2005-01-21 : Archive 159

Skiffy Game, character creation, some thinking. Based on Eric's observation about Sorcerer down here.

When you create a character, choose some characters owned by other people. Choose a Shared History or a Shared Investment with each. The Shared Histories include: Military, Criminal, Romantic, Familial, plus more. The Shared Investments include: Technology, Ideology, Family, plus more.

These we share, as you'd expect. If I take Shared Military History with your character, your character has to take it with mine. We both have to agree to it before either of us can write it down; no biggie.

Now within each Shared History and Shared Investment there'll be a list of let's-call-them Dynamics. We each have to choose one; it's a specific, concrete piece of your character's relationship with mine. They're one-way, not shared, and we can't choose the same one.

For instance, we choose Shared Military History. Its list of Dynamics includes:___ obeys my orders.___ has my back.___ takes my advice.___ gives good orders.___ keeps me in line.___ doesn't leave me behind.___ turns a blind eye.

So let's say I write on my character sheet: "Fells turns a blind eye." You write on yours: "Runner has my back."

My effectiveness in conflict depends on what's on my character sheet being true. Say randomly that I get 2d10 per truth. If your character doesn't turn a blind eye - bam, I'm out those 2d10.

1. On 2005-01-21, Chris said:

I love the way this instantly draws connections between characters. It's like a more focused use of TSOY's Keys. The fact that you can't choose the same thing keeps things from being dull. I dig it.


2. On 2005-01-21, Vincent said:

One day, TSoY will show up in my mailbox, and then I'll be a really happy geek.

Hold on. That's a suck excuse for not knowing how Keys work! It's like completely invalid, on account of Clinton's whole license thing. I need a new one. How about: I'm a lameass slacker.

I go now to investigate Keys in TSoY.


3. On 2005-01-21, Matt said:

That's it. I'm not working on my game any more. I'm just going to wait for this one.


4. On 2005-01-21, Ben Lehman said:


Please don't be serious.



5. On 2005-01-21, Matt said:

Ben: I quit forever. It's all V's fault.


6. On 2005-01-21, Ben Lehman said:

Curse you, Vincent! You have forced my most favoritest RPG designer into retirement! Curse you forever!


P.S. dnot kil dem pupis fr satin! I hat u 4evah!


7. On 2005-01-21, Chris said:

Puh-lease Matt- Everything Vincent's talking about has given me the incentive and inspiration to finally dust off all those ideas I had laying around and turn them into solid games!


8. On 2005-01-21, Ninja Hunter J said:

Matt, you have some obligations, as I understand it.

1: Make a second edition of PTA that discusses technique and refines some stuff. Seriously. It's a very, very important RPG and it can have a huge impact on all of us. For some, it's a hard game, and some discussion of how to do stuff could make a big difference.

2: Make a worthy successor to the game.

I say this in all seriousness and without undue hyperbole. What you've worked out here, in particular the mechanics of writing fiction interactively, is huge, and I think you might seriously need to think about what you've wrought before jumping to another project.


9. On 2005-01-22, Vincent said:

That's a conversation to have on Matt's terms, not on mine. Maybe the Dog Eared Designs Forge forum would be a good place for it?


10. On 2005-01-22, Matt said:

I can't believe everyone's getting all serious about a flippant remark.

The stuff above actually inspired a couple ideas of my own.

But here's some feedback for you V, which might only be me writing it before you do:

I think all the characters need to be interconnected with those bonuses. In a conflict, the fun part comes when you as a player have to choose who's getting your support. If the game is devoid of tactical bonuses (like I have the longer weapon for +1d8), then the relationship mods are what's going to turn the tide. So the question posed to every player is "who do you want to help?" Especially if you can't offer help to multiple people at the same time.

Dunno, though. It might seem to strategic for your tastes, V.


11. On 2005-01-22, Weeks said:

You know, that's awsome. There are then certain "combos" that, when the players decide to follow the tendency that's described by the tandem Dynamics that have been selected, that will feed both players their 2D10 and others that can only ever feed one or the other character, and of course, bunches that might sometimes feed both, or one, or none. So the incentive to play in certain ways that the players decided on up front is nice and obvious, but not just butt-simple.

I'm trying to figure if there's a powerful reason not to allow for more than one Dynamic being present within a single Share.

Also, does a share have to be between two characters, or any two game elements that have been "statted out?" Can a character share a background with a planet, a ship, an organization, a cause, a disease, or anything else? In the same way that e.g. a race has characteristics that are shared by all/many/some/occasional members, might a race share an investment with another race?


12. On 2005-01-22, Matt said:

That's what I mean. It's like TROS's SA's (have you played it, V?) with hardwired decision making built in. In TROS, for the Spiritual Attributes to generate tough player decisions, the GM has to do some work. Otherwise, you just go around and try and do the things that give you more dice. This way, you always have to make an interesting choice.

I'm sorta doing something vaguely kinda like that in Galactic, but it's more NPC based.

And, it's a bit like the trust points in Mountain Witch. V, if you haven't looked at that, it's pretty rock and roll.


13. On 2005-01-22, Vincent said:

I don't need every character connected this way to every other character - but I do want every character to have at bare least three, as many as say six or eight connections. You can be fulfilling your end of all your connections at once, I'm cool with that - but the game will be made on the occasions you have to choose.

Like check this out. Runner's character sheet says "Fell turns a blind eye." Phoebe's character sheet says "Fell tells me the whole truth." Jarvik's character sheet says "Fell keeps me out of harm's way." Fell's character sheet says "Runner has my back, Phoebe sleeps with me, Jarvik hears my confessions."

Fell can fulfill all his connections at once ... usually.

Something else came to me last night. At some mechanically-defined interval, we have to make sure Fell still turns a blind eye to Runner - by giving him an opportunity not to! We have to make sure that Phoebe still sleeps with Fell. We have to make sure that Jarvik hears Fell's confession. That means, Fell's player's going in her head: "...gotta remember to do something I'll have to confess, when I get a chance..."

Also, the players will all have multiple PCs. What if Runner and Jarvik are both mine? I'll sometimes be putting Fell in a position where he has to screw one of my characters - which one? I like that dynamic quite a bit.


14. On 2005-01-22, Vincent said:

Relationships between non-characters ... that's interesting. I'll think about that.

I haven't played TRoS or Mountain Witch, nope.


15. On 2005-01-22, Matt said:

Mountain Witch's hot point is Trust. You decide to give out trust points to other characters. They can spend them to help you or betray you. From scene to scene you re-allocate those points, giving out some or none to each player.

It's super keen, and reminds me a bit of what you're up to here.


16. On 2005-01-22, Chris said:

Hi Vincent- It may be fun to look at the dynamics of taking turns. If we go in the classic "around the table format for dispensing scene-time, then Fell's player would have to think about trying to fit X amount of activity in before the next mechanical check. It may also be neat if it is impossible to fulfill ALL of the requirements before each check, forcing players to try to manuever each other's characters into scenes together to allow the other person a chance to fulfill one of their requirements as well.

By doing so, you already force them to have to make choices between which ones MUST come first, and which ones they might leave to later. You also might want to make that bonus received from each truth to be limited in scope- so instead of a guaranteed 8D10(or whatever) when it comes to rolling dice, a player might have built up 6D10 for certain activities, 4D10 for others, 2D10 for yet others, etc. The neat thing is that players are going to be trying to figure out how to scheme out the maximum bonus for the type of contest they figure is coming out.

The potentially unneat thing is that each schtick might only have limited enterainment value before the players get sick of it or fall into a predictable pattern of activity. An extra reward system to encourage really pushing it could be useful to go with it all. Imagine- Runner starts having an affair with Phoebe- Does Fell turn a blind eye?!? Or does he do something he's going to have to confess? Eep!

There's that betrayal/character conflict you were talking about earlier, and you need to make sure to give exceptionally nasty/fun/Jerry Springer uses of it a good reward.


17. On 2005-01-22, Matt said:

There's also the potential problem you get whenever there's a bonus generated by a specific thing. The player's going to want to do the thing that gets that bonus all the time, and it easily becomes trite. Oh, look, Runner and his libido. Oh, look, clueless Fell.

Maybe in that case you need the ability to change the "schticks" within the background. So for this episode I choose "has my back," but next game session I pick something else, or I get three that I can choose from every episode, so character actions don't seem predictable.


18. On 2005-01-22, Vincent said:

Oh no - the opposite. Those 2d10 are mine constantly, until such time as Fell doesn't turn a blind eye. Then they're gone. (Can I recover or replace them? Well, we can, but not trivially.)

So they aren't a bonus I get when I do questionable antics; no, doing questionable antics might put them at risk.

Presumably I'll be under other pressures to do questionable antics.


19. On 2005-01-22, Chris said:

Hmm, yeah, those other pressures need to be kind of solid. In that way, it makes me think of the old Alignment rules for some editions of D&D where you'd lose a level for changing alignment. What occurred, was that people played as safe as possible(2 dimensionally, IMO) to avoid the chance of catching the whammy. But its also interesting that it sits on the trust that the other player will maintain the character relationship for your benefit... I could see a lot of player politics playing out depending on who has more, less, easier or more difficult conditions to fulfill or maintain.



20. On 2005-01-25, Eric said:

Pressures to nark or fail:

"Buyoffs" from TSoY. Make 'em big.

Maybe do it situationally. Fell has your back. Until, that is, Fell is presented with a situation where he could default on this... a situation in which that breach of trust would earn him 5d10 toward his own stuff.

Heck, do it in an escalating manner. At the start of the session the GM puts 1d10 in the middle of the table. Anytime condition X happens (someone rolls dice, scene change, commercial break, whatever), add another 1d10. No upper limit. Whenever someone 'welches' on a Dynamic, they get the whole pot for their next roll.


21. On 2005-01-25, Eric said:

Should have ended the above with "and the pot goes back down to empty."