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Author Topic: [electrified spikes through the soles of your feet] V. 0  (Read 5070 times)
matthijs
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« on: March 29, 2005, 12:33:08 AM »

The world is hard and cruel.

God hates you, and wants to destroy everything you love.

When it's your turn to be God, you can get revenge on the world.

Be harder and more cruel.


Flow of the game

Players take turns being God. On your turn as God you do the following:
    - Frame a scene. God and the player who was God in the previous scene don't have characters in this scene. God decides what other characters and NPC's are present.
    - The backdrop is always daily life in a friendly circus.
    - At the start of the scene, the characters will be trying to help each other or the NPC's with their problems. These can be trivial or deeply emotional.
    - At some point during the scene, at the point God finds most cruelly fitting, metal horror strikes.
    - "Metal horror" is a metaphor of random, cruel fate. In the game, it's represented by the threat of pain and death from faceless, heartless and soul-less metal.
Example: Huge, electrified metal spikes break through the sawdust on the ground. Molten metal rains from the sky. An enormous metal cogwheel rolls through the tent, crushing the animals.
- The characters try to survive. At the risk of great damage or death, they can help other characters or NPC's survive as well.
- After the metal horror ends, it is forgotten like a bad dream. Nobody talks about it or tries to investigate or stop it. Horrible physical damage (sucking chest wounds, lost limbs) is ignored as much as possible by the characters. God, however, should describe damage and its consequenses as he sees fit.
- The next scene is framed as usual: Daily circus life.[/list:u]

Resolution

Each player starts with 10 dice.
The God pool starts with 2 dice pr. player.
Whenever metal horror tries to hurt the characters, God rolls as many dice from the God pool as he wants. He must first secretly assign them to specific characters and NPC's.
The players roll as many dice as they want. They can secretly assign dice to any characters or NPC's that are threatened.  Players don't have to have characters present in the scene to assign dice.

Compare the dice God and the players rolled for each character and NPC. If God wins, or there's a tie, he describes horrible damage to characters that lose, and the death of NPC's that lose. If the players win, they describe rescue from the metal horror.

Don't remove the dice yet. Any dice that come up as odds are treated as follows:
- Players: Lose those dice permanently.
- God: Add a die to the God pool for each odd roll.

When a player has no dice left, the character dies.
- If the character was in a conflict, the side that won the conflict narrates death.
- - God narrates cruel and pointless death that helps nobody. One NPC also dies.
- - The player narrates hopeful, redeeming death that results in others' gain. One NPC gains immunity for the next scene.
- If the character wasn't in a conflict, he has escaped the attention of God, and doesn't die yet. He will survive the game as long as other players are willing to assign dice to him in conflicts. If he loses a conflict, he dies. God should be particularly vengeful and cruel with those that postpone death this way. Two NPC's die.

Character generation

Each character has the following:
    - A failing that the character struggles with
    - A redeeming feature that makes us hope the character can make it through and be a better person
    - Three beloved NPC's at the circus that we hope the character can live happily with
    - A binding relationship to each of the other characters to keep them bound together by destiny[/list:u]

Comments

This hasn't been playtested yet. What I hope will happen is this:

- Players desperately try to help each others' characters and the NPC's live happy lives
- Players succeed at start, but hopelessly become weaker while cruel God gets stronger

There is no way for the players to survive. The best thing they can hope for is to live as long as possible against horrible odds, and get redemption when they die.

Will the mechanics work like this? Do you understand how the game's supposed to be played just from reading this post?
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2005, 01:18:30 PM »

Quote from: matthijs
- "Metal horror" is a metaphor of random, cruel fate. In the game, it's represented by the threat of pain and death from faceless, heartless and soul-less metal.
Example: Huge, electrified metal spikes break through the sawdust on the ground. Molten metal rains from the sky. An enormous metal cogwheel rolls through the tent, crushing the animals.
So...the metaphor is literal in it's effects in the world. That is, the spikes cause holes in feet, and people are electrocuted, right? Even when ignoring the aftermath, people still suffer the after affects, right? What about the next day? Let's say that some character somehow survives that sucking chest wound? Will he have a scar of it? Or is the next scene "cleaned" of evidence of the last assault?

I think that the mechanics drive the "fun" of getting to be "god." But I don't know that they drive trying to help each other. I mean, mechanically what's the point? If, OTOH, players could get dice back by helping each other, that might work. But I sense that this would break the statement that the game is trying to make.

I assume that the game is supposed to be playable, and not just a statement? This reminds me of Thomas HVM's game, which name escapes me right now. Is it some Scandanavian theme to have random messy death as part of RPG play? ;-)

Mike
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xenopulse
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2005, 01:59:37 PM »

Will the mechanics work like this? Do you understand how the game's supposed to be played just from reading this post?

The assignment of dice is an issue. It's apparently done secretly. How? Who checks on that? How much does that put a break in the game flow? Can you assign more than one die to anyone? If so, are they cumulative or highest counts? Does it matter if God rolls are odd?

- Players desperately try to help each others' characters and the NPC's live happy lives
- Players succeed at start, but hopelessly become weaker while cruel God gets stronger


Seems to me that, given the inevitability of death and the absence of a common goal, players will fall into Last Man Standing competitive mode. They also won't care about NPCs too much, with the occasional exception when you manage to play an NPC that manages to connect or be entertaining enough (We can't let Bozo die! I love his squeaky shoes!)

It seems to me you don't need to constantly add dice to the God's pool. Statistically, everyone's gonna die sooner or later. If you wanted to further characters helping one another, award them with extra dice next time after they give dice to other PCs or NPCs. After all, they place risk on their own character when doing this.
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xiombarg
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2005, 09:19:52 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I assume that the game is supposed to be playable, and not just a statement? This reminds me of Thomas HVM's game, which name escapes me right now. Is it some Scandanavian theme to have random messy death as part of RPG play? ;-)
I have to admit that while I can kinda see the appeal for the "god", I'm not sure where the fun is for the other players. And yeah, I'm not sure why they should try to help each other, as opposed to just trying to help themselves, or just writhing in pain.
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matthijs
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2005, 03:37:10 AM »

Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

Assigning dice

God and the players secretly assign dice to any PC's and NPC's present. Any character can have an unlimited number of dice; the only limit is how much God and the players are willing and able to assign. Dice are cumulative. (Xenopulse, God's odd dice give an extra die to his pool - so if he has five dice in the pool, and rolls two odd dice in a conflict, he gets two extra dice and now has seven dice in his pool).

Example: God assigns 2 dice against an NPC. Player A assigns 3 for. Player B assigns 1 for.

God rolls a 3 and a 2; result 5 against. Player A rolls 1, 5, 4; player B rolls 3; result 13 for. Player A and B get to describe how the NPC is rescued from the metal horror.


I hadn't thought about how to do this in practice, but this can clearly be a fun factor in the game. I see at least two options.

1. Each PC and NPC is given a card. In each conflict, cards are laid in a row on the table. God has a screen, the players have a shared screen, and dice are assigned behind the screen. Then, both parties reveal.

2. God and each player have a list of all PC's and NPC's. They put dice on the list, and then reveal at the same time.

I think the players should be able to help each other, so they should be able to see each others' dice.

Long-term effects of wounds

Wounds are clearly visible the day after, but are absurdly ignored by the characters. A character that lost both his legs one day will still try to do his job as a part of the Human Pyramid the next day. When the pyramid falls, nobody will understand why, and they'll just practice harder to make it work.

Statement or playable game?

This is a major choice. I've seen the game mainly as a comment on the basic horror of life - no matter what we do, we and anyone we love can die at any moment. Still, we try to live our lives and strive to love and help each other.

Therefore, the game is obviously rigged. It should be a humorous and terrible experience. It's making fun of your own mortality.

I think that statement would be severely undermined by giving the players the option of winning in any way. The only thing they should be able to hope for is to live as long as possible, with as much love and as little pain as possible.

I do want people to actually play this game. I'll have to playtest it to see if it's workable at all. I'll come back with an Actual Play later.
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matthijs
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2005, 09:27:01 AM »

Playtest showed that...

- The mechanics are OK. They work as a vote on what NPC is the most popular.
- The setting doesn't work with the theme. The other players found it more Monty Python than Ingmar Bergman.
- The players didn't want to get involved with their characters - they seemed too absurd, and anyway, why get emotionally involved with someone who's going to die anyway?

We talked about changing the setting to something more realistic, so players get drawn into the fiction more easily. Perhaps I also need to include a certain amount of hope in the game - a chance of survival at the end.

We came up with a setting, but we didn't really feel too good about it. I'm posting it anyway:

A jewish family trying to survive and escape in Nazi Germany. A sort of "Anne Frank's Diary" game, where the Metal Horror is replaced by the threat of being discovered, captured and taken to the concentration camps.

Horrible damage to characters would be toned down. However, the decision "what character do you most want to live" would be a horrible one to make.

What are your reactions to this?
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Valamir
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2005, 09:38:24 AM »

I like the more serious setting.

You could also go with: escaping slaves in pre civil war America, or surviving siberia in a cold war gulag, or life on the reservation for American Indians.  Maybe even have a collection of such settings at a couple of pages apiece for use with the core mechanic.
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xenopulse
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2005, 09:47:33 AM »

Nazi Germany always works in that regard--few people will not take it seriously.

I still think that the choice of who you want most to live only works out if some people actually survive, so yeah, put that in :). You can determine a number of years trying to hide, or living in a concentration camp, or whatever. Only when survival is possible does the choice of who dies become important.

Of course, I am not sure how many people will voluntarily play something like that. Though it might be a good educational tool.
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2005, 10:06:57 AM »

WW2 lit, and especially Holocaust material, is quite well read. I couldn't see why folks wouldn't be interested, especially folks who really like deep, dark drama of that nature.
I especially like the idea of several such settings/scenarios. I'll toss another couple in:
- Native Americans on the Trail of Tears, one of the greater injustices and tragidies inflicted upon them by the US Government
- Settlers trapped in the Rockies after Winter

Really, as a product, a great feature would be some detailed notes on each, historical facts (WW2, ToT, Cold War Russia), setting and flavor notes specific to the setting & the game
The supported and detailed versitility would be wonderful.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Bill Masek
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2005, 11:39:53 AM »

matthijs,

I realy like the idea about a game built to kill the characters which is all about alturisim and selflessness.  I personaly realy liked the original circus setting, but I could see a more serrious setting working just as well.

The only quam I have about the game is its lack of incentives for players to help each other.  You could get around this by only letting players invest dice in characters which are not their own.  This would force players to be alturistic or die.  It would make your world one where you can not help yourself, where only through selflessness and cooperation can you survive.  And even then, only for a while.

Best,
        Bill
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Try Sin, its more fun then a barrel of gremlins!
Or A Dragon's Tail a novel of wizards demons and a baby dragon.
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