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Author Topic: nicotine girls  (Read 15697 times)
Paul Czege
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« on: May 20, 2002, 01:58:29 PM »

Hey everyone,

So...despite my history of pronouncements that I'm not a game designer, and that http://www.123.net/~czege/WFD.html">The World, the Flesh, and the Devil was an anomaly, I seem to have designed another game. I consider it to be more vanilla than The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, but potentially of less general interest...if that's actually possible:

http://www.123.net/~czege/nicotinegirls.html">Nicotine Girls

What do you think? I'd like to call it an Attribute + Skill system. Do you think it qualifies?

Paul

p.s. The text is pretty raw as of yet, and fails to include examples of character creation, examples of gameplay, and credit to Mike Holmes for calculating a bunch of probabilities that helped me make decisions about the dice mechanics and target numbers. That stuff is all forthcoming.
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Henry Fitch
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2002, 03:33:41 PM »

That's really cool. I'm not sure I can imagine anyone playing it, but it's definitely cool.
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2002, 06:17:28 PM »

I don't think you can call the Methods "skills" because all characters in the system have the same ones, differing only in degree, making them more like attributes. The same for the Motivations. But it's similar enough to an Attribute + Skill system that if you want to call it that, why not?

I like the Fears list. It appears to be derived from lists that crop up in research studies (and magazine articles) about stress. (If not, then you've managed to come up with a list that conforms amazingly to current thinking in psychology.)

Though brief, this is a remarkable piece of creative writing, quite apart from its merits as a game design. Like some other games discussed recently here, the write-up strongly conveys a message all on its own, in a manner unlike, but not totally unlike, the telling of a story. Perhaps "game systems as literature" should be a topic for a different thread. I hope I can discuss this quality without implying any disparagement to the game's qualities in play (which I can't judge without having played it) or sounding like I'm promoting the "meant to be read rather than played" fallacy.

- Walt
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contracycle
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2002, 02:06:35 AM »

My only concern is that there is no place, there does not appear to be anything to do.  Apart from that, wuitre interesting and I like the look, too.  I'm not sure I understand the nicotine association, though.
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Seth L. Blumberg
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2002, 07:42:44 AM »

You know, Paul, it's a shame you're not a game designer, 'cause that's a really striking piece of work.

I have to agree with Henry about playability in its current state, though.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2002, 07:51:34 AM »

Hey,

Julie (jrs) and I spent quite a while going over Nictotine Girls. Here's what we came up with, as I recall - I seem to have left the folder with the notes elsewhere.

1) A given game session (and perhaps the game as a whole) needs a place to happen. A small town. A factory. A girls' school. An urban college. A bowling alley. But somewhere that nictotine girls would be expected to be.

One consequence of having a place is that the Hopes and Fears of each character would all be permutations of the possibilities and risks that are specific to that place. Therefore player-characters would be situated relative to one another, not just in terms of jobs and status, but in thematic terms as well.

2) It might be very handy for the first step of play, prior to making up the player-characters, to be making up a bevy of guys in that place, and what they do or what they seem to be like. The neat part of this step is that "seem to be" - the nicotine girls do not actually initially know what the guys are really like, in the clinch, but only what they seem to be like.

There were a couple of other things too, but I'll have to find those notes.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2002, 12:42:41 PM »

Henry,

That's really cool. I'm not sure I can imagine anyone playing it, but it's definitely cool.

Thanks.

And as far as anyone actually playing it is concerned, I'll admit that last week I allowed myself to dream of totally capturing the market of female game-buyers at GenCon with Nicotine Girls as a commercial product. But ultimately I came back down and decided that what I most wanted was for people to have access to it so they might play.

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Walt,

But it's similar enough to an Attribute + Skill system that if you want to call it that, why not?

It's hard for me to not think "Attribute + Skill" is a descriptor that's very specific to systems where both the Attributes and the Skills are combined prior to resolution to determine either a target number or the size of a dice pool. My Skills (the Methods) do something mechanically different than my Attributes (the Motives). They're not additive. So "Attribute + Skill" seemed inaccurate to me. What do you think? Is there a precedent system commonly accepted as Attribute + Skill that isn't additive?

I like the Fears list. It appears to be derived from lists that crop up in research studies (and magazine articles) about stress.

You're exactly right. The Fears list was aggregated and modified from a couple of different print and online stress tests. One of my favorite things about the Fear mechanic is how even good stuff, like taking a vacation, contributes to it.

Though brief, this is a remarkable piece of creative writing...the write-up strongly conveys a message all on its own, in a manner unlike, but not totally unlike, the telling of a story.

Thank you.

For a while now I've had this notion that there was something missing from Ron's theory that a game is comprised of Character, Setting, Situation, System, and Color...at least as far as Narrativist systems are concerned. I've come to think the missing element is "Tone." I've http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=14436#14436">hinted at this idea on The Forge before, without actually proposing it for consideration. Tone, to me, is not what a story is about, but what a story is like in the telling...it's how much the author intrudes on the narrative, and how the subject is exposed and depicted in conflict. I think my suggestion for a http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=14192#14192">Kennedys/Camelot variant of WYRD is true to the Tone of that game, but varies in all other ways, Character, Setting, Situation, System, and Color. I think Narrativist games regulate Tone in various ways, and I think your observation that Nicotine Girls "conveys a message...unlike, but not totally unlike, the telling of a story" is an observation about Tone. What do you think?

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Gareth,

My only concern is that there is no place, there does not appear to be anything to do...I'm not sure I understand the nicotine association, though.

Regarding "place," I think I agree. Ron makes the same point and I think it's a good one.

I'm not sure I know how to clarify the nicotine association better. Vincent seemed to grasp it intuitively when I showed him the rules. Vincent, can you say anything about the nicotine association that might clarify it? What did I fail to say about it that I should have?

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Seth,

You know, Paul, it's a shame you're not a game designer, 'cause that's a really striking piece of work.

Thank you.

++--+-+++--+-++--+-+++--+-+-+

Ron,

1) A given game session (and perhaps the game as a whole) needs a place to happen. A small town. A factory. A girls' school. An urban college. A bowling alley. But somewhere that nicotine girls would be expected to be.

Yes...you and Gareth make the same point, and it's a good one. Right now I'm thinking part of character creation should be determining the shared location.

2) It might be very handy for the first step of play, prior to making up the player-characters, to be making up a bevy of guys in that place, and what they do or what they seem to be like.

I think you might be perceiving Nicotine Girls as more of an outgrowth of my http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2387#2387">concept for a game about teenage trailer trash girls fighting over prestigious boys, that you and I discussed by private message a bit last June, than it actually is. Perhaps it's largely my fault for the absence of examples in the game text. I think the game is definitely about relationships, but that the relationship parts of the game are largely driven by the Fear table. I think the scope of possibility for a nicotine girl's dream is broader than just getting the right young stud to be romantically interested in her. Although she certainly might dream of a ranch in suburbia and a devoted husband, she could just as well dream of meeting Ted Nugent, or of modeling for department store catalogs. I think the "create the stable of boys" idea is a cool one, but I'm hesitant to introduce it to Nicotine Girls for fear of skewing the focus of the dreams players create in that direction. I want a broad scope of possible dreams that are made complex by relationships, rather than dreams focused on relationships.

There were a couple of other things too, but I'll have to find those notes.

Cool.

Paul
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2002, 01:48:09 PM »

First, many die pool systems are not skill+attribuite additive. So your system is not unique in that, precisely, though I think it is unique in it's exact application.  

Second, I think that Gareth may just not have seen the right films to understand the Premise. Good for you Gareth.

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2002, 04:15:22 AM »

I'm invoked!  But no good answer:

Dunno, the nicotine association just reminded me of this friend Stacy I had, and her whole circle in high school.  I think it's a type, like geek and jock and the rest.  You see it in movies, you see it in the world, there it is.

One of the things we talked about in pm was sexism and classism: is it a sexist / classist game?  Could it be accused of being one?  I for one would be interested in other people's takes on that.

-Vincent

Oh and I dig it in a big way.
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Valamir
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2002, 09:21:48 AM »

Suggestion for you Paul.  

Right now Fear and Hope are somewhat seperate.  Hope improves by using it without loss for the session, and fear declines with successful use of Hope.

What if Fear transforms into hope.  

Instead of Hope just increasing, have hope increase and Fear decrease at the same time (either at critical times or once per session).  What this means is that if characters run out of Fear they can't increase Hope any further.  In order to continue to increase Hope, they have to first pass through and then overcome fear (by selecting one of the fear generating options from the list and then converting this fear to hope).

This way, characters who don't experience the fear can never transcend and fulfill their hope.  Those who face it and over come it can.


Just a thought inspired by an idea I had for my western project, the idea of the western hero facing adversity and punishment as pennance for ultimate redemption.
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Seth L. Blumberg
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2002, 10:42:51 AM »

BTW, Paul, I have to disagree with you about Tone. I think it's more than adequately covered by Color. Perhaps you could (in a separate thread in RPG Theory) explain what you mean by Tone, and why it needs to be distinguished from Color?
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2002, 03:57:55 PM »

Quote from: Seth L. Blumberg
BTW, Paul, I have to disagree with you about Tone. I think it's more than adequately covered by Color. Perhaps you could (in a separate thread in RPG Theory) explain what you mean by Tone, and why it needs to be distinguished from Color?

"Tone" is the word Robin Laws uses (in "Robin's Laws") to describe what he thinks Feng Shui does well (and thus makes it popular/different).  I saw it as a replacement for Color with at most nuanced differences - but maybe I'm wrong.

I guess this is a "yeah, a thread on Tone would be nice" post.

Gordon
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2002, 04:27:47 PM »

I think your observation that Nicotine Girls "conveys a message...unlike, but not totally unlike, the telling of a story" is an observation about Tone. What do you think?

I had to think hard about this, but in the end I don't think Tone is quite what I was grasping for. (Though I agree that Nicotine Girls has a distinctive Tone which does contribute to its strength as creative writing -- which is why it's hard for me to be really sure I'm also seeing something other than that. Maybe it depends on how Tone is defined.) I think what I mean is something closer to Theme. In stories I think of Theme as a Premise answered by instantiating a metaphor. The system doesn't do that, but it does something similar. It has a metaphorical quality to it, a sense that it's about something other than its immediate subject matter or even its own overt Premise. Does that make any sense?

- Walt
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2002, 04:57:44 PM »

Just wanted to chime in and say that I really enjoy Nicotine Girls. There are some subtle nods to the feel you're going for (example: fighting is different between boys & girls), as well as obivous ones (example: Smoke)

Design thoughts:
I think fights should be rolled into Conflict Resolution. With a nod to the difference between conflict vs. girlfriend/girl-enemy/boy/authority(parents,police, etc).
- A conflict vs. girlfriend would be laden with emotion, and either be a) resolved quickly with a tighter bond, or b) cause a great rift.
- Conflict vs. girl-enemy is the least laden with consequences.
- Conflict vs. boy leads to disappointment or elation.
- Conflict vs. authority leads to stubborn defiance or reluctant obesiance.

The idea of Fear (don't know how constantly accumulating Fear, while only losing them 1 point at a time would work in-play) is great. And Smoke clinches the feel of the game.

This is a game that absolutely requires everyone to be conscious of relationships between friends, family, enemies and boys.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2002, 05:10:09 AM »

Hi there,

I like Ralph's idea a lot, although I'm not sure about the specific mechanics involved. The concept seems eminently suited to the game, though.

As a theoretical side-note, I think that "Tone" is suffering from a je ne sais quoi problem. Right now, all I'm seeing is Color. (A lot of people dismiss Color or think that it's only one sort of Color.)

Best,
Ron
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