2010-02-16 : Things on Character Sheets (2)
So here's a fictional character:
He's got some immediate evident qualities: his gun, his attention to his surroundings, his energy/adrenaline/capacity for violence/will to action, and it looks like maybe he's done this thing more than once before. On his character sheet, this stuff might be stats, rolls to hit and damage rolls, skill checks, armor class, weapon listings. In Ron Edwards' terms, effectiveness.
He's also got some reserves he can draw on or use up: he might fatigue himself, he might get scared or rattled, he might oh I dunno start suddenly to precipitously lose blood. On his character sheet these might be hit points, wound boxes, fatigue levels, maybe endurance checks or saves vs poison. In Ron's terms, resource.
And finally he's got a whole set of qualities that place him and anchor him in his world: who does he answer to, what's his job, whose side is he on? Does he have backup off-camera? If he doesn't make it home tonight, who'll notice? What's his relationship with the people on the other side of that door, and what does he need from them? Is he afraid, greedy, calm, full of righteous anger? On his character sheet, these might be a character class, backstory, training, relationship listings, personality traits, obligations, Beliefs & Instincts, a pool of dice or bonuses the player can spend to say "this guy really cares how this thing turns out, so what he's doing? He's giving it extra." In Ron's terms, positioning.
Now, when you design a game, you're designing three sets of relationships, interactions, dynamics. First, the relationships between the fictional qualities the character has and the stuff on his character sheet:
How do your game's rules reflect the fictional stuff? How much detail, and which details? What do your game's rules quantify, and what do they leave qualitative?
Second, the relationships between the things on the character sheet:
What's the relationship between I'm
and Adrenaline [ ][ ][x][x][x]? If I've got Blood Loss, does that affect my Will to Action? How many thugs must I kill before I go up to Enforcer - 5 years?
In Ron's terms, this is your game's currency.
And finally, crucially, the relationships between the game's mechanical currency and the fictional/real world dynamics that must necessarily prevail:
Does your game's currency say what you want it to say?
This is where you take your insight into real human nature - like "it's the person losing the argument who throws the first punch" or "suffering more violence increases a person's capacity for violence" - and give it its expression in your design. This is where you make sure that your game's design supports fiction that is compelling and convincing.
Questions very welcome!
Coming up: currency, reliable (you get what you pay for, you get what you win) vs unreliable (a gamble, an uncertain investment).
1. On 2010-02-16, Robert Bohl said:
2. On 2010-02-16, Alex D. said:
3. On 2010-02-16, Vincent said:
4. On 2010-02-16, Vincent said:
5. On 2010-02-16, Ben Lehman said:
6. On 2010-02-16, Roger said:
7. On 2010-02-16, Vincent said:
8. On 2010-02-16, John Harper said:
9. On 2010-02-16, John Mc said:
10. On 2010-02-16, Sydney Freedberg said:
11. On 2010-02-16, Roger said:
12. On 2010-02-17, Luke said:
13. On 2010-02-17, Adam B said:
14. On 2010-02-17, Robert Bohl said:
15. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
16. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
17. On 2010-02-17, Gregor said:
18. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
19. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
20. On 2010-02-17, Sydney Freedberg said:
21. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
22. On 2010-02-17, Matthijs said:
23. On 2010-02-17, Matthijs said:
24. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
25. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
26. On 2010-02-17, Robert Bohl said:
27. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
28. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
29. On 2010-02-17, Matthijs said:
30. On 2010-02-17, Gregor said:
31. On 2010-02-17, Joshua A.C. Newman said:
32. On 2010-02-17, Adam B said:
33. On 2010-02-17, Vincent said:
34. On 2010-02-18, Josh W said: