Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Page 1 of 26 1234567891011 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 753
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Hello everyone, and welcome to our game. I realize the title of thread is a tad confusing, but "The Playground" refers to a rules system I think is very special. The Playground rules allow you to play what you want to play. Almost anything can work. Really. You can play almost anything. This isn't a game where you play as an adventurer and wait for the Game Master to tell you what happens - you write your own tales cooperatively and sometimes competitively with the other players.

    The spoilers below hold a great deal of information, but please don't be put off - most of the sections below cover very specific rules clarifications that have been an issue in the past - the basic rules are fairly simple. Moreover, the mods and veteran players are ready and willing to help people learn the way the game works, so please don't hesitate to submit a concept even if you're unsure how everything fits together. Below, we have the rules for the game, the advice of two of our Moderators (not necessary reading, but recommended), as well as a links to a past game.



    The Basics
    Spoiler
    Show

    Play usually centers around a city of adventure placed on an otherwise blank slate, and a basic technology level is determined to establish what can be assumed to be part of the system without a need for Story Elements (more on that later). Aside from that, there are but three important things to keep in mind for the setting:

    Players earn three sorts of currencies or tickets which they get to use to influence the game. First, and generally the most appealing, are Advantages. Advantages are anything good for a character you control. Being able to use a kind of magic, being really good looking or incredibly strong, being wealthy, commanding soldiers or a horde of goblins... these are all Advantages. This keeps player characters, whatever they are, roughly as powerful or as cool as each other. It's hard to compare some character concepts, but Advantages let us say, "This character has X number of good things going for them."

    Story Elements are another form of currency. These let you add something static to the setting, any one thing. These create NPCs, places, exotic plants or animals, monsters, etc.

    Plot Tickets change the setting or put events in motion. You use them to make something happen that your character(s) wouldn't have control over. Plot Tickets also let you create Adventure Sites which let you play Game Master controlling NPCs and fate to lead other players on an Adventure of your creation.


    Character Creation
    Spoiler
    Show

    All charaters begin with X Advantages, Y Story Elements, and Z Plot Tickets, subject to change based on the setting and iteration of the game.

    All applications should be submitted in this format:

    Full Name, Titles in Descending Importance
    Age:
    Affiliations:


    Physical Description:

    Personality:

    History:

    Advantages: (itemized and detailed)

    While we intend to be inclusive of concepts, writing ability will play a part in the selection process. We will of course make allowances for people whose first language isn't English, but please try and be effective and evocative in your descriptions. Ideally, your application should be long enough to cover everything important, but short enough to keep us interested. Keep in mind that a massive wall of text detailing you full lineage could hurt more than it helps.


    The Rules
    Spoiler
    Show


    The Rules
    Spoiler
    Show

    While the game is principally free-form, there are rules to govern how powerful characters can be as well as ways to resolve disputes and avoid role playing gridlock. First, any boon, anything that makes a character special is called an Advantage. Your character, being a cut above the common Joe, naturally begins with a few Advantages and you gain more over time. Second, when players can’t agree on how a scene should play out (or would prefer to keep things random) things are decided with a die roll and each appropriate Advantages grant a bonus to each player’s roll. Third, when there’s a dispute over what Advantages are and aren’t applicable, Moderators can decide. Moderators are only there to decide what is and isn’t appropriate for the game and may ask you to edit your posts if you’ve written something your character couldn’t have done either as the product of blatant metagame knowledge or a truly impossible feat.

    1. Players own all game currency (advantages, plot tickets).
    2. The creation of a Player Character (PC) is free. Players may grant advantages to any PC they control by spending one from their budget.
    3. Players gain 1 advantage at the first of each month and 1 at the end of every chapter. Once per chapter, players may be awarded 1 advantage for participation or excellent roleplaying. Bonus advantages may be rewarded to all players for holidays or during particularly lengthy chapters.
    4. In addition to the regular players, TheDarkDM will be playing a character whose responsibility it will be to evoke conflict and provide antagonism. To reflect this increased responsibility and the likelihood of becoming a target, he will be allocated a larger starting advantage pool.
    5. Moderators decided by consensus when a chapter ends.
    6. Players gain 3 Story Elements per chapter. Unused story elements are saved between chapters.
    7. Players gain 1 Plot Ticket per chapter. Plot Tickets do NOT carry over between chapters.
    8. Moderators are charged with arbitration in the event of player disputes, clarifying rules and monitoring the appropriateness of play and story elements. Story elements will be rejected if they are inappropriate (see below) or conflict with existing cannon. Players may be asked to edit IC posts in the event their character has done something given impossible knowledge or has acted outside the extent of their advantages.

    No WAAAGH! – You may not import distinct elements from well known sources. This means no chocobos, no Warhammer Orks, and no alchemists capable of reassembling matter with a clap of their hands. Mods have the power to veto any creation that resembles too closely any part of another setting. The exception to this rule is anything considered standard or iconic fantasy, for example, orcs as described in D&D’s Monster Manual. You may certainly draw inspiration from existing sources, just don’t blatantly rip off something. Riding giant birds into battle is fine, just as long as they’re not yellow!

    No Renaming the Rose – Do not create things to be kitschy or subversive. You may certainly create a noble race of orcs with a mystical heritage, but do not make your orcs fair skinned, pointy eared forest dwellers.

    It Shall Have a Common Name – If you create something and give it a fantastical sounding name, ensure that it also has a common name that is easy to remember. (For example, “Eladrin” is a fine name, but “High Elves” can’t be misspelled or forgotten.)

    Word of Mod – Anything deemed offensive, too silly or just “not cool” can be vetoed by the Moderators. This is especially true for anything that would countermand existing elements in the setting.


    Advantages
    Spoiler
    Show

    Advantages are graded as Common (+1), Uncommon (+2), Rare (+3), Exceptional (+5), Legendary (+7) and Special (No Bonus). The grade of an advantage is decided upon before it enters play and is based on a number of factors balancing how powerful the advantage is versus how often it is likely to be used. Advantages that have a variety of applications and are likely to be used often are probably Common while advantages with a limited purpose are Rare. Uncommon is somewhere in between. Exceptional and Legendary advantages are usually not only limited in purpose, but also in availability. Specifically, advantages related to large items, vehicles, mounts and followers are usually 1 grade higher than normal; location based advantages are 2 grades higher. Special advantages are reserved for a talent or ability that, while certainly useful, doesn't provide a mechanical bonus in a conflict.

    Common -
    Advantages at this grade see frequent use and have such a wide variety of applications that it's hard to consider them all. Rough attributes or descriptors are often Common as are many professions. Common advantages can be used in both combat and noncombat situations. Examples: Strength (+1 to climbing, jumping, melee combat...) Charisma (+1 to bluff, inspire, convince...) Rogue (+1 to sneaking, stabbing, stealing...)

    Uncommon -
    Advantages of this grade are more specific than Common advantages, but still likely to see frequent use. Importantly, advantages that only have applications in combat are Uncommon. Talents and sets of skills are usually Uncommon. Examples: Sword Expertise (+2 to using bladed weapons in combat), a Magic Dagger (+2 when used in combat), Thievery (+2 to sneaking, stealing, disarming traps, but NOT to combat), Education (+2 all knowledge), Charm (+2 in social situations when you employ humor or flattery).

    Rare -
    Rare advantages have only one purpose. Combat advantages that only effect a certain kind of target or provide protection against a single element are Rare. Single skills are usually Rare. Examples: A magic dagger enchanted to kill trolls (+3 combat against trolls, +0 against other targets), Fire Resistance (+3 combat if your opponent uses fire against you), Beauty (+3 in social situations when you employ your good looks against characters who find your gender appealing), Stealth (+3 when hiding or sneaking), Arcana (+3 knowledge for magical matters).

    Exceptional -
    Exceptional advantages are typically skills or knowledge sets so specific that it's useless outsides of its domain. Examples: Sleight of Hand (+5 stealing small objects), Botany (+5 knowledge of plants), Cooking (+5 culinary knowledge and preparation).

    Legendary -
    Scarcely anything qualifies as legendary. This grade is typically reserved for upgraded advantages which would normally be of a lower grade (see Items etc).

    Special -
    Special advantages do not provide any mechanical bonus, but rather allow a character's other advantages to be used in unusual ways. The ability to summon a magical sword to your hand, regardless of where you are would be a Special grade advantage since it allows you to employ your sword advantage when it might otherwise be denied.

    Advantage Categories
    Some advantage are more useful than others owing not only to how likely they are to come up in play, but also because of their convenience. A magic dagger is more convenient to have on your person than a magic battleaxe, thus the axe is slightly more powerful.

    Personal -
    Personal advantages are the norm and represent anything intrinsic to a Player Character (PC) and any highly portable or unassuming items or animal companions. While personal items (like a ring) can be stolen or lost, they can also be traded or loaned to other PCs.

    Items -
    Items that are small, easily concealed or worn inconspicuously on one's person are graded the same as any other personal advantage. Magic rings, daggers, and dress swords fall under this first category. Large, cumbersome or conspicuous items are one bonus grade higher than equivalent personal advantages. Large weapons and heavy armor fall under this second category, so a huge battle axe that would normally be a combat-only Uncommon advantage (+2) would instead be +3. You may trade, loan and steal items with/from other characters.

    Followers -
    Followers are groups of NPCs loyal to or under the employ of a PC. Unlike PCs, they do not have "plot armor" and can be more easily manipulated and eliminated. Followers are typically minions, guards, crew, or employees. Followers may be unable or unwilling to assist a PC everywhere, so advantages related to followers are one grade higher than personal advantages. Examples: Whereas PC swordsman with the Sword Expertise advantage would have an Uncommon (+2) bonus in combat, a group of followers with the same advantage would a Rare (+3) bonus in combat.

    Vehicles/Beasts/War Machine -
    Vehicles and large animals or monsters are limited by their size and mobility. Because they can't go everywhere a PC could go, advantages tied to a vehicle or beast are considered one grade higher, just like followers. An advantage is likely in this category if it is too large to fit through a doorway or if its presence would be disturbing, disruptive or flatly illegal, or if the thing simply cannot move on or through normal terrain. Small animal companions and familiars are considered Personal.

    Locations -
    Locations are simply never portable. One needs to be in or on the location and able to use its facilities to gain the related bonus. Location based advantages are TWO grades higher than normal. Examples: A Library might function like the Education (Uncommon) advantage, but since it's a location, it would be graded as Exceptional and grant a +5 bonus to anyone doing research within. A castle might have the Defense advantage and bestow an Exceptional (+5) bonus to defenders within its walls against outside attacks (Note: If two characters fought one another within the castle, neither would receive a bonus to combat).

    Advantage Rank
    You can take the same advantage multiple times and doing so increases an advantage's Rank. You can have up to 3 ranks in an advantage normally; 4 ranks and beyond requires permission from the Moderators. While the mechanical bonus of successive ranks progresses linearly (an uncommon advantage would grant a +2 bonus at rank 1, +4 at rank 2, +6 at rank 3...) the in-game effect varies. For example, a character with a rank in Strength is roughly twice as strong (in terms of weight lifted) as an average human adult and 2 ranks makes him twice as strong again. But, a single rank of intelligence doesn't give a character an IQ of 200. Most ranks progress an advantage by a single standard deviation. As a rule of thumb, if average means you're better than 100 out of 200 people, then 1 rank means you're better than 150 of them and better than 175 of them at 2 ranks.



    Story Elements
    Spoiler
    Show

    Use Story Elements to create people, places, races, items, materials, ideas, trends and historical events. Balance the impact or significance of what you’re creating with your level of detail and expansiveness. For example, creating an entire noble family and giving them names, appearances, personalities and a brief history is fine. However, if you created a character that is a cultural icon or immensely powerful, you’d want to make sure that’s all your story element covers. As a rule of thumb, you can be as general or specific as you like when creating a story element, just don’t go off on tangents and detail things not within the purview of your current element.

    Examples of Good Story Elements:

    • A law that makes it illegal to carry a sword in the city without a permit
    • A social trend where it’s unfashionable to wear black clothing to a formal event
    • A race of yellow furred scavenger creatures that prowl the alleys
    • A magical sword wielded by a hero of a past age
    • An unusual metal renowned for its strength and light weight
    • A war fought between two nations a century ago


    Adventures
    Spoiler
    Show

    Created through the use of a Plot Ticket, Adventures are short stories that the creator GM's for a select group of other players, using a location they have created, a public location, or another player's location with that player's permission. The player running the Adventure is awarded an Advantage at its completion, and has the power to award a set or free Advantage to the players involved. Each player may run one Adventure per Chapter.

    Note: It is very likely that Adventures will not be a part of future Playground games. While a nifty concept, execution tends to work out poorly, and it slows down posting as everyone waits on the temporary GM.




    The DOs and DO NOTs of Role Playing
    Spoiler
    Show

    DO use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc, etc. For example: “This is a properly spelled, properly punctuated sentence.”

    DO NOT use chatspeak, leetspeak, or any other form of internet/texting jargon in any post anywhere in the game. For example: “r u srs” will only get you mocked.

    DO write posts that facilitate gameplay. If someone is talking to you, talk back! If you have a creative new thing to build, build it! Posts that facilitate gameplay are staples of any good game.

    DO NOT write yourself into a corner. If all you ever do is write pages and pages about yourself, and never interact with anyone else, chances are the others in the game won’t want to interact with you.
    -And as an addition to that, DO NOT expect everyone else to come looking for you. Haven’t been talked to in a while? Don’t complain about it, go out and find someone to talk to! Writers don’t like being made to feel as if they’ve been negligent, and if we haven’t talked to you there’s probably a good reason.

    DO be courteous to the other players. IC, OOC, over PM; a little teasing is acceptable, but being downright nasty only makes people feel upset and isolated, and can bring any game to a grinding halt.

    DO NOT make baseless accusations against other people. It’s mean, it’s not funny, and again it can bring any game to a grinding halt. If someone plays a sneaky character, don’t accuse them of “metagaming”; if two characters who are friends tell each other things they’ve seen, don’t accuse them of “conspiring”.
    -As an addition to this, DO take your perceived issues to a PM before airing your dirty laundry in the OOC threads. If someone had a problem with you, I’m sure you’d much rather they speak with you in private, as opposed to rounding up all their friends and forming a schoolyard gang to confront you; show others the same respect.

    DO take serious issues to the mods. If you have found that a serious issue cannot be resolved between yourself and another character, PM a mod. That’s what they are there for, to keep the game running smoothly and to ensure that everyone is having the most fun they can.

    DO feel free to ask for clarification! If you’re confused about someone’s post, have a question about the rules, or need something explained, please either PM a mod or post your question in OOC to have it cleared up. Playing when you’re uncertain about something can lead to even more snarls and confusion and make everyone irritable.

    DO let the other players know if you’re going to be gone for an extended amount of time, so that they can adjust plans accordingly; there’s nothing quite so disheartening as being suddenly and inexplicably stuck in a conversation with a person who up and disappears for a week.

    DO NOT use cliches, whenever you can avoid them. The point of a game like this is to be creative, so sticking to “tried and true” personalities, appearances, whatever for your person isn’t going to be inspiring to other players.
    -However, DO NOT make a person whose sole purpose appears to be creeping everyone else out. Try to keep it PG-13; when your posts make everyone else shudder and avert their eyes, you’re doing it wrong.

    DO have a good time while playing. Having fun is key to a good writing experience.


    The Third Clarification: Errata
    Spoiler
    Show
    Advantage Errata
    Spoiler
    Show
    In the course of the games, we've noticed that some kinds of abilities are notoriously difficult to balance. Below is the logic behind the game's "Nerf" rulings.

    Altitude Sickness: Why We Nerfed Flight
    Spoiler
    Show
    Flight is an incredibly versatile and tricky advantage. While it is just "one trick," and thus theoretically okay within the bounds of the One Advantage, One Trick rule, flying is useful in so many situations that even a slow kind of levitation is more versatile than the Common rating would suggest. The ability to hang in midair automatically negates any advantage that could conceivably only be used at close range without some very clever writing from another player, to say nothing of how many hazards and obstacles it lets you bypass.

    The compromise was to make it difficult to obtain. One rank does not get you actual flight - it gets you falling with style, a sort of wimpy glide that eliminates falling dangers and eases travel as long as you're going down-ish. The second rank is flight with a time/range limit. You can go airborne, but not for long and not very far. Only the third rank actually lets you fly, and even then you aren't superman - you fly at your regular movement rate and obey the laws of momentum. If you want to be faster/more maneuverable, take Speed and Agility advantages.


    Transporter Malfunction: Why We Nerfed Teleport
    Spoiler
    Show
    Everything wrong with Flight is magnified by about ten when it comes to Teleport advantages. Going from point A to point B without crossing the intervening space is a huge bonus in almost any context. Someone who can pop about like Nightcrawler can also:
    - Escape any nonmagical prison, or any magical one that doesn't specifically hinder this kind of travel, for that matter.
    - Dodge any attack they're aware of.
    - Win pretty much any race.
    - Bypass walls, fences, guards, traps, traffic jams, tax collectors, etc.
    - Avoid falling damage if the ability negates momentum - and can play Portal to cancel it out if it doesn't.
    - Escape pursuit of almost any kind.

    ...the list goes on. Even though this is "one trick," it's too powerful to be an at-will kind of thing. As a result, almost any Teleport advantage needs to be carefully discussed in advance of being taken, and if taken it will usually feature a fairly severe limit on how long it takes to use, how frequently it can be used, range, line of sight limitations, etc. Note that a Rank 1 Teleport advantage is probably going to have ALL of those limits, not just one.


    Let's Do That Again: Why We Discourage Time Travel
    Spoiler
    Show
    This one should be fairly obvious, and indeed to my knowledge no one has ever tried to abuse time travel advantages. Obviously, any advantage that could possibly retcon another player's actions would need to be heavily discussed ahead of time. Note that something like time slowing down relative to a character would actually be an Agility or Speed advantage, even with the altered flavor.

    Note that this does not mean that you can't play a time traveler character if you want to, or that it would be impossible to make such an advantage. It would just have to be custom from the ground up.


    We Don't Believe in Faeries: Why We Nerfed Magic
    Spoiler
    Show
    This actually happened so long ago that most of the players may not remember it, but the One Advantage = One Trick rule was put into place specifically to nerf magic advantages. Prior to the creation of that rule, players tended to take magic advantages by school, usually making it the equivalent of a DnD school of magic in terms of scope and variety. What we found out was that this gave the magic-using characters unmatched versatility, even more than the Common rating would suggest (also, at the time, the rating system was not in place - all advantages were +1). All four of the magic-using players agreed that this was too powerful, and magic has been defined by specifics ever since. A good way to think of it would be to think of the spell type descriptors from DnD. Rather than getting Evocation, you'd get Fire Magic. Rather than getting Enchantments, you'd get Charms. Rather than Conjuration, you'd get the ability to summon a kind of monster, etc.

    This worked out for the best - and in fact some kinds of magic had a narrow enough range of uses to be bumped up to Uncommon. Fire Magic is really only useful for combat and starting fires, and that one utility use was not enough to make it Common. Water magic, except in Nautical games (like Playground 4) also tends to be Uncommon, but Earth and Air are available everywhere and have a variety of uses, from moving things about to climbing aids to making ships sail faster, and remained Common.

    Naturally, the magic in whatever Playground game is made next won't necessarily have elemental themes or Story Elements, but the principle holds regardless.


    Notes from previous systems.

    I was going to put a description of the older systems here, but realized that it would be easier to link to the previous discussion, which can be found on pages 30-32 of this thread.

    Playground Workbench: What's on the table?

    Naturally, it's to be expected that the players both new and old will have ideas concerning how to improve the game. This part of the post is to keep track of what's been proposed/decided/etc. It is now up to date.

    Leadership
    Spoiler
    Show
    Introduced in: Playground 1
    How it worked: A player took one rank in the leadership advantage and obtained however many followers they wanted, within reason. Additional ranks in Leadership added to the number of followers, or to the "density" (more on that below). Additional advantages could be purchased for one's followers, from the same pool of advantages available to player characters (basically anything covered by the base setting or Story Elements). The benefits of said advantage were "divided" among your followers - in short, if they all had Strength, it would require 100% of them to be present in order for them to actually have a full +1 in combat, unless additional ranks in Leadership had been purchased, in which case half/one quarter/etc would suffice. Combat among followers was usually determined by percentage present rather than additive numbers.

    How well it worked: Poorly. The math involved reveals that not only are followers as a group less than the sum of their parts, the lack of plot armor means that they are in fact less than the average of their parts. Taking a rank of leadership and giving one's followers a rank of strength provided slightly less mechanical benefit to a player than taking a rank of strength personally and a rank of underwater basket weaving. 90% of the time, the specific mechanics of leadership were ignored except in the most general sense in favor of common sense: the city guardsmen were more dangerous than average civilians, but not as dangerous as the elite elf warriors in town and nowhere near as individually strong as the demons of the shadow court. On the other hand, the city guard was everywhere and was treated as having enough personnel (there were over a thousand of them at least) to overwhelm the elves or demons if they got their act together, making pointless antagonization of the city guard a foolish idea. Despite the nice roleplaying, almost any of the characters could have (mechanically) plowed through 800 guardsmen, 50 elves, or 4 demons with no effort - the players compensated for the bad rule, making leadership a fun advantage in spite of the mechanics.

    Changes made since: Playground 3 saw significant changes to the advantage system as a whole, and the Leadership advantage was altered significantly. With the caveat that common sense trumped all, the followers were allowed under the condition that a "significant fraction" needed to be present to provide a full combat bonus in combat (rather than all of them) and that if all of them were leveled at a PC, they should probably no-contest the PC (in a fight) unless there was some reason why the PC should be able to defeat them all. For other contests, such as stealth vs. perception or even just running away, the PC could compete and win vs. any number of followers. Playground 4 continued this trend, and also boosted the value of the bonus provided by a specific category of advantage up by one, just as with items or warbeasts. Playground 4 also noted that a player is assumed to have enough followers nearby at any given time (fractions were no longer relevant) to provide a full combat bonus.

    Proposals: There are currently 3 outstanding options/proposals.

    Default - No Change
    Spoiler
    Show
    It has been suggested that the current version of followers is not broken, and should therefore not be "fixed."


    VonDoom - Revert
    Spoiler
    Show
    Von Doom has suggested a return to the Playground 3 system.


    Mods from the Past - Roleplay
    Spoiler
    Show
    It has been suggested by different moderators at different times (going as far back as the end of Playground 2) that we abandon any pretense at quantifying follower advantages and simply roleplay the relative value of them - essentially going with the "working" version of the follower rules from PG1.


    Jade_Tarem/Nefarion Xid - Revise
    Spoiler
    Show
    Or, if the roleplay or reversion suggestions are no good yet you're still dissatisfied with how followers are handled, we could go the other way and completely quantify the follower advantage. This gets very complicated in a hurry, but Nef and I took our best shot at it.

    It starts by providing a layer-accessed "tree" for advantages for followers to build from. When a player character becomes a leadership character, they begin by selecting the Leadership advantage, which will be (Special) in terms of rarity, with only one rank possible. This provides the player character with anywhere from 2 to 100 followers. These followers are, in fact, walking punching bags. Should they go up against any decent combat-oriented character, they will receive the same treatment as extras in a Steven Seagal film. When coupled with a PC, they provide a +1 bonus to combat, as some of them last long enough to be a distraction to their enemy.

    From there, the two Leadership-related advantages that can be taken are Leadership: Magnitude and Leadership: Power. Magnitude simply increases the number of followers available to you - as well as increasing the number of things you can be doing with your followers and still have the combat bonus available to your PC. For instance, at Magnitude Rank 1, you now have 101-250 followers, and can have them skulking about the city and providing you with twice as much backup. Magnitude 2 increases the number to 251-1000 followers and 3 things at once, and Magnitude 3 provides 1001-10,000 followers and they can do four or five things at the same time while providing you with their combat/assitance bonus - or up to four times that if you "focus" them. Despite the sheer numbers, they remain about as effective as stormtroopers. An example of a player with Leadership and Magnitude 3 would be an extremely popular Lord Mayor - someone with the loyalty of every random civilian in a town.

    The catch is that for every rank of Magnitude, you must first have a rank of Authority, Nobility, or Wealth. Someone has to fund this little operation, after all. You cannot have a 'cult of personality' larger than the non-magnified leadership advantage would allow.

    The other advantage is Leadership:Power, which does nothing on its own. However, each rank of Power allows you to put that many ranks of one of the follower advantages into your followers. In story, the first rank upgrades them from extras to professionals, the second rank upgrades them to veterans, and the third to elite members of whatever group they're representing.

    Finally, followers would receive other advantages out of a more limited (and generalized) pool than Players have. It would effectively come down to any of the "basic" advantages - Strength/Agility/Toughness/Intelligence/Cunning/Charisma/etc. Plus the following:

    Equipment: the followers are better geared than normal people. +1 in combat and to various endeavors that would be assisted by nice equipment.

    Magic: there are magic-users and magic items of various types among your followers. +1 to combat and various magical contests.

    Skilled: the followers are possessed of an unorthodox skill set. The followers have the Profession: Rogue advantage.

    Warriors: the followers are soldiers, barbarians, or some other highly dangerous group. +2 to combat only.

    Loyalty: the followers will resist any attempt to turn them against you. +3 against such attempts.

    Where followers become very powerful is when we combine Magnitude and Power. Magnitude is a multiplier, so a Magnitude 3 (Authority 3) group with Power 2, Warriors 2 has a total combat bonus of (4 + 4)x4 = +32, which actually makes some sense - a Player Character who is a sneaky, cunning rogue with 10 advantages' worth of being stealthy and clever should not be able to plow through them like the main character of a XiaoXiao flash animation, and indeed even a mighty warrior would be overwhelmed by the ten thousand veteran warriors of the barbarian horde attacking him. However, that rogue should be able to sneak by the followers - Stealth 3, Cunning 1, Rogue 3 almost makes it a guarantee, giving the Player character +13 vs. the horde's +4: there might be a lot of them, but the followers aren't trained for sniffing out stealthy types. Note that the numbers given (like +32) assume that you're using the entire group for that task. If that follower group is attacking the player AND another player's keep AND guarding their leader AND serving soup at the homeless shelter, then they can only devote +8 to any of those tasks. This scales up nicely into army-to-army conflict, if it should come to that, as each player would want to be putting their efforts primarily into attack/defense of an area - probably a city - or into attacking each other.

    Finally, three more things - the first is that Magnitude could be fluffed as a "density" measurement, if you want your group to be more badass but don't want it to be thousands strong. The numbers provided were more of a measure of the maximum number of followers that would make sense.

    Second, the limited selection of advantages is set up to provide fluff flexibility and to make a complicated setup a lot easier to handle. It might look imbalanced at first glance, especially when you see my +32 example, but bear in mind that such a player character is literally useless without their followers, other than being really important (and as shown, one or two advantages invested into anything else can best the horde at anything but combat). Isolated, such a PC can be no-contested by virtually anyone at anything.

    Last, it may look like a person can "run out" of advantages to give their followers, again at first glance. But this is not true - "maxing" your followers would require nearly five times the advantages ever given to a player in any iteration of these games, and that's assuming that you spent none on yourself. And of course, with mod permission you can try to take one of these advantages to +4 - just remember the Authority/Power restriction!

    So there it is. Fully quantified leadership at last. Thoughts?


    Challenges
    Spoiler
    Show
    Introduced in: Playground 1
    How it worked: A player, any player, could declare a challenge. The challenge would have a name, a description, and victory conditions (usually a number you would have to hit on a contest roll, plus relevant advantages), and a recommended/maximum number of players. The player(s) would join in, roll to resolve it, and then they or the challenge giver would write in the result. It was basically a confrontational plot ticket.

    How well it worked: Better than we thought, actually. A number of challenges were completed in Playground 1, sometimes with surprising results - especially once we decided that a player could oppose the group trying to complete the challenge. Plus, it usually made for more exciting plot-ticket usage than market vagaries or weather phenomena.

    Changes made since: Playground 2 did not last long enough to feature any challenges. By Playground 3, challenges had been replaced by adventures.

    Proposals: There is currently 1 active proposal.

    Default - No change
    Spoiler
    Show
    If left as-is, there will be no challenges in future Playgrounds.


    ??? - Replace
    Spoiler
    Show
    It has been suggested that Challenges replace the existing Adventure system due to their smaller size and ease of use.


    ??? - Recombine
    Spoiler
    Show
    It has also been suggested that Challenges be added back in without removing Adventures.


    Adventures
    Spoiler
    Show
    Introduced in: Playground 3
    How it worked: Any player could, once per chapter, declare an adventure to be in the works. Other players would sign on, and the player running the adventure took on a temporary GM status concerning the adventure, with the players working toward one or more goals. At the end, everyone gets an advantage (no more than one per chapter could be gained this way).

    How well it worked: Variable, depending on the length of the adventure and the frequency of the posting. The adventure's weak point is the GM - a stop from the GM halts posting for four to six players.

    Changes made since: None.

    Proposals: There are currently 2 active proposals

    Default - No Change
    Spoiler
    Show
    The adventure system can be kept the way it is.


    Various - Scrap It
    Spoiler
    Show
    It's been suggested that the adventure system be dropped entirely in order to boost the usage of plot tickets and prevent GM-drop traps. It could be replaced with the challenge system, or nothing at all.


    Various - Vetting
    Spoiler
    Show
    Alternatively, it's been suggested that we keep adventures but with tighter controls on how many players there are and frequency of posting.


    Chapters
    Spoiler
    Show
    Introduced in: Playground 1... sort of
    How it worked: The mods would declare that a chapter came to a close on a nigh-arbitrary basis, whenever a time skip was called for or interest in current events waned.
    How well it worked: Not disastrously, but that's the best you can say about it. Chapters added little value to the game other than time skips and, later, a way of marking when everyone could buy new advantages.
    Changes made since: None, save that the end of an arbitrary number of adventures heralded the end of a chapter, rather than an arbitrary amount of time.
    Proposals: There is currently one active proposal.

    Default - No Change
    Spoiler
    Show
    We can keep the current chapter system, including its influence on advantage gain.


    Jade_Tarem - Divorce
    Spoiler
    Show
    We can keep the chapters, but divorce them from everything but timeskips, as this was their only functional value to begin with.


    ??? - Eliminate
    Spoiler
    Show
    We can also get rid of chapters entirely.


    Advantages - Acquisition
    Spoiler
    Show
    Introduced in: Playground 1
    How it worked: An advantage was obtained every two weeks (in real life). There were three starting advantages.

    How well it worked: Pretty well. The main complaint was that advantage gain had nothing to do with story effort. Obtaining a magic sword meant nothing if you didn't have an existing advantage to spend on it.

    Changes made since: Adventures tried to address this, by giving a reward at the end of the adventure, but this came with its own problems (see above). Now, advantages are gained at a rate of one per chapter, one per adventure (limit one per chapter), and on special occasions.

    Proposals: See Adventures, above. It's been suggested that we go to the original system and work something else out for effort-based advantage gain.


    Advantages - Classifications
    Spoiler
    Show
    Introduced in: Playground 2

    How it worked: Having noted that making each advantage worth a flat +1 meant that a broader scoped advantage was always better, advantages were rebalanced to exchange variety of uses for power - the fewer the number of situations it could be useful in, the bigger the bonus.

    How well it worked: The players seemed to enjoy it.

    Changes made since: Having noticed that "regular" advantages were superior to external ones, such as items or followers that could be taken away, it was decided that advantages tied to external, removable sources would be one category of bonus higher than their contemporaries in Playground 4. Also in Playground 4, Locus-based advantages are worth two categories more, due to the fact that a locus cannot move to most locales.

    Proposals: There is one active proposal that we return to the old system. Broadening the advantages in scope and ditching the one-advantage one-trick rule. It might make more rounded characters, but I'm not sure who actually supports it.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2012-10-19 at 09:22 PM.
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    San Jose, California
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Ah, I see what this thread is for now. Snazzy.
    I've started streaming again.


    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

    I started my first campaign outside of an abandoned mine, just as soon as a meteor storm from the moon hits.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Yep. Now I believe we all agreed that we're holding off from opening up another Playground game till mid-December (please correct me if I am wrong) so I guess it means we'd need to decide on what system to go with. Playground 3 is pretty familiar for a lot of us but when I think of it, Playground 4 (the system used above) is better balanced and developed aside from the obvious flaw.

    Might I suggest that every player start with 8 Advantages along with the usual 6 Story Elements and 1 Plot Ticket? I'm suggesting fewer Advantages than last time to allow for more development as the game goes on depending on the various events/adventures/plots the characters are involved in.

    EDIT: Ugh, I feel like I just sounded like I'm a moderator. (when I'm absolutely not) Sorry if I might be a little too forceful with suggestions.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-09-22 at 12:28 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    It hit me that the 10 advantages thing was never explained - we actually went from 6 to 10 due to the jump from using a d6 to a d10. The bigger die size means that each bonus counts for less, and we adjusted many of the in-story depictions of what was going on to match.

    As for development, that's more a function of how often advantages are gained than how many we start with - especially since the lack of a cap on how many advantages can be gained in the course of a story means that dropping to 8 advantages doesn't give us "more development," just fewer advantages. If you want more growth, we could go to the PG1 setup and just pick up one every two weeks instead of 1 per month, chapter, and adventure (note that adventures would likely be phased out). Also note that we have always had a very slow chapter rollover, and should likely ditch that as well, IMO.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2012-09-22 at 12:52 PM.
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Jade_Tarem View Post
    It hit me that the 10 advantages thing was never explained - we actually went from 6 to 10 due to the jump from using a d6 to a d10. The bigger die size means that each bonus counts for less, and we adjusted many of the in-story depictions of what was going on to match.

    As for development, that's more a function of how often advantages are gained than how many we start with - especially since the lack of a cap on how many advantages can be gained in the course of a story means that dropping to 8 advantages doesn't give us "more development," just fewer advantages. If you want more growth, we could go to the PG1 setup and just pick up one every two weeks instead of 1 per month, chapter, and adventure (note that adventures would likely be phased out). Also note that we have always had a very slow chapter rollover, and should likely ditch that as well, IMO.
    Oh, right. Well in that case it might be better to stick with what we had then for Playground 4, but gaining an advantage once every 2 weeks might be better than one month. And yeah I agree, Chapters need to go as well.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Reporting in. Nothing more to say but subbing to the thread.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Added the Third Clarification to discuss past rulings, and will add to it as I remember them.
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Hmm. Actually, why not move away from the Chapter designation entirely? Without a dedicated GM handling transitions, declaring certain adventures/plotlines to be 'chapter ending' seems a bit biased -- and the slow turn-over and drag on these was rather problematic, as well.

    Real-time advancements as well as rewards for running/completing Adventures seems the best way to go.

    If we move it up to every two weeks instead of a month, we may want to consider actually checking up on posting rate. If a person didn't post at least twice a week (which, by all accounts, isn't asking that much), they don't get their next timed advantage, for example.

    While negative reinforcement is probably not that great in general, it would make the time advancement advantages more of a reward for activity rather than just ... being there.


  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom View Post
    Hmm. Actually, why not move away from the Chapter designation entirely? Without a dedicated GM handling transitions, declaring certain adventures/plotlines to be 'chapter ending' seems a bit biased -- and the slow turn-over and drag on these was rather problematic, as well.
    I second this whole heartedly.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom View Post
    Hmm. Actually, why not move away from the Chapter designation entirely? Without a dedicated GM handling transitions, declaring certain adventures/plotlines to be 'chapter ending' seems a bit biased -- and the slow turn-over and drag on these was rather problematic, as well.

    Real-time advancements as well as rewards for running/completing Adventures seems the best way to go.

    If we move it up to every two weeks instead of a month, we may want to consider actually checking up on posting rate. If a person didn't post at least twice a week (which, by all accounts, isn't asking that much), they don't get their next timed advantage, for example.

    While negative reinforcement is probably not that great in general, it would make the time advancement advantages more of a reward for activity rather than just ... being there.
    I am in agreement with this. Also I was thinking that if we are to still use Adventures, perhaps they can have more opportunities to focus on characters interacting with each other instead of interacting with the story? I know that story is important in an adventure but I think a large part of what can keep an adventure going is the respective characters being able to talk with each other and flesh out their personalities. I like to look at the adventure VonDoom ran back in Playground 3 as an example. It got my character interested in Ikokuan culture while getting to meet Tebryn's and Bladescape's characters.

    Also I liked the idea of gaining an Advantage at the end of an adventure based on what happened in the adventure itself. I look again to VonDoom's adventure that he ran before. (this is essentially his idea that I thought might be good to see more of) Perhaps though that there could be more freedom in what the players decide so long as they can come up with a good, reasonable explanation why his or her character got that advantage.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-09-22 at 07:28 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Removing the chapter designation was what I was talking about earlier, sorry if I didn't make that clear.

    I'm still fairly opposed to keeping Adventures. While it is certainly possible to point to one or two successful adventures, the truth is that they fail, to the great detriment of the game, more often than not - and even the successful ones tend to slow posting. It also seems to discourage new players from seeking to make contact with other players until they can do so in the context of an adventure, and that's not good at all. Statistically, the game is at its smoothest and most active when there are no active GMs, even in a temporary capacity.

    In fact, I'd sooner try to come up with an entirely different merit-based advantage gain system than to continue with Adventures.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2012-09-22 at 09:58 PM.
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Jade_Tarem View Post
    I'm still fairly opposed to keeping Adventures. While it is certainly possible to point to one or two successful adventures, the truth is that they fail, to the great detriment of the game, more often than not - and even the successful ones tend to slow posting. It also seems to discourage new players from seeking to make contact with other players until they can do so in the context of an adventure, and that's not good at all. Statistically, the game is at its smoothest and most active when there are no active GMs, even in a temporary capacity.

    In fact, I'd sooner try to come up with an entirely different merit-based advantage gain system than to continue with Adventures.
    Well I do have to agree; a couple of adventures did crash and burn unspectacularly due to how they work. Were they there in Playground 1? If so, how did it do back then?

    If we are going for a merit-based advantage system, might I suggest that a special advantage (meaning one more valuable than the normal advantage) be allowed to a player upon completion of one of their character's story arcs or something like that? (so basically one, two, or at the absolute max three Advantages gained from that and only if the game manages to get that far)

    I would say that it is best to avoid merits that can be incredibly subjective and easy to be rewarded for. Perhaps merits should be rewarded more scarcely (like the example I showed above) rather than one for every spectacular post players manage to do up?

    EDIT: Thinking back actually, I dunno if scarcely rewarded advantages are actually good for motivating players. Then again games like these I feel shouldn't need TOO much reinforcement to keep things alive.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-09-22 at 10:10 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    What we had in PG1 was the Challenge system, which worked more like Kasanip's recent "adventure" than an actual adventure, and most of them weren't even as long as that. There might or might not be rewards given. The primary benefit of the challenge system was that the person creating the challenge didn't have to run it, exactly, they just had to come up with the conditions for victory, specify how many people could possibly participate, and what the situation was. Then the players could make their joint roll or rolls and decide how things play out.

    Also, as I understand it, the Adventures that I've kept track of so far went like this:

    Arena Demon Attack - Dragged badly.
    Rhetizian Embassy Murder Mystery - Dragged, ended on an anticlimax.
    Train Hijacking - Started well, dragged, dropped by GM
    "Pirates" on the Ikokuan ship - Ended well(?)
    Xondoure's PG4 adventure - massive lag (looked dropped), just now picking up again.
    Dinner at Castle GreyCourt - Dragged, dropped by GM.
    Rescue of Arukumedez - Ended well, not actually an adventure

    I might be missing a couple, but even counting Rescue of Arukumedez, we've had two or three adventures out of eight or nine that continued and ended in a timely manner. This is not a good record.

    However, IIRC we completed most of the challenges from PG1 rather quickly due to the reduced size and lack of reliance on the "GM." Is that the direction we should be going in? I don't know.

    Also bear in mind that PG1 did just fine without merit based advantage gain - and that VonDoom's suggestion of withholding advantages without activity has some upsides. I'll need to think about this.

    EDIT: Nominating another player for a bonus advantage informally, whether for superior roleplay, hard work on the system, or driving the plot through sparse times, has also worked before.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2012-09-22 at 10:20 PM.
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    TheDarkDM's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Hey everyone, sorry to have disappeared on you for so long. I'm quite glad to see that P4 is still going strong despite Nef and my flakiness. And, perhaps most importantly, it's good to hear concentrated feedback on the rules from you guys.

    To add my own two cents to this discussion, I'll start by agreeing with the general consensus that dividing things into chapters was a bad idea. It was an attempt to alleviate a minor issue of explaining advantage gain on a two week system (where important events might not have happened for every period people were supposed to become better), and replaced that minor niggle with something that drastically reduced the sense of organic growth in characters. In that same vein, I'm in agreement with Jade that Adventures were an idea to alleviate a minor niggle (it being a bit difficult for people to tell side stories without increased narrative power), that ballooned into a system that often tied the progression of the game to one person. I know that both those decisions were made in an attempt to codify the game into a more rigid system of checks and balances that would reduce the mods day to day involvement with the running of the machine, but on the whole I think we were misguided. While I am loathe to keep referencing P1 when so many of you began playing this system in P3, and while I quite enjoyed P3, I still think P1 had the best combination of world building, player involvement, and most importantly collaborative storytelling simply because the notions of ownership over a scenario were so fluid and advancing your mechanical growth was not dependent on other people finishing their business.

    So, that's were I stand, but how do I think that relates to the rules in general? In addition to what has already been said, I think we should take a long, hard look at the "one trick, one Advantage" rule. To be fair, I was perhaps the hardest hit by that rule back in P1, so I'm likely biased, but I think that forcing people to box their concepts into a set of rigid abilities was again an unintended overreaction to the perception that the system might be susceptible to abuse. Prior to that rule, we had people who were able to take ranks in schools of magic and have the full suite of powers, and it helped to round out a concept. However, I do still think that Advantage grades should be maintained, they were a very necessary addition to alleviate certain imbalances.

    On challenges, I am in agreement with Jade that they should probably return and take the place of Adventures. To expand on exactly how they work - for those familiar with D&D, they were very much like skill challenges. A person would create a scene for the challenge with a Plot Ticket (say, a mob of pirates attacking a prosperous street), set the threshold for victory and any permutations within (a net roll of 10 drives them off with a hard fight, 15 they're clearly outmatched, 20 and they run as soon as your prowess becomes apparent), and the intended result (failure, and the pirates set fire to the district, succeed and you push them back to their ships). Once all that was presented, it was up to the players to narrate exactly how they succeeded or failed at smiting the pirates. Any rewards were often presented within the bounds of the plot by appropriately placed players, such as the Lord Marshall or one of our Nobles.

    On withholding advantages due to lack of activity, I agree with Doom that there should be some incentive to post. However, I'm not in favor of a hard bar that needs to be passed. What if someone posts once in the first week, but six times in the second? I think activity needs to be judged in relation to the activity of the other players for the negative reinforcement to be fairly applied.

    In summation, I'm in favor of a return to the more organic, less strictly adjudicated ruleset of P1. While it had some weirdness, no mistake, and there were some strident debates in the OOC, it endured the longest and thrived until it was killed by the Hell Month that is December. While that puts far more responsibility on the player base one the whole to police each other and interpret the rules, I feel that level of engagement can only help the game.

    I was old when the pharaohs first mounted
    The jewel-decked throne by the Nile;
    I was old in those epochs uncounted
    When I, and I only, was vile;

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by apocalypsePast2 View Post
    ...one could possibly refer to you guys' elaborate dance of allies-to-enemies-to-suicide-of-the-universe as some sort of weird art form.

    If one were on drugs.
    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom View Post
    Behold, the mighty slayer of strangely coloured mutant equines! The thwarter of forum woes! The! Dark! DM!

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Jade_Tarem View Post
    EDIT: Nominating another player for a bonus advantage informally, whether for superior roleplay, hard work on the system, or driving the plot through sparse times, has also worked before.
    I had a problem with this when it was mentioned in game 4 and have a problem with it now. Advantages and bonus's shouldn't be left up to a vote or anything approaching it. The reward for sticking with the story...is making a bigger mark on said story and improving it. That's the only reward one should be going for. Awarding people for "Superior Roleplay" doesn't just smack of pretentiousness but it's impossible to gauge on a universal board making it a metric for bonuses impossible at worst and potentially inflammatory at best. Good roleplaying also doesn't equal good story telling. The two are not related but are not necessarily unconnected. Promoting one over the other is all well and good but we should be promoting both but not with Bonus Advantages or anything like that. Constructive criticism and working with people is a much better way of going about it.

    Also, while I am adding my opinion, I really didn't like moving Story Elements to such a limited number in Four. It made it feel like people didn't want the world to be fleshed out and was one of the major reasons I grew bored of the game itself especially in a game where freedom of movement through the world was one of it's strong points. We weren't able to flesh out the very world we wanted to visit.
    Last edited by Tebryn; 2012-09-22 at 11:20 PM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Tebryn View Post
    I had a problem with this when it was mentioned in game 4 and have a problem with it now. Advantages and bonus's shouldn't be left up to a vote or anything approaching it. The reward for sticking with the story...is making a bigger mark on said story and improving it. That's the only reward one should be going for. Awarding people for "Superior Roleplay" doesn't just smack of pretentiousness but it's impossible to gauge on a universal board making it a metric for bonuses impossible at worst and potentially inflammatory at best.

    Also, while I am adding my opinion, I really didn't like moving Story Elements to such a limited number in Four. It made it feel like people didn't want the world to be fleshed out and was one of the major reasons I grew bored of the game itself especially in a game where freedom of movement through the world was one of it's strong points. We weren't able to flesh out the very world we wanted to visit.
    I'll start with story elements, to which my response is - What? We have never decreased the starting number of story elements for the opening group of players. For that matter, Story Elements are gained at the rate of one per week, and I just don't see people spending them at that rate.

    As for bonuses for roleplaying, we do not offer such kudos in order to sneer down at other players, and frankly - given that up until now, whenever the mods have asked the players about merit-awarded advantages the response has always been overwhelmingly positive - I'm a teensy bit offended that you jumped right to "being pretentious" as the reason why we're doing that and find it darkly comical that you do so in the same sentence that you describe the practice as being "inflammatory."

    As for actually judging roleplay, taste may be subjective, but you nonetheless do not have to be a baker to know that a given cake tastes like the underside of a lawnmower. In the same way, you do not have to be a professional writer to be able to judge that someone might be doing a good job of writing and moving the story along - or a very poor one. I do not know if you were here for Playground 2 or not, but had you been around for a certain someone's posts you might share our perspective on trying to keep to a certain quality of roleplay. In a perfect world, you are correct that we might not need such a system. I'd certainly like to try a game without it. But there absolutely were solid reasons for trying it to begin with.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2012-09-22 at 11:38 PM.
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Jade_Tarem View Post
    I'll start with story elements, to which my response is - What? We have never decreased the starting number of story elements for the opening group of players.
    Perhaps I didn't explain properly. The rate at which they were gained was decreased from one a week to...I believe it was one a chapter? For a game about Exploration that felt altogether stifling.

    As for bonuses for roleplaying, we do not offer such kudos in order to sneer down at other players, and frankly - given that up until now, whenever the mods have asked the players about merit-awarded advantages the response has always been overwhelmingly positive - I'm a teensy bit offended that you jumped right to "being pretentious" as the reason why we're doing that and find it darkly comical that you do so in the same sentence that you describe the practice as being "inflammatory."
    You'll forgive me for any offense caused, however I did not say at any point anyone in the game at present or in the past was being pretentious or even implied that anyone "sneered" at others role playing or storytelling. Merely that at first glance that's the feeling it somewhat conveys. The very word "Superior" implies that it is better, a metric I find cannot be quantified. I'll delve more into that below.

    I also didn't see "overwhelmingly positive" reactions to a merit based bonuses however it could have been in games I wasn't in. Again, you'll forgive me that I hope. I kept my mouth shut on the subject at the start because I was one of the "New" Guys and generally speaking I still am. However, now that the floor is opened to working the system I feel it's actually appropriate to say "I really don't care for it." As I said, the bonus for being a "Superior" Roleplayer and sticking with the game is influencing the story as you see fit more and telling the stories you want to tell to build the world.

    As for actually judging roleplay, taste may be subjective, but you nonetheless do not have to be a baker to know that a given cake tastes like the underside of a lawnmower. In the same way, you do not have to be a professional writer to be able to judge that someone might be doing a good job of writing and moving the story along - or a very poor one. I do not know if you were here for Playground 2 or not, but had you been around for a certain someone's posts you might share our perspective on trying to keep to a certain quality of roleplay.
    I wasn't around for Playground 2 but...I've been roleplaying since the days of Ultima Online. I have seen bad role playing. I assure you. However bad is easy to pin down. "Superior" as the word you used is not. It's the very reason, sticking with your food analogy, why we can more or less all agree on what is -bad- food. But we can't agree on what is "Superior" food. I like spicy food on the level of eating Ghost Chili flakes on everything and everything. I find that "Superior" but there are plenty that disagree. On the same hand, I find the taste of dark choclate utterly repugnant but the Candy market seems to prove that I am an exception. "Good" is not quantifiable. Bad is. Hence the problem I find with trying to reward "Good" instead of...generally just trying to help the "Bad" not be quite so "Bad".

    The only way we can establish "Superior" Role Playing is by taking a poll and going with the majority. Not only would a vote slow the game down as people wait for people to cast the vote...having seen similar systems in other games in other places, the people who feel they're Role Playing great may very well start to feel under-appreciated or insulted. Now, a rational person would say "Hey, how do I improve?" but most people aren't when their feelings are being hurt, which could lead to player arguments or people just flat leaving the game. Neither of which anyone wants.
    Last edited by Tebryn; 2012-09-22 at 11:49 PM.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Perhaps, but I wasn't suggesting we take a massive poll. The way this has worked before has been thus:

    Player A: "Man, Player C has really been X, and I think they deserve a bonus for that."

    Player B: "Sure. Anyone object?"

    *Crickets*

    And then Player C gets the advantage. You are quite correct that when people play their character they aren't going to do so in a way that they perceive as poor, but positive reinforcement for a character that everyone likes - at least, as a character - is usually not such a big problem.

    There was, now that you have me thinking about it, one more reason for the merit-based advantages. Namely, that the characters in question might complete various goals or what have you, only for nothing to come of it.

    For example, lets say that so-and-so progresses through the story until he acquires a magic sword. But...! It's the day after advantage day and he's already spent all his advantages. Now, he can either have a pretend magic sword that doesn't do anything for two weeks, which is awkward, or he can not post for two weeks, which is even worse. The merit thing was partly put into place for that issue as well.

    Since we are, in fact, making adjustments to the system, how would you see that issue resolved?
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Jade_Tarem View Post
    There was, now that you have me thinking about it, one more reason for the merit-based advantages. Namely, that the characters in question might complete various goals or what have you, only for nothing to come of it.

    For example, lets say that so-and-so progresses through the story until he acquires a magic sword. But...! It's the day after advantage day and he's already spent all his advantages. Now, he can either have a pretend magic sword that doesn't do anything for two weeks, which is awkward, or he can not post for two weeks, which is even worse. The merit thing was partly put into place for that issue as well.

    Since we are, in fact, making adjustments to the system, how would you see that issue resolved?
    I actually am more inclined towards this style of metit based rewards...they're in game as well as in system instead of something more or less arbitrary and unconnected from anything going on in the game.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Tebryn View Post
    I actually am more inclined towards this style of metit based rewards...they're in game as well as in system instead of something more or less arbitrary and unconnected from anything going on in the game.
    Agreed, I think it should work well. Though I would like to mention that there should be a way or limit to keep a player from trying to do this constantly to gain a large numbers advantage over the other players, no matter how well he or she hides it with excellent roleplaying.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-09-23 at 12:38 AM.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    I'm sure it's somewhere

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Honestly I don't think we need to codify the granting of bonuses for superior role playing. (And I don't think it's an easily abused system for the people trying to gain advantages, though perhaps a biased one against newer players.)

    As I see it, this has already happened in the past without any sort of rule enforcing it. As is, when a person receives such a reward it's usually because they've been essential in keeping the game alive, or bringing characters together in a way that facilitates good storytelling while keeping people involved.

    If this rule is merely meant to acknowledge that this happens, then I don't disagree. However it seems like this rule will only encourage people to try and pull crazy stunts to prove how amazing they are, and be disappointed if they aren't rewarded for the effort.

    @TheDarkDM: Good to have you back with us.

    I mostly agree that advantage gain should return to being handed out once every couple weeks, and to leave it to the players to determine how gaining the advantage makes sense. Throwing in bonus advantages for holidays, encouragement after lulls, and important breaks in the story (when they happen, without worrying about waiting for one like with chapters.)

    As for adventures. I think if they are going to continue they should be limited to three or four players at most. That way the whole game doesn't get hung up around them. Challenges may be a better way of going about this however. And I wouldn't miss either if everyone decides they just complicate things.

    Finally on advantages: I think the one advantage one trick rule has already been thrown out by the rank system. Doesn't matter how many tricks really so long as it's only applicable in specific situations.
    Avatar Credit: the very talented PseudoStraw. Full image:
    Spoiler
    Show

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Regarding Adventures. If I'm entirely and brutally honest, most of the ones that took ages and dragged on had rather lacking posting frequency from the runners (and sometimes participants, but one or two players not posting for a couple of days can generally be skipped over with minimal issues). The Arena was -said- to take ages, but with people interacting and doing things, I never really had that impression until 'the action' started. And when it did, it almost felt a little too early since a lot of people still had multiple interaction scenes going on.

    As long as its primary purpose (or at least an enjoyable purpose) is characters interacting, how long they do so is of little consequence. The problem only came when the adventure had an action part and people were slow with their posts. I don't recall if the runner was as well, but it's entirely possible.

    Which is why I've said it before: people who consider running adventures should thoroughly examine their own motivation, time and persistence before they start something big. The problem is not stories/adventures/whatever, it's when people integral to their progress don't invest enough time into it.

    A potential aid to facilitate things if adventures do go bad would be to actually provide a summary of what the adventure was supposed to be to the Game Moderators and offer a few short, potential endings in summary. With that, if the adventure runner disappears without advance notice or its process becomes actually detrimental to the game to the point that multiple people are asking that it just be resolved already, it can be ended with a summary of how things proceed from the current point and end.
    Last edited by VonDoom; 2012-09-23 at 06:38 AM.


  23. - Top - End - #23
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    TheDarkDM's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom View Post
    Regarding Adventures. If I'm entirely and brutally honest, most of the ones that took ages and dragged on had rather lacking posting frequency from the runners (and sometimes participants, but one or two players not posting for a couple of days can generally be skipped over with minimal issues). The Arena was -said- to take ages, but with people interacting and doing things, I never really had that impression until 'the action' started. And when it did, it almost felt a little too early since a lot of people still had multiple interaction scenes going on.

    As long as its primary purpose (or at least an enjoyable purpose) is characters interacting, how long they do so is of little consequence. The problem only came when the adventure had an action part and people were slow with their posts. I don't recall if the runner was as well, but it's entirely possible.

    Which is why I've said it before: people who consider running adventures should thoroughly examine their own motivation, time and persistence before they start something big. The problem is not stories/adventures/whatever, it's when people integral to their progress don't invest enough time into it.

    A potential aid to facilitate things if adventures do go bad would be to actually provide a summary of what the adventure was supposed to be to the Game Moderators and offer a few short, potential endings in summary. With that, if the adventure runner disappears without advance notice or its process becomes actually detrimental to the game to the point that multiple people are asking that it just be resolved already, it can be ended with a summary of how things proceed from the current point and end.
    While you make a good point, consider for a moment: as you've said, the most naturally flowing portion of an Adventure is during the interactions between characters, and that the presence or lack thereof of a GM only becomes noticeable once challenge segments start. However, the use of Adventures to frame and lead to this interaction is just as easily accomplished by Plot Tickets. Everything from gang wars to galas can be instigated by the prudent use of a plot ticket and the involvement of players, and challenges that are now handled by the designated GM could, I think, be more elegantly portrayed by using the old form of Challenges. The only real difference is that using a combination of Plot Tickets and Challenges distributes ownership of the story somewhat evenly between the players, rather than placing ownership solely in the hands of someone who might suffer an urgent RL emergency, a change in shifts at work, or any of the other countless unforeseen events that can kill an Adventure. An added benefit is that allowing this freedom enables other players to add their own ideas to a given scenario. To continue the example of the pirate invasion from P1, after the initial "Pirates are invading" Plot Ticket, several other players added on to the scenario, introducing roving pirate mobs, a battle at the city armory, and the city guard's evacuation of the invaded districts with their own Challenges and Plot Tickets. Now, while this makes it somewhat more difficult to tell a specific story without the prior assent of all involved, my opinion is that the added investment on the part of the players and the unforeseen twists that can occur make it a superior way to approach things.

    I was old when the pharaohs first mounted
    The jewel-decked throne by the Nile;
    I was old in those epochs uncounted
    When I, and I only, was vile;

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by apocalypsePast2 View Post
    ...one could possibly refer to you guys' elaborate dance of allies-to-enemies-to-suicide-of-the-universe as some sort of weird art form.

    If one were on drugs.
    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom View Post
    Behold, the mighty slayer of strangely coloured mutant equines! The thwarter of forum woes! The! Dark! DM!

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    True enough, but you're missing one thing:

    Those two ways of running things are not mutually exclusive. You could easily have done that sort of plot ticket stuff in Playground 3, presumably 4 as well, since these are simply the use of Plot Tickets that multiple people expand on.

    Those require less attention and time investment from one single person, are more flexible and everything else you say, making them particularly preferable for those who tend to be busy or have trouble keeping motivated if something doesn't go entirely smoothly.

    However, there is a certain something to be said of having a consistent story narrated by the same person, with an overall theme, a writing consistency and a story that may be shaped by those who participate but that has a general idea of where it wants to go right from the start.

    And those who can (or hope to) successfully do that ought to have the tools to do so without having to somehow expend half a dozen plot tickets for their one adventure. (This may be a vast exaggeration, or it may not. I'd have to look at the actual adventures to see what ought to have been a plot ticket that wasn't already.)

    So we ought to differentiate:

    The Arena thing ought to have been a Plot Ticket. The attack a second one, since it's fairly straightforward and people could have built on this whole cult business (I can't speak for the runner's intentions on whether he meant to do something specific with the whole cult or just the one NPC he introduced).

    The Ikokan Ship could have been the same. A 'pirate' attack was the introduction of another element that was contained in itself and straightforward.

    The Train Incident and Kasanip's adventure, however, were clearly more involved in concept and scope and fine as proper adventures. Splitting those up into straightforward 'this happens, deal with it' would have been detrimental more than anything, as far as I'm concerned, and far less interesting or involving. If some safety measures are introduced that let others bring it to an end in the event of it becoming problematic to the continuation of the game itself, leaving them in as something that can be done is, as far as I'm concerned, a must.


  25. - Top - End - #25
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    I'm sure it's somewhere

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom View Post
    True enough, but you're missing one thing:

    Those two ways of running things are not mutually exclusive. You could easily have done that sort of plot ticket stuff in Playground 3, presumably 4 as well, since these are simply the use of Plot Tickets that multiple people expand on.

    Those require less attention and time investment from one single person, are more flexible and everything else you say, making them particularly preferable for those who tend to be busy or have trouble keeping motivated if something doesn't go entirely smoothly.

    However, there is a certain something to be said of having a consistent story narrated by the same person, with an overall theme, a writing consistency and a story that may be shaped by those who participate but that has a general idea of where it wants to go right from the start.

    And those who can (or hope to) successfully do that ought to have the tools to do so without having to somehow expend half a dozen plot tickets for their one adventure. (This may be a vast exaggeration, or it may not. I'd have to look at the actual adventures to see what ought to have been a plot ticket that wasn't already.)

    So we ought to differentiate:

    The Arena thing ought to have been a Plot Ticket. The attack a second one, since it's fairly straightforward and people could have built on this whole cult business (I can't speak for the runner's intentions on whether he meant to do something specific with the whole cult or just the one NPC he introduced).

    The Ikokan Ship could have been the same. A 'pirate' attack was the introduction of another element that was contained in itself and straightforward.

    The Train Incident and Kasanip's adventure, however, were clearly more involved in concept and scope and fine as proper adventures. Splitting those up into straightforward 'this happens, deal with it' would have been detrimental more than anything, as far as I'm concerned, and far less interesting or involving. If some safety measures are introduced that let others bring it to an end in the event of it becoming problematic to the continuation of the game itself, leaving them in as something that can be done is, as far as I'm concerned, a must.
    Trouble is people are less likely to do the first when the latter exists. Which is why I suggest smaller party sizes. There's nothing wrong with more single player driven co-operative narratives, that's what most tabletop RPGs are all about. However, any GM can get overwhelmed when having to keep eight or nine characters all engaged in the same adventure. Having a limit of four active players could go a long way to fixing that particular problem, encouraging people to use plot tickets and challenges for bigger events, and leave adventures for the times when a player wants full control to explore a plot they have in mind.
    Avatar Credit: the very talented PseudoStraw. Full image:
    Spoiler
    Show

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Hmm. If we use the idea of preparing some solution in advance in case the adventure is stalled, we could just make an 'adventure application' instead, meaning that a small form for adventures would be drafted that runners would have to submit. This could include premise summary, scope, involved characters if known in advance, 1-3 resolution options if the adventure has to be cut short and maybe a few more things.

    Since this is in addition to setting up story elements it's an extra bit of work that can be avoided if it's something straightforward that could (and should) be done via plot ticket.

    Not sure if this is a good solution, but if people automatically wanting to run adventures rather than those challenges/plot tickets is potential problem, it might help. Though, honestly? For the Ikokan Ship adventure I'd absolutely have preferred setting up the scene via Plot Ticket and then using the Challenge system for the robbers.


  27. - Top - End - #27
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Xondoure View Post
    Trouble is people are less likely to do the first when the latter exists. Which is why I suggest smaller party sizes. There's nothing wrong with more single player driven co-operative narratives, that's what most tabletop RPGs are all about. However, any GM can get overwhelmed when having to keep eight or nine characters all engaged in the same adventure. Having a limit of four active players could go a long way to fixing that particular problem, encouraging people to use plot tickets and challenges for bigger events, and leave adventures for the times when a player wants full control to explore a plot they have in mind.
    If I may speak, I agree that Adventures should be fewer in number, 4 players max is my opinion. Also I think players should be more willing to make use of plot tickets and character arc progression when/if appropriate for an Adventure. I think it might help if the players can add a personal goal or objective in an adventure or be able to integrate a part of their character's plot in without overriding the entire adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom
    Hmm. If we use the idea of preparing some solution in advance in case the adventure is stalled, we could just make an 'adventure application' instead, meaning that a small form for adventures would be drafted that runners would have to submit. This could include premise summary, scope, involved characters if known in advance, 1-3 resolution options if the adventure has to be cut short and maybe a few more things.

    Since this is in addition to setting up story elements it's an extra bit of work that can be avoided if it's something straightforward that could (and should) be done via plot ticket.

    Not sure if this is a good solution, but if people automatically wanting to run adventures rather than those challenges/plot tickets is potential problem, it might help. Though, honestly? For the Ikokan Ship adventure I'd absolutely have preferred setting up the scene via Plot Ticket and then using the Challenge system for the robbers.
    I think the Challenge system can work so long as players are willing to agree on what the specific challenge will be. If they can't agree then there could be a problem. I know it worked well in Playground 1 but that doesn't mean it will work again, especially if it'll revolve around rules that weren't in Playground 1.
    Last edited by Starsign; 2012-09-23 at 01:09 PM.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Really not a fan of placing hard limits on participants. Some can handle more than others. If we do use one, I'd feel more comfortable using 5 or 6, with a note that adventures approaching the maximum should not be started arbitrarily.


  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Elsewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Quote Originally Posted by VonDoom View Post
    Really not a fan of placing hard limits on participants. Some can handle more than others. If we do use one, I'd feel more comfortable using 5 or 6, with a note that adventures approaching the maximum should not be started arbitrarily.
    Alternatively (or even in addition to this), we could include as part of the adventure application the note of how frequently the person running the adventure expects to be able to post. If there's a chance that, at some point during the adventure, there will be a big delay or drop in posting from the person running it, then the players involved will know to go ahead and get involved in something else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starsign View Post
    I think the Challenge system can work so long as players are willing to agree on what the specific challenge will be. If they can't agree then there could be a problem. I know it worked well in Playground 1 but that doesn't mean it will work again, especially if it'll revolve around rules that weren't in Playground 1.
    Well yes, disagreements between players generally need to be resolved before IC progress can be made. That's true whether the characters are participating in challenges or eating breakfast. It's also true that success in Playground 1 doesn't equal success in another iteration of the game, but if we took things out based on what might not work then this game would just be an OOC thread full of people discussing how cool the game would have been if we had decided to run it.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2012-09-23 at 02:05 PM.
    Amazing Zealot avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SamuraiGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Playground: Variations, Versions, and Future Work

    Alright, since conversation seems to have slowed a bit, let's spice things up with a new topic: location. Generally, a city will be the preferred environment since there's a lot of things going on. Making it a port city allows for added variety and does little to detract from anything else, so generally a port city (whether it's an actual seaport, a city of portals akin to Planescape's Sigil or a sky-city with flying ships) is better.

    Placing it fairly close to a border can also serve to spice things up a bit, though generally a true -capital- tends to not be directly -on- the border.

    Any further insights?

    ---

    Also, I want to bring up Follower advantages again. Thinking back on the explanation for the new system, I'm not sure if that's such a good thing after all. It was explained that the reason for the advantage 'net worth increase' was that it'd only be useful if the group is there to do it, as a group.

    But when I asked what that'd be like for 'leet ninjaz' who tend to split up and cover a lot of ground, I (may wrongly) recall that you're generally assumed to have enough Followers with you so that they remain useful to their Advantage level unless you're somewhere you couldn't bring them.

    What, then, besides the increase is the exact difference from how it was in Playground III? If I can send six of my loyal ninja retainers across the city to spy on various targets while walking into the Magical Castle of Fu Manchu only to have, once ambushed, my four escort girls turn out to be awesome female ninjas who kick ass, then that's not much of a system limit.

    While I'm generally more of a 'let's not put every little thing down and deal with things using common sense', followers especially are an exceptionally useful and easily 'abusable' advantage, since generally people will have very different ideas of what's appropriate and what isn't.

    But, like I said, I may be misremembering that conversation or missing something. I hope I am, because a convenient solution would be pretty awesome to have.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •