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[Unistat] Addressing Troy's Power 19

Started by Andrew Morris, January 27, 2006, 01:09:20 PM

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Andrew Morris

I looked at Troy's "Power 19" questions, and I thought I'd have a go at seeing how well they served my game Unistat. Even though Unistat is almost done, I thought this could help point out any weaknesses. It's a rough fit, I think, because Unistat is such a universal game. There's no Setting and no Situation. I wonder if this means I just didn't understand the questions well enough, or if the Power 19 don't really work for universal games.

Here's my take on the Power 19 for Unistat. Any thoughts, comments, or questions would be welcome.

1.) What is your game about?**
The answer to this is just too damn general. This is not a tightly focused game, but rather a tool to allow for fast exploration of the shared imagined space. If anything, I would say that the game is about interesting characters doing cinematic stuff, and being cool as all hell.

2.) What do the characters do?**
While that's going to vary game by game, ultimately, the characters do stuff that makes them look cool.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?**
Narrate elements of the shared imagined space, calculate how much they're willing to risk in order to have narration rights, and roll dice.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The "characters looking cool" aspect of Unistat isn't tied to any genre. If you want to run your favorite characters from some work of fiction, it's easy to convert them. If you want to make stuff up as you go along, that's easy, too. Having a setting would just take away options.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Chargen is fast, easy, and you only have one thematic decision to make, which highlights exactly what makes your character cool. There's a bit of strategic decision-making as well, but that doesn't reinforce the coolness element much.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
The only behavior that is rewarded is handling things in a way that fits your character's nature.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
When you play to your Stat, you return any 1s to your pool, instead of handing them to your opponent as usual. This has a slight reward for players who choose smaller dice, since it makes you more likely to roll 1s. Choosing smaller dice is also a strategic decision that means your character will be succeeding less often, but you'll be in control of the narration more often.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Narration goes to the player who committed the most dice to a challenge. Because of the design, the more dice you have, the less likely you are to win the challenge. So, you have to make a decision about whether you'd rather have narration rights or victory for your character. Outside of the resolution mechanic, the GM has a traditional scope of credibility.

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?)
Uhm...nothing? I'm not sure I understand the question.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
Decide on stakes. Choose X amount of dice. Roll them. Compare to your opponent. Whoever has the highest roll wins the conflict. If tied, compare second-highest rolls, and so on until there is no tie, or one player is out of dice. The person who rolled the greatest number of dice gets to narrate how it comes about.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
You are rewarded by playing to your character's thematic core of coolness.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Yes, characters can increase the capacity for their dice pools over time.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The cool get cooler.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
Nervous tension and constant assessment of how much you're willing to risk to succeed or have narration (or both).

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
None, really. Or all, depending on your point of view. There's really not that much to the game, so I can't say anything is really singled out of attention.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
The simplicity. I like the fact that once you play Unistat, you'll never need to look at the rules again. I like that it can be played at a moment's notice. I like that characters take about a minute to create.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can't, don't, or won't?
It doesn't, really. Although it is a great entry into RPGs for someone who's never played before. It's easy to learn, plays out fast, and introduces some common elements (GM, NPC, PC, stats, dice).

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
To trim the rules down so it can be printed on one sheet of paper, then distribute it as a free game online. Maybe offer a laminated one-sheet at a small price -- a buck or two.

19.) Who is your target audience?
Gamers who have a setting in mind, and just want easy rules, fast resolution, cool characters, and cinematic action.
Download: Unistat

Joshua A.C. Newman

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.

Andrew Morris

Thanks, Joshua.

I finally pared down the copy for Unistat, so it now fits on a single sheet, which was one of my initial design goals in creating an RPG that would be less intimidating to people new to the hobby. I wanted it to feel more like a manual for a boardgame, or a sheet of rules included in a boxed game, both to avoid the reflexive non-gamer response of "I have to read all that?" as well as provide something a bit less alien than the standard RPG text.

You can grab the ver. 0.3 beta document here. It might or might not be useful to this thread, which I'd really like to be about whether I've misunderstood the application of the Power 19, or missed anything along the way.
Download: Unistat


Heya Andrew,

QuoteIt might or might not be useful to this thread, which I'd really like to be about whether I've misunderstood the application of the Power 19, or missed anything along the way.

-I don't know if you have or haven't.  The Power 19 is just one method someone could use to help them create/check their design.  It is a mistake to think it is a method that can apply to all designs.  It works for me; I believe it can work for a lot of people.  But not all people.  For someone who's working on their first design, it's definately useful if for no other reason than just to show them how many of the components of an RPG fit together.

-As for some of your specific answers, I would have liked to seen some more detail on how "cool" and "character's nature" are defined in your game.  As for not understanding #9, it's basically asking what in your game makes the players want to keep playing?  Your answer to #17 is interesting.  You say it doesn't do something other games don't already, then tell us how it does.  Purposely being an entry level RPG that introduces players to common RPG elements is something that not too many games try to accomplish.  You nailed the last two questions right on, and I personally think that's an awesome goal.  A 1 page RPG is something that I wish there were more of.  It might be something non-RPGers might be willing to try.

-So anyay, just to go back to what you said, if you thought the Power 19 was a universal way to design and talk about an RPG design, yeah you misunderstood their purpose.  If you thought they were a tool that might be useful to anyone who designs an RPG, then you understood the purpose 100%.



Andrew Morris

Yup, I was viewing it as a useful tool for design. Basically, I'm standing there with a wrench, going, "You turn it like this?"

As to how "cool"  and "character's nature" are defined, that's pretty much through group consensus. The way chargen goes is:

1) You propose a concept
2) The rest of the group approves, suggests modifications, or approves the concept
3) Give the character a name
4) Give the character a stat that identifies their core essence -- what makes them interesting

Once you've got your concept, name, and stat, your character is ready to go. During play, you get a significant inducement to try and drive narration toward your character's stat -- a victory that plays to your stat is less costly (in terms of resources) and a defeat that does so earns you a greater reward.

So, if we're doing Firefly, and I'm playing Mal with the stat of "Core of Nobility," I'll want to drive play to conflicts where I can put my stat into play -- taking moral stands, protecting my crew, helping the helpless, etc. -- because I'll be rewarded for it.
Download: Unistat