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Author Topic: card-based mechanic for cowboy genre  (Read 6821 times)
Simon C
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Posts: 495


« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2010, 01:00:05 AM »

Yeesh.  I think it would be better if people stopped talking about GNS at all.  It's not helping anyone, and all these weird interpretations of it are just going to get people hopelessly confused.

Reuben,

Hi! Thanks for that description.  So, from your description I'm getting that you want a game that's kind of D&D with cowboys.  Does that sound right? The players make tactical choices on behalf of their characters, based on what attributes those characters have.  Out of combat, the mechanics are a way of pacing the story, but they don't have strong consequences.  In combat, the mechanics have more significant consequences.

Does that sound right?
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Excalibur
Member

Posts: 94


« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2010, 08:54:59 AM »

Hey, Reuben.

Based on what you've got in your description and in the play script, I'd say that I have to agree with Simon. It looks like you've got a D&D-like game with cowboys but the "mechanic" is only really important during dramatic situations such as tracking over rough terrain and combat.

I have to ask: When you think of westerns, do you think of the Spaghetti Westerns that were popular in the 60s? With John Wayne and Clint Eastwood in shows such as Gunsmoke?

If so, why don't you take a look at the cinematic style of these types of shows and try to mimic that with your game mechanics. Usually, anything that wasn't stressful was automatically a success or failure. The failures were often comical and sometimes were where grudges began. Rarely, outside of a dramatic moment was death or injury even considered. Life was not easy, by any stretch of the imagination, but the heroes in these shows made it seem that way.

Assuming that you are referring to Spaghetti Westerns, let's look at some of the elements of your task resolution via cards ideas. I think stefoid hit the nail on the head when he (assuming maleness, sorry) suggested treating the game like poker in all of its aspects. Poker has a wide variety of different win/loss situations that would make this type of resolution pretty interesting.

First, a character creation suggestion. I think it might be a good idea to give your characters aspects that tie them to the genre. Additionally, I think you should take the idea of poker to the level of character creation as well, afterall, "That's the hand I was dealt when I was born." It would be interesting if you did some research into the descriptions given to spaghetti westerns and cowboys in general and try to come up with 5 descriptive aspects that all characters should have. Each of these 5 aspects gets dealt a card and there you have your character, all fleshed out. The interesting thing is this: leave the Jokers in the deck. If someone ends up with an aspect ranked as a Joker, then that fellow is a Wild Card and really, really good at that particular aspect (though only one joker should be allowed. Redraw if you find a second one).

Now, on to the game mechanics...As stefoid suggested before, everyone starts with 5 cards in their hand. When task resolution is required, they match cards in their hand with the aspect governing the task. So, if you had an aspect called "Gunslinger" with a rank of 10 of spades and you had a hand that would be a royal straight flush of spades if not for that pesky 2 of hearts taking up the 10 of spades' slot, you could disregard that 2 and use your Gunslinger rank. But only if the task has something to do with guns in general.

This might also have connotations towards cheating at poker, having a card up your sleeve so to speak. During almost every poker scene in those old shows, there was always someone who was a cheat and had an ace up their sleeve (the trick was to not get caught...heh and this is where that saying came from, btw). So your aspects could be considered the "Ace up your sleeve" for succeeding.

As for "hit points" I would say this: You can't play poker without risking something. stefoid mentioned bidding, ante, etc. Well, what if you continued with the whole poker motif? Get yourself a set of poker chips and have characters "buy in" for their starting health? Most people might be able to start with 10 dollars and rich folk up to 20. When you do a task resolution, you ante, bid, call, raise, etc. upping the stakes until the showdown when everyone reveals their hands.

The stakes that were bid would be equal to the amount of effort put into the task and represent the amount of hurt you put on your opponents. Of course, if you lose, you'll end up with less to bid next time, and so on until you're broke. At which point, you might allow the player to "cash in" one of his drawable cards for another 10 dollars. If the player whittles his character down to zero draws, the character is dead or dying. Of course, you could allow the character to rest and heal, get second winds, etc. to bring his hand back up to 5 and with a full pot of cash (doing odd jobs and the like).

So, your hit points are built into how well the character can do in the game.

Oh, and you could treat the game like Texas Hold 'em where the cards the "dealer" plays to the community are the environment and each player can match their hand to make the best use of that terrain...

Just some ideas that sprang up after reading through the post and its replies.
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-Curt
Excalibur
Member

Posts: 94


« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2010, 09:12:49 AM »

Found this in Google's cache if you wanted a quick read about cowboys and some of the qualities/traits that they might have: http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache:oh06-KjtOyAJ:www.suite101.com/article.cfm/rodeo_and_cowboys/79509+cowboy+traits&cd=46&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
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-Curt
stefoid
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2010, 02:58:22 PM »

If you think of your bets as well, they are called 'stakes' arent they?   the players decide if they are up for a low stakes contest or a high stakes contest.  the nature of what the stakes resolve to when you loose depends on the situation - what the winner and looser are trying to do in the contest. 

If they are trying to shoot each other, then I guess loosing a high stakes shooting contest means you get plugged. 

If you are trying to sneak past someone, the stakes from low to high could go from abandoning your attempt before you do get spotted all the way to getting captured just as you are about to get past. 

In an emotion charged showdown, the same thing - from backing down without loosing face to being made to look like a yellow-bellied fool.

Hey, Reuben.
As for "hit points" I would say this: You can't play poker without risking something. stefoid mentioned bidding, ante, etc. Well, what if you continued with the whole poker motif? Get yourself a set of poker chips and have characters "buy in" for their starting health? Most people might be able to start with 10 dollars and rich folk up to 20. When you do a task resolution, you ante, bid, call, raise, etc. upping the stakes until the showdown when everyone reveals their hands.

The stakes that were bid would be equal to the amount of effort put into the task and represent the amount of hurt you put on your opponents. Of course, if you lose, you'll end up with less to bid next time, and so on until you're broke. At which point, you might allow the player to "cash in" one of his drawable cards for another 10 dollars. If the player whittles his character down to zero draws, the character is dead or dying. Of course, you could allow the character to rest and heal, get second winds, etc. to bring his hand back up to 5 and with a full pot of cash (doing odd jobs and the like).

So, your hit points are built into how well the character can do in the game.

Oh, and you could treat the game like Texas Hold 'em where the cards the "dealer" plays to the community are the environment and each player can match their hand to make the best use of that terrain...

Just some ideas that sprang up after reading through the post and its replies.
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stefoid
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2010, 03:01:51 PM »

Oh, and I should add that playing an actual hand of cards in a long process, as opposed to just rolling a dice.  therefore it is suited to conflict resolution, rather than task resolution which is what you are doing in your example.  If you like task resolution then anything except the simplest of card contests is going to get real old.  If task res vs conflict res doesnt make sense to you, look it up at the forge, or someone here can probably explain it better than I.
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etothepowerofx
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Posts: 11


« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2010, 04:51:37 PM »

see, here I thought the whole point of GMS was to emphasis that you simply CANNOT create a game which appeals to all three simultaneously, and if you tried, you'd end up with a convoluted mess of a game where half the rules need to be ignored to make it playable....
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stefoid
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« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2010, 05:13:46 PM »

I like the idea of a 'reputation' stat for this game, so when you are facing off against someone in a battle of wills, you use it.  And it goes up and down when you win or loose.
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Excalibur
Member

Posts: 94


« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2010, 10:04:00 PM »

Oh, and I should add that playing an actual hand of cards in a long process, as opposed to just rolling a dice.  therefore it is suited to conflict resolution, rather than task resolution which is what you are doing in your example.  If you like task resolution then anything except the simplest of card contests is going to get real old.  If task res vs conflict res doesnt make sense to you, look it up at the forge, or someone here can probably explain it better than I.

Task resolution should be high card: cut the deck and add to appropriate stat.

Conflict resolution would be the poker hands.

I like the idea of a 'reputation' stat for this game, so when you are facing off against someone in a battle of wills, you use it.  And it goes up and down when you win or loose.

"He's the rootenist, tootenist, slick-ole, yellow-belly ya ever did see..."

I would say that rep would be a good stat. Maybe it could act a bit like luck or some bonus? The higher your rep, the easier some things become such as opponents fleeing because they're facing Old-Snake One-Eye, or they're able to bluff a hand to win a conflict resolution. That might be fun.
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-Curt
stefoid
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« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2010, 10:31:28 PM »

see, here I thought the whole point of GMS was to emphasis that you simply CANNOT create a game which appeals to all three simultaneously, and if you tried, you'd end up with a convoluted mess of a game where half the rules need to be ignored to make it playable....

Whatever the rules are, it is possible to enjoy all aspects at once with any given game.  Like, there are gamey aspects to rooting for your character to win against adversity.  there are simy aspects to any roleplaying game where you are putting yourself in an imaginary situation.  and you can try to build a narative in in any game you play. 

Probably people have a preference for a particular style of play, and will seek out games that are designed to facilitate that style of play, but it doesn't mean they aren't enjoying other aspects at the same time.
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stefoid
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2010, 10:42:26 PM »

Quote
"He's the rootenist, tootenist, slick-ole, yellow-belly ya ever did see..."

I would say that rep would be a good stat. Maybe it could act a bit like luck or some bonus? The higher your rep, the easier some things become such as opponents fleeing because they're facing Old-Snake One-Eye, or they're able to bluff a hand to win a conflict resolution. That might be fun.

If you make your skill (in this case rep) related to the number of replacement cards you can draw, then a character with a high rep is likely to have a much better hand than a character with a low rep, so his bluffs are likely to carry a lot more weight in a faceoff conflict.  Thats not to say that a character with no rep cant bluff in the contest, or even get a sweet hand - just that its less likely.
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Excalibur
Member

Posts: 94


« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2010, 11:41:40 PM »

I guess, in a way, you could say that Reputation could be the "level" of the character. Only in this game, level is a transient thing because damage to your reputation would make it more difficult to get things done.

Just a brief thought that smacked me in the forehead...
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-Curt
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #26 on: March 02, 2010, 03:27:06 AM »

I have to agree with Simon about the GNS verbiage flying around in this thread - not only are you guys mostly using it ass-backwards, but it seems to me that it's also not contributing to the game design problem at hand, either. This is just a suggestion, but wouldn't it make sense to start new threads in the actual play subforum for learning about GNS and applying it to practical gaming?

As for the actual issue, I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned Dust Devils here. Seems to me like this seminal western rpg overlaps many of the ideas mentioned here. Might be useful to check it out to see how it implements the notion of cards-based western roleplaying.
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stefoid
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« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2010, 04:18:04 AM »

As for the actual issue, I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned Dust Devils here. Seems to me like this seminal western rpg overlaps many of the ideas mentioned here. Might be useful to check it out to see how it implements the notion of cards-based western roleplaying.

Just had a look at Dust Devils.  No bluffing?
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2010, 04:42:30 AM »

Just had a look at Dust Devils.  No bluffing?

Well, there's a sort of bluffing as an emergent phenomenon: in a conflict, once the players have drawn their hands, any player may opt to pay a chip to withdraw from the conflict. As the game has one of the most lethal death spirals out there, smart players tend to use this option pretty liberally whenever the fictional conditions allow (withdrawing from a conflict postpones resolution in the fiction, which might not always be a good thing). In practice this looks like bluffing, as each player has to estimate how good their hand is in comparison with the others. As players can pay chips for various effects during the conflict, they have the means for signalling their hand strength to the others, too.

It's a very clever system; overall it's still one of my favourites ever.
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stefoid
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« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2010, 12:02:15 PM »

Just had a look at Dust Devils.  No bluffing?

Well, there's a sort of bluffing as an emergent phenomenon: in a conflict, once the players have drawn their hands, any player may opt to pay a chip to withdraw from the conflict. As the game has one of the most lethal death spirals out there, smart players tend to use this option pretty liberally whenever the fictional conditions allow (withdrawing from a conflict postpones resolution in the fiction, which might not always be a good thing). In practice this looks like bluffing, as each player has to estimate how good their hand is in comparison with the others. As players can pay chips for various effects during the conflict, they have the means for signalling their hand strength to the others, too.

It's a very clever system; overall it's still one of my favourites ever.

spending to withdraw from the contest sounds counter-intuitive.  I guess you have to suck it and see.
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