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Author Topic: [Cranium Rats] On Flags Alone?  (Read 6098 times)
Thunder_God
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« on: June 22, 2006, 11:14:06 PM »

So, I'm going to continue talking about what I call Blinders, and when it is discussed in terms of games or game-play is often called Constraints. This topic is about games in general, but I am posting this as a question regarding and using as an example, my own game, Cranium Rats, like the post about Codification of Session Length.

So, let's talk about Flags. Flags are there to attract attention to what the players want to focus on, what they want their characters to do. Flags are all about jumping up and down and pointing to the interesting bits.
But, no one enforces Flags in most cases, there is nothing that forces you to create a story involving them, especially in games where you have an omnipresent GM. Perhaps this is how people like it, but perhaps it is not.

In The Shadow of Yesterday your characters have Keys, the way to get XP is by following the character's Goals. You also have Flags in the form of the abilities on your character-sheet. If you list Diplomacy or Spear-Fighting, then obviously you want these abilities to play a part in the game-play. There is no onus on the GM to provide scenes where either your abilities or your Keys come into play.
The issue of Keys is a step-up from previous designs, where you merely had Goals with no mechanical effects though, like the Abilities.

In Nine Worlds your characters have Muses, which double up as both your Goals and which provide a bonus when you perform an act which follows them. You have narration rights as a player, so you can be pretty sure that your Muses will come into play, this is already some refining of the Flags issue, as you can bring your own Muses in.

In Cranium Rats, I took this a couple steps forward, and probably a couple of steps backwards as well. I have taken the Flags and more or less turned them into "Tunnels", where you can only narrate new Scenes relating to your Goals. Your character sheet is also quite empty compared to most games, and thus the Goals act as the only Flags.

Now, the question is, how do you feel about this? Do you think you should have Flags and also non-Flags story(taking into consideration Flags may or may not get addressed at all, depending on game and GM fiat), or do you want a game where Flags happen, but not only do they happen, they're the only thing story is going to address/spring from?
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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
contracycle
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2006, 01:38:44 AM »

I do not think that there should be anything but flags-based play, but it may be necessary for this sometimes to be non-obvious.  Theres no reason to spend time on ANYTHING which the players do not want to play, but there may be reasons to obscure the exact relationship between scene and flag.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2006, 06:30:49 AM »

There's a slight but important difference: "Tunnels" claim that not only you don't play what players don't wish to play, you play nothing but what they stated they want to play!
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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
contracycle
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2006, 07:04:35 AM »

I'm agreeing with that.  In all other games, there is no question of doing anything else.  If you play baseball, you are playing baseball from the time you start till the time you stop.  I think ALL play should be within the terrain designated by the flags, as it were.
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Impeach the bomber boys:
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2006, 08:08:28 AM »

Cranium Rats, being a competitive game, actually is an RPG equivalent of baseball. There is no reason to go out of the playing field - and if any player actually wants to do it, he misses the point and probably should rather play another game. It's a case similar to that "free play" issue from some time ago.

Now, the question is - would it be possible to narrate a scene disconnected with any goals, and still remain on the "the playing field"? Every scene requires some conflict in CR, but what with the goals?

I see one potential way of using "non-flag scenes" strategically. If you don't need more tokens for the time being (e.g. you have 5 and the others have 1-2), and you also don't want the others to gain any more (you never want that), you may prefer to play it safe and narrate a scene in which no goals can be put at stake. On the other hand, it's always possible to add new, relevant goals at any time (probably only The Enlightened would want to do it, though).
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2006, 08:13:56 AM »

Yes, the ability to add new Goals deals with Emergant Issues, which you didn't have originally but want to address now. I think Tunnels work so long you have a way to keep adding Tunnels!

Also, it's all very nice and dandy to want to stay ahead, but the thing is, you can't play it safe so the others won't have a chance to do anything. I mean, playing it safe is more or less the antithesis of CR play. If you keep things "safe" and don't do much, then where is the inter-player conflict?

See, that's the question of Tunneling in CR. Goals are Tunnels, how can you remain on "the playing field" and still work with the concept of Tunnels if you don't want to Tunnel? It doesn't matter you don't want, you have to. So the question is, do you agree to this "have to"?
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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 #6 on: June 24, 2006, 08:52:39 AM »

No real problem with that for me. Well, for me.

As for the inter-player conflict, notice that goals are not so important to it. Inter-player conflict comes mainly with bidding for Aspect dots. Real world conflicts, which are connected with goals, are one of the areas you can use to gain advantage in the competition - but I don't feel it's the main one.
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2006, 05:25:44 AM »

I'm talking about games in general as well as making an example out of CR.

How would you feel if in TSoY the only scenes that ocurred were somehow connected to Keys, and to a lesser degree character abilities?
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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 #8 on: June 27, 2006, 04:50:09 PM »

I've been using TSoY Keys in my last Exalted campaign. And the moment I introduced the rule, most of the scenes started to be connected with Keys, either from the start or from some point during which players simply made such connections. Also, the great majority of scenes were somehow connected with character's abilities, even before then.

Surely, there were some scenes not connected with Keys or skills/charms/backgrounds/whatever. But you know what? I barely remember them now.
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