*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
January 23, 2022, 11:02:56 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: 85 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Big Sky Mind  (Read 6565 times)
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« on: October 06, 2002, 11:39:02 AM »

I've been trying to come up with a new way to approach "Splat-ness" in a game about "great big inexplicable cosmic weirdness" (hereafter, "GBICW").  I think Splats are an okay way to devide people into groups and create interpersonal conflict, but I wanted something that was more freeform and realistic.  "I react to becoming a Vampire by embracing beauty as an ideal," isn't exactly a logical progression.

What I'm looking for is a breakdown of how people might conceivably react to GBICW, and what kinds of coping mechanisms they use to deal with the initial explosion of confused emotions.

I'm planning to use something like this in both "Fingers on the Firmament" (where the characters suddenly find that they can travel across the entire length and breadth of space-time) and "We Regret to Inform You (The Gamemaster is Dead)" (where the characters suddenly discover that they are characters in a RPG, and the GM has just died).

My initial brainstorming left me with this:

INITIAL REACTIONS:

Indecision -- so many possibilities of what to do, how do you decide?
Smallness -- feel so insignificant in the face of the GBICW
Rapture -- total awe of the vast glory of the GBICW, starstruck
Shock -- complete inability to deal with or comprehend the GBICW
Terror -- uncontrollable dread of the GBICW, fight or flight

COPING MECHANISMS:

Rejection -- seeks out other "better" explanations for what you experience
Replacement -- comes up with a conspiracy theory or other explanation
Fantasy -- believes it all to be a dream or illusion, refuses to accept consequences
Rage -- channels feelings into anger at a certain person or thing
Zealotry -- takes up a specific cause (or religion) to keep your mind off the truth
Apathy -- feigns indifference
Hubris -- god-complex, believes oneself to be special, egotism
Rooting -- limits oneself to acting within a certain sphere, focusing tightly
Normality -- pretends that nothing's changed, going on with life as usual
Suicide -- decides that death is the only possible response to the GBICW
Gluttony -- drinks deep of the GBICW, insatiably wants more

Basically, my theory is that each of the coping strategies is a possible option of dealing with the emotions of the initial reaction.  Obviously some coping strategies might work better or worse depending on what they're responding to.  Also, it's going to be completely possible for people to combine reactions or coping strategies or make up their own.  It's not going to be as limited as traditional Splats.

If anyone has any other suggestions, disagrees with some of these (or sees them as two sides of the same coin), or has any other thoughts.  I would be very appreciative.

Later.
Jonathan
Logged

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2002, 01:31:42 PM »

Interesting. I would have said that Splats mostly exist to give players special abilities and a niche in the game. Being a Bruja or Tremere is little different in my mind than being a Fighter or Magic User in terms of what it does for the player. Sure, it can try to inform him as to a sort of manner to look at his embrace, but I always liked to play that stuff "improperly". That is, according to the rules, there's no reason that a player can't play a Tremere more like a Toreador. The personality stuff is left as suggestion, while the Powerz have mechanics attached.

Anyhow, that's not something I'm here to debate, nor is it germaine. The real question is will you have any mechanics backing up these categories of reaction, or will they just be ways for players to choose to codify the possible responses to the GBICW? If the latter, I'd suggest going freeform for more player freedom.

But I'd suggest the former. That is, if this is going to determine at all the character's "Niche" in the game, then I'd have mechanics for how this stuff affects his ability to cope, etc. Could be an interesting central premise, in fact.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2002, 02:30:17 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Interesting. I would have said that Splats mostly exist to give players special abilities and a niche in the game. Being a Bruja or Tremere is little different in my mind than being a Fighter or Magic User in terms of what it does for the player.


Hmm...  I always thought White Wolf's focus on Splats was rather different from traditional character classes or occupations.  After all, there's no group made entirely of Fighters who has conflicts with groups made entirely of Theives or Paladins.  I guess my picture of Splats is more one of a group united by ideology, common abilities, and "family" ties.  More like the Mafia than a profession.  Sure, some of their newer games (like Hunter) have moved away from it, but the rest focus strongly on inter-Splat conflict.

Quote
That is, according to the rules, there's no reason that a player can't play a Tremere more like a Toreador. The personality stuff is left as suggestion, while the Powerz have mechanics attached.


That's why this wouldn't be a standard Splat organization.  The Splats would be based completely on ideology, which would determine a great deal about how a character interpreted their power, not what their power specifically was.  Basically, in the game concepts I'm using, everyone has exactly the same abilities, but the Splats define how they're most likely to use them, to give the characters a "niche" like you described.

Quote
The real question is will you have any mechanics backing up these categories of reaction, or will they just be ways for players to choose to codify the possible responses to the GBICW? If the latter, I'd suggest going freeform for more player freedom.


I was trying to come up with broad categories, which players would have enough room to manuver around it, but I may have to end up cutting the "coping" part down and making it even more general.  I'm avoiding a completely freeform system only so I can offer suggestions about possible responses and how those would interact with the mechanics.  But, I could just change the Splats into a series of examples that I develop, instead of making them options to choose between.  That would make things a little more freeform.

Quote
But I'd suggest the former. That is, if this is going to determine at all the character's "Niche" in the game, then I'd have mechanics for how this stuff affects his ability to cope, etc. Could be an interesting central premise, in fact.


Hmm...

For Fingers on the Firmament: I wasn't intending to have any power variations between different Splats, but I could have a mechanic that allows specific Splats to be able to do certain things more easliy, instead of giving out unique abilities.  It could be a Nobilis-esque type mechanic, where anyone can do anything, presuming they are willing to pay the price (in points or wounds or time or exhaustion), but those of a certain Splat could do a few Splat-related tasks without having to worry about that stuff.  As far as coping goes, I'm not sure how I'm planning on handling the kind of Sanity-type mechanics that'll probably come with adventuring in the infinite depths of space-time, but I'll definitely take your advice to heart.

For The GM is Dead: I could see having some strategies being more or less effective, but this is mostly a matter of roleplaying and not any mechanics.  I wasn't planning on having a "Coping Ability" score that varies, or anything like that.  Since the campaign is a absurdist deconstruction of roleplaying, I thought I would just have a list of "Coping Strategies" for the players to choose from, instead of having them take the time to decide how their PC copes with the realization that he/she is a character in a roleplaying game.  I mean, how would players have any context for determining how their character would react?  If they have some ideas, that's great, but I can see a good many players not really knowing where to start (or just being confused/frustrated).

Later.
Jonathan
Logged

C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2002, 06:03:24 PM »

Hey Johnathan,

For Quantum Z (working title) I plan on using a yin-yang balancing act between the ego and the weight of the knowledge (universal truths) that the character has to cope with.  This can be summed up with a statement like "Our egos protect us from the ravages of the truth."

Being in or out of balance will have some as yet to be determined mechanical effects but I'm hoping to leave the effect on a character's behaviour mostly in the hands of the player.  A character's school of thought should play an important role in a character's out of balance behavior.  There will be some direction and various possibilities given on how an out of balance character would act, but at this point I don't see the advantage of any kind of mechanical effect being imposed on the character's personality.  I hope that some sort of "good role-playing" reward will suffice, although if I do find a mechanic that I feel appropriate I probably will not hesitate to use it.

Hope that was of some help.  I've been rereading "The Fabric of Reality" by David Deutsch, so my brain is pretty much fried.

-Chris
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2002, 05:38:15 AM »

To be clear, I wasn't advocating that the splats give you powers per se. What I was advocating is mechanics that somehow support exploration of these elements of the characters psychology. For instance you could have a Sanity stat or somesuch that was modified by in-game actions. When a character acted along his "Splat" he'd do better on rolls to save vs reducing this stat than if he tried to use some other tactic.

So, you have psychology supported mechanically.

What would be further interesting would be if characters were dynamic, and could somehow change their tactics. Thus a character who starts as a "Rejecter" could change at some point to taking an apathetic coping stance, and later shift to Zealotry. Just an idea. Allows players to have dynamic characters if they like. Or they can remain static which is also a cool choice.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
ethan_greer
Member

Posts: 869


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2002, 06:23:02 PM »

Alternatively, you could treat the Initial Reactions and Coping Mechanisms simply as tools to help the players define the characters - similar to V:tM's Nature and Demeanor, or D&D's Alignments.

In that capacity, the character's Rxns and Coping Mechs become tools to aid the players in role-playing rather than Splats.

I for one have always had difficulty getting into the mindset of a character whose world has drastically changed through the application of GBICW, and just having your initial post in front of me as few guiding options would have been helpful at the time.

I would include the concepts of Initial Reaction and Coping Mechanism with your projects, regardless of whether or not you integrate them into the game mechanics.
-e.
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2002, 05:28:53 AM »

Hi e.

Most games have some sort of section that details what sort of mentality that characters can have. And these are fine as far as they go. But in the absence of mechanics they usually don't do very much as far as defining the nature of play. Your Alignment reference is more like what I'm thiking in that with Alignments there are mechanical penalties for acting "out of character".

But I prefer to reward instead of punish. The problem with Alignments is that since they only punish, players just think of them as something to be circumvented. If you instead reward teh players for playing along these lines, then I think that you'll find that players will be all over trying to play with the selections they take.

The big question is how central to the game does Jonathan want to make these reactions? Are they a (or "the") central focus of play? Or is this just some ancilary mechanic meant for color?

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
ethan_greer
Member

Posts: 869


WWW
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2002, 10:16:54 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Your Alignment reference is more like what I'm thiking in that with Alignments there are mechanical penalties for acting "out of character".

V:tM's Nature and Demeanor are a similar but opposite mechanic - they are used to enable characters to regain Willpower points.  Either approach has merit, but I agree that it is better to reward for good play rather than penalize for poor play.

Quote
The big question is how central to the game does Jonathan want to make these reactions? Are they a (or "the") central focus of play? Or is this just some ancilary mechanic meant for color?

Personally, I'd go for the second option, but that's just me... Either way is workable, and both approaches would support well the setting premises of the two games Jonathan mentions.

Incidentally, Jonathan, you might want to take a look at Exalted - specifically the mechanics about the Great Curse.  IMO a pretty good "sanity" mechanic, and it might give you some good ideas for your games.
Logged
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2002, 10:57:06 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
The big question is how central to the game does Jonathan want to make these reactions? Are they a (or "the") central focus of play? Or is this just some ancilary mechanic meant for color?


And the big answer is... both.

In "The GM is Dead" I don't intend the Reaction/Coping mechanics to be a big part of the game at all, merely to serve as suggestions of how characters might deal with the GBICW.  This would fit the "just for color" option that Mike described.

However, in "Fingers on the Firmament," the Coping Mechanism is probably going to become the central component of play.  The characters are given free reign over all of space-time and have to figure out what to DO with all this.  There is no built-in purpose or enemy to fight, so the players are required to come up with their own.  Howver, to give the game some kind of structure, I was going to offer some suggestions, which is how I came up with this Reaction/Coping system in the first place.

In a way, you could think of the Coping Mechanisms more like Words in "In Nomine" or Estates in "Nobilis."  They would be the lenses through which the characters would view the world.  Obviously, people who dreaded the dark void of space would use their powers differently from those who had a sick fascination with it.  This is what led me to the ideological "Splat-like" categorizations.

Quote from: silkworm
Incidentally, Jonathan, you might want to take a look at Exalted - specifically the mechanics about the Great Curse. IMO a pretty good "sanity" mechanic, and it might give you some good ideas for your games.


*Pulls out borrowed copy of Exalted*

Hmm... Interesting concept, but I don't really like the execution or the examples they gave (aside from the Compassion ones, which are rather cool).  Still, the way that the Exalted build up tension until they snap is rather spiffy.  I just wish the tension-building was less predictable, both in the buildup ("He could snap at any moment!") and in the results ("You never know when she might lose it for good!").

Thanks for pointing it out, though.  It does give me some ideas for devising a system that might work.  Mike's right too, though: it'd be cool if there was a way to change between various coping mechanisms (or even to go without a mechanism for a while), for the possible chance of resolving some of the tension.  Of course, if the switch didn't work out, you'd just end up screwing yourself over more... ;)

Later.
Jonathan
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!