*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 24, 2014, 02:39:47 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 26 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Flawed] Can I write comprehensible rules?  (Read 713 times)
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« on: August 22, 2011, 04:19:04 PM »

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B6AKcTWvDmp5NTg5YzE3N2YtYjljMS00YWU0LTlhZDgtNTQ1NDQ2NGYzODgz&hl=en

This is the current version of Flawed, the game I have been writing.  I am pretty damn sure that it is not in Final Copy mode yet.  I am pretty proud of it, as it is my first attempt writing a game, and I think it's not shitty.

However, I have been told I write utterly complex rules.  This may come from my deep and abiding love for Mutants & Masterminds character creation.  Or I may just be a rules sadist.  Through the few times I have playtested this game, I have confused players time and again with the rules.  At this point I have streamlined them to a point where I believe they flow together and feel like they are all part of the same system.

What I would appreciate is a frank assessment of the rules system.  I need to know if my writing communicates the ideas I mean it to communicate.
  • Do the rules make sense?
  • Does the writing style detract or improve the rules text?
  • Could you play this straight from the box without the creator explaining how things work?
  • General comments and concerns.
Thanks in advance for the feedback!  I am very excited to see what my game needs.
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Kashlaor
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2011, 06:32:46 PM »

Interesting idea, I read through the pdf.

Now as far as I understand we all create characters (randomly dealing from various tables until we have our general idea filled in, then we decide on some sort of Agenda and flesh the concept out) then we give the red joker to someone who essentially acts are the narrator for any given scene.

Whenever we have a conflict we each state our Motivations, and unless someone plays an Ace to change that we draw from the appropriate decks and compare the value of our cards. 

After that the loser either concedes or raises the stakes, play continues.

The winner of each round narrates how that section gos, and at the very end whoever has the highest value of cards in front of them narrates how the scene ends.

Unless I'm missing something the rules seem to make sense, however that took a bit of reading in to, I'm not sure that the way its written is especially clear.
Logged
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2011, 08:46:25 PM »

Thanks for feedback-ing!

That sounds like a pretty good summary of the way the game works.  It has definitely taken some strong editing to hone it down to what it is.  (It is worth noting that there used to be about two more pieces to character gen, which have now been stripped out.)  What I lack most, I think, is new eyes.  I have been thinking so much on the writing for the last month(s) that I have difficulty knowing what is clear and unclear.

You mentioned that the way in which the text is written is not especially clear.  What were some specific hurdles in crystallizing the rules in your head?  Since playtesting has begun, I have tried to get my friends to just read through the text and give me some feedback on the clarity, but as they have already played through the game, they are already a little more well-informed on the way play progresses.  They don't have the first-time-reading-this perspective.

Another question I have: Is the goal of the game clear?

The first time we played this all the way through, one of my friends was incredibly frustrated because he was not able to "win".  He definitely likes to be the Best Winner in all types of games. So when he was unable to defeat other characters in conflicts (even while min-maxing and stacking his decks) he became quite angry with the game in general.  Since that experience, I have tried to make the goal clear from the start, but I would like to hear if that comes across clearly.

And here is the link to the character sheet, if you'd like to see how it looks: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B6AKcTWvDmp5NjQxNzRkZGYtNDBiYi00YmQzLWE3ZjctZDE5ZTFiNWE2Yzdj&hl=en
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Kashlaor
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2011, 02:13:16 PM »

Don't have too much time to type right now but one thought.

If I win a conflict I get to keep one of my oppoenent's cards, does this go to my relevant Motivation or the Destiny Deck?  This seems unclear.

Perhaps have some of the friends you've played with write up a short bit on how they think the game works, or ask them to explain it to you.  Some of the phrasing seems harder to understand just by virtue of how its written.  One of the reasons I like card based games is that you can make them very complex but seem very simple.  Instead of trying to describe the rules of the game imagine that you're telling someone about the exciting opportunities the game presents to them.  Even if it makes the section a bit longer it might be easier to work through.  Also examples are nice.  Instead of "currently winning" (which sounds like the conflict has been resolved), perhaps "in the lead."  Explain why the stakes cannot be raised three times (because you can only be SO dead). 

Logged
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2011, 04:05:22 PM »

Aha!  A perfect example of what I was looking for! 

When you are the victor in a conflict, you don't win anyone else's cards; you get to hold on to your own.  BUT, you get to tell the loser which single card he or she keeps.  Apparently I need to reword this explanation, as it seems simple to misunderstand.

Incidentally, this used to be vastly different. The victor would win ALL the cards in the conflict, thus instantly tipping the scales after the first conflict.  However, this game is very much about flawed people going toward their own destruction, and getting stronger after a conflict seemed to be counterproductive.  Now you can only get weaker as the game goes on, much more so if you lose.  This puts the game on time clock, as every conflict leads to a consequence, and when you run out of consequences you die.

The "current winner" thing is a good point.  I may very well change it to "leader" to differentiate from "victor."

And as far as stake-setting goes, I feel that is the weakest piece of the writing as far as description is concerned.  I need a way to crystallize it, so that raising the stakes (as a narrative device and as a mechanical one) feels cohesive.  Any thoughts?
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Kashlaor
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2011, 06:22:09 PM »

Hmm, I'm not sure if the "goal" of the game is particularly clear.  As I understand it, it seems to be a sort of collective storytelling competition.

Few other suggestions then, perhaps to take the Red Joker from another player you must tithe them a card from one of your Motivations?  This would cut down on the more frivolous changes of narrator.

Agendas seem a bit unfair, this means that whenever I act in accordance with my agenda (which is also my highest Motivation), I have a 1 in 4 chance of adding a +5 and an entire other card? 

Logged
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2011, 06:40:21 PM »

Actually, your Agenda is tied to your lowest Motivation for that exact reason.  It is to encourage you to play in a way that will most likely fail, but has a small chance of great success.

Apparently, a lot of my descriptions come off backwards.  I should look through my writing a bit more to catch these things.
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Kashlaor
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2011, 09:03:50 PM »

It may be just my reading of it too, can't say I sat down with my favorite beverage and read every word, but I suppose most players might skim as well.  I really like the idea though, I might try running a game of it for my group when I get back to college.  Any suggestions for what a game should be about?  (Could have a chart for that as well)

Another random thought to make the game more grim (grimdark) or tragic.  Have another card (apart from the Red Joker, maybe a special Black Joker or somesuch) who is allowed to introduce some sort of tragic twist to the scenario which the narrator has to incorporate.  This person then passes the Black Joker to whoever will be receiving the penalty for that encounter (minor, perhaps a -2)

For example say I have the Red Joker, and am playing with a few friends, one of whom has the Black Joker.  I begin to narrate the scene

"You make it to the top of the hill on the blazing summer day, exhausted from your long hike to find an ancient log cabin waiting beneath the shade of a massive birch"

At which point the player with the Black Joker buts in "Isn't this the very same cabin where Joseph [pointing at another player] lived when his wife died but never told anyone?  That must bring back memories."  Joseph receives some sort of penalty for this, but he gets the Black Joker to use next scene (perhaps a -2 to all cards, or maybe a specific suit named by the user of the Black Joker, maybe hearts in this case).

The Red Joker narrator then has to incorporate elements of this into his story, and Joseph would have to roleplay this as well.
Logged
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2011, 11:16:07 PM »

What I've discovered doing playtesting so far, is that during character creation the about of the game becomes clear.  An example, perhaps?

The last playtest, before the most recent rules update, had an instant hook: religious upheaval.  I was playing a king, my friend Morgan was the pope of my realm, my friend Will was the secret leader of the religious assassins, and my friend Nik was a druid starting a heretical religion.  All of this came from the characters we created.  Nik was my friend, and I had and Agenda to never let him down, so the game started with a conflict between the two of us, ending in me going back to Morgan and calling off the persecution of heretics.  He in turn tasked Will to kidnap my son and pretended to know nothing about it himself.  I tried to undermine the church's authority and got beat to shit by the templars, led by Will.  Then Nik staged a religious uprising and used my name to rally the people to rebel against the church.

All of the backstory came from character creation.  By creating characters and relationships semi-randomly, there is a lot of world-building that naturally takes place.  The whole religion thing came from the idea that Morgan was a religious leader beholden to a curse: he personally carried all the sin of his followers.  It turned out that Will was a pious assassin, and he and Morgan shared the same master: their god.  Then Nik was beholden to the land itself, and was seeking rebellion.  The obvious choice was a religious war with the king caught in the middle.  It was pretty awesome until the older, unbalanced system caused the game to go on way too long.  (Death was almost impossible with the old rules.)

So I guess my point is: the game tells you what it is going to be about when you build your characters.  SInce it's a one-shot, it gives the characters leave to act boldly straight out of the gate.  They make big choices and mix it up quickly.  Now that the consequence system has been refined, characters have eight conflicts at most before they die.  Unless they win off a first-round concession every single time, they always take a consequence.  The consequence time clock (hypothetically) pushes the pace and the stakes of the game hard and fast, leading to many a character's downfall.  So the characters go for what they want (their Agenda) and that tells the players what the game is about.

As far as the "black joker as a negative modifier" thing goes, I have to say that I've thought about it and decided it doesn't fit.  The conflict system isn't about making tasks more difficult.  It's about seeing things slip through your grasp even when you succeed.  This is a game of tragedy.  The biggest influences on it are In a Wicked Age and Fiasco, both of which allow characters to only get weaker and more vulnerable the longer they play.  The game itself drives this, even in success, and that, I think, is exactly what I'm looking for.  I'm sure I will find more flaws in the system as it gets more playtesting, and I'll try to move those mechanics toward this end as well.

Again, thanks for reading this, dude.  I really appreciate your feedback and I'll try to get a revised copy up soon featuring (hopefully) some more clear rules and some strong examples.
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Kashlaor
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2011, 09:16:33 AM »

Where does the 8 conflict limit come from?
Logged
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2011, 09:45:34 AM »

You have 1 Trivial, 2 Troubling, and 3 Terrible consequences.  That's six.  In addition, there are two terminal consequences: Madness and Death.  That makes eight.

Every time you leave a conflict you take a consequence.  If you are the winner, you take one that's one level lower.  But if you already have a consequence slot filled, it rolls up to the next highest.

In other words, you have somewhere between 4 and 8 conflicts before your character gets to die, (4 if you raise all the way and lose every time, 8 if you win every time), with very few exceptions.  And since character death is a chance to do something really cool, that's not a bad thing.  It also keeps the game fairly short (2-3 hours)
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!