19 May, 2012

Walkabout Core Mechanism

Time do get a bit of work done on Walkabout, beyond merely drawing pictures for the setting.

The whole mechanism in Walkabout is based around the concept of drawing tokens from a bag. This is designed to be shamanistic in its feel. Not derived from any one particular culture, but more of a mechaphor(1) describing the way the characters pick and choose elements of the past to help forge the future. It feels wrong in this game to use dice or cards because they are such a part of gaming culture already; I want this game to feel different as it is played. It needs to be visceral, with the players immersing themselves in the culture of the wayfarers they are playing.

Unlike a lot of quirky game mechanisms, this needs to blend into the background, it needs to be intuitive and it needs to help drive story. I know that the FUBAR dice (derived from the ideas of Otherkind) work well in this regard. So they can serve as the rough basis of the token drawing mechanisms in Walkabout.

At the simplest level…

All characters have a pool of tokens. These include white tokens representing the worst possible scenario, black tokens representing the worst possible scenario, and coloured tokens that represent a variety of thing depending on their colour and the nature of the action being undertaken (red, green and blue).

Characters also have an assortment of traits defining their abilities to exceed in certain types of task, and the impairments that afflict them.

When a player describes a task being performed by their character, there is a chance that it will simply succeed. This is the case if the GM simply wants to progress the story along, and if the character has the requisite traits to justify such an action.

If the GM declares that a test is required for a certain task, the player must describe in a single sentence what their character is trying to do. This sentence must describe how the character is providing a benefit (for someone or something in the scene), a complication/penalty, or a transformation (with effects that are neither obviously positive nor negative to the target).

The player then determines what traits they might be able to apply to the situation to gain a benefit.

Any other players on the table may allocate traits possessed by the character that might cause complications or problems.

Footnote
(1)    A Mechaphor is a metaphorical mechanism. In a roleplaying context it is where a player participates in some kind of action that mimics the task being performed by their character, or otherwise engages in ritual to get themselves into the mindset of the narrative.
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