Friday, 17 August 2007

Pentasystem: Player Currency and Character Currency

I finally got around to posting at Story-Games about my idea of the Coolmap,which (in very basic form) looks like this:

Ellipses mean themes, squares mean entities.

The black arrows
are the relationships between the entities (in this case, fantasy
races). The relationships are a kind of entity in their own right;
there are some themes that arise not just from one race or another, but
in the context of the relationship between the races. This is
why there are red arrows coming out of the black arrows. The red arrows
mean "if you have this entity, you potentially have this theme in your

(The three religions, incidentally, should be entities rather than themes.)

The idea is that you glance over the circled themes and
pick ones that appeal. The associated entities will have page numbers, so you can go and
check out only the bits of setting that you're interested in.

Someone in that thread mentioned Verge, which builds a map like this as the start of play (and modifies it in play - indeed, as play).

Which led to this expansion of the idea, which also draws on Shock a bit. At the beginning of a game, you all sit around and talk about what on the coolmap appeals to you, and things you want to add (or delete). Everyone gets two vetoes, which they can use on either people's suggestions of things to add, or on things that are on there already. You don't have to use your vetoes if you don't want to.

You write on any new entities or themes you've agreed on. You then pass the map around the group five times.

At each pass, you may initial any of the entities or themes. This means that you are interested in the entity/theme. You can initial the same one twice (though not more) if you are extra-interested.

After the 5 passes, if any entities are left with only one person's initials, those people get an extra go for each set of initials they have on such an entity. They can put them on any entity, including another one with only one person's initials (not theirs).

Now, "ownership" of the entities is decided by either informal discussion, a bidding system of some kind, or the use of a limited number of chances in much the same way as the above. "Owning" an entity means that you are, basically, the god, spirit, angel or patron saint of that entity - you are its GM. You can declare anything to be true about it (whole group may veto), and if anyone else wants to declare something true about it they need your approval.

Your approval, by the way, should always be given, although you can use "Yes, but", "No, but" or "Yes, and". Again, the whole group may veto, but the owner may not. The closest you have to a veto is the "No, but", which achieves the same thing (you should find out what the person is trying to achieve, of course) by different means, or allows a lesser version which is more in proportion.

If you are the only person with initials on an entity, you can do one of two things. You can automatically own the entity, but you can't create a main character which has it as a motivating attribute; or you can make it a motivating attribute for your main character, but ownership belongs to the group (or to someone else who volunteers to own it).

In general, if you own an entity, your main character can't have it as a motivating attribute.

Entity owners get a "budget" of what were called pentapoints and are now called "fortune". The size of the budget is based on how many initials there are against the entity. With this budget, you get to create supporting characters (and sets and so forth) to interact with the main characters. These are the "faces" on the entity: a priest for a religion, a member of the race for a race, and so on and so forth.

You earn additional fortune for hitting the themes that people initialled, again in proportion to how many people initialled them.

So pentapoints/fortune becomes a player currency; pool points are the character currency. Characters can be improved and helped, as well as created, with fortune - I've yet to work out exactly how this works.

I also need to figure out how you deal with emergent themes or shifting interest. Perhaps you just revise the map at the start of each session.

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