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Author Topic: [To Rise Again] - Form of Play  (Read 3175 times)
Carl Bussler
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« on: June 14, 2006, 05:49:26 PM »

My original post asking for setting advice evolved into discussion about form of play, so I thought I would separate the two.

To play catch-up, David Berg said:

Quote
I am trying to envision play in a game with these as major concerns, and it leads me to ask:

Do you have any preferences for the form of play?† Should it consist solely of playing through situations as a physically present participant, or should it (in the case of characters with great influence) consist partly of characters listening to GM descriptions about what happens over successive months as a result of their latest edict/war/etc.?

I once ran a game where each player had one Boss and one Minion.† The Minions did things like run, fight, investigate, travel, etc.† The Bosses schemed to conquer the Earth.† Both types of play were fun and augmented each other well.† That structure certainly seems like an option for your game, as it includes humans and immortals with varying degrees of power...

To which I replied:

Quote
Here's an idea which may or may not work in reality: Each player has two characters - a minion and a boss. My boss character is in charge of your minion character, and your boss character is in charge of another player's minion character, and that guy's boss is in charge of my minion. Said another way: The character Ansigar works for the boss Justinian. I will play the character of Ansigar, and my buddy in the gaming group plays the character of Justinian. The minions need to work together to fulfill their boss's Desires, but at the same time defending their Ideology.

If characters succeed in fulfilling their boss's Desires and they are able to defend their Ideology, then their boss's influence goes up and the character's status goes up. If they neglect a Desire or an Ideology, then the boss's influence or the character's status goes down (or doesn't change). Perhaps status and influence aren't the words I'm looking for, but that's a good starting point.

It's an interesting scenario, as the character's have a common public goal, but also secret goals. Player's may (should) have to choose between defending their Ideology and fulfilling their boss's Desires.

The problem I see with this is why would these various bosses (and potentially opposed bosses) send their minions to work together? Perhaps the bosses are all part of the same organization, but with personal goals, and the shared mission of the characters is an organizational goal. But, if that were the case, wouldn't all the characters have the same Ideology?

But I hadn't seen this other post from David Berg which ended up in another topic:

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I suggest that you bring about your Ideologies under a few "families", so that you have you players minimally work together. The player's goals would be to see their faction prosper by completing important political/social objectives.

The best example I could state would be Mage RPG, where you have 3 big factions (Traditions, Technocracy, Nephandi) each comprising a variety of positions.† Thus you could have Pro-Magic, Anti-Magic and "Resurrectionist" factions, with Ideologies within each (eg. Curative Pro-Magic, Opportunist Pro-Magic, etc.). You could even have Faction Points, representing one PC's standing and influence within his faction, and allow players to total their PC's FPs when acting together - forcing group co-operation. These wouldn't be "experience points", but a measure of your world's global change towards the goal they work for. Attaining thresholds (e.g. every 10 Pro-Magic points) could give a similar bonus to motivate and reflect the world's change. I think the online game "[Something] of Camelot" has a similar mechanism, spreading players over 3 warring factions with incentives for intra-faction co-operation.

Suppose for example that your PC group is made up of 5 Pro-Magic PCs, each with his own Ideology. By playing the first part of your campaign, they complete 5 major plot points - gathering 5 Pro-Magic Faction Points together and various Ideology points individually. At mid-time,

"Winning the game" could simply imply winning 100 Faction Points and thus deciding your World's fate, representing the Faction's advance over others and ending up with 1) a Magic world ; 2) a Magicless world ; 3) the world as it was before the Cataclysm.

Moreover, secondary Ideology points could determine, within each Faction "sucess", which Ideology dominates, e.g. a Magic World tainted by Opportunist Magi or healed by Curative Magi, etc.

Non-magi could have the advantage of never suffering from the negative effects of using magic, and perhaps winning more easily Ideology points (if not Faction points, or vice-versa).

That way you give both your players and characters a setting-oriented goal. This could be Gamist as well as Narrativist, not unlike Paul Czege's My Life With Master for ex. The GM's role could be to oppose them (if you take a Narrativist system) or to challenge them (with a Gamist system). Since I'm not convinced about the existence of Simulationist systems (at least, significatively different from Gamist ones), I'll leave it without an example, with all due respect.

Alright. On with the show.
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Carl Bussler
Carl Bussler
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2006, 06:32:57 PM »

David, that's great stuff. (btw, The MMORPG you're refering to is Dark Age of Camelot, but anyway...) I had already thought that mortals needed a benefit, and I figured they wouldn't suffer Corruption from magic. With the introduction of Faction and Ideologies, there are probably additional benefits that can be created for mortals.

Your suggestion about Faction is very interesting. I get to keep Ideologies in conflict, and have a way to give characters a common goal. I need to create more specific secondary Ideologies to do so, but that shouldn't be hard. The Primary Ideology would be Factional, and Secondary would personal to the character.

The Factional Ideolody is 'where are we going' and the Personal Ideology is 'how are we gonna get there.'

I like the idea of the Big 3 factions, but I have to remember that magi who have made pacts with daemons to get their magic are different from Immortals who have access to magic naturally. So, the Pro-Magic faction could have splits, such as 'immortals should be exterminated' and 'immortals are our saviors'. Do I create the Big 3 factions and let the players work out their own Personal Ideological issues? Wouldn't this lead to the creation of minor factions?

I continued to think about the form of play, and wondered how one would explore these Ideologies, both Factional and Personal. I also wondered about the need for a GM.

Players control a minion and a boss. One playerís boss is in charge of another playerís minion, and so forth around the table. Players choose Desires for the bosses, and Ideologies for their minions. All of these bosses are employed by the same Faction which has its own goals.

Players each act as a GM of sorts. In advance of each session, all of the bossís Desires are put into a hat and drawn randomly by the players. That player is then responsible for creating a scenario in which that Desire is attainable, but has obstacles. If a player chooses his own bossís Desire, then that goes back into the hat and another is chosen.

Somebody could pull a General Desire from the hat, such as Mental Perfection. The player has carte blanche to determine what will fulfill that Desire for that scenario. Could be a magic tome. Could simply be answers to a riddle. If a player pulls Vengeance: He's the dirty rat that killed my brother!, then fulfilling the Desire is more obvious.

Then the group needs to determine what order the scenarios will occur. This can be random, or the playerís can volunteer, but an order must be chosen. Players shouldn't work too hard on their scenario until the prior scenario is complete, or at least under-way. We do this because there is a Faction goal that all the scenarios need to lead to. The last person in the order gets the job of delivering the Faction Goal.

The Faction Goal should be decided upon by the group as a whole before play begins. Suggestions are offered and one is chosen.

With this system, one player is riffing off the guy before him. How long are the scenarios? That's up to the player I guess, but I would suggest on one session scenarios, so everybody gets a chance.

The big problem with this? When it's your turn to develop a scenario, you suddenly have an advantage, as you know all the obstacles. I think removing the character from play for that scenario isn't an option, so this whole idea may not work. In which case, the tradition role of GM creeps back in.

I'll need to think some more.




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Carl Bussler
Carl Bussler
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2006, 06:35:46 PM »

Oops, that last quote isn't from David Berg, but from Erick. My bad.
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Carl Bussler
Carl Bussler
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2006, 06:58:24 PM »

I thought about having three Ideological groups, as suggested, of All Magic is Good, All Magic is Bad, and Some Magic is Good, Some is Bad. I broke it down into the various viewpoints and thought that if those were what the characters were fighting over, I could see a great amount of inter-party problems. I like conflict, but I just kept seeing the party erupt into bloodshed. The choices were too black and white with little gray area.

What if characters were all members of the same family, and it just so happened that one of the family members is an immortal. The immortal lineage runs through all of them, but the immortal traits skip generations, perhaps only surfacing every few hundred years.

I could then give the family a Faction Ideology, and instead of character Ideologies, characters get Desires, which are the personal goals they set out for themselves. Players need to choose between defending the family Ideology and pursuing their Personal Desires. If they defend the Family Ideology, they get points to use toward improving the family's status or influence. If they succed in fulfilling their Personal Desires, they can improve their own abilities/status/influence/skills, etc. Some players might be able to do both, but the game should be setup to force a choice between the two. I'm not sure how.

To force conflict, the character's family must start in a region that has an opposing Ideology. If the family suddenly discovers it has an immortal member, and the family has the Ideology of 'Immortals are just misunderstood and are to be a saving force in the world', then they start in a region that has the Ideology of 'Immortals are aberrations and must be eliminated'. Its possible that even family members might have the regional Ideology, in which case the characters play the supportive members of the family and may need to relocate.

Part of earning Faction Points might be to change the Ideology of the local region to that of the Family.

Using this model, the characters have a common thread that binds them and they have their individual desires. Plus there are still plenty of opposing Ideologies to contend with. In general, I think the societies will have their own basic feeling towards magi and immortals, and that would negative.

This form might work better with one GM and all the rest with single characters, unlike my previous post in which I suggested that players share the GM role, and play two characters. This form also has a feeling of family bonding/rivalry. Families could be from whatever background the players decide. The family could know they are from an immortal lineage and have hidden it, or they could be completely surprised and suddenly need to deal with it.

Am I off the mark with this? Are there some obvious problems I'm not seeing?

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Carl Bussler
sean2099
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« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2006, 02:28:45 PM »

(quoting Carl here) "To force conflict, the character's family must start in a region that has an opposing Ideology. If the family suddenly discovers it has an immortal member, and the family has the Ideology of 'Immortals are just misunderstood and are to be a saving force in the world', then they start in a region that has the Ideology of 'Immortals are aberrations and must be eliminated'. Its possible that even family members might have the regional Ideology, in which case the characters play the supportive members of the family and may need to relocate."

A couple of points...I think in such a tense situition, the mere whiff of dissenting opinion should be a threat.  Having a vocal minority appear in an area that shared the same opinion previously could cause conflict.  Perhaps power grabs by some groups always start with whispers of discontent.

Looking at faction points...I thought of one twist on the point race.  When you do assign x number of points wins the game, they would represent all of the possible influence that can be obtained in the struggle.  Therefore, in order to gain points, you have to take them from someone else.  They can see the beginnings of ideological attacks made in their area.  You could say, group z must be whispering to the "people", lose 2 faction points.  Or ok, you saved the village, gain a faction point.   I don't know if this would make the game more competitive than you intended.

Sean
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David Berg
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2006, 01:49:49 PM »

Carl-

Unfortunately, I'm having trouble distinguishing between rewards, character creation, character advancement and other system ideas that you actually intend to build around and those that you are just pondering.  I am also fuzzy on which terms represent system elements and which are just descriptors of in-game attributes.  So, I am just going to hope that what I am about to suggest is actually compatible with your intentions and not just off in nowhere land.

I think the door is opened for the most fun in the most directions if the Minions act in the overlap of the Bosses' goals.  If you start by defining the Bosses, their goals, their relationships to various factions, ideologies, and each other, then you can ask: what kind of reasonably long-term (i.e., sufficient for the desired campaign length) project might they all cooperate on?

The players could roleplay their bosses meeting to discuss the world, as co-conspirators, or as a truce between antagonists.  Or, the GM could just come up with a collaborative project (campaign idea) based on his character creation sessions.  I'm sure there are other possibilities too.

Once the project is initiated by the Bosses, the players create their Minion characters.  The relationship between each Minion and his Boss will be a key for determining what kind of game is played.  Is there trust and allegiance (adventure game)?  Is there deception and manipulation (intrigue game)?  Are there dark secrets and betrayals (melodrama game)?  A Boss with a Minion who is loyal to him personally will have a tool to subvert the project to his own ends, while a Boss whose Minion is only onboard because of the project itself will have to resort to other means of bad faith.

The Minions play their fantasy RPG adventures, they succeed or fail in the goals their Bosses have set them.  Then the Bosses wait, watch, scheme, communicate, etc. until it's time for the next phase of the project, and the next Minion adventure.  When the joint project of the Bosses comes to an end, the game could be over.  Or, if all the Bosses are all still alive and not permanently at odds, then they could just get together again and create a new project (days later? decades later?).

So, those are my thoughts re: what gets created and played and in what order.
-David
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David Berg
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2006, 01:56:02 PM »

A few observations from the Boss-Minion game I ran way back when:

All the Bosses were interested in acquiring a certain kind of power (a magic-and-cybernetics interface controlled by the U.S. govt) that was really hard for them to get to.  It was pretty much acknowledged that each one wanted the tech for himself and his faction only, but they needed to work together to give any of them a chance at getting it.  There was a nice added tension from the fact that their agendas after getting this tech were mutually exclusive.  One wanted to use it to rule earth, another wanted to erase it and destroy earth, etc.

The Minions in that game were mostly mercs or dupes who thought they were doing something else (all the Bosses had fake personas and goals they used as fronts).  Some players played one Minion through the whole campaign, while others had various Minions they switched between from one adventure to the next.  If any Boss wound up unrepresented, an NPC would step in for that adventure.

Just some examples to illustrate what worked well for me.
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