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[Web of Shadows]

Started by Josh Roby, February 24, 2006, 09:21:37 PM

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Josh Roby

Mostly for reference:

1) What is your game about?  Supernatural demihumans conspire in the shadows to manipulate the unknowing world as the apocalypse descends.

2) What do characters do?  Well, there are lots of characters, not all of them owned by the players, and at any given time a player might be playing any number of them.  So.  The supernatural Others pull strings and use their influence to make things happen in scenes, or very occasionally get to bust out and go crazy with their supernatural potency.  Facades try to deflect attention from one supernatural Other and bring somebody else into the light, instead.  The Chosen One tries to find out what's happening and end it -- although they may not uncover all of the Others involved.  And lastly, the "normal" characters all bump around, doing their own thing and getting Fed on and getting terrified and manipulated and coerced.

3) What do the players do?  Players manipulate a web of index cards and strings that represent the game's situation.  On their turn, players frame scenes, assign roles, and choose their audiences.  In scenes, they forward their address of the situation.  As audience, they judge which addresses are ratified.  In everything, they try to expose the other players' conspirators while keeping their own hidden in the shadows.

4) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? The setting is always derived from the situation, which is developed in play.  This allows the supernatural conspirators to have broadly-applicable and terrifically potent powers at manipulating things from "behind the scenes".

5) How does Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about? There is no separate character creation phase.  Conspirators, in fact, are defined as a penalty to the controlling player -- they prefer to remain undefined, in the shadows.  Other cards are defined through play, as needs and desires arise.  Characteristics and connections are revealed, corrupted, bound, and severed.  Cards that are "Fed" on are left with an indelible mark.

6) What types of behaviors/styles does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?  The game has both immediate and long-term strategies involved, most of which rely on misdirection and shady alliances.  Allowing your conspirator to be exposed -- and having its characteristics defined by the other players -- drains resources.  And while everyone is trying to stay in the shadows, the mounting Tension means that not everyone will be able to do so -- and many actions that might be used to scramble further into the shadows only increase Tension.

7) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?  On your turn, you must pay tokens for every characteristic defined on your conspirator.  As an audience member, you may spend tokens in conflicts to tempt the other players to spend tokens, as well, which you are then able to harvest when you ratify the scene's addresses.

8) How are responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?  Players take turns framing scenes -- the framing player assigns roles and chooses one or more people to play the audience.  Those with roles to play roleplay "as normal" although without a GM running NPCs, for one scene.  In-scene task-based resolution is provided by bidding chips, and the audience can provide adversity through this means.  At the end of the scene, the audience members ratify one or more of the roleplayers' addresses to the situation.

9) What does your game do to command the player's attention, engagement, and participation?  You either have a role to play and an address to push or your are in the audience, making the others push their addresses and deciding who succeeds.

10) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?  Uh, see #8.

11) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about? The baseline of the game is that something is going to happen and everyone at the table has weak tools to affect what that is going to be.  You can propose or you can decide, not both, and you don't get to choose which one you get to do.  So there's lots of subtle (and not-so-subtle) pressure happening, lots of deals and forcing people into situations where they must help you to help themselves, and the like.

12) Do characters in your game advance? If so how?  No.  This game plays out in one session.

13) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?  The game is about the end of the world.  You play it, the world ends.  So you play for keeps, and without 'holding out' for being all badass in some later session in the hazy land of tomorrow.

14) What sort of product or effect do you want the game to produce in or on the players?  Gleeful backstabbing and hidden agendas, mostly, under a thin veneer of moody shadows-and-candles gothy stuff.

15) What areas of the game recieve extra attention or color? Why?  Everything is framed in conspiratorial language, and in fact only the interactions between players (heavily dosed with selfishness and shameful intentions) have any real detail.

16) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in?  Manipulating the situation directly through the cards on the table.  I so want to see if this actually works.

17) Where does your game take the players that other games can't, don't, or won't?  As this game was created as a response to games which promise eldritch shadowy conspiracy and can't deliver, this game takes players into the realm they've been unable to access.  This puts players in positions of very compromised power, with clear long-range goals and totally obfuscated short-term goals.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?  I'm shooting for microgame format like Conquer the Horizon, although it may have outgrown that basinet.  If so, I may actually lay it out, manufacture it, and charge real cash money.  However, the props needed to play (hole puncher, string, et cetera) may make it an infeasible commercial product.

19) Who is your target audience?  Folks who like horror movies not for the startle-scares but for the looming sense of dread, those who want to explore the "dark side" of society, and those who are willing to experiment a little to get there -- this is not a standard roleplaying game.
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