View Full Version : Campaign Journal: Adventures in Building a System. My TW players stay out plz.

2011-03-03, 01:15 AM
Right here I'm trying to chronicle my experiences running this game here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=187815) and here, (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=187814) as well as attempting to create coherent gaming system from scratch, more or less on the fly. I'm going to try to alternate summaries of turns (roughly equivalent to a session in tabletop terms) and conceptual talk from behind my 'screen' about why I make the decisions I make.

Some background:

This was born out of a freeform nation game found here. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=91672) It, and our shenanigans, has achieved nigh legendary status amongst us original players and our constant references have caused no end of confusion in the new blood, who joined later games. Of which there were... many. We kinda went demi-viral there. I think there's a few games running that I don't know about.

Anyway, the system there was 'sure why not,' 'here's six stats, more or less arbitrarily ranked,' and 'sort of turn based. You got anything else to do? Nope? Okay, yeah, end of turn.'

And it was AWESOME.

The campaign I'm actually journaling represents my... third attempt to take the setting, the rough outlines of the system, and apply it to a character level, which was everybody's favorite part anyway. (Well, that, and the backstabbing and orbital death lasers and ****.) Well, sort of personal. They're also (nominally) cooperating against a single enemy, and actually have a representative chamber in which to vote and argue. Also I've got the players playing a character and a faction. More on that later.

Oh, this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLUX0y4EptA) is obligatory. So, that's our 'meta' background. We'll get to the in game background during my World Building, Setting, and Tone post, but right now I'm going to talk...


Relevant text from the recruitment thread:

A submission looks like:

Given McSur

Blahblahblah life story blah personality blah position within faction and why blah.


Coolname McCool

Location blah demographic blah stated goals blah will PM you their actual goal blah blah blah blah.

Blahblahblahblahblah. (<-The point is that this should be articulated and well expressed, and not drawn purely along stat lines, you munchkin bastards.)
Blahblahblahblah. Blah. BLAAAAH!

What's this? No stats? No crunch? This. Is. CharGen! And a really old meme.

Well, yeah. This is an artifact of the original game, but I've kept it because I like it. The players describe their character, the GM gives them their stats. I basically set up an Excel spreadsheet, listed the stats, set up a box at the bottom to show me the total, and then I winged it, and then tinkered around. For clarification:
Excel+wing it+tinker=roleplaying system. By now, some of you are still reading this in anticipation of inevitable train-wreck.

I should lay a little background here. The players are fighting the big bad, SHONA HAN (Fear teh Hanzor!) Greystone's pet Mary Sue bundle of awesome villainy, who won the last game of this particular cannon. Crushing her enemies in battle, leaving her the unquestioned power on Earth just as humanity reached the cusp age of space colonization. Fast forward an as of yet undetermined number of generations later, and the players are brave resistance fighters attempting to bring Han down. They've met up, signed a tentative agreement to fight together, and have established a voting body to make decisions. I'll get more into the setting later.

On the matter of crunch, there is this, the version I showed the players.

{PC Stats:}

Conviction: Hey, you gotta keep your spirits up! (High/low morale can modify a lot of other checks.) Also helps fight off psionic attacks.
Charisma: The DnD stat, more or less. Affects the quality of your inner circle and some NPC interactions.
Intelligence: Raw brainpower. Handy for analyzing plans and general knowledge. Can bump other stats as well.
Tactics: Your personal military acumen. Handy informational stat.
Intuition: It's a political game, and people lie. Knowing when and why will give you the edge.
Personal Wealth: More or less self-explanatory. As ever, a most flexible stat for augmenting blind spots.


Specialized Stats:
Are pretty self explanatory.

Psionic Prowess: A grab bag of utility, but the technology arms race has caught up with the mindcrackers, pyros, and kinetics.
Combat Capability: If you all end up on the front lines you guys have really screwed things up. That said, assassin's remain a real possibility, and it might come in handy.


Faction Stats:

Faction stats range from 0 to 5.

Morale: Good for preventing spies, not giving up on the Conclave, and such like. Easy to lose, hard to gain.
Popularity: How you are seen by the common people. You'll need this to recruit new members and gain Influence, but remember- if the common man knows of you, the Hands of Han certainly will... Also, easy to lose and hard to gain.
Military: Someone has to bleed. Bringing military might to the Conclave bestows a lot of Influence, but you'll be subjecting it to the whims of you fellow voters. Choose wisely... Easy to lose, hard to gain.
Experience: Hard to quantify, but generally, how long and how hard your group has been playing the revolutionary game. Good bonuses all around and can prevent some of the worst random events. Brings in a little influence. Hard to lose, but the gaining can be... unpleasant.
Espionage: I... I really shouldn't need to 'splain what this is. Players get bits of information at a rate of one fact per Esp point per turn, though some information has a max needed cap or is 'worth' two facts. Can buy you influence on a fact by fact basis.
War Chest: Iz cash money. Iz useful. Can be turned into useful things.

Other Stats:
Influence: Your importance within the broader revolutionary movement. Although each faction will get a vote, this can be real important.
Income: Determines how much is added to your war chest at each turn. Not a one to one ratio!


Each player gets six stats, ranked one to ten, to represent various skills, knowledge, and aspects of their personality. They also get stats for psionic prowess and combat capabilities.

Their factions receive similar ranking along traits that a faction might have access to, then two extras, one keeping track of their faction's income, the other it's influence.

Some notes on the CharGen design philosophy:

I already went over the CharGen process on the player end. I stick by my all fluff approach. The system is flexible enough to take about any concept and run it well, but not so robust that it can take a purely mechanical build and make that kind of play fun. The body of this game is going to be a series of legislative battles in an 8-man chamber. Characters must be fluffy, and the best way to get that out of them is to start them as pure fluff.

From a GM (Narrator? OpFor?) position, the basic philosophy is to be vague, and let the player's fill in the details. With the factions especially, the same numerical stat values can mean very different things to different factions in different situations. It's the GM's call. Shoot for a little balance, but interesting is far superior. This is not a game with winners and losers, this is a game looking for fun, lulz, and awesome RP.

Next time: Our Players and the Session One Wrap Up.

2011-03-03, 05:21 AM
Okay, so, I'm not a player anymore, I'm allowed to post, right?

Question: have you looked at Fate/Fudge and their derived systems? In their most simple, they are already pretty similar to what you do here, and I've used them for nation games before. In those systems, everyone has a list of skills with ranks in them and five or more aspects that can be anything the can think off. Would turn out pretty similar, except it involves a bit of dice rolling (not much, really, and you can learn it pretty fast).

Edit: and including reincarnations and alternate versions of Shona Han everywhere we go is fun anyway :smalltongue:

2011-03-03, 05:37 AM
Oh, yeah, Phear teh Hanzor. This one isn't actually a reincarnation or alternate though. This cannon traces it's linage straight from the first game through Sayn's. Hooray cloning and genetic immortality![/impenetrable backstory] :smallcool: Don't worry, there will be a post on that.

But yeah, if you aren't in the game in question (or an alt) you're free to read and post.

To answer your question, I've tried Fudge/Fate, always over PbP and results have been... mixed. I think it would be a great system face to face, but the results in PbP always seem a little... sticky. Just concrete enough to create paperwork, not flexible enough to be really liberating. I think I might roll my Mechanics talk into the Turn Summary post, since the first session was really short.

2011-03-03, 05:40 AM
I liked Indonesian (I think it was?) Rock music Shona :smalltongue: