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Author Topic: Genre Selection [Opus System]  (Read 1139 times)
Paul DuPont
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Posts: 8


« on: January 21, 2011, 10:56:23 AM »

Opus (my 'universal' system) is designed so players can cooperatively decide on the story themes and style of game play at the beginning. This part of the system uses a wagering mechanic (points wagered add dice to a contested roll between player). The loser of a die roll gets more points, giving him more power over the next roll he wagers on. I am pleased with the mechanics but am less certain about the categories. For starters, I want to give lots of options but keep it flowing as a conversation (hence the questions in bold). Also, I need to keep it going with enough 'stages' that players who 'loose' initial rolls get to 'win' the latter rolls (from the dice they won).

There are four categories and each has one or more questions to guide the decision process as well as some examples. I pulled out the descriptive text from the examples/suggestions, but I am sure you guys get the idea. My goals for this include simplicity (easy and intuitive no matter the players background) and speed (I want them to create a setting in as little as 10 minutes once they get the hang of it). How can I alter the following to better accomplish my goals?

Here are the categories and leading questions.

NARRATIVE STYLE
This is the general "feel" of the story, and the kind of emotional response you want the players to feel throughout it and afterwards. Includes the pace (speed and rhythm) of the story.
How will the audience/players feel and react?
-Adventure, Suspense, Humour, Horror, Drama, Melodrama, Tragedy

MOOD
This represents the typical emotional dynamics of the story's protagonists.
How do the characters act and feel?
-Heroes, Anti-Heroes , Intrigue, Romance, Fellowship, Vendetta, Fish Out of Water

PLOT
This represents the scope, organization and development of the plot and its twists and turns.
What is your goal? How do you achieve it?
-Epic Mystery, Intrigue, Redemption, Intimate, Journey

SETTING
This is the backdrop against which the story happens
When and where does the story take place? (Scenes)
-World (Earth, Mythical Locations, Alternate Realities)
-Timeline (Mythic, Historical, Modern, Futuristic)
-Culture (Local, Global, Transient)
Who do they meet? How do they interact with them? (NPCs)
-Social (Family and Friends, Fame and Popularity, Cloak and Dagger)
-Combat (Barroom Brawl, Battlefield Survival, Martial Arts Action)
-Creatures (Animals, Fairies, Monsters)
-Faith and Miracles (Spirits, Sacred Places, Divine Intervention)
What they might use? (Items)
-Gadgets (Cutting Edge, Steam Punk, Science Fiction)
-Magic (Items, Spells, Places of Power)
-Super Powers (Qualities, Abilities, Point-based Abilities)



Here are some of the system documents:
Opus Core Rules (20-some pages)
Character Sheet (one page)
Rule Reference (one page)
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Paul DuPont
Chronic Thinker and RPG Designer
Live as if Enchanted!
Paul DuPont
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2011, 11:02:46 AM »

Oops, here are the active links for my system docs...

Opus Core Rules (20-some pages)
Character Sheet (one page)
Rule Reference (one page)

I apologize but the wagering mechanics are not included yet
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Paul DuPont
Chronic Thinker and RPG Designer
Live as if Enchanted!
whoknowswhynot
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 04:37:57 AM »

Just to make sure I understand, the players start out by choosing the background AND the adventure entirely by answering questions?  If so, I may be able to offer some assistance.  I started a board/roleplaying game where the players have to complete a random quest that is created with a fill-in-the-blanks sentence.  This may be an easier way to accomplish your goal: A sentence for the background and a sentence for the scenario.  Hope this helps.
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Paul DuPont
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 10:55:58 PM »

Just to make sure I understand, the players start out by choosing the background AND the adventure entirely by answering questions?  If so, I may be able to offer some assistance.  I started a board/roleplaying game where the players have to complete a random quest that is created with a fill-in-the-blanks sentence.  This may be an easier way to accomplish your goal: A sentence for the background and a sentence for the scenario.  Hope this helps.

That is pretty much the result I am looking for at the end, I was thinking they would have a sheet of paper (adventure/story sheet compared to a character sheet) and they would slowly write down declarations in several places. Then they would sumarize it in a short blurb at the top as the 'main' theme of the story.

What type(s) of sentences did you use? Does the game have a specific focus (like fantasy or thriller)?
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Paul DuPont
Chronic Thinker and RPG Designer
Live as if Enchanted!
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 04:51:44 PM »

Hi Paul,

I think I see two primary concepts at the core of your game, but which are presented kind of mysteriously in the current draft. In my own experience, I find that this occurs when I, the author, have a 100% rock-solid understanding of what I mean, and it doesn't even really occur to me to explain it because I get it so well. It seems perfectly clear to me when I read my own manuscript, because I'm effectively reading notes to myself. But those notes to myself are not instructions that are useful to someone else.

Theme
It all really comes down to what "theme" means in practical terms, for your game. In your examples, a theme is described by a single noun, but that doesn't tell me how it's used as a game feature. I get that whatever it is should be expressed in play somehow ... but the two ways how that I can think of are pretty different.

Is it a gold standard for the sorts of things we want to see happen? Or is it a question raised to be addressed during the course of play?

I'll try to show what I mean with an example from the text, Faith. Let's say we are talking about a gritty, street level setting, very urban, with characters who try to fight for justice, some of whom are on different sides of the law. Let's say that one of the main features of our setting is a run-down but still functioning neighborhood church.

So ... are the events and outcomes of play supposed to confirm Faith, or is Faith a source of questions with no pre-determined answer? When playing my character, do I get an Insight point for confirming how important and central faith is to human affairs, or, for instance, for spitting on it and striving to succeed without it? Or to be as clear as possible, given that the former is fine, the question is whether the latter is good for an Insight point too.

Narration
"Narrative control" is a terribly problematic phrase which is generally been abandoned at the Forge (although you can see someone struggling in its coils in a current thread). A few years ago I presented an alternate set of terms which has been very helpful and effective, which we can discuss if you'd like.

Right now, though, I'll stick to specifics: the relationship of dice outcomes to stated actions prior to the roll. Or, if I say, "I punch the son of a bitch," and I roll and get one or more successes, does that right there mean that he gets punched? Or do I have to spend a success for it? Or, perhaps, am I required to say that he gets punched, and to spend one of those successes on that?

It's a little tricky to be sure from your text, but at one point, as you describe it, the dice do say yea or nay regarding the attempted action, and presumably at least one of the successes is used to establish the "yea." So, given a roll with some successes, can I abandon the attempted action and use all my successes for something else entirely? By your description, I'm inferring "no," but that is only an inference.

So what I'm asking is, what is the practical meaning when you describe Effects as "for that action"?

Best, Ron
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Paul DuPont
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2011, 12:32:17 PM »

Thanks for the wonderful feedback Ron! I wish I had more posts like this.

Firstly, while I am sure that providing examples is a must and will clarify explanations, I am striving to have the basic explanations be as clear and precise as possible so that examples will flow with the rest of the text. I had not really thought of any particular concepts which needed to be explained. Certainly, the Themes are somewhat mysterious by value that the chapter dedicated to themes is being rewritten and was missing from the online document, as for narration, I would love to have a link to the thread about 'narrative control' terminology. Frankly, though, I doubt that that term would appear in the final script in any case, but I am sure it would be enlightening and the alternative terminology may prove useful.

Theme
Ideally, a theme would be a short blurb/phrase that represents the desired story that group wants to tell through the game. I also introduced the idea of character themes, though that is merely an aside and may be pulled from the basic game book.

"Is it a gold standard for the sorts of things we want to see happen? Or is it a question raised to be addressed during the course of play? "
The game takes the simple approach of looking at the themes more along the lines of a gold standard than a question to be brought up during play. However, if the theme (the short blurb) is about questioning an idea, than the gold standard is a question to be addressed during play. So the answer is that it is both, but many gamers will probably restrict themselves to the first.

"I'll try to show what I mean with an example from the text, Faith. Let's say we are talking about a gritty, street level setting, very urban, with characters who try to fight for justice, some of whom are on different sides of the law. Let's say that one of the main features of our setting is a run-down but still functioning neighborhood church.
So ... are the events and outcomes of play supposed to confirm Faith, or is Faith a source of questions with no pre-determined answer? When playing my character, do I get an Insight point for confirming how important and central faith is to human affairs, or, for instance, for spitting on it and striving to succeed without it? Or to be as clear as possible, given that the former is fine, the question is whether the latter is good for an Insight point too.
"

As with any gaming group, I think it would really be a preference of the gaming group; however, the idea is to have this clarified when the stories theme is created. If the theme was "Humans fighting evil forces and overcoming through the power of faith" than a character who questions their faith is in line with the theme; however, a character who rejects their faith completely would fall out of the theme. Of course, if the group really likes the twist in the story, they are free to revise the theme (as a group with everyone on-board). They may want to include the idea of redemption into the theme, in that instance.

Narration
"The relationship of dice outcomes to stated actions prior to the roll. Or, if I say, "I punch the son of a bitch," and I roll and get one or more successes, does that right there mean that he gets punched? Or do I have to spend a success for it? Or, perhaps, am I required to say that he gets punched, and to spend one of those successes on that?

It's a little tricky to be sure from your text, but at one point, as you describe it, the dice do say yea or nay regarding the attempted action, and presumably at least one of the successes is used to establish the "yea." So, given a roll with some successes, can I abandon the attempted action and use all my successes for something else entirely? By your description, I'm inferring "no," but that is only an inference."


Nice to know this was unclear. My thoughts were as follows: Player (Jeff) states an action for his character (Rambo) "I punch the son of a bitch." After agreeing what qualities and abilities apply to the act of 'punching' (a simple physical attack) a 'son of a bitch' (some emotional qualities may tie in there) the dice roll. If the result is no successes, then the Rambo's punch had no significant results. Did he miss? Did it just bounce off? That is up to the Narrator(GM) to decide. The point of the successes is to allow a player to decide consequences of their characters actions. If the Jeff had rolled three successes, he could have declared a black eye (moderate effect that diminishes the characters perceptions for this scene) and narrated the process of giving the opponent a black eye. "My fist slams down into the side of his face and his head swings back from the impact. As he stagers back to a fighting stance, his eye already shows swelling and a trickle of blood. That won't go away quick." The narrator may want to insert a slight modification, but the results can't be countermanded and the general narration should stick.

"So what I'm asking is, what is the practical meaning when you describe Effects as 'for that action'?"
If a character throws a punch, I roll dice and the successes I get can be spent on effects that would normally or at least plausibly result from a punch, within the style of the story of course. The player cannot declare a rip in the fabric of space time from a punch, nor could a character describe a wound on an opponent as a result of fixing a mechanical device.

Generally speaking though, successes are not to determine yea or nay so much as the results of an action and giving the player the opportunity to decide on those results within the bounds of the actions and the story.
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Paul DuPont
Chronic Thinker and RPG Designer
Live as if Enchanted!
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