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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Experimenting with game structures

As usual, this is just me daydreaming about mechanisms to make my solo experience closer to the feel I believe an RPG should have. Lots of half baked ideas, etc. I do intend to play with these in actual play...some day.

My appetite for RPG'ing has come back again, and this time I just want to muck around with different ideas. For this play session, I'm going to keep some of the central ideas from Shock-- specifically the shock/issue grid. I think it's a good tool to keep the color and the theme of a play session in focus, at least as sci-fi goes (not sure how it would do in other genres).

The idea of an antagonist/protagonist cycle also stays, but I'm going to find ways to make the antagonist action somewhat unexpected via randomness. The best way I can think of is to divide gameplay into turns (not combat turns). I could use a process sort of like card solitaire, where each turn I flip a card which tells me what happens (i.e. "roll against Intelligence, and ask Mythic what you are rolling for", "introduce a love interest; let mythic tell you the circumstance", etc). I could choose to roll a Mythic question every turn, but I think that would be slower. Following logic would be faster, but would be too much like writing a novel.

I don't know if I need some sort of game end condition. Shock has the Antagonist credits to resolve the Story Goal. I want this but a bit less final, meaning, I don't want to necessarily end the session when the credits run out. Instead, I want to use that to say that it's now OK to resolve the Story Goal in this turn, but not that you have to.

I could take a page from the Dungeon Crawler  game I saw at Solonexus. That card game, if my memory serves me right, has some "Quest" cards which can only be considered solved if other game conditions have been met. I guess a similar "Story Goal" card with other cards specifically associated to it as necessary game conditions could be created. If those game conditions have been met, then your "Story Goal" is met favorably (or with bonuses), otherwise you have to beat some sort of challenge.

For example, let's say your game session is a detective story. After your Antagonist credits  run out, you mix in your Story Goal card into the stack as it is now permissible to settle it. That Story Goal card may have been created by you alongside with a Big Break card, which has some condition like:

 "Roll against your Sleuthing skill. Difficulty X. If you win, you got a Big Break. Use a Mythic interpretation."

Your Story Goal might a condition like:

"If you successfully got a Big Break, you have uncovered all the evidence you need. Roll against your Sleuthing skill: A success of any kind means the guilty party submits to the law without incident. A failure of any kind means the guilty party won't go without incident (Roll a Mythic interpretation. Maybe it's a firefight or a chase, etc).

If you didn't get your Big Break, roll against your Sleuthing skill. On a critical success, the scumbag is uncovered and submits without incident. On a success, the scumbag is uncovered, but won't go without incident (Roll a Mythic interpretation. Maybe it's a firefight or a chase, etc). On a failure, you find the scumbag, but don't have any admisible proof; he's beaten you, but you both know he's guilty (you could still choose to take the law into your own hands). On a critical failure, you completely bungled; you've been after the wrong person."

Finally, I want to take the opportunity in this play session to play around with my Bright Idea deck of cards. Last time I tried to use them I wasn't that successful, but I want to give it another shot. I also want to use my Rory Story Cubes. These should be nice supplements to Mythic, just to add some flavor to the mechanics of the session.

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