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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 184 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Death Stakes  (Read 18091 times)
TonyLB
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« on: March 28, 2006, 07:30:00 AM »

At I-Con, Luke, Dro, Mayuran, Nathan and Thor made a game, while watching a terrible movie.  I listened, and remembered.  Here it is.  You should totally play it, and tell us how it works for you.  There's been very varied results just in the playtests that we did at the convention itself.  I want to hear what other people do with it.

Death Stakes is played as follows:  One player is the GM and everyone else is just ... players.  'cuz it's not one of those hippie games.

The GM describes a very dangerous situation:  "The Fellowship defeated the cave trolls, and now there's goblins coming out of the stonework, and they're running and running."  Then he uses one of the two key phrases:  "Now ... how does someone die?"

One of the players steps up to narrate how people die.  The narration should be a totally cool way for the person to die, not something lame.  "The goblin surround them.  Gandalf's staff is blazing with light, the only beacon in the sea of milling evil.  Gimli shouts defiance, raises his axe, and leaps into the horde.  He takes wound after wound as he cuts a path for the fellowship ... finally he falls, spitting blood, and they must leave him behind as they flee."

Then the GM uses the second ritual phrase.  He rolls his eyes and says "Aaaactuallly," and then explains what happens instead so that nobody dies.  This narration should also be very cool, and should link in to the next high-danger situation.  "Aaaactually, Gimli is about to leap into the goblin horde when there's this huge boom!  The goblins all freeze, then look off down the great hall, where flames are starting to rise.  Then the goblins all freakin' scatter.  The fellowship is alone to face the oncoming threat.  'What is that?' Aragorn asks, and Gandalf says 'A Balrog ... a monster of the old world.  RUN!'  And they're running, trying to get out before the Balrog catches them."

And then the GM repeats the initial key phrase:  "Now, how does someone die?"

Play continues until one of the following end-game conditions:

  • A player narrates something lame and the GM accepts the lame death.  "Sam trips on his own shoelaces and breaks his neck."  "Fine.  Let's play something else."  Players lose.
  • A player narrates something so cool the GM accepts the cool death.  "Gandalf says 'Fly, you fools!' and is pulled into the abyss."  "Works for me."  Players win.
  • The GM narrates something so appalling that the players physically assult him.  "Then the Balrog raises his fifty foot sword of flame and plunges it into Frodo's heart."  "Aaaactually, Frodo is wearing his mitril armor, so ... ack!  ack!  Stop!  Get off me!"  Everybody wins.
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Ben Morgan
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2006, 09:32:59 AM »

I just wanted to say that I had loads of fun playing this for the very short time I was able to (then again, it's not something that requires a lot of time), and would totally want to see what else Tony has in mind for his "RPG exercise plan".

-- Ben
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2006, 04:53:28 PM »

Death Stakes is teh awesome.

Here's a neat thought, that goes along with the whole "exercise plan" thing. Winning or losing the game is entirely up to the GM's opinion - unless the players walk. It's a neat illustration of the stark reality of illusionist/GM fiat resolution systems.
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Nathan P.
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drozdal
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2006, 11:35:22 PM »

Winning or losing the game is entirely up to the GM's opinion - unless the players walk.
No no no, You got it all wrong. Players can not walk out on GM, they can either stab GM in the face or cock-punch him, there is not other way to end the game (at least for me).
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Arturo G.
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2006, 03:13:56 AM »


Delicious!

I want to play this game with some of the friends I'm going out (former roleplayers). I'm sure they will like it a lot, but they will surely begin to add a turn system for the right to narrate a death, a point system to track successes and failures (whatever they mean), victory conditions and so on, until they destroy the game itself.

Arturo
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2006, 07:24:18 AM »

Well, "walking out" is pretty loosly defined. In my view, cock-punching totally counts.

Arturo, we actually talked about putting some kind of token/bidding system in, but Tony sez that it's not necessary. There is beauty in simplicity.
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Nathan P.
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Luke
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2006, 07:43:37 AM »

Cite your sources, Tony: It was Best of the Best 2.

Death Stakes is also the official -- and ONLY -- game in which you can play COMMANDO .

Death Stakes is also rated GV for Gay Violence. It fully supports an oily, muscular sheen for accurate depiction of man on man violence.

-L
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drozdal
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2006, 07:49:01 AM »

Death Stakes is also rated GV for Gay Violence. It fully supports an oily, muscular sheen for accurate depiction of man on man violence.

-L

Here's a clip from Undeafetable, perfect example of GV rated movie.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2006, 08:39:10 AM »

Well, for what it's worth, I think that while the idea of Death Stakes was certainly fostered by the goofy and stupid violence in that movie, the game works much better when players aren't seeking that dynamic, but rather are trying to tell a good action story.

To my mind, if you're going for satire then you are distancing yourself from two of the key lessons of the game:
  • That everything is better when the stakes are high
  • And that being saved by fiat sucks even if the GMs narration is a million times better than your narration, because it's not yours.

But this is what playtest is for.  I'd like to hear the experiences of people who are coming to the ruleset as written, without the preconception of the inspiring source material.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2006, 09:27:51 AM »

Wow.

This game totally puts together several things I wouldn't think would place nice and makes them work.    Key hinge to this game? Opportunity for player input from the start.  I need to play this.

Chris
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2006, 07:13:44 PM »

Well, for what it's worth, I think that while the idea of Death Stakes was certainly fostered by the goofy and stupid violence in that movie, the game works much better when players aren't seeking that dynamic, but rather are trying to tell a good action story.

To my mind, if you're going for satire then you are distancing yourself from two of the key lessons of the game:
  • That everything is better when the stakes are high
  • And that being saved by fiat sucks even if the GMs narration is a million times better than your narration, because it's not yours.
I'm confused by the enthusiasm of other posters and because I can see this game going two ways.
1. Fiat is sucky
2. Oh my god, I was so invested in my fave character (which other character am I going to talk up?) getting killed. So invested, that when the GM replaced it with some cool narration, the contrast between the death investment and the GM's getting out of it investment was so vast it felt really good...like a reward!

Sort of like BDSM, where the previous pain makes the following pleasure even more intense. The trick, I'd guess, is that the pleasure contrast is so intense that it knocks out concious thought with the huge urge to just go with the pleasurable flow.

It's simple enough to remember and try out...I must playtest it soon!
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Mayuran
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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2006, 09:28:37 PM »

if anyone is interested in the CANON SETTING - here is the cover art.
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Luke
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2006, 07:03:17 AM »

if anyone is interested in the CANON SETTING - here is the cover art.

Well, Actually you get quite a nice introduction from Wayne Newton.


Mayuran, you forgot the other blurb -- This game is rated GV. It contains 110% Gay Violence!
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drozdal
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2006, 07:08:23 AM »

I think we agreed on GV rating of 108%, no?
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2006, 07:30:34 AM »

No, that was just that our own GV dropped for a little bit. It racheted back up to 110% when the man-grapes hit table, though. No pun intended.

Callan, the point of the game is to hilight the (IMO dysfunctional) nature of hidden all-GM fiat as a resolution system. It's not really a RPG, its more a "gaming exercise" that you play in order to warm up, or learn something about how RPGs work. That's "straight play" of Death Stakes. Satirical play, on the other hand, is just to celebrate awful movies.
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Nathan P.
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My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters
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