Thursday, February 7, 2013

Choose Your Doom, Players

I've been playing around with the idea of players outlining scenario/campaigns for their PCs to survive - and letting them choose the amount of risk vs. reward they want to take on. I think my first serious introduction to it was John Wick's Wilderness of Mirrors, where as the players develop the mission from the GM's premise, they get the equivalent of plot points.

Now I wouldn't want to do this for every mission, but it would definitely clear up a concern I have about players not getting the spot light time they want, or feeling like they are getting challenged enough (or perhaps they just want a laid back, casual, run and gun scenario versus the nail biting, everything is at risk type of scenario).

What would it look like? It's is going to vary from game to game - my Dresden Files game is going to have different challenges than a D&D game. But some basics I would expect there to be a premise, challenges, and rewards. Using my Dresden game as a basis:

Premise: One line summary is happening. "A conclave of evil wizards is headed into Denver to summon the dark gods."

Challenges: There are three primary challenges:
  1. Determining who the wizards are;  
  2. Determining how they are going to do it; and
  3. Stopping them from summoning the dark gods.
Challenge 1: Who Are the Evil Wizards
  • Large number of Wizards, who have powerful lackeys.
  • Other wizards are in town, who may be innocent of THIS plot.
 Challenge 2: How Will It Happen
  • Happening at a collection of ley line points outside of town.
  • Going to require a large sacrifice of energy, perhaps a local spirit, perhaps lots of people. It won't be subtle.
  • Requires knowledge and understanding of the rites.
Challenge 3: Stopping Them
  • Direct force at the ritual site with ensuing pyrotechnics of massive wizardry battle.
  • Obtaining all resources before they get them, preventing them from summoning local spirit to sacrifice, rescuing kidnapped children.

Rewards: Significant Milestone, or Major with combination of another plot line, such as the New World Order pursuing one of the PCs.

For another system, I'd want to rate each challenge based on the number of obstacles and the difficulty of each obstacle. I probably could do it with this game, and granting each area a "Max" rating from +1 to +20 for the max skill of the opposition.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Do The Players Do?

I feel like I have trouble describing what is critical in my game for people to be able to do. The core of many games could be considered: 1) Fight; 2) Explore; and 3) Socialize. I think this came up most  with the D&D Next play test; however, I also saw it in reference to a Marvel Super Heroes hack where instead of "Solo/Buddy/Team," the split was along "Fight/Explore/Socialize" dynamic.

For my games, I'd probably alter the default list slightly and add a fourth category: 1) Fight; 2) Explore/Movement; 3) Investigate; and 4) Slice of Life. To break it down:
  • Fight: Fighting is easy, doing harm and avoiding harm done to you. You can scale this up to size of the fight and range.
  • Explore/Movement: Movement within spaces, as well as getting places in particular methods. Primarily for overcoming environmental obstacles, and the occasional chase scene.
  • Investigate: Replaces social in my eyes, because generally people don't generally talk to just talk, or rather, they do, but dice don't hit the table then, they talk to find out stuff. Plus, the good ole "search the room for the clue" schtick.
  • Slice of Life: My games seems to have a lot of the players just wanting to explore the world, set up merchant empires and other things that don't bring them into conflict with other people, but may generate plot lines that do so.
I think the problem with this set-up comes that Fight/Explore are what you do; Investigate is what you do; Social is how you do it, so if perhaps we added a fifth category of "Influence" that would make more sense for when I tell people what my games are generally about is the following, in order of game time used: Investigation, Influence/Fighting, Exploration, and Slice of Life. That seems a better representation of at least how my Changeling and Dresden Files games represent themselves.