Master Mines

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Pushing Ahead

After a lot of deliberation, I’ve settled on a direction I want to take the scene framing in Kingdom.

The scenes progress like most games, where the GM is usually the one deciding what direction the plot is headed. The exception to this rule is when a player wants to purchase Hope, Despair and Secrets. When this happens, they call for a scene in which there’s a mechanical objective (usually gain attribute X) and a set type of conflict. The scenes cost xp, and there’s not a garauntee they’ll get what they’re looking for. They’re focused on the player who bought them, and the other players can either help run the scene, have their characters in the scene or take a break (or if the GM puts it off until the end of the session he can just run it for that person). Though they can be worked into the Metaplot the GM has going, they don’t have to be. More on Metaplot later…

Here are the types of scenes (as they stand):

– Burden Scene (internal conflict):
– Mechanical Objective: Lower your Despair
– Conflict: The character is put in a situation that directly makes them deal with
one of their Burdens (a Burden is essentially a hardship like drug addiction, sickness, broken foot, etc…you get one Burden for every point of Despair you have)

– Survival Scene (external conflict):
– Mechanical Objective: Gain Hope
– Conflict: Survive a situation on the Street or in the Nothing…get food/money, survive an attack from a cobweb, Escape from a hostile gathering

– Remembrance Scene:
– Mechanical Objective: Raise the cap on how much Survival and Lucidity you can have at a time (it’ll start maxing out at 7, then when you find out one of your secrets your characters will to survive and mental clarity increase, so the cap is raised higher)
– Conflict: Deal with something out of your past


Though it would be cool if I could make players take one scene at the cost of another like Paul suggested, I feel like this is working pretty well on it’s own in my head.

My lunch is ending so I wanted to jot down an idea I had for handling Metaplot quickly. I was a little wary about the idea of seperating ‘personal scenes’ from ‘metaplot’ because before the game was 100% focused on character development, and the more I developed all the other aspects of the game the further I drifted from that. The solution I’m thinking about is that the plot the GM runs for the players is a metaphor for what happened to the characters in their past. It’s along the lines of those movies where you learn about the character and their problems at the outset, they get sucked into a fantasy world adventure where they solve a similar dilema and when they get back they fix everything. Think labyrinth, mirrormask and, most appropriately, Fisher King.

That’s what I’ve got so far.


October 10, 2007 - Posted by | Kingdom of Nothing


  1. Hi Jeff,

    Why is the GM bringing the plot? My understanding of your game so far is that the larger elements of where the story is going to go is hardwired into the game. Can you give examples of what you are thinking of the kind of plots the GM would bring?

    Comment by iamclyde | October 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hi Jeff,

    I’m not sure that last post is getting to what I’m trying to point at.

    D+D is a toolbox. It’s a game that tells you about setting, and game physics, but not story. The GM brings the story, or if you run like me, is the facilitator of the story. Totally understood here.

    Kingdom of Nothing is not a toolbox. It says stories go this way. It is facilitating the story. I don’t understand GM bringing the plot here, it seems counter productive. This is what I’m questioning.

    Comment by iamclyde | October 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. Maybe it is counter productive. let me explain my rationale…

    I want the characters doing more than fighting monsters to find strength to get out of their hole. I want to put them through a gauntlet and place them in situations where they have to make similar choices to the ones that got them into the situations they’re in.

    Also, I wasn’t interested in creating a strictly round-robin style of game. I want there to be one plotline that brings the characters together and gives them all something to work on together, but still links back to all of their backstories. I was explaining the concept to JJ and I used an example with a character called Hamlet, who’s main background looked like this

    [Financial advisor – Embezzled money from theatre – ran off with theatre owner’s wife – wife turned him in for reward money.]:

    With Hamlet, the main conflict of the plot was that he
    was seduced and betrayed. This same thing can happen in his new life.
    Maybe he’s seduced by a member of a rival Gathering, gives up the
    Forgotten Place to the Gathering, then the seducer betrays him. The
    betrayal could be something along the lines of sending him into the
    sewers to die at the hands of some huge minotaur-esque cobweb.

    Obviously there’s a lot of places you can go with this besides the
    example I gave you (in fact the one that I gave isn’t great, because
    it involves a predetermined action for the PC rather than just framing
    the scene and letting the player take it where they want), but it’s an
    example of what I’m talking about with taking thematic elements from
    the players backstory and using it in the metaplot.

    There’s a lot of antagonists built in to the game, cobwebs are the
    obvious choice, because they’re the easiest to use. They’re not
    always the most interesting though. Other gatherings usually make
    better antogonists because they’re more multi-dimensional. Also, I’ve
    been looking into using the criminalization of homelessness as a major
    thematic resource. It’s the trend of major cities to try
    and get rid of it’s homeless population by doing things like making
    sleeping in publing/squatting illegal even though the population of
    homeless far outweighs the available space in shelters. Just this
    week a man was put on trial in Orlando for feeding the homeless.
    Though the police won’t see the Lost unless they’re doing something
    illegal/threatening/sleeping, that doesn’t stop the city from sending
    in the police to evict the squatters residing in an abandoned building
    slated for demolition…

    The metaplot is largely the same story the game is already trying to facillitate, only it’s told in a way that lets everyone participate.

    …at least, that’s my idea. I think I’m going to see it up to the playtest and if it gets in the way of what the game’s already doing on it’s own, I’m going to scrap it.

    Comment by jhimmelman | October 13, 2007 | Reply

  4. Jeff,

    I’m interested to see how the playtest works out. I found that I really liked the specific scenes and how they work mechanically. I also liked that you spend XP to call for them.

    I also get the idea of how the metaplot works and if you can make it work in the game, I think it’s going to be sweet.

    Comment by commondialog | October 13, 2007 | Reply

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