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Author Topic: The Power 19 cheat sheet?  (Read 9559 times)
David C
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Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« on: November 03, 2008, 01:49:55 AM »

I was writing my power 19 and I started encountering questions that definitely got me thinking about things. To begin, I need to provide you some background on my game development. I am a gamist player, as I enjoy a long campaign with character advancement.  However, I enjoy narrativism just as much!  The failings of the existing gamist games (as well as about half the players who play those games) in the narrativism sector has given me the desire to make my own game. I've found this has become a huge project and as such, I've started to lose sight of my target.  I've made a very good gamist game, but it has probably entirely missed the mark as far as role play and story encouragement goes. I wanted to go through issues or conflicts I'm having, over a few posts, so I can try and remedy this. 
(A goal I have with this project is to be able to take a group of players who aren't adverse to roleplay, they just don't know how to do it, and through the natural course of the game, become better roleplayers than they were before.)

Today, I wanted to look at questions 5 & 6. 

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
So far, I have a pretty standard, choose a race, choose a core proficiency, pick a few skills system. Is this insufficient?  Would it be wise to include a personality guide/trait guide? Do I want to reward it mechanically? If I did, I would want to reward players with a "gamist" reward only if they expressed their traits during game play.*

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
As a gamist game, it inadvertently rewards power playing, which is undesirable. While balancing it is important, there will always be an optimal combination somebody discovers. Unfortunately, I am unsure of the proper way to deal with this as an author, likely because I haven't been able to successfully deal with power playing in my own games. 

*I had one idea for one mechanic.  The way it would work is players pick out several primary personality traits. Each session, the GM would reward each player individually for how many of their traits they successfully expressed that evening. But I have reservations about using a mechanically driven trait system.
A. Making a complete/comprehensive list is futile
B. Players will likely choose "Greedy" "Liar" or "Bloodthirsty" not because it adds to their character, but it's very easy to be a greedy, lieing, murderer in an RPG.


My answers to 5 & 6.
Quote
5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
   Character creation allows the players to pick a race, many of which are unique to the setting.  Each race fills a unique niche in the world, giving them a strong sense of background, and encouraging them to have a well defined basis of where they came from.  This also allows for unique character interactions. 
   They then choose a class, which gives them a sense of purpose, where they are headed. Each of the classes carries a strong flavor that does not burden the player with duty.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
   The game rewards players for attending every session, without victimizing them for missing sessions.  It rewards them for choosing abilities that help their allies and forces them to cooperate as a group. It rewards them for paying attention during the game. It punishes them for using their money on power-ups. It rewards them for playing in a way that the Director approves of.  It rewards them for contributing to the game.
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soundmasterj
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Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2008, 02:48:30 AM »

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Jona
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2008, 05:13:45 AM »

We need to discuss GNS here. (Soundmaster is basically right, but the topics needs to be expanded upon to be understood easily.) Also, as a separate concern, David should tell us more about the sort of substance he wants to get out of his game, using just natural language; his use of the term "gamist" is occluding the initial post so much that I'm not entirely certain what his design priorities for this game are.

I'm too knackered right now to write at length about this, though. Need sleep. If nobody else comes in to discourse about how David can recognize his Creative Agenda and support it before Wednesday, somebody remind me about this.
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dindenver
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2008, 08:04:46 AM »

Dave,
  I don't want to step on anyone's toes. It looks like Eero wants to address some real concerns. But I want to address the OP from a different perspective:
You are not doing it wrong.

  Seriously, you can't design a game incorrectly. The only caveat being, if when you are done, if you would love to play this game, you did it right.
  So, if you want to make a bog standard chargen, more power to you. The point of Power 19 is twofold: One, to get you to ask questions of your self about your design intent. Two, to allow you to communicate your design intent to anyone who might read it and make suggestions about your game.
  The point of focused design is that each mechanic or system component reinforces what the game is about. In a very real sense, D&D is a focused design, everything in the game is about adventure, combat and exploration. You can see it in the design, it is direct and it makes no apologies for what it is. You can be that way too. But in order to do that you have to decide what the design is about.

  So, to get back to your questions:
So far, I have a pretty standard, choose a race, choose a core proficiency, pick a few skills system. Is this insufficient?
  Only you can answer that question. The point of #5 is to get you to ask yourself, how is chargen about what my game is about? So, for instance, if you used the standard 6 D&D traits for an Emily Bronte game, then chargen is not about what the game is about. I don't think it matters what Heathcliff's Strength stat is, do you?

Would it be wise to include a personality guide/trait guide?
  Only if it is relevant to the game you are making. For instance, Pendragon has stats for virtues and they work wonderfully in that traditional/gamist game. But, if those personality traits don't have a bearing on the setting (e.g., all of the characters made for the game have a similar personality), then it would be meaningless, no?

Do I want to reward it mechanically?
  Reward mechanisms should come from players engaging in behaviors that you think are part of the fun of the system. That's why the original rules for D&D only included XPs for fighting, that is where the fun was. If you look at other focused designs, you will see that the reward systems follow that same pattern. Reward people for using the fun parts of the game.

  I think your idea of rewarding players for playing in character is a good idea. I would suggest you look at "keys" from Shadow of Yesterday/Solar System. In this system, players pick a drive/motivation and the only way to get XPs is to hit criteria that matches that drive. For instance, one of the keys is Key of Compassion, you get 1 XP for helping someone, 3 XPs for helping someone in such a way that it puts your character at risk and 5 XPs for helping someone in such a way that they can help themselves in the future. I don't think it is exactly what you were proposing, but I do think its a good example of something like this working in a more traditional RPG.

  Good luck with your design man!
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Dave M
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soundmasterj
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Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2008, 09:45:16 AM »

Even having only skimmed over The Shadow of Yesterday, I would argue that Keys are fundamentally different from "rewards for good role-playing", but other than that, yes, great suggestion.

You might want to read this: http://files.crngames.com/cc/tsoy/book1--rulebook.html#keys
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Jona
dindenver
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2008, 10:29:05 AM »

J,
 
Quote
I had one idea for one mechanic.  The way it would work is players pick out several primary personality traits. Each session, the GM would reward each player individually for how many of their traits they successfully expressed that evening.
  That description almost sounds exactly like Keys. The only difference is the end of the session portion as apposed to the immediate reward of Keys. I didn't quote it before, sorry.
  Thanks for the linkage, I guess I was being lazy.
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Dave M
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My blog
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David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2008, 03:21:59 PM »

You guys ask tough questions, I'm glad I come here, haha.

Ok, let me first address the GNS issues we are having here. I have read Ron's articles, and it is actually rather complex. This is my interpretation of the model.

Gamist games tend to have lots of crunchy bits.  They reward you for using tactics or having the biggest modifier. Using Chris Bateman's audience model http://onlyagame.typepad.com/only_a_game/2005/07/the_state_of_th.html Gamist gamers tend to be type 1 conquerers and type 2 managers.

Narrativist games tend to have few crunchy bits.  They reward you for advancing the story and entertaining the group with good story telling. Narrativist gamers tend to be type 4 participants and type 3 wanderers.

Simulationist games typically emphasis reality or verisimilitude above all else. They are more interested in the referendum of play. I imagine the quintessential simulationist game theme is zombie survival. Simulationist gamers tend to be type 3 wanderers and type 2 managers.


Quote

    * Type 1 Conqueror play style is associated with challenge and the emotional payoff of Fiero - triumph over adversity. This correlates with what Nicole Lazarro has called "Hard fun". We associate Type 1 play with players who aim to utterly defeat games they play - they finish games they start.
    * Type 2 Manager play style is associated with mastery and systems. Victory for people preferring this play style seems to be the sign that they have acquired the necessary skills, not a goal in and of itself. They may not finish many games that they start playing.
    * Type 3 Wanderer play style is associated with experience and identity. This correlates somewhat with what Nicole Lazarro has called "Easy fun". Challenge is not especially desired, but may be tolerated - what they enjoy is unique and interesting experiences. Stories and mimicry are key draws.
    * Type 4 Participant play style is associated with emotions and involvement. It connects with what Nicole Lazarro calls "The People Factor". Participants seem happiest when they are playing with people, but they also enjoy play which is rooted in emotion. Any game which allows the player an emotional stake is a potential Type 4 game.

Quote
  That description almost sounds exactly like Keys. The only difference is the end of the session portion as apposed to the immediate reward of Keys. I didn't quote it before, sorry.
  Thanks for the linkage, I guess I was being lazy.
Yes, it does sound very similar to keys. 
Quote
Even having only skimmed over The Shadow of Yesterday, I would argue that Keys are fundamentally different from "rewards for good role-playing", but other than that, yes, great suggestion.

Could you please go into more detail about how keys are different? More specifically, what would you consider a reward for good role-playing? (Other then itself being a reward, which is good, but cyclical. I want to try and help initiate the cycle.)

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soundmasterj
Member

Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2008, 04:07:59 PM »

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Jona
soundmasterj
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Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2008, 04:15:43 PM »

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Jona
Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2008, 05:01:35 PM »

David,

I think you need to decide what you want to get out of this particular thread. Do you want to learn about the Big Model and GNS, as defined in Ron's articles on this site, OR would you prefer to focus on the specific design issues of your game. Trying to do both at once will only mess things up.

If you want to talk about your game design problems, I suggest that you drop all terminology and just try to state as clearly as possible, in plain jargon-free English, what your problem is. Be specific and give examples if necessary.

If you want to discuss GNS, that is another matter entirely, as it will take some time and effort to deal with properly. The thing is, and I'm not trying to be mean or snobbish or anything like that, that you have completely misunderstood the terms gamism, narrativism, and simulationism as they are used around here. That's okay. It is not a big deal and I am most certainly not thinking less of you beacuse of it.

I'm just saying that I don't think it is rational, or even possible, to deal with both issues in the same thread. The decision is yours. You can always start a new topic to discuss the other thing. 
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David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2008, 06:05:58 PM »

If you want to talk about your game design problems, I suggest that you drop all terminology and just try to state as clearly as possible, in plain jargon-free English, what your problem is. Be specific and give examples if necessary.

Well, apparently I don't understand the model.  At least now, I understand I don't understand the model.  So lets do what you suggest and go down the path of my individual design concerns.  I will reread the GNS model discussions later, and perhaps make another post if I am still confused.

In my game, players will create a character with well defined attributes.  They will know how successful they are at given tasks relative to the enemies, and can advance their characters through game play.  While I feel this sector of my game design has been successful, there is another area I wish to have and have yet to develop sufficiently.  This area of the game attempts to get players to act less like robots and more like a being.  I will give a few examples of desired play and undesired play.

Cros burned down a village and kidnapped some of the villagers. The villagers ask the players to help.
'robot' response, "What's the reward?"
a valiant character, "Of course we will save your loved ones!"
a cold mercenary, "We don't work for free, pal."

A sultry woman walks up to the group.
'robot' response, "cool, does she look rich?" or "sweet, I try and sleep with her"
a tomboyish female, "Look lady, we don't associate with the likes of you."
a boorish wizard, "...oh yes, don't startle me like that, oh did you need something?"

In the undesired situations, the players treat each encounter as a road sign and look immediately for the quickest path to the next promise of treasure.  For players who enjoy just dungeon crawls, this is OK, but this is not my target.  Now lets go back to one of my previous statements.
Quote
(A goal I have with this project is to be able to take a group of players who aren't adverse to roleplay, they just aren't very good at it, and through the natural course of the game, become better roleplayers than they were before.)

Now, one step I have already taken is I de-emphasized the rewards gained through combat.  Experience is handed out for any conflict. You might receive a lot of treasure, but there is a limit to what you can use at any given level. Another thing I have done is created rewards for having a home.  For example, a wizard will find himself better able to research spells in his library, while a blacksmith needs a forge to craft.  The last thing I have done is created a setting that (hopefully) is intriguing and draws the player into the world.

I have a laundry list of ideas that I could add, but I feel they may just be bloat and will still be treated as road signs, instead of opportunities to develop your character. And I do realize there are people out there that are just adverse to roleplaying. I am trying to reach an audience that would LIKE to roleplay more, but simply do not have the skills and experience to do it on their own. 
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David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2008, 06:13:13 PM »

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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2008, 07:54:28 PM »

I think I'm starting to figure out what David is looking for in his game. You want to make the fiction of the game matter more, right? The actions of the characters should match their in-fiction concerns and form a believable narrative of events.

The part that is still a bit vague to me is the role of reward-grabbing here: you say that your players will undoubtedly be interested in improving the lot of their characters by going after whatever mechanical rewards are available, but you also say that you want to reward depicting consistent, colorful and varied character personages in the game. Would you say that it's important to you that the players choose between challenges, take them on and complete them to progress their characters, but that this needs to happen within the imaginative context of the game for it to be interesting? Or would you rather say that what you're interested in is depicting the varied and colorful adventures of interesting characters, and you can do that by giving character-efficiency rewards to players who decide to play along?

(Insofar as anybody cares, off-hand this is either gamism or simulationism, depending on which of the above is David's intention. There probably isn't incoherence here, it's just that we need to find out what David is actually trying to do below all this adventure game clutter. I agree with Peter in that it's probably better to deal with GNS in some simpler and less cluttered context, though. David could start an actual play thread about his rpg history, for example.)
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David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2008, 08:56:51 PM »

Quote
Would you say that it's important to you that the players choose between challenges, take them on and complete them to progress their characters, but that this needs to happen within the imaginative context of the game for it to be interesting?

Quote
Or would you rather say that what you're interested in is depicting the varied and colorful adventures of interesting characters, and you can do that by giving character-efficiency rewards to players who decide to play along?

Before I can give you an answer, I need some clarification. I need a better definition of "character efficiency rewards."  The other part is, when you say "to players who decide to play along" my instinct says that sounds like the setting/GM has exclusive narrative power, and that the players are asked to play the script handed to them. I prefer the idea that the players develop their characters, and the GM incorporates this dialogue into the larger story. 

Quote
David could start an actual play thread about his rpg history

I'm unsure of what you're asking for, here. When specifically are you referring to when you say rpg history? The a play summary of a session of the game I have created?
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2008, 09:24:51 PM »

Before I can give you an answer, I need some clarification. I need a better definition of "character efficiency rewards."  The other part is, when you say "to players who decide to play along" my instinct says that sounds like the setting/GM has exclusive narrative power, and that the players are asked to play the script handed to them. I prefer the idea that the players develop their characters, and the GM incorporates this dialogue into the larger story. 

"Character efficiency rewards" are rewards that are given in the form of character efficiency. All of the rewards you have mentioned here have been in the form of experience points (to presumably increase character skills and whatnot, to make them succeed more often and in larger context) and magic items (same purpose). There are other ways of rewarding players as well - I might go as far as saying that much of what is dysfunctional in rpg design comes from trying to use character efficiency rewards to do the work better suited to other ways of rewarding players.

As for playing along, correction noted. What I wanted to ask was whether you want to encourage believable, interesting fiction by giving character efficiency rewards to players who help you in doing that.

Quote
Quote
David could start an actual play thread about his rpg history

I'm unsure of what you're asking for, here. When specifically are you referring to when you say rpg history? The a play summary of a session of the game I have created?

Well, it's often been the case that GNS has been best discussed in context of real-life play experience; as Vincent Baker memorably put it, this is because most people have only ever played rpgs with one Creative Agenda, and are thus constantly trying to reflect the completely different agendas others discuss on this narrow experience base of their own. So I'm interested in hearing about what sort of rpgs you've played, and perhaps about some games and experiences that have been particularly important to you - especially good games, especially bad games, games you feel like you understand especially well. All that gives us more context to point to real things and some idea of what things we should discuss theory-wise in the first place.

No pressure to do this, though; start something if you feel like it. Read what others have written in the Actual Play forum, too.
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