Is Otherkind an atom to split?

3xJ3xJ
edited February 2016 in Story Games
So, lets talk otherkind.

Otherkind dice resolution, in all its shapes and forms, does something fantastic: from each roll springs a collage of "stuff that happens." If you make otherkind right, there is no status quo. It also automatically correlates the fictional worlds between the players - if they are not correlated, they will be afterwards. It is also very flexible in what it resolves.
Here is one of vincents posts regarding otherkind.
http://www.lumpley.com/archive/148.html

There is also another cool element present in otherkind. There must be a danger included in your roll. It becomes sort of a mechanized version of "say yes or roll the dice." no danger, no otherkind. Say yes if you find no danger.

But, it has a, for me, glaring flaw. Atleast for what i want to use it to.
Otherkind resolution requires a lot of "footwork" after calling, but before rolling. Combine this with the question of intent, and Play grinds to a halt as fiction is correlated, because the whole collage must be correlated as the mechanics are called upon. After the roll, there is again interpretation and correlation. It is stakes set-at-the-moment taken to an extreme.
I would imagine this goes away after a lot of play through system mastery, but some systems have tried to split this task over a time frame or over different mechanical interpretations.

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I know it has already been split into apocalypse, blades and more. But those remove the collage of fiction for ease of use.

If the way of resolving otherkind can be split into multiple fragments, but preserving the collage generated, focusing attention on the interaction one wants for the premise of the game, we got ourselves very strong resolution system.

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Let me come with two examples of what i mean

"Thus began the adventures of Eowyn" starts with a single resolution of stakes in Yes/no form. But you can push it, and add additional dangers, for a more beneficial way to interpret the dice. This is otherkind resolution broken down into different mechanical units within the same resolution.
In addition, there are risks for you to take. Each risk taken gives you a die, but you must put a number on the risk. If that number comes up on any die, the risk comes true.

maybe it is personal, but i think that this way is a lot more easy to resolve than "normal" otherkind. And just as strong, if not stronger.

Here is the link if anyone is interested.
http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/20513/thus-began-the-adventures-of-eowyn#latest

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I really do think that otherkind, for its age, is super powerful tech.
Can we usher some of the resolution away into procedures?
Can we build GM/player principles into the resolution, to foster a better, more fruitful environment?
Can we use other forms of mechanics to lessen footwork?
Can we spread said footwork over time and mechanics, so people have it nearly-resolved when they begin rolling?
Can we turn some elements of the resolution into ritual phrases?
How can otherkind be used to spotlight the interaction you want the players to have?
And how?

---
A discussion regarding the depths of otherkind resolution could shed light on some cool mechanics.
That and i think that the potential in otherkind is immense, and skimmed over, maybe because of its "weightfulness."?

Comments

  • A lot of these issues could be tackled by folding more of the mechanics into the character sheet: imagine an Otherkind game where the character's choices are separated into boxes on a playsheet, either at the game design or character creation step.

    Example No.1: Ninjaworld
    Everyone in this game plays a Ninja, so all the PCs have identical boxes on their character sheets for things like "Do this quickly", "Do this stealthily", "Do this without collateral", "Do this without breaking my vow" and so on.

    Example No.2: Actionworld
    Everyone in this game plays an action movie star, so though they have similarities, they all have their own specialisations chosen at character creation, so the Driver has "Lose my pursuers" and "Don't wreck my ride", where the Hacker has "Eavesdrop on their conversation" and "Shift the blame elsewhere."

    In either case, a lot of the decision making is made before you begin playing, by identifying the most common outcomes the players want from their characters: when a PC acts, the player puts tokens on their character sheet in the boxes they are using. After the roll, they assign the dice to the boxes with tokens in.

    If I've understood the OP's points correctly, this tackles the last three points on the list:
    Can we put said footwork "back in time", so people have it nearly-resolved when they begin rolling?
    Yes, by simplyfying the range of choices and identifying the mostly commonly desired ones before we start to play.

    Can we turn some elements into ritual phrases?
    Yes, by creating character sheets around a framework of ritual phrases.

    How can otherkind be used to spotlight the interaction you want the players to have?
    By putting some choices on the character sheet in advance, before the players even start to choose & create characters: this weights the outcomes, and therefore the story, in the direction you want your game to have.
  • 3xJ,

    It's quite interesting that you brought this up, because I designed the conflict system in Thus Began the Adventures of Eowyn precisely as an attempt to give the Otherkind procedure a more flexible/step-by-step method.

    I think it worked, and it's a lot of fun in play, but since then I've been trying to take it further. I have a few methods of "parsed Otherkind resolution" I've come up with, but so far none are *just right*.

    I'll post more later, and just read on for now.

    But this is *exactly* what I've been working on for the last few weeks. It's a tough nut to crack; harder than I expected initially.
  • (It's also notable that the first published game to use Otherkind resolution is Ps*Run, which does precisely what James_Mullen is talking about: it breaks up the possible choices into boxes on the character sheet and then makes you assign dice to them as you go. So does my Eowyn game, though in a more flexible fashion.)
  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited February 2016
    I have been trying to crack down on it + dogs in the vineyard, player facing, made for tragic, beautiful, heroic power fantasy (but with the characters feeling as real people, changing, eroding constantly.)

    I think your game works beautifully, both by easing players into the otherkind resolution it uses, but also by adding a theme of "what are you willing to risk?". I could play Eowyn for a long time! (i am going to write about a single theoretical gripe i have with it in your thread.)

    I salute your effort ! Do you want to skype/talk about your findings. i am much better at talking and writing deliberated texts than writing forum posts. Deliberated forum posts take up so much time!

    James_Mullen, that design is really cool! I have to check Psi*run out then Paul.
    But by having these pre-determined options, i worry:
    If they are the only possible or the greatest options, then you may "box in" what the characters can do. This reminds me of "dream askew" where your strong/weak/normal moves are written directly unto your sheet, some broader than others, and they are what you can do with rules supporting them. If there is something that breaks my interest in a game, it is the "no, you cant shoot now" kind of thing. (the game is damn cool, so try it if you can, but i get a certain sense of boxed-in-ness.)
  • Sure, I'd be up for a chat, and we could compare notes. Send me a private message!

    Designing a fluid Otherkind procedure is very challenging, from a mathematical and procedural perspective. I've got a few functioning prototypes, but each has unexpected downsides. I have not yet managed a "best of both worlds" version; indeed, that may turn out to be impossible.

    I'd love to hear about theoretical gripes about Eowyn in the other thread, as well! Please do so.

    As for "boxed-in" factor, Ps*Run has that in spades: what allows the very specific "boxes" to be drawn on the sheet is that the game is about a VERY specific scenario with pre-set dangers. The entire game is basically a drawn-out chase scene. Eowyn's Adventures was my attempt to do something a little more generic and flexible with a similar approach. (If you ignore the "ghost" stuff in the fourth column, the first three are intended to cover most likely factors, with the Narrator's second question covering anything left out by those dangers.)
  • Some more thoughts...

    To "split" the atom, as you put it, there are two potentially separate axes to consider:

    * The developing fiction, and our narration of it. Do we describe everything at once, or step by step?

    * The "at-the-table" procedure of developing the conflict. When do we establish what the dangers are, what the goal is, what dice to roll, and so forth? When do we establish the various mechanical moving pieces?

    Eowyn's Adventures plays with the second, but not so much the first. My other attempts dealt with the first axis, but none have had quite the right outcome for now.


  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited February 2016
    Sure, I'd be up for a chat, and we could compare notes. Send me a private message!
    Gladly! i'll do so! Later tonight, or tomorrow night ill write a message.

    ---
    Some more thoughts...

    To "split" the atom, as you put it, there are two potentially separate axes to consider:

    * The developing fiction, and our narration of it. Do we describe everything at once, or step by step?
    I do think that in Eowyn, something happens. When you push it, and add "dangers", we did narrate their entrance, or what was dangerous about them. if not, we made clear what could happen. It sort of fictional prompt + unresolved ending. So fiction was generated mid/roll. The following was not what happened in our play, but how it generally happens.

    PLAYER: "I will not let him die, i push on and barge through the door.
    will i get to Eiras before they run him through? *picks up dice, waits for me*
    ME: "As you barge through the door, some of Haradrim are advancing on the boy. Two of them stand at the ready, just in front of you. Gleaming silver arcs streak through the air as they try to strike you."
    Will you recieve a wound to your shoulder by poisoned haradrim blades as you to get to Eiras?
    now he rolls. (he could also risk something, and now, we are filling undiscussed creative space on the game.)

    so it does stretch. Maybe you should proceduralize it? It is hard (atleast for me) to stop thinking in math and "hard mechanics" once i am working on such.

    ---

    One could see dogs in the vineyard as stretched out otherkind dice in that way. first, set the goal, then shift to see what happens within that nucleus of actions and reactions. But i guess nearly every conflict resolution system does that. BUt dogs in the vineyard specifically says what you can talk about or cannot talk about regarding the stake and the fiction beforehand, building fiction which again, must be acknowledged. And it is the fiction on the way to said stake that is the center of dogs in the vineyard.

    ---

    What i am basically trying to do in my current version is setting up conflicts so they can fractalize down into single, unopposed, but dangerous tasks "will i cross the bridge in this ungodly storm." to more poignant conflicts where the opposition has an undefined intent regarding the stake. + in eowyns dangers, and the game is now asking some completely different questions.
    But sadly, there are speed bumps.

    ---
  • Lately, I've been interested in OD&D, which uses a single d6 for resolving a lot of delving tasks: opening doors, hearing noise, do you set off the trap, is there a wandering monster, and so on. It struck me that this is pretty ripe for an Otherkind interpretation. Demihumans get two or three dice, take the best, when hearing noise; maybe battering a door lets you roll open doors and wandering monster at the same time, and so on. To the extent it purports to use Chainmail for combat, and as far as Chainmail uses opposed d6 pools for 20:1 battles, that system might also be Otherkindable. Anyway, that's where my head's at this week.
  • edited February 2016
    Off the top of my head…

    1. Apocalypse World implements Otherkind dice at the level of individual moves, such as Seize by force (apparently to disappear from 2nd edition) and several other "10+ choose [N], 7-9 choose [N-1]" moves.
    Like all AW and AW-style "moves", these are triggered by more specific fictional conditions than the generic "it's a conflict!". Which means that, as long as the range of possible moves stays within a sane number, there's little or no discussion about either when to engage the resolution system or such details of engagement as "stakes", intent or whatever.
    Additionally, with a set of choices well-tailored to the triggering event, defining fictional outcomes in detail still takes some thought but, usually, just a little.
    Thus: having all these similar but distinct subsystems for all possible kinds of conflict in your game makes for a more agile Otherkind implementation than having just one generic, all-purpose conflict system.

    2. In Bliss Stage, which was published long before Psi*Run AFAIK, there is only one kind of (Otherkind based) conflict resolution. It's only employed in Mission actions (BS action = scene, basically), but Mission actions make up at least half of the game.
    Its trigger is very generic, not unlike Psi*Run: you roll when you face any danger and/or have a chance to achieve a mission objective. But, since every Mission actions culminates with a roll, it's more of a matter of pacing than framing conflicts: not much to learn here, except maybe that the broader structure of a game, its fictional and mechanical arcs, can greatly simplify this step by front-loading it.
    After rolling, it usually takes a while for the player to strategically allocate dice between a large number of priorities - because these choices are extremely consequential and their consequences almost always tragic. But then the mission just moves on: the fictional consequences of those choices are not immediately highlighted and described. Rather, the player's choices are recorded as a set of abstract, mostly numerical parameters. Later, the (dramatic and decisive) consequences of those choices are explored and played out during different scenes, especially scenes involving no dice-rolling per se, and those consequences further acted upon, etc.
    So, the big trick here is that (most) outcomes are long-term ones and their narration is delayed accordingly.
  • Interesting thoughts.

    On OD&D: When we played B/X D&D on IRC two years ago, we often used "roll an extra die" in lieu of a +1 (the odds are fairly close), so it's certainly doable. In a D&D context, however, it's not clear how to parse and weight "dangers" (and, in most D&D d6 actions, adding a danger would often remove the whole point of the roll, since typically the most obvious danger would be being spotted by monsters, and the intent of the character rolling is to complete their task before this happens).

    Apocalypse World does a nice job of short-cutting the negotiation part of Otherkind dice with preset moves, but at the cost of flexibility. (You can have a lot of really interesting outcomes in an Otherkind-based system which aren't easily possible in Apocalypse World.) I'm still thinking about the tradeoff here, and whether it's desirable or not for certain purposes.

    2. In Bliss Stage, which was published long before Psi*Run AFAIK
    My understand is that Ps*Run was published more recently, but was designed and played far earlier (and possibly an influence on Bliss Stage). In fact, it was the first game to use Otherkind dice (other than Otherkind itself, of course, and the freeform experiment for which they were invented in the first place). My memory here could be faulty, however!

    3xJ,

    I agree with you about Eowyn, but it doesn't always work this way. It's up to the players to narrate the dangers and questions as they like. Sometimes that could mean adding to the fiction (as in your example), sometimes not.

    So I'm not sure what you mean by "proceduralize it". If you mean insisting that there always be some kind of narration, I think I'm somewhat against it, although, in practice, that's what I do as much as possible.

    Did you actually play the game? (If you did, I'd like to hear about it!)

    As for Dogs in the Vineyard and similar extended conflicts, that was one of my realizations concerning a step-by-step Otherkind system: although it sounds really interesting in theory, actually playtesting it with a friend felt *very* similar to any kind of task resolution-based scene (like a D&D combat scene!). As a result, I'm now wondering whether that's a desirable thing or no.

    Nevertheless, I have a bunch of drafts which are potentially interesting and which we could discuss, if you'd like. As you're seeing yourself, there are a number of surprising "bumps" and challenges involved in designing such a procedure.
  • edited February 2016
    In The Coyotes of Chicago, there is one player and several game masters. The player will always achieve the goals, unless the game masters spends points to come up with obstacles. For each point spend, the player gains one die, and s/he can also gain additional dice from traits to spend on the goal and a bonus feature from the conflict.

    That game flows well, with a declaration phase before the resolution phase. Each point spent is described by the game master and the player can come up with something extra to gain from this conflict. Each 4+ die can then be spent by the player to remove an obstacle or achieve the goal. Narration is followed after that to explain what happened.
  • Rickard, I read through the Coyotes, and, while it has a nice "player names a potential bonus" phase, otherwise it seems no different than Otherkind dice in terms of its flow: there is a bunch of out-of-character declaration, then a roll, and finally the narration of the fictional events.

    It sounds like a fun game, though! Thanks for the link.
  • The cool thing about coyotes (by reading it only) seems to be the clear delineation of purpose between players, and the multiple GM's.

    By having that, the "finding of dangers". The adventures are weighted between the players.

    Some footwork is made long before, as danger-ideas incubate in the corresponding player. You have your adventure paper from minute one, and then your brain begins brewing.
  • Off the top of my head…

    1. Apocalypse World implements Otherkind dice at the level of individual moves, such as Seize by force (apparently to disappear from 2nd edition) and several other "10+ choose [N], 7-9 choose [N-1]" moves.
    Like all AW and AW-style "moves", these are triggered by more specific fictional conditions than the generic "it's a conflict!". Which means that, as long as the range of possible moves stays within a sane number, there's little or no discussion about either when to engage the resolution system or such details of engagement as "stakes", intent or whatever.
    Additionally, with a set of choices well-tailored to the triggering event, defining fictional outcomes in detail still takes some thought but, usually, just a little.
    Thus: having all these similar but distinct subsystems for all possible kinds of conflict in your game makes for a more agile Otherkind implementation than having just one generic, all-purpose conflict system.
    ----

    Yeah, but as long as they are such, they force no one to talk about them, or get on the same page. It is as if the fiction correlation is/can/ be a lot more GM-vision centric.
    Indeed there is much for flow in AW than most implementations of otherkind, but there seems to be a smaller fictional breadth to each colorisation of the av moves.

    The catch-all move "act under fire" seems like a "safety-net" implementation, with less resolution than in otherkind. (it is basically the goal/danger of otherkind baked into a single resolution, and they resolve according to the GMs wishes.)
    Lately, I've been interested in OD&D, which uses a single d6 for resolving a lot of delving tasks: opening doors, hearing noise, do you set off the trap, is there a wandering monster.
    It is nearly like the, roll d6, see what happens of OD&D. That is what "defy danger" from dungeon world is.
  • Off the top of my head…

    1. Apocalypse World implements Otherkind dice at the level of individual moves, such as Seize by force (apparently to disappear from 2nd edition) and several other "10+ choose [N], 7-9 choose [N-1]" moves.
    Like all AW and AW-style "moves", these are triggered by more specific fictional conditions than the generic "it's a conflict!". Which means that, as long as the range of possible moves stays within a sane number, there's little or no discussion about either when to engage the resolution system or such details of engagement as "stakes", intent or whatever.
    Additionally, with a set of choices well-tailored to the triggering event, defining fictional outcomes in detail still takes some thought but, usually, just a little.
    Thus: having all these similar but distinct subsystems for all possible kinds of conflict in your game makes for a more agile Otherkind implementation than having just one generic, all-purpose conflict system.
    Yeah, but as long as they are such, they force no one to talk about them, or get on the same page. It is as if the fiction correlation is/can/ be a lot more GM-vision centric.
    Indeed there is much for flow in AW than most implementations of otherkind, but there seems to be a smaller fictional breadth to each colorisation of the av moves.

    The catch-all move "act under fire" seems like a "safety-net" implementation, with less resolution than in otherkind. (it is basically the goal/danger of otherkind baked into a single resolution, and they resolve according to the GMs wishes.)

    ---

    Lately, I've been interested in OD&D, which uses a single d6 for resolving a lot of delving tasks: opening doors, hearing noise, do you set off the trap, is there a wandering monster.
    It is nearly like the, roll d6, see what happens of OD&D. That is what "defy danger" from dungeon world is.

  • 3xJ3xJ
    edited February 2016
    Off the top of my head…

    1. Apocalypse World implements Otherkind dice at the level of individual moves, such as Seize by force (apparently to disappear from 2nd edition) and several other "10+ choose [N], 7-9 choose [N-1]" moves.
    Like all AW and AW-style "moves", these are triggered by more specific fictional conditions than the generic "it's a conflict!". Which means that, as long as the range of possible moves stays within a sane number, there's little or no discussion about either when to engage the resolution system or such details of engagement as "stakes", intent or whatever.
    Additionally, with a set of choices well-tailored to the triggering event, defining fictional outcomes in detail still takes some thought but, usually, just a little.
    Thus: having all these similar but distinct subsystems for all possible kinds of conflict in your game makes for a more agile Otherkind implementation than having just one generic, all-purpose conflict system.
    Yeah, but as long as they are such, they only force the players to get on same page if they feel the trigger is wrong. After that, the GM's vision takes over-

    Indeed there is much for flow in AW than most implementations of otherkind, but there seems to be a smaller fictional collage breadth to each AW move.

    The catch-all move "act under fire" seems like a "safety-net" implementation, with less resolution than in otherkind. (it is basically the goal/danger of otherkind baked into a single resolution, and they resolve according to the GMs wishes.)

    ---
    Lately, I've been interested in OD&D, which uses a single d6 for resolving a lot of delving tasks: opening doors, hearing noise, do you set off the trap, is there a wandering monster.
    It is nearly like the, roll d6, "see what happens" of OD&D. That is what "defy danger" from dungeon world is.




  • Some footwork is made long before, as danger-ideas incubate in the corresponding player. You have your adventure paper from minute one, and then your brain begins brewing.
    Great point!

  • Lovely thread! It prompted me to finish reading the Adventures of Eowyn, too, which is very interesting.

    One thing which always seemed cumbersome about basic Otherkind is the gradient of success on each die. You're not only assigning the dice, but also going through an additional step of interpretation for each category.
    The binary "You answer/GM answers" outcomes in Eowyn are a big step forward in ease of use. I used a similar binary implementation using coin flips in this game about cats. The cats game never really worked well, but might have some pieces worth dissecting.

    In Cats, each character sheet has a unique list of elements to assign coins to when they make a move. My experience was that having all of these elements in play for every roll was too derailing. Every move generated some kind of left-field complication.

    I haven't played Eowyn, but the fiction-led, step-by-step introduction of these complicating elements seems like a big advance. Love the character sheet interface with "place a die on the dangers you're risking."
  • edited February 2016
    Thanks, Dirk!

    I'm very happy with "Eowyn"; it's been a blast to play, and the resolution feels satisfying without being too heavy.

    I'll take a look at "Cats", it looks interesting!
  • Been thinking more about this, working on a little remix of Eowyn dice. One problem I've had with otherkind dice is the amount of synthesis required, and the fraying of the narrative thread that can happen when you get all this new information at once. The following is an attempt to introduce and resolve complications more sequentially, and allow players to gradually raise stakes in a conflict.

    Paul had earlier prompted me to look at Vincent Baker's swashbuckling romance game, which really got me excited about question asking as a primary means of resolution, so there's a lot of that DNA in this, too.
    To resolve a tense, risky or uncertain situation, say what you want and assemble a pool of dice. One die to start, plus any others indicated by your character sheet. Add dice from your pool if you like. Ask the GM how many hits you need, probably between one and five. Roll your dice and count hits.

    Accept the result or ask a question below to keep rolling (after each question, roll one more die.)

    Keep going until you get the hits you need or choose to stop. You can’t ask the same question twice. Basically, you can keep raising the stakes in order to press on toward your goal, but each thing happens sequentially, and the answers to your questions are firm. Like hard moves, they’re things that just happen. No “moves snowball” here. Or rather, the snowballing is fully encompassed by this one act of resolution.

    The lists of questions could be tailored to different situations, like so:

    For crossing blade with blade:
    -I open a momentary gap in my defenses, how will they exploit it?
    -I lose my footing for a moment, will they corner me or drive me back?
    -As I press in close, what do they grab from my person?
    -I hear something clatter to the ground, what have I lost?
    -I pursue them through strange grounds; what ambush gathers around me?
    -I press on heedless of my companions, what danger now advances upon them?
    -I expose myself to grave harm, where will they drive home their blow?
    -I break with them, circling; will they run or rejoin the fight?
    -I turn to run, will they pursue me?
    -I place myself at their mercy, what will they do with me?


    For pressing on in the face of grave harm:
    -What lasting mark will this leave upon me?
    -If I go on now, I’ll be laid out later; how long must I lie in recovery?
    -What part of me must be sacrificed to preserve the whole?
    -Soon, I’ll surely die without the aid of…
    -To go on now will surely be my last act

    For acting covertly:
    -What trace of myself do I leave behind?
    -I must proceed in haste, what detail do I overlook?
    -I go mostly unnoticed, save by whose eyes?
    -I find myself cut off from my companions, what lies between us?
  • Does Prime Time Adventures fit in this continuum, too? It has the same wide-open stakes setting and the same jumbled collage of potential outcomes, and the same issues. Sometimes it felt like hashing out the potential outcomes OOC was the actual game system, and the roll was almost anticlimactic.
  • Interesting stuff!

    I like the Eowyn/swashbuckling game hybrid (although it's not really Otherkind dice, in my opinion - but it's a nice "accept a complication to roll again" mechanic, with added flavour from the questions).
  • PTA does have this as an issue as well (heh), although it's not like Otherkind, since noone chooses which outcomes happen instead of others. (Although, arguably, using Fan Mail/Screen Presence to skew those things is a version of that!)
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