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Showing posts from November, 2009

Game Mechanism of the Week #46: Factionalism

How do you drive story in a game? How do you inject a bit of conflict between characters who would otherwise co-operate? How do you bring a bit of co-operation between characters who might otherwise be constantly at one another's throats?

A simple answer to all of these questions comes in the form of factions, and many games have made use of this idea.

From the clans of Vampire the Masquerade or Legend of the Five Rings, the orders of Magi in Ars Magica, the corporations in assorted cyberpunk games or even the chapters of Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000.

Factions add instant ties between characters, whether those ties come in the form of communion or conflict.

Of course, factions don't always make a game better, in the same way that conflict doesn't always make a story better. Many kung fu movies are great because they bring creative conflict to the screen, but few kung fu movies are considered masterpieces of storytelling.

Like all mechanisms, you need to consider what you w…

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #45: Character Peaks

I've had a few ideas over the past couple of weeks, but I keep forgetting to write them down. When I forget to take a note of the fleeting ephemera, I have a hard time trying to capture it in words when I sit down to start writing my blog...it's frustrating and it means that I haven't written a lot of game mechanisms lately.

Working on other projects hasn't really helped in that regard either...but anyway, time for number 45.

In many roleplaying games, a character gradually accumulates experience and becomes more powerful over the course of a story. They learn new things, they discover new tools that make them more effective and they face ever more dangerous foes.

This typically applies within the context of a single story, but often also applies over the course of a series of narratives. Characters simply escalate until they ascend to rival the gods themselves.

Fun (in some situations), but certainly not realistic.

There are a few games over the years that have offered an …

Game Mechanism of the Week #44: Modular Characters

Here's a concept I've played with a couple of times.

It can be applied in a couple of different ways; some of which I've tried, some of which I'd like to try.

The concept is pretty simple, and you could even look at stalwarts of the roleplaying world in this light.

The basic idea is that a character is made up of modular templates.

A bunch of race templates...a bunch of occupation templates. Add one to the other and voila, a character is instantly playable.

Let's try it a different way.

Here's a design I produced for a contest a couple of years back.

This design ended up becoming a part of the foundation for The Eighth Sea, but I'd really like to go back to it at some stage. The idea of a quickly producible character, with everything right there for a player to use in a couple of minutes.

Not sure what else to write on this one.

Of anyone's got comments, please fire away.

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #43: Fluency Play

There seems to be something interesting happening in game design at the moment.

I've noticed it in a few games, and it's something I've been aspiring towards in some of my own games.

Jason Godesky has made a post about it and has referenced the phenomenon as Fluency Play.

It's an amazing concept and something that many boardgames have done effortlessly for years.

I can't write the concept more succinctly than those who have written about it previously, so here's a bunch of links...

Pedagogy of Play
Story Games Thread

I'd love to do this in Quincunx, and Brigaki Djili has this concept directly in mind.

It;s a method to introduce instant immersion, because the players don't feel like they are "playing a game", instead they are sharing an experience.

The first game I've played to implement this in an elegant fashion is "Penny", but I've raved enough about that one. Apparently Jason has implemented a similar concept in his Fifth World gam…