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Author Topic: Emissaries and Empire  (Read 2594 times)
Marco
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« on: August 24, 2006, 03:40:10 PM »

The link is here: http://www.jagsrpg.org/jags/content/personal/EmissaryAndEmpire_draft.pdf

This is a very, very rough, very very early draft of the game.

The Synopsis
You are Emissaries of a vast empire that has thousands of individual worlds in its thrall. When one of these worlds has a crisis, you go in and solve it (with force, with diplomacy, etc.)

As a point of inspiration, there is a very, very clear link to DitV.

The Point of the Game
Rather than going through the whole Power 19, I'm going to give a few brief points about this here and then get to the questions. There's 30pgs of stuff to read there that, I hope is at least moderately explanatory.

.- The GM constructs a situation map of nodes and lines. On this map are areas of conflict, NPCs, and hidden information.
.- The situation can (should?) be a sci-fi analogue of some real-world interesting political conflict.
.- The situation always (usually?) involves a colonial government, rebels, and victims of the crisis.

It is intended that play is analysis/commentary on geo-political events (current or otherwise) or philosophical governments or economic models. The GM can set up a situation where there is a secular government against religious zealots and the players and the play of the game will make commentary on this situation.

With any luck, it'll be meaningful commentary.

The game play is divided into Turns.

.- During each turn the Emissaries (PCs) go to a location on the node and do something (take out a rebel base, conduct aid operations, meet with colonial officials, etc.)
.- One player will win each turn by being the most effective player.
.- That player can purchase events that reveal the true nature of the acting force (Colonial or Rebel) through its actions.
.- This is, I'd hope, a method of making a meta-game statement about the forces in play (for example, even if the GM sets up an oppressive-seeming communist government and scrappy capitalist rebels, the player can reveal the parties through their actions to be other than they appear at first).

During Conflict Resolution, Players can Opt to do the Following:

.- Use Force. Force can take the form of, say, orbital bombardment.
.- They can take Extreme Measures (torture? use of bio-weapon plagues, etc.)

Both of these are more effective than not using force or extreme measures but they can both damage the situation (using extreme measures to suppress a populace can work very well--but it can also backfire) and it can hurt the character (characters pay Stability to do extreme things and can work themselves out of the game as PCs).

The Sit-Rep Map is essentially a dungeon
There are several known "start locations" but when these are encountered and "solved" the PCs will find links to others until they have ended the situation (crushed the rebels? all been killed? etc.)

In theory terms, each node on the map is a "bang" or collection of bangs.

The Situation is Dynamic
At the start of the game there will be forces acting to cause instability (Victims getting worse, rebel factions generating civil unrest, etc.) Left to its own, the situation should degenerate into chaos.

Questions
Here's where I am running into some trouble:
1. The starting situation needs to be balanced so that it is plausible that the PCs can solve it. I have no clear idea how to do that--but I'm working on it.

I think the number of PCs will need to be balanced against the general difficulty levels of the game. However, if this isn't done right, it could mean dropping the players in a no-win situation. I think it's going to be very difficult to ensure a game that develops properly. Does anyone have any experience with mathematically developing situations?

2. My dice mechanic needs work. It needs to be playtested. It isn't clear how character vs. character combat will work. Characters will have a Body store that seems like it'll be around 6-10. There will be a Threshold score of around 2 or so. This means one or two lucky rolls from a medium weapon will waste an Emissary. That's not how I want it to work.

3. The situation map is complex (and the printed one is a pretty simple sample). How complex can it get before it's impossible for someone to make one?

4. There is a TBD section on heat-level. As the situation becomes more unstable, the "heat-level" rises. I know that things like agitators (Rebel) or use of Force or Extreme Measures will raise the heat-level. I'm not sure what effect on the game that'll have. I think when it reaches a certain level, the planet undergoes revolution. Beyond that, I'm not sure.

I know that doing things like killing off popular rebel leaders should degrade the rebel forces but raise the heat-level. Same for unpopular rebel leaders if there is collateral damage or extreme measures.

Does anyone have any ideas there? Any ideas on figuring out what the "revolution level" will be?

5. When a PC does something extreme, other PCs can "help out" and there is a bid to gain some of the "effect points" from this. What do people think of that? Is it explained well enough? Will it work?

6. Emissary generation begins with an auction method for rank. This reduces the points of the PCs. What's the right number? Is the Auction even a good idea?

7. Does the basic idea of the game--roleplaying troubleshooters in  science-fictionalized geopolitical scenario appeal to people?

-Marco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 07:43:10 AM »

Hiya Marco,

The only thing I can think of suggesting is to play a number of rounds of Dungeoneer, the card game. It's not exactly what you're describing, but it offers a good look at how the points of Glory and of Challenge (I forget their actual names in the game) are set at exactly the right units and scale for the activities of the players, and the way the cards are used to build more dungeon. The neat thing is that the players end up having a lot more options and a good game-theory dilemma to face about cooperation vs. competition, than one might think from such a mechanically-fixed game. If the point-scale were too big or too little, that wouldn't work.

Best, Ron
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