This post is inspired by one over at Turn Based Living.
We got to talking about decisions in story games that end up making a difference later. When this is done well, I think it’s very satisfying. You get to see how your choices really did impact the world and the outcome.
When it’s done poorly, it’s awful. You made some decision early that you interpreted differently than the game, and now you’re stuck on a train headed in a direction you have no desire to go.
So what makes it work well, and work well for an RPG vs a Story Game? For one, player agency in the game. When decisions matter, even early on, it’s rewarding. Ideally, it wouldn’t be so much later, or a decision so small, that it doesn’t jog your memory when you see its outcome. I’d give myself a weak B in this category. I forget about old adventures that were actually ripe with player decisions that could sprout into new stories given some time and attention.
So far I’ve really only been talking about GM theory though, and for now I’d rather focus on game structures. How can you mechanize, or thingify these decisions so that we have a system for handling them. For Lost Worlds, I see two types of potential mechanisms:
1. Meat – Character Creation Feats
Base of Operations
You have a base of operations in the immediate area. Create a description and/or map of your base of operations. The base of operations should be suitable to the background and level (if starting characters higher than level 1) of the character. Examples might include an old tavern, a one or two story house, a hidden area in the sewers, an abandoned warehouse, etc.
2. Potatoes – Character Features
Character Trait (Astrological Sign)
Choose an astrological sign. Based on your choice, the impact of a later story event may impact you differently.
Choose a Myers Briggs personality type: ESTJ for example. Based on your choice, various NPCs will react to you differently. Some may prefer Introverts or Extroverts, and others may prefer Feeling over Thinking. Some may react specifically to a particular personality of the 16, either positively or negatively.
These are just a few examples. What other types of mechanics could you see being made at character creation that has an impact through the character’s heroic arch?