Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Noir Games?

I'm reading a book about the origins of film noir right now, and it got me to thinking two things. One, are there any Noir games out there? and Two, how would I approach a Noir game? If you know anything about the first, shout out. As for the second...

One of the cool things about Noir is how incredibly tightly the genre is bounded (aesthetically, technically, narratively) without creating cookie-cutter stories and characters. I can see a Noir game as a GM-less setup, probably for 2-4 players. There's a cast of main characters (the femme fatale, the antihero/protagonist, the unabashed criminal, the representative of the law) which are further defined in the beginning process. They are all co-owned, in that different people can play them in different scenes, but I think it would be worth it for each player to have final say over...something..for one character, mainly because of buy-in issues.

The characters move up and down on different scales, representing emotional connexion/distance to each other, as well as having a progressive measure for the macguffin (the big score, the discovery of the truth about the girl, whatever). I can definitely see a lot of Karma resolution here, with tight resources and consequences for the slighest screw-up.

To be really Noir, it also has MLWM-esque endgame conditions, but with pretty tight pre-determined events (getting gunned down, suicide and the like for the anti-hero, being betrayed and brought in, getting away with it, and the like for the femme fatale, etc). I'd have to watch more noir to really get this right.

This would also be a good scenario for my thoughts on 1-on-1 adversity, and maybe worth being the "default" for that kind of game.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Conflicts & Scenes

I have yet to see this in a game (though I'm sure it's out there, somewhere).

When I've played trad games without explicit scene-framing rules, I've noticed that theres little to no corrolation between scenes and conflicts. This is partly a function of task resolution systems (Storyteller, I'm looking at you...), and partly a function of there being no mechanical support for one way or the other.

Many Indie games, on the other hand, either call for or seem to imply one-conflict-per-scene play. Which is fine (it was my thought for Carry), but, in my head, is just starting to feel more and more stilted.

My thought: explicit mechanical support for seeding, entertwining and then resolving conflicts through a series of scenes. Something along the lines of a conflict pool that you can add and remove dice from depending on your characters stake in the conflict, which may not get resolved until many scenes after it begins.

F'rex: Jimmy and Danny are two sailors on a 16th century Ship of the Line. They run afoul of the mean-spirited Bosun (? i think). Jimmy's player seeds a conflict (writes down on a note card, or something) "embarrass the Bosun in front of the men." Danny's player seeds "get in Bosun's good graces." They both put some amount of dice on the conflict.

A couple scenes later, the situation comes up that Jimmy steals some grog, in order to bribe another sailor to help him set up the Bosun. Danny sees him, and reports him. Danny puts some more dice on his conflict, while Jimmy takes some off of his in order to seed "prevent Danny from becoming the Bosuns nark."

Whenever a player gets to a point that they think is appropriate for the conflict, or when they think they have enough dice, is when you actually do some rolling and resolve the conflict.

You could do all kinds of things with giving the right to call for resolution to different people around the table, as well as mechanical limits and rules for when and how dice are transferred. Also, lending (or stealing) dice to (from) others conflicts; people seeding conflicts for other people; and rollover from resolved conflicts into related ones.

I think this would be nice in terms of breaking conflicts out of the "one-roll" paradigm and enabling them to scale in terms of time and buildup, in addition to sheer mechanical size.

If there are examples of this kind of thing out there, shout out!

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