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What’s planned for Change?

September 25, 2009

There are a number of things that I want to add to Change but am waiting until I receive feedback related to the core mechanics of the game. While the basic mechanic of traits and fluctuations in their usefulness portrays the kind of change I want to see – going in cycles within cycles, and yet still moving forwards, I find that the game does not yet show the full reasons of why a group changes that well. In the real world, change is not (only) something that runs on whatever the internal drive of a society is – there are factors outside of a one’s control, that you have to either adapt to or bend towards your own devices.

There are two broad categories of these kinds of outside factors:

1) the common space, the World the groups inhabit;

2) other groups.

The World already exists, but in a rather fluffy and fictive way – there is either a common agreement between players on what’s possible and what’s not – I trust it works to keep the players immersed, but I don’t trust it to seamlessly lead in new changes into the game -, or as traits that a group has. Traits are cool, but there are ways in which plagues, or forests of wild magic, or century-old dragons, ley-lines of magic and many other similar things are not best represented as something under the exclusive ownership of any particular society.

I have some ideas that would help breathe more life into the World, but I’m painting with broad strokes here, so if you have any suggestions, don’t hestitate to tell me! Anyway, I currently have three things in mind, and they are Threats, Resources, and Limitations. Threats are something that is dangerous – extremelly large predators, unfavourable weather, diseases or militant “uncivilised” groups. You could either fight Threats, or somehow use them against other groups… But whatever you do, Threats would have a natural tendency to expand and eventually explode in everyone’s faces, unless succesfully countered early. Resources are special items or features in the world that allow some tasks to be accomplished easier – rich lands, special places, powerful artifacts. Using resources would be a difficult job at start, with low or even negative returns, but it would get easier for every group the more work is done on making use of that resource by any one group. The main issue with resources will be whether the one who has taken the burden of making a resource accessible will be the one reaping the benefits of its accessibility… Depleting resources may also cause new threats and limitations to appear. Limitations are things that you can not do or are extremelly difficult to do. Travelling through oceans, communing with the dead, spacefaring – someone, somewhere, will eventually be able to do this, but before that happens, a lot of work has to be done. Limits will work by constraining the field of possible fiction, and giving hefty advantages to those who break them first, at the same time making them easier to use. Limitations are a bit difficult in game process terms – you have to decide what things are interesting to you, and then not do them until you manage to crack them… But still, I like the idea, for some vague, yet unindentified reason.

As for inter-group interactions… I’ve already got that covered somewhat by inter-group Challenges and Arenas, which work well enough. What my game does not yet do is have is an ability for groups on friendly terms to influence each other’s social structures, which definitelly happens in the real world. Currently, I am thinking of some sort friend/foe system – having points in “friend” allows you to help your friend and get him new good traits, having points in “foe” allows you to harm your foe and get him new poor traits. You would also be able to affect another group’s stance towards you directly, by performing acts of good will or aggression.

None of these ideas are anywhere near rules you could cut out and use. But as inchoate and messy as they are, I’m sure I can squeeze something good out of them.

So that’s it for my plans. What do you think? Can you think of any features that my little cultural change simulation game lacking?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Pumpkin permalink
    September 26, 2009 4:15 am

    I’m sure, if anyone can squeeze these rules, that it’s you, but I’m wondering if yet more complexities would necessitate something like a Dungeon Master.

    A more informed answer will be given on Monday, if everything works out.

  2. Mr. Pumpkin permalink
    September 26, 2009 4:17 am

    Not ‘complexities’, but rather, the idea of extensive non-proprietary elements — that is, things which really don’t belong to a particular person, but the world in general.

  3. dweird permalink*
    September 26, 2009 1:11 pm

    Hmm, I don’t think it will have to come to that… I’ll use some sort of simple description + tokens system, so when something happens, it’ll be fairly obvious and intuitive.

    Like, you could have “Threat: Ancient Dragons” written down on a card, and several red poker chips (or quarters, or something) on it. You try to fight the threat, and if you succeed, some of the poker chips are taken off of the card to show the extent of the change. Or you try and use the threat against someone else, get some sort of bonus, and then put some extra red chips on the card. When the red chips reach a certain number, the threat explodes out of proportion, and everyone needs to deal with this outcome somehow… Maybe extra limitations are created?

    I’d also like to the possibility to link threats, resources, and limitations to be present in some form… For instance: In Dune, Shai Hulud would be a threat, Spice would be a resource, and “No large groups in the desert” would be a limitation. They have obvious interrelations that I don’t yet know how to translate into intuitive mechanics, but I’ll get there eventually…

  4. Mr. Pumpkin permalink
    September 27, 2009 8:17 pm

    The organization end didn’t work out.

    I’m gonna try to organize a group again Monday, but this weekend was really the best time for me. I’ll see what happens.

  5. dweird permalink*
    September 28, 2009 5:32 pm

    That’s too bad. Hope you get better luck next time.

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