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Author Topic: Enlightenment (Group Game Design)--Character and Setting Gen  (Read 6097 times)
Emily Care
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« on: November 04, 2002, 10:39:50 AM »

Enlightenment is a game that has been collaboratively designed on this Forum at the initiative of Mike Holmes. This thread begins the next phase of its development. The general outline of the game and some specific mechanics have already been agreed on.  The specific purpose of this thread is to finalize mechanics for generation of character and setting.

To familiarize yourself with the premise of the game and decisions that have been made about its scope and form, see this thread:
"Let's Make a Game!".
To see how the conflict resolution mechanics were developed and discussion of other aspects of the game, see this thread:
 "Enlightenment (GGD Group Game Design)

Setting generation notes:

Quote from: talysman
for the first session, every player takes turns describing one fact about the monastery or the immediate surroundings (nothing further than three days walk from the monastery.) this could be a description of common labors, improvements made to the original abbey, adding a village nearby, describing events in the village or along the roads... when one person describes an event that sounds like the basis of a good mission, the other players chime in, selecting that mission (and selecting the player who thought of it as the mentor for that mission.)


Char gen notes:
Quote from: talysman
ok, this leads to questions about chargen. here's how I envision it:

each player suggests one trait-pair important to the religion; players then design neophytes, selecting two trait-pairs from those suggested; one of these trait-pairs would be 5/1, the other would be 4/2 (Passion is higher, Virtue is lower; Worldly/Spiritual is also set at 5/1; players write four facts about their character: one for each trait-pair, one Worldly fact, and one Spiritual kicker;
                     
next, each player designs a mentor by taking three trait pairs, setting two at 0/6 and one at 4/2; set the mentor's Worldly/Spiritual trait scores at 3/3;  write five facts for the mentor; name the characters and introduce them in the first session.


Other stuff:
What exact stats do we want the monastery to have? How will they function?

How many statements/facts do we want to have floating around? How will they be assigned? Some at first, and then more to come has seemed like the consensus.

Lesson points may help determine a lot of how play happens. What do we want those to look like?

Okay, that'll start us off.  I'll post my own preferences in a bit.  I took the time to make this a short post, this time. ;)

--Emily Care
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Emily Care
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2002, 02:42:11 PM »

Quote from: talysman
players gather and describe the general setting they want to play in (historical france under charlamagne, fantasy medieval europe with a european version of taoism, whatever.)


This sounds about right.  Elements to be agreed on could include: time, tech level, historical/real world setting, general religious flavor.

Quote from: talysman
players suggest trait-pairs. perhaps each player suggest a Passion or a Virtue, then other players suggest what the opposite or compliment should be.


Would be the trait pairs associated with the religion or with the monastery specifically?  The statements or koans suggested at the end of the last thread could enter here, actually.  They could be meta-kickers (is there such a thing? Oh, yeah, that's a premise isn't it? :) Having them relate to a challenge the monastery is facing would seem to be more protagonizing for all.  

The process we're describing (with so much group development) seems like it will need collaboration to create dramatic situations and challenges in the premise and setting.

Example:
White Cloud Temple monastery and shrine

A Zen-buddhist type retreat, nestled high up on the slopes of a mountain.  The temple is remote, but is on a major pilgrimage route.  The shrine to the founder of the monastery is greatly revered and brings many visitors, including wealthy patrons.

The monastery's remote status prompts someone to suggest the Virtue "Serenity" for it.  The isolation created by the same remoteness prompts someone else to give "Indifference" as the matching Passion.


This might bring up an interesting situation where the wordliness is lower, but the monastery still has a trait pair of its own to resolve. Though from my description it could easily have Wealth/Poverty to contend with, making it rather worldly indeed.

--Emily Care

here's the rest of the outline from last thread:
Quote from: talysman

chargen, roughly as described before.

round-robin setting description, starting with abstract facts about the religion, moving to facts about the monastery, then on tothe surrounding countryside, and finally on to interesting events.

setting description stops when one player suggests an event that gives the others an urge to intervene.

the mentor (temporary GM) describes the selected event in more detail and assigns each player a general duty.
                     
continue in round-robin fashion, but each player describes a scene for how they will fulfill their duty. the scene is then played out.

when all the duties have been completed, the players have a scene with their mentor for possible character advancement.
                     
round-robin setting description begins again, until a new event suggests a new mission.
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talysman
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2002, 04:45:21 PM »

thanks for posting all the info, Emily! I've been taking a break from Enlightenment because of some other projects that I'm worrying over right now. I don't have much to add just yet.

Quote from: Emily Care


Quote from: talysman
players suggest trait-pairs. perhaps each player suggest a Passion or a Virtue, then other players suggest what the opposite or compliment should be.


Would be the trait pairs associated with the religion or with the monastery specifically?  The statements or koans suggested at the end of the last thread could enter here, actually.  They could be meta-kickers (is there such a thing? Oh, yeah, that's a premise isn't it? :) Having them relate to a challenge the monastery is facing would seem to be more protagonizing for all.  

The process we're describing (with so much group development) seems like it will need collaboration to create dramatic situations and challenges in the premise and setting.


yes, I'm seeing the game as having a collaboratively-built setting, with "GM play" simply being a special case of the normal shared mentoring pattern. a sort of non-competitive Rune.

a note about the trait-pairs: I am using the phrase in the same way every time. the way I'm interpretting the game is: the religion as a whole has a certain number of trait-pairs, not all of which are worked out immediately. trait-pairs for individual monasteries, for mentors, and for neophytes are all specific instances of religious trait-pairs. if the religion values Serenity and abhors Indifference as its opposite, then individual monks must work towards Serenity. it is thus possible for a neophyte to have a problem achieving Serenity, so that would be a trait-pair that needs work.

we need to decide how many trait-pairs a character should start with, but I see new trait-pairs being added to the character during play at the same level as their current Worldly/Spiritual pair. Worldy/Spiritual is thus the default, while other trait-pairs can vary from that.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2002, 06:27:27 PM »

Quote from: talysman
thanks for posting all the info, Emily! I've been taking a break from Enlightenment because of some other projects that I'm worrying over right now. I don't have much to add just yet.


No problem. Thanks for posting here anyway, John!  You and a lot of folks have put a ton of energy into this project.  If people need a break, we can always come back to it. :)

Quote from: talysman
players suggest trait-pairs. perhaps each player suggest a Passion or a Virtue, then other players suggest what the opposite or compliment should be.


The ramifications of this for game world and character development just sank in--the Virtues could be suggested as tenets or principles of the religion: Compassion, Poverty, Generosity, Perserverance.  Then as you said, an opposite aspect could be suggested which would represent some way that the monastery has been challenged in this principle.  The trait pairs could then express some plot or conflict that the monastery is facing or has faced in the past. For each of these trait pairs, a fact or statement could be formed about the past or present.  

Compassion/Violence:  The monastery has been attacked by bandits and the monks are trying to decide how to defend themselves without resorting to violence.

Poverty/Wealth:   The religion prescribes simplicity and poverty, but the monastery has amassed great wealth.

etc.  

Then these trait pairs given to the neophytes would reflect how the trial facing the monastery manifests in the individual monk's life.
       
Quote from: talysman
yes, I'm seeing the game as having a collaboratively-built setting, with "GM play" simply being a special case of the normal shared mentoring pattern. a sort of non-competitive Rune.


I'll have to check out Rune. Glad this model is out there.

Quote from: talysman
a note about the trait-pairs: I am using the phrase in the same way every time. the way I'm interpretting the game is: the religion as a whole has a certain number of trait-pairs, not all of which are worked out immediately....


I think my comments above relate to this.

Quote from: talysman
we need to decide how many trait-pairs a character should start with, but I see new trait-pairs being added to the character during play at the same level as their current Worldly/Spiritual pair. Worldy/Spiritual is thus the default, while other trait-pairs can vary from that.


I'd say start with 2 pairs plus W/S.  I've been thinking that new pairs would be added when one gets resolved. I've also been thinking, though, that Spirituality could rise when a pair gets resolved. Tying the two together along with using W/S as the default may be too rigid.  But then, there can be back-sliding.

Possible Numbers of trait pairs:

Religion           ????
Monastary        W/S + 5
Neophytes        W/S(5/1) + 2 (none resolved)
Mentors            W/S + 4 (2-3 resolved)
Priests              W/S (resolved) + 5 (3-5 resolved)
HP                    6 (including W/S, all resolved)

And another question, how many fact/statements?

--Emily Care
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contracycle
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2002, 02:19:23 AM »

Just a thought.  A lot of people will have an easier time, I think, conceptualising the physical space of the monastery than a set of ethical values.  Hence it might be easier to do round-robin monastery design first and then ask what the inhabitants believe.  A lot of this may be implicitly influenced by the colour introduced.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2002, 09:20:55 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Just a thought.  A lot of people will have an easier time, I think, conceptualising the physical space of the monastery than a set of ethical values.  Hence it might be easier to do round-robin monastery design first and then ask what the inhabitants believe.  A lot of this may be implicitly influenced by the colour introduced.


Good point.  If the base-line religion of the order is Roman catholic, is will bring up quite different virtues and spiritual values than a cult to Inanna.  Some groups may work better the other way, however--moving from the metaphysical to the physical.  It makes sense to me to allow the guidelines to leave the order up to the group in question.  


Should we take a different tact to proceed?  Would it be better to have one of us write up the game as we've got it so far, post it and look for feed-back?  I'd be happy to work on that if there is interest in going that route.  

Just a note: thanks to Mike for starting the ball rolling, and to all who are developing Enlightenment. Excellent ideas have gone into this game, and I think it's quite an achievement to have crafted something as cohesive as it is in this fashion: ad hoc and online.  Hurrah to us!

--Emily Care
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Wormwood
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2002, 12:00:38 PM »

There already seems to be a strong sense of connecting trait pairs with 'facts'. Is there any reason not to do this with the monastary design? That would combine the physical creation of the monastary with the spiritual trait development.

Perhaps it would be possible to have each member of a pair separately arrived at, the first of a pair has a tenet associated, the second a more physical feature.

For example,

Player 1 picks Subtlety as a virtue, the associated fact is that the founders believed that the larger the action, the greator the possibility of harm.

Player 2 then picks Pride as the paired passion, the associated fact being that the previous High Priest had been consumed by it, and caused the neighboring villages to be in awe of the monastary.

or

Player 1 picks Lust as a passion, the fact associated is that the desires of the flesh are the root of all suffering.

Player 2 picks Patience as the paired virtue, the fact being that the monastary was built in a virtual wasteland, only made remotely fertile by the monk's ceaseless toil.

To further complicate, several pairs may be started before they are completed. I think this provides an interesting arena for religion / monastary creation.

I hope that is food for thought,

    -Mendel
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Bob McNamee
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2002, 05:25:16 PM »

One question in the intial round robin phase...
If the next person in line adds a Passion or Virtue that others don't want, what happens?
In Universalis there would be a Challenge.

This could be assumed to be handled by the social contract, but I think some thought should go into whether the players should just have to 'deal with it, its added...' ,or  ' I'm calling for a recall vote...'

I like the idea of adding a Fact related to the monestary, or religion as part of the round robin Virtue Passion creation.
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Bob McNamee
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Wormwood
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2002, 07:09:12 PM »

Bob,

I see several methods to resolve conflicts with virtues:

1) Each player gets one veto, which removes a virtue or passion and it's fact when it is introduced.

2) The GM arbitrates.

3) Any player can call a vote, majority passes the trait and fact.

4) Dueling (I'll bring my two-hander)

Toss in the ability to revise a contested trait and fact, as well as the ability to make one revision if it fails, to see if it is then contested, should work.

I'm not sure how Universalis works, haven't yet acquired it. (I know we're both hosted at actionroll, bad Mendel.) I figure it uses a more resource based version of this. Perhaps that adds undue complexity, the veto seems to work fairly well, but no mechanics will solve a minority versus majority dispute in and of itself.

Well, hope that helps,

    -Mendel
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Emily Care
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2002, 01:47:32 PM »

Good question, Bob.  The game needs to allow concensus to arise by addressing the fact that it will break down.

Quote from: Wormwood

1) Each player gets one veto, which removes a virtue or passion and it's fact when it is introduced.

2) The GM arbitrates.

3) Any player can call a vote, majority passes the trait and fact.

4) Dueling (I'll bring my two-hander)


I'd go for #3.  Even though we've talked about there being a gm if the group so desires, it seems to go with the general tone of the game to have decisions be made by majority rule.  There could be a proviso for the person who made the suggestion that is being over-ruled to have first crack at replacement tenet or game element.  

Quote
Toss in the ability to revise a contested trait and fact, as well as the ability to make one revision if it fails, to see if it is then contested, should work.


How about this:  if a trait is contested then the person who suggested it gets to make a counter-proposal.  If it is still objected to, then a vote happens.  

Quote from: Mendel
Perhaps it would be possible to have each member of a pair separately arrived at, the first of a pair has a tenet associated, the second a more physical feature.


Choosing a Virtue that the religion prizes and marrying a fact to it's complimentary opposite Passion ties in the religion to monastery development in a very satisfying way.

Quote
Well, hope that helps,

    -Mendel


Yes, very good suggestions. Thank you!

So, we may be getting a clearer picture of setting development:
    [*]Discussion (and group concensus formed) on general background/setting for monastery and religion. General period, cultural or geographical setting outlined.
    [*]Suggestions of Virtues (either all suggested at same time, Round-robin style, or each agreed to individually and following steps happen before next introduced) Total number =????
    [*]Statement of value/ideal of religion associated with the Virtue
    [*]Suggestion of matched Passion for each Virtue
    [*]Statement of situation/event posing a conflict facing the monastery that reflects this trait pair
    [*]Possibly assign monastery its Worldly/Spiritual trait pair, maybe wait until character's have had their trait levels assigned to use those levels to determine it...
    [/list:u]
    Then perhaps going on:
      [*]Sequence of introduction of monastery elements beginning with monastery and its inhabitants, circling out to building grounds, surrounding land, nearby settlements, out to country perhaps
      [*]Choice trait pairs from pool generated for religion/monastery to be attributed to Neophyte characters
      [*]Possibility of trait pairs unique to N. character being generated
      [*]Stats assigned
      [*]Mentor characters generated--also using relig/monastery trait pair pool, assign levels according to appropriate scheme
      [*]Interview sequence where Neophytes are introduced and become part of Monastery, gain Worldly/Spiritual pair (set to 5/1) at this point
      [*]Statements associated with character's trait pairs assigned (now or before interview), leaving space for more to develop in time
      [*]First mission
      [/list:u]
      So, how many trait pairs should the religion/monastery have associated with it?

      --Emily Care
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      Bob McNamee
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      « Reply #10 on: November 07, 2002, 05:22:38 PM »

      I like the 'first stab at counterproposal' then to a vote if still "objected to".

      How many trait pairs?
      Hmmm...
      I'm inclined to link it to the number of players.
      Like 3 trait pairs, plus one trait pair per player.

      This would lead you to a fairly complicated religion if you have a lot of players. But around the 'Seven Virtues/sins" at 4 players (which I see as my most common and liked amount of players around my games).

      The total amount of trait pairs will impact how long it could take to acheive full enlightenment.

      off topic: I had a thought concerning Character death, or other forms of removing a character from play... I'd like it if a character could only be removed by maxing out a trait, or shifting the Worldly/Spiritual dial. I see this as a monk either dying as a martyr, or as a bad example...likewise for just plain leaving the fold, either to become an exemplary hermit, or falling to the temptations of the world.  In play this could be stated as , A Character can only be removed from play by creating a Fact (using Lessons?) relevant to the Monestary. This character is held up as an example to other Monks, either a good one or a bad one. (the idea is that Character Monks are more special than NPC's)
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      Bob McNamee
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      contracycle
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      « Reply #11 on: November 08, 2002, 01:38:06 AM »

      I like the 3+players number.

      Another opportunity might be to have "becoming eponymous" as a removal condition; the character either pulls a Wilson, and is remembered for their stupidity as an object lesson to other students, or is more or less sainted and heroised as a similar lesson.  Either way, their name becomes a term of reference and they move into history.
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      Emily Care
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      « Reply #12 on: November 08, 2002, 01:08:37 PM »

      Quote from: contracycle
      I like the 3+players number.

      That sounds like a good number.  These pairs were suggested to be a pool of trait pairs from which the monks traits could be chosen. That number seems like it will give a good range of choices.  And I really like the recent idea of them representing challenges facing the monastery.  However, it might be too much to have to resolve them in the same way that character trait pairs get resolved.  

      If we have each pair represent one point of Wordliness or Spirituality for the Monastery, then each conflict could be assessed in terms of how the monastery is dealing with it--whether they are falling into attachment with worldly things, or are functioning in alignment with spiritual values.  So for each trait pair, the monastery would be said to be acting according to the passion or virtue of the pair, and the total of these numbers would give the W/S stats.  Character actions could shift the monastery from virtue to passion for a pair, or vice versa, and thus affect the W/S.

      The monastery W/S could affect or be used to determine the level at which scene ratings are set.

      Quote from: Bob McNamee
      off topic: I had a thought concerning Character death, or other forms of removing a character from play...I'd like it if a character could only be removed by maxing out a trait, or shifting the Worldly/Spiritual dial.


      Yes, I think there should be provisions for this too. It's an interesting way to account for character death.  The game gives a lot of control to players over narrative. Players could be encouraged to think in terms of doing this themselves.  Actually, character death in the context of monks is an interesting topic. Self-sacrifice for others would be very in character.  I'd love to see a character who had maxed out all her passions make a spirituality roll and redeem herself by saving someone else from dying by taking the blow herself.  

      Removal from play seems like a more common occurence. If the monk's Spirituality goes to 0, they've reverted to their old connections with the mundane world. It would be natural for them to leave the monastery. I really like the idea of their name joining the history of the monastery. :)  "Don't be a Wilson. " And if the character doesn't die, they could become a soul to be rescued and returned to the monastery (a seed for a mission) or even become a returning antagonist for the monks or the monastery.  

      The Spiritual stat and the Virtues may represent a conscious commitment on the part of the character to embody each ideal. Lay persons don't have the same conflict in them, though they may well have similar passions or virtues.   This brings up another, on-topic point--how to deal with non-monks? Character gen, after all. :)

      The resolution mechanics we have talked about use the Worldly/Spiritual trait pair, which only monks have.   Non-monks could have single traits, but I think it actually makes more sense for them to simply have stats in relation to primary play characters, the Neophytes or Neophytes that have graduated into being Mentors in play.  This will help drive the narrativism at the heart of the game.  All additional character exist to protagonize the monks.
       
      Lay people, and perhaps other monks who have significant interaction with the primary cast could have Attachment associated with the individual monk.  Whether it's a positive or negative connection with this other character, it would call up the monk's worldly side to deal with them.

      Two suggestions for how this would work:

      On the player-character's sheet it could be written, "Attachment 5 to XXX"  Then whenever that monk has to deal with that character, that many dice gets added to the monks' Worldly dice pool.

      Or:
      On the player-character monk's sheet, next to a given Passion, a statment could be written about a certain character and the monk's interaction with him/her.  Then, whenever the monk has to deal with that character, they need to add that passion to the Worldly pool.  This way, as the monks tame their passions, their contacts with the outside world have less power over them.  


      --Emily Care
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      Bob McNamee
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      « Reply #13 on: November 08, 2002, 06:03:51 PM »

      Sounds good!
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      talysman
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      « Reply #14 on: November 09, 2002, 12:16:17 AM »

      just a few quick comments and ideas:

      I think 3+number of players makes a good number for how many trait-pairs to develop. I thinK I originally suggested two pairs per player, but with a two-player game, option 1 produces five pairs, option 2 produces 4. you will eventually need more pairs...

      actually, since max Spirituality is 6 (which is when a character becomes an "ascended master" or whatever happens when enlightenment is reached,) we could go with option 3: a flat six pairs minimum. this can actually be combined with option 1: you can have more than six trait-pairs, but you need six to reach Enlightenment.

      hmmm... since unlisted trait-pairs default to Worldy/Spiritual, if we allow adding trait-pairs "on the fly" as I suggested earlier, you might wind up with a character with seven unresolved trait-pairs. when six of those trait-pairs have been resolved, the character is enlightened -- but has one unresolved trait-pair. we could simply include a rule that Worldly/Spiritual can't be fully resolved until all trait pairs are resolved, I suppose...

      for NPCs, I'm in favor of not giving them stats at all except for a relevant trait-pair that binds the NPC to the PC. these NPCs would be added as facts, the same as any other fact. so, when you develop your neophyte, you start with two trait-pairs and an appropriate number of facts for each pair; if one of the facts for Violence/Compassion is "a local mercenary took offense to the neophyte and administered a beating that lingers in the neophyte's memory", then the mercenary would have one stat-pair, Violence/Compassion, equal to the character's stat-pair at the moment that fact was added.

      some other NPCs would be created as facts related to the monastery, to the mentor, and so on.

      I'd handle injury and death based on the fact system as well. this is not a combat Sim, so I suggest we need only three wound levels: Hurt, Badly Hurt, Incapacitated. player characters only die in two circumstances:

      (1) the player says it's time for the character to die;
      (2) the player's Worldliness maxes out to 6 (Spiritual 0) AND THEN becomes incapacitated.

      you could also say that enlightened characters (Spirituality 6) will die if incapacitated, too, unless they are retired. the rationale is that characters who become truly Worldly or truly Spiritual have fulfilled their purpose in existence and are now ready to "pass on".

      the beauty of using a fact system to cover wounds and death is that there is no specific ability score for "hit points" -- so you can apply the same system to exhaustion, sanity, or any other "damage system equivalent" you conceive of. want to add saints battling demons? add psychic warfare and use the facts "Tempted", "Badly Tempted", and "Impure" (or the equivalent.) you could add similar facts for negative emotional states, if you wanted to show monks being slowly angered until losing self control.
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      John Laviolette
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