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Author Topic: Quixote & Coyote: Passing the Torch  (Read 6868 times)
Jonathan Walton
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« on: October 25, 2002, 11:17:47 AM »

I'm starting this thread to discuss how one of my current projects, codenamed http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3934">Quixote & Coyote (until I come up with something better) could work using the system Willows (a.k.a. S. Sampat) is developing for http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3953">Torchbearer.  I'm going to briefly summerize both projects, but, if you want details, check the links to the old threads.

Quixote & Coyote Game Concept:
-- the main characters are people will less-than-ideal lives.
-- they escape from their lives by creating Fantasies.
-- it's harder to create Fantasies if you have an emotional attachment to reality.
-- it's easier to create Fantasies if you are inspired by art or a "magical" coincidence that you experience.
-- group Fantasies are stronger and more durable than individual Fantasies.
-- Fantasies only last a short while, after which the characters are thrust back into reality.
-- reality, in truth, is just the giant, collective Fantasy of humanity.
-- the characters' ultimate pipedream is to build a Fantasy so massive that it alters reality itself.
-- inspired by Don Quixote, The Fisher King, Mage, Changeling, Fight Club, Neverwhere, Tim Burton, Roald Dahl, Narnia, the Maxx, the Matrix, Dark City, It, Calvin & Hobbes, etc.
-- oh, yeah.  and Q&C is also an obvious metaphor for roleplaying.

The Torchbearer System: (apologies if I screw this up, Willows)
-- a character has a Name, a Vision, & a Duty
-- a Vision is how your identity is defined (i.e. I am a middle-aged accountant).  It is a mixture of your self-image and what the rest of the world considers you to be.
-- a Duty is the task currently before you, in a broad sense (i.e. I must do my job well and make enough money to ensure an early retirement)
-- characters also have Traits, which Willows divides into Flames & Smokes, but I'll divide into Strengths and Weaknesses.
-- Strengths and Weaknesses are not quantified.  You either have them or you don't.  A Strength might be "I can type 75 words a minute" or "My boss likes me."  A Weakness could be "I only function with coffee" or "I have no real friends."
-- each character also has a Heart Myth, describing their personal level of "mythicness," how much they resemble the heroes of legend.  This ranges from Banal to God, with some ranks in-between (this scale is slightly different from the one in TB).  The characters start at Banal or merely Ordinary.
-- there's also the World Myth, which describes the "mythicness" of the environment around the characters.  This has the same scale as Heart Myth.
-- characters can spend Fuel to increase/decrease the Contrast of themselves or the environment.  Increasing the Contrast makes their Strengths stronger and their Weaknesses more dehabilitating.  It changes the grey world into a startling world of colors and sharply defined blacks & whites.
-- that's enough for the basics.

Putting the Two Together:

Story Myths

In Q&C, there is no World Myth.  Instead, there are Story Myths.  The Story Myth of reality (also know as "The Myth of the Real") starts out at the lowest level of Myth possible: Banal.  Reality is a boring, tedious, completely uninteresting place, and your life sucks in a major way.  No one would want to be you.  Heck, you don't want to be you.

So, to escape from reality, you have to create what Daniel Quinn calls "another story to be in," but this time it's literal.  You create a Fantasy, step into it, and you're free of the real world for a while.  Your Fantasy has its own Story Myth, starting out one step above reality (Ordinary).  However, though you can't normally increase the Story Myth of reality, you can fairly easily increase the Story Myth of your Fantasy.  One easy way is by getting others to share in your Fantasy, creating a collective story together.  More participants make it easier to support a stronger Story Myth.

Story Traits

Torchbearer has something called "Coals" which are dormant Traits that can be activated by Fuel.  Instead, Q&C has things called Story Traits, which can only be activated when you are inside a Fantasy.  For example, you wouldn't normally have a Trait called "My Sword is Sharp as Winter" in the real world, but in a Fantasy, that's fine.  Story Traits can literally be anything you can imagine.

Each Story Trait you activate replaces a Trait that you have in reality.  For example, "My Sword is Sharp as Winter" might take the place of "I can type 75 words a minute" while you are in the Fantasy.  "I am the enemy of the Demon King" might replace the Weakness "I have no real friends."  Usually, even Story Weaknesses are more desirable and more interesting than Real Weaknesses.

Other special kinds of Story Traits are Personae and Quests.  A Persona, when activated, replaces the character's Name & Vision.  For example, the character might no longer be "Bob, a middle-aged accountant," but "Alazar, the Lost Prince of Xanadu."  Likewise, Quests, when activated, replace your real-world Duty.  Your new goal might be "To rid my lands of the demons who infest it."

There are also ways to create Story Traits on the fly, as you need them.  I'm not sure exactly how these will work, though I might use Torchbearer's "Embers" as a model.

Wonder:

Stories are not powered by Fuel, they are powered by Wonder.  Characters gain Wonder by experiencing feelings of awe.  Watching a really good movie, spending time in an art exhibit, writing poems to your true love, gazing out over the Grand Canyon, or just happening to find a quarter lying on the sidewalk could all be ways of gaining Wonder.  There are also ways to cheat and get Wonder, for instance, doing a lot of mind-altering drugs.

Creating Fantasies:

You create a Fantasy by increasing the Story Myth of a section of reality, which causes it to break off and become "a story within a story."  You do this by spending Wonder.

That's as far as I've gotten so far.  I would really appreciate any thoughts, ideas, critcism, or comments that people have.

Later.
Jonathan

P.S.  How do people like the name "Storypunk" as a possible title for this game?  It's one I've been wanting to use for a while.
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M. Eisengrim
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2002, 11:51:05 PM »

Hey Jonathan,

Cool.  I love the direction you're moving in with Quixote & Coyote!

It's also strikingly similar to a game I've been batting around for months.   :)  In the hopes of some kind of collaboration or cross-fertilization, here is a description of "Enchanter: The Labyrinth of Evermore Dreaming".  I will use your terms from "Quioxete & Coyote" when describing aspects of "Enchanter" that correspond to equivalent aspects of "Q&C".



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Quixote & Coyote Game Concept:
                                      -- the main characters are people will less-than-ideal lives.
                                      -- they escape from their lives by creating Fantasies.


Enchanter is based on the same concepts.  It buries itself, however, in a metagame theme: the game itself is a key, and part of it a compass, for the impossible "Labyrinth of Evermore Dreaming."  Somewhere within that infinite maze are The Paradises, the personal paradise of each player and the paradise unique to them all as a group, amongst others.  The Compass, when used, points unerringly down the path to The Paradises, no matter how tangled that path might be.  As the game proceeds, it is able to point with ever more precision.  The point being, of course, to get from Here to There.



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- it's harder to create Fantasies if you have an emotional attachment to reality.
                                      -- it's easier to create Fantasies if you are inspired by art or a "magical" coincidence that you experience.
                                      -- group Fantasies are stronger and more durable than individual Fantasies.
                                      -- Fantasies only last a short while, after which the characters are thrust back into reality.
                                      -- reality, in truth, is just the giant, collective Fantasy of humanity.
                                      -- the characters' ultimate pipedream is to build a Fantasy so massive that it alters reality itself.



Again, the same concepts apply, with the same twist.  The goal of Enchanter is to bring as much wonder and fantasy into the players' lives as possible through collaborative roleplaying, and then "binding" aspects of the stories told into "consensual" reality.

Most of the same inspirations apply, along with a few others.



Quote
The Torchbearer System: (apologies if I screw this up, Willows)
                                      -- a character has a Name, a Vision, & a Duty
                                      -- a Vision is how your identity is defined (i.e. I am a middle-aged accountant). It is a mixture of your self-image and what the rest of the world considers you to be.
                                      -- a Duty is the task currently before you, in a broad sense (i.e. I must do my job well and make enough money to ensure an early retirement)
                                      -- characters also have Traits, which Willows divides into Flames & Smokes, but I'll divide into Strengths and Weaknesses.
                                      -- Strengths and Weaknesses are not quantified. You either have them or you don't. A Strength might be "I can type 75 words a minute" or "My boss likes me." A Weakness could be "I only function with coffee" or "I have no real friends."



Torchbearer rocks!  Enchanter was using "Dreams" and "Nightmares" as the foundation for character creation.  Dreams could be night-time dreams, daydreams, fantasies, wishes, aspirations, desires, sense of purpose etc.  "Nightmares" are a relatively close opposite to each "Dream"  Anything else, from NPC's to rocks, was described in the same way. I'd love to mesh this in to what you're doing.    :)




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Putting the Two Together:...



Everything you say here is great!  I kept banging my head trying to figure out a system to express that.



Quote


                                      Wonder:

                                      Stories are not powered by Fuel, they are powered by Wonder. Characters gain Wonder by experiencing feelings
                                      of awe. Watching a really good movie, spending time in an art exhibit, writing poems to your true love, gazing out
                                      over the Grand Canyon, or just happening to find a quarter lying on the sidewalk could all be ways of gaining
                                      Wonder. There are also ways to cheat and get Wonder, for instance, doing a lot of mind-altering drugs.

                                      Creating Fantasies:

                                      You create a Fantasy by increasing the Story Myth of a section of reality, which causes it to break off and become
                                      "a story within a story." You do this by spending Wonder.


Enchanter uses "Wonder as Fuel" also, but in a manner similar to what Andrew Martin is doing in "Shadows + Tokens".

Each player has two pools of Wonder, one inactive and one active.  Players begin with a pre-specified number of Wonder Tokens in their inactive pool.  Whenever a player is rewarded with a point of Wonder from the game's "Token Pool", it goes into the player's inactive pool.  Player's receive wonder from the Token Pool through introducing conflicts into the fantasies, fulfilling goals, fulfilling the dreams of themselves and those around them, amongst others.  

Wonder only becomes active, and usable, when it has been rewarded from one player to another.  Players reward one another for things that they enjoy during play: whenever another does something that brings some form of wonder into a player's life during the game - even if that sense of wonder is more akin to dread - then Wonder is exchanged from player to player.  (For example, I introduce a villian especially for another player during the story, one based on an aspect of one of their Nightmares).

Players sacrifice wonder to start fantasies, influence the story in a significant way, resolve conflicts, and to "tinker" with The Compass.  Bidding can be involved.

Active Wonder is represented by tokens, such as coins, dice, etc.  The Token should be capable of showing an "either/or" result when tossed.

The Compass in the game IS the resolution system. It's like the I-Ching.  Whoever gets to spend tokens tosses them, and whatever combination of heads/tails comes up signifies a symbol.  Each symbol has a starter, Mythic-like, definition.  Players narrate the resolution of the conflict based on the symbol's definition and the circumstances of the conflict.  Players can spend Wonder to add their own stories/poetry/images to the definition of each symbol.  This represents the growing "precision" of the Compass.


It's getting late, so I'd better head to bed.  I hope any of this helps.  I'll post a little more later, after some sleep.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2002, 07:13:25 AM »

Quote from: M. Eisengrim
It's also strikingly similar to a game I've been batting around for months.   :)


Ah, yes.  The standard opening for a Game Design forum post... ;)

It sounds like what you're trying to achieve is a brighter and more hopeful version of what I'm trying to do here.  Having the characters have the goal of reaching their personal dream paradise is a bit different from my "damn the man; fight the system" tone, but it definitely works.  Also, I like your idea of "binding concepts into consensual reality," which is one I was considering but had't quite figured out how to do yet.  I definitely want the characters' Story Myth to be able to affect the Myth of the Real, but the guidelines governing that influence are still pretty vague in my mind.

Quote
Torchbearer rocks!


That's what I've been telling Willows :)  Glad to see other people agree too.

I'm still not sure how to fit it's "dualistic" cosmology into Q&C.  It makes total sense for the Fantasy, but maybe I want the real world to be in shades of grey, without clear Strengths and Weaknesses (also, I need better terms for those; Dreams & Nightmares works, but I need something more story-specific and less dreamy).

Quote
Enchanter uses "Wonder as Fuel" also, but in a manner similar to what Andrew Martin is doing in "Shadows + Tokens".


So Enchanter is also GM-less?  Interesting.

I had thought about doing something like that if I could find a way to reward players for describing reality as being really nasty.  Still, I think Q&C might require a facilitating role of some kind.  Maybe not a standard GM, but someone to arbitrate in specific instances and assist players in developing Story Traits.

Quote
The Compass in the game IS the resolution system. It's like the I-Ching.


Have you considered using a Fortune mechanic that actually resembles a Compass?  Say, a spinner, like the ones in old school board games.  You could have a bunch of symbols on the outside and then the "compass" could point to a given one, rendering a verdict.  Another option might be to get an actual compass, spin it like a frisbee, and see where the results ended up (i.e. the degrees from North).

Just some thougths.

Later.
Jonathan
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2002, 11:05:54 AM »

Jon, you rock.

Quote
It's harder to create Fantasies if you have an emotional attachment to Reality.


This is awesome thinking, so consistent with your game concept.
You neatly pinned the Torchbearer concepts.

Now, as for your adaptation:


Quote
Usually, even Story Weaknesses are more desirable and more interesting than Real Weaknesses.


Brilliant.  Very evocative of the kind of escapist fantasy that people create; I can already see people thinking they're vampires, replacing their Weakness People don't notice me with I have neither reflection nor shadow.  Would Story Traits have some kind of bond to the Traits that they replace, or can you swap them freely?

Wonder.

Can characters create Wonder while in the Fantasy?  I'm a little conflicted about this myself, and maybe you've come up with a solution.  Now, I remember Bastian gasping in surprise at the Ivory Tower of Fantasia, but Atreyu just walked up to it like nobody's business.  The Neverending Story - more ideas for Q&C there.  What I'm starting to think is that someone else's Fantasy elements can cause Wonder, but you can't amaze yourself.  What do you think?

Eisengrim:
I'm starting to see parallels between this and Marionettes too.  M was an idea I threw at the board a few days ago; I'm not sure if Jonathan had posted this first, but I owe him a lot of credit for inspiring it.  Enchanter sounds like interesting stuff.

Your token pool idea is really interesting; I like how it involves all this complex player interaction.  Smooth.  I'd like to see more, when the opportunity arises.

Jon again:

Hmmm, dualism.
I agree that the black-and-white feel of TB isn't appropriate for Q&C/Storypunk.  The duality is deeply ingrained in the system, though...
...Maybe rather than advantages and disadvantages you can make the Traits into relationships and states of mind?  That idea's a little inchoate for me, so I'll leave it to you to figure it out.
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talysman
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2002, 11:56:34 AM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Quote from: M. Eisengrim
It's also strikingly similar to a game I've been batting around for months.   :)


Ah, yes.  The standard opening for a Game Design forum post... ;)


then allow me to add "it's also strikingly similar to a game idea I had..."

as I mentioned when I was designing The Court of 9 Chambers, I fully intend to develop it as a complete game, including some variant settings/concepts. one variant, for example, is a realistic world where the dreamworld is replaced with popular culture and the artists become ad men, pop artists, and the like, vying to get their Motifs embedded in the world's cultural awareness. another, similar variant is to replace the artists with game designers...

... and then I realized I was working too hard on Co9C and had to set it aside for a while, because it was starting to affect (infect?) my dreams... I had a dream about another variant of this idea: the players play rpg hobbyists and the dreamworld is replaced with the gameworld they play in once a week... but the Motifs they build in this gameworld start to affect their dreams, and they discover this shared dreamworld, drifting the game into something resembling standard Co9C.

I suppose it's only "somewhat similar" rather than "strikingly similar", but it does have that same two-level effect both of you are describing.

anyways, it occurs to me that, although Co9C's rules are far different from what you are attempting, but you might be able to borrow some ideas from my section on the Laws of Description for Motifs. you could specify a pattern or patterns that all Story Traits should follow, indicating more powerful Story Traits using extra adjectives or prepositional phrases.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
M. Eisengrim
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2002, 12:47:46 PM »

Hi again.  I don't mean to hijack your thread, Jonathan, but I just can't help myself.    :)


Quote


                                      It sounds like what you're trying to achieve is a brighter and more hopeful version of what I'm trying to do here.
                                      Having the characters have the goal of reaching their personal dream paradise is a bit different from my "damn
                                      the man; fight the system" tone, but it definitely works.

                                     



I want Enchanter to be kind of bittersweet - paradise, after all, is hard to find, and even if you do find a paradise, you're likely to lose it; in the end, it's more of a "the journey is the destination" experience.


Quote
Also, I like your idea of "binding concepts into consensual
                                      reality," which is one I was considering but had't quite figured out how to do yet. I definitely want the characters'
                                      Story Myth to be able to affect the Myth of the Real, but the guidelines governing that influence are still pretty
                                      vague in my mind...

I'm still not sure how to fit it's (Torchbearer's) "dualistic" cosmology into Q&C. It makes total sense for the Fantasy, but maybe I
                                      want the real world to be in shades of grey, without clear Strengths and Weaknesses


Here's how I've been trying to cope with this in Enchanter; the concept is still hazy.  Enchanter is like a role-playing game nested in a LARP.  Players don't sit around a table describing the actions of their beat-down characters "in the real world" while they munch on popcorn; instead, players actively portray their characters in the real world in fact.

My vision is for players, while in game, to portray people who have stumbled on this crazy book/compass that will guide them through the process of becoming an Enchanter.  Enchanters are able to enter collective fantasies (their own, those of people around them, or even the fantasies of animals, places or objects), quest in them, and then bring the wonder back to this particular dream, the real world.

Here's a quick example.

-- Three players gather in the living room in one of their houses and start the game.  A player spends wonder to consult the Compass to see where the "path of fantasy" or somesuch starts; kind of like a gate into the labyrinth, the wardrobe in Narnia.  The player interprets the result as "a barren place, but full of people".  Another player bids wonder to refine the interpretation to "a barren place, full of hollow people harnessed to the demon She-Who-Cracks-Rock."

-- The players could try to enter the fantasy in the living room, but it would cost lots of wonder.  Instead, they leave together and try to scope out a suitable location where the dream of the real world and the dream of the labyrinth interect.  They decide that this is a small downtown bus stop with plenty of benches and concrete.

-- A player then spends wonder (but far less than would be necessary in the living room) to start the fantasy.  Play proceeds in the general manner of the fantasy side of Q&C.

-- In order to ground the wonder of the fantasy into the real world, and hence bring the lives of the players' characters closer to that world of fantasy they just experienced, one player decides to plant a single rose in a crack in the sidewalk of the bus stop.  The other two work together to flesh out more details, perhaps a map, of Vrikaya, the fantasy realm they just explored together.  They all gain wonder as a result.

-- As long as the rose is still there, they can enter Vrikaya at the bus stop without spending wonder.


     
Quote




                                      So Enchanter is also GM-less? Interesting.



It could be - I'd like to have it set up rather flexibly.  Sometimes there may be no GM, other times one player might GM for the others, and maybe somtimes two or three players might take the GM role for the others.  I need to work on this more.


Quote




                                      Have you considered using a Fortune mechanic that actually resembles a Compass? Say, a spinner, like the ones in old school board games. You could
                                      have a bunch of symbols on the outside and then the "compass" could point to a given one, rendering a verdict. Another option might be to get an actual
                                      compass, spin it like a frisbee, and see where the results ended up (i.e. the degrees from North).


I have thought of these types of things - maybe the best would be to let the players create the compass themselves.  In any event, I want something easy to tote around and use discretely wherever the players find themselves.  I thought it might be easiest just to combine the Compass with the journal where all the definitions for the symbols are kept, hence the I-Ching metaphor.  When I first started, I thought about a board or cloth full of symbols that players toss tokens on; that way, more than one symbol could be part of a reading, and the heads/tails on each token could signify light/dark aspects of each symbol.


Quote

                                      I'm starting to see parallels between this and Marionettes too. M was an idea I threw at the board a few days
                                      ago; I'm not sure if Jonathan had posted this first, but I owe him a lot of credit for inspiring it. Enchanter sounds
                                      like interesting stuff.

                                      Your token pool idea is really interesting; I like how it involves all this complex player interaction. Smooth. I'd like
                                      to see more, when the opportunity arises.



Thanks Willows!  I'll take a look at M later tonight; for now, its off to work.   *sigh*
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2002, 12:54:53 PM »

Quote from: four willows weeping
I can already see people thinking they're vampires, replacing their Weakness People don't notice me with I have neither reflection nor shadow.


Beautiful example.  I think that one's going directly into the text of the game.

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Would Story Traits have some kind of bond to the Traits that they replace, or can you swap them freely?


That kinda depends on how I end up solving the "duality" problem and what kind of relationship I create between Real and Story Traits.  Here's what I've been thinking about recently:

Chains:

Characters have Chains that represent their attachments to reality.  These take the place of what I formerly called "Real Traits."  All Chains are ultimately negative because they restrict you, but they are not Weaknesses as such.  You should merely go out of your way to make them exceptionally pathetic, uninteresting, embarassing, emotionally painful, and a big hassle for your character.

EXAMPLES:  still lives at home, has an ailing mother, best friend has severe emotional problems, has a very old dog named Scruffy, has an ex-lover who tries to make your life miserable, is completely broke, has been unemployed for the past 6 months, etc.

Now, over the course of the game, Chains can be put "in Crisis" (something that Willows developed for Torchbearer), meaning that the character has to take time and deal with them.  Perhaps your ailing mother is finally dying, perhaps Scruffy needs to go to the vet, or pehaps your checks have started bouncing and you HAVE to get a job.  Whatever.  Dealing with the Crisis either resolves the Chain (mom died, Scruffy is healthy now, I have a crappy job) or simply perpetuates it (mom is not going to die immediately, Scruffy is doing slightly better, I manage to borrow enough money to satisfy the bank).  Resolved Chains are replaced with new ones (mom's funeral is in a week, Scruffy likes to eat neighborhood cats, my new boss is an asshole).

For every Crisis you still have unresolved, it costs extra Wonder to ignore it and enter a Fantasy.  This means that paying attention to your real world problems prevents you from doing what you really want.  Also, when your Fantasy finally pops (like all Fantasies eventually do), some of your Chains immediately go into Crisis, dragging you back into the hell of your life.  Isn't that nice? ;)

Story Traits:

Y'know what I said about Story Traits being like Coals?  I think I've decided I don't like that.  It limits the story to a few predefined components.  Characters can have Trademark Traits, which are like Coals (and cost no Wonder to activate once you're in a Fantasy), but normal Story Traits are different.

Story Traits cost 1 Wonder a piece.  You can buy them for anything in the Story, including any other loser friends sharing your Fantasy.  I'm going to look in detail at John's "Court of Nine Chambers" to see if there's anything stealable for Story Trait construction, but until then, I'm just keeping it simple.

Story Traits can act as Masks for Chains if you want them to.  Once you're in the Story, it's devilishly easy to ignore reality.  It's just breaking away that's the problem (of course, mom could kick the bucket while you're off playing cowboy, but that's the price you have to pay).

If you don't want to accept a Trait that someone else has given you (EX. Tina doesn't want the Story Trait "Has a Big Ole Butt") you have to spend a point of Wonder to negate the Trait or alter it into something similar but acceptable (Tina could change it to "Has a Big Ole Bat" or "Has Shapely Curves").

Quote
What I'm starting to think is that someone else's Fantasy elements can cause Wonder, but you can't amaze yourself.  What do you think?


I should be paying you for this :)  Great suggestion.  I think I'll steal this one too.  So anything you do/create that impresses the other characters gives THEM points of Wonder, but no points to you.  Also, there could be things that just HAPPEN (not created by anyone), thanks to the interaction of existing Story Traits, which could give everyone Wonder.  That would probably be the secret of staying in a Fantasy, keeping the sense of Wonder constant (which would be hard).

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Maybe rather than advantages and disadvantages you can make the Traits into relationships and states of mind?


That's sorta what I did with the "Chains" concept (based on relationships).  I think I'm now envisioning Story Traits to be non-dualistic.  It would cost 1 Wonder to buy "I have the Strength of Ten Elephants" or "All Animals Hate Me" or "My Friends Call Me Ed."  They would just be general adjectives.  They could even be nouns if you wanted to create new objects.  "My Sword is Sharp as Winter" is a good example, since it would give you a Sword.

This also gives the Story Trait rules a bit of a Universalis feel, which I thought I had safely avoided.  Hmm... maybe I can do something else.

Later.
Jonathan
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2002, 07:31:27 PM »

Another idea for a bit of inspiration, if you can find time in your busy schedule to read a novel: Rachel Pollack's Unquenchable Fire and Temporary Angecy.  They deal with ...well... religious issues, but they have an interesting element of collective fantasy through storytelling, and the related fantasy of dreaming.  It's a world where the storytellers have won, and managed to raise the Myth of the Real, and then Real came back and smacked them, turning the Myth into a new, equally banal Reality (with lovely diction, but a Reality nonetheless)

I like the idea of Chains, and the term is great.  The modification of Traits given to you by others is awesome too.  I'm quite frightened by the idea of breaking Fantasies throwing a whole bunch of people into individual Crisis.  That's an amazing incentive to maintain the fantasy.

Hey, what if a person feels the need to leave the fantasy?  Is this totally unthinkable?  Can they drop out into reality without triggering Crisis or shattering the Fantasy for everyone else?

Hmmm... an example of the existing Story giving rise to Wonder all by itself... David Brin's Glory Season.  It deals with genetically engineered people; it's one of those Exploration-of-Premise scifi novels.  During winter, women give birth to clones of themselves.  Clearly, this is desriable for women.  Unfortunately, it takes a good deal of resources to get men excited during winter; they're engineered that way.  Men are very choosy about their winter mates.  During summer, women give birth to normal gene-mixed babies.  These are undesirable for everyone, unless they can manage to found their own clone-clan, which is a difficult undertaking at best.  Women tend to be very picky about the men they deign to mix their genes with.

An outsider comes to the world.  He discovers something the inhabitants probably didn't notice.  In his own words, Why did the women of Stratos have to be so beautiful?  Sexual selection in action.
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Torrent
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2002, 06:46:05 AM »

I agree with four weeping willows somewhat in that it seems like there are really great incentives to being in fantasy and extreme penalties for dropping out.  I do think this fits with the theme as people who enter these fantasies will be loath to return and will do whatever it takes to stay in fantasy.  

That being said, I will add to the list of inspirational literature with a point.  De Lint's Onion Girl fits in this theme.  The main point of it is that the main character is really addicted to her fantasy and trapped there, despite brief forays in the Real.  I wonder if there might be some potential to having an idea like if the Story Myth gets too high above the Heart Myth of a character he fantasy has taken over, and they lose some control of it.

Also what about characters that want to 'throw off the chains of reality' (i love your terminology).  From your example, what happens if someone resolves a Chain in such a way that does not lead to having a new chain.  Perhaps he gives away the dog, or once his mother dies he loses that connection to reality.  

After looking back over this, I guess these all stem from the same basic question.  What is the balance between reality and the fantasy supposed to be?  Is a character always meant to stradle the line and never be free of either? (Basically the characters dependance on fantasy escape is a Chain against reality.  Even if he had some really good reasons to stay in reality, there would still be the temptation to escape.)  Are they supposed to move toward living fully in one world or another?

Just my little thoughts.  I like the Torchbearer port of this concept alot, very appropriate in theme.

Andy[/u]
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2002, 07:54:41 AM »

Quote from: talysman
anyways, it occurs to me that, although Co9C's rules are far different from what you are attempting, but you might be able to borrow some ideas from my section on the Laws of Description for Motifs.


I'll surely be stealing your ideas soon enough, don't worry :)  Just give me a few days to figure out a few other concepts that have been bugging me, and then I want to tackle Story Traits and really figure out how I want them to work.

Quote from: M. Eisengrim
Hi again. I don't mean to hijack your thread, Jonathan, but I just can't help myself. :)


No sweat.  But you might want to create your own thread if you want more detailed/specific comments or help.  On this thread, I'm going to try to stay focused on developing my game, but I'd be glad to really brainstorm on yours too.

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My vision is for players, while in game, to portray people who have stumbled on this crazy book/compass that will guide them through the process of becoming an Enchanter.


I really like this metagame aspect: that the players are playing themselves and the game itself is the collective dreamworld they create.  I'd steal that concept for Storypunk except, with Chains, I think I've come up with something I like better.  It would be difficult for some players to pretend that their mother is dying (for instance), but it would be much easier if the mother of their character was dying.  That distinction, which is needless for Enchanter, might be more critical to Storypunk.

Quote from: four weeping willows
Rachel Pollack's Unquenchable Fire and Temporary Angecy... David Brin's Glory Season...

Quote from: Torrent
De Lint's Onion Girl...


Added to my reading list :)  Of course, I first plan on tackling Daniel Quinn's brand new novel The Holy, when I get the chance, considering how Quinn was one of my primary inspirations.

Quote from: four weeping willows
I'm quite frightened by the idea of breaking Fantasies throwing a whole bunch of people into individual Crisis. That's an amazing incentive to maintain the fantasy.


Yeah, but I really need a in-game reason for the mechanic (which I love).  Perhaps it could simply reflect how the character has been ignoring his real life, so it responds by getting worse?  Perhaps reality is getting even at him for trying to escape it?  Perhaps it's a combination of these things, and the characters don't really know why their lives always suffer while they're in Fantasy?

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Hey, what if a person feels the need to leave the fantasy? Is this totally unthinkable? Can they drop out into reality without triggering Crisis or shattering the Fantasy for everyone else?


Hmm... I'd say you COULD voluntarily drop out, but it would take some effort.  After getting caught up in a Fantasy, cutting your way out should be easier than creating it, but still not something you can just do instantly.  Since individual members of a Fantasy can be "cut out" by malignant forces (which I'm still pretty vague on), I think you could drop out without ruining the Fantasy for everyone.  However, if enough people drop out, it could threaten the Story Myth, because there wouldn't be enough people to support it.  This kinda has the feeling of "I'm going to take my ball and go home."

Of course, the main reason I could see someone dropping out would be to pre-empt possible Crises.  You could drop out to go check on your dying mother, for example.  Perhaps, by dropping out, you could prevent one of your Chains from going into Crisis, but the rest would still act as normal.  So, a slight benefit, but nothing really substantial.

Quote from: Torrent
I wonder if there might be some potential to having an idea like if the Story Myth gets too high above the Heart Myth of a character the fantasy has taken over, and they lose some control of it.


Oooooo... I like.  This would be a Narnia-like phenomenon, where the kids begin to forget that they were ever anything but Kings and Queens.  I don't know how it would relate to the interaction of Heart & Story Myths, though, but that's definitely a good suggestion.

I would imagine that THIS is exactly what has happened with the Myth of the Real.  Everyone is so caught up in it that they've lost the complete control that, presumably, the Myth's creators had.  But the Myth of the Real has an abyssmally low Story Myth, so the logic isn't exactly the same.

Still, there should be a way to make all of this work...

Perhaps the Narnia Phenomenon is what happens if your Heart Myth stays too high for too long.  You become integrated into the Story and will be completely desimated when the Story shatters.  You wouldn't die, but you would have large prtions of your identity torn away.  In contrast, if the Story Myth stays too high for too long, you might get the Onion Girl Phenomenon, where the characters lose control over the direction of the story.  That's just one possible approach, though.  There's probably a better one that I just haven't thought of...

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From your example, what happens if someone resolves a Chain in such a way that does not lead to having a new chain.  Perhaps he gives away the dog, or once his mother dies he loses that connection to reality.  


Good question.  At first, I was thinking of Chains as being similar to Torchbearer's Smokes.  You could resolve one, but that would only cause another problem to take its place.  This seemed to reflect the dark, oppressive reality that I was trying to emphasize.

However, it's true that this seems a little bit non-intuitive, if the point of the game is to escape from Reality, then having less Chains would seem to make that easier.  Hmm... Perhaps there are dangers from having no Chains at all?  Maybe it means you have a stronger potential for being caught up in the Fantasy and being torn apart when it cannot continue?  Do you guys have any good suggestions?

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What is the balance between reality and the fantasy supposed to be?  Is a character always meant to stradle the line and never be free of either? Are they supposed to move toward living fully in one world or another?


Actually, I think what the characters WANT is for reality to be more like their Fantasies.  However, reality is really stubborn about changing, so it's much easier to live the double life, constantly shifting between the two.  Right now, I'm envisioning the game's tone to be similar to Changeling, in that there are little victories but, overall, the world doesn't get brightened very much and the characters still straddle the line.  Of course, reality has victories too, seducing some dreamers away from their Fantasies, which, to those left, is even worse than killing them.

But... I don't know that this completely satisfies me.  I like Torchbearer's concrete goals and advancement system, where you slowly become the mythic creature you believe yourself to be, but I also feel like it shouldn't be that easy in Storypunk.  If the characters can eventually triumph over reality, that takes the "punk" out of the game, since you can't rebel against the system anymore.

Thoughts anyone?

Later.
Jonathan
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2002, 09:55:37 AM »

The Broken Story causing Crisis:
Perhaps I worded my comment opaquely; I think it's an awesome mechanic.  Do you have a plan on determining how many Chains go into Crisis when this occurs?

Put Glory Season low on the priorities list; it's not about fantasy at all, simply a good example of the logical consequences of premise.

Here's an idea about Chains:
When the Story collapses, it causes some amount of your Chains to go into Crisis.  The amount of these is determined by the highest number of Chains one character in the story possesses.  Roll that many dice plus one for each rank of difference between the Myth of the Real and the higher of the Story Myth and your Heart Myth; for each point, one of your Chains goes into Crisis.  If more Chains go into Crisis than you have, something goes wrong.
If your Heart Myth is lower than the Story Myth, you lose some control of the Story.  Insert mechanic for that.
If your Heart Myth is higher than the Story Myth, you have put too much of yourself into the Story, and as it tears it tears you too.  You lose some part of yourself into the Story.  Insert mechanic for that.

If you voluntarily drop out of a Story, the same thing occurs, but you use your Chains rather than the highest number to determine Crisis-triggering.  Unfortunately, if you drop out of the Story at least one of your Chains has a Crisis, regardless of whether you rolled it or not.

This is pretty strong disincentive for characters to have low quantities of Chains, either individually or on average.  Having Chains sucks, but it's better than slowly losing your identity or letting the Story you worked so hard on weave itself.

Edit: I entirely forgot you were working in a Fortuneless mechanic; what I discussed above could be used for a Fortune variant.  I can envision another variant, too, where Real Life has Fortune and the Story doesn't...
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2002, 12:09:03 PM »

Determining Crisis:

Hmm...  Shreyas, you're completely right about determining which Chains go into Crisis: it's frickin' hard to do without a Fortune mechanic.  Perhaps that could be the only Fortune-based system in the game, to show that the characters are really taking a gamble by ignoring reality?  Or perhaps the GM could roll for reality, "trying" to give the characters more Crises?

I think your mechanic might be a good model too.  Let me think about it a bit and see what I can come up with.

Mechanics for Chains:

I had an interesting thought.  How about this for your "something goes wrong":  A character is supposed to have 4 Chains in Crisis, but she only has 2 Chains.  So, she then gains 2 more Chains and they both instantly go into Crisis.

Also, the number of Chains you have is your base cost for "breaking out."  If you have 3 Chains, it costs 3 Wonder.  If you have 8 Chains, it costs 8 Wonder.  If you have 0 Chains, you can step into a Fantasy anytime you want, because you're not connected to jack.

So, characters are free to resolve however many Chains they want.  Once they cut their connections to reality, it's much easier to enter a Fantasy.  Additionally, if they don't resolve their Chains and enter a Fantasy anyway, they will have blown all their Wonder just to "break out" and will have little left to power the Fantasy.  In all likelihood, the Fantasy will be short and not very interesting.  Then, they'll crash back into the multiple Crises of their lives.

So, a pattern might be: cut yourself off from the world, enter a Fantasy, ride it until it crashes, deal with your Crises, cut yourself off from the world again... etc.  Of course, they also have to spend time regaining Wonder if they're going to break out again.

How does that sound?

Heart Myth vs. Story Myth:

Thought:
-- the Heart Myth is a symbol of a character's power to affect story
-- the Story Myth is a symbol of a story's power to affect character
-- the Player takes Author Stance for Heart Myth-related components
-- the GM takes Author Stance for Story Myth-related components

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If your Heart Myth is lower than the Story Myth, you lose some control of the Story.


:)  Exactly.  If the story is affecting you more than you are affecting the story, you've essentially swung the balance of power from the Players to the GM.  The GM is therefore free to give you hell.

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If your Heart Myth is higher than the Story Myth...


Just realized something.  Though I really like the idea of the characters losing parts of themselves to the Story, the characters (as we've described them) don't really have any Traits to lose.  They could lose Chains, but that doesn't seem to make sense.  They could lose their Name, Vision, or Duty, I suppose, which is slightly better.  They could lose Trademark Story Traits, but that's not really part of their real identity.

Here's another option.  I've mentioned the idea that you need a group of people to support a high-level Story Myth.  Well, maybe, to support a group of people with high Heart Myths, you need a Fantasy with a high-level Story Myth.  Without it, the story just doesn't have enough substance to support that level of character control.  So, if your collective Heart Myths get too high, the Story Myth might collapse completely under the strain, causing the entire Fantasy to crash and burn.  This might also be difficult to do without a Fortune mechanic, but it's an interesting option nonetheless.

Any better ideas?

Later.
Jonathan
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2002, 07:02:41 PM »

I pause at the idea of there being exactly one, fairly particular, instance where a Fortune comes into effect.  On the other hand, it does seem to do something to reinforce the idea of risk.  I suppose, since you're running what's otherwise a Fortuneless game, you could avoid cumbersome issues like dice via flipping coins or some other, "easy" Fortune mechanic.

This game keeps getting more interesting.

I don't have much else to add, so, good evening.
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