1.  
    Following on from this thread, I've been doing some further sketching out of the mechanics of Between Continents.

    If you are familiar with Hot War or Cold City, there will be a certain similarity. There are, however, some important and significant changes. Obviously, until they are tested in play, these changes might be a retrograde step, but we'll see.

    Attributes

    Rather than the three attributes of HW and CC, Between Continents has been pared down to two: Brawn (any physical action) and Brains (any intellectual or social action). Brains takes over the space that was occupied by Insight and Influence in HW. Why? Well, Insight is the least use of all the attributes in the other games and is sometimes difficult to rationalise into conflicts. It does come in, but for this game an simplification and paring down would be good. Additionally the reduction in attributes from three to two makes Crisis Points a little more likely, which is something I'd like to see more of in play.

    So, you have six points to spend on Brawn and Brains, with a maximum of five in any one attribute.

    Traits

    Positive an negative traits are as they were in the previous games. To start you get three positive and two negative, plus you get to have an experience scene that gives you another positive or negative trait.

    The experience scene might get re-jigged a little. I'm thinking of having a 'Formative Years' scene depicting a conflict that really shaped who the character is.

    Goals/Agendas

    Right, so this is where the most significant changes come in. As discussed in the previous thread (linked to above), you can now either support or oppose a goal. This will apply to both Group and Personal Goals.

    There's a spectrum running like this (the descriptive terms are just placeholders at the moment):

    Opposing

    Violently Opposed: +3
    Dead Set Against: +2
    [other term]: +1
    Ambivalent: 0
    Mildly Supportive: +1
    Utterly Committed: +2
    Ruthlessly Determined: +3

    Supporting

    You choose where to start on the track (for a Group Goal) and can move up and down as the game progresses, due to consequences from conflicts.

    Goals operate as a pacing mechanism. The group decides how long they want the Group Goal to last and what they stages they need to go through to achieve it might be. They can choose 3, 5, or 7 stages. Each stage is made up of three conflicts. Success in a conflict allows you to put a tick in the box. Failure means a cross. Two ticks or crosses means success, or failure. But, you need to go through all three conflicts.

    If you are successful in a stage, then that part gets a tick. Cross for failure.

    Now, this obviously implies that you can have a guaranteed success at your goal after a few stages. Say you have five stages towards your goal, and are successful in the first three. Obviously, that means you are successful no matter what. I'll need to think of ways to make this not a rubbish outcome (or vice versa).

    And example of Goal Stages might be:

    Goal (3)

    Stage 1: Find the Byzantine plans for the Justinian Condenser
    Stage 2: Make sure the Soviet Russian spies are removed from the scene
    Stage 3: Use the Condenser against the British battleship Inflexible

    The same spectrum of support/opposition applies to Personal Goals, as does the staging of the goal.

    Relationships

    Remain exactly as they are in HW.

    The main questions to come out of this relate to the goals: How to avoid they "Oh, you've completed that mission very easily!" side of things. Is such a structure applicable for personal goals?

    Cheers
    Malcolm
  2.  
    Oh, I just had a thought:

    Success in Stage 1 (say) makes it more difficult in Stage 2 (people are after you, you've created waves, etc) but then failure in Stage 2 might make it easier in Stage 3.

    Hmmm.

    Cheers
    Malcolm
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Murphy
    • CommentTimeJun 22nd 2010 edited
     
    Would the individuals in a group all have the same level of commitment to a group goal? Or do you want a tension there where people bicker over a goal? (Maybe you only have so many points to spend on a goal, and there's more than one group goal).

    Do the individuals contribute to succeeding at stages of a goal, or is there a group summation of their ability?

    Can you buy down a goal if you think it's fanaticism, dangerous or distracting?

    And why would you be opposed to a goal? Like, an adversary's goal?

    Edit: Rather obviously, if difficulty for individual conflicts ramps up, later successes will be more difficult to earn.
  3.  
    Joe Murphy:Would the individuals in a group all have the same level of commitment to a group goal? Or do you want a tension there where people bicker over a goal? (Maybe you only have so many points to spend on a goal, and there's more than one group goal).


    My thinking is that commitment to a goal would be variable across the group. That variation would be informed by the fiction: Spiros might be against it because it conflicts with his personal goal, or because in reaching the goal it might benefit Turks and he's an outspoken Greek nationalist, or because another character slighted him.

    The level of commitment would be able to go up and down according to the outcomes of conflicts. Some people will be actively pulling against the goal, others pulling for it. Success might not always be the priority.

    Do the individuals contribute to succeeding at stages of a goal, or is there a group summation of their ability?


    As I'm thinking about it now, ticks or crosses in the box come from conflicts about the goal. Characters who are committed to the goal would be trying to get ticks, those against would be trying to get crosses. This could be the result of an individual conflict, people working together in a conflict, and so on and so forth.

    Can you buy down a goal if you think it's fanaticism, dangerous or distracting?


    Could you expand on what you mean by that?

    And why would you be opposed to a goal? Like, an adversary's goal?


    See above for the Spiros example. Or, it could come about through conflicts by the opposition using consequences to reduce the commitment of a character to the goal. I kind of like the idea that an opponent might be able to have that effect. How it works in play is a different matter!

    But, yes, having a track for the goals of your adversaries might well be an interesting thing.

    Oh, and in another discussion, Joe commented that the two attributes could be Action and Intrigue. Which sounds appropriate.

    Cheers
    Malcolm
    •  
      CommentAuthorNeil Gow
    • CommentTimeJun 23rd 2010
     
    Having dealt with a Goal-orientated system in D&H, one of the things that came up quite strongly in playtesting was that the players did not like the railroaded feel of having the objectives stated up front for them. It became quite artificial and forced.

    One idea that I have had reading through your stuff is to do two things.

    1. Have the objectives decided at the end of the previous objective.

    So, At the beginning of the game the players are given the goal 'Find the Byzantine plans for the Justinian Condenser'. At the end of that objective, they now look at the fiction and set their next objective. It may be the elimination of the Soviet spies but it might be something else totally, as the spies may have been written out in the previous play

    2. Have a floating overall win-loss score and consequences, to keep the overall mission alive.

    So, the Mission would have say four phases of three scenes. Thats 12 victory points up for grabs. The Mission has a scale of 0 Victory Points to 12 Victory Points assigned to it, as the fallout for the mission.

    I like the idea of having people with a varying commitment to a given mission. Thats very interesting indeed.

    Neil
  4.  
    Neil Gow:Having dealt with a Goal-orientated system in D&H, one of the things that came up quite strongly in playtesting was that the players did not like the railroaded feel of having the objectives stated up front for them. It became quite artificial and forced.


    Ah, that's great feedback! I was hoping you'd comment on this, as D&H/BtQ was one of the major inspirations for the 'defined mission' segment of Between Continents. It's good to find out this kind of stuff at such an early stage.

    One idea that I have had reading through your stuff is to do two things.

    1. Have the objectives decided at the end of the previous objective.

    So, At the beginning of the game the players are given the goal 'Find the Byzantine plans for the Justinian Condenser'. At the end of that objective, they now look at the fiction and set their next objective. It may be the elimination of the Soviet spies but it might be something else totally, as the spies may have been written out in the previous play


    Yes, that sounds a very worthwhile way of doing things. So, you start off with overall goal, plus a first objective, but everything else is left blank. It's simple, but it makes sense.

    2. Have a floating overall win-loss score and consequences, to keep the overall mission alive.

    So, the Mission would have say four phases of three scenes. Thats 12 victory points up for grabs. The Mission has a scale of 0 Victory Points to 12 Victory Points assigned to it, as the fallout for the mission.

    I like the idea of having people with a varying commitment to a given mission. Thats very interesting indeed.


    Oh, so the suggestion is that the participants set how many successes are required for the goal, the greater the number of successes, the greater the potential rewards? Hmmm, now that's prodded me towards thinking how that might be implemented. Perhaps defined end-of-mission scenes and events, like in 3:16. Choice of rewards, etc.

    Interesting stuff!

    Cheers
    Malcolm
    •  
      CommentAuthorNeil Gow
    • CommentTimeJun 25th 2010
     
    I probably didn't explain that very well - lets try again?

    One of the issues that you raised was that a group could have failed the mission before they had completed it? I was trying to model a way around this - a way to get a pyrric victory out of the situation. Yes, it is a derivation of some of my thoughts on the Empire system but it may well be applicable here.

    So, for example:

    The group are tasked with snaffling a translation of the Necronomicon from under the nose of an asset some far eastern power. This mission is split into two, three scene 'chapters'.

    Chapter One: The Race for the Tome
    Three scenes detailing the hell for leather race through the streets of Constantinople as the two factions desperately attempt to get to the book first. Lets, for the sake of arguement say that the PCs won this chapter, two conflicts to one? At the end of the chapter the fiction has lead us to the point where the PCs have the book (they won the first two scenes) but the Agent has activated a Nether Ward and summoned a Demon to ravage their souls.

    There is a discussion and everyone decides that the next Chapter should be 'Escape with our souls intact!'

    Chapter Two: Escape With Our Souls Intact
    So, another three scenes and this time it goes badly for the PCs and they lose 1-2. The Agent retrieves the book, the Demon ravages one PC leaving them comatose but the PCs manage to escape alive.

    Pausing for breath after a rollercoaster session, what effect has this had? Well, each Mission has a set of extra campaign effects that are dependent upon the balance of victories within the Mission.

    For example

    0 successes: The Oriental Agent unleashes demons throughout the sewers of the city, killing dozens of people and literally unleashing Hell
    1 success: The Agent is able to possess a major NPC into his cause
    2 successes: The Agent is able to possess a minor NPC into his cause
    3 successes: The Agent informs his master that the PCs are a threat and action must be taken
    4 successes: The Agent lies low for some time, cowed by his defeat, planning his revenge.
    5 successes: The Agent is withdrawn from the City for punishment
    6 successes: Forces transpire to consume the body and souls of the Agent, removing him from the game.

    The PCs won three successes, and are highlighted as a threat to the Agent's master. Note that in the final chapter they had already lost the Chapter BUT their final success moved the consequences of the mission from the loss of a minor NPC to the bad guys, to just becoming more notorious as a group. There was a purpose to that final roll and every other roll - nothing becomes wasted.

    It also gives you the option of having double consequences - ie. One faction falters whilst another is boosted, and that might cause some conflict!!!

    Yeah, that explains things better. It might be a little too structured, but its what I was intending - a larger campaign level pay-off for every conflict won.

    Neil
  5.  
    I do like Neil's approach, its a good way of engaging the players in the creation of their team's agendas and getting them to care about the outcomes.

    How would it all fit with the idea of some PCs supporting the agenda and some being against it? Do their loyalties just affect the probabilities of success & failure where agenda-related actions occur? Or... perhaps those who were for the agenda get to narrate the positive outcomes from Neil's list, when they occur, while those who were against get to narrate the negative outcomes?
  6.  
    Neil & James: Thanks very much for the feedback. I'm heading away camping for the weekend, so I'll respond on Monday. Just so it's doesn't seem like I'm ignoring your great advice!

    Cheers
    Malcolm
  7.  
    Right, now that I'm back and have thought on this for a while, here we go!

    Neil: The way you describe things working, do you see what happens at each success level for a mission/goal as something created by the group, or something chosen from a pre-created list in the text?

    Perhaps there are mandatory elements that must be picked, but the bits in-between can be embroidered by the group? Making every roll matter in terms of the group goal is great. I'm pretty excited by how that might develop. There might also be room for mechanical, as well as fictional, consequences of the outcomes? This is something that happens in D&H/BtQ. Perhaps a character must 'risk' something in order to achieve success? Maybe the less successes required, the bigger the risk you need to take, and vice versa?

    James: If you are supporting or opposing, your position will come into play during conflicts that involve the goal. If someone who supports wins, then it's a success. If someone who opposes wins, it's a failure.

    Yes! Having the failures narrated by those supporting the goal and the successes narrated by those opposing it is spot on.

    Cheers
    Malcolm