Ben's Game Thread

Started by Ben Lehman, September 10, 2010, 11:11:47 PM

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Ben Lehman

What if we had a game which was focused on socialization, but gamist in the way that Moldvay D&D was gamist (half martialling your system resources, half creativity.


Races: I think things like Roman, East Roman, Baghdadi, Suzhounese, etc.

Attributes: Skin as an attribute. Perhaps it reflects your beauty without clothes? Other attributes would be things like Grace, Style, Perseverance.

Encounters are with both magical creatures and ordinary humans. The basic combat action is to "entice" someone at which point they will do whatever you want them to do. To do this you drop them to zero "Restraint" via various moves, dancing, singing, etc. Other maneuvers are possible as well, as well as general "try anything" sort of actions.



So how are the other elements involved in your concept? I see the city and skin, but what about edge or desert?

Ben Lehman

Skin is the one I'm stuck with. I only need two others.

Desert could easily be an encounter area of some sort.
Edge, I think, would likely be a mechanical term, either a measure of advantage on someone, or to push someone very slightly.
City could also be an encounter area of some variety.

Basically, I'm not overly worried I'm pretty sure that this is where they'll come from.

I'm trying to decide about how to handle the races. Should I do specifics (Persian, Bagdhadi, Suzhounese, etc) or more general swathes (China, India, Arabia, Africa, Deepest Africa, etc.)

Ben Lehman

Dancers: Dancers are the best straight-up enticers of the group: the bread and butter of any troupe. They make heavy use of Skin and Grace.

Seamstress: Seamstresses fix things, and not just clothes (although they will fix clothes.) They can also fix wounds, hearts, and so on. Their moral purity provides the ethical center of the group. Heavy use of Perserverance.

Talespinner: Talespinners are enormously powerful: their stories can effect large groups, and so on. However, they must guard their voice: use it too often, and they will find themselves unable to speak. Heavy use of Grace and Style.

Courtesean: Courteseans are considerably more fragile than dancers, but can inflict amazing enticements if they're set up for it. They also have a variety of sneaky tricks. Heavy use of Style and skin

I'm thinking about having some "special classes," too:
Swan Lady

etc. Perhaps these are only available after you have reached your characters ending and started a new character.

Ben Lehman


When a character does something bad or encounters something wicked, that is a ill omen.
When a character does something good or encounters something saintly, that is a good omen.

When your character is done, roll good omen vs. bad omen. Winning side determines whether your ending is happy or not.

Fate / Doom: Each character has at least a fate or a doom. As you advance, you can add or rewrite each. These inform the good and bad endings that you can reach.

Additionally, if you are in pursuit of your fate or your doom, you get both bonuses and experience points.

There are five levels: each with its own names for a class. Upon obtaining the fifth level, this character no longer gains benefit from experience, and may choose to retire at an appropriate time, drawing Omen and going to their proper fate. That player may then make a new character, if necessary.

You advance a level when you've obtained enough experience: through enticements and desirings, through fate, through wealth, through prestige, or through power. When you get a new level, you gain more forbearance, and additional abilities determined by your class.

Brendan C.

I've been saying this a lot lately, but, NEAT.

I actually very much like the idea of social combat as the primary focus for the game, the primary means of getting things done, with each character being designed to "fight" socially in a different manner. But I'm curious about how you would deal with the idea of a physical fight breaking out in the game. Right now, as I think about D&D, if a social conflict breaks out, you either solve it with a throwaway Diplomacy check, or you solve it by actually talking it out. If a physical conflict breaks out, you go to the combat rules. So in your game, I'm imagining those two things switched. Am I correct in my assumption, or are you going to be dealing with physical combat in a different way? Is it going to be set up so that physical combat is entirely undesirable, or entirely unlikely to crop up?

Jason Pitre

Love the idea.  As a follow up to Brendan C. post, the idea of a focus on social combat seems particularly rich.  Have you considered including a very simple "Violence" mechanic?  Treat violence with the same mechanical care in this game as D&D treats diplomacy, to emphasize the difference in focus?   

Looking forward to hearing more.
Genesis of Legend Publishing
Telling New Stories around the Digital Fire

David Berg

I'm curious what socialization means in this context.  Is there any core motive or goings-on that leads to all these enticement attempts?  Is some fictional outcome the focus, or is it inter-player competition where he with the most thralls wins?
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Ben Lehman

To answer the repeated question: I'm not sure "what about physical combat?" My thought is twofold:

Remember that my model is not 3e, with diplomacy checks and such, but Moldvay, which has no social model whatsoever but nonetheless implies you could talk your way out of an encounter. So my thought is, when there's physical stuff, you just do it. If it seems hard, the GM might ask for an ability check. I had thought about including an analogous attribute to Charisma (some sort of dump stat that represented physical strength) but I don't think there's a need (I can't imagine a physical action that could be covered by Grace or Perseverance).

In addition, the Courtesan is going to have some random special abilities some of which will be physical.

David asks a good question, which is "why?" My thought is "you're an adventuring party! you go adventuring" but there should honestly be some reasons for it. My model game (Moldvay) has this awesome chart with 20 reasons that you might go adventuring. So here's a few.

1) Tracking down a lost love / lost husband. Someone (perhaps even one of you) has engaged the group to help find her missing beloved, who vanished suddenly a month ago while on caravan to Baghdad.

2) Escorting a princess. The Princess of the Scythians is to be married to the emperor. As it would be improper for her to have a male personal guard, you've been recruited to help her with the journey. But Al-ta-ir, the bandit captain, is in love with her. Can you protect her from him, and should you?

3) Captured! You have been captured by slavers to be sold at the slave markets in Marrakesh. Can you escape this fate?

4) A curse. One of you has been cursed by an angry jinn. Now you must travel to the flying city to try to find someone with the authority to remove the curse.

5) Conquest. The Tyrant's forces have taken over the city. Can you destroy his government from within or find a place in the new order?

6) The witch-king is interested in a truce, but it must be carried by the three most beautiful women in the realm. Naturally, that's you ...