A game about a crazy parkour-esque sport team and their real-life struggles. Help! Am i crazy?

Hey! I'm thinking about designing a game with this parameters. It's the kind of game that enables to play out this kind of sport animes like Haikyuu or Kuroko no Basket.

My initial toughts are:

- We are in a sort of megapolis, with lots of buildings, alleys, fences, walls and impossible jumps.
- The most famous sport in the world is Skyrun, a competition where two teams fight for being the first to take the ball in the middle of the arena and score in the enemy base. In order to do so, its not forbidden to take down an enemy, pass the ball and throw the ball in order to score. Of course, you are free to find the best and easiest route towards your enemy base.
- This is not a game about the matches, this is a game about the members of that team and their lives.
- It will have several stages like Preparation, Free Time, Match and Finale.


My initial toughts about this stages is a round-robin narrative process between the players having them to choose between options. For example, in Free Time they could have to choose between Bonding (Making a scene with another teammate out of training, narrating it and then creating a Tag that could help on the match), Taking care of oneself (Making a scene about the process of healing of a particular wound), or Training (Making a scene where you train, alone or with others, trying to up one of your stats or something like that). In Preparation you would have to choose which position will partake every teamplayer and their roles. In Match you would play the match. In the Finale we conclude the episode wrapping up and making a shared scene finishing all things up.

I sense that a fundamental thing about all of this is the life behind this players, their family or situation dramas, their fears and goals, their relationship and how they surpass all of this to be a united team.

----

I don't know

1) If this would really be a game people would play
2) If this is doable via this storygamey style focusing on characters more than on the match per-se.
3) If someone could help me with ideas thrown in this crazy hat. Please?

Comments

  • It's entirely doable. You've got a setup nearly done, with Drives, Conditions and Teamwork as Tags. You need more precise scenarios for the match : can the teams cheat, is there doping, sponsors and other sports issues ? Can criminals blackmail a member into larceny ? Do you want codified maneuvers to tactically use with a static map or surprise tiles on the table ? Or are the team roles purely abstract ? I'd build from that specific part outward. An example of sports rpg : Contenders.
    For me I would rather pick an existing series as a basis. Maybe the Yamakasi movie.
  • It's entirely doable. You've got a setup nearly done, with Drives, Conditions and Teamwork as Tags. You need more precise scenarios for the match : can the teams cheat, is there doping, sponsors and other sports issues ? Can criminals blackmail a member into larceny ?
    For all of that: Indeed! Sponsors are there, as it will be things like blackmailing, sport injuries and cheating (obtaining info from outside the arena, trying to injure the other team..), but i want the important bit of all to be the person themselves: Their drives, their fears, their condicions, and of course to be in Sync, working as a team, and
    Do you want codified maneuvers to tactically use with a static map or surprise tiles on the table ? Or are the team roles purely abstract ? I'd build from that specific part outward.

    As inspiration, i was thinking about Prince of Stride (Sport Anime about Free-Running carreers) although in Stride it's only about carreers, but it has basis about parkour moves that might help. I am watching again Haikyuu, and it's helping me to remember all the personal development and kind of stories told there.

    As roles, i'm thinking in 4 roles at the game:

    Guard (His mission, to protect the one with the ball, act as guardian)
    Trickster (His mission, to carry the ball to the goal using everything at his disposal for avoiding being caught)
    Asault (His mission, to anticipate the enemy and confront the Trickster in order to make him drop the ball and restart at the beginning)
    Control (His mission, to serve as support of every other function, making people to be in perfect sync)

    Would them be strongly separate roles and the team members can only adscribe to one? i dont think so, it would be nice if they can even develop and swap positions.

    Still, the important stuff would be, again, all that is behind the match: The preparation, the slice-of-life moments, and all their inner experience.

    Once on the match, i can see that the kind of stage works as a matter of colour: It's not the important thing. What's important is all the tricky stuff, sync, crazy moves, struggle and defense. It could be just a selected area of a city, 2 abandoned buildings, a warehouse, an airport, the docks.... Its about the fiction, which i sense is important in terms of positioning. At this respect, i'm in doubt, but i know that the importance of this stage is sync, the development of bonds, and not knowing if you could win your opponent. This is the moment where flashbacks pop up, people remember really great speeches and the players seem like they are surrounded by a wild energy instigated by their passion.

    It's nice to see them loosing from time to time, too, since that is a perfect window to character development in terms of growing up, and makes that rematch really juicy.
  • A random idea:

    The characters can and should switch roles on the team sometimes.

    However, *the players don't know how good the characters are* at those roles - they can only judge by the results.

    Could create some interesting drama between the characters, as one character believes the current Guard let the team down, and should be replaced, while that character pleads for another chance, because it was just bad luck...
  • The characters can and should switch roles on the team sometimes.

    However, *the players don't know how good the characters are* at those roles - they can only judge by the results.
    That's interesting. Could you bake it into the system so that it's also true for the players at the table? That seems very sports, where you're only as good as your last success.

    Perhaps your sports "skills" could be handled by something that is presented as an ELO ranking, and it goes up or down after a successful/failed challenge. I suppose the trick would be to incorporate some kind of normalising factor to avoid death spirals or out-of-control increases.

    Regarding the sport itself, I'd enjoy if equipment was incorporated into it. Specifically skates or skateboards - perhaps as a dedicated role? For no particular reason other than it being cool to me. They'd have an advantage on downhills, but find it harder to climb and navigate obstacles.
  • Make the roles names into character stats (if you want to use stats) so everyone can try everything but they would be best at one thing and bad at another. Any character can have one item that makes up for a stat they don't have (like a character with low guard that makes up for it with a gauntlet.

    I love the separation of scene types, more games should use this.
  • Let's answer. First of all, thanks for your tips!
    A random idea:

    The characters can and should switch roles on the team sometimes.

    However, *the players don't know how good the characters are* at those roles - they can only judge by the results.

    Could create some interesting drama between the characters, as one character believes the current Guard let the team down, and should be replaced, while that character pleads for another chance, because it was just bad luck...
    Make the roles names into character stats (if you want to use stats) so everyone can try everything but they would be best at one thing and bad at another. Any character can have one item that makes up for a stat they don't have (like a character with low guard that makes up for it with a gauntlet.

    I love the separation of scene types, more games should use this.
    First, thanks! It just made sense that this kind of game takes different type of scenes with different rules. It's just like in this sports anime that i'm taking ideas.

    I answer this two posts because they intersect very well. By making role names as stats, you are saying that everyone can be in any role, but the question that pops up here is: How to make your character truly unique? I was thinking about something like Tags (Dereel post), something that makes you differ from others. Things like Signature Moves (That could serve as a specialization system. "Tiger Claw Pass" is so cool to say when you try to surpass 3 Guardians and have little chance of doing it. Sort of Fate Stunts, where the use of one Stat differs either by being boosted or altered), Adjectives (Things that define the guy/girl, cause in this sport there's no division of gender, in character, like "Grumpy", in physique, like "Big" or in mental capabilities, like "Strategist". Could these be chosen by the other characters? Thing is that this kind of stuff could make for great roleplay and be rewarded), Bonds (Created with others in the session via choosing it in the given rounds)...

    If we keep with this approach, then the Preparation Stage is about the positioning on the stage and about the role you choose to partake in the team in this match. That could be awesome.

    Plus, things like popularity should count for something, and i dont know how to make it click into all of this. Maybe it's just another stat? I don't really know, but being this the equivalent of soccer, the fan phenomenon is something that i should have in mind.
    Regarding the sport itself, I'd enjoy if equipment was incorporated into it. Specifically skates or skateboards - perhaps as a dedicated role? For no particular reason other than it being cool to me. They'd have an advantage on downhills, but find it harder to climb and navigate obstacles.

    I love the separation of scene types, more games should use this.

    That's nice too and connects with what warriormonk wrote. If you could use items, they could alter the stats. Maybe that could be the Signature Move of every player? What do you think?


    Thanks all for your comments. You are great!
  • Plus, things like popularity should count for something, and i dont know how to make it click into all of this. Maybe it's just another stat?
    In Beginning Idol (a game that simulates idol anime like Idolm@ster and Love Live), popularity is basically what you get for doing well in each session's climactic performance, though you can also pick up fans during the core gameplay section by taking jobs instead of training or hanging out with your other idols. Since idol anime are basically sports anime, it seems pretty analogous to a lot of the things you're trying to do with your game.

    I've actually tried hacking it into other sports and the biggest stumbling block I've come across is replacing the non-conflict-based performance with a competitive sport. My humble suggestion, that you don't need to take into consideration at all if you don't want to, is to not get too hung up on the actual nitty-gritty of the competition. I think it runs the risk of eclipsing the importance of relationships and character growth when they become subordinate to a straight up gamist, tactical, out-to-win mechanical subsection (not to mention that in the media you're trying to emulate, it's at least as common for the protagonists to lose as it is for them to win, or at least get partial or even pyrrhic victories).

    If you want to try to work popularity into the game, I'd suggest trying to link it to individual performance but not performance vis-a-vis the overall outcome of the matches. A character can have a great takedown or an amazing save or a lucky shot on the goal that wins them fans even if they lose, so it should be important to track individual moments like that and value them for what they are, rather than just pieces of a larger narrative of The Game.
  • Plus, things like popularity should count for something, and i dont know how to make it click into all of this. Maybe it's just another stat?
    In Beginning Idol (a game that simulates idol anime like Idolm@ster and Love Live), popularity is basically what you get for doing well in each session's climactic performance, though you can also pick up fans during the core gameplay section by taking jobs instead of training or hanging out with your other idols. Since idol anime are basically sports anime, it seems pretty analogous to a lot of the things you're trying to do with your game.

    I've actually tried hacking it into other sports and the biggest stumbling block I've come across is replacing the non-conflict-based performance with a competitive sport. My humble suggestion, that you don't need to take into consideration at all if you don't want to, is to not get too hung up on the actual nitty-gritty of the competition. I think it runs the risk of eclipsing the importance of relationships and character growth when they become subordinate to a straight up gamist, tactical, out-to-win mechanical subsection (not to mention that in the media you're trying to emulate, it's at least as common for the protagonists to lose as it is for them to win, or at least get partial or even pyrrhic victories).

    If you want to try to work popularity into the game, I'd suggest trying to link it to individual performance but not performance vis-a-vis the overall outcome of the matches. A character can have a great takedown or an amazing save or a lucky shot on the goal that wins them fans even if they lose, so it should be important to track individual moments like that and value them for what they are, rather than just pieces of a larger narrative of The Game.
    This is when i talk about the Match conflict resolution.

    I was thinking about making it similar to Mouse Guard Conflict. 4 actions as team vs the 4 actions of the enemy team.

    The team members discuss where they think they will try to make their appearance, be it in the first bit, the second, the third or the fourth. Actions are things like Assault, Defend, Maneuver, Move, Dodge, Pass or Throw. There could be another actions like Encouraging.

    Then, for each action, characters choose who is making it, and that person chooses, if he can, a Signature Move that could help with that action.

    For positioning into the stage, i was thinking of using Fate scene-tracking where you change of "Stage" using one action. There are 5 "Stages". The 3rd is where the ball is. If this is like it, Maneuvering could take you 2 stages, whereas moving would move you one stage. Signature Moves will change all of this, of course, making you able to, for example, move and block, covering ground while blocking, or making it safer to maneuver.

    So, then we take the actions of both teams and make it simultaneously in each bit, changing the status of all the ground. We roll dice to see who gets what, if it's risky, apply modifiers as usual, and the round is finished.

    You repeat each turn until x Goals are done or x Rounds have passed.

    That sounds good to you for a game like this?
  • PC stats:
    Guard, Trickster, Asault, Control
    (so everyone can try anything but they are better in one thing that becomes their main role)

    Actions
    Assault, Defend, Maneuver, Move, Dodge, Pass or Throw, Encourage

    PCs can have one special move that replaces one action above, giving them either additional chances to make their intent happen or improve the consequences. (Like an special attack that makes your assault more precise, deadly or cripples an opponent.) However that special move should come at some cost (injure yourself, you need to be in a particular positioning to pull it up, spents a resource, etc)

    Anyway, you can either make the game more about the action or more about the story. Mainly the difference would be that either the story part is in service of the action or that the action is more or less a randomizer to create further inner conflict between teammates or between teams/other NPCs.

    Also, you can easily make the preparation part a brainstorm to create the upcoming match. Let players come up with spots that may make their specialty shine... and roll a die in secret to determine if either the opposing team will turn it into a trap or if the place isn't as firm as it seems, etc. Have them develop a plan for what would everyone do... and roll a die in secret to see if that goes as they want or if the opposing team's strategy has a way to counter it. Finally have them come up with the opposing team member they will each mark in the match and why are their PCs the better suited to that task... and roll a die in secret to find out if their info is accurate or if the opposing team has switched members, positions or is using items to counter this.

    Of course, the match can still go differently, but now you've got a battery of small twists to surprise the players if you want to play some of the action. I'd say the game doesn't have to be to heavy on that, maybe 50/50 action-story, maybe use intent resolution moves instead of action-to-action ones. You may want to watch World Wide Wrestling RPG, not a sports per se game but it has interesting mechanics to handle the showbusiness part, as in how popularity allows your character to get and do more things and how different are the strategies you use depending on your gimmick.
  • Skills : Ascend, Plunge, Jump over, Tricks. The ball thing is just spotlight management : who's scoring. Just throwing ideas.
  • Dead Weight was an AW hack-in-development by John Harper and Daniel Solis that focused on parkour (remember kids, if you've thought of it, John Harper has probably done it). It was never finished, but if you google it or click on my link you'll find lots of discussion and documents that may be useful to your process.
  • PC stats:
    Guard, Trickster, Asault, Control
    (so everyone can try anything but they are better in one thing that becomes their main role)

    Actions
    Assault, Defend, Maneuver, Move, Dodge, Pass or Throw, Encourage

    PCs can have one special move that replaces one action above, giving them either additional chances to make their intent happen or improve the consequences. (Like an special attack that makes your assault more precise, deadly or cripples an opponent.) However that special move should come at some cost (injure yourself, you need to be in a particular positioning to pull it up, spents a resource, etc)

    Anyway, you can either make the game more about the action or more about the story. Mainly the difference would be that either the story part is in service of the action or that the action is more or less a randomizer to create further inner conflict between teammates or between teams/other NPCs.

    Also, you can easily make the preparation part a brainstorm to create the upcoming match. Let players come up with spots that may make their specialty shine... and roll a die in secret to determine if either the opposing team will turn it into a trap or if the place isn't as firm as it seems, etc. Have them develop a plan for what would everyone do... and roll a die in secret to see if that goes as they want or if the opposing team's strategy has a way to counter it. Finally have them come up with the opposing team member they will each mark in the match and why are their PCs the better suited to that task... and roll a die in secret to find out if their info is accurate or if the opposing team has switched members, positions or is using items to counter this.

    Of course, the match can still go differently, but now you've got a battery of small twists to surprise the players if you want to play some of the action. I'd say the game doesn't have to be to heavy on that, maybe 50/50 action-story, maybe use intent resolution moves instead of action-to-action ones. You may want to watch World Wide Wrestling RPG, not a sports per se game but it has interesting mechanics to handle the showbusiness part, as in how popularity allows your character to get and do more things and how different are the strategies you use depending on your gimmick.
    I think it will be hard indeed to find balance. My intuition tells me that there should be a way for the different scenes to directly influence into the match, and the match to influence the next narration. How? I dont know. One idea that comes to mind is:


    The Free Time will let you form bonds, train new "Signature moves" ( I was thinking about making this "Learning" only enabling for using your new wannabe signature move in play and risking all on it) or learn form others, having better sync with your selected teammate and such. It's, also, the time where we see the kind of Slice-of-life moments shown in the animes, and in sport series. I dont know how, but the GM should have some kind of agency here in order to create antagonists, and spice up PC's lives a little. No rolls, though, but a good setup for what's to come.

    The Preparation will set the enemy team. Strengths, weaknesses, our preparation, their preparation, all you talked about the enemy team (Tactics and countertactics, "Aces" of their team, even if someone is a old partner or foe of one of our team). Then it's about deciding where are we going to position, our roles, and such. This leads to in-game conversation about tactics, presented with scenes about the other team and that stuff.

    The Match wil be, well, the match. Using the system above, we choose 4 actions, the enemy will choose other 4. There will be X sets, The enemy won't roll but use a simple Adversary Sheet where you as GM fill the gaps and have Aces, the kind of team, the kind of signature moves, and such. Maybe we can divide every role into two or three skils (For example, Trickster can be divided in Sprinting, Feinting and Free-Running. Attack can be divided between stealing, charging and provoking. Defense can be dividided between Covering someone, Covering an Objective and Intercepting . Control can be divided between Passing, Shooting and Encouraging. These are examples, but would make every character unique at their own way. [Here, i wonder. It's really necessary to have this division? I have my doubts). Thing is you can loose this match, and then you make enemies, you will remember then the next time you confront them, and they will remember you. The next clash will be even more epic.


    After the Match, there is the Finale. This is where we wrap up. Here we can create an arc, talking about the matches, foreshadowing probable enemies, PC's antagonist and rivals, and that kind of stuff.
    Skills : Ascend, Plunge, Jump over, Tricks. The ball thing is just spotlight management : who's scoring. Just throwing ideas.
    The ball is just spotlight management. Woh that's profound. I would really like to know if someone scores or not, tho, and that having mechanical reppercusions, but without removing all the mentioned before. That's a nice idea for one of the Free Time scenes, for example, where the team play a friendly match in order to create cohession, or someone starts to learn some kind of new signature moves.
    Dead Weight was an AW hack-in-development by John Harper and Daniel Solis that focused on parkour (remember kids, if you've thought of it, John Harper has probably done it). It was never finished, but if you google it or click on my link you'll find lots of discussion and documents that may be useful to your process.
    Interesting! Ill take a look.


    I dont know how to connect the dots between fiction out of the match and fiction in the match. I want the matches to be a bridge for more personal drama, and the personal drama to enhance the matches (Which would be the crunchiest bit in the game).
  • I think that's pretty clear:

    Unless I'm getting the genre wrong (I'm not really familiar with this kind of media), the technical details of the Match should all reflect some personal drama happening before and after, so I'd want each to play into the other.

    For instance, you can make a successful pass to your teammate because you shared an intimate moment with them the previous day, and that memory allows the connection in the moment between the two players which makes the pass possible.

    The leader of the opposite team, though, manages to take the ball away, and THAT is because we just found out that the girl you like agreed to go on a date with him earlier this morning.

    The basic formula here is:

    * Character/drama scenes all build up resources, bonuses, penalties, or demands for the upcoming Match.

    If you go into the game and you're still pissed off at your Guard, that is going to matter: it will hurt your team's chances.

    * The outcome of the Match creates the need for interpersonal scenes.

    Maybe afterwards your self-esteem is crushed, and you need some bonding time with friends to give you the courage to talk to that cute boy again.

    Stuff like that.
  • All right, another viewpoint-Sport anime clichés you may want to include:

    -Each team member has a signature move, all fill a different role. (I'd say you're right about everyone playing an unique character, but only you can tell how complex the division needs to be)
    -Rivalry, either a with a teammate or an opponent.
    -A legend you look up to. Can you make that person coach you? What if it's a player or a coach for the opposing team? Or what is your plan to surpass that person or make sempai notice you?
    -An injure the player has to deal with in order to win.
    -Training Montage. As in beyond your expectations savage training with epic background music.

    There are a lot more but so far these got me a few ideas. I'd say that basically, you want your character's motivation and/or confidence pumped up before the match. So, character /drama scenes are meant to built it up. Players can ask for a training montage, a bonding scene with a teammate, family, coach, etc. An encounter with their opponents to spark their rivalry- either as a previous game they lost or as a tense scene where they cross the other in a bad way; a meeting to discuss tactics (which are best played in a brief flashback in the middle of a match, right when everything is going south) or any of the previous but featuring a character flaw the PC has to grow out of. The PC confronts herself on the match loses, reflects about it and finally finds a way to get over it, at least for a moment or fully but in their own terms.

    There should be a limit to how many scenes each PC can have to build up these resources and maybe specific instances where each of these apply in the match. Like, if the player can't find a good excuse to apply the wallrunning training they made before to a play, then it doesn't apply and has to use another or choose to lose.
  • This thread seems already pretty far along, but there's a game by Nick Wedig called Mesopotamian that could easily be re-skinned to do exactly what you're suggesting in your original post. i'd suggest taking a look at that game, before you make any serious design decisions
  • This thread seems already pretty far along, but there's a game by Nick Wedig called Mesopotamian that could easily be re-skinned to do much of what you're suggesting in your original post. i'd suggest taking a look at that game, before you make any serious design decisions.
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