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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Making Public Goods more conflicted  (Read 998 times)

Posts: 75

« on: July 09, 2008, 11:41:00 PM »

I've been toying with a resolution pattern inspired by the Public Goods Game. Reading Ron's playtest of The People's Hero has
precipitated this latest version, and although I don't see any mechanical relation between this pattern and the People's Hero, the conflict between a private win and a public win was intriguing.  This, so far, is a pattern without a system, but I want it require a moderately tricky division of resources into private and common pools.

Some background on the public goods game:  One classic variant is there are 4 players, each with a $10 endowment.  Simultaneously, each player privately decides how much of their endowment to put in a public pot.  Anything they don't put into the pot they keep for themselves.  Anything put in the pot is doubled, and split amongst the players.  Thus the optimal cooperative strategy is for everyone to put all of their money into the pot, which gives everyone $20.  However, in non-cooperative game theory the optimal strategy for each player is to put nothing in the pot and just keep their endowment.  Theoretically it's straight-forward, but empirically it's interesting because people almost always DO put money into the pot.

Back to RPGs, the resolution pattern I'm thinking of works with resolution mechanics that have a couple properties.  The first is that it must have a sequence of dice sizes -- eg, arithmetic (d4/d6/d8/d10/d12) or geometric (d4/d6/d8/d12/d20).  The second is that each side of the conflict uses a heterogenous dice pool, for which more and bigger dice is always better.

How it would work is as follows:  Before any (set of) conflict resolution(s), the players divide their dice pools into their personal pool and their common pool.  Then, during resolution, the player can either draw from his personal pool, his common pool, or from someone else's common pool.  Drawing from his personal pool uses the dice as they are.  Drawing from his common pool reduces the die size by one rank, and drawing from someone else's common pool increases the die size by one rank.  Thus the pre-conflict decision is whether to keep one's dice to oneself, or to make them publicly accessible and increase their value for everyone besides oneself.

The problem is that assuming group-based cooperative play, it seems pretty clear that the best strategy is to put all your dice into your common pool.  My question to you all is how, in an abstract sense, to make the decision more conflicted.  I want people to be giving up something to put their dice into the common pool.  Possibilities that've crossed my mind include:

1. Tying the act of putting dice into the common pool into something conflicted in the fiction, or
2. Using the pattern for conflicts where the players are neither directly cooperative or directly competitive, or
3. Further divide the pools into spheres of ability, so the tech girl might have the most tech dice to put into the common pool, but she's also the best person to use them.

Any thoughts on how to make this more conflicted?
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2008, 02:47:52 AM »

That's quite interesting. I think the most easy answer would be to make individually-owned dice generate a higher mechanical reward for the individual using them.

Which of course leads to the question of a reward mechanic in general, not surprisingly. Resolution mechanics are pretty much the "into" side of an "in-and-out" process, so it'd be good to consider the "out" part anyway.

Best, Ron

Posts: 152

« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2008, 04:15:07 AM »

Communal dice are active: They make desirable things happen for the group.

Individual dice are reactive: They keep undesirable things from happening to your character personally.

So: You're on a ship in a storm.  You use your communal dice to steer the boat out of danger.  You use your individual dice to keep Your Guy from getting his arm broke by a falling piece of rigging.

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