David Berg's game

Started by David Berg, September 16, 2010, 06:35:35 AM

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David Berg

Core mechanic idea: Secret tribunal.

1. Each player leaves the room, while the other players (in character) briefly discuss them.
- 1a) If they disobeyed the last vote, assign them a new adjective.
2. Each discussion produces one question for that person that must be voted on. Each player writes this down, but no one votes yet.
3. After each player's had their turn out of the room, every player votes (in character) on all the questions they have written down.
4. Questions & votes revealed.
5. Each player can either obey the majority, or not.
- 5a) Obeying gets you progress toward a skin that will serve you well in society, and the esteem/trust of the group, which can be spent/leveraged in future interactions.
- 5b) Disobeying primarily gets you whatever it is that you want right now, that's motivating you to disobey. It also gets you a step towards an identity. But it may not be the identity you want.

Identity, skins and society:

1. Generate backgrounds, relationships (including btwn PCs), characters.
2. You pick 3 adjectives for your character. You try to portray these as best you can.

Journey begins, pre-skin:
3. Pick 3 adjectives for who your character wants to be. Try to portray these as best you think your character is capable of doing.

Time to pick a skin:
4. First Secret Tribunal. Question is "Which skin should each character get?"
- other players secretly agree on 3 adjectives they choose for you
- they pick a corresponding beast to hunt & skin
- you present the 3 adjective for who you want to be, and the apt beast
- obey or disobey
5. Go for (just plain get?) the skin you picked. Skin comes with 3 adjectives.

1. Each time you obey a vote, your skin adjectives get one point of identity.
2. Each time you disobey a vote, the other players secretly give you one point of identity in an adjective of their choice.
3. Any adjective that gets 3 (4?) points becomes permanent. Your skin permanently acts to reflect it, either bonding with you if the adjective is one of its designated three, or peeling (one third?) away if it's another adjective.


So the optimal result is to get an identity that you like and a skin that matches it. This means that you'll be accepted into society for who you want to be, which you now are.

The second-best results are to (a) achieve the identity that you want, but have no skin to show for it, which pressages a healthy inner life but social complications, or (b) achieve a skin and be accepted for that image, but it isn't your ideal identity and you'll harbor deep frustrations throughout your life.

The bad result is to run out of time on your journey and come back confused. You have one or two thirds of a skin and/or identity. You are not an adult yet. You join the caste of those who are old enough to work but can only be trusted with the simplest responsibilities (which means most menial chores). You need to find another questing group that will accept you as a member despite your previous failure; it's a tough road ahead.


I'm having some difficulty imagining how all this will play, so if you see any obvious pitfalls to avoid or strengths to play up, please let me know!  I won't have time to playtest before contest's end.
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Frank Tarcikowski

Hi David, I'm afraid I don't understand it. Maybe some introduction and a bit of explanation would be helpful?

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English

David Berg

Sure!  The game scenario is a small group of youngsters (maybe 18 years old?) leaving civilization on a rite of passage into adulthood.  The rite of passage is a quest to travel through Strange Places, find and hunt animals whose skins you want to wear, and then return to society with those skins before a certain date.

The skins magically bond to you if you act in a way that's compatible with them, which means resembling some traits of the animal they came from.

Having a magically-bonded animal skin makes you physically tougher and also serves as a sign of adulthood and "who you are" in society.  Having human skin into advanced age (i.e., beyond 19 or so) labels you as something of an underachiever and social burden, and folks may expect you to wind up crazy & homeless.

The group of youngsters are friends -- you pick to go on the journey with your buddies from school/neighborhood.  The journey itself requires working together in the face of the many individual temptations out there in the surreal, fairy-like Strange Places, which are constantly promising one member power, riches, mates and enlightenment if they'll sacrifice the group's map or horses.  (This might be too simple; might need more nebulous group costs.)

Does that provide enough context for the procedures?  Or are the procedures themselves unclear?
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Frank Tarcikowski

Thanks for the explanation, I'm still not sure exactly how the game is going to play out but I think I get the basic idea. I quite like the theme though I'm not so sure about the "secret" part of the tribunal. Why make it secret? Why keep a player away from the most pivotal moment for his characters' story? Me personally, as a player, I would hate this. Why not make the player a "silent witness" to the tribunal?

How many tribunals will there be? What's going to happen beside the tribunal? Is it the only resolution mechanic or will there be others?

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English

David Berg

The purpose of having the discussed character leave is to create some space for uncensored discussion.  There's plenty of opportunity for respectful criticism elsewhere; I'd like to have one opportunity to see what the characters really think, with all the hyperbole and venting they might want to indulge in.  It can be cathartic and revealing.

So, I do want the character out of the room.  But that doesn't mean the player has to leave.  They can just be not in character.  "This discussion will be short, just stick your fingers in your ears for a few seconds" is a third option.  Seems like something I can (explicitly) leave up to the group, and something that might vary from discussion to discussion.

This is the only mechanic I've got.  The Strange Places have an intelligence and logic to them, and they aren't about challenging you climb or break stuff, they're about challenging you to choose.  So, if you want to open that big, stone door, then you do.  But if you've been presented with a tough choice, and want to get the best of both worlds by opening the stone door, then you can't.

"What else happens?" is a road trip through crazy places that the GM creates to try to evoke reactions from the characters.  A place that gets a reaction resolves into a Stranger who offers a choice.  At least, that's what I came up with last night.  What I want is an opportunity for some group roleplay to develop the characters and the vibes between them, and to lead into tribunals.

Thanks for the thoughts and questions!
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Frank Tarcikowski

Oh okay, so the secret tribunal is in-character? That's interesting, I didn't gather that. Looking forward to seeing the finished game! :-)

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English