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Author Topic: Decay RPG - Experience Levels  (Read 11249 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2007, 12:08:12 AM »

Hi Zack,

Okay what I'm going to suggest is going to be ass backwards at first - because it wont be about story first, it'll be about looking after players first (ie, making sure they get their turn at the high end of the see saw)

This is it: Have smaller experence levels inside the larger one, ones which can be met in a single session.

These experience levels would revolve around a cluster of skills, rather than covering the characters entire capacity (as your XP levels cover that now).

Okay, in play they can be raised rapidly during play. Not at the end, right during play - preferably right when the GM has presented some (to him) significant part of the game world (well work on how to ensure this). The players choose which skill (out of the cluster in question) are raised and play goes on.

I think for your purposes the raising is some sort of 'insight' mechanism - the skill raises, but not permanently - only for the particulars of the current adventure does the character have his insight.

Finally, the insight raising can go right up to legendary. Yup, in one session! ONE session!

Essentially you already have a see-saw that shifts over many sessions. Here there's a smaller see-saw shifts over one session, but it doesn't involve the whole character (just a cluster of skills) and isn't permanent.

I'm not pitching this in terms of it fitting genre somehow or fitting the feel of a game world. It's there to ensure players get their turn at the high end of the see-saw. I'm guessing this could seem 'off' because without any game world/story reason for it, it's hard to internalise. What do you think?
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Majidah
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2007, 01:52:27 PM »

Quote
So, to conclude, these uber-monsters exist for both reasons, but primarily because the setting requires them. The Revenance provides a deep mystery for players to investigate and ponder on. It also serves as venue to bring a 'horror' element into a game that is essentially based on 'shadowruns' and 'wastelanders'. Lastly, it provides a host of particularly tough opponents for more powerful characters to encounter and (hopefully) defeat...But, when designing the stats for these uber-monsters, I do intend to keep an eye on the Experience Levels, so that they can provide the duel purpose of being both an integral (albiet enigmatic) element to the setting, and also provide a statistical challenge for Crews that have ascended beyond the normal scope of play.

Does it seem like one of these sides will be artificial?

nope, this is more or less the response I was hoping for.  It's a great setting that's deep enough to have all kinds of interesting critters, but it's important to design in the direction you're going, which is roughly.  1. We want people to explore and learn about the world -->2.  We create an interesting world-->3. We design the content of the world based on the interesting principals from which it was made.   It's not as good to start from the idea of power levels and then try to create content that will simply serve as a statistical challenge.  My final question about powerlevels is specifically about what differentiates one zone from another, which coincidentally goes straight to the heart of your next question!

Quote
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "Width allows characters to react to moving between zones that may or may not be specified by depth."
Could you explain that a bit better, my friend? Smiley

Imagine 3 villages: Townsville, Scorch and Radiatia.  Townsville is mild and safe.  Scorch is very hot, characters need Cool skill at 10 to survive.  Radeiatia is full of radiation, characters must have Radaway skill at 15 to survive.  At "green" power level, skills only go to 5, so players cannot possibly explore either Scorch or Radeiatia.  Finally the characters reach "Veteran" level, and thus can get skills up to 10.  Now they can explore Scorch.  However, there is a side effect, since all the characters skills can reach 10, Scorch must contain statistical challenges (tasks and monsters) which are twice as high as they were in Townsville to be equivalent to the element of uncertainty present in townsville.  Similarly, Radeiatia will be 3x townsville. 

Width refers to players raising their Cool and Radaway skills.  These skills were unessecary in Townsville but upon moving to a new zone, became valuable.  Players could not have forseen this at character creation, so the advancement and power level mechanic exists to allow them to adapt.

Depth refers to players raising OTHER skills.  It's the treadmill effect, players power up, and the world gets more difficult to match them.  Here the advancement mechanic is only necessary because of the advancement mechanic.  The world is responding to more powerful characters, who in turn try to grow more powerful and...treadmill.

The only danger of Depth is that now the characters who've advanced to Radentia cannot have meaningful adventures in townsville because it is scaled improperly for them. 

It's also important to point out that width and depth don't have to be shackled to statistical advancement.  In a previous example, suppose players could spend experience points on a car (odd yes, but  they can now define the kind of equipment they'll find while scavenging), now they can reach a distant village without dying of dehydration.  You've allowed them to move through width, without adding depth. 

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I see what you mean. With the help you guys have given me, I'd like to include that idea as a core feature of the game (if you don't mind!). So what you're suggesting is when writing the Game Master section of the book, I should explain the 'see-saw' of power and how at lower levels, the characters will be reacting to the GM's world, while at higher levels the GM will be reacting to the players choices. Should I, then, also explain that both sides of the spectrum should certainly be explored?

Emphatically yes!

Hi Zack,

Okay what I'm going to suggest is going to be ass backwards at first - because it wont be about story first, it'll be about looking after players first (ie, making sure they get their turn at the high end of the see saw)

This is it: Have smaller experence levels inside the larger one, ones which can be met in a single session.

These experience levels would revolve around a cluster of skills, rather than covering the characters entire capacity (as your XP levels cover that now).

Okay, in play they can be raised rapidly during play. Not at the end, right during play - preferably right when the GM has presented some (to him) significant part of the game world (well work on how to ensure this). The players choose which skill (out of the cluster in question) are raised and play goes on.

I think for your purposes the raising is some sort of 'insight' mechanism - the skill raises, but not permanently - only for the particulars of the current adventure does the character have his insight.

Finally, the insight raising can go right up to legendary. Yup, in one session! ONE session!

Essentially you already have a see-saw that shifts over many sessions. Here there's a smaller see-saw shifts over one session, but it doesn't involve the whole character (just a cluster of skills) and isn't permanent.

I'm not pitching this in terms of it fitting genre somehow or fitting the feel of a game world. It's there to ensure players get their turn at the high end of the see-saw. I'm guessing this could seem 'off' because without any game world/story reason for it, it's hard to internalise. What do you think?

I likes it.  Somehow it reminds me of the Riddle of Steel, where characters had certain axioms they lived by that would dump gartantuan numbers of dice into their pools when it was dramatically appropriate.  I think a sufficient game/story reason for this advancement would simply be "your character is getting really familiar with fixing the protomechanicaldingbat." Doesn't mean his "dingbat-repair" skill is going to be huge for every subsequent dingbat he encounters.  Of course, you don't always need one.  Shadowrun allows you to destroy a tank with a .22 caliber pistol by testing damage up sufficiently.  It leaves the justification for the GM/players to come up with after the fact. 
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Sentience
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2007, 03:34:39 PM »

Dude...it just ate a huge post...

*shakes his fist at the Forge*

I'll post again later...
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Sentience
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2007, 06:22:01 PM »

I was able to salvage a bit of the post I lost...Whew!

Okay...


Hi Callan,

I must admit, I'm slightly confused about your suggestion.

Here's what I think:

Quote
Okay what I'm going to suggest is going to be ass backwards at first - because it wont be about story first, it'll be about looking after players first (ie, making sure they get their turn at the high end of the see saw)

Part of my original goal with the XP Levels was the idea that the players could create brand new characters that were already at the top of their game (starting out at the Veteran or Elite Level), in other words, they're at the top of the seesaw from the beginning of the campaign.


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This is it: Have smaller experience levels inside the larger one, ones which can be met in a single session.

I think I'm having trouble connecting this with what you said after that. To me, allowing players to ascend a level in a single session seems to serve the purpose of giving them an immediate sense of accomplishment, rather then ensuring they get their turn controlling the game world.

Quote
These experience levels would revolve around a cluster of skills, rather than covering the characters entire capacity (as your XP levels cover that now).

So you're suggesting that these 'mini-levels' reflect a character's prowess in a handful of skills, while the larger Experience Levels reflect their entire repertoire of abilities? If so, who chooses the handful of skills, since there are no classes that would set 'skill-groups'?

Quote
Okay, in play they can be raised rapidly during play. Not at the end, right during play - preferably right when the GM has presented some (to him) significant part of the game world (well work on how to ensure this). The players choose which skill (out of the cluster in question) are raised and play goes on.

I'm not sure I like the idea of players being able to increase their skills in the middle of play. To me, this seems like something that would create a distraction or otherwise prevent the game from going smoothly, as well as giving the players an unbalanced advantage when the GM is about to challenge them in some way.

If I understand correctly, then let's say a GM was about to have the Crew get dumped into a situation where they have to survive in the ruins of Houston for a few days. To this GM, this is a huge part of his planned adventure. The challenges the players would face would probably involve the Survival Skill and a handful of combat skills, assuming there are some nasties in the ruins that they have to fight. Now that they players have an idea of what they're up against, why would the players increase anything but their combat and survival skills, which are now too overpowered for the preestablished adventure the GM had planned. Not to mention, it may take up to 15 minutes for all the players in the group to increase their skills if it's a large group of players. So now, the GM just presented a significant plot thread of his adventure, but there's a 15 minute interlude that basically interrupts his flow of the story.

Did I not understand this correctly?

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I think for your purposes the raising is some sort of 'insight' mechanism - the skill raises, but not permanently - only for the particulars of the current adventure does the character have his insight.

So now, it would seem like the idea is to temporarily allow the players to buff the skills they need for the situation that's going to occur. So how then does the GM plan a balanced challenge? If every session, the player's characters become 'Legendary' in what ever skills they need for the particular challenge, does the concept of 'challenge' still hold true?

Quote
Essentially you already have a seesaw that shifts over many sessions. Here there's a smaller seesaw shifts over one session, but it doesn't involve the whole character (just a cluster of skills) and isn't permanent.

I thought the seesaw was meant to be a gradual thing; something that could be anticipated by the GM whose players were being conditioned to change the world in a way that reflected the GM's ideals.

To me, the seesaw took a form that was more fused with the individual character and his/her story. Such as, a Green street thug starts out doing menial tasks and legwork, reporting to a low-boss of the gang. As the character gains power, eventually becoming a 'legendary street thug', he earns new ranks until he becomes the big boss of the gang. Now instead of reacting the GM's world, he now has enough power to make significant changes and the GM is now reacting to him.

The idea that the seesaw effect could take place within a single session, in my opinion, is rushing it a little. Unless the entire group (including the GM) decide that they want to skip to the chase and start out the players as Elite, then the GM doesn't really have a chance to set the tone for the players.

Quote
Finally, the insight raising can go right up to legendary. Yup, in one session! ONE session!

I'm not sure why we'd want to allow a character to temporarily raise a skill up to a level that (in my opinion) should be earned by dedication to the game. The idea for the Experience Levels were to prevent players from raising a single skill to Legendary status so that a brand new negotiator's Diplomacy Skill wasn't maxed out from the get go.

Quote
I'm not pitching this in terms of it fitting genre somehow or fitting the feel of a game world. It's there to ensure players get their turn at the high end of the seesaw.

To me, the responsibility of ensuring the players get their turn at the high end of the seesaw is ultimately up to the GM and the players themselves. Some GM's may not want the Players to ever be able to control the world. There are also players who prefer the comfort of not being in control. Then again, there are GM's who want the Players to be in control right off the bat, and likewise players who only want to play if their characters are shaping the world from square one.

In my opinion, I think the seesaw theory should be presented as a tool for GM's to implement when creating a campaign, not necessarily something that needs to be ingrained in the mechanics of the game. My thoughts on how to present this was to explain to the GM that it may be a worth while en devour to ensure that in the beginning, the Players react to the Gm's world. Once the character have been introduced to the setting and understand how things work, and once their characters have ascended to a high level of power, then the scale falls in their favor, allowing the Players to have a much more significant impact on how the plot of the story evolves.

Quote
What do you think?

I think we were on the same page, but I got lost somewhere in the implementation.

I think I could use some elaboration. I may not be grasping the idea fully or understanding the scope of your ideas.

To Pat:

We have made a habit posting while the other is writing their post, haven't we? Hehehe!

Quote
nope, this is more or less the response I was hoping for.  It's a great setting that's deep enough to have all kinds of interesting critters, but it's important to design in the direction you're going, which is roughly.  1. We want people to explore and learn about the world -->2.  We create an interesting world-->3. We design the content of the world based on the interesting principals from which it was made.

That's the idea! We're seeing eye to eye now.

Quote
Imagine 3 villages: Townsville, Scorch and Radiatia.  Townsville is mild and safe.  Scorch is very hot, characters need Cool skill at 10 to survive.  Radeiatia is full of radiation, characters must have Radaway skill at 15 to survive.  At "green" power level, skills only go to 5, so players cannot possibly explore either Scorch or Radeiatia.  Finally the characters reach "Veteran" level, and thus can get skills up to 10.  Now they can explore Scorch.  However, there is a side effect, since all the characters skills can reach 10, Scorch must contain statistical challenges (tasks and monsters) which are twice as high as they were in Townsville to be equivalent to the element of uncertainty present in townsville.  Similarly, Radeiatia will be 3x townsville.

Interesting example. Vaguely reminds me of MMO style 'zones'.


Quote
Width refers to players raising their Cool and Radaway skills.  These skills were unessecary in Townsville but upon moving to a new zone, became valuable.  Players could not have forseen this at character creation, so the advancement and power level mechanic exists to allow them to adapt.

Depth refers to players raising OTHER skills.  It's the treadmill effect, players power up, and the world gets more difficult to match them.  Here the advancement mechanic is only necessary because of the advancement mechanic.  The world is responding to more powerful characters, who in turn try to grow more powerful and...treadmill.

The only danger of Depth is that now the characters who've advanced to Radentia cannot have meaningful adventures in townsville because it is scaled improperly for them. 

So, then am I correct in saying that when Width is concerned, Players advance to different areas of the world once they've achieved a high enough level to survive, while Depth describes a setting where the entire world evolves along with the characters?

If this is the case, then these two concepts can be seen in the games World of Warcraft and TES: Oblivion. In WoW, a Level 1 character cannot survive in the next area until he reaches level 10. So, in order to get to the next zone, the player must advance his character up to an appropriate level to be able to meet the challenges of that area. In Oblivion, the character can go where ever he wants right from the start, and the world scales to always keep a relative level of challenge no matter where he goes.


Is this correct?

If so then, I believe when you said:
Quote
The only danger of Depth is that now the characters who've advanced to Radentia cannot have meaningful adventures in townsville because it is scaled improperly for them.
- you mean "Width", rather then "Depth", because with Width, Townsville is permanently set for Green characters, and Radentia is set up for Elite characters, so an Elite character would not be challenged by the content of Townsville?

Quote
It's also important to point out that width and depth don't have to be shackled to statistical advancement.  In a previous example, suppose players could spend experience points on a car (odd yes, but  they can now define the kind of equipment they'll find while scavenging), now they can reach a distant village without dying of dehydration.  You've allowed them to move through width, without adding depth.

Quote
My final question about powerlevels is specifically about what differentiates one zone from another

If I were to have to decide on Width or Depth, I think the game primarily relies on Width, with a small amount of Depth that's largely up to the GM to manage.
To answer this better, I think I'll need to explain what the areas of setting are. I'll try to be brief.

The Aeon Megaplex: One of three giant metropolises that were born from the ARC (Assurance for the Restoration of Civilization) Complexes (think noah's 'ark', or the Vaults from Fallout, but this time the whole vault is one big GECK). After hundreds of years, these cities are enormous, ruled by monolithic Megacorporations who all make up the largest form of organized goverment in the world: The TCC (Terran Corporate Commonwealth). This is where the 'shadowrun' type of stuff happens. The Megaplex offers a wide spectrum challenges, from ones appropriate for Green characters (such as breaking into a very low-security soda-pop factory) to ones that are more appropriate for Elite characters (planting false evidence in a black-security MobiusCorp Weapons Division Research and Development installation located twenty stories underground). This isn't to say that shadowruns and breaking and entering are the only things to do there, I was just using that as an example.

The Sprawls: Outside of the Borderwall of the Megaplex lie miles of ruined city inhabited by people so lost in poverty and oppression, that the term 'slum' is an understatement. Here, people are ruled over by vicious Sprawl Lords that war with each other for power and resources. Most of the people here subsist off of castoff garbage and resources from the Megaplex. This is a very tough place to live, which represents a much more difficult area to survive in then the Megaplex, though the difficulty can always be scaled to meet a challenge for Green characters.

The Central Barrens: Just outside the Sprawls and the Megaplex is the area of the Outlands that was once the heartland, the breadbasket of the United States. What consists mostly of the remnants of old farms and what are now skeletal forests, the Barrens are a parched and relatively desolate wilderness. However, this area enjoys the most influence from the TCC of any other part of the Outlands, with many outposts, towns, and settlements that rely on protection from TCC Border Patrol and Megacorp Rangers. Trade is a big part of this area, since the roads are generally safe enough to allow for caravans and traveling merchants. However, lots of merchants means lots of bandits. This area represents one step up from the Sprawls, but again, the difficulty can be scaled back for younger characters.

The Western Badlands: This region is what remains of the western territories of the US. Rocky flats, arid deserts, and trecherous mountain ranges make up the bulk of the features of the Badlands, making this an even tougher place to survive in. With only a handful of settlements, the majority of the inhabitants of this area are tribal peoples, cut off from any form of civilization for hundreds of years. Again, this one step up in difficulty from the Central Outlands.

The Eastern Ruins: The east coast of the US was once the most populated and developed, which means it also saw the brunt of the nuclear blasts. What remains are the hollow ruins of old cities and many Emission Zones (blast sites laden with radiation). This area is mostly inhabited by marauders and mutants, with very few settlements. This area is one step up in difficulty from the Badlands.

The Northern Drifts: When the earth suffered from the decade long nuclear winter that followed the apocalypse, the tempertures of the planet dropped tremendously. The areas that were once the northern border of the US and Canada are now frozen, icy tundra too cold for much to survive. The only semblance of civilization are a handful of TCC mining and research installations that rely heavily on constant supply shipments from the Megaplex. The only other thing are a few species of creature that are hardy enough to survive the frigid climate. Again, one step up from the Ruins.

The Southern Wastes: Finally, we have the areas that were once Texas, Mexico, and Central America. These areas are blistering hot and torid beyond belief. Water is extremely scarce, so the only things that exist here are creatures that have adapted to the extremely hot, extremely dry climate. This represents the most difficult terrain characters might encounter.

Of course, all these area could be scaled to represent challenges for different levels of Crews. For example, the Central Barrens are a tame place compared to the Southern Wastes, but the GM could place a mutant stronghold somewhere on the borders of the Barrens that could represent a challenge big enough for Elite characters.

I hope I didn't go into too much detail and bore the heck out of you guys. I just thought by giving some specifics, it would help bring to light the ideas I'm working with.

As you can see, it's largely based on width. As characters gain abilities and skills, they make their chances to survive in some areas more reasonable. Also, as characters get more powerful, they also get their hands on more sufisticated equipment that might allow them to survive in the Southern Wastes and the Northern Drifts.

Quote
Quote from: Callan S. on Today at 12:08:12 AM
Hi Zack,

Okay what I'm going to suggest is going to be ass backwards at first - because it wont be about story first, it'll be about looking after players first (ie, making sure they get their turn at the high end of the see saw)

This is it: Have smaller experence levels inside the larger one, ones which can be met in a single session.

These experience levels would revolve around a cluster of skills, rather than covering the characters entire capacity (as your XP levels cover that now).

Okay, in play they can be raised rapidly during play. Not at the end, right during play - preferably right when the GM has presented some (to him) significant part of the game world (well work on how to ensure this). The players choose which skill (out of the cluster in question) are raised and play goes on.

I think for your purposes the raising is some sort of 'insight' mechanism - the skill raises, but not permanently - only for the particulars of the current adventure does the character have his insight.

Finally, the insight raising can go right up to legendary. Yup, in one session! ONE session!

Essentially you already have a see-saw that shifts over many sessions. Here there's a smaller see-saw shifts over one session, but it doesn't involve the whole character (just a cluster of skills) and isn't permanent.

I'm not pitching this in terms of it fitting genre somehow or fitting the feel of a game world. It's there to ensure players get their turn at the high end of the see-saw. I'm guessing this could seem 'off' because without any game world/story reason for it, it's hard to internalise. What do you think?


I likes it.  Somehow it reminds me of the Riddle of Steel, where characters had certain axioms they lived by that would dump gartantuan numbers of dice into their pools when it was dramatically appropriate.  I think a sufficient game/story reason for this advancement would simply be "your character is getting really familiar with fixing the protomechanicaldingbat." Doesn't mean his "dingbat-repair" skill is going to be huge for every subsequent dingbat he encounters.  Of course, you don't always need one.  Shadowrun allows you to destroy a tank with a .22 caliber pistol by testing damage up sufficiently.  It leaves the justification for the GM/players to come up with after the fact. 

Hmm...

Perhaps this could relate. In the game, we've got this mechanic called 'Focus'. As characters earn Experience Points, they attain Focus Points. These work similarly to 'Character Points' in D20, and 'Karma Points' in Shadowrun. Basically, Focus represents the characters ability to achieve success in the face of colossal odds. By calling forth their focus, they can pull off heroic acts of impossibility that normal people can't. How this works is: When a player spends a Focus Point, they can add a die (based on their Experience Level) to their roll, adding that to the result to get a higher roll in hopes of hitting the target number.

Was this the idea, or am I missing the point entirely?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2007, 10:13:03 PM »

Hi Zack,

Okay, you've seen merit in some of my ideas, so you know I'm not completely off base in my understanding.

I'll say this : the see-saw is utter bullshit if both sides don't get their turn. And in my opinion, having it take multiple sessions to get to the other other side of a see-saw (any see-saw, small or big), simply threatens those equal turns.

You've raised alot of good questions that I could get into, but it'd all be useless to answer unless I know you want to protect the players right to his turn at the high end of the see-saw. Everything I've suggested hinges on the idea that "Protect the players right to his turn at the high end" comes before "Get the players clued into the world" with you.

Here's a difficult question: It's always possible to get the players a little bit more clued into the game world, a little more in sync with it, a little more in the flow with it.

Given that, are you ever actually prepared to give up your turn GM'ing at the high end of the see-saw?

The fact is, while the mechanics in my example might seem to intrude, they actually stop...well, to put it roughly, someone extending their turn forever.

It is uncomfortable to not have the players clued in as much as you want - it takes your out of your comfort zone. But why invite them to play if you don't want to exit your comfort zone to some degree? You could imagine it by yourself if you wanted it to stay safe.

Basically, if you don't want to leave your comfort zone at some point, get rid of these damn levels. They seem to offer a turn at the high end of the see-saw, but frankly they dont (including starting at elite - that's just a two step see-saw, rather than a five step/level see-saw). They are a false promise. Because if you were willing to ever exit your comfort zone at all, you could handle it happening in just one session - waiting fifty sessions isn't going to make any difference.

If your not prepared to leave your comfort zone now, you wont be in fifty sessions time!

I think it's fine if you want to stay in a comfortable place in terms of gaming (go for it, it's valid design and I might even have ideas to aid that) - but on one hand these levels suggest that you don't want to just remain safe. And on the other hand you don't want it to happen in one session. But on the third(!) hand, as I said, if your not ready for it to happen right here, right now, right this session, man, your not going to be ready in twenty, fifty or a hundred sessions. It's time to decide. And I mean that in a healthy, looking towards a bright future way (whichever choice you take!) Smiley

Umm, also try not to single line quote if you want to quote me, it gets a bit messy (it's also a no-no at the forge). I know I've been hard hitting and now it sounds like I'm modding you, however my intent is for a clear thread which can help out both of us. Please don't hit me! Sad
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Sentience
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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2007, 06:19:38 AM »

Sorry about the forge no-nos. I'm still pretty new here, and I'm not fully educated on Forge etiquette. My apologies.
The reason I did so was to clearify which part of your post I was responding to.

There seems to be a recurring idea of 'my comfort zone'. Allowing the players to have their turn at the high end of the seesaw isn't out of my comfort zone, hence why I found the idea of the seesaw a good idea in the first place. What I'd rather not do is create a system which promotes 'battling' over whose at the top of the seesaw. If the power shifts multiple times during a single session, someone (the GM, or the players) is going to feel like they're getting a raw deal, because just when they thought something was established, the power shifts back and the other side could negate that establishment.

In answer to your difficult question, are you're asking if I (me personally, zack) am ready to give up my spot GMing at the high end of the seesaw? If so, then I thought the apparent answer was yes. I personally enjoy games where the characters are powerful enough to make significant changes to the game I've established. Again, I wouldn't have embraced the idea of the power seesaw to begin with, had I not enjoyed the idea of giving players their turn.

If that question is directed at GMs in general, then I don't have an answer. Like I said, some GMs don't want to give up their spot at the top of the seesaw because it's going beyond their personal comfort zone, and I'm not sure as a designer if it's a good idea to force them to. Then again, if they are enthusiastic about the idea of letting the players control the flow of the game, I'd like to make sure they can do that, and I think you can help. However, forcing a the Game Masters out there to leave their comfort zone is not something I want my game to do. Perhaps we could talk about an optional game mechanic that could be used, rather then something that ingrained into the rules of the game?

You say I should be ready to leave 'my comfort zone' in a single session. I think we have to politely disagree. I understood the seesaw to be something that tipped from one side to the other smoothly, to allow the story to flow without conflict between what the GM had already established, and what the players planned to do (which, in my experience is almost always more radical and extreme then what the GM has in mind). The way I see it, flipflopping the power from left to right in such a short span of time is like dropping a cinderblock on one side of the seesaw, when no one is sitting on the otherside. It's going to make a loud noise and send sand flying all over the place. I cannot fathom how such a sudden and massive change of power could maintain equilibrium in a game session.

Maybe I'm old fashioned and I missed the new wave of RPG theory, but the role of the Game Master was not only to referee the rule system, but also to be the storyteller and the one who maintains a semblance of control over what could ultimately become a very chaotic scene. To allow the players to take control of the flow of the story whenever they please seems to defete the purpose of the GM. Again, maybe I'm narrowminded, but if they players can take control of the game whenever they see fit, what's the point of having a GM?

To say that starting the characters out one step below Legendary gives a false promise of a transition of power doesn't seem like a valid statement. At that point, like I said before, they're already in the position to takes the reigns and start manipulating the game world. Going one step up to Legendary doesn't grant them some great power and give them the green light to be at the high end of the seesaw. Ultimately, it's the individual GM's world (not mine, me, zack) and it's up to him or her to allow the transition of power to take place.

To sum it up, as a Game Master, allowing the players to have their turn at the high end of the seesaw is not out of my comfort zone as should be noted by my enthusiam behind the idea. However, as a game designer, forcing every GM out there to go beyond what could be their comfort level by ingraining a mechanic in the system that allows for a sudden and violent change of power is going beyond my comfort level.

I apologize if my last post was not receptive to your suggestions, but assuming things about when and if I would be ready to leave my safety zone doesn't seem like a productive way to discuss things.

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Sentience
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Sentient Games - Living Breathing Thinking Games


« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2007, 06:36:57 AM »

I'd like to add something:

Yes, I do have the interest to protect the players by providing the information necessary to ensure they have the opportunity to be at the high end of the seesaw. However, I don't have the interest of forcing every GM who runs a Decay game to give up their right to stay at the high end of the seesaw, if that's how they feel.

Further more, from a business perspective, that seems like a wrong choice since it's usually the GM's who purchase the book and supplemental material.

If the GM wants to stay at the top of the seesaw, that's his prerogative, and if the players don't think this is fair, maybe they should find a new GM. I don't believe it's wise to say "Hey, as a Game Master in Decay, expect to have the Players take control of your game on a regular basis."

I'm not looking at this with bias for either the GM or the Players. I'm trying to protect both the GM and Players and make sure both parties can stay in their respective comfort zones, if they so choose.

Does this make sense?
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Majidah
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« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2007, 09:59:14 AM »

The discussion over who's got their turn on the high end of the see-saw is related to "the impossible thing to do before breakfast"  which is discussed here:

http://ptgptb.org/0027/theory101-02.html

The basic upshot is, that it is paradoxical for one player to control the world and another to control a character within the world.  Since the character is part of the world, the former player has complete executive control over the latter.  This is because the rules apportion final executive credibilty to the GM.  Which is what vincent is discussing here in Roleplay's fundamental act: http://www.lumpley.com/hardcore.html

What Callan and I are hoping the intent of the power levels system is, is to encode in the game rules some way that players can get the authority to make changes to the game world, in a sense to make the GM's role more like bass playing and less like straight illusionism.  It's important to note that if the game doesn't last a long time, the see-saw never swings and most people won't get to experience being in charge.  So adding a see-saw mechanic to individual games is critical if you want the see-saw to actually happen.  Giving long term power levels will just allow a GM to kill off players who are about to take over, it should be clearer that this is ok.  Alternatively if you don't want to give players the hotseat, remove the power level rules, because they introduce that possiblity given enough time.  In either case you MUST NEEDS explain which of these you chose and why, or you risk building a conflict in to the game.

A related question is: How often and for how long do you expect people to play the game and with whom?  The answer is usually "As often as possible, as long as possible, with anyone interested." Which is a poor answer.  Imagine if we played frisbee like this, we'd be exhausted with a lot of sketchy strangers, and we'd burn out quick.  Long-term powerlevels serve the eternal campaign= good agenda, it's often better to put in smaller benchmarks to hit, so that players don't get bored waiting for the game to start.

On a different note, I think you've mistaken my point on Depth v. Width as a world property, I meant it more as a character development property.  Depth refers to skills that are useful in any context (eg. shootiness), width refers to skills that are useful in only specific contexts (eg. radaway).  The term Depth means that the character is just powerful in any context, while Width enables specific changes to respond to new things.  If characters just get wider, and cannot upgrade skills that will always be useful, every part of your world can be used at every level of character because the statistical challenges all work.  If you let your characters get deeper, statistical challenges will either disapear or have to increase to keep the characters on the edge.  This means that only SOME of your world is accessable to higher level characters.  It's the difference between having access to MORE of the world when you level up (width) and having access to DIFFERENT PARTS of the world when you level up (depth).

Anyway I'm curious to see how the see-saw debate comes out.  I'm hoping callan and I can peer pressure you into tossing it in =O!
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Sentience
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Sentient Games - Living Breathing Thinking Games


« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2007, 12:26:06 PM »

Well, I understand what's being talked about in both of those links. But...I suppose it will do my credibility no good by admitting that things like this are a bit beyond my scope of thinking. I'm incredibly frustrated by deep study of RPG theory. To me, these things overcomplicate a pretty simple concept. Perhaps I'm looking for advise in the wrong place.

If I'm understanding correctly, my opinion is: why attempt to force the GMs to play bass instead of create illusions? The responsibility to transition the power between the GM and the Players should fall on the group playing the game, not the rules of the game their playing. Who am I to say, "Hey Joe, you can't run an illusionist game. You gotta play bass if wanna play Decay, buddy."?

For simplicity, let's look at this idea applied to a good old fashioned game of D&D. I can't image there being a rule in the game that says a Level 4 Mage can, at will, function like a Level 25 Mage so that the player gets a turn controlling the story for a few minutes in a session. This wouldn't work, because now the DM's dragon, that was supposed to prevent the PCs from just waltzing in and scooping up ungodly amounts of treasure, just got fried by a magic missile.

To be quite frankly honest (and you guys will probably hate me for this), I don't care if the seesaw effect takes place in Joe's game. I think it should take place, since it will allow the players to really become part of the story, but that's for Joe and his friends to sort out. Like I said, I'm not comfortable forcing Joe to run his game the way you, or I, or anyone else thinks it should be ran. 

If the game doesn't last long enough for the seesaw to take effect and for power to transition, then some where along the lines, something else failed. Either the game's rules didn't work for the group playing it, or the setting wasn't interesting enough for the group to keep with it, or the players got distracted and wanted to try something else, or the GM ran a boring adventure that left the players indifferent to playing again. If the group decides that they want the players to be in control of the game, there's nothing stopping them. The Experience Levels provide a statistical benchmark for players to create brand new characters that possess everything they need to make the world react to them, rather then them reacting to the world.

If Joe decides to kill off players that are about to take over, then Joe decided from the get-go that he was going to maintain control throughout the entire campaign. If this is the case, then forcing it into the rules that the players will take control, whether he likes it or not, means Joe isn't going to play this game to begin with. Why would Joe play a game that forces him to relinquish control, if he doesn't want to?

From what it seems like, you guys are saying that I either:

A) Need to force the seesaw to take effect quickly and often by ingraining a mechanic into the game that says "The seesaw will happen, and it will happen every single session, whenever the players feel like it, and since it's part of the established rules, the Game Master can't do a thing about it."

or...

B) Get rid of the Experience Levels completely because they allow the seesaw to either take effect over a short or long period of time, or even right from the beginning of the campaign, and that's not good because if (A) isn't true, then there should be no seesaw at all.

To me, this seems to be constraining my options a bit. It would seem like you guys don't think all the GM's out there will ever give up their turn at being at the top of the seesaw, so I need to design the game to make them give up the power. I don't think you guys give them enough credit. A respectable, intellegent GM knows that his world wouldn't exist without the Players. He knows he has to make sure the players are having fun, otherwise what's the point of them playing?

 I LOVE the idea of the seesaw. I'm ecstatic that you guys have brought it infront of my eyes and let me mull over it for a while. But I (and I hate to use such a strong word) refuse to force it to take effect in the game. The players are already supplied with opportunity to be at the high end of the seesaw. I see no reason create a mechanic that basically gives the group no choice but to have this happen rapidly and all the time.

Like I said before, I feel the best way to bring the seesaw idea into Joe's game is to suggest it when explaining the ways a campaign can be set up. I'd like to explain the pro's and con's of using the seesaw idea, and the pro's and con's of not using it. I'd like to let him know that by allowing the players a turn at being at the top of the seesaw, it could add a new element of fun for both the GM and the players. But, by shoving the idea in the face of the GM and saying "Here, you have to use this. You don't have a choice. Live with it, or don't play the game." seems to me like a 'fuckyou, this is how it is' type of thing. I'm not interested in forcing the idea on the GM.

On the Depth vs. Width aspect, I have a vague understanding. It still seems a bit fuzzy to me, but again, these intricately detailed studies of RPG theory and content often go right over my head.

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Callan S.
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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2007, 09:49:55 PM »

Great, this time my post got eaten!

Hi Zack, thanks for not hitting me! Smiley

I'm going to ask about this because it relates to intial buy in to the game
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Like I said before, I feel the best way to bring the seesaw idea into Joe's game is to suggest it when explaining the ways a campaign can be set up. I'd like to explain the pro's and con's of using the seesaw idea, and the pro's and con's of not using it. I'd like to let him know that by allowing the players a turn at being at the top of the seesaw, it could add a new element of fun for both the GM and the players. But, by shoving the idea in the face of the GM and saying "Here, you have to use this. You don't have a choice. Live with it, or don't play the game." seems to me like a 'fuckyou, this is how it is' type of thing. I'm not interested in forcing the idea on the GM.
I don't quite understand this - doesn't your game force a post apocalypse setting on a player who wants fantasy with elves?

I do understand the fiscal aspect - GM's buy the books. But I don't understand the 'GM is forced' level - if a GM reads the book in the store, knows what he's in for and buys it and uses the rules, then obviously he mustn't feel he's being forced. I understand the fiscal aspect that GM's who feel forced wont buy the book, but I don't understand the 'forcing the GM is bad' part. I can't see how the GM is being forced to buy the book/forced to accept anything. Is it really a problem?

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If I'm understanding correctly, my opinion is: why attempt to force the GMs to play bass instead of create illusions? The responsibility to transition the power between the GM and the Players should fall on the group playing the game, not the rules of the game their playing. Who am I to say, "Hey Joe, you can't run an illusionist game. You gotta play bass if wanna play Decay, buddy."?
Absolutely. But there are illusionist games and there are participationist games. Participationism is almost exactly the same, except the players KNOW they don't have control over stuff. Participationist games can and do rock out and are cool! They are an entirely valid approach and are very healthy play, in my mind.

But...illusionism. The forge glossary doesn't connotate illusionism with any negative context. I do. The players are led to believe they have/will have some control, but that is not how it is.

I could get into a can of worms on what I think about that and how you should treat other people. BUT! Lets just say I strongly, strongly advise against using mechanics that support illusionism.

With that in mind, if you want to drive toward a participationist design, avoid anything that gives players power. Your giving them skill points right now - don't. Give them something else, like points that they can spend to describe how their trenchcoat flaps in the wind as they crouch on the church steeples peek, or spend points to describe how a sultry temptress smoulders when she looks at the hero PC. That sort of thing. That's a rough idea just there to suggest the direction I'm talking about.

But right now, it could go a seesaw game, but I think it's most likely going to go illusionist because while it offers power, it's terribly easy for an illusionist GM to screw up access to it. I guess I don't want you to help illusionist GM's with a system that, in my opinion, facilitates what they want to do. I'm very biased on this, and might not be of further help because of it. Participationism is much cooler and rocks out!

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Maybe I'm old fashioned and I missed the new wave of RPG theory, but the role of the Game Master was not only to referee the rule system, but also to be the storyteller and the one who maintains a semblance of control over what could ultimately become a very chaotic scene. To allow the players to take control of the flow of the story whenever they please seems to defete the purpose of the GM. Again, maybe I'm narrowminded, but if they players can take control of the game whenever they see fit, what's the point of having a GM?
Just on this, I'm pretty sure I didn't state they get control whenever they want. It'd be spread out, rigged say to a certain session length. So if you wanted session length to be five hours, they'd only be legendary in the last hour of play, for example. The rules can say, after five hours the skills reset back to their normal levels.
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Majidah
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Posts: 17


« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2007, 06:31:07 AM »

I think the conflict is over the word "forced."  Simply put you cannot "force" any group of players to play a specific way, they will decide what kind of game they want to enjoy and change any and all rules of your game accordingly to allow themselves to play it.  The goal of a game is to allow players to have an enjoyable time while changing as few rules as possible. The rules  thus "support" a certain kind of play rather than "force" a certain kind of play.  You should try to avoid internally conflicting rules where possible and describe exactly what kind of game your trying to create so the players know what's up, rather than make them guess what you're trying to show them, but in either case, the social contract (how the players are related to one another) will work out the bugs as you've pointed out.

It sounds like the see-saw is in, so let's talk about that for a minute.  The see-saw means shifting from illusionism/participationism modes of play to bass playing.  At first the GM is telling the story so that the players get a crash course in decay-ology.  Like actors reading literature that pertains to their parts so they can play the part more accurately, the players get steeped in the setting.  Then the see-saw flips over and the players get a chance to dictate what happens while the GM just maintains the world and updates it according to what they do.  They get to have greater impact.  Another way to say this is that in the book "Player's journey in the wastes" the GM writes chapter 1, and the players write the rest. 

So in sum:
GM's turn
1. Describe the setting
2. Begin the storyline
3. Players learn to work together and to work with the world

Player's turn.
1. Modify the setting
2. Continue the story line
3. Work together with the GM

Now onto power levels.  Currently, your powerlevels are a bit confusing to me.  If statistical challenges rise to meet the players, then they don't really get their turn in the drivers seat unless they stay in safer areas.  This conflicts with the avowed aim of "explore the wastes."  If statistical challenges are more-or-less the same everywhere, then the players will get to explore, but they will almost immediately be in the  driver seat due  to their great personal power (since the entire world is balanced to a new character).  I think this is the paradox that Callan and I are discussing.   Callan's proposed solution is that there be incongrous statistical challenges, but player's statistics can rise to meet them.  This means that the players still explore, and still are challenged, but get to write a few changes in each game by hulking out.  An alternative is to do away with the powerlevels completely and have the world be statistically flat, so that players simply explore, and impact the game by amassing great wealth and prestige (but not high skills or deadly weapons). 

(aside: I think you've got the width/depth distinction, but here's one more analogy I thought of.  Imagine your world is divided into zones by high walls.  Width means giving your characters keys to get through.  Depth means letting them get strong enough to jump over.  Adding width to a character ONLY changes the zones they have access too, depth changes the zones, AND the kind of challenges you must offer).
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Sentience
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Sentient Games - Living Breathing Thinking Games


« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2007, 06:43:43 AM »

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I don't quite understand this - doesn't your game force a post apocalypse setting on a player who wants fantasy with elves?

Getting into technicalities isn't going to serve for any progress in the discussion, but I'll humor you.

Yes, we're essentially providing them with a setting, and if they play Decay, they're forced to use the setting. By buying a book that says "Post-Apocalyptic Cyberpunk Adventure" on the cover, the GM knows what the setting is all about. If the GM wants to play a fantasy game with elves and dragons, he's going to know right away that this isn't the game for him. But, without reading through the insides of the book and looking carefully, he won't know that we've set it up so that he has no other choice but to GM this game in a certain way.

The way I see it, I'm prepared to force certain aspects of the game on the people who play, but I'm not prepared to force them to play it a certain way. Sounds hypocritical, I know, but I guess there are just certain things that I'd like to "establish" and certain things I don't want to "force".

I guess what it comes down to is, while the seesaw is an awesome concept and as a designer, I highly reccomend the people who play the game embrace it, I'm not prepared to say "You have to use this idea of the seesaw" in the same way I'm prepared to say "This is the setting of the game, this is how you create a character, these are the rules for using guns, blah blah blah"

Does that make sense?

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But there are illusionist games and there are participationist games. Participationism is almost exactly the same, except the players KNOW they don't have control over stuff. Participationist games can and do rock out and are cool! They are an entirely valid approach and are very healthy play, in my mind.

But...illusionism. The forge glossary doesn't connotate illusionism with any negative context. I do. The players are led to believe they have/will have some control, but that is not how it is.

I could get into a can of worms on what I think about that and how you should treat other people. BUT! Lets just say I strongly, strongly advise against using mechanics that support illusionism.

I completely agree. Participationism is one thing, but illusionism is not the way I personally believe people should run their game. In my mind, if Joe is running a illusionism game, he's basically invited people over his house to play the game, and then lied to them.

However, I don't see how the Experience Levels encourage illusionism. By not forcing them to play bass, I leave the option of a participationism game as well. While the option is still there to run an illusionist game, I don't believe the mechanics support or encourage someone to run their game that way.

Again, the argument of how a GM should ideally run his game, in my opinion, should be discussed in the GM's guide to Decay, not something that's forced on them by the rules. I'd like to encourage them to play bass or run a participationism game, and discourage them from creating the illusionism game, but I don't want MAKE them play bass or run a participationism game.

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But right now, it could go a seesaw game, but I think it's most likely going to go illusionist because while it offers power, it's terribly easy for an illusionist GM to screw up access to it. I guess I don't want you to help illusionist GM's with a system that, in my opinion, facilitates what they want to do. I'm very biased on this, and might not be of further help because of it. Participationism is much cooler and rocks out!

An illusionist GM is going to run an illusionist game no matter how the game is set up. If he wants to prevent the players from having power, he'll ditch any rules, or twist the story around, or otherwise make sure that no matter what the players do, the story that he's decided upon will enevitably happen. Such is the nature of a selfish GM. Getting rid of Experience Levels and the ability to start a brand new Elite character takes the knowledge away from the players that they can achieve Legendary status, that such thing exists.

Just on this, I'm pretty sure I didn't state they get control whenever they want. It'd be spread out, rigged say to a certain session length. So if you wanted session length to be five hours, they'd only be legendary in the last hour of play, for example. The rules can say, after five hours the skills reset back to their normal levels.

Perhaps I misunderstood, which is why I was looking for more elaboration. However, when looking at the system we've already established, the Focus system, we achieve something similar, but slightly scaled back. I'll elaborate.

Normally, when a player is using a skill, they roll the die and their skill adjustment to the die, trying to meet or exceed the target number. Occasionally, failure is not an option. The hero absolutely must shoot the rope that's going to hang the sheriff of the town, who is the only person who can prove that the heroes are innocent and didn't kill that girl. So the player decides to use a Focus Point. Instead of just rolling the Control Die plus his Fire Arms Skill Adjustment, he now gets to add an additional D8 to his roll. He rolls the die, and gets 15, plus 6 for his Skill, making the total 21. He then rolls his D8 Focus die and gets a 7, making his total now 28! He fires his revolved and the bullet splits the rope, saving the sheriff!

What happen, was the play's Fire Arms Skill essentially became legendary for that one, single roll. Instead of just having a 6 in Fire Arms, he got to add a D8 to his Skill Adjustment, so his Fire Arms Skill became 13 for that one shot. In this fashion, we've achieved what you were suggesting, just on a smaller, more controlled scale. Am I wrong?

Hehehe! Majidah, you did it again! Time for lunch though. I'll repy after I stuffed my face!
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Majidah
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« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2007, 11:11:00 AM »

I can tell we should play something by post, it would involved unheard of hilarity.

One more note to my above post, Could you give us a little taste of the possible see-saw mechanics (sort of as you did above, but more)? We may be to the point where we've agreed to the idea, but implementing it is causing conflict.
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Sentience
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Posts: 43

Sentient Games - Living Breathing Thinking Games


« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2007, 12:50:04 PM »

Wow, my last post had A LOT of typos. Sorry

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I think the conflict is over the word "forced."  Simply put you cannot "force" any group of players to play a specific way, they will decide what kind of game they want to enjoy and change any and all rules of your game accordingly to allow themselves to play it.  The goal of a game is to allow players to have an enjoyable time while changing as few rules as possible. The rules  thus "support" a certain kind of play rather than "force" a certain kind of play.  You should try to avoid internally conflicting rules where possible and describe exactly what kind of game your trying to create so the players know what's up, rather than make them guess what you're trying to show them, but in either case, the social contract (how the players are related to one another) will work out the bugs as you've pointed out.

You've brought up a great point. As a designer, I can't truly "force" anyone to play the game a certain way, just like I can't "force" them to play it at all. I'm not holding a gun to their head, which means they can change anything about the setting, the rules, or the way the it's set up to be played. But when I hear "we want to ensure blah blah happens", it makes me think that we're looking to design the game to make it impossible (so long as they follow the rules to some degree) for a GM to run a game sans 'blah blah'. So when we talk about "ensuring the players get their turn", we're therefore making sure the seesaw effect takes place, meaning we're 'forcing' the seesaw on them.

Quote
It sounds like the see-saw is in, so let's talk about that for a minute.  The see-saw means shifting from illusionism/participationism modes of play to bass playing.  At first the GM is telling the story so that the players get a crash course in decay-ology.  Like actors reading literature that pertains to their parts so they can play the part more accurately, the players get steeped in the setting.  Then the see-saw flips over and the players get a chance to dictate what happens while the GM just maintains the world and updates it according to what they do.  They get to have greater impact.  Another way to say this is that in the book "Player's journey in the wastes" the GM writes chapter 1, and the players write the rest. 

So in sum:
GM's turn
1. Describe the setting
2. Begin the storyline
3. Players learn to work together and to work with the world

Player's turn.
1. Modify the setting
2. Continue the story line
3. Work together with the GM

Is it not possible to find find a happy medium between bass playing and participationism? Such as (fallout stylie) an adventure where the characters are sent out of their home in search of a piece of technology that ensure the survival of the town. The GM knows where they can find this piece technology from square one. He knows the trail they have to follow in order to find it. He knows what will happen if they don't find it in time, and what will happen if they successfuly attain the item and save the town. However, how the players go about following the trail, and what happens during their adventures outside of the town is largely up the players. Perhaps the characters find the item, but decide to sell it to a merchant instead of returning it to the town. Maybe the characters hold some deep grudge against their home and ransome the item to the officials of the town. Maybe they decide not to bother to look for the item at all. The players can inherantly control the story in this fashion.

Further more, the players can make significant changes to the setting of the game with the same set of scenarios. If the players fail, or otherwise don't bring the item to the town, then they've affected the setting in a tremendous way. The town is unable to make clean water, and it's inhabitants die. Maybe the town sends another group out into the wasteland who are able to find the item, and in the process learn that the players have forsaken the town that trusted them with their lives. Now that town sends bounty hunters after the players. Perhaps along the way, the players find some explosive and blow up part of a TCC outpost. They've demonstrated their ability to make significant changes to the game world.

The more I think about it, the more I begin to believe that the seesaw is a bad thing. If you look at it like that, then in each extreme (either the GM in command, or the players in control) one side or the other is playing a background role. If the seesaw exists at all, why shouldn't it be always at an equal level, where both the GM and the Players are working together, both making significant changes to the game world with their own respective tools (GM governed the world and the NPCs, Players govern the most important and significant characters in the story)? If the seesaw is at equilibrium (I love that word) then there exists a happy medium between participationism and bass playing.

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Now onto power levels.  Currently, your powerlevels are a bit confusing to me.  If statistical challenges rise to meet the players, then they don't really get their turn in the drivers seat unless they stay in safer areas.  This conflicts with the avowed aim of "explore the wastes."  If statistical challenges are more-or-less the same everywhere, then the players will get to explore, but they will almost immediately be in the  driver seat due  to their great personal power (since the entire world is balanced to a new character).  I think this is the paradox that Callan and I are discussing.   Callan's proposed solution is that there be incongrous statistical challenges, but player's statistics can rise to meet them.  This means that the players still explore, and still are challenged, but get to write a few changes in each game by hulking out.  An alternative is to do away with the powerlevels completely and have the world be statistically flat, so that players simply explore, and impact the game by amassing great wealth and prestige (but not high skills or deadly weapons). 

If the players are not looking to be challenged by the setting, what exactly is the point of playing? If it's easy to survive no matter where they go, regardless of climate and the ability to find food, water, and shelter, what's the point of having skills at all? Why have a fire arms skill if you can shoot nearly impossible targets when failure actually counts?

The avowed goal of "exploring the wastes" doesn't conflict with the idea of "certain parts of the wasteland are more difficult to survive in than others". To me it supports it. As characters grow in power, it opens up new areas for them to explore. Infact, I don't see how the avowed goals relate to the topic of the seesaw at all. Exploring the wastelands should be a challenge that scales upwards as they grow in power and in turn explore new areas. What fun is exploring the wastelands if it's easy?

To put it in perspective, let's look at this is terms of a video game. Lets say theres a game where you start off with a pistol, and level 1 in gun skills. The world is set up so that it's not easy for you to shoot the bad guys, and when you hit them, it takes a few bullets to kill them. You play and play, and eventually you have a minigun that fires rockets and your gun skill 1,000,000. Sounds cool right? Well what if, even though you've attained this great power, everything in the game was still oriented towards when you had a pistol and a skill of 1. You can smoke every bad guy in your way without blinking an eye. Sure you've got the power now, and you no longer have to worry about the challenges set up by the game, but where's the fun? If there is no place to go in the game that's set up to be difficult for you, why play at all?

I'm not sure how being able to turn Legendary for a little while allows the players to make significant changes to the setting, rather then just eliminate the challenge of the obstacles in their way. The ability to make significant changes to the setting is always, and will always be up to the GM. There's nothing stopping a Green character who never gets the ability to turn Legendary at the drop of a hat from making significant changes to the story and the setting, but the GM.

In my eyes, statistics serve to provide challenges that support the story, not run it. Having high statistics doesn't open a door that says "Okay, now you can participate in creating the story." Having low statistics doesn't mean "The GM is in control, because statistically, he can kill off your character." If the GM wants to let the Green characters have impact on the setting, he'll do so. If he doesn't want the Legendary characters to have an impact, he'll prevent it.

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One more note to my above post, Could you give us a little taste of the possible see-saw mechanics (sort of as you did above, but more)? We may be to the point where we've agreed to the idea, but implementing it is causing conflict.

I'm guessing your talking about the Focus Dice? I'm not really sure...
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Majidah
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Posts: 17


« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2007, 08:26:35 PM »

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Lets say theres a game where you start off with a pistol, and level 1 in gun skills. The world is set up so that it's not easy for you to shoot the bad guys, and when you hit them, it takes a few bullets to kill them. You play and play, and eventually you have a minigun that fires rockets and your gun skill 1,000,000. Sounds cool right? Well what if, even though you've attained this great power, everything in the game was still oriented towards when you had a pistol and a skill of 1. You can smoke every bad guy in your way without blinking an eye. Sure you've got the power now, and you no longer have to worry about the challenges set up by the game, but where's the fun? If there is no place to go in the game that's set up to be difficult for you, why play at all?

Essentially my best answer is, not everyone enjoys the same thing.  Some people enjoy winning more than challenge, and will happily cheat.  Others are un-interested in slogging through the challenges just to test powerful gadgets and would rather start straight out with them.  It's impossible to produce a game that's always fun for everyone.  It's more likely you'll produce a game that's simply rarely fun for anyone.  The worry here is that you'll get a group that enjoys different aspects of the game.  If only one person enjoys combat, then any time they spend in combat is an example of that one person wasting everyone else's time.  During combat all but one of the players would be having a better time if they were doing something other than playing your game. 

The design goal is to get the players on the same page and help them do the thing on that page really really well.  This way everyone is enjoying themselves as much as possible as often as possible.  There's no perfect solution to this one either, but it helps if you're thinking about the goal of every piece you put in the game. 

What do power levels do?  If the goal is: We want players to explore the world.  Then powerlevels just dictate the order in which they must explore it (from lowest challenge to highest).  If the goal is for players to compete, either with each other or the world, then the power levels are the score. 

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In my eyes, statistics serve to provide challenges that support the story, not run it. Having high statistics doesn't open a door that says "Okay, now you can participate in creating the story." Having low statistics doesn't mean "The GM is in control, because statistically, he can kill off your character." If the GM wants to let the Green characters have impact on the setting, he'll do so. If he doesn't want the Legendary characters to have an impact, he'll prevent it.

To me, this is a problem.  Remeber the GM is just a player with a funny screen in front of him.  Imagine if the rules of chess said "The player of white decides the winner." All other rules seem sort of trivial don't they?  Apportioning this much power to the GM is likely to produce conflict between the have and the have nots.  I'd sort of hoped that the power mechanics would provide the players not the GM with a way to create their own story, not just follow his.

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Is it not possible to find find a happy medium between bass playing and participationism? Such as (fallout stylie) an adventure where the characters are sent out of their home in search of a piece of technology that ensure the survival of the town. The GM knows where they can find this piece technology from square one. He knows the trail they have to follow in order to find it. He knows what will happen if they don't find it in time, and what will happen if they successfuly attain the item and save the town. However, how the players go about following the trail, and what happens during their adventures outside of the town is largely up the players. Perhaps the characters find the item, but decide to sell it to a merchant instead of returning it to the town. Maybe the characters hold some deep grudge against their home and ransome the item to the officials of the town. Maybe they decide not to bother to look for the item at all. The players can inherantly control the story in this fashion.
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I think this is a hybrid of participationism and bass playing, but I think that depending on the choices of the players the game will be one or the other.  Essentially, if they go after the chip, the players are doing participationism, or maybe module play, following the trail of bread crumbs the GM is leaving.  They cannot produce a story that is not in accord with the basics of what the GM has laid down.  They only alter the how the preset events happen.  The details change, but not the substance. If the players decide to ignore the chip and explore the world on their own, then it's bass playing.  They create their own motivation and story for exploring the waste and the water chip was just their long forgotten starting point.  Sure it may bob back up, but they can just move on, there's no game over screen.  So, Either the players are participating in the GM's pre-planned story, or they're writting their own story about the waste, but not both. 
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