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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 73 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Suspense in mechanics  (Read 10881 times)
Bankuei
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« on: December 27, 2001, 09:42:00 AM »

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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2001, 12:48:00 PM »

This is the biggest advantage I can think of, from my POV, that Gamist design provides. If you don't care about story or simulation, then you can focus on the struggle. For an RPG we're often talking about death of the character, and the attendant loss of the players RL investment of time, effort, and loss of presige, whatever. From that angle, many games have this suspense element.

"Will they live!"

Mike
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unodiablo
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2001, 01:26:00 PM »

Hey,
There's a homebrew game in my Weds nite group that uses the pulling of Jenga blocks out to create suspense / tension in their horror RPG... Despair? Something like that... I haven't played it yet, and the rules aren't yet available, they're keeping them secret for now. Kool idea tho!
Sean
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2001, 01:30:00 PM »

Hello,

In a somewhat less "ohhh shit!" way, the eponymous mechanic in The Pool operates to a similar effect.

Best,
Ron
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2001, 01:39:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-12-27 16:26, unodiablo wrote:
There's a homebrew game in my Weds nite group that uses the pulling of Jenga blocks out to create suspense / tension in their horror RPG...


If I ever ran Call of Cthulhu, I'd make each player bring a Jenga set. Your stack of blocks would represent your Sanity. Each time you lost Sanity, you'd have to pull X amount of blocks out - if the stack falls, you snap.

This could be the most simulationist model of Sanity in Call of Cthulhu I've ever seen.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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Bankuei
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2001, 01:46:00 PM »

I was looking at the gambling mechanic in the Pool, although because there is never anything to MAKE you roll, short of immenent death of your character, so the terror of being hosed is a little softened.  In theory, you could spend no dice in improving your character, and still take on a heavyweight(the joys of being a hobbit :razz: ).

Actually, the reason it was really sticking in my head wasn't so much just the struggle, but the joy of not knowing what is going to happen and that each moment is important.  On the other hand, I didn't want just a single roll to make or break the resolution(save vs. death, ha!), I wanted the dice to "tell" a story in that it could flipflop the odds as you played.

Bankuei
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Laurel
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2001, 02:37:00 PM »

I'd never thought of a mechanic for Jenga-like suspense, but now that the topic has been been brought up, its going to be on my mind because I can see a lot of potential application.

Laurel
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Bankuei
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2001, 02:18:00 AM »

  From a gamist view point, there's 3 things I really enjoy, that is strategy,  continual threat of a shift in power(who's ahead, turnover), and suspense.  I simply used Jenga as an example since it contains all three.  I'm the same way with cards, board games, or video games.  

One of the biggest difficulties I find in design is balancing the strategy of karma with the unpredictability of fortune.  I believe that there should be a level of strategic thinking, but it should not be to the point where someone who knows the rules better can find a single winning strategy.  I believe that there needs to be at least 3 tactics to any gamist system in order to maintain people's interest(rock-paper-scissors).

I think the strategies should be balanced by a level of fortune, so that there is no "sure thing" in the game.  I find between these two things, there is a level of suspense that keeps people excited.  These are my biases as far as designing a level of suspense in mechanics alone.

Has anyone taken this kind of consideration into design mechanics?  

Chris
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contracycle
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2001, 12:33:00 PM »

A friend of mine has a set of paperback RPG books, dragion something?  Anyway, IIRC they use a mechanic by which one of the wizard types rolls against a power rating; the number of rolls is accumulated and effects the probability of failure, with failing being the loss of use of the ability.  This is about equivaklent to having to pull a jenga block solo, every time you wanted to do womething.  A game might be visualised with a mechanic in which a scene had a "probability" or "fixedness" value or something, which was challenged by multiple actors through a currency trading mechanic or some such, with a steadily increasing probability of catastrophic failure triggering the resolution of the scene.  However, the primary mechanic of jenga itself is the passing of risk on to other players; its hard to see the extension of the competitve angle.  Perhaps the "removing a brick" indicates, ohh.... an outcome or event in your favour, you are thus using up "lives" or "definition points" or something, with the risk that it might collapse on your go.  Framinng that risk in terms of the mechanic delivering some unpleasant result, and why the risk is shared by the players, would I guess be down to the relationship between mechanic and setting.

Hmm.  Maybe you could say that to try to use this directly for Cthulhu, the risk is indeed sanity and the sharing of the risk represents the reassurance that things are Really OK that your companions give you.  Thus, the virtue of the group risk sharing for the individual is that the risk-burden is passed to someone else if you can succesfully pull a block.  This actually works quite nicely in the sense that dramatically, two characters seldom become quivering wrecks simultaneously. The bigger the group, the longer someone else has to worry about it and the longer you are likely to hold out.  On the other hand, if its your pull and your tower of sanity comes crashing down, you're eliminated and the tower is rebuilt for the other players (or you accrue some defect, and play on, whatever).  If players are being eliminated, you inetrpret this as the weakening of the gestalt confidence and hence the increased frequency with which you end up having to pull - the smaller the group (don't get separated) the higher the individual risk.  Much of then interface mechanics with the RPG system that determine when you would pull a block would be structured around determining who is to pull next, given the escalation of risk.

Hmm.  Or how about a predation model for vampire, say; the tower represents the capacity of the kine of a given area to support kindred; every vampire in the city must pull in order to stay fed over X period, from the most secure to the least; pull order is therefore etsablished by what sort of arrangements you have or by contested ability roll, or whatever.  Whoever gets the tower on their heads doesn't feed and dies or suffers some injury, and presumably (becuase individuals appear only once in the pull order, all those later in the order too.

Incidentally, there is some of this sort of thing in the L5R Iaijutsu mechnaicm, in which two contestents bid up each others and their own probability of failure in order to sort of outbid each other - to force the conflict into a range of probabilities more favourable to you than to them.

[ This Message was edited by: contracycle on 2001-12-29 15:37 ]
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2001, 08:42:00 AM »

Very interesting. For the Vampire example, I'd think that one big risk of "pulling" would be discovery, or at least some violation of the Masquerade, etc.

Might make for a good magic system limiter. As characters in the same area of the game world cast spells it "destabilizes" reality. After a certain point the character making the bad "pull" is hit by magic backlash. At which point the balance is restored, and mages can start casting without danger again.

Mike
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Mytholder
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2001, 10:03:00 AM »

*wanders away to get a Jenga set and write "religious faith", "hope", "love", "rationality" etc on the various blocks, for the next game of Cthulhu...*

That is a quite brilliant idea. Sanity checks become a test to see how many bricks you remove. A player writes personality descriptors on each brick (one Jenga set per player, I guess...). When you lose Sanity, you have to remove a number of bricks, the number depends on how bad the Sanity loss was. When the tower falls, you suffer a breakdown of some kind...and when you rebuild the tower, you have to remove a number of bricks (but the tower has to be kept as tall as possible, so your stability *decreaes* over time)...and you have to play the character according to the descriptors visible on the blocks.

Woo. My mind has been blown.
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Epoch
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2001, 11:20:00 AM »

"As tall as possible" would mean one block per level.  I don't think that you actually mean that the first time someone went temporarily insane, they'd have to rebuild their tower at one block per level.
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Garbanzo
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2001, 11:48:00 AM »

...build back to the original height - the same number of "stories" - using (x) fewer bricks.  Fewer by how many?  Is (x) a constant or a variable?...
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Mytholder
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2001, 12:54:00 PM »

Epoch - I mean the tower would have be as close to the original as possible, so the upper stories of the new tower would have fewer than the normal number of blocks when rebuilt.
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Epoch
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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2001, 01:30:00 PM »

Gotcha.
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