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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Zak Arntson on October 09, 2002, 02:32:32 PM



Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Zak Arntson on October 09, 2002, 02:32:32 PM
Okay, I wrote my October/November game. Noche de Los Vampiros. You can find it at the secret url: http://www.harlekin-maus.com/games/vampiros/vampiros.html. I've got to add some graphics before publicizing it everywhere.

In any case, here's the design philosophy:
- A game which uses a stressful mechanic (where chance of failure constantly increases) coupled with an in-party relationship map to drive narration.
- A definite time limit. Each game takes place over one twelve-hour night of game-time.
- Dead Characters does not equal bored Players. A Character-less Player gets a good chance to play GM at times.
- Obvious winners while still being fun for all (see the no-bored-Player thing above). Whoever has a Character surviving at the end of the game is a winner.

I'm considering forcing a Fortune-in-the-Beginning method of conflict resolution, but would that be a benefit? Or should I let that lie with the group's preference?

Edit: Adding link with Vampiros q&a: http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=zaka&itemid=52509


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 09, 2002, 03:12:50 PM
cool!

Hey Indie Netgamers, how about we test this one out on Monday?
I'll GM...

perhaps in...

...the Banana Republic of Blood...


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 11, 2002, 05:46:29 AM
I'm confused by something in the write-up. Players with dead characters, and the GM split the Vampire pool. Fine. What does that mean? That they get to roll the dice? So what? Who gets to narrate? When? How does the narration relate to the dice rolled?

I think something is missing. I could probably come up with something for the rollers to do that might resemble what you were going after, Zak, but I'd prefer to get the straight dope from you.

Mike


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Zak Arntson on October 11, 2002, 05:59:52 AM
The dead Player and the GM split up the Vampire Pool, though for purposes of gobbling living Player dice, the Vampire Pool roll is treated as on gigantic roll.

The dead Players' rolls go towards who gets to narrate.

For example, The living Player has 4 dice and the Vampire Pool is 6 dice. There are 2 dead Player + 1 GM = 3. The Vampire Pool is split 3 ways, so 2 dice each.

The living Player rolls 1,2,2,5.
Dead Player A: 1,4
Dead Player B: 4,6
GM: 2,3

The living Player would first remove one of the matching pair, so her roll now looks like:
Living Player: 1,2,5
Aside Dice: 1

The Dead Players and GM would then use their dice to gobble up the Player's roll.
Dead Player A: value 1 matches, Living Player: 2,5
Dead Player B: no die matches, Living Player: 2,5
GM: value 2 matches, Living Player: 5
Aside Dice: 3 (1 from living Player matches + 2 from Vampire Pool matches)

The Living Player now has a 5. Which means the Living Player looks at the chart: 5 = 1 vampire hurt real bad. No look to see who rolled highest. Dead Player B, with a 6.

The 3 dice set aside are added to the Vampire Pool.

Dead Player B narrates the outcome, with at least one vampire getting hurt real bad.

---

This is where getting dice for using a Relationship come in. Actually, I'm going to update the rules, where Relationship dice are a different color and can NEVER be added to the Vampire Pool. You get more dice for mentioning Relationships. It can be something strong like: "I cut my arm and wave it around, spreading blood to distract the vampires from my brother." or simply, "That cheating husband of mine, I'm only going to use 2 dice for this roll."


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 11, 2002, 06:02:56 AM
Got it.

Thanks, Zak.

Mike


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 14, 2002, 03:11:52 PM
To those Forgers who aren't part of the Indie Netgamers  (or don't even know there are any)

We are going to playtest Noche de Los Vampiros tonight (monday the 14th) at 8 pm CST at magicstar IRC
http://www.magicstar.net/
in the channel....#indierpgs  

feel free to drop in...you can play if you get there before we start...


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 15, 2002, 09:54:09 AM
Well, Zak, I stopped in at the playtest and gave it a whirl.

Game's got problems. Some might just be in understaning how it works. Others seem entrenched.

First, is there any negative repercussion of a low roll? Other than you have to narrate getting bitten. I mean, does getting bitten mean that the character is out of the game or what?

Essentially, if players take turns losing dice, then nobody ever has to lose a box. Especially if you have enough players. Given that we had three players, that meant that no one of the three could loose all ten required to end the hour. This is simple to accomplish. Only one player traies hard at a time. Or, if you are playing competitively, everybody goes with minimum dice risked, which ends up looking attrocios narratively speaking, but distributes dice loses randomly. Which means, again, that nobody ever loses a box.

The other big issue is, who narrates? Is there a contest for each player? Or do the players count as a side?

I'll wait for some answers before continuing.

Mike


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Zak Arntson on October 15, 2002, 10:08:25 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

First, is there any negative repercussion of a low roll? Other than you have to narrate getting bitten. I mean, does getting bitten mean that the character is out of the game or what?


You just get bit with whatever repercussions your group narrates. Your character is dead when and only when you run out of boxes to check off.

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Essentially, if players take turns losing dice, then nobody ever has to lose a box. Especially if you have enough players. Given that we had three players, that meant that no one of the three could loose all ten required to end the hour. This is simple to accomplish. Only one player traies hard at a time. Or, if you are playing competitively, everybody goes with minimum dice risked, which ends up looking attrocios narratively speaking, but distributes dice loses randomly. Which means, again, that nobody ever loses a box.


I don't get what you're saying. Can you provide examples? The intent of the rules is this (which sound like they work differently than the reality of the rules): As you make Rolls, you are constantly losing dice to the Vampire Pool. The more you gamble, for a potential high roll & power of narration, the more you could lose to the Vampire Pool.

Quote from: Mike Holmes

The other big issue is, who narrates? Is there a contest for each player? Or do the players count as a side?


Everyone who rolls looks at their highest value. The highest value narrates. So if you have Living Player A's highest is 5, Dead Player B: 3, Dead Player C: 6, GM: 2. This would mean Dead Player C narrates the outcome.

Thanks for trying it out. I'm sorry for the rules, as written, being unclear (and very possibly being somewhat broken). I will try and fix that soon!


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 15, 2002, 10:18:46 AM
A lot of this is what I surmised.

Here's a solution to a lot of the problem. Remove the sentence at the end that says that players who make it till Dawn win. Because if that's the case, I'll just let the GM narrate (I personally don't care who narrates as a player), get bitten every time, and never lose a box, eventually ending up making it til Dawn and winning the game.

My Inner Gamist showing itself. There's a strategy that's suitable for winning the game, so I play it.

Another solution is to make that not a strategy. It seems as though there ought to be some mechanical penalty for rolling low. Match the simulative properties of the rolling to the mechanical result. It's just counterintuitive, as written, how the character who puts the most on the line is the one who gets hosed mechanically.

For example, you could do some sort of hit points separate from the other pool, which then becomes entirely metagame. So the play becomes risking narrative ability to keep alive. With forces pushiing both ways, you'll have players actually thinking in terms of their decisions not in terms of just Gamism or Narrativism, but both simultaneously.

Otherwise a player with a particular play style will just go all one way or another.

Just to clarify further, BTW, the high roller Narrates just his result? Or he Narrates all comparisons with the Vampire pool. This is a crucial difference.

Mike


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Zak Arntson on October 15, 2002, 10:41:09 AM
Okay, I updated the rules on the site (http://www.harlekin-maus.com/games/vampiros/vampiros.html if you don't want to scroll up).

I got rid of the "win" statement, because you're right. And I don't want to have the game be all about survival. It's all about choosing survival versus narrative control & killing vampires.

Here's the way the gambling works: If you use few dice, you have less of a chance to roll high (meaning you get bit, etc), but less of a chance of actually dying. The more dice you gamble, the better your chances of kicking vampire ass, but the closer you get to being dead.

I see it as balancing narrative ability with getting hurt. Higher risk = Greater chance of eventual death + Lesser chance of immediate bad things + greater narrative ability. Lower risk = Lesser chance of eventual death + Greater chance of immediate bad things + less impact on story.


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 15, 2002, 11:15:33 AM
Hmm. How about instead of a punishment for going low, a bonus for going high (just to balance against we with the Gamist urge)? For each hour, the Gm notes a number of Vamiros that will emerge. The players have to kill them all to end the hour (as opposed to ten dice being collected). Then just put numbers on the chart representing just how many vampires are killed with a particular roll. Special "Boss" vampires can count as more than one (but may only look like one to start; just to mess with the players).

That way somebody has to save the day, or the characters just languish until they all are down to one die (and the hour ends by default).

This would, BTW, solve another problem which is that given more players, the hours end faster, and the players each tend to lose less dice meaning that they will be even less likely to lose a box. The ten dice total to end the hour ought to be proportional to the characters, shouldn't it? Or is the increased player competition for narration supposed to cover it?

And you didn't answer my clarification in my last post. Do lower player rolls not get narrated at all? Or does the one Narrator narrate these as well?

Also, in the test a player designated his character's conflict with mine as "Mike's character doesn't like mine" heavily paraphrased. Then it came to my turn, and now I had to figure out how my character was bonded with the other character. Should players be allowed to influence the other character's concepts that way? How do I then create a bond? This might need to be clarified. Also, the bonds and such created were stuff like Pedro is richard's drug dealer. Are light bonds like this OK? Despite what the text says? You might need to beef that concept up, or you don't really get an R-Map.

Mike


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 15, 2002, 05:45:30 PM
I've got some ideas...
I thought of one thing to control the rolling of few dice.
It was based on my mistake at the end of the hour with Raven...
What if any player who is brought down to one or less dice left on the table from the results of any conflict roll (the dice used...not the total they have access to) they drop down a box level.
This way if you  choose to roll few dice...you stand a real chance of losing boxes and heading toward death....(you won but are getting tired, hurt, battered).
If you roll only one die...you Will go down a level. If you have only one die left you have  a real incentive to bring in relationship dice.
If you want to stay with some Gamist ideas... perhaps let the Conflict trait allow you to cancel out a die of the Conflict relationship player by tying the value of their rolls (this would play up the winning a bit, and offset someone using Bond die).


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 15, 2002, 07:19:37 PM
by the way...
the error that almost occurred was...
That in what was to be the last shot of the hour Raven rolled four dice (out of his 8? left). He got...
<Senor_Pedro_10> roll 4 d6
* Dicebot --> "Senor_Pedro_10 rolls 4#d6 and gets 2, 4, 4, 2."
I had...
Count_Bobula_7> roll 7 d6 for Vamps continuing the graveyard scene...
* Dicebot --> "Count_Bobula_7 rolls 7#d6 for Vamps continuing the graveyard scene... and gets 1, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4."

I started to say that he drops a 2 and a 4 leaving him with only one 2 and one 4. My Vampire dice matched both...thus he has zero dice and will drop a box. (He might even have been hosed for rolling a 0 amount on your chart).Then we remembered he still had 4 dice he didn't use ...so he's ok with a Box 10 score still.

If you changed this to...
any time you have one or less dice left on a conflict roll ...
you drop the box score to the next lower level

 it would encourage rolling more dice.

You would still probably have a problem with player number to hour ending dice amount...there would be an incentive to roll lots of dice to end the hour immediately if you had enough players...


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 15, 2002, 07:27:23 PM
Concerning Bonds and my idea...
perhaps you could loan a die to your Bond.

I would prefer to change the relationship creation...My preference would be to have each player have the reciprocal relation...thus rivals are both rival (Conflict)...friends are both friends (Bond)

Perhaps the Players should go around the table in roll order each assigning one of either a Bond or a Conflict between characters until each character has one of both types.


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Christoffer Lernö on October 15, 2002, 11:57:29 PM
Pag had a lot of ideas as well. I also had some thoughts, but they escape me for them moment. More use of relationships.

Oh I remember, if you could use your relationship with a player who turned into vampire that would be cool (and vice versa). Did anyone take a complete log?


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Paganini on October 16, 2002, 06:54:44 AM
Quote from: Pale Fire
Pag had a lot of ideas as well. I also had some thoughts, but they escape me for them moment. More use of relationships.

Oh I remember, if you could use your relationship with a player who turned into vampire that would be cool (and vice versa). Did anyone take a complete log?


I have; we log all the Indie-netgaming sessions. I was hesitating to post my major rework ideas until some discussion of the game as it stands has taken place. :)


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Paganini on October 16, 2002, 06:55:55 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

Essentially, if players take turns losing dice, then nobody ever has to lose a box. Especially if you have enough players. Given that we had three players, that meant that no one of the three could loose all ten required to end the hour.


Minor quibble Mike, my understanding was the the hour ends when the GM accumulates 10 dice from any source, not when a player loses all 10 of his.

In any case, Zak, the big problem to me is that the game doesn't give you a picture of how its supposed to be played. This is a common problem, but a crippling one. Stopping the game to ask "What are we supposed to do now? What happenes next?" is a Bad Thing (TM). So, even if there are absolutely no holes, and all problems are simply due to mis-reading, the game needs serious presentation work.


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 16, 2002, 07:40:04 AM
Quote from: Paganini
Quote from: Mike Holmes

Essentially, if players take turns losing dice, then nobody ever has to lose a box. Especially if you have enough players. Given that we had three players, that meant that no one of the three could loose all ten required to end the hour.


Minor quibble Mike, my understanding was the the hour ends when the GM accumulates 10 dice from any source, not when a player loses all 10 of his.
I was being unclear. My point was that amongst three players you have thirty dice to start. The hour ends when the GM collects ten of them. Thus, as long as the dice are spread out, even just two dice to players other than one who has lost a lot, the hour ends and nobody loses a box. In fact, the players could theoretically lose eight dice each (24 in this case), and still nobody loses a box. Worse, there are fifteen boxes (twelve that can be checked and still have all players survive). Even if one player does donate ten dice, and loses a box every hour, as long as it rotates the players will all still survive. My point is that only by playing really, really recklessly (rolling all dice on every roll, when other players are playing more conservatively), do you stand even a chance of dying. And this is with only three players.

With more players the odds go down even further. In fact, at five or more players, it becomes statistically unlikely that anyone will ever lose a box. Just roll all your dice all the time, and, as long as everybody else is, too, you'll be just fine. First roll of fifty dice will loose on average more than ten dice (8 just to matches with the GMs die, and then player self matches). You'll roll a couple of dice that don't match your own or the GMs. If you're really afraid, only roll 8 and the hour will end anyhow.

A more dangerous level would be for the hour to end when the GM accumulates dice equal to 4 or 5 times the number of players. This would require more balance on the part of the players to maintain. Any more than this is problematic as well, as players will then be incentivized too much to play conservatively.

Still, as it stands the tactic I see is simple. You spend as much as you like to start. Then, as soon as the GM has accumulated as many dice as the players have, you go to betting only low numbers of dice.

Example: Three players. First scene of the first hour, we all roll a lot of dice. We end up losing 3 for one player, 2 for another, and one for the third. The GM now has seven dice. He needs only three more for the hour to end. At this point, players just start rolling three dice. Even if they lose them all, the hour ends, and they don't lose a box. More likely, someone will just lose one or two, and then each player can roll all but two dice. Even for the worst player who's lost six, he can still get away with rolling two dice safely. And I can violate this safety rule four times a game at the very least (as I have five boxes to give).

Not to mention any dice from relationships, which just make everything I've mentioned in this post worse. As relationship dice can actually increase your pool, or make the hour end earlier painlessly.

A note on relationships: it doesn't say how "appropriateness" is determined in the rules. Can I just mention the other characters that my charater has relationships with, and claim my two dice? Or does the GM have to approve? Or some other limit?

Mike


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Bob McNamee on October 16, 2002, 03:24:33 PM
This situation is where my idea of dropping the dice box amount based on the dice left in your conflict roll would come in handy...you could switch to 3 dice, but if you doubled  or I matched two or more you are losing a dice box value...

The problem doesn't really go away though...the solution is to alway roll near your maximum and at maximum on the last roll. The odds of matching enough of your dice to drop you should be low (I haven't checked this)


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Zak Arntson on October 17, 2002, 09:14:42 AM
Thank you all for you awesome comments & critiques. And by awesome I mean it: Inspiring awe at your critical eyes and sound suggestions. It is obvious that Vampiros isn't ready for play yet (something that wasn't obvious when I tentatively made it semi-public).

Fixing it will be a goal of mine, but for now I'm sticking the thing up in my semi-finished games section, In the Works.

Here are my thoughts, now:

- The mechanic definitely needs to scale with the number of Players.
- How to play needs to be very thoroughly explained (it all makes sense, in my mind! :)
- I need to decide on whether the main drive is competition or telling a cool Vampire story.

I will hopefully get back to Vampiros in the near future.


Title: Harlekin-Maus: Noche de Los Vampiros
Post by: Paganini on October 18, 2002, 07:09:53 AM
Sounds good Zak! I, for one, look forward to seeing how it turns out. To me, the heart of the game seems to be "gradual reduction of character effectiveness coupled with inverse increase of enemy power as the characters try to survive mexican vampires!" If you can get the mechanics fixed, I think it'd be a blast. :)