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  1.  
    Sometimes, just sometimes, I have a hankering to have a game using the world developed for a|state. Not with the existing mechanics. I think their time is past. But with something else. Then I realised that a potential avenues had been staring me in the face for ages: why to have a go with the Cold City/Hot War mechanics?

    Attributes would stay the same as they are, as would traits, relationships, and tools. The thing that would need to change would be the game creation tools and the hidden agendas.

    Game Creation


    The thing that a|state was always implicitly about was hope in a dark place. So, the characters should be doing something hopeful, something inspiring, something that makes peoples lives that little bit better. Game creation would need to be explicitly about this: why are the characters together? what are they doing? why are they doing it? Many of the existing stages of game creation could remain as they are, other would need to change or be added: the reason why the grup is together is an example.

    Hidden Agendas

    Rather than agendas, it seems to me that these would need to change into character goals. Akin to Duty & Honour, where characters have military missions and missions of personal importance, one of them would need to be an overarching goal, the other more personal. I think the overarching goal would need to be related to the specifics of what the characters are doing - perhaps with each character having a part of the overall goal that is specific to them?

    These are just vague thoughts at the moment, something that popped in to my head. Any feedback, suggestions, or thoughts would be great.

    Cheers
    Malcolm
  2.  
    And, as further thoughts pop into my head, it would be good to create the place where the characters come from as a 'character' in the game. Perhaps overarching 'agendas' could be tied to the character of the place?

    Just thoughts for now.

    Cheers
    Malc
    •  
      CommentAuthorMatt
    • CommentTimeFeb 17th 2010
     
    You know, I think this'd work nicely.

    It did occur to me that you could do something nice by specifying a hope agenda and a pain agenda, both of which could grow and reflect the way the city can crush hope with pain... Could create some nice dynamics. Though maybe that's getting a bit Contenders. :)

    With game creation, could you do something around creating a neighbourhood? That'd fit with the whole idea of bringing hope to your little bit of the city.
  3.  
    Actually Matt, that's some really useful advice there. I had entirely forgotten about the hope/pain thing, so your comments have certainly kicked my brain into gear.

    Having a Hope agenda and a Pain agenda might be very workable (although 'agenda' is probably not the right word, but we'll stick with it for now). The Hope agenda would be something you are striving for, something that gives you inspiration to carry on. The Pain agenda could be something you are trying to get away from, resolve, or otherwise stop it causing you pain. I can see that working well.

    And yes, the neighbourhood creation things is a definite must. The old Underground RPG from MGI has some interesting things to say about creating and influencing neighbourhoods, so I'll need to dig that one out. Perhaps the neighbourhood could be created in the same way as a character, with other neighbourhoods, areas or groups created like NPCs?

    More thinking required!

    Cheers
    Malc
  4.  
    In one of those AHA! moments, I found an old notebook that I had been scrawling a|state ideas in ages ago. One thing that I had forgotten about was the way that NPCs/organisations could potentially be approached. I wanted something where a single NPC could work on the same scale as a huge organisation. In the end, I noted down that the simple way seems to have 'resources', in the form of dice, assigned to an opposing force.

    So, say a gang is out to get the characters. They might have 20 dice. Maybe a single gang member challenges a protagonist. I, as the facilitator, might say "he's tough and mean, so I'm assigning him 6 of the total dice belonging to the gang." If he gets taken out, then the gang loses those six dice.

    A huge corporation could have, say, 200 dice, representing economic power, military force, contacts, etc.

    Again, all very vague and note-like at the moment.

    Cheers
    Malc
  5.  
    I like the idea of the place as a character - both Nobilis and, weirdly, the Angel RPG did this very well, where the players collaboratively created their home territory, defining quirks, features and a "personality" of sorts. I don' t know if you'd want to go as far as to assign attributes to it, but certainly traits that can be used when players are on their home turf.

    Organisations could be handled in largely the same way too, with the addition of your resource mechanic above.

    That sort of thing definitely belongs alongside character creation, perhaps even beforehand, with players defining their home territory, organisations friendly and foe, and rival territory too.
  6.  
    Thanks for the comments, Andy.

    Looking back on my notes (I keep finding more scattered around this notebook, I have done far more work on this than I thought!) your suggestion chimes with what I was thinking when I wrote a lot of this up. Here's another sample of what I had written:

    Individuals, groups, institutions can be categorised as weak, moderate, or strong. The size, plus the strength shows the number of dice that they will have. For example:

    Individual: Weak: 1-3, Moderate: 4-5, Strong: 6+
    Group: Weak: 4-8, Moderate: 9 -20, Strong: 21+
    Institution: Weak: 9 - 50, Moderate: 51-100, Strong: 100+

    Cheers
    Malc
  7.  
    When you initially created a|state Malcolm did you imagine character groups being all from one area/ corporation or made up of people from various areas? If the later you could have a 'community agenda' that each character is trying to push for, along the lines of the hope agenda you were talking about with Matt.

    If the characters are from very different backgrounds could you create a Group Agenda that everyone can add to? This would bring the characters together on a mechanical as well as a narrative level.

    I can see Hot War relationships being used to form connections to communities building on the idea of bringing Hope to the populace of The City.

    The Hope/Pain agenda thing I could see as being combined into 1 personal agenda. If the agenda did not come to fruition after a given period of time then the Pain side of it would come into play. The player would be able to define both the hope and pain side of the agenda giving them control over what would happen under either circumstance.

    Cheers

    Iain
  8.  
    Thanks for the feedback, Iain.

    Your first question is actually very pertinent. When working on the original game, I guess I was carried away with the excitement of world creation. It was only after the fact that I realised yes, the characters should all come from the same area, or at least be connected to it. But that was never, ever explicit in the game text. Looking at this variation, it should be absolutely explicit that the characters have a fundamental connection to 'place' and that it is conflicts surround this place, and their own individual goals, which would drive dramatic play.

    I'm brought to mind of how D&H handles military missions and missions of personal importance. Everyone inputs into the military mission, but can at the same time be handling something personal to them. There could be something in structuring goals along those lines (very similar to what you mention, Iain) rather than along the lines of Hot War agendas.

    All grist for the mill.

    Cheers
    Malc
    •  
      CommentAuthorMatt
    • CommentTimeFeb 18th 2010
     
    So what'd be really neat is if you had a two part neighbourhood creation.

    Part one is players connecting the characters to the place, making it matter to them, building in connections and resonances.

    Part two is the GM building internal and external pressures on the neighbourhood to create situations for play. Kinda halfway between a Dogs town scale and a the crucible in Covenant.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Prince
    • CommentTimeFeb 18th 2010
     
    I like the idea of running the PC's home community as a mechanical entity. Perhaps you could have community hope/pain scores, tied to an ultimate hope/fear (or individual threats). Then PCs get tough choices over when to pursue personal matters and when to do things for the larger community – which if it all goes tits up may screw up personal goals anyways…

    That said I always felt that a lot of the fun in a|state came from exploration of the setting (simulationism if you will). I'd like the characters to play and feel different – ghostfighters pulling off funky knife-tricks – lostfinders just happen to know a shortcut at a critical juncture… Old skool character classes, resplendent with stunts and powers that what I'd like to see.

    Yet with the PCs' actions tied into story-gamey meta mechanics on their personal journeys – and the struggle of the wider community.

    I'm really not sure the Cold City dice pool mechanic is the way to go. I'm uncertain what the three discrete arenas would add to play in a|state?

    Cheers
    Joe
  9.  
    Matt:So what'd be really neat is if you had a two part neighbourhood creation.

    Part one is players connecting the characters to the place, making it matter to them, building in connections and resonances.

    Part two is the GM building internal and external pressures on the neighbourhood to create situations for play. Kinda halfway between a Dogs town scale and a the crucible in Covenant.


    That sounds like an excellent platform for further development, I'll make a note of that.

    Joe Prince:I like the idea of running the PC's home community as a mechanical entity. Perhaps you could have community hope/pain scores, tied to an ultimate hope/fear (or individual threats). Then PCs get tough choices over when to pursue personal matters and when to do things for the larger community – which if it all goes tits up may screw up personal goals anyways…


    Indeed. I think that ties in quite closely with what Matt was saying above. The idea of tough choices, whether from a personal or community standpoint would definitely be something I would want to pursue.

    That said I always felt that a lot of the fun in a|state came from exploration of the setting (simulationism if you will). I'd like the characters to play and feel different – ghostfighters pulling off funky knife-tricks – lostfinders just happen to know a shortcut at a critical juncture… Old skool character classes, resplendent with stunts and powers that what I'd like to see.

    Yet with the PCs' actions tied into story-gamey meta mechanics on their personal journeys – and the struggle of the wider community.


    The second part of that I'm totally in agreement with. The first part, I'm not sure if that is the direction I would want to go in. Old scholl character clases aren't really what I'm, personally, into when it comes to any (potential) revision of the game. That being said, there is no reason why there couldn't be specific traits for doing particular things particularly well. Something I'll need to investigate more.

    I'm really not sure the Cold City dice pool mechanic is the way to go. I'm uncertain what the three discrete arenas would add to play in a|state?


    That's a very fair point, and one which I was mulling over while I read more of my old notes on that very topic. One note I had mused on a Shock-esque mechanic of using D10s to determine your own success and D4s to affect the successes of your opponents. I'll try and transcribe more of that in the near future, as it was very tied into a specific way to dealing with traits, opposition, etc.

    Thanks for the further thoughts guys.

    Cheers
    Malc