Wednesday, September 28, 2011

War In The Heavens pt. 19: Further Mechanical Musings

Alright, new post, lets do this! I have been tinkering with the system a bit tuning it to better represent what I am looking for. I have changed the attributes to a bit more abstract. Also I have worked out half of a system for implementing die rolls that I think is really on the mark. However, I still need to work a bit more on it before it is run ready.

Firstly the attributes. I have focused the attributes more on motivating force rather than task orientation. In this I have changed them. Now they are, Love(obsession), Pride(hubris), Anger(wrath), and Duty(blind faith/slavery). I have what they are, and I have possible downsides/weaknesses for each(or maybe just cool names). My issue comes to this, how do I ensure that people will use the attributes other than their strongest one. In other words, how do I ensure that there is a mechanical reason to pursue actions outside of your strength?

I have a few answers to that percolating in the old noggin. My first thought was to allocate certain actions, or maneuvers, to each motivation. This was a little too focused for what I had in mind. Then I thought of the actions/maneuvers having differing difficulties depending on what motivated you that scene. Then I thought of limiting your motivations. Each scene you could only use a motivation that you had not used before that session. But that leads to all kinds of weirdness. Not necessarily bad weirdness, but I am not sure if that is what I am looking for.

Then I started reading through Apocalypse World. And the idea of only gaining XP through the use of attributes that are picked by other players. I like that, and I am considering using a rule like that for my game. You only gain XP(or its equivalent) when you use your weakness, or you strength. This puts an interesting emphasis on those two attributes. Not sure if I like it, but we will have to try that out in play.

The other big issue I am running into is this idea I had. Basically I started out with the idea that lying was easier than telling the truth, in the short term. Specifically in regards to convincing people to do what you want. However the downside to lying is bigger than the truth. So far so good. I can model that fairly simply. The issue arrived when I started breaking it down a little further. You can tell the truth or lie subtly or do it vulgarly. But therein lies the problem. How does that dichotomy change things. Is a subtle lie easier? Is a subtle truth harder? What about vulgarity? How does that shake things up?

I haven't come up with any conclusions on this problem. I am going back and forth in my mind about it, as I think this will effect the whole of game play when it is complete. Also I need to work on some kind of advancement mechanic, and right now there is not enough for that to exist. Maybe I won't have one.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

War In The Heavens pt. 18: the end of the begining.

Alright, confession time, I really love making worlds. It has become a problem. I really can't do more system work; not until I have tested it in play. As I have no current gaming group willing to play it, this is problematic. So I spend a good part of my design time coming up with new worlds, and new people who live in them. This is not, in itself, a bad thing, but right now it is conflicting with my desires as a designer.

I want a game world that is a framework, not a straightjacket. And the longer I sit here without playing, the less freedom the world will have. I have enough back-story to fill a book. But I don't want the players to play in my world, I want them to play in a world they built. I am not sure if that makes sense. Oh well, its out there now, right?

So, there you have it, I have reached the point I talked about in the first post. That place I get to in every game I design, when I fail. I cannot go further, and I have come far enough to be upset by that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

War In The Heavens pt. 17: Breakthrough, break out!!

Today I was talking over the last blog post with a fellow designer and he mentioned an interesting idea. It has lead me back to the idea of the players being able to form their own religions. He looked at the questions I am using for the basis of the religions. He pointed out that I should put template terms(basically some standard terms for ease of use by the players) attached to the questions I already use.

This kind of blew me away. I had toyed with the idea of player created religions early on in this project(I know, I have only been working on this a month, so its all early days, but you get the idea). I had given up on that idea when I couldn't work out how to do it. Now, after I had given up on that idea completely, here comes the solution.

So now I have to work this back into my game. I have two of the three major galactic civilizations worked out. So if the players want to make their own religion that leaves one major civilization. I guess that works. One major religion to play with and who knows how many minor ones. It would also be useful for the GMs to use when creating all those heathens what needs converting or killing.

Also I have been reading through Bulldogs!it uses the FATE engine. I am really enamored with the way it handles character creation. Specifically I like the way races are designed. They get a series of powers, which decrease the amount of refresh available. They also have a listing of four or five aspects that are common to the species. The player picks two for their character to use. I want to use this for my game. Not this directly, but something like this will be used for the religions in my game. Things are starting to come together with my game. Though the attributes/skills/stats are still too vague for my uses yet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

War In The Heavens pt 16: Modeling Faith(not well)

I have been working, the last few days, on the religions of my world. As it is central to the world building I did not want to just gloss over this. However, I did not want to have them come across as these monolithic static entities. Today while I was in class(to be honest, I wasn't all that focused in class, we were just watching Antigone, take of that what you will)I came up with a series of questions, That I think will help me come up with aspects for the religion. For this I will be using The Empire of Man as my sample culture/religion. Here they are:

  • What behavior does this religion encourage? In the Empire of Man there are two things sought, obedience and loyalty to Sovereign and her Scions. Also there is a sense of family loyalty, and pride in bloodline. People are encouraged to know and keep their place in the world. In the peasant and slave classes Hard work and obedience are seen as high ideals.

    • How does it encourage this behavior(stories/parables/sermons/etc)? Among the peasants and slaves one day a week is spent in worship and reverence. There are missionaries sent to every zone(an area holding around a thousand people) on those days to speak sermons and stories. They carry an image-staff(need a better name), that adds holographic and other sensory illusions to enhance the stories. The peasants are kept illiterate so this is there main source of education. The houses of the Scions and Monitors are allowed to learn to read, and each house keeps the two holy books in the household. The books are the Tenets, the smaller book that discusses the morality and rules of the faith, and The Histories, containing mythologized stories of Sovereigns lives. they are not raised by the family directly, instead they are raised in special schools where they are indoctrinated into the faith from age five to age fifteen.

  • Where did everything come from? Long ago, before the discovery of the Gates, before the rise of Sovereign and the Empire of Man there was the age of darkness. Little is known of of this age, or of what came before. All that is known that we came from a place called Earth. During the darkness arose Sovereign. First among gods, she may change her face and body, but her essence remains. She brought forth the Empire of Man.(basically she is the birth of the world the Empire knows. She found the Gate and led them to conquer many many systems. Still working on how to make this sound like...not crap)

  • What happens when you die? Sovereign died during the darkness, then she brought herself back confirming her divinity(this is how her body snatching is described in the holy books, she dies then is reborn fully formed in a new body). Because of this she became the gatekeeper to the lands of the dead. Please her and serve her and you get sent to the lands of plenty. If you really pleased her in life, she will catch your soul and raise it up, you will be reborn into one of the peasant houses(if a slave), the Monitor houses(if a peasant), or Scion Lineages(if a Monitor).

  • What is sin? What behaviors are discouraged in this religion? There is a serious difference in taboo/forbidden behavior dependent on your standing in society. Basically the only truly unforgivable behavior is disobeying Sovereign, showing disloyalty, or betraying your family. Those are the only truly unforgivable sins. All others can be bought off with money or service to the empire. This has lead to the creation of the Legion of the Damned. They are soldiers who joined to pay off theirs or another person's sins.

    • How is this behavior discouraged? For the disloyalty or disobedience, there is only one response, slow public death. For betraying your family you can choose a swift death or becoming a suicide soldier in the Legion of the Damned. There rest of the punishments/discouragements are an intricate web of byzantine rules and bureaucratic red tape.

    • Why was this behavior originally frowned upon? The first two big rules are fairly self explanatory. So I will work on the last. This came about from the scheming of the Scion Lineages. They were always seeking advancement and it was becoming a detriment to the smooth running of the Empire. So Sovereign declared the rule of Familial Loyalty. This happened so long ago that no one even remembers the original reason. There are a couple of big stories in The Histories that illuminate this point.

  • Who can speak for/to the gods/god/morality/philosophy? Working on this, haven't quite got it yet.

    • Is there a hierarchy? Heck yes there is! The whole society is so hierarchical that it would be ludicris to not have the priest class(or whatever) be extremely hierarchical.

      • How is that arranged? At the end of the day everything is about Sovereign, but I haven't worked out the details.

  • What external factors effect the religion?

    • The original world/the government/secular factions(merchants and the like)/etc.

    • In the Empire religion and politics are practically one and the same. So the highly charged political atmosphere affects how the religion is used in various planets and zones. While you cannot change the Tenets, you can get away with a lot of smaller heresies within specific areas. Corruption is fairly rampant in the Empire.

  • Is there a method for dealing with those who question the tenets of the religion? I kind of covered this in the Sin bit. But I will use this to describe briefly what I mean by this. In some religions there are rote responses to many questions that have come up over time, apologetic rotes would fit in this. Also there are in some other religions specific people who are allowed to speak out in specific ritualized ways against specific tenets of the faith, that would be covered here as well.

So there they are. Yep. Anyway, let me know what you think. Are there any questions that seem unnecessary? Any that are missing? I would appreciate any feedback on this bit.