*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 16, 2021, 04:03:24 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 94 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: (Anarchist's Activity Book) chaos in game design  (Read 3909 times)
Deadboy
Member

Posts: 15


WWW
« on: July 06, 2004, 01:20:03 PM »

Hi, relatively new to the forge... I posted once a few months ago asking for advice on getting people interested in my past RPG projects, such as Revelation. I've also been lurking quite a bit.

I'm currently fiddling with ideas for a new game. The idea is to create a shorter and cheaper RPG than my previous efforts, and I have to say that I've been influenced a bit by such worthy projects I've seen at the Forge such as Sorcerer and InSpectres.

My previous effort, Revelation, was an entirely simulationist game; though fairly rules light it had lots of hard-defined attributes, traits, skills, etc. It was an effort to capture the badass coolness of things like Blade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy et al in a more traditional role-playing game setting, and I'm fairly proud of it, and have even done sourcebooks for it. But now (thanks to you guys) I'm looking to try a new direction.

I'm not sure if I'm 100% comfortable with going completely narrativist; my favorite part of RPGs has always been the feeling that I'm "there," and if I'm actually making the story it kind of ruins the "thereness" for me. However, I'd kind of like to introduce narrativism in at least a limited degree.

The background of Anarchist's Activity Book, which is something of a sci fi black comedy, is that America has been taken over by a ruthless dictator known as "Mother" (a misogynist play on Big Brother), but most Americans have grown too complacent to realize this or care. Near everywhere is under surveillance, and weaponry is entirely unavailable to the public. However, a rebellious subculture based on 80s punk rock has grown up, trying to fight the power in the only way available - by being a thorn in the governments side by causing chaos and anarchy. The leader of this rebellion is a publisher of children's educational books, so he hides his messages to the various Cells in the puzzles and activities in these books (the idea is to put actual activities, like crosswords, mazes, anagrams, etc. in the rulebook).

The whole thing is kind of a play on childhood rebelliousness against parental authority, set to a backdrop of some of my own bitterness about our modern day government's insistence of making laws "for our own good," such as ticketing people for not wearing seatbelts or requiring kids to wear helmets while bicycling. 40 years ago, cars didn't even have seatbelts; 15 years ago, I rode my bike everywhere and got by just fine without a helmet. Of course, the game takes it to extremes like cameras in your bedroom to make sure you say your prayers at night (almost Paranoia-style).

I figure, since the idea for the characters is to cause chaos, then the game system should also, somehow, be built around chaos. My first idea towards that end is that there are NO traits or attributes other than what the players make up. Characters would get to choose two primary traits and four secondary traits (all traits must be defined by one word). Players would play kind of a game of "Mother May I," trying to convince Mother(the gamemaster) why each of their traits should be justified and allowable. Players would roll 3 six-sided dice to resolve any check pertaining to their primary traits, 2 six-siders for secondary traits, and just 1 for any roll that isn't covered by one of their traits. The other neat thing about these traits is that players can jettison them and replace them from adventure to adventure, but again, must convince Mother to allow it.

Additionally, each character has 1 Virtue, which is basically another trait (of which there will be an actual selection) that adds 1 die to any die roll pertaining to it. The character would also have 3 Foibles... I haven't worked out the specifics of these, but I'm thinking 1 should be one of the 7 deadly sins, another something the character craves, and the third... I dunno. I'm also bleary on what exact effect these have... All I know is that the Virtue and Foibles are among the few things on the character sheet not subject to change after character creation.

As players run their character through a scenario, they can earn two kinds of points: Chaos Points and Cool Points; because an Anarchist must obviously be both Chaotic and Cool.

Cool Points are kind of the character advancement points; each time you earn a Cool Point, you may either pick a new secondary trait, upgrade one secondary trait to a Primary Trait, upgrade a Primary Trait to a Superior Trait (4 dice) or upgrade a Superior Trait to a Master Trait (5 dice). I also want Cool Points to do... something else (if that's not vague enough for you).

Chaos Points will be the points where the player can really introduce his own bit of Anarchy into the story. Chaos Points can be spent to allow the player to do practically anything he wants... for one scene. Possibilities include narrating the results of actions, actually switching places with Mother for the rest of the scene) the player is now Mother and can invent whatever he wants for the rest of the scene, but Mother is playing his character), triggering a confessional scene (yeah, I'm borrowing a bit from InSpectres, I absolutely fell in love with that idea, but I'm looking for ways to make my version different), or even changing how the dice resolve (low is better, look for a number on each die, roll 20-sided dice instead of 6s, etc.)

So what do you guys think? Sound any fun? And can it work?

-Jim Taylor
www.happynebula.com
Logged

-Jim
Happy Nebula Adventures
DevP
Member

Posts: 576


WWW
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2004, 03:20:05 PM »

So first thing: I like your idea + attempted flavor. It seems to somewhat touch into "f-screwed up fairy-tale" department, which has rich material.

Second thing: check out Dan Solis's PUNK, and even my playtest thereof. Your category of your two points (Cool & Chaos) reminded me of a similar scale in there. If you find good thought-material there, cool. (When you find multiple people coming up with the same idea independently, you should chalk it up to "great minds thinking alike" and such. I'm just pointing out a resource, not saying "it's been done", because that would be silly.)

I feel like "Mother May I" smacks a bit of mostly ALL rpg character creation really, but the mix of pro-chaos ideology and a touch of children's-book mythology does hit on something. I think that, if you really want capital-C-Chaos to be a factor here, brainstorm more mechanics that are themselves chaotic without being 100% arbitrary.

Here's a random idea, not necessarily workable: players enumerate Good Traits and Bad Traits. A random die roll decides which traits are postive/negative/neutral for the given situation; maybe narration requires then applying all the traits to the narration, or automatically ceding narration (i.e. failing) to Mother.

If you could make a by-product of the play something like a children's book - i.e. the player's sketch one out while they play, as events happen - well, good.
Logged

Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2004, 03:21:29 PM »

Deadboy,

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), the set up you have would emphasize submission to authority far more than rebellion since the game master has the power to accept or deny the wheedlings of the players and their characters.

Also, the character system is very similar to Over the Edge and therefore might carry across any prior impressions from that game.

If you want to emphasize rebellion and chaos among the players as well as their characters, consider instead this :

In the rules, encourage the players to cheat.  For simplicity's sake, encourage them to cheat predominantly on dice rolls and on making up game rules, i.e. bogus rules-lawyering.

Create a complex number of situations requiring die rolls, and encourage the game master to attempt to catch players cheating in every single die rolling situation.  Perhaps the game master is even allowed to create rules peremptorily so long as he or she then writes those rules down (even Big Brother values precedent, so much so that the 1984 government chose to rewrite history rather than admit to variability) and makes them accessible to the players.  Furthermore, encourage the game master to offer a considerable amount of extra experience points to any player who turns in another player for cheating.

Encourage the players to cheat on those rules -- for example, lying about die rolls, making up rules as a bluff, bribing the game master to change NPC die rolls (and encourage the game master as part of game mastering duty to be susceptible to bribes!).  Encourage each player to decide on her or his own, narrativist style, whether to turn in fellow players for the experience points awards or to keep the mouth shut and stick together.

When the game master actually catches someone cheating, his or her punishment of the cheater can be negated if every player votes to veto the game master.  However, the game master is free to -- even encouraged to! -- remind players of how their characters have been turned in for experience points by the cheater or the cheater has used bribery to help only himself or herself and other "sins" of the cheater in an effort to sow discord among the players.

Actually, let a unanimous vote by the players at any time negate any ruling by the game master -- but it has to be overridden at that very moment!  This includes the right to override, one at a time!, the experience points given out by the game master at the end of a session.  (This makes it interesting for players since a player has no guarantee that voting for one player to earn more experience points means that said player will return the favor, and since vetoes require unanimity . . . )

Anarchism is at heart a disbelief in the morality of institutionalized hierarchy.  So if the players can override any and all rulings by the game master -- but ONLY if they work together as one! -- then they are acting out of anarchistic principles.

Thus, the players deal in game in character and in game out of character with two narrativistic questions : 1) loyalty to the group versus personal gain in power (even if that power is used to help others from a position of superior authority, as occurs in a republic), and 2) rebelling and conforming with the will of the group versus rebelling and conforming with the will of the authority (represented here by the game master).

Does this fit what you're seeking?

Doctor Xero
Logged

"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2004, 03:30:58 PM »

edit out a computer hiccough
Logged

"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Deadboy
Member

Posts: 15


WWW
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2004, 04:02:24 PM »

Hmmm... Some good ideas from both of you, Dev and Doctor Xero.  I'll definitely check out those games you guys pointed me to, Punk and Over The Edge, respectively (I've heard of Punk but I've never actually read or played either of the two).

Dev, you've pretty much hit on what I'm trying to do, with the whole "screwed up fairytale" thing. Having play actually produce a children's book is an intriguing idea I'll have to look into.

Doctor Xero, I'm interested in the idea of somehow including cheating into the rules system... Something I'm going to definitely consider. I think the specific ideas you mentioned would definitely be Anarchistic, but also smacks of some socialistic undertones -- which I suppose might be a byproduct of an Anarchistic agenda. Then again, I think I might want to try and shoot for anarchy for anarchy's sake, or pure anarchism, and try to avoid putting direct power anywhere, even from a "mandate from the masses" mechanic like you suggested. Certainly, I'll have to give it a lot more thought. The real question is, how to balance the anarchistic mechanics with at least some amount of social order, to keep a game from devolving into basically Calvinball? Anarchy is fine in theory, but in practice, it definitely needs to be tempered, somehow.

Thanks guys,
-Jim
www.happynebula.com
Logged

-Jim
Happy Nebula Adventures
Doctor Xero
Member

Posts: 433


« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2004, 05:11:58 PM »

Quote from: Deadboy
I think the specific ideas you mentioned would definitely be Anarchistic, but also smacks of some socialistic undertones

Erm, that would come from the fact that one common term for anarchism is libertarian socialism . . .

Anarchism and anarchy are NOT the same thing.  What I was referencing is along the lines of anarcho-syndicalism.

Perhaps you meant you wanted just plain hell-overflowing chaos?

Quote from: Deadboy
Anarchy is fine in theory, but in practice, it definitely needs to be tempered, somehow.

In real life situations, that's where anarcho-syndicalism comes in.

In your game, the campaign would be tempered by 1) restriction of what areas the players are encouraged to "cheat" against the rules (die rolling, bribery, and rules bluff) and by 2) the game master's control being usurpable only by coordinated effort.

Dag, now that I think about it . . . I think I'll use the mechanics I suggested on my own!  (Feel free, Deadboy, and anyone else who's read this, to use them as well.)

Doctor Xero
Logged

"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Deadboy
Member

Posts: 15


WWW
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2004, 12:20:36 PM »

Doc Xero, I've been thinking over some of your suggestions. I've come to the conclusion that while I really like your idea, that my idea that Chaos Points would be used to allow rule-breaking fits what I'm looking for just as well and as you need to earn the points, properly limits it. Part of the idea of my game is that you are trying to transform your character from a 9 to 5 Cog in the Machine into a full-on Anarchist, and requiring that the players earn points to be able to resist the system helps capture that flavor a little better for my game. Besides, if you're going to be using that idea yourself, I'd just as soon shy away from it. *g*

Meanwhile, I'm still looking into ways to make character generation freeform, whimsical and anarchistic. I'd have to agree that forcing every thing to be Mother-Approved is kind of working against the idea of resisting Authority, so I'm looking into ways to let players make up their traits while preventing over-clever players from just naming "Everything" as a trait.
Logged

-Jim
Happy Nebula Adventures
DevP
Member

Posts: 576


WWW
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2004, 12:28:57 PM »

I would like: traits are phrases, and as I said a trait could randomly come up in your favor or benefit. So let players have as many or as wide traits as they like, since having too many traits or having broad (hard-to-narrate) traits will just let them hang themselves.
Logged

Elkin
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2004, 12:46:12 PM »

Here's a suggestion:
Split the character sheet into two parts, secret and public, like in Paranoia.
The public part will contain all sorts of fixed stats, such as Strength, Agility, Wits etc.
There should also be skills/advantages/traits chosen out of a fixed lists. Skills will be stuff like Toothbrushing, Praying, Posture and the likes, while advantages/traits will be chosen out of options such as 'Enjoys puns', 'Smiles constantly', or 'Can't sleep without his teddy'.

The private part will be created in the fashion you've mentioned earlier. The relation between the parts, as I see it, can be one of the following:

A. Both public and private parts have their in-game use, and the GM gets to see both. For a paying a certain sum of either Cool or Chaos points, the player can display and freely use any of the stuff on the secret part for a scene or two.

B. The public part is completely bogus, but as the secret part is even secret from the GM, the public part represents everything that Mother knows about the PC, at least at the beginning of the game. As the PC uses more of his chaotic skills, he has to reveal the relevant part of his sheet to Mother, who may now use it against him.
Logged
Deadboy
Member

Posts: 15


WWW
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2004, 09:01:20 AM »

Thanks Elkin, for the pretty cool idea. I felt the need to specifically thank you because I used the idea about the two sides of the character and it's been really, really fun to design.

Characters now have 2 sides: The Cog In The Machine and The Anarchist, each with their own half of the character sheet. The Cog side is going to be neatly ordered and standard like most character sheets, while the Anarchist's side is going to be random and poorly laid out (but in a purposeful way).

Designing the Cog side has been a lot more interesting than I thought it should have been. They start with jobs, things like "Sanitation Engineer" and "Office Drone." Then I gave them three ridiculous attributes based on what employers generally look for in an employee: Creativity, Productivity and Reliability. Skills are things such as Typing, Stacking, Hygiene, Paper Pushing, etc. And then I put in Quirks that are much like you described, like "can't sleep without a teddy." The main point was to make just about everything on this side of the sheet useful if you're going to be RPing out any part of your Cog's life, but entirely useless to the Anarchist. Ah, good times. *g*

I'm still playing around with the Anarchist side, considering both some of my own ideas and some of the ideas that have been thrown at me here.
Logged

-Jim
Happy Nebula Adventures
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!