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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.
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