Thursday, February 17, 2005

[Astral] Intent

Finally had a breakthrough on the Astral role-playing game I'm designing. The question I've been struggling to answer is 'When do you interact with the System?' When is the right time to roll dice?

I've now introduced the idea of the "Challenge".

In normal Astral play the player narrates what is happening. The GM provides NPCs and bounces off the player's ideas. This means - if the player wants - she can succeed at everything she intends. In fact, "The player succeeds" is the default assumption for Astral play.


Continue reading what happens when you Challenge ...

The player continues determining the direction of her scene until another player says, "Challenge." You only issue a Challenge about what a player wants her character to do. Challenges are not issued about descriptions the player has provided or incidental details. IOW, a Challenge has to be significant.

a) .... Once a player has issued a Challenge, they name the Rating that is affected.
b) .... They say which end of the Rating the player's intended action leans towards - and then the Challenger names an alternative outcome from the opposite end of the rating.
c) .... This alternative can be discussed by the Challenger, all other players and the GM until it is satisfactory and exciting to all.

EXAMPLE
Morgue: "I get him to use his 82 eyes to see what's festering at the bottom of my soul and he heals it."
Billy: "Challenge."
Morgue: "Wait. I need this. If I don't -"
Steve (GM): "Billy's challenged. Let's see what he's got to say."
Billy: "Right. Uh-um. Okay, you're convincing him to help you so that's Focus. What other rating's are there? I think you're asking him to do something good for you, so that's Ethics as well."
Morgue: "You bastard. I've got a 2 in Ethics."
Steve (GM): "So if you roll on that, things are probably going to go bad."
Billy: "Yeah but that's not what I'm thinking. I reckon this is a Focus issue. You want 82-eye-guy to do something at the Self end of the Rating. On the Universe side of things, ... let's say his eyes see something happening, like a disaster and you - um - need to help out with that before he'll help you."
Morgue: "What sort of disaster?"
<Morgue and Billy now negotiate untily they're both satisfied with this alternative.>

NB: the GM never challenges. Therefore to play Astral you need at least three players (one of them taking the GM role); and I suspect the game would be more interesting with 4-5 players.

I see two rewards for a player Challenging another player:
1. If you challenge, you can adjust one of your Ratings by one point - no questions asked.
2. Players gain control over the pacing of scenes. If they want the game to move fast, they challenge.

I think this sets up an interesting [social contract] for a role-playing group. The GM provides almost no plot. Their role is facilitation; very much the bass player to the rest of the band. The players, on the other hand, may need to come to terms with the issue of 'spotlight time' - that is, how much time is appropriate to focus on one player's story.

The intention here is to set up clear parameters for when you roll dice. Following on from this is the rest of the IIEE system that determines the outcome of the roll.
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