#RPGaDAY2015, Day 25: A Revolutionary Game Mechanic

For my Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic, I was planning on writing about Audience Participation rules for Primetime Adventures, but while it’s one of my favorite game elements, it hasn’t really been added to games that followed its introduction. This is a shame, but I can see how it was forgotten or ignored by later games. Most roleplaying games are thought of as being played in private, around a table or over a virtual tabletop or from the sofa and chairs in the living room. Audience Participation comes in when you’re playing Primetime Adventures in public. When a conflict comes up, people watching the game also get a card to vote for which side of the conflict they want to win.[1] It’s a neat rule that allows for interesting play at game days and conventions.

Huh. I guess I did write about that.

Anyway, my favorite revolutionary game mechanic that was used in games that came after it is found in the pages of Twilight: 2000, and it is similar to how PTA allows the players to take over and control the setting. I know, that’s a strange concept when thinking of Twilight: 2000. Games of that time went like this: the GM is in charge of the world and everything in it, the players are in charge of just one thing — their guy — and can only affect the GM’s world through the efforts of their guy. It’s the GM’s world, you just play in it. And that’s pretty much Twilight: 2000.

Except for one thing that I don’t many people noticed.

t2000Contacts.

As part of character generation, you get contacts for your soldier. Contacts are people you’ve known before the war, even dirty filthy commies, and with the setting of the war, it’s a bit of an odd coincidence that your Topeka-born G. I. Joe will run into his reporter ex-girlfriend in the wartorn countryside of Poland, but hey, that could really happen. But let’s narrow down a little bit into how you create contacts. You can do it the old-fashioned way, creating a little NPC with stats and everything, or you could do it the revolutionary new game mechanic way and create a generic contact. You leave that contact line blank, except for a generic type. Criminal. Military. Government. Whatever. And then, right there while you’re playing, you can point to an NPC in the scene and say “See that guy right there, The Butcher of Warsaw? I know that guy.

The GM rolls.

Whoa.

You totally do know The Butcher of Warsaw.

Players taking control of the narrative outside the in-game actions of their characters: completely revolutionary, found in — of all places — Twilight: 2000.

  1. In earlier editions, they could also get narration rights, too, so they could definitively say what was going on in the conflict’s aftermath. []

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 3 – First RPG Purchased

It’s the last of the pure reposts! I’m going over the writing prompts from last year, to see if my answers have changed at all. But I’m just doing reposts from my G+ feed for the first three entries as they’re just about the first games I encountered. We’ve already gone over the first game played and first one I GMed.

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 3: What was the first roleplaying game you purchased?

I’m going to skip past D&D because while I know that was the first one played, it was a gift. In those early days, we played a lot of D&D, but branched out and played quite a few other role-playing games like Rolemaster and Champions. I was also big into Car Wars, but… You know, it may have been Autoduel Champions. Or Villains & Vigilantes. Because it was so long ago, I’m not sure who owned what back then. (I recall AD&D books on the shelf, along with some Grimtooth’s Traps books.)

Instead, I’ll jump to when I moved overseas, because that’s when I definitely would have purchased my own stuff.

So Twilight: 2000 it is.

campaign-map-poland

When I picked this up, it was overseas, in West Germany (remember that?). In that game, the war against the Soviet Union went completely tits up with nuclear exchanges and an ongoing ground war, and we, the military kids on a US base, were sure the game was an accurate foretelling of the future.

We only played one session.

But oh, I loved that post-apocalyptic setting!

twilight2kFunny story. When I was getting into graphic design in the hobby games industry, I saw that someone had purchased the license for the game and were about to bring it out as Twilight: 2013. I inquired about laying out the book and didn’t get the job. But there was more to it than that.

The initial posting about T:2013 seemed to indicate that there was going to be a narrative-heavy “story game” version of play included. I inquired about that in the company’s forum and received a slightly negative reply from another fan of the company who hated, absolutely hated, games where players have any narrative control. No big deal. This Ed person seemed polite in his response, actually. He’s prominent on the message forum, so I look at his profile. Hey, there’s a link for people to come visit his LiveJournal (remember that?). So I do. And that’s where there was a full page of him calling me a “fucking little pansy” for liking games where players could make up things. “Shut the fuck up, bitch.” “Come back to my table when you grow a pair!” It reads like he was skipping out on taking his serious medication. (You can read his bizarre rant at http://ed-t.livejournal.com/61203.html. It’s all the more insane when you realize he’s railing against people being duplicitous in conversations, when his public response to me was rather courteous.) Reading other LJ posts of his reveal him to be a very, very angry person.

Meanwhile, I’m in talks with the two people at the company about layout. We’re sending emails back and forth. Right when I suggest that I actually be compensated for design work, I never hear from them again.

Also about that time, they publicly announce that they brought the angry guy on board.

Anyway, Twilight: 2000. Pretty cool game.

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