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General Forge Forums => Game Development => Topic started by: btrc on January 07, 2011, 07:00:15 AM

Title: Mars 2100 (from crowdsourced RPG request)
Post by: btrc on January 07, 2011, 07:00:15 AM
Here's an early draft of the game I was using the personality questionnaire for: (

(this opens in Acrobat just fine, but Preview (Mac OS) does not like it for some reason)

Mars 2100 is a strategic decision-making game with a strong role-playing aspect. You are running a character, and acting as a major influence for a "belief group" at a Martian colony, a “belief group” being a political party, religious orientation, philosophical belief, etc. The game is about how you and your group interact with other allied, neutral or hostile groups in dealing with various crises at your colony. What you do as a character can affect your group's decisions and actions, and vice versa. The gamemaster is trying to "break” the colony in some way, creating a crisis that by itself is not catastrophic, but which can be mismanaged by characters to become catastrophic (e.g. Katrina response). Characters and groups are highly constrained by their personalities and beliefs, and it is a very subjective, negotiation-based, outcome-oriented resolution system. It is still resolved with d6's, but how many, what you need to roll and what a success or failure means is very mutable.

All comments welcome, either here or by private email. If you already did the questionnaire it might be interesting to do the full character design for yourself and see if it comes out anything close to you. The more feedback, the better I can make it.


Title: Re: Mars 2100 (from crowdsourced RPG request)
Post by: contracycle on January 10, 2011, 04:05:26 AM
I think this is totally cool and very interesting indeed.  In some respect it reminds me of Nomic andMatrix games, given its meta-gamey nature (I'm not using that term in the conventional RPG sense), but its a very interesting read and I think would be interesting to play.

It struck me that this looks like an excellent game to play in a forum format, and that it might actually work better like that than as a tabletop game.  Seems to me it could benefit from having concrete statements and allowing players to ponder them before constructing a response.  Possibly this could even be extended to a sort of persistent world game.

You have in part of your resolution for First Responses an optional rule that allows players to specify aspects of the immediate problem in reverse order of success.  I find this device intriguing, and might suggest that it be made mandatory rather than optional and extended to other sorts of problems.

I'm a little unclear on how you see the role of the individual as related to that of the group.  That is, I'm not sure why it should be that the particular PC is such a significant member of the group that they are in effect its leader or a significant mover.  There is nothing wrong with this as such but it seems to be implied rather than explicit.

My only quibble is with the definition of Radical tendencies withing a group.  I'm not sure why these have to be dealt with as inherent components of a group, rather than as other groups.  After all groups as such don't seem to be necessarily formally defined, nor is membership of a group necessarily exclusive of another, so this doesn't seem to be strictly necessary.  (FWIW, I think the contemporary usage of "radical" in this sense is pretty debased in contemporary discourse; its staple media fodder because it is lazily convenient but doesn't describe reality, IMO),

Lastly, I'm already wondering about other possible settings to which the model could be applied.    The various ideological leanings and so on are presented in pretty modern terms, and it might be interesting to try to articulate a set of different contextual ideologies.  One could imagine very similar scenarios taking place in the early American colonies, or indeed those of the Mediterranean Greeks.  Obviously thats not something that should concern you now.

Title: Re: Mars 2100 (from crowdsourced RPG request)
Post by: btrc on January 10, 2011, 05:59:59 AM
I had considered the Mars 2100 idea as a card, board or other sort of conventional game, but that would end up limiting players to the roles and solutions available in the component mix. As an rpg, it gives players more or less unlimited creativity. If they want to run the “polyamorist scientogists", the "martian church of the subgenius" or the “ganjatopia party", they can, so long as they can quantify its beliefs and goals.

Players ‘represent' a group in that they start as agreeing with the mainstream views of that group. So, in any decisions for that group, odds are that the player's view will also be a majority view or nearly so. This is why players have Influence in a group. They get a major say in what happens, but it is still not guaranteed that the player will get the group to move in the exact direction they want it to. Someone has to decide what the player's group does, so why not the player?

I think it is easier (and more interesting) to have Radicals as part of a player's group. It does reflect reality to some extent. Look at the USA. The Tea Party is clearly a vocal offshoot of the Republican Party, but is not really an independent entity at this time. It is in game terms, the Radical wing of that group. By and large, they simply talk a lot of talk, but if there is going to be a major breach with law or custom, odds are it will come from a member of a subgroup like that, not the main group. And I point no political fingers in the recent Arizona shooting. The shooter may have just been nuts, and I won't try to pin a political tail on him “just because”. I'll wait and see how the investigation pans out before stating an opinion on it as a specific case.

However, as an event, it could be a game crisis. A political leader is attacked after another group does something that could be considered incitement to violence. Does that group get blamed? Does it try to cover its ass? Does it cause a different group to try and push its own agenda (say, gun control)? Do people work together to solve any underlying problem, or act solely for personal or group gain?

I think the Mars 2100 concept could work in other settings. It is after all, based on human nature, which is probably the only true constant between gameworlds. Each knight at King Arthur's table could be their own faction, or you could do it at a national level and replay the events leading up to World War 1. I thought the self-contained setting for Mars 2100 was a good balance of individual action, group dynamics and a limited environment where you do not get to escape the consequences of your actions or inaction.


Title: Re: Mars 2100 (from crowdsourced RPG request)
Post by: contracycle on January 10, 2011, 06:43:09 AM
Points about included components in fixed material games taken.  However, a game played essentially in RPG mode but using the forum format would be able to exploit the creativity of players in the same way a F2F game would.  There is a fairly wide set of games played on forums, of one sort or another, but not all I feel, really suited to the medium.  Of necessity they canlt handle question and response type stuff and mujst accomodate post-pength actions and statements by players.  Seems to me this game would positively benefit from that sort of interaction.  In addition it would lend itself naturally to a structure in which there was a forum for a particular colony or game, and a thread for crisis 1, and crisis 2, etc; and this would then also serve as a log of the game.  This could even be extended to, say, running two colonies side by side and allowing them to interact, or in setting up tournament scenarios in which different groups play through a set of crises and see which can keep their colony going the longest.  So there are aspects of this design that seem to me particularly suited to being done through a forum structure, in much the way there that Lacuna was expressly designed to be played by email.  At the very least such a thing might serve as a demonstration and/or sales tool.

As for the leadership thing, does each faction have an explicit leadership that is distinct from the player?  Or is that simplyh included in the group mainstream enacted by the GM?

On the topic of radicals, yeah, thing is the Tea Party is an interesting beast.  I'm not sure at all that it is best to treat it as an extreme wing of the Republicans; I think a case can be made that it is a different thing entirely.  A radical wing usually operates in much the same environment as the "parent" organisation; it seeks to influence the policies of that organisation, to introduce its own members into the group leadership, and pass its policy motions in whatever forum serves the group for decision making.  Seems to me the Tea Party does none of these things, and has placed itself in some cases in direct opposition to the orthodox Republican establishment.  Political parties usually have explicit rules for dealing with internal subgroups: tendencies, fractions, specific caucases and whatnot.  Even apparently coherent bodies like these don't really exist on a single vector that runs from moderate to extreme.  This is the sort of thing I meant by suggesting it was a lazy media trope; it obscures the complexity of the underlying reality. 

Anyway, setting that aside I suppose its perfectly valid to say that if a group is defined as possesing certain aspects, then it explicitly encompasses all other units however constituted that adhere to those aspects.  It's an abstraciton but thats what games do, so fair enough.

On the last, I thought the isolation trope was quite strong; that and the influence of the parental body through Loyalist factions.  Hence I was looking at similar colonial scenarios; certainly I think the Mars setting is perfectly viable.