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Author Topic: Peregrine: Can I sell you this game?  (Read 694 times)
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1121

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« on: December 02, 2002, 04:34:28 PM »

Here's a game I've been working on for a bit now. The setting and rules are fairly well along, but I want to be able to "sell it" without you having to read the whole thing and go, “ahh, well that is cool.”  Do I touch upon some ideas enough to make this game stand apart from all the other space opera games? If not, let me know what might be missing, or might not be marketed enough.


Premise:
It's the far future, and the characters are from a "lost world" called Caliban that has discovered ancient technology allowing them to travel the spacelanes. Crews of wandering explorers, in fragile ships equipped with a new and not-entirely-understood FTL drive, are out trying to find clues about their origin, and this mythical Earth place. The ancient technology refers to what is loosely translated as the Scourge, which apparently wiped out everything except Caliban. Is it a disease? An enemy? Nobody knows.
It’s space opera, in the vein of something like Babylon 5. Not sticking to hard SF, but not exceptionally fantastical.

Themes:
The closest the game comes to a bona fide narrativist premise is the character’s relationship to his/her government. There’s this very real threat, but the city-states don’t like to cooperate. A character’s choices related to loyalty and obedience will have consequences.  In addition, there are themes of the benefits/dangers of technology, and a potentially cool theme in whether or not you can escape your past.

Characters:
Characters are humans from various city-states on the planet, the crew of a ship out wandering the stars (thus the name Peregrine). There’s two parts to creating a character:

First, you need to create the city state your character is from. I haven’t ironed out the details of this, but you’d decide what the city state’s image is like, its goals, demands from the character, and the character’s goals in relation to it.

Second, you have N points to divide between your character’s Tags and Vitality. Tags are catch-all descriptors, like "strong," "good at piloting," "lucky at cards," and so on. They do not scale. Exactly how broad they can be is still being ironed out. Vitality is a resource pool characters can burn, like ST's willpower.

The Rules
The mechanic is similar to a few systems out there: Aurora, Lumpley's Chalk Outlines, and the Pool. What I’m aiming for is a very cooperative narrative, where everyone gets to chime in regarding what happens in a scene.
You “bid” a number of dice that you’re willing to roll for a situation, with each die being a potential success, and also a potential complication. After you roll, you can apply Tags and Vitality to adjust the outcome on the dice.
When that’s done, you’ll have a mix of successes and complications. The player gets to describe the successes, and the GM describes the complications.

One Q I have is whether the game would benefit from a N-based mechanic, like a resource pool, or a rating to represent a character’s standing with his/her government.


Thanks in advance.

-Matt
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2002, 05:53:06 PM »

Hey Matt,

When that's done, you'll have a mix of successes and complications. The player gets to describe the successes, and the GM describes the complications.

Have you ever played a game that works like this? It's real cool when it works, but I have to say that in my experience it's quite possibly one of the most creatively demanding and exceedingly difficult things for a play group to use consistently to the benefit of character protagonism. Have you seen Scott Knipe's game WYRD? It features a "narrate complications and successes" conflict resolution mechanic like what you propose. I'm not sure it's currently online, but he'll make it available to you if you http://indie-rpgs.com/forum/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=23">ask him for it. My first post in http://indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1483">this thread has an example of the mechanic working well for us during our playtest; look for the phrase "I wanted more" and back up a bit. Later in the thread is discussion that might be more directly relevant to your design decisionmaking; look for the phrase "major outstanding issue."

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
James V. West
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2002, 07:31:56 PM »

I'm not a sci-fi fan in general, Matt, but I do like the idea you're presenting for two specific reasons:

1) Obviously I'm a sucker for these kinds of "bidding" and shared narration games.

2) I really, really like the idea of being able to create my character's place of origin. This is a power I tend to give players when I'm winging a game from scratch, so it's a natural draw for me.

I'm not fully understanding your mechanic. Do you mean that each die roll presents successes *and* complications together, or just one or the other?
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1121

student, second edition


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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2002, 09:11:23 AM »

Quote from: Paul
Have you ever played a game that works like this? It's real cool when it works, but I have to say that in my experience it's quite possibly one of the most creatively demanding and exceedingly difficult things for a play group to use consistently to the benefit of character protagonism.


Paul, thanks for the feedback. I suspect that's true. I'm not sure yet quite how big in scope the successes/complications will be. I might make it a little smaller in scope than what you're describing in that thread, which might help a bit. Also, I was thinking that player and GM could opt to have complications/successes cancel each other out and take the net, rather than track so many things at once.

Quote from: James
I'm not fully understanding your mechanic. Do you mean that each die roll presents successes *and* complications together, or just one or the other?


James, thanks as well. A die will result in either a success or a complication, depending on what you roll. I haven't finalized it, but say for now that high rolls mean successes, and low rolls mean complications. You can apply tags and vitality to adjut the outcome on the dice and turn complications into successes.

What I'm hoping will happen is that the player will be able to control the drama of a scene with the ability to roll more or fewer dice. If you roll just one, there's not really much that can happen, but if you roll 4, things will get interesting no matter what the dice say.
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