Games Design - [Covenant] Revolver - a variation

Posted by: Malcolm Craig On: Feb 18th 2010 edited

In raking out the old notebook that contained musing on a|state, I also found a couple of pages of notes on a variation to the Covenant game engine. Re-reading those notes, it seems that there is the core of something there. What follows is essentially a transcription of thise notes.

The game is about forcing change, through revolution, action, or whatever. The characters are all part of a cell attempting to take action of some kind. According to the notes, this all takes place in a kind of 'steampunk'* 1880s Glasgow. There are some notes about characters, such as:

How are they alienated from people, production, etc?
How determined are they to enact change?
What are their goals and motivations?
How do they react under stress?
How do they relate to the world?
Who do they relate to?

Replacing the Covenant crucible in the centre of the character sheet, we would have the four forms of alienation as described by Marx - people, places and institutions should be placed on or between these forms of alienation: alienation from humanity; alienation among workers; alienation from product; alienation from the means of production (as a sidenote, I'm not sure if this would work particularly well, but I'll persist for now). There are some further notes on the alienation idea, which I'll quote verbatim:

"Resist/succumb to alienation, like resolving truisms?
Have things/people/groups associated with each kind of alienation?
When resolved/alienated, gain edges that relate to the form?
Also, if succumbed, that 'thing' is removed from characters life?
Crucible is represented by a cog?"

Truisms from Covenant would become goals/aims in Revolver, edges would remain the same. The cell should have beliefs, goals, and methods. The characters would be attempting to resolve their goals/aims and the goals/aims of their cell.

Anyway, these are all vague, barely comprehensible musings at the moment and I thought I would simply note them here as something of an aide memoire. If anyone would like to comment or suggest things, then please do feel free.

Edit: I am put in mind here of the way Umlaut began life as a variant on Contenders. I can see this evolving from the Covenant model in a similar way. Perhaps.

Additionally, there was a 2 page RPG created a few years ago called Satanic Mills that might be of relevance to this discussion. You can check it out here.


*Not really. Alternative history Victorian is probably a better term.

Posted by: Malcolm Craig On: Feb 19th 2010 edited

And another thought struck me regarding the Arenas in Covenant. For a variation with such a strong emphasis on political change, it might be wise to tweak the Arenas. So instead of physical, social, and other, you could have physical, social, and political. Where the political arena is a very distinct thing, set apart from other social conflicts or discources.


Edited for the spellings.

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Feb 19th 2010

I like the idea of using political as an arena - it's a small change, but it really changes the dynamic.

Posted by: Malcolm Craig On: Feb 27th 2010

Andrew Kenrick:I like the idea of using political as an arena - it's a small change, but it really changes the dynamic.

I certainly think it would, yes. In Covenant, I've never really seen 'other' actually get used, conflicts have always either been physical or social. Changing other to political would make for some interesting situations. A protagonist having an argument with her husband about domestic affairs might be social, and that would give it a certain feel. Arguing about domestic affairs, but making it political becaue the protagonist has been spending a lot of time engaging in revolutionary activity, that would give it a different feel again.

The political arena would also be ideal for, for example, speaking at rallies, haranguing a pub full of shipyard workers, or conspiring against rivals within the party.


Posted by: Matt On: Feb 27th 2010

Interestingly, other was very nearly political at one point in the design thinking. I ended up keeping it as other to cover other things like mind games, chases, corporate brinksmanship and so on.

I like the idea of the three crucible areas being the kinds of alienation. Have you seen the article I wrote on using the crucible in other games? Might help.

You might need to consider which area the various orders, beliefs/truisms and agendas feed into those areas, as they may need adjustment. Beliefs to goals would be quite a shift, for example, would be a different dynamic. Less about act on orders/agenda, hit conflict, reflect if this changes belief.

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