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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 67 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Everyone is Nicolas Cage  (Read 4027 times)

Posts: 5

« on: November 05, 2011, 08:05:50 PM »

Alright, so this whole idea has been brewing in my mind for some time, and it's actually reached the point where it may be playtested. I plan on doing this with my regular group first, and once I've done that, write things up and post it here for general review.

The premise of the game: Everyone is Nicolas Cage.
The whole goal is to have a game which:
a: Has 0 prep-time, and can be run only if you know the rules
b: Can have everything resolved during a 3-4 hour session.

First things first: Why Nicolas Cage?
Two things: First of all, Nicolas Cage can be everything. Secondly, this game tries to emulate the whole "Action Movie Star" genre, and Nic Cage was a pretty obvious choice, since he can both be part of typical action movies (like Con Air and Face/Off) as well as more untypical dramatic movies (like City of Angels and Adaptation). The whole goal of the game is that it SHOULD be able to accomodate all kinds of movies with an iconic main character; Needless to say, it could easily be converted to a game where everyone is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Anyways, these are the mechanics: At the beginning of the game, each player thinks of one thing that Nicolas Cage IS; Like, a player could say "Nic Cage is a Firefighter", "Nic Cage is a Crimeboss" or "Nic Cage's Hair is a bird", and makes it his Core Concept. Generally, after everyone has chosen a Core Concept, Nic will have three or four core concepts. They should then be coupled together like: "Nicolas Cage is a Firefighter Crimeboss, and his Hair is a Bird"

Then, each player chooses three "Traits" of their Concept, and assigns one of a d8, d10 or a d12 to it, as well as a card rank (wait, did i mention that the core mechanic is Poker-based?. This could be "Smooth Talker", "Good with Guns" or "Hair blowing in the wind" or whatever. This, like, totally becomes important later. Then, each player administers 11 points across 4 "Resources": Power, Smarts, Cool and Care, depending on what you think your Core Concept is most relevant to. For example, a character sheet could look like this:

Core Concept: Private Detective
Smoker d10, Ace
Comfortable d8, 8
Incredibly Aware d12, Jack

Power: 1
Smarts: 5
Cool: 4
Care: 1

As you can see, this part of the Nicolas Cage character is mostly smart and cool; It cannot participate in conflicts regarding Power and Care without substantial consequences.

So, before the game actually starts, the GM distributes his own points in three acts according to how difficult he wants things to be: Each player gets 11 points to play with, so if you have four players, the GM should adjust according to 44 points; 30 will be pretty easy, 40 will be OK, 50 will be quite a challenge and 60 will be against implausible odds. After deciding how difficult he wants the game to be, he places the points across three acts; like, if we say that we have a point-allocation of 40 (an OK challenge) he could place it like this: 1st act: 11 points, 2nd act: 8 points, 3rd act: 21 points. This would be a fairly standard venture: An intense first act, a calm second act, and a very great challenge towards the end.

The GM then allocates the points in the first act, a lot like how the players do, in four resources:

-Weaken (Anti-Power)
-Confuse (Anti-Smarts)
-Humiliate (Anti-Cool)
-Harden (Anti-Care)

He doesn't allocate the resources to the second act before he has used his 1st act resources. He uses his resources like this:
The GM goes like: "Ok, in the first act the major problem is this guy who wants to blow things up, so he has:"
Weaken: 6
Confuse: 2
Humiliate: 1
Harden: 2

And then he launches conflict whenever they fit. For example:
"This bad guy wants to blow you all the fuck up"
And then he deals out 5 cards to each player and himself. That's the first step of a conflict.

Then he looks at the cards, judges them (according to poker rankings, I assume you know them) and wages some of his own resources. Like, if he has an OK hand, he could wager 3 Weaken.

Then it's the players' time to wager, trying to hit the same amount that the GM just wagered; So the optimal would pretty much be that 3 players wagered 1 of their Power, and the last wagered nothing. This will rarely be the case:
If the players together wager more than the GM, the GM gets to remove their wagers; Thus, if two players each wagered 3 Power, he could remove 3 as he sees fit, reducing the total amount wagered to the total he wagered himself.
If, however, the players wager LESS than the GM (like, if one player wagers 1 and the others wager 0) the GM gets to add wagers to the players; so if they have a bad hand, he can essentially force them to wager things, until the resource number is balanced on each part of the field.

Then, after the wagers have been equalized on both sides of the field, it's time to reveal Hands. The GM reveals his hand first, so everyone gets to see how it is. Then the player with the lowest wager reveals; If his hand is worse than the GM's, he takes a "wound" (I'm not really sure what to call this): He rolls a six-sided dice, adds his Wager, and looks at the following table:

1-3: Cool. It isn't pleasant, but Nic doesn't really care that much. The GM takes away 1 from one of your resources.
4-6: Ouch. The equivalent to spraining something so much that it hurts. Not cool man. The GM takes away 2 from  one of your resources.
7-10: Fuck. This is a pretty severe blow, and it sets Nic back severely. The GM takes away 3 from one of your resources.
11+: This triggers Mega-Acting. This is serious business, and the GM takes away 4 from one of your resources. Additionally, the player should have enough free space to move into the middle of the room and act as wildly as possible.

If your hand is better than your GM the outcome is pretty similar, except you reverse the result: You roll a six-sided dice as usual, but instead of the GM taking away your resources you add them to a resource of your choice yourself. Mega-Acting works as normal, if you roll an 11+. Simple eh?

Now, each Core Concept has got three traits, each assigned to a specific card, and it works this way: In your hand, if you've got a trait where you've assigned the card, when you reveal you roll the dice you assigned to the trait instead of the six-sided dice, and incororate it into the result. This works both ways; It can both augment a "wound" roll and a "boon" roll. So you can both be like "Nic's augmented robot-eyes totally fry these aliens" and "Nic tries to use his robot eyes, but they use a mirror to reflect his strength upon them" or shit like that.

As it happens, I am currently a VERY drunk person. The following weeks I'll try to explore this clusterfuck I've thought up with my players, but you're free to try out things and tell me EVERYTHING you think is a bad idea (Really, do this, because I've never actually made a functional game before, so the more you riff, the more I learn)

Peace out.

Posts: 5

« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2011, 06:05:10 AM »

Right, I should probably elaborate on the whole set-up of the game, since so far I've only really handled how you resolve what I call a "Sequence"

Firstly, you have to prepare what movie you want to do. There are 5 things that need to be determined; Genre, Style, Setting, Antagonist and Goal. The distinction between Genre and Style is that the former is very broad and encompasses things like Action, Horror and Comedy, for example, whereas the latter is more specific; It could be romantic comedy, children's comedy or black comedy.

So, first you gather 4 of your friends and yourself around the table, and everyone takes a piece of paper and write what genre they want to do, put it in a bowl and pick one randomly. You do this for each of the things that need to be determined, except the player who already had his suggestion picked, doesn't get to contribute again.

Then people make their characters, and the GM allocates the points across three acts. Once done, the GM describes the opening scene and starts the first sequence. I should probably clarify some things about them that I didn't do in the first post (and the first post is horrible, I don't know what I was thinking)
-A dealt hand is an entire sequence, and the conflict should be resolved by the end; remember, even if Nic only has poor hands, he doesn't waste ALL his resources; he just uses more than neccessary
-You can use non-appropriate resources in a sequence, but it's risky. For example, if you have a sequence where Nic tries to score the barmaid (and the GM wagers Harden) Care is the appropriate resource, but you could also wager Power, and Nic tries to win her over with his rugged manly strength. But whenever you do this and your hand is worse than the GM's, your wager is effectively doubled for the purpose of the wound roll.

It is important that you start with a sequence, because you'll need it to distribute the non-sequence roles to the players. After each sequence the one who rolled the highest result (no matter whether it had a positive or negative effect) gets to play Nic during the next non-sequence part. Once Nic has been determined, the roles are distributed like this going left: Nic --> Other main character(s) --> Environment --> Minor characters --> Nic. The GM always plays the antagonist

And then you pretty much just play to see what happens. If Nic runs out of resources (once a Core Concept is out of resources, that concept is out of sequences) before the antagonist/GM, we have a Downer Ending. If he comes out with resources to spare, we have a Feel-Good Ending.

Posts: 3

« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 06:56:20 PM »

I was hoping someone else would reply, but my honest opinion is that this is one of the worst game ideas I've heard.  I'm not a Nicolas Cage fan, as I think he has one emote for everything-- but I put that aside and continued reading.  The further I got, the worse I felt.

1. Everyone is X may work if the game's assumed play supports it
2. The trait system you described reminds me of Dog's free form, but without the guidance in choosing.  In DitV, I know what kind of character I am and what stories I'll face.  I don't get either of that from yours-- I have no idea how Nic's hair is a bird could possibly work.
3. The mechanics actually make me grimace.  You seems to be using poker hands, but no draws or side board cards, or anything that would work with betting.  The forced bet and no fold option is odd when coupled with poker.  The dice added to certain cards is very wonky as written, but maybe could be saved with some more thought.
4. I don't know what your game is about-- what's the player motivation?  What kind of narrative can I expect, and how does it want to pull this off compared to other games.

Posts: 1

« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2011, 12:15:25 PM »

Hello.  I registered to reply to this thread, though I would have registered anyway eventually.

This is a great game idea.  With the right people, this would make for amazing beer & pretzels one-shots.  In a fantasy setting: Nic Cage is a wizard who is divorced and his ex hates him and he is trying to reconcile with his kids, Nic Cage is a traveling merchant who is not selling enough to get by and looking for his lost daughter, and Nic Cage is a warrior who has a very, very important mission that everyone seems to be screwing up for him (and an evil wizard switched his face with someone else's).

Each Nic Cage needs some mission that is really important to him and only him, but that can't be resolved in the near future.  You kind of address this in your clarification.

Also I really like the poker mechanic idea, as that is something that is really easy to grasp and everyone can understand it without too much fuss.  I think it does need something to mitigate the straight luck factor of being dealt a hand of five cards. 

Actually this game idea makes me want to get drunk and play poker while talking like Nicolas Cage.
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