DONJONFEIST RE-ENGINEEREDby Sergio Mascarenhas
DONJONFEIST RE-ENGINEEREDby Sergio Mascarenhas
After two months it's time to get back to Donjonfeist. Work, family, academic commitments and travel didn't allow me to present my GlovE column in December.
What's in store for this column? In the course of the last two months I spent the time I could spare for Donjonfeist rethinking what I had done before. The result is a change of direction in several key aspects of the game system. Let's see which.
For a start I decided to look more in detail at the Hardships. You see, in GlovE the Hardships (and Boons, the simetric concept that I'm introducing this month) are evolving in the sense that play the same role that hit points, magic points and similar stars play in other systems. They represent the status of the character and how that status affects his ability to act.
In Gentlemen Explorers I only superficially touched on this concept. I decided to make it a lot more important in Donjonfeist. The reason is simple: Donjonfeist characters are anti-heroes subject to whatever fate ditches upon them. Their life is hard, so suffering and dealing with those hardships is one of the main drivers of the game. Because of this I needed to develop the system to handle hardships.
The other major change concerns the action resolution process. Until now GlovE's action resolution asked the player to define his character's goal and what might happen if it was not achieved. This might be too cumbersome for some players.
There is something else, though. With hardships and boons these became the focus for action resolution. I mean, now when the player wants to define his character's actions they may think in terms of what is the hardship/boon that may result from the action, thus defining their goal in terms of creating a hardship/boon (to their character, to other character or to a thing).
By combining hardships/boons with action goals I realized that I could have the former providing the alternatives for the latter. Since actions in GlovE have three levels of success (needless to say, the action will only create – or avoid – a hardship/boon if it succeeds), hardships/boons could also be defined in terms of three levels of importance. Combining harships/boons with levels of success means that the player may define the levels of success for the action of his character in terms of the level of importance of the hardship/boon that is to result from it. All of this is too abstract so let me provide an example:
Character A is fighting character B. By attacking B he is actually setting has his goal to wound B. A wound is a hardship, of course. Now, the mechanics for hardships define three levels of wounds, let's say that go from Extreme to Minimal. These three levels of wounds map into the three levels of success for the attack.
There are another two alternatives for goal definition. We can think about the goal for the action in terms of mantaining the status quo by interfeering with an action (by another party) or event that would result in a hardship or boon to someone or something. In this case the goal that the player sets for his character is a counter-action that will ensure that the said hardship or boon does not materialize. Conversely, we can think in terms of contributing to the action of another party. In GlovE these situations are handled in terms of providing a handicap or an edge to the third party's action.
Character C is trying to bribe character D. D is an ethical bigot, so he will resist all attempts at being bribed. Basically C wants to to entuce D with a tempting boon (whatever he says that he will give D) with the small string of a minor hardship (whatever he wants D to do). By resisting bribery D is basically counter-acting C so that neither the hardship or the boon materialize. The level of success of D's conter-action determines the magnitude of the handicap it places on the ods of C's bribery action.
In the previous version of GlovE the definition of alternatives for the original goal of the character was designed to lead the players to think about the possible outcomes of the action. This was required because there was no strong guidelines on how to set those outcomes. With the current version the mechanics for hardships/boons work as those guidelines, so it is not that important to work out alternatives for the intended goal. The end result is that I dropped that stage in the action resolution process, and had to rework it again. Now it goes like this:
As before, the players start by stating their goals. Next they define the odds. By combining their goals and their odds they finalize the description of their intended action (remember that the player may not know all the edges and handicaps that may impact on his action, so his description may be biased due to lacking information). At this stage they have to frame that description in terms of the level of success they are aiming at (say, do they want to kill or just to wound?). Finally they check the final result of the action and narrate what really happened.
Noticed that the players are expected to describe the intended action of their characters in terms of the final result they antecipate? This is there for a purpose. It leads the players to provide more varied descriptions. Furthermore, if there's a mismatch between the description of the intended action and the actual final result that may have an impact in the forthcoming actions of the character. Look at the next example:
Andreia is trying to seduce Jox. Sure of her charms, she is sure that he will be madly in love with her after a well planned meeting. What she doesn't know is that Jox is complety (and silently) in love with Prunela, to the point that Andreia fails in her attempt. Unable to understand why, she will suffer a handicap to further seduction attempts until she is able to recover her confidence.
All of these changes are maturing slowly due to time constrains. They still are not fully incorporated into the draft. In any case, that's the stage of Donjonfeist before Christmas, which reminds me, I hope you had a wonderfully Christmas with plenty of new rpg books to play with and a good start of 2005 with no less time to play them.
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