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Author Topic: [Firestarter] Ronnies feedback  (Read 5118 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: January 02, 2006, 10:04:07 AM »

All welcome Firestarter which represents Christopher Peterson's first participation in the Ronnies. As it stands, it's a Game Notion - the set of notes that precedes a start-to-finish sketchy summary of all the procedures for play. Let's see if I can help that next step to happen.

Chris, you're aware there's a Stephen King novel by the same title, and a movie, right? Also, if you haven't seen them, check out the spy/psychokinetics novels by Brian Lumley, beginning with Necroscope. I think judging these books in terms of what does and doesn't work in them will help you arrive at what you do and don't want emphasized in the game.

"Dragon" is weak as a term, but I can see it. Here are my real concerns, not just terminological ones.

1. This is one of the hardest game-design concepts for long-time gamers to swallow: the widespread, long-standing distinction between opposed and unopposed rolls is a stupid abomination. It does nothing for game design except to gum it up. It is perfectly reasonable to consider target numbers as opposed to dice-matching; that's a great techniques concern. However, recognize that all rolls, at all times, are always opposed. Resolution systems include opposition as a fundamental feature. Also, consider that a fence "opposes" the person climbing it just the same way that a rival warrior "opposes" the person trying to kill him by parrying and countering. This is a much better, faster, and clearer concept for designing RPG resolution than any other way.

2. You've utilized the Risk technique for comparing the results of dice pools, which I've certainly tried myself a number of times and in a number of ways, while I was developing the system for Sorcerer. However, I am 99% certain that it does not work well for RPG resolution ... except in your case! For now, I suggest retaining it, and seeing how it works in playtest ... but also being willing to change and simplify it if necessary.

3. Basing the system on the concept of "success = introduced fact" is a tricky issue, and I'm not really confident about it myself despite its widespread use across Universalis, Donjon, Fastlane, and Capes. I've seen it break down too many times in a specific way: a tendency toward negotiation just above the currency level. In other words, people losing track of what the conflict is about, and therefore not being invested in the dice turning out in any particular way.

As a more general thing, I'm also not seeing resolution in your system, just establishing facts. Is this intentional? This issue seems to be a deal-breaker for some people in playing Capes.

I'm going to refer you to one of the best new blogs designed for first-time game designers: Troy Costisick's Socratic Design. Through a series of questions and clarifications he's worked out here at the Forge and summarized there, he's provided a great framework for people to walk their game-ideas through. Just post responses to any of the topics he's posted already, and you'll see your own game design suddenly boom.

Best,
Ron
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Chris Peterson
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2006, 12:16:34 PM »

Thanks for your feedback, Ron! I am just beginning to delve into indie games and game design, so I really appreciate that you took time to read my work in progress. <:)

Your comments about the dice and facts are spot on. Since I started writing Firestarter, I see that opposed and unopposed are really the same mechanic, but one is much simpler.

chris
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chris
Victor Gijsbers
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2006, 12:36:33 PM »

Here is a working version of the link Ron gave to Socratic Design.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2006, 06:41:29 PM »

Hi Ron,

3. Basing the system on the concept of "success = introduced fact" is a tricky issue, and I'm not really confident about it myself despite its widespread use across Universalis, Donjon, Fastlane, and Capes. I've seen it break down too many times in a specific way: a tendency toward negotiation just above the currency level. In other words, people losing track of what the conflict is about, and therefore not being invested in the dice turning out in any particular way.
If it helps the thread, I'd love to hear more about this sort of problem. Does the shift in negotiation involve different currency (clumsy examples might be "Mikes a nice guy", "Kev bought the pizza", "Sally is the only girl in our group - and a bit hot", etc)? This currency distracts players from the game worlds currency. Or way off?
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Philosopher Gamer
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2006, 09:31:12 AM »

Hi Callan,

You're reaching way up too high in the Social Contract, I think.

My concern is that Bob might say, "Fact: X," and across the table, I simply don't think X is paid for by a single fact. I'll think instead that X is worth a whole bunch of Facts and needs to be paid for as such.

Bob disagrees. He wants X in there, and he only has one Fact to buy it, or perhaps he has more but simply doesn't want to spend them. He should be able to buy X with his one Fact, he says.

Saying "bid for it" is no solution at all. If Bob happens to have more bid-points, or if I do, it's the same problem just given a few extra steps, that's all. Either Bob or I will become irritated with the resolution, and it's quite likely that we will also become irritated with one another at a more significant social/creative level.

Best,
Ron
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talysman
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2006, 12:08:14 PM »

here's an idea, one that I'm going with to fix the fact usage in Serpentine Thunder, and which may be a general fix usable in all games that focus on adding facts: don't buy the facts, buy their value. if I have three successes, I can either pay for 1 point of value on three facts, or make one 1-point and one 2-point fact, or make a single 3-point fact. of course, as it stands now, facts in Firestarter son' use value at all. or did I miss something? if the GM adds a fact to my failure at opening a locked door as "you trigger an alarm system", can I later use that ringing alarm bell to add a die to a roll with "I try to trick the guards by shouting `someone's triggered the alarm! quickly! to the east gate!'"?

I think this solution will work because, in reality, all RPGs use fact-adding in some form; the only differences are apportioning rights and responsibilities as to who can add what kinds of facts at what time. Ron is saying buying previously undefined facts without any kind of limitations on how "big" the fact can be leads to arguments. I'm not sure I agree, but if we accept his statement, then eliminating the "buying facts" portion by changing it to "buying the value of a fact" should fix it, since how many facts you add in such a case is mostly a matter of influencing color rather than the system.


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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2006, 07:36:07 PM »

Thanks Ron,

I thought I might have been reaching up to far. I think because our group, in facing the issues you highlight, reaches even further up the contract for the currency to resolve it. Quickie example is where Chris was GM'ing and decided a dragon flew low over our 1st level characters. Not to be daunted, Daniel cleverly tries to gain the resource of knowledge out of it by asking "What colour is it?". Chris would not say, even though it had been easily close enough for us to see. Daniel just could not get that fact into play. Basically myself and Daniel just move on at a "Okay, it's Chris's game and we know how he likes to be" level.

What about this hypothesis: The primary issue is that both parties want control over the fact but there are no effetive negotiation tools at this level of interaction. There are negotiation tools at a level higher up in the social contract level, but neither party wants to be the one 'booted out' by the other, from the current level of interest/investment.

Are there any relevant threads around that are related to this?
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Philosopher Gamer
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