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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Critical Event Gaming

    CRITICAL EVENT GAMING

    IMPETUS
    Dungeons & Dragons started out as a modification of historical wargaming and, in many respects, the RPGs that have followed haven't completely thrown off the roots of strict rules, competition, and a focus on combat. RPGs have been used to simulate other things, but they usually run into the problem of overly-complicated rules that often do more damage than good. Freeform RPGs throw out the concept of rules entirely, but they often run into the problem that there's no fair way to mediate conflict resolution.

    What I call Critical Event Gaming is not the first of it's kind. Most of the inspiration comes from Chris Engle's Matrix Gaming Rules, who gave permission in his 1992 essay "Campaign in a Day: A Matrix Game" for anyone to use and modify his rules as they see fit.

    CONCEPT
    The main concept of Critical Event Gaming is the critical events. Critical events are events that, when resolved, will have a major effect on the campaign. Critical events vary from campaign to campaign. It's part of the Game Master's job to decide what is and isn't a critical event. For example the result of a battle between two nations, whether a group of scientists can develop new technology in time to stop invading aliens, or whether a magic ritual is powerful enough to contain a demon lord are all events that are (probably) critical events.

    When a critical event is reached, a player (or, rarely, the GM) makes an argument for a particular set of actions and results related to the critical event. Other players can then either add additional arguments or add support.

    WHAT'S AN ARGUMENT?
    It's easiest to explain with an example. Let's say that the critical event is that a number of players are trying to stop a demon lord from being summoned by the evil Lord Marcus and have developed a ritual to contain it. One of the players makes this argument:

    The ritual is cast before the demon lord is summoned, and it is successful in stopping the summoning.
    1. The wizards working on it are experienced in such rituals
    2. Lord Marcus has not attempted a summoning of such magnitude before
    3. The wizards have used the sword Androlam, which was used to kill another demon lord, in the ritual

    The first sentence is broken up into two parts: action and result. In this case, the action is "The ritual is cast before the demon lord is summoned" while the result is "it is successful in stopping the summoning". The numbered list are the 3 supporting reasons. Each argument should have 3 supporting reasons.

    Any player can make additional arguments, whether or not their characters are involved. Additional arguments take the form of:
    Yes, ... and ... add additional result(s)
    Yes, ... but ... changes the result(s)
    No, actually ... denies the action(s) and the result(s)

    Continuing our example, another player, who's character is Lord Marcus, makes the following argument:

    No, actually the ritual is not cast in time and the demon lord is summoned.
    1. The wizards have only had a few days to work on the ritual and are very stressed
    2. Lord Marcus is sacrificing prisoners of war to hasten the summoning
    3. Lord Marcus is getting support from his own group of wizards

    Another player, who's character is on the other side of the world and doesn't even know what Lord Marcus is up to, makes the following argument:

    Yes, but the ritual only weakens the demon lord instead of stopping the summoning.
    1. The wizards have only had a few days to work on the ritual and are very stressed
    2. The demon lord is one of the most powerful of his kind
    3. The planar barriers are very weak right now

    Finally, another player makes this argument:

    Yes, and Lord Marcus is hurt in the backlash of the failed summoning.
    1. The demon lord is very powerful, so the failure will cause backlash
    2. Lord Marcus is sacrificing safety for speed
    3. [FACT] Failed summons sometimes result in backlash

    (We'll get into what [FACT] means later)

    Players don't have to make an argument. Instead, they can lend support to any argument.

    It's up to the GM whether players can change their arguments or retract them after seeing what other people have posted. It is my opinion that this should be allowed, but the GM should place reasonable limits on it to prevent abuse.

    ARGUMENT RESOLUTION
    Alright, so you have your arguments along with their reasons and (potentially) support. How do you determine what happens?

    First every argument gets 3 points. Next, Yes, ... and ... arguments get an additional point and No, actually ... arguments get a one point deduction. The GM then goes through each argument and classifies each reason as either strong, normal, or weak. Strong reasons are reasons that go along with the theme of the game, are well-supported by past events, and make logical sense. Weak reasons are reasons that diverge from past events or don't make logical sense. Normal reasons are somewhere in between. Strong reasons give an additional point, while weak reasons deduct a point.

    If a player has given an argument support, then that argument gets 1 more point per player giving support.

    Now we have a bunch of arguments with scores. We could just say that the argument with the highest score wins (roll off to determine result of ties), but I like a degree of unpredictability in my games. Keeps players on their toes.

    The best solution is what is known as roulette wheel selection. Essentially, each argument gets a chance to win but the higher the score, the higher the chance. Here's how to do it:

    {table=head]Argument|Score|Result
    A|3|1-3
    B|2|4-5
    C|6|6-11
    D|1|12[/table]

    [roll]1d12[roll] giving a result of 5, which means Argument B won. The pattern is that the result is (Last Result + 1) to ((Last Result + 1)+Score-1)

    After you know the winning argument, then those action(s) and result(s) occur. In addition, the argument goes into the fact sheet. The fact sheet is essentially just a listing of every winning argument in the game so far. If you can use a reason, action, or result from an argument from the fact sheet, preface it with [FACT]. That reason is automatically classified as strong.

    JOB OF THE GAME MASTER
    The GM has a very important job. First and foremost, they need to determine what exactly falls under the purview of critical events. This is very much dependent not only on the type of campaign but on the importance of the event itself. Not every battle is a critical event and sometimes something that isn't normally a critical event is or vice versa!

    Second, the GM needs to mediate arguments so that a) everybody gets an equal chance to be heard, b) to determine when to resolve the critical event, c) who makes the first argument, and d) whether an argument or reason is appropriate for the campaign. What constitutes appropriate is another thing that varies by campaign. Arguing that a demon appears could be appropriate in a high magic campaign, but is definitely not appropriate for a historical campaign set in World War I. Any sort of argument that equates to "I win" or is just nonsensical is definitely not appropriate.

    The GM should also maintain the fact sheet. This isn't as simple as just copy/pasting winning arguments. Sometimes winning arguments can contradict previous winning arguments, often because circumstances have changed.

    Finally, the GM needs to make sure that everybody stays civil. Any sort of collaborative storytelling can get out of hand. Tempers can flare, feelings can get hurt, and people can get nasty. The GM should make sure that that sort of things don't happen, which means that the GM must remain impartial.

    INTEGRATION
    Critical Event Gaming can be dropped into any game. For instance, pretty much nobody wants to run resolve every battle in a war in D&D campaign by playing out every battle using the combat rules. It would just take far too long! You could, however, have some smaller battles representing part of a larger battle and resolve the rest of the battle using Critical Event Gaming. You could also drop Critical Event Gaming into an otherwise freeform game to provide a framework to resolve arguments that sometimes crop up in freeform games (e.g. "My character would totally beat your character." "No he wouldn't!"). Basically, anytime the GM would otherwise make an arbitrary decision, you can use Critical Event Gaming to get all the players involved in the process.

    EXPANDED CRITICAL EVENT GAMING
    There are a lot of different things that I want to do to expand this concept, especially in terms of creating a framework for quasi-freeform character creation and gameplay optimized to use Critical Event Gaming. As I come up with them, I'll put it here.

    CHARACTER CREATION
    Character class, ability scores, feats, skills, talents, traits, and all the other shebang that comes with most character creation rules are really just different ways of describing a character. In a game, not only do we need to know who they are (so we can roleplay as them) but what they're capable of. Critical Event Gaming ignores most of that rule stuff, but we still need some way of describing a character. To that end, a character description is broken up into four groups: motivators, traits, abilities, and history.

    MOTIVATORS
    Motivators are probably the most well-defined area of a character sheet. Motivators describe what drives the character, what makes them do the things that they do. In short, they're the things that you should first think of when deciding how your character acts.

    There are four types of motivators: love, anger, fear, and interest.

    Love describes what makes your character happy. This encompasses everything from what they like in a romantic companion to what they like to do at the end of a long day to what they like on their pancakes. Obviously, you don't have to list everything!

    Anger describes what makes your character mad. This also encompasses what disgusts, irritates, or frustrates them. Does your character really hate when children get hurt? Does your character get annoyed by traffic more than other people? Does your character absolutely detest dirt? Put it here!

    Fear describes what makes your character afraid. This can be things like get nervous at hospitals to crushing fear of spiders to the fear of losing a loved one. It can be very general or specific.

    Finally, Interest describes what the character wants to do with their life. Unlike the other motivators, which fall in line with basic emotions, interest describes longer-term goals. Interests can be amalgams of the other motivators - perhaps your character fears criminals, so they have an interest in establishing law and order - or it can be entirely different (not many people roleplay hypocrites!).

    Here's an example for a prototypical Hollywood Wild West gunmen:


    Motivators
    Love
    • Beating a bad guy in a duel
    • Practicing with firearms
    • Wine, women, and song


    Anger
    • People being bullied or taken advantage of
    • People doing nothing while innocent people get hurt


    Fear
    • Dying without avenging the death of his family
    • Dark, enclosed spaces
    • That he'll hurt an innocent person, either directly or indirectly


    Interest
    • Kill the people who murdered his family
    • Bring criminals to justice

    TRAITS
    Traits describe intrinsic qualities of a character. This is where you put stuff like gender and physical appearance, but it's also where you put other aspects of the character's personality. We already know what type of things motivate your character, but there's more to personality than that. Is your character an honorable person? Do they respect authority or do they buckle under it? How do they handle pressure and stress? Are they talkative? Do they like telling about their past or are they secretive? Do they like working in groups or are they a loner? Finally, this is where you can put special traits such as they ability to see in the dark or to regenerate limbs or other things like that.

    In general, if it's something that can be described in a few words or a short phrase, is inherent to the character, and isn't likely to change for some time, it goes into here.

    Here's an example of a Famous Mutant:
    Traits
    • Male
    • Short, hairy, Canadian
    • Loner
    • Mutant
    • Can regenerate from almost any injury
    • Bones are coated in adamantium
    • Superhuman senses
    • Likes dark humor and gallows humor
    • Smoker

    ABILITIES
    Abilities are what other systems might call skills, talents, or proficiences. They encompass a plethora of different things, but can basically be defined as something that your character can learn and get better at. This includes language abilities, different combat abilities, magic abilities, but also includes professions and jobs the character is good at.

    To list an ability, you give a short one to three (or so) words to describe the ability and then list qualifiers underneath it. Qualifiers can be information from how long you've been studying and training that ability or how long you've worked at that job. Qualifiers can also include reasons that your character has that ability or why it's important to the character.

    Abilities are going to be changed relatively rarely, but qualifiers are probably going to be added, removed, or otherwise changed every single adventure (or episode or scenario, whatever you wish to call it). If you succeeded exceptionally well with an ability (or failed very poorly), you can even add that as a qualifier!

    Here's a few examples of different abilities (probably not from the same character, but who knows?):

    Abilities
    Ufologist
    • Obsessed every since his sister was abducted by aliens
    • Worked for MAJESTIC 12, a secret government organization, for seven years


    Enthusiastic Gun Collector
    • Owns over 200 different firearms, including a number of automatic weapons
    • Practices daily on his own firing range
    • Has never been in an actual gunfight


    Private Investigator
    • Worked as a PI for 3 years
    • Got PI license after getting kicked off the police force
    • Getting annoyed that all the jobs are just finding cheating husbands and wives


    Superhuman Strength
    • Can lift up 1 1/2 tons without any apparent strain

    HISTORY
    History is like a character's own private fact sheet. Here's where you put all the big events that have happened in a character's life. They can be from before the campaign started, but you can also put in things that happened during the campaign. Here's where you flesh out the rest of your character and explain why they are the way they are. It's also a place where the GM will be scouring for potential plot hooks. If you make an interesting character with interesting hooks, it'll make it a lot easier and a lot more fun for not only you but the GM and the other players!

    WAIT A SEC...
    "Wait a sec, TooManySecrets," I hear you say, "I'm thinking of something about my character that could be put under traits, abilities, history, and probably motivators as well! Where should I put it?" Well, that's not an easy answer. I left the differences between each section purposefully vague. If you want to put it in each section, go right ahead! If you want to put it in only some or just one, that's also good. (Personally, if I would tend to put it under abilities, but find what works for you)

    Remember, if you haven't put it down on your character sheet then it's potential fair-game for somebody else to put it there through arguments. If that bothers you, then put it down!

    FINISHING UP
    If you want to use something from character sheet in an argument, append it with a [CHAR]. Anything with [CHAR] counts as [FACT] in all senses (the only reason you use [CHAR] is so that things don't get confusing). If you want to refer to another player's character, then use [CHAR:character name]. If you refer to multiple characters in an argument, then use [CHAR:character name] for each one, even if one of the [CHAR]s refers to your own character.

    MISCELLANEOUS
    FAQ
    Ask me a question!

    UPDATE HISTORY
    12.18.2010
    • Expanded Expanded Critical Event Gaming with guidelines for character creation, which includes motivators, traits, abilities, and history.
    • Fixed some typos and poor word choice


    12.14.2010
    • Original post
    Last edited by TooManySecrets; 2010-12-18 at 09:18 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    I like it. It reminds me a bit of Shock: Social Science Fiction. I also like that you've kept it open enough to be integrated into any game system.

    For the quasi-freeform character creation you mentioned, you could simply allow a player to list FACTs about their character.

    A few could be free:
    [FACT] My character is female.
    [FACT] My character is a high elf.
    etc.

    And then a few could be limited in number during creation, and then gained after so many critical events that have helped define the character.
    [FACT] My character is exceptionally strong.
    [FACT] My character owns a farm.
    [FACT] My character will never trust old men in black cloaks ever again.
    etc.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    That's actually very similar to what I was thinking of. Essentially, each player would have a mini-fact sheet that would list their abilities. Each ability would be a few words, with additional qualifiers listed underneath it. For instance:
    Amateur historian
    • Interested in the American Civil War
    • Volunteered at a dig in Gettysberg for 3 months

    The bolded ability wouldn't change all that often - it might change over the course of a campaign, but not a single adventure - while the qualifiers could be added or subtracted relatively frequently.

    I also think that it's necessary to have the qualifiers because there's worlds of differences between

    Ufologist
    • Really, really likes Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    and

    Ufologist
    • Obsessed with UFOs ever since his sister was abducted when he was 7.

    and

    Ufologist
    • Employed by MAJESTIC 12 for five years

    There's a lot of commonality between the ability, but there's an entirely different scale and talent based on the qualifiers. Plus, it makes it easier and quicker to find out relevant information without having to read through the entire character sheet each time.


    You also touched upon background and (sort of) personality stuff. I hadn't thought about background (though that's a really good point) but I had thought about personality. Personality, I think, is something that's really important and, let's face it, it's sometimes hard to roleplay an entirely different personality. However, if other people know your character's personality, then they can use that in arguments - and that's a good thing. It would prevent a lot of munchkinism and bad meta-gaming i.e. "You're trying to sacrifice a child for personal power, but you have listed your personality as 'Kind-Hearted', so I'm going to use that in my argument for why you don't sacrifice that child to that demon".

    EDIT: Oh, and as for some being "free" and others being limited, I don't think there's really a need. Part of my beef with a lot of RPGs is that they treat the players like munchkins. Nothing inherently wrong with that, except that it usually ends up limiting their choices and ability to have a cool story. Baby and bath water and all that. I'll put guidelines for GMs to follow, but ultimately I think it's best if I avoid any rule-based limits.
    Last edited by TooManySecrets; 2010-12-18 at 05:49 PM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    oh man double post!

    Updated the rules with character creation stuff. Some of it was things that I covered in my previous post, but other stuff is newly written. Give it a read and tell me what you think!
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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    Quote Originally Posted by TooManySecrets View Post
    oh man double post!

    Updated the rules with character creation stuff. Some of it was things that I covered in my previous post, but other stuff is newly written. Give it a read and tell me what you think!
    It's homebrew, and it's your thread, no need to worry about double posting here.

    Heck, you don't even need to worry about Thread Necromancy, so long as you're not simply bumping to bump.
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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    This is really interesting.
    The hard part would be establishing what is FACT and what isn't.

    I guess if you were incorporating this,
    you could have a session where you argue
    for FACT status of certain aspects of the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Popertop View Post
    This is really interesting.
    The hard part would be establishing what is FACT and what isn't.

    I guess if you were incorporating this,
    you could have a session where you argue
    for FACT status of certain aspects of the world.
    Basically, the GM let's you know the theme and "feel" of the world. He/she might set out some initial [FACT]s or might just give a less-formal background.

    Remember, the GM is the final arbiter on whether something is Strong, Weak, Normal (or thrown out). Therefore, the GM can make an argument that's out of the campaign's theme Weak or just throw it out. If you have a High Epic Fantasy game, for instance, any argument that wants to introduce a history of eldritch abominations into the world is going to be Weak at best.

    Personally, I would just make it Weak rather than rejecting it outright. If a person presents an otherwise good set of arguments, than why not let them slightly modify the setting in a way the GM didn't originally design? After all, the PCs should have as much an influence in the game as anyone else. Essentially, winning arguments are retroactive.

    You could have a set of pre-game arguments if you wanted to start a game from absolutely nothing. It would be interesting to have a game setting built completely from the ground up by people playing in it.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    yeah, the only thing I'm worried about is trying this with
    people that can be unreasonable/unrealistic in arguments (kind of like
    big personalities) and aren't familiar with formalized argumentative
    logic.

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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    Huh. This seems really, really interesting. I love how it can be ported over into other systems, and I think it's a great system for resolving Big Things like wars in games such as D&D.

    However, there could also be something called a "compromise"...I stole this from Mouse Guard. The idea, essentially, that there can be a bad or unexpected twist of fate, even in the midst of success, or that there can be a stroke of luck, even in failure. That would give some flavor to the game.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooManySecrets View Post
    You could have a set of pre-game arguments if you wanted to start a game from absolutely nothing. It would be interesting to have a game setting built completely from the ground up by people playing in it.
    The game I mentioned in my first post (Shock) has a mechanic for this, actually. Every game starts with the players going through a round of designing the world. Everybody comes up with a sort of aspect of the world that makes it different from the modern day real world (Ex. Ubiquitous Computing, Free Energy, Cure for Aging, Robot Apocalypse, Etc), and a theme they want the game to explore (Ex. Copyright Infringement, Transgenderism, Solipsism, Etc), and then every time, in game, a question arises about the aspect you came up with, you answer it, write it on a notecard, and it becomes a fact of the world. (Ex. "So, how is the ubiquitous computing achieved?" , "Oh, well, a microchip is implanted in everyone's brain at birth that gives them access to the OmniNet" and then that becomes a fact of the setting).

    So, just some food for thought, I guess.

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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    Quote Originally Posted by CarpeGuitarrem View Post
    However, there could also be something called a "compromise"...I stole this from Mouse Guard. The idea, essentially, that there can be a bad or unexpected twist of fate, even in the midst of success, or that there can be a stroke of luck, even in failure. That would give some flavor to the game.
    That's essentially what the Yes...but argument is for, at least partially. Yes...but means that the action is the same, but it has a different result. So, for instance, if somebody was making the initial argument The King's army attacks the undead army, and wipes it out you don't have to respond Yes, but the King's army is wiped out instead. It's fine if you make the argument Yes, but the King's army suffers numerous casualties including a high-ranking general. Yes...and arguments can also add additional things as well.

    Though, the concept of a "compromise" is interesting. I don't know how to word it to prevent people from doing it will-nilly (and slow down games), but it could be interesting if it's allowed for the person who makes the original argument to retract it in favor of supporting an argument that someone else posted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xefas View Post
    So, just some food for thought, I guess.
    That's pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking of, though I do like the inclusion of "themes". Makes it that much easier to introduce new setting elements that don't buckle the trend (accidentally or otherwise).
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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    Cool, adding Shock to my LIST OF GAMES TO TRY

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    Quote Originally Posted by TooManySecrets View Post
    Basically, the GM let's you know the theme and "feel" of the world. He/she might set out some initial [FACT]s or might just give a less-formal background.

    Remember, the GM is the final arbiter on whether something is Strong, Weak, Normal (or thrown out). Therefore, the GM can make an argument that's out of the campaign's theme Weak or just throw it out. If you have a High Epic Fantasy game, for instance, any argument that wants to introduce a history of eldritch abominations into the world is going to be Weak at best.

    Personally, I would just make it Weak rather than rejecting it outright. If a person presents an otherwise good set of arguments, than why not let them slightly modify the setting in a way the GM didn't originally design? After all, the PCs should have as much an influence in the game as anyone else. Essentially, winning arguments are retroactive.

    You could have a set of pre-game arguments if you wanted to start a game from absolutely nothing. It would be interesting to have a game setting built completely from the ground up by people playing in it.
    You sir are one who would like the concept known as a Nomic. A Nomic is a game that has in its rules, the ability to change the rules.
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    Isn't that like Mao/King Mao?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Havvy View Post
    You sir are one who would like the concept known as a Nomic. A Nomic is a game that has in its rules, the ability to change the rules.
    Quote Originally Posted by Popertop View Post
    Isn't that like Mao/King Mao?
    Yep, already know about Nomic. And Popertop is partially correct. Nomic is both a specific game and a category of games. Any game that allows you to change the rules is a nomic game. So, Mao is nomic. Fluxx and We Didn't Play Test This At All are both card games that are nomic (they're very cool).

    Might want to do a Nomic-type game on the boards at some point, but that's for another thread.
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    I hope it's okay for me to post this here, but I'm trying to start a game using this system, and I'm not getting enough interest, so I thought I'd post the link.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ertier View Post
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    This system sounds really interesting. I'll have to give it a closer look over to toss you some "tough" questions to help it development at a later date. But I'm wondering if anyone has played a game using these rules yet? How did it go?

    Also, Shock looks really interesting as well. This all reminds me of a game with much much looser rules called 1000 Blank White Cards. Legend goes that the games creator found a box labled 1000 Blank White Cards which was true to its name and decided to devise a game around it. Essentially, each player takes a number of blank cards and turns them into game cards. These cards could contain any kind of rule system, explicit or confused. It could just have a drawing or some text on it. All of the cards are shuffled into a deck and then each player takes a handfull. Players take turns playing cards. How exaclty the card is "played" is left to the discretion of the player. At anytime new cards can be made and added to the deck.

    I played this game a few times with friends, and had mixed results. One time a friend and I created a fairly interesting game based around Necromancers and undead creations. There were spell cards, monster cards, corpse cards and location cards. The game could have been developed in its own right, with out the anything goes rules of 1000BWC. Another time, a few friends and I just had a zany evening of making up whatever cards we felt like, Darth Vader, Stock Market Crash, Inexplicable Event, a Ten of Diamonds and Beer Run were all cards that were created. Both games were rewarding.

    It's my experience that a loose rule set can allow for good brainstorming, and that the rule set can later be tightened to make a great game.

  18. - Top - End - #18
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    Default Re: Critical Event Gaming

    Have you considered compiling this into a PDF? I think it'd be easier to read for me if I could print it properly onto paper and read it dead-tree style...

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    Railroading isn't saying "There is a wall there", Railroading is when you say "There is a wall everywhere BUT there"


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