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Author Topic: Queens of Time and Space  (Read 6411 times)
Ross Cowman
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« on: April 11, 2011, 12:05:17 PM »

It was nice to come back to my design after the 24 design-a-thon and look at it with fresh eyes.
Here is the pdf.

http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/queens-of-time-and-space


In particular Ron had a concern that the rules of the game did not allow for the creation of a shared imaginative space. Any thoughts on this with regards to this design?


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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2011, 12:44:03 PM »

Hey, Ross. I like the game a lot: I like games where you get to play a ruler and make big dramatic things happen.

Can I ask you what direction you want to take the game in? Something more board-gamey or something more role-playing gamey or something entirely new and different? Like, I can give feedback but it would really help to have a direction first.
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Ross Cowman
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2011, 12:59:23 PM »

Thanks Ben! Good question, where do I want this to go?

I want it to be a role playing game about powerful Queens that rule large empires but still have lots of emotional and relationship problems they have to deal with.

It might seem like a board game; you've got this empire you're managing, but really that's just an extension of you. Instead of hit points you've got cities, instead of weapons you've got armies. In stead of skills and powers, and doing things by yourself, you've got these envoys who do everything for you.


Here's the tricky part. I also want it to be peer; facilitated. Not GM less. More like, too many Gms. And they're all squabbling about what reality really is, and getting pissed off because your French Revolution is spilling over into my Pyramids.

So one piece of Rons feedback I resonated with was that as the game is, it dosen't have that "anything can happen" vibe, a good RPG should have. How do I make that happen? I think that is a good place to start.
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Baxil
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2011, 10:18:48 AM »

So one piece of Rons feedback I resonated with was that as the game is, it dosen't have that "anything can happen" vibe, a good RPG should have. How do I make that happen? I think that is a good place to start.
Here's a question, then, if you want to turn it into an RPG: What are the queens' goals?

I'm sitting down to play this game.  I've got these desires that I need to manage.  I've got this empire that I want to preserve.  Why?  Are we working toward a greater goal?  Are we fighting each other?

I think, rather than being too restricted, right now it's too open-ended. "You are a man in a desert" isn't an RPG.  "You are a man in the desert, trying to get rescued after a plane crash, with six other thirsty survivors" is.

Give this game direction and it will take off running.
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Mike Sugarbaker
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2011, 10:55:31 AM »

So one piece of Rons feedback I resonated with was that as the game is, it dosen't have that "anything can happen" vibe, a good RPG should have. How do I make that happen? I think that is a good place to start.
Here's a question, then, if you want to turn it into an RPG: What are the queens' goals?

I'm sitting down to play this game.  I've got these desires that I need to manage.  I've got this empire that I want to preserve.  Why?  Are we working toward a greater goal?  Are we fighting each other?

I think, rather than being too restricted, right now it's too open-ended. "You are a man in a desert" isn't an RPG.  "You are a man in the desert, trying to get rescued after a plane crash, with six other thirsty survivors" is.

Give this game direction and it will take off running.
Also: how is the fiction a part of the rules? That is, how can the stuff we make up about my queen make a difference to the way stuff is happening on the board?
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2011, 11:42:41 AM »

I'm going to take what Mike said and expound on it a little bit.

Role-playing games need room for your creativity to matter. This can work in a lot of different ways, but it basically comes down to that there needs to be some point where the fiction of play has a direct impact on the mechanics of play. Right now, Queens of Time and Space doesn't really seem to have anything like that: any play that we produce has no real effect on the mechanics of play: it's the same thing as playing Monopoly and making the dog token talk in a funny voice.

yrs--
--Ben
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Rafu
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2011, 12:16:53 PM »

Baxil, I beg to differ. "You are a man in a desert" is way enough to qualify as an RPG, for some definitions of RPG. It could very well be enough for me, given some other conditions maybe.
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Raffaele Manzo, or "Rafu" for short. From (and in) Italy. Here's where I blog about games (English posts). Here's where I micro-blog about everything.
Baxil
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2011, 01:15:41 PM »

Rafu, I suspect there's a great discussion there (regarding points such as your "given some other conditions maybe" and the Czege Principle).  At what point is there not enough content to support the SIS that creates an RPG?  But I don't want to derail Ross' thread with debate over my analogy.  I acknowledge your point, and that the RPG umbrella is very broad.  Ross, let me know if it would be useful for you to have this discussion continue.

I agree with Mike/Ben's follow-up.

- Bax
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Ross Cowman
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2011, 01:21:16 PM »

Love that scotty dog. So to summarize;

-dial up the impact of the fiction
-characters need goals
-no they don't

I'm especially interested in the first one for now, I'll get to the others later.

I'm reminded a bit of Foundation by Isac Asimov. All of the action, all of it, takes place off camera. The whole novel is about people hemming and hawing and backroom dealing.

I imagine play could go something like this...

What does the Marie Antoinette want?
On one hand she's got this revolution on her hands and could really use some help. On the other hand  she hasn't been laid in a while and Ben Franklin is starting to look pretty good.


Marie, she's the Queen of France, you're meeting after Sunday Mass in the gardens outside her palace. She arranged this meeting, there's a table with cheeses and croissant. The Envoy's come, they've got their own problem's back home to talk about, at some point, Franklin notices Marie staring at him as he butters his Pan a' Chocolet and gives her a sly wink. Marie, horribly offended tosses her glass of Bordeaux in his face and has her guards toss in the Bastile.

Do the rules not call for this kind of play, and if not how can I better communicate that?
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Roger
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2011, 01:34:10 PM »

My main issue with this, which relates to a number of points other people have mentioned, is this:  I can't see how to get the characters into any sort of conflict.  I also can't see how to resolve any conflict, even if I could manage to somehow get one going.

My main caution here is:  don't rush in and try to patch all this up by shoveling Colour at it.  There'll be a time for that, maybe, but I think it's easier to work on the fundamental System here without cutting through anything else to get to it.


Cheers,
Roger
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Ross Cowman
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2011, 06:25:05 PM »

Wow, yeah, that is a good point. I can see how that is unclear in the text. How do I get into conflict? How do I resolve conflict?

Here are my thoughts on conflict resolution...

In each scene's the Queen is already calling the shots. She sets the scene, decides what is in it, the behaviors of the npcs. Everything except the envoys and what they can do. The Envoys are left to narrate whatever they want and as long as the Queen approves it goes. At anytime, however, an Envoy might take an action, which is the one place they don't need the consent of the Queen. Then the rules kick in.

The Queen likewise takes her action at some point, and she can say what ever the hell she wants. (it's her kingdom after all) with the one exception that if she narrates something that constitutes Acting on a Desire, the scene rolls on to the end.

So conflict is resolved by the Queen.

What this dosen't address is Envoy vs Envoy conflict. Say Mark Antony want's to give Shakespeare the old heave ho out a 3rd story window. In that case the Queen still gets to decide, does William take the fall, or do her guards stop it? If she lets it happen, even through proxy it still counts as Acting on Control and the scene wraps up.

As for how to get INTO conflict. You narrate it, like in a wicked age, only the queen is the only one who gets to put on the breaks. What is that going to be like? I'm excited to find out.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2011, 06:13:40 PM »

So this becomes the feedback thread!

Ross Cowman's Queens of Time and Space excites me with the dizzying scope of ordinary actions during play, and I can definitely see how it could be developed either as a card/board game without role-playing (beyond opportunistic in-voice Color for fun), or as an RPG with a cool board mechanic. I categorized it in the former based specifically on what I had in front of me, textually, but apparently, Ross, you have the other route of development in mind. That is OK. I have no intention of fighting for my interpretation, although I'll try to explain it if you want me to. Let me know.

I was looking at the way the terms work together, thinking about how the essential underlying concept is that being queen is not enough, apparently only providing a truly epic canvas upon which to impose or with which to struggle. So that's kind of cool.

I really like the feed from lust to vanity to power - but I'd sure like to see lust to be the only input/fuel for a given turn, rather than boosting all three simultaneously. Maybe even roll a die to see how much it jumps. It does reinforce the stereotype that women of power are really blazing nova stars of uncontrolled primal urges, and that their power is basically sublimating that, but hey, that's where the concept seems to lie for this game already, so why not make it as focused and explicit as possible, I say. This is the Catherine the Great RPG, right?, so let's go with it.

As it turns out, the rest of my feedback takes form as a list of questions.

1. I'm not quite getting the map and how to set it up and use it, but whatever it is, I want to know. Just to start, I get the idea that a given place is going to be named and colored by only one player. But you find which place you get simply by tossing a die onto the page. So how do you keep two players from doing the same place?

2. I prefer the currently-as-written pick-two plan for defining Envoys, including overlap or even possible redundancy, as opposed to the fixed profiles the rules suggest will be developed. I also scribbled "Of course!" next to the part which says they have no upper limit to Ambition. All of this is to set up for my question: is the ability Humiliate too powerful? It seems pretty harsh to me, speaking as someone enjoying playing my Envoy and suddenly finding him turned into a weenie.

3. So the thing I'm looking for is where the strategy lies. Maybe in what you choose to act on? Is it only about seeking to race to the bottom the slowest?

4. This may seem like a dumb question, but is #3 above even on the right track? Is winning as the priority? I mean, it's cool if it is, but if I'm misunderstanding I want to know.

5. And related to #4, crucially, that whole "step down" thing strikes me as bizarre. Why in the world would any of these women do that? Or to put it differently, how can I play such a character to the hilt knowing that she will, soon, give up and punt?

6. Are you really juiced about the historical approach? How does that go with the nifty color and flash of the current map with its fantasy elements?

So, uh, that's it. Let me know your thoughts on these because I'd like to try it out once I understand it better.

Best, Ron
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Ross Cowman
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2011, 10:32:14 AM »

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Esp. Ron. Solid gold stuff here.

"I really like the feed from lust to vanity to power - but I'd sure like to see lust to be the only input/fuel for a given turn, rather than boosting all three simultaneously. Maybe even roll a die to see how much it jumps."

Done. I'm really excited about rolling the die for crisis, then taking the die and putting it in your Lust box. If there is a die already there and their total is less then your capacity, no biggie. If they don't fit. You have to bump one of your dice up to the next level.

So now the French Revolution throws Marie Antoinette into a fit of sexual frustration.  Ha! I love it!

for the rest...

the map-
-Everyone gets their own map.
-Everyone rolls to figure out where their Time/Space vortex is. This is the point of contact between your empire, and all the others.
-they draw a matching Vortex on their maps, physically lining up the maps one on top of the other to see where they fall.
-If a place gets two or three vortexes, well, then London is really wierd.

Envoy -
It is pretty cool to pick your own attributes, I'll figure out how to keep that and still have enough color so that someone who dosen't know history still enjoys the game.

Humiliate-
Oh yeah, instead this move can be the blocking move of the queen, you block the Envoy's Action, but they gain +1 Ambition.

Strategy / Stepping Down -
The whole stepping down was tacked on so the game had an end, I could have just as easily written
-play till right before the game gets boring
or my personal fav
-play till Cuthulu wakes up.

My sense is that this is a 1 session game. As such it needs a timer and rising tension. I'm not sure quite yet...

Historical / Fantasy-
The current list of Queens
Cleopatra, Queen of Sheeba, Guenevere, Queen Elizabeth III, Catherine the Great (thanks!), Marie Antoinette

so yeah, a mix of fantasy, historical / biblical, and sci fi.

Playtesting-
I want to incorporate all the ideas in this thread into a fresh build with some sexier graphic design.  Then it will be ready to take for a test drive. Ok self, 5 day deadline starting... now!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2011, 12:36:13 PM »

Hi Ross,

I like the revised version of Humiliate.

So, it looks as if the design is seeking a climactic confrontation (or meltdown). Either it's scheduled, or the game contains components that sooner or later will produce such a thing. At the moment, the design is wide open in this regard, so feel free to brainstorm.

I'm still a little puzzled about the setting. Are you saying that a given game utilizes a bunch of historical and semi-historical queens all at once across the ages? Which may be a "duh" answer, but the text really doesn't say this.

Best, Ron
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Ross Cowman
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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2011, 12:56:47 PM »

"Are you saying that a given game utilizes a bunch of historical and semi-historical queens all at once across the ages? Which may be a "duh" answer, but the text really doesn't say this. "

Yes, that is what I am saying; each Queen lives in their own Empire and Time connected to the other Empires by Time/Space Vortexes.

The revision is coming along, I will post it soon.
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