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Author Topic: [Legends of Lanasia] Destiny Points  (Read 1889 times)
dindenver
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« on: December 29, 2010, 09:37:58 AM »

So,
  This is the most significant non-conflict mechanic in my new fantasy game Legends of Lanasia.
  Destiny Points are designed to be the players' reward for good play.
  This is defined as:
 - Engaging in the GM's contributions
 - Entertaining the group
 - Contributing to the story being told at the table.
  I have very specific ideas of what these look like, but for the purposes of brevity, I will keep it short and sweet.
  So, the Destiny Points do not have a direct mechanical effect (you cannot spend them to alter a die roll or re-roll or anything like that).
  Their only use is for the player to ask for their reward in the form of story currency. The list of uses is as follows:
1) Introduce an event to the story
2) Introduce a plot twist
3) Introduce a sub-plot
4) Introduce a new NPC
5) Introduce a relationship with an existing NPC
6) Introduce a sub-quest
7) Introduce am item to the scene (this might be a magic sword, pile of gold or something more important to the PC like their mother's locket).

  It is important to understand that once the Destiny Point is spent, something in the game will change. And the player spending it should determine what that change is.
  I am going to let players besides the GM and the player spending the Destiny Point to veto, but only on two conditions:
1) Genre conventions (like, maybe they can find a golem instead of a robot)
2) Disruptive (the sub-quest takes them halfway across the world when there is a lot happening locally already)
  Once that is out of the way, there are two pairs of questions that need to be answered:
1) "How big is the change?" or "How much effort does the character still need to exert?"
  So, the player has to be able to answer one of these questions, Then the other is answered automatically based on their answer. So, if the change they want is earth shattering, then the player will have to spend a monumental amount of effort.
2) "What is the Mechanical effect?" or "How much effort has the character exerted?"
  Again, the player answers one and the other is answered automatically. If the character already put a lot of effort to achieve this change, then the mechanical impact should be big as well..

So, to break this down to a step-by-step procedure, this is how it goes:
1) What type of change?
2) What is the change?
3) Exerted/Size? (questions 1 above)
4) Effort/Mechanics (questions 2 above)
5) Agreement (the players all think it is fun/fair and it is incorporated inot the story being told at the table)

  So, what do you guys think, does this look fair and/or fun?
Dave M
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Chris_Chinn
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Posts: 280


« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2010, 10:31:04 AM »

Hi Dave,

This is definitely a workable idea. 

If you get a chance, you may want to look at Houses of the Blooded or FATE.  FATE uses fate points spent in a similar manner, except without the formalized "what does it do, exactly" process.  HOTB is a bit more specific, in that points are earned in a similar manner to what you're outlining, but more importantly, the game reinforces the idea of how they're to be earned and used, which I think will be crucial.

Given that Destiny points, here, are used for the right to "ask" for a change, you'll want it to be clear for both the players and the GM of what is an expected level of change and an expected level of cost/effort in return.   

You don't want players spending points to "cut the earth in half" all the time, and you don't want GM's stonewalling reasonable requests ("I have a friend in this town" "But only if you spend 10 years looking for him! LOL!").  It might be good to list some things as guaranteed requests that don't require massive GM vetoing, at least.

The other thing to look for as you're playtesting, is if players actually DO go through the effort of earning these points- since the points don't have a specific and definite reward, but rather, the opportunity for a reward, some players might just avoid dealing with it altogether.

Chris
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dindenver
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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2010, 11:20:28 AM »

Chris,
  In previous playtests, that was the case. Some players had a sort of creative block and didn't want to engage it. Others used it and enjoyed it. I think the issues with the previous edition was that the rules were more loosey-goosey and less precise. It sort of trusted the players and GM to know what I meant. In the new version, I will be ratcheting down the description of the  mechanic so that more people will have the same expectation.
  The main hitch I think will be item-related. That is part of why I wanted to tie effort to mechanical effect. If they want a sword that can cut the world in half, then they better have earned it.
 I was going to do a fancy point-based system, but I like the linked questions much better. Also, each question will only have three possible answers:
Example
"How much effort has the character exerted to accomplish this change (even retroactively)?"
a) No effort the character has exerted in this or previous scenes can be linked to this change
b) Some effort from this or previous scenes is related, but it doesn't seem like the character could have accomplished this yet
c) All the steps necessary to accomplish this change have already been narrated in this and previous scenes.
  So, when they answer this, then the following question gets answered automatically
"What is the Mechanical effect?"
a) Small mechanical effect (+1 if the conditions are right)
b) Moderate Mechanical Effect (the item provides luck points equal to your Destiny Points per day)
c) Large mechanical effect (The item turns one luck point spent into a number equal to your Destiny Points).
  And, if they want to run it the other way (answer the mechanical effect question), then they just have to justify the effort already spent requirement of the other linked question.

  It is not perfect, but if the rules are written well, it should help players come to the same conclusions regarding what they want for their character as rewards for good play.

  Thanks for taking a look at this, I really appreciate it.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Dan Maruschak
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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2010, 12:38:27 PM »

So you've got a mechanic for players to get what they want: they spend destiny points and they get it (with caveats, apparently).
You've also got a mechanic for players to get what they want: they make it the stakes of a conflict and win.
How do these two systems interact?
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dindenver
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2010, 01:00:08 PM »

Dan,
  Good question.
  Well, in truth they don't directly interact. Setting stakes is about what are you fighting for. Destiny Points is about "You won, what should your character get as a reward (more story, more loot, more trouble, whatever you like)?"

  Also, Destiny Points work if no one is trying to stop you from getting it, Stakes (which are part of the conflict mechanics) only work if someone is trying to stop you from getting it.

  To put it another way, the idea behind Destiny Points is to say "After a big adventure, it is important to me that my character earns X." For you, it may be a plot twist, for me it might be a cool sword, for Chris it might be a cool castle. This is a reward, but it is customizable to what the player wants.

  Whereas, Stakes are designed to be the logical outcome of a clash of interests. In other words, the Conflict mechanics separate, "I am arguing with this NPC because they acted like a jerk to me" from "I am arguing with this PC in order to recruit them to my side of the war." One would be role playing with little or no mechanics, the other would be a conflict.
  Now, the alliance might be able to be accomplished with a Destiny Point, but if that were the case, it would be defined what the character had to do to win over the NPC, not how badass the guy stopping him from joining your side was.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Chris_Chinn
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Posts: 280


« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2010, 01:08:52 PM »

Hi Dave,

Let's say a PC and an NPC are having a duel on a rope bridge, and the PC is losing.  The player wants to spend a Destiny point to introduce an event- "The bridge breaks, and we're fighting while hanging from the bridge!" - in part for fun, in part for possibly being at a better advantage ("I've got a good climbing skill!" or whatever).

Is this a legal use of Destiny Points?  More importantly, is it a -good- use (as far as what you're intending as a designer)?   And, what mechanically should the GM use to judge how that effects the situation?  Would it use the a/b/c options you've laid out, GM decided modifiers, or something else?

The actual specific answers aren't important here, in this thread, but important for you to be able to communicate in your game.  Although more specific rules might help your playtesters and future players, maybe being very clear about the spirit of Destiny Points, and "best practices" for their use might be the way to go.  (Houses of the Blooded does this very well).

Edited in after preview:
Also, are Destiny Points not designed to be used IN a conflict?

Chris
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dindenver
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2010, 01:44:55 PM »

Chris,
  Well, Destiny Points are independent of the Conflict system.

An example that happened in playtesting was:
The players decided to rob a gambling house. One group distracted the owner while another snuck in back and took out the guards.
Then they rolled a barrel full of coins out the back.
Now, the barrel full of coins happened to be the stakes for the fight with the guards.
So, the way this should be handled is that the coins should have been of a moderate value (mostly silver and copper).
Then, the players could have spent Destiny Points to do the following:
 - Upgrade the copper to gold
 - Add gem(s) to the mix
 - Add a magic item to the mix (maybe someone pawned it on a bad bet?)
 - Add an NPC (bounty hunter hired by the owner maybe?)
 - Add a relationship with an existing NPC (rivalry with the owner maybe?)
 - Add a plot twist (its mob money!)
 - Add a sub-plot (how do we launder a barrel full of coins?)
 - Add a sub-quest (there's a map inside, where does it lead?)
 - Add an event (the city guard pops ny and ask what in the barrel?)
  Or anything like that a player might want to see in the game.

As to your example. Honestly, that is an awesome use of Destiny Points (although if I was the GM, I would probably just use it without any cost in resources to the PC). Yeah, you can then use the questions to figure out if there is a mechanical bonus to the situation and if the character has to actually cut a rope or if it crumbles of its own accord, etc.

Does that make sense, does it answer your questions?
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2010, 03:10:30 PM »

Hi Dave,

I'm not totally clear, but that's ok.  I just wanted to highlight some things you'll need to be clear on in your game for people to play:

1.  Is spending Destiny in the middle of a conflict possible?
2.  How does a play group translate those facts into effects in play?
3.  What's the "ideal"/best practices/spirit of the law idea that people should be pursuing?

You may also want to check out Clinton R. Nixon's Donjon, as the entire game is based around players creating "facts" based on successful rolls- including using their facts to describe what treasure is in a chest.

Chris
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dindenver
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 03:41:48 PM »

Chris,
  Sorry about the confusion. Of course it is clear in my mind, but I am still figuring out how to decode it for general consumption.
1) Yes, it is possible. It is not the way it is designed, but it doesn't break anything either.
2) Once everyone agrees what the expenditure of the point means, then the GM is expected to play it out over at least one scene (many scenes for some of the more epic rewards). This part is hard to put together as "Do A, then B, then C" because I don't know the particulars of each expenditure. As you can see from the choices the players could make though, there should be a lot of guidance as to how the future scenes would go down by the time it is done.
3) So, the ideal of the mechanic is that in the mind of the players, what makes playing their characters more fun. For instance, Lawrence in our Thursday night group loves to see his character in jeopardy. I imagine he might use Destiny Points to introduce plot twists that get his character into all kinds of complications. While Nate in the same group is all about character growth, so he might use Destiny Points to create sub-plots and sub-quests that makes his character grow. The point is, there is no way for a GM to know what the players want for their characters, but this is a tool for the players to say, "Hey! My character has been striving and he should be getting X by now." And it gives guidelines for the GM to incorporate that into the game in a way that is reasonable.

  Essentially, I started thinking about this mechanic when I got heavy into playing Supers RPGs (mostly DC Heroes) and I noticed that the PCs never really got loot, they got more story for their reward. And it made me wonder, how do I satisfy both players (the ones that want loot and the ones that want story). This is my answer to that question.

  Does that help at all?
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
masqueradeball
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2010, 08:51:11 PM »

I haven't read the demo so this might already be outlined, but when and why do players gain destiny points?
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dindenver
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2010, 07:36:48 AM »

I had posted it in my OP, to summarize:
 - Engaging in the GM's contributions
 - Entertaining the group
 - Contributing to the story being told at the table.
  This should be something you get about once per session. Basically, I want to reward people that take into account the entire group at the table by letting them choose their own reward. some specific examples would be Chris' Bridge breaks example. Instead of costing a Destiny Point, that would earn you one (under the Contributing to the story being told at the table heading).
  The Demo is out of date, I am about to post an updated version that people can playtest, but I am not there yet.
  Thanks for checking, I really appreciate it.
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Dave M
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Free Demo
masqueradeball
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2010, 02:50:02 PM »

Have you played games before that had these kind of GM awarded brownie points? If so, how did they work for you?
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dindenver
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2010, 04:54:48 PM »

Nolan,
  The original Lanasia had this same reward structure.
  As Chris pointed out, some people shied away it due to creative block/confidence.
  Others used it to get what they wanted for their character.

  Typically, there is a one or two session warm up phase, then people are able to engage it enthusiastically.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
masqueradeball
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2010, 05:04:07 PM »

I just ask because I've had a lot of problems with these kinds of rewards in the past. Its not that there's any problem with them per se, but rewarding people for expected behavior (i.e. everyone SHOULD be getting one per session) can often act as a counter-incentive. Of course, if you have first hand experience and it works for you, then thats awesome. I would just be careful in your game text to make it very clear how to award these points and how to earn them and how to make this a fun part of play.
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dindenver
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2010, 08:11:06 PM »

Nolan,
  Yeah, the original text had good guidelines, the new version will be more specific, yes.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
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