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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: Need feedback/ideas for this Native American spiritual RPG idea I have  (Read 981 times)
« on: September 14, 2009, 12:27:05 PM »

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This does not refer or come from a single tribe's beliefs or practices, but it is rather an amalgamation of popular ideas and different sources from many different tribes.  It ain't supposed to be accurate, y'all.

CONCEPT: Native American cave paintings are a sacred rite for members of the tribe.  To go into isolation, take various herbs to put yourself in a spiritual state of mind and to paint is an honored thing.  But what is the real purpose of your journey, your contribution to the tribe? This is what the game hopes to look at and explore.

The game is fully functional as two players, and can (hopefully) expand as more are added in unique supporting roles.  The main two players are the person doing the cave painting and the spiritual entity the painter must face and combat.  The spiritual entity could range from the God of Famine, to a Bringer of War, to destruction of lands from the White men.  In essence, an other-worldly idea that is threatening your tribe.  The purpose of you painting in this alternate plane is to combat this entity to protect the ones you love.

This is for sure a one-shot type of game, with no GM.

MECHANIC: (*note - While I may list something as a mechanic, I may not always know if it is a feasible mechanic.  I haven't really sat down and played this enough to get if something is broken/doesn't work/doesn't make sense.)  The game is played with a card mechanic that I can only describe as a mix between War, Tarot Cards and Dominoes.  You and your foe will take turns laying down cards broken up into suits (right now I'm thinking five.)  The suits would be (tentatively) flora, fauna, civilization, terra (mountains/valleys etc.), and spirituality.  They would exist in a sort of rock/paper/scissors tier - this beats so and so, but THIS beats that, and so on.  If a card is played inversely, it represents the inverse of that card (ex. the fauna card played upright stands for a healthy stock of animals, the fauna card played upside down stands for a lack of animals/disease/etc.) Each side would draw one hand of cards (number not yet decided,) and this would be all the cards you use in the battle.  Half of the cards in your hand would be facing you, and the other half would be turned around so that your opponent sees them.  This represents that the potential follies of a tribe/threat are not always seen by them.  To play this game the painter and the foe must face each other directly.  When the cards are right-side up they'd be played so they are facing either you or the opponent.  When the reversed cards are played they are played at a 90 degree angle - they face no one.

After a card is played, you and your foe debate about the well-being of the tribe.  Let's say you are fighting the potential that your tribe will be killed off due to hunger this winter.  Your first card is the fauna card.  You say to the foe "We will not starve this winter.  There are animals that migrate through our lands, and we will do good from them."  Then your foe could play the Terra card and say "But lest not forget the earthquake that made the valley.  You can not cross the dips and peaks to reach them this year.  Surely you can't feed off them." When a card is played that counters yours, it is called a HINDRANCE and nothing occurs.  And so on.  Now, if the Terra card was reversed it would stand for either no geological barrier or the land would instead shepard the migration towards your camp.  If the Terra card was played reversed, it instead created a BENEFIT.  For every benefit that is played for you, you'd somehow denote you got a point (draw a bead, mark it on a sheet, etc.)  The first player to X number of beads/points would win the battle.

For the cards that are backwards in your hand - sooner or later you have to play a card whose meaning/orientation is unknown to you.  Before you do anything else you pick one of the flipped cards.  You would then have to ask the other player the metaphor of the card.  If you have the inverse of flora (absence of plants) they could answer "It's the void of life."  Now, if the spirit was a sarcastic one the "void of life" metaphor could also be represented by the right-side up card of Civilization.  This lets you confuse and disorient your foe and lets you trick them into scoring BENEFITS.  If you don't want to play that card based on the metaphor given to you, you can play another flipped card but you must play it "cold" - you don't get a hint for that card.

The battle between the painter and the foe is not supposed to take more than fifteen/twenty minutes.  The idea is that when the battle is over, when you take a step back and look at the cards they'd be arranged and placed to look like a cave painting - a scattered mural of the five suits.  You'd then switch places, depending on the extra players some people may go from being a painter/foe to supporting character.

I want the extra players to be able to effect the game, but not be a central part of it.  A potential idea: every player additional to the core of the main two is either a spiritual GUIDE or a spiritual DETRACTOR.  Spiritual guides/detractors would be one of the five suits of cards manifested (i.e. your spirit animal, the essence of the river, etc.)  They would be consul to either you or your foe.  Outside of that, I have no idea how they'd contribute to the game.  Maybe they could have the normal and inverse cards of the suit they represent, and you could call on them? With that, though it seems it just gives you a free benefit.  Maybe have the suit they represent unknown to you?  Another idea for extra players - they would play a hall of various Gods.  They would be their own entity, much like the idea of the Greek/Roman Gods.  They could mettle with either side?


Not enough role-playing? I feel like there should be more dialogue between the painter/foe.  Maybe have dialogue potentially effect the card - you could potentially reverse the meaning of a card through discussion?
How do I effectively utilize extra players?

I'm sure there are tons of other different things that I'm missing that could be changed to make this better.  Any outside ideas would be a HUGE help, as this is the first game I've ever really conceptualized that had a shot of being a strong game!

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W

« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 05:40:30 AM »

I'll have to stew your game for a bit to come up with anything really insightful, but streight off, this is not a multiplayer game: This guy is getting separated off to a hidden place to do some 1 on 1 stuff. There's no audience, just the shamanic guy and what he's dealing with.

That's the core flavour I get, and if that is the case it should just be an intense 2 player game, perhaps with an emphasis on "reading" the other player and adversarial dynamics. In the middle of all of this there should probably be something people are planning, so there is something to read, as well as a requirement and encouragement to narrate stuff that isn't specifically related to the bluffing or drawing out of information.

Perhaps "working out what this means" is a shared objective between the players, but whether it's good or bad is actually decided by the conflict. This would mean there might be a bit of escalation and pulling back from players depending on what they think their chances are.

Posts: 210

« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 11:17:49 AM »

Is there any interest in having goals that aren't defeating a directly destructive force, either varying what resolves the situation to include other solutions, or varying the threat to be less direct, such as losing ones culture either in parts (such as dealing with new gender roles, changes in production such as modern tools or loss of herds) or as a whole or the difficult path of modernizing and integrating into a larger society without just being lost at sea.

Likewise, since this is inspired by Native American spiritual ideas, but not based on them, is there any need to actually link the two beyond saying one inspired another? Freeing one self from North America means there are other settings, other ideas, other problems, from colonialism in Africa to urban folk facing the nature of The City to aliens.

Of course if the inspiration is tightly bound to NA culture and events, it's good to explore that as well.
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