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Power 19 for the Team Event

May 23, 2011

While I’m not quite ready to post up the 2nd draft of the Team Event, I did promise to write a post on the Power 19 thing for the game when I finished writing the 2nd draft. For folks that aren’t familiar, the Power 19 is a list of questions to help game designers think clearly about what their games do and who their games are for. It’s a good sanity check and a tool to help find potential problems with a game.

Here’s how I currently see it for the Team Event. I stuck to the generic since we’re designing the game to accommodate many possible settings and conflicts. I think some of this would read better if there was a setting – which is why there is an example setting in the text – but I think it helps my design process more to answer these questions in the generic. Besides, the idea of this tool is to make sure these things are thought out, not to sell the game to anyone. (I’m just happy I can answer them all.)

1.) What is your game about?

It’s about many small teams of roleplayers interacting to create a story of a power struggle and its resolution. It’s also about those teams using strategy, negotiation, and cooperation to compete in gathering the most resources while simultaneously earning the respect and good will of their competitors. It’s about competition and building a community.

2.) What do the characters do?

The characters work towards the goals of their faction by allying with members of other factions when they have mutual goals and by taking resources from other factions that their faction needs to achieve it’s goals. They form relationships with members of other factions and they use these relationships to their faction’s advantage. They protect their faction’s resources and work with the other members of their faction.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?

The players increase the position of their own faction at the expense of other factions. They make alliances with other factions to take resources from their common enemies. In the end, they support the faction they want to see victorious and/or hinder the faction they want to see defeated. They use narration to defend their faction and to take additional resources from their opponents.

There isn’t a GM, but there are referees (usually two). The refs organize the event, provide all the materials, settle any rules disputes, demonstrate some mechanics, and run the final rounds of resolution. Their creative input is minimal – they are more proctor than participant.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The lack of setting reinforces that this is a game that can be played again and again and each time the 12 to 40 people playing will have a large impact on the fictional world. The specific example setting in the text reinforce the game’s premise by providing an easily understood situation with familiar fantasy trappings. Any setting used for this game will reinforce the power struggle central to the premise of the game – a throne is empty, a peace must be established, only one team can win the ultimate prize, etc.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?

In character creation, each team has limited resources and must divide those resources between their characters. Throughout the game, the player characters will be competing for limited resources and must cooperate with others to achieve their goals.

Character creation includes faction creation in the Team Event. While all factions share the same goal, to win the competition, each faction has a different reason for wanting to win and believing they should win.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?

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7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?

Narrating events is most heavily rewarded by stopping an opponent’s attack or making the opponent pay twice as much for the attack. Forming back stories with players from opposing teams is rewarded through reduced loses from attacks. Cooperation and negotiation is rewarded through greater rewards and reduced/shared expenses.

Rejecting a negative narration about your character or faction is punished by preventing you from achieving your immediate goal. Isolation and sloth are punished by the time limits. Rudeness and other anti-social behaviors are punished in the final phase when former competitors help determine the winners (somewhat like the losers on Survivor voting on the winner).

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?

Players initiate narration when they want something (a relationship or resources) that another player or faction (the target) has. The target can either accept the narration as credible or counter-narrate. The initiating player can then accept the new narration or nullify the entire exchange if they don’t want to accept it as credible.

In the finale of the game, some narration that is not subject to the normal pattern above can be vetoed by any two other players if they don’t find it credible.

The winning faction of the game is partially determined by players from other faction. If the narrations of a faction in contention were too harsh or bland or ridiculous during the rest of the game it could hurt that faction’s chances.

9.) What does your game do to command the players’ attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)

The participants in this game engage each other on a continuous basis in competition for resources. By giving the players and factions limited resources and time the game promotes participation. By giving the best rewards to those that cooperate the game promotes engagement. By rewarding narration the game forces players to listen to each other to perceive what each opponent will either accept or reject in a narration.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?

[This one is kind of vague. What are my mechanics similar too? Not sure exactly the point of this one.] They’re like haggling over the price of an item. They’re like negotiating an alliance between the X-Men and Brotherhood that you know won’t last. They’re like getting investors to back you in a hostile takeover.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?

The mechanics require strategy, cooperation, negotiation, and storytelling. The mechanics also increase resources of one party at the expense of another and the game is about gathering the most resources.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?

Individual characters do not advance in their abilities. Factions, however, advance to the final round and ultimate victory. They advance to the final round through strategy, teamwork, and forming rewarding alliances with other teams. They advance to ultimate victory by winning the favor of more of their failed competitors than the other faction in the final round. [If “advance” only means increase in power by the mechanics of the game then factions don’t do that either.]

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?

The lack of character advancement reinforces that the individuals in each faction are already important people in the setting, usually at the apex of their abilities.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?

I want them to enjoy sportsman-like competition and cooperative story creation. I want the the players to leave the event telling each other stories from the game and for stories of the game to be told at conventions attended by these players for years to come.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?

The storytelling mechanics; especially in the end-game. Not a lot of players will be familiar with this style of play, so some of the mechanics are very structured to ask specific questions of players.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?

The “dance” at the beginning of play (i.e. after character and faction creation). This will be the first opportunity for many players to create fiction in this manner and it teaches the players the basic concepts for the rest of the game. I think a lot of interesting stories will come from this part of the game and it will set the direction for the rest of the fiction.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?

So many to choose from! Mass-roleplaying. Large-scale-group-story-creation. Competition. Teamwork. This game is all about taking the players to a new place.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?

I want to publish it online as a free PDF. I want it to look professional and appealing to let everyone know that this is a serious endeavor. I want to spread the game text and the game concept beyond my own gaming community.

My ultimate goal would be to run a nation-wide tournament with the best teams from each region competing at Gen Con. [When I got involved in team roleplaying with the RPGA this was the plan, but it never happened.]

19.) Who is your target audience?

Roleplayers that want to have a good time with their friends competing as a team. Story gamers that want to play an epic-scale, world-shaping game. But also boardgamers, LARPers, Diplomacy players, and anyone else that wants to try something different and competitive.

Comments and questions are always welcome here, but especially on this one!

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