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Mythology: Answering the Power 19, 6-10
Topic: Mythology: Answering the Power 19, 6-10 (Read 321 times)
Software developer, husband, roleplayer and geek
Mythology: Answering the Power 19, 6-10
November 18, 2009, 03:23:34 AM »
6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
Mythology does not seek to dictate how people should play the game. I think that's a personal choice of the gaming group, and it's totally valid to be a 'fast and fun' group or an elite fighting group with a great grasp of the mechanics, or use roleplaying to explore serious scenarios. I'd like to think that my providing an elegant system, it's ideally suited to all of these.
By focusing on balance, the system plays fair with players who want to maximise the combat effectiveness of their players. The best games aren't those you can cheat at or win with cheesy tactics. They are the ones which demand the most in terms of skill and pure strategy. Chess. Poker. Bridge.
This also means you can let the system fade almost completely into the background if you want. It means that your character isn't going to be nobbled by early choices, and you can trust the system to make everything work, concentrating on characterisation or plot. A lot of thought has also gone into the character archetypes, so that some elements of flair are present in every option. Each character archetype (solider, ranger, magician, psyker, charismat, priest or sorcerer in the basic rules) has some basic motivations, talents and flaws. Players are encouraged to care about their characters identities, but it's okay to pick a character which suits your playing style. If the player wants to be an effective combatant, then they can pick a character which also wants that.
The game rewards roleplaying choices which are consistent with the character outline by giving in-game advantages whenever the player makes a difficult choice. For example, an impulsive character may rush into a challenging situation, earning them a golden die. A greedy character may not share their loot, while a compassionate character may sacrifice for another.
The one thing which is discourages is stealing someone else's limelight. This is a sin-bin offense and the storyteller will need to clamp down on 'greedy roleplaying'. There are enough in-built hints that each player should be fair and equitable, and focus on group cohesion. Unless of course you happen to want to run a highly competitive game, in which case the gloves can come off!
7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Unlike many systems, "Mythology" encourages a fairly loose tracking of experience points which does not reward one player over another, lest the game become unbalanced, or unrewarding for some players. Instead, the system includes a few reward concepts, being the 'golden die' (extra dice which the players can use at any time), 'fate points' (which the players can use to get out of an impossible situation or pass an impossible test) and magic points, which limit the amount of amazing things they can do each day.
The players can only really function effectively if they work together. Ultimately, group cohesion is a social problem, not a mechanical one. This is why there is only one storyteller -- one arbiter who the players can turn to in order to sort out any petty disputes. If everyone respects their decisions, then any conflict between the players can be sorted out quickly before anyone gets upset.
8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Well, the storyteller is mostly responsible for the narration. Unless you have a pretty experienced gaming group, the storyteller really does most of the heavy lifting. In fact, it's this balance which divides the responsibilities, rather than anything which is in the game itself.
The players are capable of dictating their characters actions totally freely, but the storyteller can always say "whoa... I dunno. That guy looks pretty mean" to suggest another course of action. Or, they can accept the direction and just let the cards fall as they may!
So, I guess I'm ducking this question.
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?)
I've played dozens of roleplaying games, and probably about 6 or 8 different systems. What I've noticed about player engagement and effective characterisation is that motivations and flaws are GREAT! Extensive character backgrounds typically just bog things down. No one remembers them! It's much better, if you can, to build up the characters through gameplay, rather than invent a complex history. That way, the players are invested in the character background because they've lived it. Everything salient to characterisation in the game can typically be captured in five or so key facts which the player should really know and understand.
Each character type has some really fantastic abilities which make them completely unique. It's really exciting when you find that your character has got what it takes to save everyone's bacon. In a lot of systems, many of the character options are pretty similar (basically everyone is a combat guy, magic guy or healing person) and sometimes dull. Often the party healer isn't very good at bold, direct action. Not so here! Everyone is vital and everyone gets to be the hero sometimes.
Super-detailed characters can just slow the game down. In Mythology, characters are more like comic-book heroes or caricatures, even the ones which have strong social abilities. Their motivations, talents and flaws are simple, but help to guide the response in many situations. The storyteller's job is to reward players for playing their characters well, not for following the plot that has been laid down. Players not getting your story? Your problem! The character with a motivation for problem solving being a bit dense? Let 'em make an idea role.
Beyond that, you don't need rules to cover every possibility. The game needs to be simple enough for everyone to play in their heads, and keep track of using a pencil and paper. Anything more sophisticated is reliant on the players to keep track of and invest their effort in.
10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
Exquisitely balanced, fast to use and effective. The mechanic for the game is still being worked on (perfection here in non-negotiable), but basically this is how it works:
-- You have free-of-cost actions and costed actions
-- Doing something requires spending some action points, rolling a small number of dice, and adding them up. Bigger is better.
-- Advancing a skill or ability will either let you roll bigger dice or more of them
-- More dice = more reliable, closer to average
-- Bigger dice = unpredictable, wide range of possibilities
-- More AND bigger dice = awesome!
The goal is that the players should barely be aware of all the mathematics which goes into designing encounters, challenge levels, skill ratings and suchlike. It should be so easy anyone can learn it in two minutes. Step one: Look up your skill rating. Step two: Pick up that many dice. Step three: Roll and add. Resolution: Is the number big enough?
Working with dice pools like this makes it easy for a designer to really tune the game balance, since the statistics of rolling multiple dice are well-known and provide a good level of control. Want to have a group of enemies which will take an average of four rounds to defeat four characters with average health for level 2? No problem! Want the group to have the potential to wipe out everyone by turn two, but be no more dangerous on average? Easy! Of course, this is not something the players or storyteller needs to worry about. The core rulebook will include a bunch of standard encounters which the storyteller can use and tweak in games up to about level 6. That's enough for about 15 sessions of play, by which time you might need to buy some more books, or do some balancing work yourself.
I'm hoping to make a bunch of online calculators available eventually so this can be done online, and of course publishing new and more wonderful monster groups and adventures is part of what this is all about for me.
So that's it for my next answers to the "Power 19". Until next time, may your gaming be excellent!
(I'm designing a game.
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