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Author Topic: card-based mechanic for cowboy genre  (Read 6803 times)
etothepowerofx
Member

Posts: 11


« on: February 25, 2010, 06:38:27 PM »

First off, feel free, if you find any of my ideas useful, to use them in your own projects.

I like very general, easily adaptive systems in narrative game-play.
I like westerns, be it space western, steampunk, traditional, or fantasy western.
word of caution: gamists and simulationists are probably going to dislike what i have to offer.
I'm working on a simple ruleset for such a game. Please lend me your thoughts on the following:

A standard deck of 52 cards + 2 jokers is used for the main pass/fail conflict resolution. d4-d20 dice are used for degrees of success, such as when dealing damage.

The reason cards would be used (besides the cool factor / genre motif) is that it opens up an element of game-play called 'holding', where players who receive multiple useful cards in a single hand can play some cards, and save others for a subsequent action. This effectively letting character's have an "ace up their sleeve", where they play the second best possible hand, then save the best hand for when it counts, or just to have a backup plan in case they get a crappy hand on he next action.

The dice system would be pretty straight forward. It is used when no skill is involved, it's already been determined that there was a successful hit, all that needs to be determined is how badly the other person was effected by that hit: you roll a dice who's number of sides depends on the power of the weapon being used, the more powerful the weapon, the more sides the dice has, the more potential damage the attack can inflict. Pretty basic. I guess cards can be used for this too, but it'd be easier to implement with dice. A competing roll would subtract from the damage roll to represent armor class.

Anyway, there are no attributes. (gasp!)
there are no classes (heavens no!)
there is no skills list (what the...)

It's a skill based system, where the player thinks of a skill (hunting, camping, marksmanship, riding, farming, law, medicine, etc) and assigns a level to it. Anything can be a skill, as long as it can be argued that it takes at least a year to learn the basics of-- speaking of which, argument is the main basis of this system: the player is encouraged to present a convincing argument why his character should be able to do something, the dealer (GM) considers it, and sets parameters for success. Cards are drawn, if the player wins the hand, the character is successful.

there are five levels of a skill: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
1: Takes a year to get to this level. After a year the character understands the basics of the most common aspects of the skill and can progress in their education without an instructor if necessary.
2: Takes two years. This is the level of a hobbyist. Level 2 characters understand all aspects of the skill and can instruct others up to level one. In fact, any character can instruct any character up to a level less than their current level.
3: Takes four years. This is the level of a schooled individual, like a bachelor's -- someone who has been professionally trained for an entry level in a career. Most soldiers are level 3 when it comes to combat, for instance.
4: Eight years. This is the level of the seasoned expert, the combat veteran, or the career professional. Eight years devoted to a field makes a character worthy of competing with his skills in the open market.
5: Sixteen years: Level five skilled characters are few. They are the elite, the truly gifted. The poor kids playing the piano from infancy. A level 5 is the result of a lifetime pursuit, or exceptionally strict and demanding parents.

The level of skill you have, 1-5, determines the number of cards you get, 1-5, when performing an action directly related to that skill.

If you're performing a basic action with some difficulty, and it's decided that there's a chance you might fail, you are dealt the cards corresponding to the appropriate skill, and the dealer draws his own cards based on the difficulty of the action. Usually the dealer will have only one or two cards to compete with, but for much harder and neigh-impossible tasks he may have up to five. Anyway, if your hand beats his, you win.

In combat, character's will perform certain actions that have no associated difficulty, like hitting someone with a baseball bat. They will have to compete against that character's corresponding ability to defend himself, so if your ability to attack him is based on a skill of 3, and his ability to defend himself is based on a skill of 2, you will draw 3 cards and he will draw 2, and then the person with the best hand will be successful in whatever he was trying to do. If you were successful, he takes damage, if he was successful, he may attack you, try to run, draw a knife, etc.

Some actions, like shooting someone a good distance away, are difficult. For those you draw first against the difficulty of success, then again against the characters ability to avoid being shot.

Side-note:
initiative is determined by a 'general combat' skills check, with the argument that a person experienced in fighting will be more aware of surroundings, and how to obtain strategic advantage over an opponent. whoever wins the general combat skill contest gets first attack. and the loser must defend with an appropriate defensive skill.

Ok, now for the actual mechanics:
the cards are valued: Joker, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A. The person with the highest played card wins. If there is a tie, then the suit is considered, where clubs < diamonds < hearts < spades. It's in alphabetical order, like in bridge. When a card is chosen, the player/dealer puts it on the table face down, and when both sides have chosen their cards, they reveal them to determine the winner.
If the player has a multiple of any type of card, say two 7s, then he puts one of the 7s face down, and then when the time comes to reveal his card, he flips it over, then puts the second 7 with the first. A double of any type beats a single. A triple of any type beats a double or a single, etc.
The reason multiples aren't put face down together is so that the opposing force has no idea that you have multiples until it is too late, plus, you have an opportunity to save a card for later if it turns out that you can beat the opposing hand with just a single card.
A joker, played alone, is worth the least. One joker should be marked on the face of the card, and the marked joker will be worth less than the unmarked joker. A joker, however can be combined with any other card to form a double, or combined with a double to form a triple, etc.

When a player's character performs an action, that player receives a number of cards equal to the skill level of the action. The Dealer draws cards equal to the opposing force. The two hands are played against the other. After the hand has been played and the winner decided, the player may discard all his cards, or keep some or all of the unused cards for the next hand, PROVIDED that the character would have been able to anticipate the next action he will  perform. Of course, a player can only keep a number of cards up to the level of skill for the action he is going to perform. If he decides to perform an action for which the skill level is less than the number of cards the player has held over, the superfluous number of cards must be discarded before the hand is played. Commonly, a player will not like any of the cards left over after a hand, and will prefer to discard them all and get fresh cards for the next hand.

The rest is even more boring, you don't have to read it.

My idea for damage and HP is as follows:
A character gets 1 HP for every ten pounds of non-fat body weight. So a 200 pound character with 10 pounds of body fat would have 19 HP. Or a 120 pound character with 0 pounds of body fat would have 12 HP. Or a 800 Pound grizzly with 150 pounds of body fat would have 65 HP. (I understand how body fat can contribute slightly to your ability to resist damage, but for simplicity, I would consider it negligible in almost all cases.)
Damage occurs by rolling a dice, from d4 to d20. the number determines the amount of HP lost. If suitable armor is worn, then a counter roll subtracts from the number of damage.
In this system, HP does not represent health, but rather a character's ability to defend himself. A character attacked from behind without warning will have zero HP, for instance. His only hope would be his armor roll being higher than the attack roll. Most attacks don't even need to connect to cause a character to lose HP. Causing a character to flinch will reduce his ability to defend himself temporarily, ie, reduce his HP temporarily. Actual physical damage does not occur until a character's HP is reduced below 50%. A character will regain some HP each turn. For every HP lost below 50% the char receives actual damage. A character's max HP is reduced when damaged. So if a 16 HP character gets attacked by 9, the character's HP temporarily goes down to 7, and because this is 1 HP less than 50%, when the character regains his composure and balance, (when he recovers his HP), he will max out at 15 HP until his wound is treated.
In this way a character can fight and lose HP without taking actual damage, and HP takes on a less abstract form, actually resembling an aspect of real combat.

I have more ideas to add, but they need to be fleshed-out. For now, if anyone has read this far, please let me know what you think, what I may have over-looked, and what is in need of improvement.
 

 
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stefoid
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Posts: 319


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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2010, 08:48:08 PM »

I dunno about all the stuff with the hitpoints = 10 pounds of body weight type of sim-crunch, but the idea of structuring conflict like a poker game for a western themed game is brilliant.

could you factor in raises and bluffs somehow?  That would be cool - its the part of poker that makes it more than a simple luck contest.  and it fits the theme where  the true badasses rarely have to actually resort to violence to get their way - their reputation is enough.

And it introduces the possibility of changing the nature of the conflict (throwing away cards and getting more) and escalating the conflict (how much am I willing to risk to win).  Have a look at Dogs in the vinyard here at the forum for this type of escalating conflict thing.

Maybe rather than having a crunchy sim type of damage, you tap into the 'ante/bid/raise' theme of the card game.  i.e.  if you ante up a small amount, its a minimal risk conflict - say two guys sitting mostly in cover, blazing away, not taking any risks.  You might get 'winged' in this type of fight, then bug out to avoid further damage.  but you then have the option to bid and raise - OK you winged me, but rather than bug out, I make a dash for a more advantageous position where I can plug ya more easy (deal me X more cards please).  Now I have another chance at pulling something off, but because I have upped my bid to stay in the fight by breaking cover, I have put myself at more risk.
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etothepowerofx
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2010, 03:50:18 AM »

that's a really good idea, stefoid! The damage thing was sort of ad-hoc 'cause I needed SOMETHING of the sort to make the game play-testable. Your idea is way cool. In theory. I just, for the life of me, can't think how it might work while maintaining simplicity.

 Also I was considering the possibility, if  another factor was needed for special equipment (ex: a rifle with hard cased bullets +3 against body armor) wild cards could be introduced, where, starting with the 2 of clubs, a certain number of cards could be played as wild when using that equipment for the appropriate purpose.

This bidding thing demands consideration. I'd be back at the drawing board, but do you think you might explain it a little more in depth?
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Brigand
Guest
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2010, 06:31:25 AM »

Its a very nice idea!

There actually is a cardgame where a set of characters fights out a gunbattle: http://www.amazon.com/MayFair-Games-Bang-4th-Edition/dp/B001RU7UNW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1267194274&sr=8-1
It has all kinds of additional events like changing equipment and healing  and so on...

A while ago I had a setting where each card represented some entity in the world, all the Figures where People they could ally with (Its fun to create characters for "Queen of Hearts" or "Queen of Diamonds", "King of Shields (Spades)" etc. And I handed out cards when the players made allies or got some equipment or spell associated with a specific card.


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Falc
Member

Posts: 80


« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2010, 07:21:40 AM »

I'm left wondering why you're saying that your game might not appeal to gamists or simulationists, because when I read what you have so far, I would say your game right now is more gamist/simist than narrativist.

Some tell-tale signs I spotted:

- your addition of dice rolling
- defining skill levels by the number of years spent on them
- "Some actions, like shooting someone a good distance away, are difficult. For those you draw first against the difficulty of success, then again against the characters ability to avoid being shot."
- "The reason multiples aren't put face down together is so that the opposing force has no idea that you have multiples until it is too late, plus, you have an opportunity to save a card for later if it turns out that you can beat the opposing hand with just a single card."
- "the player may discard all his cards, or keep some or all of the unused cards for the next hand, PROVIDED that the character would have been able to anticipate the next action he will  perform. Of course, a player can only keep a number of cards up to the level of skill for the action he is going to perform."
- "A character gets 1 HP for every ten pounds of non-fat body weight."

Really, if you truly want to have a narrativist game, I would try to get rid of these things. They're not helping you reach that goal, some of them even lead you away, I feel.

Here's what I'd do:

Use descriptive Aspects or Traits or whatever you wish to call them, instead of Skills with numerical values. "I grew up on a farm", "I'm a good shot", "I won the rodeo 3 years in a row". Things like that. Then, when you're doing something and these experiences could be of use, you point to your sheet, ask for approval of the rest of the players and get a bonus to your action. You have two that apply? Good for you, two bonusses. Better than average equipment? Same thing.

Since you're drawing cards anyway, damage = reduced hand size. Or something like that. If you use a mechanic where people might keep more cards in their hand, then damage = random discard. If you decide to use cards, then stick to cards. Adding dice, or adding a tally of HP dilutes your focus.

I'm gonna hit 'Post' now but the gears in my brain are turning, so I'll probably be back.
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etothepowerofx
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2010, 07:54:02 AM »

a random discard would have the proper effect for damage; it will reduce your ability to fight.
One thing I don't like about gamist systems is the arbitrary nature of HP, I was trying to make it more simple, but I think I may be making it worse.

If a player was counting on using a certain pair of cards, and one of these were randomly discarded when he was attacked from behind, Then he'd be forced to make do with what he had... Now that you mention it, this system does seem pretty gamist, but in a good way I think.

I really like the aspect idea, which tells a story about the character, instead of just a skill name. (why didn't I think of that!?)

I don't like HP. I'd be glad to be rid of it.

as far as dice go, how does this sound: If you perform a successful stab-to-the-base-of-the-skull, your target falls down dead. If you fail slightly, your target rolls for damage. if you fail by a large amount, (he defends with a pair, while you only attacked with a single card), then you utterly fail to cause any damage for some reason.

A simple pass/fail system leave too much room for subjectivity I think. Or at least I don't know how do have objective results using cards.
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Falc
Member

Posts: 80


« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2010, 01:49:10 PM »

Okay, I'm getting more and more convinced that your understanding of 'narrativism' and 'gamism' doesn't match mine. Which makes it quite hard to help you out...

Perhaps we could try a thought exercise to put everybody on the same page about what you're looking for. You know how most games have a section where a 'combat' session is written down, sort of like a script? Could you maybe try to write something like that, describing the bestest coolest conflict you can imagine in your game? You don't need to include the exact details of the system, but try to give us an idea of what sort of statements you want the GM to make, what statements the players can make, when exactly do they need to step into mechanics mode, etc.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2010, 02:09:10 PM »

Honestly, I think you're dice are superfluous. They don't do a lot that can't be done just as well (if not better) by the crads...the one thing they do is detract from the theme.

See if you can get your hands on information about Malifaux...it's a miniatures game that uses cards. It's got a few interesting mechanisms that might be worth your investigation, and it's set in a wyrd-west/necro-steam-punk environment.
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
stefoid
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Posts: 319


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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2010, 01:31:45 AM »

that's a really good idea, stefoid! The damage thing was sort of ad-hoc 'cause I needed SOMETHING of the sort to make the game play-testable. Your idea is way cool. In theory. I just, for the life of me, can't think how it might work while maintaining simplicity.

 Also I was considering the possibility, if  another factor was needed for special equipment (ex: a rifle with hard cased bullets +3 against body armor) wild cards could be introduced, where, starting with the 2 of clubs, a certain number of cards could be played as wild when using that equipment for the appropriate purpose.

This bidding thing demands consideration. I'd be back at the drawing board, but do you think you might explain it a little more in depth?

um, ok, off the top of my head.

Lets say you can be poor=0, good=1, very good=2, or excellent=3 at something.  in this case 'gun fightin'

So you get 5 cards, everyone does.  Cause this is poker.
Additionally, you can be injured/drunk/sick or whatever.   winged  = -1,  got me good = -2 , and hurt real bad = -3

Now, 'gun fightin' covers any sort of skill you might use in that situation, not just shootin, but also scootin for cover and spottin ambushes, etc...

so everyone in the gun fightin contest put in their ante (which represents risk)  gets dealt their 5 cards.

However, people who are at least good at something can exchange cards for free.  but being injured or whatever reduces this ability, so if you were excelennt at gunfightin, but 'got good' you could only exchange 1 card for free

At the end of the free exchange period, people get to call, raise or fold.  When you fold or are beaten, you take 'damage' or 'loss' equivilant to whatever you have bet.  the more you bet, the worse the consequences of loosing.  So if you have a crap hand right up, you might be better off bugging out of the contest taking a minimum loss, rather than staying in the fight.  Or you could bluff of course.

Anyway, any time you make a decision to fold, call or raise, or exchange cards, you have to say what your character is doing, reflecting the poker-game actions you are taking.

So at the start of the contest, you put in your ante and you say what your character is doing.

if you then fold instantly, you describe your character unceremoniously backing out of the contest, taking some minimal damage/loss.

If you exchange cards, you describe how your character is modifying his actions, consistant with 'changing his hand'

if you call, you describe how your character is basically maintaining the status quo ,doing more or less the same thing.

If you raise you describe how your character is escalating the conflict, i.e. taking the contest to new heights for anyone who wants to stay in it.  i.e. leaving cover and charging forward, guns a blazin.

If you respond to a raise by calling or even raising yourself, you describe how your character is rising to the challenge or escalting the chalenge back yet again.

Set a maximum number of rounds to ensure hotheads who never back down dont get stuck in an endless raise-fest.

Thats all I got.   This type of idea isnt suited to agonizing over equipment.  At best you could use equipment to modify the number of cards you can exchange (similar to being injured) , with poor equipment (in the context of the contest) giving -1, average equipment giving 0 and excellent equipment giving +1 to the number of cards you can exchange.  i.e. if you bring a perfectly good knife to a gunfight, that counts as poor equipment in that situation, even though it counts as excellent equipment in a saloon brawl.

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etothepowerofx
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2010, 09:26:30 AM »

wow, a lot to take in. I'm going to research the definition of gamism more-- my impression was that a game is "gamist" if you can learn how to play the mechanics and do well, and not have to worry so much about the context, whereas in a narrativeist game, knowing the context and the story is what helps you make good decisions, and the dice or card mechanics are sort of ad-hoc, subjectively administrated by the GM to fit with the story.  Simulationist would then be a cross between the two, where the mechanics try to imitate the story and give realistic results, and the story can be easily adapted to the mechanics, 'cause there is a rule for every possible situation in the story.

Maybe this isn't right, but it's how I've come to understand it.

If you can fight a battle without narrative (or much of it), kinda like a strategy war game or a card game or whatever, then it's gamist.
If the story dictates how the characters are able to move and interact and rulings are made on-the-fly depending on the story, then it's narrativeist.
And if the mechanics are designed to fit precisely with a particular genre, and are interchangeable with storyline elements, then it's simulationist.

As far as the raise, bid, ante fold mechanic, according to my understanding, that would be kinda gamist, because a player can play the game with all the information he needs already available to him in his hand. He just narrates character actions every time he makes a move, but those actions which are described don't actually mean anything in terms of gameplay. whether he says "my character runs toward his opponent firing his lever action rifle from the hip" or "my character runs left through the clearing toward the covered wagon while firing his lever action from the shoulder" doesn't make a difference if the same cards are being played, or the same about is being bid, or the same player action is being done.

If however the player says "my character is going to charge forward, guns blazing." and then the dealer says "all right, according to your ability to perform that action (level 3 gunslinger and +1 because you're a fast runner), here are your 4 cards to play against your opponent's 3 cards (he has a level 4 marksmanship ability but -1 to violent encounters on account of him being a coward)". Then it's narrativist. The story determines the mechanics, not the other way around.

A simulationist would be more like "here is a map of the combat area. Your character is behind this barrel, and your opponent is behind the corner of this building. if you move forward, you'll take seven steps to move diagonally around the barrel, and then 5 steps for each square you move through straight-on. while firing you suffer a -2 penalty to your aim, because you are moving. you also suffer a -2 penalty to your speed because you are firing. Your agility is 31 so you can make 31 actions per round. each step counts as one, each shot counts as three, (charge the weapon, quick-aim, fire), When you run out of actions, your turn is over. Your opponent is pinned down by suppressive fire, so he suffers a -3 penalty to attack (which is rate of fire + cowardice). Given his position he has a +4 bonus to flee, because he can do so away from your line of sight by moving along the building he's hiding behind."
In this case, an excellent knowledge of both the rules and the narrative are essential.

simulationist is the best possible system in terms of meaningful rules, but requires entirely too much calculation and is best handled by a computer.
gamist can be played like a strategy game, simple rules and simple results, kinda hard for the player to by dynamic or do anything imaginative. They player must add narrative within the confines of the results of the dice mechanic.
narrative allows the story to take precedence and set the pace for the mechanics, but at the expense of objectiveness, can be very biased if not handled properly.

I need to figure out if my thinking is right, and if not i need to correct it, then decide precisely WHAT sort of system I'm trying to create. After that, I can move forward. Until then, how wrong am I?
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 495


« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2010, 01:05:27 PM »

Hi,

Do you have a real name I can use?

I think that GNS is probably the least useful thing you can try to learn right now.  Your understanding of it right now isn't helping you at all, and GNS isn't going to solve the design problems you're talking about here.

Here's where I suggest you focus your efforts:

What do you want conflicts in your game to feel like? What's your vision of a western gunfight? What things do the characters do, and what things do the players do? What kinds of decisions do you want the players to make?  Try to refine your vision down to its essence.  What are the most important features? Maybe you'll get a statement like "Combat is fast and deadly and chaotic", or you might get something like "The winner is not the fastest or the most skilled, but the one who's willing to risk everything to win" or "In the Wild West, winning means never backing down".

Whatever the vision that you have is, once you've worked it out, design your mechanics to make that vision real in your game. 
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Falc
Member

Posts: 80


« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2010, 01:54:38 PM »

Damn, I wish I could find a thread I read not so long ago... Some guy talked about his gaming group and how he couldn't place their gaming in G/N/S and he had a whole exchange with Ron (who even asked everyone else to stay out of the discussion for a while) ending up with a diagnosis of Narrativism.

The reason I wanted to refer you to that thread is because it clearly showed that GNS actually lives at a much bigger scale than what you're talking about. It's very much about the overall, not-always-spoken-out-loud, goal of the entire playgroup. I doubt that any given rule, taken by itself, can ever be truly gamist. A complete ruleset will usually be geared towards assisting a certain creative agenda.

That being said, Simon is perfectly right in saying that learning the theory won't help your game, in and of itself. The important part is communicating to us what you really want. The very second line you wrote was: "I like very general, easily adaptive systems in narrative game-play." We now know that, what you really meant by this and what we thought you meant by this aren't the same.

So you'll need to elaborate. One possible method is the playbook I asked about, which is basically what you'd like an 'Actual Play' report to be. Another obvious choice would be to write some real Actual Play from your own experience. When you say: "I like very general, easily adaptive systems in narrative game-play," which situation do you think of that fit that definition best?
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etothepowerofx
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2010, 04:22:59 PM »

First of all, I really appreciate everyone's generosity; I certainly wasn't expecting such attention. Here's a snippet of what I have in mind:

Dealer: "...realizing the directions the old porter gave you are no good, and with the sun beginning to set, finding the abandoned mine where the Torez gang are hiding out might become less of a concern; You may be worried about your safety overnight in the wilderness... how's your resolve?"

::mechanic::

Ben: Cecil's in good spirits, thinks they've gotta be pretty close and aint about to quit now.

::mechanic::

Bob: Hank shakes his nearly-void waterskin nervously, looking around his shoulder toward the sound of a howling coyote. He's scared, now--real scared.

Ben: All right, Hank. Steady now. We're real close, ya know. It's gotta be right here someplace; we're as close as anyone's ever gotten! Besides, I coulda sworn I saw smoke on our ride up the ridge.

Bob: Aw, I dunno, Cecil. (Hank pats his mustang, Red, who's beginning to share his rider's trepidation), I'm a thinking we outta head back now. Set out again in the morning, you know?

(Cecil and Hank go back and forth for a bit, Cecil, by consent of both players, manages to convince Hank to stay on a while longer.)

Dealer: You don't see anything familiar, no landmarks, just the stars and jagged rocks and the occasional agave. In the distance a few mesquite trees dot the terrain.

Ben: I'm gonna look for footprints, or signs of a trail of some kind, using my hunt ability.

::Mechanic:: Failure

Ben: Cecil looks around in the valley, the most likely place to travel through, but he doesn't find much of anything.

Bob: I wanna try looking around.

Dealer: What skills do you have?

Bob: My dad used to take me camping all the time as a kid-- i hated him for it. But I learned a thing or two.

Dealer: all right, you can look for anything related to a campsite, but in this terrain, with high rocks everywhere, odds are low.

::mechanic::  success

Bob: Hank sees a line of mesquite trees, and figures that'd be a good place to gather some firewood. Sure enough, on inspection he sees several branches were cut off a dead tree, and dragged. Hank yells "Hey, Ceese! Over here!"

Ben: Cecil grabs his horse's reigns and moves quickly toward Hank, and when he arrives, grabs him by the shirt and pushes him to the ground. "Quiet you fool!"

(Dealer makes a mechanical check of some kind without announcing what it's for or what the result is)

Ben: Oh, great.
Bob: Sorry Ben!

Dealer: You just gonna lay there, Hank?

Bob: Hank gets up and dusts himself off. "Cecil, look, they done tore some firewood from this here tree, and dragged it that-a-way."

Ben: "So they have. lets see where this leads, my friend. Hope they're not expecting company." Should I do a check for tracking?
 
Dealer: No need, drag marks are obvious enough. Fresh too. You follow them back around some brush and down a path hidden by a small cliff. At the bottom of the path the way opens up into a clearing below ground level, and you see the opening of a cave supported by an old wooden frame.

Ben: Can I see anything inside?

Dealer: The sun has all but set, and in the failing light you see the faint glow of a fire from within the cave. And you can hear muffled voices, but can't make out what's being said.

Bob: I'm gonna tie up the horses to something. What's nearby?

Dealer: There are actually other horses here, tied to some stakes in the ground. You didn't notice them because you were focused on the cave entrance.

Bob: How many horses?

Dealer: Two horses sputtering nervously at your approach, another one is dead, teeth marks all over. Nearby is a dead coyote, shot through several times.

Bob: I tie the horses to a stake.

Ben: I signal Bob...

Dealer: Hank.

Ben: I mean Hank, to come over as I draw my revolver and approach the entrance cautiously.

Bob: I draw my double barrel 10 gauge and my lever action rifle out of my saddle. I strap the Rifle to my back and ready the shotgun as I approach the cave keeping to Cecil's right.

Dealer: the entrance to the cave turns immediately and quite sharply to the left. The voices are very close.

Ben: I'm gonna peer to the left, around the bend.

Dealer: You see a long hallway of rock supported every few paces with heavy wooden beams. Scattered debris, rusty tools. A few feet in and all is darkness, but about 20 yards down it seems to open into a room with a fire-pit burning brightly. An occasional figure is seen passing in front of the flames.

Bob: Aw hell ya. Don't think they're expecting us no-how. You ready?

Ben: Lets just be smart about this. watch your step and move quietly, you understand?

Bob: Aw shoot, we need a light. Do you see anything we can use?

Dealer: A lantern hangs above your head, it has some oil, just needs a spark.

Ben: Bad idea, Hank. They'll see us coming for sure. We'll just have to move carefully. Watch your step, and lets move.

Dealer: There's a chance you'll make some noise that may be heard, lotsa stuff everywhere and it's hard to see.

::mechanic:: both successful

Ben: Just shy of the widening I lean up against the wall behind a beam. and peer inside.

Bob: I do the same, on the other side of the hall.

Dealer: In the center of the room is a fire, above it the ceiling tapers up to an opening through which you can see the night sky. In the far side of the room a small table at which two men are sitting, playing cards. behind each man is an exit out of the room. A third man is falling asleep to the right of the fire.

Ben: I ready my revolver and nod to Hank. Here we go.

Bob: I put the shotgun butt against my shoulder and put one finger on each trigger. On your mark, Cecil.

Ben: I move into the opening of the room, to the left of the fire, and point my pistol at the man sitting in the left chair. My finger is against my lips, motioning him to be silent.

Bob: I move in also, to the right of the flame, and point my shottie at the man sitting to the right.

Dealer: How agile is Hank?

Bob: He's, well he's not. at all.

::mechanic:: failure

Dealer: While hank rushes forward he accidentally kicks the sleeping man's foot. The sleeping man wakes up, see's the intruders, shouts "what the devil!?" and reaches for his gun.

Bob: I turn the shotgun on the woken man and pull one trigger. My appropriate skill is "gunfighting" at the professional level.

::mechanic:: success

Dealer: You blast the guy in the chest with triple-ought buckshot. A surprised look on his face. He's not going to be anymore trouble for you. The man sitting to the right gets up from his chair to dash toward the exit on his side. The man on the left puts his hands in the air, a horrified look on his face.

Ben: I turn the gun and fire at the man running away from the table. I use my marksmanship skill to put him down.

Dealer: your character is a rich man's son, never been in a real fight in his life. The action you are performing is unfamiliar-- you can hit targets all day long, but you've never dreamed of being in a gunfight, so your action will be penalized a little.

::mechanic:: slight failure

Dealer: the man takes a bullet in the arm, but it doesn't slow him down much. He reaches the doorway. The sleeping man is dead. The guy with his hands up puts his hands down.

Bob: I turn my shotgun and fire at the man Cecil just shot in the arm.

::mechanic:: major success

Dealer: Your buckshot strikes the man in the back of the head, removing it from the rest of his skull. The rest of his body disappears into the doorway as he falls.

Ben: I point my gun at the man sitting at the table.

Bob: I drop my shotgun and ready my rifle.

Dealer: the man at the table produces a gun of his own, and brings it to bare, as you try to bring your weapon on him.

::mechanic:: failure (cecil)
::mechanic:: slight failure (man)

Dealer: You panic and shoot too early, missing the man entirely. He also panics and aims too low, grazing your shin.

Ben: I drop to my back and ready the pistol for another shot.

Dealer: The man stands up and points his weapon at your head.

Bob: I fire my rifle at the man's face.

::Mechanic:: great success Hank
::mechanic:: failure Cecil
::mechanic:: success standing man

Dealer: Cecil fires a shot as he falls to his back, the shot is way off, the man steadies his aim, but before he can get his sure shot off, a 30-30 bullet makes a small hole in the right side of his face, and the left side of his head is blown to smithereens. He collapses, gun still in hand with the hammer yet cocked back.

Bob: wow. um, close one. Wanna help me up, Hank?

Ben: Sure thing, friend. take my hand.

Dealer: A voice thunders from the hall "Jim you said you was gonna tell us if them coyotes came back! You better have left some sport for the rest of us!" The sound of many boots in full stride can be heard coming from the hall to the right.

Bob: I charge my lever action, and point it at entryway.

Ben: I take the dead man's revolver and do the same, one revolver in each hand.

Bob: Ready Cecil?

Ben: Yeah, sure.

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etothepowerofx
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2010, 04:26:16 PM »

oh, and my name is Reuben.
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stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2010, 10:44:48 PM »

Hmm, not really.  Ill freely admit that I cant split hairs with GNS either, but laymans terms, this is my understanding -

It depends on what the group is trying to get out of the game... where they think the fun is.

If they think the fun is getting their character to perform.. to challenge, plan, overcome and win, then they are enjoying gameiness.

If they think the fun is immersing themselves in an imaginary situation, then they are enjoying siminess.

If they think the fun is in having what unfolds turn out to be 'a proper story' then they are enjoying nariness.  [note: 'proper story' is very open to interpretation.  To me it means that the story is more than just a series of events that happened, even if the events individually were pretty cool.  A 'proper' story means that the events connect/relate in such a way that they are more than the sum of their parts -- that there is something to appreciate about the series of events _above_ what occurred in each one.]

So it doesnt really have anything to do with the mechanics leading the story or vice versa, although certain mechanics reinforce or hinder a style of play.   

and obviously you can experience all three types of fun in the same game at once.  What type of game you are playing is probably better defined by what type of fun isnt occuring. 

wow, a lot to take in. I'm going to research the definition of gamism more-- my impression was that a game is "gamist" if you can learn how to play the mechanics and do well, and not have to worry so much about the context, whereas in a narrativeist game, knowing the context and the story is what helps you make good decisions, and the dice or card mechanics are sort of ad-hoc, subjectively administrated by the GM to fit with the story.  Simulationist would then be a cross between the two, where the mechanics try to imitate the story and give realistic results, and the story can be easily adapted to the mechanics, 'cause there is a rule for every possible situation in the story.

Maybe this isn't right, but it's how I've come to understand it.

If you can fight a battle without narrative (or much of it), kinda like a strategy war game or a card game or whatever, then it's gamist.
If the story dictates how the characters are able to move and interact and rulings are made on-the-fly depending on the story, then it's narrativeist.
And if the mechanics are designed to fit precisely with a particular genre, and are interchangeable with storyline elements, then it's simulationist.

As far as the raise, bid, ante fold mechanic, according to my understanding, that would be kinda gamist, because a player can play the game with all the information he needs already available to him in his hand. He just narrates character actions every time he makes a move, but those actions which are described don't actually mean anything in terms of gameplay. whether he says "my character runs toward his opponent firing his lever action rifle from the hip" or "my character runs left through the clearing toward the covered wagon while firing his lever action from the shoulder" doesn't make a difference if the same cards are being played, or the same about is being bid, or the same player action is being done.

If however the player says "my character is going to charge forward, guns blazing." and then the dealer says "all right, according to your ability to perform that action (level 3 gunslinger and +1 because you're a fast runner), here are your 4 cards to play against your opponent's 3 cards (he has a level 4 marksmanship ability but -1 to violent encounters on account of him being a coward)". Then it's narrativist. The story determines the mechanics, not the other way around.

A simulationist would be more like "here is a map of the combat area. Your character is behind this barrel, and your opponent is behind the corner of this building. if you move forward, you'll take seven steps to move diagonally around the barrel, and then 5 steps for each square you move through straight-on. while firing you suffer a -2 penalty to your aim, because you are moving. you also suffer a -2 penalty to your speed because you are firing. Your agility is 31 so you can make 31 actions per round. each step counts as one, each shot counts as three, (charge the weapon, quick-aim, fire), When you run out of actions, your turn is over. Your opponent is pinned down by suppressive fire, so he suffers a -3 penalty to attack (which is rate of fire + cowardice). Given his position he has a +4 bonus to flee, because he can do so away from your line of sight by moving along the building he's hiding behind."
In this case, an excellent knowledge of both the rules and the narrative are essential.

simulationist is the best possible system in terms of meaningful rules, but requires entirely too much calculation and is best handled by a computer.
gamist can be played like a strategy game, simple rules and simple results, kinda hard for the player to by dynamic or do anything imaginative. They player must add narrative within the confines of the results of the dice mechanic.
narrative allows the story to take precedence and set the pace for the mechanics, but at the expense of objectiveness, can be very biased if not handled properly.

I need to figure out if my thinking is right, and if not i need to correct it, then decide precisely WHAT sort of system I'm trying to create. After that, I can move forward. Until then, how wrong am I?

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