Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Concepts are people too… wait, I may have that backwards

So, that thing of Vincent’s I read yesterday, which somehow got me to realize what should have been obvious: that every time you build a game mechanic, you should be thinking solely about the people at the table and how they’re going to interact as a result. I’m thinking about that a lot, and at the same time, I’m trying to write the next bit of my next draft of Outside Men. And I’m stuck.

I had this idea for what I jokingly referred to before as “character advancement:” what I was calling Goals. The idea was inspired by the Dharma Paths in Jonathan Walton’s Avatar game, and it went along vaguely (and I mean vaaaaaaguely) similar lines. The idea is you’d have two things on two different index cards, one of them a goal that the Alive side of you would want to achieve and the other a goal for your Dead side. Mind you, the game’s fiction doesn’t really allow for people being partly Dead and partly Alive; the idea was that which side you’re really on would remain a Schrodinger’s-cat deal, “secret” (really just open to future determination) until revealed. Which Goals you went for was supposed to be dependent entirely on story, except that whether you had achieved more Alive goals or Dead ones affected how well you’d do when rolling on Alive or Dead difficulties. (Elements were going to have two different difficulty tracks to bid up, yes. I am killing the hell out of that idea, don’t worry.)

I feel like I’m talking a lot and not saying much, here. Which is fine, because this is what it comes down to: I want the players of Outside Men to take strong actions that are ambiguous. I want them to conceal their intentions, have conflicted (and conflicting) allegiances with the other players, to switch sides and fight with themselves and maybe be unaware of themselves, but finally to show their true colors in gloriously horrible moments of self-sacrifice or mere self-destruction.

But I don’t know how to make the game make people want that. You know?

Rewards, baby. Hard stuff. I feel like there’s some simplest-thing-that-could-possibly-work hanging right in front of my face but I can’t see it right now. I certainly don’t think the Goals mechanic I envisioned is going to serve.

June 21, 2007 - Posted by | Outside Men

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