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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 152 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: a game about small group dynamics  (Read 6590 times)
paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« on: August 10, 2007, 07:41:49 PM »

HI all , I am Paul Wilson  a long time lurker finally dipping my toe into  game design,
So I have an idea for a game that I want to float see if there is any merit to it

So I have an Idea based around a game of PTA I produced at the local con by the name of "The Pack", it was a game about the internal politics of a werewolf pack who were all heading on the same goal but being torn apart by the inner workings of the pack.

Where the game excelled was that the players played the relationships between the characters so well.

 The game was awesome like lightning in a bottle I hope to capture a small portion of the magic that was that game in this .

So I am going to start with the alt big three

1. What is your game about?

My game is about the relationships that develop and evolve within a small group of people

2. What do characters do in the game?
interact with the other PCs in a enforced group, I.E. a unit of soldiers , a pack of wolves , a government party and NPC whoa re in direct opposition to the characters.

In the game as written thus far the characters are slaves who are trying to escape their masters and gain their names back.

3. What do players do in the game

Explore social dynamics of the group, in series hating and respecting the PCs and NPCs.
   Either choosing to go through with the goals of the group or fail in a dramatic fashion*
The players also are creating plot threads as part of the system( at moment using PDQ by Atomic Sock Monkey Press , till I can think of better mechanics/ Playtest them)


* I don't mean railroading into one path, its just that I want a game were failure is an option and an awesome option at that.
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hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2007, 10:41:29 PM »

Welcome to the Forge, Paul! It's good to see you here.

I remember you were stoked after playing "The Pack" at Kapcon. Care to talk a little bit more about what, exactly, was so awesome about the way relationships worked in the game? What's inspired you to write a game based on that dynamic?
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2007, 01:56:41 PM »

OK the awesome came from denial , whether denial of self or denial of the pack.

we had run the game as a PTA game so it was the conflict inherent in this small group that made the story of their cohesion so awesome, people had to give up their own goals for the good of the pack, allow them selves to be manipulated into a bad position in order to make their pack be in a better position, and there was a looming doom that stretched over the whole game, that was the awesome.

the story we told was about the realization fo the packs leader that he really had to step up in order to fully take pack alpha status, it was a personal journey told from the point of view of the manipulativetotem of the werewolf pack

what inspired me ? - I saw a lack in many games that did not allow for the dynamics that came from this simple group dyanamic. The group actually formed a pack over the course of the game. I knew all but one of the players at the start of the game at least in passing. at the end they were all my friends who we shared and awesome experience with.
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paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2007, 02:04:38 PM »

I thought the AP link might be useful

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=307799

I never finished it but .... it might give a little help
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hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2007, 02:58:11 PM »

So, some of the things you want the game to deal with are

- choosing between the pack's interests and your own
- who leads the pack
- fulfilling the pack's purpose (whatever they were formed for).

That's good stuff. Now I'm trying to get more detail on what types of story you want to tell with this game ...

Do you think the most meaningful choice a character can make in this game is whether they're going to follow the pack's interests and their own? Is that choice a permanent one (it stays the same once they've made it) or is it constantly in flux up until the end?

Do you want the whole group to define what the pack is (werewolves, soldiers, toys), and who their opposition is?

Do you want the pack to have a definite purpose they want to achieve? Is there a definite end point to the game?
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2007, 04:09:24 PM »

Do you think the most meaningful choice a character can make in this game is whether they're going to follow the pack's interests and their own? Is that choice a permanent one (it stays the same once they've made it) or is it constantly in flux up until the end?


The meaningful choice is the hardest one to make, it would change with each character and situation, I am thinking like issues in PTA. maybe defining the tough choice at the start of the game.

maybe stating it as a dichotomy 'will I step up as the pack leader or force the pack to fit what I see"

Do you want the whole group to define what the pack is (werewolves, soldiers, toys), and who their opposition is?


I would like this to be a system about the definition of the pack, the group should define who they are going to be... the toys idea is interesting me, kinda like the game a ran at kapcon a few years ago. I am thinking that that is what my games have been about without knowing it.

I would also like them to define their enemy but not in simple "we are fighting a dragon, we are seeking information to take down the KGB" but in terms of motivation. " we are trying to weaken the demonic influence of the city by stealing our names back"
"we wish to form a true pack"


Possibly forming these in a specific wording to bring in a kicker for the game.


Do you want the pack to have a definite purpose they want to achieve? Is there a definite end point to the game?


Yes , the pack has a specific purpose they want to achieve.
The formation of the pack is for a purpose and that may be a specific one or an ongoing one it could be a one night pack.

the end of the game is up in the air , I want there to be a definite end of the game maybe the utter failure or victory of the pack, but I would also like to see that group work in a new goal at the end of the game like a plot hook as used in PDQ by atomic sock monkey press.

if anyone else is reading this is there some more games that I need to read before getting on to this one.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2007, 08:13:13 AM »

Hi Paulie,

The game for you is The Mountain Witch! It's an excellent example of what you're talking about.

Best, Ron
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hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2007, 06:40:31 PM »

You've talked about the sorts choices characters have to make in this game. Seems like you want a situation where, no matter what they choose, the consequences are going to be tough.

In terms of recruiting players for the game, you'll want the rules to clearly state players will have to make hard, not-safe choices (about group loyalties versus individual drives).

Ron's dead right about The Mountain Witch's awesomness in this area. I've borrowed Morgue's copy to run my Tuesday night group through it, but if he's cool about it I could run a one-shot of it for you later this year.

---

I'm trying to get a sense of whether you want the game to be front-loaded and ready to explode as soon as play starts, or whether you want the situation to slowly come to a head.

When you ran the Primetime Adventures (PTA) game of "The Pack", did you start the game with a clear idea of all the relationships inside the pack? Did you also have a clear idea of the types of choices each PC was going to have to make? Or did some/most/all of that stuff emerge through play?

I'm also curious about what you see as the length of a complete story in this system. By 'story' I mean from the moment the pack forms to the moment they resolve the external threat and all their internal conflicts. At the moment, it seems like this could be a great system for a really intense one-off (if everything's deliberately front-loaded and primed to explode).

---

I'd suggest group collaboration on creating the setting and the external threat that the pack faces. In effect, the group would write a kicker they'd all buy into. You might want to take a look at the World Burning process in Burning Empires (Conan and Luke have copies), and compare its structured approach of using questions to guide the conversation to PTA's free-form pitch.

As for individual character generation, it feels like the most important element would for each player to define a Kicker that tears their character in a different direction to the group's kicker.
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2007, 08:32:37 PM »

first off thanks for the idea of the games to play \ read .

thanks for the comments guys and I would be super keen to try mountain witch game at some point.
------

Ok in the original game I was looking to showcase the relationships with the players all choosing to have a bunch of intra party conflict. The players were more interested in the internal connections than the external ones.  We front loaded the game with the internal relationships and it worked well.

At this stage I am keen to emulate this at this point with a front loaded story working hard to push the internal conflicts. In the original game the the pack was in key roles of new alpha, dishonest beta , young omega , the outsider and the mentor. I think this might be a cool mechanic with the players taking set roles in different situations causing the strife of the different roles.

I see this as a one off to short campaign game.. as in a series of one offs that scale to a 4-5 session game.

----


as for the setting I would see the players define the external threat and the setting. In terms of a process I will have a look at burning empires when I get my little hands on it. But for the time being maybe a PTA style pitch may work well.

can you throw me a bone on what is a good kicker? I have no idea what it really involves, just that I set up the players to have a direct conflict with an external threat.
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hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2007, 10:46:25 PM »

Hi Paul,

You asked what makes a good Kicker. From Doyce's theory wiki, a Kicker is:

Quote
A player-authored situation ... that puts the character into motion, often by somehow destabilizing that character's life.

The event that makes it (very nearly) impossible for the character's life to go back to the way it was.

NB: That it's "player-authored" is important. The players are invested in the situation, and interested in how it turns out.

The Sorceror rulebook also mentions a couple of vital qualities:
- that there are many ways of reacting to the kicker (it doesn't dictate any particular response)
- that it can't be ignored

A good and recent example of a group kicker comes from Vincent Baker's new game about pirates, Poisn'd. That game starts with your ship's captain having been poisoned, and your ship is being pursued by a warship. See how that destablises the group, changes (potentially) everyone's relationships, and forces a struggle for a new hierarchy?

(In this case, it's not player-authored, but let's pretend it was ...)
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2007, 10:09:40 PM »

I have been having thoughts about how to come up with the dynamics of the group, listening to shakespare and dragons about conflicts and drama,

having a series of issues at the centre of the table defined by the players and choosing one player to be in favour and one in in oposition and forcing a break between the group in the immediate past

I can see like poison'd and its device of the captain being poisoned with the ship chasing them down.

the archetypal story i was going to tell with this was a group of slaves in a medieval fantasy world who have just killed their master and must escape the hunt who are trying to capture them

I need to have a good think about the social dynamics and and see how they work. In reality I would like people who are friends at the table work against their closest friends on these issues,forcing either conflict or better yet discussion on these.

I think I need some time to percolate through the work I have done and come up with a group to test it with
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paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2007, 10:31:42 PM »

gonna get a group together to try some stuff.

Hix are you interested?
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paulie
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2008, 12:08:20 AM »

So I had a good time playtesting it

I will be working on writing up this as a Actual play at some point
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Bret Gillan
Member

Posts: 375

That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2008, 06:05:32 PM »

Hi Paulie,

Man I am keenly interested in this idea. The idea of small group dynamics, especially over long periods of time is fascinating to me. I have had the opportunity to interact with a small group of friends that have been friends for years, and since I've never been involved with something like this behaviors really pop out at me.

You are dead on about denial of self being a part of group dynamics - specially denial of self that conflicts with the group. One conflict that comes up is as the individual grows and changes in a way that causes that person to become different than the person the group knows, there's social pressure to remain the same.

Similarly, outsiders are rejected unless the group can include them in a way that won't shake up the dynamic.

Basically, the group strives to be static and to perpetuate itself.

Food for thought I guess.
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