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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 21 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [a greek adventure game] mercurial heroes (or should that be hermetic?)  (Read 1709 times)
Abkajud
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Posts: 285


« on: December 08, 2010, 08:08:55 PM »

[x-posted at Story Games]

Idea:
three kinds of traits - d4's for arete (skill), d6's for names (relationships/allies), and d8's for aegis (divine favor). you can have multiple dice in a given trait, and different die sizes will get mixed around into different kinds of traits. so, at character creation, you'll have only d4's in any arete traits you buy, but over time you might end up with d6's and d8's in your "spear and shield method" arete also.

you roll all traits together in a pool, whichever ones you have that fit the current conflict; highest single number wins. whichever trait produced that number dictates, roughly, how things turned out - if an aegis trait wins it for you, then Mount Olympus intervened.
if a name trait wins it, then either a teammate bailed you out, or you won 'cause You Love Her That Much, or you won because your father's blessing was true and genuine.
if an arete trait wins it for you, then your own skill alone was what won the day.

if both sides tie for highest, the conflict is a draw; you can try again when conditions change: time elapses, he turns his back on you and walks away, the guards buy your side of the story and leave, etc.

if you tie between two of your own dice, and they're from different kinds of traits (a name trait and an aegis trait both coming up "4"), you have to decide for yourself what it was that made things happen like they did.

A) if you WON the conflict, a tie on your own dice means you must take a die from one of the tied traits and move it to another.
again, if my father's good name and my devotion to artemis both produced a 4 in this conflict, i'd be choosing which one to attribute my victory to, and which one to say, "nah, didn't help". if i decide it was really artemis, and my father's blessing meant nothing, then i take a die from my "name: My Father" trait and put it in my "aegis: Artemis" trait. make sense?

now - if i give away a die from a name trait, like in the above example, then my relationship with that person has suffered. this will be played out in some fashion the next time we meet. if the name trait belongs to a teammate or fellow combatant, we can hash it out right then and there.
if i give away a die from an aegis trait, then i've received subtle, divine aid and refused to be thankful for it - the god will dispatch a messenger to resolve the matter, usually by demanding a quest from me as compensation.

if i give away a die from an arete trait, it is patently obvious that it was not my skill, but that of others, that saved the day - allies and enemies are going to be well aware of this fact.

B) if you LOST the conflict, a tie on your own dice means you have to decide whom to blame for your failure.
instead of moving dice from one trait to another, we're going to be setting them aside in some fashion. pick one of the tied traits, "blame" it for your failure (castigate it aloud, if you prefer), and set one of its dice aside.

if i set aside an aegis die, i now have a grudge against that god, his heroes, and his priesthood. i can only use this die when directly interacting with such entities. i can use the die again normally once i feel i have settled the bad blood between me and the deity, but i must have at least one related interaction with the god or his servitors in order to reach this point.

if i set aside a name die, i have a beef with whoever the die represented. just like setting aside an aegis die, i have to confront the person and hash out the problem - were their prayers insincere? were they going to let me die in that battle, and refuse me aid? etc. once i confront the problem, i can get the die back.

if i set aside an arete die, it just goes away. it's no good just blaming yourself, then, but you might not want to start shit with Zeus, or your father the king, or whatever.

ONE MORE THING: i can get new traits; aegis, name, and arete; by doing certain kinds of things to establish a connection between them and myself. if some kind of conflict generates the new trait, i can't use the new trait *in that conflict*.
- a meaningful bit of bonding or fractiousness between me and a new person can merit one die in a name trait with them
- making sincere prayers or giving offerings to a new god, for success in some venture, gives me one die in an aegis trait with that god
- attempting to solve a problem in a new way gives me one die in a related arete trait.

AND SO: you're moving dice around on occasion, stirring up strife with your allies and patron gods, and trying new angles or approaches gets you more dice TO move around.

i'm pondering possible sources of something like Fate Points, or whatever, to affect the dice rolls.

A CRITICISM: a friend of mine said this was inappropriate, as structured, for greek heroic tales - she said that the characters' personal skills were just not a big enough impact on play. it occurred to me to switch that around a bit, giving arete d6's instead and putting names or aegis-es in the d4 slot, but i haven't playtested at all yet, so we'll see how it feel when that happens.

thoughts? i want to know if any big holes jump out at you, if anything needs to be cleared up to make sense, etc.

[edit: it occurs to me that romans, and roman mystery cults, might make excellent fodder for this system]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2010, 05:16:17 PM »

Hiya,

This is why I discourage cross-posting. It's a fine Story Games thread topic and all kinds of problematic for the Forge.

The main thing is that you haven't begun a discussion. You've said, "Look at this! Any holes?" I don't know. No one can know. You have to orient us to what you even mean by a "hole." Do you mean any sort of announced action that can't be handled? Or any dice result that isn't accounted for in your summary? Or ...? Also, can you talk more about why this particular set of mechanics is supposed to work toward your game's expected thematic ends?

I also want to stress the new requirement for this forum. Provide a link to a summary we can go to off-site. It doesn't have to be the whole game. It might not even be anything more than what you posted above. But it has to exist in some place of yours, not merely be a bit of ether tossed into a forum.

The thing is, I love mechanics like this and would like to respond. Plus I am a big proponent of Nine Worlds, definitely the Greekest, and one of the most heroic-est games ever, so I want to get into that aspect of your project too. But work with me please; make this into a Forge thread.

Best, Ron
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Abkajud
Member

Posts: 285


« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2010, 09:19:42 PM »

Hey Ron,
I really appreciate your suggestions - it was kind of inconsiderate of me to just dump this post on the Forge.

That being said - -
Defining holes: I'm just going to ask that y'all ignore that request, actually - it was intended as a sort of "Hey! Please respond!" tagline, and I should know better than to think I really need to yell and wave my arms here. Forge folks sit down with you more readily, so to speak, *especially* if you're new. I needn't have worried.
For that matter, mechanically speaking, there are no holes, haha :) By that, I mean that I've pretty much covered how things work.

Thematic ends: I want this game to focus on the locus of control of ancient-world peoples, specifically their ideas about causality and existence. Having to specifically attribute events to some invisible being, or risk getting drowned at sea? That stuff's brilliant, angsty, gripping material for stories.
Hell, Greek myths are amazing. One of the coolest parts of old Greek myths is just how dark, passive-aggressive, and petty the gods can be - Jason of the Argonauts lives to a very old age, only to be crushed to death as an old, penniless beggar by the bow of the Argo, for god's sake. Brilliant.
I'm not really interested in exploring the actual tragic events of Greek mythology so much as I am about making players choose to stay on the gods' good side vs. actually taking some credit for their lot in life.
It's all about standing in the very, very long shadow of Mount Olympus, and deciding whether to get up and walk away, consequences and thunderclouds be damned. Whew.

As for an actual document, I am going to upload what little I have thus far to good old Mediafire, and put up a link. Here's the link: http://www.mediafire.com/?35vo5bqq7qf3i7u
It's actually not too paltry - it's just kind of disorganized. Apologies!

Thanks,
Zac
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 06:47:14 AM »

Hi Zac,

My apologies for not replying sooner. I still haven't been able to check the work out, but I will. In the meantime, I recommend getting to know Nine Worlds, to date the high-water for many things in RPG design, including Greekness.

Best, Ron
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Abkajud
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Posts: 285


« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2010, 08:40:11 PM »

No worries, Ron - thanks for the recommendation!
I'm working my way through Nine Worlds as we speak. There's some neat stuff in here!
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masqueradeball
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2010, 03:00:51 PM »

The one problem I have with what I've read is that if there's a god involved, and its pretty likely that there will be, its also most likely that divine intervention will be the thing that resolves the conflict. So, in the majority of conflicts, it won't be the character per se resolving the situation, but the gods, or another character... this seems, strange to me, but I might be missing the point.

My gut instinct is to reverse the dice, d8's for Arete, d6 for names and d4 for gods. That way, most conflicts will be resolves by a PC doing something, some will be where a friend steps in and rarely the gods will intervene.
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Abkajud
Member

Posts: 285


« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 07:52:09 AM »

Hey Nolan,
That sounds like a pretty solid suggestion. I want it to be relevant when one spurns a god or takes divine aid for granted, but you're probably right - why should I construct a scenario in which the protagonists aren't empowered in the fiction?

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