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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: [As inspred by The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach & the novel Starfish] Under Pressure  (Read 9990 times)
Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2006, 12:47:41 PM »

Here's a new version of the image.

-B

[edited to change the image to a link at the author's request - RE]
« Last Edit: December 21, 2006, 01:48:09 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Jarrod
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Posts: 13


« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2006, 04:56:54 PM »

As a player both enthusiastic about and terrified of Dark Things in Trenches, I'm (probably overly) enthused about the idea of this project. It sounds like there's plenty of things that can go horribly wrong; you just need to isolate your variables. Perhaps an efficient idea to affect play (read: ruin the characters' minds) is to categorize the malfunctions while keeping in mind that magical 2:1 game effect (hereafter to be referred to by me as the "Roach Ratio").

Genetic Alteration: Perhaps the code isn't merely a dormant modification... maybe it's adapting to your character, for good or ill.

Medication Alteration: Maybe the meds make you faster or smarter... and finally you see your crewmates for what they really are.

Monster Attack: Cthulhoids are the home team, and they're playing to win.

Equipment Malfunction: Great for the uniting the party with a common goal... for the moment.

Maybe there could also be hidden goals drawn, which are revealed scene-by-scene as players vie amongst each other for personal gain, and maybe (just to make the ripoff complete) you can "swallow the roach" and stop trying to fight THE DEEP for control over your mind. Maybe the ocean (or the monster in the ocean) has issued The Call. If you accept the Call, you get the toys... and go Bona Fide Nuts.

Just a few thoughts... I wanna play. :)

-J.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2007, 07:54:49 AM »

I read Starfish over the holiday and liked it a lot!  I'd be interested in seeing you "stat up" a couple of the characters in Under Pressure terms.  I think you'll need to be really clear about what effect you are going for - do you want true horror at 400 atmospheres, or evil science conspiracy, the blackest humor, what? 

I'll just throw out that you need to find a way to evoke the claustrophobia of the setting, maybe by the arrangement of the play space.  Maybe you have to be in physical, shoulder-to-shoulder contact with another player unless you are outside Beebe. 
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2007, 05:10:24 AM »


Oh man- actually using play space to push the claustrophobia- that's effing brilliant.

Here's something that I've been chewing on...  a Roach game has structure by virtue of the pre-programmed Events (with the possibility to collaboratively write a few more, if you wanted to keep going with a Roach game)... for UP, I was thinking about Locations which the Framer gets to pick (picking places where he has the best chance to kick ass, and his enemies have the worst chance), and during the Framing stage, a Complication card is drawn which adds uncertainty (backed by mechanics) to the scene.  Obviously, to keep from having to do something as hard as design a deck of cards, I'd have to come up with a way to use the standard deck for this, but I like the 'best laid plans' aspect, where the Framer might have a good idea how the scene should go, but then draws the Ace of Spades which means an Attack by a Rival Station (or whatever).  Locations like 'Sunken Nuclear Sub' and 'Suspiciously Alien Artifact' and 'Black Smoker Country' and 'The Chasm' and 'The Laser Nets' and whatnot.  Complications like 'Sabotage!' and 'Monster Attack' and 'Shocking Revelation'... 

Some additional thoughts on the 'setting'. 

The Station (need a name) is run by Cartwright, the amiable AI programmed to run the automatic systems and keep the Crew sane.  But Cartwright was built by the lowest bidder, and is missing a few security patches, and so has gotten buggy.  I had the notion that scenes could be framed with the PC's in Cartwright's psyche-booth having a 'session' with the AI while it ran Counselor on them-

"It ain't my fault the Doc's samples got contaminated, but the bastard kept blaming me!  He's so paranoid, the old bastard!  He's always in my goddamn space, always riding me!"

"When did these most recent problems with Dr. Klien begin?"

"Last workshift, at the laser nets..."

Actually, I was thinking about several of these stances which could reflect the way the scene is constructed...

The Crew are all specialists in some area- biology, engineering, underwater tactical operations, psychodynamics... whatever.  The Station is a worst-case example of a public/private partnership, with conflicting interests, lowest bidder engineering, and hidden agendas.

Like Roach things should go horribly out of control, and like Roach the winner is the player with the most Control when Rescue arrives (after everyone has their scenes and a certain number of Locations are used)- everyone else gets arrested, locked up for neural rewiring, or shot trying to escape or what have you.  The one in Control gets to narrate the return to the surface. 

Here's a mechanical question- should there be a bonus for 'freaking out' if a card comes up lower than one of your scores?  Or should the die you get to roll because you drew the card be the mechanical bonus before-the-fact?

-Ben
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John Adams
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Posts: 90


« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2007, 07:16:35 AM »

Ben, I love the sound of this idea. Your post inspired me to look up the Roach website and now it's on order.

As for cards, there is an option out there. A fellow in Germany wrote an excellent Magic: The Gathering card editor and distributed it as freeware. Wizards eventually sent him a cease and desist letter so he pulled it from the web, but there are still *ahem* copies floating around. Since it was freeware and you're not using it to create MTG cards, I say no foul.

Stop by your local geek emporium and pick up a couple of packs of plastic card protectors. Use a correctly sized deck of standard playing cards or pick up 100+ common MTG cards for  < $0.10 each. Use the editor to create some stylish, good looking cards for playtesting, color print, cut them out and slip each into a plastic protector with a card to provide stiffness and a uniform, opaque backing. Works like a charm.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2007, 08:08:35 AM »

Here's a mechanical question- should there be a bonus for 'freaking out' if a card comes up lower than one of your scores?  Or should the die you get to roll because you drew the card be the mechanical bonus before-the-fact?

If you are following the Roach model, you must freak out, and you are rewarded for it in a powerful way (in The Roach the highest die size is reserved for this special case, and can't be gained any other way).  You should mechanically encourage dangerous, unstable, out of Control behavior.  I'm not sure the best way to do that, but you don't want to reward the status quo.
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2007, 09:57:43 AM »

Here's a mechanical question- should there be a bonus for 'freaking out' if a card comes up lower than one of your scores?  Or should the die you get to roll because you drew the card be the mechanical bonus before-the-fact?

If you are following the Roach model, you must freak out, and you are rewarded for it in a powerful way (in The Roach the highest die size is reserved for this special case, and can't be gained any other way).  You should mechanically encourage dangerous, unstable, out of Control behavior.  I'm not sure the best way to do that, but you don't want to reward the status quo.

Right now, you draw 1 card per scene automatically, and you roll a die related to the kind of action/scene it is (which of your traits you can bring into play).  You can draw additional cards to get additional dice, with the risk of freaking out or going closer to the edge.  So, given that you get reinforced for pushing things towards a freak out... should you get additionally reinforced for actually freaking out?.

Draw a card over a score, and add 1 to the score.  Draw a card under the score, and freak out.  Additional cards give you an additional die of the type associated with the linked trait though. 

I'm sort of on the fence on this... pushing things towards chaos and madness and comedy of errors is a real goal, but there's such a thing as too much of everything (except bacon).

-Ben
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2007, 10:11:59 AM »

It's something you should playtest (even roughly) both ways.  Actually, it's great to have the flexibility, since you can fine tune the level of instability based on where you place the bonuses.  I suspect that one is obviously better than the other but I can't tell you which.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2007, 10:13:24 AM »

...which reminds me that you could also use the point of attack or bonus size as a pacing mechanic.  Early in the game, no bonus and no encouragement.  Later in the game, small bonus.  Endgame, huge bonus and massive instability. 
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Jarrod
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Posts: 13


« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2007, 01:55:53 PM »

Using the Roach model (and as a powerful endgame), perhaps there should be an event that triggers Endgame akin to a Communications Blackout. Though the players know that one person wins, the characters don't know that; and it'd be mighty difficult to avoid Freaking Out when comms suddenly go dead. Any mechanics involving surface communication fail.

There's any number of ways communications can be severed: severe inclement weather, Cartwright turning on its' crew (for its' own good, of course), sabotage by a character that's already Freaking Out, monsters eating the comm systems, etc.

Maybe it can be set on a timer. Imagine you're playing in the middle of a session, set to be three hours, and you hear an oven timer go ding. It's a mechanic akin to being shoulder-to-shoulder with other players; if they don't mind their fourth wall being broken, the ding can trigger Endgame. In the middle of their scene, comms go dead. The scene continues, but perhaps the option to Freak Out is given mid-scene. For players who are genuinely on a timetable (as I was as a third-shifter, gaming right up until I had to head to work), this might be a refreshing change of pace, or at least an extremely appealing optional rule.

The timer, of course, would have to be hidden from the players' view, as would all timepieces. Everyone surrenders watches, phones, anything with time on it. It'd foster that further feeling of sensory deprivation, and the ticking just might drive one mad. :)

-J.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #25 on: January 03, 2007, 05:06:17 AM »

The idea of a ticking timer you can't see is very nice.  Under pressure indeed.  The privilege of setting/observing/adjusting the timer is some sort of in-game resource, of course.  If you could make that work it'd be really fun, although I see all kinds of obstacles.
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2007, 11:36:51 AM »

The idea of a ticking timer you can't see is very nice.  Under pressure indeed.  The privilege of setting/observing/adjusting the timer is some sort of in-game resource, of course.  If you could make that work it'd be really fun, although I see all kinds of obstacles.

I have this crazy image of five players crammed together on a single sofa, each holding a paper sack with a ticking egg timer inside it... who goes BOOM first? 

-B
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2007, 11:44:25 AM »

It could be a fun resolution method, too, although probably for a different game. 

What can we do to help you focus your current design?
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Bailywolf
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Posts: 729


« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2007, 05:51:42 AM »

It could be a fun resolution method, too, although probably for a different game. 

What can we do to help you focus your current design?

I think I have characters fairly well sussed-  Four Traits (for base dice) and Four Scores (to track increasing pressure).

I think, for the initial playtest version of this, I'm going with the 'reward to risk' rather than 'reward for losing it' mechanical payoff, because picking a new card is a choice while freaking out is more or less just luck.  Pick a card, get a bonus die, risk losing it. 

Should I be cute can call the incrementing scores 'gages'?  As in 'pressure gages'?

Roach has the pacing of the Events laid out- the game runs thorough all these before it ends.

Without a timeline, UP would have a vaguer flow, or one based on the number of players (each getting to frame a scene during one 'stage' of the game if they want).  I need to figure out if this is a good or bad thing. 

I like using 'locations' as the setting framework, but I'm unsure if I want to combine them with randomly generated 'events' or 'complications' on a scene-by-scene or location-by-location basis. 

I think I've gotten a bit scattered with the possibilities... let me collect my thoughts, re-post a cohesive core, and then elicit comment on it so it'll help me lenses this thing into laser focus.

Thanks all- this thread has been brilliant so far.

-Ben 

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