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Backgrounds by Neel Krishnaswami

Started by Pilgrim, July 29, 2008, 07:59:12 PM

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Liberated from Neel Krishnaswami's site.

QuoteHere's a rules mod for Nine Worlds that I'd like to try out, once we sort out our social style issues. The idea is to give the points people win in conflicts some more concrete narrative effects.

We start with the backstory. The backstory is a collection of index cards, and on each card is a fictional element -- stuff like a person, place, thing, idea, or motif -- and a numerical rating from 1 to 3. During a conflict, any of the players can pull an entry out of the backstory, and put it on the table. They then add a number of cards to their hand equal to the element's rating. Multiple players may use the same entry; it's non-exclusive. If a player claims a piece of backstory and wins the conflict, their narration must use the fictional element on the index card for each entry.

When a player wins points in a conflict, they can use their points as usual, and they can also alter the backstory.

  • With Cosmos points, they can create new entries, by writing down a new fictional element onto an index card and giving it a rating equal to the number of Cosmos points they spend on it.
  • With Chaos points, a player can lower the rating of a backstory element, removing it entirely from the backstory if they lower the rating to zero.
  • With Metamorphosis points, they can spend a number of points equal to an entry's current rating to alter its text.
  • A player can use Stasis to place a lock on an entry, making it more difficult to modify with the other kinds of points. These locks function exactly like other Stasis locks.
  • Finally, when new Talismans are created, any entries of the backstory that overlap with it are removed.

The basic idea is that this lets the players create setting for the other players to use, and rewards them for using it. The backstory is explicitly shared, and by design is easy for anyone to modify.

OK, I like this, especially if you assume each player has the rule of 9 involved and can contribute nine points of background. My concern is that this can be too powerful and be unbalancing until the GM ups the Power of the opposition appropriately.

Has anyone played with this? And what changes to the game came about as a result?

On a related note something like this for Archons could be neat too - sort of like Aspects from Spirit of the Century. However, the mechanics type in me tells me that Backstory (Legends?) and Backgrounds (History?) for PCs in the same game would be too much.
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