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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 143 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Shakespearean Comedy RPG  (Read 1766 times)

Posts: 4

« on: February 17, 2009, 11:08:18 AM »

Hello! Smiley

This is my first attempt at designing an RPG from scratch, though I've been playing role playing for a good number of years. I've drawn shamelessly from other indie RPGs which I've read - it's nothing very original, mechanics wise, I should think.

The concept is: a GM-less game which aims to imitate Shakespearean Comedy. The players play central characters plus a selection of minor ones, aiming to introduce and then eventually solve romantic conundrums in a Renaissance Mediterranean city. The mechanics involve individual dice pools which are increased by narrating comic elements and then used to narrate elements that have a more significant effect on the plot.

It can be found in its current form here.

Things I haven't dealt with yet:

  • how exactly the game ends;
  • whether the players start with dice in their pool;
  • limitations on dice pools (such as by drawing from a central pool of prespecified size, or by limiting the size of die that can be won depending on the scene number);
  • preventing individual players from dominating the game.

Things I'm thinking of introducing:

  • supernatural elements and more of a focus on locations;
  • introducing a mechanic around the five-act structure - the act number could determine whether conundrums could be resolved, the size of the die available, and the number to beat to undertake a significant action.

Any have any thoughts? Opinions? Criticism? Suggestions? All very much appreciated! Smiley

- tzirtzi

Posts: 4

« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2009, 11:09:15 AM »

*very sorry* to double post, but the link is broken and I can't edit it...


Posts: 4

« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2009, 03:25:41 AM »


I can't send private messages yet so I'm going to reply here - I hope that's ok and that you see this post!

Thanks for your reply Smiley. Your five act structure game sounds intriguing - I'd be interested to read it. As I mentioned above, I've been trying to work out how to incorporate an act structure into this game. The problem I see with this is that if there are necessarily five acts, each expected to contain multiple scenes, that might end up making the game too long - players might lose interest during a long game, given the quite specific scope of the subject matter and themes..

Perhaps this would be an area to deviate from Shakespeare - players could decide at the beginning the number of acts they were going to have, up to a maximum of five but with a minimum of two. The mechanics I mentioned above (size of dice available, time before conundrums could be resolved, number required to succeed on a significant action) would then depend on what the current act is and how many acts there are to be in total...

Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster

« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2009, 04:41:15 PM »

No problems, we'll keep the discussion open...

The five act structure I use for "The 8th Sea" has a single scene for each player. The game works off cards, so an act begins with every player being given a card and the players take turns from highest to lowest acting through their scene, a player may hold off on their scene until someone else has done something, but once everyone has had the chance to act or hold, those who held there scene must now take their scenes in order.

While it is one players scene, they are the focus of events, it doesn't mean that other players can't introduce their characters into the scene, but it is the focal character's chance to reveal their strengths and their weaknesses, other characters in the scene are window dressing. If the focal character specifically chooses to interact with another character, they may do so.

While the focus is on another player's character, a player may choose to have their own character act as a sidekick in the scene (offering bonuses or penalties to the actions of the main character), they may choose to take on the role of a supporting cast (NPCs), or they may help to narrate the events underway.

In this way, all of the players get the chance to be active, even when it might take a while for their own character to take centre stage again.

Most scenes are resolved by a single action which is the dominant task that needs to be resolved in the scene. At the climax, a player is given the option of two rolls (each of which must use different skills) in order to resolve their part of the storyline.

I've found that each of these self contained scenes can take from one or two minutes (a single sentence describing an action, followed by a quick card draw or die roll), through to 10-15 minutes for the longest and most elaborate combats (it's a pretty rules light system). Most scenes take 5-10 minutes.

If we multiply this by the number of acts and the number of players...

A three player game will typically last 75-150 minutes, averaging around the 2 hour mark.
A four player game will typically last 100-200 minutes, averaging around the 2.5 hour mark.
A five player game averages around 3 hours...etc.

If you need any more information or ideas, just ask.

Providing ideas is what I'm here for.


A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Callan S.

Posts: 3588

« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2009, 10:19:11 PM »


What do the players add that you could not have gotten if you played the game alone?

Philosopher Gamer

Posts: 4

« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2009, 12:55:50 PM »

Vulpinoid - that's an interesting system. Having each player the official focus of one a scene helps balance out the narration, stopping voluble players from taking over, and randomising the order of scenes should have a similar function as well as perhaps encouraging players to think outside of whatever preformed ideas they bring about their character's role...

If it's ok by you and not too much direct borrowing, I think I'll write something similar into my game and playtest it... Smiley

Callan - 'S a good question. The following answers come to mind:
  • multiple brains are better than one - effectively bouncing ideas of one another should keep the narrative interesting for everyone, plus it means the game doesn't end if one player runs out of ideas
  • it makes the game into a social activity, which is obviously of value in itself
  • the focus (or at least one very significant focus) of the game is comedy. jokes are a social thing - it's not that funny to come up with jokes to tell yourself
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