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Story Mechanics

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saiyanslayer
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Joined: 10/08/2013

Was playing around with story-telling mechanics on the weekend and I need a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.

In this game concept I was playing around with, there are character cards and relationship cards. Character cards list a selection of relationships they can start. Each character can have up to three relationships at any one time. The player chooses their character, decides which relationships to use, finds those cards in the relationship deck, and uses the cards. This means each character should start with a connection with three other people.

The relationship cards have type: Love, Friendship, Mentor, Respect. When a relationship card is played, the receiver must agree to receive it and receives either the same card or the card used to match (mentor/student, hate/love and love/hate).

Players spend their turn deciding which relationships to add a token to. If enough tokens are on a relationship, it can evolve (mentor/student can add friendship cards to it now) only if both characters have enough tokens.

Game events can damage relationships. Some remove tokens, some remove relationships altogether, others may improve relationships. For example, "Proposal" may allow two lovers with four or more tokens each on their cards to upgrade them to spouse. Those characters must discard any other love cards they have.

Some cards may be damaged instead of removed, allowing a chance to repair them. For example, Spouses may damage their relationship card to "Separated" instead of discarding it (card is rotated 180 to show damaged relationship rules). Players must spend their tokens to repair it back to Spouses.

Some characters may have abilities to affect cards further. For example, a Persistent Romantic may keep any love cards forced to discard, spending three tokens on that card to place a love card on another player.

****
No where close to a complete game, but it's a game idea I came up with on the weekend. Any thoughts?

GuruForge
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Joined: 10/07/2013
New Idea

This is a new spin on an everday type of topic that I dont think I have seen before. Kudos! My first question is: where do the tokens come from? Right now, the tokens are your main avenue of conducting/evolving the game, but you only briefly mentioned one possible way of getting/losing tokens... Another comment: since each player must agree on relationship changes it seems like there is a lot of risk of games dragging out. Is there a way you have thought of which would make relationship changes more desirable? (if i am understanding your idea) A fun twist would be to throw in the opportunity to have one-sided relationships like "stalking" (all in good fun of course). I'd be interested to see what theme you end up attaching to this. Good luck!

saiyanslayer
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Joined: 10/08/2013
some good thoughts

GuruForge wrote:
This is a new spin on an everday type of topic that I dont think I have seen before. Kudos! My first question is: where do the tokens come from? Right now, the tokens are your main avenue of conducting/evolving the game, but you only briefly mentioned one possible way of getting/losing tokens... Another comment: since each player must agree on relationship changes it seems like there is a lot of risk of games dragging out.

Thanks!
I was thinking the player has to spend an action or two on their turn to influence it. Another option is to draw an event card each round, which could add/subtract tokens from specific cards. Once you're out of event cards, game over. Whoever has the strongest relationships wins.

GuruForge wrote:

Is there a way you have thought of which would make relationship changes more desirable? (if i am understanding your idea) A fun twist would be to throw in the opportunity to have one-sided relationships like "stalking" (all in good fun of course). I'd be interested to see what theme you end up attaching to this. Good luck!

Each character could have special abilities. A Creeper could force someone into a relationship with the Creeper (and if I limit relationships per person, this could be pretty infuriating).
I had considered one-way relationships, but it's hard to determine who the target is. It's easier to have macthed cards to identify the un/luck target.

Kroz1776
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Joined: 10/09/2013
I thought they blew up?

I think creepers would be more thematic if they could have one sided relationships.

You could have a nerdy romantic who can be in a relationship with inanimate objects but can't win if an inanimate object is his "spouse." (This one is a stretch)

You could have a hopeless romantic who can't be in love with a person for longer than two turns unless they get married.

You could also have the dedicated romantic who can't be in love with anyone if he/she is married or would get bonuses for it.

Or you could have the possesive romantic who wants to be married and then destroy all their spouse's relationships.

While the mechanics of all these ideas may not work, I like some of their names. Hidden roles, if you could get it to work, would also be neat.

Izraphael
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Joined: 01/29/2010
Story?

I may be missing something, but how exactly a "story" emerges from this mechanism?
There's no creative input from players, nor mechanics encourage in any way the production of any kind of fiction. I would simply play the game to fulfill victory conditions, there's no need to "tell" something.

That's not a problem, obviously, as a mechanic for a thematic game it could be interesting... maybe I was just mislead by the thread title :)

Kroz1776
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Joined: 10/09/2013
Mafia

This seems much like Mafia to me in that the story part of the game isn't essential but if you get a good group of friends that know what they're doing it can be great fun.

Essentially the way I play Mafia/werewolf is that we each pick a person in the town to act as. We once had a game with a statue, pikachu, C3PO and others all in the town. It was great fun because as C3PO I had to translate everything Pikachu was saying. XD Is the story necessary for Mafia...no. But when people make decisions on whether someone is Mafia based on "evidence" and the defendant's alibi, it makes for a fun game. We had another game where someone played a DnD player and he had some of the best defenses in the game. It took me quite a few accusations to finally bring him down (He was Mafia).

saiyanslayer
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Joined: 10/08/2013
Izraphael wrote:I may be

Izraphael wrote:
I may be missing something, but how exactly a "story" emerges from this mechanism?
There's no creative input from players, nor mechanics encourage in any way the production of any kind of fiction. I would simply play the game to fulfill victory conditions, there's no need to "tell" something.

Players can choose their character and which relationships to develop with whom. Players have to figure out how/why their characters decided to start or end a relationship. If that's not enough to involve the players in the drama, a simple "you must rationalize how this card can be played" rule could be used so a player would have to explain why their character is breaking off an engagement to fall for another person.

Other than that, I will admit there isn't much. I'm trying to avoid spoon-feeding a story to the players: I want to spark their imaginations to make the story in their minds as they go along without mandating it is required. I find telling people to use their imagination doesn't work as well as nudging them to use it.

Basically, like what Kroz1776 said.

Kroz1776
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Joined: 10/09/2013
Creepy Crawly Black Widow!

If you play where you pick certain pop culture icons to roleplay as it would be downright funny. You must explain why has Snape fallen in love with Jigglypuff? Why did Jigglypuff break the Green Power Ranger's heart? Why is Tommy always being followed by Black Widow? (Yeah, she's a creeper!) This is the kind of game that those who like role playing and acting will really love.

Izraphael
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Thanks for your

Thanks for your clarification. Just one thing:

saiyanslayer wrote:
I'm trying to avoid spoon-feeding a story to the players: I want to spark their imaginations to make the story in their minds as they go along without mandating it is required. I find telling people to use their imagination doesn't work as well as nudging them to use it.

In modern RPG\Storytelling games, there should be a mechanical reason to trigger "storytelling" dynamics. If there are points, or a competitive object of the game, as a player you need a good reason to add narrative elements to your actions, or the telling element will be soon bypassed to focus on winning conditions.
Even in pure RPG games many designers tend to estabilish a direct and strict one-to-one connection between mechanics and fiction, to encourage description and immersion.
In my humble opinion, if you want players to tell stories, you need to give them a reason to do it, something more than "just do it because it's fun". As a designer, it is your duty to actually make it fun :)

(damn if I'm annoying. sorry.)

PenteVPM
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Joined: 09/07/2012
Different traits

Mechanically, I like the idea of the characters having different traits that alter the gameplay in some manner. Could these traits be described in cards, so that they can be randomized to create interesting / fun combinations. If each player were to draw for example two trait cards, you could have combinations like "shy macho" or "good-hearted narcissist".

This could be taken even further by including sexual minorities and such. This is a touchy subject for some, but this game could be a good way to help people to see things from other people's perspective. It could be worth the effort if it helped mitigate some of people's prejudices.

saiyanslayer
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Joined: 10/08/2013
did Some Thinking

Izraphael wrote:
Thanks for your clarification. Just one thing:

saiyanslayer wrote:
I'm trying to avoid spoon-feeding a story to the players: I want to spark their imaginations to make the story in their minds as they go along without mandating it is required. I find telling people to use their imagination doesn't work as well as nudging them to use it.

In modern RPG\Storytelling games, there should be a mechanical reason to trigger "storytelling" dynamics. If there are points, or a competitive object of the game, as a player you need a good reason to add narrative elements to your actions, or the telling element will be soon bypassed to focus on winning conditions.
Even in pure RPG games many designers tend to estabilish a direct and strict one-to-one connection between mechanics and fiction, to encourage description and immersion.
In my humble opinion, if you want players to tell stories, you need to give them a reason to do it, something more than "just do it because it's fun". As a designer, it is your duty to actually make it fun :)

(damn if I'm annoying. sorry.)

Good point, but I think some games come across as trying to hard to tell a story. I'd have to experiment a bit to see if I could find a way to grab the kind of storytelling that happens in a pen-and-paper RPG. In the game I've GM'ed, players usually have the most fun when they get involved with what's happening instead of just rolling dice and choosing an attack.

The most recent game I've played of Pathfinder did this perfectly. Group was staying at an inn, were ambushed in their sleep. Standard combat ensued, same level of participation from the players. Once one of the players realized I linked their backstory to the ambush (his parents were looking for him), his eyes lit up and the player's enthusiasm spilt over into everyone else. Now the party had a direction to go, but didn't have a plan. That's what this relationship game concept was trying to do.

The more I think of it, this relationship mechanic would be better used in conjunction with other stuff. More flavouring than substance.

PenteVPM wrote:
Mechanically, I like the idea of the characters having different traits that alter the gameplay in some manner. Could these traits be described in cards, so that they can be randomized to create interesting / fun combinations. If each player were to draw for example two trait cards, you could have combinations like "shy macho" or "good-hearted narcissist".

This could be taken even further by including sexual minorities and such. This is a touchy subject for some, but this game could be a good way to help people to see things from other people's perspective. It could be worth the effort if it helped mitigate some of people's prejudices.

It's funny how well we think alike. The traits could define the character instead of a character card.

anonymousmagic
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Joined: 11/06/2013
I like the idea of building

I like the idea of building relationships like this and I can imagine some ways of getting tokens. However, what I really miss to make this a game instead of an idea is a win condition. When do you win? And do you win as a single player or all together as a group, making the game completely cooperative?

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