edited February 2006 in Story Games
My favorite storytelling mechanics are the ones that have been grafted onto more traditional games like the Riddle of Steel or Burning Wheel -- the ones that give the players game-rewards for guiding the GM's situation creation.

I'm going to be running a Warhammer FRP game soon. I picked Warhammer because there are lots of folks around who are enthusiastic about it, and I love it too. I like that it's fast and nasty, but I want to give it a little bit of Spiritual Attribute goodness so that I won't be flying blind when I start making the situation.

The thing is, Passions and Destinies and Faith and suchlike don't belong in WFRP. Plus, I don't want a bouqet of SA's -- that's too much input. I want a single one per player.

So I'm thinking about Doom.

Every character has a Doom; its what the hedge-witch saw for you when she looked in your crib. Your Doom must include two of Who, What, Where, When, or Why. "In battle" is not a Doom. "In battle against orcs" or "while upon the sea" is a Doom. It also has to pass a groan test. "in battle during daylight hours," for instance, is not a good Doom.

When characters are in a situation that pertains to their Doom, they can reroll any roll that they fail.

This is a pretty big advantage, but it's not an overwhelming one. I'm hoping this reward will draw players towards their Doom like moths to a blowtorch, and when they do face it, they won't get splattered--they'll go down like badasses.

Does this sound good? Anyone who's played lots of Riddle or Warhammer FRP have any insights?


  • Unless the Doom's actually gonna eventually kill them, I think it's a bit of a misnomer.

    So I'm thinking that you need to make it possible for adversity to take strength from the Doom as well.

  • Have you seen the Doom mechanic for Conspiracy of Shadows?

    It plays very much as you are describing it.
  • Maybe being in a situation that matches your Doom doesn't help you succeed, it just provides more reward for success. You've managed to face possible demise and come out victorious. (I dunno how WFRP deals with rewards) This would draw players towards Doomy situations without negating the fact that it's, well, Doom.

    Maybe you could set it up so your Doom starts out vague, and each time you succeed in that sort of situation you add more detail to the Doom. Sort of testing your fate; eventually you'll test it one too many times and meet your Doom.
  • Heh. I like that "test until you find your Doom" vibe.

    "It's against Orcs. Is it against this specific dark avatar of Orcish pride, while fighting for a beleaguered kingdom? Oh shit. It is. That's my Doom. Well, it was a good run."
  • CoS is a good yardstick for this. 7th Sea also had an interesting, though less mechanical. Players described their death scene of choice during chargen so the GM had it in pocket to play with foreshadowing and tension, and that was pretty sweet.

    That said, to me, doom seems something better suited to an escalation of dawning realization, so let me throw out an alternative.

    Let people define their doom broadly at the outset of the game, and when they find themselves in a bad situation, they can say "This is not my fate!" and refine their definition of their doom so it's a little more specific (adding an element) and they get a reroll (or rerolls) to get them out of the current situation.

    The only tricky point is where the threshold kicks in. If there are a hard number of times you can do this before your doom comes for you, and players don't know what that number is, then it's a great source of tension, though the eventual doom may frustrate them and leave em feeling "blindsided". If they know where the threshold is, that will make their decision regarding use a bit more tactical, btu that's not inappropriate for some games.

    The threshold might also be soft. Players know their threshold is around, say, 5 at the outset, but it can increase based on certain genre-appropriate/god pleasing deeds.

    Alternately, the threshold might signal the point where dice get rolled every time the doom is deferred, with the difficulty increasing with each step. Sooner or later, you'll fail, but can you risk it?

    Given that, Doom makes an excellent spotlight episode. At the beginning, the player goes in knowing that he is doomed, and one way or another, he's not coming out the other end alive. Over the course of the adventure, each of those boxes of doom he's checked off can now be spent down for fat bonuses and plot control that can do almost anything but avert his doom (One great use: extra,temporary wound levels - lets the character win a fight, then die afterwards). Give an opportunity for the player to resolve his issues and confront his conflicts in a way that is, hopefully, 100% pure awesome.

    Anyway, just a thought.

    -Rob D.
  • Oh wow, I like that -- I'm going to put together the last three comments.

    In character generation, you define at least two elements of your Doom.

    Whenever a situation involving your Doom comes up, you roll a die. If you get a result greater than a 1, this is not your Doom -- you get that reroll thang and you add one more element to your Doom. "Sure, battle with orcs, but my real Doom is a battle with orcs in a castle!

    If you do roll a 1, this is, indeed, your Doom, and you will, by the end of the present situation, either die or be removed from play for other catastrophic in-game reason (see DitV "Death"). Thing is, you still get that reroll -- so you can go down like a badass. Especially because you know that you're going down, you can take most of the scenery with you.
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