[In the Lab] Rulers - Mechanics


Because I'm not entirely settled on one situation just yet, I haven't given much serious thought to mechanics or systems. I don't like designing a system without first knowing what mechaphor that system is supposed to emulate or evoke.

Verbs
First, there are some loose things to consider, like what characters will do in an average session. In this early step of the design process, I look at these as simple verbs like Explore, Acquire, or Fight. I can refine those verbs and create specialized roles by adding adverbs like Quietly, Strongly, or Quickly. I can also do this by adding nouns like Monarchs, Armies, or Rulers. So here was some initial brainstorming from people on story-games.

» "A stat for Rule-making, a stat for Rule-breaking, and a stat for avoiding Rules."

» "What about something vaguely Polaris-esque, where there's regular narration and then Special narration?
Maybe key phrases that only Rulers can use?
Maybe more powerful Rulers (if there are such a thing) can use more of these key phrases?
If certain people, using certain words, are able to tap into truly epic powers, it seems fitting to have a somewhat solemn "ritual phrasing" mechanic going on."

A Polaris discussion tree would probably be interesting as a sub-system for some kind of negotiation duel, though. I was also thinking about how specificity makes it easier to predict and control the effects of rules, but that usually requires lots of words. So perhaps the length of a rule might also be a measure of its power, within a certain structure, but also leaves open plenty of loopholes.

Obedience, Success, and Failure
Gregor Vuga had a whole lot of ideas from working on a game of his own. Mostly these involved interactions between different levels of Authority. Higher Authority meant it was easier to win conflicts when someone tries to disobey your rule (or when you try to disobey someone else's rule).

However, obeying rules is the far more beneficial route to take, since it wins favor with whoever imposed that rule. It's partly just being polite, partly a ploy for power, partly a system to create good citizens. That allows you still more opportunities to climb the ladder and increase your authority.

At first, I was thinking that task resolution would be a generic system and there would be a mini-game for ruling. However, ruling is too big an elephant to relegate to the sidelines like that. So, there is not task resolution per se. Instead of a spectrum of success or failure, there is a spectrum of obedience.

If you "fail" at a task, it's only because you stumbled into a rule that forbids you from doing that thing. Now you know a little bit about that rule. As a player, you can then start exploring the boundaries of that rule until it is completely known.

» Rulers - Introduction and Situations
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.