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[GLASS] Power 19

Started by David "Czar Fnord" Artman, February 17, 2006, 06:14:29 PM

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David "Czar Fnord" Artman

As a possible reinforcement to the existing content in GLASS v0.9beta (, here is the GLASS Power 19:

1) What is your game about?
"About" is a bit of a nonsequiteur preposition for GLASS, as it is "about" whatever the GMs and Players want it to be about. Being a universal system—I still say "generic" in GLASS copy because that what the rest of the non-Forge gaming world expects—it can be set up to run a game which supports nearly any gamist or simulationist agenda. Narrativist agendas are not well served by GLASS, as it has no means of providing director stance to players (other than as Extras [ECs] and even that's not mandatory in the system) and it does not provide what I call "mechanics of manipulation": ways to dictate other player behavior (e.g. mind-affecting and social-type abilities).

GLASS can become a mirror....

2) What do the characters do?
Scheme. Plot against each other and the GM ECs. Fight it out. Die. Be reborn... sometimes. Plot and scheme some more.

Look through a GLASS, darkly....

3) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
Run around in costumes in the woods or at cons, freaking the mundanes. Bash on each other with foam weapons. Shoot each other with foamy projectiles (or paintball markers). Act out intrigues and portray ECs for small conflicts or long-term struggles. Eat, drink, and be merry with bad accents. Sleep under stars... that are WATCHING YOU! Get jumped in the pitch black of night by other players. Feel actual fear, sometimes for the first time in their gaming careers.

Step through the looking GLASS....

4) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The only settings [that will be] provided in GLASS are "standard" genres: broad-brush depictions of settings and time periods which are labelled like the shelves in a book store. I [will] provide these so that GMs can either lift them wholesale and tune them to suit their particular story goals, or so that they can pick-and-choose from every genre and setting to easily build their own Abilities and Ability lists.

GLASS can be blown into any shape....

5) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Because I want to only provide game mechanics for situations that can not be acted out safely (or at all), much of GLASS's character creation is subsumed under the understanding of the system itself. Put simply, a character is little more than a list of game-mechanical effects that are not already handled by real-life capabilities, items, and behavior. After that, it's all about backstory: in a long-running massive live action game (MLAG), the GMs are always in need of plot hooks into the character, to better engage the players in the game and keep activities rolling along. Or NOT: GLASS can be played with "characters" no more "deep" or developed than the space marines in Doom.

GLASS can be crystal clear or murky, rippling or smooth....

6) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
Clearly, GLASS is best suited to players who are active and outgoing: it's live action, and if you don't make a niche and a name for yourself, you can't expect the GMs to drag you along kicking and screaming. Or NOT: GLASS can be run by a play group with a GM that is, in essence, a tour guide for the game scenario, leading all characters through prescribed encounters. Or NOT: GLASS can be run with almost no GMs to drive content (i.e. just referees) and leaving the players to run it all themselves (ex: scenario-play paintball games can use GLASS to manage hits, healing, and capture rules, and leave the rest by the wayside).

I would like for GLASS to be well structured so as to prevent any sort of cheating, and so I would speak to that eventually (the "GM sections" will be vast and full of such game rule-design and -enforcement advice).

GLASS can be transparent or reflective....

7) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Real player skill will lead to character benefits: more Experience and more Money, if the player is adept with weapons; more influence in plot-driven events, if the player is adept with wits. More than that: in most GLASS games, there is no "Experience just for showing up". You get FUN for just showing up; you get Experience for overcoming challenges, impressing GMs with roleplaying, or straight-up conning or manipulating others into sharing it with your character.

Thus, it would seem a somewhat competitive style of play helps, and I can assure you that real, physical practice will help. GLASS is fencing, paintball, and liar's poker all rolled into one system, with just a bit of mechanics in place to let you be wizards and aliens.

In the system: Tag management and some other resource tracking counters try to prevent casual cheating, but beyond that, there is a strong social contract explicit in the front matter of the rules. Sure, anyone can cheat and, say, bypass a Barrier without meeting its Threshold (read the rules). But that would only, really, serve a GAM style of play--and a wimpy GAM style at that (i.e. the cheater can only "win" by cheating).

In the actual games: I will encourage GMs to severely punish cheaters, to the ultimate penalty of banning them from games for life (or even reporting them to The GLASS House—the future authority on cross-game play—and banning them from all sanctioned GLASS games).

A GLASS will hold all the water you need it to--ever refillable--until you break it: then it cuts you....

8) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
The GMs handle all plot-level planning and significant ECs. However, to create a rich world, many GLASS games use ECs for "random" or insignificant encounters. Those ECs are often only loosely guided by GMs ("OK, Dire Wolf ECs: raid the Inn like you are all hungry as hell") and left to figure out their own narration, behaviors, and even follow-up actions. After all, the ratio of players to GMs is often more than 10:1 (or 50:1) and, as such, players must provide challenges for each other for some hours out of every session. When they are such ECs, they can do just about anything that doesn't disagree with t he GM instructions when they were sent out to raise hell.

Pass the GLASS around....

9) What does your game do to command the player's attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
Chase him or her down and beat her with a stick. Seriously. You can't help but care, when real people are really after you to really pound on you a bit with a foam stick.

MLAGs are the only games that have engendered actual fear and trepidation in me, since some time in the early 80s when I played all-night Chill sessions with a great GM. They are simply that visceral. They are also the only games I have seen lead to marriages.

10) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
It's all mechanics, at the moment. In short, hit someone with something normal, do 1. Hit them with something big and slow, do 2. Their Armor, then Health is battered down. Other non-Weapon effects can be defined around this fundamental metric of 1 point of effect to one canonical Attribute, n points can resist it, other effects might divert it.

Attempting to do something that can't be simulated will go to a test, in which the character's base Attribute plus any Ability modifiers must meet or exceed a given Threshold.

Who doesn't know how to use a GLASS...?

11) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
See the Goals section of my rules. They are fast, quiet, action-oriented, and only in place for things too unsafe or impossible to act out. "Rules light" while being "mechanically crunchy" to allow for exotic effects to be created.

It only takes simple grains of sand, to make GLASS....

12) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
More power, more money, more firends, more influences, more cool gear, more involvement in GM subplots. You name it, you can advance it in GLASS: advancement is a pure reflection of the game world itself. The style of play that you enjoy will become more effective as you succeed at it, whatever that might be.

A GLASS holds only what you put in it....

13) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
GMs will determine the mode of play, which will determine the available Abilities, which will determine in what ways characters can advance. In other words, "advancement" and "aboutness" are directly coupled.

(I gotta note here: this Power 19's use of the word "about" seems, to me, unrigorous. Or prejudiced; as if the questions themselves are framed to only be applicable to a subset of RP games. Maybe I'm just getting bored with answering them, though, and becoming unable to perceive the subtle distinctions and nuance? Sorry for the aside; only 5 more to go....)

14) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
Immersion. Total immersion, like you wake up on Sunday and wonder what this stuff about "go to work on Monday" means in your Day Planner.

Fear. Not "ooh, my guy might die" but "what was that noise? Who's there? Friend or foe? Will anyone even hear me if I scream? Will they laugh--OH, HELL! WHO CARES? HELP!!!!!"

Sorrow. When's the last time you saw someone cry at an RPG? OK, now when's the last time you saw several people in tears, at a game? Real tears? I've seen it more than once, at my favorite MLAG. If GLASS can fuel games that are so focused and intense (by not bogging down the players or putting system in the forefront), it is a sunning success.

Bonding. People who play MLAGs can become remarkably close (too close, in some games!) and I want a clean, clear system that fades into the background and lets the players BE together. (Are you starting to get the reason behind the name "GLASS"? Clear as glass... the contents are the reason for the glass, not the glassware itself... you can fill a glass as much or as little as you like....)

15) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color?  Why?
Attention: safety (for obvious reasons), legality (ditto), nuanced application of core Ability rules to define anything that might exist in-game.

Color: none yet, though in time I will cook up about ten "old standard" genres, into which I might choose to inject my own shades of color (tweaking the paradigm, so to speak). Just to perhaps provide something more than "here's how you write up a fantasy world" or "here's the cyberpunk Abilities": maybe hit the high points of the standard genres, while giving them my own particular expansion or details. (Ex: I will cover prehistorical game setups in general, and I might make a "land of the lost" type world for GMs to use wholecloth for their setting.)

Further, if GLASS is in any way successful, I would like to make The GLASS House: a planning and publishing cabal which provides deeply detailed settings and which adjudicates cross-game character movements and GM-to-GM disputes about mechanics. I have a dream that GLASS could become the standard for MLAGs played all over the world, and a player could go from Atlanta to Norway and play the same character, if The GLASS House has registered the character and approved it for a particular Power and Success Level (see the rules).

Make your GLASS clear before you fume it with colors, if you want the colors to be pure....

16) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
For me, the chance to get the world onto a standard—in a sort of d20 way—is a dream. MLAGs are the nichiest of niche styles of play, in a niche hobby; and yet each new group that "reinvents" the mode of play cooks up their own D&D or Palladium morph and has to go through the same growing pains every other game has. Worse, a player can play for years in a game, move, and never be able to play that character again! Wouldn't it be nice if a common MLAG system made characters portable, as they have been in Living D&D and RPGA for decades?

Beyond the "Big Picture," however, I feel the game's freedom to self-invent is its strongest and most exciting element. How many GMs bemoan rule sets that don't cover some aspect of the world they want to run? Yet, GLASS tries to provide a "metaphysics" or "meta-effects" underpinning to ALL of its game effects. Thus, one can use these sorts of "first principles" to evolve any sort of normative system of play for a particular game or genre.

A GLASS can be any shape or size, but it still holds water....

17) Where does your game take the players that other games can't, don't, or won't?
Out of the living room and into the woods. Or into the club. Or into the convention center.

Out of their safety zones of "pushing around playing pieces" and into a world of people screaming at them while charging across dew-drenched grass, swinging to actually hit them.

Out of a realm of "rolling to seduce" and "testing to see if I am convincing" (*shudder*) to actually having to be a bit charming, actually having to be witty or clever, not just "look good on paper."

In short, GLASS is a game of acting, with rules to prevent arguing. Make-believe without the "Nu-uh, you missed! Did not! Did too!"

18) What are your publishing goals for your game?
GLASS will be available for free PDF download, and I hope to distribute it at cons as a perfect-bound, B&W softcover (TriStat inspired me at my last DragonCon).

The GLASS House will be an Internet-based adjudicating cabal and a central database of characters, rules clarifications, and game directories (sorted by Power and Success levels).

As certain distribution numbers are reached, I will release settings (perfect-bound, B&W "source books") using print-on-demand providers and distributing through Amazon/eBay/The GLASS House/others(?) via PayPal. I anticipate at least three such source books: high fantasy (idyllic and dark), medieval (chivalrous and dark), and modern (thriller and horror). I would LOVE to do sci fi, but I haven't even heard of a sci fi MLAG, so I think that's a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche. And they'd all claim I got the science wrong anyway. ;)

Who only uses one kind of GLASS...?

19) Who is your target audience?
Men and women over 18 (or over 16 with parent's consent) with either theater or gaming exposure and a desire to drive the story more than their directors or GMs may have so far allowed.

Anyone who wants to get some fresh air while also pushing their creativity. Pretty people. Assertive people. Goth MET players who think Rochambeau is just too silly (or static).


(WHEW! The Power 19 is a test of stamina, to cull the casual designers! ;) )
If you liked this post, you'll love... GLASS: Generic Live Action Simulation System - System Test Document v1.1(beta)

Andrew Morris

David, what sort of discussion or feedback are you looking for with this thread? Being specific in your goals helps us address what matters to you.
Download: Unistat

David "Czar Fnord" Artman

Sorry--I spaced the board's Rule #1. I kind of got the impression that folks post a Power 19 to introduce a game in development, prior to posting question threads. Otherwise, what's the point of it, on this board (I haven't seen many questions in the other ones)?

My first questions (and only questions, probably, for GLASS) are in another thread:
[GLASS] Request for Comments on Cost Balances

I could ask a lame, "placeholder" question: "How does GLASS sound to you?" but I figured that question is implied with a Power 19 post.

Anyhow... sorry if I bugged anyone by not positing something to discuss. This thread is intended primarily to introduce GLASS so that folks can decide if (a) they care about such a system and (b) they know enough about the type of LARPs I am targeting to provide input.

Thanks for the reminder, Andrew;
If you liked this post, you'll love... GLASS: Generic Live Action Simulation System - System Test Document v1.1(beta)

David "Czar Fnord" Artman

Having thought about it for the weekend, I do have a question that relates to the Power 19:

Do any of you have any other questions that you would like to ask?

That might be a bit obvious also (akin to "What do y'all think?"). Yet I think it is relevant, with regards to a game like GLASS, to make sure folks don't get to #19 and still think, "huh?" GLASS doesn't have the "traditional" System-Setting-Color trifecta that most other RPGs have. Being purely System, in fact, one could argue that it is not, in fact, a "game" at all: it's mechanics to adjudicate a particular method of play, which in turn could be employed in a variety of games.

In fact... that's made me think of a most-germane question about GLASS vis a vis designing to publish....

Thank, again, for reading!
If you liked this post, you'll love... GLASS: Generic Live Action Simulation System - System Test Document v1.1(beta)