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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 39 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Looking for suggestions on "against the odds" style game  (Read 1632 times)
David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2011, 03:19:25 PM »

Oops!  Sorry for running with an incorrect picture of Drive.

This sequence is really helpful, I feel like I understand the game a lot better now:

  • Heroes try to progress toward the final confrontation.
  • Nemesis players introduce obstacles.  The difficulty of overcoming the obstacle is set by how much threat is spent.
  • Heroes bring previous awards into play either gain an advantage or counter the obstacles advantages.
  • On success, heroes defeat obstacle and may gain award that helps with future challenges.
  • On failure, the heroes fall back and need to either look for an approach where the obstacles strengths don't come into play, or they need to hunt down more rewards to bolster their chances on a rematch.

By "fall back", what you really mean now is "suffer Nemesis-imposed consequences", right?

Off the top of my head that could include forcing characters into a new scene (possibly one of their choosing), inflicting wounds, adding complications, locking traits, and removing or transforming unprotected setting elements.

These sound like good options to me!  Maybe some of these could simply be imposed by the Nemesis, while others would require collaboration with the Neutral players?
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Shimera9
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Posts: 48


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« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2011, 09:44:56 PM »

I've got the challenge rewards roughly sketched out in a new post (http://dancingchimera.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/against-the-inevitable-challenge-rewards/).  It looks like I can cover it pretty much everything I want with a combo of 6 effect types:
  • Narrate: grants limited run narrative rights / authority, where cost scale with impact of narration on setting and plot
  • Empower: grants traits.  Can also be used to assist allies or place temporary vulnerability on target.
  • Weaken: temporarily downgrades traits.
  • Block: prevents certain actions.  Can also be used to protect character from certain actions.  Combine "can not act" with "can not be acted on" to take character out of play.
  • Invest: attach left over points to a setting element so they can be cashed in after a future challenge.
  • Negate: cancel a previous reward.  Cost will probably be higher than initial rewards cost to prevent flipping between gaining a reward and losing it right away.

These should be open to both Nemesis and Heroic players.  However, heroes will probably have some safeguards in place to protect their progress.  Otherwise, it would be easy for the Nemesis side to slow the heroes progress to a crawl.  Neutral players don't directly use these reward.  However, they do get to make judgement calls.  This often mean they'll set the cost on effects, especially on Narration rewards.  That doesn't exactly mean Nemesis and Neutral sides need to team up for big hits, but it does mean getting neutral players on your side makes it significantly easier to afford the effects you want.

As far as falling back goes, I kind of meant "drop out of the challenge, and maybe even the scene".  However, that will include nemesis determined consequences, most likely using the same reward table above.

On a side note, I'm considering letting some of the point pools double as a form of passive plot protection.  For example, the cost to take a hero out of play long term may scale up with Drive.  That lets us have a continuum between expendable allies and established heroes, which may be useful.  By the same token, investing reward points in story elements may make them more costly to remove.  That lets investment serve a second purpose beyond accumulating points.  It also helps mimic more "important" items having a certain level of plot protection.
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Interested in a rambling collection of game ideas? Check out my blog at http://dancingchimera.wordpress.com/.
David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2011, 11:59:54 AM »

That list looks fun to me!

As for protecting player progress: isn't player progress measured by whittling down the pool the Nemesis gets to spend on?  Or are you talking about protecting purely fictional advances, so you don't wind up with some stupid "I take the castle!", "the enemy reclaims it!", "I re-reclaim it!" thing?

How do you envision the Neutral judgment call on costs playing out?  That doesn't sound like the most rewarding play contribution there, but I guess it depends on what they're able to express in the process.  "I think that'd be hard" sounds more like work than fun, but "I'm making it cost less because I think it's awesome, and I'll make it cost even less than that if you use my idea for how to pull it off" could be fun.  This may just be my taste; I dunno.  What do you think?

As for measuring importance and protecting important elements/characters, that makes sense to me, but I think it makes it a very different game strategically.  If you want your side to triumph, you probably track what's about to become more expensive and try to knock it off the board before that happens.  Perhaps injecting some noise in the signal might be good?  Like, when you gain Drive or invest points, roll to see how much plot protection is granted?  And then you can engineer that to produce the kind of arcs you want: e.g., more random and whiff-prone early on (1d10), more guaranteed later (1d10+10).  Just a thought.  I'm probably not tracking all the incentives in play at once.  A demo would be helpful!
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Shimera9
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Posts: 48


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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2011, 04:02:57 PM »

As for protecting player progress: isn't player progress measured by whittling down the pool the Nemesis gets to spend on?  Or are you talking about protecting purely fictional advances, so you don't wind up with some stupid "I take the castle!", "the enemy reclaims it!", "I re-reclaim it!" thing?

The nemesis pool gets worn down when hero's defeat challenges the which have been invested with threat.  It's assumed the heroes will build up smaller advantages to topple those pumped up challenges.  Without those accumulated advantages, it's harder for heroes to beat those challenges.  Since the enemy side starts out with greater ability to push for victory, they could just repeatedly use the Negate option to keep the hero's from building up an advantage.  That would lead to an unpleasant stalemate scenario (heros can't win, but are hard to eliminate) that I'd like to avoid.

How do you envision the Neutral judgment call on costs playing out?  That doesn't sound like the most rewarding play contribution there, but I guess it depends on what they're able to express in the process.  "I think that'd be hard" sounds more like work than fun, but "I'm making it cost less because I think it's awesome, and I'll make it cost even less than that if you use my idea for how to pull it off" could be fun.  This may just be my taste; I dunno.  What do you think?

I do like the idea of a bartering phase.  The neutral players are supposed to represent fickle fates, so costs should probably be entertainment based.  That being said, some calls should be based on things like game world impact.  What I'll probably do is start with an objective judgement ("that'd be hard"), while letting Neutral players offer a discount or advantage to entertaining options or actions that follow their suggestions.

As for measuring importance and protecting important elements/characters, that makes sense to me, but I think it makes it a very different game strategically.  If you want your side to triumph, you probably track what's about to become more expensive and try to knock it off the board before that happens.  Perhaps injecting some noise in the signal might be good?  Like, when you gain Drive or invest points, roll to see how much plot protection is granted?  And then you can engineer that to produce the kind of arcs you want: e.g., more random and whiff-prone early on (1d10), more guaranteed later (1d10+10).  Just a thought.  I'm probably not tracking all the incentives in play at once.  A demo would be helpful!

I'll have to think this one through more.  I may just grant a certain amount of plot protection to any character with main character status.  The big thing with protecting investments is keeping the other side from cheaply negating an investment by taking out the thing it's attached to.

I'll see about getting a demo up in a little bit.  I've actually got enough pieced together that I'm stepping through what an actual play session might look like, starting with character creation.

The current issue I'm puzzling over actually has to do with backgrounds.  I want details to be fairly free form and easy to add, though they only provide a low level benefit ("can't do", "capable", and "competent" ability ratings).  The part I'm leery about on that front is that by making them so open a player might take something really versatile like "reality warper" or "demi-god" and use it move every action into the "capable" and "competent" ranks.  That's probably not a game breaker, but I do think a mitigating factor may be in order.  Perhaps having your background prevent an action grants drive and/or being able to draw out exceptional abilities grants threat?  I'm less concerned about this on the villainous side as that kind of move actually helps enemies feel more overwhelming.
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Interested in a rambling collection of game ideas? Check out my blog at http://dancingchimera.wordpress.com/.
David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2011, 11:57:10 AM »

Since the enemy side starts out with greater ability to push for victory, they could just repeatedly use the Negate option to keep the hero's from building up an advantage.

Ah, right.  I'd say the solution is to define Negate very carefully, especially when you can use it.  On the one hand, it seems bad to have lots of play achievements undone.  On the other hand, that'd be okay if getting your opponent to play their Negate really depleted their resources going forward, so forcing their hand that way could be seen as a victory in itself.

I do like the idea of a bartering phase.  The neutral players are supposed to represent fickle fates, so costs should probably be entertainment based.  That being said, some calls should be based on things like game world impact.  What I'll probably do is start with an objective judgement ("that'd be hard"), while letting Neutral players offer a discount or advantage to entertaining options or actions that follow their suggestions.

Nice.  I'm really curious to see how the Neutral role plays out -- how frequently are they involved, how significant is their input, how much of the spotlight do they get?  My first instinct is to keep Neutral involved all the time, but to give them a quick and easy option to keep the fiction moving if they'd rather do that than use play time inventing and introducing suggestions.

I am also curious to see what kind of rewards come out of this; whether the Neutral players feel appreciated and have a sense of progress and direction throughout play, or whether they feel more like an audience.

Can there be multiple Neutral players?  If there are two, does that cut each one's spotlight time in half, or mean they have to reach consensus on suggestions, or offer competing suggestions, or what?  My first impression was that each side is a team, but I'm fuzzy on how that teamwork works in play.

The current issue I'm puzzling over actually has to do with backgrounds.  I want details to be fairly free form and easy to add, though they only provide a low level benefit ("can't do", "capable", and "competent" ability ratings).  The part I'm leery about on that front is that by making them so open a player might take something really versatile like "reality warper" or "demi-god" and use it move every action into the "capable" and "competent" ranks.  That's probably not a game breaker, but I do think a mitigating factor may be in order.  Perhaps having your background prevent an action grants drive and/or being able to draw out exceptional abilities grants threat?  I'm less concerned about this on the villainous side as that kind of move actually helps enemies feel more overwhelming.

Here's my understanding; please correct me if I'm wrong:

For a character to be good at one thing and less good at another thing is most relevant in that opponents can target the weakness and bring it into play by creating corresponding situations.  That is, if your Hero is good at Fighting but bad at Diplomacy, then I, as your Nemesis, after beating you in a challenge, will Narrate you into a scene where the Prince demands that you defend your trouble-making; and perhaps I also Invest points in making the Prince a stickler for etiquette and protocol.  Ha ha!  Take that, you Diplomacy-challenged fool!

Accordingly, it seems to me that, when defining Hero capabilities, you want to map them to fairly broad types of situations, not specific tasks.  If a Hero is utterly amazing at shooting people with guns (a specific task) and shoots their way out of every situation*, the only meaningful blow a Nemesis can strike is, "I take away your gun, and also your ability to buy another one."

I'd be inclined to brainstorm what situation types best represent your vision for this game's possible fiction, make a list, and tell Heroes they must pick one to truly excel at, pick another to be good at, pick another to be bad at, and then assume the rest are either average or unknown.  Answering, "So why are you great, good, and awful at those three?" would be Background creation.

Not sure if that's fully compatible with how you want to define characters, but that's the kind of stuff I'd be looking at to help decide on backgrounds, traits, attributes, skills, etc. -- "How does it intersect with the fundamental Hero/Nemesis dynamics of play?"

*There are, of course, solutions to the "one action type fits all situations" approach, like sticking a "Can't be shot" Attribute onto an Obstacle.  If you'd prefer to go that route, I'd be curious to see how you'd do it.
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