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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shock: God For A Day - Fleshing out the Shock

I originally fleshed out the Shock and  Issues previously: Mythic GME & Shock: Social Science Fiction: Fleshing out the Shock Pt 1 (Brainstorming interpretations for Mythic's "suggestions") and
Mythic GME & Shock: Social Science Fiction: Brainstorming for Issues

Here I will attempt to do so again, using the same action/subject values that Mythic provided before. Hopefully these interpretations will be more workable and coherent.

Fleshing out the Shock:

  • Refuse Opulence:
    • The persons chosen to serve as God cannot have any personal property.
  • Recruit The Mundane:
    • Chosen ones are almost never from the ruling class, The Kinta, who also happen to be the enforcers.
  • Extravagance Expectations:
    • Serve God in this world, expect amazing rewards in the next world.
  • Subjects are induced to connect to the Godhead via a natural chemical that affects brain waves.

Shock: God for a Day - redux

I tried finishing the Shock + GME game I had started, but I became bored and discouraged towards the end. There were just too many problems with the way I was doing things. I can think of a few right off the bat:
  •  getting into conflicts way too early. Probably a result of:
  • not making enough use of Mythic boolean questions to flesh out scenes, thus the scenes were pretty much flavorless
  • not paying enough attention to each character's issues to drive the scenes, which led the stories in directions that had nothing to do with the issues
  • not paying enough attention to the shock, which also left the scenes pretty flavorless
Basically, what I have on my notebook looks more like a plot outline than a fleshed out story.

So, I'll probably post my unfinished first try at some point, but I plan to re-play this game keeping in mind the above points. I'll still keep the same shock and issues, but the re-tread will be more focused, and more fleshed out.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Scrap notes: Automating Questions asked to Mythic GME

This post may re-hash some old ideas that I've gathered from others, but hopefully there are some "fresh" ideas in here as well, if not a better structure to what has already been suggested.

Regardless, my obsession with obtaining the illusion that I'm not driving an RPG story continues.The way that Mythic GME works is that the player asks it questions, which it answers via the "mental ink blotch" to paraphrase one member of the Mythic group. It's a simple, clean and brilliant idea; a gigantic step in the direction I want to go-- which is to reliquish as much control as I can to the system.

Tom Pigeon, creator of Mythic, points out in the text that players can potentially "cheat" by framing questions in a certain way. Having the ability to choose what questions you ask still gives the player a huge amount of control over what territory the story will go into. So it seems logical to me that in order to achieve that goal, maybe I should let the system dictate what questions get asked. The only control I want to have is how my PC reacts.

So here is an example of what I'm thinking about (a random table to generate open ended questions for the "setting/scenery"):

So, for example, I might generate questions like:
"Who was the house constructed by?" and then have Mythic GME answer. To me, this would enrich the world in unexpected ways.
My further thought is that you could have similar tables customized for NPC demeanors, or even for generating the situation (though Mythic already does that).
I can see how having many tables could slow down the action, but if these were stored inside a program, then the generation of them would be a breeze. I have further thoughts on how to structure all of this further, which I need to work out, but I guess I would describe it as a loose map, where the outlines are the questions, placed at certain pre-determined points in the road (interesting post here).

Edit 11/21/2010:

I tried playing around with a couple of tables for a short noir scene, but it didn't quite work the way I expected. I had a "life path" table and a "location" table. The life path table generated some interesting questions, which fleshed out my protagonist, but it didn't generate a lot of what I considered important questions such as profession, etc. Either I need to change my thinking about what is important, or I need to work something else out.

I'm thinking that maybe a flowchart with what the player considers essential questions about a character might work better, and then another table to further flesh out the character in unexpected ways. Likewise, straight old fashioned tables with things like professions, or a real "life path" table like the Cyberpunk one might be what is needed.

The "location" table was even less successful, in my estimation. I just didn't care for what I was rolling, but then again I was just rolling at random, just to swee what kind of questions would be generated. Again, I'm now thinking that old fashioned table with types of terrains, etc, would be more appropriate to front load a sort of area map. The "location questions" table could still be helpful in giving that area map some color and history.

In a nutshell, have old fashioned tables, or a flowchart, to build a sort of skeleton for your characters, and locations. Then save the question generating tables for the fleshing out.

The problem is going to be coming up with a tight set of entries in those tables that do not generate nonsensical questions. Perhaps it would help to keep the questions as yes/no type questions, and avoid complex questions.

If all of that still does not work the way I expect, another approach I'm thinking about is filing away one's interpretations of Mythic's answers into a table, except those interpretations should be somewhat vague. More specific that mythic's word combinations, but vague enough like a horoscope. Enough for you to fill in some blanks, but give you structure.

Starting to get hot for RPGs again

Like I mentioned in one of my first posts, my obsessions seem to have an ebb and flow. Right now my mind is still obsessed with chess, but I'm starting to hear the call of RPGs again.

Right now I'm just back to thinking of how to supplement Mythic's GME to help me get closer to the feel I want for a solo-RPG. My "holy grail" is still to get the feeling or illusion that I'm not driving the story. I really want that out of my hands as much as possible. Mythic's GME is a huge step in that direction, but I want to go farther. I'll be posting some notes on that.  

I also want to go back to my unfinished Shock playtest. I felt I was kind of running into a wall with some of the characters, but I didn't want to "cheat" by breaking the rules I had set up (i.e. taking too much control). I need to review the game and hopefully glean some lessons on how to make it all run smoother.

Automated GM Tool:

To start using this tool, go to the bottom of the log window and click on either radio button. After the tool is started, events will pop out at random intervals between 5 and 10 minutes. In between events, play your solo game as you normally would, and let the alerts surprise you at random times.

Some advice:

Play fast and loose with the interpretations, and  treat the keywords as optional inspiration. Give yourself no more than one or two minutes to interpret what the tool throws at you. Ignore input that you can't interpret in this time, or place it into a 'backlog' bucket to take care of it at a later time. You can look at the 'backlog' each time a new event comes up, and handle them together as you see fit.

Feedback in the form of impressions and suggestions on  making  this tool better is appreciated. Let me know what you like, what you don't like (e.g. are the random time intervals too long? Too short?), and what you would change (would you rewrite some of the directives? Some of the keywords?).

I hope you enjoy using it!

This is yet another take on the Mythic GME's idea of random events that throw the player twists that they must incorporate into their game. The Mythic GM works as usual, with the twist that now events will come up without any input from the player (i.e. no interaction with the fate chart, or whatever). 

The rest of this post will focus on the "Fictional Positioning GM" (boring name). This tool is based, obviously, on Mythic events, but also on my (mis-?) understanding of fictional positioning from posts I've read around the net. The tool is meant to create resistance or "pushback" by challenging a player’s fictional positioning. This tool attempts to approximate the feeling of resistance provided by another player that challenges what you are trying to insert into the fiction.

The way the tool attempts to do this is by interrupting the player’s flow with a set of directives that I unimaginatively call Fictional Alterations, along with a set of Random Keywords meant to help with inspiration. Your job then is to ask, “What is the tool trying to change, and how?” The “what” should generally be the last piece of fiction that was set down. Think of it as the tool saying, “Hold up one second. It’s not exactly like that.” The “how” depends on how you interpret the Alterations and Keywords.

A note on interpretation: Give yourself wide latitude in your interpretations, and also feel free to ignore any and all keywords if it speeds things up. However, do keep in mind that the tool is trying to provide resistance, so don’t shy away from interpretations that add wrinkles or obstacles.

Once you’ve made sense of the Alteration and Keywords, you have two options: Go along with the change (‘say yes’ to the ‘GM’, haha), or declare a conflict. How the conflict is played through depends on what type of conflict system the RPG you are playing has. If the conflict system handles narrative control, the conflict will likely be about what goes into the fiction. If the conflict system is less explicitly about narrative control, (say a system that only allows you to alter the fiction through attributes and skills), you might have to deal with the Alteration AFTER it enters the fiction. **

**Say, for example, that the tool seems to suggest that an enemy attacks you and wounds you. If the conflict system is more heavily about narrative control, you may be contesting the very fact that the enemy enters the picture. If the conflict system is less explicit about narrative control, you may not be able to contest that fact, but you may still be able to avoid the attack, via say a high “Charisma” attribute, or a high skill in combat.