Mechanika Inwazja Note 160214 Resources And Factions

One of the main problems with the current system and the players (not characters) is the problem of motivation of players. This has been exhausted in the previous post when I was analyzing particular previous campaigns trying to see what made the players tick.

Two tools have been introduced to resolve the problem of player motivations: resources and factions. Those tools are intertwined with each other but one of them (resources) is a personal rewards type of tool why the second one (faction) shows the possibility for player to use those resources to his advantage.

Resources are an abstract group entity which denotes the current possibilities of a player to act. Resources group all the possibilities and opens the player might have in a particular area – the “fire” resource is all the tools and liquid money player character can use for different things while the “air” resource is the possibility to access the knowledge and the knowledge the player character already has. So the resource is the cover and see the player is able to use it to further his character’s goals and motivations in a particular session. Resources are persistent; if the character gets resource in mission A that character will be able to use that particular resource in mission B.

A character can use resources to pay for a bonus at the mission (to buy tool bonus to an action) or to generate something connected to the resource if sensible (as an archaeologist I have access to the map of the tomb here). Think of it as of a dynamic magic system we already have – you have to define everything, you are able to do whatever you want on the fly. But what makes this double interesting is when you are able to connect the resource system to the faction system.

Faction is a conglomerate of people or an organization which has its own “personality”, goals, mission and vision. What is very important here is the fact that faction has tools at their disposal, their own resources and “moves” to be able to use faction specific things. For example, Blakenbauer faction is able to use all kind of creatures, which means that one of those moves would be to “spawn a warrior creature” which would cost some resources. Now, a player would be able to use the characters resources to use the move of a faction or, if they are close enough to the faction, to use the faction’s own resources to do it.

This very simple note shows, more or less, the character progression we are able to actually introduce. The character can progress in relations in a particular factions and the character can create new moves in associated factions (so the character is able to use more interesting moves). Some moves will have a predefined skill level (you can send a warrior creature against an opponent on, say, expert level while being a noncombatant yourself) while other moves would only augment your skill level.

Why would factions and resources motivate players?

First of all, they give players something to do. Some kind of carrot they can follow to give them at least initial motivation before they get invested in the story. The more resources the character gets the more that character is able to expand in the future missions and as resources are not made equal and as the topics the missions have are not created equal, some characters will wait with the heavier resources to use them when “wow this is my topic” appears and then they will be the ones to actually steer the mission in the direction they want – they would have a visible and lasting effect on the game world.

Second of all, this gives players an actual reason to do anything connected to the other people in game. Player characters are immortal, but factions and NPCs aren’t. Game master should not maim a character but the game master can put a resource under risk if necessary or game master can damage a faction. So player actions might not lead to their destruction, but they might lead to the reduction of the potential and the possibilities to influence the game. This also means that by doing things for the factions they are expanding their own possibilities and the relations with the factions making the moves the factions cheaper and more successful. In effect, progression.

Which feeds directly into the relation level between a character and a corresponding faction. If a character is an “associate”, they would have only some access to some, most basic things and they will not be cheap. When character is a “Grand Master” they actually lead the faction and all the factions resources are at their disposal. This also solves the problem of “Basia Sowińska” - we have a character which might not have a lot of personal resources but which has a very high standing in a many factions which means she can really manipulate a lot of things by herself using foreign resources.

So how would the trivial implementation of the following look like?

In case of resources we have two possible implementations: we have three levels of resources which are not transitive between each other (low, medium, high) and where you cannot upgrade the resource. This means that the high level of resource is something rare, something which is a reward in itself for players. A major disadvantage is the fact, that we would have to actually remember 15 combinations of resources, like “Air low <value>, Fire medium <value>”. A major advantage is the fact that to upgrade a lower resource to the higher one, one would either have to use the bartering system (forcing an encounter which can be beneficial in terms of a mission) or use the project creation mechanics.

Second possible implantation is to have only one level of resources where you actually have the grading level of effect. For example, low effect is one resource token, medium effect is three resource tokens and high effect is 10 resource tokens. Here, the tokens are transitive; no matter if you gather small or large resources, you are able to do greater stuff or smaller stuff; tokens only matter in terms of a number; this makes it much easier to account for and to actually work with. However, you will have greater numbers all around and it will be possible to stack smaller things to create larger things which reduces the incentive of players to actually go big and go risky; also, this can be game with the much easier. But we only need to keep amount of single resource at a time (“air 43, fire 116”).

So in terms of resources that are possible implementations from which I vastly prefer the first one. Not only it allows me to create allowance for player characters (Victoria has two low water resources and one low fire resource per mission which expire if not used while Basia Sowińska has three medium and three low of all resources which expire if not used) but also it allows me to fine-tune the level of reward according to the level of risk and to properly reward the players for doing exciting things. The second implementation is easier to account but also it is much more boring and will lead to possible pathologies (I helped the old lady walk her dog 100 times so she will sacrifice her home for my sake).

Moving on to factions, a faction requires a set of resources of their own with production capabilities (this also expires… Or not) and a set of moves which is particular actions which have been either created for the faction or which faction can provide to its members. The moves will require resources to be used and they will be connected with the things that faction has already created (the detector of Powiew Świeżości) or with things the members can do for other members or associates. That means that with faction growing stronger the more resources’ production will be created, some things might get an upkeep (matching their extreme power) and faction will become a living entity which provides benefits for the characters and NPCs alike. Also, the level of relation should influence new moves - the higher in relation you are to a faction, the more moves you have (and the cheaper they get).

This actually allows us to do things like “destroy a move at enemy faction” or to starve enemy faction out of resources so they cannot use of a particular move.

Proper implementation of those will be crucial but this should answer the problems with motivation and lack of progression we are having today.

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