps some abilities are good for certain kinds of goals? That would give some range of possibility, but how to categorize goals. . .?

And lastly, Ben Lehman, if you're still following: I've now read Bliss Stage (and fallen in love with it, as recorded elsewhere). In light of that, do you have anything about my design you'd like to discuss?

Peace,
-Joel
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