Friday, May 26, 2006

Explaining Conflict Types

In working on my current game, I have decided to use Conflicts as the center of each scene (ala PTA.) We started to define those Conflicts a bit last night, but I wanted to throw it out to the group to see if I could get some nice clear descriptions of the different Conflict types and the scenarios that they would cover. Here are the 6 conflict types we came up with along with my (brief) view on what they embody.
  • Physical - When your health is at stake.
    • Overcoming obstacles through violence, athletics, overall healthiness.
  • Romantic - When your love life is at stake.
    • Overcoming obstacles through seduction, romantic love, or romantic bond (i.e. SO or Marriage)
  • Social - When your social standing is at stake.
    • Overcome obstacles through social pressure, social bond, or networking.
  • Professional - When your money/job is at stake.
    • Overcoming obstacles through knowledge, Professional power, or money
  • Moral - When your "soul" is at stake.
    • Overcoming obstacles through your convictions or willingness to take the "easy" way out.
  • Internal - When your nature is at stake.
    • Overcoming obstacles by choosing to fight your nature to be able to do what you want/need to.
Any and all suggestions on conflict types, what is at stake, or explaining the conflict would be most appreciated.

****Edit Begin****
Here is a little more info (now that I have thought about it) to address John's Comment.

The Conflict Type is used to provide a framework for the Conflict in the scene and the resulting narration. Thus, having a scene with "A hurt stranger" takes on a much different feel if the conflict is Moral (should I help him) vs Professional (I'm a doctor ... I must help him) vs Romantic (damsel in distress.)

In game terms:
  • Players will have conflict types that they are better or worse at.
    • "The Popular Person" is good at Social Conflicts (Me and My Friends ...) and bad at Internal Conflicts. (Talk about Shallow)
  • Obstacles will count as certain types of conflict.
    • "The Big Game" could be used as a Professional Conflict (Sports is my Job) or a Physical Conflict. (I must win)
  • Locations will modify conflict resolution or reward.
    • Behind the Bleachers" +1 Draw for Romantic Conflicts (Kissing). -1 Draw for Physical Conflicts. (Getting beat up)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ninja Death Theatre

Back in the day you had to come up with something fun to role-play EVERY DAY. We’d meet before class and discuss the idea. At lunch we’d play it. One game that had a good run of sessions is one I call Ninja Death Theatre, and I think it’s an idea that’s due resurrecting.

You are a ninja. Here’s a map. You are here. You must get there.
Why am I standing at the edge of a huge Japanese garden? Why is that garden a maze of ponds, lagoons, rope bridges, parallel bars, balance beams, pits, ramps, and cargo nets? What lies through the gate at the opposite side? Empty your mind of these questions and focus at the task at hand.

Ninja Death Theatre is a purely tactical adventure game of gritty no-holds-barred ninja combat. The goal is to successfully run a gauntlet of prepared obstacles, traps, and enemy ninjas. We played this one-on-one without any mechanics beyond the social contract.

My dream is to come up with mechanics that match the imaginative gameplay we had when we played this back in high school, i.e…

To the ninja, everything is a weapon…

I’d like to see a mechanic that sets up situations where improvised tactics and weapons are required and rewarded. Maybe standardized weapons, tools, and tactics have very set stats and capabilities. When you improvise you can change and exceed these stats for the term of one conflict. There would still be a deep and varied enough pool of “stuff” to allow for meaningful tactical choices. To improvise, you MUST use something in the scene, either on the map itself, or in the narration.

You know that scene where the ninja kills, like, five guys in one round?

I’d like to see a mechanic where ninjas must deal with things that happen too fast to react too. Maybe instead of things happening once per round, some things can happen “between rounds”. The only way to deal with them is to pile up some kind of debt. The deeper the debt gets, the greater the results of failure. Part of the game then becomes trying to get into a clear space where you can rest for a beat and clear your debt.

As some of you know, tactical gameplay isn’t my forte (though I’ve been consistently trying to improve it). I tried something like this with DungeonPunk, which turned out OK (DungeonPunk previously discussed here, here, and here. I’m not yet ready to make this into a fully fledged game, but I think I’m getting there.


I'd like to tie this in with Phil's cool post previous to this. How about each ninja has a pool of numbers or rolls, as well as some equipment and moves that have a number assigned (i.e. they can be used with this number at any time). The only way to get a roll on a number you don't have in your pool or an item of EQ is to improvise. When you improvise, you also get to describe the cool thing you're doing, of course.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Don't Waste Those Rolls, Use 'em

Gamers like dice. Gamers like rolling their dice, at any old time, regardless of whether they're actually engaging the game mechanics. But gamers hate to "waste good rolls." What to do about that?

Presenting: Fortune at the Beginning (FatB). Roll your dice first, and record the results. Then start playing. When a conflict arises, choose a result that will support your desired outcome and use it: "my 20 means that I get to throw you off the building." Cross off results as you use them.

You'll need some kind of control to keep the gamers from just rolling until they get the good numbers they want - otherwise, why bother? So, before the game starts, roll ten dice and record those numbers in a box. You can't use any new numbers until those ten have been used and crossed off.

You could allow the players to keep rolling casually during play, and record those results in another box, up to ten results, and then in another box, and so forth. That allows continuous play and caters to the natural tendency to roll dice whenever, as mentioned. However, it may also push the players to demand lots of petty conflicts in order to use up the "bad' rolls and get to their next pool of results.

The other option would be to have refreshment scenes, as in The Shadow of Yesterday, during which the player gets to roll his next set of ten numbers. That may also have the effect of keeping players from rolling dice the rest of the time, so as not to "waste" any good rolls that might come up.

Before making this post, I asked John whether he knew of any games using FatB. He couldn't name any, but did point me to this four-year-old thread on the Forge where someone asked a similar question (does Fortune at the Beginning exist, and how would it work?). It's worth checking for a little further discussion of the idea and some more thoughts on how a FatB system might work.


Vincent offers up a nice explanation of IIEE, or "Intent, Initiation, Exectution, and Effect." A simple but important concept.

Clinton also has a good version in the TSOY text.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Friend Map

So I don't know if people are at all interested in this, but the above link is to a "friend map" so we can see where everyone is. If people are interested then someone who knows how should add the link to the side bar.

When you add yourself, drop a comment here just to say that you did it. If you don't mind of course.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Magicians of England Play Aid

I just finished up a play aid that I've been working on for Magicians of England. It's still a bit rough around the edges, and the pdf conversion is not the best, but I think it's near 90% there. It provides a flowchart for creating characters and other plot elements in the game, with a big list of sample characteristics on the back. These are meant as inspiration, not as a confining list. I thought I'd post it up here, as I always seem to do better work when I show it off regularly.

Magicians of England Play Aid 1