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Author Topic: Reforging the Outsider Chronicles  (Read 3145 times)
Keith Sears
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Posts: 79


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« on: March 17, 2003, 10:46:25 PM »

I've spent a good number of years writing and finally publishing The Outsider Chronicles, and roleplaying game that makes use of SOL: The Omniversal Roleplaying System. After publishing the game, I made the discovery that SOL no longer fits my style of play. So, I have made the decision to make a new roleplaying system for Outsider.

Naturally, I've had compatriots in the gaming scene tell me that I'm nuts for wanting to make another RPG system. I keep having the success of D20 pointed out to me, or other open systems like Action! or Fudge. However, while it would be much easier to simply rely on someone else's system to bring the Outsider Chronicles back to life, it still wouldn't fit what I have in mind for this game.

And that's the reason I've come to the Forge. I've seen new ground in RPGs broken here, and this forum looks like fertile ground to grow my ideas in.

The Outsider Chronicles is a Weird Science Fantasy setting in the modern day. It involves "Project Outsider", a top-secret government organization that explores alternate dimensions and protects the United States against interdimensional threats. Think of it as "The X-files meets Sliders and Stargate SG-1." I have some preview files for free on my web site at http://heraldicgame.com/freebies.shtml.

Naturally, the system I would use for something like this would have to be flexible enough to keep up with the imagination, simple enough to learn quickly, but have enough depth to it to keep it interesting over the long run.

I've already named the new system "Luna" since it is going to be the polar opposite of my old SOL system. The main thrust of Luna is to toss out the Wargaming Model that RPGs have been saddled with since they were invented and replace it with the Dramatic Model.

In the Wargaming Model, the focus is to create a game that recreates "reality" as closely as possible in the interest of simulating combat. Everything is qualified and quantified, and if things don't go your way... too bad. The Dramatic Model, on the other hand, would be more focused on the entire story rather than just the fights. It would be more influenced by the player's storytelling abilities rather than their character's tactical skills.

Anyone interested in Luna can find it at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/outsider_chronicles/files/
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Keith W. Sears
Heraldic Game Design
Publisher of "The Outsider Chronicles" and soon, "Silver Screen: The Story Game of Hollywood Cinema"
Proud Webmaster for the Game Publishers Association
http://www.heraldicgame.com
Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2003, 07:40:24 AM »

Hey Keith.  Glad to see you here.  Exciting news about Outsiders.  Like you my style of play has changed over the years too.  I've always been a big fan of genre emulation through mechanics, however, which is the biggest weakness of universal systems.  I look forward to seeing Luna.

I can't access Yahoo Groups through the firewall at work, however, so any comments will have to wait.
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Spooky Fanboy
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Posts: 585


« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2003, 07:45:51 AM »

Having looked at your files on and off since the very late 90's, I'd be interested to see how this develops.

And wow, did you find the right spot to take your ideas down new avenues!
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Keith Sears
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2003, 10:48:20 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
Hey Keith.  Glad to see you here.  Exciting news about Outsiders.  Like you my style of play has changed over the years too.  I've always been a big fan of genre emulation through mechanics, however, which is the biggest weakness of universal systems.  I look forward to seeing Luna.

I can't access Yahoo Groups through the firewall at work, however, so any comments will have to wait.


Thank you for the warm welcome, Ralph. I'd be very interested in hearing what you have to say. One of the biggest influences I've had in pushing Outsider in this direction has been Universalis. My own brief exposure to it proved to be more emotionally satisfying than my past two years of playing D20.

I just hope your exposure to my own game isn't disappointing. Right now, Luna 0.2 is little more than my incomplete ideas. I'm really going to need some feedback and encouragement to make this thing fly.
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Keith W. Sears
Heraldic Game Design
Publisher of "The Outsider Chronicles" and soon, "Silver Screen: The Story Game of Hollywood Cinema"
Proud Webmaster for the Game Publishers Association
http://www.heraldicgame.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2003, 10:57:36 AM »

Here's the comments and questions I came up with reading through:

Do all PCs start at the same Power Level?

If a player takes the time to write 100 Life Events, they start with 100 Plot Points? I can see how the power level limits the player somewhat. But wouldn't some limit be a good idea?

Negative traits are very worthwhile to take. Maybe too worthwhile. Have you considered not giving any points back for taking them? And then having it be solely the player's job to point them out for use (which gets him his reward)?

Who decides what Traits count for a particular Challenge? Can you add any amount of Traits? Won't this lead to players trying to describe how being good with plants makes them good in this combat because of all the foliage about (that's rhetorical, they will)?

Isn't possible to fail Easy of Average tasks? At worst you only get part done (hits zero)?

As you get better, it gets less likely to open-end? Probably not a problem, but interesting. Works well for negative dice.

Introduce the idea of negative dice before you introduce the results table. Do the negative dice continue on past the end of the table, or is that an automatic failure at more than -4?

You have the same "problem" that the Pool has with your Plot Points. That is, it will probably make the most sense to always bet the farm. Because that will make success more likley if I read correctly. And make you less likely to ever lose points. In fact, the way you have it, it seems as though one could assure success with enough Plot Points (they work like Godlike Hard Dice, or Story Engine's cognate, right?). In which case, enough Plot Points makes the character essentially unstopable.

What constitutes a "good idea" in terms of Plot Point rewards? Seems mighty vague.

Are "goals" mechanical? If I resolve a goal, can I immediately pick up another? Or can I have as many goals as I want? What if my character's goal is "To cross the street"? Is this supposed to be solved by the GM line-item veto?

Overall, I'd say you've got a system that goes more in the direction that you are talking about. It's very similar to Story Engine and Story Bones. Are you familiar with it? If so, have you considered Scene Resolution instead of Task Resolution?

Mike
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Keith Sears
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2003, 11:18:14 AM »

Quote from: Spooky Fanboy
Having looked at your files on and off since the very late 90's, I'd be interested to see how this develops.

And wow, did you find the right spot to take your ideas down new avenues!


You're more than welcome to participate, Spooky. If we do this right, it's going to be a heck of a ride. What interested you in my files in the first place?
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Keith W. Sears
Heraldic Game Design
Publisher of "The Outsider Chronicles" and soon, "Silver Screen: The Story Game of Hollywood Cinema"
Proud Webmaster for the Game Publishers Association
http://www.heraldicgame.com
Keith Sears
Member

Posts: 79


WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2003, 09:08:43 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Here's the comments and questions I came up with reading through:

Do all PCs start at the same Power Level?


Currently, yes. I am hoping to come up with an option that will allow players to make characters at different levels, but give the lesser level players something to help balance them out. I have been thinking of something like a pool of Plot points that regenerate each gaming session.

Surprisingly, one of my playtester in my Yahoo group has already been mixing characters with different Levels of Play in the same game. Apparently, his players seem to enjoy it.

Quote
If a player takes the time to write 100 Life Events, they start with 100 Plot Points? I can see how the power level limits the player somewhat. But wouldn't some limit be a good idea?


The main idea behind Life Events is to Feed the GM and give the player a reward for doing so. Those events are supposed to be able to come back to haunt the character at some point. I've never been a fan of the stereotypical wandering hereoes with no history and no family.

I have to agree with you that they can be abused, though. Does anyone have any ideas on what an effective limit would be?

Quote
Negative traits are very worthwhile to take. Maybe too worthwhile. Have you considered not giving any points back for taking them? And then having it be solely the player's job to point them out for use (which gets him his reward)?


That is an excellent idea! There wouldn't be any immediate reward, but the player could expect a Plot Point bonus for each of the Negative Traits he brings up in a session. This reward would only be once per Trait per session, though. For example, if someone takes the Neg. Trait "Pyromanic," he's not going to get a reward each time he lights up a match.

Quote
Who decides what Traits count for a particular Challenge? Can you add any amount of Traits? Won't this lead to players trying to describe how being good with plants makes them good in this combat because of all the foliage about (that's rhetorical, they will)?


That is one of the sections that needs to be better developed. What I had in mind is that the player should be able to say whatever Traits can be applied to an action, but the GM has veto power. Also, since the Traits are freeform, they are going to require some definition when the character is created. So, somebody that says that their character is "good with plants" and details that Trait involves growing and caring for gardens, it doesn't necessary mean that it's going to make them any better at being stealthy. However, if they define it as training in the wild.. like recognizing edible plants and what foliage gives the best cover, then I would say that is is applicable.

Quote
Isn't possible to fail Easy of Average tasks? At worst you only get part done (hits zero)?


I seems that I forgot to change that table after I played around with an idea that wasn't going to work. The corrected table looks like this:

# of Hits   Result
0 Hits, All Ones   Botch. Not only does the character not succeed,
                                but also the result adds insult to injury.
0 or Less                   Failure. The character simply doesn’t succeed.
1                   Partial Success. The character only gets a piece of
                                what he intended to do.
2 to 3                   A solid success. The action goes off exactly as
                                stated.
4 or More                   Critical Success. Not only does the action go off
                                exactly as stated, but the character gets something
                                extra out of it as well.


Quote
As you get better, it gets less likely to open-end? Probably not a problem, but interesting. Works well for negative dice.


Conversely, as they get better, it will also be harder for them to Botch. I will be adding this to Luna 0.3.:

"If the player rolls all ones on his dice, not only has he failed, he has also failed in an embarrassing and disastrous manner. The GM should think of an appropriate penalty for such a botched result.

"Negative Dice: If the roll is made on negative dice, and any of those dice comes up as a one, then the character has botched."

Quote
Introduce the idea of negative dice before you introduce the results table. Do the negative dice continue on past the end of the table, or is that an automatic failure at more than -4?


Done. It was in an odd place in the rules because of they way I had written them before. It just seemed to flow better that way. It will probably need more work to smooth it out.

Quote
You have the same "problem" that the Pool has with your Plot Points. That is, it will probably make the most sense to always bet the farm. Because that will make success more likley if I read correctly. And make you less likely to ever lose points. In fact, the way you have it, it seems as though one could assure success with enough Plot Points (they work like Godlike Hard Dice, or Story Engine's cognate, right?). In which case, enough Plot Points makes the character essentially unstopable.


I'm still trying to define exactly what Plot Points can and cannot do in the game. Generally, they are supposed to allow the players to influence the adventure and add greater dramatic detail.

You are right in your concerns about bidding Plot Points, though. I like the idea of players being able to buy their own modifiers. If anyone has a better idea, let me know.


Quote
What constitutes a "good idea" in terms of Plot Point rewards? Seems mighty vague.


A "good idea" does tend to be very subjective. Basically, it would be an idea from the player that impresses the GM.. preferably one that advances the plot.

Quote
Are "goals" mechanical? If I resolve a goal, can I immediately pick up another? Or can I have as many goals as I want? What if my character's goal is "To cross the street"? Is this supposed to be solved by the GM line-item veto?


Goals are a mechanic of sorts. They are there to give the character something to aim for other than have the GM lead him around by the nose to bash monsters. If a goal is resolved, it is possible to pick up another one. Characters can grow and change just like real people do. So far, I haven't put any limits on the number of goals a character can have. The GM has the right to veto any Goal, Event, or Trait that is an obvious Munchin tactic.

The only way I would allow a character with the goal, "To cross the street" is if the character was a chicken and we were playing out old jokes.

Quote
Overall, I'd say you've got a system that goes more in the direction that you are talking about. It's very similar to Story Engine and Story Bones. Are you familiar with it? If so, have you considered Scene Resolution instead of Task Resolution?


I have the Story Engine lying around somewhere. I know the dice mechanic is somewhat similar, but it's actually something that was suggested to me by Jonathon Tweet almost 10 years ago. I have considered possibly having both Task and Scene resolutions in the game, depending on the situation in the adventure. There are going to be some situations where a scene resolution will do fine, and then there will be some tense situations, such as the Big Fight with the Major Villain where the players may insist on a blow-by-blow description. It's something that I still have to work out.
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Keith W. Sears
Heraldic Game Design
Publisher of "The Outsider Chronicles" and soon, "Silver Screen: The Story Game of Hollywood Cinema"
Proud Webmaster for the Game Publishers Association
http://www.heraldicgame.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2003, 10:35:37 PM »

Quote from: Heraldic Game Design
Surprisingly, one of my playtester in my Yahoo group has already been mixing characters with different Levels of Play in the same game. Apparently, his players seem to enjoy it.

The question is one of protagonism. Is there some way for each character to shine in their story. If so, then power level is irrelevant. The playtester probably just ensures that each PC gets equal "screen time". That's usually all that's reqired. That and personal issues which your goal requirement seems to provide. Each character just has to be able to work though issues. Note how superman can appear in Justice League, and despite outclassing everyone, all the characters do fine.

Quote
I have to agree with you that they can be abused, though. Does anyone have any ideas on what an effective limit would be?
Perhaps a set of questions that can be answered. Each answer is one Life Event. Something like that. Or a word limit like Hero Wars does. Lots of possibilities.

Quote
What I had in mind is that the player should be able to say whatever Traits can be applied to an action, but the GM has veto power. Also, since the Traits are freeform, they are going to require some definition when the character is created. So, somebody that says that their character is "good with plants" and details that Trait involves growing and caring for gardens, it doesn't necessary mean that it's going to make them any better at being stealthy. However, if they define it as training in the wild.. like recognizing edible plants and what foliage gives the best cover, then I would say that is is applicable.
My personal take with these sorts of things is to allow them to remain vague until they  come up in play. Then the ability is defined by it's use. So, in the example, if I use the Plants ability to produce some nice roses, as in having a green thumb, I can't change that to something like a camoflage
skill later. Anyhow, this allows the player a bit of wiggle room early so they can customize to the game. Makes the common GM tactic of allowing early character refactoring unneccessary.

Quote
The corrected table looks like this:
Very nice. Should work well. The botch rules, all of it, it all looks good to me.

Quote
You are right in your concerns about bidding Plot Points, though. I like the idea of players being able to buy their own modifiers. If anyone has a better idea, let me know.
The obvious idea is to say that the Points are lost if the player is successful, and retained on failure (what I call the Anti-Pool). This has several effects. First, you have incentive to try and gamble as few points as possible in order to conserve. Second, after success, the character is less able to succeed, and after failure more able to succeed. This back and forth seems to me to simulate narrative balance better.

It would even work with your auto-success rule in that a player could probably make a success sure in certain cases. But it would cost him more to do so than to gamble and leave a small chance of failure. So it makes the level of expenditure a considered choice in all cases.

Quote
A "good idea" does tend to be very subjective. Basically, it would be an idea from the player that impresses the GM.. preferably one that advances the plot.
The more hard guidance in terms of this the better. If it's just meant to say that the GM should give them like candy to reward whatever sort of play he likes, say that. The more open that is, the better.

Quote
Goals are a mechanic of sorts. They are there to give the character something to aim for other than have the GM lead him around by the nose to bash monsters. If a goal is resolved, it is possible to pick up another one. Characters can grow and change just like real people do. So far, I haven't put any limits on the number of goals a character can have.
My question is whether or not they need to be enumerated. See, if there is a formal process, it's my opinion that this causes people to pay more attention to it. For example, if it needs to be written on the character sheet, and something important like power development can only occur after a goal is reached, then players will pay lots of attention to accomplishing their goals. In fact limiting them is actually more effective than leaving it open as the player will see them as specific routs to success. So, maybe they can only have two short range and one long range. To account for changes in the character, they can change these at any time, but only if they erase one of the other goals. This is cool because it mechanically represents the character changing their mind. And they can always pick up old goals when they solve the current ones.

Basically I'mof the opinion that well designed limits are more catalyzing than leaving things completely open (hence why I'm not a freeform roleplayer).

Quote
The GM has the right to veto any Goal, Event, or Trait that is an obvious Munchin tactic.
Again, any way you can get away from subjectivity makes the GMs job much easier. Put it onthe other players, for example. They have to vote to OK the other player's goals. That also simultaneously fixes any problems with conficting player goals (note that they can prefer conflicting character goals which is not the same thing).

Quote
I have considered possibly having both Task and Scene resolutions in the game, depending on the situation in the adventure. There are going to be some situations where a scene resolution will do fine, and then there will be some tense situations, such as the Big Fight with the Major Villain where the players may insist on a blow-by-blow description. It's something that I still have to work out.
I'd just allow the player to decide. Leaves them as satisfied as possible.

Mike
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Keith Sears
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2003, 11:59:05 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
The question is one of protagonism. Is there some way for each character to shine in their story. If so, then power level is irrelevant. The playtester probably just ensures that each PC gets equal "screen time". That's usually all that's reqired. That and personal issues which your goal requirement seems to provide. Each character just has to be able to work though issues. Note how superman can appear in Justice League, and despite outclassing everyone, all the characters do fine.


Very true. However, you can't always count on players getting along with that idea. They'd have to be pretty mature not to get a bad case of "Hero Envy."

Quote
Perhaps a set of questions that can be answered. Each answer is one Life Event. Something like that. Or a word limit like Hero Wars does. Lots of possibilities.


Yes, there are tons of ways to do this. I am trying to find the one that feels the least artifical, but still allows a lot of flexibility and allows the player to create his character quickly and easily.

Luna. 0.1 used the Hero Wars method of writing a limited number of words about a character. It's a good idea, but I froze up when I tried to do it myself. The character concept was clear in my mind, but simply wouldn't translate into story form unless I backed up and tried some kind of exercise to bring him out.

My main inspiration for the Dramatic Model has been Syd Field's books on screenwriting. They are simply amazing in that he is able to boil down screenwriting into the essential elements needed to create a strong script. One of his exercises that stuck in my mind is the one called, "Circle of Life." It's helpful in helping to build a strong character with clear motivations. It begins by thinking of an event in the character's past, usually between the ages of 10 and 16, that defined his personality. This "defining event" can then be used to build the character to his present day.

So, I decided to build on the "Circle of Life" and use a freeform lifepath. Unfortunately, in it's present form, it can be severely abused. I have been thinking of restricting the Plot Points generated by Life Events in that the Event must introduce a new Trait to the character and that the Plot Points generated by the Event can only be used to buy that new Trait.

Quote
My personal take with these sorts of things is to allow them to remain vague until they  come up in play. Then the ability is defined by it's use. So, in the example, if I use the Plants ability to produce some nice roses, as in having a green thumb, I can't change that to something like a camoflage skill later. Anyhow, this allows the player a bit of wiggle room early so they can customize to the game. Makes the common GM tactic of allowing early character refactoring unneccessary.


Noted. I'll have to think on that a bit.

Quote
The obvious idea is to say that the Points are lost if the player is successful, and retained on failure (what I call the Anti-Pool). This has several effects. First, you have incentive to try and gamble as few points as possible in order to conserve. Second, after success, the character is less able to succeed, and after failure more able to succeed. This back and forth seems to me to simulate narrative balance better.

It would even work with your auto-success rule in that a player could probably make a success sure in certain cases. But it would cost him more to do so than to gamble and leave a small chance of failure. So it makes the level of expenditure a considered choice in all cases.


Okay, the message I am getting from you is fairly clear, and I think I like it. However, I want to make sure we are on the same page. You're saying that if Plot Points are bid in a roll and the character fails, he simply retains them. His chances of succeeding would remain the same, and would not actually increase with failure, wouldn't they?

One of the reasons I am bringing this up is that I am thinking of introducing a "diminishing returns" rule to the game. This is for those situations when the player keeps trying at some nearly impossible task, like picking a lock, and hoping to get a lucky roll. What I was thinking of is that 1 die would be subtracted from each subsequent attempt until the player made some kind of change in the way that he was doing the task, like researching the construction of the lock.

Quote
My question is whether or not they (goals) need to be enumerated. See, if there is a formal process, it's my opinion that this causes people to pay more attention to it. For example, if it needs to be written on the character sheet, and something important like power development can only occur after a goal is reached, then players will pay lots of attention to accomplishing their goals. In fact limiting them is actually more effective than leaving it open as the player will see them as specific routs to success. So, maybe they can only have two short range and one long range. To account for changes in the character, they can change these at any time, but only if they erase one of the other goals. This is cool because it mechanically represents the character changing their mind. And they can always pick up old goals when they solve the current ones.

Basically I'mof the opinion that well designed limits are more catalyzing than leaving things completely open (hence why I'm not a freeform roleplayer).


Actually, I think that opinion is quite valid. I am going to put a space on the character sheet for the Goals. I think 3 short-term and 1 long-term goal would be fine for most characters, and that allowing the players to change them at any time would be a good thing.

Quote
Again, any way you can get away from subjectivity makes the GMs job much easier. Put it on the other players, for example. They have to vote to OK the other player's goals. That also simultaneously fixes any problems with conficting player goals (note that they can prefer conflicting character goals which is not the same thing).


Have everybody vote on someone's Goals? I can see some trouble brewing over that. Nightmare images from the Knights of the Dinner Table flood my mind at the concept. Bob cries out, "A man's character is sacred! I can have any firking Goals I want!" and Brian states that, "Teflon Billy reveals his mysterious Goals to no one!"

However, I can see putting up to a vote any Goals that the GM finds to be "questionable" though.

Quote
"I have considered possibly having both Task and Scene resolutions in the game, depending on the situation in the adventure. There are going to be some situations where a scene resolution will do fine, and then there will be some tense situations, such as the Big Fight with the Major Villain where the players may insist on a blow-by-blow description. It's something that I still have to work out."

I'd just allow the player to decide. Leaves them as satisfied as possible.


And that is the whole point of RPGs... emotional satisfaction.

Mike, if you wouldn't mind, may I put your name down in the credits as providing "Additional Developement?"
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Keith W. Sears
Heraldic Game Design
Publisher of "The Outsider Chronicles" and soon, "Silver Screen: The Story Game of Hollywood Cinema"
Proud Webmaster for the Game Publishers Association
http://www.heraldicgame.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2003, 12:42:17 PM »

Quote from: Heraldic Game Design
Very true. However, you can't always count on players getting along with that idea. They'd have to be pretty mature not to get a bad case of "Hero Envy."
I had a teacher who once said, "When someone says you're acting immature, doesn't that pretty much just mean that they're saying they don't like what you're doing?" Good game design rewards good play. If you don't want Hero Envy, then make it impossible. For example, how did your playtester figure out how to make it work? Mature players? I'll bet he just gave the players the option. Which makes playing the "lesser" charcter a player choice. If a player can't handle the idea then he can chose to be the max level.

But that's just the simple way. As you pointed out earlier, there are ways to maechanically enforce the viability of "lesser" characters. Like someone said recently in a thread about doing Buffy in Donjon. In that game, Zander is important because he's constantly allowing his player to create facts about what's going on that he feeds to the "effective" characters.

So that's another option, allowing a character to have greater metagame control. Say that the "normals" start with 120 Plot Points,  Heroes with 100, Supers with 80 and Gods with 60. Then the player spends as many as he likes, and the remeinder form his pool. He's still limited by the caps, so likley the Normal guy will just keep a lot of Plot Points. So basically the higherups win via stats, and the lower powered characters win via metagame.

This is just an example that would mangle a lot of other things. But it is intended to give you an idea of what sort of mechanics can be created to incentiveize playing across the range of available character power levels.

Quote
So, I decided to build on the "Circle of Life" and use a freeform lifepath. Unfortunately, in it's present form, it can be severely abused. I have been thinking of restricting the Plot Points generated by Life Events in that the Event must introduce a new Trait to the character and that the Plot Points generated by the Event can only be used to buy that new Trait.
Heh, I'd been subconsciously assuming that would be true. Definitely, I'd say. That's how Hero Wars works. How'd you get away from that?

Quote
Okay, the message I am getting from you is fairly clear, and I think I like it. However, I want to make sure we are on the same page. You're saying that if Plot Points are bid in a roll and the character fails, he simply retains them. His chances of succeeding would remain the same, and would not actually increase with failure, wouldn't they?
What I mean is that in the original system, if a player fails they will be left with less ability to get out of their situation as they lose points. My version, as you point out, does not penalize them so they remain just as able of getting out of trouble as they were when they got in it. The theoretical problem with the other way is that it leads to a spiraling effect. If I fail, then I'll probably fail more. If I succeed, I'll keep succeeding. With my version success and failure are given a chance to alternate with more frequency.

Quote
One of the reasons I am bringing this up is that I am thinking of introducing a "diminishing returns" rule to the game. This is for those situations when the player keeps trying at some nearly impossible task, like picking a lock, and hoping to get a lucky roll. What I was thinking of is that 1 die would be subtracted from each subsequent attempt until the player made some kind of change in the way that he was doing the task, like researching the construction of the lock.
I'm not sure how that pertains, but it's a pretty standard mechanic. I'd go with it.

Quote

Actually, I think that opinion is quite valid. I am going to put a space on the character sheet for the Goals. I think 3 short-term and 1 long-term goal would be fine for most characters, and that allowing the players to change them at any time would be a good thing.
I'll make one more plea. Perhaps make the ability to change goals only happen after a conflict has ended. Thus punctualting the conflict.

The idea is to have some mechanical point where play stops for a moment, and the GM asks "Any goal changes?" So that the players are continually thinking about it. Otherwise you'll get the behaviour where they'll say, "Oh, I forgot to change goals. Can we say that I changed goals before this?"

The cool thing, like I said is that the mechanical change itself punctuates that internal change of state in the character. Things are brought into context. Anyhow, rigor appeals to me.

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Have everybody vote on someone's Goals? I can see some trouble brewing over that. Nightmare images from the Knights of the Dinner Table flood my mind at the concept. Bob cries out, "A man's character is sacred! I can have any firking Goals I want!" and Brian states that, "Teflon Billy reveals his mysterious Goals to no one!"
You play with the KoDT players? Well no wonder...  ;-)

I posted not too long ago that KoDT is a manual on how not to role-play. But I also pointed out that the problems from the game stem not so much from the players but the way the Hackmaster promotes their mode of play to venture into the absurd.

Anyhow, I can see some players wanting to keep goals secret. This is a form of performance art that some role-players like to engage in. The problem is that it causes problems when other players dislike the PC for their chosen goals. Is it so bad to dissapoint Billy if the whole group likes the session better? Character soverignty is over-rated. It's fun to share.

Hey, make players consider the value of secrecy. Allow more Goals, but have secret ones cost two slots.

Still, there are other ways. Have a list of types of goals that are suitable, maybe, and make the player mold his to fit (see SAs in TROS). Anything to avoid the situation where the player comes up with what he thinks is an uber-cool goal, and the GM is forced to say, "Sorry, no." That's just rotten for everyone.

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Mike, if you wouldn't mind, may I put your name down in the credits as providing "Additional Developement?"
I'd be flattered. FWIW, most of what I've given you is just ideas that have evolved here on these forums. But, sure, I'll take credit for being the one who put the effort in. :-)

Mike
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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2003, 12:01:59 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I had a teacher who once said, "When someone says you're acting immature, doesn't that pretty much just mean that they're saying they don't like what you're doing?" Good game design rewards good play. If you don't want Hero Envy, then make it impossible. For example, how did your playtester figure out how to make it work? Mature players? I'll bet he just gave the players the option. Which makes playing the "lesser" charcter a player choice. If a player can't handle the idea then he can chose to be the max level.

But that's just the simple way. As you pointed out earlier, there are ways to maechanically enforce the viability of "lesser" characters. Like someone said recently in a thread about doing Buffy in Donjon. In that game, Zander is important because he's constantly allowing his player to create facts about what's going on that he feeds to the "effective" characters.

So that's another option, allowing a character to have greater metagame control. Say that the "normals" start with 120 Plot Points,  Heroes with 100, Supers with 80 and Gods with 60. Then the player spends as many as he likes, and the remeinder form his pool. He's still limited by the caps, so likley the Normal guy will just keep a lot of Plot Points. So basically the higherups win via stats, and the lower powered characters win via metagame.

This is just an example that would mangle a lot of other things. But it is intended to give you an idea of what sort of mechanics can be created to incentiveize playing across the range of available character power levels.


I haven't worked out the details yet. What I have in mind is that players choosing to play characters that are at a lower Level of Play than what the GM allows would get a pool of Plot Points that renew themselves at the beginning of the next gaming session. The amount of Points he would get would be the difference between the Level the character can be and what Level he chooses to be. So, if campaign Level is set at Super and one of the players wants his character to be only at the Heroic Level, his pool would be 15 Plot Points. So he would pretty much be able to spend like a sailor when it comes to influencing the adventure. The only restriction I would put on that pool is that the Points could not be spent to improve the character's Traits.

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Heh, I'd been subconsciously assuming that would be true. Definitely, I'd say. That's how Hero Wars works. How'd you get away from that?


I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Get away from what?

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One of the reasons I am bringing this up is that I am thinking of introducing a "diminishing returns" rule to the game. This is for those situations when the player keeps trying at some nearly impossible task, like picking a lock, and hoping to get a lucky roll. What I was thinking of is that 1 die would be subtracted from each subsequent attempt until the player made some kind of change in the way that he was doing the task, like researching the construction of the lock.
I'm not sure how that pertains, but it's a pretty standard mechanic. I'd go with it.


Well, when you referred to Points regained from failing a roll as the "Anti-Pool" I wasn't sure if you had something more exotic in mind that would make it actually easier for someone to succeed once they had failed at something, and just weren't communicating it well.

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I'll make one more plea. Perhaps make the ability to change goals only happen after a conflict has ended. Thus punctualting the conflict.

The idea is to have some mechanical point where play stops for a moment, and the GM asks "Any goal changes?" So that the players are continually thinking about it. Otherwise you'll get the behaviour where they'll say, "Oh, I forgot to change goals. Can we say that I changed goals before this?"

The cool thing, like I said is that the mechanical change itself punctuates that internal change of state in the character. Things are brought into context. Anyhow, rigor appeals to me.


What I first had in mind for Goals is that they couldn't be changed until the character accomplished one, or it simply became impossible to fulfill that Goal. I really don't want this to simply become some method for players to garner more Points. It's like the example you gave about someone putting down "To Cross the Street" as a short-term goal. There's no drama, no excitement to be derived from such a goal. The character crosses the street and the player expects to be rewarded for it. Allowing players to change their goals too frequently would have a similar effect. The reason I came up with Personal Goals in the first place was to help provide subplots in the adventure.

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You play with the KoDT players? Well no wonder...  ;-)

I posted not too long ago that KoDT is a manual on how not to role-play. But I also pointed out that the problems from the game stem not so much from the players but the way the Hackmaster promotes their mode of play to venture into the absurd.


I think everybody has played with the Knights at one time or another when they temporarily possess your players. And if you're going to insist that Hackmaster is to blame, then you haven't seen the comics when they have Boardgame Night.

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Hey, make players consider the value of secrecy. Allow more Goals, but have secret ones cost two slots.


That sounds like a good idea.

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Still, there are other ways. Have a list of types of goals that are suitable, maybe, and make the player mold his to fit (see SAs in TROS). Anything to avoid the situation where the player comes up with what he thinks is an uber-cool goal, and the GM is forced to say, "Sorry, no." That's just rotten for everyone.


I'll have to take a good look at TROS to get an idea of what you're suggesting. I don't like raining on anyone's parade, either. I really prefer to allow everyone to have a good time without me interfering. However, it will probably take some playtesting to come up with the best way to handle bad goals.

Of course, having good examples in the rules will definitely help. And instead of simply saying "No"... the GM could suggest another Goal that would fit the character better and provide some entertainment.

Goals should be a definite hint from the players to the GM as to what they would like to see come up in a campaign. For example, if one of the players has "Take over the Thieves Guild" a goal, he might want start developing the Thieves Guild in more detail and plan some city adventures so that character has some opportunity to accomplish that goal.

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2003, 10:47:32 AM »

Quote from: Heraldic Game Design
What I have in mind is that players choosing to play characters that are at a lower Level of Play than what the GM allows would get a pool of Plot Points that renew themselves at the beginning of the next gaming session.

Sounds pretty good. There are some threads around here that discussed this recently, BTW. Not sure how to search them up, however. Anyone remember the threads I'm talking about wherein was discussed the idea of differing level of power characters?

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Heh, I'd been subconsciously assuming that would be true. Definitely, I'd say. That's how Hero Wars works. How'd you get away from that?


I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Get away from what?
I assumed that Life Events could only be used to purchase traits that would be brought about by them. Just like in Hero Wars where the narrative about the character is directly where the Traits are pulled from. It seems that you had gone away from that idea for a while, but now are back to it.

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Well, when you referred to Points regained from failing a roll as the "Anti-Pool" I wasn't sure if you had something more exotic in mind that would make it actually easier for someone to succeed once they had failed at something, and just weren't communicating it well.
Nope, just bad commo on my part. That said, the obvious answer if one wanted to increase power with failure would be to reward each failure with a Plot Point. Heck, allow players responding to GM calls for rolls to declare auto-failure if they like, just to get the reward. :-)

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What I first had in mind for Goals is that they couldn't be changed until the character accomplished one, or it simply became impossible to fulfill that Goal.
That would also work for me. :-)

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I think everybody has played with the Knights at one time or another when they temporarily possess your players. And if you're going to insist that Hackmaster is to blame, then you haven't seen the comics when they have Boardgame Night.
The point is that either the system is to blame or the players are. In the first case, fix the system. In the second, get new players. It's a Forge axiom that one cannot prevent abusive players from messing with a game, and that damaging your game trying to do so is a bad idea.

Make a game that promotes a certain style of play, not one that punishes the rest.

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Hey, make players consider the value of secrecy. Allow more Goals, but have secret ones cost two slots.


That sounds like a good idea.
Of the potential problems, Secrets seems to me to be the only one predicated on a possibly valid style of play.

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I'll have to take a good look at TROS to get an idea of what you're suggesting. I don't like raining on anyone's parade, either. I really prefer to allow everyone to have a good time without me interfering. However, it will probably take some playtesting to come up with the best way to handle bad goals.
Even TROS allows the GM to veto a badly selected Spiritual Attribute. It just makes that less likely to happen by giving a framework of possible SAs. Luck is Luck is Luck, for example, and never needs GM adjudication. There has been a lot of debate on what makes a reasonable drive, however.

Note, too, how changing SAs is linked to character improvement. :-)

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Of course, having good examples in the rules will definitely help. And instead of simply saying "No"... the GM could suggest another Goal that would fit the character better and provide some entertainment.
Which is always the best technique in such cases. But still...

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Goals should be a definite hint from the players to the GM as to what they would like to see come up in a campaign. For example, if one of the players has "Take over the Thieves Guild" a goal, he might want start developing the Thieves Guild in more detail and plan some city adventures so that character has some opportunity to accomplish that goal.
Heh, many here would suggest that goals form the entire course of play. Kickers in Sorcerer are intended to do just that. With good SAs in TROS, making up any other plot is completely unneccessary.

Check up on some of the threads about Kickers to see what we're talking about. Why not allow goals to be the entire subject of play. This is how Hero Wars works, for instance, if you let it.

Mike
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2003, 05:27:22 PM »

I imagine that there are some of you that aren't able to or aren't interested joining Yahoo Groups in order to download Luna 0.2, so I've uploaded it to my own web site for your downloading ease. http://heraldicgame.com/ftp/Luna02.pdf
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Keith W. Sears
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« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2003, 10:02:29 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
Hey Keith.  Glad to see you here.  Exciting news about Outsiders.  Like you my style of play has changed over the years too.  I've always been a big fan of genre emulation through mechanics, however, which is the biggest weakness of universal systems.


I looked over your post again, Ralph. I hate to disappoint you, but Luna is technically going to be a universal system. However, I am hoping by employing the Dramatic Model, it will easily mold itself to the world it is emulating rather than trying to get the world to mold to the system. For example, Universalis is also "universal" but the rules are so instinctive when it comes to story construction that they become almost transparent. That's the type of quality that I want Luna to have.
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Keith W. Sears
Heraldic Game Design
Publisher of "The Outsider Chronicles" and soon, "Silver Screen: The Story Game of Hollywood Cinema"
Proud Webmaster for the Game Publishers Association
http://www.heraldicgame.com
Keith Sears
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« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2003, 06:47:46 PM »

Luna Alpha version 0.2.5 has been released at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/outsider_chronicles/.
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Keith W. Sears
Heraldic Game Design
Publisher of "The Outsider Chronicles" and soon, "Silver Screen: The Story Game of Hollywood Cinema"
Proud Webmaster for the Game Publishers Association
http://www.heraldicgame.com
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