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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Noir] Accumulated Guilt and The Downfall  (Read 2874 times)
Caesar_X
Member

Posts: 84


« on: June 28, 2006, 04:28:42 PM »

"Shared guilt is often the only common bond amongst noir characters" (from this essay on the elements of noir):
http://www.crimeculture.com/Contents/Film%20Noir.html

I read the above quote again today and remembered a discussion I had with my friend Mark several weeks ago when he suggested letting characters accumulate guilt throughout the Noir game.  Initially I didn't think it fit, but now that it's (festered?) inside of me I am liking it.  I am still learning about indie rpgs so if someone has already created this mechanic please point me to it.  I noticed MLWM does something a little similar with the inevitability of Master's demise.

Here are some thoughts on the subject along with several questions for the group.

Accumulating Guilt Points (GP) could be an interesting way to keep tension going in the Noir game and move it towards a crashing finale. It might accomplish several things:
-Let the players uncover the guilty party through game play.
-Game play would change as characters all start accumulating some guilt.
-If a character is accumulating a lot of GP, there should be an incentive for them to force their way into scenes to help influence events. This could help create games where scenes start out small and work their way to bigger group scenes and confrontations.

Character Downfall:
-Once a character reaches a certain GP limit, the player (or GM if it's an NPC) gets to narrate their own Downfall. Examples include:
-Hauled off shamefully by the police
-Jumps off a bridge in despair
-Dies in a shootout with the Feds

The Downfall should fit in with the game situation and the traits of their character and shouldn't drag another character with them.
But if two (or more) characters reach the GP limit in the same scene, they should discuss the Downfall and narrate together.

Questions:
-Do you accumulate GP for silencing someone (murder or otherwise) to hide your secret?
-What is the incentive for players to enter scenes knowing that something bad can happen?
-How do we show a character turning from innocent to guilty through game play? See Edward G. Robinson's character in Fritz Lang's 'Scarlet Street'.

Thanks,
Chris
Caesar_X@yahoo.com
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MPOSullivan
Member

Posts: 149


WWW
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2006, 08:31:46 PM »

Heya Chris,

First off, hope you're enjoying the Forge.  I'm a (very irregular) poster here and I find the discussion and critiques here to be smart, incisive and invaluable to the development of games.  hope you find the site to your liking as well.

Secondly, this stuff that you're talking about has some simialr thematic elements, as well as some mechanical parallels with the Meltdown mechaninc that I use in my very own Criminal Element.  It's a bank heist/caper movie RPG.  There's a story-driver mechanic that pushes characters toward certain actions and that, when used properly, can guide stories along certain personal thematic lines quite nicely.  It also makes the PCs flip out and blow shit up, which is always nice in my eyes. 

Not saying we're working on the same stuff, just saying that you might be able to take something from CE, even if it's just a "I don't want my game to do THAT." 
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Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
oreso
Member

Posts: 67


« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2006, 01:00:35 AM »

I'm not super familiar with noir, but heres a go.
Questions:
-Do you accumulate GP for silencing someone (murder or otherwise) to hide your secret?
Of course!

Quote
-What is the incentive for players to enter scenes knowing that something bad can happen?
-How do we show a character turning from innocent to guilty through game play? See Edward G. Robinson's character in Fritz Lang's 'Scarlet Street'.
Because higher guilt means you have better control over bad scenes rather than peaceful ones. A guilty character who wants a scene with his wife and kids is in a whole heap of trouble, but he will rock hard if he chases the bad guys (thematically, he has nothing to lose). Until finally, he has so much guilt that he has total control over bad scenes and is helplessly impotent in normal life that its time for him to bow out via his downfall.

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Caesar_X
Member

Posts: 84


« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2006, 12:51:47 PM »

Michael, I just downloaded your playtest rules of Criminal Element and after a quick scan they look very cool and I love the typography!  I will read them cover-to-cover soon and hope to try them with my play group later this summer.  If we do I will of course send you full session notes.

Oreso, great suggestion about higher guilt players pushing scenes to go bad.  I'm wondering about the mechanic for letting players push their characters into a scene to help affect it.  In the movies you always see what appears to be an innocent conversation going on with some creepo stalking outside or hiding in the closet with a gun.    Maybe a combination of spending plot points and minimum guilt level?

Thanks,
Chris
Caesar_X@yahoo.com

Read about Noir: The RPG here:
http://troupeberkeley.infogami.com/Noir



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oreso
Member

Posts: 67


« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2006, 02:37:53 AM »

perhaps some give and take with the guilt? looking at your rules and considering my ignorance of noir i think i'm making a different game here, but take what you want if its useful.

you spend guilt in a scene to make bad stuff happen to you and those you (should) care about. This is the character finding justification for what he's done. so, say he betrayed his wife and accumulated alot of guilt, but he gets to spend some of that introducing that his wife already betrayed him or his kid was kidnapped allowing him to unit with his wife or something.

The rub would be that in order to resolve bad stuff, ie. to face down your wife's angry lover or rescue your kid, it would be nigh on impossible to do it without gaining guilt. The char will have to do bad stuff in order to protect himself and those he cares about (and the real rub would be when he has to choose between himself and those he cares about, the massive guilt boost for betraying someone will keep him alive and prosperous, but you know, he's become a monster).

So you could easily munchkin by spending loads of guilt to put yourself in a whole mess o' trouble, and then accumulate loads to become this scene dominating powerhouse by sacrificing everyone and being a real horrid guy. The character aint gonna last long though because each transaction (whether accumulating or spending guilt) speeds you along to your downfall.

The amount of guilt you have when you reach your downfall would determine how you bow out. If you have less guilt, you get killed by bad guys or you break down like the innocent you are. If you have more then you get captured by the police or shot by them like the bad guy you are.
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