Challenge: Make a dream based game.
We played the game with Tommy! And it worked! And it was fun! There are a whole host of things that we have to refine, but overall it was a great success! The shift rolling turned out to be the real stand out. It just creates so many weird, interesting, unexpected moments. We all really enjoyed it. I'll have more on this tomorrow. Today I want to talk about the antagonist trait system.
We needed to come up with some traits to describe our antagonist. But what kind of traits could we use that are broad enough to be open to interpretation but specific enough so that the players can just read them and recognize what they mean? Is there something familiar that we can hang our hat on and say, hey, you know what this means, make someone who fits it? What kinds of broad categories of traits could we use to make the 2 categories distinct? Let's see what happens when we try and tie these things back around to the systems that we have already established.
We ended up mirroring our Intention/Action distinction in the antagonist through their Methods and Motivations. Methods are broad categories of actions that help to define how the antagonist prefers to make their changes. Do they manipulate the emotions of people around them to achieve their goals or do they make themselves into a superhero? Motivations are the things that they are expressing through their changes in the world. Do they want to express their anger at an oppressor or their pride in their skills as an artist? Together, they help the players to define the antagonist as a character, to decide what the antagonist's shifts will be like, and how their shifts have effected the world that you are all in.
Why would someone want to spend all of their time in a dream? What kind of person shuns reality for a world that they have absolute control over? The antagonist is a person with a problem. They escape to their dreams to try and solve the problems that they can't manage in their own lives. These are big problems that express themselves in pretty negative ways.
We based the Motivations on the 7 deadly sins. Doing this makes it so that people can recognize them immediately, and also understand a good bit about them without too much explanation on our part. Greed is the want for something to the exclusion of all other things. Sloth is the want to do nothing, or to have others do things for you. Apathy is indifference to the world and everything in it. Wrath is anger, pure and simple. Envy is the desire to take things from other people; if someone has something you don't, you want them not to have it anymore. Pride is an inflated sense of one's self or one's abilities. All of these are supposed to give the players something to base the antagonist's big whys on. They are super angry, but why are they angry? The players decide that.
The Methods are supposed to be big and broad and we split them into 3 pairs that have a personally focused and broad component. Physical methods change the physical environment in a personally effective way. Material methods have to do with manipulating the value that people place on physical objects. Emotional methods effect the way people feel about things. Spiritual methods manipulate beliefs and devotion. Intellectual methods effect the way people think about things. Social methods change the way people interact with one another on large scales. You can probably see a lot of overlap between these categories. They should be seen as guidelines and primary methods rather than exclusive methods of actions.
At the beginning of the game the players roll a d6 twice, once determining the antaognist's motivation and once for their method. Then every player makes up one fact about the antagonist. These facts cannot disagree. Then every player comes up with a win condition based on the antagonist's traits and facts. The players then come up with at least 1 ascpect of the dream that they will play the game in that makes it significantly different from this reality. It should be related to the antagonist and the way that they would shape that dream.
It still needs a little refinement, but this is the basic shape of the antagonist building process. The antagonist will change and grow as you play your game and much of what you remember about them after you play will come from the playing, not form the setup. This process is just supposed to give you a skeleton on which you can hang a real character.
Tomorrow we will be refining some of the rougher elements of the game that we identified through playing it tonight. Then on Sunday we will be putting all of this stuff into a more consumable package. Awesome. This has been super fun so far and I can't wait to see how it turns out in the end.