What would you use to play Disgaea?

edited September 2011 in Story Games
What game would you hack to play Disgaea? (And before you say Apocalypse World, keep in mind that I don't own it and don't know much about it, so be prepared to explain why AW would be great.)

If you're not familiar with Disgaea, it's a series of video games set in a world of demons where moral values are inverted from those of humans. Pretty much everyone is selfish, murderous, conniving, and deceitful, and people generally vie for power constantly or scrabble for petty edges or seek to satisfy petty grudges and desires. This is okay because the games are humorous about it.

The games are class-based, and I'd like to preserve that somehow.

Character level is a thing, even a thing that people in the setting talk about. However, it's also very fluid, because levels are gained quickly, and you can always reincarnate at level 1, and there's several other instances where people find their levels altered. So an actual experience track and whatnot doesn't seem appropriate; your level should rather be just another attribute or trait, somehow.

I dunno. Anyone got any ideas?

Comments

  • That's a mighty good question. I'm not as familiar with the actual video game series so much as the anime and the PSP Prinny game. I'm assuming levels are just a measure of character development, or do they have some separate use?
    Especially considering the humorous nature of Disgaea, maybe the "Enter the Dungeon/Roll for Shoes" rules...which I have no idea where to find anymore. But the abilities are pretty freeform, and kind of build on one another as you play. Possibly have "Level" be some kind of points you can earn for instant upgrades? Dunno.

    ...I probably shouldn't have chimed in, since my headcold is making my train of thought too scattered.
  • Yeah, you gain levels by killin' enemies, and when you gain a level you get stat increases. I don't want to deal with it that way, though. I'd rather keep stats the same, and say something like, "if you're acting against someone who's a lower level than you, add +1; if they're way lower than you, add +2," and then just have people gain a level every time they defeat someone who's a higher level. Maybe.
  • It's not out yet (sorry), but my game The Magical Land of Yeld is being designed with Disgaea in mind. You can find a playtest doc floating around somewhere if you want to take a look.
  • edited September 2011
    Posted By: Marshall BurnsI'd rather keep stats the same, and say something like, "if you're acting against someone who's a lower level than you, add +1; if they'rewaylower than you, add +2," and then just have people gain a level every time they defeat someone who's a higher level. Maybe.
    Maybe something like a super-lite hack of Lady Blackbird or TSOY? You have a few different Traits, which represent Classes you've trained in, the score determining the dice you get to roll (in addition to the initial die). Your level, like suggested, determines if you get any bonus or penalty based on the level of your opponent. Items could functionally be level bonuses for specific actions, instead of adding directly to a Trait (essentially, they're evening the odds more than providing a direct bonus). And have conditions that are appropriate for a video game, like "Low on Hit Points," "Magic Break," "Aggro," or something like that.

    EDIT:
    Oh, and from what I remember, I concur that Yeld would be probably be good as well. It's been a while since I've read either of the playtests I've got (never got a chance to try them out, to my dismay).
  • Been mulling over this even more this morning, before my cold medicine has a chance to make my brain into something akin to mush.

    After looking through the Disgaea Wiki, here's some ideas I've jotted down.
    You have a class that is defined by scores in twelve different abilities. With this, you can make the Brawler distinct from the Fighter, the Mage distinct from the Healer, the Ninja different than the Scout, all by how you choose your abilities. Everything starts with 1 point (the base 1D6 die), and distribute another, oh, let's say 10 points among them?
    Alert - ability to notice and search
    Charm - ability to persuade and influence
    Fight - ability to hit with weapons and bare hands
    Guard - ability to shrug off attacks
    Magic - ability to cast spells or special effects
    Resist - ability to ignore spells or special effects
    Shoot - ability to use ranged attacks and weapons
    Sneak - ability to move silently and hide
    Speed - ability to evade and chase
    Tough - ability to lift heavy things and resist poisons
    Treat - ability to heal others
    Trick - ability to distract or mislead

    Each point in an ability above one gives you access to certain weapons or effects. Like, if you had Magic 4, you would choose 3 spell effects that you could cast. Or if you had Fight 3, you would choose two types of weapons you can equip.

    Your level would determine what you would need to roll for successes on your D6s. If you are evenly matched, you need to roll the regular 4-6 for successes. If you were a bit outmatched (enemy +1-+3 levels higher) you'd need to roll 5-6, or for really baddies (+4 or more levels higher) 6s. On the other hand, if you were +1-+3 levels higher than your opponent, you'd only need to roll 3-6 for successes, or if you completely overpower them (+4 level or higher), you'd only need 2-6s.
    And like I suggested before, items add to your effective level, instead of adding more dice. This is where your choices of abilities comes to be important, because if you can't equip the Demongod Sword +5, you can't use its bonus, right? Your Mage with a Fight of 1 who can only use sticks would not benefit from it, but a Warrior with a Fight of 4 and able to equip Swords, Axes, and Maces would have no problem.

    Not sure how enemies would be handled just yet. Thoughts or ideas?
  • edited September 2011
    Michael, that would be great, but I was hoping to not have to do much work; if there's not an existing holistic system that can handle Disgaea (with or without a little tweaking), then I'll be forced to make one from scratch, which I was hoping not to do. Because if I do, then the amount of effort that went into it will compel me to publish it, and in order to do that I'll have to file all the serial numbers off.

    I was looking at the AW playbooks a little bit. Y'know, it might actually work, with very little effort. F'rinstance, the Chopper's moves re: his gang could be used for an Etna-alike and her Prinnies, with nothing more than some word changes. But again, I don't have the book, and I don't really want to buy it (right now) unless I'm absolutely sure it's do-able.
    Posted By: stupidgremlinYou have a class that is defined by scores in twelve different abilities. With this, you can make the Brawler distinct from the Fighter, the Mage distinct from the Healer, the Ninja different than the Scout, all by how you choose your abilities. Everything starts with 1 point (the base 1D6 die), and distribute another, oh, let's say 10 points among them?
    With any luck, I'd like to avoid point distribution as much as possible. I'd prefer if disparity of abilities was baked into classes, as in MADcorp or AW.

    Jake,
    I thought Yeld was meant to be more of a Square/Enix kinda thang?
  • edited September 2011
    Posted By: Marshall Burnsthat would be great, but I was hoping to not have to do much work
    That's understandable. My mindset is always about taking bits and pieces from various things to make something new. That's just me.

    Though really, with the Hackbird rules, and with enough of an understanding of the Disgaea classes and their specialties, you could still make it work as a rules-lite option. Have the Traits be the actual Classes (so maybe a character could have Fighter 3, Ninja 4, Cheerleader 2).

    If you go the AW route, maybe look at the Minions Inc. hack first? It's already geared towards the humorous.
  • Unfortunately, not sure anything other than like 4E is going to fit the bill, if you're looking for Disgaea-style tactical play. Remember, fun interlude scenes aside the game was bult with 160+ hours of Grinding for Shut-ins in mind. Gorgeous character design and great stories (as of the first anyway, I never got into the others of the series) punctuated by repetitive grid tactical combat with some quirkies (human stacking/trapeze etc). A grid tactical game with a lot of crunch... 4e really fits that bill well.

    Anima Prime is tactical in a different kind of way, but I can kinda see it for this kind of game: Aim for the tactical play, and the cut scenes is where the dark humor/stories take place.

    I worked on a tactical idea for a while, but unfortunately there were too many problems that creeped up:
    * The tactical balance was such that scenarios/battles had to be pretty much pre-made and not crafted on the fly.
    * Combat took too long.
    * Combat had too many numbers (the PS2/PS3 did all the calculations instantly, but at the table it was a lot of rolling and math)
    * In the console games, a TPK means "game over", I couldn't think of a way to make TPKs/failures interesting.

    But if you think of a way, go for it!

    I thought Yeld was meant to be more of a Square/Enix kinda thang?
    Well, what's the difference between Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea? The skin/setting, that's about it.

    -Andy
  • edited September 2011
    I once ran a game kinda similar to this. It was more meant to be FF Tactics than anything else. I used the miniature gaming rules "Showdown" for Savage Worlds.
    http://www.peginc.com/downloads.html
  • Oh, yeah, sorry. I'm not interested in doing the tactical thing. It's the setting and thematic elements that I want to capture.

    Frex: I like all the vying for dominance and inverted social values. I like how demons supposedly don't have consciences or the ability to love, but they still do things from time to time that belie those "facts." I like how the angel character, Flonne, does stuff that's just as selfish and horrible as any demon, but justifies it as being in the name of "love." I like how Adell thinks he's human and acts accordingly, assuming that his strength is born from his indomitable human spirit -- when really, nope, he's a demon and that's why he's so strong (I also like that he never finds out that he's not human).

    So, yeah, that's more of what I'm going for: that humor-rich exploration of the notion of "evil." That, and Prinnies.
  • I see a lot of ideas about the setting in what you describe, but not really all that much about how you want it to play. It's like, by removing the tactical aspects, it seems to me that you remove a lot of what disgaea is, and you're going to have to replace it with something to structure the story, and that's what will determine what system you should use.

    From what you describe, it really reminds me of Tanith Lee's "Flat Earth" series, which implies to me that In a Wicked Age with a special oracle might work, or even Sorcerer, with a definition of humanity as "Love".

  • Ah, then in that case: Pretty much any game out there, period.

    With perhaps a nod towards HeroQuest/QuestWorlds/OtherWorlds, The Shadow of Yesterday, OVA, and Anima Prime: Various levels of "story elements impact the mechanics".

    -Andy
  • Oh, come on, guys, settings are not system-neutral.

    TSOY could work maybe, but I hope it's not the only thing because I don't like the dicing. IAWA is feasible, but maybe the Forms would need tweaking. Otherwise there wouldn't be much variation: everyone would have a terrible For Others and With Love, except for the one guy who decided he wanted to play an Adell-alike and the guy who decided he wanted to play a Flonne-alike, respectively.
  • I don't mean to say that settings are system neutral, just that setting isn't enough to choose a system, unless the setting also determines everything else about the story's genre, its form, its style, its structure, its situation. The parts of disgaea you've described certainly don't, there's all sorts of stories that could be told in the setting you've described. Do you want a romance? An adventure? A comedy of manners?

    I would use IAWA, because I'd want a game of episodic adventures with conflicting interests, low motives, with an expanding world. Everyone having a terrible With Love seems to me to be exactly the thing I'd want, I'd probably make an extra rule that it had to be low.

    But, there's no reason you couldn't have a Fiasco playset set in the world you want to play in, and no reason you couldn't use Dogs in the Vineyard if you wanted to play a game about an organization enforcing the "Demons can't love" thing. Not all systems are setting-neutral, but there's no one right system for a given setting.

    If I wanted the story to be about setting, though, I'd hack apocalypse world. I don't recommend doing that if you don't already know a lot about apocalypse world, though.

  • Posted By: HerpestesFantasticusNot all systems are setting-neutral, but there's no one right system for a given setting.
    There must be something crucial that I'm failing to communicate, 'cause I keep reading that sentence and thinking, "What? Whaaaat? What?"

    Obviously there's something that's implied to me in the whole setup that nobody else is seeing (because y'all aren't, y'know, psychic). I should probably figure out what that is.
  • edited September 2011
    So I don't know if this is what you were thinking, but back when everyone was posting anime Fiasco playsets my husband and I were real tempted to do a Disgaea one but didn't have the time. I still think it would work well, though you'd probably need to replace location.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsIf you're not familiar with Disgaea, it's a series of video games set in a world of demons where moral values are inverted from those of humans. Pretty much everyone is selfish, murderous, conniving, and deceitful, and people generally vie for power constantly or scrabble for petty edges or seek to satisfy petty grudges and desires. This is okay because the games are humorous about it.
    Wightbred is working on a Goblin World scenario for Ingenero that is very much like this. I am currently tossing out my current social challenge rules which are basically placeholders, and Im working now on the replacement which I am aiming at supporting this type of social interaction, amongst others.

    The new social rules will be available in a week or two , and I suppose the GW module might be available in about 4 weeks. There is enough info at my website for you to work out if you are intersted in it at all. The Black Sun module will give you an idea of the amount of work you will have to do as GM to kick something off,although obviously your players might want to create their own PCs which saves a lot of work.

    http://ingenero.wordpress.com/
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