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Inactive File => Endeavor: Game Chef 2011 => Topic started by: Wilper on July 15, 2011, 10:57:37 PM



Title: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 15, 2011, 10:57:37 PM
The Daughters of Verona is a GM-less RPG of Shakespearean comedy. The central themes are Love, Mistaken identities and Complex plots.

It is pretty diffuse to me right now, but I think I will have Zombie Cinema-like character generation by cards. There will be some mechanism to generate complex and confusing plots and relationships that the players get to untangle during play. And marriages at the end, of course.

As for the chargen and complex plots I might have to resort to preparing a demo playset for the competition, and build it from what I have done when the deadline comes closer.  But I hope it will be a full, replayable game by then.



Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 16, 2011, 10:17:44 AM
While doing research I have seen many mentions of Shakespeare's "Stock Characters".  But I can't find any good list of them, just random mentions of "the fool" and "the lovers" as examples. Which are the others?

Is there any good list online somewhere that I have missed in all my Googling?


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Jonathan Walton on July 16, 2011, 11:07:37 AM
Especially in his Italian comedies, Shakespeare draws heavily on the commedia dell'arte (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commedia_dell%27arte) tradition, which you also see in, for example, certain comedic operas (Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte, Barber of Seville, etc.).  I'm sure there are some articles on Shakespeare's use of commedia-style stock characters on the internet.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 17, 2011, 12:32:36 AM
Oh!  Thanks, then I'll use those.

My game looks more and more like  Montsegur 1244, but happy. I don't mind, I quite like Montsegur 1244. Making all those cards is a chore though.  I think I'll recycle the templates from when we translated Love in the Time of Seid to Swedish, that should save some time.

Now I have to come up with thirty or so "events" or "places" that would fit into Shakespearian comedy.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 17, 2011, 02:28:49 AM
One visit to Project Gutenberg and a little creative use of "grep" and I have a list of locations from the Bard's plays. You'd be surprised how many acts that take place in a palace or another, or on the street.  But that is good, I imagine such locations will be found in Verona as well.

Time to make the base for the characters.  I haven't decided if I want completely pregen characters like in Montsegur 1244, or more open pregens like in Zombie Cinema.  How much replay value do one really need in a Game Chef game?  It is rare that a single indie game comes upon my table more than three times.

Montsegur style characters would save time in the "prep" phase of the game, and yield fewer cards that need to be printed before play.  Also I can dictate the starting conditions of the story a bit.

Zombie Cinema style characters would take more time to prep before each session, and generate more cards. But it will allow for higher replay value, and a wider array of possible stories.

For both I will require some basic stuff like names, descriptions, relations and wants/desires/goals. 


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 17, 2011, 12:08:54 PM
Most of the rules text is down in print now, those who have played Montsegur 1244 will feel at home.

Remains to build all those characters. And turn them into cards.

Also, my SO has shown interest in the game.  Looks like she'll add support for playing unicorns in the game.  She reasoned along the lines of "If there could be fairies in a Midsummer Night's Dream, there could be Unicorns in your game". We'll see how that goes.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 18, 2011, 12:15:28 PM
I have dodged making all those characters.  First by searching the web for some pretty pictures to steal for a cover and interior art. Then by writing the setting chapter, it is four lines of text, but should cover what is needed.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Jason Petrasko on July 18, 2011, 12:55:33 PM
You do realize your generalized progress reports are like a seductive strip tease to game designers right? Show us a little more leg already!


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 18, 2011, 11:57:04 PM
Right.  The game will play very much like Montsegur 1244, except, in the end we don't have a pyre with all the PCs on it, but a wedding+feast with the PCs.  I focus strictly on comedies here, this will be a "nice" game.  Not the angst ridden, 18+ rated games I usually play. Cross play is the only "weird" element, if you are a girl who plays a heroine in disguise: you will be a girl playing a man (since all the actors are men, by tradition) dressed as a girl dressed as a man!  The game will be the Matroshka doll of cross play.

Of course there needs to be conflict and obstacles for the lovers to overcome, otherwise there would not be a story at all, but it should be along the lines of what we find in Shakespeare's comedies.

There's an element of troupe play by necessity.  At five players we have two pairs of lovers and a fool as main characters.  Then everyone also has one or two extra characters, these would be "blocker" characters, people who get in the way of the lovers, the heroine's father, other suitors (favoured by the father) etc, and servants, and people needed for secondary plot lines.

I steal stuff from the plays like they are written... When you want to put one of your characters into a scene you call out "Enter Romeo", this should reduce the confusion of who you're playing at the moment.

I will make a deck of Complications, stuff to inspire the players when they set scenes...  Stuff like "A Duel" or "Someone puts on a disguise".  The Complication deck will also double as a Location deck with good locations.

The players take turns setting scenes. Five(ish) scenes per act, five acts following the Elizabethan five act structure. There's a wedding in Act V. I'll post the setting when I get back to my other computer.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: fjj on July 19, 2011, 06:14:49 AM
I like the idea of a Montsegur 1244-style comedy :)

Tips for creating the cast of characters:

Include old and young people.
Include men and women.
Include authorities (fathers, judges, captains, priests).
Include family relations.

Draw out a relationship map. Each character must have relations to at least two others.

The wedding at the end:
Will each main character be married? Or perhaps the game is a "fight" of whoose marriage will be celebrated at the end?

Ideas for rules for making it a comedy:
At least one main character must get married. At most one main character may choose to escape on the night before the wedding? :)

/Frederik


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 19, 2011, 06:54:41 AM
The Truths
The story is a comedy, comedies end with a feast and marriages between the hero(s)
and heroine(s).

Anachronisms are to be expected. After all, no research was done.

Everyone dress in contemporary clothing, no matter where or when the story is set.

Heroines sometimes dress like men to hide their true identities.

All the roles are played by men. Heroines disguised as men are
therefore men dressed as women dressed as men.  This is hillarious.

Mistaken identities are hillarious.

Infedelity is hillarious, even if it is only implied.



Verona
The game is set in Verona. Not that it matters of course, it is the
anachronistic and unresearched Verona we're talking about. The city
may lay on the Adige like those who did some research claim.
But if you need it to it can lie on the coast or at the top of a
mountain. Say that it is a space station if it pleases you, it doesn't
matter. What matters are the Truths above.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 19, 2011, 07:19:35 AM
I like the idea of a Montsegur 1244-style comedy :)

Tips for creating the cast of characters:

Include old and young people.
Include men and women.
Include authorities (fathers, judges, captains, priests).
Include family relations.

Draw out a relationship map. Each character must have relations to at least two others.

Yes, I had something like that planned, with the relations written on the cards, like in Montsegur 1244.    But considering how much better Montsegur 1244 plays when you actually have the relation map in front of you I think I'll change to relations on a shared paper instead.

I want dynamic relations, so the game will be (more) different every time you play, but the time needed to draw the map should be well spent.

Quote
The wedding at the end:
Will each main character be married? Or perhaps the game is a "fight" of whoose marriage will be celebrated at the end?

Ideas for rules for making it a comedy:
At least one main character must get married. At most one main character may choose to escape on the night before the wedding? :)

/Frederik

Yes, all "lover"-class characters will be married, since it is to be expected. This is a happy game, I can't have any sulking characters that spoil the end credits party. The escape plot falls due to the same problem.

I wonder if the game needs a scarce resource like that to be interesting.  When we have played Montsegur  1244 there has never been a lack of people who throw themselves onto the pyre, so the rule that at least one must burn has not "come into play". Except as the expectation to guide play, perhaps the same holds for this game.  The expectation that there will be a wedding at the end is enough, you can spend the game trying to resolve who will marry who.

What do you think?


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 19, 2011, 08:56:44 AM
Woho!

I found loads of public domain renaissance portraits on wikimedia. My game will have actual art!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Renaissance_profile_portraits_of_men for example

Proof of concept cards, the same size as Magic cards. Print, cut and slip into card protectors and you're good to go.

(http://i55.tinypic.com/2rpwbj8.png)


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: fjj on July 19, 2011, 09:04:15 AM
Quote from: Wilper
I want dynamic relations, so the game will be (more) different every time you play, but the time needed to draw the map should be well spent.
One of the features of Montsegur 1244 I am very happy about is that the meaning/interpretation of an early scene can be changed by a later scene ("ah - so that was why Pierre-Roger reacted like that!"). I think this can happen because there is no shared brainstorming first, where motivations and relations are agreed between the players. I find it much more rewarding to discover these in scenes. With a mix of fixed and potential relations, there is plenty of replay value as not all relations play out the same each time - and as not all relations come into play.

Quote from: Wilper
Yes, all "lover"-class characters will be married, since it is to be expected. This is a happy game, I can't have any sulking characters that spoil the end credits party. The escape plot falls due to the same problem.
I find it more interesting to allow other endings than "everybody gets married" - even though this is not entirely true to the comedy formula.

Five(ish) scenes per act, five acts following the Elizabethan five act structure. There's a wedding in Act V.
25 scenes may be a bit long for a comedy - and also you will need to create a lot of cards ;)

PS: This is your game so please do what works for you - above comments reflect my personal preferences ;)


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 19, 2011, 09:18:40 AM
Shame I won't be done in time to playtest before the deadline. :-)

I still think that the players will be rather free to explore and do as they please, even if it ends in a wedding.  Everyone will play 2-3 characters each, and it is only the fates of 4 of those that are predetermined.

25 scenes, yes, it might be a bit too much. I don't think this game would give enough support for most groups to play 5-6 hours and have fun (unless they LARP everything*).  But a 3 hour game should be fine. With 20-30 minutes lost in the beginning you get about 15 scenes without rushing things.  I have added a bit about "It's OK to not set a scene in an Act if you don't have any cool ideas." Perhaps I should expand it a bit with "... or are in a hurry".  Due to the fixed structure it is easy to judge how much time is left of the story, compare that with the time left of the time slot and start skipping scenes if needed.

* Earlier today I thought about turning the whole thing into a LARP, get some nice aprons to give to players when they play female roles, and scarves/ties/belts or something to give to the male roles.  Since there are no "resolution mechanics" to worry about it would work rather well I think. But it would make the game a lot slower, as we have noticed when we have LARPed the consolamentum scenes in Montsegur 1244.




Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 20, 2011, 11:07:30 AM
Today I have gathered the portraits for the characters.  I will have to crop and resize a bit, but I have the raw materials at least.

And I have thought a lot about the characters. how much to say about them, and how much to leave to the players.

I think I may have found a cover illustration as well, if I am to build a booklet of the rules.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lorenzo_Costa_003.jpg


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: fjj on July 20, 2011, 10:57:18 PM
I have thought a lot about the characters.
Tell us more! Can you show examples of which options you are considering?

Looking for front page art sounds like procrastination to avoid addressing some central design issues :)


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 20, 2011, 11:39:13 PM
I wasn't searching for the front cover as such, more like I stumbled across it when I got the character illustrations.  But I am guilty of avoiding design issues, I sat most of the evening yesterday testing various layouts of the character cards. :-)

Anyway.  The characters in Shakespeare's plays (at least the comedies, I have not investigated his other stuff), are not that deep.  They have a name, maybe one or two things they want (love, fame, wealth, a good laugh, whatever) and relations to other characters (the daughter of X, lover of Y), but no history.  They are defined by their actions in the play.

If we compare with the characters in Montsegur 1244, we see that those characters also have a background that matters, the characters are defined by the answers that the story gives to the questions on the character sheets.

For my game.  Is it enough to have a name, a picture, and a few relations to the other characters?  Will that still work in play? Will players get good stories?  Or do I need to give them desires and needs, background and fate?

I have a scene card analogy in my game.  The Montsegur 1244 cards are rather explicit in the way they avoid directing the story (A dead horse. Rotten food. Pretty flowers on a meadow.), and they don't need to direct the story. The PCs have agendas and backgrounds that give them direction.  But in TDoV the cards are actively directing the story (A letter arrives. Someone dresses like a man.), is that enough to get the story going and engage the players?

I could take a game with in the form of a single sheet of paper that has the single word "BOB" on it, slap it down in front of the crowd I usually play with, and they would make it work and play an awesome story. No matter what I do about the matter will they have fun with TDoV no matter what info I give them or withhold.  But for J Random Indiegamer would he grook it?  Would it be fun?  Which would be the best?

If trad gamers, or even board gamers, found the game and were intrigued by it. What would they need to get good stories?

The likely audience is experienced Indiegamers, who would be introduced to the game by a real enthusiast who found it on the web after hearing chitchat on StoryGames. Or guests to the Indie Gaming Lounge, who would be guided through the experience by one of the "BOB"-players. But I'd still like the game to be playable by people who don't have the experience of many other "similar" games.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: fjj on July 21, 2011, 02:00:45 AM
Is it enough to have a name, a picture, and a few relations to the other characters? ... Or do I need to give them desires and needs, background and fate?
Giving each a desire, need or hope is a very efficient driver and it will help engage the players.

The Montsegur 1244 cards are rather explicit in the way they avoid directing the story (A dead horse. Rotten food. Pretty flowers on a meadow.), and they don't need to direct the story.

But in TDoV the cards are actively directing the story (A letter arrives. Someone dresses like a man.), is that enough to get the story going and engage the players?
The scene cards in Montsegur 1244 all contain a sense impression. Their main purpose is to bring details into the story (colour, depth). The cards you describe are more like story cards in Montsegur 1244. For a comedy, forcing the players to bring scene twists into the story sounds fun - but it will be a different economy than in Montsegur 1244. What about drawing them after each scene instead - and state that to play them as an interrupt, the element on the card must appear in the scene? Thus each player will have a secret hand to spring surprises from - and they must find creative uses for the cards they have in order to take control of a scene.

..."BOB" ...
What would you need if you play with a group of open minded players with whom you have not played before and where none of you are game master? How can you help the group creating a story that is motivating and engaging for all present? Where each player can bring their story juice to the table?

Finally:
Can you share some more details on the structure of the 5 acts? Will there be an overall story arc to direct the players?


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 21, 2011, 02:29:32 AM
Is it enough to have a name, a picture, and a few relations to the other characters? ... Or do I need to give them desires and needs, background and fate?
Giving each a desire, need or hope is a very efficient driver and it will help engage the players.

Yes, I think so too.  I'll just have to find how much I need to diverge from the source material to make a fun game.

The Montsegur 1244 cards are rather explicit in the way they avoid directing the story (A dead horse. Rotten food. Pretty flowers on a meadow.), and they don't need to direct the story.

But in TDoV the cards are actively directing the story (A letter arrives. Someone dresses like a man.), is that enough to get the story going and engage the players?
The scene cards in Montsegur 1244 all contain a sense impression. Their main purpose is to bring details into the story (colour, depth). The cards you describe are more like story cards in Montsegur 1244. For a comedy, forcing the players to bring scene twists into the story sounds fun - but it will be a different economy than in Montsegur 1244. What about drawing them after each scene instead - and state that to play them as an interrupt, the element on the card must appear in the scene? Thus each player will have a secret hand to spring surprises from - and they must find creative uses for the cards they have in order to take control of a scene.

Yes, it will be different. I hadn't planned on making a Montsegur 1244 clone. It just happened by itself when I had begun I started drifting in that direction. :-)  I don't know if I want Montsegur 1244 style scene cards. They were awesome for that game. But I imagine that TDoV will be played in various "settings", historical, present day romance or even Sci Fi. It will be harder to build decks that are generic enough to suit that, and I want to support that kind of play (One of the better games of 1001 Nights we played took place on a huge space ship, with an insane captain, and everyone were aliens made of liquid glass.).


..."BOB" ...
What would you need if you play with a group of open minded players with whom you have not played before and where none of you are game master? How can you help the group creating a story that is motivating and engaging for all present? Where each player can bring their story juice to the table?

It would be storyjamming.

The BOB example might have been unfortunate. I'm just saying that I'm constantly torn between two different visions of how the game plays. First the one where the usual bunch of players gather, and then when a group of players with different backgrounds and agendas will do the same.  I don't mind if they get a different experience, but it should still be a good experience.

Finally:
Can you share some more details on the structure of the 5 acts? Will there be an overall story arc to direct the players?

The 5 acts will be very generic. The only given things are that there are lovers, obstacles to their love, and that there will be weddings and a feast in the end of Act V.  I'll try to add some advice on what kind of stuff that would be appropriate in each act. But I'd like to avoid actual examples, to leave the field as open as possible.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 21, 2011, 12:13:48 PM
(http://i53.tinypic.com/5o57d2.png)

I cropped and resized all the pictures of women for the character cards. And wrote the last of the absolutely necessary rules.  Now the game can be played, but I think it could be greatly polished.  Especially the section on what should happen during the five acts.  I have studied the five act structure on wikipedia, but I think I'll need to dig deeper before I can write a very meaningful section on it for the rules.

Not counting the cards I have used 1300 words in the rules this far.


Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on July 22, 2011, 12:33:52 PM
Two more days to polish the game.  But I have a playable draft, complete with cards if anyone cares to have a look.

http://www.ludd.ltu.se/~wilper/gamechef2011/
 (http://www.ludd.ltu.se/~wilper/gamechef2011/)

My todo list, order of priority high to low.

* As for the characters, I'll take 15 of them and build a play set with prepared relations and stuff. To use if you only ever intend to play once, or as a tutorial game. This will in essence be a Shakespearean style comedy, it can't take more than an hour to whip up one of those, can it?

* I'll make card backs, for those that want them. I will just print my own decks and dump into card sleeves with opaque backs.

* I'd like 7 more Scene cards, to make a full 4 pages worth. Suggestions for events and location both are welcome.

* Tidy up layout a bit.

* I'll add funny quotes on the rest of the Scene cards. It is trivial to hide the ones that are there already if I want a uniform look.



Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Paul B on July 29, 2011, 07:56:53 AM
Per my offer over on S-G to trade feedback, here's my notes on Daughters of Verona:

Like that you’ve selected some Shakespearean tropes to help guide expectations. Good call; nobody else did this and I feel like that’s important if you’re going for a Shakespearean simulation.

A thought on the stock comedy characters: It seems to me that every one of these characters exist only because of their relationship to one another. Lover A exists only because he is in love with Lover B. A Blocker exists only to block. A Fool needs a person of power to foil. It’s just something that jumped out at me early – maybe what you need is not stock characters, but stock relationships (and the players fill in either end of the relationship with their characters). Perhaps there are enough characters drawn in setup that one needs not worry about a Fool without a foil, or a Lover without a match? I’ll bet you could provide a tiny bit more structure to the relationship setup early on.

The scene/location deck is very efficient and clever.

Whoa wait…I just hit the end of the file. That was it?

Okay. So Daughters of Verona reads to me more like a Shakespeare Generator than a game as I understand it. Actually I really wish I’d had a randomizing table during my own IGC effort, because the tropes, the characters, the “typical scenes” breakdowns are interesting and thoughtful. However, I feel like there needs to be something more than the (very lightly) guided creative exercise presented – but that’s maybe just my own biases showing! If that was the intent of the design, then I think it’s pretty tight and probably as “complete” as it needs to be. I’d recommend someone take on a facilitator-type role to make sure everyone progresses through the exercise and scenes are somewhat vetted for appropriateness.

That said, if you’re going for a game that has some of the uncertainty and tension you get from a game experience, some ideas:
  • Maybe build some small little procedural pushes into the scene/location cards? Only noble characters can appear in palaces. Only lovers can meet under a tree. At the end of a Duel, at least one character must end the scene grievously wounded. Stuff like that.
  • Maybe everyone gets a secret scene/location card? Maybe one at the top of each Act? If there’s something procedural or even mechanical baked into the card, then players can’t be 100% assured of what will actually happen in play.
  • Maybe build something into the relationships: Any connected Lovers appearing in the same scene get a draw off the deck, say. A Fool gets a draw when he’s in the same scene as his master (but not the master!). Powerful characters can veto any played secret card, or acts as facilitator. Stuff like that.

I’m thinking anything mechanical added to the scene card thing would ideally prompt a major change state in the game: A Lover must make a major revelation (introduce some heretofore undiscussed fact, or draw a new line on the r-map, or whatever). A Powerful character loses his power, or pick another character onto which to transfer power.  Stuff like that.

Just riffing here. I think what I’m looking for is procedural or mechanical constructs that help frame up those scenes with more direction, rather than relying entirely on the players, who may have not much more than the tropes to work with. That said, I’m not persuaded you need a real “resolution” system as long as you lay out how each Act is supposed to end – let the players figure out how the Lovers’ situation is complicated, but here’s some requirements and surprises you have to work within.



Title: Re: [Game Chef 2011] The Daughters of Verona
Post by: Wilper on August 01, 2011, 09:43:18 PM
I continue the development of my game here: http://wilper.wordpress.com/the-daughters-of-verona/