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Author Topic: Enlightenment (Group Game Design)--Character and Setting Gen  (Read 16684 times)
Emily Care
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Posts: 1126


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« Reply #30 on: November 12, 2002, 02:28:19 PM »

Worldliness/Spirituality
Returning to the Ordinary World

       A monk asked Kegon, "How does an enlightened
       one return to the ordinary world?" Kegon
       replied, "A broken mirror never reflects again;
       fallen flowers never go back to the old
       branches."

Our Enlightened monks are fundamentally changed.

Okay, I've been thinking about the issue of what to invest into the lives of the saints section, and I've come up with this:  
The religion's various trait pairs pose moral dilemmas that the game play will resolve. They are questions that play will answer.

The phase where the participants come up with pairs that are of interest to them is tantamount to an explicit "premise of campaign" segment.  I think this is a strong element to the design of this overtly narrativist game.  

In effect, playing out the lives of the individual monks becomes living out the lives of the saints. The challenges that arise in the community development, are the moral quandries that confront these "living saints".  

Pre-play that resolves these quandries may take away from in-game realizations.  

However,  

Seperation/Oneness
Manjusri Enters the Gate

       One day as Manjusri stood outside the gate, the
       Buddha called to him, "Manjusri, Manjusri, why
       do you not enter?" Manjusri replied, "I do not see
       myself as outside. Why enter?"

The enlightened monk no longer sees separation.

...that doesn't mean we can't begin play with associated statements of what the monks hope to attain.  The trait pair in question becomes the medium by which the Mentors may express to the young monks how they may someday overcome their passions, and attain enlightenment.

Ambition/Equanamity
Everything is Best

       One day Banzan was walking through a market.
       He overheard a customer say to the butcher,
       "Give me the best piece of meat you have."
       "Everything in my shop is the best," replied the
       butcher. "You can not find any piece of meat that
       is not the best." At these words, Banzan was
       enlightened.

Grasping and discernment vanish with attainment.

And these tales should, of course be way beyond the ken of our little wet-behind-the-ears W/S 5/1 monks.

Submission/Steadfastness
Maria Goretti

Maria Goretti was born a poor peasant child in Italy in 1890, the third of six children...Her family being too poor to pay for Masses in her father's memory, every night Maria would recite the five Mysteries of the Rosary for the repose of her father's soul.

In June of 1902, 20-year-old Alessandro Serenelli began ordering 11-year-old Maria to perform various difficult chores, none of which could be completed to his satisfaction, and she was often reduced to
tears. Alessandro also began making advances on Maria. She rebuffed them all...On July 5, 1902, he demanded that she submit to him, but she told him that it would be a sin. Enraged, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times in her
heart, lungs, and intestines.

Alessandro was convicted, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. In his eighth year of
imprisonment, he had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden. where a young girl, dressed in white, was
gathering lilies. She smiled, and came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of the lilies. As
he accepted them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. Alessandro's conversion was complete. When was released from prison after serving 27 years, his first act was to travel to Maria's mother to beg her forgiveness.

Along with 30 other witnesses, Alessandro testified as to Maria's sanctity during her Cause of
Beatification. In 1950, she was canonized in a ceremony attended by a quarter million people, including
her mother, the first mother ever to see her child canonized.
As the Oxford Dictionary of Saints observes, the canonization of Maria Goretti also honors the
innumerable other courageous men, women, and children who "preferred death to dishonour."

In the presence of a steadfast heart, destruction and death may lead to furthering God's glory.

Whatever happens at the start of play should pose questions to the monks and the players.

--Emily Care

koans from the site: transcending duality.

Maria Goretti's story from here.
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Bob McNamee
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Posts: 685


« Reply #31 on: November 12, 2002, 02:43:26 PM »

Cool stuff...
interesting sites too!

Perhaps the early setup play should just stick to the general terms...with facts as Koan-type stuff... I really like the way this is written up.

As you said, the point isn't to play-before-play... but to explore these questions and contrasts in play.
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Bob McNamee
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Emily Care
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« Reply #32 on: November 13, 2002, 10:28:08 AM »

Quote from: Bob McNamee
Cool stuff...
interesting sites too!

Thanks, Bob!  That was fun to do:).

Quote from: Bob McNamee
Perhaps the early setup play should just stick to the general terms...with facts as Koan-type stuff...

Each participant could be asked to make one up for a trait pair of their choice.  Serious objections would go to a vote, simple majority rules.

A concise version of John's suggestion of role-playing out a saint resolving that trait pair could be an advanced technique. Doing so for dispute resolution between players, could also be an advanced rule.  

Koan Generation Advanced Rule (by Role-Play/Group Authoring)
    [*]Person who proposed Virtue plays saint.  
    [*]Person who proposed Passion sets up conflict.
    [*]The main participants can solicit all other players to  assist by suggesting ideas, and help craft story to fit general view of religion.
    [*]When saint has given or received pithy insight, koan is considered to have been generated.[/list:u]
    --The conflict or situation should be a short or contained  one (ie crossing a river, having one's shirt stolen), not a life history.
    --All participants would be encouraged to be in Author Stance, not deep in character.  The main point is to create a succinct narrative that will give the characters something to aspire to or grapple with.
    --Do half of the trait pairs, not all. Leave some to be developed in play (I see many being told to new monks as stories to help them out of their own difficulties).
    --Examples will be included in game materials.

    Multiple koans could be allowed for single trait pairs.

    More questions:
    Now, how do we want to use these trait pairs?  
    Will the monastery have scores in them just like the monks do? Or only have stats for the Worldly/Spiritual pair?

    How do they rise and fall? How do they affect the characters & how do the characters affect them?

    --Emily Care
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    Kester Pelagius
    Member

    Posts: 508


    « Reply #33 on: November 13, 2002, 03:37:27 PM »

    Greetings Emily,

    I must say, I really enjoyed reading this.  Very nice.

    Quote from: Emily Care
    Worldliness/Spirituality
    Returning to the Ordinary World

           A monk asked Kegon, "How does an enlightened
           one return to the ordinary world?" Kegon
           replied, "A broken mirror never reflects again;
           fallen flowers never go back to the old
           branches."

    Our Enlightened monks are fundamentally changed.


    In fact I think I liked *all* of your thumbnail write ups in this post.

    Keep up the good work!


    Kind Regards,

    Kester Pelagius
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    Bob McNamee
    Member

    Posts: 685


    « Reply #34 on: November 13, 2002, 04:48:03 PM »

    That set up sounds good, and making it an optional 'advanced' option is a good idea...

    Like you, I think in general all objections should just go to a vote, after one try at compromise.
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    Bob McNamee
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    Bob McNamee
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    « Reply #35 on: November 13, 2002, 07:51:06 PM »

    I was looking at a site of Zen koans.
    I just had to post this entry from the site...

    Quote
    20.   A Mother's Advice

    Jiun, a Shingon master, was a well-known Sanskrit scholar of the Tokugawa era. When he was young he used to deliver lectures to his brother students.

    His mother heard about this and wrote him a letter:

    "Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization."
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    Bob McNamee
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    Emily Care
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    « Reply #36 on: November 14, 2002, 01:30:17 PM »

    Kester:  Thanks!  Glad you liked them. :)

    Bob quoted:
    Quote
    "Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization."


    This is a beautiful in-genre illustration of the in-game concept of monks leaving play on resolving their 6 trait pairs. Even those who are doing good and spreading the word are still showing their involvement with worldly matters.  This and maybe some of what I posted would be good examples for the final game.

    Okay,  let's round up where we're at and see if we've come closer to our design goals.  I'm assuming no single gm in the following, and bits in red are unresolved questions.

    Setting and Character Generation

    Period, cultural and religious influences decided by open discussion and group concensus

    Hagiography Phase includes:
    -3 + (Number of Players) Virtue/Passion trait pairs chosen
    -Virtues are suggested round-robin
    -Respective Passions suggested by different person, round-robin or popcorn style (ie whoever has idea shouts it out)
    -Koans or Stories of Saints that illustrate trait pair is generated either by being written having each player write one, or using advanced role-playing option.
    -Disputes about any of the above (Virtues, Passions,Koans) go to a vote, with simple majority required to pass or reject element.  If tie, possibly drop vote of person who suggested it. Person whose idea is rejected gets first option to replace it. If they pass or their second suggestion gets rejected, next player round the circle gets to try. Etc.  Or use role-playing advanced rule.
    -After each participant has created one koan, 3 additional trait pairs may be left without a koan to allow for them to arise in play.

    Foundation of Order Phase
    Mentor character generation:
    -W/S set to 3/3
    -Mentors have all or 5 of the trait pairs generated for religion
    -choose two trait pairs to be resolved
    -other pairs at ??? level
    -statements associated with trait pairs. How many? Could be one for each resolved pair, and some mix for unresolved Worldliness and Passion levels
    -Monastery levels could be set at this time or in next phase. W/S at 3/3 has been suggested, how will the other trait pairs be handled? Do they get values that need to be resolved? Big question.

    Building the Community Phase
    -Round robin statements about the monastery, inhabitants and events affecting them.
    -each statement must be associated with Worldliness/Spirituality level or V/P trait pair of religion or monastery.
    Do we assign a subset of the religion's trait pairs to the monastery?

    -Disputes are settled by discussion, vote or roleplaying.

    Initiation into the Order Phase
    Neophyte Character generation:
    -Choose two trait pairs from those generated for each neophyte.(I'd like to put in a plug for the neophytes to have one pair be unique. This would allow for new values to be incorporated into the order, and also make for more diverse characters and challenges.)
    - Set levels to what?
    -Statements for character associated with trait pairs Before or after interview?
    -Not all statements will be written at initial character development, more may be added as they arise in play.
    -Possibly, one statement for each level of worldliness/spirituality and two for each virtue-trait pair.
    -A session of role-play happens at this time involving each new monk being interviewed by a Mentor, explaining why they wish to join the monastery and giving some insight into the character's background.
    -Neophyte receives W/S pair set to 5/1, after this interview. Perhaps taking some vow or being invested in some way by their mentor to represent it.

    Facing Challenges Phase
    Quote from: talysman
    general events around the monastery are then described, again in round-robin fashion. when one described event sounds like an interesting conflict, the players drop into scene-by-scene play to describe how the neophytes deal with the challenge of the conflict.

    -Mentors may assign tasks/missions to the neophytes in accordance with the issues they are grappling with.
    -Conflict resolution system discussed in prior thread is used.
    -Mission format may be used including exit interview when virtues may be raised.

    That covers the character and setting gen. The last phase moves us beyond those issues. Some definite holes still exist, especially about what trait pairs for monastery will be and how they interact with character actions.  The red stuff above is the rest that I can think of that needs to be defined.

    Hope this is helpful.

    --Emily Care
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    talysman
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    « Reply #37 on: November 14, 2002, 03:41:02 PM »

    good work, Emily!

    here are my suggestions about the unresolved issues:

      [*]hagiography
      it looks like this phase is done.
      [*]foundation
      I would set the unresolved mentor trait-pairs at the same level as W/S, which would be 3/3 (if we assume everyone starts at 5/1 and resolving a trait-pair reduces Worldliness one point.)
      as for statements... first, we need to set a maximum number of statements. I would say 5 for W/S and for each trait-pair. for the mentors, who are somewhat de-emphasized during actual play, I would say just give them 3 W/S statements and move on; more can be added later, if necessary.
      [*]community
      the monastery's W/S is tricky. we haven't decided how the monastery's trait-pairs are resolved. more on that later. but one thing I think is important: the monastery should be old enough to have a local reputation, but it should still be fairly young; I would say that the monastery should have all of the trait-pairs of the religion, with the value of each Passion set at the lowest Passion of the monks that make up the community. if none of the monks have worked on a specific Passion, maybe it should be set equal to the Worldly score of the monastery as a whole.
      [*]initiation
      I'm not really in favor of unique trait-pairs, since by defintion they would not currently be part of the religious teachings of the order, which means that the teachings would have no advice for the neophye on how to resolve their personal dilemma. unique trait-pairs would basically be a vote for another religious precept, so it would be played out as hagiography, part of the advanced rules.
      I would also shy away from the concept of an interview. true, a neophyte would probably go through an interview before being accepted into an order, but I don't see it as necessary to play; no conflicts would be resolved, no premise would be addressed. there would be a conversation with the mentor before the first mission, which could be considered the interview, but the primary purpose of that interview is to assign the mission; it occurs after a challenge has been set.
      I would assume that everyone in the world who isn't specifically working on their spiritual advancement has a 5/1 in Worldly/Spiritual. a 6/0 would indicate that a character's story is at an end (dies at the next incapacitating wound.)
      two statements for each trait-pair and up to five statements for W/S are good, however. one statement for each of the trait-pairs should reflect the spiritual side of the pair, indicating the neophyte's potential for spirituality.
      [*]challenges
      this is the next step.
      [/list:u]

      about the monastery's trait-pairs: we might want to set these equal to the lowest unresolved trait-pairs of the mentors. the monastery is a community of the monks who live there; if one of the monks is reknowned for waking to reduce Avarice, it will reflect favoriably on the monastery as a whole.

      the monastery would be able to rapidly develop a good reputation if it has many dedicated monks; however, the monastery should resolve trait-pairs much more slowly than the monks who live in it. I would suggest one of the following for resolving monastery trait-pairs:

        [*]the monastery stays in-sync with its community. when one monk drops Lust/Chastity below the monastery's Lust/Chastity, the monastery's score changes to match. however, the monastery would only resolve Lust/Chastity once all of its monks have resolved that trait-pair.
        [*]the monastery changes independently. perhaps every time a monk reduces personal Worldly by one point, one of the monastery's trait-pairs is reduced one point.
        [*]the monastery only improves if a mentor spends a Lesson point.
        [/list:u]

        this reminds me, of course, that one of the next steps should be to work out the mechanics for Lesson points.
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        John Laviolette
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        Bob McNamee
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        « Reply #38 on: November 14, 2002, 05:52:47 PM »

        I like the idea of having a trait pair that provides for uniqueness of the individual, but I agree that it wouldn't provide a unique look at the religion and its teachings.

        But I'd still like to see an element of personal uniqueness...
        1)  either it has to come from the character's Worldly/Spiritual Statements (which I think they should have to state one set relating to the personal level at the start)...
        or... (and this might mess the design up)
        2)... they can create a unique trait pair for the character, BUT, it has to be composed of at least one Passion or Virtue from the religion's trait pairs. (and I think the character should have to provide a fact statement about the non-religion part of the pair)

        Example
        Monte the Novice  
            W/S -5/1    
        statements (W- Gambler, S- Philanthropist sp?)
        Virtue/Passion
        Compassion/Violence 1/5
        Honesty/Greed 2/4

        "Individual" trait pair
        Generosity(from the religion)/ Lust (not a rel. trait)  1/5
        Statement: Passion (raised in a brothel)
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        Bob McNamee
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        talysman
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        « Reply #39 on: November 14, 2002, 10:05:27 PM »

        just to clear up something: I thought all of the statements written on a neophyte's sheet would be personal statements. stuff that actually happened. I was specifically thinking of each statement as being an event in the neophyte's life.

        does that sound workable?
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        John Laviolette
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        Mike Holmes
        Acts of Evil Playtesters
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        « Reply #40 on: November 15, 2002, 09:10:19 AM »

        You all may have noted that I have somewhat lost interest in this project. The concept was to allow anyone who was interested to participate. What happened was that the premise we ended up with only holds so much interest for me. IOW, not too much. Hence I've dropped out more or less to let those more passionate about it take over completely.

        That all said, what you have here so far is really, really impressive. Though the premise still does not grab me, the execution does. In fact, I'm tempted to get back into it just to play with the elements of design you've come up with.

        But I'll leave it to you to continue your work uniterupted by someone who isn't as passionate about it as you all are.

        I guess this is just my way of saying, way to go! and keep it up. If you keep driving forward like this you are going to have a really great game on your hands. I really look forward to a consolidated write up, and what playtesting brings. I am certain that with your devotion that it's going to make it. As I'v said before, the writing is the hardest part. But you've got so much here, that I think it'll go pretty smoothly.

        It'll be interesting to se what issues the writer comes up with. That person always discovers the holes that weren't detected earlier.

        Mike
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        Emily Care
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        « Reply #41 on: November 15, 2002, 01:57:33 PM »

        Mike:  Thanks for the encouragement.  I'd welcome your insights on mechanics, but it's cool that your level of involvement has changed.  Again, thanks for starting it off.

        Bob: That's a good idea for a sort of compromise between a wholly new pair and being limited to the initial pool.  I'll set my version of this idea aside for now; it may be more clear at a later point of development whether it would add or detract from the game.

        John:  I like your suggestions. Any differences or comments I note below:

        --I've been thinking of the statements as a short sentence too.  So we'd get:


                             Example
                             Monte the Novice
                             W/S -5/1
                             statements
                             Has a penchant for gambling-W
                             Sometimes gives his wins to the poor-S

        And so on..


        Quote from: talysman
        [*]community
        the monastery's W/S is tricky. we haven't decided how the monastery's trait-pairs are resolved. more on that later. but one thing I think is important: the monastery should be old enough to have a local reputation, but it should still be fairly young; I would say that the monastery should have all of the trait-pairs of the religion, with the value of each Passion set at the lowest Passion of the monks that make up the community. if none of the monks have worked on a specific Passion, maybe it should be set equal to the Worldly score of the monastery as a whole.


        This brings to mind something about the set up of the Monastery. I've been imagining it having many, many monks etc. But there could just be the Mentors, and the neophytes could be the first wave of new recruits. This would fit with the  idea that the monastery is still negotiating its relationship with Worldly issues and has not yet resolved them.  It would also support having the Worldliness reflect that of the lowest so to speak, since each monk would have a lot of impact.


        Well, more later.  

        --Emily Care

        by "lowest" did you mean worst? ??
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        talysman
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        « Reply #42 on: November 15, 2002, 03:01:19 PM »

        Quote from: Emily Care

        John:  I like your suggestions. Any differences or comments I note below:

        --I've been thinking of the statements as a short sentence too.  So we'd get:


                             Example
                             Monte the Novice
                             W/S -5/1
                             statements
                             Has a penchant for gambling-W
                             Sometimes gives his wins to the poor-S

        And so on..


        well, I was thinking more of an event, like: "gambled himself into poverty"... the second statement fits that idea very well. you get a clear picture of Monte wasting what little money he has on games of knucklebones... then, when he hits bottom, he prays "please God, let me make back enough money to replace the food money I so foolishly lost, and I will give up gambling for ever!" he wins, walks home happily, and meets a poverty-stricken family even worse than he is; he decides to give them his winnings and join the monastery right there.

        although maybe decisions like that should be reserved (required?) for Passion/Virtue pairs.

        Quote from: Emily Care

        by "lowest" did you mean worst? ??


        actually, I meant numerically lowest. let me give an example of a monastery to illustrate:

        the Passions for this religion will be taken from the seven deadly sins, just because it's easy, although I probably haven't matched the Virtues very well:

        Wrath/Love
        Greed/Generosity
        Lust/Chastity
        Gluttony/Temperance
        Sloth/Industriousness
        Envy/Gratitude
        Pride/Humility

        Brother Abe has resolved Wrath and Pride; he has Greed 2, Envy 4
        Sister Beth has resolved Greed and Envy; she has Lust 2, Sloth 4
        Brother Cain has resolved Gluttony and Lust; he has Sloth 2, Greed 4
        Sister Daath has resolved Envy and Wrath; she has Pride 2, Greed 4

        set the monastery's Worldly/Spiritual at 3/3; the values for its trait-pairs are:

        Wrath 3/Love 3
        Greed 2/Generosity 4
        Lust 2/Chastity 4
        Gluttony 3/Temperance 3
        Sloth 2/Industriousness 4
        Envy 4/Gratitude 2
        Pride 2/Humility 4

        yep, I am thinking of the monastery being small, with the neophytes as the first batch of recruits. you could, however, assume that more monks are present and simply set the scores of the other monks equal to the monastery's scores.

        as an aside to Mike: what is it about the current premise that turns you off? what changes would you like to see to make the game more appealing?
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        John Laviolette
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        Bob McNamee
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        « Reply #43 on: November 15, 2002, 07:28:38 PM »

        So setting the Monastery stats is based on the lowest non-resolved stats of the Mentor level monks? (this makes sense to me...the Monastery runs on the teachers abilities)

        On the Gambler worldly fact, I was thinking that it was a tempting worldly inclination...like 'Likes to gamble' ...although making it the reason for becoming a monk could be sweet.

        This points out the requirement of writing up Fact statements as whole sentences, perhaps even small paragraphs. Then the meaning and possible use is clearer.

        If all the monk statements are personal statements then this helps individualize them quite a bit.

        Perhaps the religion level statements could be used to influence Mentor level rolling...which could in turn influence the Novices (...as grasshopper...see the reed bend in the wind....)
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        Emily Care
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        « Reply #44 on: November 17, 2002, 05:22:40 PM »

        Quote from: Bob McNamee
        So setting the Monastery stats is based on the lowest non-resolved stats of the Mentor level monks?

        I think it would it be based on the lowest level of all the monks, though the example only listed Mentor level monks.
        Quote from: talysman
        I would suggest one of the following for resolving monastery trait-pairs:

        the monastery stays in-sync with its community. when one monk drops Lust/Chastity below the monastery's Lust/Chastity, the monastery's score changes to match. however, the monastery would only resolve Lust/Chastity once all of its monks have resolved that trait-pair.

        the monastery changes independently. perhaps every time a monk reduces personal Worldly by one point, one of the monastery's trait-pairs is reduced one point.

        the monastery only improves if a mentor spends a Lesson point.


        I like the first option best. Wed the monastery's levels to that of the monks.  This means that a monastery that takes on new monks is opening itself up to more worldly influence than one without.   The monastery's trait pairs are the meta-stats for the whole group of monks, essentially.  

        Question: Do we want these stats to represent the victory conditions toward which the players are working, or to affect the lives of the monks through the system? Some suggestions on how they could do the latter are:  by modifying scene ratings, by affecting how lay people view the monks, by representing the number or severity of challenges that the monastery is facing that relate to each Passion, or by having tangible advantages awarded to the monastery when each pair is resolved, or whatever else.  

        Quote from: talysman
        I would assume that everyone in the world who isn't specifically working on their spiritual advancement has a 5/1 in Worldly/Spiritual. a 6/0 would indicate that a character's story is at an end (dies at the next incapacitating wound.)


        Okay, that's a neat way to do it.  If we can work it in, I'd like there to be an option for monks to sacrifice themselves for others.  Mechanically speaking, this could give the other monks a bonus to increase their score in a related Virtue. Bonus Lesson points could be awarded to the survivors who were present, or bonus dice could be added to appropriate pools to let the survivors accomplish their tasks.  A statement about it could be appended to the each monk who was present, or the monastery etc.


        Dare I say it? I think that we've accomplished our goal.  The questions I listed in my post have been addressed.  The final form may be somewhat different, but we've at least got concrete suggestions for setting and character generation.  

        Along with what's in the post above, I'm going to list any related questions I have remaining below.  I encourage us all to do so. Let's address them (briefly?) and then we can move on to working out more about missions and challenges, Lesson Points and how the mentor's mechanics work or whatever we want to tackle next.  

        Char Gen & Setting loose ends:

        *Have we agreed on how to handle non-monks? I'd like them to have stats solely in relation to the monks. Perhaps as a statement on the monk's char sheet, next to the Passion or Virtue they evoke in the monk.  

        *Would the monastery's Spirituality rise when the last monk to resolve a given trait pair does so?

        Thats all I've got for now. Thanks!

        --Emily Care
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        Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

        Black & Green Games
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