Saturday, 28 January 2012

Time to Die: Story Summaries - Votes 84-91

  • The crummy cinema looks like a good spot for hide out. You enter the building and have a look at the listings – conveniently for you, there's a science fiction marathon running today. You buy a ticket and spend the rest of the day in the near-darkness of the screening room.
  • As the final film draws to its finale, a police officer enters the room, surveying the people. You carefully remove your face-jack mask – the police don't know your real face. The officer passes by, unaware of who you are.
  • You stay to the end of the movie, exiting with the small crowd of viewers. There are a couple of cops on the street outside – could be trouble. You decide to continue alone rather than striking up a conversation with someone. The police officers ignore you.
  • You press onwards towards the doctor's lab. Turning a corner, you find your path blocked by three goons in grey suits – CygNet Research has found you! You try to reason with the men, but they aren't having any of it. The men surround you and attack. You fight valiantly, but are defeated...
  • You come to your senses in a darkened room, tied to a chair. The goons drag out another trussed-up figure – it's the man that sold you the face-jack. Using your gun, they end his life – now there are two bodies leading back to you.
  • The CygNet thugs offer you a choice – tell them why you supposedly killed Martin Coates and they'll hand you over to the police alive, or they'll make sure you die as slowly and painfully as possible. You tell them the truth – you've been set up, the doctor is trying to cover up his discovery of time-travel. The men don't buy it. With a knife at your throat, they demand answers... or else. Will you be defiant to the end, or beg them to have mercy?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Facing the Grim Reaper: Death/Failure in Tweet RPG

There's one thing that's troubled me throughout the three Tweet RPG adventures that have taken place so far – the 'death/failure' mechanic. Today, I have finally had to face this nemesis. It hasn't been an easy experience, as I've had to face the fact that what I thought was a good idea was essentially flawed. However, through some humbling discussion and consideration, and with the help of the Tweet RPG players, I think I've made some steps in the right direction. I won't go as far as to say that I've worked it out, but I think I know how to improve the current situation.

Why has death/failure been an issue? I knew there should be an element of risk involved in these adventures – if it's certain that you'll succeed, then what's the point in playing? Combat and stat tests needed to have a negative consequence if unsuccessful, and death/failure seemed like the best option. However, there are big issues with this approach. The passage of time was a big concern. If I sent the players back to an earlier point (or if I was really mean, the start), it would mean losing days of voting action and replaying old options. This seemed like a bad choice – I could see many players 'unfollowing' due to frustration and boredom. What to do?

Before 'Time to Die' began, I decided to adjust the 'death/failure' mechanic to it's current state – if you run out of HP or choose a dead-end story pathway, you pay the penalty of missing one voting session and are returned to a recent decision, albeit with slightly altered options (no point offering the choice of fighting if it's impossible to win). I had purposely avoided putting this concept into action in earlier situations, probably because I subconsciously knew it was flawed. Earlier today, the dice throws in Weldon Locke's fight against some CygNet Research thugs led to him being defeated, and the death mechanic went into action. I felt fairly happy with my choice, but a part of me knew I was about to receive some challenging responses...

The feedback I've had today has confirmed my fears – the 'death/failure' mechanic is not up to scratch. The general consensus was that a 'rewind' to an earlier point is a cheap way to deal with this issue – it may work in video-games, where you can employ a 'saved-game' feature, or in gamebooks, where you can keep your finger in the previous page, but not in Tweet RPG. If death or failure is involved, there should consequences that make logical sense. With that in mind, here are a few options that could be employed:
  • The hero dies or is defeated, meaning that the story ends. The ultimate conclusion is withheld or revealed through a brief summary, letting the players know what could have happened.
  • Another protagonist steps in and continues the story in the dead/defeated hero's place e.g. a relative, associate or other significant character.
  • The story works so that death or failure fits logically within the structure i.e. losing combat causes you to be captured, with escape becoming your new quest, or death sends you into an afterlife quest, where you have to fight your way back to the physical world to continue.

I think the key issue is using death/failure in a way that a) has a significant consequence e.g. losing items or skills, and b) that logically fits the make-up of the story. With that in mind, I'm going to make some changes to plan I put in action today. Firstly, the 'miss-a-go' concept will be discontinued. Secondly, tomorrow's 8:00am GMT vote will not be a 'rewind'. I've decided on a new story progression which takes into account Weldon's defeat in combat, and has consequences for the character and the players.

It's quite ironic that death has been the most worrying issue in Tweet RPG. Guess that says something about the human condition. I'm not saying that I've got it sorted now, but I think I'm heading along the right path. I want to say a big thank you to all the Tweet RPG players for bearing with me in the issue, and especially to @DaddyDM, @EricMPaq, @JamesMEWilson and @richardstheone (sorry if I've missed anyone out) for providing some really interesting viewpoints and improving my GMing skills! If you have any opinions on death/failure in role-playing games, or ideas for how it should be done in Tweet RPG, feel free to comment below.

Monday, 23 January 2012

An aural treat: Tweet RPG Creator interviewed by Nearly Enough Dice Podcast

Attention Tweet RPG fans! I have something very fun for all of you to enjoy! I was recently interviewed by role-playing podcast 'Nearly Enough Dice', who grilled me on many interesting subjects. To enjoy the sultry sound of my voice and find out some of the facts behind the project, head over to the Nearly Enough Dice website!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Time to Die: Story Summaries - Votes 74-83

  • The lock shatters as you give it a savage kick, opening the way. You meet a creepy little man in the dark and grimy corridors – he offers to tell you the way through the sewers, if you pay him or answer a riddle. You take the intellectual challenge and answer the riddle correctly.
  • The impish man offers you two routes: quick and dangerous or slow and safe. You opt for the quick route. Entering a wide tunnel, you find yourself surrounded by three disfigured mutants, baying viciously. You use your taser grenade, stunning the monsters instantly.
  • As you continue, you a spot a water technician who has been cornered by a particularly powerful mutant, a giant 'spewer' with toxic mucous dripping from it's maw. Feeling helpful, you step in and defeat the creature. The technician thanks you and offers to guide you out of the sewers – you take up his offer.
  • You pass a work station in the passageways. The technician suggests that he could mend his sonic pulser, the device he uses to ward off the mutants. You agree, defending him from more mutants whilst he works. With the pulser fixed, you continue onwards, the mutants scared away by the ultrasonic noise it emits. 
  • You find the exit – a tall ladder leading up to a hatch in the ceiling. However, the bottom rungs are missing. Some mutants cower in the corner by some crates. You get the technician to give you a boost, then tell him to use one of the prone mutants as a stepladder – it works! You exit the sewers, leaving the technician to go on his way.
  • Back on the streets, with daylight emerging over the skyscrapers, you decide to hide out until nightfall, hopefully avoiding the cops. There are a few places you could lie low: a crummy-looking hotel, an office building with vacant floors or a rundown cinema. Where will you hide?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Time to Die: Story Summaries - Votes 68-73

  • Taking a cab over to the blonde assistant's apartment seems to be the best option. The journey goes without incident. Arriving in front of the apartment building, the woman explains that you'll need to check the disused office block opposite for proof of Obadiah's attempt to murder her with his time-travel device. You insist she accompanies you – not in the mood to trust anyone yet...
  • You enter the rundown building and ascend the stairs. As you search the rooms you are ambushed by a massive mechanically enhanced cyborg. The brute knocks you to the ground, but a bullet from your gun brings him crashing down.
  • You discover a large piece of equipment near the window facing the woman's apartment – a targeting device. The woman gives you a DNA sleeve, a glove imbued with with a specific person's genetic code. As you touch the targeting device, the glove glows green, proof that Dr Obadiah's DNA is on the device.
  • As you head towards the stairs you hear other people in the building – two police officers are climbing up towards you. The woman states that she'll trick them so you can both escape – you go along with the plan. Her ruse works, allowing you both to get out.
  • Leaving the woman, you head on to your next destination; confronting Dr Obadiah. You decide to head underground into the sewers to avoid the cops. Finding an entrance point, you are barred by a padlocked door – will you try to pick the lock, use one of your precious bullets to destroy it, or see if a hefty kick will do the job?

Monday, 9 January 2012

Update: A mini-break and voting changes

Hello investigators! Hope you're having fun trying not to get caught by the law. Will Weldon Locke find out the truth? We'll have to wait and see.

I've got a couple of announcements regarding the current adventure. Firstly, because I'm going to be extremely busy during the latter part of this week, the evening voting session on Wednesday the 11th will stay open until Monday the 16th – no new votes on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Life has to come first, I'm afraid.

Secondly, the amount of voting sessions per week will change from twelve to ten i.e. there will no longer be any new voting sessions on Saturdays. I no longer work on Saturdays (yay!), which means I can no longer guarantee that I'll be available to post story updates i.e. I want a lay-in! I hope you won't begrudge me this indulgence.

So, to recap:
  • No new votes from 8:00pm GMT on Wednesday the 11th until 8:00am GMT on Monday the 16th.
  • There will no longer be new story updates posted on Saturdays – the 8:00pm voting session on Friday will stay open until Monday morning.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Time to Die: Story Summaries - Votes 58-67

  • You tell the air-car autopilot to fly away from the building. The police take control of the vehicle, which drops out of the flow of traffic. Fiddling around inside the dashboard, you manage to fry the system, sending the car plummeting to the ground.
  • Escaping unscathed, you flee the scene of the crash – air travel doesn't seem to be a good idea for you. Pausing in a quiet alley, you dump the cleaner's uniform but decide to keep the face-jack – the police might recognise you but the CygNet security force will still be none the wiser.
  • As you move on, you spot a familiar face across the street – it's Dr Obadiah's assistant. You decide to follow her from a distance. The blonde woman enters a shopping complex, exiting at the other end and heading down a deserted street.
  • You watch carefully as a man steps out of the shadows, catching up to the blonde assistant. She screams as he grabs her, questioning her about something. Deciding to stop this before she gets hurt, you approach the struggling pair. As soon as the man notices you he turns and attacks, cyborg blades protruding from his arms. You defeat him with ease. Dr Obadiah's assistant leads you away to a storage container, inside which you take shelter.
  • Rather that take the aggressive route, you go for a 'softly, softly' approach in trying to get some answers out of the assistant. She reveals that she believes it was Dr Obadiah who killed Martin Coates, thus framing you. There's another revelation – the assistant tells you that the doctor's device is a time-machine. She shows you a wound on her hand similar to that on the body of Coates – evidence that the doctor tried to use his device to kill her too...
  • You inquire as to the doctor's motive; why would he want to kill Martin Coates? She replies that he may be covering his tracks, preventing anyone at CygNet Research finding out about his discovery. When you ask why there's no record of her being the doctor's assistant, the woman becomes defensive, stating that she organised her placement through the doctor, who must have falsified the CygNet information given to her university.
  • The assistant requests that you help her investigate how far Dr Obadiah's time-travel research has developed – you decide it's in your interest to help her. She says the two of you should head over to her flat in Earls and see if you can find some clues. Will you walk or take a cab?

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