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[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

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Anonymous

So i have been working off and on on a pseudo-Role Playing Game called Trust and Betrayal. I have managed to get a first draft written. The draft is horribly rough, but some interesting commentary ensued which brought me back to Board Game Design. So here it goes:

The game is designed to be played in a single sitting and the object is to create a cool story. It is generally a good idea in any game (Role Playing or otherwise) to provide mechanical incentives for players to do the things you want. For example, you want players of Settlers of Catan to upgrade their Settlements to Cities, so you provide a hard limit on how many Settlements they may have in play. It was suggested that i develop a scoring system for Trust and Betrayal and i find myself agreeing. This gives rise to a huge question, and the topic of my post:

How do you score a story? Since the story in question is fairly open-ended i can not personally provide rules for all possible permutations and outcomes as i could in most board games. On the other hand since the object is to win the game by having the most points i can not really allow the players to vote on where the points go since that introduces a ridiculous conflict of interest.

Which brings me to my plea for help: Can anyone think of a coherent way to score the quality of a contribution to an overall story that is consistent regardless of the specific story in question? Or at least consistent with regards to a story of a given theme?

Your ideas and commentary are, as always, greatly appreciated.

Thomas

Jebbou
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[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

Good morning Thomas,

I think your idea is very good, but I understand it will be difficult to find a scoring system. There could be several categories, and players could score points in different categories, depending on the story they make up. These are some ideas for categories: Betrayal, Vengence, Love, Drama, Humor, Coherence, Unexpected, Link with another story you've already made up (Character, Organisations). Players could score in one or multiple categories. The scoring categories are only ideas, I am sure you can come up with more.

The only issue I would see with this scoring mechanism, is when people are more interested in making points than a good story. But since the latter is the reason people would be playing that game, the issue should not arise. :)

You could also give points for unused coins remaining at the end of the final act, and for objectives met at the end of each act.

Have a nice day!

Jeb

Zzzzz
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[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

Going along with Jebbou, (types Jebbou stated, Betrayal, Love, etc...) you might have some type of "story" card (or mechanic) that players could use to move the story along in the given direction ( say I play a Betrayal card, beytral storyline moves along and I am awarded one point or something like that ).

Along with the above you might also consider having a way to randomly assign hidden player goals to each player. This hidden goal would be a way to have each player move the story along in a specific direction, lets say my hidden card contains additional VP for each Betrayal and Love category I play. So as I play my ideal method of moving the story along would be to focus on Betrayal and Love categories. But keep in mind, depending on how the system is implemented, I might not have a Betrayal or Love based play. So I would be forced to play other cards, that wont hurt me since I still might gain VP for playing that card, but playing that card is might not be an optimal play based on my hidden goals.

You might randomly assigned one of these secret goals to each player at the beginning of the game and this would promote each player attempting to move the story in a specific direction. This might add a sense of tension or if nothing else interesting player interaction.

Not sure this helps much, but this is what I had in my head.

Anonymous
[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

Thanks for the feedback, and there are definately some interesting ideas in there. Perhaps i am simply being dense, but i do not see a good way to handle scoring without an explicit play aid (such as the cards mentioned) since even with clear categories it is possible to discuss whether something falls into one or not. I really do not want the game to be bogged down with the scoring mechanism. Ideally the scoring system is just there to support the collaborative story telling. (Note: The idea here is for a collaborative effort, so i am somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of "secret goals" for the players.)

I am not really clear regarding how the "Story Card" mechanic would work here. Do you get the points for simply playing the card, or is there something you must do with the Story in conjunction with the card? If it is the latter you probably still run into the problem of player judgement (i.e. "I don't think you really worked the theme of that card in very well so i don't think you get the point." "What are you talking about?!? That was brilliant!" At which point the game devolves into an argument regarding the scoring, which i would like to see remain totally secondary.)

All that aside, i do appreciate what you guys have mentioned so far. The idea of specific category guidelines had (somehow) simply not occurred to me. Same thing with using play aids...

Anything else you guys think of would be greatly appreciated.

Thomas

Jebbou
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[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

The cards could represent the points you get for moving your story onwards in a specific direction (such as love or anger). Thus you would have a love card, a revenge card and a remorse card. To promote cooperative gameplay, players could score combos togethers (category combo). Then, a player creating a "love" situation, followed by a player turning the love situation into a vengence situation, could both score and get the "love" and "vengence" cards. I do not know how easy or feasible it would be to implement, but I think this is an option you could explore to promote cooperation.

Also, if players kept scoresheets between play sessions, they could keep track for how many "love" or "sence of justice" cards they've collected in all their play sessions. They could recieve a title, depending on the category they scored the most (The guy always making up love stories could recieve "The romantic" title).

Ideas ideas ideas ..

Jeb

EDIT:If a player disagree on the value of a player's scenario, all three players could vote, and if the scenario fails the vote, the player who made the story could be given an additionnal chance to come up with an alternative outcome for the scenario.

Anonymous
judges...

If the game is quick and you are worried about bias, include bias in the game by having everyone take turns as a "judge" or the "audience".

It will be biased, but if everyone is into the spirit of the game on telling a good tale, vs. quibbling over points it should even out. If one player feels slighted over a judges ruling and holds a grudge, and then rates them poorly overall then the other judges when it's their turn to score can penalize that player for poor sportsmanship - or both players will realize that their negative votes for each other have caused someone else to win.

This might also show that not everyone appreciates the same type of story, and therefore the story tellers will have to cater to the judge.

Not sure about the mechanics of including plot points, or characters, or using the theme the best or if you want to include cards or not to help the story tellers along, or give them guidance but rotating judges might help in this game.

Btw, how does "Once Upon a Time.." (I think that's the game) do it's scoring?

Anonymous
[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

More interesting ideas...

Currently play is projected to take between 2 and 3 hours per game. The game is intended to tell one full story in each session. The point here is to imitate Film and Theater. There is only so much time to get your story told, use it for maximum impact.

One thing i really like about the game is that the players act as both the Creators of the story and the Audience for the story. I will probably go ahead and put together a full set of the rules without any scoring and see if collaborative story-telling can grow out of the rules themselves without further encouragement.

That said, a little more encouragement does not hurt, so if you have a solid idea regarding scoring (such as those above) i would love to hear them.

Oh, and thanks for mentioning "Once Upon A Time" as i was not aware of any scored story telling focused games... I will have to look into that.

Thomas

Trickydicky
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[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

This thread has had me thinking a lot. You have a very challenging problem before you. I hope I can help some.

I came up with two possible ways to score the story without much arguing, etc.

First, you could have the game play like Balderdash. At each segment of the story (could be line/scene). All the players write a line/scene about what they want to have happen next. These could then be collected and read aloud. Each player gets 1 vote but is not allowed to vote for their own segment. The winner of the game is the one with the most votes combined at the end of the story. The problem with this scoring is that the game play would be somewhat slow. There would have to be a strict time limit for writing segments. Segments would be read finished or not.

Second, you could have a few criteria cards randomly taken from a list of criteria i.e. fall in love, fall out of love, new characters, character death, etc. These criteria cards would be layed face down without any player seeing them. During each player's turn they would play cards corresponding to how they change the story, they would play the cards in front of themselves (or maybe have each player's cards color coordinated ala "ligretto". Then the cards could be played in chronological order to give a summary of the story) AT the end of the game the criteria cards are flipped and the player who played the most cards/added to the story in the way the matches the criteria cards wins.

I don't know if this is what you're looking for. Like I said you have a challenging problem. I hope you can work it out.

sedjtroll
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[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

Zzzzz wrote:
This hidden goal would be a way to have each player move the story along in a specific direction, lets say my hidden card contains additional VP for each Betrayal and Love category I play. So as I play my ideal method of moving the story along would be to focus on Betrayal and Love categories. But keep in mind, depending on how the system is implemented, I might not have a Betrayal or Love based play. So I would be forced to play other cards, that wont hurt me since I still might gain VP for playing that card, but playing that card is might not be an optimal play based on my hidden goals.

First let me say that I like this idea. Interestingly, this is just about the exact same thing that Scurra and I were using for the X-Men game we discussed in the wiki when it was available. That game was going to be about players trying to get their story arcs into a comic book.

The story arcs were cards depicting particular actions and locations. Like the categories you mention, they'd have different colors and each player would secretly be assigned one of the colors. So the idea is to satisfy the requirements of the Story Arc cards to score VPs, but especially the cards that match your color for bonus VPs at the end as well as instant VPs for doing the actions on the card.

Another thing I've thought of in the past is listed in my journal entry entitled Rudimentary Role Playing. It is a storytelling kind of thing with both a competetive mode and a cooperative mode. Check out the entry to see what I did with the scoring there (I'm not sure I remember offhand)

- Seth

Zzzzz
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[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

Really?!?! How odd!

Well maybe reading all of the X-Men wiki info finally sank into my thick skull! ;)

But honestly, I dont remember this in the X-Men wiki info, well guess I finally have a better understanding of your game mechanics!

sedjtroll wrote:
Zzzzz wrote:
This hidden goal would be a way to have each player move the story along in a specific direction, lets say my hidden card contains additional VP for each Betrayal and Love category I play. So as I play my ideal method of moving the story along would be to focus on Betrayal and Love categories. But keep in mind, depending on how the system is implemented, I might not have a Betrayal or Love based play. So I would be forced to play other cards, that wont hurt me since I still might gain VP for playing that card, but playing that card is might not be an optimal play based on my hidden goals.

First let me say that I like this idea. Interestingly, this is just about the exact same thing that Scurra and I were using for the X-Men game we discussed in the wiki when it was available. That game was going to be about players trying to get their story arcs into a comic book.

Anonymous
[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

The player could pick up a card, before making up the story, but not look at the card till after his turn.
On the card could be words, and for each word the player used in his story he is awarded a certain amount of points.

Just an idea,

Aaron

Anonymous
[Trust and Betrayal] How do you score "good story"

Trickydicky wrote:
First, you could have the game play like Balderdash. At each segment of the story (could be line/scene). All the players write a line/scene about what they want to have happen next. These could then be collected and read aloud. Each player gets 1 vote but is not allowed to vote for their own segment. The winner of the game is the one with the most votes combined at the end of the story. The problem with this scoring is that the game play would be somewhat slow. There would have to be a strict time limit for writing segments. Segments would be read finished or not.

This really got my gears turning. It is probably the best suggestion (at least regarding my goals) that i have gotten so far. It would probably require some changes to the way Scenes are Framed, but it does allow for scoring and gets those competetive juices flowing. The whole point of adding scoring to the game is to provide a mechanical interface between those who wish to compete and those who wish to address theme and premise. The scoring system ideally gets the competative players (Gamists to use RPG terminology) and the story people (Narrativists) to play nice together. So... thank you for this suggestion.

Thanks to everyone else as well. You are all free to continue providing ideas, i would point you at Tricky's suggestion in order to show you what level of intrusion i am interested in. Basically i do not want the game telling you how to tell your story...

EDIT: Crossposted with Aaron. How is that competative though? If you do not know what your goal is it is probably more luck that you score points than skill which defeats the whole purpose (for me anyway).

Thomas

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