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[Vespertine] So Close I Can Taste It!

Started by Jonathan Walton, December 02, 2004, 07:54:32 AM

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Jonathan Walton

So I'm trying to finish up all the system design work on Vespertine so I can start writing it.  And I'm SO, SO close.  And the art just came in from Hive and it is BEEYOOTEEFUL! (Check out a very basic draft of the layout in PDF form HERE). Which makes me want to nail this thing down fast.

I'm going to give an overview of ths system so far, but the most recent design thread was HERE in case people are interested.  Big thanks to Evan, Tony LB, Eero, Tobias, Chris Weeks, Marhaut, and Chad U. for helping me out last time, as well as to Jason Blair for letting me make a pseudo-sequel to Little Fears in the first place.

Vespertine is a game about teenagers, sin, and monsters.

So there's the 7 Deadly Sins, right?  Well each of them gives you a certain positive quality (for instance, gaining Envy makes you Cool).  As such, each Sin is also associated with a teenage clique that specializes in it, as well as a type of monster that is the embodiment of that particular Sin.  The higher ranking members of the cliques usually traffic with the monsters of the same Sin type (for instance, super-Goths, who ooze Cool like they're Marlon Brando, often hang around with Vampires).  The slightly-altered associations are given below (every other one is bolded to make it easier to read, but that doesn't mean anything in particular):

Envy --> Cool --> Goths --> Vampires
Gluttony --> Buff --> Jocks --> Zombies
Greed --> Rich --> Preps --> Goblins
Lust --> Hot --> Hippies --> Faeries
Pride --> Smart --> Geeks --> Aliens
Sloth --> Slick --> Losers --> Ghosts
Wrath --> Bold --> Rockers --> Werewolves

So each Sin is rated 0-6, with zero being "you don't know jack" and 6 being "you've been in a threesome with a satyr and your younger brother."  People with high levels of Sin risk turning into monsters if they lose control of themselves.  If you ever lose control of yourself with 6 in three different Sins, you've created the Number of the Beast and turn into a demon instead.  Have a nice time in Hell.

Players start the game at the age of 13 (having just graduated from Little Fears), with 1d6 points of Sin, distributed however you like.  Additionally, starting characters get a trait called "Innocence Remains" (or something like that), symbolizing the last remnant of their childhood purity.  Teenagers from troubled backgrounds can trade this trait in for another 1d6 worth of Sin.

Each point of Sin was gained through exposure to sin (duh!), so you have to decide how you gained the sin that you did.  Sometimes, what's important is the circumstances (Wrath: "I got beat up a lot").  Sometimes, what's important is a specific person, especially if they were directly responsible for the sin (Lust: "My first boyfriend liked me to put my hands down his pants").  So each point of Sin needs to have an association next to it.  Like "Bullies" or "Aaron Brokowski" or "Girl Scouts."  There will probably be more specific guidelines for these associations, once I figure out exactly what they do.  This basically serves as your starting relationship map, so maybe specific people or groups would be better: "Randolph Parker's Gang" or "Troop 237" instead of something more general.

You also get a certain number of Strengths, which are things about you that don't duplicate the Sin attributes (for instance, you couldn't have a Trait that talked about how Cool or Buff you were).  For instance, maybe you took ballet lessons for a while, or maybe you're a member of the Latin Club, or maybe you have an affinity for animals.  Stuff like that.

You also get a few Weaknesses, things that you're not so great at, or really can't tolerate.  Maybe you can't learn a foreign language to save your life, maybe you hate spiders with a violent passion, maybe you have a problem with authority.  Stuff like that.

If you ever have trouble deciding if something is a Strength or a Weakness, just try thinking like a school administrator.  That should clean up most confusion.

You also have a resource attribute called Self, which is a measure of your self-esteem and identity and maturity and that kind of thing.  This is your sense of "you-ness."  Self works a little but like Willpower in White Wolf games, where you have an attribute and then temporary levels of it.  If your temporary Self goes over a certain value, you gain Self.  If it reaches 0, you lose a point.  In either case, after permanent Self is raised or lowered, you set Self back to normal, which is a value in the middle.

Okay, so actual play.

There are 3 real goals in the game, mechanically.  Gaining Sin (which makes you Cooler, Buffer, etc. as well as helping you fit into certain cliques), giving Sin to others (which gives you power and influence over them), and making sure your sense of Self stays stable and strong (which keeps you from becoming a monster or, later on, a lame ass adult).  These are the tools of being effective in the social world of teenagers.

Every point of Sin given or gained is a relationship, one where the giver is superior to the reciever.  If you learn high levels of Wrath/Boldness from a Werewolf, the monster has just demonstrated his power over you.  In the future, if you try to act better than him, the Werewolf will probably be able to put you in your place.  However, just the fact that you have any type of relationship with a Werewolf will gain you major props from other teenagers.  As such, you get a one die bonus in conflicts for every point of Sin that you've given your opponent.  That's why you keep track of that stuff.

Okay, so how do you do stuff?  And how do you gain Sin?

Conflict in Vespertine is always person vs. person.  If nobody else is around, why do you care what happens?  Throw some NPCs in there and create some bloody story meat already!  Teenagers lives are all about relationships, what they do when other people are around (including parents, teachers, monsters), not what they do by themselves.

In a conflict, you roll the appropriate Sin in dice, plus any temporary Self dice that you want to add (these should be a different color).  Once you roll, you put all the dice in order and line them up next to your opponent's.  Each Sin Die that beats you is another fragment of Sin gained.  Each of your Self Dice that gets beat is a temporary point of Self lost.


Amy Johnston (Pride 4) and Leonard Wu (Pride 3) are taking part in a Math Competition.  They're trying to see who's brainier.  Leonard's player tosses in 3 Self Dice.  Amy's player throws in 3 too.  They roll (Sin Dice are in black, like your soul)...

Amy: 6124364
Leonard: 235515

Put these in order and compare (Sin Dice always come first)...


So, totaling things: Amy gives Leo a spot of Pride and destroys a bit of Self at the same time (6 Sin beats 5 Self), but Leo gives her a bit of Pride in return (5 Sin over 4 Sin) and destroys a bit of Self too (5 Self over 4 Self).  Amy's 6 Self has nothing blocking it, but you can't destroy Self that wasn't bid.  If that was a Sin die, though, it would go through and give Leo another speck of Pride.

Each player narrates their results (each bit of Sin given is a chance for you to show your superiority and each bit of Self destroyed is a chance to embarass your opponent).  And then you count successes to see who emerges triumphant in the situation, in this case, the Math Competition.  Well, after one roll, each player has 2 successes (since Amy's unblocked 6 Self counts this time), so the players can choose whether to continue or quit.  If one player quits and the other continues, the one who prevails is generally thought to triumph, but it depends on the circumstances.  If Leo walked out on the Math Competition, Amy would win by default.  If they were kissing and Leo walked out, it might be a bit more complicated.

So what do these little bits of Sin mean?

Well, that's what I'm trying to figure out.  What should happen is: after you gain a certain number of them, you increase in Sin.  Basically, after you've received enough Lessons in that particular Sin, you've got enough of the idea that you move up a bit.  So after you come to school and people ridicule the way you look and dress enough, teaching you all about Envy, you gain another point of Envy and, at the same time, a certain degree of Coolness.  What I was thinking was, maybe you roll dice equal to your current Sin and try to get under the number of Stains/Splotches/Whatever of Sin you have.  So you'd usually need a whole bunch of Stains in order to have a chance to rising to a higher level of Sin, but sometimes you'd roll low and get lucky.  But I don't really know when you should roll.  After every conflict?  On special occasions?

Also, I don't think you should be able to gain Stains from someone with less Sin than you.  Or maybe you can if you completely debase them in a way you haven't yet sunk to.  For instance, if you just beat the shit out of some random kid for no reason at all, could you gain Wrath Stains?  Or maybe that conflict isn't really against the random kid, it's against all the Wrath-heavy punks in your clique that you're trying to impress, and they DO have higher Wrath than you.  That works better, I think.

Also, I'm trying to figure out what Traits do in conflict, because I don't want yet another type of dice ("Trait Dice!") to keep track of.  They should probably give you a die for every applicable Strength and give your opponent a die for each Weakness, but what type of dice are they?  Sin Dice or Self Dice?  Is that distinction overly complicated as it is?

I'm beginning to think that this slightly more complicated system, which sounded so good in the coffee shop today, isn't as effective as something more straightforward, like roll-over-a-target number, or Dogs style dice bidding.  Also, it sort of destroys the possibility, which was there originally, of switching Sins in the middle of a conflict for more dice.  Like, when you're making out with someone, saying, "Oh, you're not as good as X" and changing from Lust to Envy.

In any case, I feel SO CLOSE!  And I just can't quite make it the last few steps there.  I'd love it if I was able to connect all this into a scene framing or session framing system, where players requested specific chances for debauchery or invented really bad things to happen to NPCs or other player's characters.  That would rock.  So I decided to just go ahead and post all this to the Indie Game Design forum, figuring you guys are the people who can help me out.  Help!

Elegant and evocative is what I'm going for.  Push me in the right direction.

Jonathan Walton

Just so you know, my previous conflict mechanic was roll Sin + Self + Traits and try to get over your opponent's Sin.  Whoever has the most Successes wins.  People with Sin 6 were unchallengable in their specific area, so you had to get at them in other ways.

I like the simplicity, but I'd really like to see it go down the road of requiring the kind of "bid a die and narrate" stuff that makes Dogs work, with the feeling of build up and escalation.  This would be tantilizingly cool in fights and make out sessions and school dances.  Where people keep pushing things a little bit further...


I'm drawing on blank om mechanics, but DO have some thoughts on player/character motivation and 'when you get better'.

Why would a character gain, say, coolness from being bested in cool by someone better? Why, if bested by (or besting) someone worse?

See, I remember from highschool that if you were at the (semi-)top, you stayed there by pummeling down those below you on the ladder, while receiving a pummeling from those above you. There were always picked-on kids that couldn't get out of the cycle (instead of the quick learning if you have a low score, as this proposal's mechanics do, if I looked correctly).

Why do you gain (splotches of) sin by being beaten at what you're trying to do? (and you want to gain sin, as far as I can tell). Does advancement work in practise?

If your system cannot answer any of these questions (to your own satisfaction), you're at least finding the flaws.

I wonder is Self is always in support of Sin, though. Maybe it's an upper cap, under which Sin-use is risk-free, and above which, sin use is dangerous? And being forced to step on up to those high-power sin effectes when confronted by someone with a high Sin rating?

Just spouting, by now. Hope there's a gem in there.
Tobias op den Brouw

- DitV misses dead gods in Augurann
- My GroupDesign .pdf.

Sydney Freedberg

Actually, I think Walton's cause-and-effect is beautifully evil: You do unto others as others have done unto you. Beating on those weaker than you (less cool, less smart, less strong, whatever) is merely the effect, the thing that becoming more Sinful allows you to do; the cause is the degradation you yourself have received.

Quote from: TobiasI wonder is Self is always in support of Sin, though. Maybe it's an upper cap, under which Sin-use is risk-free, and above which, sin use is dangerous?

But here, I think Tobias is dead onto something. As a teen, your sense of Self -- who you are as an individual -- is at best an uneasy ally of your sense of cool, here defined as Sin -- who you are as a member of a clique. At the beginning, Self & Sin both help you crawl up from the nameless legions of the dweebs; but at some point, they come into conflict: Okay, people now respect me, some, but do they respect me because I'm me or because I'm one of Clique X? If you build that tension into the mechanics (with Tobias's suggestion being one possible way), at some point you force people to choose -- and that's always painful, dramatic fun.

{EDIT: Another possible way of implementing this mechanically is that your Sin dice and your Self dice aren't always on the same side -- i.e. if your individuality and your clique-identity come into conflict, you get to roll Sin or Self but not both, and the other side gets to roll the one you don't chose against you.}

{EDIT II: And maybe this is where Traits come in ("plays chess," "can't learn French," "has a pet snake," whatever). They're not additional sources of dice: They're the aspects of your character that don't fit neatly into the box of a clique, i.e. your (nascent) individuality. So whenever you do something that is in keeping with your clique identity, you get the Sin dice; but you get the Self dice when you do something in keeping with your individuality, i.e. your Traits. And when your Traits say one thing and your clique characteristics say another, well, you gotta choose which set of dice you want on your side -- or, more accurately, which set of dice you take the side of. Note this implies the GM should, rather like the GM-as-Master in MWLM, be consistently forcing players into situations where their clique demands they give up their Traits: "dude, you have a pet snake? That's so uncool" or "how can you be president of the Math Club and get an F in French?"}.

P.S.: Stray point -- I'm not sure about your take on gluttony. This is the hardest sin for us modern Westerners to understand, as we live in a society where no one we know goes hungry. I've always thought the best way to translate this into modern terms is to think of it as compulsive consumption, which is not at all about having the best stuff (that's greed) but all about the semi-sensual experience of satisfying your momentary need to acquire (ooh, I saw those on TV, they're cool, I'll buy six -- and promptly forget about them and leave them forever in the back of my closet still in the bag).

Jonathan Walton

Quote from: TobiasSee, I remember from highschool that if you were at the (semi-)top, you stayed there by pummeling down those below you on the ladder, while receiving a pummeling from those above you. There were always picked-on kids that couldn't get out of the cycle (instead of the quick learning if you have a low score, as this proposal's mechanics do, if I looked correctly).

So you're suggesting that you gain/maintain your Sin by picking on those with less Sin than you?  See, I was suggesting that that's the way you regain Self (you I hadn't quite found a mechanic for it yet).  You pick on those below you to make yourself feel better, and the people above you do likewise.

The people that would never be Cool, those are the ones that get their Self destroyed without making any inroads into Sin themselves.  They're the ones who could never get a date and had really low self-esteem.  I feel like, gaining Sin is at least partially a willing process.  If people try to teach you and you always run off or say "No, I'm not interested" you're never going to be Cool or Hot or whatever.

QuoteI wonder is Self is always in support of Sin, though. Maybe it's an upper cap, under which Sin-use is risk-free, and above which, sin use is dangerous? And being forced to step on up to those high-power sin effectes when confronted by someone with a high Sin rating?

Well, this was also a part of the original mechanics, which somehow didn't get into the post above (sorry).  Whenever you use Sin to do something supernaturally (and this'll probably have to dance arounda bit, considering how I'm proposing to use Sin now), you have to make some sort of Sin vs. Self check to avoid turning into a monster temporarily.  And then, if you ever lose all your Self and have some Sins up at 6, you turn into a monster permanently.  So, in this way, keeping a high Self allows you to use your Sin to do neat stuff, like calling on Gluttony to pick up a car or calling on Lust to make yourself mysteriously alluring.

Quote from: SydneyYou do unto others as others have done unto you. Beating on those weaker than you (less cool, less smart, less strong, whatever) is merely the effect, the thing that becoming more Sinful allows you to do; the cause is the degradation you yourself have received.

You've got it in one.  What are you gaining Sin for?  Not for it's own sake but for the power (and additional dice) it allows you to weild over other people.  The more Sin you have, the tighter you are with a given clique (and you can be involved in multiple ones if you raise a bunch of Sins), the more you exhibit the trait associated with it, the more you can call on supernatural powers, and the closer you are to becoming a monster.  And if you ever become Cooler than that bitch Jessica Estabar who always made fun of you, she better start preparing herself for a fall from grace (or, at least, for being drained dry by a Vampire).

Sydney, you may also be on to something here with the Sin vs. Self stuff.  That was already going to be the core of the "do you turn into a monster?" mechanic, but it's also really about "at what cost power?" which is the narrativist core of the game.  Are you willing to give yourself up to the cliques and monsters in order to be more badass, or do you try to be yourself and grow up into a mature adult?  Or do you refuse to answer the question for so long that you end up, as Tony said last time, I think, renting videos to people who are Richer, Cooler, Hotter, and happier than you?

Jonathan Walton

So, some IRC soul-searching with Ben, Smurf, Anonymouse, and Josh (and maybe some others; if I forgot you, sorry).  Definitely strengthened my ideas about the relationship-map mechanic that I was starting to build.  Any game about sin and teenagers needs to have a strong foundation in relationships, I think.

Okay, so you have two types of relationships: those based on Sin (a specific Sin, in each case) and those based on Self.  So you could have a girlfriend who was just arm-candy (based on Envy or Cool), one who was just a toy for your gratification (based on Lust or Gluttony), or someone who you really cared about and invested yourself in (based on Self).  To build real relationships, you have to invest points of Self in them, but then, if those people are threatened, you risk losing your Self investment if you don't defend them.  So a critical part of the game would be when your cliques (who are all connected by Sin and not by Self) put pressure on you to choose between them and your Self relationships.

Further recent thoughts: Self mechanics are based on selflessness, you choosing to invest points of Self in other people, giving Self away.  Sin relationships should be inherantly selfish, they should be about you gaining status and coolness by associating with those people.  Sin relationships are a way for you to gain Sin and all the perks that come with it.  How to model that?

Note: you can't have Self-based relationships with monsters.  Faeries don't want you to like them; they want you to Lust after them.  Vampires, likewise, want you to Envy them, not feel close to them.  Monsters are inherantly selfish creatures by their very nature.

Also, I think that a way for you to strengthen your Self is to get other people to invest in you.  It's like the Beatles say: the love you take is equal to the love you make.  You only lose Self by investing it in things and then not standing up for them.  Investing Self in people doesn't really make you lose Self.  In fact, if they invest in you in return, you both gain Self.  Investing is then, not a cost, but a risk.  You're spreading your Self out amongst a bunch of people, so if anyone is threatened, you're threatened.  That's what friendship is about.  Of course, having lots of friends doesn't gain you ass-kicking supernatural powers...

Sin relationships are pretty cut-throat.  If your "Sin friends" show signs of weakness or hesitation, you replace them and step on them to work your way up the social ladder.  Hey, if they can't cut it, that's too bad.  You can always find hotter or cooler or buffer people to hang out with.  Still not sure how to model Sin relationships.  It's not about investing points in other people.  Is it about gaining Sin from them?  So the older kids who taught you the true ways of Gluttony or Sloth or Wrath by egging you on to do stuff that you'd never have done on your own?  That's the model for Sin relationships?  If that's the case then I really need to get the "Lesson" mechanics down and figure out how you gain Sin.


It does seem like Sin relationships are strictly for the purpose of Lessons, yeah. And they're always unequal -- at best you have two people who are each the other's master and trainee, but this is not the same at all as an equal Self-based relationship (do you have a Mountain-Witch-esque way to backstab your friends and convert their Self points into your Sin? because that seems like an obvious one, and I think it'd be good to have a way to get Sin without a Lesson). This kind of Sin relationship leads naturally to ditching people who get less Cool than you -- they can't teach you anything, so what good are they? (Except to have a flunkie to order around, and maybe you want that or maybe it's not worth the effort to be teaching them all the time).
Dan Shiovitz

Eero Tuovinen

The system ate my post. It was one of those gigantic things that change how a game is viewed. <crying> I'll do my best to duplicate the transcendent ideas in it.

This post will discuss the theoretic framework of the game. I'll not comment on the details of the mechanics, because, frankly, the game's not there yet.

Before starting, a game design methology suggestion: take what you have (Sin/Self tracking) and start playing. Don't try to design any interim mechanics. When a situation comes up in play, improvise system. Keep notes. Play multiple sessions, but don't lock any system down. At the end you will know what things require system and what things won't, and you will know what system works.

Contrast and compare with the Vincent and friends method of Ars Magica: this is game design in the same paradigm. This is necessary in this case because none of us sees the whole of Vespertine clearly, and we're speaking past each other. This is possible because we all know very clearly what the game's about, and what it's style will be. Thus it's possible and important to fire up the old IRC, get some designer friends and have a think-tank/play session or several.

First, I agree with Jonathan and Sydney about the relationship stuff and the Sin/Self relationship, respectively. Consider them well.

Second, apply the same temporary/permanent differentiation you have in Self to Sins as well. I had a long post justifying the suggestion, but it all boils down to simplicity and system hooks. You have more things to systemize than hooks to put them in, and this is a simple way to increase the possibilities. You can put the "Sin marks" into the temporary Sin values, and different situations can cause burning of the temporary value, or rolling it, or comparing with the permanent value, or using the permanent instead of temporary... all kinds of possibilities that won't complexify the system.

Third, the Sin system you propose is ass-backward, which is a straight way of saying what I argued for in the lost post. Sin is a solution to conflict, not a cause of the same. It's because of the human condition that Sin works so well and is many times the only solution, not because conflict inherently blackens you. That's the basis of the Christian morality, and cannot be removed here.

Jonathan: what you need to realize is that contrary to what several games have resently done, the conflict system is not the be-all, end-all of game design. For certain kind of game it works, but Vespertine needs more: you need separate yet connected subsystems, one for conflict and one for Sin lessons. Vespertine is about partying, making out, fighting, lying, spreading rumours and doing stupid things. Those are not conflicts. They are Sin lessons, certainly, but that's not about conflict in the theoretical sense. Not at all. What it is, is Color and characterization and Situation. It's the Yang principle of game design manifesting; you need a Lesson system that's not about narration rights or character success, but about cooperation and structuring relationships.

Ideally there is a certain kind of cycle in Vespertine: first, the situation eggs the teenagers to Sin. Sin leads to conflict, and conflict leads to a new situation. In System terms, we'll want it to work like this:
Sin lesson -> situation -> conflict -> situation -> Sin lesson
Consider: Rick and Joe go to a party, because Rick wants to be cool. This is a Sin lesson, and play at the table will be about illuminating the relationships, the color of being a teenager and the Sin itself. Then, at the party, a fight over story-important thing happens. What has happened, is that the Sin lesson defined a Situation, which leads to conflict. Note that this is a conflict fight, but some fights are Sin lessons. If the result of the fight is not important to the players, then it's a lesson in Wrath, not a conflict. Now, the conflict is resolved in a beautiful way, as we've learned from the conflict gurus like Paul and Vincent. What happens, is that the fight has consequences defined by the conflict system: Rick and Joe break up as friends. Now, this is again a Situation, which is ameliorated by Rick starting to hang with the cool posse. The Situation created by the conflict system has initiated a new lesson.

Jonathan: note how in the above example, the lesson subsystem is not about player conflict or story control. It's not about story at all. It's a pure initiated situation, which will be handled for color, relationships and character definition in player cooperation, supported by the subsystem. Regardless the lesson is crucial, as it sets the scene for conflict. It's the yang side of system.

So, what we want from the two subsystems is as follows.
The conflict system:
1) story control, conflict resolution; the classical oracle function
2) differentiation between Self/Sin(/traits?) as methods
3) the system causes monsterization and other supernatural effects, and takes the same as input
The lesson system:
1) relationship definion as per the relationship map, color, character definition
2) changes to Self/Sin(/trait?) values
3) the system causes monsterization and other supernatural effects, and takes the same as input

Broken up like that, I hope that you understand what I'm driving at. The subsystem dependencies themselves should be clear, as well: giving and taking Sin/Self creates relationships, which will have story and conflict meaning. Either system can lead to a character breaking down and turning into a monster, or to using supernatural powers in different ways. The systems will affect each other through as yet undefined situations (like, when somebody is turned to a monster by the lesson system, and that affects the following conflict). That kind of stuff.

I'm convinced that this is the way Vespertine should be, with clear distinction between story-conflict and morality play. A sexual encounter, a fight, a public speech, all can be either a conflict or a lesson, depending on whether the players initiate it to find out where the story is going, or to develop relationships.

Also, consider scene framing: both subsystems should allow the players some control over them as a direct result.

So I'm afraid that in my opinion the conflict system has not really yet clicked, and the other system is still non-existent. Separate them, allow switching sins in conflict, give traits a central role too, and start working. It'll come together.

There was some more stuff in my lost post, but I cannot for the life of me remember it. Hopefully it'll come to the fore later on. And hopefully you got what I'm trying to say about the lesson system.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Jonathan Walton

Actually, that brings up a good point, that I've been considering.  Originally, there was no talk about losing Sin once you've gained it, because it's like this permanent black stain on your soul.  Once you've crossed the line, there's no going back to being innocent.  

However, Sin in teenage social circles is really more about image than reality.  Nobody really cares what you've actually done or how black your soul really is.  It's all about how dirty you feel.  So maybe in that case it makes sense to talk about Sin in relative terms.  The things you do are a chance to prove that you're a badass, but if other people one-up you, then there's a chance that you might slide down the Sin scale as well.  All this, of course, would serve to raise the stakes for people to do even worse shit.

That's not canon, yet, of course, but another possibility worth thinking about.

NOTE: Cross-posted with Eero.


I was about to post this last night, but it was far to fragmentary so I emailed it to Jonathan.  He asked that I post it, so I've cleaned it up a bit.  Here's my take:

I don't believe that Sin is an end in itself, it is a means.  This means that you don't use Sin to "keep score" Sin does not determine how cool you are.  Instead Sin is one of the ways (the easiest and least risky way) to get "cool".

Here's how it works.  Every relationship is defined by how much Self you have invested in the other person, and how much Self they have invested in you.  Anytime you want to build a new relationship or strengthen an old one you utilize something similar to My Life with Master's Love building mechanics.

My rough vision is that you choose an amount of Self to invest (which can be as low as zero, the upper cap could be either your maximum total Self, or you maximum uninvested Self).  If you don't want to risk you Self then you can instead use some amount of Sin (defined by your rating in the chosen Sin).  You could also choose to use a combination of the two, a bit of Self and a bit of Sin.  For the purposes of determining whether you get Self from the target Sin and Self are treated the same mechanically.

Then you roll.  If you roll poorly enough (or something) then you lose Self that you invested, if you roll some other way (well enough, random something?) then you get more Sin of the type you are using.  The result is that by investing Self in a relationship you take a risk, but by using Sin instead you take no risks (unless you consider more Sin a risk...).

If a relationship is broken/destroyed/whatever by outside forces then you lose the Self you had invested in that person.

So I see three types of scenes here:

Building Relationships (using the above, you can create new and strengthen old Relationships)

Increase Self - I think the only way to increase the amount of Self you have is to make some sort of  roll against the current Self your partner has in a certain relationships.  The more Self they have invested in you the more likely you are to gain new Self.

Threaten Relationships - I'm not sure how this works yet, but basically you attack relationships of other people (and they attack yours) in order to cause loss of Self invested, or to kill a source of Self.

I would also suggest that you can sacrifice a relationship as it is breaking in order to avoid the loss of Self, but it will always cause you to gain Sin.  So that girlfiend that you were really involved with has been turned against you?  Quick!  Before it touches your image, start some nasty rumors about how she sleeps around!

So, that's what I'm thinking.   My reasoning here is pretty simple.  Sin is a means not an end, and sin needs to be made alluring.  I would love to see some way that the choice between using Sin and Self becomes more ambiguous morally instead of being a tactical choice (as it seems above).  If you know what the "right" thing is, and there's no reason to take the "wrong" path, then the whole soul of the game seems to be missed...

Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible

Sydney Freedberg

Quote from: Eero Tuovinen....Sin is a solution to conflict, not a cause of the same. It's because of the human condition that Sin works so well and is many times the only solution, not because conflict inherently blackens you. That's the basis of the Christian morality, and cannot be removed here.

I half-agree here. Psychologically, evil is a consequence of the evil done unto you ("you have to be carefully taught"); theologically, evil is a consequence of what you choose to do unto others.

But I think these can be reconciled. Every time someone does evil unto you, you learn a Lesson and get those "smudges." But these represent only your potential for evil -- you only turn smudges into Sin dice when you choose to do something evil to someone else.

Which of course introduces temptation: Do you keep being a good person and just keep taking all the crap that's dished out to you, remaining decent and thus powerless, when all that pain inflicted on you is sitting there, like the One Ring, waiting to turn from burden to weapon the minute you decide to wield it on its terms -- by becoming evil yourself?


Quote from: Sydney Freedbergwaiting to turn from burden to weapon the minute you decide to wield it on its terms -- by becoming evil yourself?

What I might suggest, going with this statement here, might be a "breaking point"- you take so much crap and POW!
But here's the thing: If you *choose* to perform an evil act, and *choose* to do it to someone that performs evil acts all the time, is it really an evil act or just desserts?
You'd almost want a random type thing...IE someone with really really high 'Wrath' hits their breaking point and lashes out, beating the shite out of the first person they come across...if thats an abusive friend/parent/aquaintance, its more justifiable, "Self Defense" type. If it happens to be an old friend you no longer hang out with because you're hanging out with all these metalhead Wrath-ers, then thats pretty low.

The 'terms' as Sydney put it would be "anyone", not a specific person. "I'll give you incredible strength if you use it on anyone you meet".
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!

Sydney Freedberg

Quote from: daMoose_Neoif thats an abusive friend/parent/aquaintance, its more justifiable, "Self Defense" type.

Ah, revenge. Revenge can look so much like justice -- which makes it all the more dangerous a sin....


If you search them out and beat the bejeezus out of 'em, yea, I'd say thats Vengence/Revenge.
If they set off the 'breaking point' however by doing whatever, I'd still say its an embodiment of whatever sin, though more justifiable by the self defense. EVERYONE has a point where they will push back, and often times its justified. Someone comes at me fists flailing I'd do my best to back off and get out- barring that, I will defend myself.
Is it neccesarily revenge when the Major Prep is belittling you in front of everyone for X Act and you retaliate by revealing, beyond a doubt, that they instead are responsible for Act X? Not really, even if you *do* want revenge. On the other hand, it would be if they're doing that and you counter with Secret Y, even if they're responsible Act X you figure Secret Y is more damaging than X could ever be to you.
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!


Just because they're called Sins doesn't mean they're bad to accumulate -- a normal part of growing up is trying out being Cool and Slick and Tough and so on. But it's also true that there is no action that fails to leave a mark behind; even if you are engaged in self-defense every time you raise your fists, it still heightens your instinct for fist-raising and makes you look at the world as a more violent place. (Now, I agree there are degrees of sin here, and self-defense is less marking than unprovoked aggression -- but just "less", not "not")
Dan Shiovitz