thread: 2005-07-28 : The Ars Magica Knock-off Fishbowl

On 2005-09-14, Vincent wrote:

I've bumped up against a serious mechanical problem with this one. I'm looking for a way over, around or through.

Background reading: 2005-05-20 : Things on Character Sheets.

So here's Dogs in the Vineyard. As these kinds of games go, the resources the players have available are pretty complicated; they fill two thirds of a sheet of paper, they include all kinds of words and dice, they're constantly changing in small ways, fiddling up and down. But worse: at the top of that two thirds of a sheet of paper is...

...A character's name.

How many characters am I going to play in this Ars Magica knockoff game? 10? 20?

Okay, okay, so I have 10-20 character sheets. That's not the end of the world. I can have a little folder to keep them in, that's fine. Which set of resources I get to use as a player depends on which character I'm playing, no big.

But wait, these resources I have? Utilizing them is also pretty complicated. I have this big pile of dice in front of me that I have to roll and manipulate and make decisions about. I can stand to have, at a maximum, ONE pile of dice in front of me. More than one is too much for anybody to handle. Notice how important the group NPC rules are in Dogs; everybody uses them all the time.

So okay, well, maybe there can be group PC rules. That might work for this game-


And the whole thing grinds to a halt.

Having complicated player resources linked to a character is fine for one-character-per-player games. If a many-characters-per-player game is going to have complicated player resources, like this game is, they can't be linked to the individual characters.

Like I say, I'm looking for a way over, around or through. Any suggestions?


This makes cm go ""around, maybe...""
could you restrict/modify the underwriting procedure to avoid this?

This makes VB go "not really."
The problem's not underwriting multiple characters, it's owning 'em.

This makes XP go "Augment?"
PC group rules more like follower rules in HQ? With one PC as the leader, the others augment with their highest applicable trait?

This makes Sben go "Ownership"
I haven't seen ownership explained very thoroughly; you imply it's something like "sole right to portray". Could a player loan one of the characters she owns? (I don't have a "mechanical" suggestion yet.)

This makes TA go "Decouple the PCs from the resource pool"
So each player gets their complicated resource pool, but each character imposes restrictions on how the Player is able to utilize that pool of resources. If you end up with two PCs you control on opposite sides of the conflict then you reference each of their limitations to give a final accounting of how the player can use their one pool. Is this making sense?

This makes VB go "yeah..."
That's what to do, all right. But, man, hard.

This makes TA go "It's never easy..."
But I think that big pool becomes all meta stuff. It's like a 10000ft view of the game, and it's all stuff the player wants, maybe in different categories. I think I have an example forming, but it's long. Should it go here?

This makes pb go "Covenant Stats"
I think we need to go back to old ArM covent generation: What have we got? Vis sources. Library Scores. Number of Grogs. Quality of Armaments. Size of Building. Other mundane resources. And have, not limitations, but i) Traits in excess of communal resources. ii) Abilities which control how much you can take from the communal pool. How cool would it be if there were dice rolled for, say Magic Resources, Library, Grogs, and Covenfolk, and the players took turns (and used some resource) to take dice from the communal pool and use them against each other.

This makes MB go "unit of narration?"
Firstly, let me say just how much I'm fascinated by this project... Please keep it coming! Just a question: what type of 'playing quanta' you think this game will have? I'm thinking about something like DitV 'towns': one town=one session, more or less. What about solving the multiple charatcer problem by limiting in some way the choice of characters at the start of the session/quantum?

This makes CMS go "recent experience with this"
Almost no one can play direct conflict between their own pc's well, and I don't think rules support would help. Indirect own pc-pc conflict can be great fun. This scene my character A is supporting your B against Kip's character C. Next scene, my character D is helping Kip's character C against your character B. If my character A is present, things get very tricky. Not sure how to express that in mechanics, but I think it should be reflected in the mechanics. Choice of character or faction should only have to be handled on a per scene basis, not longer. Also, maybe I should be able to pass some of my character A dice to you for you to use in your character B scenes, even if I have character D present in that scene as well. Does that make me short on dice when playing character D though?

This makes MVH go "Resources like in Blood Red Sands?"
In that game, resources are attached to players, not fictional things, first. Whenever needed, I attach some of my resources to fictional things, and I can only use them whenever i'm positioning with those fictional things.

This makes...
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This reminds CMS of recent experience written up