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Author Topic: Tragedy in the Pool  (Read 3712 times)
Tor Erickson
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« on: September 27, 2001, 07:52:00 AM »

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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2001, 10:08:00 AM »

Excellent. On the one hand you have the pool itself being a mechanic that allows the player to promote the character's protagonism, and then when it dwindles you have another mechanic to do the same thing and transfer you back towards the other. I'm guessing this'll have a unique ebb and flow to it. Great idea.

Mike
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Tor Erickson
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2001, 11:55:00 AM »

  I wonder how much tragedy has actually been explored in role-playing before.  It runs pretty counter to popular role-playing tendencies to protect your character, keep them safe from harm, because once your character is dead or otherwise incapacitated (eyeballs poked out with brooches etc.) you're out of the game.  Of course, in a tragedy rpg, that would be the climax of the game, and after that there would only be a little wrapping up to do and then the game would be over.
  But I'm still curious how one might make it so that the other players felt like they were still getting their fair share of attention, and like their actions as characters were significant as well.  Hmmm.
-Tor
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2001, 12:10:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-09-27 15:55, Tor Erickson wrote:
  I wonder how much tragedy has actually been explored in role-playing before.  It runs pretty counter to popular role-playing tendencies to protect your character, keep them safe from harm, because once your character is dead or otherwise incapacitated (eyeballs poked out with brooches etc.) you're out of the game.  Of course, in a tragedy rpg, that would be the climax of the game, and after that there would only be a little wrapping up to do and then the game would be over.

Um, Call of Cthulhu? Paranioa? The first one is more horrific and the second one more slapstick, but they both end in heaps of dead PCs. At one point people were referring to games of this sort as Loser Games. Or in other words, you win by losing. My stated goal when playing Cthulhu at conventions is to try and effect the most gory death possible during the game. I've gotten pretty good at it if I do say so myself. Characters dying or getting maimed can be great fun!

You are right though, this is not conducive to extended play, od course, and not even how Cthulhu was intended ot be played. But for Paranoia, this is exactly the mode. And it has a mechanic (masquerading intentionally ineffectively as a setting piece) for keeping people in the game after the fall. Either you should accept that your game will be like Cthulhu one-shots, or you should come up with a Paranioa like replacement mechanic to keep the players coming back for more punishment.

Quote

  But I'm still curious how one might make it so that the other players felt like they were still getting their fair share of attention, and like their actions as characters were significant as well.  Hmmm.
-Tor

You mean that they wouldn't all have tragic flaws? Ah, yes the rest play the chorus. Hmmm. That would be a problem. You might want to reconsider.

Unless.... Ever play Kill Dr. Lucky? Steal the Champion of the People concept from Moose's new game, and only have one tragic figure that everyone controls. Each player then tries to cause horrible things to happen to the character while the other players try to prevent this from happening so that they can write the character's downfall.

Now that would be entertaining. The Kill Dr. Lucky RPG. Cool...

Mike


[ This Message was edited by: Mike Holmes on 2001-09-27 16:12 ]
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Tor Erickson
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2001, 12:46:00 PM »

Hi Mike,
  I suppose I'd never thought of call of cthulu or Paranoia as tragedy.  Hmm.  I guess when I think tragedy I'm thinking in the Greek-play sense of the word.  You've got a hero, and even though he struggles mightily and does his best, something about him dooms him to a horrible fate.
 
 
Quote

You mean that they wouldn't all have tragic flaws? Ah, yes the rest play the chorus. Hmmm. That would be a problem. You might want to reconsider.
 


  I know, it seems dangerous to single out one character in this way, I think there's a lot of potential for an unbalanced game here.  On the other hand, the source literature is pretty consistent in that there's only one tragic hero per story, and I think there are a lot of dangers in changing that.  It seems like a story with one tragic hero is a tragedy, whereas a story with three tragic heroes is a comedic farce.  



Quote

Unless.... Ever play Kill Dr. Lucky? Steal the Champion of the People concept from Moose's new game, and only have one tragic figure that everyone controls. Each player then tries to cause horrible things to happen to the character while the other players try to prevent this from happening so that they can write the character's downfall.

Now that would be entertaining. The Kill Dr. Lucky RPG. Cool...

Mike



  Nice!  I like the idea.  Bold, different, but appealing...  just, what's Kill Dr. Lucky?

-Tor
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Uncle Dark
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2001, 02:04:00 PM »

Does the tragic element have to revolve around a particular character's downfall?  I am contemplating a game based around a doomed civilization, where the players know from the outset that the characters have no hope of saving the civilization.  The question is, what will they try to save?  Friends and family?  Cultural stuff?  Or wil the player through the character into what is a patently hopeless attempt to save the civilization?

The tragedy here is that something which is valuable to all the PCs is doomed, period, no saving throw.  The best that the PCs can do is save thier favorite fragments.

Does this count?

Lon
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Tor Erickson
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Posts: 134


« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2001, 03:39:00 PM »

Hi Lon,


Quote

On 2001-09-27 18:04, Uncle Dark wrote:
Does the tragic element have to revolve around a particular character's downfall?  


  Well, being a bit shady on a definition of tragedy, I looked it up in the Encyclopedia Britanica:  "a branch of drama that treats in a serious and dignified style the sorrowful or terrible events encountered or caused by a herioc individual."
  So, if you're going by the books, it looks like the single character is the answer.  Which is probably important because it's about the individual struggle to control oneself and the circumstances that surround you.

Quote

I am contemplating a game based around a doomed civilization, where the players know from the outset that the characters have no hope of saving the civilization.  The question is, what will they try to save?  Friends and family?  Cultural stuff?  Or wil the player through the character into what is a patently hopeless attempt to save the civilization?

The tragedy here is that something which is valuable to all the PCs is doomed, period, no saving throw.  The best that the PCs can do is save thier favorite fragments.

Does this count?

Lon


  I wonder.  I guess it depends to some extent on the character's personal relationship to the lost civilization.  I mean, it seems like tragedy always ends up with the protagonist losing that which they hold to be most dear, or getting royally, royally screwed.  And that's the end.  In the scenario that you're planning, does the game take place prior to the cataclysm (or tidal wave, or deadly plague, etc) or does it focus on events afterwards?
  The more I think it about it, it sounds like it would really difficult to run the game as a tragedy, partially because the characters are focusing on what they want to save from destruction: in a tragedy you lose everything.  But it still sounds like a damn cool game, though and I'd love to hear more about it (what's the premise?  what's the setting? what system?)
-Tor
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Ben Morgan
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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2001, 05:28:00 PM »

If I remember correctly, Classic Tragedy traditionally focuses on one hero who is fatally flawed. Epic Tragedy would deal with the decline of fall of an entire civilization.

The former has been explored in RPGs a little, the latter, I believe, even less. Both are interesting ideas, though.

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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2001, 04:36:00 AM »

Quote

  Nice!  I like the idea.  Bold, different, but appealing...  just, what's Kill Dr. Lucky?

Kill Dr. Lucky is a "boardgame" from Cheapass Games. I put boardgame in quotes because, like all Cheapass games it is made of extrmely cheap components, and thus the board in Kill Dr. Lucky is actually two heavy pieces of paper.

Anyway, the object of this amusing gameis to, well, Kill Dr. Lucky. You do this by chasing him down as he roams about his mansion (the board; kinda Clue-esque), and using various wapon cards. When you make an attempt, your opponents play cards to thwart the attempt, so that they can have a shot at Killing Dr. Lucky and becoming the winner.

Mike
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Mithras
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« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2001, 11:28:00 AM »

We used to have a scream (!) playing Cthulhu, because we all relished losing sanity. It was the raison d'etre for us. To avoid the Mythos and not know the awful truth seemed a complete wimp out. We liked to get right in there, one indefinate insanity per scenario - minimum!

Running with this doomed attitude from the word go, I'm working on a horror in war RPG focussed on the Vietnam War. Characters are going downhill fast, becoming quickly hardened to the terrors and atrocities of the conflict, and turning severe psychological damage (meanwhile) into hidden psychological flaws.

Its going to be nasty. Its going to be tragic. There's not alot you can do about it. Just 'be there' and share the overwhelming horror engulf you...

Mithras
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Paul Elliott

Zozer Game Designs: Home to ultra-lite game The Ladder, ZENOBIA the fantasy Roman RPG, and Japanese cyberpunk game ZAIBATSU, Cthulhu add-ons, ancient Greeks and more -  http://www.geocities.com/mithrapolis/games.html
James V. West
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2001, 12:17:00 PM »

THE QUESTING BEAST, which is the first game I'm working on that uses The Pool as its mechanic (maybe the only one--the system was made for this kind of game), is basically a romantic tragedy kind of game. The tendency in The Pool for players to get to narrate successes and then lose their shirts in the next roll lends itself perfectly to this kind of approach. Characters are not sacred, they can and do die. As in Moose's WYRD, its not a question that death will come, its a question of how.

Good ideas. Tragedy kicks ass.

James V. West
http://www.geocities.com/randomordercreations/thepool.html
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Uncle Dark
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« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2001, 09:22:00 AM »

Tor,

The game is to be a PBEM set in the final years of Numenor.  I will be using The World, The Flesh, and the Devil to run it.  All PCs will be memebers of the noble houses of the Edain, who stand to lose everything to the betrayal of Sauron and the madness of Al-Pharzon.

For the Non-Tolkien junkies, Numenor was the "land of gift," an island kingdom created by god as a reward for those human tribes who fought alongside the Elves in the war against Melkor (Sauron's boss) in the First Age, some 5000 years before the events of the Lord of the Rings.  Sauron had been taken captive, and seemed to reform.  He became advisor to the kings of Numenor, slowly corrupting them and turning them to rebelion against the "forces of light," and bringing about the Atlantis-like destruction of the kingdom (About 2000 years before LotR).

The premise runs something like this: everybody's heard the question, "If your house was on fire and you could only save one thing, what (or who) would it be?  If you had to chose your spouse or your child, which would it be?"  Now, imagine that your "house" is your entire civilization....  What do you do?

Lon
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