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Showing posts from February, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #9: Matrixed Experience

As a follow on to the 8th game mechanism, the following conceot expands the idea of an attribute matrix and gives it dynamic potential as an experience system.

These are all a part of the Quincunx RPG system that I'm currently working on.

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I've recently posted about my take on matrixed attributes on the forge.

While taking a walk today I considered an expansion on this concept, tying an experience system into the core matrix.

A hypothetical character begins with the matrix...

xAirEarthFireMetalWaterWoodAgenda--X-X-ConnectionsX-X-X-Face--X-X-SkillsXXXXXXXXOffences--X--Defences--XX--

I've recently made posts about an experience system where characters accumulate enough failures with a skill to push them toward a new degree of proficiency. I've contemplated this from a dozen directions in the context of a matrix, but it kept feeling too contrived.

Today's thought pattern comes from an entirely new perspective, and I'd like to see if other people "get…

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #8: The Character Matrix

It's been over a week since I last posted, in fact it's almost been a fortnight.

I know that I was ahead when I last posted, but now I'm pretty sure I'm behind. So I'll be posting two consecutive game mechanisms, both stolen from recent posts I've made to the Forge.

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I've also been toying with matrices for characters, but I'm using a 6x6 matrix at the moment, using columns and rows to define everything about the character, not just the attributes.

The columns represent elemental essences, while the rows represent methods of manifestation [agenda, connections, skills, face, offences, defences].

Characters basically fill a single column with a point in each...

xAirEarthFireMetalWaterWoodAgenda--X---Connections--X---Face--X---Skills--X---Offences--X---Defences--X---

...and a single row with a point in each (yes, where the two cross over, the character ends up with 2 points)...

xAirEarthFireMetalWaterWoodAgenda--X---Connections--X---Face--X---Skill…

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #7: Supernatural Powers

One of the things that I've found frustrating about many games is the idea of Supernatural Powers within the context of the setting and the context of the existing game mechanisms.

Some games get the setting right, although this is most commonly the case when games are using supernatural powers adopted from a setting somewhere else. Perhaps seeking to simulate a particular run of comics, a successful movie or a series of popular novels. It's a no-brainer when you attempt to get something right, then simply copy another source verbatim...(don't ask me why Hollywood can't get it right when they try to cash in on the success of popular comics or award winning graphic novels...that's another tirade altogether.)

Getting the mechanisms right is another matter entirely. But the mechanisms depend on what the game is trying to achieve, and the achievements with the system are critically linked in with the agendas of the theme and style of play being sought.

This is purely my o…

Theme vs Mechanics

I guess my weekly endeavour here has touched on concepts that people have been investigating for a while.

In some web surfing I found this monologue on the topic of game themes and mechanisms. It's more focused on the world of board games and collectable card games, and I guess that this is because the author doesn't want to open up the roleplaying can of worms...hell, he even states that most games would be better off without following a narrative (I'm paraphrasing here, but that's what I get from certain remarks he makes).

Have a look for yourself.

Theme vs Mechanics

I might get around to writing up something of my own on one of these days.

[Edit: No, actually, I've misrepresented the author. I had also been reading a second article on game concepts where the author seems to believe that narrative doesn't have a part to play in gaming.]

AGON

On Thursday the 5th of February Andrew Smith came down from Brisbane and ran a game of AGON for us.

I've gotta say, there's only so far that you can get with theorising; actually playing a game gives it more of a visceral feel and you can really get into the mechanisms at work.

I guess it's just like drawing, sculpture, or even motorcycle maintenance in this regard.

After reading through forums and piecing together what I could from the rules I could find online, it looked like a nice system, but there were certain subtleties in the game that didn't really manifest until the dice actually hit the table.

One of the ideas in the game that I really liked was the concept of interludes.

You have scenes of dramatic action or intense narrative, where different players get the chance to compete for glory, but once players start getting injured or lose their confidence through failures, they can take a break and engage in some down time to rest. But this also gives the enemy forces …

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #6: Pigeonholing.

The concept of keywords has come up in a few discussions lately, so I thought I'd make sure to add this into a game mechani(sm).

A few games seem to use this idea to varying degrees of success.

I think the first time I saw it used effectively was in the classic R. Talsorian game "Castle Falkenstein". In which a player would write down a half a page describing their character's current appearance and mannerisms, along with a bit of history. After writing this down, they'd underline key words and the phrases which meant something in the context of the game.

Henry joined the royal navy when he was 16 and it was in his years of service there that he became a master seaman and a gained some knowledge with how to fire a pistol.

In that game, the keywords used in the description of the character were simply ways to get the character sheet drawn up in a new and interesting way. Instead of tables and numbers, the player got in the feel of the game by starting to write a jour…