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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 273 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: More Story Please... or?  (Read 1561 times)
Christoffer Lernö
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Posts: 822


« on: October 16, 2002, 10:04:36 AM »

Quote from: wfreitag
So, is the key here simulation or story? That is, do you want the flexibility of choose-any-descriptor mechanisms because it allows more freedom for player exploration, or you do you want it because it allows more story- context-sensitive decision making? If it's the latter, causal constraints become secondary to metagame concerns and you could end up happily with a coherenly Narrativist system. If it's the former, you do need a procedure for turning the descriptors into mechanical descriptions during play. It only the GM is ever responsible for doing this, then that procedure could involve a lot of interpretation and translation on the fly. But what ultimately comes out of the GM's mouth must be perceived by the players as objective in-game-world information that they can base their own decisions on. That could perhaps facilitiate play within the gray area between sim exploration of setting/ situation with high genre-convention expectations, and vanilla Narrativism.


This all sounds very interesting Walt. However, we're dealing with things rather in a rather abstract manner here. Could you give me an example of mechanics for both alternatives?

As Mike pointed out I want colour. But I know that. I need less rules too. I know that too. However if I have 3 very different magic systems, even very simple rules will be a burden. What I'd like to achieve is twofold:

1. Efficiently manage the mechanics so that there is no need to independently write up rules for every special case (like say stats for every spell with ranges, duration and so on)

2. Allow flexible abilites, spells and descriptors that maintain approximate game balance but are simple to define.

2) two should help introducing colour if it's done the way I'm envisioning it. The first should help making sure that adding colour does not mean that you have to add rules to govern how effects that are (mostly-) colour works. (Sim style games often has no distinction between things that are colour and things that are actually power-balancing entities. Usually you pay the same currency for both which is sim games often lack colour despite the possibilities in theory are great)
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2002, 01:58:20 PM »

Quote from: Pale Fire
1. Efficiently manage the mechanics so that there is no need to independently write up rules for every special case (like say stats for every spell with ranges, duration and so on)

2. Allow flexible abilites, spells and descriptors that maintain approximate game balance but are simple to define.


I've been staying away from this discussion mostly because I didn't want to be saying well, this is how we do it in Multiverser; but obviously we  had to tackle something of the same problem. Our solutions were perhaps a bit more complex than you want, but there are some fundamental aspects of them that might help.

Establish a baseline for all spells, something that will provide a simple referent. Here are some ideas for what would be included:
    [*]How much damage it does or "undoes".
    [*]How far it reaches.
    [*]How large an area it covers.
    [*]How long it takes to do.
    [*]How many targets it can affect.
    [*]How much effort it requires (concentration, energy, et cetera).
    [*]How long the effect lasts.[/list:u]
    You could look at Multiverser for more ideas of what we used for baselines. In our case, because we also had bias to include or exclude certain spells from certain worlds, we could shift the power of a spell to match the bias; but without that, a single standard "baseline" would work fine.

    Then create a system for trade-offs. What we use (and I recommend) is that a doubling of one thing is equivalent to a halving of another. Thus if a player wants to create a spell that does twice as much potential damage, he can reduce the range by half, or double the time it takes to do, or raise the level of concentration required.

    You would need to work out such matters as what is the damage value of a spell that does no damage (and heals no damage), and at what point is "unlimited" range the next distance step up, and how long does an effect last if it's permanent (or permanent until altered), but it gives you a basic framework. After that, it doesn't much  matter what the character does to perform the magic, as long as it measures up against these variables.

    (Multiverser also considers such things as how physically involving it is, such as whether it can be done with words only or involves an elaborate dance; what materials are required, such as whether the user must have his wand or cauldron or something and whether any ingredients are destroyed in the process; whether the words have to be spoken loudly; and makes allowance that anything done which makes the spell harder to use also makes it more potent. Probability that the skill will work at all is also a factor, as the trade-offs can create an imbalance which is rectified by a bonus or penalty on skill use.)

    Hope that helps.

    --M. J. Young
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