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Contest Entry: a very loose interpretation of the wikipedia article on greek words for love - A Thing With Words [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Ben Lehman

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Contest Entry: a very loose interpretation of the wikipedia article on greek words for love [Jan. 25th, 2010|09:54 pm]
Ben Lehman
For most of these, I'm going to rely on quotes from the text, but this one is short enough that I'm just going to quote it in full. If the author minds, I'm sure he'll tell me.

Each character starts with five traits, rated from 1 to 5, with each value being used once and only once.

Agape - Roll Agape whenever you're trying to do something that would inflict suffering or badness onto yourself, for another person's benefit. The GM rolls your Agape whenever you're inflicting suffering or badness on another for your own benefit.
Eros - Roll Eros whenever you are acting on romantic love, or sensual desire. The GM rolls Eros whenever you are acting against someone you find beautiful, or sexually attractive, or doing something extremely unpleasant.
Philia - Roll Philia whenever you are acting to benefit your friends, or community. The GM rolls your Philia when you're acting against friends or community.
Storge - Roll Eros whenever you are acting to benefit somebody in your family. The GM rolls your Storge whenever you are acting against someone in your family.
Thelema - Roll when none of the above apply. The GM rolls when none of the above apply.

Roll means roll a number of d6s equal to the applicable trait, find the sum, and compare to what your opponent rolled.

(If more than one attribute would be applicable, use the highest of those attributes which isn't Thelema.)

Collaboratively decide upon a setting, an initial situation, and a GM. The GM decides what everyone who isn't a PC does, and is the ultimate authority regarding disputes on the rules. Go play!

This is acknowledged to be a pretty short, incomplete text. Technically speaking, it doesn't even say what the result of a roll is (well, you get your number and you compare it to another number, but after that it's a bit of a fill-in-the-blank.) I'm going to assume for review purposes that it is "if the players roll is higher, the action succeeds; if the GM's roll is higher the action fails / becomes complicated in some negative way."

One of the things that I think is very interesting about this system is the degree of focus for play (as mungy and settingless as it is). In order for the rules to function, our characters must have a family, friends, a community, and people that they find romantically and/or sexually desireable. That's pretty interesting! And already, if you talk about this stuff, you have a pretty rich tapestry for your character to occupy. On the design front, it's also interestingly baked into the "pure mechanical" elements of game play, rather than separated off into other parts.

There's a split in the attributes, presumably as the author had a hard time coming up with anything to fit into the active and resistive roles of each. Some of the attributes are triggered based on the content or intent of the character's action (that would inflict suffering and badness ...) and some of them are defined by who the character is acting on behalf of. Were I to be revising the text, I would shift all into one box or the other (personally, I would shift them all to who you are acting on behalf of / against.) In this light, Thelema presents an interesting dilemma. Presuming that Agape is "acting on behalf of someone who you have no personal connection to," as it is sort of that universal love, then the only thing left for Thelema is "acting on behalf of yourself." Which is very interesting given the modern usage of the term by Crowlites. That's a bit of a tangent, though.

If losing the roll is defined as "failure" then I think you're going to find the game very frustrating. Either interpretation of die-usage is going to be fudged so the player consistently has an advantage, or you're going to end up with a very whiffy sort of game. To solve this, I would give all players an extra die or I would work out some other definition of failure.

All in all, I think that this is a pretty interesting gamelet. I probably won't play it as-is but I probably would if the basic mechanical stuff (how do you resolve die rolls?) was addressed, even without a setting as such. I think that the things it needs, aside from the basic mechanical stuff, is maybe some guidance about *what* characters do (not in terms of mechanical resolution but maybe just a list of things you do) and/or a decent situation engine (including, as a possibility, simply some GM advice about how to get conflict rolling.) For long term play, there'd need to be some sort of rules about character change, I think, although perhaps as simple as "characters change but your scores never do."

Edit: This puts me in mind of a diagram that Ron drew for me at one point from sociobiology. It was a set of concentric circles which were community spheres of increasing size. Self, Mate and Children, Kinship Group, Community, Humanity. He talked about classifying human behavior as a series of trade-offs between these levels. In a way, such trade-offs are necessarily baked into this game, but in a surprisingly non ham-fisted way.

[User Picture]From: l_the_fangirl
2010-01-27 06:34 pm (UTC)
Speaking as someone who uses and overuses these terms, wow, this game is the start of something interesting.

I'm with you on making it more concretely and definitely "Help someone you don't know, help someone you want, help a friend, help someone your community, act for your own selfish benefit."

Were it me, I'd make it success when the player wins, and complication when the GM does. Yes or Yes, And or Yes, But.
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