madunkieg: The Fool from the tarot deck (Default)
I've figured out the primary resolution system for Metropole Luxury Coffin (MLC), and it has its roots in Texas hold'em poker, except that you only keep track of the number of pairs.

Everyone gets dealt from 0-4 cards, depending upon their skill, situation, and whether or not they're assisting someone else. The GM then starts dealing the community cards into the center of the table, with everyone able to do 1 action per round before the GM deals another community card.

Tasks have a limited number of actions/community cards that may be played. If the player manages to achieve enough pairs, then it is a success.

Conflicts are a little more complex. Everyone gets to bid face points from their character's pool, and must match the highest bid before the end of the round. Alternatively, if the bidding escalates too quickly, a character may withdraw. When someone calls for it to be over, all the cards are shown and the number of pairs totaled.

This is just the basic MLC resolution system. I'll explain the more advanced rules in a future post.

I want to clarify that conflict represents two people opposing one another, not conflict resolution as I'm exploring in my dissertation. This form of conflict only deals with what the characters do, not what they hope to achieve.
madunkieg: The Fool from the tarot deck (Default)
My friend Rob Paterson has analyzed and created a breakdown of good storytelling here. Since games often incorporate stories, I'd like to show how it applies to good game design, and how even better characters can come from it. Let's look at Vincent Baker's Dogs in the Vineyard (DitV).

DitV is a very structured tabletop role-playing game about holy justice-bringers in the wild west. It's based loosely upon the Mormon religion, exaggerating the violence.The characters travel from town to town, rooting out and fighting heretics and demons. Effectively, DitV is a story about establishing and maintaining order (#8 on Reiss' list). This is the level that Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) operates at, too, although I suspect that D&D is more accumulating something (called "12. Saving" on Reiss' list) than creating order.

The thing that differentiates DitV from D&D is that,in DitV, the plot isn't the core question around which the story revolves. There's a struggle between ethics, as shown by the code of conduct developed by the players, and morality, as shown by the individual character. Is it okay to root out evil? To what degree will you punish sinners? The story is actually about self-actualization. The difficulty of creating a game around self-actualization is that it needs a certain amount of flexibility.

Premade scenarios, like those created for D&D, assume that characters have had certain encounters and those encounters resulted in certain conclusions (such as victory, or at least survival). DitV seeks to allow characters, and, by extension, their players, to explore those self-actualization questions without assuming any particular answer. In return, the gamemaster's job is to create scenarios that respond to and challenge the previous answers that each player character came up with.

Yes, this is all possible in D&D, but DitV focuses upon this morality/ethical struggle. The twist is that the code of conduct in DitV, the ethics, were designed collectively by the players and rewarded by the rules, while moral codes are handled individually and punished by the rules. Add onto this the usual individual desires and subplots. Because the story is about self-actualization, a good gamemaster can use those to artificially conflate desires with sin. After all, desires are individual, and DitV punishes individuality.

This layered approach to generating a meaningful story is a good one, but I wouldn't want to make it any more complex than this. Additional layers would just make it confusing.
madunkieg: The Fool from the tarot deck (Default)
I haven’t posted much about Metropole Luxury Coffin (MLC) because I’m redesigning the action resolution system. There are several requirements for the system, including:

- it needs to incorporate gambling, because I want to tie reputation into action resolution
- if I’m sticking with cards, the the hand sizes need to stay small (like texas hold’em poker)
- the system needs to give a slight advantage to teams, but not overwhelmingly so

Unfortunately, it’s this last requirement that throws off most gambling games. Most gambling games are either balanced (like poker), or very unbalanced in favor of the house (like roulette). It doesn’t work when there may be multiple sides that get that advantage.

There are a couple of optional bonuses that I’d like to work in, mutual failure and over-success. I’m planning on turning MLC into something of a comedy game, and it’s funnier if everything goes wrong.

So, having exhausted most gambling games, I’m looking for inspiration in other games. I know that RPGs tend to focus upon individuals, but I can adapt systems from both board and card games, too.
madunkieg: The Fool from the tarot deck (Default)
I find running Apocalypse World (AW) to not be very fun. For a long time I puzzled over this, pointing out several flaws in the system, but the reality is, I miss rolling dice.

It doesn't matter if the rules use dice, cards, or something else, I like being responsible for not knowing what will happen next. I like feel of whatever the system uses to randomly determine outcomes for that moment before using them. Anticipation is a delicious feeling. Associating it with a tactile sensation only serves to heighten it. Accompany it with the rattling of the dice, or the sound of cards as they slide against each other, and I'm in heaven. Then, when the dice are rolled, or the cards are played, that anticipation instantly transforms into some other emotion, be it joy, sorrow or anger, as the results are determined.

It's that rush that fuels the gamist-style of play. Some games, such as poker, try to extend the anticipation. Poker even adds in chips to expand upon the audible element. Poker isn't a story game, but it is used as a resolution method in various games, such as Deadlands. This makes me wonder about four things:

1. Are games that use poker gamist, or at least hybrid?

2. Why don't more gamist RPGs use anticipation better?

3. How can I implement this into Metropole Luxury Coffin?

4. How does this random idea affect my dissertation?

EDIT: ...or not? I can't find a single gamist game that uses this anticipation/resolution combo. Now, I haven't gone over every game of the genre, but when you look at most of them you realize two things: the genre isn't that big and it isn't as well developed other genres, including narrativism.
madunkieg: The Fool from the tarot deck (Default)
I consider Storm of the Armadas to be a playable game with a steep learning curve at the beginning. Maneuvering in space doesn't work like it does on a planet. I've tried creating movement rules that closely held to real physics, but abandoned them because they were too complex to run smoothly. Instead, I kept some aspects of space movement (no air to slow you down) and abandoned others (turning is based upon velocity, rather than a calculation involving thrust, mass, velocity, direction and gravity). But turning isn't the only place I chose playability over reality.

There is no stealth in space. Yes, I know it's being hotly debated, but, extending modern technology into the future, it is entirely likely that nothing within the solar system could escape detection for long. So, why did I include elite ships whith stealth capabilities? Their presence makes for a far better story. Furthermore, stealth in space would have some similarities to submarine warfare, such as the ability of a lone ship to hide better. There would be differences, too, such as the need to engage targeting in order to overcome ECM, thereby offering the target a moment to react.

Other unrealistic aspects of space combat include the shape of the flotillas, firing arcs, weapon ranges, and units interfering with each others' lines-of-sight. Heck, ships should each maneuver differently. All of these rules were inserted in order to shape certain tactics.

The result I was going for was something similar to the battles found in Tanaka's Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Those battles were based, however, on Napoleonic warfare, and I wanted to address some of the differences that space offered.

To update the list of inspirations, I completely forgotten that I had read Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and am now reading other books in that series.

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madunkieg: The Fool from the tarot deck (Default)
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