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Author Topic: (Criminal Element) back on the streets...  (Read 2201 times)
MPOSullivan
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Posts: 149


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« on: February 19, 2004, 03:28:13 PM »

Heya everyone!  i know it's been a while since this game was even mentioned here, or much of anywhere, but i've finally gotten to a place in my development of my other game, as well as finally fixing my computer after a particularly nasty virus tore it all up, where i feel comfy talking about CE again.  so, let me bring you all up to speed and then, i hope, maybe you can help me with the problem i'm having.

  Criminal Element was a game creted as part of the 24hourRPG experiment of about a year ago (man, it's been that long?!).  It's a game that is meant to emlulate the crime genre found in books and novels, anywhere from Chandler to Leonard, from LA Confidential to Fletch.  The game is narrativist/simulationst with a pretty loose and simple trait-based system similar to Over the Edge, but using a card based, modified Blackjack mechanic.

  I've been able to playtest the game here and there, but not for at least a couple of months seeing as how i moved cross country back in August and have only recently found a gaming group to latch on to.  I have the most recent version of the game in PDF format on my temporary website at this link:

    http://www.geocities.com/maximusoverdrive/CE.html

  Recently i've been thinking through the approach to running a game like this, a game that has certain "genre conventions" (yes i know, genre is a five letter "four letter word") that i would like to try and emmulate through some kind of established system, whether it be hard and fast rules or just outlines and guidelines.  What i'd really like to do is have the players have some input into the setup of the game, the overall arch of the plot, and not just in the way that is implied by nearly all games on the market.  i owuld like every new story starting with the players and the director sitting down and laying out the setup of the game.  
 
  what i have envisioned is a sort of system in which players and director trade off ideas, firming up what will come up in the particular caper.  this comes out of the scene in the first act of most caper flicks where the principals are sitting around, talking about what exactly they are trying to steal/kill/whatever and what kind of opposition they will most like run up against.  

  I have a loose framework for this called Hook Line and Sinker.  Each of the three categories represents a different "angle" of plot that th players contribute ideas to, helping to create the overall plot.

  The hook is the loot, juice, whatever the players are trying to get.  This could be jewels, artwork, cash, kidnapped people, incriminating photos, springing a friend from the pokie, etc.  this is basically the goal of the PCs.  The Hook can be used for single session takes or over-arching, campaign long objectives.  A player could just as easily state that they're taking the jewels because it would "distablize the street cred of Joey DeLuca".  a simple line like that would help set up and entire campaing of stories.

  The Line is what ties the characters into this particular job.  Is it revenge?  just money?  the fun of the job?  Players can establish and overall Line or one for each of the PCs.  Perhaps all of the PCs were betrayed by the same bastard and they're all out for blood.  Maybe one of the PCs is out for blood, but one of the others is actually in love with the bastard's daughter and is just trying to find a way to get her back.

  Sinker is the opposition, the stuff that'll try and drag you down on your way to the top.  This can be stuff like armed guards, a really high-quality security system or maybe even a double agent in the team.

  In play, i imagine players and their director sitting around, in character most likely, one of the players saying something like "i heard about this gig that we could pull off..." and adding a detail, like it's a jewel heist or something.  then the next player would add a detail, like where the jewel is or something, and it would go around the table from there until the players/director felt confident that enough details were created to run the session.  every new story would have a new player start of the setup.  

  in this way players not only know that they have contributed to the game, but they can also make sure that they will have something for their character to do that is integral to the game.  players with hacker characters will most likely state that there's some secret code that they need to get out of some hard drive if they're going to be able to pull the heist, or maybe the player with a driver character will say that the best chance of getting to the loot is to do it in a speeding vehicle.

  of course i expect the director to throw all kinds of monkeywrenches into these gears here, but this would act as a general framework by which the story would progress.  The director could throw in extra opposition or play off of the Lines established by the players.  remember, i firmly believe it is the god-given right of the Director to fuck with the PCs.  A game without opposition is simply no fun.

  So, in all i sort of imagine this working like a social contract, wherein the players discuss openly what they want from the game that their about to play.  i'm also pulling a little from universalis here, wherein maybe the framework established here defines a certain amount of DPs succesful players will get at the end of a session? or maybe players can spend their DPs to create facts for the setup?

  i'm also planning on having a chapter in the book about playing the otherside of the law: the cops.  with that i would like the plotwriting mechaninc to establish what kind of crime the players have to solve, what kind of clues are present at first, stuff like that.  sort of like the first scene of every episode of Law and Order, the part before the credits roll, where the cops are called to a crime scene and get the rundown from the forensics guy.

  obviously all of this is rather loose right now.  what i'm trying to crete here is a flexible, fun way for players to contribute to the plotwriting.  It seems to make sense for the genre that i'm emulating here.  what i'm really looking for is just some opinions: what route do you think would be best to use for a game like mine?  should i leave it as just a general guideline that players fill in, or should i go full on "game within a game" and have specific rules for doing the setup?

thanks in advance for the assistance everyone!
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Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
Loki
Member

Posts: 117


« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2004, 07:49:31 PM »

Hey, I'd like to check out your game, but you appear to have exceeded your bandwidth. Any idea when the counter resets?

Loki
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Chris Geisel
MPOSullivan
Member

Posts: 149


WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2004, 12:23:36 AM »

hmmm... i'm not showing any bandwidth problems there...  i just took a quick peak and everything seems alright.  is anyone else having problems with the download?  if so, i'll figure out some other way to get it out to you guys...
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Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
Loki
Member

Posts: 117


« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2004, 06:33:49 AM »

More info: I tried to download and got a message that your bandwidth allowance would refresh w/in an hour. After an hour I was able to get it.

Loki
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Chris Geisel
MPOSullivan
Member

Posts: 149


WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2004, 04:44:51 PM »

yay!  ;-)  good to hear.  i had no clue when the bandwidth would refresh.

but, hey, when you've got the chance to flip through the pdf, maybe you could hit me with some ideas.
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Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
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