Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Design idea

So I had an idea the other day. It's an idea for a game mechanism and it goes like this.

1. The GM sets a difficulty number (challenge ranking, whatever...) from 1 to 5.
2. The player makes a pool of dice which is based on the relevant stat and niche applications.
3. The player rolls the dice, counting 4-6 as successes. For each success they get a plot point to their overall pool (it might already have points in it).
4. The player spends as many points as they wish to tackle the challenge, and keep the rest. At least 1 point must be spent. Spend the challenge number to pass the challenge. Spend more than the challenge number to succeed wildly.
5. Points can be used later to improve the character.

So, an example.

My character, Gus, is going to sneak past a guard.
1. The GM sets a difficulty of 3.
2. Gus has a Sneaky stat of 2, with a bonus around military installations, taking it up to 3 dice.
3. I roll and get 2, 4, 4; adding 2 points to my character's tally of 5 (now up to 7).
4. I could pay 3 points and get Gus past this guard, but I decide to pay 4 points so that Gus gets past the guard and the guard is about to start a really long patrol circuit so Gus has more time for the next actions.
5. I'm left with 3 points that I can either save for character improvement or for the next challenge.

That's the raw version of it. I think there's a bit of polish I could make to it (spending points to help other characters, refining the rate of spend and earning, and so on).

I can't help feeling that it's been done before. Have you seen a system like this? Which game was it and how did it work in that game?

Friday, 12 June 2015

Playing the Villain

I'm playing in a PTA game at the moment. We've just finished episode two. After the pilot I was unsure of my character, Lazarus Moore. He's a former priest, now a hardened utilitarian. He's also indeterminately old, thanks to an expensive treatment that eventually killed most of its users, except him. Could be some others out there but we haven't met them yet. And I've decided that he'll be played by Hugo Weaving. His portrayal of characters like Agent Smith and V made a connection to me with the detachment and passion of Lazarus.

Now that you've met Lazarus let me tell you the fun of playing him. As I said, I wasn't sure about him. As a utilitarian he had to have an overriding principle that drove him, and it had to be strong enough to make him leave his faith. And it had to be so strong that he would sacrifice for it; sacrifice himself or others. 

So I wondered if he was the villain of the show. 

As it happens, I'm more convinced than ever that he is. I don't like him but it's so indulgent in his skin. Playing him is like playing Lex Luthor or Doctor Doom. He has plans behind his eyes. He knows things. He wants things but won't tell what they are. And part of that fun is that I don't even know what he wants. He won't tell me either. 

Lazarus is going to drive the story. He's building something that is bigger than him or anyone else and to do that he will use whomever and whatever he needs. 

It's this drive and ambition that makes him so fun and dangerous to play.