Rotating Theme


  • Pitcrew

    So an idea I had a while back was for a survival horror game that was done in anthologies - and yes, I had the idea before AHS, dammit. Anyway, it would be a game with a set ending (date, at least), after which a new one would start. Maybe the first one is a zombie apocalypse, then the next one is a post-nuclear setting, and so on. Each would have a set story and direction, and would last 4-6 months before wrapping up.

    I'm tempted to do it this way because 4-6 months is the average burnout time I've noticed as far as running plots, storytelling, staffing, RL eating people, etc. The downside is some people get attached to characters and want to play longer than that. One possibility is letting people play the same character in each new game, just as a new iteration of that character - like alternate universes. Still, for some that wouldn't be enough, and I get that.

    One thing I really like about it, though, is that Shit Will Happen. I think Breaking Bad, especially in the last season, was fascinating because no one was safe and anything could happen at any moment. Having one-shot short-term games means you can get lethal and not worry about killing a character someone has played for years.

    I have no idea if there is an audience for this, but I'm curious.


  • Coder

    This is essentially the model used by The Greatest Generation rather successfully for war campaigns. It did various battles of WWI, WWII, the Spanish Civil War, the Finnish Winter War... it was very interesting. Knowing that the theme would recycle in a few months made it easier to swallow when your cannon fodder soldier inevitably got killed by the brutal combat system ;) And it was nice that every campaign told a full story with a beginning, middle and end. But yeah, it was tough for me at first because I'm the sort to get attached to my characters and their ongoing storyline. I got over it.


  • Pitcrew

    I'd love to play a game like that! I think it would keep characters from getting too powerful, it would keep things nice and fresh and best of all, it ends. I've been obsessed with story arcs concluding properly in mu* lately and if one "season" is successful, you could always bring it back later on! I'd definitely give something like that a try!


  • Pitcrew

    I could dig that! I think you're right about burnout, and that it'd be really nice to have some definitive conclusions to arcs. You could also be a lot more daring and, well, horror-oriented, if people knew they weren't building characters for the long term.



  • @Botulism I kinda have this thought going for what I want to do for a rifts type mush. First arc will be The Mist(everyone playing townies-Basically beta testing), Followed by Half-life(the survivors get jobs at black mesa), and then Rifts when the world has really gone to hell under the combine. I'm just trying to learn how to code so I can do up a savage worlds system for when Savage Rifts comes out.



  • Always loved this about TGG. It gave it kind of a troupe feel, as the players remained (somewhat) the same but changed characters over different campaigns. Sometimes we were able to app an old character in a new context (I turned a WW1 Marine into a jaded Spanish Civil War reporter). It was good times.


  • Pitcrew

    It would not be the game for me but I can see merit in the idea.
    For me about 3 months is the fun break even point for me on a character, it takes about that long for the fun I have had rping to roughly equal the chore of c-gen, for me this is mainly coming up with a concept since i try not to reuse them, and the introductory Hi my name is blank and I am new to town scenes. So a place with 4 to 6 month arcs is pretty much a guarantee that unless i start on that first day of each new arc it is will a net fun loss to play.


  • Pitcrew

    Same. I think it's a great idea and it's really workable, but it takes me a long while to ramp up and into a character. I'm also character-development focused rather than story-progression focused (though at first glance people would probably say the opposite about me), so this would be defeating the purpose. Even recognizing this, I think there's a pretty significant demand for this sort of game, and doing it this way actually would help a ton with burnout and the like. I'd suggest a 3 month on / off dynamic though instead. Like...

    Starting: you announce what the plot will be. People have a month to start their characters and get them going. Plot / arc lasts 3 months. People now have 3 months to either (or both) wind down the RP from the old plot or ramp up new characters for the new one....while staff works on prepping the new one, takes a break, goes on family vacation, has the holidays, whatever.


  • Coder

    Yeah, TGG got around the ramp-up problem in large part by throwing people directly into the action and having a ton of plot scenes. So the mix of "hi where are you from" scenes to "plot/fighting/death" was much higher than on a typical MUSH. I don't think that would translate so well to other settings.



  • @Three-Eyed-Crow said:

    Always loved this about TGG.

    I felt the campaigns were a bit quick once it switched to WWII, but that might be because school got busy for me.

    Though listening to dude obsessing over becoming a sniper and having his dudes die ever weekend was kind of fun as well.



  • @SG said:

    Though listening to dude obsessing over becoming a sniper and having his dudes die ever weekend was kind of fun as well.

    This amused the hell out of me.

    This might make me a terrible person, but I can live with that.


  • Pitcrew

    It would depend on the story. A zombie apocalypse could start with a bang by having the outbreak happen on day one. Other games might start more slowly. A post-nuclear game, where it's been that way for a while, could have a month of settling in and establishing scenes.

    I figure a month inbetween games for setup and making new characters. One month of establishing RP (where applicable), 3-5 months of stuff happening and shit hitting the fan. Then a month off again for the next game.


  • Pitcrew

    Well, I think a zombie scenario is a perfect setting to just throw random people together. Just about any highly lethal horror scenario really. But maybe if the arc lasted a year instead of three months, that might be better for some people?


  • Pitcrew

    @ThugHeaven Games burn out faster than that, as do staffers. I'm thinking 6 is a good target.


  • Pitcrew

    And for an opening theme, I'm leaning heavily towards Alien.


  • Pitcrew

    Oh hey! Look! I found the newsfiles I wrote way back when for the game!

    & about

    Horror Stories is a game of dark survival horror where the plots get heavy and the body count can get high. Between the revolving themes with finite endings - games last anywhere from three to six months before the story is finished and a new one begins - and the brutal lethality - most characters will have a little to no combat ability, making every dangerous situation a potential killer - this is not a game for people who get attached to characters and play them for years on end. That's not to say that character depth and character development isn't important here, quite the contrary, but the concept of the game is somewhat unique in MUSHdom - every story has a beginning, middle, and end. There's a decent chance that your character won't see the last. This is a game for people who are tired of playing it safe.

    This is true horror and darkness in the vein of the best thriller and slasher movies.

    As should be obvious by now, this game is for adult and mature roleplayers only, and those who are easily offended or can barely manage to string a coherent sentence together should look elsewhere. Those who are afraid to lose, or take three weeks to come up with a character should also look elsewhere. But if you're looking to play on a game that's thick with atmosphere and not afraid to put your character in danger and take some risks, we think you'll like what you find.

    & creation

    Character creation is open and no approval is required. How do we keep quality control? Easy - people who make absurd characters, can't play well with others, or can't pose their way out of a paper bag will be dealt with IC, and if they can't or won't shape up, then they will simply not be allowed to make a new one afterwards. It's always the losers and the assholes who die first in the movies anyway, right? This makes it easier for everyone else to get straight into the action or make a new character after losing one.

    Character creation is quick and easy, and everything you need will be explained as you go. Since the game has revolving themes, the themes will be covered in creation, explaining what the current game is about and what kinds of characters you can make. This is a lot easier than rewriting the news files every 3 to 6 months! It also makes it easier to find everything you need and get right into the game. There is no set limit on how many characters you can play, how many times you can die, or how many alts you have. The only rule is that they can't help each other or interact, IC knowledge can't be carried over, and new characters cannot benefit directly from things your old character left behind.

    & themes

    So what do we mean by revolving themes? It means that with each game, or each story, the basic premise changes. One game might be your classic slasher in the woods, preying on campers. Another could be a plane crash where the survivors have to live on a deserted island with strange things that go bump in the night. Still another may be a straight up zombie apocalypse. There's a myriad of possibilities, but by changing themes and having definite endings, players - and staff! - are far less likely to burn out and lose interest altogether. The creator of the game, especially, prefers to run shorter stories and change themes from time to time to prevent boredom from setting in.

    So what about your characters? In some cases you may be able to play the same character - if they survive, but not always. In those cases you can always make a similar character, or an alternate reality version of them, if you will. Leave your old surviving characters around, though, as we may revisit certain themes and have sequels.

    & endings

    There are a number of ways in which stories can end - the players can solve the puzzle at its core, kill the villain(s), all die off, manage to escape, get to a place of safety, or any number of other possibilities. At the beginning of the story it will be fairly clear what the endgame is, what the goal is. Surviving for a set period of time, making it to a certain location, escaping the current environment, and so on. Stories may therefore end early if the players manage to achieve the goal quickly, for example, or they can be ended quickly if the players aren't having fun and enjoying the current theme. At the end of the day, the game is about having fun, and if it isn't fun then it's our job to do something about it. If the current story can't be salvaged, it can quickly be wrapped up. In essence, you aren't joining the game to play a certain character in a certain story, you're joining the game as a player to be entertained in a number of stories. That's one of the things that makes this game unique. It's focused on you having fun, not on staff and their friends or certain popular cliques amassing power and controlling the game at their whim.

    & system

    We use a very simplified version of FATE for our game system, with a few tweaks to make things smoother. These will all be explained as you make your character, but we will go over them here to give you a basic understanding. There is no source book you need to buy, no PDF to download. Everything will be explained right here and in character creation.

    The first concept to understand is the idea of The Ladder. It covers both the range of human ability as well as the degree of success and failure. It has 10 levels or steps, each with a numeric value. The Ladder is as follows:

    Abysmal (-4) -> Terrible (-3) -> Poor (-2) -> Mediocre (-1) -> Average (0) -> Fair (+1) -> Good (+2) -> Great (+3) -> Superb (+4) -> Epic (+5)

    Whenever you want to do something in game that has a degree of difficulty to it, you will roll four six sided dice and add the results to the level of your relevant attribute, determining the degree of success or failure. Next, we will cover the attributes and what they do.

    Each person has different qualities or attributes that help define them. They are listed below, a long with a brief description of what they are used for.

    Intelligence: both the collection of knowledge and the ability to learn new knowledge. Used whenever a character needs to know if your character would know something or be able to quickly learn something in game. The more intelligent the character, the more likely they are to understand or know that which they need at any given moment.

    Physique: a combination of speed, agility, coordination, strength and stamina. Used whenever a character needs to exert themselves physically, such as fleeing or combat. A character does not have to have all of these traits just because they have a good Physique - a character can be small, fast and scrawny, big, strong and tough, or any combination in between. It's entirely up to the player how their Physique manifests, but regardless, those who are more physically gifted will have an easier time performing physical tasks.

    Presence: a combination of attractiveness, charisma, persuasion and any other social qualities. Used whenever a character is trying to affect someone else socially, whether seducing them, impressing them, charming them, intimidating them or talking them into something. Again, it's entirely up to the player how their Presence manifests, be it beauty, charm, leadership or what have you, but regardless, those who are more socially gifted will have an easier time performing social tasks.

    Cunning: a combination of wits, reflex and quick thinking. Used whenever a character is trying to get out of a situation, solve a problem, or react to danger. The more cunning the character is, the likelier they are to find a way to survive a deadly situation. Cunning characters need not be conniving, it should be noted.

    Willpower: a combination of determination, drive, and ambition. Used whenever a character needs to press on, not give up, survive just a little longer, or resist doing something that they otherwise couldn't or wouldn't. Characters with a strong sense of will manage to find that second wind necessary to keep going when weaker people would give up or give in.

    Fate: the intangible quality of luck and chance. Used whenever a character needs things to break their way. Such intangibles include finding the right thing at the right time, not bleeding out before help arrives, landing a lucky blow or managing to barely get out of the way. As you can see, a character with luck on their side can use it to compensate for weaknesses in other attributes, but there's a catch: it can only be used once per scene.

    A character gets six points with which to make their character, basically putting them at Fair (+1) across the board if they choose not to move those points. Being Fair at everything makes them better than the average person - fitting of a starring character in our story! - and that's perfectly fine. You may, however, want to be really good at something, or pretty good at several things, and in these cases you can move your points around. You have to take those points from something, however, to add it to something else. In other words, the better you are in one area, the weaker you will be in another. You can move your six points around however you like, such as being Epic (+5) in one attribute, Fair (+1) in a second, and lowering everything else to Average (0). You could even have three attributes at Superb (+4) and lower everything else, but doing so is highly discouraged. Being Abysmal, especially, in anything is a massive hindrance in game, and it will be used against you quite mercilessly. Abysmal Fate is likely the worst - or most fun, depending on how you look at it! - thing you can choose in creation. Be warned, however, that characters with Epic Fate will find themselves useless in many situations since they simply get by on luck alone. Also, since they can only use Fate once per scene, they make nice, juicy targets once they've shot their wad. Jacking up any attribute, really, leaves you vulnerable in other areas, so be advised and think through your decisions.

    Please note that non-human (aliens, etc.) and supernatural (werewolves, etc.) beings may have attributes above Epic. Some creatures cannot be killed, and running is often your best option! Very few stories will have 'kill the monster' as the endgame.

    & system4

    Let's say that you want to climb a tree to get away from an ax wielding maniac - okay, not a great example since they can just chop the tree down with said ax, but just play along. To do so, you would need to engage in a physical challenge. Physique is the attribute that comes into play here. Let's say that your character has a Physique of Good (+2). Climbing a tree with an ax wielding maniac chasing you isn't exactly easy, so staff decides that it requires a Superb feat to accomplish. You roll four six sided dice, each bearing two <->, two <+>, and two <x> symbols. Each <-> that you roll lowers your attribute by one, while each <+> raises it by one, and each <x> does nothing either way. You find the net result by adding and subtracting the various symbols and adjusting your attribute accordingly, giving you your final outcome. In the above example, you would need a net of two <+> to succeed in getting away up that tree.

    A roll of <+> <x> <+> <x>, for example, would be enough. A roll of <+> <x> <+> <->, however, would not. You would only end with a net of one <+>, bumping your Physique from Good (+2) to Great (+3). In this situation, you would be unable to get far enough up the tree fast enough to get away. You would have to fight your way out.

    & system5

    Combat is meant to be quick and deadly, as it often is in real life. You won't experience 20 hour Time Stops on this game as people trade blows that do no damage and everyone goes round by round. Here, everyone involved gets one Physique roll and the outcome is decided. That's it. No do overs, no resets, no second chances. You either win or you lose, and depending on how badly or the situation that you're in, it will very likely mean your life.

    Combat is a physical challenge, and few outside elements will affect it. Characters with a high Cunning may choose to try to act preemptively, in which case they will receive a bonus to their combat roll. Before combat begins, everyone involved is offered a chance to roll Cunning in order to get a bonus to their combat roll, but they are not required to take it. Be warned that if you do choose to roll Cunning to get that bonus, it can backfire on you. All of the PCs roll, and then any NPCs roll, and your final outcome is compared to that of the opposition with the winner getting a bonus <+> added to their combat roll for every level above the opposition's outcome. Here's an example:

    You roll <+> <x> <+> <x>, and the ax wielding maniac rolls <+> <x> <x> <x>. You have a Great (+3) Cunning, and his is only Good (+2). Your final outcome is Epic (+5), and his is Great (+3). You beat him by two levels, giving you two extra <+> on your following combat roll. As you can see, this could have gone the other way and resulted in giving him a bonus instead. Likewise, if you have a low Cunning, you can end up doing more harm than good. If you choose not to roll your Cunning, you're given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to act at the exact same time as he does. Choosing to sit out will not punish you. Going for that extra bonus, however, can. Next, we will continue with combat.

    & system6

    Once any bonuses from Cunning are determined, combat takes place. You roll your Physique and compare the result against your opponent, just as we showed above with Cunning, and the outcome determines not only who wins, but how badly.

    In the previous example you gained a bonus to your combat roll of two <+>. You need it, as you're Physique is Mediocre (-1). You roll and get <-> <x> <+> <x>, giving you a final result of Fair (+1) - your roll broke even and your bonus of two <+> bumped you from Mediocre (-1) to Fair (+1). The ax wielding maniac rolls and gets <+> <x> <x> <->, also breaking even on his roll. The good news is this didn't help him, but the bad news is he didn't really need much help. The ax wielding maniac has a Physique of Superb (+4), giving him a victory of three levels. As you are alone, and there's no one to come to your aid, any success over you will result in your death as he simply keeps hacking away until you die or simply walks away and leaves you for dead. But for the sake of this example, let's say that help is nearby. A difference of three levels is a Great (+3) success, and if you look at the chart in 'News Damage' you will see that such an outcome means that you are seriously wounded. Left alone, you will die from your wounds in 3 hours or less. Should someone be nearby, however, as we've decided that there is, you may survive. Either they will get to you before he can finish you, or he will leave you for dead and they will discover you before you expire. This is a situation in which Fate can save your life, allowing them to get there quickly or for you to hold on and not bleed out before you're discovered. If the fight is close enough that you have a chance to escape, you may roll your choice of Willpower or Fate (if unused) to get away. The target is the difference between you in the fight.

    One other adjustment to combat is when there are multiple parties involved. For every additional person on one side, the other is at a <-> penalty. For example, if the ax wielding maniac tried to jump you and three of your friends at the same time, he's dug himself a hole and will start with a three <-> disadvantage. This is why you might notice that ax wielding maniacs tend not to attack large groups in movies! Whatever the outcome of the battle, the end result is then played out, for good or ill. If you're unwilling to play out your character's death it is still assumed to have happened. You'll never be forced to roleplay something you're uncomfortable with, but really, if you're so squeamish that roleplaying PC death is too much for you, you're probably on the wrong game.

    Lastly, any situation in which you attempt to do something that affects or impacts another person requires a roll in the manner above. Both parties roll and the outcome is determined by the difference between them. The greater the difference, the greater the end result in the winner's favor. That's it! That's all there is to the game system here. Pretty easy, huh?

    & damage

    The following is the chart on how much damage is dealt depending on the level difference between the winner and loser in a combat:

    0: both parties take cuts, scrapes and bruises, but neither is seriously injured. This fight will continue until one side tries to escape or additional help arrives.

    +1: minor damage. The loser suffers a few decent cuts or heavy bruises, but nothing like threatening. This fight will continue until one side tries to escape or additional help arrives.

    +2: moderate damage. The loser suffers enough cuts, bruises or other wounds to leave them in a weakened state. This fight will not continue much longer, and the losing party may have one attempt at escape. If it fails, and no help comes, they will soon die. If left for dead, they will survive for one day before expiring from their wounds. If help arrives before that time, they may be saved.

    +3: serious damage. The loser suffers enough cuts, bruises or other wounds to leave them incapacitated though not necessarily unconscious. The fight is over. If there is no additional help to arrive, the losing party will die unless the winner leaves them for dead, in which case they will survive for 3 hours before expiring from their wounds. If help arrives before that time, they may be saved.

    +4: critical damage. The loser suffers enough cuts, bruises or other wounds to leave the unconscious and incapacitated. The fight is over. If there is no additional help to arrive, the losing party will die unless the winner leaves them for dead, in which case they will survive only 30 minutes longer before expiring from their wounds. If help arrives before that time, they may be saved.

    +5 or more: dead. The fight is over. The loser will die at the end of the combat scene. They may not be saved, and only Fate can help them now. Fate may be rolled against the winner's Fate, and if the losing party wins the roll they may reduce their damage by a number of levels equal to the difference of the result. Obviously a tie or a loss on this roll does nothing to help them. Keep in mind that if you have already rolled Fate in this scene, you can't roll it again.

    Note that if a person tries to escape and fails, combat resumes with new rolls unless it was their only chance to escape (moderately damaged, +2). If the person suffered minor damage in the previous combat, they suffer a one <-> penalty in the new combat. Cunning may not be rolled again. Fights continue until someone escapes or dies.

    & policies

    We're pretty laid back here for the most part, and chances are you'll never have any problems with other players or staff. Still, every place has rules and expectations of the people that play there, and so do we.

    • You're expected to treat your fellow players and staff with dignity, decency and respect. Harassment, belligerent behavior, unnecessary attitude and general douchery will not be tolerated. Please act your age, not your shoe size.

    • You will never be asked or expected to roleplay out anything that you're personally uncomfortable with. The ax wielding maniac will never rape you, you'll never be expected to be involved in sexual situations, and you won't even be required to roleplay out your death should it come to that. You have the right to 'handwave' or 'fade to black' any situation that you're not comfortable with. Yes, this is a horror game, and most of us are here because we like the squicky and disturbing, but that doesn't mean that we all have the same comfort level. Whatever yours is, it will be respected.

    • You can expect a reasonable amount of privacy. Your mails and pages will never be monitored, and your roleplay in private places will never be observed. Private places, it should be noted, are things like personal rooms, living spaces, sleeping spaces, and the like. Community areas and outdoor public areas are not private and should never be assumed to be. Getting your hawt secks on in a public area, like the beach, the woods, the living room and the like are not only a good way to get walked in on by other players, they scream for the ax wielding maniac to show up and start chopping. Rule number one of horror movies: don't have sex! The ax wielding maniac just loves to kill people when they're naked and bumping uglies. That said, he won't show up in your bedroom. Even ax wielding maniacs have some sense of decency and decorum. Also note that for plot purposes, staff MAY secretly observe public roleplay in order to keep up on what the players are doing and what they know IC. It is general practice, however, for staff to simply ask if they can watch. Still, when in public, never make assumptions. Sometimes players act differently if they know that they're being watched by staff, so be advised that we may be watching.


  • Pitcrew

    Re: Policies

    I dunno, I think I would just take out the first one. If you mean to encourage a climate of adults treating each other with respect, I don't think that's a very good start--the tone isn't the same as it is with the other two bullet points. Also, I think the people you really wish would take that kind of thing to heart are the ones that read "unnecessary attitude and general douchery" as something that of course doesn't apply what they're doing, and you may cause the nice/more timid people to worry about saying anything at all/asking for an appeal, ect, for fear of triggering it. (Just an observation over many years staffing/playing). It feels good to have pithy comments like that in your policies, it's tempting, but I think it's kind of a waste of space.

    I think it might serve your purpose instead to state simply, "We want to make this a place where the broad spectrum of players feel welcomed and respected. If you behave in a way that diverges from that towards staff or other players, we will have a discussion with you about your fit in the community. Please remember even when you are upset or annoyed or have had a bad day that there are other people on the other side of the screen who may be dealing with the same. If you're angry, take some time out before you throw something down in a request, channel, or other communication. Ask for clarity before you assume what other's intentions are. Verbal abuse or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated." Or pare that down.

    I find in communication online (and with teenagers and children in the flesh) you get more of what you want by saying what you do want "I want you to address me in a respectful tone of voice/not to yell in the house/avoid saying "fuck this shit" in front of your grandparents" rather than vague things that are highly subjective such as "Don't be a little bitch." I mean, everyone is going to slip up and go there, but when you are attempting to get out in front of things, and have an opportunity to be clear/calm rather than throwing around things that make people glaze over "who me, acting childish? No way, this is IMPORTANT and only a fool wouldn't see that!" or be on the defensive.


  • Pitcrew

    @mietze Appreciated. All of the news is written fairly bluntly, getting to the point, but that bit could be massaged a little. Though honestly I'm not sure it would really matter to the kind of player you're talking about, either. They won't read it or care in most cases anyway.


  • Pitcrew

    @mietze I changed it a bit.

    • You're expected to treat your fellow players and staff with dignity,
      decency and respect. Harassment and belligerent behavior will not be
      tolerated. Please try to remember that we're all human beings on the
      other side of the screen, and we all make mistakes and have bad days.

  • Politics

    You can rotate theme without changing the setting, or forcing players to change their PCs. There are many themes to explore in "zombie apocalypse," as evidenced by the longevity of The Walking Dead.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede Very true. I should probably use a different word than 'Theme'. Rotating game/genre/setting is really more what I mean.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to MU Soapbox was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.