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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 50 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Intrigue: A Card-Based Poltical System  (Read 1201 times)
Toneblind
Member

Posts: 8


« on: November 03, 2009, 07:05:55 AM »

Hello there!

Just joined the forum, and I thought I'd put up an idea for a system which focuses on political maneuvering and utilising the entire Tarot deck, not just the Major Arcana. It's just some ideas that have been forming in my head over the last day or two, so it's bare-bones (and probably not very good), but I thought I'd give it a try.

Base System
Every player and the GM begins with a hand of 5 cards from the standard minor Arcana of a tarot deck (56 cards, each ranging from 1-10, with the face cards Page, Knight, Queen and King, in 4 suits, Cup, Coin, Sword and Wand); this is known as their "Influence Hand", representing the fluctuating nature of courtly power and favours, as well as the character's own personal mental, physical and social assets. Every player also draws one card from the Major Arcana, which is known as their "Persona". A character's Persona is how they are generally viewed in the Court, not necessarily in their actual capacity but rather in the current demeanour, past actions and the rumours floating around them. Each Persona has it's own benefits and drawbacks.

Two types of conflicts - "Extended" and "Intense"
"Extended<Intense": Intense Conflicts are periods of short, sharp action that affects how the world (and, more importantly, the Court) sees them. This could be a duel of honour, a self-aggrandizing hunting party or a graceful dance at a Courtly Ball. The basic system for this conflict remains the same - each player places a card on the Conflicted Object in turn, and once a player places a card with the same numeric value as the last card played down, the Object becomes Contested. A Contested Object goes through the same system of bidding, calling and folding as in Extended Conflicts.

However, there are a few changes in an Intense Conflict that should be remembered. When a player wins Intense conflict, instead of gaining that won Conflict as an Aspect, they instead increase their Influence hand size by one and draw a new card. Alternatively, the may choose to discard their current Persona and draw a new one from the remaining Major Arcana. Secondly, when a player places a card on a conflicted Object in an Intense Conflict, they draw a new card to replace it, rather than reduce their overall hand size.

AspectsPersonaExample Persona
<

Thoughts
Perhaps a possible system of consequences and flaws for losing Conflicts
Ideas for the Blessings, Curses and reversals of the different Personas
Character development system



So, any thoughts? Any good at all?
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Mike Sugarbaker
Member

Posts: 108

|>


« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 01:59:43 PM »

This sounds pretty interesting. I'd move forward with playtesting it. The main thing that jumps out at me as possibly being a concern is deciding when to play a card that turns an extended conflict into a contest - do you ever have a rules-based incentive not to? If you want these to be "slow burners" instead of exploding immediately, you need to make sure people don't just charge into them like Leeroy Jenkins.

Where is this coming from for you - is there a particular flavor or genre of fiction you want to create? What sorts of systems have you played/been inspired by? (You should have a look at Capes if you haven't.)

Also, is there a real-world name we can call you?

And welcome!
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Toneblind
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 03:31:22 PM »

Firstly, thanks for the comment, Mike! I hadn't really considered the Leeroy jenkins effect you mentioned, but that is a concerning thought. Maybe the level of card that is used to initiate the Contest requires a certain number of Aspects be exhausted, but the Aspect gained from it is consequently higher. Since only relevant Aspects can be bid (and in this case, exhausted to initiate it), players may have a stake in keeping it low, to allow them to use their higher Aspects in the Contest proper.

maybe something like this...

Initiaing CardAspect ExhaustedAspect Gained

Initiating Card/Aspects Exhausted/Aspect Gained If Won
1-7/+1/+1
8-10 Page or Knight/+2/+2
King or Queen/+3/+3

Or perhaps initiating cards of different levels require certain rounds of Escalation to be used. Of course, any suggestions people have would be appreciated!

In terms of inspiration, literary works of poltical machinations are a big part of it for me (such as a Song of Ice and Fire, although I admit it's been years and years sinc eI last laid eyes on it) and the television program Kings was a big inspiration. Game-wise I'm not sure what I can cite outside of Spirit of the Century in terms of inspiration, but I'm sure if I dug around I'll find something I've unconsciously riffed off in my collection. I've not played Capes, but I'll check it out, now.

Oh, and you can call me Will (sorry, so used to just using nonsensical screen names)
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chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 04:23:55 PM »

An idea out of the blue might be to allow playing an Ace to start or initiate a new conflict, creating a new opportunity or situation to intrigue over.
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Toneblind
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2009, 07:32:58 AM »

I've been having a think about the possible risk of Extended Conflicts becoming a race to turn it into a contest. Currently, I've got a few thoughts in mind
  • Leave it as it is. It doesn't matter if it's a race, as long as the Conflict occurs
  • Place some manner of risk or penalty on certain cards. The higher the card, the higher the risk/penalty
  • Place some sort of 'minimum time', a certain number of rounds that must occur before high value cards can be played, balanced with a reward for higher cards
  • The longer a Conflict goes on, the higher the value of the Object becomes

The thing to bear in mind about particularly the time-based thoughts is that you have to play a card during each round of Escalation. Failing to do so means you are out of the Conflict, and if an Object only has one person in a conflict over it, that person automatically gets it. So it becomes more of a time management/risk management decision, reconciling the dwindling size of your hand with how much you want a particular Object.

My concern with the time-based mechanics, however, is that since you can only have a maximum of 4 'matching' cards in any given Conflict (4 kings, 4 queens, 4 pages and so on) it may become impossible for someone to begin a Contest over an Object.

An idea out of the blue might be to allow playing an Ace to start or initiate a new conflict, creating a new opportunity or situation to intrigue over.

Hmmm... an interesting thought. Would this be playing an Ace in a Conflict or a Contest?
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Toneblind
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2009, 10:19:39 AM »

Hey there, another post, and it's a bit of a doozy



What is Intrigue about? The answer to that I'm finding difficult to summarize (as it was never my strong point to begin with - incoherent and random thoughts, yes, but nothing as precise as summaries), but it seems more and more that the premise of the game, along with its thematics and genre are becoming more relevant. To that end, I want to try and break down what I think this game is, what I want it to be and then, hopefully, be able to succinctly describe the mod, attitude and style I hope to go with for this game. For my sins I realised an inspiration comes from a game that I have not actually set eyes on for a long time - John Wick's wonderful Houses of the Blooded, which I initially bought mostly because I saw a 500-page .pdf for $5 (which in real money - pounds sterling, of course - is the equivalent to tuppence ha'penny, in my oh-so humble view). If you will allow me a brief digression, I will gather my thoughts on my own game by describing how I felt about HotB<liked<HotB, but what I have played has been a gloriously operatic.

But that was the key, I felt; Houses of the Blooded is an opera, and that's not what I want for Intrigue. To that end, a large part of the thematics is that Intrigue is a game of 'hidden intentions'. Every character has a mask they wear in their Persona. Often, they do not simply choose their Persona - it is the collected views of the rest of the Court, formed by the whispered rumours and the character's own past being twisted (or, in some cases, fairly represented). Often, people play up to their mask - the Fool is light hearted, and therefore gets away with his mocking satires and subtle jibes, while the Chariot is an innovator and sculptor of society, daring the whole world with his ideas and being duly praised for it - but their masks are not necessarily the true representation of who they are. The Fool is free to wander around, his eyes always keen and watching for weakness, and his jibes gently undermining the authority of their targets in the eyes of Court. The Chariot's bold designs are well-met, but the grandeur and the ceremony are all there to obfuscate the way the designs benefit not only the world as a whole, but him in a much greater, more immediate sense.

So, to return briefly to the idea of Houses of the Blooded being an opera; what, then, can we call Intrigue? I feel that it is more akin to a waltz. It's pampered and pressed and delicate in its application while Houses is broad and bold and wondrous. The characters in Intrigue<Houses (and I must once again apologise to Mr. Wick if I have misinterpreted you game in any way), at least for now.

Let us now consider the main themes that I want to try and put forward in Intrigue<The Godfather (particularly the first film), think Kings, hell, even think Richard III<
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Mike Sugarbaker
Member

Posts: 108

|>


« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2009, 03:25:31 PM »

(Just chiming in here before the deadline to say YES. A thematic intent this clear, and clearly communicated, is a rare thing indeed. Keep going!)
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Publisher/Co-Editor, OgreCave
Caretaker, Planet Story Games
Content Admin, Story Games Codex
TJ
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2009, 06:59:49 AM »

If you haven't yet read or played In A Wicked Age by Vincent Baker, you should check it out.  It's Nest Of Vipers oracle seems particularly relevant to your premise.

Additionally, are you familiar with either Vampire or Amber Diceless?  Both of those games include intrigue as primary themes, but incorporate them in different systemic ways.  I've played both of them for many years, and although I never felt that either game took quite the "right" approach to intrigue, there may be nuggets of advice you can mine from them.
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