Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Random Musing: Stealing Mechanics

Using Pandemic for Political/Social Mechanics

My first thought is to use Dread as a basic model.  This could also be useful for Severance as well.  Questions as setting up

Replacing the Jenga Tower in Dread (an idea for a mechanic on the same principles).  Because a Jenga tower has inevitability built in: the tower is going to fall eventually, this same principle needs to be built into any mechanic trying to mirror it.  I want tension that crescendos: welp, my first thought is to look at other board games that have similar mechanics I could steal.

In Pandemic, the tension comes from cubes that grow.  For Pandemic, this represents diseases growing and overflowing cities as the game goes on.  Mechanically: 3 cubes of the same color make a city "full."  Any more cubes of that color, and they "outbreak": a cube goes to each city connected to that city.  Well, that's the visual tension that affects players: they plan and work based on these cubes.

Could this be taken on for a RPG?

My first thought is applying the idea for interacting with NPCs, the party's morale and reputations.  Say that you put down a sheet of paper on the table.  Draw a series of circles.  The party has its own circle, label it.  Each circle directly connected to the Party should have line connected to it.

This map will change, which is fine.  But each circle should represent a group of people critical to the PCs.  I think the catch hand is that the players know about these circles.  This is for a more political aim, allowing for a game where players are working to get a organization, colony or group to do what they want.

Next we need dice, preferably d6s for now.  Different colors work best, I'm going to assume Red, Green, White and Black are available.  Black means panicked, scared, more or less have no more morale to go on.

Each circle can only have a max of each color in its circle; if it gets another one die added, each circle added to it spread out to each connected circle.

This means that this system also needs a sort of economy of daily actions within the community.  I can't imagine everyone can be looked after, but the PCs will want to try and keep their end of the group from falling apart to any of the conditions these dice could represent.  Low Morale is one thing, another could be a epidemic, a fad, possibly even a foreign religion.  Good reputation could also be a thing.

Whenever a die comes into the Party's circle, any NPCs that would fall into that circle are affected.  Or possibly the PCs start to face encounters of that kind of influence.

Why use d6s as a measurement?  I think you could tie a HP/damage mechanic in based on the d6s.  At the start of each session, you roll up a value based on d6s for each circle: that's how much "damage" it needs to take before it goes away.

Damage for anything non-combat I think needs three dice sizes to choose from: d6 (Poor), d8 (Average), d12 (Good).

I think this is at least a good start for a mechanic measuring group problems.  How do dice get added?  That part so far is GM fiat, but I think it needs a more precise tool.  I like the idea of a percentage being rolled each day, but that feels... well, to be honest, time-consuming in its own way.

My thought for using 4 colors of dice is that I could use a deck of playing cards for generating events.  This sort of mechanic would play well in a setting that has a small community tied into it.  I kinda also want to use Kingdom too, but as a way to generate future events and crises...

But lets stick to the 4 kinds of dice.  That means four kinds of Things to track (need a better term for it).  My thought is to label them: Plague, Praise, Panic, Problems.  These are broad to encapsulate a bunch of different things while still being within the same "hemisphere" of issues.  Perhaps issues with local water supplies going dry is something I can refer back to repeatedly each time Problems comes up.  Or maybe Praise will be based on local events?  Who knows.

My first thought on these was to say "based on system."  But let's be a bit more practical here.  Lets say doing something for anyone in a community will take time: you have find them, talk with them, do what you can, etc.  There are two modes here: RPing the entire thing, and handwaving it.

The GM has to decide this when a player begins doing things for their daily action.  I'd like to make a recommendation here for the narrativist in me: don't RP each time players interact NPCs as a scene.

What?  I know, that sounds definitely NOT narrativist.  But let me get to a point here: unless a particular NPC is tied to a subplot or main plot, don't waste the time on it.  Its possible for a single character to dominate all the scenes if you do things this way.

A daily action should take 4 or 5 hours, maybe meaning that most characters should get to have 2 actions they can devote to in a day.  Spending a daily action to combat a Thing [srsly, I need a name for this, Issue maybe?] lets you get a roll to reduce it in that circle of the community.

I decided to think of this after going over one of my favorite ideas in Pathfinder's Ultimate Campaign.  I'm a visual thinker, so I found the systems present in it hard to focus on.  I want a subsystem for handling communities, but find the idea of treating any social problems as "one roll to rule them all" to be less than satisfying.  Combat takes hours to resolve, but a single good social roll can end a problem instantly.

So I want something I can dig my GM/Player headspace into.  That's the genesis of this.

Also: it touches onto my Severance idea a bit too.  Communities should have some internal mechanics I think.  Stealing from Pandemic seems like a good first step, perhaps.  I need to look over more things for ideas to steal from...