Monday, April 4, 2011

More About Conflict!

Locked within this post, after some initial commentary, is a broad overview of how my card-system works.  It must needs be broad, and there are elements deliberately left out.  But I'm at a point now where I would like to create a little more interest.

The playtesting for Conflict! continues.  I have one more session set up with a group of strangers, which should prove interesting, but I don't think the trouble will be with the system.  I am hoping this last group are rabid rules lawyers ... it's what I need right now.  People who will pick apart the precise wording on the cards and give me trouble for it.

In play, the interactive system is proving to be very simple to play - not quite too simple, though often the resolution comes down to one quick die roll.  The better moments are events when the conflict rages back and forth for several minutes ... which seems to happen about once a session.  These moments are fun, a little frustrating and difficult to swallow when a player loses.  But overall the players have come to accept that sometimes things are beyond their control.

Some card ideas have been retired, others have been put on hold until - at some point in the future - a later set of the cards are invented.  In all, it looks as though the game will feature 50 distinct cards, divided into cards for swaying the actions of NPCs and cards for defending against those who wish to sway your actions.  A distinct benefit to the system is that players CAN use them on each other.  It is generally frowned upon, the way that using weapons on each other is, but the point is that being a player doesn't provide an exemption from the system.

In my last game, my regular players (who are now comfortable with the cards) demonstrated a willingness - without being encouraged, mind - to organize their adventuring with the card tactics in mind.  Rushing across the countryside to catch a boat in Hamburg, they found themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to wetback their way across the border between the Ottoman Empire and Hungary.  Following some dealings with beggars, a company of guards posted upon the frontier, and a customs officer who was won over ... but dispite a proferred bribe, not quite made a friend ... the party was faced with a gentleman adventurer on the edge of no man's land.  What was particularly interesting about him was that, so long as the party did not ask of him something he did not desire to give, there was no conflict and therefore no need for cards.  Roleplaying continued apace in and out of the use of cards all evening.  Thus, where the party was happy to chat with someone, no need for cards; but if the party wanted harder information or to cause an NPC to commit some actions, cards were then employed.  The back and forth worked beautifully and convinced me once and for all that I have got the thing in hand.

Here, then, is the general concept.  Based upon a player's innate being (intelligence, wisdom and charisma), combined with the player's experience, certain cards are obtained.  The player's stats are important, but the player's class has influence as well as things the player has accomplished.  For each relevant characteristic, a card is obtained.  As above, some of these cards can be played to influence others.  Some can be played to 'win over' opponents; others can be played to intimidate opponents.  Other cards, once obtained, can be played to defend against efforts to influence ... overall, defense tends to be stronger than offense early on, while offense marginally increases in balance as a player's level improves (defense increases too, but at present offense seems to increase a bit more quickly ... this is due largely to the selection of the cards available).

Players can start with a great deal of offense and defense, but this usually occurs in cases where that particular player has actively chosen a character with little strength, constitution or dexterity.  Obviously, a player who has a high total in all stats would remain dynamically dangerous.  Charisma is the most important stat for offense.  Wisdom is the most important stat for defense.

However - and this is very important - players with a low charisma can play for cards that will enable an intimidating or underhanded influence, or anyone can play to increase their influence through the application of bribes and spending.  An option also allows individuals to play a sexual gambit.

This post is a starting place for the daunting task I have of writing out the rules for this system so that anyone can understand them (without my being over their shoulder).  As I say, I feel the game methodology is worked out that that's effective, even over multiple games being played.  In fact, multiple games creates a pattern whereby roleplaying and NPC/player conflict is enhanced and even sought after, since the rules of the interaction are more clearly understood by all involved.  Which was, after all, the point of the system in the first place.

Now, I will be in a better position to produce this game and get it onto the market if I can raise some capital.  I cannot at this time reasonably offer to pre-sell copies of the game (I won't do that until I have the artwork), but if anyone wants to donate some small amount of capital to start the proceedings I won't turn it down.  I'd be happy to credit the money to your account if you wish to buy the game once it is produced.  I foresee the artwork process being three months of hell commencing April 15, and to be able to have a full, complete game kit by September 1.

Hey, I hate having to ask.  The money is going to come from a lot of places - that is part of the plan.  Take your time, weigh the pros and cons and get back to me.


ChicagoWiz said...

Very intrigued.

Given my AS, I can be a stickler for exact word defintions. :) You should have seen the looks on the player's faces yesterday when I ruled on the wording of sanctuary. If a player fails their save, they must attack another creature. If there are no other enemies in sight... then a friend becomes the target. The key phrases being: "If the saving throw is not made, the creature will attack another" - will meaning there is no choice, it will happen.

It was an interesting conundrum. :)

Jess said...

Have you thought about turning this into a Kickstarter project? I bet you could raise a good chunk of money that way.

Porky said...

I haven't checked in for a bit, and what I'm reading at this advanced stage is just fantastic. You seem to have things well in hand and the promise is immense. I certainly wish you well, and I can't be the only one; here's to a business angel dropping in, or an even larger whip-round through that donate button lending a helping hand. Every project wanting to move things forward deserves support, and we're all the richer for the new ideas and variety.

Arduin said...

It looks very good so far, even without a multiple card sample to see how it operates.

Do you have any plans to offer ways to deal with level-less/class-less games?

Alexis said...

At some point, Arduin, I could see making a tailored card set, if the market proved to be there. For the moment, however, this is an app for D&D.

manonfuntrip said...

My friend sent me a link to this because he thought i might be intertested in designing some art for a game. Well, i am. What you have sounds very interesting and i would like to explore this possibility further. How should i contact you about this? - Thanks, Josh

Alexis said...

For the present, Josh, send your contact information and any online portfolio you have to my email at