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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 157 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Cranium Rats] Codification of Session-Length?  (Read 6449 times)
Thunder_God
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« on: June 15, 2006, 12:44:41 AM »

The following is quoted from the Meta-Chanics post for Cranium Rats on my Blog:

Quote
Tokens are finite, generation of Tokens is not that easy, at least not for players. When players spend Tokens they usually go to the Enlightened, and when he spends them they usually disappear. Using Tokens to exert mechanical influence “Removes” Tokens, using them to exert story influence gives them to someone else, who may end up using them against you. This would make players hoard their tokens, thus the “Use them or lose them” bit, which stops them from sitting on their asses passively, which leads us to our next point:
Game Length is helped along by Tokens and thus fulfills the movie/TV episode feel I want the game play to have! If you have a Medium session it’ll be followed by another Medium one, where people have Tokens, use them, resolve Goals, use Tokens. When you have a Short session it should be followed by a Long session and then another Short session; At the end of a short session players are left with unused Tokens so they will scramble to set them up in the only way they can “keep” them: they will set up new Goals for themselves. The next session should be long, so that players would use up all of their given Tokens, would have to resolve their Goals for more Tokens and then use them as well. The next session should be short as well to let players set new Goals.

So as is, Tokens help bring into being my view of how session-length should be handled, and I've just had the idea to enforce Session-length mechanically. I do not mean where you state length=Static X like you did in the last IGC, but where the mechanics tie into and decide the session length. The only game I can recall that does this currently is PTA, if anyone has other examples I'd love to hear them.

So, we already have session-length somehow decided by Goals<>Tokens, at least by intent, so here's a thought on how to tie it down mechanically:
"When no player(including the Enlightened) has any Tokens, the session ends."

Possibly, consider the "draconian" addition of:
"A session may not end before all players run out of Tokens."
This would mean that if you must run off or are not having fun, you still must go through all Tokens before game ends. This could be done(and in fact, should be done) by spending Tokens to create new Goals, which would give you more options and possible game-length in future sessions, where you may desire it.

Then, supposing we are really having a good time and want to keep playing, and maybe we're following a short session where we got a bunch of Goals as described above, but did not yet have time to "cash them in", and I did mention the Short-Long-Short chain I desire, then, we could use the following new "Do or Die Scene Rule":
"When no player has any Tokens left, any player with more than one Goal may declare(by turn order) a "Do or Die" Scene, where he narrates the next scene, in which a Goal must be resolved(success or failure do not matter), which would result in a new Token being given(possibly more if the Character fails in a Conflict)."
This allows you to keep the session going, and even if others want the session to end, by this you show that you want to keep going.

Finally, my question to you people, beyond the, "Does this look okay?" is, how would you feel when a session-length is mechanically "forced" upon you?
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2006, 01:47:33 AM »

The idea of limiting session length mechanically, in such a way, somehow does not appeal to me at all. But what is your reason for introducing rules intended for it?

Usually, when I want a gaming evening, I'd rather play as long as everyone maintains interest and/or has time left. Fixed play-time limitations like 1h max in Toon or Puppetland are still fine, since this helps to fit the game into the schedule. Endgames are still fine, since they conclude the play in a meaningfull way. But this short-long-short scheme looks a bit restrictive to me, especially that you never know how long exactly the session is going to last, and it's possible that the long session will come up hen there is not enough time due to scheduling problems. It's also possible that players run out of Tokens before there is a meaningfull conclusion - and I generally prefer when a meeting has one.

What about something in the lines of "the winner of the session decides on the outcome of this part of the story" rule similar to that from Threads?
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2006, 02:37:24 AM »

Why do it that way? I have this idea of certain session length to fit movies/TVs of a certain mode, where in one section you create more and more issues, and then at the end you go blazing through, resolving as many issues as possible in a short period of time.

Also, I see the issue of "Not knowing when a session will end" inversly!
Suppose I have a regular game night, I don't know how long the game will run, so may not wish to spend my Tokens, as to keep my options for later on, and if the session is shorter than anticipated I end up with unused Tokens, if the session is too long I will sit there without Tokens.

Whereas, this way, you control the session length. Have real life interfere? No sweat, just dump Tokens at Conflicts, or better yet, create new Goals to be explored(and cashed in) next time. Want a longer session because you have free time? Don't spend Tokens, you probably want to spend them less often anyway, as to keep your options open for the whole session.

That way, it gives you more control over the game, especially considering you choose when to use Tokens, and can choose to cash in Goals in order to get more.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
dindenver
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2006, 08:55:40 AM »

Hi Guy!
  I think that this mechanic is interesting, but I think it is an artificial distinction and will be used to mean "Adventure" or "Campaign" instead of Session, the you want it to mean. It is counterintuitive. If everyone runs out of tokens in an hour, then they will just start another session. And if the session ends unexpectedly (power outage, family emergency, etc.) then the players will just as likely to save the tokens in order to continue the session the next time they meet, as they are to just throw the tokens away and start with a fresh batch next time they meet.
  Don't get me wrong. I don't think that this is a broken or bad mechanic. I just want to inform you that the likelihood of everyone picking up there stuff and going home after running out of tokens is unlikely, if there is still enough time to get some good play in.
  I think having a mechanical way to know when the "episode" or "act" is done, is clever and allows the players a way to communicate pacing desires (by their use of tokens) without being confrontational or boorish.
  Finally, the knew-jerk reaction is to think of this kind of mechanic as oppressive or unrealistic. I had the same reaction as Filip, until I stopped and thought about the real world effect of such a mechanic. The reason I mention this is to suggest keeping the mechanic, but changing the terminology to match the intent. Perhaps word it to say that each Act is complete when all the players are out of Tokens for instance.
  Just my two cents, no change please,
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Dave M
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2006, 09:06:27 AM »

Hm, and then need to decide what happens when an Act "ends", which goes with what Filip said about having a Winner per session, so winner per Act, but need to consider what mechanical effect it'd have.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
dindenver
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2006, 09:28:42 AM »

Hi!
  Its up to you, if you want it to have any more mechanical effect then finishing the act. I don't think the mechanic is any less effective if you change the name...
  I know you like competitive games, so if there has to be a winner, shouldn't that wait until the end? What value is there in declaring a winner before the end?

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Dave M
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2006, 09:51:08 AM »

Well, there could be Game Winner and Act Winner.

Also, in more thought, this won't work. So you aren't going to win the Act? Then keep your last Token unspent, it also doesn't mesh with Tokens replenishment each session(which is there to get people to use them!).

I will give this some more thought.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
dindenver
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2006, 10:09:42 AM »

Hi!
  OK, but that is not what I am saying (I can't speak for Filip), what I am saying is leave the mechanics, EXACTLY as they are. Just rename Session to Act, Chapter, Arc, Episode or some other term that denotes the element of a story you are trying to capture with this mechanic. If you look at it objectively, sessions don't have to map to a story element. And it may be counterintuitive to try and force it to in the text of the rules.
  In this way, the game play will match the terminilogy.
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Dave M
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2006, 10:13:57 AM »

How would it work with Tokens being replenished between Sessions though?
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2006, 12:05:07 PM »

Quote
Also, in more thought, this won't work. So you aren't going to win the Act? Then keep your last Token unspent, it also doesn't mesh with Tokens replenishment each session(which is there to get people to use them!).

Unless you are going to lose it anyway if you prolong play too much. What about keeping with the automatic Tokens > Goals change at the end of the session (time out), and another effect when the Act, not session, ends? That way you keep this Act thing, and play time is still as flexible as in a game without such restrictions.
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2006, 01:33:10 AM »

I have an idea!

Rules above do not change, but! "When all Tokens are spent an Act is finished, when an Act is finished each Water player gets to choose: Remove 1 Mark from each Trait. OR remove all Marks from one Trait." This shows how characters "heal" or gain back resolve between Acts.

Another option is to heal all Marks but that seems too much.

An additional Act rule is: "An Act may only be completed once per Session". This is so people won't finish an Act, resolve one Goal, use up that Token and voila! another Act finished. It's still going to be most likely an Act ends when a Session ends.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Thunder_God
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2006, 07:35:14 AM »

Another idea!

When an Act is finished, for each character, the Dirt Aspect's player may choose to add the character a new Specialty, if he chose to do so, then the Rat Aspect's player must choose and remove one of the old Specialties.

I also thought of giving the Rat player the option to choose for removal first, but then the new Specialty is not well-thought or desired, but merely gap-fill.

Thoughts? Should it happen with, instead, or in some other formation with the above idea for healing?
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
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