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Author Topic: 10 000 Mythic RPG  (Read 12303 times)
Kobayashi
Member

Posts: 22


« on: May 20, 2006, 09:29:21 AM »

First of all, I'm new here, so hi to all !

I'm currently working on a rpg named 10 000 inspired by Xenophon's Anabasis: the story of ten thousands Greek mercenaries trapped in the middle of the Persian empire. The game includes many fantasy elements (it will be a mythical not a historical game, think Jason and the Argonauts).

In a nutshell: the mercenaries killed their oracle. To punish them, the gods declared that the PCs will suffer a dark fate.
But the gods are cruel and grant favors (= special powers) to the PCs so their journey can amuse the Olympus.

The point is: each time the PC use these favors they augment a "Destiny" gauge.
But each time the PCs help or save one of the 10 000s they get "Friendship" points

At the end of the campaign, if the PCs 's Destiny gauge is higher than their Friendship gauge, the PCs dark fate will be fulfilled. If they're equal the PC will die a noble death. If Friendship wins the PC can safely return home.

So here are my problems:
_For now, Destiny and Friendship progress is measured like Honor and Glory in L5R (every 5 points you gain a "level")
Beside the end of the campaign I would love this gauges to have some in-game effect during play. For now I had two ideas:
_ the GM will use the Destiny levels of the characters as bonus for his rolls (but how many times per game ?)
_the players may use Friendship has bonus for their rolls (same question than above)

But considering the levels of Destiny and Friendship will be low (PC will gain 1 level every two adventure), I think the impact will be minimal.

How can I measure these gauges differently ?

Thanks for your attention.

P.S : As you have already noted, English is not my native language so I apologize for any mistakes I made above.
(You can check the game cover here: http://melody.nastasia.free.fr/mai06/couv1.jpg)
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Lewis Flanagan
Member

Posts: 7


« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2006, 02:11:07 PM »

Hello fellow newbie!

First of all, nice story idea.

This reminds me of how karma works in an old computer game called Fallout. In Fallout your would accumulate or loss karma points through out the game (Good actions = positive karma points). Your karma score would have an effect on the events in the game. For example, low karma characters generally get attacked by bounty hunters while a high karma character might receive aid from someone who's heard of them. On the other hand a high karma character might be attacked by robbers while an low karma character might befriend them, but I don't think that's were you are going with this.

So what you could do rather then have destiny and friendship modify rolls is have story based rewards such as friends helping the PCs out or having the gods dump a four headed monster into their paths to make their lives difficult.
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Kobayashi
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2006, 02:36:14 PM »

Thanks !

I may try this during my next playtest. One of my players already suggested that a character with a high destiny level should have a kind of bad "aura" surrounding him which will attract trouble (like Karma in the Amber rpg).

But characters using favors have a short term advantage and I want characters with high levels of Friendship to get some "material/mechanical" bonus for their characters.

One other thing: characters can earn friendship points during play. But a the end of each session players can use their Xp (called Excellency points) to buy friendship points for other PCs (not theirs !). So I think they're should be an incentive for players to boost their friendship gauge without resorting only to GM's fiat
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Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2006, 09:15:18 PM »

Hi, welcome to the forge,

Perhaps friendship could, at the players wish, be used with a role to generate even more friendship. But at the risk of further destiny (am I reading destiny right? It seems to just lead to death). That way it's like a mini game of the overall issue of balancing off friends and power use/destiny point accumulation.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Oscar Evans
Member

Posts: 31


« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2006, 10:59:47 PM »

I love Xehephons Anabasis! What an exciting concept, for someone to make a game about it. If anyone wants to read it just google it, its on the net.

You REALLY need to elaborate on your game here though. Do the players play generals in the 10,000, commanding men? Is it like the Anabasis, the generals being cunning and outsmarting people, striking deals, playing their enemies off against eachother and trying to keep all their men happy at the same time in desperate circumstance? Most of the Anabasis focuses on the generals and this sort of intrigue and machinations. Or are they just individuals (Or a small band, the players) strolling through Persia seperated from everyone else?

How does character creation operate? What are you traits, abilities, statistics and/or skills?  What sort of conflict resolution does it use? What about advancement? You say you use dice- what role do these play? Are they skill rolls or a battle for narration rights?

To answer how to handle a destiny/friendship mechanic, this sort of information is helpful. More information on the destiny mechanic itself might be good too. Do the players pray to different gods, for different effects? Can the players reduce their Destiny by offering sacrifes, like in the Anabasis? Do they have a patron god that determines their personality, abilities, etc? What are the powers? Are we talking lightning bolts from heaven (Zeus), having people fall instantly in love with you (Aphrodite), killing 10 men in a blow (Ares), saving someone from death (Hades), turning people into animals(They all loved doing that), etc- or just small effects like re-rolling dice on attacks and skill checks?

What about friendship? Is the primary objective of the game to reunite with the other members of the 10,000, adventuring through the countryside towards the black sea and helping them out of whatever trouble they are in? One of them has stolen a goat and has locals after him. Another has run off with someones wife. Another has been captured by the persians. etc. If they do so, do they gradually collect an entourage of NPC's following them? Or is 'Helping a member of the 10,000' just mean helping the other players? I like the players being able to spend their own xp on giving other players friendship points. A VERY clever idea.

Knowing those things would help me help you. Ill try to answer your questions though:
Quote
_For now, Destiny and Friendship progress is measured like Honor and Glory in L5R (every 5 points you gain a "level")
Not familiar with it, sadly.
Quote
_ the GM will use the Destiny levels of the characters as bonus for his rolls (but how many times per game ?)
Perhaps, depending on which god they are using the gifts of more, they could suffer negative consequences accordingly?
The gods could get jealous of one another or just annoyed that you arent using their gifts. Use the gifts of Ares a lot because you're a combat monster and neglect Aphrodite and you might find yourself with a scorned lover or worse, an unrequited lover who follows you everywhere and makes your life difficult. Use the gifts gifts of Athena to defend yourself in combat and neglect Hephaestus, and you might find your javelin breaks. Neglect Poseidon and you horse runs away, etc. Using the gifts of all the gods though can quickly rack up destiny points, so using them evenly and in the right circumstances can be a challenge for the player. It might be cumbersome keeping pace of all the gods though.

So here, this might be a better alternative. They could have a single patron god (A god who wants to help them out) whos powers and gifts they use. This could add interesting specializations to the characters that make cooperation between the players and effective application of their abilities more important. They also have a single antagonistic god (The one who they pissed off) who makes their lives more difficult. Relying on the gifts of one god brings you to the attention of the other god though, who is annoyed that another god would be helping you and thus gets revenge on that god by hurting YOU. How perfectly greek!

This would also be a great way to introduce the characters. Run a vignette (Or a pair of vignette) for each based on how they managed to annoy one god and gain the favour of another. Perhaps it was the same action, the gods involving you in their conflict, or perhaps they were seperate. Maybe you are a demigod and the traditional patner of that gods hates you (Zeus/Hera, hello). Maybe you killed a demigod at the request of another god. Maybe you killed a sacred animal, defiled a holy place, saw the god naked bathing in a pool etc. Perhaps the gods came to you to arbitrate a dispute (Ala Paris, Tiresias etc) and you decided for one over the other.

Hah, i think ill have to write such a system myself, what a good idea (I think a lot of my own ideas dont i?). This is a narrative solution though, and doesnt really have a 'roll modification' effect. Still, it might be more fun this way.

So to answer the question DIRECTLY, perhaps the number of times the GM uses them as a bonus depends on the destiny of the player? For example, every time the player uses the gifts the GM gets a bonus (Extra dice, +1, whatever you are using) equal to the players current destiny. The first gift, the GM gets +1, the next time its +2, the next its +3 etc. As the players destiny increases, so do the negative effects of using gifts.

Quote
_the players may use Friendship has bonus for their rolls (same question than above)
Welll... that depends what 'aiding a friend' means. If it means rescuing a member of the 10,000 then its easy- they are aided by that NPC. Perhaps he does something nice for them (Gives them a piece of information, some food or equipment, whatever) or just follows them around until he becomes useful (Throwing himself in front of a javelin, or throwing his own javelins at someone else). If friends just means helping another player, perhaps you could gain bonuses appropriate to what that player is good at. Sort of like gaining some of his skill. But then, this might just lead to reduction in specialization.

Again, this is a narrative solution which isnt what you asked for.

So to answer the question directly, perhaps they could get a bonus that applies in a specific situation depending on who they helped? If they help a general, they might get a bonus that aids them on leadership, inspiration, initiative or tactics rolls (I dont know what stats you are using!). If they help a thracian farmer from the vineyards, they might get a bonus when it comes to hunting or finding food. If they help an excellent horseman, they might get a bonus that applies to their horsemanship. They can call this bonus up say, once per game? Playtesting it to see how much of an effect on the game this has is vital, but the mathematics of the issues are really up to you to playtest and balance.
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Kobayashi
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2006, 05:20:35 AM »

Thanks a lot for the feedback, much appreciated !

"Do the players play generals in the 10,000, commanding men? [...]  Or are they just individuals (Or a small band, the players) strolling through Persia separated from everyone else?"

PCs are the 10,000's heroes. Commanding officers will be NPCs. But most of the time they will be send ahead of the troops, as spies, ambassadors, diversion... you name it.

Chargen/Traits/Conflict resolution

There is no division beetween Attributes and Skills. PCs are defined by traits divided in four categories:
Athlete: Strength, Resistance, Agility, Perception, Throw
Hoplite: Bow, Shield (=defense), Intimidate, Lance (=melee attack), Pancrace (=Hand to hand)
Journeyman: Hunting, Stealth, Riding, Blacksmith, Charisma
Philosopher: Courage, Poetry (= all arts), Strategy, Sophistry, Erudition

These traits are noted in this range: weak (1), average (2), good (3), excellent(4), extraordinary (5), Mythic (6)
The number in parenthesis indicates how many D6's you have to roll. Each die is considered separately:
Weak or average trait: a result of 1 to 4 is a failure, 5 is a success, 6 is two successes
Good to extraordinary trait: a result of 1 to 3 is a failure, 4 to 5 a success...
Mythic trait: a result of 1 to 2 is a failure...

One success is enough to succeed for an unopposed action, remaining successes may grant player narrative power
If the opposition is active, the side with the more successes win.

First playtests were made using Fudge rules, I didn't playtests these yet.

My four trait categories are mostly "color" right now, I wonder how I can make them have more impact in the game (I don't want them to restrict the distribution of trait levels during chargen as it limits the  player's choices).

Destiny: each player create with a dark fate for his character: he may kill his family when he returns home, marry his mother, be castrated... (think Greek tragedy, dying should be a blessing in comparison). I'm still struggling with this too, I thought of making this totally random. But I think I'll let each player design his character fate, or better yet, another player's character's fate.

Note that the characters can't die before the end of the campaign, if they suffer enough damage to die, the gods save them, but they gain directly one destiny level

Friendship: helping other members of the 10,000 (not the other PCs: players can spend their Xp to do that) grants Friendship points.

Gods favors: they can be powerful but always have a "low profile": no lightning bolts or burning arrows. For example the "Cape of Erebus" does not make you invisible, but other people just don't seem to notice you. "Aphrodite's mirror" doesn't change your appearance but every person you meet will see in you someone they trust and/or love.

At the beginning of each session each player can choose three favors. Each time he use a favor he gains a destiny point. Every five points he gains a destiny level. In contrast, the GM won't give more than 3 friendship points to each player per session (and you need 5 of them to get a friendship level).

I don't want to play the different Gods oppositions, the main focus of the game is that gods are petty and cruel. Only by helping his brothers can a man avoid his destiny. But you definitely raise a good point, I have thought of this:

A player can have a patron god: by making an appropriate sacrifice he will cancel any destiny points he has gained using this god's favors. But the others gods favors grant him 2 destiny points instead of one...

And as you say, I thought of adding all Players destiny levels: the result is a number of dice the GM can use for his NPCs.
Accordingly, by adding all player's Friendship levels we'll have a dice pool the players can use to boost their action.


Advancement
At the end of each session, characters gain 5 excellency points (this can be adjusted to fit the duration of the campaign).
Going from weak to average: 3 points, average => good: 5 points, good =>excellent: 8....

Players will also have the possibility to increase the quality of their equipment which is by default "average".
Spending 5 points makes it go up one level, which allows to boost this object statistic (a sword does more damage, an "excellent" strategy book can boost the character strategy trait...)

Well, as you see, many questions ! (some of them will be answered during playstest I think).


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Oscar Evans
Member

Posts: 31


« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2006, 05:00:27 PM »

Thanks that really clears it up. Thanks.

I would feel comfortable restricting the numbers in those traits. They are mostly combat related and have lots of overlap. Besides, your dice system seems to encourage a LOT of successes. Only a few points in any trait would be enough to win against an unopposed success by a huge margin. You should at least give a restriction on the traits so that players dont feel as if they are unbalanced against other characters.

Which brings us to your dice. They decrease the difficulty AND add to the dice pool? Isnt that excessive? Wouldnt it be easier (And take less math) to just do one or the other?

I like the dark fates. Very greek!

Friendship: Arent ALL their actions going to be helping the 10,000? If they are heros being ordered around by generals, wont everything they do, prettymuch, gain them friendship points?

God Favours: That works relatively well and evokes the theme. As much as there WAS lightning and people turning into animals, you have to remember they were explaining natural events with mythology not the other way around. No fireballs from the fingertips in the Illiad, but lots of Cape of Erebus and Aphrodite's Mirror type things. I like that.

Advancement: If you are setting no limits on the players traits anyway, advancement might be iffy.

You're right though, most of these questions will be answered in playtest.
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Daemonworks
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2006, 06:23:35 PM »

Well, as a fellow new person here... Cool idea.

Several ideas popped into my head, with some degree of overlapability between them...

1. One idea you could go with is to institute certain categories of destiny - each character is essentially stuck progressing towards a certain type of fate. The player chooses a particular type of "bad thing" that fits in the greco-roman tradition - "transformation" or "madness" for example. As their destiny rating goes up "transformation" may involve slowly gaining non-human characteristics, while "madness" would result in the character experiencing weird hallucinations, paranoia or the like (ie. the GM occasionally just lies to the player about what's going on). 

2. Keep track of what powers were used to acquire destiny, and apply flaws of various types based on what they actually did to deserve them. Using transformation powers, leads to being transformed, using mind-altering powers, causes madness, etc.

3. variant of #2 - add certain traits (ie "betrayal") for each destiny level gained. each trait is essentially a word that describes a particular situation when the character will get a modifier on their rolls. so, with betrayal, they will be penalized in social situations involving trust or loyalty directed towards the PC. Multiple traits of the same type can be earned, and differant traits may well both apply to the same individual. Note, even positive traits can be used... "loyalty" for example, could lead to you getting to watch all of your friends and loved ones die in a variety of situations connected to saving your pathetic butt, leading to all sorts of angst, despondency and general psychological badness.

Also, as a total tangent, "Destiny" tends to have too much of a positive connotation for me - perhaps "Doom" or, for a more neutral feel, "Fate" instead?
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Kobayashi
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2006, 12:27:22 AM »

There are great ideas there thanks !

Besides, your dice system seems to encourage a LOT of successes. Only a few points in any trait would be enough to win against an unopposed success by a huge margin. You should at least give a restriction on the traits so that players dont feel as if they are unbalanced against other characters. Which brings us to your dice. They decrease the difficulty AND add to the dice pool? Isnt that excessive? Wouldnt it be easier (And take less math) to just do one or the other?

Yes I think you're right, I may get back with my first idea: 1-4 is a failure, 5 is a success, 6 is two successes. Period.
With the exception of Mythic traits (but PC don't start with a trait at that level and probably won't have more than two traits at this level anyway).


Friendship: Arent ALL their actions going to be helping the 10,000? If they are heros being ordered around by generals, wont everything they do, prettymuch, gain them friendship points?


Of course but the point is that during a session, the players will have to choose beetween helping the 10,000 OR accomplish another goal ("Look ! The Persian commander is tring to flee !", "Yeah but if we go after him we'll let our men fight alone and suffer heavy casualties"...). It will be presented as a tool for the GM to design his campaign.
But I see your point, maybe I should be more specific. Or alternatively Friendship points can only be gained by having other players give them to you.

Advancement: If you are setting no limits on the players traits anyway, advancement might be iffy.

Well at character creation, half of the PC traits will be at "weak" level. And having at least one or two traits at Mythic level will motivate the players. And the  equipment "upgrading" should be fun (playtest this week...). At 5 Xp per session, advancement will be slow however.

Well, as a fellow new person here... Cool idea.

Thanks !

Several ideas popped into my head, with some degree of overlapability between them...

1. One idea you could go with is to institute certain categories of destiny - each character is essentially stuck progressing towards a certain type of fate. The player chooses a particular type of "bad thing" that fits in the greco-roman tradition - "transformation" or "madness" for example. As their destiny rating goes up "transformation" may involve slowly gaining non-human characteristics, while "madness" would result in the character experiencing weird hallucinations, paranoia or the like (ie. the GM occasionally just lies to the player about what's going on).

This is really, really interesting, I like it very much ! Maybe not something as radical as "transformation" but developping a disease, having trouble relating to other people, having seizures... That's really neat ! Thanks.

2. Keep track of what powers were used to acquire destiny, and apply flaws of various types based on what they actually did to deserve them. Using transformation powers, leads to being transformed, using mind-altering powers, causes madness, etc.

That may involve too much bookeeping and as you point out in your second variant I think it's better if the flaws are all related to the characters fate.

Also, as a total tangent, "Destiny" tends to have too much of a positive connotation for me - perhaps "Doom" or, for a more neutral feel, "Fate" instead?

Yes you're absolutly right, it's just a translation issue. The game is written in french (but is being translated in english, by someone competent I mean, not me). "Fate" seems fine.


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Kobayashi
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2006, 07:12:03 AM »

Well, using all the input, the system had a major overhaul. The playtest is scheduled for tonight.

Chargen/Traits
A  character is defined by four traits: Athlete, Hoplite, Philosopher, Journeyman
The player has 10 Dices to distribute among these traits. The minimum is 1 die, the maximum is 5 dice at creation:
weak (1), average (2), good (3), excellent(4), extraordinary (5), Mythic (6)

Rolling the dice: 1-4 is a failure, 5 is a success, 6 is two successes

Each player can then select Expertises: 1 per level in the relevant trait. Expertises a like skills. When a die roll involve an expertise rolling 4+ is a success.

One problem: the journeyman trait is too much of "everything not covered in the other traits" kind of thing.
Athlete is for everything physical, Hoplite for combat, Philosopher: knowledge and some social skills.
Journeyman would be used for survival, riding, stealth... Not very much unity here. 

Fate
The player just choose a theme for is fate that he can develop later. Each theme is related to a Trait.
Death (of loved ones) => Hoplite
Slavery => Journeyman
Madness => Philosopher
Sickness => Athlete

I still don't know how the relation will work... And do I let the player choose their Fate or should they take the theme associated with their best trait (which would fit the hubris theme underlying most of Greek mythology) ?

Friendship
Each character has a virtue for which is well known amongst the 10,000. Each virtue is also related to a trait:
Loyal => Hoplite (think Achilles)
Smart => Journeyman (think Ulysses)
Fair => Philosopher (think Plato or Socrates)
Tenacious => Athlete (Herakles)

For now I think the character will be able to use his virtue by giving other PCs boni when they're using the related trait.

Fate and Friendship in game

At the beginning of the session I will have two bowls in front of the players:
_One will contain (playersX3) Friendship dice.
_The other will contain (playersX3) Fate dice.

Friendship dice
Any player can take dice in the Friendship bowl to boost a trait. But at the end of the session, the remaining dice will be converted to Friendship points to divide among players. For tonight playtest I'll let players take these dice only they boost another player action and only if the action uses the Trait related to the virtue of the helping PC.

IE: Polymedes has the Tenacious virtue he can only boost another PC's Athlete trait

Fate dice
Anyplayer can take Fate dice  to boost an opponent (IE: giving dice to the GM). He's allowed to do this only if:
_it gives the opponent an advantage (=a bigger die pool than his)
_he cannot be helped with friendship dices during this conflict.

Thanks for reading, any input will be greatly appreciated thanks !
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Kobayashi
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2006, 07:15:12 AM »

Oops a last remark concerning Fate dice: at the end of the session all remaining Fate dice are converted to Fate points and distributed among the players.

Fate and Friendship are measure the same way I explained in the posts above.
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Oscar Evans
Member

Posts: 31


« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2006, 02:55:12 AM »

I like the way you handled fate and friendship dice, very nice ideas. They can take disadvantages now to avoid their fates, or take advantages now to accelerate them. Quite clever.

On friendship dice, perhaps they can take a dice to use for themselves, which detracts from EVERYONES friendship points at the end game? They can be selfish, using their friendship dice for themselves, or they can leave them there to benefit all players.
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Kobayashi
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2006, 05:08:55 AM »

I like the way you handled fate and friendship dice, very nice ideas. They can take disadvantages now to avoid their fates, or take advantages now to accelerate them. Quite clever.

Thanks ! It worked well during playtest and it gave me some new ideas.

On friendship dice, perhaps they can take a dice to use for themselves, which detracts from EVERYONES friendship points at the end game? They can be selfish, using their friendship dice for themselves, or they can leave them there to benefit all players.

Friendship being the link beetween PCs if a Player uses them selfishly he should be the only one that loses Friendship points (he loses his mates trust after all). I think of another solution:  when a player use Friendship dice for his character he puts them in the Fate bowl.
I thought about this too: each time a player give Fate dice to the GM he gains 1 friendship points.

Thanks for the feedback

Some "eye candy": http://melody.nastasia.free.fr/mai06/lutteur.jpg
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