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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: MJGraham on April 13, 2007, 05:54:18 AM

Title: [Insurrection] Power 19.
Post by: MJGraham on April 13, 2007, 05:54:18 AM
Here is my attempt at answering the Power 19 for my game called Insurrection:

1.) What is your game about?**
The game is about the tension between the characters virtues and the “negative emotions” from which they are derived and the sort of person that the characters can become in the face of inevitable personal tragedy. It is game of pathos and tragedy.

2.) What do the characters do?**
Characters fight as members of secret cabals against profane authorities. The intention of these cabals (and therefore the characters within them) is to inspire an uprising from the downtrodden populace. The players know that there won’t be an uprising within the characters lifetime. Nevertheless the characters must try to become the kind of people who can inspire the revolution to happen posthumously (although for the characters themselves they hope and believe that it may happen within their own lifetime).

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?**
Both players and GM try to create a story that is rich with pathos. The GM concentrates on atmosphere of the setting or what you might consider the background pathos of the story. The players concentrate on building empathy for their characters and thereby create what might be considered the foreground pathos of the story.

I like to think of the tension between a characters virtues and emotions as the strings on a violin and it’s the players’ responsibility to play those strings and create “music” or in the case of my game create a story full of pathos.
On the subject of pathos, it is far more important than plot. In my game it is considered better to play a game with a simple plot where the players empathize with their characters than an epic one in which they feel nothing towards them.

Players are also encouraged to discuss the story they are creating between and during gaming sessions.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The setting is a dystopian fantasy inspired by books such as Les Miserables and the build up to many revolutions that occurred across Western Europe and North America during this time. The setting is a dystopian fantasy version of 18th century Europe (think of it as 1784 instead of 1984)

The setting reinforces what the game is about because the characters are opposing immoral tyrants while struggling with their own moral failings. It brings up questions such as how can they fight an unjust organization when they’re own sense of justice derives from their anger or resentment? In short it encourages the characters to do be virtuous and heroic while at the same time dealing with their many unheroic flaws and vices.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Character creation focuses on virtues and the emotions from which they derive. These attributes or as I call them qualities are the way in which the characters engage with the world, approach life, and appraise the situations, people, and events in which they are embroiled. Players must decide if being compassionate is worth all the grief or sorrow that such a virtue will inflict upon the character or whether it’s worth having a little pride if it means the character will be prone to fear or anxiety.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
It rewards a style of play that places what kind of person a character is at the forefront. It is concerned not with what your character can do but with what kind of a person he can become.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Challenges faced by characters are resolved by drawing two different coloured beads from an opaque bag. During play participants add beads to the bad so as to impact upon the others players chances of success. Players who meet the goal of doing what is inspirational while at the same time approaching it with the tension that exists between their virtues and emotions are rewarded with more positive coloured dice and thereby have a greater chance of succeeding.

An example might be a character that becomes angry at the sight of a young teenager being treated unjustly and violently by a member of the watch. His anger may help him achieve the justice he wants but it may also be the cause of him going too far and murdering the member of the watch. If the players feel that this approach incorporates the kind of tension that the character would feel (i.e. is he really prone to anger and does he really care about justice?); if they feel that anger and the desire for justice would help the character win a fight against the member of the watch at this time; if they  feel that fighting an armed member of the watch to save a young teenager is really the kind of thing to inspire the downtrodden populace with the setting to fight back against their oppressors then they player running the character will receive the maximum amount of extra positively coloured beads from the other participants.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Only one person narrates the game at any given time. But the responsibility of narrating can pass between participants during the course of play so that it’s possible that every participant will narrate multiple times during play.

The participant narrating has authority over the tangibles within the setting, e.g. whether the table in the corner of the room does have an unlocked draw is a decision made by the narrating participant.

When narrating a participant is responsible for the setting. By setting I mean more than the environment and/or location. I also mean the mood of the setting and any background events (e.g. deciding that the game will take place during an annual festival).

All the other participants are responsible for moving their characters situations towards resolving/facing a question established by the participants during the start of the game. An example of the question needing to be resolved might be can the players forgive and trust someone who has betrayed them in the past when the time has come that they need his help.

Actions and the consequence of those actions come under the players’ authority, e.g. a player may not decide if his character succeeds or fails but he can decide how his character will approach the challenges which face him and he can describe how his character manages to fail or succeed.

9.) What does your game do to command the players’ attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
Each player only has a limited amount of time to make his characters actions matter within the context of the story. A character may last only one session or he may last the maximum of ten. Because the players know their time with their characters is limited it encourages them to be involved now. It makes them ask how they can achieve the best results for their characters now. Not tomorrow. Not when their characters are level 300. Right now!

The game is very much about who the characters are rather than what they do. Players are always engaged with their characters in way that makes the players ask question such as “doing I like the sort of person my character is becoming?” rather than such questions as “am I happy that my character is struggling to defeat a couple of orcs in hand to hand combat?”

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
Players draw coloured beads from an opaque bag and get different results depending upon the combination of colours drawn.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
Other participants can alter a player’s chance of success or failure by changing the ratio of positively coloured beads to negatively coloured beads. How this reinforces what my game is about is discussed in my answer to question seven.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Characters do advance in an abstract and purely inter-subjective way. They gradually learn how to suppress or sublimate their emotions/virtues. Or they move towards striking a peaceful balance between their emotions and virtues. Or they find a use way to use the tension between their emotions and virtues to motivate them to even greater deeds. They may not get any better at what they do but they do (or at least should) become the kind of characters which could inspire the populace to rise up against their oppressors even if such an uprising will only happen after the character’s death.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The game is about the tension that exists between a characters virtue and the emotions from which they are derived. Character advancement reinforces what the game is about by focusing in on the ways that the characters will deal with this tension.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
I hope that it will create pathos between players and characters. I want the participants to care or at least empathize with their characters in the same way that they would for characters from their favourite books and movies.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
Tragedy in a very non-Aristotlean way in that as much as the characters are fated to die it is not their flaws which bring about their tragedy. I want the participants to not wonder why their characters must face great tragedy. I want them to ask themselves what kind of person their characters will choose to be when the inevitable arises.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
I’m most excited about moving away from what the characters can do and instead emphasizing what kind of person the character can be in the face of inevitable tragedy despite (or perhaps even because) of all their flaws.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
My game has a rather existentialist focus. It encourages players to take responsibility for the kind of person their character becomes.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
My goal is to make the game available on PDF and to have a small print run.

19.) Who is your target audience?
Fantasy roleplayers who are dissatisfied with characters personalities/dispositions being overshadowed by their attributes and/or skills. My target audience are the kind of players who (as an example) are more concerned with how they could allow their characters to become so vicious and self-serving rather then those who wonder what is the best spell to defeat a vampire lord.