Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

In a way, I am not entirely happy about what I am discussing, but this might be because of my position on mechanics, and the ability to carry settings rather more easily than other things.

Settings sell, and the colour of games sell. The opposite also holds true, because we use the game’s setting and colour to decide if we are to buy the game, quite often. As I’ve told elsewhere, I was initially not sold on Tony Lower-Basch’s capes, because I shy away from superhero games, and it was billed as a superhero game. I purchased it once I’ve been convinced I could take from it what I wanted without dabbling in supers.

There is obviously the movement within story games to tie colour, or at least theme, to the mechanics, so you should be able to pick a setting and find mechanics that support it, or pick a set of mechanics and find a setting that encourages them and the kind of story you wish to tell. But you can see how much it is not so with how many hacks many games receive, and even if the games retain their theme, the colour (sci-fi as opposed to a WW2 story) can often be quite painlessly switched.

I wonder if a part of the issue comes from when many games were more or less identical, and the only thing to separate them, and even their themes, were settings. Even if the mechanics are the same, it’s not always the same kind of story. Heck, why go to “similar systems” when we can remain within the same one? Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms give rise, or enable different stories. Different World of Darkness games give rise to different themes, even if their mechanics are often similar enough (or let’s look at games of Technocracy and Traditions, Kindred of the East and Vampire: the Dark Ages if we’re going to be sticklers). Settings are what we had to differentiate games, so we chose by settings.

But I don’t think it’s that simple. While the metaplot in the oWoD was quite good at polarizing the player-base, if you liked it, then there was nothing like it to suck you in. It sucked me in. Even if the system was not always to my liking, I’d really enjoy thinking of the world that had been created.

And if the system was not to my liking, it’s not like I couldn’t just replace the system. For you see, there wasn’t a place as much as in the oWoD where people told me they played the game while without blinking an eye told me they didn’t roll dice, at all. For the setting is considered the game.

If you’re not a system-geek, and even if you are, settings and colour are really important at whether you’ll buy a game or not. This is the allure of licensed settings, this is why generic systems create several setting worlds.

It works. It sells.

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[Troll Lands] Chat with Christian.

Posted: August 10, 2007 by Guy Shalev in Discussion, Troll Lands
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I’ve designed the game in February and since then didn’t touch it, I guess it’s a long enough cooling period. I asked Christian (chgriffen) to read the game and tell me what he thinks, which resulted in the following:

[18:26] xenopulse: So at the core, you have the Liar’s Dice conflict resolution. But it seems like the Storyteller is up against at least five players. That seems hard for the ST to beat.
[18:26] Thunder_God: It is.
[18:26] xenopulse: Do they each get to bid? Do they all pool resources?
[18:27] Thunder_God: They don’t pool resources.
[18:27] xenopulse: so does it matter which one wins?
[18:27] Thunder_God: It’s like this, most likely the Tribe will win, because as you noted, but it’s also about honour and deeds, it’s important to the Tribe who wins, in game.
[18:28] Thunder_God: On the Deeds sheet, you write who succeeded, but I may possibly need to alter it and make it more pronounced why we care which Tribesman wins. Good point.
[18:29] xenopulse: ok. next up: rituals. I like having rituals in there, but I didn’t see much about how they come about or what their role is.
[18:30] Thunder_God: It is discussed very little, but it will have a profound effect on the game.
[18:30] xenopulse: like, it says later on that there’s an “associated ritual” with troll dice, but I don’t think you said that each troll die has a ritual with it
[18:30] Thunder_God: You get them for gaining Spirit Dice for the village.
[18:30] xenopulse: you mean spirit coins?
[18:30] Thunder_God: No, if you gain coloured special spirit dice, from spirits, aka, Troll dice which are not the original ones, you gain rituals.
[18:30] xenopulse: there’s so many different kinds of dice and coins in there, it’s hard to keep track
[18:30] Thunder_God: Spirit dice, not coins, but yes.
[18:30] Thunder_God: ::nods::
[18:31] Thunder_God: Their effect is that you have to uphold the ritual.
[18:31] Thunder_God: MUST.
[18:31] Thunder_God: So depending on the rituals, it will affect play.
[18:31] Thunder_God: They’re like Gaesa.
[18:32] Thunder_God: And I’ll probably need to make a page where I review all the dice types and clarify them, heh. There aren’t that many though, there are coins, troll dice, spirit dice and normal dice.
[18:33] xenopulse: I must have missed spirit dice in my reading
[18:33] Thunder_God: Spirit Dice are the Troll Dice spirits use, which you can win.
[18:34] xenopulse: okay. more questions: can the tribe die if it doesn’t have enough coins for all the requirements?
[18:35] Thunder_God: Technically a tribe dies when the Troll has no more dice, because the Troll and the Tribe are one, not getting coins just means more hardship for the tribe in the future, and then probably even less coins, but you’re right, I need to cover that too, what happens when you get really few coins. It’s left to narration currently, to describe people dying of hunger, bickering and leaving the tribe, etc.
[18:37] Thunder_God: Keep going, you’re going to give me enough content to do a whole rewrite 😉
[18:40] Thunder_God: :: smiles faintly::
[18:42] Thunder_God: And Aidan will be a super villain.
[18:44] xenopulse: Alright… are there conflicts between the player characters, or is it always ST v. players?
[18:45] Thunder_God: Both.
[18:45] xenopulse: What’s the benefit of inter-player conflict?
[18:45] Thunder_God: You play Liar’s Dice with both the GM and the other players.
[18:45] Thunder_God: Having your way.
[18:45] Thunder_God: Only one wins Liar’s Dice, only one player.
[18:46] xenopulse: So they get narrative rights?
[18:47] Thunder_God: Hm. I’m not sure I covered who narrates the result, let me check.
[18:47] xenopulse: Which brings me to another point, the connection between mechanics and narration is not too clear.
[18:47] xenopulse: It seems like people might just move from one roll to the next with little roleplaying.
[18:47] Thunder_God: Players get Deeds or Trait for successful bids though.
[18:48] Thunder_God: ::Nods::
[18:48] Thunder_God: You are right. I didn’t do what I did with JR, where I defined where you can RP. I left it like most games leave it, amorphous, which I think is a bad thing.
[18:49] xenopulse: Well, in highly structured games, there’s often little reason to RP. Because it has no impact on the rest of the game.
[18:50] Thunder_God: ::Nods::
[18:50] xenopulse: You won’t get more dice or any other advantage from it.
[18:50] xenopulse: Which brings me to this question: what’s the role of the ST? Not completely competitive, I gather.
[18:51] Thunder_God: No, to present opposition to the players, to create the challenges, like a ST in Dogs, except there’s no escalation here.
[18:51] Thunder_God: TL draws a lot from DitV, but I think it needs to draw a bit more to be a complete game.
[18:52] Thunder_God: In Juiced Rider you don’t get any advantages from roleplaying either, I wanted the RP to be pure, with no mechanical bits creeping in, but still, it has an important part in the game, it’s my goal for it to be true in other games too.
[18:52] xenopulse: Let me make sure I point out, though, that I see several parts that I really like and think could be awesome, like creating your land, your tribe, and your rituals.
[18:53] Thunder_God: ::nods::
[18:53] Thunder_God: I need to add a section to the creating your opposition part, or several, but I feel it’s a good beginning place, and has use.
[18:53] Thunder_God: Giving the GM the tools equivalent to creating a Dogs town, is good.