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Started by Eddy Fate, September 27, 2002, 01:31:49 PM
Quote from: Eddy FateI offer up "Angels and the Second War of Heaven" up as an option. I have source material, and no system for my project. Here is a system with no source material.
Quote from: Eddy FateTo start, while I've read some of the Scattershot model, I'm going to try to keep my comments to "plain english", as requested - if someone else could then put it into Scattershot terminology, that would be helpful to me.Well, what do you want to see? What happens, in game, during a typical scene of this game?Are you talking mechanically, or the metagame "play style", or purely "in the game"?
Quote from: Eddy FateHow does the group proceed from scene to scene to the fruition of the narrative? Do any of the Scattershot Approaches or Ambitions jump out as something you like or would like?Given my rough ideas (more below), I don't think that there should be shared GM power - I envision this very much as a "traditional" game in regards to GM control, but not just because "he's the GM", but because he has a certain role to play. However, the players should be contributing to the story beyond just what their characters perceive (mainly because I think this is pretty typical of gaming groups that I play in) - the players are not only actors, but audience (and fans) of the other players, and the story.
Quote from: Eddy Fatedo the players play the Host or something like mortal agents?Mortal agents, definitely. (This is one major deviation from In Nomine.) Part of the concern of most angelic RPG's is that many players (or the ones I've encountered) tend to say, "But what does an Angel THINK like? How do you portray someone that's thousands of years old, and has never been human?"
Quote from: Eddy FateHumans are treated as "optional" in most angelic games - I think they should be the focus. How do you act when powerful beings start manipulating you "for your own good"?As a theme, I would like this as an exploration of humanity and faith, using alien and powerful creatures (angels) in contrast to us. How do we stack up?
Quote from: Eddy FateHow supernatural do you want to go? Will it seem 'superheroic?'If possible, no. I don't want Nobilis, nor Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yes, there will be some supernatural elements of the genre, but they will be largely subtle, although as the Second War draws near, it starts becoming less so.One of the premises is that whenever the game starts, for some reason right THEN is when the War starts to heat up. The scope of the story is everything from the first increase into real hostilities to the full-blown war. What impact will we, as humans, have on that outcome?
Quote from: Eddy FateWhere will the almighty and the 'old testament' stuff fall?Largely a matter of in game choice. Some angels think that the "good old days" were the way to go. Others think that modern times require more subtlety. That gives flexibility to the game (and group), and also allows for intense RP between agents and their 'masters'.
Quote from: Eddy FateIs there predestination?Yes and no. God knows how it will all work out. He's not telling. So, it's retroactive predestination as far as game play is concerned. Very much like a kid saying, "Well, I knew you were going to do that."
Quote from: Eddy FateHow or why are mortals unaware of the conflict as it rages?Mortals are unaware at first because it's just really starting again (the so-called 'Cold War' is heating up). How mortals will remain ignorant depends on in game actions, and individual play style.
Quote from: Eddy FateWhat are the ultimate goals for each side?The Loyalists of Heaven want to eradicate the Rebels. The Rebels want to eradicate the Loyalists. That's the main conflict.In there are lots of sub-conflicts - angelic love vs. jealously of angels, pro-War vs. anti-War, God is loving vs. God abandoned us, and so on.
Quote from: Eddy FateIs this conflict recently been joined?There is potential for outside forces, yes. I am, however, leaving those as antagonists, and a 'sub-factor' of the war, at least for this particular spin on things.
Quote from: Eddy FateWill it end anytime soon (in player terms)?In HUMAN terms, yes. In angelic terms, this is really just another phase in an eternal conflict, which is something that, should humanity find out, could impact how the War goes.
QuoteThis is the "Plain English" part. Talk 'ground floor,' where the players come in. Don't worry about the meta-game/In-Game split, trust me, when the time comes it'll take care of itself. What I really need to know is... well, the players have these Personae, and these Personae do... stuff. What is it that they do and who are they? The simpler you can describe it the better; trying to be specific will probably cause a breakdown in communication and you'll be forced, by the simplicity, to speak only about the most important parts.
QuoteSounds like typical Referential play, maybe leading towards Self-Sovereign. Still doesn't really get at the 'meat' of what I was asking. I know I get more into it in the Ambitious Approach Article, but how do you see the players Approaching play? Later here, you give the vague impression of 'mission-based' play (where players are, simplistically put, sent out to... do stuff).
QuoteIn traditional games, "he's the gamemaster" because he is the steward of the Mystiques that drive play forward and hold most of the control over pacing and how that implies what is relevant to the Mystiques. (Also, it usually followed that he was required to participate in every Mystiques, including ones surrounding individual Personae.)
QuotePersonally, I'm not a big fan of bringing terminology like actors, audience, or story into gaming; my experience is that they serve only to confuse matters. You use them to mean one thing, I might another, the GNS uses them as Stances, and we all disagree; let's just skip it.
QuoteNow if you're implying an ages old tradition of gaming that held that the gamemaster is compelled to entertain everyone, I caution you to forget that in Scattershot play.
QuoteThe most central idea here is that Scattershot serves to help answer that urge to know what would happen if you were in a situation. That only works when the outcome of situations is a result of what the players do.
QuoteFurthermore, since we're talking about Referential play, it is even more important to let the players' actions have the 'say' of what happens in the game. The entertainment comes from the outcome of the group effort; since everyone is putting something in, it doesn't make sense to force only one to be responsible for everyone else's entertainment.
QuoteThat's actually a lot easier to answer than it appears. "However you think they should." Really, unless you take a performance-Ambitious Avatar Approach or presentation-Ambitious Auteur Approach, it doesn't really matter how 'accurate' you are. What matters is that it 'feels right' to you. To be really honest, I could probably rationalize any behavior for an angel, just try me.
QuoteAngels aren't supposed to have freewill, right? How will they behave? Predictably. I remember my favorite Lucifer jokes goes like this: "I hear you didn't fall from Grace; you jumped." "Jumped?!? I was pushed!" It underscores the idea that Lucifer was created to have this happen, the whole war and everything; that he's doing it counts as successful design.
Quote from: Eddy FateHumans are treated as "optional" in most angelic games - I think they should be the focus. How do you act when powerful beings start manipulating you "for your own good"?As a theme, I would like this as an exploration of humanity and faith, using alien and powerful creatures (angels) in contrast to us. How do we stack up?An intriguing idea, it could work well as either the Central Concept or as the Metaphor. This partly depends on the Approach; heavily thematically Ambitious Approaches will have problems with the superficial 'feel' of having this as a Metaphor, but it would work well for most Intentional Joueur or Swashbuckler Approaches. We'll have to come back to it after we get a better idea of what you expect play and players 'to do.'
QuoteThat's one of the areas most interesting to examine. On some levels, these types of narratives actually take human life as the Metaphor. Even though it's a war between angels over Heavenly issues, stories in this vein look at the fate of the human race in terms of Grace and the afterlife, as humans themselves being the battlefield.
QuoteThis is usually part-and-parcel with games based on temptation. If the human does good, despite temptation, then Heaven wins. Most of these stories are heavily contrived so this would lean greatly upon the Genre Expectations Mechanix and a certain amount of player buy-in to work (probably best handled as Avatar Approach). In this case, I would suggest binary Personae where the human Personae could not see or hear the angels and the angels were restricted from directly affecting human actions. (This could also be handled with Auteur Approach, but then the driving factor in the end would be what made the most of the game rather than the importance of the feelings of the Persona.) But I digress....
QuoteYou write that "supernatural elements... will be largely subtle... becoming less so." This suggests that Persona will have 'new' supernatural elements that make them special or unique; is that what you're getting at?
QuoteYou also state, "for some reason right THEN is when the War starts to heat up;" this implies that the Circumstances of the Personae, something we call their Precipitating Event¹, will be the cause of a 'skirmish' in the looming war. Is that how you'd like to frame the events of these games?
QuoteFinally, you ask, "What impact will we, as humans, have on that outcome?" This brings up one of the common problems faced by stories clustering around this genre (and one of the things that makes writing this Genre Expectation difficult). Angels versus the fallen, Heaven versus the Adversary, these are some pretty 'big guns.' What possible difference could miniscule, unsupernatural creatures like humans have?
QuoteMany times the soul is drawn out as the valuable commodity (and that tends to throw the story over into the 'battle for one man's soul' type of story). Another common version has the battles fought by souls 'brought back' to earn their place in heaven. (Wasn't this the premise of G vs. E, the television show?)
QuoteOne of the common ideas I've seen addressed is, why are the Fallen so jealous of mankind anyway? Metaphysically, we'll have to answer that question here, won't we? (Unless you'd like that to be one of the Mystiques created by the gamemaster.)
QuoteI'm not so sure. You've already defined that players will not be playing angels. If you have angels really doing anything in the game, you're going to pretty much make the players feel pointless. I mean, they run around protecting the child of the Second Coming, and then Gabriel toots his horn and the roof collapses on them; what given the players an 'edge?'
QuoteThe trick to writing a good Genre Expectation is narrowness. You can't write it to suit too many different games or no one will know what to expect; you can't write it too narrow or you'll eliminate all the good Mystiques to play with.
QuoteIf you use human operatives following the orders of angels, I'd suggest each game only allow one or two 'masters.'
QuoteFrom a player or game designer perspective, this would be "no." That the almighty knows how it'll end is just background, about as useful as knowing the sky is blue.
QuotePerhaps in the game you eventually intend to market, and for that it would be a good design, but these are playtest custom Genre Expectations. They have to be written specifically for how you intend on playing. We'll worry about expanding it out to other play styles once we know the system works in play; that is always possible.
QuoteAll very true, but which do you want to try?
QuoteHeh, sorry about that, a little bit of archaic phrasing on my part; you can't have a battle by yourself, it starts when your opponent first joins you. I was asking if the Second War already raged yet. As I understand, you want the game seated on the precipice that heralds the start.
QuoteSo we should expect decisive actions on the parts of both sides? No 'digging it,' no 'long term picture,' just pitched battle?
QuoteAll in all, this has been quite interesting; I look forward to narrowing the Approach and 'what will they do' parts and getting really deep into the Genre Expectations. Thanks for joining in this playtest.
Quotep. s. Who worries that he may come across much more aggressive in this interview than he wants.
Quote from: Le JoueurYou know what I think this game is about?Choices.
QuoteI think everything that will make the game fun and interesting is about prompting the players to make choices. Not easy, yes or no, good or evil, type of choices, but hard, ambiguous, moral choices.
QuoteThe Participants"The gamemaster is the steward of the Mystiques that drive play forward and holds most of the control over pacing and how that implies what is relevant to the Mystiques." I have to add that he would not only be moderating the setting, but intentionally posing the moral dilemmas based upon the Mystiques using the Metaphor.
QuoteI think they should not only be acting within the game, but offering the 'realms' into which to pose the moral dilemmas. These frequently come from their Personae's Sine Qua Non, but not so much in a traditional 'plot hook' way, but more of a 'play on their values' way. The way that a player contributes to the story is by framing what moral quandaries will be addressed through their Persona's Sine Qua Non. In play, by evoking the quandary during an ambiguous moral choice, the game will highlight what the player found important in their character.
QuoteThe ConflictYou listed a number of 'fields of conflict:'Angelic Love vs. Jealously of AngelsPro-War vs. Anti-WarGod is Loving vs. God Abandoned Us[/list:u]I strangely requested which you wanted; I should have realized that the union of all sets was the best indicator of your desire.
QuoteWhen you elsewhere mention "God's weak point," you're talking about mankind. Not only that but a mankind who's been given freewill.
QuoteI think the reason "God Abandoned Us" is the 'holy visage' problem; is it possible to look upon the face of God and not fall in love? If God really wants his creation to love him (with freewill and all), he can't let them 'see' him. This implies the weird dichotomy working here; He loves mankind, but cannot act for them. I can see why some angels (on both sides) might be a little jealous; who else gets that kind of attention?
QuoteBetter still you've implied one of the best 'hidden ambiguities.' The War has everyone choosing sides, but is the real answer 'not to fight?' That's where the real meat of "Choices" comes up. It's not who you fight for, it's whether to fight at all, especially when presented with the awful consequences of choosing not to. (Remember "good-old 'demon stomping?'") That brings up a whole lot of "Choices," should you fight? How can you not? Which side do you fight for? (This one is especially interesting when you make a choice, based upon your values, that contrasts with the 'side' you are associated with; all will accuse you of 'changing sides.' Why? Because the side with the most people wins.)
QuoteThe WorldOne big question I've had is "How or why are mortals unaware of the conflict as it rages?" You suggested that "Mortals are unaware at first." If that's the case, we'd better sketch out some scenarios for the slow revelation or some 'natural, reactive' obstruction. I haven't had any inspirations here so I'm open to any suggestions or further discussion.
QuoteYou say, "How mortals will remain ignorant depends on in game actions, and individual play style." You also mention, "should humanity find out, [It] could impact how the War goes." I think it is incumbent that we have some plan to respond to that.
QuoteThe other reason this is important is due to 'what you can expect' from the Background. Are there 'leftovers' from previous flare-ups? Are there long term bastions 'carrying on' even after this long (meaning that the war doesn't just fold up and disappear after a flare-up).
QuoteWhat about unexpected supernormal events, surprises, babies with powers, and such, where are they?
QuoteYou offer that there is no predestination; that means no 'battle for the Christ child' games. I like that. This all rises from the 'slow awakening' of the populous.
QuoteRunning GagsOne thing I suggested was, "In each game allow only a few angel 'masters.'" This better allows you to investigate the machinations of the angels (Heavenly politics with the 'jealousy' stuff) through being their agents. (You did ask for "a lot of intrigue, espionage, and machinations," right?)
QuoteYou could even have a little sport with the fact that some angels are fallen, some are undecided, and if I remember correctly both sides have some traitors; imagine if you boss is a traitor....
QuoteThis suggests probably the most obvious Scattershot Running Gag. (In Scattershot, anything that comes up again and again, in a really familiar or genre reinforcing way, is called a Running Gag. These are not things that really influence the direction the game is taking, but they do color and remind you of the Genre Expectations.) [Dare I resist it?] This one could give some games a Charlie's Angels kinda feel (except with the titles reversed). One of the layers of Mystiques this introduces in a longer game is, "What is our 'master' up to?"
QuoteSo, something prevents The Host from affecting this world (at least in the 'old testament' fashion). I think this might be another important Running Gag. I'd put it off to 'God made angels,' 'angels have no freewill,' 'angelic action is therefore the Hand of God,' and again this undercuts mankind's opportunity to love God freely. So angels, who only want to further God's creation, are hamstrung from action. ...Except the fallen and the 'might be fallen.' That means the more that angels 'do stuff' even through agents the more 'fallen' they become; quite the moral ambiguity, isn't it? Frequently invoking this may be a source for many choices (but not a deciding factor).
QuoteI also like the "'The shot that started the Revolution' kind of feel." It gives that feeling that everyone is waking up from a dream and into a revolution. The constant effect of everyone, not already involved, having the 'slow to act' denial syndrome really leaves open a lot of room for 'should I just leave them alone' moral quandaries. Definitely a valuable Running Gag. This will really reinforce the "show the world changing just as we meet the [Persona]" and "When the game starts, THEN...the War starts to heat up" per your vision.
QuoteThe other important Running Gags I've gleaned thus far are: 'mission-based' play (something I suggested earlier), 'good' guys: we can't help you/'bad' guys: 'take that!', and the supernatural/mystery/espionage-intrigue 'atmosphere.' Does that sound about right?
QuoteMotifsA Scattershot Motif is anything that 'suits the genre' (as epitomized by the Genre Expectation) and can potentially change the direction of the game; Running Gags don't often alter the course of play. This is principle that allows us to separate them.
QuoteOne of the best I've seen so far is the constant reversal of morality/ambiguous choices. Because the 'good guys' keep doing the nasty, because the 'bad guys' keep saving lives and being nice to small children, the characters keep getting put into awkward, difficult positions with no guidance on how to solve them. While many of them are quiet, introspective moments, I like the idea of many of them occurring during your "good-old 'demon stomping'" sessions. That's why this becomes a Motif, these choices happen at all the crucial points.
QuoteThey underscore one of the most important aspects you've listed for the game, "What impact will we, as humans, have on that outcome?" Because the Host can't act directly, because the choices aren't clear, because sometimes doing right means going against the angel 'masters,' what the players choose is what defines the game.
QuoteThen there are the powers; you've said that there'll be "no superheroics," but that "there will be some supernatural elements of the genre, but they will be largely subtle." Since some "demons" will be abroad, and I assume these are fallen angels, then a like strength of 'lesser angels' may be in the field as well. (I relish the idea that due to moral ambiguity there may wind up being a little "new-fangled 'angel stomping'" too.)
QuoteI suggest that we don't let the Persona be outdone, therefore they'd have 'up to the same' supernatural 'oomph' as the 'lesser angels' and demons. (That's where the "a bunch of people now have powers that were only alluded to before in faith and scripture" come in.) As a Motif, I would suggest that all Persona are made up with specific powers (this forces them into further choices, like 'who is right for the job'), it might even be worthwhile to only give them 'square peg' powers; powers that don't 'go subtle.' (Let someone have the power to 'harvest souls;' what do they do when someone deserves to be punished short of killing them?)
QuoteAngelsAngels are an obvious Motif, both the kind giving orders (I like the idea of running into background characters who work for a different angel competing to complete the same assignment, especially if it looks like their the 'bad guys' at first.) and 'in the field' (imagine a 'possibly fallen angel' cum filthy, skid row informant). You already mentioned that the Host and the fallen are "purely political factions" and that "It's a largely political struggle." That's gold as far as I'm concerned.
QuoteI asked, "Angels aren't supposed to have freewill, right? How will they behave?" pointing out that, "Lucifer was created to have this happen, the whole war and everything." You suggested this was "something to delve into in a supplementary fashion." I don't think so; I believe it is crucial to how to have angels behave. Their predictability will be shown in their unflagging adherence to their cause no matter what. It makes them seem more two-dimensional and is critical to giving the players the feeling that it really is 'up to them.'
QuoteWhen you say, "angel manifestations aren't overt," I'm left wondering "Why would the Fallen even consider being subtle?" Have you come to any conclusions with this yet?
QuoteAgentsMortals are the other obvious Motif (being the Persona choice). You've pretty much laid it out. "Players play mortal agents" "conscripted to work with Angels as the 'Cold War' heats up." "Because God cares about them, more than the angels, the Rebels want the humans to "fuck shit up", so they can hit God's weak point." "Players are pawns with a glimpse at the greater game." I also proposed an alternative Persona type, "souls 'brought back' to earn their place in heaven," which you thought was "a good idea." We'll need to expand on that.
QuoteSo the Persona are these mortal agents, likely taking orders from an absent angel, sent on missions of moral ambiguity in a war they are only beginning to understand. They have supernormal powers based on 'scriptural references' that they employ sometimes for "good old 'demon stomping.'" Sounds like a great game all by itself, doesn't it?
QuoteThe Ultimate Battlefield: the SoulObviously choosing to follow heaven or hell is the crux of this game, having turncoats on both sides is the way to make this yet another ambiguous choice. Over the long term, I can see players more and more 'figuring out' which side to back on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately I see them wanting to 'make up their own minds' on everything. If you want to make this a tragic choice then perhaps the 'force' powering their supernormal abilities should be limited by whom they back. Less 'teamwork' equates to weaker powers. An interesting balance the feeds back into the ambiguity of the whole battle.
QuoteThe MetaphorEach 'mission' will present the players with a Mystique that comes in several layers. The layers will each reverse the moral perspective of the choice presented. The first layer deals with the presentation of the Circumstances, whether a member of the Host poses a 'mission' or they stumble upon 'a situation.' The next layer or two will be the typical 'nothing is what it seems' turnaround. The next layer would be the 'who ultimately benefits' by our actions' layer. Then there's the 'what would I do' layer. And finally, the last layer will be the 'take action or not' layer. The 'depth' each mission goes to will very from one to another. (Although following a Tension Spiral would lead to each successively deeper layer or more emotional confrontation, or both.)
QuoteTwo things, the game must, I mean must, center on decisions made by the players and those decisions must be murky, complicated, morally ambiguous, and difficult. If Heaven isn't 'the good guys,' then Hell winning isn't the same as everyone losing. That way, it won't matter which side 'wins' in the long run, thus the Persona choices really can (and should) determine the eventual outcome. (I've run games that stress Persona choice this much; when they stop prematurely everyone wants to speculate on how 'the war turns out' because of how engaging it is.)
QuoteOne thing I'm having trouble assimilating is, in one place you say, "No sword waving and blood spilled," and in another you ask for, "good-old 'demon stomping.'" Should I assume that the demons being 'stomped' are hiding all the supernatural action? Or is that why they are being 'stomped?' (For not hiding.)
QuoteHow to ProceedI need to know what you think of all these ideas.
QuoteSpecifically and most importantly, I need to know if this supports your vision of play.
QuoteProvided that I'm on the right track (and we can deal with the fine tuning relatively quickly), we'll need to determine a single (or narrow) choice of Approaches to apply to the game.