Zero-Point Posse - dblain.pdf

Rough Ideas

Summary: Nintendo 64's "Banjo-Kazooie" meets the movie "The Matrix", and is put in Tabletop form. Intended Fruitful Void: Players become increasingly immersed in the fictional world while they learn and master the tools they need to succeed in that world. Basically, they travel the Bartle Path. In fact, this resolves itself into four different Fruitful Voids representing the different stages of the Bartle Path.
  1. Seeker - The PCs find their feet (with the game, with their character, with the exploration zone, with the world). They explore a multitude of character-building options and try out several.
  2. Learner - The PCs try different combinations of character-building options to do cool things, called Special Moves.
  3. Doer - The PCs use their well-honed Special Moves to accomplish Big Tasks.
  4. Master - The Big Tasks are resolved. The PCs move comfortably around the world (or stage) and can exit it at will.
The players cycle through these stages several times (maybe 4-7?) as they build skills for their characters, eventually mastering the world. At this point, the campaign is over and the players can move their PCs to a new world (or try to finish catching those last few achievements). Furthermore, there are exploratory aspects which the players can indulge in to greater or lesser degrees: Character, Setting, System, Color. I have excluded Situation. QUESTION: What challenges players? Anyone can roll dice. Anyone can roll MORE dice, against bigger monsters. This is not a challenge. What challenges players in a tabletop game, the way Banjo Kazooie challenges players? Answer: puzzles, like in Monkey Island, Legend of Zelda
Ideas to make the game work:

Core Mechanics - ROUGH

I'd like to drill down to the mechanics, keeping in mind my ultimate desired Fruitful Void. The "unnamed score" of the game is each player's progress along the Bartle Path. Two domains of skills and reward sets, Combat and Exploration:
  1. Combat Metrics -
    • Success or failure of combat
    • Whether bruised, bloodied, or beaten (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 hp)
    • Number of enemies defeated
  2. Exploration Metrics -
    • Number of GM-assigned zones explored where zones include physical locations, knowledge spaces, social contexts (e.g. the "gang", the ladies' tea party)
    • Depth of zone infiltration (one, two, three, by GM's judgement).
Major characters: Major artifacts:

Core Mechanics - Pre-Seeker Phase (Character Creation and Introductions)

This is the old "they meet in a tavern" phase. They are introduced to "the Helpful Wise Man", the GM or GM-character. He introduces them to the tools, they're going to need in the game. He describes generally what they're there to do; i.e. fix anomalous warps, rips, tears, and scrub carriers and defeat agents. The GM can introduce Achievements to unlock as well, though the GM-character may or may not do this. The GM-character has different effects on the game. He's like a D&D wizard familiar, and is always "available" but does not often interfere. Different GM characters affect the following aspects of the game:

Core Mechanics - Master Phase

The Master Phase for the world is post cataclysm when the PCs defeat the final boss. They can go back to individual stages and acquire stage bonuses or leave the campaign entirely. For the Master Phase for each stage, there are/can be:

Brainstorming a game - "The Posse"

Power 19 0. Who is your target audience? Gamers seeking a longer-termed campaign and who appreciate the "Epic Simulationism" as I describe in my theories. 1a. What is your game advised to be about? The game is about a poorly matched gang of misfits gathered from across time and space (and multiple dimensions!) to stitch up the quantum chaos in the universe, thereby preventing the collapse of the greatest number of universes 1b. What is your game really about? It's about getting the players to progress along the Bartle Path at approximately the same rate through the phases, to meet at the end in one final, glorious climactic stage before finishing up in the Denoument. I.E. A simulation of the Hero's Journey. 2a. What do player-characters (PCs) do? Player-Characters (PCs) primarily run through exploration missions (to have their characters wander to seek anomalies and agents), seek and mend missions (to have their characters fix particularly bad anomalies or deal with carriers), and seek and destroy missions (to have their characters kill agents). 2b. What do player-Gamemasters (GMs) do? The activities of a Game-Master (GMs) are a cross between storytelling and refereeing. However, through an entire campaign, the GM is most like a maestro, bringing the different instruments of the PCs, the players, into concert. He uses the tools available to him, such as the NPCs, the Setting, and the allotment of rewards, to accomplish this goal. 3a. What do player-characters do? The PCs seek out and "heal" various types anomalies in the universe (i.e. warps and tears a.k.a. bugs in the matrix), deal with various carriers of these problems (e.g. people who have time-travelled or messed with Quantum Mechanics in the wrong way) and kill agents who have found or been granted the ability to cause these anomalies. 3b. What do non-player characters do? The NPCs (and subset, monsters) attempt to go about their daily business to a lesser or greater degree (as dictated by the mechanics) and avoid the jeopardy to their normal routines as caused by the PCs. 4. How does your setting reinforce what the player characters do? The setting itself is like its own NPC. It is another tool in the GM's repertoire to fight the players' attempts to cure the anomalies (etc.). Furthermore, it is a backdrop to contain the anomalies, carriers, and agents. As these problems are fixed or dealt with, greater anomalies and agents show up until the player meets the big kahuna, a primary agent that has embedded itself in the quantum stream. The setting reinforces what the player characters do by actively fighting against the player characters, as a pawn of the GM, in the same way gravity fights the player characters' attempts to fly. 5. How does the Character Creation process of your game reinforce what the game is about? Player character creation doesn't hint at what the game is really about, namely having the players travel the Bartle path, because it's the DM's job to manage that. However, character creation includes tools for seeking and managing anomalies and agents, as well as providing lots of tools for supposed colour, though in fact, the tools for providing colour dual as a breeding ground for opportunity for the DM to take the players along the Bartle path, what the game is really about. 6. What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)? 7. How are behaviors/styles of play rewarded or punished in your game? There are "power points" used to charge the characters up and allow them to deal with carriers or defeat agents. Exploration is rewarded with these points, as well as the implicit benefit of exploration. There is a cycle: explore, to charge up, to fight and lose, to drop in power but to gain power 2, to explore again with power, etc. etc. until you have enough power 2 to fight agents. This cycle is also repeated and when enough agents are defeated, the final agent will be revealed and vulnerable. The powers can be stacked on top of each other for even greater bonuses. Again, the GM is not systemically rewarded. 8. How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game? GM narrates locations and environment, and choose actions of NPCs and monsters. Players roll exploration checks, attack rolls (to hit), defense rolls (to defend a hit), action rolls (to do something interesting). The GM is the ultimate authority in all cases. 9. What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? They'll come for the Matrixy / Dr. Who feel of the game. They'll get hooked by the cyclic seek-and-mend/destroy mechanics. They'll stay and bring in their friends because of the GM's efforts in having them traverse the Bartle Path. 10. What are the resolution mechanics of your game like? The mechanics give simple rewards for basic 1-player actions that are included in the system: punch, block, sneak, etc. No diplomacy/intimidate/ knowledge type functions are included in the game. Instead, these are part of the exploration sphere. For these simple actions, resolution is confirmed by a simple versus die-roll. Players can cooperate by combining actions. "Cooperation" in the form of one character leading and others follow (e.g. group sneaking, flanking combat bonuses) gain a small extra group bonus that is in a shared pool available to the PCs. For truly creative cooperative acts by the players, appropriate to the context and as judged by the GM, the dice interact by a chain of resolutions which the players roll in order. If more players are involved, the easier it is to perform the chain of actions (with bonuses or possibly different resolution dice). The players only need to invent creative actions once. They can keep mining these actions for more power-2 level points. HOWEVER, this is only true for the stage in which they're invented. In later stages, the cooperative bonuses turn to simple power bonuses. They only need maybe 3 cooperative actions per stage (at least one per player), for maybe 5 stages. 11. How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about? The resolution mechanics give rewards for solving anomalies (warps and tears) as well as dealing with carriers automatically. The game is advanced and players gain their resources to continue (e.g. money, gold pieces) by using their actions. Regarding what the game is really about, the GM awards power and power-2 points when the players cooperate appropriately. The players use power points and power-2 points to advanced the players along the Bartle Path and move the later phases. 12. Do characters in your game advance? If so, how? Yes, but not in the traditional sense. They gain and use cooperative abilities and in doing so, adding these abilities to their repertoire. 13. How does character advancement or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? By using and practicing the cooperative abilities, and adding them to their repertoire, PCs advance down the Bartle Path. The gaining of skills and using them cooperatively is advancement down the Bartle Path. 14. What sort of product or effect do you want to produce in or for the players? Advancement along the path should bring the players along the Bartle Path and simulate the natural build-up and finish of the Hero's Journey. 15. What areas of your game receive extra attention and colour? Why? The mechanics (character build, ability creation and cooperative ability creation, and resolution mechanics) receive extra attention to make them solid, allowing the players the freedom to invent their combos (cooperative actions) and give them lots of player-generated colour. The GM's directoral section receives extra attention as well, being the other side of the coin, to give the GM help in guiding the players along the Bartle Path. 16. What part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? I'm most excited about the idea that the GM takes a less active role (allowing players to roll both their own attacks, and defences on behalf of enemies) and yet more active role (by guiding the game so that the Bartle Path is followed). It should be a new GM experience and, as such, a new player experience. 17. Where does your game take players that other games can't, don't, or won't? Following the Hero's Journey. 18. What are your publishing goals for this game? PDF, then a larger game using the Combat Wheel, then a game with online component, then an online game (MMORPG).