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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 161 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Storypunk: The Troupe  (Read 3506 times)
Jonathan Walton
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« on: November 11, 2002, 08:48:16 PM »

If you are not familar with the previous threads about this game, don't worry.  You don't need to be.  Still, if you're interested, searching for "storypunk" will turn up everything else.

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The Troupe

As I currently imagine it, Storypunk works like this:

• there is no GM
• the players play themselves, there are no "PCs"
• a player is called a "Player," as in a member of an acting ensemble
• a group of Players is a "Troupe"
• a single story arc is called a "Festival," this is often a single session, but some Festivals may take place over several sessions; each festival is given a name to remember it by, i.e. the Festival of Bleeding Hearts Black
• a Troup is lead by the "Player King/Queen," this is not a GM but an admin position that offers no direct control over the narrative; the Player King/Queen is still considered a Player; he/she can have their position renegotiated any time, since it's just a part of the social contract
• there is no character creation; like I said, you're playing yourself
• there is NO INDIVIDUAL QUANTIFICATION OR ADVANCEMENT; there are no character sheets, no individual attributes, no skills, no experience points or anything of that sort
• QUANTIFICATION AND ADVANCEMENT IS ONLY BY TROUPE; the Player King/Queen keeps a record of the shared traits of the Troupe, and it is only by working together (or, at least, surviving together) that the Troupe advances and becomes better

Question #1: What games have done "group quantification & advancement" before?  How did they handle it?  I know about Nobilis (shared Chancel/Imperator Creation & Advancement), but I'm interested in others.

Question #2:  Do I need specific rules for the "impeachment" of the Player King/Queen?  I'm tempted just to say that it's something the group has to work out on it's own, but I'd be worried that (because of the history of GMs) the Players would never challange the PK/Q and replace him/her with somebody else.  Any suggestions?

Troupe Creation

Along with the other players, you create your Troup like this:

• determine who will be the Player King/Queen; this can be done however you like (show of hands, ballot, politiking, arbitrary decision, etc.); this person will be in charge of leading the group through Troupe Creation
• determine a Troupe Name; look at real theater companies for inspiration, i.e. in Raleigh we have Burning Coal, Open Door, the Sonambulist Project, etc.
• write a Mission Statement for your Troupe; this is done by determining several Aspirations that bind the group together, for example, a good Mission might be "Fight the good fight, never balk at danger, and always support the underdog" or "Never tell the truth when a half-truth will do, never trust authority, and never take the easy way out."
• brainstorm about possible Themes for your first Festival; the Player King/Queen should just write down all the ideas and then help the group select a few that look really interesting, for example "love always triumphs, but in tragedy" or "the meek shall inherit the earth"
• determine the name for your first Festival; this will be the initial adventure of your Troupe, so make sure it's a good one and keep in mind the themes you've chosen

Question #3: In this initial creation process, do I need to come up with a mechanic for making group decisions?  Can I just assume that the Players will work things out and that the Player King/Queen will be able to build consensus and settle disputes?  How likely would that tactic be to work, given your average run-of-the-mill group of players?


More tomorrow, but first I must sleep...

Later.
Jonathan
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J. Backman
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Posts: 53


« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2002, 12:06:03 AM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
the players play themselves, there are no "PCs"
there is no character creation; like I said, you're playing yourself


Umm, I find myself to be a pretty darn boring person, and there wouldn't really be any fun in playing myself. Is there any specific reason why the players can't play roles different than themselves?
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Pasi Juhani Backman
Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2002, 08:32:19 AM »

Quote from: J. Backman
Umm, I find myself to be a pretty darn boring person, and there wouldn't really be any fun in playing myself. Is there any specific reason why the players can't play roles different than themselves?


Well, basically it's because Storypunk is a mirror image of roleplaying.  During the course of the game, the Players hack into stories and take them over.  Your Player will take on Roles in the course of play, but ultimately, the "base personality" is still yourself.  Your Player will be roleplaying constantly, so I didn't want to add the additional complication of "player --> PC--> roles."  Instead, it's just "player = Player --> roles."

Later.
Jonathan
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J. Backman
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Posts: 53


« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2002, 10:53:09 AM »

Quote
Well, basically it's because Storypunk is a mirror image of roleplaying. During the course of the game, the Players hack into stories and take them over. Your Player will take on Roles in the course of play, but ultimately, the "base personality" is still yourself. Your Player will be roleplaying constantly, so I didn't want to add the additional complication of "player --> PC--> roles." Instead, it's just "player = Player --> roles."


Ah, okay. But I still don't think playing without a role (other than yourself, or yourself playing other roles) will be very fun. Maybe I'll warm up to the idea once I get to see a more finished version of the rules.
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Pasi Juhani Backman
szilard
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2002, 08:36:03 AM »

I can see both sides of the "playing yourself" angle. One interesting fallout of this is that it may be possible to convert all conversation that would typically be 'out-of-character' into in-game conversation.

The drawback, though, is in character motivation. What motivation - besides having fun or exploring themes or whatnot - do player/characters have? Or is that all the motivation they have?

~szilard
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My very own http://www.livejournal.com/users/szilard/">game design journal.
Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2002, 11:37:04 AM »

each festival has a name: This is interesting.  Does one name a Festival before, so it works as a veiled statement of expectation, or after, so it acts as a mnemonic?

the king/queen: again, interesting, though the title implies something more like power than responsibility... I'd think about that.  I'd also put in a pretty serious discussion on the social contract; you may not need mechanics for solving impeachment, but certainly you want to make it clear that it's possible, and outline civil methods of doing so.
What does QK do outside of Creation?

advancement by troupe: Cool.  I wonder what happens with games with unstable Troupes... does this mechanic deal with that, punish it, make allowances, provide incentives for stability?  I can't think of a game that does this; maybe Amber, in an extremely limited respect, and not deliberately.

working stuff out: I think that this might add an interesting element, were you to provide some kind of mechanic.  I'll be back later with musings on this, if you want to follow the train of thought.
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2002, 12:37:42 PM »

I'm gonna tackle the comments in reverse order:

Shreyas:

Does one name a Festival before, so it works as a veiled statement of expectation, or after, so it acts as a mnemonic?

Have you ever attended a Festival that was named afterward? :)  No, it's named before, and the Players "attend" it, knowing in advance something about what they're getting into.  Still, it's also a way of distinguishing between various story arcs, because each arc can include scores of different stories.  It still doesn't solve everything ("Did you play the Black Knight during the Festival of Silver Abundance or the Festival of Dark Streets Grow Darker"?), but goes a step towards lessening the confusion.  At least, that's the idea.

Since the "Themes" of a Festival are a metagame construct, the name of the Festival serves as an in-game way for players to talk about what their motivations are (reworking stories to reflect certain themes).  By hacking stories to reflect the Festival's description, the Players earn some sort of metagame reward that I haven't quite determined yet.

the king/queen: again, interesting, though the title implies something more like power than responsibility... I'd think about that.

Yeah, I know it's not a perfect term.  I stole it from Hamlet, actually, where the leader of the acting troupe is called "the Player King" (played by Charlton Heston in the Branaugh version).  I think it's a mouthful to keep saying "Player King/Queen" all the time, so a gender-neutral term would be much appreciated.  I though about "Director," but that implies Director Stance.  A more archaic word would be better.

What does QK do outside of Creation?

I'm in the middle of figuring that out.  I think they'll supervise the assigning of Roles and Postions within the story, though they don't "cast" the story, persay, just making sure all the Roles are claimed and resolving disputes where two Players want the same Role.

Once the story actually starts moving, they simply play whatever Roles they've personally taken, just like any other player.  I'm trying to figure out how to resolve the conflict of interest, where the King/Queen could try to ensure they get all the Roles they want, but I've got a bunch of options there.

I'm considering having the King/Queen be a position that rotates among members of the group, but I also want the people who LIKE the role and are better suited for it, personality wise, to have the option of regularly taking the role, just to assist the ease of play.

unstable Troupes... does this mechanic deal with that, punish it, make allowances, provide incentives for stability?

I'm not sure what you mean here by "stability."  Are you taking about having the same players all the time?  Or having minimal conflicts between player personalities?

working stuff out: I think that this might add an interesting element, were you to provide some kind of mechanic.

I agree.  Still, I'm intentionally trying to make Storypunk more "mainstream," in the sense Ron talks about on the Publishing thread of the same name.  This means I want to avoid anything that looks arcane or overly complicated.  If I can come up with a simple mechanic for group decision making, that'd be great, but I'd rather use nothing than use an overly-complex system.

szilard:

What motivation - besides having fun or exploring themes or whatnot - do player/characters have? Or is that all the motivation they have?

Well, ideally, I want "having fun & exploring themes" to support the strength of the story, making it last longer without crashing.  One of the chief motivations in hacking stories is to keep them going long enough for you to enjoy them.  Also, the longer the stories last, the longer you are able to escape from your real life.  Still, the details of how themes interact with stories has not yet been worked out in this new version.  Give me a couple of days.

Later.
Jonathan
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