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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Limiting GM fiat with a token system  (Read 16997 times)
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2010, 01:18:47 AM »

Fastlane and Primetime Adventures, alongside the aforementioned Orx, implement systems like this. Universalis, too, in fact. The way out of the mechanical interaction discussed here in all cases is to make the GM's pool of resources dynamic, which breaks the conflict pattern of easy-followed-by-difficult and vice versa. Rather, in Fastlane the GM is free within certain flexible constraints to choose which conflicts will be easy and which will be hard, and he may expect to have a constant flow of resources that'll allow him to continue doing so indefinitely. The overall resource level might mean that "easy" at some time is 1 chip's worth while at other time it's 3 chips, but that's what makes it interesting, really.

Of course it's still possible to game the system as a player by introducing frivolous conflicts, which is why all of these games in actual fact are based on the more fundamental cooperative interaction: the group has a common creative agenda, which is fulfilled by appreciating the joint fiction. This basic requirement means that those games do not have to worry about players constantly declaring frivolous conflicts as a way to leach the GM of resources, as doing so would be counterproductive for the joint goals of play. Individual game texts will differ on whether the management of the common creative agenda should happen by informal concensus or whether the GM should have some sort of veto to simply block the occasional brainfart, but the common theme in each case is that inappropriate conflicts (for the group's fictional sensibilities) are not taken through the resource-consuming conflict system because group concensus filters them first and only allows the good stuff to get mechanical impact. This is not so different from any other conflict resolution system, generally all roleplaying games rely on the players wanting to uphold the integrity of the fiction, even if some of those games will achieve this by appointing one player as the chairman.

Anyway, it seems to me that checking out one or more of the above titles might be educational in this line of design inquiry. Those are all quite interesting games, I think.

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Posts: 37

« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2010, 01:13:32 PM »

If I understand you, I agree that if a GM has unlimited resources, then whatever you do is at his whim.
Thanks, yes - what you said!

Hmm, maybe I see where the disconnect is. I was assuming that "obstacle level" was supposed to fairly closely map "perceived difficulty level". Is that not true?
That's it. The 'obstacle level' is entirely at the player level, not a reflection of some kind of objective difficulty for the characters within the game world.

Fastlane and Primetime Adventures, alongside the aforementioned Orx, implement systems like this. Universalis, too, in fact.
Thanks. PTA was a direct inspiration, as was the 'Token Effort' system of In Spaaaaace... I'll try and read around Fastlane and Orx too - useful tips!

Posts: 12

« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2010, 11:53:03 PM »

Cool, makes sense. I keep forgetting how different my preferred CA is from a lot of people here. So, instead of criticizing I'm now just curious. How do you imagine a GM deciding difficulty levels?:
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