Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Thematic System

Inspired by The Window, Risus and the like, but also less-abstract games such as The Riddle of Steel and Cortex.

ROLES & SOUL TRAITS

Instead of characters, players control aggregations of "Soul Traits," which are called roles in this game. These can be represented by a single character for each player, a group of characters who each represent one of the traits, a whole nation of people, or something else. The scale for each player should be determined while planning the game. The Game Master may also wish to prevent things from becoming too abstract by handing out a list of roles, such as "barbarian hero," "helpful wizard," "damsel in distress," or "sociopathic robot assassin" and allowing the players to choose from the list. Each player should probably start with five Soul Traits.

Some example Soul Traits are:

Altruism
Beauty
Challenge
Chaos
Chivalry
Control
Dependence
Duty
Evil
Faith
Freedom
Glory
Good
Greed
Growth
Honor
Independence
Jealousy
Law
Love
Lust
Mysteriousness
Nature
Nurture
Oath
Peace
Strength
Ugliness
Violence
Wealth

Then, start with 10 points and allocate them amongst the Soul Traits, with a minimum of 1 point allocated toward each. Putting more points towards a Soul Trait means that it is much stronger.

The way that these soul traits are most-commonly used is dependent on the role. For example, the barbarian hero role expresses his strength by being very good at killing things with swords, or expresses his independence through excellent survival skills. The helpful wizard role expresses her freedom by magically-loosing bonds of any type, or expresses her mysteriousness by magically-hiding details about her true self. The damsel in distress role expresses her dependence by compelling the barbarian hero to rescue her, or expresses her chivalry by being in courtship with a noble knight. The sociopathic robot assassin role expresses his challenge by daring people to bite his shiny metal ass, or expresses his evil by gleefully butchering organic life forms.

COMPETITION

There are a few ways that competition between Soul Traits can be initiated:

Both Active: Conflict. The entities involved have entered a situation where only one of them can continue to exist at the end.

One Active, Other Passive: Imposition.

Both Passive: Contradiction. The entities involved simply cannot work toward the same purpose, and must either part their separate ways or convince one another.

There are a few ways that competitions can be resolved:

1. Roll a cubic die (d6) for each Soul Trait involved. The higher roll wins and thus holds its ground or gains ground. A tie means that neither of the Soul Traits is gaining ground.

2. One of the players chooses to reallocate a point, taking it away from the Soul Trait in competition. The opposing Soul Trait automatically wins. If this results in a Soul Trait reaching 0, then the player must place the point towards a new Soul Trait that was not there before.

3. One of the players chooses to reallocate a point, taking it away from an unrelated Soul Trait in order to boost the one which is in competition. The opposing Soul Trait automatically loses. If this results in a Soul Trait reaching 0, then the player must later place the point towards a new Soul Trait that was not there before.

4. One of the players chooses to spend a point, permanently losing it from the Soul Trait in competition. This Soul Trait automatically wins. This can never result in a Soul Trait reaching 0.

If both of the Soul Traits involved use some method that is supposed to guarantee victory, then they must go back to the die-rolling method.

ROLE PROGRESSION

A point should be gained after every session, allocated however the player desires.

If a Soul Trait was in competition multiple times in a session, even if it lost, it may gain a point.

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