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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 73 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Same Story Revisited  (Read 5283 times)
Jack Spencer Jr
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« on: December 25, 2002, 08:27:16 PM »

The same old recurring story thread seems to have drifted off-topic, and that is partially my fault for not being very clear about what I was getting at. Rather than trying to bring the other thread back in line, I will try to clairify.

Let's start with the idea that talking about RPGs with non-gamers is problematic. We can all agree with that. SO I tried thinking of a way to do that.

Genre has proven to be a nice stumbling block in past discussions, and it seems to be a stumbling block in game design, in a way. That is, D&D is fantasy. Traveler is sci-fi, and so on. The sentiment seems to be that the game has to be broad like that. And even besides this, part of the assumption about RPGs (to many, anyway) is that within the premise of the game and such, there are an infinite number of stories or "adventures" that can be played with in it.

I'm suggesting a different approach of an RPG with only one story possible. This is similar to actor and directors talking about finding different nuances in a particular play or character and such, the diffence being that instead of the dialog and actions and scenes being the same, these are also changed. Thinking of it now, it is similar to wargames set on specific historical battles, like Gettysburg for example. I never player the old Avalon Hill game, but I can assume that the game was designed to play out the battle of Gettysburg, not as a civil war-era wargame made to play out any such battle.

Am I making any sense yet? This idea would be better in Indie Design except that I do not have any practicle ideas on how to execute it, so it's just theory.

So what would this entail? First it would require a fixed story, and probably a cast of characters to play and then a system to support this story and to allow for multiple outcomes. (I just realized this could work for Universalis with all of the opening stuff already done for you)

This is where the Monty Python and the Holy Grail reference from the other thread comes in because then the game I theorize above will have a name and a short summary of what happens, which makes it easy to talk about with others. People can talk about this one story, and the possible nuances, either speculated or actually played.

What many consider a chief asset of RPG is "you can do anything." I suggest that this might actually be a liability when introducing people to RPGs. Ever see people take forever when trying to decide what they want to eat from a menu? McDonald's found success when they first started with a menu of about 6 items. That's it. Thank you. Come again. People like having choice, but they sure seem to hate to have to make a decision.

This is, obviously, more an introductory tool than something for more experienced players, but could it fly?
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Andrew Martin
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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2002, 09:07:03 PM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
What many consider a chief asset of RPG is "you can do anything." I suggest that this might actually be a liability when introducing people to RPGs.


I recall Jared mentioning something about this a while ago, and describing the need for designers to really design a "playset" to start off with. There's an example of that on the 12 games of Christmas on the Key20 site.
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Andrew Martin
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2002, 07:12:26 AM »

Hi there,

Jack's point has always been a big design consideration for me. Sorcerer, Elfs, and Trollbabe all represent extraordinarily narrow ranges of "character creation options" from a traditional role-playing point of view.

I don't necessarily think this is any sort of fixed key to role-playing design, and I can think of several games in which a stunning diversity of character-creation options is a good idea ... but to take that kind of diversity ("Ten races! Fifteen character classes!") as a default is, I think, a bad starting point.

Best,
Ron
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2002, 09:18:08 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Jack's point has always been a big design consideration for me. Sorcerer, Elfs, and Trollbabe all represent extraordinarily narrow ranges of "character creation options" from a traditional role-playing point of view.

I think I am seeing an even narrower field because each of those games allow for different stories while what I'm talking about is just one story. This can be a viable approach, I think. I also blame Paul Czege for the idea he PMed to me which is sort of along these lines. (It's a good idea, Paul. I didn't reply in PM, but you should definately pursue it)

Quote
I don't necessarily think this is any sort of fixed key to role-playing design

No no no. Of course not. Just yet another option to explore is all.
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2002, 04:14:03 PM »

Hey Jack,

I also blame Paul Czege for the idea he PMed to me which is sort of along these lines. (It's a good idea, Paul. I didn't reply in PM, but you should definately pursue it)

Thanks. It's definitely on the burner. The trick is the resolution mechanic. If I nailed that, I'd probably put the whole thing up as a web page (ala Nicotine Girls) and ask interested folks to playtest. I can't imagine there's any other way to balance the point rewards than through playtesting.

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
talysman
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2002, 01:20:51 PM »

hmmm... let me try to rephrase the question to see if I understand what Jack is asking, then offer a specific example.

most rpgs are very flexible about story type. even Trollbabe, with its "all the players are trollbabes" and its pseudonorse setting, offers a wide variety of possible stories.

what I see Jack suggesting is something more along the lines of "How to Host a Mystery" games, or "Choose Your Own Adventure" books designed for group play, or D&D-like modules with rules built into them (so you only buy the one module, not a trio of gamebooks + module.)

now, for my specific example... and for extra credit, I will avoid the standard thriller/mystery/adventure genres. let's go with romance: specifically, the game resembles one of those romantic comedies where one character is pursuing/about to marry the "wrong" romantic interest and is "saved" at the last minute. it's a very simple, recognizable story. it's also a fixed formula: major character A pursues character B but eventually realizes love for character C, while along the way minor characters may find their own romance, but without the same kind of drama.

the gamebook would present a number of stereotype characters that appear in such movies: the shy guy, the self-important rich guy, the jock, the nerd, the kooky girl, the cheerleader, the tomboy, and so on. there would also be either game cards or descriptions of "plot maneuvers" such as "break up with current romantic interest", "go on date", "date turns into disaster", "marriage proposal", "misdirected/misinterpretted love letter", and so on.

the story is fixed, but who plays what role is not. two players will "win" the game by fulfilling the terms of the story, thus becoming the main characters; other players might "lose" (by trying to become main characters and failing to meet the "A switches from B to C" story,) or might "come in second" by opting to help one of the other players fit into one of the main character roles.

this game is a highly specific, fixed storyline, with the characters and setting already described in the gamebook, but with enough variability that it offers limited replayability. you get the same story every time, but with different details (just like hollywood!)

is this sort of the idea you are aiming for, Jack?
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John Laviolette
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rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2002, 02:00:46 PM »

Quote from: talysman
this game is a highly specific, fixed storyline, with the characters and setting already described in the gamebook, but with enough variability that it offers limited replayability. you get the same story every time, but with different details (just like hollywood!)

is this sort of the idea you are aiming for, Jack?

Sort of, the term "gamebook" you had used in your example feels off, and there were weird victory conditions, which may work, I just wouldn't do that myself.

I will edit the above to make it closer to what I see, (but the D&D module comparason works)

this game is a highly specific, fixed storyline, with the characters and situations already described in the gamebook, but with enough variability that it offers nearly limited replayability. you get the same story every time, but with different details (just like hollywood!)

To make it a fixed storyline, it would have to be mechanically, it only supports the proposed story. So it's not like it would be railroaded from scen to scene to scene to predetermined ending. Consider the Holy Grail being: the knights of the round table search for the holy grail. In this case, the cast would be the knights of Camelot, with or without Arthur, and they seek the grail. How they seek it, and why and what happens along the way including whether that find the grail or not is open to interpertation.

This is what I mean.
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Bob McNamee
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2002, 06:22:33 AM »

Some of this fixed story stuff got talked about concerning playing "Shakespeare" storied games, I think... not sure which threads though...
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
Le Joueur
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2002, 08:15:14 AM »

Quote from: Bob McNamee
Some of this fixed story stuff got talked about concerning playing "Shakespeare" storied games, I think... not sure which threads though...

Was that the "The Scottish Play" thread from back in August?

Just checking.

Fang Langford
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Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
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