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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 46 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: A game of monsters?  (Read 3406 times)

Posts: 7

« on: April 09, 2011, 06:26:32 AM »

I am in the process of developing a game and thought that it would be nice to get some feedback from other people who are interested in similar.

The links to the two files below are for Setting/ Base System, and Magic System details.  Though if you give them a look you’ll see they’re very rough at the moment, with many areas missing, or only briefly detailed.  I apologise for that and will attempt to list an overview here (though that too may be illegible as I’ve not put this information into typed words very well before).

In terms of setting colour; the game is heavily inspired by Wuxia and Manga/ Anime (and has been ‘infected’ somewhat by a series called Soul Eater, after just finishing watching it), with regards to how super-powered or weird people still posses human lives and dreams (whilst at the same time having overblown fight scenes and melodrama).  Or rather I should say ‘when its actually written properly it will be heavily inspired by...’

The games goals for play are that the characters can play various types of ‘monster’ creatures that live with, and alongside, humanity in the modern age (Modern Fantasy style of thing).  The idea is that the physical form of monsters is very resilient and ‘super-powered’ (or supernatural I guess), but they have a problem in that without connections to humanity, externally, then their own internal humanity eventually fall away and all that will be left is the pure form of Monster.  This means (for the player) the death of what makes their character their character (though pure monsters can be brought back), and is more of a threat to their existence than the potential for physical death as monsters are incredibly resilient.

To this end a lot of the focus is on their social aspects of their lives and how they relate to each other (players) and other monsters/ humans (npc’s).  Rather than use a sanity/ humanity track the idea is that a character doesn’t have to be nice, as such, they just need to act like a human (there’s no Platonic ideal of ‘nice human’).  As such the primary driving factor of this is Relationships which are formed between two people (character or npc); which provide the links of human action and interaction whilst mechanically also providing systematic effects to a characters attributes.

That said; the people I tend to play with like some kind of tactical options for fight scenes too, so there is a tactical system in the growth stages (2nd link) that I am looking for feedback on.  There the ideas break down into two main sections – Ability to perceive the fight & respond to enemies, and magical energy ‘pools’.  The perception/ response mechanic is with regards to the structure and flow of a fight scene – description plays a large part and will tend to involve over-the-top battles with flying around, casting building levelling magic, and getting punched through the side of mountains.   I tend to dislike battle-maps and ‘figuring range’ type of effects, so I thought a more organic method might work for that kind of ‘how well can I attack them’ question.

By default the starting point for characters is them being young and just discovered, and are enrolled in a monster orientated academy.  In the game world this is to teach them powers and to ensure social links that preserve their humanity, but in terms of design it is a way to ease characters in somewhat (as well as, again, the general ‘crazy high school’ aspect of several Japanese animation series have).

Setting/ System

Magic/ Combat

Oh as you may have seen, the working title is kinda rubbish but I there must be something better out there (maybe Little Monsters? But that only applies to the ‘default’ character start...).  Anyway thanks for anything you may be able to provide.

Posts: 7

« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2011, 07:15:30 AM »

Didn’t know if it was best to create another post, or just repost here for reasons of tidiness.  Anyway, I’ve cleared up some issues, but now am mainly looking for some feedback on some base system details.

The base function of the system (at the moment), is that character qualities are rated from d4 up to d12, and the player forms their dice pool by picking one appropriate rating from various sources (skill, attribute, and other equivalents), they then roll the pool but only pick 2 dice as ‘success’ dice, adding them together and that’s the number that determines if they succeed or fail.  The remaining dice can contribute to the ‘quality’ of the success through various means (in combat, the most obvious way, is damage caused).

In addition to this, and primarily for combat, each player has a smallish pool of ‘generic’ dice that can just be taken, before a dice roll, and added into the initial pool.  Additionally these dice may be ‘spent’ to fuel magic abilities (essentially combining combat and mana pools), so the player has to balance activating powerful effects against just gaining some extra dice (thereby increasing chance of success).  This pool depletes when dice are taken from it but refreshes to full at the start of each ‘combat round’.

The second element of this energy pool (in the game so far I’m calling it Flux) is that characters that share relationships (the players, and maybe any appropriate npc’s they take a shine to), have access to a shared pool of dice similar to the one described above.  The main differences here are that it does not refresh to full, but has only limited return each round and no max size.  Players can shift dice from their personal pools to this one (so that others can use those dice) and also gain dice in this pool from doing ‘cool things’ (every now and again, not every single action necessarily) as defeating enemies (which gives a ‘handful’ of dice – the bigger the enemy, the more dice).  These too can be spent to fuel powers or add to rolls. 

The thinking here was that it could help even out combat (or anything; social/ mental tasks) if players weren’t very balanced in various skill categories (which in games I run and play we rarely are): more skilful players could let weaker members draw more dice from the shared pool (or even put their own into it) so that the worse characters could still have some fun doing decent attacks/ whatever every now and again.  Equally the worse skilled people could perform actions that support the more combat-orientated members, thereby fuelling their abilities.

Of course that’s the Platonic ideal, if you will, and I realise that there’s plenty of scope for abuse, ‘dice hogging’ and so on, but I would quite like to hear peoples thoughts on the mechanic (or heck, has that type of thing been done before in some other rpg?)

Posts: 84

« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2011, 12:12:23 PM »

Hi there,

Interesting idea with the Valence Flux (your shared dice pool).  It sounds like right now you're relying on social contract in order to control who adds and removes dice from it - in other words, there are no mechanical rules governing it, so it's going to be fully the decision of the players.  This isn't a bad thing at all, but it may not do what you want.

Potentially this could lead to players squabbling and fighting to grab bonuses from the pool every time possible -- but that's already dysfunctional play, and you shouldn't design your rules based on the dysfunctional. 

A bigger concern to me is -- even for groups that work together well -- I think many players will apply some sort of unspoken rule of "fairness" to Valence use.  What you put into it, and what you take out of it, "should" come out somewhere close to even.  If some players are contributing more (because they are stronger) and some players are withdrawing more (because they're weaker), this could cause friction, even when the group Social Contract is otherwise reasonable.  One of your stated goals is to use it to balance out weaker and stronger characters, and I don't think it has the structure to do that right now.

What could remove those phantom issues of "fairness" is to provide some sort of mechanical effects for Valence use or contribution.  It doesn't have to be major, just enough to distract people from the idea of "donation" when chipping in Valence to the pool.  A single +1 bonus, or maybe some tiny experience point award, or karma points, or a little narrative benefit - whatever.  Along with that, maybe you can consider some restriction on Valence use - maybe it can only be used to turn failures into marginal successes, or maybe there's some other resource you have to spend (tap your relationships?) to use it.  These are examples of things that can encourage Valence flow away from better characters and into worse characters, without setting up the resource pool as an object of contention.

- Bax


Posts: 7

« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2011, 07:21:39 AM »

Hi, thanks for the feedback (btw if any of this seems to make little sense it’s probably due to a combination of a high fever and me not making much sense anyway).

So far the only rules I had envisaged for the shared pool was that if players (or their characters) basically went “hey, you’re taking too much” then that would give the relationships shared between the ‘taker’ and ‘accusers’ +1 stress.  Also players had the ability to deny others drawing from the pool (again at a Stress cost), as this ‘pool’ was mostly meant for player use (as an element of tactical consideration in combat).  I am attempting to come up with some kind of mildly tactical system that helped/ supported the idea of players working and 'combo-ing' together, whilst at the same time not being overly complex with powers (a previous idea I came up with multiple combo powers but I wasn't too much a fan of it).

The element of ‘fairness’ that you brought up is a concern too – I hadn’t really considered it from that perspective before, but there is certainly the chance that it could cause friction (the game potentially involves lots of ‘character’ social stress, angst, melodrama, etc.  But that shouldn’t translate directly to the ‘player’ else the element of fun goes straight out of the window).

Slightly off-topic for the ‘Flux’ system but a word quickly (or longly) on relationship structure; so far a ‘Relationship’ is an ‘artefact’ of a character, formed between 2 people it is composed of several qualities; Commitment (what the character puts towards the relationship – based initially off of one of their positive psychological qualities), Doubts (what the character dislikes, even subconsciously, and based off of a negative psych’ quality), Infatuation (doesn’t really do anything beyond relationship creation; is what the character likes about the other character, and lists one of their positive qualities – also this raises that quality by 1 rating, the only way to do so), and Stress (more a ‘hit point’ pool that raises as, well, as relationship stress occurs, and when too high stops relationship working).  Whenever a character performs an action, they can choose a relationship and it forms default values for their dice action: - Commitment’s dice rating is just added to the dice pool, Doubt is part of the base resistance for if the roll fails, Stress is part of base effect if roll succeeds (damage in combat, etc. So high Stress means better successes but easier for people to socially attack the character and ‘disable’ relationships).

As per your suggestions about restricting Valence use; perhaps I could make the various abilities to ‘use’ it into individual powers that characters can buy (cheaply, and perhaps the powers also provide some other passive bonus) – as examples:

Sigil of Gold: whenever you succeed a dice roll that does not include any Valence dice, you may add your dice-pool to the Valence pool.  If you do, reduce your Trauma level by 3 per dice added.

Sigil of Lead: whenever you fail a dice roll (even if Valence dice are used), choose up to 3 dice to add to the Valence pool.  If you do; add +1 to your success total per dice added, if this brings your total to greater than the opponents you now succeed the roll, but can only use effect dice that have not already been spent to add to the Valence pool.

Sigil of Iron: whenever you suffer Trauma, the dice of trauma inflicted upon you are added to the Valence pool.

Perhaps by specifically splitting certain things into ‘powers’ or activated ‘stances’ (whatever) people will a) be in a mindset as to what they’re going to do, b) other players can easily see what that player’s intending to accomplish too, and c) things should, hopefully, suit peoples play styles (for the most part) whilst also providing a bonus to others.  Although the problem here is that it does not do much to ameliorate the potential of people fighting over dice still – then again as you said, designing purely around such an element is not a good idea.
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