Saturday, October 17, 2015

More thoughts about solo superhero RP

Well, actually the rest of yesterday's thoughts.

What I was thinking was that alone, you'd have something to emulate story structure above the whole scene/conflict thing. MHR does this a bit with the Doom Pool. I was thinking of a more generalized version that could be grafted onto anything.

Again, this is me thinking out loud. I haven't tested any of this, and I've optimized my thoughts towards superhero games.

An adventure is broken into four parts. Larry Brooks calls them Setup, Response, Attack, and Resolution, but we’re going to go with Steve Kenson’s terms, because they’re specific to superheroes: Threat, Investigation, Challenge, and Comeback.

Each stage garners you story points of some kind, and you need a certain number of points to get to the next stage. The number of points you need starts at the point level of the opposition. So part zero is that you have to figure out who or what the opposition is worth. (You don’t have to figure out what the opposition is, but what it’s worth.)

Another decision we make at the beginning is to pick one of your complications or qualities or challenges, and say that the villain’s plot (whatever it is) is going to deal with that. It will mirror it, exacerbate it, result from it, or whatever. So a secret ID might mean that you have a secret identity plot. If you don’t have formal qualities or disadvantages, then look at the description of your character for something that causes the character trouble. You also have to figure out what the value of the adventure/problem is. (I have not yet figured out how to decide on the value; this is spitballing.)

At the end of each stage, you fulfill the ending condition and spend the story points, so you start the first three stages with no points. You do get to keep excess points in the transition between third and fourth stages because the excess points become tokens that help you win at the end.

Stage Threat Investigation Challenge Comeback
Get points for
  • Lose to villain
  • Introduce a character or plot device
  • Introduce the problem
  • Create stakes
  • Find a reason not to change your problem area
  • Reuse a setting
  • Reuse a character or plot device
  • Learn about villain
  • Scuttled by problem
  • Find a reason not to change your problem area
  • Create or raise stakes
  • Reuse a setting or character
  • Attack villain
  • Introduce a complication
  • Deal with problem and fail
  • Deal with the consequence of a complication you introduced
  • Reuse the plot device
  • Reuse a character
  • Resolve a complication
  • Use information learned about villain
Lose points for
  •  Nothing. Usually this sequence is quite short in comic book adventures, so everything gets you points and nothing loses them.
  • Win a fight with the villain
  • Deciding to attack villain directly
  • Ignore problem
  • Lower stakes 
  • Undo effects of an earlier complication
  • Win a fight with the villain
  • Lower the stakes you've established
  • No idea at this point. What sort of thing do you want to discourage, or that should end in failure?
To end: Enough points and…
  • Hero decides to act
  • Hero decides to get something that will solve the problem, or to set in motion the plan to attack villain
  • Hero fails because of problem
  • Hero deals with both problem and villain.
Other rules
  • If you go against the villain, and he loses, that’s part of his plan.
  • Maybe a lower point here?
  • If you go against the villain, and he loses, that’s part of his plan.
  • Again, if the villain loses, he has a contingency plan, either something that works better if he's in jail or a revenge-from-beyond-the-grave thing
  • Can’t introduce new significant characters, powers, etc.
  • Extra story or plot points can be used for special effects, like Determination in ICONS (though I don't know how well that will work—will it unbalance games that already have a determination point mechanism, or does it replace that mechanism?
Note that you can introduce characters settings in any of the first three stages; you just don’t get points for it.

Next I'll try a thought adventure.