Prompted by our discussions in the comments across posts here, Lorenzo Colucci brought the relevant mechanics of his game in design, Crescent (working title), for some high-focus work with me.
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I've started a conversation with Ron in the comments of a Seminary post and he suggested to bring the subject to its own post.
A small foreword: Ron suggested I use this chance to talk about a game I'm working on (and as, he correctly points out, I can't seem to stop talking about it) but I wanted to start from an example of actual play (from a 2015 D&D4 game) that encapsulates very well a few of the things we touched upon in that discussion.
I’m not making any claims about the logic or organization by this point in our talks, rather, I’m hoping Justin isn’t thinking that I’m totally making it up as I go. It's certainly been helpful to me to recognize what pieces I need to pull into their own how we play discussion so they can be treated as understood for a how we design presentation.
Intent, Initiation, Execution, Effect - fictional things, probably the single most direct fictional content to be interfaced with real-people speaking and using rules, in the hobby. In a recent dialogue with Zac Porcu, he called it "the beating heart of role-playing."
"Everyone knows" what a relationship map is, but they're definitely not all the same thing, especially with these variables exposed:
Oh golly, let’s see a bunch of guys over-share about how much their characters have been having sex!! ... for those few of you remaining in the room, you’ll see us talk well beyond the boilerplate. Sex has been freed-up in role-playing over the last decade and a half. This seems to have freed us as well into dialing-back and modulating how it plays into everything else, to find some new things this medium-and-activity can do.
I do not plan. But it doesn't hurt to visualize the odd individual mechanical outcome. In this case, I thought, well, since they muffed the Skill Challenge and unleashed the crystal creche thingamabob, then Our Land is not just currently compromised by an invasive mystical-crystal birth event, it's basically lost out to it.
Into much kooky mayhem! This is where my ongoing skill challenges and prepped situation and announced character quests all collided, producing plenty of "this is how our story goes" with not a single intended or planned effect to be found in in my preparation.
I ran into a post at G+ which turned out to have been partly prompted by the Barbaric Psychedelic game, and then my comment got replies … well, social media was actually social for once, and the outcome was this conversation with the very kind Gregor Vuga about this-or-that about Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition.