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Author Topic: Argonauts: Narrativist d20 Supers?  (Read 7589 times)
Jonathan Walton
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« on: May 20, 2003, 09:21:45 AM »

Hey All,

So this thread is a combination of several things I've been thinking about recently:

1.  My game concept Argonauts, which basically involves doing a supers game set in classical Greece.

2.  Narrativist d20.  That is, whether it's possible to create a Narrativist framework within the limitations of the d20 system, or whether you can encourage enough Narrativist drift to create a non-incoherant Sim-Nar hybrid game.

3.  Mutants & Masterminds.  Picked up this game recently and boy does it kick ass.  Takes almost everything I don't like about d20 and pitches it out the window.  Only pet peeves left are GM-determined Difficulty Levels and Fortune, but I'm used to those.

So, here's my outline for a game supplement that could probably be released for free, bearing the "M&M Superlink" thing that Green Ronin has set up.  The purpose is to take M&M, set it in classical Greece, and then drift it to be As Narrativist As Possible (ANAP).

The Basic Idea

You're one of the heroes of classical Greece.  Heracles.  Odysseus.  Orpheus.  Jason.  Achilles.  Atalanta.  Phaethon.  Theseus.  This is the time of real heroes.  The monsters have all the superpowers and you get jack.  Maybe a little superstrength.  Maybe a magic ball of thread.  Maybe some winged sandals.  The bad guys, however, are equiped to kick ass and take names.  Fire-breathing, regenerating, 12-foot-tall, scaly, 6-headed, teeth-sharp-as-swords, flying, turn-ya-to-stone, maiden-eating monstrosities.  And you're supposed to take 'em down.

On the plus side, assuming you don't die a horrible death (and the beast's cave is surrounded by the bodies of those who failed), you recieve fame as word of your deeds spreads.  As your myth grows, you increase in power until you might even rival the gods themselves.  And they respond in turn by raising the bar, sending you even tougher Trials to test your valor.  Gee thanks.

Finally, the bigger they are the harder they fall.  Having a Big Myth might be fun for a while, basking in the glow of the masses, but all Greek heroes are pretty much doomed to come to a tragic end.  And the bigger your Myth is, the worse your end will be.  Just ask Agamemnon.  *shiver*

Concepts

1.  Low-Powered Heroes. M&M characters start off at 10th level by default.  In Argonauts, 5th would be more like it, or even less, depending on the hero.  They would also be limited to certain kinds of superpowers, mostly Feats, super-attributes (Super-Strength, Super-Constiution, Super-Skills, etc.), and other things that would fit the source material.

2.  Suffering Heroes.  Probably have a pretty extensive system for determining just how hurt a hero can get before he/she dies.  After all, when you put relatively-normal humans up against super-powered monsters, the humans are likely to get tossed around a good bit (or poisoned, or have their flesh burnt off, or get broken bones, etc.).  Being a hero should be glamourous, but also very dangerous.  Players should be encouraged to try risky things, but should also be encouraged to think them through a bit.  Oftentimes in Greek myths, the clever hero is the one who succeeds.

3.  Dynamic System of Protogonism.  Argonauts die all the time.  It's the ones that manage to survive that go on to become famous.  If your character Praephon, Prince of Thebes, gets eaten by a Minotaur, pick another crewman to be and don't make the same mistake again.  Balance between characters is not especially desired.  It makes sense for Jason and Heracles to be the most important characters in the story.  They're surivivors.  They have a higher Myth and (consequently) higher power levels than the rest of the crew.  But if Jason is stupid and dies, some of the other crewman can certainly step forward into the spotlight.  This also leads to another great theme in Greek myth: betrayal.  Maybe if we slip Heracles this poisoned tunic, we'll actually get some girls too.

4.  The Myth System.  There's a new ability/resource called Myth.  You add your Myth modifier to any roll to see if people have heard of you.  It can often be combined with Charisma if you're trying to impress or gain influence with others ("Yes, well, if you continue to defy me, I might have to treat you just like that Nemean Lion...").  When you kill a creature or pass through a trial with a higher Myth level than your own, your Myth increases (yes, Shreyas, yet another Torchbearer-influenced mechanic).  However, every so often you are forced to roll against your Myth, with a higher Myth making the roll harder.  Failure means that a piece of your tragedy has occured.

5.  And the Rest is Silence.  Tragedy works like this.  Each character sheet has a "Progress Chart" that shows the character's tragedy enacting itself.  I might divide it into a 5-act structure, with interesting names like "The Prophecy/Warning," "The Setup," "The Lure," "The Sinker," "The Climax," and then end with a conclusion phase like "The Aftermath."  Each time you fail a Myth check, part of your tragedy enacts itself.  All tragedies end with either the character's death (Heracles) or the character no longer able to be a hero (Oedipus, Orpheus).

6.  Life After Death.  The shifting protagonism makes it totally possible for long-term campaigns to happen, even with characters dying all over the place (either from monsters or from tragedies).  You can have new characters take up the causes of old ones or take the group in entirely new directions.

7.  Player Antagonism.  Nothing says that the players have to be on the same side all the time.  Just as you can raise your Myth by becoming "The Hero Who Killed Scylla," you can alsoi raise your Myth by becoming "The Hero Who Killed Hector."  This isn't the default playing style, of course, but you could totally enact the Trojan War with the model, getting a few players to play the Trojans and a few to take the Greeks.  !0 years of War?  No problem.  The Myth just keeps growing and growing as players kill each other, and the victors evntually succomb to their own tragedies.  When Hector dies, you just bounce into another hero.  Same with Ajax, Achilles, Paris, and the rest.  By the time Odysseus leaves for Ithica, his Myth is so high that it's no wonder his tragedy gets him stranded for 10 more years :)

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Would these additions help create the kind of Narrativist or Sim-Nar Hybrid game that I'm trying to build?  What other things could I do to further support this goal?  How well do you think players would react to dramatic protagonism and regular character death/tragedy?  Are there any real problems inherant in this kind of system that I'll need to address?
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Sidhain
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2003, 11:16:17 AM »

Ok question:

What makes this about superheroes? To me superheroes is not about being /powered/ heroes--but about attitude and flavor. This is why many Pulp protagnisits aren't called "supers", just as your average D&D character may well have powers beyond mortals but isn't a superhero.



Now that out of the way--Consider suffering, must it all be physical /damage/--you don't say so but your first setnance under this header of Suffering Heroes mentioned /hurt/. Something to consider is that there are levels of damage, and then there is HURT--Hercules family was killed IIRC by him in  a mad rage after he'd been poisoned. Greek Myths tend to have very tragic things happen to those around heroes that impact the heroes--Odysseus entire crew died--they survived the Trojan war, but eventually he alone was left. This suggest that the Mythic hero is benefitted by his cleverness so that while he suffers emotionally, pschologically, and physically he's hardier than he may seem.


I'm not a fan of switching heroes, frankly while heroic seeming people die in those stories, usually the /actual/ Hero survives to the end (even if the end of the story is his death.) which complicates matters--do you want to have games simulate Greek Myth, or do you want it to /be/ a re-telling of Greek myth? The two are distinct in /one/ the primary characters such as Heracles, Jason are girded a bit by harm (re-telling) in the other, you may lose main characters (or those specific ones may not exist.)
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2003, 11:43:07 AM »

Quote from: Sidhain
What makes this about superheroes?


The attitude and flavor, just like you said.  I'm not setting out to make the game like Fvlminata, where the setting tries to be an as-accurate-as-possible emulation of the classical world.  I'm trying to drift away from that kind of Sim play.  I'm also not trying to emulate the tone of classical myths, so the stories will be incredibly anachronistic in style, though not outrageously so.  Heracles isn't going to pull out a gun or talk about Mickey Mouse, but his way of talking and acting will have more in common with Kevin Sorbo's version than classical Greece.  The idea is low-powered-supers-in-the-ancient-world, with all the trappings that the supers genre brings.  Not costumes and secret identiies, but power & responsibility, might vs. right, who watches the watchmen?, and all the modern tropes of comic-dom.

Quote
Consider suffering, must it all be physical /damage/


No, and that's a damn good point.  I'm sure that the damage system in M&M could also be adapted to handle stress and emotional pain.  In fact, it might make sense to have a general threshold, where pain and emotional damage all built up on top of each other until the hero can't handle it anymore.  In fact, now that I think about it, what if, instead of a damage system or hit points, failing any kind of damage check (emotional or physical) would simply move the character closer to the tragedy that will ultimately destroy them?  That way, heroes can't be killed; they can only be destroyed by the tragedy of fate and their own making.

I like that :)

Quote
Do you want to have games simulate Greek Myth, or do you want it to /be/ a re-telling of Greek myth?


Here's a possibility that just struck me.  Let me know what you think.

Players, upon starting the game or losing their character to tragedy, can create a new character using one of two methods:

1:  Create a higher-Myth character based on a well-known Greek hero like Jason, Heracles, Theseus, etc.  However, due to the character's high-Myth, parts of their tragedy have already taken place.  They are already half-way to destruction.  Additionally, the early details of their tragedy should match the tragedy that befalls then in their actual real-life myth.  When their tragedy comes about, the players should try to mimick the myth as much as possible (or as much as the campaign desires; some groups may want to depict alternate myths and not hold fast to the originals).

2:  Create a low-Myth character based on a lesser-known hero (one of the 'unknown' Argonauts, minor characters from myths, etc.) and start out with no set tragedy.  This character advances as normal and lives or dies according to circumstances.  Eventually, it's possible for the character to become as famous (or more so) than the great heroes of myth, but it's just as likely that the character will reach their tragedy without ever achieving greatness.

Does that offer a solution to the problems you pointed out?
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Valamir
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2003, 11:48:32 AM »

Quote from: Sidhain

I'm not a fan of switching heroes, frankly while heroic seeming people die in those stories, usually the /actual/ Hero survives to the end (even if the end of the story is his death.) which complicates matters--do you want to have games simulate Greek Myth, or do you want it to /be/ a re-telling of Greek myth? The two are distinct in /one/ the primary characters such as Heracles, Jason are girded a bit by harm (re-telling) in the other, you may lose main characters (or those specific ones may not exist.)


Actually I kind of liked that.  It puts the horse back in front of the cart so to speak.

Did Jason and Hercules survive the the argos because they are heroes.  Or are they heroes because they survived the argos.

The illiad is the same way.  In reading the actual work (as opposed to say that travesty of all things holy "Helen of Troy mini series) there are dozens of heroes...honest to god player character quality heroes on both sides.  One by one you tick off their deaths until by the end you're left with just the survivors.  

There's a bit of forshadowing involved at identifying the survivors with the introductory scenes of Agammemnon, Odysseus, etc...but there was also such scenes for Achilles and Hector.

Lots of heroes will make their name.  Few will survive to become legends in their own time...  I like it

But I'm not seeing anything particularly narrativist about it...
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2003, 11:57:51 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
But I'm not seeing anything particularly narrativist about it...


Hmm...  Maybe not.  It is looking kind of Sim (esp. Character, Color), despite my attempts to try and drift it.  Maybe I'm misguided in that desire, then, and what I really want is just a different kind of Sim experience, one that is focused on certain themes like "all heroes are destined for tragedy" and "the powerless can still be heroes by outwitting the powerless," which serve as Color for the Sim-style play, rather than as the primary purpose of play in a more Narrativist model.

Or maybe I should just stop worrying about GNS and just design some good games, because each time I start dealing with it I end up confusing myself.  Maybe it's just not my thing, huh?  I'm starting to think I should just ignore it.
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2003, 12:06:01 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
 Or maybe I should just stop worrying about GNS and just design some good games, because each time I start dealing with it I end up confusing myself.  Maybe it's just not my thing, huh?  I'm starting to think I should just ignore it.


In that regard:
I don't think GNS is, was, will be, or was intended to be a tool for blueprinting design.  The way I use it, have used it, continue to use it, recommend how to use it, is to simply design your game.

There will come a point when you've added a zillion cool things to it; all of which you like because you sweated and bled over them.  Unfortuneately, the result is a mess.  You look at the individual parts and you smile.  You look at the game as a whole and its a clunky cumbersome "where the hell am I going with this" mess.

THAT's when GNS comes in IMO.  When its time to start pruning.  After you have a game that's far enough along to tell you what it wants to be.  Then armed with the theory (i.e. keeping the ideas in the back of your head) you start making the tough choices like "wow...what a brilliant set of encumberance rules I just invented...unlike anything I've ever seen before...so easy to use...so effective...SNIP...so out of place and irrelevant to what I'm trying to do"

Thaz howz Iz seez it anyway.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2003, 12:14:40 PM »

Hey there,

Glad you're continuing work on this. It looked good in the competition, and I was sad not to get to see more of it.

One aspect that you may already have considered (and possibly discarded) is the influence of the Gods.  Athena's meddling with Odysseus helped him turn out to be one of "those remaining", and the jealousy and requirements of the gods are easy protagonizing forces that could be used to frame the plot and introduce complications for your merry band.  They were important even in the heroic myths and could lend the appropriate air of periodicity etc.

That's my unsolicited suggestion for what you should add. :) (No pressure, it looks fine how it is.)  But if you want to go for narrativism, the gods are such an appropriate prod to use. Your setting begs it.

Respectfully,
Em Care
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Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2003, 12:34:57 PM »

Quote from: Emily Care
One aspect that you may already have considered (and possibly discarded) is the influence of the Gods.  Athena's meddling with Odysseus helped him turn out to be one of "those remaining", and the jealousy and requirements of the gods are easy protagonizing forces that could be used to frame the plot and introduce complications for your merry band.  They were important even in the heroic myths and could lend the appropriate air of periodicity etc.

That's my unsolicited suggestion for what you should add. :) (No pressure, it looks fine how it is.)  But if you want to go for narrativism, the gods are such an appropriate prod to use. Your setting begs it.


I'm with Emily, here. Give EVERY player character an immortal patron, a god who favors the hero, which of course sets up conflicts for gods who do NOT like that god, nor the hero. Someday, in futures I'll likely never reach, my Iliad: the RPG game will have this.
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Matt Snyder
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Sidhain
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Posts: 160


« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2003, 01:03:26 PM »

Quote


No, and that's a damn good point.  I'm sure that the damage system in M&M could also be adapted to handle stress and emotional pain.  In fact, it might make sense to have a general threshold, where pain and emotional damage all built up on top of each other until the hero can't handle it anymore.  In fact, now that I think about it, what if, instead of a damage system or hit points, failing any kind of damage check (emotional or physical) would simply move the character closer to the tragedy that will ultimately destroy them?  That way, heroes can't be killed; they can only be destroyed by the tragedy of fate and their own making.

I like that :)


I like the sound of that, feel very approrpiate (already have someone adapting my supers game--yet unreleased to Lyric Greek style so I suspect it's highly doable, just wasn't sure if you were taking this kind of direction.



Quote
layers, upon starting the game or losing their character to tragedy, can create a new character using one of two methods:

1:  Create a higher-Myth character based on a well-known Greek hero like Jason, Heracles, Theseus, etc.  However, due to the character's high-Myth, parts of their tragedy have already taken place.  They are already half-way to destruction.  Additionally, the early details of their tragedy should match the tragedy that befalls then in their actual real-life myth.  When their tragedy comes about, the players should try to mimick the myth as much as possible (or as much as the campaign desires; some groups may want to depict alternate myths and not hold fast to the originals).



Well I like the idea of having the choice between "established but halfway doomed" or "unestablished, and not yet on the doomed path" it makes it interesting. But again I don't like the idea of losing main protaganists--I disagree that those characters Val mentioned were main protaganists. I don't mind the built in replacement for heroes though--it creates at least a better precedent for adding new characters/new parts of the game.


However when I say losing--I usually mean it in the "Hidden Path" way that is a character dies because of the opposition and GM's decision/random roll causes such trauma as to slay them. In my supers game--character death is discusses for the /campaign/ at the outset. Something similar "Yes your character can die, but you choose when based on certian game factors" may be a better solution that does away with my concern--I feel in supers games death should be rare and pivotal, it is likely to be more common in Argonauts style game than traditional 4 color so it may be something to do with a Mythic goal. For example: Character has goal "kill Hydra and bring back its blood for maiden cursed by Hera." in this case one of the heroes has achieved such mythic status--high Myth that he's "maxed" out the game element--and so to cement that  (rather than it dwindling and fading) the player chooses to die tragically saving his cousin/brother/ what have you whose goal is to return the blood now. THey get a new character--perhaps with some myth because they are tied to the Heroic/mythic death of the previous hero played by the same player.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2003, 01:47:27 PM »

Thanks for the thoughts on when to use GNS, Ralph.  That's sorta the point I was getting to myself, but you nailed it and left me free not to worry about it anymore.

Quote from: Emily Care
Glad you're continuing work on this. It looked good in the competition, and I was sad not to get to see more of it.


Actually, the version of this concept that I was working on for Iron Chef was VERY different.  Had some pretty out-there concepts in it that I wanted to test.  Assuming I get time tonight, I might type up the original version and post it here, just so you guys can see what I was doing with the "wheel of the journey" and "character-attributes" and the other zonky stuff.

Quote
One aspect that you may already have considered (and possibly discarded) is the influence of the Gods.  That's my unsolicited suggestion for what you should add. :)


Actually, I did solicit for suggestions and had strangely not even considered the gods, really.  However, my first instinct is to set them aside and leave them as color (little 'c') for the setting/background.  Here's why:

To do gods right, I'd really like to have individual players taking on control of them.  This gets problematic.  SOLUTION A: Have a player represent both a character and their parton god.  However, this makes it hard for there to be a real relationship between to game entities represented by the same player.  Also, it's much harder to have a falling out with yourself.  SOLUTION B: Have each player represent a hero and a god besides their patron.  But wouldn't the god just become their patron anyway, if left to their own devices?  How do you encourage certain kinds of god-hero relationships?  SOLUTION C: Have the GM represent all the gods.  Crappy.  You miss all the fun of godly squabbles.  Also, potential for Illusionism and Deus Ex Machina all over the place.  SOLUTION D: Have extra players who just play gods.  All of a sudden the game becomes huge, unless each player handles multiple Argonauts (which could be used as replacements later?) and we have almost a seperate parallel game going on that involves the gods and a competely different style of play.

Basically, I can only really imagine D working well, and I don't think that's the game I want to write right now.  Anybody else see other good options?

Finally, Sidhain, I don't think character death is a problem if it's made clear that character death is the whole point of play, really.  It's about playing heroes through their tragedy.  If that's up front, I don't think anyone will have problems.  If it's not your thing, cool.  But I don't see it as being a real problem for the game as a whole.
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2003, 03:14:12 PM »

Hey Jonathan,

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods,
They kill us for their sport

- King Lear, IV, i

Randomize them. Gods are petty and political, but really only broadcast a few different "channels." Take a look at Vin Diakuw's http://members.shaw.ca/vdiakuw/reverseRPG.htm">The Reverse Role-playing Game. Randomize a god's status quo every so often, maybe at the beginning of of every session, interpret the result in the context of their ongoing politics, and allow the players to decide if their characters want to avail themselves of their patron's favor.

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
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2003, 06:27:02 PM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
Randomize them.


Oh right, Fortune.  You mean people are still designing games that use that stuff? :)  Yet another instance where personal play preferences are blinding me to the obvious.  Thanks Paul.  I'll try to whip something up.

The Original

In the meantime, here's the wacky, wacky game I was planning to whip up for Iron Chef Sim.  It's pretty character sheet based, so let's start there.  The first version is for printing, the second for reading online:

http://www.godmachine.org/Argonauts.pdf
http://www.godmachine.org/Argonauts2.pdf

The Crew

There is a single GM.  All the others players collectively represent the crew of the Argo, and they select one player among them to be Jason, the captain of the vessel, who ultimately declares the decisions of the crew, after consulting with the other players.  Think like a Team Captain in a sport or gameshow.  This makes it easy for the game to be played one-on-one, with one player as Jason and one GM.

The Journey

In the bottom right hand corner of the character sheet is the "sphere" (wheel, really), that represents the progress of the Argo.  You start on the Alpha spoke (in Iolcus), progress towards the Nu spoke (Colchis, where Jason has to recover the Golden Fleece), and then return around the circle, bypassing Omega and going home to Alpha and Colchis.

Each spoke on the wheel represents a seperate encounter, often a seperate island that the Argonauts visit on their way to or from Colchis, but it could also be an encounter at sea (Scylla and Charybdis, the Rushing Rocks, the Sirens, etc.) or seperate encounters on the same island (the Labyrinth and the Minotaur could both be seperate encounters taking place on Crete).

Heroism Resolution

The majority of the game takes place in this manner:

A.  The crew discusses what should be done about a specific situation ("We've just arrived in Crete, what should we do?")

B.  The captain (Jason) delegates responsibiltiies and crew control among the players ("You take Heracles and see if you can find out what kind of mood Minos is in.")

C.  All non-Argonaut narration is arbitrated by the GM.  The GM cannot narrate any direct injury to any Argonaut, but he is free to have them locked up or turned into pigs or whatever.  The GM has full narrative power over every story element besides the Argonauts themselves.

D.  In any situation where the players do not happen to like what the GM is doing, their Argonauts can attempt something heroic and try to change the action of the story ("Hercules isn't going to let Minos chain him up.  Instead, he'll take the chains and use them to kill all the guards in the room.")  In this case, the player who has been designated control of that character rolls 1D4.

E.  Consult the table at the bottom of the page, under the list of npn-heroic crewmen.  If the player attempting heroism is non-heroic (aka a disposable "redshirt Argonaut"), consult 1-4 as rolled.  If the charcater is one of the heroes in the upper table, could the result as 1D4+2, giving you a result between 3-6).

F.  The results are read in the following manner:
    1.  Failure, kill a crewman
    2.  Failure
    3.  Success
    4.  Success
    5.  Sucess, kill a crewman
    6.  Failure, kill 1D4 crewmen[/list:u]

    The player who rolled the die has the responsibility of narrating the result, based on the outcome obtained.  A roll of 6 means that the hero has surpassed the bounds of what's safe, and their heroism has become dangerous, leading to the deaths of several crewmen ("Heracles, blinded by his rage, kills several Argonauts during his battle with Minos' guards.  Afterwards, succombing to grief, he is easily carried away and bound.")

    In order to pass each encounter, there must be one conflict which is named the Key Conflict, where the Argonauts finally overcome the difficulty and move on to the next encounter.  Beating a Key Conflict always requires a roll of some kind, and the hero who finally triumphs over the conflict has his name filled in on the "wheel" of progress, beside the encounter letter.

    G.  Each hero is only allowed to beat one Key Conflict in the course of their journey, though they can be involved in many conflicts and encounters.  After a hero has bested their Key Encounter for the game, fill in one of the triangles beside their name, indicated that they either "used up" their Key Encounter during the journey to Colchis (">") or on the way back ("<").  Note that Heracles is only with the Argonauts during the first part of their journey, so if he is to pass a Key Conflict, he must do during the first half of their journey.  Likewise with Medea, who only joins the crew for the latter half.

    H.  Every time a crew member is to die, cross out the box next to their name.  You can choose to kill either red-shirts or heroes, but you must encorperate their deaths into the narrative.  You could also fill in their box with the letter of the encounter they perished in, so as to keep a record of your journey.

Superpowers

The powers listed next to each hero can be incorperated into any narrative involving them as long as its one in which dice have been rolled.  Powers, you see, are always dangerous and, though they make success very likely, also run the risk of leading to disaster.

But Back to d20...

Anyway, so that's what the Iron Chef version would have looked like.  The whole point was to make it back with the fleece and still have some crewmen alive.  Very different from the kinds of games I usually design.  but with that out of my system, I go back to tinkering with M&M.  Thanks to your great suggestions, I may have more details up in a few days, along with the SRD for Ever-After (outlining the basic mechanics, which I'll be explaining in narrative form for the actual game).
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talysman
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2003, 02:04:05 AM »

hi, Jonathan... I like the way your game is looking, particularly this part:

Quote from: Jonathan Walton

4.  The Myth System.  There's a new ability/resource called Myth.  You add your Myth modifier to any roll to see if people have heard of you.  It can often be combined with Charisma if you're trying to impress or gain influence with others ("Yes, well, if you continue to defy me, I might have to treat you just like that Nemean Lion...").  When you kill a creature or pass through a trial with a higher Myth level than your own, your Myth increases (yes, Shreyas, yet another Torchbearer-influenced mechanic).  However, every so often you are forced to roll against your Myth, with a higher Myth making the roll harder.  Failure means that a piece of your tragedy has occured.


... because it's sort of a twist on the standard FRPG as well -- argonauts kill monsters, but the reason for killing monsters is glory and heroism, not wealth. and since it's essentially a reaction bonus, it ties the heroism into the rest of the role-playing.

also, it reminds me of something I'm about to do for one of my "fantasy inversions" (more about the "fantasy inversions" in the post-mortem thread...) I have a game concept I am calling "level-up", which is just a working title that embodies the original idea. in this game, I invert the usual "kill monsters and get treasure, earn experience" process. instead, "level-up" is a social game set in a pseudomedieval fantasy town; the social interactions, intrigue, haggling with merchants, looking for trainers, etc., are the ways to earn experience points, which you then spend on "adventures" and "treasures", all of which happen off-screen, but which improve your character.

not quite useful for what you are trying to do, I guess, since it sounds like you want the heroism to have equal screen-time with the social interactions. but maybe you can use that as the basis of a rules-tweak. maybe whatever-it-is you want to reward (Narrativist play?) boosts the amount of Myth you earn from an adventure?
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Emily Care
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Posts: 1126


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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2003, 08:15:24 AM »

Hi Jon,

I realized I mis-spoke a bit in my last post. The gods may be useful to protagonize the characters in Argonauts and are easy hooks for prodding your characters into action etc.  I like Paul's idea for handling them. The classical gods are principles after all: love, war etc.  A shtick and a roll could direct their actions handily.  

If you want to have the game be more narrativist, then you'd probably want to include some theme/Premise that each of the heros is exploring through their life and actions.  The gods could be useful in expressing this.

Just realized I'd been fuzzy in my use of the term narrativism.  Glad if the suggestion is useful.

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
F. The results are read in the following manner:

                           1. Failure, kill a crewman
                           2. Failure
                           3. Success
                           4. Success
                           5. Sucess, kill a crewman
                           6. Failure, kill 1D4 crewmen


Yow, that's some elimination you've got going there.  Are pc characters exempt?

--EC
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Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2003, 09:32:04 AM »

Quote from: Emily Care
The gods may be useful to protagonize the characters in Argonauts and are easy hooks for prodding your characters into action etc.  I like Paul's idea for handling them. The classical gods are principles after all: love, war etc.  A shtick and a roll could direct their actions handily.


Totally.  I like your idea of gods-as-principles, actually.  What if a few random rolls before each session would determine the "divine modifiers" for that session?  You might get something like War +2, Love -2, Thievery +1.  Then, whenever characters performed actions related to those principles, they would recieve the appropriate penalty or bonus to their actions, depending on which gods' powers were waxing or waning.  And perhaps characters could have patron gods who provided their own bonuses or penalties, which would change from time to time.  For instance, maybe the Feat "Favor of Ares" would allow you to ignore any War Penalties that came from the god's changable nature.  

Quote
Yow, that's some elimination you've got going there.  Are pc characters exempt?


Actually, there were no PCs in that version of Argonauts.  The players, collectively, were the crew of the argo, all 50-some crewman, including the heroes and redshirts.  And, since the players got to narrate the deaths of various crewmen, they would decide who got the shaft, either a redshirt or a hero.

In the new version, based on Mutants & Masterminds, characters only die through meeting their Fate, and then only sometimes.
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