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Author Topic: [Brigaki Djili] Archetypes  (Read 1819 times)
Vulpinoid
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« on: October 02, 2009, 04:37:12 AM »

If you're interested in getting some better perspective about my current project, I'm trying make sure I log my progress through game design in my blog Observations of the Fox.

It's basically a 12 month project to get a playtested and refined game ready in time for Gencon Oz 2010, it's a part of the Stockade.

For the moment though, I'm working my way through some of the fundamentals of game design.

I've found through convention exposure and entering plenty of game design contests that a lot of my game ideas may seem great in theory, but initial exposure to the public sometimes finds people left in a bamboozled state. While these ideas may work well amongst a group who have watched the rules evolve and gradually develop, they aren't immediately accessible and this means that many people will leave a game unsatisfied.

Trying to develop an accessible rules set that produces a desired effect is truly an art form, and I respect those designers around here who can pull it off.

My previous thread regarding this project gave the outline of a mechanism for story evolution and conflict resolution through a bag of tokens.

It's an elegant idea, and especially useful as it allows an immersive style of play that avoids dice and allows players to continue suspending their disbelief by acting "in character" as storyteller within an imagined world. It's the kind of mechanism that evokes a communal activity undertaken by a culture unfamiliar to the real world, but it's quick to pick up and easily makes sense to new players ("Oh, he drew a red token that means it's Ben's turn to narrate"..."Now he's drawn a blue token, that means it's my turn to narrate something"...).

But the game is about Storytellers/Oracles revealing a tale to a visitor who seeks their wisdom, they tell their tale by collaboratively and competitively narrating with one another, and by chaperoning a specific avatar through their encounters.

So the game operates on three levels...

...the players [and GM] who probably sit around a table...

...the storytellers/oracles [and the visitor] who sit, stand, move and possibly dance around a campfire...

...the characters within the tale [the GM has no presence within the tale except as an observer] who do the typical things that characters in stories might do.

The focus of the game is the telling of a story. The rules should be subservient to the story and they should only serve as ways to bring the unexpected into a story. But I've been looking for ways to differentiate the characters within the story, ways that make sense at the middle level of players as storytellers/oracles. I can't see character sheets being used by oracles around a campfire narrating a story to a traveler from afar, it doesn't make sense at this level of the narrative, and this is the kind of disconnect that really destroys the flow of immersion between the deeper story and the real world.

My earlier thread offered the idea of using a tarot spread (or runestones or something similar), because this seemed to match the context of the storytellers. A spread like this also helps pull the players into the mid level of the game by giving them something concrete to anchor their imaginations with.

So that's where my current thought patterns lie. I don't necessarily need a system that allows characters to evolve for longer than a single session, but I'd like players to be able to improve their characters in the short term, revealing strengths and weaknesses as they narrate their character's tale.

The symbolism inherent in the Tarot cards immediately evoked the archetypal imagery of character strengths and weaknesses, but I agree that it seems a bit unwieldy at first glance (and this is a barrier to the immersion that I'm trying to achieve).

So I present another idea...

Character Idea 2:

All characters are defined initially by two aspects, both chosen randomly by the players.

The traveller asks a single question to set the tone of the story to be told.

In response to this question, each player begins the game by writing a single sentence description of a character's appearance or public reputation. They do this twice and throw all the descriptions into the centre of the table. They then randomly draw two of these from the pile in the centre, choosing the sentence that appeals to them as a good character to play in light of the traveller's question.

Players pair this surface description with a true archetype defining their position within the story; "Reluctant Hero", "Romantic Lead", "Mercenary", "True Innocent", "Villain", "Trickster", etc. Players choose a random pair of archetypes and select one of these two for their character.

Stories are revealed over the course of five acts. Each of the archetypes has it's own list of five questions, one of which is answered in each scene. I'm thinking something similar to "A Penny for my Thoughts", except that different characters within the story will seek to answer different questions that reflect their own position within the tale. The more questions they answer, the more powerful their role becomes within the story.

Player's won't necessarily know what role the others characters in the story are until the climax, when the big reveal hits...

The hero shows his true mettle...the villain monologues...the mentor reveals her final lesson...etc.

The idea is to strip the characters down to their true essences, no real stats at all, just their archetypal roles. Within the mid level narrative, the storytellers/oracles might have specific gems, talismans or other symbols that signify the different roles; the storytellers might traditionally know the questions to be answered by each role, but in the real world players would be given their list of questions on a small scroll (gradually unrolled as the scenes are narrated).

Again...I admit that this idea needs some work.

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
JoyWriter
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Posts: 469

also known as Josh W


« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2009, 06:31:23 AM »

A number of Lost episodes produce questions from aspects/archetypes, on this principle; they take two concepts and either marry them or contrast them "is he blah or bleh"? Implementing that in the game; how about you pick two aspects, and try to hold them together for as long as possible, and if it gets so pushed you can't keep them going you pick one (or perhaps the other players do?) and that stays. The hero/coward reveals himself as a hero, and the coward aspect is crossed out, and kept only as a reminder of history. Every now and again (when?) you get two new aspects, perhaps if you've just lost one, or if you think you can handle more.

Random selection is pretty good, but I quite like a different idea; each player suggests an aspect and one that contrasts with it, writes each down on a little piece of paper, and picks one. Here's the clever bit: You can't write another one until you have taken a piece of paper from the middle, from the stack of papers that other people just wrote. (perhaps the "questioner" writes two as well every now and again so there is a slow build up over the game)

This means that either you play a character that embodies two things you think are opposites, or you end up thematically echoing someone else's story, and potentially being in conflict with them.

Then at the end of the game, you just stick the pieces of paper in the bags, and have a bag for the central chips and not-yet-picked aspects!
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Anders Gabrielsson
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2009, 11:14:58 PM »

I've been thinking about ways to bring in more information without leaving the second level, but I can't think of any way to do it without bringing in more props.

When I imagine the scene with the storytellers and the seeker/GM, I keep seeing them pointing to things embroidered on the bead bags, tattoos, pictures on jewelry they wear, or other similar items. I have no idea how to incorporate that without turning game prep into a huge arts-and-crafts project.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2009, 11:34:23 PM »

...and therein lies my dilemma.

I've got the props. My wife and I both have the skills to embroider scarves and create jewellery. This could be a really immersive game for players at conventions if I was running the game myself. but I want the game to be more accessible to an outside audience.

I could run the game with moderately low prep by opening my LARP costuming box, then pulling out a dozen really evocative costume pieces. But I don't know how many others could do the same thing.

I like the simple elegance of "A Penny for my Thoughts", players write memory fragments on pieces of paper and throw them into a central container, a seperate container has pennies (or other suitable coins), a page in the centre of the group states the facts about the world and each player has a simple list of questions that will be answered through play.

No dice...no excessive props...no character generation before play...the GM doesn't need to generate a story. It's all done through play and it's elegantly approachable.

Because I'd like tales to be told, where characters either have specific end objectives, or a minimum of preloaded characteristics, at this stage I'm thinking I may need to sacrifice certain immersion levels if I want to avoid the minimum prep. Hence my interest in the tarot cards, or having character sheets folded in such a way to resemble scarves, or maybe using simple props (or notes on paper) to really drive the story from the outset.

But thanks for the thoughts...it's good to see I've struck a creative nerve with some people.

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Vulpinoid
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 09:47:47 PM »

Following up with further thought...

I'm struck by the similarities between my proposal and another set of games...namely "How to host a Murder".

A group of players gather to tell a story in a loose format, a series of chapters gradually building in tension until a climax is revealed.

When a group gathers to play such a game, the props and accessories are all a part of the immersion experience. Everyone has a booklet (or is handed a series of pages), and this information gradually builds a pre-written story, leaving a single moment of tension as everyone tries to guess who the murderer is.

This kind of game had a high degree of mainstream success, and many people I know have played it even if they wouldn't be caught dead "roleplaying" (where they consider the term "roleplaying" to be exclusively D&D or similar).

With that in mind, I'm thinking that my archetype idea (with questions to be answered in each act) is on the right track for the type of experience I'm trying to achieve.

The modifications will only be in the presentation of the rules. Where previously, the rules were going to presented as a research paper from a steampunk anthropologist; carefully explaining the rituals he has encountered among a people who bear a superficial resemblance to earth;s gypsies. Now the rules might be presented as the same anthropologist explaining how "civilised" people might enjoy a similar pastime based on the experiences he has encountered.

V



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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
chance.thirteen
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Posts: 210


« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2009, 10:14:48 PM »

You can always make your own cards. Archetypes can be origins, strengths and weaknesses, types of trials they will face, fates that await them.

For instance, for Changeling I made up a set of constellations that came and went and were story elements. The Maid, Betrayal, The Hidden Gift, and so on. Same idea.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2009, 03:22:16 PM »

Chance.Thirteen,

That might be a good idea.

When I get back to designing this game, I might just come up with a deck of cards with my own archetypal imagery and concepts. Each with a strength and a weakness written somewhere on them to trigger the imagination of players.

Then it gets away from the Tarot imagery.

I'm also thinking of the idea that there could be different types of thematic pointers for different types of cultural stories. Chinese stories based on the I Ching, Norse tales based on Runes... for anywhere that there is a culture who uses a divination method to foresee the future, I could make a reflection that reveals the sorrow songs of the past.
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
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