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Nation RPG

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Experimental Designs
Experimental Designs's picture
Joined: 04/20/2013

This concept will sound strange and exceedingly niche (a niche of a niche of a niche....a niche times three)undergoing experimentation as a roleplay platform before turning into an actual game.

Hear me out when I say you have a traditional roleplay like D&D or GURPS but instead of characters you have nations you can build from the ground up with its own background, government, people and what have you. However the trick about this, there isn't really a GM to monitor everyone, everyone has to be their own GM in a way but have to adhere to set of boundaries in a more serious way if they want to conduct diplomatic scenarios and address internal and external issues like a real nation with a certain degree of creativity.

Yes, war is a factor and probably something everyone goes for eventually but that leaves one opened to more problems that they bargained before. Then again it boils down to how much time and energy they can put into a war effort.

So has anyone thought of this and if anyone is helping me tackle this idea what are some issues that have to be addressed? RPGs is kinda new territory for me which I am both excited but cautious.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
Playing At The World by Jon

Playing At The World by Jon Petersson is a fantastic book on the history of D&D that I take the opportunity to mention whenever I can. If you are interested in the history of games (and imo you should be if you are interested in designing games) that book is a must.

Diplomacy comes up a lot in that book. That game of course does not have any roleplaying in it by design, but what I learned from the book was that groups of players started evolving RPG-like playing styles for that game. Instead of just playing the game as a boardgame by the rulebook they started playing "in character" with some groups having someone even print fanzines with articles about the made-up events going on in the world between the various nations. And one active player on that scene in the 1960's was Gary Gygax. So roleplaying with nations sort of happened before roleplaying with fantasy heroes. :)

You might also want to look up Matrix Games. Not the company (that publishes computer war-games) but a type of political role-playing games. I do not know if they are ever played without a GM, but then I do not know much about that obscure genre of games at all. Can not even find a page about them on wikipedia and they are not trivial to google, but here are two pages that came up:

Of course after that you could go down the rabbit-hole of government-run roleplaying/wargames (and the mega-games scene), but I think they typically have one or more umpires employed to organise things, rather than just having each nation run itself and follow some rules for interacting with the other nations.

This definitely sounds like a fun idea. I am worried it is something that would require far too much time for me to get into personally though (same reason I avoid any regular RPG, other than ones I can play with my kids, but even that does not happen very often).

Corsaire's picture
Joined: 06/27/2013
I believe aspects of this

I believe aspects of this exist in different forms. From the board game side there is Diplomacy that revolves heavily on negotiation and such. More "real world" is the Model United Nations organizations where schools compete as representatives of different countries.

To go GM-less, it sems your design gotchas will turn you more and more towards being a board game with a heavy social component. Maybe it is a new free form type of legacy game, where the players develop the rules (see gnomic.)

Mosker's picture
Joined: 03/30/2014
I'm intrigued

Quick thoughts:
1. With stats, try to make them more volatile than standard attributes (using D&D as an example, STR, WIS, etc.) and less volatile than other numbers (experience, gold, hit points). Some may be linked to limit or boost others or perhaps surprisingly unrelated. (Think of poverty levels of major nuclear powers)

2. The two issues you will probably find yourself addressing at some point are time scale and the interdependence of countries. Contemporary earth may be a poor model for a good game unless you exclude the economic and nuclear superpowers.

3. The idea that you're thinking GM less is good--standard practices, etc. should inform your game, but to pull this off, you're going to need to be open to anything.

4. With the above in mind, rather than starting with rules, start envisioning and describing (preferably on paper) sample play sessions and see where that takes you.

Experimental Designs
Experimental Designs's picture
Joined: 04/20/2013
It was a random thought after

It was a random thought after playing an interesting game of Risk one night and it somehow grew into this game of diplomacy and it played back to back with a short game of D&D. The roads were flooded so we had time to kill.

It occurred to me that if there was a set of rules everyone followed like in any other game but it allowed you to be somewhat of a GM by having your own scheme and plots against everyone else and yet still within the realm of being fair.

I broke everything down based on economic, political, military, domestic and culture. While some can say it's a glorified Civ game, I assure you there are more roleplaying elements than just 4X strategies.

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