*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 23, 2014, 11:03:39 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 61 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: A Luckless, Escalation-driven System  (Read 1055 times)
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« on: April 02, 2010, 08:22:27 AM »

Ok, so, I'm working on an idea and I figure rather than keeping it to myself and hoping for the best, I'd see if I could gather some opinions.

This is a system that is greatly inspired by Dogs in the Vineyard, which will probably be obvious in some ways. However, I'm looking to make something that can really encompass more than a moral puzzle--I'd like to be able to run an action oriented campaign as well as something more subtle.

Anyway, here are a few of the major aspects of the system that I'd like some opinions/comments on. It should be noted that, at the moment, I am aiming for a completely Luckless system. So any ideas on how to keep Luckless from being completely predictable would be appreciated as well.

INTENT
Every action you take in a conflict with an opposing force has an intent. There are 4 possible Intents.

> Persuade (Talking, yelling, seducing)
> Force (Pushing, Pulling, Mind Control)
> Wound/Damage
> Kill/Destroy

This aspect is definitely inspired by Dogs, however, rather than Dogs where simply using a knife means you can't deal "lethal" damage dice, or using a gun means you automatically are, this system deals specifically with the Intent of the action.

So you're going to hit someone with a baseball bat--Are you trying to knock them out or knock their head off? That's where the difference lies.

TENSION
Tension is a major aspect of the system, and one that I think could really make for some interesting situations.

Essentially, each scene has its own level of Tension, and a percentage of that Tension will carry over into the next scene.

Tension relates to how much damage the aforementioned Intents do. So, if a scene has low Tension, you are less likely to be able to kill Major Characters, while also being less likely to die yourself.

Tension raises in a few different ways.
1) Using Potential (action points) equal or greater than the Tension Level. So, if the Tension is at 3 and you use a 3-point action, the Tension will move to 4.

2) The first time each character draws a weapon will increase the Tension level by 1.

3) Advancing to the next level of Intent will increase the Tension level by 1.

Essentially you have the choice, much like in DitV, of keeping things calm and collected, but possibly failing the conflict, or escalating the situation at the cost of quite a few things.

POTENTIAL
A character is made up of their Potential. And in this system, Potential serves a few uses. It acts as the building blocks for characters, making up their "experience" which can be converted into Traits (ala DitV traits) or kept nebulous to be expended in more flexible ways (at a higher conversion rate.)

Beyond Character Potential, however, there is also Scene Potential, which is generated at the beginning of a Scene but is then added to by the actions of the Characters. Scene Potential is used in the Shaping Mechanic.

SHAPING
Shaping is a major part of the system. It allows both players and the GM to shape the game world as they see fit by expending Scene Potential.

For example, say that there is a dumpster in the scene. A player could expend Scene Potential to give that dumpster a trait like "Good Cover (5)" and then use it to hide, protecting from an attack. The trait is now stuck on the dumpster, however, and someone else could end up using said trait against him later on.

The players would have the option of shaping anything that makes sense. If they were in a mob bosses office, it would be reasonable to pull a gun from a drawer, while if you were in the middle of the desert, that might not be quite as feasible.

TRAITS
A Character is made up of Traits. Traits are similar to DitV in that they are what is used to determine the character's resources in a conflict.

This is something I haven't completely worked out yet.

My first option is that each character can only expend a trait once per Conflict.

My second thought is a sort of recharge rate--say you had a Trait at 5. You could spend as much of that Trait as you wanted, but would only regenerate 1 point of it per turn.

Either way, without dice being rolled, its a matter of actually figuring out how to determine a hit in a conflict, which is an obstacle I haven't quite conquered yet.
Logged
Mobius
Member

Posts: 46


« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2010, 02:00:02 PM »

Quote
SHAPING
Shaping is a major part of the system. It allows both players and the GM to shape the game world as they see fit by expending Scene Potential.

For example, say that there is a dumpster in the scene. A player could expend Scene Potential to give that dumpster a trait like "Good Cover (5)" and then use it to hide, protecting from an attack. The trait is now stuck on the dumpster, however, and someone else could end up using said trait against him later on.

The players would have the option of shaping anything that makes sense. If they were in a mob bosses office, it would be reasonable to pull a gun from a drawer, while if you were in the middle of the desert, that might not be quite as feasible.

I really like this idea.  It gives the players a way to have creative input but sets limits on what they can do. 
Logged

Mobius a.k.a Charles
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2010, 05:00:57 PM »

Quote
SHAPING
Shaping is a major part of the system. It allows both players and the GM to shape the game world as they see fit by expending Scene Potential.

For example, say that there is a dumpster in the scene. A player could expend Scene Potential to give that dumpster a trait like "Good Cover (5)" and then use it to hide, protecting from an attack. The trait is now stuck on the dumpster, however, and someone else could end up using said trait against him later on.

The players would have the option of shaping anything that makes sense. If they were in a mob bosses office, it would be reasonable to pull a gun from a drawer, while if you were in the middle of the desert, that might not be quite as feasible.

I really like this idea.  It gives the players a way to have creative input but sets limits on what they can do. 

Its what has led to me referring to this system as "sticky-note rpg" in my head, heh. Since you can write down the objects names on sticky notes and just jot down traits as they come up. I really wanted something where the players could shape the world while not jeopardizing the GMs story.

I'm also leaning towards Scene Potential being the PCs source of XP, essentially. So, when the scene ends, they split the Scene Potential or something--thus, using it to shape the story to their advantage takes away from their end rewards.
Logged
Mobius
Member

Posts: 46


« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2010, 05:53:13 PM »

Quote
I'm also leaning towards Scene Potential being the PCs source of XP, essentially. So, when the scene ends, they split the Scene Potential or something--thus, using it to shape the story to their advantage takes away from their end rewards.

While of course it is your game I'd think you would want to encourage creative use of Scene Potential.  To me at least it seems like a large source of fun. I'd consider a system or rewarding imaginative uses that add to everyone's enjoyment instead.
Logged

Mobius a.k.a Charles
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2010, 06:01:21 PM »

Well, the idea is to curb abuse of the system. If I didn't have it drain on them somehow, it could get kind of out of hand, I'd worry.

By allowing it to be a choice, I can increase the amount of Scene Potential available, allowing the potential for more improvisation, rather than being forced to restrict the amount of SP just to keep the players from cheesing their way through every challenge.

Obviously I'm willing to consider either way, but my gut tells me that without a trade-off, it'd be abused.
Logged
PeterBB
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2010, 09:44:33 AM »

I am very intrigued by this proposal. DitV has great mechanics, and I would love a good extension of it.

My question is about the luckless part. What is your motivation there? I think a little randomness makes for better stories, because it allows for more emergent activity. It's also more "realistic" if that matters to you.
Logged
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2010, 11:12:39 AM »

I am very intrigued by this proposal. DitV has great mechanics, and I would love a good extension of it.

My question is about the luckless part. What is your motivation there? I think a little randomness makes for better stories, because it allows for more emergent activity. It's also more "realistic" if that matters to you.

I've just always been more of a fan of Chess than Risk, I guess. If that makes sense.

But on top of that, its more of how I picture things like combat in my head. Generally someone doesn't just miss. The defender almost always has an active role in his not getting offed--if the defender doesn't interfere, then the attacker is likely (at least realistically) going to hit him. Luck isn't going to magically make him punch thin air, ya know?

However, realizing that a Luckless system is going to have issues, I did come up with a potential Dice Mechanic, which I then proceeded to post in the [Sticky-Note] Dice Mechanic thread that's floating right near this one.
Logged
dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


WWW
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2010, 08:02:49 AM »

SAW,
  I am with mobius on this one. I think that you should encourage players to become more active in setting up the scene and adding more detail. Maybe the limiter should be that the points go to another player. That way you can't have one person hogging the scene embellishment every time. Or make the GM us SP points as well and the points the players use, go to him and the points that the GM use go to a pool the players can use to add detail.
  Or maybe, after they are spent they go into a pool that players can award to other players for adding something special to a scene?
  I don't think you have to worry about abuse. besides, that is more of a social contract issue than an issue that can be solved by rules, right?
Logged

Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
horomancer
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2010, 10:09:08 AM »

Read all the forum threads you can on Nevercast for some thoughts on diceless system mechanics. Good stuff there, but even Ar Kayon uses a d4 for certain events that have more chance to them than others.
Your combat example is a good illustration. If you stand still and I punch at you, i have such a high chance to hit you that it is simply a given that i will. Now if you stand still and I throw a rock at you from 20 ft away, there is a significant chance that I will miss you. It's not for certain however, so having a luckless system where i go from hitting you 100% of the time, then change the range slightly and go to hitting you 0% of the time doesn't make much sense.
Having some mechanic for luck in your system can also cover the unintended. Back to combat, what are the chances that when I go to punch you i trip over my own feet and fall flat on my face? Very low, but i have in fact tripped over my feet at some point in the past and there isn't anything to say i won't do it right at a crucial moment like punching someone.
I can't see you having a game without any luck aspect without it being very complex so that the possible perumations to decide who wins or loses is so mind boggling that players can't think all the way ahead to the conclusion till they've already made their action.
Logged
stefoid
Member

Posts: 319


WWW
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2010, 09:54:26 PM »

Hi.   Can you give an example of how you see it playing out?  Like,  Fred wants to take Bob's bag of lollies, but Bob opposes it.  What ways can that play out in your system?
Logged

Shimera9
Member

Posts: 26


« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2010, 05:25:32 AM »

It should be noted that, at the moment, I am aiming for a completely Luckless system. So any ideas on how to keep Luckless from being completely predictable would be appreciated as well.

Would a "guess your opponent's move" approach work for you?  The classic "rock paper scissors" contest is semi-random but you may be able to get better odds if you can read your opponent.  A similar result could be gotten by jotting moves down on cards and revealing them at the same time.  You could then either have preset guidelines for which move wins or have a third party act as referee.

Another approach I've seen is using resource points to win.  A variant of that would be higher skill wins, but a character can pump their skill by making a sacrifice or accepting a penalty.  This can be combined with blind bids so opponents never really know how high the other player will go until the reveal.

That's what occurs to me off the top of my head.  Horomancer pointed out some other good leads.

Generally someone doesn't just miss. The defender almost always has an active role in his not getting offed--if the defender doesn't interfere, then the attacker is likely (at least realistically) going to hit him. Luck isn't going to magically make him punch thin air, ya know?

Two points here:
1) It's true that at point blank range even a wild swing can fall within the area of a human frame.  Thus much of the chance of failure actually comes from the targets ability to defend.  However, whether or not the target does manage to react and mount a defense before the attack hits is not always certain.
2) This applies less with ranged combat.  At greater ranges, the chance to miss becomes significant but the attacks involved tend to be harder to react and defend against, so the determining factor swings back toward attacker accuracy.

Essentially, each scene has its own level of Tension, and a percentage of that Tension will carry over into the next scene.

So tension builds up with each scene and the only way to "put on the breaks" is inserting some low tension scenes? Does each scene have it's own tension level which carry over is added to or does the carry over just get used as the starting tension?

Tension relates to how much damage the aforementioned Intents do. So, if a scene has low Tension, you are less likely to be able to kill Major Characters, while also being less likely to die yourself.

It looks like high tension screens are more risky but let you spend more potential without escalating things.  I take it that means high tension scenes are encouraging high powered actions.

My first option is that each character can only expend a trait once per Conflict.

My second thought is a sort of recharge rate--say you had a Trait at 5. You could spend as much of that Trait as you wanted, but would only regenerate 1 point of it per turn.[/quote]

Personally I like action dependent recharge, especially if you can tie it to character hooks and advantages.  The Fate system does a nice job of that.

I think a big question here is what kind of flow you want.  Without recharge you're looking at conflicts where opponents can get exhausted and may have to preform at traitless level.  This makes strategically conserving resources more valuable, especially if you can trick opponent into wasting theirs.

With automatic recharge, you ensure a certain minimal level of trait performance but make dropping even lower to build up power a valid tactic.

Another option is letting the trait level determine how many uses you get.  On way of handling that is letting the trait be invoked a number of times equal to it's level for a success.  Another option is saying each time a trait is used it degrades by 1 rank.  Thus you can use higher level traits more, but each use gives you less of an advantage.

Well, the idea is to curb abuse of the system. If I didn't have it drain on them somehow, it could get kind of out of hand, I'd worry.

I get your concern, but I'd be leery of tieing it your advancement mechanics.  I know when this kind of thing is done with personal xp reserves it can create a feedback loop.  The common cycle is players that stunt a lot have less xp so their traits grow less.  As a result they need stunting to make up for being behind on traits, which further stunts their growth.

You may be able to get around this by drawing on a shared resource.  However, in that case expect any use of this ability to be debated by the group as it drains everyone's resources and ability to progress.

Another way you could limit it is with a backlash mechanism.  For example, perhaps when one side invokes shaping they give their opponents an equal number of points to do the same.  That way if one side tries pulling out an advantage, the other side can do so to.  That could tie in nicely with the escalation theme you've got going.

Another thing you could do is let players expend traits on shaping, thus effectively transforming traits in play.  This could also be a way to bring some oddball traits into play.  For example, architectural knowledge could be expended to "find" a niche in the wall that acts as cover.
Logged
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2010, 08:07:54 AM »

Would a "guess your opponent's move" approach work for you?  The classic "rock paper scissors" contest is semi-random but you may be able to get better odds if you can read your opponent.  A similar result could be gotten by jotting moves down on cards and revealing them at the same time.  You could then either have preset guidelines for which move wins or have a third party act as referee.

Another approach I've seen is using resource points to win.  A variant of that would be higher skill wins, but a character can pump their skill by making a sacrifice or accepting a penalty.  This can be combined with blind bids so opponents never really know how high the other player will go until the reveal.

That's what occurs to me off the top of my head.  Horomancer pointed out some other good leads.

I think I've decided to go with a dice mechanic that puts the burden on the GM.

Essentially the Players, when attacking, will make a "Push" with a set number of points (by combining traits and shaped items) against skill challenges or monsters. Each challenge will have a dice pool, any amount of which the GM can roll in response to the Player's Push. If any of those dice come up 1's, the die is considered "broken" and removed from the pool. The player's win when the challenge's dice pool is exhausted.

For Skill Challenges (like climbing a cliff or something), the Challenge "fights back" with those same rolls. So, if a player Pushes for 10, but the Challenge dice come up 15, then that player will have to put forward some more traits to overcome that, while getting to narrate how the attempt went a little wrong.

"Monsters" I'm thinking will have a second pool of dice to roll for their attacks independent of their defense roll.

Quote
So tension builds up with each scene and the only way to "put on the breaks" is inserting some low tension scenes? Does each scene have it's own tension level which carry over is added to or does the carry over just get used as the starting tension?

A portion of the Tension carries over, so, maybe half the ending Tension of Scene A will be the Starting Tension of Scene B. So yeah, to put the breaks on you'd have to have a scene with lower tension--but that may not always be possible given the situation.

Quote
It looks like high tension screens are more risky but let you spend more potential without escalating things.  I take it that means high tension scenes are encouraging high powered actions.

That's the idea, so that the big, climactic fights really will feel bigger and more climactic than all the other fights you had to go through to get there.

Quote
Personally I like action dependent recharge, especially if you can tie it to character hooks and advantages.  The Fate system does a nice job of that.

I think a big question here is what kind of flow you want.  Without recharge you're looking at conflicts where opponents can get exhausted and may have to preform at traitless level.  This makes strategically conserving resources more valuable, especially if you can trick opponent into wasting theirs.

With automatic recharge, you ensure a certain minimal level of trait performance but make dropping even lower to build up power a valid tactic.

Another option is letting the trait level determine how many uses you get.  On way of handling that is letting the trait be invoked a number of times equal to it's level for a success.  Another option is saying each time a trait is used it degrades by 1 rank.  Thus you can use higher level traits more, but each use gives you less of an advantage.

I really like either of those last two options. Especially maybe mixed with a recharge that happens when you break an enemy's dice. Each dice you break lets you add one charge back to one trait. Hmmm.

Quote
I get your concern, but I'd be leery of tieing it your advancement mechanics.  I know when this kind of thing is done with personal xp reserves it can create a feedback loop.  The common cycle is players that stunt a lot have less xp so their traits grow less.  As a result they need stunting to make up for being behind on traits, which further stunts their growth.

That's a good point. And I was planning on having stunts tied to personal XP as a backup sort of thing. Like, you can either give yourself a Trait for something, or, if you're in some bizarre situation with no good Traits, you can throw XP at it to give yourself the win where you might not have otherwise managed it.

I'll have to take a look at it though.

Quote
You may be able to get around this by drawing on a shared resource.  However, in that case expect any use of this ability to be debated by the group as it drains everyone's resources and ability to progress.

It was originally a shared resource, but you're right--in my head, the players would prefer being able to shape a car into existence that runs into the monster chasing them down the street at the cost of a little xp. But in reality, it'd probably create quite a bit of arguments. I think that DitV has skewed my thinking here, where "XP" isn't quite the same.

Quote
Another way you could limit it is with a backlash mechanism.  For example, perhaps when one side invokes shaping they give their opponents an equal number of points to do the same.  That way if one side tries pulling out an advantage, the other side can do so to.  That could tie in nicely with the escalation theme you've got going.

This was something I had already thought about. My only issue with it is that, say, someone uses shaping to create cover, and then someone else uses shaping to wipe that cover out. Example: One side shapes hiding behind a car. The other side then shapes another car hitting the first car, making it unsuitable cover, or something.

Does that make it sort of pointless? Or is the imagery worth it?

Quote
Another thing you could do is let players expend traits on shaping, thus effectively transforming traits in play.  This could also be a way to bring some oddball traits into play.  For example, architectural knowledge could be expended to "find" a niche in the wall that acts as cover.

This is a really good idea, and one I definitely think I'll use. Maybe though using a Trait in this manner completely exhausts it for the scene, rather than just taking out one charge.
Logged
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2010, 10:03:38 AM »

So, now as I'm pretty set on going with a die mechanic, I'm starting to wonder how players will react to not being the ones rolling the dice.

Do you think it will be accepted if the players aren't responsible for any die rolling? If they get to push forward an exact amount so that they know exactly what they are wagering, is that enough participation? Or is giving the GM all the rolling going to make the players feel too passive?

The idea is that the players get to narrate their attack and then push forward with the amount of points they want to represent that attack. The GM would then roll the dice to determine the results. The players would then get to narrate the wounds they deal out or the bad guys they kill.

Part of the reason I'm aiming for this approach is to possibly allow a GM-less option for the occasional dungeon-crawl (or even a communal story-telling experience because no one has to necessarily be "in charge"), but also because I really want the players to feel completely in control of what their characters are doing. They are going to be able to perfectly gauge their character's attack and defense potential--they just have no say over how their opponents are going to react.

To me, this feels like it'll be fun and refreshing (and even a bit more realistic), as in D&D I know it always seems strange that a goblin is always going to mount the exact same level of defense, and if I miss, its because my character decided to suddenly become clumsy or forget his years of fighting experience.

I'm just looking for on an opinion if you all think that that still gives the players enough to feel like they are active participants in the battle? I don't want it to feel like a passive experience.
Logged
horomancer
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2010, 10:47:24 AM »

Seems to be a mute point. If a player rolls or the GM rolls (or another player for that matter) the result is the same. It's something that could be determined by the people playing.
Logged
SAW
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2010, 11:00:35 AM »

Seems to be a mute point. If a player rolls or the GM rolls (or another player for that matter) the result is the same. It's something that could be determined by the people playing.

That's something I hadn't actually thought about. Whether the player is saying "I bet 20" and then rolls the dice to see if he rolls under his bet to "win" or bets 20 and the GM attempts to roll over the player's bet to win, it is pretty much the same thing.

And then either way the GM just rolls the monsters' attacks.
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!