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a confused beginning

Started by dopefingers, January 28, 2009, 12:45:17 PM

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So I'm not real familiar with gaming. I used to fool around as a kid, but I don't know much about what is out there. Forgive me if this is old hat.

I want to put together a story game and am trying to figure out some mechanic for resolution. The game would be kind of open as far as setting, though I have ideas about where I'd run it. Each player has a character. That character is defined by an ethic, which would be his main motivation or value. Say love or greed or beauty. I suppose these could be spelled out in game rules, but I'd rather the player choose what he wants, as long as it fits. Then there are aesthetics, which would be the sensibilities of the charater. Think cubism or violence or sad or hedonistic. Anything that would give a sense of how the character sees the world. These are fairly abstract. The point of the game is to present the world as each character would most want to see it.

In play, each character will shape the narrative in those terms. The gm will set the scene and the player will respond. There are tokens chosen by each player. These can be predefined or improvised. A token could be a person or feeling or an item. When the player plays a token, it stays in the scene until it is removed. A jar played by one character could be transformed into a tree shaped like a jar and full of water when the next player has his turn, and that would have to be explained in the contribution. In order to abandon the jar, a player would have to spend a token. This would not replace it, though another spent token could. Players must also spend tokens for every token already in play. If tokens are defined, this would be a chance to get rid of unwanted tokens in the hand or a difficult choice if he wants all of them in his hand. It might make more sense to have a mix of defined and open tokens with this mechanic, though. 

The success of the turn would be judged by its adherence to the character's ethic and aesthetics. Also, the moving of the story and genius of the contribution would count. If the turn is good, the player will have all the tokens he spent back, plus a bonus. If it fails, he will lose the tokens he spent on the previous tokens, will get those he spent on himself, and no bonus. A fail would also mean his tokens would be dropped automatically.

I would like players to be able to reach out of their character in order to describe other npcs or feelings, but I'm not sure how to regulate it. I also don't know how to introduce some kind resolution mechanic. I was thinking that a player could roll to give weight to a token, modified to how well it was spent, and then have it grow weaker as turns go by. I'd like to limit the number of tokens in play at one time. Perhaps to eight, but that is arbitrary and fewer might be better.

Abilities would be defined by histories, which could be vaguely class like.

It is fairly rough. I'd appreciate any thoughts and feedback. Specifically, I wonder if this has been done better, whether there needs to be stronger resolution process, if the game might even be fun. Thanks.



It reminds me, vaguely, of Dungeons and Discourse, which isn't actually a full game, but it is a rough sketch of one. The very basic PDF rules are available online.
This sounds interesting, Bill. I like this tug-of-war the PCs engage in to explain how things go down. It also reminds me of the first volume of the Lucifer comic, specifically the plot with the wish-granting Voiceless Gods. Great example of why not everyone on Earth should get their wishes granted: 4,000 people all win the CA state lottery in a single day, and each of them gets about 300 bucks from it.
What's a character's motivation to go outside his comfort zone and violate his aesthetic/passion? Is play all about providing opportunities for characters to stretch themselves, if they're willing to risk tokens?
Your jar-example was kind of confusing; how is the order determined, for whom gets to place tokens when? It seems like someone who goes 3rd or something is kind of screwed; is there a way to determine this "initiative check" that ties back in to your overall theme? If not, it'd be cool to come up with one, sort of a "duke it out over whose ideology is most confirmed by this situation" contest.
Mask of the Emperor rules, admittedly a work in progress -

Joe Murphy (Broin)

Hey, Bill.

It's not easy to give feedback, as your ideas are still quite vague. You've got some solid goals, which is a very good start, but I can't really comment on what would be effective or not. You never know til you playtest.

So what games that are like your game have you played? It sounds like you might enjoy 'Universalis', for example. It also has a lot of stuff defined by the group, and some parts of the system look they could overlap with your idea. It has some other elements (eg not evenyone needs a character) that could be interesting too.



Thanks for the Universalis mention. It looks like something I might be into. I haven't played these sorts of games much, so I don't really know what is like this and what isn't. I have a hard time without a group and without being able to sit in one spot for a few hours in front of a screen. This idea I have is something I'd like to keep playable by email or post, since that seems more my speed at this point.

The idea behind the game is to tell a story through a bunch of eyes and guided by a bunch of hands, but restrained by rules and tokens to keep things focused and challenging. The gm will be the author of a lot of the prepared elements and it will be his story, so he will have a good deal of power.

I have thought some more about it. I don't have that much to do. Some of the questions Abkajud asked got me thinking. It is all rough and amorphous, so I'm going to have to work it through before I try posting it. I just wrote two paragraphs that didn't make any sense, so I'll hold off. Thank you for the responses though. They help.