Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Oh yeah, and that other problem…conflict resolution

I forgot one other issue with Know Thyself: I have nothing for PC vs. PC conflicts.  The fact that I forgot to put it in my last post might suggest that I don’t have a good handle on that idea.  Such a suggestion would be very correct.

Here’s the central conflict resolution mechanic, in a nutshell:  Start with a normal 52-card deck.  Shuffle all the cards.  The player involved in the conflict draws the top card.  If they don’t like that card, they may discard it and draw the second.  They may do this one more time, though whatever they’re stuck with whatever they draw, even if it’s worse than the card before.  When they’re done drawing, the GM cuts the deck and plays the undercard.  The higher card rank wins, with ties going to the player.  (Aces are a special rank — they’re low against number cards, but high against face cards.  That presented some neat effects in play.)

As far as what happens as a result of wining, that depends on the number of cards the player drew if the player wins.  If the player wins and he only drew one, he achieves total victory.  If he drew a second, he achieves a major victory but must give a minor concession (inspired by the idea of concessions in Burning Wheel).  If he drew a third, the victory is minor and the concession is significant.

On the other hand, if the GM wins, it’s always a total victory.  As Remi Treuer pointed out when reviewing my Game Chef game, this isn’t an optimal solution.  I ‘fessed up to it being a result of lazy/rushed designing, but also that I intentionally wanted the players to have more options here.

At the Nerdly Beach Party playtest, two characters wanted to get into a conflict.  Because the system didn’t really handle that, the quickly turned it into them having a conflict against the environment (which the system was designed for, if not particularly well) — one to convince the guards to attack the other, and the other defending himself against the guards.  They both won against the guards, and I was at a loss for what that meant, but they were not: they both clearly understood it to mean the guards had no problem attacking and he had no problem defeating them.  So, they hacked the system some to get what they wanted, and they had a neat scene, but it was in spite of my mechanics rather than because of it.

I need to chew on the system a lot more, as I want memories to have more of a mechanical play.  The reason I went with cards is because the suit also matters, but not for who wins the conflict — suits are how you determine which type of memory you gain from the conflict and which of you memory attachments it’s attached to.

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June 12, 2007 - Posted by | Know Thyself

9 Comments »

  1. It’d be pretty great if there were some elegant way to elide the whole possibility of PvP conflict. Either in-game or … man, that’s the worst word ever right there, “in-game;” I mean by story means or by rules means or both.

    Of course, I again say this without knowing what I’m talking about, having played, etc. I only say it because I like the notion of pissing off all the face-stabbers out there.

    Comment by misuba | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. My current thoughts are to work the conflict & endgame relationship to where good endgame situations come from how you do with conflicts against the environment/GM/NPCs/whatever, and nothing good coming from PvP conflicts.

    Character’s might grow into conflict situations — I don’t want to completely stop that and I think I would get being bitching if I left it out. That said, I think my reward/endgame system will negatively reward those participating in PvP — sort of a “Sure, you can do that, if you don’t like winning or anything.” If I set it up to where PvP conflicts bring people farther away from a good endgame, that might do a better job than just telling people they can’t.

    At the very least, I’m not going to let people gain memories via PvP conflicts. That feels like a cheap way to build your idea of yourself up without interacting with the environment.
    My next game will now be Face Stab: True Combat Roleplaying. There are social traits, relationships, ideals and intellectual skills, but no rules for combat. You truly roleplay combat as a narrative, using your other elements to gain narrative control. Think of it like Fight Club the RPG. (Okay, I’m kidding, but given how much I love Fight Club, maybe not entirely.)

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. There are at least a few great games to be mined (*cough*) out of Fight Club. Let’s put Jake Richmond on it. (If we don’t mind all the characters becoming Japanese teenagers, that is)

    Comment by misuba | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  4. Either him or JJ Prince, if we want a really dirty variant of Contenders. Ohh, their games could fight! It would be so meta.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | June 12, 2007 | Reply

  5. Here’s one option for PvP. Both players draw and reveal a card. The currently losing player can chose to either give or draw another card. If their new card is winning, the other player now chooses, otherwise they choose or draw again. Continue until one player is losing and has drawn three cards (and thus has to give). At the end, the victory that the winning player gets is determined by the number of cards the loser drew: one is a minor victory, two is a major victory, and three is a total victory. So the choice when losing is to either give or try to win but potentially dig yourself into a deeper hole.

    Note also that this generalizes to GM vs. Player. The GMs victory is determined by the number of cards the player drew.

    Comment by ptevis | June 13, 2007 | Reply

  6. Hmm. There are two thoughts I have here:

    (1) I’m looking at killing the GM role. That means distributing the authority. I’m not 100% sold on this, because there’s some good adversity from the GM setup, but I have been leaning towards at the very minimum including how to play it as a GM-less game. (Or, the converse, because some folks might dig this game as purely players but uncomfortable with authority, and I don’t think the game requires that.) But, that’s another post.

    (2) I don’t want to get the GM too many tactical choices. He can already lay the hammer down when the player hands him the memory or the conflict result to narrate.

    That was part of my rationale with not letting the GM draw any more cards. I wanted to get that out real quick.

    As PvP though, I’ll have to try it out. And I do like the idea that degree of failure could be linked to the same thing — the number of cards the player drew. Something really good to chew on, whether GM or GM-less.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | June 13, 2007 | Reply

  7. Ryan, why would there need to be PvP conflict? Why would players try to block another’s attempt to get a memory from a room?

    Perhaps a PvP conflict results in the loss of a memory for the loser, and quite possibly even a delay for the winner as well.

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | June 14, 2007 | Reply

  8. Ryan, to clarify, I’m not saying the GM should be able to draw more cards. I’m saying the GM’s margin could be determined by how many cards the player chooses to draw.

    Comment by ptevis | June 14, 2007 | Reply

  9. Paul — yeah, that clicked that about half-way through my comment reply. I’m definitely going to try that and see what play emerges.

    Daniel — The problem with my posts is that I’m jumping in the middle. You might want to read the first section of my GC document, but in short, here’s what happens:
    (1) Player gets into some conflict in the palace, like, say, tries to subdue his assailant.
    (2) Regardless of result, the act of the conflict will trigger a memory. This memory need not be related to the conflict at hand, as it’s going to be related to a number of other elements.

    I am hesitant of allowing for memory loss, because that gives some control back to the player if they don’t like how a memory turned out when they handed that off to the GM.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | June 14, 2007 | Reply


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