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Author Topic: Inquisitive  (Read 1566 times)
The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« on: January 26, 2010, 07:42:38 PM »

http://www.theparableengine.com/

The system is pretty much done. I need to play test it a little bit more; so far it's just been one shots rather than actual campaign play, but it looks good. I'll get that up a little later.

Any thoughts on the setting in general? The mechanics are heavily tied to the setting (a la My Life With Master), so I need to hammer it down before I cement the rules set.
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The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 10:22:31 PM »

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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2010, 12:04:49 AM »

Hi! This sounds like it should be in "Playtesting" rather than "First Thoughts, but no worries.

It's an interesting idea!

I like how your Risk Chart is layed out.  It makes it very tempting to roll that extra die.

I think where your game could maybe use some work (if you want to work on it more) is in the area of how you set stakes, and how you describe actions in a conflict.  At the moment the game advises players (or the GM) to describe what their character is doing with each dice roll, but if they don't do that, the game still works fine.  Because your strengths are quite abstract, I think that it's easy to get away with non-specific actions.

Does this fit with your experience?

Do you have any specific questions about the rules, any things that aren't working?  How did your last playtest go? What worked and what didn't?

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Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2010, 12:07:26 AM »

Hi,

What's the fun (or just one example of fun in the game) of moment to moment play? Could you describe it even in a vague sense?

Side note:I'll say experience makes me think that the longer someone takes to describe the fun the more I think there isn't any and they are just being swept along on a wave of RP enthusiasm thing.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2010, 07:06:30 AM »

Hi! This sounds like it should be in "Playtesting" rather than "First Thoughts, but no worries.

It's an interesting idea!

I like how your Risk Chart is layed out.  It makes it very tempting to roll that extra die.

I think where your game could maybe use some work (if you want to work on it more) is in the area of how you set stakes, and how you describe actions in a conflict.  At the moment the game advises players (or the GM) to describe what their character is doing with each dice roll, but if they don't do that, the game still works fine.  Because your strengths are quite abstract, I think that it's easy to get away with non-specific actions.

Does this fit with your experience?

Do you have any specific questions about the rules, any things that aren't working?  How did your last playtest go? What worked and what didn't?



Yeah, I wasn't really sure which one to put it in, as I didn't ever post "First Thoughts"

There's a number of subsystems in the game, currently. So if the conflict is about combat, you'll have combat maneuvers, sort of, as well as a heavily modified Aspect system. I'm cleaning up the text now, before I post it.

It's like this:

Corey and James are in a fight over a girl. The Conflict here is who gets the girl. Corey decides he wants to fight James physically. So Corey would be using Zeal points to play out the risk, plus any free dice he has depending on his ranks in any appropriate aspects. We'll say in this case that they don't have any relevant aspects.

James decides that he won't run, and sets his stakes as generally the same: he wants the girl. Both players roll their first dice and move a point from Zeal into Weary. James gets a 3, Corey, a 4. Since Corey is on top right now, he is free to apply a maneuver to James. Corey has Strike The Enemies of The Lord (Rank 2), which is a Zeal maneuver, like most physical actions. He spends 2 Zeal, puts them into Weary, and a Rank 2 Injury is applied to James. But James has Lord Protect Me (Rank 1), which uses Hollow like most defensive or intuitive maneuvers. He moves one Hollow point from Hollow to Weary and he blocked one Rank of Injury.

The actions are narrated. "Corey stepped forward and kicked at James low, to pull him off balance. James blocks to kick with his own foot, kicking downward into Corey's shin. But Corey uses James's forward motion as an opportunity to punch him in the throat."

The fight continues until Corey has 15 and James has 13. James decides to hit, to roll another dice. Corey now has to decide whether he wants to roll another dice. He's spending a point if he does, making his character more tired. He also may bust. But if he stays pat, then James may pass if with this roll. He decides to do it. Corey rolls a 6, James a 3.

Corey busted. He now achieves how he wants to get his stakes, but not the stakes themselves. So as the GM, I'd let Corey narrate how he won the fight, the few seconds in which he won.. He does, detailing how incredibly awesome as he and how he won the fight. But then the girl comes outside. She's seen them fighting and she's disgusted with Corey's brutality. She runs to James and weeps over him.

James achieved the stakes because he was over 11 and Corey busted. In the case that they both busted, the girl would have been disgusted with both of them.

Hi,

What's the fun (or just one example of fun in the game) of moment to moment play? Could you describe it even in a vague sense?

Side note:I'll say experience makes me think that the longer someone takes to describe the fun the more I think there isn't any and they are just being swept along on a wave of RP enthusiasm thing.

The risk. The feeling of being out of control of yourself and trying to regain it. The idea that you may go overboard with any action. Being out on the edge with your teammates and not knowing who to trust.

In playtest, one player was trying to get the information out of a suspected heathen. The whole things escalated into a gun fight. The stakes were still "I want the information out of him" but the player wanted one more roll and busted and killed the guy. He got no information.


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The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2010, 08:48:33 AM »

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The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2010, 09:01:15 AM »

Because your strengths are quite abstract, I think that it's easy to get away with non-specific actions.

Does this fit with your experience?

Do you have any specific questions about the rules, any things that aren't working?  How did your last playtest go? What worked and what didn't?

What sort of non-specific actions do you mean? The Strengths are abstract. They're more a measure of a person's internal landscape as a measure of they're outward abilities. I'm really channeling My Life With Master Here.

I have seen a tendency to try to work certain stuff in, mostly by one player who always does that, but since the Strengths are so polar, it's usually easy to see where an action would fall.

The real thing I'm looking at here is to try to get the text down in such a way that I'm not required to be there. Right now, I, myself, can run the whole game. But the text isn't doing a good job of getting across what I mean. The things I think are clear are getting questions and on the parts I think are difficult, people are telling me I went in too much detail.

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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2010, 10:30:47 AM »

Cool.  What I think you should do is put together a PDF of the game as best you can, and give it to someone else for comment.  It's quite hard to find people willing to playtest your game for you, but it's quite easy to find people who are willing to read the game.

Ask them to give you feedback on what bits are clear and what bits aren't.  It's tricky writing a text that decribes the entirety of how to play a game.  It's very easy to leave out bits that seem obvious to you, but are not obvious to others.  Getting people to read your text can help with that.

By the way, are all the players and characters in your game men?

Also: In your example of conflict, see how all the narration happens after the dice have been rolled and everything's resolved? That means that it doesn't need to be there.  That's the case with a lot of games, so you shouldn't feel like it's a glaring problem, but there are ways of making narration more vital to your resolution process.
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The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2010, 11:18:14 AM »

By the way, are all the players and characters in your game men?

Nah. Like a lot of games, the fiction just glosses over the whole "men are superior" thing. It's worth losing accuracy for fun in that case.

Also: In your example of conflict, see how all the narration happens after the dice have been rolled and everything's resolved? That means that it doesn't need to be there.  That's the case with a lot of games, so you shouldn't feel like it's a glaring problem, but there are ways of making narration more vital to your resolution process.

Well, the idea is to combine task resolution and scene resolution somehow. You should be narrating the whole time:

At the beginning, the players and GM set the stakes.
In the middle is somewhat of a task resolution system; things are happening, but they can't decide stakes.
At the end, the players and GM resolve the conflict using the Risk Chart, deciding stakes.

I get what you're saying. But in this case, without the end narration, the GM would just have to resolve the scene himself based on how the task went, as in most games. I've never really liked that as a player or a GM.

To use Vincent Baker's example, in terms of this system:

Conflict: The playeris in the supervillian's office and wants to get the super secret plans. This is what the player set his stakes as. If he succeeds overall at the little game of dicejack, then he gets the plans.
Task: This up to the players. They have to still come up with a WAY to achieve their stakes. In this case, the player has a investigative type Trait at Rank 2. He'll use those dice, and any extras will have to come out of Zeal and go into Weary.
Each dice will receive some narration and lets the player make up facts about the world. In this case, maybe he says he finds a safe. We all know the safe is locked because he still hasn't succeeded on the risk chart. He's declaring actions but those actions can't bring true resolution. So while there is narration in the middle, the player CAN'T achieve his stakes until that the last roll at the end of the conflict.

In play, this works out nicely because the player is usually still below the Success Target of 12 for most of his roles. Once he's in that 12-18 range, then he's thinking that he may not want to roll another die, because he may bust.
One thing I didn't expect is that it's actually beneficial for players to roll low once you pass 11; if you can squeeze in three rolls between 12 and 18, then that's three chances for you to make up facts before the scene is resolved.

So the scene can't be resolved until that final roll, even though things are happening towards that goal. In opposed rolls, one player can be winning the whole time (task-wise) and lose his stakes at the end because he got greedy.

Does that make any sense? So it's really: the setting of stakes, narration, die roll, narration, die roll, narration, die roll, resolution.

Sigh. Now I'm confused.
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The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2010, 11:20:26 AM »

Ha. I didn't mean above that the accuracy I'm talking about is that men are superior. I meant that no, this particular Church, unlike a lot of them, doesn't have that particular discrimination.
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Michael Pfaff
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2010, 11:34:54 AM »

Hey, The Engine, this is DM from LouisvilleRPG.

I'll definitely check out your system. Good to see you here.

Mike
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The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2010, 11:38:13 AM »

Yeah, I was going to find your email on there and send you a copy, but after deleted my account it was listed as hidden.
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2010, 02:21:31 PM »

Hi,

What I meant was that all your examples use men, and your text uses "he" to refer to players and to characters.  If your game allows women players and characters, then that's confusing.

Also, do you have a real name we can use?

I think I get what you're saying about narration with your system.  It's a good approach, I think.  Maybe it's something you could watch out for in future playtests?  I think as much as possible making traits and such which require concrete actions will help your game.

Cheers,

Simon
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The Engine
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2010, 02:26:50 PM »

The name's Chris.

Yeah. Everything you've said here has become it's own document on my thumbdrive as I play around with ways to make myself clearer.

What do you mean by concrete actions? Right now, during the refresh, the characters can spend Weary points to create Traits for themselves, or NPCs, or places. Anything the player wants a mechanical connection to. It's not the best system as sometimes the players all focus on different things, making the party come apart a little. Doesn't bother me in play, but I haven't "campaign" tested it yet, as my group is tied up with other games right now.
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2010, 03:10:36 PM »

"Singular They" is your friend.  For example: "The player is in the supervillian's office and wants to get the super secret plans. This is what the player set their stakes as. If they succeeds overall at the little game of dicejack, then they get the plans. "

Another good technique is to write your rules in the second person: "Your character is in the supervillian's office and wants to get the super secret plans. This is what you set your stakes as. If you succeed overall at the little game of dicejack, then your character gets the plans."

Also, it's a good idea to be clear on the distinction between players and characters.  The player is not in the villain's office.  The character does not roll dice.

What I mean by "concrete" actions is this:

Let's say you've got a trait that's like "Hungry for the Truth" or something.

You are searching for some information, so the stakes are like "do you get the information?"

You describe your specific action "Well, I'm using "Hungry for the Truth" so I guess the character is all looking around for the truth"

So you get weak, kinda vague narration.

Imagine your trait is instead "No Lock Can Stop Me", your narration will be something specific, like "I pick the lock on the file cabinet" or something.  Specific narration is better because it makes it seem like things are actually happening in the game, rather than you just getting an outline of what's happening.
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