Do authors take a peek at current design-space when creating new games? Should they?

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EmperorNorton

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You run your campaign that way because you get 30% of the depth for 5% of the work, and for how you play, 30% is enough. That’s great. That doesn’t make those tools universal that should be applied to every game, no matter how superior Silva thinks they are.
Also, nothing I said implied it should be fucking universal. I was explaining how they work. You were the one who basically said that they hobble GMs by existing.

You don't get to come back with "oh it works for you, but it doesn't work for me" when your stance was: "By existing clocks make GMs worse".
 

TristramEvans

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From the way you described them, Norton, the "clocks" just sound like a visual representation of a timeline, rather than a mechanic. I think the confusion is coming from other posters in the thread who are simultaneously suggesting that they need mechanical support from games to runcertain concepts, and then using examples of non-mechanical support.

From the impression that I get, for example, there'sessentially no difference in the support provided in the core book and the Labyrinth supplement in regards to running conspiracies, but for whatever reason there's a distinction being made between the two implying that there is some sort of subsystems provided, and references are being made to modern Simulation games like PbtA that mechanize aspects of play that traditional RPGs do not, further muddying the waters.

In other words, I think this is a dog-chasing-it's tail scenario as presented in regards to Delta Green, and some posters are getting caught up in that on the basis of some obfuscation and lack of clarity as to what "support" actually entails, with an added layer of confusion by the lack of acknowledgement that it's ultimately mechanical support/reinforcement of one specific playstyle that's being demanded, which is being phrased in a way that implies a game like Kult is lacking in "support" as a universally-used or understood term.

I think all of this could have been avoided if the OP was presented differently, e.g.

"What are some tips from GMing Conspiracies?" or "Do you know of any good subsystems for making running conspiracies easier?" instead of framing the concept (burying the lead) as a conflict between certain specific recent-ish game systems and a strawman of other RPGs that aren't hyper-focused on the same specific playstyle, here being mis-identified as "modern", as if it's either a) new (nope) or b) a universal paradigm of modern RPGs (also nope)
 

Trippy

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Not exactly. It's not a matter of knowing how to GM or not, at least not in my case, but of having support or tools to facilitate it. These days I dont have the inclination anymore to build whole campaigns from scratch, and prefer when the game gives me a hand with that, in terms of ready-made (and playtested) procedures or frameworks.
That just sounds like you want published scenarios and campaign books.

They have those.
 

Justin Alexander

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This is because Tynes has always been focused on providing the game structures that Silva is talking about. (I haven't actually read The Labyrinth, so I can't comment on it specifically.)

Which is one of the reasons why Tynes is such a superb RPG designer.
To build on this a bit: About twenty years ago, Tynes posted an unfinished draft of a Stargate SG-1 RPG he's been working on for, IIRC, West End Games. Reading this material I had a sudden flash of insight: Tynes wasn't just providing a resolution mechanic and a bunch of setting material. He was very specifically identifying what I would later call a scenario structure that was the core Stargate experience and he was designing the game to support that scenario structure:
  • Characters were built to participate in that scenario structure.
  • The GM was instructed in how to prep that scenario structure.
  • Support and setting material were targeted at filling that scenario structure.
And so forth.

I tried to talk about this at the time, expressed it poorly, and got a lot of people who angrily said I had no idea what I was talking about: Tynes' Stargate SG-1 material was just like any other RPG -- it had a resolution mechanic, a combat system, a bunch of fluffy setting material! And if God wanted GMs to have more than that, he'd have invented storytelling games!

But they were wrong. Tynes WAS doing more than that. Over time I realized that this was true of a lot of the best and most successful RPGs: D&D (particularly old school D&D), Shadowrun, Paranoia. Later there would be games like Night's Black Agents, Blades in the Dark, and Technoir. These games had specific scenario structures, communicated those structures to the GM, and, as a result, could target those structures with material designed to slot directly into the structure.

(Most of these games could also do more than their default structure(s). Because that's how RPGs work. But having the default structure provided a focused expectation that helped players, helped GMs, and helped designers by providing a common foundation on which experiences could be built.)

But, oddly, even the designers of those games didn't seem to really understand what they were doing. This remains broadly true, although we're seeing some designers like Hite and Harper who are starting to more deliberately engage with game structures and scenario structures in their work.
 

EmperorNorton

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From the way you described them, Norton, the "clocks" just sound like a visual representation of a timeline, rather than a mechanic. I think the confusion is coming from other posters in the thread who are simultaneously suggesting that they need mechanical support from games to runcertain concepts, and then using examples of non-mechanical support.
Which was also why I pointed out from the beginning that I have no opinion on Delta Green or Labyrinth as I've read neither.

I was only trying to clarify how clocks work in games I've played (specifically Blades in the Dark's use of them for tracking factions as that seemed like what was being referenced). Because I felt what they were was being confused.

I have no problem with games without them, and I'm not even sure why anyone is treating me like I do.
 

TristramEvans

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I have no problem with games without them, and I'm not even sure why anyone is treating me like I do.
I was not trying to imply that about you, if you got that impression I apologize. It had not even occured to me regarding yourself
 

AsenRG

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To build on this a bit: About twenty years ago, Tynes posted an unfinished draft of a Stargate SG-1 RPG he's been working on for, IIRC, West End Games. Reading this material I had a sudden flash of insight: Tynes wasn't just providing a resolution mechanic and a bunch of setting material. He was very specifically identifying what I would later call a scenario structure that was the core Stargate experience and he was designing the game to support that scenario structure:
  • Characters were built to participate in that scenario structure.
  • The GM was instructed in how to prep that scenario structure.
  • Support and setting material were targeted at filling that scenario structure.
And so forth.

I tried to talk about this at the time, expressed it poorly, and got a lot of people who angrily said I had no idea what I was talking about: Tynes' Stargate SG-1 material was just like any other RPG -- it had a resolution mechanic, a combat system, a bunch of fluffy setting material! And if God wanted GMs to have more than that, he'd have invented storytelling games!

But they were wrong. Tynes WAS doing more than that. Over time I realized that this was true of a lot of the best and most successful RPGs: D&D (particularly old school D&D), Shadowrun, Paranoia. Later there would be games like Night's Black Agents, Blades in the Dark, and Technoir. These games had specific scenario structures, communicated those structures to the GM, and, as a result, could target those structures with material designed to slot directly into the structure.

(Most of these games could also do more than their default structure(s). Because that's how RPGs work. But having the default structure provided a focused expectation that helped players, helped GMs, and helped designers by providing a common foundation on which experiences could be built.)

But, oddly, even the designers of those games didn't seem to really understand what they were doing. This remains broadly true, although we're seeing some designers like Hite and Harper who are starting to more deliberately engage with game structures and scenario structures in their work.
....you know, that was actually a great post:shock:!

I would actually add Pendragon, Ars Magica's between-adventures activities, Unknown Armies (especially 3e), Legends of the Wulin and possibly Traveller to that list. And maybe Gumshoe.

But I admit I'm used to just calling any such games the not-quite-precise "games that teach the GM&players their genre". In the case of D&D there wasn't even a genre when the game was created...
But now D&D fantasy is its own genre. And many GMs try to superimpose it on games where it doesn't actually fit...because they've been taught that and know that it works.
(The fact that it works like a square peg in a round hole is often neglected in favour of something that at least works, I suspect:thumbsup:).

OTOH, this also explains the popularity of certain setting/adventure supplements: they provide this structure. Case in point, Griffin Mountains, Monster Island, GPC and others...:devil:


...or it might be that I'm simply lacking sleep now and talking out of my lack of coffee. Or I might be sleep-deprived and still be up to something:shade:.
 
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Wormturn

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Writers in general are/should be encouraged to read as widely as possible, for a range of reasons. I don't see why game authors should be any different. A famous and recent example of "bunker mentality" where designers created a game without looking at the wider market was the original version of Final Fantasy XIV, which was so bad it had to be pulled from the market and rewritten from scratch.

Writers, do your reading.
 

CRKrueger

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Also, nothing I said implied it should be fucking universal. I was explaining how they work. You were the one who basically said that they hobble GMs by existing.

You don't get to come back with "oh it works for you, but it doesn't work for me" when your stance was: "By existing clocks make GMs worse".
Heh, I know you detected Grog-Heresy and so White-Knighted in to set the world to rights (and after your last few posts, please don’t be a bitch and cry tone-policing) but you really to need to...read the thread?

This whole thread is about taking the tools of PbtA and FitD games and applying them to every game as game designers should read all those other cool games and make everything like Silva wants.

The specific part that twisted your knickers about clocks is true. What I said was not contradictory. If all you want is tapestry settings without true depth, following all the tips and tricks religiously and speaking all the proper code phrases will get you there.

If you want a setting with more depth, you’re fucked. You try to get to a campaign like a lot of us prefer with those tools - you ain’t gonna get there. They’re not granular enough, that’s not what they were made for. As a result, those tools make you a worse GM from where I’m sitting. You don’t want to get where we’re sitting, ok.

Roleplaying to me is always going to mean something different than Roleplaying does to you.
A campaign to me will always mean something different than a campaign does to you.
Have you figured out yet that you and I could be using the exact same RPG and playing very different games?
Have you figured out yet that our definitions of “Good, Bad, Better, Worse” are not the same?
 

Black Leaf

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Interesting. I never heard of Cabal. Please tell me more, if you may. :grin:
I think it may well be a game you'd enjoy from what I know of your tastes. The big "gimmick" is that the main character is the cabal itself, created collaboratively through point. Then you send out teams to accomplish missions on the cabal's behalf, with the players playing different team members are required. It reminds me of Ars Magica's grogs. Good support for lots of conspiracies from economic to occult.

Give me a couple of hours and I'll make a cabal as my next entry in "create a character" which should give you a decent idea of how this all looks on paper.
 

CRKrueger

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From the way you described them, Norton, the "clocks" just sound like a visual representation of a timeline, rather than a mechanic. I think the confusion is coming from other posters in the thread who are simultaneously suggesting that they need mechanical support from games to runcertain concepts, and then using examples of non-mechanical support.

From the impression that I get, for example, there'sessentially no difference in the support provided in the DG core book and the Labyrinth supplement in regards to running conspiracies, but for whatever reason there's a distinction being made between the two implying that there is some sort of subsystems provided, and references are being made to modern Simulation games like PbtA that mechanize aspects of play that traditional RPGs do not, further muddying the waters.

In other words, I think this is a dog-chasing-it's tail scenario as presented in regards to Delta Green, and some posters are getting caught up in that on the basis of some obfuscation and lack of clarity as to what "support" actually entails, with an added layer of confusion by the lack of acknowledgement that it's ultimately mechanical support/reinforcement of one specific playstyle that's being demanded, which is being phrased in a way that implies a game like Kult is lacking in "support" as a universally-used or understood term.

I think all of this could have been avoided if the OP was presented differently, e.g.

"What are some tips from GMing Conspiracies?" or "Do you know of any good subsystems for making running conspiracies easier?" instead of framing the concept (burying the lead) as a conflict between certain specific recent-ish game systems and a strawman of other RPGs that aren't hyper-focused on the same specific playstyle, here being mis-identified as "modern", as if it's either a) new (nope) or b) a universal paradigm of modern RPGs (also nope)
The issue is, in part, Silva will never admit he wants mechanics from Narrative RPGs, but all the games he refers to are up to the eyeballs with them. As an example, Justin mentions Shadowrun as a game that gives structures, and Shadowrun is another game Silva brands as “supportless”. He doesn’t just want mechanics, however, I’ll grant him that. He wants campaign building tools.

In fact, I’ll even go so far to say that @silva is correct in part. After some games like Silent Legions, which gives Mythos campaigns the Crawford Sea of Tables treatment, a game about cults and conspiracies without Build Your Campaign Through Tables seems a little remiss.

Going over the books again (the slipcase set really is nice) I’ll say that the game isn’t really written for n00bs. It’s written for people that have been playing around or at least reading Delta Green for 24 years. They’re not just counting hundreds of pages of setting and faction, they’re counting on thousands of pages of core, supplements, adventures, and novels to provide the structures and frameworks.

One of the worst failings of an instructor or trainer, I think, is not being able to remember what it was like to not know something. Once something has become second nature, it can be difficult to empathize with those who have to learn it. I think I’m falling into that trap here somewhat, and I apologize.

I think Silva partially hamstrings himself. He’s relied on shortcut tools for so long, and enjoys the types of games that don’t need depth of setting, he struggles without those tools in a game where setting depth and complexity is high. At the same time, I think this version of Delta Green could certainly have provided more defined play structures instead of relying on Institutional Knowledge possessed by the Old Bloods.

So as to the OP...
No, the last thing Delta Green needed was XxxX mechanics. It’s bad enough Fall of Delta Green is Gumshoe.:fu:
Yes, the game could have used some stronger campaign building support.

But, one last thing to remember is that this isn’t a game about “the genre of Conspiracies” the same way Silent Legions was a game about “Building Your Own Mythos” or other games are about running the Conspiracy Genre generically.

This is Delta Green, a very specific and detailed instance of the Cthulhu Mythos in a specifically detailed alt-history game set in modern time. It’s a mission-based game where PCs are part of a secret group created to fight the Mythos. The PCs are loosely under command. Similar to Shadowrunners going on a Shadowrun, Delta Green Operatives go on Operations, what Silva calls “Monster of the Week” missions. Yes the game has little overt support for being independent hunters like Hunter: The Vigil, or doing a campaign arc where The Program and The Outlaws clash with one of them winning once and for all. James Bond 007 doesn’t have much support for being a beat cop, and Dark Heresy has zero support for being a Space Marine.

But in games with a strong default built-in game structure, you usually don’t see alternate structures in the main book. Shadowrun eventually had support, mechanically and otherwise for everything from Reporters to Pirates.
 
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BedrockBrendan

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Writers in general are/should be encouraged to read as widely as possible, for a range of reasons. I don't see why game authors should be any different. A famous and recent example of "bunker mentality" where designers created a game without looking at the wider market was the original version of Final Fantasy XIV, which was so bad it had to be pulled from the market and rewritten from scratch.

Writers, do your reading.
I don't think this is true. One of my frustrations when I pick up a new novel is getting the sense that the writer has been drinking from the same trough as other current writers. I think a lot of game writers do read lots of games. But it is like any other art form. There are musicians who listen to tons of music, and then there are some who avoid listening to new music so they are not sounding like other artists or writing in response to them (you see the same thing with comedians, there are comedians who avoid listening to their peers for this same reason). I think this is a choice. Even among designers who follow what is going on, it is still up to them what trends they adopt. I think one issue I do have with the OP is there is no reason we all have to be using the same tools just because they exist in the hobby at the moment, or are popular. Also I think sometimes this can come off as forced and result in bad takes. For example you can get a 'let me see what these kids are doing today' effect (just think of any older musician who has tried to cater to a more youthful trend).
 

CRKrueger

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From the way you described them, Norton, the "clocks" just sound like a visual representation of a timeline, rather than a mechanic. I think the confusion is coming from other posters in the thread who are simultaneously suggesting that they need mechanical support from games to runcertain concepts, and then using examples of non-mechanical support.

From the impression that I get, for example, there'sessentially no difference in the support provided in the core book and the Labyrinth supplement in regards to running conspiracies, but for whatever reason there's a distinction being made between the two implying that there is some sort of subsystems provided, and references are being made to modern Simulation games like PbtA that mechanize aspects of play that traditional RPGs do not, further muddying the waters.

In other words, I think this is a dog-chasing-it's tail scenario as presented in regards to Delta Green, and some posters are getting caught up in that on the basis of some obfuscation and lack of clarity as to what "support" actually entails, with an added layer of confusion by the lack of acknowledgement that it's ultimately mechanical support/reinforcement of one specific playstyle that's being demanded, which is being phrased in a way that implies a game like Kult is lacking in "support" as a universally-used or understood term.

I think all of this could have been avoided if the OP was presented differently, e.g.

"What are some tips from GMing Conspiracies?" or "Do you know of any good subsystems for making running conspiracies easier?" instead of framing the concept (burying the lead) as a conflict between certain specific recent-ish game systems and a strawman of other RPGs that aren't hyper-focused on the same specific playstyle, here being mis-identified as "modern", as if it's either a) new (nope) or b) a universal paradigm of modern RPGs (also nope)
One thing to remember about clocks. Of course the Usual Suspects are going to tell you they are just a visual form of taking notes, but depending on the game they are frequently tied to mechanics and have their own rules, such as once a clock hits 9:00, the outcome is inevitable, etc.
 

BedrockBrendan

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"What are some tips from GMing Conspiracies?" or "Do you know of any good subsystems for making running conspiracies easier?" instead of framing the concept (burying the lead) as a conflict between certain specific recent-ish game systems and a strawman of other RPGs that aren't hyper-focused on the same specific playstyle, here being mis-identified as "modern", as if it's either a) new (nope) or b) a universal paradigm of modern RPGs (also nope)
I think this was the core issue. I have no problem with Clocks as they've been presented. They seem like they could be a handy tool from time to time (though I would probably use them a little differently). But I could see incorporating that kind of concept to track something like 'when does a war break out between these two groups in the campaign' (especially if the impact of what the players are doing to contribute is less clear to me)
 

TristramEvans

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One thing to remember about clocks. Of course the Usual Suspects are going to tell you they are just a visual form of taking notes, but depending on the game they are frequently tied to mechanics and have their own rules, such as once a clock hits 9:00, the outcome is inevitable, etc.
Ive never seen them myself, but I take it that they aren't from the sort of RPGs I'd be interested in anyways
 

TristramEvans

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I don't think this is true. One of my frustrations when I pick up a new novel is getting the sense that the writer has been drinking from the same trough as other current writers. I think a lot of game writers do read lots of games. But it is like any other art form. There are musicians who listen to tons of music, and then there are some who avoid listening to new music so they are not sounding like other artists or writing in response to them (you see the same thing with comedians, there are comedians who avoid listening to their peers for this same reason). I think this is a choice. Even among designers who follow what is going on, it is still up to them what trends they adopt. I think one issue I do have with the OP is there is no reason we all have to be using the same tools just because they exist in the hobby at the moment, or are popular. Also I think sometimes this can come off as forced and result in bad takes. For example you can get a 'let me see what these kids are doing today' effect (just think of any older musician who has tried to cater to a more youthful trend).

There's definitely something to be said for "outsider art"
 

CRKrueger

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I don't think this is true. One of my frustrations when I pick up a new novel is getting the sense that the writer has been drinking from the same trough as other current writers. I think a lot of game writers do read lots of games. But it is like any other art form. There are musicians who listen to tons of music, and then there are some who avoid listening to new music so they are not sounding like other artists or writing in response to them (you see the same thing with comedians, there are comedians who avoid listening to their peers for this same reason). I think this is a choice. Even among designers who follow what is going on, it is still up to them what trends they adopt. I think one issue I do have with the OP is there is no reason we all have to be using the same tools just because they exist in the hobby at the moment, or are popular. Also I think sometimes this can come off as forced and result in bad takes. For example you can get a 'let me see what these kids are doing today' effect (just think of any older musician who has tried to cater to a more youthful trend).
Probably the best game example of this is D&D 4th.
 

Wormturn

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I don't think this is true. One of my frustrations when I pick up a new novel is getting the sense that the writer has been drinking from the same trough as other current writers... Also I think sometimes this can come off as forced and result in bad takes. For example you can get a 'let me see what these kids are doing today' effect (just think of any older musician who has tried to cater to a more youthful trend).
Yeah, absolutely agree, and I guess I was speaking as a former creative writing tutor, so my advice would only apply to new writers/designers. You need to fill your bucket before you can empty it (unless you are some outsider genius, which guys, I'm sorry to say, most probably ain't).

I think with game design there's more to be gained than just mechanical inspiration from reading widely. Writing style and structure are the biggies for me. To take a non-Clock Blades in the Dark example, John Harper's brevity with setting details creates a much richer, and more malleable, setting than many a 256-page setting tome.
 

Ladybird

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One thing to remember about clocks. Of course the Usual Suspects are going to tell you they are just a visual form of taking notes, but depending on the game they are frequently tied to mechanics and have their own rules, such as once a clock hits 9:00, the outcome is inevitable, etc.
Again, a clock with a certain set of mechanics is just something relevant to that situation, rather than anything inherent about the concept. If we had a CoC-like with the rule "Once your Sanity goes below a multiple of 10 (90, 80, etc) that becomes your new maximum Sanity", it's the same underlying concept, the only real difference being that it's not being drawn in a circle.

Ive never seen them myself, but I take it that they aren't from the sort of RPGs I'd be interested in anyways
Take D&D. Draw a circle and divide it into one segment for each point of HP you have. For each point of damage you take, fill in a segment, and for each point of healing you receive, rub out a segment. When every segment is filled, you die.

That's a clock. Add more time-related metaphor to taste.
 

Black Leaf

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I think with game design there's more to be gained than just mechanical inspiration from reading widely. Writing style and structure are the biggies for me. To take a non-Clock Blades in the Dark example, John Harper's brevity with setting details creates a much richer, and more malleable, setting than many a 256-page setting tome.
However, the World of Titan provides a much richer and more malleable setting than a story game that has two pages of setting detail and tells you to make up the rest yourself.

In other words, I don't think we're comparing like with like here.

Blades does this very well, so I think you have to compare it with a game that does the detailed setting thing very well. At that point, there's not really much between them apart from personal preference.
 

Fenris-77

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Clocks are good system-neutral way to track long term projects. Many games express these in terms of weeks or what ever, which as a duration is great, but doesn't always capture the "I'll work on it when I have time" nature of some campaigns. So in a game where downtime is less predictable, I might use a clock over duration. It's doesn't have to stink of story gaming, for those of you who seem a little delicate in that regard.
 

TristramEvans

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Take D&D. Draw a circle and divide it into one segment for each point of HP you have. For each point of damage you take, fill in a segment, and for each point of healing you receive, rub out a segment. When every segment is filled, you die.

That's a clock. Add more time-related metaphor to taste.
Yeah, that doesn't sound any different than how I described what I got from Norton's description above, but CRK seems to be referencing something different, and as I said, I've never seen either in a game.
 

Wormturn

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However, the World of Titan provides a much richer and more malleable setting than a story game that has two pages of setting detail and tells you to make up the rest yourself.

In other words, I don't think we're comparing like with like here.

Blades does this very well, so I think you have to compare it with a game that does the detailed setting thing very well. At that point, there's not really much between them apart from personal preference.
I'm not really trying to compare anything with anything, just stating that there are different approaches and by keeping up with your reading, writers and designers can learn from the "best" new approaches (YMMV of course, as per preference) new-school designers are up to. Outside of that, totes agree with you.
 

Lessa

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Again, a clock with a certain set of mechanics is just something relevant to that situation, rather than anything inherent about the concept. If we had a CoC-like with the rule "Once your Sanity goes below a multiple of 10 (90, 80, etc) that becomes your new maximum Sanity", it's the same underlying concept, the only real difference being that it's not being drawn in a circle.
Nice insight. :thumbsup: Sanity in Delta Green is already a "clock", as it's a meter with segments (called Breakpoints) that trigger mental disorders when reached. More: Bonds, Motivations, Downtime phase, Willpower Points, etc. are exactly the kind of mechanics/procedures to facilitate the GM work that I'm referring to here. When you burn 2 pts of a Bond to resist Sanity loss, it's exactly like burning Stress in Blades to resist damage.

Can you imagine how much harder it would be if the book only advised the GM to "try to depict your agents social lives disintegrating" instead, without presenting any of that?
 
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Lessa

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To build on this a bit: About twenty years ago, Tynes posted an unfinished draft of a Stargate SG-1 RPG he's been working on for, IIRC, West End Games. Reading this material I had a sudden flash of insight: Tynes wasn't just providing a resolution mechanic and a bunch of setting material. He was very specifically identifying what I would later call a scenario structure that was the core Stargate experience and he was designing the game to support that scenario structure:
  • Characters were built to participate in that scenario structure.
  • The GM was instructed in how to prep that scenario structure.
  • Support and setting material were targeted at filling that scenario structure.
And so forth.

I tried to talk about this at the time, expressed it poorly, and got a lot of people who angrily said I had no idea what I was talking about: Tynes' Stargate SG-1 material was just like any other RPG -- it had a resolution mechanic, a combat system, a bunch of fluffy setting material! And if God wanted GMs to have more than that, he'd have invented storytelling games!

But they were wrong. Tynes WAS doing more than that. Over time I realized that this was true of a lot of the best and most successful RPGs: D&D (particularly old school D&D), Shadowrun, Paranoia. Later there would be games like Night's Black Agents, Blades in the Dark, and Technoir. These games had specific scenario structures, communicated those structures to the GM, and, as a result, could target those structures with material designed to slot directly into the structure.

(Most of these games could also do more than their default structure(s). Because that's how RPGs work. But having the default structure provided a focused expectation that helped players, helped GMs, and helped designers by providing a common foundation on which experiences could be built.)

But, oddly, even the designers of those games didn't seem to really understand what they were doing. This remains broadly true, although we're seeing some designers like Hite and Harper who are starting to more deliberately engage with game structures and scenario structures in their work.
Amazing post, bro.

Notice that Delta Green already provides excellent structure for the kind of game they aim at: scenario of the week. My problem is with long-term play, which the book advice consists in "1. Come up with a campaign premise. 2. Find/write operations to plug into the campaign premise", which feels a big letdown in comparison.

(I'm sure the return of John Tynes will fix that, as Labyrinth suggests, but I can't avoid feeling that the corebook could've already provided us the means to create our own "labyrinths")
 
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Lessa

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The issue is, in part, Silva will never admit he wants mechanics from Narrative RPGs, but all the games he refers to are up to the eyeballs with them. As an example, Justin mentions Shadowrun as a game that gives structures, and Shadowrun is another game Silva brands as “supportless”. He doesn’t just want mechanics, however, I’ll grant him that. He wants campaign building tools.

In fact, I’ll even go so far to say that @silva is correct in part. After some games like Silent Legions, which gives Mythos campaigns the Crawford Sea of Tables treatment, a game about cults and conspiracies without Build Your Campaign Through Tables seems a little remiss.

Going over the books again (the slipcase set really is nice) I’ll say that the game isn’t really written for n00bs. It’s written for people that have been playing around or at least reading Delta Green for 24 years. They’re not just counting hundreds of pages of setting and faction, they’re counting on thousands of pages of core, supplements, adventures, and novels to provide the structures and frameworks.

One of the worst failings of an instructor or trainer, I think, is not being able to remember what it was like to not know something. Once something has become second nature, it can be difficult to empathize with those who have to learn it. I think I’m falling into that trap here somewhat, and I apologize.

I think Silva partially hamstrings himself. He’s relied on shortcut tools for so long, and enjoys the types of games that don’t need depth of setting, he struggles without those tools in a game where setting depth and complexity is high. At the same time, I think this version of Delta Green could certainly have provided more defined play structures instead of relying on Institutional Knowledge possessed by the Old Bloods.

So as to the OP...
No, the last thing Delta Green needed was XxxX mechanics. It’s bad enough Fall of Delta Green is Gumshoe.:fu:
Yes, the game could have used some stronger campaign building support.

But, one last thing to remember is that this isn’t a game about “the genre of Conspiracies” the same way Silent Legions was a game about “Building Your Own Mythos” or other games are about running the Conspiracy Genre generically.

This is Delta Green, a very specific and detailed instance of the Cthulhu Mythos in a specifically detailed alt-history game set in modern time. It’s a mission-based game where PCs are part of a secret group created to fight the Mythos. The PCs are loosely under command. Similar to Shadowrunners going on a Shadowrun, Delta Green Operatives go on Operations, what Silva calls “Monster of the Week” missions. Yes the game has little overt support for being independent hunters like Hunter: The Vigil, or doing a campaign arc where The Program and The Outlaws clash with one of them winning once and for all. James Bond 007 doesn’t have much support for being a beat cop, and Dark Heresy has zero support for being a Space Marine.

But in games with a strong default built-in game structure, you usually don’t see alternate structures in the main book. Shadowrun eventually had support, mechanically and otherwise for everything from Reporters to Pirates.
Yep, this more or less it, Krugs. The only exception is your obsession with "narrative mechanics" (whatever that means). I prefer the term support or tools myself (or structures, as Justin puts it), regardless of the form it takes. Like the things Pendragon uses, for eg.
 

Baulderstone

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Amazing post, bro.

Notice that Delta Green already provides excellent structure for the kind of game they aim at: scenario of the week. My problem is with long-term play, which the book advice consists in "1. Come up with a campaign premise. 2. Find/write operations to plug into the campaign premise", which feels a big letdown in comparison.

(I'm sure the return of John Tynes will fix that, as Labyrinth suggests, but I can't avoid feeling that the corebook could've already provided us the means to create our own "labyrinths")
I think part of the issue is that Delta Green isn't intrinsically a game about investigating conspiracies. In fact, the new edition has deliberately moved away from that direction by removing things like MJ-12. They are in the job of investigating weird mythos shit, whether or not there is any kind of conspiracy involved.

The conspiracy book is it's own thing, just like the book on Carcosa is its own thing.

As to the question of "Do game designers read each others work?" I'd say yes. The rules for cults in Silent Legions (As well as the faction rules in Crawford's other games) definitely seem to be informed by the Company rules that Greg Stolze, the Delta Green designer, did for Reign. It also looks like Greg Stolze seemed very aware of innovations in BRP mechanics that have gone on in the last 20 years or so.
 

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I think structures is the right word.

I think one thing that bothered me about game design for a long time was insistence on trying to do things with specific mechanics that could be better handled by structure.
 

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I think structures is the right word.

I think one thing that bothered me about game design for a long time was insistence on trying to do things with specific mechanics that could be better handled by structure.
That's interesting, TJ. Any examples? Are you think in terms of unnecessary mechanics or something like that?
 

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That's interesting, TJ. Any examples? Are you think in terms of unnecessary mechanics or something like that?
For a long time people said that Vampire had no support for political games.

Which was bizarre - because it has lots of structural support for politics. It has:
- a setting where the cast of NPCs that actually matter is small enough for the GM to keep a handle on.
- a political structure that is straightforward and simple (much easier then trying to play in a democratic political system with complex law).
- clear in setting groups (clans) to bring some complication to the otherwise simple political structure that can spark intrigue.
- a backdrop human city structure that can easily be interacted with and improvised to fill in details.

The campaign structure for the game is all there - if it wasn't it would never have been so popular. (The individual scenario structure is not so clear though).

It's hard to think of all that many examples the other way. There were a lot of indie games in the early 2000s post forge era that just seemed to think that if it wasn't explicitly in the mechanics then it didn't exist at all. I struggle to give examples because they were so highly focused on achieving one goal that I was rarely motivated to play them and I lost interest quickly.

I suppose an example would be the intrigue system in a Song of Ice and Fire. It's a somewhat complex social combat system for handling intrigue between characters such as you see in the TVs series - set piece scenes of back and forth and one-upmanship. It's an interesting system, but one which ultimately gets in the way - it only really works when both sides have clear goals of what they want from each other and those kind of scenes are the easiest to role-play. (Some kind of structure or system for keeping track of intrigues, alliances and promises would probably be more useful here then a complex resolution system.)

I guess what I'm getting at is that if the structures are in place then often the intended play will emerge, but if the structures are not in place, then often people try to hammer the intended play into place with specific mechanical subsystems. I don't mean to suggest that mechanical support is bad, just that while it can enhance play, it is often not completely necessary, and that often the best mechanical support is primarily a way of keeping track of things.
 
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Lessa

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@TJS , I think the way you're using structures differs somewhat from the way Justin is using. A setting can provide a nice bed for the game to be run over (and I agree Vampire setting does that with spades), but without procedures or advice for the players to interact with that, it's an incomplete "play structure" IMO. I think what Justin means by structure, is both the "bed" and the play instructions/procedures/advice on how to use that bed. Which goes back to my original criticism of the new Delta Green: a great "bed" for conspiracies, that the actual play advice/instructions never touched.

Because of that I've always found Vampire somewhat incomplete in the politics sphere. Contrast that with, say, Undying, for example. The later gives a "bed" for conspiracies in the form of a hidden society of vampires with rigid hierarchy, and also the advice/procedures for the players to interact with that society and hierarchy.
 
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Blades in the Dark taught me that RPG writers can easily express very simple concepts in extremely convoluted, overly complex ways.

Keep in mind, however, that I *do* have a lower-than-average intelligence in these here parts. ...I’m a Mac user, after all.
 

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@TJS , I think the way you're using structures differs somewhat from the way Justin is using. A setting can provide a nice bed for the game to be run over, but without procedures for the group to interact with that bed, it's an incomplete "play structure" IMO. I think what Justin means by structure, is both the "bed" and the instructions on how to use that bed in play.

Because of that, I've always found Vampire somewhat incomplete in the politics sphere, in a way that, say, Undying, doesn't.
Well it may be incomplete. (Personally I always thought it lacked the most important element for politics - a reason to give a shit about any of it - where's the ideology? - but that's a common problem).

But it at least addresses an awful lot of the problems in politics games - I'm not even sure how much of that was intentional. But there's a reason it was almost always played as a player driven game of polical intrigue and hardly ever as a game of personal horror.

Edit: I'm not really holding up Vampire as excellence in design for a politics game - I'm just suggesting it gets quite a distance of the way there purely on the kind of game structure that emerges from setting design alone.
 

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Yeah, I agree. It's incomplete but very good at pointing to how the players could explore that, which is good. The different personality splats and the great scenarios that came out for it (like Chicago by Night) also help, I think.

Take a look at Undying, if you can. It's created from top to bottom to explore the political aspect of Vampire, and it's very good at it. @Voros put a nice thread on it here.
 
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K_Peterson

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... the World of Titan provides a much richer and more malleable setting
I've heard a lot of positive comments/reviews about AFF's Titan. I should really sit down and read it. I bought a bundle of AFF a couple of years ago but never really looked through it beyond the core book. The game system didn't really do much for me, but a system-less setting book could hold potential.
 

Lessa

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Blades in the Dark taught me that RPG writers can easily express very simple concepts in extremely convoluted, overly complex ways.
I hear that. My group usually ignores "Position" altogether, for example. It seems an uncessarily complex way to say "you're under pressure, so apply some negative modifier to tests". :dead:
 

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OK I missed something what are Clocks in the context of this thread?
 
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