Introduction and Pain Mechanics

9 09 2009

 For those who are interested, here’s an unfinished version of the Introduction which should give a good idea of the overall writing style and layout of the book. That intro is located here.  Also, I’m excited to announce that I’ve convinced my dad to contribute some of his beautiful photography to the book.  He used to be a professional, but now he spends his time taking pictures of things that actually interest him.

  I’ve been working a bit on the system for the game.  As mentioned before, it is influenced by Fate, Dogs in the Vineyard, The Pool, and even now a bit of PDQ.  I want to get a more detailed write-up to go off of for the first draft, but I’ll give you the nutshell version here and release that later.

  Basically, characters write up a paragraph about their characters as they would in The Pool.  They’re then given points to distribute between the various Traits mentioned in the paragraph.  Chances are these Traits come in two flavors, Methods or Motivations.

  Methods are easy.  They’re how you go about things or what you’re good at.  Think skills, special abilities, you name it.

  Motivations are a bit more complex.  They can be relationships, obsessions, anything that causes you to do something.  They need to be WHY.  It’s not enough to say “I’m an abusive father.”  That’s a Method, it’s just telling us you’re at least mildly skilled in abusing your kids.  No, to be a Motivation, it needs to say something like “I’m an abusive father because it allows me to vent the frustration of my wife leaving me.”

  This Motivation still might need a little cleaning up, but for now let’s go with it.  Now, the player assigns it a number.  I’m not really sure about ranges right now, but it can be as much or as little as the player wants.  Remember I said the game had a dash of FATE?  Well, here it is.  Whenever a player is presented with a Crux, or a Crossroads, or whatever I decide to call a point where they can act with or against their Motivations, if they act against them, they take Pain equal to the Motivations they defied.

  Now, you can do a couple of things with Pain.  First, you can add a new Trait that’s at least a little bit contradictory to an existing one.  Maybe a Priest walks up and makes you doubt you’re abusive actions.  Next, you can change an existing the value of an existing Trait, or maybe change it’s meaning a bit.  You’re able to get rid of more Pain by changing or adding, I haven’t decided which yet as I’m very tired and am kind of on autopilot.  Now, back to the rules.  Notice something here?

  If you add a contradictory Trait, then you have to take more Pain each time you act against it, even if you’re acting with a stronger Motivation.  This creates characters that are constantly changing and having to make choices between what they care about most in themselves.

  Now, in combat and conflict situations, Pain can also be funneled away by upping your Wound and Exhaustion Levels, but you really don’t have enough of those to get away with constantly taking Scratched conditions.

  What impact do I hope this will have on the game?  Basically, with the Pain mechanics, characters’ Traits are constantly attempting to find a certain kind of balance, where they can handle Pain without totally changing who they are.  However, this balance can cost a lot.  The game is about “People learning to live together,” or, in terms of mechanics and system, people trying to find Balance within their Traits without killing other people.  Tomorrow I’ll try to write up a few hypothetical examples of characters, and clarify the Conflict mechanics, which I haven’t really touched on yet.

  Until next time, then.