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Author Topic: Disabling Pawn Stance and Enforcing Character Beliefs on Action  (Read 15451 times)
Luke
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« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2009, 09:14:23 PM »

So if I choose to lose now, I get a benefit later? That's a decent mechanic, but there still has to be more than that to entice a player to throw a challenge. Especially since risking a roll on a higher valued attribute offers a substantial chance of advancement, which, since the favored ability is already at least 1 higher than the unfavored one, nullifies the benefit of using a losing ability at least once. So using a losing ability is a long term gamble.

Also, just a question, do you think that terms like virtue, ethos, liberty and conformity have meaning to players outside of your game? Would you agree that these are loaded terms?

-L
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otspiii
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« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2009, 09:59:49 PM »

Oh, okay.  Your anti-pawn rant in the begging made me imagine the rules were a little harsher than they really are.  I think I understand things here a little better.

If characters' actions are determined mechanistically, always, then there is no reason for a player to sit at the table. None whatsoever.

As the GM, I would greatly prefer it if all the things I have to control and deal with were mechanistically determined, or at least mechanically determinable.

However, a player needs to have some amount of control over their character, or else there's no reason to sit down at the table.

These are the conflicting ideals that I'm trying to reconcile.

This actually gave me an idea I really liked.

I think what I haven't liked so far is that the system is all about choosing action directly, basically ripping the reigns out of the player's hands and putting them in the dice's.  That's no fun because it means there's almost no reason for the player to even show up to the table.  I think it could work really well with NPCs, especially if you somehow made the focus of the game related to confronting the virtues of others and changing them to more match your own.  For example, confronting the king who leans too far to conformity and has become totalitarian, and convincing him to take a step towards moderation.  For the king's actions to be completely dice-based would probably be acceptable and possibly even desirable to your target audience.

It doesn't work so well for players, though.  Dictating a PC's actions directly is alienating.  However, you can still influence the PC's actions with the rules without totally stealing control.  You just have to give incentives.  You're part way there with your option three, but I think the flip side should work too.  Like, whenever a character performs an action they really believe in they can wager their virtue on it.  It gives them a bonus to the die roll, representing the confidence and conviction that gives them the extra energy to really excel.  If they succeed there's a small chance it goes up as their faith is reaffirmed, if they fail there's a chance it goes down as their faith is shaken.  Taking the bonus or not should probably be optional, but players will use it a lot because it helps them.

However, if the character acts against their virtues they should probably suffer a penalty to the roll, representing the nagging self-doubt that slows their action and makes them waver.  If they succeed despite the penalty their virtues suffer some amount of upheaval, while if they fail their virtues are reaffirmed.  This is kind of like the way option three works right now, and should probably be automatic.

There's a lot of fiddling you could do with all of what I just said, but the basic idea of it is just that if you reward players with dice for acting the way you want them to they will a) usually act the way you want and b) will be happy because they're getting dice.  The way you have it right now will make characters act the way you want, but it'll probably make players unhappy in the process.  Just remember that you don't need to drag the players to the type of play you want.  It's much more fun for all parties involved if you lead them there, instead.

Of course, there will be players who still just ignore their motivations and refuse to act in character.  Fuck 'em.  They aren't going to play your game, and if they did they probably wouldn't have fun (since the game runs so contrary to the way they like to play), so you don't need to worry about them.  I think a little nudge from bonuses and penalties is all you'll need to train new players, and your target audience will play the way you want no matter what the rules you set are.

I do like the 5-realms morality idea a lot, actually.  The way the five spheres interact without being black and white could work out really cool.  You should understand, though, that if this part of the game is as sophisticated and as complicated as it is it will be the main focus of play.  Like was said before, if there are a ton of combat rules for a system players will want to get in fights.  If there are a ton of morality rules in the game the players will want to get into morally challenging situations.  I think this game could be really fun if you work with that fact and use it to energize play.
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GnomeWorks
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« Reply #32 on: April 08, 2009, 12:50:51 AM »

So if I choose to lose now, I get a benefit later? That's a decent mechanic, but there still has to be more than that to entice a player to throw a challenge. Especially since risking a roll on a higher valued attribute offers a substantial chance of advancement, which, since the favored ability is already at least 1 higher than the unfavored one, nullifies the benefit of using a losing ability at least once. So using a losing ability is a long term gamble.

Your terms here confuse me, a bit. You're not "losing," at least not insofar as I understand the term. You're sacrificing belief in one thing to believe in another.

The virtue things aren't really what I'd call a "challenge," either.

But I'm glad that you like it!

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Also, just a question, do you think that terms like virtue, ethos, liberty and conformity have meaning to players outside of your game? Would you agree that these are loaded terms?

We're throwing around the possible term "axiom" to replace "virtue," but personally I like the connotations of virtue - the idea that this ideal is important to the ethos, and is a good thing to possess. The virtue of amorality exists, which is a virtue of black; opposed by the virtue of morality, upheld by white. So far as black is concerned, having amorality is a virtue - it is a good thing to do, within the black ethos.

It's all very subjective, which I like. We've got shades of gray, which is - in my opinion - how the world is.

Yep, they're loaded terms. That's okay; they probably should be. We'll try to have working definitions as this system gets more solidifed - what does it mean, for instance, for a situation to be liberty vs conformity, as opposed to - say - certainty vs creativity, or responsibility vs freedom, or curiosity vs ignorance?

Quote from: otspiii
Oh, okay.  Your anti-pawn rant in the begging made me imagine the rules were a little harsher than they really are.  I think I understand things here a little better.

Rock on.

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I think it could work really well with NPCs, especially if you somehow made the focus of the game related to confronting the virtues of others and changing them to more match your own.  For example, confronting the king who leans too far to conformity and has become totalitarian, and convincing him to take a step towards moderation.  For the king's actions to be completely dice-based would probably be acceptable and possibly even desirable to your target audience.

The ability to use this system to represent an NPC's beliefs was very important to me. As a GM, I want no hand in deciding how NPCs react to things. I will set up the initial conditions for the NPC, yes, including possibly what their beliefs look like - but how they react to something? I want the NPC to tell me that; I don't want to decide it arbitrarily.

I'll set up the initial conditions, but after that, I only want to turn the crank. My role as GM, at the table, should largely be as interface to the world and arbiter of rules. Some things have to be crafted on the fly, yes, but that should follow the same rules - set up initial conditions, then turn the crank.

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Like, whenever a character performs an action they really believe in they can wager their virtue on it.  It gives them a bonus to the die roll, representing the confidence and conviction that gives them the extra energy to really excel.  If they succeed there's a small chance it goes up as their faith is reaffirmed, if they fail there's a chance it goes down as their faith is shaken.  Taking the bonus or not should probably be optional, but players will use it a lot because it helps them.

Hmm... that's an interesting idea.

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However, if the character acts against their virtues they should probably suffer a penalty to the roll, representing the nagging self-doubt that slows their action and makes them waver.  If they succeed despite the penalty their virtues suffer some amount of upheaval, while if they fail their virtues are reaffirmed.  This is kind of like the way option three works right now, and should probably be automatic.

But then you punish the player for trying to represent a sudden and drastic change in the character's beliefs, which is something we want to avoid doing too much of.

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There's a lot of fiddling you could do with all of what I just said, but the basic idea of it is just that if you reward players with dice for acting the way you want them to they will a) usually act the way you want and b) will be happy because they're getting dice.

I wouldn't want to reward virtues in a mechanical way that would make it too easy to game the system, though.

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Of course, there will be players who still just ignore their motivations and refuse to act in character.  Fuck 'em.  They aren't going to play your game, and if they did they probably wouldn't have fun (since the game runs so contrary to the way they like to play), so you don't need to worry about them.  I think a little nudge from bonuses and penalties is all you'll need to train new players, and your target audience will play the way you want no matter what the rules you set are.

I don't want to cut the system off from players of that stripe, though. I want to still make it accessible to that kind of player, even if I'm not a fan of their style.

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I do like the 5-realms morality idea a lot, actually.  The way the five spheres interact without being black and white could work out really cool.

Thanks! I should admit, though, that I pretty much wholly stole the base idea from the Magic CCG. The virtues are a combination of things taken from various official descriptions of the colors, and some additions of my own.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, and such...

Your second point is why I decided to do it, though. I don't like black-and-white morality systems, and this seemed like a really solid way of looking at things.

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You should understand, though, that if this part of the game is as sophisticated and as complicated as it is it will be the main focus of play.  Like was said before, if there are a ton of combat rules for a system players will want to get in fights.  If there are a ton of morality rules in the game the players will want to get into morally challenging situations.  I think this game could be really fun if you work with that fact and use it to energize play.

Oh yes, I am well aware of the fact that system implies how the game is played. Very well aware.

This is why we have intricate mechanics for everything. This system co-exists with (1) an intricate combat system, (2) an intricate social combat system, (3) an intricate magic system, and (4) an intricate crafting system.

And that's just on the player side of the screen.
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greyorm
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« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2009, 01:18:18 AM »

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The character can have independent fictional existence, as can the imaginary world in which the character exists.

This made me chuckle as it reminded me of a quote from The Fairly Godparents cartoon that always leaves me rolling: "Those are real fictional people in real fictional danger!" But your second paragraph clears up your meaning, and I don't think it actually disagrees with anything I stated, so it appears we're on the same page.

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After a time, however, I would think that the numbers on the sheet would more deeply solidify in the player's mind, and you would stop having to check the sheet.

Depending on the player, their image of the character might be strong enough anyways that they don't need to check the sheet, but if it isn't, I agree there's a good possibility that will come with time, dependent upon the player's personality and dedication to the game (I've had players who show up every week and don't know what any their character's skills are from session to session, they're just there to socialize and roll some dice).

But, there are forty virtues in your game. I don't know that I could memorize forty variables, or even twenty, and keep them all in mind while playing. Certainly some might stick, and some might be numbers I have to look up all the time.

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My interpretation of Pawn is that the player simply acts through the character; the character is basically a glove into the fiction, and the player occupies it. The glove doesn't do things on its own or start the conversation of what to do.

You know what, you're right. I mixed up Pawn stance with something else (DOH!). But from where I'm sitting, saying, "Ok, my loyalty is 4, so I immediately rush to the aid of my lord against the orcs" isn't role-playing, either, at least not the kind you're looking for?

But this is interesting, I like what you are trying to do conceptually. My own game, ORX, whose system I wrote with Gamism in mind (and originally Pawn stance, though it can shift around), has the rule: "Your orc is not a paper doll for your ego." And it works according to the principle that before you take an action, you roll the dice. Then you role-play (or rather, narrate) the outcome arising from that roll, not on what you as a player wanted your orc to do or try. If you play using this aspect of the rules, it requires acting chops.

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The system I've presented can sometimes call for the character to make an action that the player is not interested in.

However, I admit I am having great difficulty imagining how your game works, or rather how the virtues and ethos are actually utilized in play. Not how they function mechanically, you've explained that pretty clearly, but how they are actually utilized with real people sitting around a table in the middle of a game with things happening, and then the virtues system fires up because...why?

By which I mean it is all good to say a situation arises where freedom is opposed by conformity so then you do this...but what does that look like in play? Does the GM just say, "OK, make a freedom roll!" In D&D, for example, it is very clear when the combat system kicks into play. What event triggers its use. That's what I'm looking at.

Also, how does it actually work, rather than just being a bunch of numbers on a sheet that can serve as a guideline? And when does that guideline come into play? Because I guess I'm also not seeing how this system actually helps your goals of teaching role-playing or producing it in someone not interested in or unable to grok their character. Right now, I'm kind of looking at it as "alignment, but with numbers" and so about as easily ignorable as such, and not really foundationally wedded to the game.

Is there more to it? Can you help me out and run through a complete account of how this would be used to teach a new role-player to play during the game, or how it would force someone to role-play who isn't interested in doing such (exactly what it would make the character do).
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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GnomeWorks
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« Reply #34 on: April 08, 2009, 01:41:28 AM »

Quote from: greyorm
This made me chuckle as it reminded me of a quote from The Fairly Godparents cartoon that always leaves me rolling: "Those are real fictional people in real fictional danger!" But your second paragraph clears up your meaning, and I don't think it actually disagrees with anything I stated, so it appears we're on the same page.

Heh, fair enough. I realize that my position can sound rather ridiculous if I don't explain it right, so I'm glad that you're grokking what I'm saying.

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But, there are forty virtues in your game. I don't know that I could memorize forty variables, or even twenty, and keep them all in mind while playing. Certainly some might stick, and some might be numbers I have to look up all the time.

The general idea, in my head, seems to be that you would generally focus on one or two ethoi, and perhaps as many as half of the virtues important to each. So you'd probably generally care about eight, and their opposites.

I realize that's still quite a number, but the hope would be that they're intuitive enough that it's reasonable.

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You know what, you're right. I mixed up Pawn stance with something else (DOH!).

Ah, no big. Though that does make our earlier conversation more sensical.

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But from where I'm sitting, saying, "Ok, my loyalty is 4, so I immediately rush to the aid of my lord against the orcs" isn't role-playing, either, at least not the kind you're looking for?

Um... it *could* be. It's close enough that I'd be alright with it?

Personally, it wouldn't make me happy. But it'd be better than the player simply acting as himself, which is what we're trying to avoid. The player is at least taking the character's beliefs into account. That might lead to the player thinking more about the character and their motivations and beliefs... that might just be a pipe dream, but hey, you never know.

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But this is interesting, I like what you are trying to do conceptually. My own game, ORX, whose system I wrote with Gamism in mind (and originally Pawn stance, though it can shift around), has the rule: "Your orc is not a paper doll for your ego." And it works according to the principle that before you take an action, you roll the dice. Then you role-play (or rather, narrate) the outcome arising from that roll, not on what you as a player wanted your orc to do or try. If you play using this aspect of the rules, it requires acting chops.

Right, and basically what we're trying to do here is apply that to character actions, too.

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However, I admit I am having great difficulty imagining how your game works, or rather how the virtues and ethos are actually utilized in play. Not how they function mechanically, you've explained that pretty clearly, but how they are actually utilized with real people sitting around a table in the middle of a game with things happening, and then the virtues system fires up because...why?

And that, good sir, is the question (or one of them, at least; we have a lot of "the question" questions).

What triggers a virtue roll? I don't know. Obviously not everything can, or else it gets rapidly unwieldy, and probably in an exponential fashion. However, they can't come up rarely enough that the system doesn't have an impact - if it doesn't matter, why do we have it?

There's a middle ground, I'm sure of it. But I'm not sure where, how to find it, or even how to look.

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By which I mean it is all good to say a situation arises where freedom is opposed by conformity so then you do this...but what does that look like in play? Does the GM just say, "OK, make a freedom roll!" In D&D, for example, it is very clear when the combat system kicks into play. What event triggers its use. That's what I'm looking at.

Yeah... I don't even really know.

Combat, social combat, crafting, and magic are all fairly obvious, as to when their subsystems kick in.

This? Not so much.

I know - or at least have an inkling - that this subsystem will interact with the social combat system in fun and interesting ways. As to what it's for on it's own, again, I don't know how to use it.

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Also, how does it actually work, rather than just being a bunch of numbers on a sheet that can serve as a guideline? And when does that guideline come into play? Because I guess I'm also not seeing how this system actually helps your goals of teaching role-playing or producing it in someone not interested in or unable to grok their character. Right now, I'm kind of looking at it as "alignment, but with numbers" and so about as easily ignorable as such, and not really foundationally wedded to the game.

Um... it's alignment, but with numbers, and more complicated axes?

The idea is that this is a lot more descriptive than D&D-style alignment. What the hell does it mean to be "chaotic good," anyway? With this, it's more like... well, you have a 1d8+1d4 (7) conformity, but a 1d10+1d8 liberty (10), so you're a bit divided on the issue, but you've thought about it more than most, and decided that liberty is generally more important than conformity.

The scale goes from 0 to yes, so you have to take the numbers and assign them meaning in relation to each other, with the idea that higher numbers means that you've thought about it more and/or have more experience with that virtue and so understand how it relates to situations and/or the strength of your belief in it. So while a 2 and a 4 are roughly as close as a 28 and a 30, the higher number set you have thought about a *lot* more.

Is this addressing your question, or am I missing the point?

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Is there more to it? Can you help me out and run through a complete account of how this would be used to teach a new role-player to play during the game, or how it would force someone to role-play who isn't interested in doing such (exactly what it would make the character do).

I... really can't. I don't know. This subsystem was only written rather recently (in the last week or two), and it has yet to be actually tested - primarily because we don't really have anything to test. We don't have a method for implementing it; it exists, it has mechanics, but there's no way to interact with it because we don't have an implementation.

I mean, if I knew the answers to these questions, I probably wouldn't be posting about this here right now.
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contracycle
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« Reply #35 on: April 08, 2009, 01:53:44 AM »

But from where I'm sitting, saying, "Ok, my loyalty is 4, so I immediately rush to the aid of my lord against the orcs" isn't role-playing, either, at least not the kind you're looking for?

That seems perfectly plausible to me.  Compare with the Honour system in L5R; the system serves as a prompt for the setting-appropriate behaviour.  Look at the tradition that a lords retainers should not survive the death of their lord, but die bravely over his corpse if necessary - not a thought thats likely to cross the modern mind unprompted.  Surely, we say instead, I should get away to fight again, or to take revenge.  Having the system prompt the player about the values that inform the culture they inhabit, and which the character, if not the player, should/would have internalised, therefore brings to their attention the expectations implicit in the setting.

That is, indeed, ROLE playing - playing a role other than your yourself, one with different experiences and motives.
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #36 on: April 08, 2009, 02:47:50 AM »

I think contracycle provides a great example.

You decide to brawl? Combat system kicks in.
You decide to create something? Crafting system kicks in.
You decide to perform magic? Magic system kicks in.
You decide to argue? Social system kicks in.
You decide to make up your mind? Virtue system kicks in.

Combat, crafting, magic, and social are systems you use when you have already decided what to do. Virtue is the system that you use when doing the deciding itself.

Your lord just died in battle. What do you do? Revenge? Flee? Join him in death? You don't just act on a whim, you consult your character's virtues. For this to work though, you need to know what actions virtues would translate to in that situation. You need a map from virtues to setting.

At least, that's how I imagine it could be working.
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mjbauer
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« Reply #37 on: April 08, 2009, 07:43:29 AM »

I think contracycle provides a great example.

You decide to brawl? Combat system kicks in.
You decide to create something? Crafting system kicks in.
You decide to perform magic? Magic system kicks in.
You decide to argue? Social system kicks in.
You decide to make up your mind? Virtue system kicks in.

Combat, crafting, magic, and social are systems you use when you have already decided what to do. Virtue is the system that you use when doing the deciding itself.

Your lord just died in battle. What do you do? Revenge? Flee? Join him in death? You don't just act on a whim, you consult your character's virtues. For this to work though, you need to know what actions virtues would translate to in that situation. You need a map from virtues to setting.

At least, that's how I imagine it could be working.

I really like this idea. The problem is determining how many of these systems your game needs. It could easily become a game system that is full of mini games, each of which has their own rules set. I'm not sure that this is a bad thing, it just seems like a lot of work to create and a lot of learning for the players. It seems like this is the reason why most game systems tend to try to create one conflict or task resolution system to accomplish everything.
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Ayyavazi
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Posts: 127


« Reply #38 on: April 08, 2009, 08:23:31 AM »

Well, this topic sure has been busy in my absence.

There is one thing about my suggestions you aren't grokking, but its because I didn't explain it explicitly. Gamists will possibly play your game. With your current Morality system, they will possibly break your game. Here's the key question: Are your resolution mechanics for conflicts and tasks based on your 40 morality stats, or are there seperate stats to govern them?

This is important because if resolution and success or failure is determined based on strictly the morality stats, your game will be broken, and here's how. Lets say I want to raise a morality. In your system, all I have to do is get into a situation where the prevailing morality is prevalent, and then outright deny my character's written impulse. Boom! 2 points in the morality I wanted raised. I can then do this as often as I need, and gradually my character will have very high values in everything.

If your resolution system for tasks and conflicts has nothing to do with your morality, then why make it from 0 to yes in the first place? That just means taking the random option (2) gets harder and harder and requires more dice rolling as the game progresses. Eventually people will need to roll 10 or 15 dice to figure out what they do, and that creates a big handling time, which slows the game down and reduces immersion. If your morality system is linked but not solely responsible for resolution, as in bonus dice, how is it? Do you benefit from being middle of the road more than dedicated? And if so, what kind of impetus would I as a player have for playing the disadvantaged type?

Thats the reason I keep insisting on raising and lowering values. This way, there is no net gain from using your character as an avatar, which is what your game might actually encourage, to a gamist. They won't be trying to break your system. They'll be trying to succeed, and in so doing, use your system in ways it wasn't designed to be. If the only net gain results from accurately playing your character, then people will more often accurately play their character. And so what if that makes it harder to change using the random method? Shouldn't it be harder? The longer something remains a habit, the harder it is to kick. Besides, the player can take the outright denial route and still change their character in the direction they want, and actually get there faster, than if they had rolled, both in game time and in play time (since no rolling is involved). In fact, you may want to consider eliminating option 2 entirely. Why roll in the first place? Is it because the player doesn't know what they want the character to do, or is it because they want to act contrary to their nature but don't want their morality to shift by the greater degree? I don't forsee option 2 as being desireably often enough to warrant its inclusion.

If your morality mechanics are completely divorced from your resolution mechanics, then using the raise and lower method is still a good idea because it keeps numbers manageable, which reduces handle time and the number of dice that have to be rolled. These are all good things.

If anything I've said is unclear, feel free to ask. And as for the system itself, I love how its shaping up. It sounds likle a really interesting system, and it doesn't matter that it originated from MtG. I would be interested in getting a list of the moralities you use, since my own game deals with morality heavily, though in a different way than yours.

Cheers!
--Norm
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GnomeWorks
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Posts: 15


« Reply #39 on: April 08, 2009, 09:43:18 AM »

I really like this idea. The problem is determining how many of these systems your game needs. It could easily become a game system that is full of mini games, each of which has their own rules set. I'm not sure that this is a bad thing, it just seems like a lot of work to create and a lot of learning for the players. It seems like this is the reason why most game systems tend to try to create one conflict or task resolution system to accomplish everything.

The game "requires" all of them, insofar as they are all things that can be done in a fictional setting, and therefore rules must exist to cover these situations, so far as I am concerned.

Each subsystem is relatively self-contained, and can be finetuned in terms of complexity. If you don't want to deal with combat in your instance of the game, you can do that. If you want combat in all its gritty detail, you can do that. The system supports that kind of scalability of complexity.

Personally I find the term "mini-games" to be generally kind of condescending, but in this case, it fits. Rather well, actually.

All subsystems use the same base mechanic for determining their values - that is, the rating system I talked about upthread, for virtues and ethoi, is used throughout the entire system.

Quote from: Ayyavazi
There is one thing about my suggestions you aren't grokking, but its because I didn't explain it explicitly. Gamists will possibly play your game. With your current Morality system, they will possibly break your game. Here's the key question: Are your resolution mechanics for conflicts and tasks based on your 40 morality stats, or are there seperate stats to govern them?

The ethos subsystem is just that - a subsystem, almost entirely separate from the rest of the system. Your ethos has no impact on how well you swing a sword, sling a spell, or shape a spear (bonus points for alliteration?).

It *may* be tied to the social combat system, but as I mentioned earlier, I really only have an inkling of how that will work. I like the idea, though, and it would seem to resolve some of the issues we had in the social combat system.

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If your resolution system for tasks and conflicts has nothing to do with your morality, then why make it from 0 to yes in the first place? That just means taking the random option (2) gets harder and harder and requires more dice rolling as the game progresses. Eventually people will need to roll 10 or 15 dice to figure out what they do, and that creates a big handling time, which slows the game down and reduces immersion.

I... don't think it will get to that point.

Bear in mind that the base mechanic of the system is designed to go from 0 to yes, no cap. Ethoi and virtues, though, tend to have an effective cap, because when you increase a virtue, the rating of the ethos it is opposed to gradually decreases (not the virtue it opposes - the ethos of the virtue it opposes). I'm not sure how that will play out, but I think the back-and-forth nature of it will make the dice pools not too unwieldy (probably two sets of opposed 2d12, at most, I'd imagine). I can't envision it going higher than that.

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If your morality system is linked but not solely responsible for resolution, as in bonus dice, how is it? Do you benefit from being middle of the road more than dedicated? And if so, what kind of impetus would I as a player have for playing the disadvantaged type?

Alright, I'll elaborate on how I think the ethics system would impact social combat.

In social combat, each participant has social hit points - these social hps are a representation of your resistance to changing your opinion regarding the issue at hand.

The idea would be that social combats are centered around a pair of opposed virtues, and so your social hit points for that social combat would be your virtue's rating.

In this case, being stronger in your beliefs, and not waffling on them, leads to you not being swayed towards an argument. If you waffle, you are a lot more flexible in the kinds of things your character might do, but you suffer in social combat because you're easy to convince.

And no, I have no idea what "being swayed towards an argument" actually means, mechanically. That's the social combat system, and I'm not prepared at this time to go into detail about that part of the system yet. Perhaps in another thread, when the ethos issue is resolved.

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And so what if that makes it harder to change using the random method? Shouldn't it be harder? The longer something remains a habit, the harder it is to kick. ... I don't forsee option 2 as being desireably often enough to warrant its inclusion.

Our take on how these options work, in terms of what they mean and what is going on in the character's head, is thus...

(1) You are operating within previously-defined parameters; the situation at hand is one your character has thought about or experienced in the past, and knows how s/he feels about it, and so acts pretty much automatically. You aren't expanding your ideological boundaries; you're not learning anything new about yourself; you're just doing what you've done before.

(2) You are actively thinking about the issue at hand. You are weighing options, considering pros and cons. This can lead you to doing something that would normally seem not in accordance with your beliefs, but this is the result of thinking about things. This is what the points towards increasing the ratings represent - the idea that you are thinking about these ideological problems leads you to new conclusions and expands your beliefs.

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If your morality mechanics are completely divorced from your resolution mechanics, then using the raise and lower method is still a good idea because it keeps numbers manageable, which reduces handle time and the number of dice that have to be rolled. These are all good things.

And that's a pretty solid goal. I just don't think that it'll be that big of a problem, because of the back-and-forth of it. If it gets to the point where one virtue is at 1d2+1d2 and the other is at 2d12+1d4, there's really no reason to roll, because you know which one wins just by looking at the max of the former and the min of the latter.

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And as for the system itself, I love how its shaping up. It sounds likle a really interesting system, and it doesn't matter that it originated from MtG. I would be interested in getting a list of the moralities you use, since my own game deals with morality heavily, though in a different way than yours.

We're still hammering them out, but at the moment, they are...

(W) Morality vs. Amorality (B)
(W) Harmony vs. Animosity (B)
(W) Selflessness vs. Selfishness (B)
(W) Trust vs. Paranoia (B)
(W) Order vs. Chaos (R)
(W) Conformity vs. Liberty (R)
(W) Certainty vs. Creativity (R)
(W) Responsibility vs. Freedom (R)
(U) Curiosity vs. Ignorance (R)
(U) Caution vs. Impulse (R)
(U) Detachment vs. Emotion (R)
(U) Forethought vs. Spontaneity (R)
(U) Reason vs. Instinct (G)
(U) Progress vs. Tradition (G)
(U) Education vs. Nature (G)
(U) Manipulation vs. Straight-forward / Direct (G)
(B) Parasitism vs. Interdependence (G)
(B) Worldliness vs. Innocence (G)
(B) Individualism vs. Community (G)
(B) Indifference vs. Empathy (G)

Colors being: (W)hite, (B)lack, Bl(u)e, (G)reen, and (R)ed.
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Egonblaidd
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #40 on: April 08, 2009, 02:21:43 PM »

Hmm, I don't check the forum for a few days and this thread springs up.

Gnome, what you're working on sounds remarkably similar to what I'm doing, with differences of course.  Maybe if we compare notes we can see if we can solve some of the same issues we're having.  My RPG, unlike yours, however, is more focused on resolving tough moral decisions than simply acting out a character.  Under my system I imagine the GM presenting some sort of situation to the players ("Your sister has been kidnapped..." "You discover that the king is going to raze this village and kill all the inhabitants..." "One of you owes money to a powerful thieves' guild and has started getting threatening messages...") and the players have to find some way to resolve the situation.  So far I've only worked on the combat system, but I also plan on working on magic, crafting, and social systems that players can use to accomplish their goals.  Also, I have a set of (currently) 145 skills that provide a wealth of options when it comes to finding a solution to a situation (these skills are used within the other systems, e.g. combat, etc.).

The other thing I've worked heavily on is a morality system.  In my system, I have twelve moral gauges that range from -10 or 10, with -10 being a deficiency, 0 being a moderation, and 10 being an excess, so most characters want to ideally be around 0.  For example, one of my gauges is Peace-Justice-Violence, which is a measure of how much force the character uses to resolve conflicts.  Now, 0 isn't "perfect," it's merely "balanced," for example if a character was a pacifist then they would range much closer to Peace.  On the other hand, a warrior might tend more toward Violence since he is constantly forced to resolve conflicts through force.  The warrior just wouldn't have the patience to debate with a villain and convince him to not be an evil dastard.  I fully expect each player to diversify their character, which will add a certain level of internal tension and conflict within the group and make things more interesting.

Originally I thought it would be good enough to simply have the moral gauges as points of reference, and for some people it might be.  But, based on Luke's advice, I decided a modest mechanical incentive can't hurt, as long as it is managed correctly.  At character creation the player can set their moralities to whatever they want, so even at this point I'm assuming that the player will design a character that they can roleplay.  However, I realize that the player and character both might change their minds on certain issues, so I have a system that let's a character's moralities change if they act contrary to them in order to reflect their new moral standing.  More than that, I have mechanical incentives to follow your moral code closely, as well as mechanical incentives to forsake your morals.

Now to the point: you aren't sure when your morality system should kick in, and neither am I.  Here are my thoughts, though.  The players encounter a situation, whether it is presented to them by the GM or whether they encounter it as a result of their actions.  The players then have to make a decision, and the decision is more along the lines of "Do I kill him or do I reason with him?" rather than "Do I hit him with my axe or my sword?"  The decision depends in part on what their characters want to do, based on their moralities, and in part on what they can do, based on their skills and abilities.  Right now I'm thinking that after the situation is resolved that the characters' actions will be checked against their moralities to see if they were following their moral code or not.  Only situation involving conflicting interests within the player should prompt this moral check.  Mundane actions like repairing armor after battle shouldn't be checked, only ones where, through the character's action or inaction, some event is in danger of occurring that violates that character's moral code.  If the pacifist beats up a bum for no reason (morally undesirable event through action), then he should get a morality check, on the other hand there's no reason for a warrior to beat up the same bum (no morally undesirable event from inaction), so no check is required if he doesn't beat up the bum.  However, if a captured bandit knows where his pals took the warrior's kidnapped sister (morally undesirable event through inaction), then the warrior would be encouraged to beat the everloving snot out of the bandit until he talks, and by the same token the pacifist would want to try to convince the bandit to talk through less forceful means.  I don't know if you could get your system to work in a similar way or not (I'm guessing not entirely), but those are my thoughts.

Now, my system assumes that the players will try and portray a character of some sort, and the character they originally created will adapt to become the character they are portraying.  The players are free to act as they please, but doing so could set them at odds with the other players (who are actually following their moral guidelines).  I'm not designing this system with Gamists in mind, nor do I expect to force Gamists to submit to my system.  I think I'm aiming more for a Narrativist audience, with a dose of Simulationists.  At the end of the day, my moral gauges are nothing more than a reference point, and a lot of ambiguity will be necessary in enforcing them ("Was this a Violent action or not?"  it may not be clear in many situations which moralities apply).  My main hope from the morality system is to get players, GM included, to think about the moral aspect of the game and their actions within the game, the mechanics simply provide a little extra incentive, as well as making sure that the morality system isn't completely ignored.  So I think your target audience is a huge consideration, and you shouldn't be designing your game for people that won't play it.  This way you can make something that will work for the players interested in playing it, instead of making something that works for everybody and divorces the player from the game entirely.  There will always be people with no interest in playing your game, and you'll not only waste your efforts trying to include them in your audience, but you will also damage the game for those who would have actually enjoyed it.  If people just want to sit around and tell stories, they don't need rules and dice, and won't want to use rules and dice to tell a story.  If they want to test their mastery of a complex system, then rules are necessary, while narration is not.  If you want to include everyone, then you need to design your entire system with that goal in mind, which places a lot of limitations on what you can and can't do.

In case you're interested, here's a list of my twelve gauges.  They might serve as inspiration.

Peace-Justice-Violence
Death-Humanity-Life
Vengeance-Mercy-Naivety
Fear-Courage-Recklessness
Blasphemy-Piety-Fanaticism
Selfishness-Duty-Myrmidon
Deception-Honor-Arrogance
Manipulation-Honesty-Legalism
Passion-Discipline-Coldness
Malice-Charity-Pity
Poverty-Contentment-Greed
Abnegation-Chastity-Indulgence
amount of force used to solve problems
one's value and view of life
how evil is dealt with
how one regards personal safety
how one feels toward religion
loyalty and obedience of authority
one's code of conduct
the importance placed on words
one's measure of self control and emotion
how one deals with the less fortunate
one's value of the material
one's value of worldly pleasures

Anyway, I hope this gives you a few ideas.  Keep in mind that my system hasn't yet been playtested, though I expect to start any time.
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Phillip Lloyd
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GnomeWorks
Member

Posts: 15


« Reply #41 on: April 08, 2009, 04:39:37 PM »

Gnome, what you're working on sounds remarkably similar to what I'm doing, with differences of course.

Huzzah for simultaneous design, I guess.

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Maybe if we compare notes we can see if we can solve some of the same issues we're having.  My RPG, unlike yours, however, is more focused on resolving tough moral decisions than simply acting out a character.

That is a thing that could be done.

Also, don't confuse this subsystem for the core of what's going on. It's part of the whole, but not the most important part.

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So far I've only worked on the combat system, but I also plan on working on magic, crafting, and social systems that players can use to accomplish their goals.  Also, I have a set of (currently) 145 skills that provide a wealth of options when it comes to finding a solution to a situation (these skills are used within the other systems, e.g. combat, etc.).

Heh, skills are another thing that we've been completely unable to figure out. We're having massive scope and grouping issues; three times now, we've spent about three nights at our local diner discussing this topic for about six hours each sitting, and we've still got next to nothing done.

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In my system, I have twelve moral gauges that range from -10 or 10, with -10 being a deficiency, 0 being a moderation, and 10 being an excess, so most characters want to ideally be around 0.  For example, one of my gauges is Peace-Justice-Violence, which is a measure of how much force the character uses to resolve conflicts.

Your take on this whole thing seems rather different than mine. That sounds similar, but we don't really have a place that we consider "ideal." The character's beliefs are the character's beliefs.

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More than that, I have mechanical incentives to follow your moral code closely, as well as mechanical incentives to forsake your morals.

Some of the advice here has started me thinking along these lines, and it does seem like a solid idea.

Quote
Right now I'm thinking that after the situation is resolved that the characters' actions will be checked against their moralities to see if they were following their moral code or not.  Only situation involving conflicting interests within the player should prompt this moral check.  Mundane actions like repairing armor after battle shouldn't be checked, only ones where, through the character's action or inaction, some event is in danger of occurring that violates that character's moral code. ... I don't know if you could get your system to work in a similar way or not (I'm guessing not entirely), but those are my thoughts.

Hmm... that would seem, to me, to encourage a more action-based morality than intention-based. If you only check morality after an "event" is finished that is ethically-relevant, then so long as the end result followed the character's beliefs, they're good to go.

I'm not sure if I like that idea. I like the idea of the virtues as motivators and more intent-based. Action-based ethical modifications should have some place in the system, but I don't know if I want it to be the only thing, or even the primary one.

Quote
So I think your target audience is a huge consideration, and you shouldn't be designing your game for people that won't play it.  This way you can make something that will work for the players interested in playing it, instead of making something that works for everybody and divorces the player from the game entirely.  There will always be people with no interest in playing your game, and you'll not only waste your efforts trying to include them in your audience, but you will also damage the game for those who would have actually enjoyed it.  If people just want to sit around and tell stories, they don't need rules and dice, and won't want to use rules and dice to tell a story.  If they want to test their mastery of a complex system, then rules are necessary, while narration is not.  If you want to include everyone, then you need to design your entire system with that goal in mind, which places a lot of limitations on what you can and can't do.

How do you know who is going to have an interest in your game?

I am not interested in going out of my way to close off the game from those who don't necessarily share my views on what makes the game good or interesting. There are assumptions made in the system that make it simulationist; hell, most of the assumptions made are simulationist in nature. That doesn't mean we want to go out of our way to preclude gamists or narrativists or new players who have no idea what those terms mean.

The gamer market is already small. Do you really want to go out of your way to tell large segments of the gamer population that your game isn't for you? How are you supposed to reasonabily succeed, as a business model, with that kind of approach in mind?
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Vulpinoid
Member

Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster


WWW
« Reply #42 on: April 08, 2009, 06:19:06 PM »

But then you punish the player for trying to represent a sudden and drastic change in the character's beliefs, which is something we want to avoid doing too much of.

Why do you want to avoid this?

From one point of view, one of the great literary devices is the concept of losing one's faith to pursue a new agenda.

From the other point of view, you indicated earlier in the thread that you wanted players to act according to the inherent morality/virtue combination established for the character. Allowing a player to break their character's outlook on the world without some kind of punishment is just asking for players who go "all-out-chaotic-evil" one scene because it suits their agenda, then "all-out-lawful-good" the next scene because it fits better with the new circumstances, then choosing another virtue path in the next scene because things are different again.

Without a system of reward/punishment, I don't see the value of the numbers at all.

Especially since you've already stated...
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Can the GM say, "No, your character would never do that?"

No.

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Can the group take a vote on whether my action is "on the curve?"

How... would that even be a reasonable thing to happen? No.
[/quote]

Which makes the following statement curious...

You can act wildly against character. Basically the GM looking at the sheet would simply be to ensure that the player is modifying the character's virtue and ethos values appropriately.

Why is the GM bothering to modify the values on the character sheet when they have no mechanical effect on play?

Which in turn begs the question...

Why bother going to this much effort designing a morality system that can be completely ignored by the players?

Just questions...

V
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Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
otspiii
Member

Posts: 67

A Very Powerful Wizard


WWW
« Reply #43 on: April 08, 2009, 06:58:15 PM »

The ethos subsystem is just that - a subsystem, almost entirely separate from the rest of the system. Your ethos has no impact on how well you swing a sword, sling a spell, or shape a spear (bonus points for alliteration?).

It *may* be tied to the social combat system, but as I mentioned earlier, I really only have an inkling of how that will work. I like the idea, though, and it would seem to resolve some of the issues we had in the social combat system.

I sort of think this is a bad idea.  The rules for this are so gigantic and intense that if it doesn't tie into the rest of the game it's going to be more of a bother than a boon.  Aside from that, I think it's unrealistic.  The mindset and motivation you have in taking part in a difficult action has a pretty real effect on how skillfully you handle it.  This is too hard to interpret into dice for most systems, but if you already have the framework set up you might as well use it.  It shouldn't give a huge bonus or anything, maybe a +1 to +3 bonus to your roll or something similar, depending on how high the virtue is.  If you want to avoid min-maxing you should just add something to the rules that discourages it.  Maybe whenever you act against a virtue that's over a certain score your stress bar builds or something.  I don't know your system well enough to really recommend specifics, but there's always a way.
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Egonblaidd
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2009, 08:08:07 PM »

Maybe if we compare notes we can see if we can solve some of the same issues we're having.  My RPG, unlike yours, however, is more focused on resolving tough moral decisions than simply acting out a character.

That is a thing that could be done.

Also, don't confuse this subsystem for the core of what's going on. It's part of the whole, but not the most important part.

I think I understand where you're coming from here; morality is simply one aspect of the world to be explored in your system, while morality is a core issue in my system.

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Quote
So far I've only worked on the combat system, but I also plan on working on magic, crafting, and social systems that players can use to accomplish their goals.  Also, I have a set of (currently) 145 skills that provide a wealth of options when it comes to finding a solution to a situation (these skills are used within the other systems, e.g. combat, etc.).

Heh, skills are another thing that we've been completely unable to figure out. We're having massive scope and grouping issues; three times now, we've spent about three nights at our local diner discussing this topic for about six hours each sitting, and we've still got next to nothing done.

I hear you there.  I've spent a good deal of time thinking about what skills need to be included and how to group them.  I have skills coming in related groups, typically of three or four but some with as few as two or as many as eight, and as one skill is used the entire group of skills advances slowly.  Needless to say, grouping the skills was a pain, and I'm still not sure about how I've done it.  Some skills I feel should belong in two groups, like Sculpturing should be in both the Stone Working and Visual Art groups.  Anyway, I'd be happy to share my skill list with you if you'd like to look over it for inspiration.  One of my goals with the skill system was to represent every kind of action, from scholarly studies to crafting to combat, so you might find it helpful.

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In my system, I have twelve moral gauges that range from -10 or 10, with -10 being a deficiency, 0 being a moderation, and 10 being an excess, so most characters want to ideally be around 0.  For example, one of my gauges is Peace-Justice-Violence, which is a measure of how much force the character uses to resolve conflicts.

Your take on this whole thing seems rather different than mine. That sounds similar, but we don't really have a place that we consider "ideal." The character's beliefs are the character's beliefs.

That's fine, there are many ways to do it, and I considered a system similar to the one you're using.  Both our systems have the advantage of being rather gray, since there is no "right" morality, only what the players choose, though I think your system might do a better job of this by having directly opposed virtues.  If "right" morals exist (based probably on religion), then they won't be straight zeros, in fact I think I'll leave it up to each GM to assign a "right" moral code to religion based on their interpretation of my descriptions of that religion, so it will differ between gaming groups, making it impossible for players to simply memorize it.

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More than that, I have mechanical incentives to follow your moral code closely, as well as mechanical incentives to forsake your morals.

Some of the advice here has started me thinking along these lines, and it does seem like a solid idea.

One thing we should both probably be careful of is to match the reward to the character.  The rewards for acting in accord with your morals should suit a character that follows those morals, while the rewards for acting contrary to your morals should be some alternate sort that suits a corrupt character better, or at least suits a character following the morals that the character is acting out.  In a simplified example, if you always give swords for being good and spells for being evil, don't expect to see evil swordsmen or good mages, which if this is your intention is perfectly fine, otherwise your mechanics will support unwanted stereotypes (like good swordsmen and evil mages).

Quote
Quote
Right now I'm thinking that after the situation is resolved that the characters' actions will be checked against their moralities to see if they were following their moral code or not.  Only situation involving conflicting interests within the player should prompt this moral check.  Mundane actions like repairing armor after battle shouldn't be checked, only ones where, through the character's action or inaction, some event is in danger of occurring that violates that character's moral code. ... I don't know if you could get your system to work in a similar way or not (I'm guessing not entirely), but those are my thoughts.

Hmm... that would seem, to me, to encourage a more action-based morality than intention-based. If you only check morality after an "event" is finished that is ethically-relevant, then so long as the end result followed the character's beliefs, they're good to go.

I'm not sure if I like that idea. I like the idea of the virtues as motivators and more intent-based. Action-based ethical modifications should have some place in the system, but I don't know if I want it to be the only thing, or even the primary one.

Actually the reason why I thought moral judgment should take place afterwards is (a) the characters start seeing the consequences of their actions, and therefore can be a better judge of whether or not they were justified, and (b) I don't want players focusing on how certain decisions will affect their morality, I'd rather have them focused on whether or not a certain decision makes sense given the situation, their moral inclination, and their ability to carry out that decision.  How actions are judged morally is something else entirely, and will depend largely on the particular gaming group.  I would prefer intention-based judgment, but that's impossible to do mechanically, and it's almost as hard for the GM to guess a player's intentions, and not even the player may consciously know why they adopted a particular course of action.  At the moment I'm thinking of allowing the players to judge themselves, or at least discuss it with the GM.  I'm actually inclined to place the final word on the player rather than the GM, though perhaps the GM could intervene if the player is abusing that power.

I did read a thread where the game was specially designed to judge morality based solely on actions, so you could do "good" things for purely selfish reasons, which kind of created it's own version of "gray" since "good" and "evil" are no longer ethical issues.  An interesting idea, but not what either of us is going for, I think.

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So I think your target audience is a huge consideration, and you shouldn't be designing your game for people that won't play it.  This way you can make something that will work for the players interested in playing it, instead of making something that works for everybody and divorces the player from the game entirely.  There will always be people with no interest in playing your game, and you'll not only waste your efforts trying to include them in your audience, but you will also damage the game for those who would have actually enjoyed it.  If people just want to sit around and tell stories, they don't need rules and dice, and won't want to use rules and dice to tell a story.  If they want to test their mastery of a complex system, then rules are necessary, while narration is not.  If you want to include everyone, then you need to design your entire system with that goal in mind, which places a lot of limitations on what you can and can't do.

How do you know who is going to have an interest in your game?

I am not interested in going out of my way to close off the game from those who don't necessarily share my views on what makes the game good or interesting. There are assumptions made in the system that make it simulationist; hell, most of the assumptions made are simulationist in nature. That doesn't mean we want to go out of our way to preclude gamists or narrativists or new players who have no idea what those terms mean.

The gamer market is already small. Do you really want to go out of your way to tell large segments of the gamer population that your game isn't for you? How are you supposed to reasonabily succeed, as a business model, with that kind of approach in mind?

You don't have to exclude people, just don't stretch your system to specially include certain kinds of gamers.  Trying to make a puzzle game that appeals to first person shooter players is a design goal all by itself, you can't very easily make any and every puzzle game appeal to FPS players without breaking the game (unless you're "thinking with portals," heh).  The point is, think about who is mostly likely to want to play your game, and then expand your system to include as many other people as you can without alienating your original audience.  Don't sign up to be the Republican candidate and then go all liberal.  You can still make your game appeal to a broad group of people without making it appeal to everyone.  If your game only appeals to a small niche then that's fine too if that's what you want, otherwise you're not doing something right if you want to appeal to a large audience and only appeal to a small group, and it may be that you're trying to overextend your system.

In your case there very well could be Narrativists and Gamists who enjoy playing your game, just like there are many people who enjoy playing Smash Bros. even if they play more Zelda or Mario, which are different genres from Smash Bros.  And there are things you can do to reach out to Narrativists and Gamists to include them, but since your game is more heavily Simulationist it would be better not to do something that would exclude the Simulationists.  Regardless, however your game is designed, there will be an audience it appeals to, the hard part is understanding who that audience is and marketing it accordingly.  Your game won't catch on if you tell people it's a dungeon crawler, because most the people that would enjoy your game wouldn't enjoy dungeon crawling and so won't even look at your game, and most dungeon crawlers won't enjoy your game because it's not really about dungeon crawling.

It's good that you want to target a large audience, but you need to understand who that audience is and what they want in a game, in part so you can design the game to appeal to them and in part so that you can market it to the right people.  A good place to start is with yourself.  Ask yourself why you would want to play your game, and what aspects of the game you enjoy.  Ask your playtesters these same questions.  Once you get enough answers you'll have a much better idea of who the audience is and why they will want to play your game.
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Phillip Lloyd
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