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Author Topic: Disabling Pawn Stance and Enforcing Character Beliefs on Action  (Read 15409 times)
GnomeWorks
Member

Posts: 15


« Reply #45 on: April 09, 2009, 01:58:37 AM »

Quote from: Vulpinoid
Why do you want to avoid this? ... Without a system of reward/punishment, I don't see the value of the numbers at all.

Part of the problem is my co-developers. Both of them have told me that they would walk away from a game that enforced character actions on the player.

This irks me, but I can also understand it. Like I've said earlier in the thread, if the character always responds mechanistically, regardless of the player, then there's little point for the player to sit at the table, right? They might as well go watch a movie for all the input they're getting to have.

Quote
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.

Huh... I had not really thought about it that way. That's a good point.

I'm still torn, though. Can you reconcile the issue of "player having little to no input regarding character action" with "the player shouldn't be allowed to take actions willy-nilly without taking the character's beliefs into account"?

Quote from: otspiii
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.

I'm sorry, but this made me chuckle.

If you think that this rather simple subsystem for ethos is complicated and "gigantic," then I don't think you could express the mechanical size of the rest of the subsystems with mere words.

Seriously, this is tip-of-the-iceberg kind of stuff.

Also, not tying into other subsystems is part of the overall design. We're trying to make all of these things very modular and scalable within themselves. Combat can go from nothing (as in, you have *no* combat mechanics) to ridiculously-detailed. This is nigh-impossible to do if there is crosstalk across the subsystems; a certain level of detail would be required for the interfaces to at all be accurate, unless they, too, scaled, which is even more complexity.

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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.

I can believe that there would be instances where the strength of your faith in your beliefs and ethos would generate some small benefits, but in general? Not really seeing it.

As an aside, in our system, bonuses - in terms of "+1 or +3," like you mention here - don't generally exist. I find them to be more complex than necessary, and they also seriously skew the normative curves that we've based the system around. Items can sometimes grant small bonuses, but that's currently the only source of such bonii, and I'm not sure if I want to get into them existing elsewhere.

Though treating ethos and virtues as "equipment" for social encounters, insofar as how they interact with the social encounter mechanics, might be a way to go about things... hmm

Quote from: Egonblaidd
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.

Yep, that hits the difference square on the head, I think.

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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.

Hells yeah I'd find that helpful! Sounds like even though we have different "core ideas," it sounds like we're approaching our separate ideas in rather similar manners. I'd definitely appreciate having a look-see at what you've got, because we're stumped and seem completely unable to get anywhere...

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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.

However, your approach has the advantage of three things in a group, rather than being polar. I imagine that that difference has some kind of ramification on how the system is used/interpreted, though I'm not really able to say what it would be.

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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.

Your reasons here for doing it based on action rather than intent are pretty sound.

I still prefer to have the roll prior to the action. In my mind, the virtues set the parameters of what the character is willing to do, how they generally react to events around them; a character with high Selfishness isn't going to run into a burning building to save orphans (well, okay, he might if he's rather conflicted on this virtue set, but you get my point), unless the player makes an active choice to change the character's beliefs (by acting against the higher virtue in the pair). In your model, the character could act either way, with the action reinforcing the beliefs...

I don't know, I guess they're both valid ways to go about it. I like mine because of what I envision the virtues representing.

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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.

Yeah, not really interested in that sort of thing.

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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.

I'm fairly certain that we'll hit our primary market - simulationists - square on the head with this one.

The main secondary market I want to be able to hit is new players. I want a group of sixteen-year-olds who have never played or read a tabletop RPG in their lives before to pick up this game and be able to figure the game out, as well as how to roleplay.

Tertiary markets are everybody else. I think we'll be able to grab gamists rather easily, because it's got a lot of crunchy bits in the combat and social encounter subsystems, with lots of fiddly bits that can be messed with and all kinds of opportunities to tweak characters and maximize ability to overcome challenges of all kinds. Narrativists... I still don't understand this segment of the gaming population, and probably never will. I'll admit that my concern about whether or not they'll play the game comes behind my concern for gamists, which is rather low because I don't like gamist philosophy.

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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.

In the end, if there are two choices for how to design something, and one is clearly more simulationist than the other, we go with the simulationist design.

We have no intent of abandoning our original reasons for writing this system - malcontent with d20, particularly in terms of economics and general character growth - in the course of designing it.

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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.

I am not a player at heart; I'm a GM. Sitting on the player-side of the screen is becoming more and more strange to me.

I want to *run* this game because it makes sense. All of the pieces, while modularized into their own little space, fit neatly with each other like cogs in a machine; combine that with the systemic approach to dealing with realistic economies, politics, ecologies, terrains, and histories, and you have a game and setting that are internally consistent both to themselves and to each other (that is, the game doesn't disrupt the setting, and the setting doesn't disrupt the game).

I suppose a simpler way of putting it might be this: whenever a player asks "why," the system can provide a reason, regardless of what that "why" is about.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #46 on: April 09, 2009, 03:41:26 AM »

Quote
I'm still torn, though. Can you reconcile the issue of "player having little to no input regarding character action" with "the player shouldn't be allowed to take actions willy-nilly without taking the character's beliefs into account"?

I see nothing wrong with post-facto judgement.  The proposition that a player might switch violently from LG to CE is overstated; it might happen, but its blatantly bad play which is ignoring the spririt of the game and the rules.  There is no rule based way to constrain a player who chooses to ignore the rules.  And a variety of other effects, beyond simply modifications of the ethos system, can be applied after the fact to drive home the significance of inappropriate actions - if, for example, you know you are supposed to die with your lord, and choose not to, you could be handed a "Coward" trait (if your system allows for that sort of thing).

"Punishment" is too loaded a term.  You can represent the consequences of actions without resorting to explicitly coercive punishment.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
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Egonblaidd
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #47 on: April 09, 2009, 09:05:33 AM »

To add to what contracycle is saying, and to one of the things I said in my last post, I think most people will be roleplaying some<is more powerful than the human, then non-Gamists won't be too pleased if the elf and human are balanced.  Of course, you do need some degree of balance.  If it's nigh impossible to play as a thief, then nobody will play thieves, so even if thieves don't fare as well in combat as a warrior the thief still needs to be playable.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's better to trust the player than to try and force the player.  Yes, some people will abuse your system in order to min/max, it can't be helped.  But those aren't the people you're trying to appeal to anyway.  There will always be people who Huskarl-rush in Age of Empires II (curse the Goths and their hyper-infantry production and their arrow-resistant Huskarls!), but that type of play won't appeal to everyone.  As long as you make clear how the players are supposed to conduct themselves there will be some who do so.  Adding a mechanical incentive is a sure way to make sure that people are aware of what your intentions are.  Do you care about the Gamists smirking over your game and how easy it is once you figure out how to min/max?  They aren't your audience, your audience is the people that will want to try different things, different approaches, different characters, in order to experience your world.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject.
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Phillip Lloyd
<><
Egonblaidd
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #48 on: April 09, 2009, 10:11:41 AM »

You said you were interested in seeing my skill list, well here it is.  I've organized it (alphabetically) into a table and decreased the font size so the post length isn't into next week.  Skill groups (or "Basic Skills" as I term them in my system) are non-indented with their subskills ("Advanced Skills" in my system) underneath the skill group and indented.  The idea is that only the subskills are actually used, but the skill level of the group is added to the subskill level for tests.  Using subskills advances both the subskill and the skill group, thus making all skills in the group more effective, but mostly that particular subskill.
Obviously some of these are setting-specific, like languages or theology, but you can get the general idea without knowing anything about the setting.  For Literacy I opted to do orthographies rather than languages, so for example you only need a skill in Western Script to read or write in Westerspeak, Peridan, Nostr, Slevic, or Achaean, but you have to also know that language in order to understand what you're reading or write something comprehensible.
One issue I'm thinking about is a skill for taking care of equipment, i.e. polishing nicks off swords, oiling swords and armor, etc.  Should I add a skill for that, and if so, where?  Does an existing skill cover that?  Do I even need a skill for that?  Also, I'm thinking maybe I should move Lockpicking to Engineering.  My Law and History subskills are rather generic, too, but they might be fine as is.  As things go on I'll probably think up more issues like this, but my skillset is fairly well filled out right now, I think.  Although I'd take any advice you have on how to improve it.  If you want to comment on how I can improve my skill system, I already have a thread for it here.

Anyway, here it is.  There are currently 34 skill groups and 145 subskills.

Acrobatics
   Aerial Motion
   Balance
   Climbing
   Dodge

Agriculture
   Botany
   Cultivation

Athletics
   Conditioning
   Running
   Swimming

Business
   Evaluate
   Haggle
   Management

Ceramics
   Brick Making
   Porcelain
   Pottery

Combat
   Chain Weapons
   Fencing
   Hand to Hand
   Heavy Weapons
   Improvised Weaponry
   Polearms
   Shields
   Short Blades
   Swords

Engineering
   Architecture
   Electricity
   Machines
   Shipbuilding
Glass Working
   Glassblowing
   Glass Color

History
   Archeology
   Eastern History
   Middle Eastern History
   Western History

Husbandry
   Animal Handling
   Breeding
   Riding

Law
   Eastern Law
   Hadari Law
   Western Law

Leadership
   Public Speaking
   Rally

Linguistics
   Achaean
   Hadari
   Malahir
   Nostr
   Peridan
   Semptyrian
   Sian
   Slevic
   Westerspeak
   Wildlander Tribal

Literacy
   Hadari Script
   Malahir Script
   Semptyrian Ideography
   Sian Logography
   Western Script
Literary Art
   Drama
   Poetry
   Prose

Leatherworking
   Leather Crafting
   Skinning
   Tanning

Medicine
   Disease
   First Aid
   Surgery

Metallurgy
   Gem Cutting
   Mining
   Prospecting
   Refining

Missiles
   Blowguns
   Bows
   Crossbows
   Darts
   Gunpowder
   Siege
   Sling
   Throwing

Music
   Brass
   Composing
   Flute
   Harp
   Keyboard
   Lute
   Pipes
   Violin
   Voice
Natural Philosophy
   Alchemy
   Astronomy
   Biology
   Geometry
   Gnosticism
   Mathematics
   Mechanics
   Nature

Perception
   Awareness
   Intuition
   Search

Persuasion
   Bluff
   Charm
   Disguise
   Intimidate

Sailing
   Ship Handling
   Navigation
   Marine Weather

Sleight of Hand
   Cheat/Trick
   Steal

Smithing
   Armor Smithing
   Blacksmithing
   Silver Smithing
   Weapon Smithing

Spiritual Arts
   Arcane Art
   Astral Art
   Black Art
   Holy Art
   Inner Art
Stealth
   Hide
   Lockpicking
   Sneak

Stone Working
   Masonry
   Quarrying
   Sculpturing

Survival
   Camp Sites
   Fishing
   Orientation
   Tracking

Textiles
   Braiding
   Knitting
   Ropework
   Weaving

Theology
   Achaean Pantheon
   Astrology
   Nostr Pantheon
   Pantheism
   Semptyrian Pantheon
   The Way
   The Word
   Wildlander Tribal Religions

Visual Art
   Drawing
   Painting
   Printmaking

Woodworking
   Bow Making
   Carpentry
   Carving
   Logging
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Phillip Lloyd
<><
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #49 on: April 09, 2009, 01:57:25 PM »

I'm fairly certain that we'll hit our primary market - simulationists - square on the head with this one.

Alright, I feel I should try and correct this now before it creates lasting confusion: what KIND of "Simulationists" though? You realize there's more than one type, right? That many Sims won't like a crunchy, character-centric game? Because some Sims are in it for the exploration of some other element of the game, like setting, and the characters are treated/considered as nothing but their eyeballs? That neither "realism" or "complex mechanics" define "Simulationism"?

Quote
I think we'll be able to grab gamists rather easily, because it's got a lot of crunchy bits in the combat and social encounter subsystems, with lots of fiddly bits that can be messed with and all kinds of opportunities to tweak characters and maximize ability to overcome challenges of all kinds.

Crunch and fiddly bits do not Gamism make. Folks are confusing techniques and mechanics with styles/goals-of-play.

Given those issues, I think this thread and your design would be better served if the GNS terminology is simply avoided, as I've noticed the ideas being expressed about what comprises what and what each group does/likes are overly simplified and often just wrong, setting up false dichotomies and categorizations.

(Tangentially: on narrativists: have you ever read a fiction book or watched an entertainment movie and enjoyed the story? Then you understand narrativism! (It honestly isn't rocket science or alien telepathy. Really!))
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
GnomeWorks
Member

Posts: 15


« Reply #50 on: April 09, 2009, 03:20:56 PM »

Quote from: Egonblaidd
I think most people will be roleplaying some type of character.  What I'll probably do, and what might be a good idea for your system as well, is encourage new players of your system to play a character that strongly resembles themselves.

That seems to be a normal thing to do, when first starting out with gaming, so I would probably do this.

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If they care about min/maxing then they should play some kind of brainiac that's constantly contrasting even the most minute differences between different objects, courses of action, etc. in order to find the most efficient one.

This statement makes no sense to me. The concept of real-world "efficiency," and trying to apply it to a fictional world, seems kind of ridiculous.

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Quote
My point is, while everyone may jokingly consider plundering the caravan that they are supposed to be protecting, not everyone will actually do it.  There is, I think, a misconception about roleplayers that they are all Gamist and will bend the rules to maximize their abilities.

They're not. But I imagine most have a gamist streak, if nothing else.

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I came to the conclusion that non-Gamist oriented RPGs don't need to be balanced, per se, because if someone wants to play an elf it will be because they want to play an elf, not because the elf has better stats than the human.

That... good sir, is just ridiculous.

Present me an unbalanced game, and the temptation to take the better option will be all the stronger because there are no reasons to not take it.

If the system is reasonably balanced, you might not have to delve into mathematical minutiae if you don't care about the gamists - but there still has to be balance of some kind. Otherwise the lack of balance is staring everybody in the face, and that'll cause issues if nothing else will.

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They aren't your audience, your audience is the people that will want to try different things, different approaches, different characters, in order to experience your world.

Are they a gamer? Then I should consider them part of my audience, and try to figure out how to bring them in without disrupting the core ethos of my design.

Seriously. Going out of your way to cut yourself off from a segment of your target market strikes me as absurd and a bad way to do business. If I can get gamists into the fold with just a little bit of extra work - why the hell wouldn't I?

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Anyway, here it is.  There are currently 34 skill groups and 145 subskills.

Sweet! Thanks for letting me have a look.

Quote from: greyorm
Alright, I feel I should try and correct this now before it creates lasting confusion: what KIND of "Simulationists" though? You realize there's more than one type, right? That many Sims won't like a crunchy, character-centric game? Because some Sims are in it for the exploration of some other element of the game, like setting, and the characters are treated/considered as nothing but their eyeballs? That neither "realism" or "complex mechanics" define "Simulationism"?

... *sigh*

What's the point in talking about people who don't care about system? If they don't care... then they don't care. They can do what they want to do with any freaking system out there, so there is no point in having that discussion. You'll grab them if you grab them, and you won't if you don't. Simple as that, and there is nothing you can do about it.

However, to appease you and perhaps try to make it clear to anyone else who hasn't been following along with what I've been saying: none of the subsystems are required to play. All the subsystems are scalable in terms of mechanics and complexity, and they can be tuned independently of each other.

So can we get off this train of thought? Because I'm getting kind of agitated, and I'd rather not lose the gems that are popping up.

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Crunch and fiddly bits do not Gamism make. Folks are confusing techniques and mechanics with styles/goals-of-play.

I don't think that distinction matters, when talking about game design.

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Given those issues, I think this thread and your design would be better served if the GNS terminology is simply avoided, as I've noticed the ideas being expressed about what comprises what and what each group does/likes are overly simplified and often just wrong, setting up false dichotomies and categorizations.

Did you ever maybe think that it was a failing of the theory, then, that people constantly "misunderstand" it?

But whatever, fine. Yes, let's not bring it up again.

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(Tangentially: on narrativists: have you ever read a fiction book or watched an entertainment movie and enjoyed the story? Then you understand narrativism! (It honestly isn't rocket science or alien telepathy. Really!))

I find it ridiculous that you posit that simulationism and gamism are much more complex than I make them out to be, then say this kind of thing about narrativism.
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greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #51 on: April 09, 2009, 06:02:47 PM »

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However, to appease you and perhaps...So can we get off this train of thought? Because I'm getting kind of agitated...

Gnome, you are completely misunderstanding the reason for my post.

I am not talking about people who don't care about system or about catering or not catering to them. In fact, I am not talking about system at all, or ignoring people, or anything of the sort related to design. My example was used solely to help make a case for the misuse of the terms and categories being tossed around, and how it will hurt the conversation and attempts to develop the game. The situation you are agitated with has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make or why I made the statement about different types of Sim, and I apologize for the confusion.

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I find it ridiculous that you posit that simulationism and gamism are much more complex than I make them out to be, then say this kind of thing about narrativism.

No. I am saying you might want to evaluate why you say you don't "understand" Narrativism when it isn't some weird, alien thing, and you have certainly understood it in the past as part of the human experience, though perhaps without realizing it.

Your perception of ridiculousness over the thought that I am claiming Sim and Gam are "more complex" than Nar is also important here because, no, they are also as simple: your understanding of what they are is just incorrect. Which I point out because:

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Did you ever maybe think that it was a failing of the theory, then, that people constantly "misunderstand" it?

No more so than I think it is a "failing" of basic evolutionary theory that people constantly misunderstand it.

Or a failing of computer terminology that untrained users don't know what the terms "desktop" or "cursor" or "explorer" mean and often call them by completely different names, or confuse the parts and how they work with one another (such as the difference between RAM and a hard drive).

(We all forget that even basic letters and numbers required significant training to learn, understand, and use: nothing was obvious or comprehensible via casual study, especially nothing we carry pre-existing impressions of that then get in the way of our understanding (as when learning a second language unrelated to the one we know).)

And that's the point with avoiding the terms here, because something similar is happening.

In this situation the GNS terms will not clarify the issue, but confuse it and end up acting as a barrier, which will only become worse as the thread progresses, or become liabilities in future conversations, and people attempt to give you advice based on what you're saying you want (ie: you saying "RAM" but meaning "hard drive" and/or thinking they do the same things).

Your obvious annoyance with and defensive response to the correction on terminological issues, and the certainty that such corrections will happen further on in the thread (when people are trying to use the terms to communicate ideas to you that mean something other to you than what their use is intended to imply), is exactly why the GNS terms need to be avoided, by everyone, further in this discussion unless and until you would be interested in learning them.

That's all. Hopefully my point and the reason I was making it were more clear this time.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Ayyavazi
Member

Posts: 127


« Reply #52 on: April 10, 2009, 04:44:34 AM »

Hey there Gnome.

I really wish I knew how to do the quote box thing everyone here is doing. (maybe im just too lazy to look for the way to do it) Anyway, thanks for answering my questions.

It seems you are using a rise and fall mechanic so that when one thing is used the other decreases. That is good. As long as the gains are equal to the losses, I see no problems. Then, a flat-out gain really represents something. But, given your thinking on the three options, I better understand why you resist option one developing into an an increase.

As for tying systems together and still making them modular, this is a problem I am running into with one of my games. Making modular systems is easy. Making modular systems that interact, or talk to one another, is another animal entirely. But it is possible. Here's the little bit of thought I've given it so far.

Bonuses. As long as one system talking with another is related to bonuses only, it doesn't matter if you remove a system, since the only thing that happens is you don't get the bonuses generated from that system. The only problem here comes from difficulty curves. If you base difficulties on certain amounts of bonuses being present (using averages and such) then not having them throws off your calculations. You could use a chart to explain how to modify difficulty based on what systems you are using, but that makes it harder to pick and choose which systems to use, and increases handling time. That is the big limiter, as I see it. Although, if you had a rules set that said something like, "For every system you use, difficulties are increased by X," then you could pull it off, so long as no system offered more bonuses than any other, on average. This would result in more calculations to determine a difficulty, but it might be minute enough (assuming only two or three systems talk to each other in a given sub-set) to be done with only an extra half-second of thought.

As for the morality not tying in to the system to a larger degree, I think its a mistake. It seems to me like more than anything else, you want people to use this system. You want players to get "in character" and stay there. And, in character, you want them to change opinions and views, you want them to grow and evolve. And you want this morality system to guide them. That is all well and good. If your game were about morality only, and nothing else, that would be fine. But, your game is about a whole lot more it seems. You have other systems you want to use, and this one is only tangentially connected at best. That means that a player could play your game and never encounter or want to encounter the morality system.

Now, I understand you want to not close off people. Noble goal, one I happen to be doing and support. But at some point, you have to decide which is more important, an engaging, sound system, or the 25 people of roleplaying sub-group x? If morality is as big a part of your game as it seems to be (and if its not, my point is moot) then it has to tie in to everything. Think of it as groundwork. You have to have a basic rules system and resolution mechanic(s). They can work differently in given sub-systems (skills, social encounters, combat, etc.) but the base system that everything ties into has to be there. If you make that the morality system, then everyone deals with it, and make everything else plug-and-play. Now you have a game that is always about morality, but can sometimes also be about combat, crafting, whatever. Whatever it is your game is most about should be the baseline system. It doesn't need to be this way, in the sense that a game will break or fail without it. It just makes things a lot easier, and it snags certain target audiences right away.

As it stands, I would not be interested in your game. It seems to take to much effort to understand how every sub-system works and interacts, and the pros and cons of adding or dropping one. But if it had a morality framework like I am suggesting, I would be much more comfortable throwing out things I didn't want, or even spending the time to figure out how it all works, just because I had something to start with that was interesting to me: morality.

For example, I'll use the system I'm developing, which I started a thread for (and where the star wars comparison was made by another forge-ite).

In my system, you have Body, Heart, and Mind stats. You also have axioms, divided into Virtues and Vices. These are chosen from a preset list of axioms, which are divided as the player chooses to make their character. Generally speaking, Virtues are the things a character values and strives toward, vices are sticking points and hang-ups, things the character is struggling with. Every time any action is attempted, you use Body, Mind or Heart, and any appropriate virtues or vices. Opponents can also use unclaimed virtues and vices against you, and vice-versa.

Of the 4 different types of magic in my system, 3 are tied to my axiom system and cannot function without it. Only 1 is separate, and it is easily the weakest of the three.

Now, my game isn't modular the way you want yours to be. But I could easily make it so. I could easily throw out the magic system entirely (so long as I heavily tweaked the setting), and still have a functioning game. And the axioms would still matter, because there are a million others things you can do, and they all refer back to the three stats and the axioms. Remove physical combat? sure! You can still do everything else, and morality still matters. Even making a sword requires the axioms, because your intent will determine how well you do.

Which ties in to a comment I read above. You asked why morality should tie in to crafting. Think about your job in real life. Do you always agree with it 100%? I doubt you do, unless you are very privileged or lucky. Occasionally you have to do things you disagree with. If not, think of school, or anything in your life that you didn't agree with but had to do. Do you give it your all in those circumstances? Are you not the least but reluctant? Imagine a pacifist being forced to use his metalworking to make a sword he knows will be used by the military to kill people. He will not make it willingly, and if he is true to himself, he won't make it well, whether he wants to or not. It will happen on a sub-conscious level. That is why I think morality in a system should tie in to everything. But not for every system, just yours, mine, and egon's, because we all care about it to one extent or another.

Anyhow, I hope you find this all helpful, and believe me, I am not trying to goad you or upset you. If you like, let me know and I'll stop posting.

Cheers!
--Norm
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GnomeWorks
Member

Posts: 15


« Reply #53 on: April 10, 2009, 02:27:56 PM »

I really wish I knew how to do the quote box thing everyone here is doing. (maybe im just too lazy to look for the way to do it) Anyway, thanks for answering my questions.

There's a little quote button at the top-right of each post. If you hit that, it takes you to the posting page, with the entirety of what they said in a quote block.

To quote other people, type {quote author=name}, replacing { and } with [ and ]. After that, copy-paste what you want to reply to, then - after that - put {/quote}, again replacing { } with [ ].

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It seems you are using a rise and fall mechanic so that when one thing is used the other decreases. That is good. As long as the gains are equal to the losses, I see no problems. Then, a flat-out gain really represents something. But, given your thinking on the three options, I better understand why you resist option one developing into an an increase.

Right now, gains and losses are roughly equal; the lower a virtue's value, the faster it can increase or decrease.

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As for tying systems together and still making them modular, this is a problem I am running into with one of my games. Making modular systems is easy. Making modular systems that interact, or talk to one another, is another animal entirely. But it is possible. Here's the little bit of thought I've given it so far.

For the most part, the pieces don't *really* need to talk to each other... there is some kind of core that glues them all together, but - for the most part - why does the social encounter stuff need to talk to combat, or crafting? They're tangentially related, at best, and generally not at all.

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Bonuses. As long as one system talking with another is related to bonuses only, it doesn't matter if you remove a system, since the only thing that happens is you don't get the bonuses generated from that system.

Yep, which might be how the ethics stuff interacts with social combat.

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The only problem here comes from difficulty curves.

Only two aspects of the system generally deal with set target numbers; namely, crafting and the general skills system. Combat, for instance, is all opposed rolls. So if ethos impacts social combat via bonuses, then everybody gets them, so it's no big deal.

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As for the morality not tying in to the system to a larger degree, I think its a mistake. It seems to me like more than anything else, you want people to use this system. You want players to get "in character" and stay there. ... You have other systems you want to use, and this one is only tangentially connected at best. That means that a player could play your game and never encounter or want to encounter the morality system.

Yes, that's what I want. But that does not necessarily mean that anyone who picks up the game is going to want it.

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Now, I understand you want to not close off people. Noble goal, one I happen to be doing and support. But at some point, you have to decide which is more important, an engaging, sound system, or the 25 people of roleplaying sub-group x? If morality is as big a part of your game as it seems to be (and if its not, my point is moot) then it has to tie in to everything. ... If you make that the morality system, then everyone deals with it, and make everything else plug-and-play. Now you have a game that is always about morality, but can sometimes also be about combat, crafting, whatever. Whatever it is your game is most about should be the baseline system.

Why not grab both? The ethos system is an option, albeit a big one that impacts how the game is played - but in that sense it's no different from using the combat system, or completely ignoring the crafting system.

The whole point of modularity is to allow a group of players to decide what they want to play, and the point of scalability of complexity is to allow them to decide how they want to play it. The only exception to this should be the core, which should be the center upon which the rest of the subsystems are placed; in a sense, the core of the game will be very, very small, probably to the point where you'll need another subsystem to combine it with, or else it won't do much.

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As it stands, I would not be interested in your game. It seems to take to much effort to understand how every sub-system works and interacts, and the pros and cons of adding or dropping one. But if it had a morality framework like I am suggesting, I would be much more comfortable throwing out things I didn't want, or even spending the time to figure out how it all works, just because I had something to start with that was interesting to me: morality.

There is minimal interaction between subsystems, and it's designed to allow you to pick and choose. What more do you need to know about the combat subsystem, other than that it deals with combat? Does it interact with other subsystems - it might (it doesn't, but just for argument's sake, say you don't know). If you know that the system is designed to be modular, to allow you to pick up the pieces you want and ignore the rest - why is it so difficult to get rid of what you don't want?

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Now, my game isn't modular the way you want yours to be. But I could easily make it so. I could easily throw out the magic system entirely (so long as I heavily tweaked the setting), and still have a functioning game. And the axioms would still matter, because there are a million others things you can do, and they all refer back to the three stats and the axioms.

Why should the ethics subsystem be so different from the others that it becomes the core around which the game is built?

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Do you give it your all in those circumstances? Are you not the least but reluctant? Imagine a pacifist being forced to use his metalworking to make a sword he knows will be used by the military to kill people. He will not make it willingly, and if he is true to himself, he won't make it well, whether he wants to or not. It will happen on a sub-conscious level. That is why I think morality in a system should tie in to everything.

If something is worth doing, then you do it right.

In your pacifist example, he must not believe very much in pacifism, or else he would simply refuse to do the work on principle. But we could go on and on with this example, you providing reasons why he would despite his beliefs, and so on, and I'm not interested in that discussion. Suffice to say that I disagree with you on this topic.
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Ayyavazi
Member

Posts: 127


« Reply #54 on: April 12, 2009, 05:30:31 AM »

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There is minimal interaction between subsystems, and it's designed to allow you to pick and choose. What more do you need to know about the combat subsystem, other than that it deals with combat? Does it interact with other subsystems - it might (it doesn't, but just for argument's sake, say you don't know). If you know that the system is designed to be modular, to allow you to pick up the pieces you want and ignore the rest - why is it so difficult to get rid of what you don't want?

You are probably the kind of person is very comfortable reading a heading in a book like yours will be and saying, "Yeah, I don't want combat in my game, so I'll skip reading this section." Or maybe you don't mind reading a lot of stuff and then thinking about how it will work. But not everyone is like that, of course.

For example, what about completists? you know, those people who need to do everything you can do in a game just because they want to complete it? They are going to look at your system and either have the strength of will to put it all together, or they are going to say, "It doesn't feel right to not use system x, but its too complicated to include it all. Guess I'll go play Fudge or something." You are potentially closing off this group by virtue of having such an expansive system. But this can't be helped, really, because completists like me are odd, stubborn people. All I'm trying to show you is that you can't include everyone, no matter how hard you try. It simply isn't possible. Then again, if it is, it would probably take a tome of about 1000 pages, which means the book would probably cost close to 50 or 100 dollars. And I'll tell you right now, many people would not be interested in shelling out that kind of money for something they aren't sure is worth it.

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There is minimal interaction between subsystems, and it's designed to allow you to pick and choose. What more do you need to know about the combat subsystem, other than that it deals with combat? Does it interact with other subsystems - it might (it doesn't, but just for argument's sake, say you don't know). If you know that the system is designed to be modular, to allow you to pick up the pieces you want and ignore the rest - why is it so difficult to get rid of what you don't want?

I sort of answered this partially above. But as for why its so hard, let me throw out some imaginary numbers. Lets say your game has 10 systems. and each system takes between 10 and 50 pages to include. Now lets say that only half of your systems talk to one other system, so five talking pairs, possibly connected, however little they may be. This means I have to read 100 pages (minimum) to grasp all of the systems, then keep in mind the five pairs (roughly 50 of the 100 pages (minimum), and then decide what I'm going to throw out. Sure, this decision is based more on what I want my version of the game to be about, but lets say I adopt 6 of the systems, and use 2 pairs of interacting systems.

This means I am using a minimum of 60 pages of text, and 20-40 of them are going to be cross-referenced regularly in order to understand how my paired systems interact. This means plenty of page flipping, especially if I am unlucky enough to have chosen systems that aren't conveniently clumped together.

Now, lets say I get a group of 3 others together. Lets say I'm a really lucky guy and two of the other players have purchased and read the book. Lets go further and say I am super lucky and one of those two has previous experience with this game. What about person number 4? The guy who doesn't have a clue. How do I summarize those 60+ pages of work for him? How do I explain the way the systems I've chosen interact? And what happens if my luck has run out and he isn't willing to read the 60+ pages of material in order to understand it all? Or even if he did, how do we play the game without constantly flipping through the rule-book every 5 minutes to understand how system 2 works?

Now, once all those hurdles are cleared, how do we keep everyone in character? Every five minutes the new guy asks a question that breaks the flow, and then at best 3 people flip through their books frantically while he sits there bored out of his skull. And thats all assuming he is a simulationist of the type that would enjoy your game.

I'm not deriding you or your design. Believe me, I like what you are doing and will probably buy a copy when its all published (providing I can afford it. Try to keep it under $30, just for me?).

Thats the reason there has to be a clear indication of how to combine things, beyond it simply being, "well, its modular. just add what you want." Here's how I solved the above problem for one of the systems I am designing

I made a base. That is I said when I play my own game, here is what I am most likely to include, and here is how it works. Then I write it up as if it were the rules. Then, I re-write all the modules separately and explain how they interact in the example. Now, new players to the game can just play the example with minimal page-flipping (at least compared to the other method). And, everyone else trying to learn the game has an example framework they can work from to understand how to implement modules. You don't even have to make your example part of your publication (which would increase your page count and consequently your purchase price) you could just make it a free pdf that you get for purchasing the book.

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If something is worth doing, then you do it right.

You have this as a personal belief. I won't criticize that. On one level, I fully agree with you. But what it might be important to understand is that not all people think this way. In fact, if your defense against my argument is that statement, that means that that statement needs to be in your game somewhere. People need to know that as far as their characters are concerned, they will always have that philosophy, which explains why they do things they don't agree with at full potential.

I think few people honestly do everything they do right, whether they believe in it or not. They simply aren't that strong. You do. That's awesome. But since you aren't interested about the pacifism example (or I suspect any example), I'll go at it this way. What about people that want to be able to do things reluctantly? If they care enough to have their characters be so in depth that they can work against themselves on a sub-conscious level because of their beliefs. As is, your system doesn't allow this. Sure, it could be easily hacked with players giving their characters penalties based on their morality, but that's a weak solution really, since the system doesn't encourage it through rewards. If your system encourages such a penalty through a reward of some kind, people are more likely to do it. At least most people are. Some people don't need re-inforcement to do things. They will work because it is what they are supposed to do. Personally, I think most people need incentives, or they start doing shoddy work. Evidence: anything made by underpaid people versus the same thing made by well-paid people. Which product has the higher quality? If you really want your game to work in similar ways to the real world, at least in the sense of how ethics and morality influence our daily lives, then the system needs to be indicative of that. Otherwise, you alienate certain people.

I hope this answers your questions. As for your peers threatening to leave the project, would that be such a bad thing? I mean, would you be able to continue work on the project otherwise?  If you could go on without them, it may be worth it to try changing their minds a tad more. Explain how open-mindedness is part of your game, so it should probably be part of the design team too. Of course, taking advice from me on this topic may not be the best idea. I have shut off plenty of people to myself because I indicated they need to be more open-minded. There's a good reason I only have one or two good friends after all. Anyhow, I am looking forward to this game, and will at the very least buy a PDF of it when its out.

Cheers,

--Norm
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Daniel B
Member

Posts: 171

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« Reply #55 on: April 12, 2009, 07:56:28 AM »

Gnomeworks,

       I understand that you hate pawn stance; that's a pet peeve of mine too. On the other hand, you don't want the mechanics to force players to play out their characters' personalities. That's a contradiction: to make the players play a certain way without making them  :-S

The only other option I can see is to just encourage them to play as their characters' roles, i.e. nurture any interest they may have in adopting their characters' roles. However, for this to work, the players themselves must be willing to go at least half way.

Dan
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Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W


« Reply #56 on: April 16, 2009, 10:53:49 AM »

Ok, Gnomeworks, you want to watch interesting characters. Someone else starts playing in pawn stance. It's not about whether they are saying "my guy says he wants this" rather than "I want this", because you can cope with that kind of narration for physical actions, so what stops you thinking about it as a proper character?

Basically, you've said you don't care how the player sees it, so you don't really care what stance they are in, only that when watching them you can pretend that they are following a specific character. So what happens if they do something their character "would never do". Can't you just adjust your expectations to what the character actually does, and have people start to treat him differently? If his background and behaviour don't match, then anyone who knows his background will say things like "but he was such a good trainee in the monastery??", or something like that.

So if player expectation doesn't matter, only that you see a world of real characters, then that one player always plays crazy characters. Ones that have sudden breaks in behaviour because of inexplicable reasons (read out of game events). You can tell people that as far as all the characters are concerned, his guy will appear mental, and instead of doing it GM "voice from on-high", do it through NPCs.

This is control by feedback, and it is just as hardcore as rules based control, but more flexible. It is as hardcore because when someone says, "My guy is going to steal from his neighbour" even though he is supposedly his trusting friend for years, you play all the in character results of this. The game runs remorselessly on, with him beginning to get a reputation for being untrustworthy. Perhaps his neighbour will forgive him, perhaps he will need to understand before he will trust him again. You get the idea. In-character based feedback encourages in-character based decision making, or something that looks like it. If it doesn't, then it will be abundantly clear that their characters are incompatible and they will give up on it, just because they aren't getting what they want. On the other hand, if they work with it they will be playing as they want without the rules playing their character's decisions for them. In other words, you could want a strong reputation/social identity mechanic.

I've also explored rules-influenced characters, via mind control rules or later when considering epic flawed heroes. The idea is that people can challenge the portrayal and turn it into something different, but the advantage that the owner player has over any other is that they can say why they do their thing. It allows them to veto roll-offs for their characters intentions by adding personality traits. In this way the rules are the players weapon to play the way they want to. It works, but not for everything! It can really annoy people who just want to show their character though play and not through description on a sheet. And it can slow down stuff so much if your not careful.

Secondly you mentioned not wanting to know the response of an NPC, and have "them" tell you. You do realise that to truly do that you need to invent artificial life? Tongue Until then what you have is a system to inspire you.

You've probably heard enough about how characters are just numbers on a sheet. I disagree, characters are mental and social constructs, which we try to make coherent between different people's imaginations, if not exactly the same. This is that an objective of creating a shared imaginary space, and we use paper, pens and conventions to help us do that, among other things. But nevertheless, the generation method, the process occurs inside a human being, as an extension of the processes that we do when expressing our own personality. You cannot remove the people from it until you invent strong AI !
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chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #57 on: April 16, 2009, 04:00:04 PM »

Is this a bad time to point out that any one persons understanding of another being is also exists in their head, basedf on their interpretation of what they have excperienced relative to said person? So fiction or not, when talking about a third party, the experience can be very much the same if you let it be.

For instance in actual play I have made up characters co-workers and relations, and talked about them in a consistant enough way that players were surprised to discover the characters weren't created by someone else with authorial credibility. In RL we would clal this lying about someone existing I suppose.

My point being that while a ton of personality type stats can help the GM be more true to the given setting, and creative, including by providing results they wouldn't have choosen and thus freeing them from the sensation that they are choosing every little detail of a situation that all the people in a game have to find a way to let the other characters come alive in their minds. You can't force it, but if you can't do it yourself you need to learn the trick that will help you.

I myself use a simple few techniques: my NPCs don't always do the smart thing, know everything, or explain why they did anything. I just drop the signs hinting at why they might have done so. A little silence lets the players fill in the world, and if they want to know more they interact with the NPC to find it out.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #58 on: April 16, 2009, 04:06:19 PM »

Ok, Gnomeworks, you want to watch interesting characters. Someone else starts playing in pawn stance. It's not about whether they are saying "my guy says he wants this" rather than "I want this", because you can cope with that kind of narration for physical actions, so what stops you thinking about it as a proper character?

Umm, maybe becuase its not a proper character?

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Basically, you've said you don't care how the player sees it, so you don't really care what stance they are in, only that when watching them you can pretend that they are following a specific character. So what happens if they do something their character "would never do".

Why would they do that.  Explain.

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Can't you just adjust your expectations to what the character actually does, and have people start to treat him differently? If his background and behaviour don't match, then anyone who knows his background will say things like "but he was such a good trainee in the monastery??", or something like that.

Yes; but that leads to a game-breaking conclusion: all PC's are mad.

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So if player expectation doesn't matter, only that you see a world of real characters, then that one player always plays crazy characters.

Worse, from my perspective: ALL players play crazy characters.  Thus actual play devolves to: a day out for the insane asylum.

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Ones that have sudden breaks in behaviour because of inexplicable reasons (read out of game events). You can tell people that as far as all the characters are concerned, his guy will appear mental, and instead of doing it GM "voice from on-high", do it through NPCs.

..which therefore becomes GM constraint.

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This is control by feedback, and it is just as hardcore as rules based control, but more flexible.

It is not more flexible it is crude.  If the player wanted to be "a traitorous bastard", why did they not take that as  a trait at the outset and thus allow th GM to plan accordingly?

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You get the idea. In-character based feedback encourages in-character based decision making, or something that looks like it.

And in-characer definition allows the GM to plan for the practical eventualities.  I fail to see how any of this justifies blind-siding the GM.

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Secondly you mentioned not wanting to know the response of an NPC, and have "them" tell you. You do realise that to truly do that you need to invent artificial life? Tongue Until then what you have is a system to inspire you.

Yes.  That does not, however, invalidate the point.

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You cannot remove the people from it until you invent strong AI !

And you can't remove the rules from it until you remove the people.  QED.
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GnomeWorks
Member

Posts: 15


« Reply #59 on: April 16, 2009, 04:54:01 PM »

Quote from: Ayyavazi
You are probably the kind of person is very comfortable reading a heading in a book like yours will be and saying, "Yeah, I don't want combat in my game, so I'll skip reading this section." Or maybe you don't mind reading a lot of stuff and then thinking about how it will work. But not everyone is like that, of course.

That's not how the system is set up, in terms of where things are.

Right now, the idea is that there is a core, with very basic and simple mechanics for each of the primary subsystems. Then, each subsystem has its own book, that adds detail and depth and such.

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They are going to look at your system and either have the strength of will to put it all together, or they are going to say, ...

It's not that hard to put the pieces together. Combat is largely independent of social encounter mechanics; they're designed that way, so that the system is modular.

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Now lets say that only half of your systems talk to one other system, so five talking pairs, possibly connected, however little they may be.

This is a hefty overestimation. We're trying to keep subsystem crosstalk to a minimum, to avoid exactly the problem you're talking about here.

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If they care enough to have their characters be so in depth that they can work against themselves on a sub-conscious level because of their beliefs. As is, your system doesn't allow this. Sure, it could be easily hacked with players giving their characters penalties based on their morality, but that's a weak solution really, since the system doesn't encourage it through rewards. If your system encourages such a penalty through a reward of some kind, people are more likely to do it.

I'm not interested in this kind of internal drama. It is sometimes interesting, yes, but honestly, this is getting into what my co-developers and I call "carbohydrate land" - named such because I was meandering down the path, one day, of dealing with food's nutritional values in-game. This was rapidly deemed a bad call, because (1) it's too ridiculous, and (2) way too complex.

Trying to get into varying levels of consciousness in a character may be heading down that path. Perhaps there is something that could be done - contrasting conscious virtues to subconscious, for instance - but that would rapidly spiral into absurdity.

At some point, a line must be drawn.

Quote from: ShallowThoughts
The only other option I can see is to just encourage them to play as their characters' roles, i.e. nurture any interest they may have in adopting their characters' roles. However, for this to work, the players themselves must be willing to go at least half way.

Reliance upon the player to do what they're supposed to do is not a thing that I want to do. While most players will not try to game the system, I tend to envision the worst possible group ever conceived when it comes to that sort of thing, and try to envision ways to stop them from doing things "wrong," as it were.

Quote from: JoyWriter
This is control by feedback, and it is just as hardcore as rules based control, but more flexible.

You may think so. I disagree. I want these things dealt with at the systemic level, not the instance (read: individual game) level. Some GMs are going to be pushovers, and you need to account for that.

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Secondly you mentioned not wanting to know the response of an NPC, and have "them" tell you. You do realise that to truly do that you need to invent artificial life? Tongue Until then what you have is a system to inspire you.

This reminds me a lot of the whole "how can you care about realism when there are dragons that breathe fire etc etc" arguments that arise when someone talks about wanting realism in a game.

Yes, I realize that in order to have NPCs completely and utterly inform me of their actions, that would require artificial intelligence. This is an obvious thing to say. The point was that I want NPCs to give me an idea of what they want to do.
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