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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Contingent rpgs  (Read 4282 times)
Kesher
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Posts: 174


« on: September 16, 2005, 01:48:28 PM »


I have two purposes with this post.  First, I'd like to find out if anyone knows of other examples of what I'm calling a contingent rpg (defined below); second, I'd love some ideas on how this type of game might be more comprehensively handled, mechanically speaking.

Definition:
Quote
A contingent rpg uses outside texts as a necessary part of the game; these texts are NOT created by the author of the game.  However, they must be used in some way in order for the game to be played.
 

An example is one of the games I'm currently working on, dungeonkind.  The rules can be seen here in a very rough form.  My intention is for play of the game to be contingent upon players and DM having at hand a widely variable D&D books at hand as resources to draw from.  Now, the rules as linked above don't reflect this quite as strongly as what I've been revising, but the fuel of the game is knowledge and use of D&D tropes, embodied by the text in all editions of that particular game.  Spell lists, magic items, monsters, races, prices, etc., must all be translated through the dungeonkind system to be of any use.  I'm also trying to figure out how a player could use the actual texts they possess as a resource in a mechanically-relevant way. 

Another example is an idea I've had for a game inspired by the works of I.B. Singer about cabalist Jews in the shtetls of Eastern Europe five or six hundred years ago.  Resolution of conflict hinges on interpretation of the Torah, opened at random, as well as any commentary on the passage (especially Talmudic or Midrashic.)  Obviously, play of the game is contingent upon a Torah at the table, as well as (potentially) volumes of commentary.

So, can anyone think of a game that already does something like this?  I'm interested not out of fear of not being original (I usually assume someone has already done something similar), but because, like most of us, I'd prefer not to reinvent the wheel.

Also, either with the above examples, or with whatever else off the top of your head, how can this idea of contingency fully integrate into the System of a game?  I'm mostly interested in terms of character creation (Effectiveness) and Resources.

Aaron
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2005, 02:35:48 PM »

Well, I think most RPGs actually work on this principle implicitly -- D&D is certainly partially contingent on the Lord of the Rings; World of Darkness is contingent on Anne Rice -- but doing it explicitly is an interesting thought.  And you're right, it's downright talmudic.  Doing it with D&D supplements has a nice sense of 'making those things useful', too.

I have no idea how to do that mechanically without being clunky as all hell, though.
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ewilen
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2005, 02:53:21 PM »

But Joshua, D&D is only inspired by LotR (and other stuff). You don't need to have been exposed to LotR, let alone have a copy of the books at the table, in order to play D&D.

As for other examples, I don't know of any offhand but Shadows in the Fog (link) seems to have some contingency-like qualities (based on Kesher's concept). That is, it seems to welcome if not require the use of outside-the-game-text, real-world documents as part of the source material.

By the way, Kesher, the link to your game appears to be missing.
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Elliot Wilen, Berkeley, CA
Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2005, 05:27:55 PM »

Quick and dirty idea: Randomly choose a page from a book (just take the number of pages and work out a randomiser).

Now, there are several keywords that are randomly/by player bidding determined. If the player can find them all in one paragraph on that page, he gets something and the context of the paragraph is absorbed into the game by certain words in it (determined randomly or again, player bidding) are used (key words have certain resources attached to them).

If he can find all the words in one sentence, it's a critical! :)

Okay, very rough idea. Just had to note it because I found the overall idea exciting!
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Philosopher Gamer
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Kesher
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Posts: 174


« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2005, 07:37:44 PM »

Quote from: Elliot
By the way, Kesher, the link to your game appears to be missing.

That's what I get for writing posts on one computer and posting them on another...  Thanks, and here's the link: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16392.0

Callan, your post got me excited for two reasons: One, I remembered, suddenly, as if it simply swum out of the depths of my unconcious, this game: http://evilbobdayjob.tripod.com/ftcrm/  This is a perfect example of a game that uses contingency.  Though conceived as a "found text" mechanic, it could obviously be limited to a single text.

Which brings me to reason two: The first game I ever worked on after finding the Forge was called Literati.  The whole point was to game within a given novel-based fictional setting (Moby Dick, Ethan Frome, Lord of the Flies, etc., whatever the group wanted), addressing similar themes to those found in the novel.  I could never work out a central mechanic that I was happy with; everything I tried seemed divorced from the "literary" focus.  Your idea is exactly what I wa looking for!  I mean, c'mon, DUH--- in a game revolving around a particular book, why the fuck wouldn't you use the book itself as the main fuel for everything??  Completely contingent!

I know you just threw the idea out, but I'd love some more insight on how you see bidding being a part of the text-finding/using process.  The idea of keywords as being directly linked to Resources is spot on; I would think you could work it into Effectiveness as well (choose x-number of keywords from a contingent text as character descriptors, for instance...)  Jeebus, I might have to work that into dungeonkind somehow...

Quote from: Elliot
As for other examples, I don't know of any offhand but Shadows in the Fog (link) seems to have some contingency-like qualities (based on Kesher's concept). That is, it seems to welcome if not require the use of outside-the-game-text, real-world documents as part of the source material.

Oh, I almost forgot: Elliot, it's funny that you mention Shadows in the Fog; I actually participated in the playtesting for that game (it's excellent, btw!)  I would say that you're exactly right in your assessment; it welcomes outside material and easily absorbs it into the unique version of the Ripper's London that the group creates, but it doesn't have a directly mechanical effect on the game.  Othoh, if you consider the Rider-Waite Tarot interpretations used in play as a contingent text, it does adhere to my definition...

(Chris Lehrich or any indieMN folks who played the game who might be reading this, lemme know if you think I'm wrong...)

Aaron
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ewilen
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2005, 08:42:41 PM »

Oh, yeah--I wanted to include Tarot-based resolution systems. Aside from SitF, there's Clay of the Gods (link), by Lee Short. The rules have a set of interpretations of the Tarot cards used in the game, which in a sense reduces the Tarot to a "mere" resolution mechanic, but there is at least an allusion to giving experienced Tarot readers the option of using the Tarot in an "unmediated" fashion (i.e., based on their knowledge of the Tarot as opposed to rules-dictated interpretations). I would call this contingent. Even moreso, perhaps, if you allow for the idea of using different decks (such as the Aleister Crowley deck) with different associated interpretative traditions.

I think that Lee's current project, The Star, The Moon, and the Cross will use a similar system.
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Elliot Wilen, Berkeley, CA
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2005, 05:45:09 AM »

Hey Aaron,

The Valedictorian's Death

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
Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2005, 01:36:33 PM »

Hi Aaron,

I think I introduced the bidding idea, because it will let me know what other players are excited about and make me have to find a paragraph with those words, which is a challenge. The excitement of the other players makes that challenge very sweet to encounter.

It also allows some human input to the game, but at the same time the human input needs to cope with the random elements and include them. It's a small comfort zone pushing exercise for everyone.

Personally what your proposing reminds me of a lot of 'standard' play, where people would draw from all sorts of books as the justification for something and thus making funky textual collages with all these arcane looking D&D books.
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Philosopher Gamer
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