The Change prompts a passionate response from me, about exploring how a tiny Change can cause large effects. After playing some games for a while, usually a campaign/chronicle, I love exploring how even a tiny change to a mechanic can majorly changes things. I appreciate that this can cause surprising results. Some players don’t like this. Plus, not every game suits this. To clarify, I am referring to things that change during play, the areas of the environment can change, possibly whole laws of reality. Whilst this is not a common event for games/settings like D&D, it can happen, whereas it’s built into Mage: the Ascension via Reality Zones, likewise the varying effects on Changelings that the different regions of the Dreaming have. Similarly, games that focus on parallel worlds like GURPS Infinite Worlds or Cypher System’s: The Strange, etc.
An old work meeting discussing different designs for Quest, our play-by-mail RPG, and how to beat the memory limitations we had; the problem with working with old Pascal code. The aim was to reduce how much human moderation was needed with certain game aspects, so we could spend that time writing more and better stories, providing players more meaningful role-playing choices. The relevancy to tabletop is that I worked on designs to introduce tiny modifiers to achieve large effects on the game. I drew inspiration from RPGs like Mage, WFRP’s Realms of Chaos (Elric setting 😉) and Magic: the Gathering; from the global enchantments to Artifacts like Howling Mine; how different dynamic tweaks in play could change the feeling and maths of a game, without destroying what the game is. I surprised my old boss, who was happy to hear I was improving my ideas and how I explained them; in my first year working with him, I’d typically talked about big sweeping changes; I was still learning how agile the reality of business was and learning the delicacies of balancing the different preferences of each game’s community.
This leads me to my Street Fighter RPG (SFRPG) answer for today. From the 90s I have pages of game notes about adding/tweaking mechanics to achieve different outcomes. Like many role-players passionate about martial arts, real and fake, I was also a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) and Mortal Kombat (MK), etc. When I first saw MK, and learned its setting, I pondered how to handle the mysterious Outland within Street Fighter, maybe borrowing from D&D’s Manual of the Planes, or the various Umbras for the World of Darkness? But… I knew one thing was common for players of SFRPG, the design approach taken resulting in a surprising speed of play, despite the sheer number of maneuvers. So any alteration to combat could quickly bog the flow down.
I ran an alternate SFRPG game that was similar to the TV show Mortal Kombat: Conquest, where characters could receive Blessings and Curses. For example: Shichifukujin (Seven Lucky Gods) Blessing grants +1 Attribute as an Auto Success once per day, which could be allocated before or after a roll! This is not quite the same as a Merit/Advantage or Flaw/Disadvantage, because it can come and go. Although once per day, this is a powerful ability, for example, a botch can be negated, or a character could see how much damage an opponent has done to them and then grant themselves +1 soak, or make their Dexterity one point higher, which could mean they gain that lucky bit of speed to avoid a nasty combo. Crucially once per day is a big restriction; is it best to save it? Luck is a fickle thing, each time they use their Blessing they could lose it, starting at 1 in 10 and raising by +1 each time it’s used. Characters could do things to please the Shichifukujin, doing so could reduce or even reset the counter. Initially, it resulted in players taking more time to decide, but after a short while, most of the time it was quick, thus not undermining the speed of play aspect of SFRPG.
As I’ve nearly caught up on Punho do Guerreiro (Warrior’s Fist) translations, I have been able to see what the team has previously explored. After RPGaDay I can go over my old ideas and work on a series of articles for the fanzine. 🙂 Also I’ll emphasis clarity of presentation, unlike the section above. 😉
Based upon this old temporary blessing idea, I added something similar to my Trophy Gold Incursion entry. I will be breaking down what I did, in a later blog post, the good and the bad.
Other Peoples’ Answers
Autocratik discussing change in gaming tastes
Melestrua with a fun framing for the discussion of an important practical topic, find out what CLOC is:
Complex Games Apologist discusses the interesting topic of environment stats.
IvanMike1968 gives a lovely summary about one of the beauties of this hobby.
Bryon1187 gives an interesting quick answer:
Craig Oxbrow’s The Watch House highlighting the usage animated GIF and RPGs
The Anxious Gamer uses prompt Change to give a review of Magical Fury
This is a non-exhaustive list; I still have many posts to read today, so I might be adding more links. I’d recommend searching the hashtag and judge those great answers for yourself: #RPGaDay2020, some people use #RPGaDay.