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Author Topic: [Ex Deus] System: Simple, Fast, Intuitive, Universal, Compelling  (Read 8578 times)
Thunder_God
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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2009, 11:09:48 AM »

I have to agree with Lance, and I thought so before as well, regarding Social Combat.

I am actually not enthralled with the "Back and forth" since, well, there's no randomness in it.

To put it another way, I'm fine with something not being random, but a cyclical action that is not random? I think we call that "Repetitive" or even "Tedious".
Suppose we are either equal in our scores or nearly equal, so that each round of the respondent's ends with "0" or with something low, like "2" to me, so after you reply you only have 6, but I have 2 again, doesn't really matter.
You use Rock, I use Paper, you use Scissors, I use Rock, etc.
Until someone reaches Charisma 0. Where is the interest in that?

Or, suppose I am stronger than you, and each round I manage to return, but get a bigger lead. Like you begin with a 10, I get 12, you then get an 8(to my 2 left over), I get an 11, suppose, now I'm 5 ahead, and so we keep going.
Again, not really interesting.

I think like in physical combat there needs to be some value to what happens in each round, like that physical harm you're left with? So that if I keep the argument going, when I'm behind, I have to pay something for it, or that there'd be a way (perhaps with a price?) to have the discussion end early. But as a player, why do I want to keep the discussion going? If I'm stronger, I just want to win, if I'm weaker, why drag it on till I actually fail to reply? And if we're equal, I'd just like to cut it out.

The one thing I do seem to get is the "RP", whereas we describe what we do for each roll, but if that's not actually RPed in detail, and just described in a telegraph manner, than I, at least, may find it less than interesting.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Alex Abate Biral
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Posts: 22


« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2009, 11:29:55 AM »

Hi there, Garbados! First, let me say that your system seems interesting. But it is very hard to provide any kind of real feedback before you answer these questions properly:

(...)
As for my initial question: Your answers are kind of vague and not insightful. What do you use this game for at home? How does your group play this game? If you haven't played it, then tell me how they play in general.

-L

When I first started reading here, the questions "What is your game about? What's it's core goal? What's its premise?" seemed weird. I didn't understand what it meant at all, and was confused when I saw it posted in a first thoughts thread. Hopefully I understand them now well enough to help you (but I might be wrong! Luke, if this isn't what you meant, feel free to correct me).

You see, when you play an role playing game, that game is about something. There is a point to play, a pattern of play that is repeated so that the game accomplishes its purpose (whatever it is). The problem with this is that this is usually something not discussed per se. Usually, people just assume that other people will play with the same objectives as themselves. By understanding what is the point of playing, however, you will better be able to discern what design decisions help you. So, let's start with your own initial answers to these questions:

(...)

About: playing in a compelling story, whatever that is and wherever it takes place.
Goal: facilitate realistic gameplay through simple, easy to learn rules with hard to master implications.
Premise: you want to play a game. Additionally, you may...
  • Be new to roleplaying and want something simple and intuitive.
  • Be an experienced roleplayer looking for more gameplay depth / realism.
  • Be a GM who prefers campaigns outside the bounds of most systems, either by setting, mood, or theme.

Ok, you say that your system is about creating a compelling story. First, it is important to understand that the story in an rpg isn't a transcript of what happens in play. It is what is happening, moment from moment. It is the ideas of the various players (I include GM as a player too) flowing back and forth forming a tale in a imaginary space (people around here call that space SiS). RPGs are histories that are interactive, it is a dialog between everyone at the table, slowly forming some kind of history. If you take the tale people just told in a game and transcribe it to paper, the story just created may well be devoid of any quality. However, the people playing the story may find it fun, because the good parts of the story were in the interactive part of it.

So, what I am trying to say is, that in a way or another, all rpgs are about creating compelling stories (for some definition of story, anyway). What you need to define is what kind, what shape of interactive story you want to tell. How do the players' conversation shape up the story? I am sure you know the answer to this, but maybe you only know it in your guts. You need to make these thoughts overt. So, take some time to determine how the players would go about constructing the story. For example, when players are creating their characters, how much effect are they having in the story? If they create a city as part of their character's background, will the city be used during play? Will it depend on a GM's decision alone?

Next, you say that your game's goal is "facilitate realistic gameplay through simple, easy to learn rules with hard to master implications.". This already hints on some types of story! Realistic gameplay can mean a lot of things, but I will assume that you mean that the flow of the story should depend on the elements present on the imaginary space. But then, how does this affect the players? With enough rules, you could basically do a realistic RPG that plays itself (no input from the players, the system decides everything). So, I ask, how much voice does the system has by itself? The "with hard to master implications." part of your phrase is another hint. It hints that you want that people have a say in the story somewhat proportional to their mastery of the system. Is that right? Or would you rather have the players in a more equal footing?

Finally, on the premise part, you mention both new and experienced players. Suppose this scenario: you have a table with experienced players who re already good with the combat and new players who are just starting. Do you want the more experienced players to have more say in the game (at least in the combat parts) than the new players? Should competitiveness between the players play some role in there? For example, you have two players. One still doesn't get the combat well enough. The other is a pro, and because of that, in the story, the second player's character is always showing up the other player's. Should competitiveness move the first player to get a better understanding of the system? Should there be something else in there o give the first player a hand? Should there be a companionship spirit between the players so that the second player will help the first? If so, how does the game goes about creating such spirit? Should such help only happen in the real world, or would it be mirrored in "some way" into the fictitious space?

Sorry for the long post and the lot of questions, but these questions are important in determining what is best for a game. Maybe they may seem weird to you. You are creating a generic system, and thus may think that it should be up to the players (or maybe just the GM) to answer these for his game (I know I did when I was thinking about yet another GURPS clone). However, as soon as your system is more than a list of nouns, as soon as you add rules to determine how things happen in the imagined space, you begin to restrict some of these answers. For example, you mention that Stats grow as you use them. Then, in any story the characters must grow to overcome some challenge, then they must use this mechanic a lot. Should this figures prominently in the story? Should only use through play count, or can a player simply decide his character practices with his sword for a week? Is stat growth a reward for the characters? If so, what does the bigger numbers mean for him? Is it just bigger numbers, or do these move play in a certain way?

Well, thanks for reading this through. I hope this helps in some way.
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SAW
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2009, 12:45:09 PM »

This thread makes me wonder.. what could you do to make a luckless system interesting?

Nobilis manages it, but the sacrifice is that the mechanics of your stats aren't all that important--its not even remotely gamist.

I'd personally be hugely interested in a luckless system that somehow managed to keep the conflicts interesting/engaging, but I'm not at all sure how to do it myself. It seems like it would have to be done through the fluff, since there'd be no excitement as to whether or not you'd win.
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2009, 01:57:20 PM »

There would be excitement through story, which is not the same as fluff.

If you combine blind-planning, as Luke I think mentioned above, and as he'd done in his game, then the combat would be be more "blind", and more exciting.
If, for the Social Combat, where there are no manuevers, you'd add ramifications to every "round", like if someone wins that round, something happens (DitV is a way there), and if you lose, or if you tie, you got to bring something extra (this is what the little I know of TrollBabe <I>sounded</I> like to me), then it'd actually make it more interesting.

You need to make not only the results of the whole thing interesting, IMO, but each "bout" interesting. Games using dice or cards do this by adding randomness, so you are "betting" on each and every roll. But if it is luckless, then you need to do it another way, either by the decision-making (for Combat, if the manuevers are blind), or by the results, in a social context.

But to be honest, for the social context, you'll still need more. It's not random, and unless I keep throwing in traits I don't know your ratings at, it becomes "known". If I know what your three skills are, I can throw in Art, as in the example, and once I know what your Art is, that's not interesting either.
I would make things change a bit when one decides to go another round after tie or being beaten, some way in which things would change. But then, either you make it the same change every time, also removing the interest and making it known, or you add in the randomness you don't want.

Hm. Sorry for the rambling, but the only way I can think of now, is to have it be, the Social Combat at least, "One Round Sudden Death." Either Side A wins, or Side B wins, and if there's a "tie", make it have an interesting effect still. Have there be no repetition, no second chances, and no "meaningless results". If I fail to convince you, it must have an effect, a real one.

My 4 cents.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
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Garbados
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« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2009, 01:29:22 AM »

Hoo! Lots to go over.

Thanks Alex Abate Biral for clarifying Luke's questions. Sorry Luke, that I didn't understand them very well, and thus had difficulty answering. Another friend of mine also clarified them for me, so I'll give it another shot:

1.) "What is Ex Deus about?" Many systems answer this question with "samurai", "zombies", or "medieval fantasy". Ex Deus is about /anything/. I designed it to allow my outlandish campaigns to manifest easily, freely, like rivers from mountain snowpacks. Its realistic bent helps guide these outlandish ideas into more intuitive forms, so that crafted worlds more resemble real ones and thus so players can more easily read into them.

2.) "What is Ex Deus' goal?" To foster compelling storytelling through thought-provoking realism. "Thought-provoking" is the critical thing here: Ex Deus' realism should make real-world knowledge more applicable in the game-world. Wearing a breastplate into a gunbattle makes as much sense in Ex Deus as it does in real life -- that is to say, it doesn't. Bullets will tear through your armor and you will only be hampered by its weight. But history also finds a place with Ex Deus: as of TL4 (medieval), it makes the most sense for heavy infantry to be well-armored and carry heavy weapons to hack through the under-armed foe-fodder and resist the blows of other knights, but as of TL5 (Renaissance) guns deflower this strategy, and even heavy breastplates remain only marginally useful (though slow reload times mean skirmishers still see plenty of use). By TL6 and TL7, soldiers do not wear armor: guns make it pointless. As it is in real life, so it is in Ex Deus. How? Not because the rules forbid non-historical warfare, but because the models make such development make the most sense, just as it did in human history. Maybe if a civilization developed stronger alloys earlier, armor could have kept pace with firearm development, and melee infantry would have seen much more use than they did. I want players to think in terms of reality rather than in game terms, but quantify it in a gamist-friendly manner. I don't want to force players to have a thoroughly-developed story, since a good hack-and-slash every now and then is just dandy, but I want the transparency of the rules to foster story development through the sheer ease of the system's use.

3.) "What is Ex Deus' premise?" I am still really unclear on this question, but in answer to Alex's inquiries pertaining to it, I want the players (GM included) to determine the game's nature. Player cooperation, competition, and other interactions should not be commanded or influenced by the system at all. Ex Deus should be completely neutral on the subject: it will help you tell your story, but never tell you how to tell it. Players who are new to the system will have a natural disadvantage like anyone new to a system, but Ex Deus does its best to shorten and diminish this disadvantage through its realism and simplicity. Once the new player understands how Ex Deus correlates to reality, they should be able to intuit 90% of the rest. Experienced players will be experienced because they understand a bit about how the world works on a larger scale, and where Ex Deus differs from reality for whatever reason. But a new player who understands either games or reality will have a natural edge and overcome the learning curve much faster than someone completely in the dark about both.

And at anyone wondering about social combat or fostering more "blind" play, I've got a couple new models for how both could work more effectively. I'll post them once I have the time, which may or may not be sometime Thursday.
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Mike Sugarbaker
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« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2009, 07:39:18 AM »

You say Ex Deus is about anything, but every time you go into detail, all you're talking about is combat, tactics, and details of war. You should at least be saying Ex Deus is about anything that has combat in it. But really you're still missing the point of the question. We aren't looking for the answer "it's about any subject matter!" any more than we're looking for "it's about zombies!" Subject matter isn't what your game is about either way.

Whether you intend it to or not, your game will end up taking a position on what violent conflict has to do with story. We want to know what that position is - that will tell us what your game is about. Is it about killing things and taking their stuff? Is it about carefully safeguarding yourself against harm? Is it about the slippery slope into chaos and deterioration (and yes, that can be fun)? If you don't know, it's time to know. Making conscious decisions about this, and everything else, is what makes you a designer.
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Luke
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« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2009, 07:45:54 AM »

Garba,

I'm going to say some provocative stuff. Please take it in the helpful spirit it is intended.

1) Your game is not realistic. Based on what you've shown me, it is no more realistic than D&D or GURPS. Realism is a false idol. No roleplaying game is realistic. Yours will not be the first to achieve realism. Your game is a systematization of how you would like to see certain gamplay elements resolved. Your game is a spotlight on what you see as important in a RPG.

2) As a demonstration of the lack of realism in your game, you've devolved a very complex and nuanced cultural development into a series of derivative classifications -- derived from GURPS and Traveller, which are not realistic. To wit, there were plenty of breastplates all the way up through Napoleon's era that could stop a musket ball. They were heavy and expensive, but they did provide protection. But this is a red herring. Rooting your quest for realism in the representation of melee, bloodshed and murder is doomed to fail. One, you're not cutting any new ground. Hundreds, if not thousands, of systems have done the same before you. And furthermore, accurate representation of violence does not realism make.

But you also say you want story development in addition to your realism. Narrative fiction or the structure thereof is not realistic. Life doesn't have rising action, climax and denoument. Those are artificial constructions imposed on events by our story-hungry minds. So which is it? Will your game tell a story or will it let players sit around watch television, play X-box or wait for Costco to open? Perhaps there'll be a diaper changing mechanic for realisms sake?

3) Premise is what I'm driving at. You say you want the GM and players to determine the game's nature? No you don't. You want the game to be a realistic, fact-driven, choice-driven game that drives storytelling. That's your premise. It's untenable, but it's a start. Your game CAN NOT BE NEUTRAL in this. You,as the designer, have an opinion. You are going to design with certain preferences in mind. You cannot incorporate the entire scope of the wide, wide world into your game. You must focus on something. Better to admit it now and make an evocative, interesting game that showcases your viewpoint, than make a bland, boring game that sits meekly in the corner because it's too timid to express an opinion.

-L
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2009, 08:42:31 AM »

Quote
Premise is what I'm driving at. You say you want the GM and players to determine the game's nature? No you don't. You want the game to be a realistic, fact-driven, choice-driven game that drives storytelling. That's your premise. It's untenable, but it's a start. Your game CAN NOT BE NEUTRAL in this. You,as the designer, have an opinion. You are going to design with certain preferences in mind. You cannot incorporate the entire scope of the wide, wide world into your game. You must focus on something. Better to admit it now and make an evocative, interesting game that showcases your viewpoint, than make a bland, boring game that sits meekly in the corner because it's too timid to express an opinion.

THIS. This right here. This is the hardest lesson you've got to learn right now. I wish someone had said it this clearly when I was stating the exact same goals you are. Maybe someone did, and I was too stupid stubborn to realize it. Once I finally got it, I put the game away and didn't touch it for years, out of dismay.

I remember telling Mike Holmes that I wanted people to be able to play farmers if they wanted to. Looking back, I realize I didn't. If someone played my game and posted a play report about how their characters were statted up as farmers and blacksmiths, and they played a deep social and farming simulation game that never included a bit of adventure, excitement or life threatening peril, I'd be frustrated, wondering how they missed the point. I wanted the players to be able to create a farmer who got swept away into an adventure. I want players to stake claims on their futures, then march forth and make it theirs.

It's still very hard to articulate the premise of my game, so I understand your difficulty.

You don't want the players and GM to decide what your game is about. You want them to decide to play your game. Yes, they'll never play it exactly the way you would, but the closer your game can get them to your vision (and believe me, there's some very compelling stuff in what you've described) the better your game will be.

Also, regarding realism: What I mean when I say realism is actually "internal consistency". The effects of events and decisions in the game should make sense in the context of everything else that happens, and the players' expectations. If you make a Dragon Ball Z game, it's "realistic" to be able to leap into the air, and not come back to ground until you feel like it. It makes sense that the next step beyond Black Belt is Kamehameha Wave. In your game, it's realistic that armor is impractical once firearms become popular. Explain your logic to the point that you're comfortable, but never, ever assume that what you call "realism" is the same as what any potential player will call realism. I've met very sensible men who've claimed that a katana can cut through a car door like it's nothing, and that you can bend the blade over until the tip touches the handle, and it'll snap back without warping. This is "realistic" to them. It's a far better thing to aim for consistency than realism.
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Garbados
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« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2009, 11:01:04 AM »

Wow! Now that's some feedback. I think I understand, but it's all still kind of fuzzy up there. Luke, Lance, Mike: thank you for your no-nonsense advice. These are hard lessons, but you're right, I should learn them early and learn them well. So, let's give this another try:

1.) Ex Deus is about conflict. Again, that sounds bland, but as mentioned, I put a lot of effort into the combat system. Moreover, the skill list is full of things specially bent to have conflict applications. Although players can take Art and just sit around and paint forever, I don't want them to. They could have done that until the game began, but once the campaign starts, their artistic abilities take on a new and necessary nature. Their knowledge of art enhances their investigatory powers -- "That statue, it's [X]. This is a Church of [Y]. I thought they were only myths..." -- and their ability to weave social criticism through unexpected ways -- "This painting here, see how it illustrates the clash of [X] and [Y], oblivious to [Z]. Seems I recall a similar conflict somewhere else..." -- among other abilities... such as producing art for money.

2.) Its goal is complex, involved conflict. Political intrigue, racial tension, theological division; the rise of civilizations, the fall of empires, the birth and chaos of new frontiers; battlefield melee, trench warfare, cloak-and-dagger, games of thrones, all the way down to a dungeoneering hack-and-slash, which although not that sophisticated, is too much a staple of this style of roleplaying to leave out. I want it to be involved through the understanding the players have about the consequences of their choices: it is by their intelligent play that they survive and progress. The dice will never deliver victory. Only they can. Additionally, the foibles of the characters ought enhance involvement: the Compulsion/Willpower mechanic forces players to make value decisions: indulge the character's psyche for more number-buffing willpower, or sacrifice it to fulfill the character's real priorities.

3.) As Luke stated so aptly, Ex Deus' premise is that...
Quote from: Luke
You want the game to be a realistic, fact-driven, choice-driven game that drives storytelling.

I hope that better answers the questions. I fear I may have gotten "about" and "goal" backwards, but at least I'm heading in the right direction?

PS: heavy, expensive, bullet-stopping breastplate is very possible in Ex Deus and pretty feasible at TL5, but the amount of resources necessary to produce bullet-stopping armor rises exponentially until TL8, when modern alloys like kevlar and titanium make it possible again.
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Luke
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« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2009, 11:38:57 AM »

Now we're getting somewhere.

1) Your game is about conflict? My game is about conflict, too. What a coincidence. Well, that's not entirely true. My game is about fighting for what you believe.

REAL conflict is scary, is hard, is emotional. All of those things drive 99% of roleplayers batty. It's too risky and it makes us crazy. Best way to survive a conflict in an RPG? Either avoid it or nuke it from orbit. Conflicts cause you to lose resources -- like hitpoints or even your ability to play the game at all. So how is your game about conflict? Having rules through which characters can fight or argue does not make your game ABOUT conflict. Because the behavior at the table -- the players -- are going to take the path of least resistance. So if conflict is the path of least resistance either it's too easy and there's not enough at risk or everything else in your game is so fucking frustrating that the players are just punching their way through a conflict secrely hoping that their character will die so they'll be done for the night.

2) Those are all great goals, but your game can't do all of them meaningfully. Okay, it can, but then it's GURPS or BRP and if your game is GURPS or BRP, why wouldn't I just play those games?

Consequences. My game is also about the consequences for fighting for what you believe. Another coincidence! My game involves making informed choices, too. Am I shilling for my game? No, I'm telling you that your concept can work with refinement.

2a) you've got to have shape to all of those conflicts. Each one of those things that you listed is a grand set of very different factors. If you want players to make informed, intelligent, insightful choices, you've got to give them a set of interesting options.

2b) Speak to me of this Compulsion mechanic. How does one sacrifice to fulfill "real priorities?"

3) Right, and I'm saying that your premise is weak. Already, in your responses to me in this thread, you're abandoning realism and focusing on choices and consequences. In real life, we don't get to make meaningful choices that have a grand effect. We simply live our lives. Realism is boring. You're obviously looking for more than realism.

Lance gave you the answer to this before you were ready. You're looking for a game with internal consistency and a feedback mechanism to back it up -- there is a right way and a wrong way and when a player does one or the other, the game produces results consistent with the choice.

-Luke
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Garbados
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« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2009, 02:02:53 AM »

Quote from: Luke
REAL conflict is scary, is hard, is emotional.

And I want it that way. I want Ex Deus to get players to make those hard decisions and emotional choices, and to face the scary and the unknown. But I want it to be thrilling and intimidating all at once. And as for the times when it might kill you, you want to know how you survive? Stay on your toes. The dice will neither damn you nor save you, because there are no dice. Only you can deliver yourself to safety, but if you stay smart and stay sharp, you will deliver yourself. (GMs can also adjust the difficulty of campaigns for different play groups and levels of experience. This is not hard.)

Quote from: Luke
2) Those are all great goals, but your game can't do all of them meaningfully. Okay, it can, but then it's GURPS or BRP and if your game is GURPS or BRP, why wouldn't I just play those games?

Because GURPS is slow and complicated and awful. Like I said in my first post, I want Ex Deus to do a lot of what GURPS does already, but do it faster, more simply, and more intuitively. And to foster more compelling conflicts than GURPS' simulationist obsession is like to do. While GURPS allows you to play a campaign as mundane and bizarre as one of warring bureaucrats, I could care less about such a playstyle. Until werewolves invade the building and only the strongest of the sickly bureaucratic bunch survives, theirs is a boring tale. GURPS boasts a huge number of skills available, but for most campaigns most of them will be utterly useless or simply out-of-scope, thus putting pressure on the GM to screen GURPS' rules before the campaign ever begins to make it appropriate for his needs. As far as I'm concerned, that's pretty terrible. Ex Deus is built to 1.) solve those problems 2.) be faster and friendlier to new players without alienating the experienced 3.) not use dice, because a friend dared me to do it like that and I fell in love with the concept. So to get more specific about Ex Deus' about/goal/premise, just read it as "whatever GURPS does, only faster and higher octane."

Quote from: Luke
2a) you've got to have shape to all of those conflicts.

Do I? If you're telling me I'll need to come up with rules for political intrigue, then no, I refuse, because Ex Deus isn't about telling the players how to play. I want Ex Deus to work with any setting and the vast majority of plots, and I want it to lead them towards certain kinds of stories -- specifically the ones that, once written after the campaign ends, will sell well -- but it should never tell them about the kind of story they should be telling. Christ, if players could find a way to make bureaucracy into a compelling campaign, holy hell, more power to them. Until that campaign is compelling, though, I don't care for it. But trusting that GMs and players alike are crafty individuals, more crafty than I, I will not forbid them that possibility. I won't tell them "you can't do bureaucrats, because bureaucrats will never be interesting," but I won't cater to what will easily tend towards the mundane and boring. Moreover, forbidding them that means I have to write more rules, and staring at Ex Deus right now, it has everything I need it to have, which is also everything I imagine any other competent GM will require to pick it up, teach it, and run a campaign with it. The rest is campaign suggestions, GMing tips, and rules documentation written for readability (also playtesting).

Quote from: Luke
2b) Speak to me of this Compulsion mechanic. How does one sacrifice to fulfill "real priorities?"

Compulsions are like GURPS' disadvantages, but they are their own reinforcement mechanic. When I ran GURPS, I had a lot of problems with players taking disadvantages and then forgetting they had them, or taking disads that were hard to roleplay or difficult for me to account for. A character has bad dreams? Thanks, now I have to write you a nightmare every time you sleep and look up the rules for losing sleep. Thanks, player. So instead, Ex Deus features a self-reinforcing disadvantage system: compulsions. Compulsions are facets of character personality that demand indulgence: charitableness, greed, lust, paranoia, pacifism, etc. Whenever a player indulges one of his character's compulsions, he earns a willpower, which can be spent to give some numerical bonus to an attempt, or 2 can be used to resist indulging a compulsion when you would otherwise be required. So, say Bob is greedy. He'll do just about anything for coin, and gets a willpower whenever he does something that is obviously a bad idea only because he's getting paid. But say someone offers him a hefty sum to kill his own mother: he'd have to spend willpower to resist indulging and being forced to murder her. So, not only would he not gain willpower from indulging, but he would lose willpower from having refused to indulge. Thus, players develop their characters in order to gain willpower, and this development holds them to resisting indulgence when it matters. The downside to this is that things which cannot be indulged, like broken legs, fall into the category of Flaws, which are only useful at character genesis, where a small number of them can be taken to purchase more Traits like allies, connections, or ambidexterity. Thereafter, flaws are 100% detrimental, with no mechanical benefit whatsoever. So when you decide to leap from the third story of a burning building, you'd better make sure there aren't any better alternatives, because those broken legs sure aren't any kind of plus.

Quote from: Luke
You're obviously looking for more than realism.

You're right. In my first post, in Ex Deus' guiding virtues (AKA design priorities), realism was not one of them. "Universal" and "Intuitive" were, though, and I found the best way to achieve both of these was to make a system which worked on models that imitated something like reality. But that realism was only a tool towards intuitive and universal gameplay. Where realism conflicted with them, I threw realism to the wind.

Quote from: Luke
You're looking for a game with internal consistency and a feedback mechanism to back it up -- there is a right way and a wrong way and when a player does one or the other, the game produces results consistent with the choice.

Pretty much.

Quote from: Lance
Interesting dynamic on the social combat.

I reworked social combat to be 1.) faster 2.) more blind. Social combat is resolved in one round, as follows:
Character 1 makes his argument, with notes on any non-social skills that should also be added.
GM picks two of the five social skills to represent his argument.
Character 2 makes his argument, with notes on any non-social skills that should also be added.
GM picks two of the five social skills to represent his argument.
Resolve: Character 1's "Charisma + Skill 1 + Skill 2 + Misc." vs. Character 2's "Charisma + Skill 1 + Skill 2 + Misc."
Winner is the higher of the two values. Tie if equal.
Five social skills:
  • Empathy: reading people and understanding their emotions or dispositions, especially so as to play off of them. 2x vs. Expression, Investigation
  • Expression: control of body language. Used to express sincerity, honesty, etc. whether you really hold them or not. 2x vs. Conversation, Rhetoric
    • Rhetoric: command of argumentative logic and the methods for it execution and application. 2x vs. Empathy, Investigation
    • Conversation: used to play down arguments and other statements, hiding them within the guise of other messages. 2x vs. Empathy, Rhetoric
      • Investigation: reading clues from what is said, or unsaid, in addition to other clues. 2x vs. Expression, Conversation

        Hope that improves on the last version.

        Holy hell it's late. I'm off to bed, guys. Thanks again for reading and offering your always-invaluable feedback.
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Fatespinner
Member

Posts: 17


« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2009, 06:23:17 AM »

Ex Deus is a diceless RPG system intended to fulfill the following virtues:
  • Simple
    The rules should be easy to pick up, but challenging to master.
  • Compelling
    The rules should foster intriguing gameplay.
  • Intuitive
    The rules should make sense.
  • Fast
    The rules should never slow down gameplay.
  • Universal
    The rules should bar no setting nor campaign concept.

That sounds nice, but your combat rules seem to be far from simple and intuitive. They require a lot of math in the beginning and are far from simple to get. It really looks a lot like GURPS or nWoD. Also do you advantages and disadvantages have special rules to them or do all advanatges and disadvantages work the same way?
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Luke
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Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


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« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2009, 06:29:21 AM »

If you're telling me I'll need to come up with rules for political intrigue, then no, I refuse, because Ex Deus isn't about telling the players how to play.

I laughed out loud when I read this. What exactly is a game then? You are making a game, right? There will be instructions with the game, right?

You're grandstanding, Your whole post is idealistic and defensive. Why? Your game doesn't do any of things you claim you want it to do. It can and it might, but it doesn't right now. I encourage you to bash out a design doc and playtest it as much as you can. Playing games is the best way to develop them.

The compulsions are a good start, btw. But they encourage one note play and are punitive. That's not my favorite method of being compelled.

Good luck!
-Luke
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Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


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« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2009, 07:00:27 AM »

I did something similar to your compulsions. I'm basically 100% sure I stole it whole-cloth from some other game (it may have been Burning Wheel, come to think...) and rebranded it, but I think it'll do good things for my game.

Characters get traits during character creation. They are colored as good or bad, but the mechanics are identical either way.

If you can call on a trait in a way that makes sense and would be beneficial to the character, you get a small bonus to a roll, or affect the fiction in some beneficial way.

If you can call on a trait in a way that makes sense and would be detrimental to the character, you get a small penalty to a roll, or affect the fiction in some negative way. If you choose to call on a trait in a negative way, you get a small XP reward.

The important thing is that the penalty is player choice. It's not inflicted on him by the GM. The GM can suggest that a given situation would be an appropriate time to use a trait, but he doesn't force it on the player.

Now, I don't necessarily think Luke or anyone are saying you must create a complex political intrigue system. If you strip away the details, politics can bear a striking resemblance to other interesting types of conflicts. The main components of an agenda, and secrets can be broadly applied. So come up with a generic system that works for a few different options, then demonstrate how it can be used to work for political intrigue, or horse racing, or whatever.

But really, if political intrigue is what you want players to do in your game, then make rules for it. Seriously, if that's what the game's supposed to be about, then that's what the players will want when they pick up your game. If they want something else, they're gonna play something else, and that's okay.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Noclue
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2009, 12:02:46 PM »

The compulsions are a good start, btw. But they encourage one note play and are punitive. That's not my favorite method of being compelled.

That was basically my reaction to the compulsion section. It is really the only section that sparks my interest. It is the only piece that seems to be trying to make a "compelling story" rather than just do tricks with conflict resolution mechanics. There's possibly something compelling there, but it seems to promote, as a friend put it, "being greedy over and over when it doesn't matter, so you can not be greedy the one time it really counts." I'd rather be rewarded for allowing my compulsion to fuck up my shit when it really counts. I don't really care about the build up.
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James R.
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