2009-12-08 : Your 3 Insights

I offer this as a tool for examining and talking about rpg design.

When you design a game, you're taking three different positions, expressing three different insights, putting forth three different opinions. Saying three different things. First, you're saying something about the subject matter or genre of your game: something you think about adventure fiction, or swords & sorcery, or transhumanist sf, or whatever. Second, you're saying something about roleplaying as a practice, taking a position on how real people should collaborate under these circumstances. Third, you're sying something about real live human nature.

Dogs in the Vineyard, for example:

1. Subject matter: I think that the blood-and-sex stuff underlying crime fiction (as I learned it from Sorcerer's Soul) and the principles underlying my own family's stories about faith, sin, and early Mormonism are very compatible. I think that you can successfully use the one to explore the other.

2. Roleplaying as a practice: That's the how to GM chapter. I think that for GMing this kind of game, you shouldn't have a solution in mind, you should drive play toward conflict (say yes or roll dice), you should actively reveal the town in play.

3. Real live human nature: I think that you throw a punch because you're losing an argument but you don't want to give in. You draw a gun because you're losing a fight but you don't want to give in. I think that people escalate because they care about what's at stake, but they can't win it or hold onto it using only the tools and techniques already at hand.

So that's pretty basic and obvious, but I think it'll help us when we talk about, for instance, how a game's mechanics should do justice to its subject matter, or how having an insight into roleplaying as a practice isn't enough to design a whole game, you also need to make two other assertions. At least two!

In comments, please ask clarifying questions, of course, but also please feel free to tell the three opinions your own games express, like I have for Dogs.

1. On 2009-12-08, Ry said:

So here's a game that I designed but never published.

The game was called Legends of the Last Age, and it was basically an Iron Heroes to Savage Worlds cross with an action points mechanic called Conviction.  Conviction dominated play; each character had a role which allowed them to use Conviction in different ways (the leader could give the other guys an extra action, the smart guy could throw down on skill checks, the atheletic barbarian could lay down a frenzy of attacks, the tough little K-Fed of the party could just take hit after hit and just pop back up again).

This was the last big game I played with my school friends (a group that stayed together from age 10 to about... 23).  Before we all started moving away (and we knew it).

The game was about kids that were raised together to be essentially a fighting unit.  They lived in a culture that was a few generations removed from being warrior-nomads, but still had many of its earmarks.

1.  Subject Matter: I think that the best fantasy adventure are ultimately about family.

2.  Roleplaying as a practise: I think that my friends and I come together in roleplaying, and in a big way we're like family.  We all came up together through some very scary years, helped each other out and stuck together through it. That mapped pretty well to some of the trad gaming that we'd done, and I wanted to track towards that directly.

3.  Real live human nature: I think that when care the most, when we focus our talents and our convictions into the same action, with people who believe in us, we succeed against things that are called impossible.


2. On 2009-12-08, Seth Ben-Ezra said:

Okay, let me take a stab at this with Dirty Secrets.

1) Subject matter: I think that the noir and hardboiled detective genres are often obscured in the popular imagination by the time period when they were originally produced. By updating the time period to the modern time, I think you can more easily engage with the timeless themes that underlie these related genres.

2) Roleplaying as a practice: I was trying to come up with an interesting solution that married the player-driven style that I prefer with the emotional impact of the big "reveal" that is critical to a mystery. By placing the reveal in the hands of the mechanics, I freed the players to focus on other things, namely, building scenes full of tension, mystery, lies, and...well...dirty secrets.

3) Real live human nature: humans are far more corrupt than we care to admit. This is true of the characters in the story; no one comes out of a Dirty Secrets game clean. It is also true of the players. The Demographics force the players to interact with their preconceptions and prejudices, simply by requiring that each character be given an age, race, social class, and the like. Suddenly, all kinds of assumptions rise to the surface.

Is this what you're talking about, Vincent? Or have I missed something?


3. On 2009-12-08, Ry said:

damn, I meant to say "designed and played" not just "designed".  Because we _did_ play it and it _was_ awesome.  Probably the best gaming I ever did.


4. On 2009-12-08, Jesse Burneko said:

Funny.  The only game I can confidently answer all three questions for is my most recent attempt: Thornes.

1) On Genre: Thornes combines Swashbuckling and Noir.  I think that people fundamentally overlook the romantic aspects of noir.  As the game says, it's about sex and violence dressed up in lace and steel.  Dwight from Sin City is just D'Artagnan with more attitude.

2) On Role-Playing: Thornes is built discourage long-term "story building".  I think many gamers have been trained to skulk around in the fiction, hide their agendas and then spring the "big reveal."  In Thornes everything is Now or Never.  Whatever advantage you gain from scene A needs to used in scene B or it's gone.

3) On Real Life: I think we often lie to ourselves about what "conflict" really means.  A conflict is an attempt to undermine another individual's actions through an act of force.  A romantic date is not a seduction.  A romantic date is not a conflict while a seduction is.  Like it or not a Seduction is an act of force and like all acts of force runs the risk of injury for everyone involved.  In Thornes there are no conflicts that don't lead to injury.

Interestingly enough, Thornes is the only game I've designed that I can confidently answer all three questions for.  Is that a sign of something?



5. On 2009-12-08, Vincent said:

(Jesse, since you mention it, yeah, I bet it is a sign of something.)

Right on! All three of these are great, thank you.


6. On 2009-12-08, Matthijs said:


1. I think every character's story is important, but can only bloom properly if given enough air.

2. In role-playing, people should listen to each other and help each other create good stories. Sometimes that means going in unexpected directions.

3. Humans aren't always good at listening, at focusing on the moment, on details. They need help for that.


7. On 2009-12-08, Vincent said:

Matthijs, your #3: do you mean the players or the characters? I suspect you mean the players.

Supposing that in Archipelago the characters are meant to seem human, do you have something to say about THEM?


8. On 2009-12-08, Matthijs said:

Huh. If anything, it would be that all people are interesting and have a story to tell - if you listen to them. Also, that we/they all have great destinies. My, now my game sounds all new-agey.


9. On 2009-12-08, Troy_Costisick said:

On Cutthroat-

Subject Matter:  Cutthroat is not about bikers.  It says nothing about Bikers as people nor anything about the Biker lifestyle.  It?s about groups- any kind of groups of individuals who are competitive with one another.  You could just as easily sub in adolescents, basketball players, or engineers in a four cubical quad.  It doesn?t matter.  I think that group politics are not nearly as nice as they seem on the surface and are actually a lot more like Bikers walloping the shit out each other.

Role-playing as a Practice:  Cutthroat says that dysfunctional behavior does not necessarily mean a dysfunctional game.  In fact, the bigger of a dick you are the better your chances are at this game.  Cutthroat provides a safe environment for players to become the very worst of themselves in terms of group dynamics.  It gives gamers the chance to indulge in the ass-hatery we all constantly fight against.  And once it?s all over, we can sit and laugh at ourselves and go back to being good friends, polite people, and hospitable hosts.

Human Nature:  What Cutthroat says about groups is that given the opportunity for one-up-man?s-ship, everyone will take whatever advantage they can get and use it.  Alliances are all temporary.  Friendship is based on trust and trust is a very rare commodity.  Personal advancement, in the end, is all that matters to competitive individuals in a group.  Cutthroat acknowledges that no one is really as nice as they seem.  Everyone still caries the scars of the cock-punching, name-calling days of middle school and is very capable of dredging up those memories and putting them to good use.  We just don?t because of our inhibitions.


10. On 2009-12-08, Graham said:

I think there's something dangerous about 1, in the way you express it at the moment. If you're encouraging people to comment on the genre, there's a danger of creating self-referential pastiches, and God knows we've got enough of those.

For example, I think I could create a vampire game that didn't comment on vampire stories in general. It would comment on something (perhaps seduction), but not necessarily vampire fiction. And I think it would be more interesting for that.

I like the other two, especially the bit about human nature.

I'll try it for A Taste For Murder.

1. Subject Matter: I'm exploring a tension, in murder mysteries, between a polite veneer and a bloody undercurrent.

2. Practice: If there's a difference at the game table, I think people should just fucking talk it through, rather than expecting the rulebook to do everything. It's like a casual game of tennis: the rules tell you what happens when the ball's out, but not how to resolve disputes over whether the ball was out.

3. Human Nature: The relationships get more and more screwed up as you investigate.

Yes, OK. I quite like that way of thinking about it. Having said that, it feels like I'm inventing answers, rather than talking you through the thought process I actually used.



11. On 2009-12-08, Ry said:

Just for reference, I wasn't making up my 2 and 3; I was definitely remembering. I didn't go into the game thinking of 1 (fantasy stories about family), but I was very aware of 2 (my friends were quasi-family) so as the game progressed 1 definitely was what we were saying.


12. On 2009-12-09, Simon C said:

"taking a position on how real people should collaborate under these circumstances."

Is your choice of "should" deliberate there? I guess that's a word that always raises red flags with me.  Does it work with "could"?


13. On 2009-12-09, Elizabeth said:

I actually thought a lot about this with Blowback. I didn't think about it with It's Complicated, but I bet I could answer the questions for that game anyway.

Regardless, Blowback:

Subject Matter: There's traditionally been this idea that it's fun to be a badass secret agent because they totally get to blow people away all the time and do spy shit and they don't even care. But every death matters, and if you truly don't care, that's a really fucking lonely life. No matter who you are, everybody needs somebody, even spies. And if the people in your life are good, they'll make you want to do good, too.

Practice: Every party ends up having a leader, de facto or explicit. Why not make it explicit? And make it something you can change between jobs? Otherwise people tend to grumble about carrying out someone else's plan, because it wasn't THEIR plan.

Human Nature: Relationships boil down to how much someone can piss you off before you cut them loose. When you love someone, no matter how much of an idiot they are or how much they complicate your life, you keep getting them out of trouble—and if they're worth it, they make it up to you. (And how much you care about someone is rarely symmetrical to how much they care about you, even if it does make for cleaner math in game.)


14. On 2009-12-09, Elizabeth said:

3a: Also, saving someone from being kidnapped or nearly murdered or worse generally wipes the slate clean of most, if not all, of your previous missteps with that person. Unless you've really messed up with them, that is.


15. On 2009-12-09, Roger said:

I'm going to cheat and talk about a game I didn't write.  Basic/Expert D&D (otherwise known as the Moldvay edition, or the source for Labyrinth Lord.)

1.  Heroes are made, not born.  They start off just regular people and generally continue to be regular people, except that they're motivated to take up arms for largely mercenary reasons.

2.  The GM operates as a disinterested referee.  He enforces the letter and spirit of the rules.

3.  Sometimes good things happen to bad people and sometimes bad things happen to good people.  Despite all our best efforts, we're all just one unlucky die roll away from death.


16. On 2009-12-09, Vincent said:

Simon: Deliberate. It doesn't work with "could," no.

...But "under these circumstances" means your particular game, or at broadest the kind of roleplaying that your particular game represents. Like, in Dogs in the Vineyard, the GM absolutely should actively reveal the town in play. You're screwing the game over if you don't. In games just like Dogs in the Vineyard, same thing. In other games, though? Sometimes, sometimes not, it depends.

So, when you design a game, yes, take a position on how I should play it.


17. On 2009-12-10, Simon C said:

Oh yeah, cool.  That makes sense.


18. On 2009-12-10, Simon C said:

Ok, here's "On Mighty Thews".

1) Pulp fantasy like Conan, Tarzan, and all the derivative stuff like Jongor and Throngor and so on is basically about "Man's" position between civilisation and nature.  Leiber, and then later Moorcock, were more about the tension between predestination and free will.  What these things have in common is that the philosophical contradictions exist within the protagonist (Tarzan is a white man raised in the jungle, Conan is a savage mastering the ways of civilisation) but are never resolved within the protagonist.  Tarzan never chooses the jungle or civilisation.  Conan remains unchanged by his adventures in the civilised world.  Elric never meets his fate. Instead, the protagonists inflict their contradictions on the world around them.  The adventures are a lens for examining the contradiction at the core of the protagonist.

2) Creativity is kind of a product of the friction between freedom and constraint.  Everyone contributing a small, obvious step can create a big, unexpected whole.  The tension between protagonists trying to get what they want, and the world standing in their way creates a canvas for players to create a story.

3) I think people are the sum of their actions.  We don't have an "inherant nature", and there isn't a "true" self. We exist as competing narratives and the expressions of such.  We are what other people think of us.

Huh.  Some of that is a bit thin, but it's what I've got.


19. On 2009-12-10, Vincent said:

I think these are all very cool.


20. On 2009-12-10, Simon C said:

Vincent, I'd love to see the take on pulp fantasy you had for In a Wicked Age.  I think I can guess the answers to 2 and 3 for that game, but I don't see 1 so well.


21. On 2009-12-10, Vincent said:

Oh, sure. It's like, a protagonist is somebody who goes up against another character's strengths, not their weaknesses. Also it's like, yes, that's true, but a protagonist isn't somebody who's plain outmatched. The whole owe list, all the subsystems that touch it, is my take on the subject.


22. On 2009-12-10, Judd said:

1. Subject matter: I wanted to write a baroque, dense, alien fantasy setting for Sorcerer that captured the feel of Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith with a sourcebook that felt like a relic from an alien world.

2. Roleplaying as a practice: I wanted concrete ways for the player to contribute to the setting but not during play.  During play, its GM but between chapters, the player can slip things in.  The sign of a good setting, in my eyes, is how much it inspires the people at the table to create.

3. Real live human nature: I think players want to have some authorship but still want a strong sense of the mysterious, some unknowns that are created by the GM and so their authorship is narrow and limited.  They have a hand in the world, and hence a stake, but there are still surprises buried in the wastes.


23. On 2009-12-13, Ry said:

Judd, your #2 just totally opened up Dictionary of Mu's game design for me.

Previously I got how it worked as a text and as a kicker for a GM, but not for the players.  My group's Sorcerer game keeps getting kicked down the road by the Sorc&Sword&Elric enthusiast's real life work... but that might be piece I was missing to give IAWA+DoMu the treatment it deserves.


24. On 2009-12-14, Joel said:

Spectre of the Beast:

1. Subject Matter: To some degree "the subject matter" is a set of art pieces from last year's Game Chef competition by David Bove and Donna K. Fitch. On that level what I'm saying is "huh, these images resonate with me regarding the grim elements of human history, like how dramatically nightmarish it is, seen in a certain light."

Digging deeper: All the broad and polemical myths that people tell about "the sweep of human history," while perhaps simplistic, have value precisely AS myths: formulaic tales that we tell to cope with complex realities.

2. Roleplaying as a Practice: I wanted to encode a vast amount of descriptive weight (up to the whole sweep of the development of civilization across the ages) into a simple and elegant set of rules procedures, while giving players more than just "flip a coin, now make things up." I provide a scaffolding for hanging Color, rather than a whole set of dials and gauges, but a scaffolding with some thematic weight.

3. Human Nature: All the great pinnacles of human history are built on the bones of the conquered and the blood of slaves. It's not easy to buck that trend; the world will keep stabbing at you and you may need to stab back to attain your ambitions. And even if you get what you want, you still may not have the effect you were hoping for.


25. On 2009-12-15, Marshall Burns said:

1. Subject Matter
Hatemail-bait version: Gamma World, Fallout, and their ilk are not post-apocalyptic games.
Non-hatemail bait version: Post-apocalyptic games should not be adventure games with Roadwarrior makeup. The post-apocalyptic genre is about the unpleasant things folks have to do and deal with in order to get by in a fucked up post-apocalyptic world... as a metaphor for the unpleasant things folks have to do and deal with in order to get by in the (also fucked up) real world.

2. Roleplaying Practice
Roleplayers (and other creators of fiction) need to be better at making their characters emotionally & psychologically realistic. They also need to keep in mind that emotional & psychological makeup when making decisions on behalf of said characters.

Bold claim: When this is in place, and the roleplayers are disciplined to maintain it, all actions & decisions are compelling. Even ?I say nothing.?

3. Human Nature
This is kinda tough; human nature is all over the design, but there?s a lot of ?might?s. Such as:
Your beliefs MIGHT be mere delusion. It also MIGHT not matter.
Your addictions MIGHT not be a bad thing, or they MIGHT burn down your life.
Your regrets MIGHT be the gateway to strength, or they MIGHT make you weak and helpless.

The game itself has no opinion on these; it lets the players decide, through play.

The only solid, assertive statement I can think of in it is this:
One way or the other, win or lose, you?re gonna suffer. But you can make your suffering count for something, if you?ve got the guts and care enough to do it. As for whether or not it was a good decision, well, that?s complicated.

I also want to put in a vote of confidence for this exercise and method of thinking. Because, those three insights there? Those are exactly what I was thinking about when I designed the game. #1 is the Situation mechanics (by which I mean the Business As Usual and Spike techniques) and the how-to-GM section. #2 is the Psyche system. #3 (the solid statement) is the Push/Price mechanic. The fact that those techniques are present, focused on the things they are, and interlocked with each other is what makes the game cook.

@Simon C: all of those things, especially #3, are why I like On Mighty Thews. Probably because I agree with them. Except I wouldn?t say that Conan remains unchanged. He changes, but he does so on his own terms, which is important. He doesn?t let the big city break him; he makes it make him stronger.

@Graham: I?m inclined to think that a statement about the genre is unavoidable. A vampire game about seduction is at least saying something like ?the vampire genre is an interesting way to explore issues of seduction.?
Also, I seem to recall you saying something on SG regarding A Taste for Murder, something along the lines of, ?A lot of people think that the English murder mystery is something really polite, but it?s actually quite dark.? I don?t mean to be an ass, but, there it is.


26. On 2009-12-17, Judd said:

"but that might be piece I was missing to give IAWA+DoMu the treatment it deserves."

Leave my baby alone!


27. On 2009-12-20, Simon C said:

Marshall, that's a fair call.  You're going to love the second edition of OMT.  I think I finally understand some things about making games.


28. On 2009-12-22, Ben Lehman said:

Hah. I thought of one I can write this for in public.

1) I think that the essence of DnD is that it is a dangerous, horrible world full of stuff that will kill you, but it can be navigated with sufficient cleverness, luck, and dogged determination to live. As it happens, this is also the essence of fairy tales.

2) There is abstractly better and worse role-playing. High quality role-playing places an emphasis on the shared imagined space, and taking it seriously as space. The best solutions to problems are those that view this space as critically important, the worst solutions view the game as a board or video game.

3) Real live human nature. The true story of history is not about knights and heroes, but about ordinary people who are poor, desperate, and terrified, for whom knights and heroes are just another thing that will kill them dead.
These stories being true, they are inherently more interesting.


29. On 2009-12-23, Michael S. Miller said:

This is a point I was fumbling towards on my blog a few months back. Games need to say something of consequence.

It also reminds me of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics where he talks about the six steps of art. He asserts that at its core, great art should say something about life, or about art. These equate to your #2 and #3.

For Serial Homicide Unit, I'd put the Three Insights this way (although Kat might see them differently):

1) Subject matter: Criminals shouldn't be the stars of crime stories. Serial killers are NOT cool, NOT sexy, NOT fascinating. They are simply destructive and should not be glamorized.

2) Role-playing as practice: RPGs can be simple and easy-to-play. Preparation is overrated. A simple, well-formed game shouldn't require any time investment before play. You shouldn't even need to read the rules before you start.

3) Real life: Normal, boring, everyday life is full of dramatic possibility—nobility, even.


30. On 2009-12-23, Marshall Burns said:

Serial killers are NOT cool, NOT sexy, NOT fascinating.


I mean, hell, I like Thomas Harris' novels as much as the next guy, but that's because I like the investigators. The killers make me feel like I need a shower.



31. On 2010-01-06, Z-Dog said:

Wars We've Fought

1. Subject matter: 1st world attempts to fix 3rd world problems with Hardware rather than Human solutions is doomed to fail. Outsiders coming into intractable foreign issues are doomed to be misinterpreted/confused/wrongly pursued. People who have nothing to live for have a hell of a good time making everyone else suffer.

2. Roleplaying as a practice: Play needs good starting Situation and continuing intractable problems for more play to occur. The best kinds of problems are the ones you create while you play. There needs to be a ticking clock and endgame to drive people toward a conclusion.

3. Real live human nature: There's no good and evil, it's just me saying, "You're evil" and you saying, "Uh-UH!" and both of us trying to get our ideas codified/validated in play.


32. On 2010-01-20, Michael S. Miller said:

Vincent, would you say that these three insights are what constitutes the Fruitful Void?


33. On 2010-01-20, Vincent said:

Oh, no, not at all.

The fruitful void is, like, how your game demands action from its players. It's the work you leave undone, toward which all the work you've done points.

Your 3 insights are the basis for beginning your design work, the impetus to design in the first place.

Like, if you look at what Dogs in the Vineyard has to say about crime fiction + Mormonism, about GMing, and about how the person who's winning the argument isn't the one who pulls the knife - I leave none of that up to the players. That's mine, and it's done.


34. On 2010-03-18, Brand Robins said:

I meant to post to this a long time ago, but I found my insights so unutterably depressing that I didn't.

For Dharma and Defiance:

1. Subject Matter: You know what the difference between the Indian caste system and the other systems of structuration in other cultures is? Its honest. If you actually look, you'll see us, pretty much whoever "us" happens to be.

2. Game Theory: If we can't get past the structure of a game in order to actually engage meaningfully, if we need these rules to build together, how can we so forcefully argue for liberty in life? Life is a game, game is a life, and without rules it becomes fish eat fish.

3. Human Nature: There is better and there is worse, but in the end there is no right answer. There are choices, and consequences, and not any place where one person can be free without another person taking it in the mouth.


But I swear its a fun game!


35. On 2010-03-19, Mathieu Leocmach said:

It took me quite long to understand the point of these questions. I was only thinking as a designer, no other viewpoint. When I got that, I understood how much I did need to answer these. Thanks for posting that Vincent.

Here is my attempts :

  1. Swashbuckling genre of course come from color (duels, XVII th century Europe). But the breath comes from loyalty, or more precisely loyalties, contradictory loyalties. Loyalty to lover or to family, to the ruler or to the rightness.
  2. I want to be the hero of my team because I made it won. To reach that I will have to prove my strategic skill and to use everything at hand : resources or rules.
  3. Human personality is shown by choices you make. Harder the choices, stronger you are.


36. On 2010-03-23, stefoid said:


1.  setting agnostic.

2.  players need room for their imaginings to be voiced and accepted.

3.  creativity and problem solving are their own reward.


37. On 2011-01-04, Ry said:

Vincent, if it's not too late to ask, what were your 3 insights for Apocalypse World?


38. On 2011-01-04, Vincent said:

More like too soon!

Let's see. It's a pretty big game, but here's a sampling.

1. Subject matter: There's obviously fiction about loyalty that isn't about betrayal, and it's about time that I made such a game. Firefly on a boat, not Reservoir Dogs on a boat, if you see. (Only not on a boat, in the postapocalypse instead, of course).

2. Collaboration / roleplaying as a practice: A game can be long-term, sandboxy, totally color-first, and still Story Now; here's a way how. Also, asking questions is good.

3. Real live human nature: Many! Examples: For some people, having sex means learning more about your partner, where for others, it means revealing yourself more. For some people, being mistreated makes them want better; for others, being mistreated makes them mistreat others in turn. When you pull a gun on someone in the real world, most of the time you just want something from them, you don't need to kill them.


39. On 2011-07-18, Gerald C said:

Hello Vincent and Everyone Else,

I found and read AW on Friday, fell in love, ran it on Saturday, and spent Sunday scouring these forums and writing fronts. (I'm hooked.) When I found this thread I just had to see if I could apply it to an idea I've had rattling around in my brainbox for a while now, and I feel like it really helped me clarify and expand on the central core of what I want to do. For helping me, you get to see it!

Untitled game where characters are created based on both one of the Seven Deadly Sins and one of the Seven Prime Virtues. It's heavy handed, but hopefully the mechanics I have semi-planned out will make it less so.

1 - Subject Matter: Exploring the motivations for, and the possible concequences of our actions, is more important than the actions themselves. Intent and accountability are more important than device or method.

2 - Game Theory: The best method of conflict resolution is a transparent one where motivations (carrot) and possible consequences (stick) are weighed before action is taken.

3 - Human Nature: No one is purely evil or purely good. Anyone can play a situation to eke advantage from it in either direction, and both paths will always have consequences.

Hopefully there's still some life left in his thread. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


40. On 2011-07-19, David Berg said:

Hey Gerald!

If conceptualizing your game in that way was useful to you, then mission achieved, man.  If you're testing the concept to see if you get it, then my only criticism might be that your answers are a bit broad.

One of my takeaways from recent chats here is that thinking about these 3 insights is less a tool for building or examining an entire game as a unit, and more a tool to bring to bear on every individual piece of your game.  Basically, for every part of your game that players interact with, what are the insights you're delivering to them right then?  (I don't mean "deliver" as in "they know what your insight was", I just mean your rationale for shaping their behavior and experience in one way as opposed to another.)

Vincent said something recently about 3 insights per subsystem, which might be the same thing.  Check out the "Just 3 Insights?" thread.

As for your pitch, your insights sound like fertile gaming to me!  However, absent some specifics, there's nothing for me to latch onto and remember.  If I saw a play example that actually delivered those insights, I might be sold, but the details would matter a lot to me.

Example of something more specific that'd grab me more:
1 - Intent and accountability is an interesting lens through which to examine Western outlaws.
2 - Transparent resolution of known risks and rewards helps players choose and communicate their true priorities.
3 - Good guys and bad guys act the same way when there's something to be gained or lost.

7 Deadly Sins is cool, maybe you could work that in somewhere... subject matter, perhaps?


41. On 2011-07-20, Gerald C said:

Thanks for the reply David!

Yes! and, I did check out that newer thread you mentioned. I think I get what you're saying. It was very useful for me to shape the entirety of my idea with these 3 insights, but I also fully intend to use something similar to shape each game mechanic, while linking them back to these three. If you like, you can look at what I wrote before as referencing the, 1)Setting, 2)Crunch, and 3)Theme. 1 is a little vague if we go in this direction, but that's because this game still has no setting (and may never, I haven't decided yet. I'm still digesting Vincent's post on seed material.)

From here we can get into things like subsystems, linking back to 2 (which would encompass the core mechanic), while remaining true to 1 and 3.

I recognize that this post is equally as vague as my last one, so here I go attempting an example:

You create a character whose motivations are Wrath and Faith. Say now that in the middle of the night someone breaks into his home and starts stealing his things. If he decides to beat the living hell out of the thief, obviously his player would roll dice based on his Wrath stat. Or, if he tried to reason with this person, to use a conversation to try to convert or bring around his way of thinking, then his player would roll based on his Faith. In either case, the GM (or perhaps GM and player?) would list what's to be gained and what's the cost of such an action, in concrete game-world terms. This is the core mechanic.

From here we can develop subsystems like, every time you roll based on your vice or virtue, put a mark next to it. When you get 10 marks, erase them and increase that stat by 1. However, if either stat is ever more than (1? 2?) higher than the other, your character will begin to suffer in a way respective to that particular stat (and getting worse the greater the disparity becomes), thus staying true to my original number 3. This would also be tagged with a new number 2 that might read something like, creating a lopsided character comes with its own risks, or something.

Hopefully this gives you more of an idea of the direction I'm headed in.


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