A story-telling RPG with a real goal?

edited October 2012 in Story Games
Hi guys!

So the thing is, I just found out about these story telling games and I really like the freedom you have in games like Universalis or Muse. It's awesome what you can create. There is just one problem...
It's hard to get someone to play something like that with me, if there is no real goal. No way to loose or win the game, either alone or as a group. No struggle. It's more like sitting together and writing a book together. It's not really what I would call a game. I don't think my friends would care to bid to frame a scene if it doesn't do anything for them. You know what I mean?


So my question is, is there a story telling game (like Universalis) that has an actual goal the players have to achieve?
Maybe someone has made up his own house rules to give the players of Universalis a reason to do stuff?


I would highly appreciate any answers. I love the concept of story games, but it's kinda like Minecraft which was a huge disappointment for me. It's cool, that you can do whatever you want, but it's pointless and gets boring if you don't have any challenges or goals.


Greetings,
Matthias.

Comments

  • Matthias,

    I can't speak for Universalis, because I've never played it, but I'll say two things:

    1. This whole community is based on a tradition of games which have no "goal" other than to enjoying playing and create memorable experiences, challenge each other, etc.

    However, while there isn't an easily definable "goal" for the activity as a whole, at any given point in play there will be specific goals to accomplish (unlike Minecraft). In most story games, you face opposition, challenges, obstacles, compete with other players, and succeed or fail -- on a regular basis. For instance, a D&D player's "goal" at a certain point in time might be for his character to escape alive from the dungeon, slay a monster, and gather more gold than his companions. Those are easily definable goals which can succeed or fail.

    2. Some games DO have clear endgoals. For instance, you mention Muse in your post, and in that game players do compete with each other. At the end of the game, the winner gets to narrate the epilogue to the story.

    The discussion around "why do we play these games" is an interesting one, however.

    I would argue that their purpose is primarily a) social (group bonding, getting to know each other, etc), and b) to develop skills (storytelling, acting, negotiation, various artistic skills, etc), while falling under the broader umbrella of "having fun/a good time/entertainment".
  • VIEWSCREAM. The goal is to get all three of your comrades to each help you with something, so that you can escape from the dooooooomed shiiiiiip.
  • To get philosophical on you, the only times I've had a really great, really engaging time with a story game, are the times where I have created my own goal, and that goal is in question.

    When I create a character for Kagematsu, and I want her to succeed in a particular way, but I don't know what's going to happen because so much of her story is in someone else's hands. Or when I have a character in Last Train out of Warsaw who desperately needs to finish a secret goal, and I know that anyone else at that table could end it.

    The goal is to get what I want. No, scratch that, the goal is to push really hard for what I want, but also to react when other people use their powers to get in the way.

    Even Polaris, where the goal essentially is to fall to corruption and die, when I'm engaged, it's because I've brought some character who has something they feel is worth that death.

    I have not had any success playing any story game where there is a game controlled win condition. The closest I have come is getting the right mix of Weariness and Self-Loathing in My Life with Master, for instance.

    For me, at least, the game itself can't provide that goal. It's something I had to find, it's something I would love to be able to teach, but I don't know that there's a way to do it.

    But this is a great place to ask that question. I'm sure there are people out here who've had better success, and can tell you in better words what has worked for them.
  • Let's see, Psi*Run has a goal: remember the answers to all of your questions about your past (these are pre-scripted questions with uncertain answers that you make up at the beginning of play).

    Lady Blackbird (and each of its hacks of which I am aware) comes with a baked-in scenario, and special "keys" for each character, that are built-in goals toward which to work.

    Geiger Counter has the goal of defeating the Menace.

  • [...]However, while there isn't an easily definable "goal" for the activity as a whole, at any given point in play there will be specific goals to accomplish (unlike Minecraft). In most story games, you face opposition, challenges, obstacles, compete with other players, and succeed or fail -- on a regular basis. For instance, a D&D player's "goal" at a certain point in time might be for his character to escape alive from the dungeon, slay a monster, and gather more gold than his companions. Those are easily definable goals which can succeed or fail.[...]
    Yeah, but because you can make anything happen, these challenges are no real challenges. You just let your characters succeed them and it's done.

    Like, when you play a sci-fi-story and your character meets some evil alien which wants to kill him, you just give your character a big shotgun with acid-ammunition and it's done.

  • Burning Empires sounds like it has mechanics you want. It's not exactly a beginner game though I'd say. Still, it does have a countdown and there is the metagame of expressly trying to "win" the game along roleplaying mechanics. It's actually pretty damn awesome when done right.
  • The problem with these suggestions is, they're all bonded to one explicit genre or even one story.
    What I'm searching for is a story-game that still let's you choose every single thing of the story. The genre, the plot, the characters... Otherwise these games look like usual rpgs, like D&D.
  • Universal systems are not, as a whole, known for having any sort of specific goals.
  • The closest thing I could point to would be the Shadow of Yesterday. Transcendence is basically the same whether you name the skill "sword" or "sweet lookin gun with a silencer and stuff on it".
  • edited October 2012
    Wait until Kingdom is released. Or better yet, try the playtest, perhaps this is what you're looking for.
  • Find a copy of 'The riddle of steel', where players set their characters goal and get more dice for pursuing it.
  • edited October 2012
    Matthias, from your comments, I gather that you want a game that:
    1. has clearly defined winning conditions, and
    2. involves making tactical decisions that affect whether you win or lose.

    In other words, you don't want to just face challenges (you can do that in almost any story game, with a few notable exceptions), you want to face challenges where your skill as a player has an impact on whether you win or lose.

    The only thing I can think of is a game from a few years ago by John Harper called Agon. I've never played it, but from what I recall from some reviews, one player takes on a GM-like role and opposes the rest of the players; the other players compete with the GM to overcome the challenges he/she creates, as well as with each other for points. Again, I've never played it, can't recommend it from personal experience, but it sounds like it fits your criteria.

    But that game has a pretty specific theme (Greek heroes and mythology) so maybe it doesn't fit what you want on that front.
  • Matthias is not asking for anything difficult here, and this has nothing to do with tactical decision-making. As I understand it, we are talking about a very simple thing - namely, creative agenda. Why do you play a game? That is the goal-setting here.

    Universalis presumes a single thing that Matthias suggests would not be possible for his friends. This presumption is the same you get in e.g. GURPS, that players will turn up at the gaming table with an inherent curiousity towards creating something specific and dear to them. Just like you can't get anywhere with GURPS if you don't have a prior inspiration for what kind of campaign you'd like to run, you won't get anywhere with Universalis if the players do not have a creative urge towards creating something. Believe me, I've tried; Universalis is a hellish undertaking if players don't care about the creative act.

    My suggestion to Matthias: if you want to play a generic story game like Universalis, then trust in the game and do so. Gather your friends and explain to them that in this game the goal of play is to create an exciting story with just the elements you want to see. When the game begins, be sure to include genre and memes that are near and dear to your heart. When the game requires you to make choices (what to frame, how does this character act) remember that the game does have a goal: you're attempting to establish a powerful theme and then stay true to the internal logic of the story, seeing where these particular characters by necessity will lead us. If you grow excited about your own story elements you create in the initial setting-definition phase, then that excitement will be the driving engine of play.

    If it truly feels like you don't get the above sentiment, then I suggest that you play something a little bit easier, but still a game with a similar creative agenda. Such games aren't generic like Universalis, but that's exactly because the only way to give players are more compassionate creative framework is to define genre and proffer memes for play. Once you understand how to stay directed and purposeful in a more defined game, then playing Universalis becomes possible. It's simply not a game you can play without an internal creative drive. And creative drive is something that can be trained, even if your friends aren't already culture industry professionals with crazy passion for storytelling.

    Suitable games for training yourself in creative storytelling play... I'd name my own Zombie Cinema because creating a pedagogical game for these types of situations was one of my specific purposes there. The game leaves the players extreme freedom in creating their own story, but it regulates the zombie element, and it provides false in-character goals to orient players: you can begin playing the game with the notion that you'll just make all game choices from the viewpoint of character survival, and then later on you'll realize that the true core of the game is not about survival, but rather about staying true to your characterization in the interest of building the strongest possible story.

    Other games that step up towards Universalis elegantly while still having clear support framework for players... Kagematsu, definitely, and an older game from the same circles, My Life with Master. Both are very, very strong designs, and both provide the players with very clearly defined initial situations that are then turned into story by player choices. There are a lot of similarly useful games, but I'll desist from listing them for now - the key issue is whether Matthias is willing to look into this sort of solution, not so much which exact game he'll try.
  • Hi NinjaWookiee,

    You could take a look at (my brilliant storygame) While the World Ends. It is a team based and competitive, and still has a strong story telling element to it.

    Otherwise, Burning Empires that was mentioned above could be something for you. It is not trivial to learn however. But I think it will be very rewarding to any group that can make a commitment for 10-15 consecutive sessions.
  • edited October 2012
    It's hard to get someone to play something like that with me, if there is no real goal. No way to loose or win the game, either alone or as a group. No struggle. It's more like sitting together and writing a book together. It's not really what I would call a game.
    This is of the one reasons why I don't like Universalis. Even in traditional games, with that mysterious man that enters the inn and gives the character's an assignment, there are goals.

    In Archipelago III, you write destinies for the other characters (and the other players write one each for yours), and when the character fulfill it's destiny the game end for that player. And the character can't die until the destiny has been fulfilled.
  • You could take a look at (my brilliant storygame) While the World Ends. It is a team based and competitive, and still has a strong story telling element to it.
    Oh, yeah. Forgot about that one. Had a nice session with that game, and the game makes you travel towards either your goal or your worst fear at the same time the whole game (the whole picture) goes towards two different endings. It's a really neat and simple mechanic that creates all that.
  • Yeah, While the World ends is a good example of a game that just barely veers away from being Universalis by adding some structure and faux goals. Might be just the sort of game Matthias is looking for. An excellent point, that.

    I might as well mention Microscope here: it's a game that compares to Universalis in terms of genericity, and it doesn't really have any more orienting goals than Universalis does. Still, checking it out might help in understanding Universalis, too, as both games rely on the player attitude where players hook themselves on their own fiction.
  • edited October 2012
    Matthias,

    everything Eero said is pure gold.

    Some additional thoughts:

    I don't think even truly universal games can do without genres, cliches etc. Even when playing Universalis or Archipelago (I've got more experience with that one) the first thing you do is discuss genre.

    So,
    ...when you play a sci-fi-story and your character meets some evil alien which wants to kill him, you just give your character a big shotgun with acid-ammunition...
    will have someone around the table call bullshit. Why? because it violates the rules of the genre.
    Or maybe you might have a big-o shotgun, but there are more aliens than you have ammo. There might be more ammo around, but you need to do something dangerous to get there. Will you leave the others behind in order to get it? Everyone except you is a GM in moments as these, and they all will strive to make your character's life hard. And your life as a player exciting, because that is the point.

    Archipelago has a specific ritual phrase here: That might be not so easy.

    So your character has antagonists. In an old-school RPG, that's the GM. In some story games, that's everyone except you.

    But, as far as I can tell, Universalis is a very special beast indeed. It requires you to think more as an author than just a player controlling a single character. You need to have an agenda. If it is "create a sci-fi horror story", then you just don't give your character a shotgun. If it is "create a story about bad-ass space marines", then by all means do give your character a shotgun. Somebody will find a better complication for you, like: "My space marine can kill more aliens than your space marine and thus gains more glory. The only way your space marine can catch up is to sell his soul to Chaos." or "My space marine ranks higher than yours, and is jealous of you and your super-weapon."

    Agendas of different players will clash during play, this is were Universalis' bidding wars and other conflict resultion mechanisms kick in.

    Like I said in the beginning, being on the same page as the other players is important:
    http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-same-page-tool/
  • I think I don't really understand the goal of play that Matthias is talking about here.
    ...if there is no real goal. No way to loose or win the game, either alone or as a group. No struggle. It's more like sitting together and writing a book together. It's not really what I would call a game. I don't think my friends would care to bid to frame a scene if it doesn't do anything for them. You know what I mean?

    So my question is, is there a story telling game (like Universalis) that has an actual goal the players have to achieve?
    Maybe someone has made up his own house rules to give the players of Universalis a reason to do stuff
    Even without my own understanding, if you understand what you're asking for, Universalis explicitly tells you how to add rules gimmicks.

    As for winning or losing, it seems like you lose the same way in every RPG -- you fail to have fun. Seems like that's true in D&D as well as Universalis and even board games (though it's maybe masked by the in-rules notion of victory). The easy answer is that if your friends don't like this class of game, they oughtn't play it. But clearly, there's something about e.g. Universalis that you're drawn to. What is it?

    Or maybe we can look at this one phrase, "an actual goal the players have to achieve." Does something like that exist in other games you like? I don't feel like that's a particularly tangible thing. I enjoy games best if the players' actual goal is creating fun (in the broadest sense) for everyone at the table. What if you just made that a formal thing in your Universalis game? "At the conclusion of each scene, each player may give a red stone (not a Coin) to any other player whom they found to bring particular fun to the scene. At the end of a session, the player with the most red stones wins. (Or can do something extra-cool or whatever.)" Is that even remotely along the lines you're looking for?
  • I don't think my friends would care to bid to frame a scene if it doesn't do anything for them. You know what I mean?
    I guess this is the problem. Somebody has to to the GMing, even if there is no GM. GM-less is the same as GM-full, as in "Everybody GMs". If nobody on the table wants to frame a scene in which other characters can shine, if nobody ever frames a scene that challenges another character, then you've got no game.
  • edited October 2012
  • I guess this is the problem. Somebody has to to the GMing, even if there is no GM. GM-less is the same as GM-full, as in "Everybody GMs".
    Yeah, GM-less is more about rotating GMs than not having one at all.
  • I guess this is the problem. Somebody has to to the GMing, even if there is no GM. GM-less is the same as GM-full, as in "Everybody GMs".
    Yeah, GM-less is more about rotating GMs than not having one at all.
    Very true, and depending on the system and playstyle, that break up of GMing can seem very odd and it can hop around like a hot potato.

    Scramble's link is an article I wasn't aware of, but man is it useful for getting people aware of what a GMless game is like to actually play and to make it work.

    A few things that do help:
    When introducing storygames to friends, especially GMless ones or ones with a lot more narrative input mechanics than you see in classic RPG designs, come with 2 or 3 starter ideas, let the players come to a consensus on one of them, then go with that.

    During play in the first game, even if there's no GM officially, be prepared to be a facilitator of the rules and the person committed to encouraging player input. Be ready to pawn off all sorts of GMing duties and lead by example.

    If a player still looks to you as a GM type authority figure on a question, bounce the decision to another player. For example, Fred is trying to have his barbarian accomplish something and looks to you. Turn to Alice and ask her what she thinks the barbarians chances are and if there could be any complications from a failure, then go with that. Have Alice actually be the one to use those mechanics present, whether it's a dice throw acrd turn or whatever.

    It can be as intimidating as hell to frame a scene the first time in a game. Instead of saying, "Alice it's your turn to frame a scene!", ask stuff like "Okay Alice, so what's the next bit of fiction that should follow from that logically?" You can ask the classic WhoWhatWhenWhereHow questions either of Alice as follow ups, or simply bounce that authority around as suggestion gathering. Whe that stuff is bounced around, turn back to Alice and tell her now that she's heard that stuff, it's up to her to tie it all together and put her stamp of approval on it.



  • edited October 2012
    It can be as intimidating as hell to frame a scene the first time in a game. Instead of saying, "Alice it's your turn to frame a scene!", ask stuff like "Okay Alice, so what's the next bit of fiction that should follow from that logically?"
    Lots of good ideas. To remove the creators block that sometimes can happen, write "What do you want to happen?" on a note and use it as a GM token. The owner of the game starts with one scene and when the scene ends, hands the note over to the next person on the left. You are allowed to say "pass" when you get the token and pass it through.

    ---

    Btw, I remember when we arranged an "indie room" (with storygames) at a non-gamer convention and one group, who played RPG for the first time and did play a GM-less RPG before me, ask me "Don't you have a character?" when I was the GM for a more traditional one. :)
  • It seems to me that Matthias asked for recommendations for story games that set clear goals for the players, and everyone is giving him advice on how to set his own goals for play instead. I could be completely wrong here, but my impression was that Matthias was already enjoying the sort of play that Eero and others are talking about; the problem from the original post was getting his friends into games that didn't have clear player goals, with the possibility to win or lose.

    Matthias, can you clarify this a little? When you say you want a game with goals, do you mean a goal as in a shared reason to play (like Eero is talking about) or goals as in winning and losing conditions? Or something else entirely?
  • I am still relative new to this type of gaming as well. But here's what I can share:

    * Our Last Best Hope has a pretty clear end-goal. Your team is trying to stop a threat (changes every game) that will destroy Earth and/or humanity. Pretty fun game.

    * I haven't played tremulus yet or even 100% completed reading the rules. But it seems like it will (usually) have a pretty clear goal of uncovering whatever sinister is going on and defeating the evil behind it.
  • Lots of Storygames have goals and don't require players to scene frame. The Mountain Witch comes to mind. The thing is, the PCs have a goal (climb to the top of Fuji and kill with the Mountain Witch), but the players have a different goal (see what happens when the PCs attempt to climb to the top of Mt. Fuji and kill the Mountain Witch).
  • Matthias,

    It would be great to hear from you. What is it exactly you're looking for?

    * Muse is genre-independent (as you asked), and also has distinct victory conditions that the players compete to achieve. Does it answer your question, or not?

    * As for the the example of "giving your character a huge shotgun", most well-designed games have specific rules and roles which make this kind of situation work in play. For instance, in many games if you're representing a character trying to achieve a specific goal in the fiction, either you are not allowed to give him a huge shotgun (i.e. another player has the right to decide whether he has the shotgun or not) or giving him the shotgun doesn't actually change his odds of winning his objective (you must still play the odds the game presents in order to win; the presence of the shotgun simply changes the way the scene "looks" on-screen, so to speak, it changes the colour of the interaction without skewing the odds one way or another).
  • edited October 2012
    @DavidTC:
    Your suggestion sounds like D&D with Greek mythology.

    I just thought there was a gm-less story game out there, where you maybe decide on a goal and then try to get it and that without being so powerful that you just can make everything happen. A little more restrictions maybe.

    That's why I asked for Universalis house rules too. I'm sure there is some way to make Universalis to a game with a reason. I'm just not sure how. I could imagine, that the players decide on a goal with each scene and the scene doesn't end until one or more players reached the goal. Every player that reached a goal gets a point and at the end of the game the player with the most points wins.
    But because every player is so extremely powerful and can do so much things in one turn, it's easy as f*ck to win a goal. (It's basically like whoever turn it is, that player reaches the goal.) I know this powerful ability to do anything is practically the key of the game and makes it such a creative thing. Maybe it's enough if the players get less coins (which are used to do stuff in this game).

    Those are my ideas, but I wasn't sure about them. And because I just arrived in this story game world, I thought, maybe there already is a story game with a lot of freedom but still a real goal.

    I can't wait tho to get the Universalis book and try it out with my friends, even without house rules and goals. Maybe it does work with my friends, and if it does, I know that the outcoming stories would be awesome.
  • edited October 2012
    [...]As for winning or losing, it seems like you lose the same way in every RPG -- you fail to have fun. Seems like that's true in D&D as well as Universalis and even board games (though it's maybe masked by the in-rules notion of victory). The easy answer is that if your friends don't like this class of game, they oughtn't play it. But clearly, there's something about e.g. Universalis that you're drawn to. What is it?

    Or maybe we can look at this one phrase, "an actual goal the players have to achieve." Does something like that exist in other games you like? I don't feel like that's a particularly tangible thing. I enjoy games best if the players' actual goal is creating fun (in the broadest sense) for everyone at the table. What if you just made that a formal thing in your Universalis game? "At the conclusion of each scene, each player may give a red stone (not a Coin) to any other player whom they found to bring particular fun to the scene. At the end of a session, the player with the most red stones wins. (Or can do something extra-cool or whatever.)" Is that even remotely along the lines you're looking for?
    I myself love to tell stories and I know that my friends like to bring their own ideas into games too to some degree. But when we play games the most fun comes out of chasing the goal. Like in D&D when you're in a hard fight with a dragon or some zombies, it's really cool if you can use your tactical knowledge or if you have a great idea how to use your ingame environment and your characters skills to rescue yourself from dying. And even storygames like Universalis would make a lot more fun if there was an ability to loose or win somehow. Even if either the whole group of players wins or looses together.
    The thing with the red stones for cool ideas probably won't work, because with that you just give the players the choice who wins and they would just want themselves to win. lol
    [...]Matthias, can you clarify this a little? When you say you want a game with goals, do you mean a goal as in a shared reason to play (like Eero is talking about) or goals as in winning and losing conditions? Or something else entirely?
    I'm searching more for winning and losing conditions. I'm not sure if my friends would like the game if it's solely about telling a story. I love stuff like this (and write my own stories in my free-time too) but they're not like that.
    We already played different games like the incredibly creative cardgame "Dvorak" in which everything is created by us but there are still goals how to win (which also are created by us) and a set of basic rules to make it all work. So basically in that game everything is possible too, like a harpy raping Cthulhu and making it its slave to create fishpeople which destroy the other players creatures and so on. And still it has goals to achieve, so players can win and end the game. (You could check the game out at http://dvorakgame.co.uk/index.php/Main_Page )
    So basically I'm searching for a storygame with a lot of freedom, but with a way to add winning and losing conditions to give the players a goal and their actions a reason besides making an interesting story.
    [...]* Muse is genre-independent (as you asked), and also has distinct victory conditions that the players compete to achieve. Does it answer your question, or not?
    [...]
    Yeah, I know about Muse, but havn't looked that much into it. It seems to me that it's pretty much like Universalis. Once the question for a scene is asked, the next player can use it's enormous powers of freedom to just answer it. Sounds to easy for me. (Correct me if I'm wrong)

  • Freedom and struggle are pretty much opposites. Insofar as there is freedom, you can sidestep struggling for victory conditions. Even adding extra rules to Universalis about winning doesn't really accomplish anything as the core interactions of the game are not competitive in nature: Universalis is about playing doll house, not about racing to win, so the game's mechanics are not going to provide sufficient resistance and detail for a player trying to manipulate himself into victory. Winning is going to either be trivial or up to player concensus, basically.

    How about this, Matthias: it seems to me that what you like about Universalis is the creative rush of being able to have the game be "about anything" without any advance planning. This is a pretty big selling point for the game, it's exciting that you don't know even what genre your story will involve before you actually start playing. To get this feeling while preserving competitive orientation in the game, have you considered simply using GURPS without advance planning?

    Here's how I picture it: you gather with your friends to play the game and start with an Universalis-like setup phase where the players each suggest themes and memes for the campaign setting. After this you make characters for the setting, each player makes their own. Meanwhile the GM thinks up a victory condition. Then you play through the scenario with the GURPS resolution rules, enabling everybody to strategize and compete towards the goal.

    Admittedly this solution doesn't retain the player position as a nigh-omnipotent storyteller, but then that's the actual source of problems here, isn't it? If Universalis players couldn't just frame their desired outcome straight into the story, then the game could actually be competitive. Well, replacing the rules of Universalis with GURPS curbs player authority pretty well, leaving players just about sufficient authority to strategize towards victory without making it trivial.

    --

    Another suggestion occurs, also: how about setting up a judge or several and then playing Universalis by the rules, with the judges scoring the players on creativity, cooperation and story sense? Then players could compete in the actual thing that you perform in Universalis, this being the act of creating a story. You win by being the best storyteller.

    Of course this is a pretty far-out suggestion, but I think it clarifies the difficulty in the notion of combining narrative freedom and competition. The reason for why we care about a fiction is that everybody commits to it; if you set up victory conditions that override caring about the fiction while also providing players with narrative authority, this causes a perverse incentive for players to ruin the fiction with ludicrous solutions. This in turn is contrary to the idea of cooperatively telling a story in the first place. For this reason I think that the only way to make this work is to explicitly tell the players that the victory condition in this game is to succeed in creating a compelling story together. If setting up a separate judging panel is the only way to make the players feel like this is a serious goal, then so be it.

    I guess what I'm saying is that GM-less games and other games that provide players with significant influence all actually assume that the players care about the integrity of the fiction they're creating. If this is a priori the case then you can play Universalis because you care about what happens in the fiction; if, however, you only care about bald "winning" and other relatively crude concerns, then you simply can't play a game that assumes willingness to respect fiction. One solution to this is to curb player powers and give a GM the beatstick so they can keep the players down; some players even grow to like this, as it saves them from having responsibility over the game.

    In a nutshell: don't let the boys into the girls' dorm, they don't know how to play well with others. If you try to play magical tea party with them they'll just ruin it by running and shouting and insisting that they killed you first.

    --

    Also, some other games that cast the players in narration roles and involve victory conditions are Once Upon a Time and Pantheon. Both are interesting designs although I don't think that either is a very good game. Still, perhaps you could check them out and see whether they might be doing the sort of thing you're looking for here.
  • edited October 2012
    Matthias, can you define winning and losing for us? I think I really don't understand something and I'm trying to figure out where we're missing.

    Also, it seems that you've not tried Universalis yet? Try it. I used to bring it to cons and play with random strangers and I never (not once!) found someone for whom it wasn't fun. Y'know, maybe not the game they want to play every week, but a fun four hours.

    And on that note, it's worth pointing out the Challenge mechanic. If I spend a Coin to state a Fact and you don't like it. You can spend a Coin to negate my Fact. Right then and there. And I can spend a Coin to reinstate it. And we can have a spending war. And everyone else can spend on one side or the other of the issue. So this notion you have of player omnipotence; it's just straight-up wrong. (And if you're spending in support of previously established canon, your spending counts double.)

    I suggest this: play it with your friends. Try not to poison the well by apologizing for the lack of win/lose or any such similar behavior. IF it turns out that there really is some dissonance, fix it with a rules gimmick. I bet that doing so is easy and fun. Maybe this one:

    At the end of each scene, before coin refresh, each player earns victory points equal to one tenth of their coins, rounded down. Whoever has the most points at the predefined conclusion, wins.

    That gimmick incentivizes particular behaviors -- trying to sabotage other players banks while maintaining your own. I suspect that doesn't produce a play experience that I prefer, but it might for you and yours.
  • edited October 2012
    [...]Here's how I picture it: you gather with your friends to play the game and start with an Universalis-like setup phase where the players each suggest themes and memes for the campaign setting. After this you make characters for the setting, each player makes their own. Meanwhile the GM thinks up a victory condition. Then you play through the scenario with the GURPS resolution rules, enabling everybody to strategize and compete towards the goal.[...]
    That actually sounds quite nice, I'm probably gonna try that one day. But first I have to buy the Universalis book and then later the not-so-cheap GURPS book(-s).
    [...]I suggest this: play it with your friends. Try not to poison the well by apologizing for the lack of win/lose or any such similar behavior. IF it turns out that there really is some dissonance, fix it with a rules gimmick. I bet that doing so is easy and fun. Maybe this one:

    At the end of each scene, before coin refresh, each player earns victory points equal to one tenth of their coins, rounded down. Whoever has the most points at the predefined conclusion, wins.

    That gimmick incentivizes particular behaviors -- trying to sabotage other players banks while maintaining your own. I suspect that doesn't produce a play experience that I prefer, but it might for you and yours.
    I was gonna try Universalis anyway and like I said I already thought about rule gimmicks myself. Your idea sounds like it's worth a try too. I will try that when I have the Universalis book.
  • In a WIckes Age is very open, but has pretty clearly defined winning and losing conditions, in the form of Best Interests.

  • Yeah, I know about Muse, but havn't looked that much into it. It seems to me that it's pretty much like Universalis. Once the question for a scene is asked, the next player can use it's enormous powers of freedom to just answer it. Sounds to easy for me. (Correct me if I'm wrong)
    Yes, that's straight-up wrong. The whole point of the Questions mechanic in Muse is that, once it's on the table, *no one is allowed to resolve it through narration*. For instance, let's say we set up the Question, "Will Jonas die?" (Not a very interesting question, but fine for this example.)

    Once that Question is set up, no one is allowed to narrate Jonas dying. We have to use our card resources to make it more or less likely. By setting up that Question, we effectively say, "Jonas's fate is now up in the air. No single player can resolve this."

    Because you're absolutely right: if it wasn't that way, the game would be pretty pointless. Everyone could just narrate what they want and that's that. You don't need a game to just agree on a story together!
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