Roll your Humanity? Designing a corruption mechanic

edited April 2012 in Story Games
So I am working on a game. It is basically (honestly) a die pool game, with a gimmick. The gimmick is that you do something entirely different with the dice for different situations. It all works and is coming along great, but I need some help with this part.

Madness / Sanity / Corruption
A mechanic that does this and makes it work in an interesting way.

What are some mechanics you have seen simulate this in interesting ways.

Comments

  • I guess as long as whatever mechanic you come up with doesnt become a straitjacket for the player, thats the main thing.

    Things to think about:

    1) under what circumstances does a player loose/gain?
    2) Is loss down to the consequences of a player decision or is there a random element in the form of dice or a situational circumstance?
    3) how does loss affect the character?
  • give people a treat when they do something bad.
  • Posted By: TylerTgive people a treat when they do something bad.
    That's what I do. I've made two games that basically hinge on that single mechanic. Have a gauge that affects effectiveness. Have other players and/or GM make offers for doing bad things. If they accept and do it, they get the points. If they refuse, they have to pay as many points. As such:

    P1: "I give you two dice if you kill them! Kill them all!"
    P2: "Oh, uh, fuck. No, I'm not gonna do that" (Pays two dice)

    or

    P1: "I give you two dice if you kill them! Kill them all!"
    P2: "Damnit, ok. I'll do it. I kill them all." (Recieves two dice)

    This sort of mechanic gives instant bangs and makes for a game where it's really hard to stay on the good side and still get somewhere.
  • Cool, so you're makin' your game, that all sounds good. Keep rollin' along, figuring it out. But! Before you do, pause! Pause your movement and go read (and if possible, play) Sorcerer, because it actually has a mechanic called Humanity, and it's all about how far your character is falling. And it works incredibly well, and you would be completely remiss if you make a game with some sort of corruption/humanity mechanic and you don't familiarize yourself with Sorcerer.
  • Posted By: Hans c-oCool, so you're makin' your game, that all sounds good. Keep rollin' along, figuring it out. But! Before you do, pause! Pause your movement and go read (and if possible, play)Sorcerer, because it actually has a mechanic calledHumanity, and it's all about how far your character is falling. And it works incredibly well, and you would be completely remiss if you make a game with some sort of corruption/humanity mechanic and you don't familiarize yourself withSorcerer.
    Oh, I know.
    That is why the thread is called "Roll your Humanity," that and Vampire.
    But, this game is purposefully heavy on the "Fiddly Bits" of games, so I am looking for more in the way of "Fiddling."
  • I have always liked the idea that corruption is a choice. If it is a choice, then there must be a reason for picking either side, corrupted or"pure".

    Also I like the idea of a tipping point. a point past which the corruption no longer gives a benefit. this leads people to want to ride that narrow margin of greatest benefit prior to falling to corruption.
  • Posted By: thadrinePosted By: Hans c-oCool, so you're makin' your game, that all sounds good. Keep rollin' along, figuring it out. But! Before you do, pause! Pause your movement and go read (and if possible, play)Sorcerer, because it actually has a mechanic calledHumanity, and it's all about how far your character is falling. And it works incredibly well, and you would be completely remiss if you make a game with some sort of corruption/humanity mechanic and you don't familiarize yourself withSorcerer.
    Oh, I know.
    That is why the thread is called "Roll your Humanity," that and Vampire.
    But, this game is purposefully heavy on the "Fiddly Bits" of games, so I am looking for more in the way of "Fiddling."

    Cool. What do you want the fiddling to do?
  • What's the game about? Is going nuts/ regaining sanity/ Become corrupted a valid goal in your game or just something that should keep players away from reaching their goals inmediatly? Depending on that, perhaps you don't need to make it more interesting than having players choose one mental illness from a list when their "will save" fails or a sanity counter reaches zero.

    On the other hand you could use a lot of tricks to represent madness/ sanity/ corruption by changing the procedures in the game. For example, start making up hallucinations when they fail a perception roll, have them use a different skill or power instead of the one they choose, introduce them to a conflict and without resolving it jump to a scene in a bar five hours later, have a couple of players wounded and picture them all laughing silly except that now they realize nobody knows who told the last joke, what are they celebrating or how the heck did they ended up there.

    You see, it also depends on what kind of madness you're trying to emulate. You can have players act it out or have the enviroment push it into the character's perception. In Don't Rest your Head madness goes as far as becoming the enviroment through a sort of metaphor of the PCs issues. I still sorta want to run it using this

    I'd go for the list but instead of just telling the player to roleplay his character with paranoia, the list would include specific symptoms and the GM would have to feed those. Like when "hearing voices" I usually give the player two different advice. Both could sound good but acting on one of them could get the character in trouble... cool thing is that I don't use it too much, but the players keep asking me "What do the voices say to me?" which always feels completely lunatic from them.
  • Posted By: gtrocAlso I like the idea of a tipping point. a point past which the corruption no longer gives a benefit. this leads people to want to ride that narrow margin of greatest benefit prior to falling to corruption.
    I dunno - a lot of 'successful' people seem pretty sociopathic to me. But that depends n what corruption is I guess - like a corrupt politician or something more supernaturally sinister.
  • I dunno - a lot of 'successful' people seem pretty sociopathic to me. But that depends n what corruption is I guess - like a corrupt politician or something more supernaturally sinister.

    While, in principle I a agree with you, in games that would be less interesting to play. A tipping point adds a more interesting mechanic as it makes people want to ride that thin line. If the corruption mechanic just gave benefits for it, or just negatives then the game is very standard. The players would try to gain or avoid corruption respectively. to give it an upside, and then to swing that around is a fun fiddly mechanic. Games do not represent real life. They only represent life in so much as it is interesting as a game. Beyond that life should be ignored.

    Also I am uncertain if "sociopathic" is the correct term. Most sociopaths are incapable of functioning in society on a high enough level to gain fame, riches, or what have you. Most "successful" people are very driven and selfish/self centered, but that is not the same thing. Sorry, broke into semantics there for a second. Your basic point still stands though.
  • edited May 2012
    Here's a fun one:

    You have a black (or grey, or whatever suits corruption in your setting/game/thing) die. You roll it with all your rolls, but it never counts. You can make it count, replacing or adding to whatever else you rolled.

    To make it count, you have to describe how you are being cruel, or inhuman, or whatever-corruption-means.

    When you do that, you gain a corruption point.

    As the points add up, they change you in (way).

    (Way) can include "your descriptions must be this extreme to benefit."
  • Posted By: gtrocWhile, in principle I a agree with you, in games that would be less interesting to play. A tipping point adds a more interesting mechanic as it makes people want to ride that thin line. If the corruption mechanic just gave benefits for it, or just negatives then the game is very standard. The players would try to gain or avoid corruption respectively. to give it an upside, and then to swing that around is a fun fiddly mechanic. Games do not represent real life. They only represent life in so much as it is interesting as a game. Beyond that life should be ignored.
    Your thinking of a certain type of game where the mechanics of diminishing returns or whatever informs the player decision, but you could have a game where being corrupt gives you advantage in direct proportion to how corrupt your prepared to be, but the point is you start off basically a good person and the question your turning over is what are you prepared to do to achieve your goals? Being a bit corrupt will help a little. Being a lot corrupt will help a lot. Sounds a bit like being a politician, doesn't it? Thw downside to being corrupt is, well, now your corrupt.
  • Thw downside to being corrupt is, well, now your corrupt.

    From a game perspective, why is that a downside. That is entirely story driven. Which works, provided everyone is on board with it. All it takes is one person to make it fall apart, though. I am a fan of mechanics and story that interact. The larger the separation between the two, the less useful the mechanics are. at this point why use a new system at all. Why not modify GURPS slightly? Their must, for me, be a reason to play a new game from a mechanical and story stand point. If corruption is a bad thing, it must be mechanically bad. If it must be a temptation, then there must be an upside to it. Going purely with Story as down side is ignoring the Game aspects of the game.
  • So first of all, have you looked at the Shadowguide/Shadow Dice mechanic from Wraith? (Probably not, it will give you brain damage.) But it is also really good. There is an actual human person at the table offering you dice and explaining and justifying why you should do something bad in a very particularly bad way. It is as close to how actual bribery and corruption works as any game has ever gotten.

    But let's back up.

    Loss of sanity, as normally expressed through a Lovecraftian lens, not really corruption, though he may have described it that way. Corruption is a logical thing that makes sense. Madness and insanity is the opposite of corruption because it focuses you internally rather than giving you leverage over your environment.

    Virtually 100 percent of people will be a little corrupt if they think they won't get caught, and if they don't get caught being a little corrupt, most will push it farther. Corruption is really the same as courage - you have to be incredibly bold and brazen in order to grab off a nice chunk for yourself.

    I would make your corruption mechanic to where the higher your willpower or courage, the more corrupt you can be, and vice versa, at least in an environment where corruption might be caught or punished. If you're easily pushed around or bullied, you will only ever be a tiny bit corrupt.
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenHere's a fun one:

    You have a black (or grey, or whatever suits corruption in your setting/game/thing) die. You roll it with all your rolls, but it never counts. You can make it count, replacing or adding to whatever else you rolled.

    To make it count, you have to describe how you are being cruel, or inhuman, or whatever-corruption-means.

    When you do that, you gain a corruption point.

    As the points add up, they change you in (way).

    (Way) can include "your descriptions must bethisextreme to benefit."

    This is a pretty good idea.

    Riffing on this: The corruption points could be added in to rolls that had to do with madness. You still roll all three dice and ignore the odd one out, but when trying to resist something to do with madness, you would have to add your corruption bonus.

    For example, let's say you're rolling 3d6 (with one die being the odd-colored one.) You want to roll low to resist madness effects. But you add in the corruption points you've built up so far to every madness roll. (Actually, on a 2d6 bell curve, +2 can be a pretty devastating change. I think it goes something like +1, +2, +6, +10 for degrees of likelihood modification. When working with a 2d6 bell curve, I usually striate the target numbers as 2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12+ or 12-14, 16-17, 18+)

    Madness situations might be things where you had to appear normal or interact with society - in fact, that's what they should be because the only yardstick for sanity is whether or not society accepts your behavior.
  • You seem like you are doing great in this, but I wanted to point at the corruption mechanics in the Burning Wheel magic book. It's over there. It's might not be as awesome as Sorcerer, but it is different. It is over there. *points*.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: gtrocThw downside to being corrupt is, well, now your corrupt.
    From a game perspective, why is that a downside. That is entirely story driven. Which works, provided everyone is on board with it. All it takes is one person to make it fall apart, though. I am a fan of mechanics and story that interact. The larger the separation between the two, the less useful the mechanics are. at this point why use a new system at all. Why not modify GURPS slightly? Their must, for me, be a reason to play a new game from a mechanical and story stand point. If corruption is a bad thing, it must be mechanically bad. If it must be a temptation, then there must be an upside to it. Going purely with Story as down side is ignoring the Game aspects of the game.

    Sure, there must be lots of ways to play corruption being bad. And that gives you a nice choice - corruption helps me achieves my goals, but it also does (something bad that my character may or may not want). Im just not convinced that it should cease being a benefit
  • I am surprised that no one has mentioned Freak Legion or better, Possessed

    The mechanic is a very simple one, you become corrupt to be more powerful, its always a choice though... that you don't feel like you have any other choice is the whole point. The corruption takes the form of being monstrous and lacking true autonomy. Now they could have made this system better with Keys to encourage doing specific things that fit the corruption. Also if there is a Willpower trait, that can represent a finite resource to resist the urges the push you to be more corrupt.

    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: JDCorley</cite>So first of all, have you looked at the Shadowguide/Shadow Dice mechanic from Wraith?</blockquote>

    Totally agree that this is a fun way to handle it. I never got to play Wraith back in the day... I hope to correct that if only for the experience...
  • Posted By: gtroc
    From a game perspective, why is that a downside. That is entirely story driven.
    Well, it's a matter of play style, isn't it? If you play the game to "win", it's a pretty crap mechanic. But if you really care about the fiction, then in-fiction consequences will make you hesitate. If you really don't want to kill that dude, then having a game that gives you a mechanical bonus if you kill him is going to make it a Tough Choice (TM).
  • This whole mechanic thing kind of reminds of In Nomine (speaking of back in the day.)

    So why not take a page from that?
    Corruption could make you stand out in public more, making it more likely that normal people would react negatively and things that prey on corruption would pick you out of a crowd. Mechanically-speaking, you add in your points to rolls that needed to be low to avoid detection (or avoid starting riots.)

    Then you'd need some riot effects. Usually those are about fun stuff like property damage, legal ramifications and personal injury.
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