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Author Topic: Peregrine character story arc  (Read 622 times)
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1121

student, second edition


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« on: December 18, 2002, 02:22:17 PM »

I've been batting around this idea for a while now, and it's starting to make some sense to me. The motivation for it is a desire to formalize what I often see as the unwritten part of social contract: that PCs take turns getting spotlight time. By formalizing it I hope to give the spotlighted player more satisfaction, and to create some plot structure and character development, and last but not least, encourage player cooperation.

Sources: Sorcerer's kickers, Trollbabe's rule where players can request a scene, octaNe's plot points, an interview with Joss Whedon, and some ideas from improv theater.

The game is set up like a TV show, with game sessions being episodes and overarching plots taking several episodes (one season). At the start of each season, each player comes up with a story arc for his/her character, something that relates to a personal challenge. It should be something that the character has to work at, like learning to trust others, or getting over a lost love, or dealing with unrequited love, etc. The GM, meanwhile, comes up with an overarching plot, with a major nemesis or whatever. In order for the characters to overcome the big obstacle, they have to work out their personal stuff.

With mechanics I won't get into, the players have opportunities for scenes during a game session that relate to their character's issue. This is decided at the start of the game session, and the other players cooperate to provide opportunities for such a scene. You can only have a scene every so often, and you have to have a certain number. When this scene is going on, it's that player's "special time." It's the job of the other players to make the scene as cool as possible, but not upstage the main character. As the characters check off scenes (say they need 5 to resolve it), it becomes harder to get a scene, so that early in the "season," you'll see everyone's issues introduced, and they will start to spread out with the uberplot mixed in.

Once all characters resolve their personal issues - which doesn't necessarily mean something good happened - the group can march on the enemy and resolve the overarching story. And they get the game's equivalent of XP.

Q for the Forge audience: Having read this, what do you want to know more about, what part of this idea intrigues you more/less? It's a bit kitchen sink-ish right now. Anything you'd miss if I pared it down?
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Henry Fitch
Member

Posts: 149


« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2002, 02:29:30 PM »

You know what would be cool? If everybody has to get close to resolving their personal conflict during the season but not quite do it, and then they all get resolved in the 2-hour season finale.

But that might be carrying the TV analogy too far.
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formerly known as Winged Coyote
Peregrine
Member

Posts: 44


« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2002, 01:10:11 PM »

It looks like a very interesting idea. There is quite a few games with the the 'plot points' idea floating about, but you seem to be taking it a step further.

I imagine this could kind of lend iself to a quite soap-operaish feel to the game. Not necessarily a bad thing. I think Wheel of Time with its soap opera story would, as a game, benefit from a mechanic like this.

Maybe to test this system though what you should try out first in *only* testing this system. Get soem players together for a beta test then tell them what you are up to. Then dispose of all the other mechanics, allow the players to be pretty much whatever they wnat to be within the contect of a setting. Make it something clear and simple everyone will know.

Then you could try and play out the episodes (which I presume would be different game sessions in the 'real' game) rapidly, kind of in fast forward without any of the other mechanics. Maybe just have a dice and roll for a 50/50 chance of good/bad things happening if you really, really, must have it.

I think that way you might get a good grip on how the story arch will work over a longer period when married to other mechaincs.

I think. I am not really sure.

Incidently I checked out the thrad becuase of the Peregrine in the title. A curious coincidence.

Chris
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Emily Care
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Posts: 1126


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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2002, 01:29:05 PM »

Hi Matt,

The part that made my ears prick up was having the players pick a theme they want their character's scenes and storyline to address, within the gm's overarching plotline.  (I'm reminded of Pauls' type2 issue in this thread.  

Quote from: itsmrwilson
the other players cooperate to provide opportunities for such a scene.

They do so by introducing elements in their scenes that will feed into eachother's plotlines? Or by framing scenes that will be good background for each other? It sounds like you want to have a set amount (checking off scenes) that is equally distributed amongst the players. Or will you have a reward/benefit system to encourage players to be conscious of and facilitate each others' narrative needs?  I'd be interested in having some co-gming by allowing players to suggest complication in eachothers small plot.

Sounds good.  Keep us updated.

--Emily Care
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Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 1121

student, second edition


WWW
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2002, 03:47:44 PM »

Henry:  That's kind of a nifty idea. I do want to give the game a TV-like quality. One distant, maybe personal goal for this game is to be able to do the things I wish Paramount had done with ST:Voyager or even Enterprise.

Chris: Yeah, your handle threw me a bit. I suppose from what you're saying that this mechanic idea is in fact pretty platform neutral. You could probably use it as a good FUDGE plug-in or something. It'd be harder to do with a game that already has a solid mechanic for generating XP, though. I don't know if I'll playtest it separately, though, as it will take several sessions to see how well it works.

Emily: Yeah, I think Type 2 fits me pretty well. I love exploration of setting, and I also like playing - and playing with - complex characters. A lot of the people I game with come up with their own personal N premises based on what the setting is like, and without any rules to say so. In the last game I GM'ed, I kicked myself a little for not focusing more on certain characters' personal stories. This idea would hopefully keep me and other GMs from forgetting.

Quote
They do so by introducing elements in their scenes that will feed into eachother's plotlines? Or by framing scenes that will be good background for each other? It sounds like you want to have a set amount (checking off scenes) that is equally distributed amongst the players. Or will you have a reward/benefit system to encourage players to be conscious of and facilitate each others' narrative needs? I'd be interested in having some co-gming by allowing players to suggest complication in eachothers small plot.


The support idea is based on improv theater philosophy that your goal while on stage is to make the other actors look as good as possible. So the answer to your first couple questions I think is both.
Let's say Character Joe's issue is his temper, and in a scene where he's in focus, he takes an enraged swing at another character, Ed. Now the player controlling Ed could easily say, "I roll to dodge the punch," but what's more interesting tension- and drama-wise? It helps to give the player in focus more development if he hurts his friend in anger rather than swinging blindly, so the other player might let that happen.

I'm hoping that the cooperation will come out of a you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours mentality. I don't like rules that award based on the quality of play, so I don't want to assign bonus points for "good" support.

Thanks for the feedback!
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