*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 20, 2022, 06:30:11 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Alternate Settings for DitV & Product Concepts  (Read 6365 times)
David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


WWW
« on: February 16, 2007, 08:49:38 AM »

I probably should search--I suspect I am not the first to think of this--but I can't for the life of me think of good terms to get appropriate hits. So here goes....

I have had some ideas for DitV's future product(s) that I'd like to bounce off of the list and, particularly, Vincent.

Concept One: The Generic Model
Have you ever thought of releasing a "generified" version of DitV? Basically, take the system but strip out the elements of setting that are specific to the West That Never Was; and instead bubble out the "meta-setting" elements as checklists or forms to be completed by a GM to set up an alternative setting.

So, for instance, you'd strip out the Laws section, but you'd leave behind a section that describes how to make "dramatically pregnant" mores/laws, and maybe provide a variety of examples. The idea being that you'd not have setting specific stuff, but you'd be adding in theory-type advice and even "metasystems" for devising dramatically pregnant mores/laws.

A big benefit of this could be in NOT releasing it as a product, but rather ikeeping it for yourself, to make it very quick for you to develop and release new variants on the game for different genres and settings.

SO, you could either sell the generic book, with several examples for various settings; or you could just develop it "internally" to be used, say, as writer's guidelines and a consistent book layout/template for follow-up products in the line.

Concept Two: Book Reformatting
Similar to the above, but rather than strip the West That Never Was out, you'd reformat the book slightly to "call out" the setting-specific elements in some way, the better for a GM to know what he has to retool versus what's core to the conflict system in any genre or setting. This "calling out" would also provide a sort of quick reference for new players, showing them what the meat of the game is so they can focus on being in their role, rather than on what they must roll.

Dead horse? Or Genius insight? Smiley
David
Logged

Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


WWW
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 09:09:26 AM »

This is a demi-bump, I realize, but I have a follow-up question for my (unanswered) base questions:

Concept Three: The Short List
Could you (Vincent or Dogs experts) provide a short list of JUST the genre-specific elements that must be modified to do a "full" alternate setting, including "town" creation?

I know about these:
Setting
What Is a "Town"
Laws/Mores of Genre & Progression of "Sin"

Characters
Basic Stats, if appropriate(?)
Beginning Belongings
Trait and Relationship Examples

Mechanics
Escalation Chart
Fallout Chart(s)

Am I missing something? I feel that I am (hence the follow-up question)....
David
Logged

Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


WWW
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2007, 09:14:00 AM »

WOW! REALLY old thread; sorry. I was hunting more for this one:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=23889.msg234334#msg234334
...where I ask for a similar checklist (but no reply there either).

Hmmm....

Concept N: Am I Asking a Bad Question?
It just occurred to me that I might be asking a "difficult" question or series of questions, in that I might be preempting an intended future product which Vincent would like to remain secret. Am I? Should I take silence as a "Yes" and drop this general line of "meta-Dogs" inquiry?

Sorry if I'm spilling beans or something;
David
Logged

Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3453


WWW
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2007, 09:48:55 AM »

Ha! No, no bean spilling. The fact is, I'm pretty much indifferent to the idea. I'm willing to provide space for alternate settings and stuff, there's that section in the book, and occasionally I'll answer interesting questions case by case, but that's about as far as my support for alternate settings goes.

I designed the game as a religious Western on purpose!

-Vincent
Logged
Filip Luszczyk
Member

Posts: 746

roll-player


WWW
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2007, 10:26:23 AM »

(I hope I'm not commiting a deadly sin by following David's threadomancy, but I think the thread is interesting and it would be worth a split anyway.)

David,

Some months ago it occurred to me that having a generic version of DitV - something like d20 SRD - would be totally awesome. I've been looking at DitV, and looking at Afraid, and comparing how the two differ despite having the same general frame and core mechanics. I even started toying around with an idea of writing "Escalation Engine" SRD for my own needs, but in the end I didn't do much progress (however, now that I think about it, what stopped me was probably that I've been misinterpreting some parts of the game back then, and some pieces of the puzzle didn't fit for me).

The thing is, I've been thinking about something more than a setting-stripped version that would facilitate setting ports, but rather a general engine, somewhat customizable (i.e. in terms of stat names, special types of traits, conflict arenas, backgrounds and the like) but devoid of any wider structure. No "default" town rules, sin ladders or whatever. Instead, it would have tools that could be used to create the overall structure for the purposes of a given campaign. It wouldn't be simply setting port that translates DitV laws into, say, school's disciplinary rules for a school drama game and sets PCs role accordingly. For example, it could be used to create a fantasy game that would functionally differ from DitV as much as Afraid differs from it, using the conflicts engine for a game that deals with issues of a completely different sort.

For an example of how the results of going through such a procedure could look like, here's the Exalted mod I'm working on. Basically, I want to use the baseline mechanics there, but completely changing the way the game is played (well, I'm aiming for something that would support slightly more tactical gameplay with it, but that's another thing). The main problem is actually creating the tools for establishing equivalents of town or monster creation procedures.

An important thing here, as I see it, is that I could easily play, say, Exalted using vanilla DitV, simply translating system elements to their equivalents. I could just as well play Afraid in the setting from Exalted. In both cases I'd have a completely different game, though, despite the same color. The reason I'm including so many modifications in my Exalted mod is that I want something that would play differently from both - more close to the way we've been playing Exalted in the past - only using the core mechanical engine from DitV.

Otherwise, if it's only about playing DitV in a different genre or setting, but still in a generally the same way, I don't think creating a version stripped from default color would be very worthwile - such ports are pretty easy anyway, and a whole lot of people plays in alternative settings. Having such an "SRD" wouldn't hurt, of course, but at the same time it wouldn't really make possible anything that's not possible with DitV as is already.
Logged

David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


WWW
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2007, 12:51:19 PM »

So we have to ferret out all the Setting elements to mod ourselves, huh? Fair enough....
Wink

Filip, you are going a bit deeper than I wanted to, but that's great (just a LOT harder).

I am mainly looking for what *has* to be ported from the base game to build a new Setting. You are looking for everything that *can* be ported to make not only a new Setting but entirely different Situations.

In my case, I'd say I want to find the "Generic Dogs Engine" that still focuses on the whole morality and violence thing--as many of the Alts I've read also do. But you want an "Escalation Metaengine", almost like an RPG-making toolkit. As someone knee-deep in a generic LARP system design, I can tell you that might not be doable, or if it is done, you might have something like Fudge: unplayable as-is, requiring a TON of GM (or player) specification. I have found, working on GLASS, that there's a million little "assumptions" or "choices" I have to make, to reach an even slightly coherent game. And it always seems like I am torn between twin furies:
1) Those who don't like Choice A and think Choice B is much better... regardless of how it will ripple across the system to change almost everything (ex: "Dogs shouldn't be about morality! It should be about controlling people!")
2) Those who, when I explain why I chose A over B, reply that I should offer both as options... requiring all other knock-on decisions to expand to accommodate the new option.

I think this difficulty is why a lot of folks say "generic games aren't complete games." What they mean is that METAgame engines aren't complete, because it is very possible to make a genreless game engine that is. The latter will tend towards only one style (or Agneda) of play, but it WILL be complete.

I fear that an Escalation Metaengine might suffer from the former accusation: not a complete game and, thereby, less accessible to others.

But don't let me scare you off. I'm just throwing out a data point from my own design work, which (WRT what you're thinking) warns me that such a flexible system will have a LOT of complexity, to balance out knock-on systems that result from core meta decisions. For eveyr option you offer, the follow-on options will expand exponentially.

But Go For It! Meanwhile... am I missing something from the Concept 3 Short List?
Wink
David
Logged

Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
Filip Luszczyk
Member

Posts: 746

roll-player


WWW
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2007, 09:02:14 AM »

As for your list:

Setting
* What Is a "Town"
* Laws/Mores of Genre & Progression of "Sin"
*Who are "Dogs"?
* What specific business do they have in "Towns"?
* What are "Demons"?
* Who are "Possessed People" and "Sorcerers"?

Characters
* Basic Stats, if appropriate(?) (Yup, I'd say sometimes it might be appropriate to redefine Stats. Especially Body could not fit some genres. It could be called, say, Respect for a purely social game, Access for a cyberspace game, Power if the characters act mainly through magic, and so on.)
* Beginning Belongings (AFAIK these are only examples, as players can list any number of things and chose any Belongings they want, anyway.)
* Trait and Relationship Examples (As above, these are freeform anyway.)
* The source of the free +1d4 dice for Belongings.
* Coats
* Backgrounds
* Mandatory Traits and Relationships (like "I'm a Dog")
* Free Blood 1d6 Relationship (substitute for whatever sort of ties is important in given setting and genre)

Mechanics
* Escalation Chart
* Fallout Chart(s)
* Demonic Influence Chart
* Possession powers
* Ceremony

No more things come to my mind at the moment.

Quote
I can tell you that might not be doable, or if it is done, you might have something like Fudge: unplayable as-is, requiring a TON of GM (or player) specification.

Well, I specifically wouldn't like it to be a DIY toolkit like Fudge, more like a solid core mechanic with some add-ons, and a procedure for establishing rules for whatever would ammount to a "town/monster creation" equivalent. It wouldn't have much sense if it couldn't be done by filling out, say, one sheet for mechanical options and one sheet for the Situation generating procedure. Insert your own questions into the provided Situation blanks, pick some mechanical options that support your resulting Situation and you're ready to go. Also, some pre-generated "builds" would have to be included for it to have sense.

DitV seems to be pretty modular to be pretty modular to me - it's possible to cut some elements and add new ones without making it unplayable (although obviously every change would affect what exactly the system supports). And it's a very rules-lite game in its core. So, there is not all that much complexity that would have to be dealt with - it's not at all like d20, FUDGE or, dunno, GURPS.

I think the trick is in doing it in form of big "bubbles" of rules, that are pretty much independent. So, providing a number of options for character creation, conflicts and Situation, but making sure that changing something in, say, character creation "bubble" doesn't affect conflicts "bubble" (i.e. things work the same regardles of the number of dice and types of Traits characters have, as conflict structure and options are broad enough to contain all configurations of "characters bubble").

This is how I see it.

Quote
I think this difficulty is why a lot of folks say "generic games aren't complete games." What they mean is that METAgame engines aren't complete, because it is very possible to make a genreless game engine that is. The latter will tend towards only one style (or Agneda) of play, but it WILL be complete.

The thing is, such Escalation Engine wouldn't be a completely generic game. There is no such thing as a game that could support every possible gamestyle.

Now, if you strip DitV from its default setting color as well as from default procedure for creating Situation, there is nothing in it that makes it a game about morality. No Faith score or anything. These are not even rules for western, as there is nothing really genre specific in them. You're simply left with some character creation and resolution rules, pretty playable in themselves, only lacking purpose once disconnected from the other elements.

At its core, DitV mechanics do not give any support for play revolving around morality. However, what they support is a game in which players make tough choices. What specifically these choices are about depends on the context in which you place the core mechanics. The specific context needs some additional rules to support it - this is what town creation and Demonic Influcence rules in DitV or monster creation rules in Afraid provide.

Basically, it all starts from some core conflict. In DitV the sides of this Core conflict are:

Faith vs Community vs Demons

At least one of these sides is an arena of the core conflict at the same time. Also, both Faith and Community sides can have their own inside conflicts going on.

DitV as is will work well as long as you retain this general structure, at most translating the color. You can rename the sides, but if you remove one of them or add an additional side, or change the fundamental essence of one of them, or change PCs general place in it, DitV as is won't support it (hence, the changes in my Exalted mod). Most probably, there won't be many problems with character creation and conflict rules, but the rules for town creation won't work, and the rules connected with Ceremony, Demonic Influence, Possesion and stuff, even after color translation may not fit.

Quote
I fear that an Escalation Metaengine might suffer from the former accusation: not a complete game and, thereby, less accessible to others.

Well, obviously it would work only for people who'd need something exactly like this, so accusations from outside its target audience wouldn't be viable Wink

But in the end, I've been thinking about doing somthing like this for my provate use - and whether I'd really need it is another matter (in the end, if I need a specific DitV mod, I can just as well change things on a case by case basis, as I do with Exalted now). If there was, indeed, some substantial target audience for such engine, things would look different.
Logged

David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


WWW
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2007, 09:43:54 AM »

Thanks for filling out the Short List, Filip.

As for the metaengine, I think that if you can isolate these "bubbles" (requisite modules) and provide the mechanical relationships between them (essentially, the abstracted engine plus some terminology) then you will end up with a usable game. With such a setup, you'd be closer to Hero/Champions than FUDGE: yes, a GM or play group must work out how they are going to define the bubbles, but the mechanics for the interplay of those modules insures that nothing "breaks" or becomes moot (just like in Hero where power level and the nature of items must be resolved, but the underlying task resolution mechanics and cost for effects insures things stay in balance with any set of options).

Basically what I am doing with GLASS, actually. If I get the numbers right, any set of Options will still work with the the underlying mechanics (which are rules/assumptions about ALL play styles, regardless of options to tune a particular game event to suit a desired genre).
Smiley

Thanks again;
David
Logged

Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
zornwil
Member

Posts: 86


« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2007, 07:46:46 AM »

I have a similar interest in a sort of "Dogs engine" or such, but have conflicted feelings.  I don't know if a truly "generic" engine can or should be done, and I think once you do you end up with something that does devolve back to a HERO or GURPS or what-have-you "you can do anything but you have to work at it a bunch and probably will be muddled" result.  I'm a long-long time HERO player, I'd like to add, though my aesthetics and opnions have changed to the point where frankly I'm mostly dropping playing it.

BUT I think that Dogs books like Princes' Kingdom make for delightful and usable variants.  Frankly, I think that the Dogs in the Vineyard book as is already serves as useful enough for any moral dilemma with PC conflicts sort of game.  Granted, a few more pages could spell out "here's how to rework Town Generation for your campaign" (for example, I've reworked it for Office Dogs, a game where players are high-powered consultants in a corporate setting, moving from company to company), "here's how to rework the escalation of demoniic influence" (again, had to do that for Office Dogs), and so on.  But it doesn't take (IMHO)  much work at all to do this even without that advice, as in about 80% of the book Vincent makes his intent mostly clear.  I think that the major improvement on the book would be maybe 20-50 more pages where the author spells out why certain things were done certain ways, and then it's a done deal as far as reusing that.

Back to the "core engine" idea, I think you have to package something like that with what the purpose of that engine is, and I think it needs some focus.  As evidenced by a couple other threads, a couple of us in our local group are extremely interested in reusing that engine for "action-adventure."  I can't exactly tell you the precise flavor of action-adventure, but I intend to - it's one of those tricky things where I and my friend know intuitively what kind of action-adventure Dogs works for and we can tell you in a 1,000 words but I'd really like to and ultimately intend to boil that down to a sentence or two.  As that happens, I believe it's possible to create a Dogs action-adventure book that's specific to a certain kind of action-adventure play.  It won't be "generic" or "universal" even if it does support 4-color superheroes through gritty military action, because it still enforces a certain set of play behaviors (especially intra-PC conflicts) - as it should.

As David Artman above said, don't let me be a downer!  I am just sharing my thoughts, and in ANY event, I would be VERY interested in keeping up with anyone else who is exploring this core-Dogs-mechanic idea.
Logged

- Wilson
David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2007, 10:19:47 AM »

A few follow-ups, now that I have time enough to do more than give thanks:

The thing is, such Escalation Engine wouldn't be a completely generic game. There is no such thing as a game that could support every possible gamestyle.


FWIW, I never claimed that. In fact, I said:

I am mainly looking for what *has* to be ported from the base game to build a new Setting. You are looking for everything that *can* be ported to make not only a new Setting but entirely different Situations.

In my case, I'd say I want to find the "Generic Dogs Engine" that still focuses on the whole morality and violence thing--as many of the Alts I've read also do.

Put another way, generic is not equal to universal, but you seem to think I use them synonymously.
A generic engine can model situations in a variety of settings for which those situations are genre-staples or significant. This speaks to Vincent's comments that one can do Classic ST Dogs far easier than TNG Dogs.
A universal engine will allow you to develop totally different situations and easily hook relevant systemic elements into them (and omit irrelevant ones).

So I guess what I am trying to say with this redirect is that porting Dogs does not automatically mean that one must port the themes of Dogs, too.

Quote
Now, if you strip DitV from its default setting color as well as from default procedure for creating Situation, there is nothing in it that makes it a game about morality.

This hearkens back to the idea of The Fruitful Void:
http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=119

You are, it seems, exactly right about that... and, thus, that's why I feel a generic Dogs engine is quite possible (even trivial; see The Short List) while a universal Dogs engine would require so many user-driven decisions, balancing, and down-right innovation that it would be nearly unusable as rules as written, requiring the users to actually "finish" the game (assuming you don't go "pseudo-universal" and provide an array of fruitful voids with associated mechanics, effectively not being universal but rather a collection of somewhat-related generic engines).

Quote
However, what they support is a game in which players make tough choices. What specifically these choices are about depends on the context in which you place the core mechanics. The specific context needs some additional rules to support it - this is what town creation and Demonic Influcence rules in DitV or monster creation rules in Afraid provide.
Hmmm... OK, maybe "morality" isn't the precise term to use for conflicts in a universal engine. But I was, after all, speaking of a generic engine. I agree completely that a universal engine would require tight associations between the "significant relationships" ("Core conflict," in your terms). And hence the reason I reply that you'd really be making a collection of somewhat-related generic engines, not a truly universal one.

And what's that "somewhat-related" element? System. And here is yet another reason I argue to Design What DOESN'T Matter: Dogs isn't played to have fun handling dice and negotiating stakes (though that it is a fun part of it); it's played for that Fruitful Void above... which we both agree is NOT encoded in the system at all. The mechanics you'd be left with after you stripped down to this collection of generic engines is precisely the LEAST interesting or relevant element of the whole thing: it's just a handling technique, and it could be replaced by anything which had the same push-pull/checks-balances.

[OK, that's your cue, Devs on the Forge: come burn the Sorcerer of False Doctrine.... ;^)]

Quote
But in the end, I've been thinking about doing somthing like this for my provate use - and whether I'd really need it is another matter (in the end, if I need a specific DitV mod, I can just as well change things on a case by case basis, as I do with Exalted now). If there was, indeed, some substantial target audience for such engine, things would look different.
AH, well... that's kind of like what I meant by "spill the beans" above: for a private-use tool--a way to be sure you aren't dropping one of the triumvirate of Core Conflict, which you fully grok--a universal or pseudo-universal collection would be fairly helpful.

And, sure, fine: the only folks who could also use it as-written are already solid Doggers and, as such, probably do not even need it. It could very well be the sort of "tool" that once you know how to use it, you never need pick it up again.

But still useful for deep theory... and, again, the Short List above is a great tool for folks making ports with similar Core Conflicts as DitV. Thanks again for that!
David
Logged

Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
Filip Luszczyk
Member

Posts: 746

roll-player


WWW
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2007, 06:51:12 AM »

David,

I've totally missed the generic/universal distinction - well, this is what I get for not being a native speaker Wink

Quote
(assuming you don't go "pseudo-universal" and provide an array of fruitful voids with associated mechanics, effectively not being universal but rather a collection of somewhat-related generic engines).

This sound more or less like what I'd like to see in such hypothetical Escalation Engine product.

As for the Design What Doesn't Matter, I don't really buy the concept, especially in this case - i.e. the mechanics without the overall structure (towns, monsters, whatever) are not completely playable yet. The structure needs to be designed, or the structure for designing the structure needs to be designed, one way or another - and this structure matters.

That said, I think in case of DitV the mechanics are pretty fun in themselves, and I think a great portion of fun we had in our games came more or less directly from their use, rather than from the whole moral layer.

[Now, tell me about False Doctrine, heh ^_^]
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!