thread: 2005-05-06 : A complete game has...

On 2005-05-06, Vincent wrote:

Jeffrey: A positioning mechanism is a rule that lets you say, with the weight of the rules behind it, "this thing right here? I really care how it turns out." My favorite way to put it is "if you don't like your roll, here's what you can do..."

Examples include hero points in Hero Wars, fan mail in Primetime Adventures, spiritual attributes in the Riddle of Steel, trust in the Mountain Witch (in a really cool, unusual way), even karma in Shadowrun (in a broken, stupid way).

Usually it's a replenishing resource you spend voluntarily for some kind of bonus or reroll or modifier or something, but not always.

The reason Shadowrun's karma is broken is a) you choose between spending it now on this roll or saving it for permanent character improvement; b) spending it now on this roll is less effective than saving it; c) it replenishes so slowly that if you do spend it you're left seriously behind. (Shadowrun first edition, this is; dunno about later editions.)

Spiritual attributes in the Riddle of Steel aren't (primarily) an expendable resource; instead, they're things like "I must kill the two-armed man" and you get them on every roll(!) that has anything to do with them. What makes them voluntary is that you get to decide what they are, and you can change them pretty much at will over the course of play.

The Mountain Witch's trust is interesting and unusual because a) you get it from your fellow players and b) you spend it on their rolls, not your own. Like, I might give you 3 trust; you then get to decide when to contribute them to my rolls - and furthermore, you get to decide whether to contribute them on my side or on my opponent's. It creates a really intense and prodoctive inter-player dynamic.

A positioning mechanism is necessary if you want your players to feel ownership of and have power to contribute to what happens. Which you definitely should want.

Thank you, please ask!

Ben: Politics yes!

Your mechanical rules have to take situation into account, I meant. You need rules or guidelines for creating an initial situation, but they can be social, whatever. You need mechanical rules for resolving the current situation into a new, subsequent situation, of course. They need to capture, reflect, represent, or some other how take the current situation into account.


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