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From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Gm's not rolling for that, and looking beyond Combat.. (Brain dummping)

The Gm’s not rolling for that and looking beyond combat:
So far so good:
I have started the mental gym work that will eventually lead me to a playable Role playing game. Part of that mental gym work was getting straight two things that seem simple yet will inform the rest of my design moving forward.
First, once it is done, I will likely GM this sucker more than anyone else. And I don’t want to roll dice.
This came to me after reading a blog by Wil Hutton found here: http://rivetgeek.blogspot.com/2013/10/i-dont-fudge-die-rolls.html
I see his point. I might even take it a step forward. I have GM’ed enough games and fudged enough die rolls to make the story flow better that I now see the hypocrisy of it.
I am not a killer GM, I am not out to off party members. In my view if I often fudge rolls to make things go well for the players, when someone’s character does get killed than I am directly responsible for it because I did not choose to fudge the roll. In other words in my opinion if I fudge the rolls I might as well not use the system, the game is simply working against me, and I against it.

My thought is that if I can build a system out of questions and the bidding system, as a game I can avoid having to roll dice to decide things and keep the narrative flowing more freely.
For example: (using a fantasy example even though I have no idea what setting if any I want to work with yet … so far to go.)
Player A is negotiating with a street vendor over the price of an interesting pendant.
Player A: “I approach the vendor, and try to look like I know what I’m looking at, commenting on the craftsmanship and fine materials used in his goods, once I get to the pendant I ask him for a price.”
GM:  “Mustan the jeweler looks you up and down adjusts his floppy hat and looks over the pendant. He grunts, 120 crowns..It is a rare piece.”
Normally in other games I might call for a charisma check or roll both the player and the NPC’s barter skill.
With my current project I would rather see the GM ask a few questions.
Player A: “Good Mustan that seems a bit much, surly we can find a better price?”
GM: “Mustan Pockets the pendant, and tips his head forward apparently going back to whatever business he was about before you arrived,” he seems pretty set on his price, how are you approaching him?
Player:  My warrior Gustov is a big imposing man, I don’t want to bully this street vendor, but I do want to lean over him and try to look as imposing as possible. Gustov says, “Now see here my good man I will give you 100 crowns for the pendant, I am not used to playing games, let us do business.”
The player now pushes forward three tokens in a bid to Force the scene in his direction.
It would now be directly up though the game to decide if that is enough of a bid to say the vendor Mustan.
The nice thing about something like this is that it is transparent. The players and the GM know that it is a decision, of the GM weather a bid is enough to get the job done, or not enough or even too much pressure. The game has the job of balancing out… (How much does Mustan want to sell the pendant, how prone is he to intimidation? Does Gustov have a reputation of any kind? Does Mustan need something in return? Does he know the pendant is actually a key to a safe once thought lost at sea? )
The Gm is free to balance all these things for Mustan and take the bid or reject it, and he is certainly not going to be captive to a die roll.
For the players the transparency will work for them, in that they will know the GM is playing a character not playing to the roll, so if Mustan acts like he has ulterior motives the players can be pretty sure he has ulterior motives and  can dig in a bit more.
The second realization I had is that I absolutely have to look past combat when working on this game.
Any system I work out for moving narration and resolution of conflict has to be for everything. If I base my resolution system on if Warrior A can hit Ork X with his Halberd. I’m going to be in trouble fast. The kind of game I am thinking about will require a light hand, and getting mentally wrapped up in the intricacies of a combat scene will only make reaching my goals more difficult.
I very much want the players to be able to describe their actions, and resolve their actions very conversationally, without the break of, “What do I have to roll for that?”  I want that to hold true for combat and any other action equally. In my mind, “How are you approaching the vendor Mustan about the pendant? “ Should have the same mechanical weight as, “In what way are you going to overcome the Ogres thick natural hide?” and neither should slow the game to a plod.
Well that’s my design ramble for today.
I recognize that right now this is more of a pile of thoughts than any kind of real sytem; I have a lot of work to-do before I really have anything of substance for this game but at least now I feel I am finally getting  on track.