[We The Jury] A game about truth, justice, and social combat.

edited October 2013 in The Sandbox
Seeing that Brian England’s written a micro-game called Jury Duty reminded me that a while back I also had an idea for a game set in the jury deliberation room, which was going to be kind of riffing off the Henry Fonda film Twelve Angry Men.

After all the discussion of Hillfolk and DramaSystem, I'm now thinking I might try to write a hack of it, replacing 'What do I want from character x?' with 'What do I want from the other members of the panel?'. In other words, let's say the anarchistic, Police-hating hippy is mouthing off about Police corruption, and saying their evidence isn't to be trusted etc., a fellow jury member with the opposite opinion could spend some points to get the hippy to make some kind of concession.

Comments

  • Here's a game-design question for you: do you want the players to bring their own sensibilities and judgment to the game (a la Dogs in the Vineyard or Fables of Camelot or even in the "Jeepform" style of deliberately shallow characters), or do you envision this as a game of "staying true to a given character", whatever it is ("police-hating hippy", etc.)? In either case, did you consider the relative merits of going the opposite way?
  • edited October 2013
    No, I hadn't considered that, but I will now. You raise an interesting general point though, which is that with high emotion narrative games, perhaps under the influence of, as you say, Nordic larp, we seem to be moving towards an acceptance of bleed, indeed even an encouragement of it, and a certain amount of what is derogatively termed meta-gaming, i.e. bringing one's own sensibilities into play. When I started RPing, about three years ago, bleed was considered one of the worst possible outcomes in a game, and meta-gaming one of the worst sins a player could commit (it still is in many quarters, and tbh I'm not very comfortable with it myself), but are we heading towards breaking down that barrier? Is that the final taboo?

    For the record, and to answer your question, I'm still enough of a 'traditionalist hippy' (if I can put it like that) that I'd currently prefer the second option, that of "staying true to a given character". But you've certainly made me think. Cheers!
  • Interesting.
    Now, how do you envision the "given character" being established? By handing down full character biographies to the players, written by you, as is commonly the case with "chamber" larps? By only giving them one-phrase archetypes to flesh out on their own? By having them "create characters", and if so, how?
    What objectives do you think your chosen method achieves, within your general design objectives for the game?
  • edited October 2013
    Well, just by discussing the project in this thread it's becoming more of a freeform than a traditional table-top pen & paper game (or I suppose it could be both- are there any publishers who've written two different versions of a game, one for TT and one for freeform or Larp?). There are obviously going to be very different design methodologies associated with the two objectives you cite- established and fully fleshed-out characters vs one-line archetypes- and I'll need to do a bit more thinking about that. I've got some stuff I need to do this afternoon but I'll spend some of this weekend working on some ideas and come back and post them in this thread when I've got them formulated.

    I must stress however that I don't wish to tread on Brian England's toes- I'll need to check out Jury Duty before I do any substantive work on WTJ. I guess there's no harm in kicking ideas around though.
  • Love the idea, 12 Angry Men is one of my favorite movies.
  • Love the idea, 12 Angry Men is one of my favorite movies.
    Thanks, mine too! Henry Fonda's terrific in it.

  • I've never seen any of the film or TV versions, but my English class in junior high did a reading of the original screenplay, and I was fortunate enough to draw the part of Number Eight. One of the few assignments in that class I really enjoyed.
  • edited October 2013
    I've never seen any of the film or TV versions, but my English class in junior high did a reading of the original screenplay, and I was fortunate enough to draw the part of Number Eight. One of the few assignments in that class I really enjoyed.
    How interesting. I'd LOVE to see a copy of the screenplay, and even more the director's notes for all the characters, which would presumably read like the page in the RPG rulebook that deals with the pre-gens. I'll have to look into this- I can't remember offhand all the character archetypes (I last saw the film in the late 80s), the only one I do remember being the fat, sweaty, reactionary bloke who, when Henry Fonda starts in on his 'liberal bleeding heart' stuff, tuts loudly and goes 'There's always one... there's always one'.

    In the game I want to explore how people's private agendas, as well as their interaction with other people, and all in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the jury deliberation room, drive their decision-making processes. Forex, Sweaty Reactionary Bloke might vote to convict just because Bleeding Heart Liberal is against, and Police-Hating Hippy might vote to acquit even given the weight of evidence, because he sees the Police as little more than state-sponsored terrorists whose evidence can't ever be trusted. So the innocent get banged up, and the guilty walk.
  • This is kind of the opposite of what 12 Angry Men does, though. They (like juries do in the real world) do their best to sort through the evidence they have with some groping understanding of what the legal issues surrounding the questions they have to answer. They only express their personal pecadillos in the context of an actual court case and questions.

    It should also be noted that although it's heavily implied the defendant in 12 Angry Men is innocent, you are never told he is innocent. In other words, we never see the crime or the trial or even hear the defendant's voice.
  • edited October 2013
    This is kind of the opposite of what 12 Angry Men does, though. They (like juries do in the real world) do their best to sort through the evidence they have with some groping understanding of what the legal issues surrounding the questions they have to answer. They only express their personal pecadillos in the context of an actual court case and questions.
    I guess what I'm trying to do is show that ultimately people can never be 100% objective- there is always an element of one's decisions being coloured by one's personal issues. I think I should give the film anther watch to see how it handles the discussions, and maybe attend some real life trials too. What I'd really like to see though is some transcripts of actual juries' actual deliberations, but of course...
    It should also be noted that although it's heavily implied the defendant in 12 Angry Men is innocent, you are never told he is innocent. In other words, we never see the crime or the trial or even hear the defendant's voice.
    From my recollection of the film I thought it could have gone either way. Another reason to watch it again (as if I needed one- it's an absolute classic and should be shown in every school as part of Citizenship classes).
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