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Author Topic: What does Success mean? -- Transitions made simple?  (Read 1979 times)
Palaskar
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« on: October 23, 2002, 12:49:50 PM »

I was searching for an example of a good Gamist genric/universal system when I chanced upon the thread on a tri-modal system (one which allows Gamist, Narrativist, and Simulationist play.)

Since this was my original goal in creating the Signature metasystem, I took a look...and lo and behold, I discovered Scattershot's Transitions, which looked a lot like my own "What does Success mean?" mechanic, only more complex and advanced.

This brings me to my point: Has anyone ever tried to model GNS at the "atomic" level other than me? And is my solution a good one?

Right now, my solution works like this: A Player uses a mechanic, which gives from 0 to 3 Successes. The use of the Successes varies by the Player's mode.

Gamist mode means that the Successes are points of relative advantage (ie, a flat 0 to 3 bonus to a Trait), while Narrativist mode means the Success are degrees of dramatic control (for example, 1 Success means minor plot twists can be introduced, while at 3 Successes, radical plot twists can be introduced), while Simulationist mode means modeling gameworld probability or difficulty (I'm not sure how to phrase it...1 Success means your character can succeed at an Easy gameworld task, while 2 Successes means your character can succeed at a Average or Hard task, while 3 Success means success at a Very Hard task -- I'm using GURPS as a model here.)

So what does everbody think?
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2002, 10:03:10 AM »

See the following link for a thread that represents the last time we took a stab at this.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3408

The main problem, IMO, is not so much that you can't have diverse rewards, but that players employing modes other than their own may not feel comfortable with the decisions of the other players.

Mike
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C. Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2002, 10:57:00 AM »

Looks good to me, I do have one question though.  Are players limited to one mode or is there a mechanic that allows them to switch between modes during play?

-Chris
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2002, 11:07:58 AM »

Hi Chris,

I'm afraid I don't understand your question. What do you mean by "limited?" Are we talking about what players can and cannot do, ever, period, or are we talking about a given game system, or what?

In the discussion that's linked above, there wasn't any mention of players being limited to anything, and there's no need to assume that they are.

In the larger sense, by definition, no one can be "made" to accord with a GNS mode or sub-mode.

Best,
Ron
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C. Edwards
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savage / sublime


« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2002, 11:48:14 AM »

Hey Ron,

I was referring to the 3 different types of success in Palaskar's post.  Basically, I'm just curious as to how the determination is made to use a particular type of success; is it up to the GM, the players, etc.?

Sorry about the confusion.

-Chris
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Palaskar
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2002, 11:14:25 AM »

Quote
I was referring to the 3 different types of success in Palaskar's post. Basically, I'm just curious as to how the determination is made to use a particular type of success; is it up to the GM, the players, etc.?


I was thinking of having players pick their preferred mode during the Social Contract phase. Player can pick more than one mode, but use the -least advantageous- mode (in terms of cost) when determining results. I don't see any problem with Players changing modes in play, just so long as the least advantageous rule applies...the reason I'm doing that is that (for example) Gamists will pick the mode that gives them the best in-game advantage.

Quote
The main problem, IMO, is not so much that you can't have diverse rewards, but that players employing modes other than their own may not feel comfortable with the decisions of the other players.


Gah. I never though of that. Any suggestions on handling this? I'll read through the thread you suggested this weekend (I'm kinda busy reapplying to college.)
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Marco
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2002, 01:14:17 PM »

I'm not sure I've got it all but I had this thought:

A Gamist I know would likely:
a) object to the Narrativist power in principal since in the case of a team effort with an N-player it would make the combined exercise non-gamist (i.e. "we're raiding the temple of the snake god and Joe just rolled 3 successes and has determined that the snake god is really an ally--what happened to the dungeon?"

--or worse--

b) use the directoral power of the Narrativist mode as a sort of "super-victory." (who needs gradients of success when you can simply narrate your way to victory?)


Secondly:
how does the S and G versions differ? I didn't really get that.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's an interesting idea--but I'm not sure I understand how it would work.

-Marco
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2002, 01:49:07 PM »

Yep, that's the kinda problem I'm talking about, Marco. And no, Palaskat, I have no good ideas about handling the problem. I think in the thread I referenced we toyed around for a while with the idea of rewarding each player for supporting the other player's making decisions in their chosen mode. But that's a broad statement, and I don't know that it reduces annoyance, so much as eases it. Anyhow, as Ron pointed out, it seems a long way to go, when "coherent" play seems to do the trick in most cases, anyhow.

Another thought occurs to me, which is that one could concieve of a setting in which characters existed which would wield powers and have motives that would match the three modes. Similar to Walt's idea of roles that match the different types. So, perhaps you'd have "penitents" who were forced by the gods to play out a game of wanton slaying in a labyrinth (Gamist play). And these characters were supported by "normal" people who live relatively "realistic" lives in the setting (Sim play). All overseen by demi-gods who weild very real power to affect the universe (Narrativit play).

Actually, that's a horrible model, but you may be able to get the idea from what I describe here. This would also be very similar to Walt's Congruence concept.

Let's not forget the one tried and true method. Used for ages, and delineated in
Quote
Robin's Laws
, A good GM can just rotate play such that segments are G or N or S for the players who like them. Or even make situations where individual players can explore the different available modes as they pertain to it. This is not easy, but can work if done well.

Mike
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Palaskar
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2002, 12:54:49 PM »

First, I'd like to say:

GAH! This has really been discussed!

Ok then. On to the discussion.

Quote
A Gamist I know would likely:
a) object to the Narrativist power in principal since in the case of a team effort with an N-player it would make the combined exercise non-gamist (i.e. "we're raiding the temple of the snake god and Joe just rolled 3 successes and has determined that the snake god is really an ally--what happened to the dungeon?"

--or worse--

b) use the directoral power of the Narrativist mode as a sort of "super-victory." (who needs gradients of success when you can simply narrate your way to victory?)


My fault. I'm mixing Action rewards with Scene rewards...something I worked out in a previous version of Signature, but forgot to incorporate in this post.

Action rewards apply on a per-action basis. Gamist rewards give +1 to +3 points of advantage; Narrativist rewards allow the Player to state 1 to 3 facts (think Universalis); Sim rewards allow the Player's character to do something common (1 pt.), uncommon (2 pts.), or rare (3 pts.) in the gameworld.

The difference between Gamist and Sim rewards is like comparing HERO with GURPS. HERO bases Trait cost on how effective the Trait is in-game, while GURPS bases Trait cost on how common the Trait is in "real life."

On to Scene rewards....

Scene rewards alter things at the Situation level. Gamist Scene rewards last for 1 whole Scene; Narrativist Scene rewards are Plot Twists; and Sim Scene rewards last 1 Scene like Gamist ones.

To handle Player disputes, I was thinking of using a betting mechanic like Universalis or Amber. Players bet Successes, highest wins. So if the scene you describe happens, other Players can bet their Successes to keep the Gamist from ruining things. And yes, I'm thinking of allowing Players to pool their Successes (which of course, opens up its own can of worms, but let's talk about that in the next post.)

If I may change the subject for a few moments, one of my other problems is how to get things started. I basically have two methods for chargen, Potential and Activation, and I can't decide which one to use.

Potential works like the "adolescent/adult" mechanic described in the thread Mike Holmes pointed me two. Players rate their characters' Traits at whatever level they like (subject to group/GM approval, of course) and sum them up. Then each of the characters then receive points of Potential equal to the difference between the sum of their Traits and the sum of the Traits of the highest-rated character. Potential is then spent in-play like experience to acquire and raise Traits.

Activation works like this: any time a Player wants his character to use a Trait, the Player pays Action or Scene points for it. Then there are specific mechanics for gaining back Action or Scene points, for example, taking penalties for the duration of a Scene due to a specified disadvantage (think Nobilis.) This has the great advantage that characters can have any number of Traits, at any level, since the Player must pay points every time the Trait is used. Not enough points? You can't use your Trait. Unfortunately, this calls for some twisted explanations why you can't use your Trait under some circumstances; also, how many points do you start with at chargen? And what if you can't gain points back fast enough?

Ok, enough rambling. Which method do you think is better? Or should I simply include both, and give people the option of picking one or the other?
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Palaskar
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2002, 01:12:57 PM »

Quote
To handle Player disputes, I was thinking of using a betting mechanic like Universalis or Amber. Players bet Successes, highest wins. So if the scene you describe happens, other Players can bet their Successes to keep the Gamist from ruining things. And yes, I'm thinking of allowing Players to pool their Successes (which of course, opens up its own can of worms, but let's talk about that in the next post.)


The problem, of course, with pooling successes is "mobocracy" -- a majority or significant minority of Players ruining things for one or more other Players.

I'm reminded of the checks and balances in the US constitution to handle this. For example, the President has the right to veto decisions made by Congress, who in turn may override his veto with a 2/3 or 3/4 majority vote.

How do I apply this to gameplay? How about giving each Player a small (say 1 to 3) amount of "Trumps" with which they can over-rule the majority of Players unless a 2/3 or 3/4 majority (I can't decide which right now) occurs to over-ride the Trump. Trumps would regenerate very slowly, if at all..say, 1 Trump per adventure.

Another problem is the Plot Twist ability of Narrative Scene rewards. Even with the limits imposed on it, Marco's points make me worry that it's still too powerful. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG handles this by limiting Plot Twists to 1 per Player, per session, which seems as a solution as any -- say, 3 total Narrative Scene Successes per Player, per session, for Signature.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2002, 06:46:49 AM »

Wait, wait, wait. I'm just trying to wrap my head around this. What you're saying, essentially, is that the players will compete against each other for control of the game to make it play out in the mode they most appreciate? Do I have that correct?

That's, well, brilliant. In competitive games, one assumes that the opponents will be playing in an "objectionable" manner. But since that's the framework for the activity, everyone else appreciates, rather than being annoyed by, the competition. So this may be a solution to the problem of conflicting player priorities.

There are two problems I see. The first is that the competition has to be made explicit, and the point of play. Else you run the risk of alienating players who are against Gamism, as the "Meta-Gamism" here will seem to be very Gamist in general, I think. OTOH, the rewards get away from that. Hmmm.

The othe problem is that you will still get fractured play. So, while a Narrativist will get to have Narrativist fun at some points, at others he will have to suffer through non-Narrativist moments. Which individually may be swallowable. But as a whole, I think you somewhat lose the ability to create the "Narrativist Story". That is, as a whole the experience will not satisfy any one mode, but it may satisfy players in short bursts.

It's worth looking at closer, anyhow.

Mike
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Palaskar
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2002, 01:15:56 PM »

Sorry I've been away so long, but re-applying to college is hell....on to the discussion.

Quote
What you're saying, essentially, is that the players will compete against each other for control of the game to make it play out in the mode they most appreciate?


Well, I never thought of it that way, but yeah.

Quote
There are two problems I see. The first is that the competition has to be made explicit, and the point of play.


Gotcha.

Quote
The other problem is that you will still get fractured play. So, while a Narrativist will get to have Narrativist fun at some points, at others he will have to suffer through non-Narrativist moments. Which individually may be swallowable. But as a whole, I think you somewhat lose the ability to create the "Narrativist Story". That is, as a whole the experience will not satisfy any one mode, but it may satisfy players in short bursts.


Well, ideally, players will co-operate and trade to create mutually acceptable results. You know, that whole thread about Transactions between gamers of different modes.

Now what I need is something to encourage co-operating and trading...this is going to take awhile...

BTW, if you can come up with anything that -does- encourage co-operating and trading, I'll give you credit in the game.

Thanks for the help.
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Palaskar
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2002, 02:18:53 PM »

Quote
Well, ideally, players will co-operate and trade to create mutually acceptable results. You know, that whole thread about Transactions between gamers of different modes.

Now what I need is something to encourage co-operating and trading...this is going to take awhile...


Hi, it's been awhile...the best solution I've come up with is a variation of "The Prisoner's Dilemma" and Force Points from d6 Star Wars.

If a player does something in meta-game that benefits only his character, he loses the points he spent. For example, if a Simulationist/Narrativist player decides to use his meta-points to give his character "Karate 2", saying, "My character reached black belt status while studying karate in his youth," that player would not get his meta-points back.

However, if a player does something that benefits both himself -and- one or more other players, he gets his meta-points back. For example, if the above player instead said, "My character and so-and-so's character studied karate together 10 years ago under the same teacher," the first player would get his points back, as he not only gives the first character Karate 2, but also gives Karate Teacher 1 (say, I'm pulling the number out of my hat) to both himself and the other player.

What do you think?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2002, 02:25:31 PM »

Hi Chris,

It seems to me that you're going to an awful lot of trouble (a) to permit Gamism and (b) to stuff it under a rug. If the point of play is marvelously summarized by:

the players will compete against each other for control of the game to make it play out in the mode they most appreciate?

... then it's Gamism after all - Gamism about how to play. Why not just stick with traditional Gamism in the first place?

But leaving that aside, let's take a few people who are doing this. What puzzles me is why the "losers" will want to continue, and why and how person A's play of the game is enjoyable to anyone but himself.

Best,
Ron
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Palaskar
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2002, 03:28:34 PM »

Quote
It seems to me that you're going to an awful lot of trouble (a) to permit Gamism and (b) to stuff it under a rug. If the point of play is marvelously summarized by:

the players will compete against each other for control of the game to make it play out in the mode they most appreciate?

... then it's Gamism after all - Gamism about how to play. Why not just stick with traditional Gamism in the first place?

But leaving that aside, let's take a few people who are doing this. What puzzles me is why the "losers" will want to continue, and why and how person A's play of the game is enjoyable to anyone but himself.


Those are good points, Ron.

My original intent was to allow play in Gamist, Narrativist, and/or Simulationist mode. In allowing this, I came up with a system that rewarded players with points that could be spent on G, N, or S rewards.

I never realized this just created a "Meta-Gamism" that overlaid the regular Gamism, -without- an appreciable gain in benefits.

Perhaps I should just abandon this direction and work on a previously explored direction.

Version 3.0 of Signature (this game's name) had a bunch of Methods -- a fancy name for mechanics which rewarded G, N, or S behavior with 0 to 3 points, or penalized them a like number of points.

For example, one Gamist method was "Rolling Lots of Dice." (No, seriously! I have it listed and everything!) The player would roll a bunch of dice, and come up with 0 to 3 Successes which could be spent on G, N, or S rewards.

Let me give a full list of Methods:

Gamist:
 Rolling Lots of Dice (Action points)
Taking Challenges (Drama points)
"Passing" to the next Player (Action points)
Taking simple Success/Fail (Action points)

Taking Challenges refers to participating in an encounter created by the Guide/GM. "Passing" refers to not taking any actions in a combat round.

Narrativist:

Answering the Premise (Drama points)
Creating Conflict (Drama points)
Exploring Relationships (Drama points)
Role-Playing Your Character's Affiliation (Drama points)
Following Your Character's Spirit (Action points)

These are all role-playing actions. Answering the Premise refers to role-playing which answers the game's Premise. Creating Conflict is role-playing which involves two or more PCs in dramatic, non-combat conflict. Exploring Relationships is role-playing the relationship between PCs. Affiliation and Spirit refers to role-playing things like characterization and D&D's/Stormbringer's "alignment."

Simulationist:
Creating Challenges (Drama points)
Acting According to Your Character's Realism (Drama points)
Acting According to Your Character's Genre (Drama points)

Creating Challenges refers to creating encounters for the PCs. Acting according to Realism or Genre means not taking or using Traits that don't belong in the setting -- no lasers in a fantasy setting, etc.

The whole point of this complex reward system was to reward specific G/N/S behaviors, rather than creating systems that support a particular style of play.

Is this a useful direction to explore, or should I try something else?
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