Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

NGHB Power 19

Here’s my first stab at the Power 19.

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc2z93ks_0dw2rm5

I was also thinking about a way to show growth.  The darn click and lock system keeps popping in my head, as did the link misuba gave me about archetypes.

I think a character starts off with (to use round numbers) 20 descriptors.  Some come from his/her archetype, some from backgrounds, some are player authored (maybe a few from the GM and a few from other players.)  As play goes on, two descriptors come into conflict (say good hearted vs. egotistical.)  The character does something that is good hearted over egotistical, good hearted gets a point.  At a certain time, one descriptor is culled from the group (perhaps at the end of a session or 2-3 scenes, something…)  At the end of play, there is a group of descriptors.

It’s just an idea.  Thoughts?  Is there something similiar.

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July 19, 2007 - Posted by | Mecha

10 Comments »

  1. I haven’t read your Power 19 yet. It’s on my list of things to do tomorrow, as I’m trying to devote the rest of the night to working on my draft. But glancing through the latest posts, this got my attention:

    I think a character starts off with (to use round numbers) 20 descriptors. Some come from his/her archetype, some from backgrounds, some are player authored (maybe a few from the GM and a few from other players.)

    Having read a bit of Panty Explosion recently, this had a minorly similar feel, in that various traits came from elements of your character, like your birthday, your element, etc. I will explain this poorly, so let me pull up a good review for you: http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/12/12472.phtml

    I’d be happy to chat more about this later, but the idea that you have traits based of various elements of your character is one thing I found interesting in Jake’s design. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. Here are some comments on your Power 19:

    6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

    It will reward building a character arc and growing as an individual.

    Are you sure that isn’t what you’re rewarding the characters with, rather than what they do to earn the reward?

    14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?

    I want them to feel like they played in an epic where their resulting character is a different person than when he/she started in a 4-6 session game.

    I like this. I like this a lot.

    16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

    Big robots. I like big robots.

    You could play Battletech. Why are you making a roleplaying game?

    18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?

    To make litterally dozens of dollars.

    And here’s where I think you aren’t taking this process seriously. You also have a lot of “not sure” answers in there. Maybe you could tell us why you’re not sure, and go into detail — Are you completely drawing a blank? Do you have various ideas and you aren’t sure which is the ‘right’ one? What’s going on with each of these answers?

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  3. A couple of things popped into my mind looking at the “Not sure” entries there. Really, they just came into my head; they come with no warranty. But here goes.

    “How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?” Well, your game is about “characters making decisions which will affect their growth as characters.” This suggests that those decisions can’t already be made at the start of the game (which is presumably when character creation happens). So, fortunately you already have this strong interest in archetypes. You can use these to really tie players’ hands in the char-creation process, forcing them to take (say) three archetypes, each of which comes with five traits, one or more of which is probably going to contradict something else you’re going to end up with. That sets up a game in which you have to make choices, that get harder and harder. Ultima IV, w00t!

    “How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?” A phrase that really just came to me from nowhere: rolling the dice only ever results in changing who you are. If you want to resolve a conflict, look at who you are, because that’s all you have to work with; if who you are isn’t going to win you the conflict, your only choice is to roll the dice and take chances as to who you become. (Obviously you don’t want to leave character change entirely to chance, because you want players to make decisions. But you get the feel I’m going for.)

    “How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?” You have to reward people for making a character arc… which could be as simple as saying, hey, you had one archetype, now you’ve drifted over to another, congratulations, have some candy. All very Key-like, and Keys are lovely and may be exactly what you want. But it may be that you don’t want to just say, anytime you go from one archetype to another that’s an “arc.” You may want to get more specific, and say you’re specifically looking for stories where the tough sergeant finds his heart of gold, or the tough sergeant becomes a bitter old crank, or what have you – not just any change, but changes you specifically say are cool. That may come down to just… having a list. Sort of like reverse life-paths or something… could be dumb, but might be really fun, I dunno.

    Finally, because it wouldn’t be fair if I harped on this with everyone else and not with you: “Who is your target audience?” “Mecha fans” is, I suspect, much more vague than your real answer. Non-gamer mecha fans? Mecha fans who already play existing RPGs? Mecha fans accustomed to spending five hours at a stretch doing something having to do with mecha, or more like an hour a week? The answers matter, not just to your game’s text but to its design.

    And I have to disagree with Ryan: the publishing-goals question is completely worth being flippant about, at this stage. It doesn’t matter yet. Let’s at least find out what you’re making first.

    Comment by misuba | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  4. Ryan,

    Thanks for reading the Power 19. I warned you it was a little less than perfect.

    > Are you sure that isn’t what you’re rewarding the characters with, rather than what they do to earn the reward?

    It’s an interesting juxtaposition and you’re right, growth is the final reward. In some ways, I think I misread the question because growth is rewarded…with more growth. The reinforcing behavior would be getting into conflicts which allow your character to grow.

    > You could play Battletech. Why are you making a roleplaying game?

    I do play Battletech and Robotech, a little MekTon, I own a bunch of Heavy Gear books, etc. etc. Why I am making a roleplaying game…because I want to. Because I have an area of passion (both to write games and for mecha anime) that I feel I can contribute to and because each of those games has left me a bit wanting.

    BT-> Chargen is terrible and fosters a certain style of play (typically either a merc company or a Clan unit.) BT is hard sci fi so there is little of the anime weirdness which can add a little fun to the game.

    RoboTech is great. It has a bit more of an anime feel to it, but because it’s Palladium, the game centers heavily around combat with few mechanics to deal with other types of conflict.

    MekTon and Heavy Gear offer certain niceties in rules and settings, but they tend to be focused on the big robots to the exclusion of everything else.

    I want to have combat and I want to have big robotos, but I want to focus on the human side of things as well. I’ll reiterate what I said below… For me, mecha anime is the story of two things: the relationship between a pilot and the mecha and the relationship between a pilot and those around him/her. I think that it’s amazing to have people climb inside of their mecha and turn problems into nails for which they are the biggest, baddest hammers. Then outside of the mecha they have issues they can’t use guns to deal with and they are stuck or worse yet someone brings in not battle problems (hostages, choose who lives, etc.) that pierce the invulnerability of the mecha. Rarely is anime focused on the logistical/tactical struggles of combat. Instead, it’s about people making crap choices and trying to get things better.

    So perhaps that’s a better answer in the game.

    As for your last response, I apologize that I have given any indication that I’m not taking seriously anything seriously because I can’t see anything that’s further from the truth. No one can see it, but I’ve been spending a lot of time reading Story Games, the Forge, and other books trying to decide which direction I am heading.

    I know that my answer to publishing was glib and it was meant to be a joke, but that doesn’t mean I’m not serious. I guess I don’t know how to answer that game except to say “I’d like it to be published.” What other answer is there? It’s a roleplaying book, so by definition, it’s not going to sell a million copies. I’d like people to pop down a bit cash and go off with something they think is cool maybe even love. I’d settle for having something they think is worth the risk of parting with their money. Is that a publishing goal? If so, then great. If not, I’m clueless as to how to answer.

    I do have a large number of not sures in there because I’m not sure. I feel like I am this point where I have the basic outline of the game in my head. Make characters using archetypes, give characters their descriptions, play, lose the descriptors. If anyone asks me how any of that works, then I’ve got a bunch of ideas. I am not finding any of them particularly unique or groundbreaking or even evolutionary on top of another idea. I also am still not sure how descriptors and archetypes fit together or if they do. And if they don’t, which idea do I find more compelling…

    How do I make players feel like they’ve been in an epic in 4-6 sessions? No idea. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I am reaching out to y’all because I feel like there’s power in some of the stray ideas, I just want to figure out which ones make sense.

    Also, I am struggling to move beyond trad gaming where behavior is rewarded by magic swords +1 and more XP. So ideas aren’t coming to me as fast as I’d like.

    I had nothing when I started except a vague concept of mecha + archetype = something neat maybe. My normal creative process is very brain dumpy so I expect a lot of false starts and not sures. If it makes me seem more into the process, I will gladly fill out the Power 19 with all my ideas and go from there to show that I am thinking about things.

    Comment by commondialog | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  5. misuba, there’s a lot of good stuff in there. I am really looking forward to making Ultima IV the game… wait a minute…

    This sentence: “rolling the dice only ever results in changing who you are” should officially be considered stolen. You’ll be thanked in the credits 🙂

    I do keep coming back to this idea of keys, but I keep trying to fit keys, archetypes and descriptors together. It’s going to be an interest ride.

    Thanks for your comments. I am pointedly ignoring your comments about target audience, but you’re right. I need to define it better. But I keep thinking that a lot of games transcend what they are ostensibly about… Contenders is a good example. There is more there than just for boxing fans. I want NGHB to be like that.

    Comment by commondialog | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  6. And I have to disagree with Ryan: the publishing-goals question is completely worth being flippant about, at this stage. It doesn’t matter yet. Let’s at least find out what you’re making first.

    I don’t think we’re totally in disagreement. Here’s definitely where “not sure” applies, but when I read that my gut reaction was “C’mon Chris, we’re trying to be serious about helping you here.” To be fair, I got serious (if a little weak, but the idea *is* really new so that’s to be expected) out of the rest of the doc.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  7. I know that my answer to publishing was glib and it was meant to be a joke, but that doesn’t mean I’m not serious. I guess I don’t know how to answer that game except to say “I’d like it to be published.” What other answer is there? It’s a roleplaying book, so by definition, it’s not going to sell a million copies.

    My publishing goal for a couple other projects is “See the light of day as a free little PDF,” so there are alternatives. But yeah, to be fair, it is pretty early for that question.

    I feel like I am this point where I have the basic outline of the game in my head. Make characters using archetypes, give characters their descriptions, play, lose the descriptors. If anyone asks me how any of that works, then I’ve got a bunch of ideas. I am not finding any of them particularly unique or groundbreaking or even evolutionary on top of another idea.

    If I may ask, is being “particularly unique or groundbreaking or even evolutionary on top of another idea” a design goal for every element of your game?

    It’s okay to steal, to borrow, to decide to make some element of your system more ‘trad’ or whatever if that means you’ll get the ball rolling. In the game my neighbor’s developing, it started on as essentially “the Storyteller system with cards”, then to “Dogs in the Vineyard but with cards”, and over the last several months its evolved into something that’s really its own thing.

    He’s been chewing on this core mechanic since last November, so don’t expect it to be a quick process like Game Chef makes it feel. It’s totally cool to have an idea, try it, decide it doesn’t work, document why (very important here) and try another idea — that’s a long way of saying “If ‘not sure’ means ‘I have a dozen ideas,’ write those down somewhere.”

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  8. I can dig it. I need to have my brain dump where I throw everything on to paper like I did for Last Gen.

    As for being particularly unique or groundbreaking or even evolutionary on top of another idea, that’s not my goal for all mechanics, but I would like to eventually end up with something that is or some mix of mechanics that takes existing mechanics and does something unique.

    I think back to your first question…why play NGHB over BESM? For me, the answer is that there will be something cool, evolutionary, new, different. That’s my quest.

    Comment by commondialog | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  9. As for being particularly unique or groundbreaking or even evolutionary on top of another idea, that’s not my goal for all mechanics, but I would like to eventually end up with something that is or some mix of mechanics that takes existing mechanics and does something unique.

    Fair enough, but don’t force it — innovation for innovation’s sake is often less interesting and useful than innovation due to a determined need.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  10. True and if I strive too hard for that one coolest idea I might never write the damn thing. (I think Mur said that one time… :))

    Thanks for the advice. 🙂

    Comment by commondialog | July 20, 2007 | Reply


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