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Author Topic: Suicide King  (Read 4136 times)
hardcoremoose
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« on: December 19, 2001, 02:22:00 PM »

Hey guys,

I've been somewhat quiet on this forum lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been soaking up what people are saying and working on a few ideas of my own.  I've decided to share one of these ideas, as it has some relevance to the It Never Fails thread elsewhere.  It's kind of a modification to my Avant Guard mechanic,  and has a little of John Wick's superhero game thrown in (although I didn't realize the latter except in retrospect, but hell, I can't argue with that kind of inspiration).  Anyway, for you to look at and dissect...

Moose's Customizable Card Game Mechanic

CHARGEN

Each player gets a normal deck of 52 playing cards. From that deck they choose 15 cards.  They can
choose any of those cards, in any combination of suits and face cards.  They should keep in mind that each Suit "rules" one type of action, and is "weak" against
one type of action.

- Spades rules physical actions, and is weak against spiritual actions.

- Diamonds rules social actions, is weak against physical actions.

- Clubs rules mental actions, is weak against social actions.

- Hearts rules spiritual actions, is weak against mental actions.

So a player can load up on one suit, making his character good at one type of thing, really bad against another, and average against all others.  Or they can take good cards from all the suits, making
them diverse, jacks-of-all-trades.  BTW, high numbers are good, and face cards do special things (see hereafter).

After the player has picked his 15 cards, he deals
himself 10 at random from the remaining cards of the deck.  He now has a character, consisting of 25 cards; the remaining 27 cards are not used at all, and are
never considered during game play. All further references to "deck" mean the 25 cards that make up the character.  All that is left to do is name the character and give it some background information...all the game mechanics are handled by the customized deck of 25 cards.

Before play begins, each player deals himself a hand of 5 cards from his deck.

RESOLUTION

When a player wants to do something, the GM sets a difficulty number for the action.  Difficulty numbers are given in increments of 5...5 being the easiest, 10 being average, 15 being moderate, and 20 being pretty hard.  Higher difficulties are possible.

A player may choose to play a card from their hand, or randomly flip one from their deck.  They apply the number on the card towards the difficulty number of what it is they're trying to do.  They continue to play or flip cards until all the
cards added together beat the difficulty number, or until they retreat from the action.  For each card they flip beyond the first, the GM gets to introduce a Complication to the action...something that makes life more difficult for the character (in combat, a Complication could be getting hit by your enemy or being disarmed, or hundreds of other things.  If the
character is climbing a wall, a Complication could be that he slips and twists his ankle, or accidentally alerts some nearby guards, or something like that.

Suits affect card values in this way:  If a suit is played (when I say played, I mean from the hand or randomly off the deck) which rules the type of action
being attempted, the number on the card counts double; if the suit on the card is weak against the action being attempted, it counts half.

Face cards have the following effects:

Jack is a natural leader; all cards played prior to the Jack are considered the same suit as the Jack and not their natural suit.  Cards played after the Jack
are their normal suit.

Queen is a temptress; all cards played after she is played are considered to be of her suit, and not their actual suit.  Cards already played before the Queen are their actual suit.

The King is the ruler of all; any card played before or after the King, and that matches the King's suit, are counted double.  Cards with suits ruling the type of action being attempted no longer count double.

In combat, damage is measured by removing cards from the character's deck.  When healed, the cards get returned.  If the character runs out of cards, he's dead.

That's the whole thing.  Make any sense?

Character advancement might take two forms - a player might get to add extra cards to his deck. Alternately, he might want to increase his hand size.

I could see tinkering with the face cards a bit.  Instead of giving them a tactical advantage during task resolution, I could do something where playing one allows the player to assume directorial power briefly (this would make them good for doing stuff outside of task resolution).  I could also see making them character traits of some sort, such that the Queen of Hearts might represent an old girlfriend or a loved one, and when that card gets played, that trait is brought into play (if I did this, I would leave the face cards undefined, letting the players fill in the blanks when they create their character).

I'm not sure what to do with the Jokers yet.  Any ideas?

I've always wanted to design a mechanic where hte characters themselves were a customized deck of cards, so there you have it. Any comments or suggestions will be met with the highest degree of suspicion, err, I mean, gratitude.

- Moose


[ This Message was edited by: hardcoremoose on 2001-12-19 17:24 ]
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2001, 02:59:00 PM »

Hmmm...just a quick note. There seems to be no reason to take low cards. How about if weak cards subtract from the total instead? That way high cards are dangerous in certain circumstances. Gives an incentive to have some moderate cards as well.

Oh, and Aces should have special abilities as well.

When do you reshuffle? After every resolution?

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2001, 03:05:00 PM »

Hey Scott,

This is quite cooler than it seemed when you described it to me on the phone.

One question:

Cards with suits ruling the type of action being attempted no longer count double.

What if the King played matches the suit ruling the action, quadruple?

Paul
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2001, 03:11:00 PM »

Mike,

As written, there isn't any real reason to take low cards, except that too many cards in too many suits can actually be a drawback (meaning that in specializing in a single suit or two, you'd have to take some low to middling cards).  But otherwise, no reason at all to take low cards; you might get some randomly distributed to you in Chargen, but that's about it.

The idea of subtracting off-suit values from the total isn't bad at all though.  Duly noted!

For the record, there's a mod to these rules in development under the tightest of security in a secret lab far from here.  Said mod actually makes use of point based chargen, meaning you buy your cards at a cost equal to their numerical value (or something to that effect).  Because having more cards is sometimes better than having better cards, low valued cards suddenly become a useful resource.

The Aces probablay should do something, although I like using them to give a nice balanced range of 1-10 for card values.

[Edited in response to Paul]

Hadn't considered that, although quadrupled would be cool.  We'll see...I'm still sorting through all the various ways face cards could be used, wondering if there's something even better out there.  Anyone got any ideas?

- Moose

[ This Message was edited by: hardcoremoose on 2001-12-19 18:14 ]
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Skippy
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Posts: 43


« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2001, 07:34:00 PM »

Moose,

I'm a big fan of your work, but I haven't spent much time here.  Hope you don't mind a comment or two from a novice.

Here's an idea for jokers: normal poker decks come with two jokers, a full color, and a B&W.  Call them Joker (B&W), and Joker Prime (color).

Joker can be used to represent any non-face card in the deck, even one already in play.  This could effectively double the value or effect of any existing card.

Joker Prime works the same way, but with face cards.  Therefore, theoretically a card is played in suit (double value), then King'ed (now quadruple value), then Joker Primed as King (eight times normal value).

However, this would be an extreme use case.  The normal use would be as a limited effect wild card.

Thanks for letting me join in.
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Scott Heyden

"If I could orally gratify myself, you'd have to roll me to work."
Paul Czege
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2001, 07:49:00 PM »

Hey Scott,

How about a Joker played from the hand gives the player carte blanche to narrate whatever outcome he wants, and a Joker flipped from the deck turns it over to the GM to narrate whatever outcome he sees fit?

You know I love turning the hose on my players.

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
hardcoremoose
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2001, 08:46:00 PM »

Skippy,

Good to see you man.  Glad I could pull you into a discussion.

As far as the Jokers go, I did see them as some sort of wild card.  This exercise is fun for me in that I can't really classify it along a specific branch of GNS.  If you were to ask me to do so, I might say it was narrativist because of the way success, failure, and Complications work to build a story the way the players want.  On the other hand, there's room for Gamist-like strategizing and tactics, particularly in the chargen/deck building part of the game (and this becomes even more so when you add in the point based purchasing of cards and whatnot, which Skippy can describe if he so chooses).  I kind of want to try it out just to see which it best supports.

Take care,
Moose

[ This Message was edited by: hardcoremoose on 2001-12-19 23:47 ]
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Skippy
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2001, 11:00:00 PM »

Setting the classification aside, my suggestion for Jokers was primarily based on your current (i.e. proposed here) mechanics.  Cards are used as points to overcome difficulties.  Face cards are modifiers to that application.  My presentation of Jokers was in keeping with that established pattern, rather than branching off to another area.

However, depending on setting, I can see alternate uses for the system and chargen, some fairly "mechanical", and some more abstract.  Frex, you could have powers/spells/ablilities that require a certain card cost to activate, and these would likely require the strong use of face cards.  These would be fairly mechanical, i.e. a fixed or at least predictable cost, use, resolution, etc.

More abstract uses would be applying card relationships to interactions, and the introduction of either characters, or elements of character.  Frex, instead of using the Queen of Cups, er, Hearts to introduce a new character, it could be used to introduce a romantic element between two existing characters.  However, for these uses, I would recommend some guidelines to the nature of the cards, and the aspects each would represent.  Not an ad infinitum exploration a la Tarot, but more a guideline by suit and type.  Personally, I still like the term Knave instead of Jack.

I agree with Mike's (?) comment regarding balance.  As proposed, there really is no reason to choose lower level cards.  They don't give you nearly the bang that face cards do.  Which would tempt me to sneak a pinochle deck in under the radar.  :smile:  Of course, with NO point cards, the face cards are useless, but I can't see a player building a character with anything lower than 8's, unless he is trying to be "tight" in one suit.

Any possibility for a Trump mechanic?  I'm not sure what function it would serve, but I love Trump suits.  Too many years of playing Spades.

Peace,

Skippy

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Scott Heyden

"If I could orally gratify myself, you'd have to roll me to work."
archangel_2
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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2001, 08:50:00 PM »

Just a question: what setting would you plan on putting these mechanics to? (It'd make a big difference as to what I'd recommend, depending on what you want to do with 'em...)

Daniel
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Skippy
Member

Posts: 43


« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2001, 09:27:00 PM »

Moose,

Been mulling your system over for a couple of days now, and I wanted to present you with an idea.  I started to think about how characters would be built, and strategy for deck design.  It got me thinking about the alignment of the suits to various aspects of character.  In your example, Spades=physical, diamonds=mental, etc.  I wonder how useful the social and spiritual suits will be.  I can easily see 70-80 percent of the tasks being primarily based on physical or mental.  Now, this may be a good design consideration, since the other two suits will be largely taken at face value.  However, it does seem to be a little out of balance, unless it is set in a very intrigue and magic-heavy system.

I considered the following change: rather than align the suit to a character aspect, align the suit to a character APPROACH.  The idea here is that whether the action is physical, mental, social, or spiritual, the approach model can be applied.  The alignment could look something like this:

Spades: Power (Force)
Diamonds: Finesse (Skill)
Clubs: Influence (Manipulation)
Hearts: Empathy (Intuition)

Now, there may be some other issues that arise from this that I haven't considered, but it seems to be a more versatile use of the suit alignments.

Any comments?  Am I crazy?

Skippy
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Scott Heyden

"If I could orally gratify myself, you'd have to roll me to work."
hardcoremoose
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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2001, 07:14:00 AM »

You're not crazy.  I had the same thoughts myself.  The mechanic, as I originally presented it, was just sort of a general use thing, a "universal" mechanic if you will.  But you're looking at it for a specific game, which changes everything.

We'll have to try it out sometime and see if it works.

- Moose
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James V. West
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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2001, 08:10:00 AM »

Cool idea, Moose.

I like Paul's idea about Jokers. I was thinking that (if you use the decks with b&w/color jokers) the color joker could give you full narration power while the b&w one gives it to the GM.

My first impression of the system was to use it for a fairy-tale setting. This is probably some Alice In Wonderland influence coming up in me.

My only hangup about using playing cards is their association with poker, with non-fantasticly-based games (hearts, etc), and with gambling. Its hard for me to get past the image part of it. I wish I could buy blank-faced playing cards.

James V. West
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