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Author Topic: Long Goodbye  (Read 3356 times)
Gwen
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Posts: 95


« on: November 26, 2002, 07:23:53 AM »

This is another idea for a game I've had.  I just recently came up with the idea, so there's much fleshing out necessary, but I figured I would explain my idea and hopefully everyones advice would help in the development.

The concept of Long Goodbye is time travelers trying to determine what destroys the Earth and, of course, try to prevent it from occuring.

Players begin at the last moment before the world is destroyed and, through cosmic rays, Divine Intervention, technology, etc... the players are going to relive the day until they either figure out what happened or they run out of time.

As soon as the game starts, the players witness the destruction of the Earth (it could be anything from nuclear war or giant locusts to alien invasion or an asteroid).  After the world is destroyed, the roll 2d12.

Subtract one from the result and this is the hour they have been teleported to.

Roll of 2 = 1 am
Roll of 3 = 2 am
Roll of 4 = 3 am
...
Roll of 23 = 10 pm
Roll of 24 = 11 pm

At 12 am, the world is destroyed.

The players relive the entire day, but the hours are all out of order.  They live a complete hour before the dice are rolled again and they are transported to the next hour.

They must collect clues, ask questions, kill major players or protect major players, trying to work their way to saving the planet.

For example, the players start out and they roll a 7.  They are then living at 6am.  They go from 6:00 to 6:59 at which point they roll again.  Now they get a 23 and are living in 10 pm.  They go from 10:00 to 10:59.

If an hour is rolled they already have lived through, the dice are rerolled.  No hour can be lived twice.

This game is very intense for the GM, who will have to sit down and work out the details for every hour and use his notes so he knows what is occuring at specific points in time.

Everyone must also takes notes and keep track of everything they do, just for the sake of confusion.

For the hook is, once someone is confused to the point where an argument begins or discussions of how doing something in the past might ruin something in the future, the game ends and the players die.  So the players must be very careful not to make any drastic changes to the time line.

They are there are observers, interrogators and information collectors.

After all the hours have been completed, they return to the last hour, the 23rd hour.  They now have one hour to fix everything that needs fixing to save the world.

Ideally, this last hour should be filled with debate about who should die, what should blow up, what should be preserved and how to accomplish these tasks.

I pre-agree that this sounds complicated, but if organized properly, it could make for a very intense roleplaying experience.

Any advice or suggestions?
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2002, 08:20:05 AM »

Ooh!  What a neat idea!

(Welcome to the Forge; sorry, I haven't had the chance to say that before.)

I like this a lot.

Here's my suggestion.  Make it a boxed game.  Provide 'signal point' cards from which a gamemaster assembles the 'cause of death' for the Earth.  (I imagine they'd have some kind of system limiting which can be strung together and how.)  The players jump back and forth through that last day attempting to discern the signal points with role-playing.  If they figure out which there are and in what order, in the last hour they role-play how they obstruct this conclusion.

That's the only way I can imagine keeping the game form being a 'huge amount of gamemaster work' for a game of 'twenty (three) questions.'

I really like 'the final countdown' (which is out of order), but I'd suggest using smaller dice as the game progresses because imagine trying to roll a 2 or a 13 to see which hour is 'second to last.'  (How about a spinner divided up into wedges, if you spin a 'used hour' you play the next one over in the wedge.)

Fang Langford

p. s. That and I'm hung up on this 'for Family Game Night' boxed games like How to Host a Deserted Island.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2002, 05:32:52 PM »

Hey Gwen,

It's a very cool idea with, in my opinion, a lotta lotta dramatic potential. I like it a lot. And I'm very much struggling against a desire to somehow come on real strong and mesmerizing and get you to shape it according to my vision. But unlike His Overbearing Fangness I've got compunctions against turning the full force of my own design agenda on relative innocents straight out of the gate. So instead I'm going to ask some questions so I'm more clear about your vision, and sort of thereby you'd be bracing yourself a bit...for when I finally blast you with my personal design agenda:

1. Do you envision the player character group travelling from hour to hour en masse, having and sharing all scenes together, or at least starting all scenes together, with the possibility of becoming separated over the course of the hour and then rejoined for the beginning of the next scene?

2. Do you envision the GM needing to enforce rigid continuity, where if the group rolls hour 10 the player characters are all in the exact same positions they were at the end of hour 9 that the group played through two game sessions previous?

3. How would you handle player character death?

4. Do you envision primarily investigation during hours 1-23, with a climactic and dramatic doing of important things during hour 24? Or do you expect players to use an incremental process of saving the world, rearranging things, killing people, convincing people to change their actions, and destroying things, over the course of their reliving of hours 1-23? At one point you write that you expect the characters to "collect clues, ask questions, kill major players or protect major players." That seems pretty active and incremental to me. Later you write that they are "observers, interrogators and information collectors" and that the "last hour should be filled with debate about who should die, what should blow up, what should be preserved and how to accomplish these tasks." I don't think you can afford being equivocal on this. Saving the world is either incremental, via determined action over the course of the entire 24 hours, or it's not, with all decisive action being reserved until the last hour.

5. How much disagreement is enough to trigger the pre-emptive end of the game? For example: At the beginning of play, the characters witnessed the destruction of the Earth from street-level Times Square by a swarm of giant locusts consuming all the buildings. At the very end of hour 10, they saw the hatching of a winged creature, all covered in fluid, from an egg in an incubator, but were unable to take action before the end of the hour. When finally an hour previous to 10 is rolled and the characters find themselves in the position of taking a hammer to that egg, I say, "What if the thing we saw hatching wasn't the mother locust?" Is that enough disagreement to trigger the end of the game?

Paul
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Gwen
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Posts: 95


« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2002, 06:04:54 PM »

Quote
1. Do you envision the player character group travelling from hour to hour en masse, having and sharing all scenes together, or at least starting all scenes together, with the possibility of becoming separated over the course of the hour and then rejoined for the beginning of the next scene?


Actually, I see the group splitting up a lot at the beginning as they search for the extreme basic idea of the Apocolypse.

Then towards the end, as they are more certain of the catalyst, the need to split up will dwindle and they will travel in groups.

Starting all scenes together will be based entirely around what the GM and the players decide is causing them to time travel, so it is entirely possible they could stay split up or rejoined.

Quote
2. Do you envision the GM needing to enforce rigid continuity, where if the group rolls hour 10 the player characters are all in the exact same positions they were at the end of hour 9 that the group played through two game sessions previous?


Time travel is always a difficult element to work with when roleplaying, so I think the GM should be as strict as necessary to keep the game from falling apart.

Quote
3. How would you handle player character death?


This is one thing I forgot to mention.  If a character dies, the can continue to play ONLY if the hour rolled is BEFORE their death.  For example, if someone were to die in hour 14, they can still play them game if in hour 1 - 13.  Everything after hour 14 they are "dead" and unable to play.

This way hour 24 will be more stressful, perhaps having only one or two people left alive to accomplish the tasks.

Quote
4. Do you envision primarily investigation during hours 1-23, with a climactic and dramatic doing of important things during hour 24? ...  At one point you write that you expect the characters to "collect clues, ask questions, kill major players or protect major players." That seems pretty active and incremental to me. Later you write that they are "observers, interrogators and information collectors" and that the "last hour should be filled with debate about who should die, what should blow up, what should be preserved and how to accomplish these tasks."


Characters can kill, destroy, protect or collect clues at any point in the day.  The only drawback here is that they risk an argument or confusion.  Which is why most interaction should be PRIMARILY in hour 23, but not ONLY in hour 23.

Quote
5. How much disagreement is enough to trigger the pre-emptive end of the game?


Examples of Confusion:  Confusion is simply the point of the game where playing cannot progress because the GM cannot maintain the story line.  If the players cause too much change in the past and severly alter the future that they were a part of, the GM can simply say they are unable to make the game work and it ends.

I realize that making it work is a matter of how creative and observant the GM is, but this rule is in place to keep the GMs brain from leaking out of his ear.

Examples of Argumentation:  As soon as the players and/or GM get into a debate over time travel and "what happens first or last" the game ends.  This is to prevent a huge argument, which is entirely possible in a game like this (unless you enjoy temporal arguments, in which case, argue away!)

Argumentation also includes the point in which players start quoting Steven Hawking or debating over whether Marty McFly would have been named Marty if he didn't time travel in the first place.  This rule is in place to keep gameplay moving and keep it from becoming a long drawn out argument.

As for your own personal design, Paul, I would like to hear about it!  So far all I have is a concept and these mechanics are sort of up-in-the-air, so if you have a more concrete idea, I wouldn't be opposed to hearing them and working together to get a finished product!
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2002, 07:24:44 PM »

Hey Gwen,

I like your plan for handling character death. But it would suck to be the player of a character who died early into the game. What do you think of maybe allowing the character to continue on as a ghost, in some limited capacity, perhaps able to influence emotions and move objects?

My own idea for Long Goodbye (which is a fantastic name, by the way) would be for the GM to go around the room, rolling an hour for each character, which would allow for the framing entirely separate scenes throughout the timeline (or optionally for combined scenes if the same hour got rolled for more than one character). If someone rolled an hour they played already, I'd put them in a different location. I can see it being pretty cool if as a player I got framed into a gunfight scene in the lobby of a hotel, at the same time as a previously played scene with my character on the mezzanine. I'd also ditch the requirement that all 24 hours had to be played and frame everyone to the 24th hour the first time it got rolled. So players would sometimes entirely avoid finding themselves in the exact physical circumstances they were in at the end of some of the hours. You know the scene in The Poseidon Adventure where Gene Hackman jumps to the gas shutoff valve? Characters could do that kind of thing at the end of an hour, gambling they might not ever roll the next hour and end up demised. I think ditching the 24 hours requirement would also make the last hour that much more tense, since the players would be working with incomplete information when it came down to their final decisions.

Another thing I'd do personally was include reality TV style epilogues for each character if the game ends out of confusion or argumentation. Go around the room, with each player narrating, "It was Jim's fault...if he'd listened to me..." The GM could take the last epilogue, and do it from the perspective of a significant NPC who might comment from an informed or dramatic perspective, "I only wanted to see my wife one last time before the virus had eaten so much of my brain I wouldn't have recognized her."

Honestly though, I think you have it well thought out for yourself. I think your clarification of what constitutes confusion and argumentation should become part of your game document. I think you should pick a rules system and run it. Extreme Vengeance would be good if you want an action movie style. It really is a solid game underneath all the wretched attempts at humor. The Window, The Ladder, or EPICS would be good for something less actiony.

Paul
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Brian Leybourne
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Posts: 1793


« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2002, 07:57:47 PM »

Quote from: Gwen
This is one thing I forgot to mention.  If a character dies, the can continue to play ONLY if the hour rolled is BEFORE their death.  For example, if someone were to die in hour 14, they can still play them game if in hour 1 - 13.  Everything after hour 14 they are "dead" and unable to play.

This way hour 24 will be more stressful, perhaps having only one or two people left alive to accomplish the tasks.


What about the following situation:

Game starts.
Characters go to hour 13
Characters go to hour 21
Characters go to hour 9
Characters go to hour 6, one of them dies.

Oops.. not only can the character only play hours 1-5 now, but he somehow mysteriously turned up in hours 9,13 and 21 even though he was dead.

It's a really good idea, but I can see a lot of problems with it. If you can sort those through, it could be a really interesting game.

I'm curious - how much was the series "24" an influence?

Brian.
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Gwen
Member

Posts: 95


« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2002, 09:29:16 PM »

Quote
What about the following situation:

Game starts.
Characters go to hour 13
Characters go to hour 21
Characters go to hour 9
Characters go to hour 6, one of them dies.

Oops.. not only can the character only play hours 1-5 now, but he somehow mysteriously turned up in hours 9,13 and 21 even though he was dead.


This is a great example of an Argument!  If a situation like this would arrive, the players would have to sort this out for themselves and come to an agreement, otherwise there is a PARADOX and the game ends.

Quote
It's a really good idea, but I can see a lot of problems with it. If you can sort those through, it could be a really interesting game.


There will always be a lot of problems with a time travel game, which is why I have opted for the confusion/argumentation rules opposed to pages and pages about temporal physics.

Quote
I'm curious - how much was the series "24" an influence?


I was thinking this question might get asked when I came up with the idea, but I can assure you "24" has influenced me 0%.

I was mainly influenced by Twelve Monkies, by Gilliam
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2002, 08:16:28 AM »

Quote from: Gwen

This is a great example of an Argument!  If a situation like this would arrive, the players would have to sort this out for themselves and come to an agreement, otherwise there is a PARADOX and the game ends.

So, essentially, it gives the players the chance to create the BS explanations that make it all make sense? That's very cool. So in the above case, I could just point out that the characters jumping around creates their own timeline, the termination of which means that they can only show up in times before their deaths in the future of their own timelin. But does not void the causality of the objective Earth timeline (as if it were, then just jumping back and forth would be a problem).

Hmm. I have an important question. Do the players jump back to exactly where they were at the end of an hour? This would make sense with the death thing (essentially, the character would be jumping to the later hours as well, but would just show up dead, and therfore not able to participate). I sense that this is not the case, however. From your descriptions, it would seem that the PCs show up in different places. If that's true, it would mean that they would litterally dissapear from the POV of someone watching them. For example, in hour 7 we're at a park. then later, we flash to hour 8, and we arrive in a barn. From the POV of someone watching us at the end of hour 7, we just dissapear.

Anyhow, if this is the case, then how does the GM know where to place the characters? What's the rationale for why they arrive at a particular place? Does the transporting agent have some small idea of the nature of the disaster? If they have full knowledge, then they'd just trransport right to the best spot to fix the problem. So the knowledge is imperfect. Do the PCs know what level of accuracy the transporting angency has?

I guess what I'm looking for is the background rationale for some of this. If the players simply arrive with no idea why they have leapt through time from the "end" to now, won't they spend the first couple of hours at least trying to determine the nature of what's going on? Or, will they get the idea from their proximity to certain events that they have been sent back to fix them.

I guess, from a design aspect, it would be much simpler, if the PCs were part of an organization that could detect "end of the world" problems, and which sent back agents regularly to fix such problems. As such, the PCs would know what was going on, and wouldn't have to worry about the figuring out phase. The reason this is good, is that otherwise, there is the problem of Gamist player vs. others. The Gamist players will probably use Author stance to say, "Oh, my character gets it," right after the first leap. The other players may want to look at things from their characters' POVs, and may take longer to respond. These ways of playing could really grate on players of the opposite sort. The Gamists would be all, "we're wasting time", wheras the Narrativists would be angry that the Gamists were so bent on winning by saving the world, and not concerned with the moral implications (some Narrativists might decide that the world is not worth saving, or that doing so might upset some universal balance or something).

So, is this a game about "Saving the World", or is it a game about characters given an opportunity to save the world if they wish? If the former, then I think the Time-Travel Agency is the best way to go. If the latter, then the mysterious travel option seems best. Interestingly, you can probably include both options so that players and GMs can choose whichever mode they like best.

Mike
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2002, 08:33:01 AM »

I guess, from a design aspect, it would be much simpler, if the PCs were part of an organization that could detect "end of the world" problems, and which sent back agents regularly to fix such problems. As such, the PCs would know what was going on...

Blecch! Here's an alternative:

Ever find yourself at work, but you can't remember driving there? The route is so worn into your brain that you drove there on autopilot. How about the idea that a person's life of travel forward in time has natural eddies that circle him/her back by a few hours or days; it's just that the life is so worn into your brain that you generally autopilot through the experience. In this case though, the end of the world was so shocking that the reliving is characterized by awareness of what's to come.

Paul
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2002, 09:22:08 AM »

Worked for Assimov. I never get your tastes, Paul. ;-)

Anyhow, I could accept a croc of some sort where the character just "knows" that he's there to save the world.

But mostly this is Paul's play preference coming out. He'd prefer a Narrativist version I'm sure. As such he's simply advocating the option I already enumerated for that rout more or less.

Mike
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2002, 11:02:08 PM »

I feel like I should say something; I'm just not sure what.

We did a time-travel based world, The Perpetual Barbecue, in Multiverser: The Second Book of Worlds; this was more like Groundhog day, in that the player characters relive the day again and again (actually, in two alternating versions, through which they find the clues to why it's happening). That's very different from what you're trying to do, but it may be instructive.

The critical point, in my mind, is you need an event script, a point-by-point outline of what every non-player character is going to say and do, of everything that is going to happen. In essence, you need a story that is happening, so that at any given moment the referee knows what is happening and can reveal it to the players. At the same time, it has to have flexibility in it, so that you can incorporate changes made by the players.

There's a problem which surprisingly no one has noticed. If the players play hour 7 and later come back for hour 8, there's certainly some logic to starting them in hour 8 where they ended in hour 7; but given the random nature of the situation, it's just as likely that they'll play hour 8 and then later play hour 7. How are we going to know where they end hour 7 to start hour 8, if these are played in reverse order? Or do the players have to take into account where they were at the beginning of hour 8, and try to get there? Or is that all completely irrelevant, in which case where they start in hour 8 has nothing to do with where they ended hour 7, regardless of the sequence?

If you're going to tamper with time, you need, I think, to get into your head the difference between temporal order and sequential order. If the character is killed at noon, is it worse for him to have already appeared at six pm, or for him to subsequently appear at six am? Is it controlled by the order events happen in time, or in the order they happen in experience?

As much as I enjoy time travel, the concept here gives me nightmares. It isn't, as Cole thinks, that you can't change the past; it's that you can destroy it utterly if you're not careful, and if you try to do so intentionally your best hope is to fail. But then, I've spent a bit of time thinking about how to handle time travel; http://www.geocities.com/dahkor/">my Temporal Anomalies site might be useful in helping get to the bottom of it.

--M. J. Young
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thoth
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« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2002, 09:19:10 AM »

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0004C31F-B4E0-1D4E-90FB809EC5880000&pageNumber=1&catID=9

Quote from: Scientific American Article
THE NOTORIOUS MOTHER PARADOX (sometimes formulated using other familial relationships) arises when people or objects can travel backward in time and alter the past. A simplified version involves billiard balls. A billiard ball passes through a wormhole time machine. Upon emerging, it hits its earlier self, thereby preventing it from ever entering the wormhole.

RESOLUTION OF THE PARADOX proceeds from a simple realization: the billiard ball cannot do something that is inconsistent with logic or with the laws of physics. It cannot pass through the wormhole in such a way that will prevent it from passing through the wormhole. But nothing stops it from passing through the wormhole in an infinity of other ways.


Thought this might be helpful in some way :)
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Amos Barrows
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« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2002, 10:51:31 AM »

I took it that when the hour is up, a new hour is randomly picked from the 23, but the players stay in the same spot. Just the time changes.

This makes for a more consecutive journey, it may get all too much otherwise.

ie.
Players are a X, it is 18.59.
(3.00 is rolled)
Players are still at X, but it is now 3.00

This also allows for racing to get to a certain place, and so on.

Oh and once again, Hi forgites.
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Ziriel
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2002, 09:38:36 AM »

I just had to drop a line in here to say that I think this iz a really neat idea.

Sure, it has a lot of sticky points that need to be worked through, but lots of unique ideas have that problem.  (To say nothing of how difficult time travel can be just in general.)  The easy ideas are the ones that have been done already, right. :)

Good luck, and I hope to hear more about it in the future.

- Ziriel
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- Ziriel

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Psycho42
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« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2002, 03:26:23 PM »

OK, guess I have to stop lurking ;-)

First of all, please continue working on this, it sounds VERY interesting, I'd love to play it...

Why do you want to randomly determine which time will be next? Why not let the GM decide?
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