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Universalis Vs setting as a RPG scenario

Started by Maitresinh, May 29, 2008, 10:31:59 AM

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hi there

First of all sorry for my english.

i've discover Uni after making some search in order to find a way to play RPG quickly/easily, ( -> without preparation of the scenario by the GM, and with a way to reduce improvisation complexity).

Why ? to make RPG more compatible with a profesional/family life

Uni can resolve the improvisation part, giving a way to split almost all the GM role to the players.
but I had still to find a way to convert a RPG scenario into a setting for UNI ( it's still a RPG in this way)

The idea is to find a new way for formatting a RPG scenario, in order to make it playable step by step.

i started converting a 80's scenario into cards ( characters, scene, places...). The idea was to give each character an objective. whena player take control over it, he have to reach the character objective (and roleplaying). The scene can have an "objective" too in a narrative way, mainly for the GM.

The link between each scene depend both on the players actuation and on pre-established pattern possibilities (as Steve Jackson early gamebooks)

But there is still a lot of's not yet very playable.
Text are too longs, there is too much cards, and i have no effective system to make links between scenes.

Anyone have any idea to play with a (RPG) scenario as a preset ?


Great idea.

If you're committed to running the scenario as a scenario...with a GM and certain order of things that must be done...that might be a bit of a challenge in Uni...have to think for a while on some Gimmicks to help make that work.

However, if you're open to a more radical approach, I think it could work very easily.  This approach would basically be to play a game of Universalis, as Universalis...but to load all of the scenario pieces as Tenets and Components before play.

I don't know what kind of scenario you're looking at but if it has a traditional "Dungeon" that would be fairly easy to do.  Since Uni doesn't involve the same kind of tactical maneuvering that many dungeon crawl games assume its not necessary (or even desireable) to map out the dungeon perfectly 1 to 1.  Instead, I'd take a more abstract approach.

Start with the dungeon itself as a Component.  What are the Traits of the dungeon that are fairly universal:  Is it dark, is it old caves, is it an abandoned dwarf mine, is it a series of crypts, is it damp, is it cold, is it windy, does it smell, is it lit by glowing fungus, all the sorts of things that are common to the dungeon as a whole.

Then pick out just a couple of key locations in the dungeon, not every room, just the interesting ones and make them Components owned by the dungeon.  You might have the "maze of twisty passages" as one, "the throne room" as another, and so on.

Trait them up with whatever makes them interesting.  Don't worry about all the text, just hit the highlights:  "Statue of a long dead god with glowing eyes", "crypts of the high king", a "deep well with no bottom", "runes carved in every surface"...whatever.

Repeat this for any interesting traps or secrets that the dungeon has that is particularly interesting.

What happens with owned Components then is that a player who takes control of "the Dungeon" gets control of all of the owned Components as well...and essentially is now playing the dugeon itself.

Stat out a few of the interesting "boss monsters" as character Components complete with Traits that reflect their nature using more traits for tougher monsters.  Use the group Trait to make a horde of rats or goblins as a single component.  If there are leader / follower relationships between the monsters (the horde of goblins serve the Orc Chief) make the underlings "owned" by their boss.

Players who take control of these monsters may also have control of the dungeon, but not necessarily.  They may be cooperating with the player who controls the dungeon, or the dungeon may be resisting the monsters just as much as it resists the heros.

If the town is important in the scenario you can make a couple of key locations as Components and a couple of key NPC as character Components, but its not necessary to stat out every building and person just because they're in the module.  Players can always invent bit characters as needed, or if you want to hold more true to the scenario, a simple list of characters to choose from to create is an easier solution than creating them all up front (after all players will need something to spend their Coins on).

The heroes can be made in advance or created in play by the players as well.  I would avoid thinking of them as PCs owned by a particular player and just let players control them as desired.  They should have Traits that reflect not only their character abilities but also (as you noted above) motivations to get them pointed at scenario.

You may want a Gimmick that a player in Control of a Hero can never also be in Control of a monster or the dungeon at the same time, and a player in control of a monster cannot also Control a towns person at the same time.  You'll probably also want to start the players with far fewer Coins (like maybe 5 or even 0) so that they have to get into Conflicts right away.

At this point you then just play Universalis.  There won't necessarily be any similarities between how this plays out and how the module assumes the scenario will play out.  There won't be any hunting room by room or much of the trappings of a traditional dungeon crawl.  But I think it would be an entirely appropriate set up.



It sounds great & you've gave me a very interessing way to convert a dongeon crawler into something closer to a "real" RPG.

But :

1- types of scenarios would be rather investigation ( like coc), or SF, make a difference with your exemple, because events are not simply waiting in a place. they are on a timeline AND depending on players actions

2- i have no problem with leaving behind a lot of concept of the RPG. But i'd want to keep a bit of the simulationism. it means that players should have the feeling that there is a pre-existing world that they don't control, and some clue/information existing they have to find/understand ( taking with characters, acting, etc...)

in fact, i think that the core of collaborative storytelling system start to be usefull as a way to emulate GM improvisation, essentialy when the story is "going out" or for enhancing narration, if this RPG has no GM


Universalis has some core ideas that are intrinsic to the game.

There is no mystery that is waiting to be uncovered.  Suspense comes from what the players do next that none of the other players anticipated.  In that sense the whole game is a mystery for everyone.  There is no timeline of actions.  There is only what the players have the characters do.  If there is a character defined as being a plotter...then some character can take control of him and have him plot.  If no characters take control of him, then he does nothing...until someone does.  That's never a problem because the character has Traits and Traits provide dice and dice provide more characters typically aren't leaving characters go uncontrolled.  But whatever those characters do, they'll do because one of the players have them do it.  There are no NPCs in Universalis.

Second.  There IS no per-existing world in Uni.  Everything in the game they DO control.  But here's the key...that doesn't mean there's nothing to discover, no clues to find, or no information to uncover.  Its just that you'll be discovering it from the other players...not the GM.  As a player I have things I want to happen, plots I want to evolve, characters I want to do things.  But I don't know what you're another player...with no more authority than I have...but you have Coins just like me and you have plots and ideas of your own.  When those things those things from all the other players...that's where the sense of wonder and discovery comes from.

If it helps, think of Uni as a game where everyone is a GM and there are no "players"