Saturday, February 09, 2013

Playtest math

So I made a tweak, to make the mano a mano rules for a fight go a bit longer. Then Will and I playtested. Several rounds lasted many many draws. One time exhausting the deck.

Tweak: A player can choose to take on a lasting disadvantage in order to get a second draw.
Then that card lasts as a maximum on any draws of the same suit until the end of the next scene, or next episode (if you lose anyway, it lasts through the next scene, if you win, through the next episode)

Playing with Will with just that tweak, we were able to keep playing for a long time.
Now this was consequence free fighting. Would a player decide she is willing to suffer a long term disadvantage just to get a chance to win? I suppose the circumstances will have a big impact. Typically fights are pretty important.

Bonus Draws: How will bonus draws play into this? If players know the cards, they can wait and almost guarantee victory (assuming the npc goes downs without a disadvantage).

Background Cards: Probably will have a big impact for the same reason.

Consider given advantage for those scene changes that could benefit one side.

Note: Discard cards to a discard pile, reshuffle when the draw deck is empty.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


So the economy of actions in this game may involve the issue of sacrificing or taking on disadvantages to overcome obstacles. Plusses 1. Players need to decide when it is worth it. + 2. There are consequences 3. Players choose when to suffer lasting consequences not the dice 4. Players get second chances (no automatic failure). Minuses 1. Bookkeeping (limit to scenes) 2. Potential for abuse (take disadvantages at the end of a scene). 3. Potential for failure in spite of taking disadvantages. Interesting 1. Can disadvantages be good for role-playing? How? 2. When do they wear off (I am thinking the end of the next scene in the case of a success [even extending between episodes], end of that scene in case of failure) In keeping with my idea of a limited scope of rules of ability scores. The idea of temporary backgrounds interests me. A card the at player holds onto for a little bit then discards has some potential. So playing around with it. Twist: The Bonus card gotten only disadvantages draws of that suit. A question arises: how many times can one do this? Okay until you get a another of the same suit? That seems a decent limit, though people may not want to be disadvantaged in many ways. Perhaps allow the second disad to result in some positive result. A parting shot.

Mano/Fray tweaks

I've done a few tests of the mano a mano system, and it looks too quick for me. I do like the basic system. It is pretty easy to follow. I think the trick is to allow some means of overcoming the instant loss. One option is to use bonus draws as a mechanism. Now either the player already has some bonus draws (in which case that needs to be explained) or the player can purchase them somehow. One thought is to allow the PC to use a bonus draw, but suffer some sort of penalty later; for example a persistent wound. A wound would cause a disadvantage in future draws (either granting two draws to an opponent, or two draws and take low card to player in challenges). One interesting option would be to make the new draw give the PC a disadvantage related to the card. So a Club draw is a physical wound, a Diamond Draw is a mental disadvantage (due to a concussion?), A Heart draw (some kind of emotional disadvantage... fear/anger?) and a Spade draw some kind of background disadvantage (perhaps an inability to recall things - concussion?). So a LOSS need not be a loss of the fight, but a loss of something. Of course, with a redraw one still might not win, but the odds go up considerably. With the Fray rules, from a story standpoint I am not worried, but from a game play standpoint I am. Players may not be thrilled that their characters have no impact during the combat round. One possibility would be that unopposed actions can happen. So if your plan doesn't get stopped you can do it... I need to think about this. On one hand the system should be very quick so we don't have a lot of waiting around to then be ineffective. On the other hand,it is possible that some players may not have any impact on a scene at all. Perhaps again, the buying into a scene with a disadvantage is the way to do this.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Game Theory 2

Fights... What are the canonical cinematic fights? 1. Mano a Mano (duel, brawl, or tournament) in this two characters usually evenly matched fight it out for a bit, in the end one walks away the victor the other is down for the count, dying or dead. 2. The Fray (gun fight at the ok corral, mayhem) Lots of people are fighting, bullets are blazing it is chaotic, and hard to follow. Usually multiple people or monsters on both sides. 3. Sniping (assassination, sneak attack) One person attacks another, usually unaware. $. Dungeoneering. A group fights their way through one foe(s) after another, marshaling resource, applying healing, and managing ammunition. I am going to ignore $ at the outset. Not something I am interested in simulating in this game. 3. This seems to me more a matter of planning than of randomness. I propose to simple let these succeed in the cases where it is appropriate, perhaps with a minimum of randomness thrown in when the planning is missing. 1. My card draw system. Each opponent draws a card from the same deck. a. If the cards are the same suit, the higher card wins the fight quickly and effectively. There is a slightly less than 1/8 chance a particular person will win this way. A 1/4 chance someone will. This might be depressing to someone who invested a lot into the fight. b. If the cards are the same color, the winner gain an advantage. They draw again, but the person with the advantage draws two cards. This increases the odds of winning dramatically. c. If the cared are different color, the winner gets an opportunity to change something about the scene. For example they could move the fight onto a precarious surface, or outside, or hit the lights so it was dark. This might effect the fight in beneficial ways. Characters can also do things to gain an advantage or throw the opponent at a disadvantage. When you have the advantage you get to draw two cards. A typical fight, with no one at the advantage, using this system seems to run about 3 draws, with some being finished in 1, others going 5 or 6 even as much a 13. With an advantage it would go even quicker. Will this add enough tension and suspense to the game? 2. The Fray. The card system might become too complicated for a gun fight or fray type situation. Suggestion using cards. Each PC draws a card, GM draws twice. High gets to succeed at an action using that cards theme (Heart = Emotion, Spade = Background, Diamond = Mental, Club = Physical). Ties both get to succeed. Example. Serenity crew versus Niska's gang of five. Round 1. Draw MalKS Zoe4C Jayne3S Simon8D Kaylee10D River9C Wash2D GM Kd 3H Mal and the GM both succeed. Mal shoots can takes out one of the Gang. One of Niska's goons hits Jayne sending him to the floor. Round 2. Draw MalJH Zoe4S Jayne7H SimonKD Kaylee10D River9C Wash10C GM 4D 5H Simon wins. He pulls River out of the line of fire. Round 3. Draw Mal10H Zoe9H Jayne9D Wash10S KayleeQC GM 2C 3C Kaylee wins, she shuts the airlock door cutting off two baddies. Round 4. Draw Mal7S Zoe8D KayleeAD WashAH GM 7H JC Kaylee and Wash tie. Kaylee escapes. Wash takes out the last goon.

Game theory

Game Theory I am considering running another campaign. I don't want to go into details about it here, yet, but focus on some rules issues. I've pretty decided to eschew normal systems and run this from scratch. So I've been thinking about things I want to do with the rules. 1. I want to empower the players to do interesting things. I don't want to make certain things too easy, or other things too difficult. 2. I want surprises and some randomness in the game, but I don't want it to dominate play or result in bizarre consequences. 3. I want combat to more of a threat and less of a reality. When a guy shows up with a gun, or knife, that should typically be the end of a dispute not the beginning. However, it should be possible to have a fight. 4. I want simplicity so that knowledge of the system doesn't become more important than good roleplaying. Okay. Those are very Metagaming. In this particular game, I foresee the characters as being basically humans. Using the model of Start Trek, Firefly, CSI and other ensemble stories, I see the PCs just making decisions, doing things and dealing with the consequences, not so much with their spacial abilities, but their general wits and wills. That said I want people to get some benefit from their particularities... Like ensemble pieces, the main characters are fairly interchangeable most of the time, but one or two is called for when their particular talents are needed. Strong man is called in to lift the heavy thing. Combat gal is relied on to take care of the guards. Sneaky guy sneaks, etc.. In most ensemble stories these sort of specialist maneuvers are pretty rare. Everyone can fight when called on to fight, everyone can run the ship, find the evidence, talk to the people, etc.. No one is the specialist all the time (even shows highlighting the particular skill sets like the A-Team are this way.) So my thought is that a "character" sheet consists of a background story or background facts, with a pretty clear limit. The background can be filled out, but should be seen in a fairly general light. A doctor is pretty good at all medical stuff, a scientist is pretty good at all science stuff. But each might have a specialty in which they are are really good. Here is my hypothetical rule.. Each scene a character can employ their background ONE time to enhance their odds at doing something difficult (or bypass a challenge directly if appropriately trivial). So if I am an ex-army sniper. I can take one shot during the combat in which I apply my background bonus. Once the fray begins, our abilities become less relevant, and each person is effectively equal. Effects: Characters will get a moment in the sun, but it will be only a moment, not enough to depend on. Good or Bad? The hope would be that this would avoid a character by attrition (over a long campaign, so in so is demonstrated to be the X) Dangers: If the Strong Suit play is too good, it might end the scene. If it isn't strong enough, no one will feel it is useful or important.