[minis+] Developing Play Goals other than a Victory Dance ending?

edited May 2012 in Story Games
Sorry for the weirdly ambiguous title for the thread folks.

I've been posting thes minis+ threaads because, well, I like minis, but I also like the openness of different kinds of RPGs/SGs.

One of the things I like in SGs/RPGs (of certain kinds), is that the fun of play doesn't come down to personal victory in-fiction. I have board games and card games and computer games and sports for that kind of fun.

Instead, I'm big on the Wallowing in the Source Material part of play. That can mean tweaking that material. It can mean combining with unexpected elements ( maybe from other source material) or taking a serious/humorous look at something in contrast to the original approach that is considered to be the opposite. Really it can mean all sorts of mixing and mangling of a much-loved source material, including source material you've created yourselves.

Given all that, the classic Legacy-think of minis rules pointing to tactical victory of the little toy menz really isn't in line with the kind of fun I'm getting from those kinds of SGs/RPGs that I'm talking about.

I've been scribbling a bunch on my own about how I'd approach minis play a bit differently. None of it is really ready to throw out there yet for folks to look at. It's all about Wallowing Fun.

In the meantime though, I have thought about a Wallowing Fun approch to event endings. By "event" I mean a one-day affair, with gobs of minis play.

My idea hinges on comparing the event to a movie production. The participants are both creators and audience ( we've talked about that concept around these parts in a number of threads), and that too kinda plays into the wallowing fun.

After the fiction creation/play part of the event is over, rather than wrapping things up with a counting of victory points ( or equivalent), we end the thing with questions related to how the "film" was received by audiences upon release.

There are a series of rough questions I've come up with. I've tried to gear them to things that will encourage players to give feedback and warm fuzzies to one another without being entirely, and perhaps uncomfortably, direct and judgmental. Some of them are geared towards helping the person putting on the event to indirectly elicit feedback that will help them put on a future event.

They're also there to reinforce the concept that the point of this sort of play is plain different from the more commonly known minis tactical excercise.

The concept is for the questions to be on cards, with players choosing ones to pick up and answer. Maybe they're dealt randomly, maybe players get to choose one or two from a dealt hand. Maybe they're all placed face up and players choose them one at a time in a circle. I don't even know quite yet myself.

In any case, the next post has the ones I've come up with.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated for more ideas for question cards.

Beyond that, I'd like folks who think this Minis Using, Source Material Wallowing type play sounds like good fun to jump in with their own ideas on how to achieve that and reinforce the concept by way of procedures and mechanics that go maybe a bit outside of the classic minis wargaming rules legacy.

Comments

  • The after-event Questions:


    This movie was made in country A with expected audience demographic B. After release, it turned out to be a cult phenomenon in country Z with demographic X. What was the second country where it really hit, and what was the demographic there? What was the strangest side effect associated with those unexpected fans?

    Something in this film went ended up going in an unexpected direction. What was it, and how did audiences react? Did they love it or hate it? How did the critics feel? Who among the creative team was most responsible for that change in direction?

    The trailers for this film promised a certain kind of experience. What scene totally delivered on that promise?

    Years after initial release, this film ends up being re-made or re-imagined. What famous film industry types are involved with the project? What gets changed? How do fans and critics of the original react?

    One character in particular really stands out in the minds of audiences. Which character? Which players most contributed to that character’s portrayal, development, or character arc and in what ways?

    The film ends up inspiring a TV series. What changes are made to translate it to a TV series? What actors play the main, recurring characters on the TV show? How long does the show end up running? What is the final episode of the show like?

    One of the actors in the film is already a well-known star. Who is the actor, and what role did they play? What happens to their career after appearing in this film?

    One of the actors in the film is involved with a real-life scandal that parallels something that happened in the film. Who is the actor, what role did they play, what was the scandal and what did it parallel in the film?

    One minor character ends up becoming a real scene-stealer. Which character was it and what actor played the part? What side feature is produced focusing on that character?

    The film, or an actor in the film, receives an unexpected recognition award. Who is the actor or what part of the film is it that earns the award. Is the award a good or bad one?

    Not every scene in the film made the final cut. What scene was left out of the release and ended up as a DVD extra?

    The film is successful enough that talks are begun about a sequel. What is the name of the proposed sequel? What is the elevator pitch for the sequel?

    The film was made on a limited budget for sets, costumes, and special effects. What was the best example of working successfully with limited resources? What would have been improved by having a bigger budget?

    One particular character sparked the imagination of audiences. Who was that character? What further adventures of that character do audiences demand?

    Audiences loved one particular character, but that character comes to a bad end in the film. Which character is it? How does the studio plan to bring that character back for another feature?

    The original film ended with all of the loose ends tied up, but the studio wants to do another film. They decide to do a prequel instead of a sequel. What hat characters are involved with the prequel? What new characters are introduced? What is the elevator pitch for the prequel?

    After the film is released, one of the actors involved becomes typecast. Which actor is it? What is their further career like? What other roles do they take up that are similar, and how are they similar?

    Every successful film has some memorable lines of dialogue. What is the most remembered line from this film? What is the most misremembered or most misquoted line?

    Upon release, some aspect of the film offends a certain group of movie-goers and they start to protest showings of the film. Who is the offended group and why are they offended? What result does this have on the film?




  • edited May 2012
    One thing I am doing for Task Force Roach is to embed (heh) the jargon. So you don't call in artillery, you call a fire mission for Gator Six, danger close, fire for effect. You have Assassin-6 Actual talking to Thistle 8559, optics on target, to deliver a JDAM. This actually works, at least a little - in our last game the coalition players were all "Do we call in Gator Six? Is it time for Gator Six?" instead of "let's use artillery on this position". All the mission objectives have dumb code names like BRILLIANT BULLDOG and COOPERATIVE SPIRIT.

    All this stuff is on cards that are used in play, and players can either use the jargon or not. So far they've used it.

    I don't have the same level of war-nerd jargon for the insurgent players yet.
  • I'm cruel. I'd have the insurgents name everything as references to when the countries the coalition troops are from were finding themselves fighting for their own self-preservation and self-determination.
  • This is an interesting subject. Indie miniatures games...

    RPGs and miniatures share a common origin but RPGs went on to make some people lots of money. Miniatures games not so much. RPGs had D+D as the big boy (and still do) miniatures have never had a single dominant rules set but it has been since the 1970's that a hobbyist rules set was widely played (Column Line and Square - Fred Vietmeyer in Fort Wayne Indiana). Since then there have been lots of commercial games that rise and fall for various wargame periods (WRG Ancients, DBA, Empire (for Napoleonics), Johnnie Reb (for American Civil War) The Sword and The Flame (for 19th Century British Colonial games), Command Decision (for WWII) Warhammer and 40K (for fantasy and space), Heavy Gear (for sci fi), more recently Flames of War (for WWII) and the list goes on and on...

    The thing is that the wargame community (and there is a very healthy miniatures game community with their own roster of major comventions - Historicon, Little Wars, Cold Wars) and smaller cons as well - largely organized by HMGS (Historical Miniatures Gamer Socieity) have not really paid attention to the indie RPG scene and for the most part aren't interested in story in games. They like rolling dice and blowing things up, they like pretty terrain and figures, and they are REALLY into history (and sometimes "realism" and simulation).

    I say all this as a person who lives in both worlds. I started off as a miniatures player in the 70's. I've been to a lot of miniatures conventions over the years and know a good number of designers (John Hill - Johnnie Reb, Frank Chadwick - Command Decision, and Howard Whitehouse - Astounding Tales and Science versus Pluck). They are all pretty indie when you get down to it but they are limited by the audience they sell to. Wargamers - not story gamers. I've seen really cool story games run at cons for decades. Wargamers will play them there but not at home. Story games get ghettoized to something you do at cons on a lark. It's maddening! I eventually gave up on wargamers as a market. I'll play the games and enjoy the figures but I don't write those games anymore.

    You asked if there were indie miniatures games. I think I'm pretty indie (in a designer owned and run sort of Ron Edwards kind of way). What are Matrix games but an indie story game? In the mid 90's I put out my best selling game Ritter - a diceless miniatures game that allow players to play skirmishes in 5 minutes and major battles in 15 miniatures. I made the game to allow me to run story games on a 4x6 foot sculpted terrain board of Scotland using 6mm figures. The story part was run by a Matrix game and the battles were fought out with Ritter. I ran it at Gen Con in 1995 and the next year a 25mm game Mary Queen of Scots on the same board in 96. I had players and it was great fun but in the end ignored. There is a 3x4 foot sculpted map of London on my office wall that I trotted out several years to run some wargames (The War of the Worlds) and Sherlock Holmes games. Heck in 1998 I ran a kick ass game about the British Comedy show Absolutely Fabulous. By then though I'd given up on wargamers and started calling them RPGs. Many other miniatures games followed and got players but seemed to go no further, which is what lead me to give up on miniatures at cons. I remember when it happened. I took a large sculpted table out to Winter Wars in Champaign Illinois around 2000 (Great 25 mm figures) and got no players. I still remember the feeling of the snap.

    I guess what I'm getting at is to say ignore the existing miniatures hobby! They are as set in their ways as exclusive D+D players are. Instead build a new hobby group. A totally new audience, maybe amoungst story games, but a new younger audience. And know that the miniatures game hobby makes even less money than the RPG hobby. It is totally driven by enthusiasts but it is unforgiving.

    Sorry for my emotional reaction. Lots of history here. Lots of being ignored or being seen as running the "weird" games.

    Chris Engle
  • This sounds like you're doing the thing which originally generated roleplaying games, moving from the tactical event to embedding it back into a meaningful narrative. When we played Traveller we had two sets of characters, our main characters who would do all the story stuff and then the grunt characters who would do the larger tactical encounters.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: MatrixGamerI guess what I'm getting at is to say ignore the existing miniatures hobby! They are as set in their ways as exclusive D+D players are. Instead build a new hobby group. A totally new audience, maybe amoungst story games, but a new younger audience. And know that the miniatures game hobby makes even less money than the RPG hobby. It is totally driven by enthusiasts but it is unforgiving.
    Heh. I think you might have meant to post that in the thread Rafael started, but, what the heck, we're here so let's go with it!

    That quoted bit is kinda interesting to me. When I'm sitting down and trying to write out ideas for another approach to minis using games, I tend to think of an older audience.

    Not super old, and not without young'uns being involved, mind you. Just kinda past the "we can game all day, every day" fields of High School and College. Folks maybe in their late 20s to, well no real upper end I guess.

    So really, people like me. You have some disposable income to spend on hobbies, any young'uns at home are beyond the age of total attention being necessary, but getting together with friends to game is maybe not as easy. More of the kind of thing where attending a convention or setting aside a special one-day event once every few weeks or months is way more doable with work and life schedule. Also, frankly, for people who are more into sharing imaginative fun with friends and family who aren't Capital G gamers, than with Capital G gamers that are strangers.

    I also assume that same audience are folks with some time to fit in the Lonely Fun aspects/hobby aspects of playing with minis more easily than doing a group event. Like, when you can spare 45 minutes every few days for arts'n'crafts type stuff more easily than getting everybody together for a bash.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: komradebobOne of the things I like in SGs/RPGs (of certain kinds), is that the fun of play doesn't come down to personal victory in-fiction.
    Absolutely! I feel the same way about my minis gaming.

    I was running this tabletop RPG in a fantasy setting, and the action revolved around the Kingdom of Miravell. Various factions were vying for control of the area, and an army of the undead, led by this Necromancer, was advancing on the city.

    So we resolved the action in a minis game, with four different teams (the undead, the city guard, the Drow Legion, and the Dragon Elves). And there were multiple objectives: take the city and hold it, or gather the Orbs of Power, or kill as many of an enemy faction as possible, or protect your Champion.

    At the end, each of the four players had achieved at least one objective (because there were so many to choose from). So everybody won, in a sense. One player took the city, but his Champion was slain. Another player gathered up most of the Orbs, but most of his army was wiped out.

    In terms of game fiction, this had an impact on the narrative. The next time we played, each of these resolutions changed the setting, including which NPCs were still alive, which factions were still active, who was in control of the city, and who possessed the godlike power of the Orbs.

    Sure, a zero-sum game can be fun, but something like this (where you don't really have winners and losers) really gets me revved up, because no matter how it ends, there's a series of repercussions on the ongoing RPG campaign. And everyone walks away a winner of some kind -- no matter what you focused on, you wound up having some kind of impact on the game world. And if you lost, that's fine too -- it means that the Drow Legion has been destroyed! Or that the city has fallen, and must now be retaken! So it's a positive.
  • Rafael, I wonder if TFR needs objectives for the insurgents as well. What would they be? Or if coalition objectives are personal rather than shared between fireteams? So you'd have to talk Bravo into helping you clear buildings, looking for the bomb factory.
  • The insurgents could be tasked with luring coalition forces into a specific ambush location, or with moving a prisoner (a captured journalist, or a downed pilot that they've caught) from point A to point B. Or, if you have officers in play, on the coalition side, then maybe the insurgents need to find and kill the LT.

    There could be something structured around civilians -- convincing them to become insurgents. We talked about how maybe each civilian death has a chance of turning nearby civilians into insurgents; maybe the same thing happens if the civilians are present when insurgents win a dramatic victory against coalition troops. Say, one insurgent takes out two soldiers, which is pretty hard to do, since the dice favor the soldiers. In a situation like that, you've got an X% chance of converting any civilian within line-of-sight. Then, at the end of the game, you see how many civilians were 'converted'. Something like that?
  • Great ideas, thanks! I love move-a-hostage, that is extremely hairball. We should run with that at Nerdly as well as hammer out the civilian radicalization rules. Because it isn't tough enough for the coalition player, right?
  • I dig it.

    Betcha that if you give the insurgents objectives, that'll even things up a bit, because they'll be dedicating resources to whatever it is that they're supposed to do. That'll make it easier for coalition troops to get farther into enemy territory -- where all the fun is.
  • edited May 2012
    Bob, these minis+ threads are seriously cool. Thanks for starting them!
    One minor character ends up becoming a real scene-stealer. Which character was it and what actor played the part? What side feature is produced focusing on that character?
    More succinctly, "who is the 'Wedge' or 'Guy Fleegman' of this encounter?"

    I really love this question. During an early D&D4E encounter, I had a kobold minion go on a tear. He zeroed a sniping ranger by kicking him out of a tree, then stylishly spent a standard to roll on the Kobold Victory Table and then danced through a succession of poor attack rolls to the edge of the battle mat, where someone finally got him.

    If he'd made it, he would've become a named frenemy of the party.
  • Posted By: komradebobBeyond that, I'd like folks who think this Minis Using, Source Material Wallowing type play sounds like good fun to jump in with their own ideas on how to achieve that and reinforce the concept by way of procedures and mechanics that go maybe a bit outside of the classic minis wargaming rules legacy.
    One thing I sometimes do is coach the players (sorta) by defining their armies' tendencies. These guys are fearless berserkers, that faction is tactical and cautious, these guys are bleeding-heart do-gooders who prioritize stuff like rescuing hostages, and so on. It really affects the way that the armies are played, because the players find themselves talking about their units in those terms.

    In the aforementioned Miravell example, the city guard were totally committed to defending the city, and ignored all other objectives. That was what the player figured they'd want to do.
  • I really think that there are a lot of people looking for narrative and context in (historical?) miniatures play but a very cheap source of that is to read the history! Thus every time you put the figures on the table there is an instant association with all those books you've been reading. The stuff just flows through your head as you play and discuss uniforms (or historical incidents) with the other player(s).

    There is also a thirst for campaigns, scenarios, competitions + ratings/rankings/leagues (again another source of wider context to play, even if not "story"-oriented). However once again the 1 v 1 tabletop encounter tends to dominate actual play, 'cos it is easy!

    IMO the deepest link to narrative as understood around here is probably with the Solo wargames community as those guys focus a lot on plot, eg http://lonewarriorswa.com/.

    I actually think that a lot of the issues come down to logistics - play set size, setup time for scenes, etc - as well as the undercurrent to this discussion that story techniques are needed. Scene framing, story arc advancement, etc are much harder to manage when you are using physical components than simply your imagination. None of this presupposes that there are no further contributions to be made, I think that there are many.

    rgds
    rob
  • Ohhh, I forgot to say that even in the mainstream (GW) tournament circuit victory dances are only part of the play goals - cool painting, great sportsmanship and interesting/sub-optimal army choices are also awarded. IMO it is a simplification too far to see the goals as limited to "step on up" - and that is in a _tournament_! Casual play goals may be even less focussed on winning.
  • Posted By: robbI actually think that a lot of the issues come down to logistics - play set size, setup time for scenes, etc - as well as the undercurrent to this discussion that story techniques are needed. Scene framing, story arc advancement, etc are much harder to manage when you are using physical components than simply your imagination. None of this presupposes that there are no further contributions to be made, I think that there are many.

    rgds
    rob
    I wish i didn't have to state this, but I probably should: In the stuff i'm trying to explore, i don'tt have an interest in creating some sort of frankensteinian offshoot minis hobby that will, Mwahahahahaha!, crush out minis wargaming.

    I want other stuff to also do with minis. Fun stuff. Stuff that still centers around action, and adventure, and history as inspirational source.

    I do hope there's stuff to be explored. I think there is certainly.

    What i do suspect though is that the god stuff from SGs/RPGs that i like won't necessarily be well served by taking the square peg of classic minis wargame mechanical design, and trying to pound it into the round hole of dirty hippy stry gaming. I think it might work better the other way around in terms of core concepts, mechanically.
  • We've had some success using Vincent Baker's Otherkind the run our miniature/dirty hippy battles. This makes it pretty easy to work on other goals into the game.
  • Posted By: akooserWe've had some success using Vincent Baker's Otherkind the run our miniature/dirty hippy battles. This makes it pretty easy to work on other goals into the game.
    That sounds pretty cool. Can ya tell me more about it?
  • Seconded! :-)
  • Posted By: robbOhhh, I forgot to say that even in the mainstream (GW) tournament circuit victory dances are only part of the play goals - cool painting, great sportsmanship and interesting/sub-optimal army choices are also awarded. IMO it is a simplification too far to see the goals as limited to "step on up" - and that is in a _tournament_! Casual play goals may be even less focussed on winning.
    A lot of other big wargames do this, too. Though the "sub-optimal army choice" thing is unique to 40k, and IMO it's because the design of the game is broken.
  • edited May 2012
    We may be getting a wee bit off track with part of this discussion actually. I'm not saying robb's comments about some of the other things that GW does in fact promote are totally off subject ( because i admire the scoring they do also), but I was hoping for a a discussion of stuff a bit more like Rafael's comments about Player mindset in the Miravell Game or Johnzo's comments about the legendary kobold mini.

    Those strike me as being kinda closer to things I wwas trying to tease out of this thread.

    In what ways could we take either of those things, and dirty-hippy them up in some fashion?

    For example, could we in a situation like the Miravell game get dirty hippy and collectively decide on some of those in-fiction traits before the game proper begins, and even before someone takes up the role of championing that team? And is there a way to recognize a player for really playing those qualities to the hilt, even if it means an in-fiction loss, but a player level win ( most wallowy in source material player?).

    And what about the kobold? That's kind of a neat story. Sounds like the kind of thing players remember and laugh about when they get together for ages afterwards. What could we do method-wise with something like that?

    I'm especially pleased that Johnzo liked that question, because that was one I designed specifically for eliciting feedback useeful to a person putting on a game. Really, the idea behind that one is to hopefully give feedback that inspires a future game set up, re-using some of the same collection (possibly in a much different kind of scenario start).

    Tangent request:
    For you folks following along with these threads, eventually I want to start one talking about table layouts and use my own couple of themed collections as examples. I want to use pictures, so it's easier to see what kinds of things I'm talking about, but I have zero skills in doing things like putting text or arrows or circles on said pics. Anybody willing and able to help with that sort of thing in the next couple of weeks?
  • edited May 2012
    Hi

    has anyone tried AW-style moves to model the strategic narrative for minis and then tactical rules for play?

    What I mean is to have a bunch of campaign moves like "launch a big-ass invasion" and then to let the
    moves snowball when those "yes, but" or failure situations occur. Rather than having a GM make a move
    on failure I'd suggest shifting the spotlight to the enemy who was targeted by the original move so then
    they could try an opposing move and so on, until the strategic situation is resolved and the resulting
    tactical battle commences.

    It strikes me that this could be a cool way of modelling the historical narrative (the non-fiction!) without lots
    of bean-counting logistics. Then individual commanders could have personal moves to give them flavour
    and in-game resources like cities, navies, whatever could also supply moves.

    Hmmm, I'm running a Successors era 1-day campaign in August, this could be the mechanism I use...

    rgds
    rob
  • robb
    That's a pretty cool idea. I think matrixgamer started off developing his matrix games for similar reasons (wanting players to have some controol and input on stuff above the battlefield level, but without bean counting).
  • Hi Robb, I did just this last weekend when I went camping! I acted as an invested GM / referee as my players of high level DW characters had a kingdom shattering end to our long-term campaign. We played it out on a little rock and detritus strewn beach, complete with sandcastles for the towns and fortifications, seaweed for forests, scree for mountains, pebbles for withered wasteland and Schleich Minis for the armies and figures of note.

    We used a modidfied version of the AW gang conflict level moves for most armed conflict, Steading values subsituting Holding values and simply interpreted the DW moves and bonds with NPCs, locations and significant items to move the story along at the protagonist level. I encouraged the players to introduce complications they thought were cool on a 7-9, but I liked to leave the missed rolls as my domain as a sneaky GM :)

    It worked wonderfully! We even had a bit of a crowd of interested folks as the final battle cuminated, complete with battle mages, dragons, minotaurs, a failed assassination attempt and fully fledged mercenary companies. This style of mass conflict with minis gets a thunderous round of applause from me and my camping mates.
  • Man I wish i knew more aabout the rules you were modifying for that Noofy, because it sounds vefry cool.

    Assuming i don't feel like buying AW just to follow the thread, can you give me a basic overview?
  • Sure! AW is a protagonist focused story game that uses fictional triggers to instigate moves. Moves always follow a similar structure. The most basic parts of a move are the trigger ("when…") and the effect ("then…").Moves often involve a roll of 2d6 plus a Stat bonus from -3 to +3 with a result of 10+ being a successful intent, a 7-9 being intent with complications, and a 6 or less being the GM gets to make their own Move in return.

    The narrative specifics are encapsulated by a wonderful synergy between the move's authorial options and the 'fiction first' mentality of the flow-on effect of the move paradigm or 'moves snowball'. The action tends to escalate to narrative climax all rather organically and without overbearing mechanical crunchiness.

    Normally this is all at the tension driven scale of PvP and NPC interaction, rather than tactical planning. The AW ruleset gives the opportunity however for gang on gang conflict (of various sizes) using their own 'stat' bonuses and moves. We used this schema to narratively translate the skirmish level warfare, whilst simultaneously resolving broader ramifications such as poisonings and diplomacy. There is a Dungeon World Move called Parley, that wonderfully encourages highly structured, Diplomacy-esque wrangling and back-stabbery.

    All this system procedure MUST be instigated by the fiction. There is no cooping out of narratively describing what you are doing. This is essential to 'trigger' a move (at any level) and caused no end of public intrest as the players expounded their intents to the backdrop of the pounding surf, and I complicated their failures in suitably dramatic story telling in return.
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