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Author Topic: [Project Senate] Power 19 and general discussion  (Read 8028 times)
JMendes
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Posts: 379


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« on: January 23, 2006, 07:39:15 PM »

Hey, all, :)

Being as it is such a neat tool for game design and discussion, I decided to take a shot at the Power 19. Also, I wanted to have a thread for general comment about the game, so I figured this would be a good kick-off for that.

Anyway, there is a central thread for Project Senate with links to the game design documents as currently written, and without further ado, here are my answers to the Power 19:

1.) What is your game about?
Project Senate is a game about people in power, rather than people with powers. The game focuses on the political and social challenges of those people, and how they manage their resources, relationships and responsibilities.

2.) What do the characters do?
The characters overcome various challenges through negotiation and resource commitment. The TV show West Wing is a good model for what they do.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
There is a Game Master, responsible for managing the world and delivering a challenge framework. The players come up with in-game strategies to address challenges and present them to the Game Master, who in turn responds with a resource budget for the strategy. The players then manage their character's resource pool and relationships in order to implement those strategies.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Project Senate is built to be setting-independent, as much as possible. It does depend on the setting supporting the concept of people in power, but almost any setting imaginable does this to some extent. However, definition of the setting is of crucial importance in determining the nature of the resources involved, so the setting of a given campaign will necessarily be strongly tied to what the game is about.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Character creation mechanics center almost exclusively on designing the initial relationships available to a character, which in turn determine the initial resource pool available. These mechanics are directly connected to the point of the game.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
The game rewards good strategizing and good alignment between the GM's understanding of the game world and the player's understanding of the same. It rewards players with initiative who are able to complement the GM's challenge framework with further challenges for their characters. It is possible that the game, as currently written, punishes players for creating undue complications for themselves through the creation of disadvantageous relationships, but this remains to be verified.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Players are rewarded by being given opportunities to achieve goals, which strengthen their relationships and expand their resource pools. They are rewarded and/or punished by being presented with affordable/unreasonable resource budgets for their strategies, which become the primary mechanism for the GM to communicate her understanding of the inner fabric of the game world.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
The GM is largely responsible for apportioning this, except with regards to the initiatives, attitudes and emotions of the player characters. Resolution results come from well-defined mechanics. Though this is not yet clear in the game text as written, resolution narration depends on exchanges between the player and the GM, as they interpret what the results will mean.

9.) What does your game do to command the player's attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
The game provides each player with a power circle, a context in which to make political decisions and engage in strategy design and implementation. It provides for a feeling of being in power and it puts players squarely in a solve-the-problem frame of mind.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
Project Senate uses percentile dice to generate a well-behaved exponentially decaying result, which can then be manipulated by the players through application of in-game resources. This mechanic is used for two distinct purposes during the game, namely achieving goals and conducting negotiations, as well as for determining character evolution. There is no meta-game resource.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
The resolution mechanics are all about apportioning of resources. Enough said.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Characters advance in one of two ways. One, they advance by collection of resources and relationships, as a direct, in-game result of achieving goals. Two, they advance in aptitude in an organic way, tied to the number of challenges faced per unit time.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
How could advancement through resource collection possibly _not_ reinforce what the game is about?

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
Project Senate should mostly be about coming up with strategies for solving problems, from the standpoint of a powerful person. As such, it should produce a feeling of being in power and of having real-world significant problems to deal with. Preferably, it should achieve this without requiring that the players themselves be world-class political operatives.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color?† Why?
Relationships. Because they are central to the manner in which powerful people solve problems.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
Project Senate, as written, is, I believe, a successful model for when who you know is more important than what you know. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games canít, donít, or wonít?
I have not seen a great deal of gamist games about power, although there are a great number of games about powers. Conversely, there is a reasonable amount of narrativist games about power, but I don't know of one that centers on strategy from a gamist point of view.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
When I started developing this, it was little more than the explanation of a thirty-second idea. The more I wrote, however, the more convinced I became that I could produce a quality full-blown publishable product. As such, right now, I'm aiming to produce an RPG book, perhaps around the 50-page range, complete with detailed explanations and examples, probably for self-publication. An on-line PDF is not out of the question either.

19.) Who is your target audience?
Project Senate is mainly aimed at experienced role-players who are looking for a different type of challenges and are dissatisfied with the way existing systems handle power. It will probably be of some interest to any role-player who has seen a character evolve from a relatively insignificant grunt to a major figure in a game world.

Do feel free to post any sort of comments or questions on this thread. That's what it's here for.

Cheers,
J.
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url=http://lisbongamer.mc-two.com/]Lisbon Gamer[/urlLisbon Gamer
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2006, 10:05:22 AM »

Heya,

Very good introduction.  Let's take a few of these at a time.

1-3 look very good to me.  You have a great game concept and an interesting premise.

Quote
4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Project Senate is built to be setting-independent, as much as possible. It does depend on the setting supporting the concept of people in power, but almost any setting imaginable does this to some extent. However, definition of the setting is of crucial importance in determining the nature of the resources involved, so the setting of a given campaign will necessarily be strongly tied to what the game is about.

-This I might suggest limiting.  IMO, it might be better to narrow the setting down to a ficticious government system.  Say it's something like the Re-United Nations or something like that.  Perhaps it is a world government that was established after a brutal war.  This will put more meaning in the decisions the PCs make.  They will be rebuilding the world or whatever goal you want them to accomplish.  I think the players will need more handles (or motivations) to make the game work the way you want it to.

Quote
5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Character creation mechanics center almost exclusively on designing the initial relationships available to a character, which in turn determine the initial resource pool available. These mechanics are directly connected to the point of the game

-The way you wrote this makes me wonder if there is an Endgame to Project Senate.  Is there?  What is the goal of the characters in the game?  What are they working for in the Senate?

Peace,

-Troy
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JMendes
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2006, 10:54:24 AM »

Hi, Troy, :)

First off, glad you liked the premise

What are they working for in the Senate?

I think your two comments on questions 4 and 5 are somewhat related. Though this may not be clear in the game text as written, Project Senate is just a working title, and there may not be an actual Senate. The game presupposes a first session where the setting is decided upon, and there are certain specific aspects that must be settled on before play can begin, such as the actual meaning of the resources, etc... Those are the things that will bring meaning to the game, hopefully. Whether that's true or not remains to be seen.

As for an endgame mechanic, no, there isn't one, though, again, it remains to be seen whether characters will become runaway resource and relationship hogs, or, conversely, whether they will converge on game death in an inescapable downward spiral. The game as written is meant to support long-term play, so I hope neither of those will happen, but it's too soon to tell...

(Btw, don't know anyone caught this or not, but there is a game design document out there. I'm sure you'll find it if you follow the links in the firs post in this thread. Anyway, although the table of contents on that thing looks a bit daunting, the document itself is really not that long.)

Anyway, thanks for your comments and keep 'em coming. :)

Cheers,
J.
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url=http://lisbongamer.mc-two.com/]Lisbon Gamer[/urlLisbon Gamer
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2006, 04:15:07 AM »

Heya,

Quote
I think your two comments on questions 4 and 5 are somewhat related. Though this may not be clear in the game text as written, Project Senate is just a working title, and there may not be an actual Senate. The game presupposes a first session where the setting is decided upon, and there are certain specific aspects that must be settled on before play can begin, such as the actual meaning of the resources, etc...


-Okay, I read over your game.  I still suggest, that if your game stays the way it is now, you pick one Setting and run with it.  Here is why.  I look at how much time your game spends on creating a character.  Combine both defining and building a character.  That's a ton of juicy information.  Look at how much you put into defining and building a Setting: 3 very small sections, two of which are examples.  What you've done is give the player many, many instructions, helps and hints on how to make a good character, but not given them hardly any for building a good Setting.  Why?  Is the Setting somehow less a part of the game than the characters?  IMO, no. 

-If you want to keep the game "setting agnostic" as you have it now, then I would suggest that you create a set of rules and guidelines similar to those you have for Character to help players make a Setting.  Give them points to spend or an outline or something else to follow so they can create a custom made world for their characters.  This would enhance game play SO much.

Quote
As for an endgame mechanic, no, there isn't one, though, again, it remains to be seen whether characters will become runaway resource and relationship hogs, or, conversely, whether they will converge on game death in an inescapable downward spiral. The game as written is meant to support long-term play, so I hope neither of those will happen, but it's too soon to tell...

-You say you want your rules to support Gamist play, which is awesome because I love Gamist games.  In fact, I've done a lot of thinking about them.  One thing I've found is that it really does help to have a point where the game ends.  It's not the kind of thing where one player wins and all the others lose.  It's more like everyone reaches a point in the game where they are all happy with the results and the characters' stories are over.  It's a truth that all stories end eventually, why shouldn't they in RPGs too?  So, I would recommend that you consider an endgame for Project Senate.  If you want some help coming up with one, let me know, I'll be happy to assist you :)

Peace,

-Troy
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JMendes
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2006, 01:48:49 PM »

Hey, Troy, :)

Sorry for not replying right away. I and a couple of friends have been kicking your ideas around.

As for setting, right off the bat, the general consensus is that you're right. The game needs a detailed section on defining the setting, even going so far as procedural instructions for defining it. That would indeed be the best way to keep the game as setting-independent as possible, while still allowing for strong detail in color.

As for an endgame mechanic, we still don't see a need for one, which isn't to say there isn't one. You offered to help with suggesting something, so let me tell you right now that I am open to your suggestions. Maybe if you give me an example, Ill understand better what it is you're aiming at. Right now, all I see is that it would be equivalent to trying to come up with an endgame for D&D.

Anyway, again, thanks for your comments and keep'em coming. :)
Cheers,
J.
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url=http://lisbongamer.mc-two.com/]Lisbon Gamer[/urlLisbon Gamer
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2006, 03:04:01 AM »

Heya,

Quote
Right now, all I see is that it would be equivalent to trying to come up with an endgame for D&D.

-Heh, well you're talking to a guy who happens to believe that DnD should have and would be better with an endgame :)  Anyway, what other parts of your game are you looking for feedback on?

Peace,

-Troy
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JMendes
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Posts: 379


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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2006, 10:46:46 AM »

Hey, Troy, :)

what other parts of your game are you looking for feedback on?

I put up another thread, recently, about whether or not the game text supports the design goals. It's here. If you could add feedback there as well, it would be appreciated.

Cheers,
J.
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