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Power 19 for Magia, an attempt at making an RPG in Peru.
Topic: Power 19 for Magia, an attempt at making an RPG in Peru. (Read 231 times)
Power 19 for Magia, an attempt at making an RPG in Peru.
May 21, 2009, 09:36:37 PM »
Hi everybody! I’m really thankful for all the enlightening theory and professional discussion going here. I’ve been learning a lot in the last days, so here’s my best effort to answer the power 19. Please consider that I’m presenting a table rpg game to an audience who have heard more about mmorpgs and console games than about sims or narrative games. A pretty small part of the audience here is familiar with D&D and WoD, but veteran GMs are too few, so I had to come with a solution for teaching people how to play and get them playing the game in no time. Any feedback would be really appreciated. Many thanks!
1.) What is your game about?
Your usual not-so-ordinary next-door-teenagers get to discover the world ain’t what it is as there exists real magic behind it. Not only it can change the way they live, but it can be pretty life-threatening if they try to ignore it’s existence. At first they’ll try to live with it without affecting their school life but eventually they’ll have to face the fact that anything they learn at school won’t help them. It’s fairly based on the Books of Magick comics, so most of it goes lighthearted for fun, with a few dramatic escenes here and there.
2.) What do the characters do?
Characters are young magicians who just begin to explore the world of magic, meeting and learning from veteran mages and ancient entities. They get to battle the demon kin, other mages, creatures and events product of wild magic. Eventually they get an idea of the history of the whole magic reality and get to decide their role in it.
3.) What do the players do?
Players contribute to create a story by playing the characters and taking decisions involving events presented by the GM. They also get to discover most of the rules of the game and laws of the setting by trial and error.
4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Characters start without knowledge of the “magical” part of the setting. They have to explore it and learn the proper responses to every event of magical nature, as well as the rules, usually just a few per session.. As for the “real world” setting part, I’m planning to implement some tables for random events in school, so that part of the narration doesn’t go just like “you have a normal day in school and then…”
5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Characters barely start with four stats: mind, body, soul, and hit points. Everything else such as skills, powers and equipment is gained through exploration and interaction with the setting. Excuse for this is that all pc's start the game at age 15 in a modern age setting. All they know must reamain among the common knowledge of a contemporay high-school teenager.
I’m still not sure of using some tables for background creation for pc’s, about their family and economic situation mainly. Only reason it occurs to me now it would be for the sake of a bit of realism and color for the characters. Yet, one of the simplest options would be players write three things about their own family and then these families are assigned to another player randomly.
Another thing the narrator could use a lot in the game is the list of things characters love, hate and fear, though I would prefer to put this in some sort of simple test in the first scene played. All characters start having a nightmare, narrator asks every player what it’s about and writes down the answer to use it later in the game. Then characters gains the ability to turn the dream into the thing that he/she loves. And the last turn of the dream faces the character against something he/she hates. Finally an npc appears in the dream to tell them a couple of clues about magic, and story takes off from there.
6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
Cautious exploring and skilled bargain instinct are rewarded through character progression, through trying to play completely safe and ignoring situations is punished by the world taking actions against the player’s characters. Excessive greed for power and random violence are also punished in such way.
Originally I had to design most of the mechanic against power-gaming , since the players in my group were power-gamers in a way that usually ruined game atmospheres with rule-related discussions. Even with a very simple ruleset some of them managed to bend some mechanics to ruin the balance of the story. Right now instead of making extra rules to avoid that, I’m thinking about a single rule: every time the players manage to pull something that unbalances for the game, dice rules if it goes or not, on a 50%-50% chance. That way I don’t have to plan for every possible hole in the rules and the players don’t have to search a 100-page core book for a specific case.
It happens when you live in a country with no tradition of table rpg’s, and even less idea of how cooperative narrativism goes. So rules will have to be a bit constricting in some ways.
7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
The more the character progresses, the more the abilities the player gets to modify the story and accomplish goals. Challenge can never be reduced to zero, though , at least until the end of the game. The better you deal with entities in the setting, the more you get to know about the rules and historical background in it, and the more complex the magic the character gets to make.
8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
GM has responsibility over narration, players can only intervene through their characters. However I’m playing with the idea of having the GM ignore most of the setting on the beginning and discover it along with the players. By this mechanic, the responsibility of narration may rotate among players and campaing creation becomes unnecessary at first, since the system is presented through a module. Once the players get used to the game and setting, creating a module of their own won’t be difficult.
9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
There’s a degree of randomness in every part of the setting, different for every stage of the story. Setting must have plenty of color and detail, since it’ll be an exploration game mostly. Magic also requires some creativity to use, and finding new ways to use simple spells are encouraged too. Npc's at school must be colorful enough to make interactions with them interesting (when my group was playing this game first, they developed romatic interests among their characters and npc's, a simple table to assign random emotional states to the npc's in every encounter made a nice trick to give them some life. I also kept track of how good or bad the relationships of npc's and pc's were going.
10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
mainly 2d6+modifiers against a difficulty assigned by the narrator according to the conflict. In combat both attacker and defender make a roll each, except when it’s a surprise attack. Shall I be using an initiative roll? I could compare body and mind stats to determine who goes first, too.
In the case of magic, it’s a bit different for every kind. For example, in elemental magic, if a character uses fire she gets to cast anything with it. Dice roll indicate cubic meters of the element obtained and the damage it does, that means a 8 on the dice can either be a fire wall of 1mt x 2 mts high and 4 wide or a 8 mts ray, both originated on the hands of the caster. And both doing 8 hp of damage. To avoid that, defender either cast water or ice in the same fashion or dodges be beating that 8.
11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
Magic results aren’t fixed. It’s not only that a spell works or not, but it’s grade of effectivity also varies. Higher levels of magic just multiply the dice number X times, so that randomness keeps going as a constant factor for magic in the game.
12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Advance depends on the magic the characters learn along the story and the bargains they make to gain the knowledge. For example, before being able to cast fire elemental magic, caster has to make a compact with a fire elemental creature. The more powerful the elemental, the higher the multiplier to the 2d6 roll for that element, and the more complex to fulfill the conditions of the compact. So gaining powers and skills is not as easy as expending xp gained for slashing creatures.
13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
By earning every skill and power the hard way and one bit a at a time, players start to appreciate everything they get and learn to use it in creative ways. They also learn the value of having good relationships with every npc in the setting as valuable sources of information and eventually, power.
14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
I’d prefer it to be curiosity, though a veteran GM could turn it easily in terror, awe or hysteria in any moment. The randomness of the magic system has proven to be enough to keep players wondering what will happen on the next roll and thus, becaming easity surprised by turns on the story.
15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
The setting and the magic mechanics are the most important, since not only they’ll define the game, but they should be easy to understand in few minutes.
16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
the setting got solved more or less a couple of years ago, so now I’m more interested in reinventing the magic mechanics to give it more possibilities.
17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
The game takes them to explore not only a setting but discovering the rules that govern it and learn to handle the ability to shape the setting.
18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
A few copies of a small booklet to be offered in local conventions, nothing fancy.
19.) Who is your target audience?
10-to older people who haven’t heard of tabletop rpg’s or see them as being too complicated, but go to local manga and comic conventions. Even the system must be of 2d6 because of that, since other dice are hard to find here and even d6 aren’t usually sold or bought in huge quantities in retail stores. That’s also the reason for having the GM ignoring most of the story and setting and making a module to explain the rules instead of plain writing them and give guidelines to create campaings as your usual core book.
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