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 Post subject: The Discovery Economy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:04 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:12 am
Posts: 157
One of the things I am working on for Unwritten is adding a second 'currency' into the game that is based around of investigation and exploration. I want to make this subsystems because I want that sort of game play to be a focus, and giving it its own subsystem seems like a good way to make it a focus.

In many ways, this would become the major advancement system in the game. The basic idea is that discovery and exploration make you more awesome.

Okay, so along side Fate Points, we have a second currency called Discoveries. You get a a discovery every Significant Milestone and you keep them until you use them. Characters slowly build up the potential to have ah-ha moments which shape the direction of the game in various ways.

So, what can you use discoveries for? Spend a discovery to:
  • ... to call for a flashback scene (as described in the Fate Toolkit) - a small character-focused scene where the players narrates how something that happened in the character's past relates to what it happening. The flashback gives your character a refresh of Fate points.
  • ... to place a claim on a location your character has been. A claim represents the fact that at some point in the past, the character has gone back to a place they have explored to cultivate it. With the claim they can create a resource - a mini-stunt that is available to them at that location, as a result of having cultivated that location. (For example, the ability to use the crystals from Spire as explosives would have been a resource for Sirrus in Myst IV: Revelation.)
  • ... attempt a deduction. This is a wager - the player attempts to explain a mystery the GM has put into the game. If they are correct, then they get a serious boon. A boon is an anti-cost (from success with cost): where a serious cost means something goes badly for the character, a serious boon means something goes well. Like a cost, it's a vague concept so that the player and GM can come up with something that makes sense. If the player is incorrect, then no boon and the discovery is spent. But, they still have the option to accept a serious cost in exchange for the GM to explain how they were wrong.
  • ... trade in a refresh point for a stunt right then and there.

Thoughts? Not interesting enough? Too awkward and involved? Where should it be tweaked?

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Scott L Hamilton
(BladeLakem and J.D. Barnes in Myst Online)
Unwritten designer and rules monkey

Unwritten RPG G+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/105 ... 0139147797


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:00 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2013 6:41 pm
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It seems mostly logical to me. I am not familiar with the FateCore system (yet) so some of this goes over my head, but I think this particular "currency" , however intangible, goes well with a D'niverse setting.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:13 am
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Why not simply allow Fate Points to do what you want Discoveries to do, but maybe say two need to be spent in order to trigger the Discovery special effect?

I like the idea of Discoveries, but I don't think adding a second resource pool that needs to be tracked is a good direction. Just treat them like beefy Fate Point expenditures.

And since you want to reward players at Significant Milestones, why not award them two to three Fate Points here? That way they have the option to use these new Fate Points for Discoveries or for things they'd use Fate Points normally for.

I think that kills two birds with one stone: They get Fate Points for what you want the to use them for, but they also have something they can spend should they wish to use their reward for something else.

So, yeah, one reward track (Fate Points) but create a new way to spend them that costs a bit more.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 7:56 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 21, 2013 12:01 am
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I like the idea, but it does need more thought. Specifically, what I see appears to be imbalanced.

Option a - a Refresh. I realize this is an official suggestion from Fred and the gang, I'm not knocking it, but... It is a very powerful option, and is the metric against which all other options need to be measured. When looking at the other options, the question you must ask yourself as a designer is "Will my players actually use this, or are they always going to just go for the refresh instead?"

Option b - a mini-Stunt tied to a location. This one is OK, I like the general idea, but I don't think my players are likely to choose it over option A very much.

Option c - deduction. Honestly, this one seems the most imbalanced to me. It has Risk - you must be correct, and yet it has lower reward than option A. I think the idea has merit, but with A having no risk of failure, C needs to have the reward be better than option A or the players will not take the risk.

Option d - This one feels balanced with A the best to me, however it could use some verbiage to explain what this means in the world, same as the other 3 have.

As I said at the beginning, though, I do like the idea - I think it's a good economy to have in the game you're trying to create. But, as a game designer, never forget that even though the story should be king for your players, you must measure balance like you're targeting the worst munchkins on the planet.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:44 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:12 am
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We had some issues with subforum permissions, so posts didn't show up until just now. :oops:

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Scott L Hamilton
(BladeLakem and J.D. Barnes in Myst Online)
Unwritten designer and rules monkey

Unwritten RPG G+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/105 ... 0139147797


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:16 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:12 am
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My goal is to create a mechanical focus on exploration and curiosity (discovery). This is the part of the development that I've been struggling with the most, hence I'm looking for suggestions and feedback. And I really appreciate the responses. :mrgreen:

The various options seemed to me to fall under a a similar rubric, so I grouped them together under a new currency. Maybe that's a mistake.

Flashbacks just seemed like a cool idea. I've not seen the games I have run and played in a mad dash for refreshes, so I didn't see that as too over-powered. But that may simply be the tables I've played at. Ultimately, I can leave it or take it.

The claims and resources option is a mechanic that is aimed at something I'm trying to reinforce in the game - it is the places you discover and what you do with them that are a primary driver of 'advancement'. Of any of these options, this is the one I'd really like to make work.

The deduction option is an attempt to reward players for uncovering mysteries themselves as opposed to relying on rolls/invokes to uncover information. The open-ended result seemed more powerful to me than the refresh. By the same token, success at cost actually seems more of a complication than compels do a lot of the time. It would be cool to make it work though.

The 'buy your stunt right NOW" option was more of an afterthought, meant to model those 'ah ha' moments when things change.

So, all of the above being said, I'm open to thoughts :)

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Scott L Hamilton
(BladeLakem and J.D. Barnes in Myst Online)
Unwritten designer and rules monkey

Unwritten RPG G+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/105 ... 0139147797


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:26 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:02 pm
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I'm not a very big fan of flashbacks (sorry), but I love the idea of placing a claim on a location. Or maybe it can also give a player an item needed. For example, an explorer is in a dark room and spends one discovery point (or more) to remember he brought a flashlight with him. I'm not sure about the deduction idea, but I understand where you'r going with it, maybe it needs a bit of tweaking? I personally would assume discovery points would revel clues or solve mysteries. Anyway, love whats happening with the RPG so far, I cannot wait to see the result! (please forgive all grammar and spelling errors)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:10 am
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Apologies for the minor thread necromancy, but I just discovered this sub-forum (no pun intended) and wanted to chime in with my two cents.

I really like the idea of a robust claim system - I think offering players interesting benefits specifically tied to a new location they've discovered is the perfect way to encourage them to do just that. In addition, it helps tie players to the world, and (depending on how it is implemented) could provide an interesting downtime system to boot. Finally, it provides an interesting bonus to players who want to Write - the ability to define their own discoveries to be claimed.

It might make sense, rather than making them a separate thing, to just go ahead and make them a special type of stunt - that inherently ties them to Major Milestones without requiring new rules, and allows players to sacrifice refresh to gain them at Minor Milestones (so, if they discover something they find really nifty, they don't feel forced to wait to associate themselves with it). Similarly, if you wanted to tie them to Significant Milestones, you could just add a skill component to the system, to the same end.

I agree with Selderane with respect to the options that are more "aha moments" than more-permanent-character-advancement/tying-yourself-to-the-world - things like flashbacks, deductions, etc. These seem perfect as specialized Fate Point applications (though flashbacks might need to have a different result - spending Fate Points in order to get a refresh is... odd...).


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:52 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:12 am
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As time has gone on, I've simplified this system a bit. You've come up with some of the same ideas, actually - they are a type of stunt you can get on a Significant Milestone via a skill roll.

As for the flashbacks and deductions, I never could get those to really work out in play, so I dropped them and left those sort of things be narrative and integrate with the other systems (such as the Investigation rules I've set up).

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Scott L Hamilton
(BladeLakem and J.D. Barnes in Myst Online)
Unwritten designer and rules monkey

Unwritten RPG G+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/105 ... 0139147797


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:32 pm
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Hm. The only question I really have is how these things are handled for giving out. As long as not too much is thrown on the GM's plate to award for use/trading, and they lose track of it all. Otherwise it seems like a nice little addition.

As for dropping flashbacks and deductions, it's ok. Flashbacks seems a bit of extra-character knowledge in a sense, and always hard to handle in character, with the option of just having someone explain what happened.. and deductions are what you do anyways, and seem to be a boon result for the GM actively telling the player "Yep that's right". It's a nice idea to give a mechanic for that, but not everyone running a game wants to lay their cards on the table whether a theory is right or not.


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