[Agency/Invasion] Tech trees i rollspel, finns det?

krank

Wokevänster-ödleman från Epsilon Eridani
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När jag tänkt på Agency-modulen Invasion, så har jag funderat lite på det här med teknologiträd.

Kort om Invasion, för kontext: Rollpersonerna är agenter som skickas ut på uppdrag där de undersöker och motverkar en utomjordisk invasion av absolut inte upphovsrättsskyddade utomjordiska stora robotar som kan förvandla sig till bilar, flygplan och så vidare.

Teknologiträd är en grej som återfinns i en hel del strategispel, framför allt av 4X-typen. De finns i Master of Orion, i Ascendancy, och även i X-comspelen. Man får alltså som spelare från början ett antal grundteknologier, eller forskningsnoder, man kan sätta sina ägghuven på att forska om. Man väljer ofta hur mycket resurser man vill lägga på forskningen, och vilken eller vilka noder man ska fokusera på. Efter ett tag blir man klar – och man får tillgång till kanske lite stämningstext, lite ny utrustning / kapacitet, och så öppnad en eller flera nya möjliga noder upp.

För att en del grejer ska låsas upp räcker det med en tidigare nod, i andra fall krävs flera. I X-com-spelen krävs ofta att man fångat in en specifik fiende eller plockar loss en viss grej oskadd från ett nedskjutet UFO.

Det här är en mekanik jag tycker mycket om. Faktum är att det nog på många sätt är en av mina favoritgrejer i de där spelen – min huvudanledning till att inte gillar Stellaris är spelets brist på ordentligt träd, och jag har förlorat flera gånger i brädspelet Twilight Imperium för att jag fokuserat för mycket på forskning.

Här är min första fråga: Finns det rollspel som innehåller ett tech tree?

Just nu känns det som att det finns två möjligheter: Antingen är det en så dålig idé att ingen försökt, eller så finns det spel som försökt men som jag inte känner till.


Det här är ungefär den struktur jag tänkt mig för Invasion, preliminärt:

Jag som modulförfattare skapar ett träd. I trädet finns en massa ball tech och information om robotarnas kultur, ursprung och planer.

Varje nod har krav för att låsas upp. I vissa fall räcker det med att delar av kraven är uppfyllda, i andra måste hela kraven uppfyllas. Spelarna, och kanske rollpersonerna, kan se de närmaste "vägarna" och kraven – "Om vi hade en hjärnmodul från en robot så skulle vi nog kunna få veta mer om hur de kommunicerar". De vet dock inte exakt vad som finns i noderna; mer en vag "kategori" för vad man kommer få.

Och så kan SL baka in detta i kommande uppdrag – "Okej, vi har hört en signal från Denver, så vi vet att det finns en där. Vi vet inte vad den gör där. Som vanligt – ta reda på vad den hållit på med, vad den vill, se sedan till att försöka oskadliggöra den innan den hinner självförstöra. Och kom ihåg – får ni med er en hjärnmodul, trasig eller ej, så vore det skitbra!"

Eller i vissa fall "Hörni, egentligen har vi inte resurser nog att prioritera grejen i Oregon, men vår agent på plats har rapporterat att hon sett en av de där läskiga cyborg-modellerna – får ni med er nån del av en sån hem så kan det vända hela fajten!"

Skulle det här vara kul?
Användbart för spelledaren?


(Ja, jag vet att det inte gör kampanjen så omspelbar, men det struntar jag i – omspelbarhet är inte prio 1 här)
 

Cybot

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Har inte sett något penna och papper rollspel med den grejen, men kör på för det låter skitcoolt i en strategisk kampanj.
 

Tre solar

Hero
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Det låter som ett jättebra upplägg. Många spel har ju feat-träd, vilket - bortsett fluff - är det samma som ett tech-träd. Och många äventyr och kampanjer har ju en trädliknande struktur. Så det verkar som en klockren produktutveckling att sammanföra alltihop.
 

kaptendral

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Jag kan vara ute och cykla men är inte Mutant År 0s ark-byggande åt det hållet? Att vissa grejer kräver andra innan dom ska byggas? Det finns även spår av det i många spel där vissa förmågor kräver att man har en annan (tex i Dungeon World och Earthdawn om jag inte minns fel). Jag kan inte komma ihåg att jag sett nåt träd däremot men det är ju bara presentation.
 

Basenanji

Postd20modernist
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Tja, det här är en anledning till varför jag gillar d20-spelen.

Sedan handlar väl inte allt om tech tre-mekanik? Jag vill gärna se hur x-com spelens tech tree-mekanik också handlar om att balansera själva metaploten. (Du har sagt det, men jag vill liksom få sagt att det är lika viktigt att bygga äventyret som att bygga ut regelmekanik)
 

Ymir

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Det finns ju spel med "erfarenhetsträd", där man köper nya talanger/feats/förmågor i en trädstruktur. FFGs Star Wars är det praktexempel, med en del riktigt knäppt utformade träd (ett går tex i en spiral), och spelar man en robot eller gadgeteer blir det ju nästan ett techträd av det.
 

krank

Wokevänster-ödleman från Epsilon Eridani
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Alright, så jag tolkar era svar (hittills) som att JA, träd existerar i olika spel, men NEJ, det verkar vara skralt med träd för just något i kampanjen, utan träden brukar mer handla om utveckling av karaktärerna? Om jag inte missar något?

Det motsvarar ungefär vad jag trodde. Och jag misstänker att det hör lite ihop med det här med omspelbarhet plus att många spel inte har så mycket fokus på en "inbyggd kampanj". Individuella utvecklingsträd för en rollperson ger ju helt annan replayability än att man får veta en ball hemlighet om spelvärlden.

Men jag tänker hur som helst att ingen verkar ha reagerat direkt negativt på idén, så nästa steg blir att börja designa åtminstone ett skissartat träd med noder och hinder.

(Heh. Skulle man kunna tillföra ännu ett steg av interaktivitet genom att applicera min vanliga nodstruktur på det här? Säkert, men det tänker jag nog låta bli. Min erfarenhet av Twilight Imperium säger mig att tech trees kring ett spelbord mår bäst av att vara betydligt enklare än motsvarande träd i spel som Master of Orion. Och även i dataspel finns det en gräns för hur komplexa de bör vara…)
 

Hellzon

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Lite sent då, men en snubbe på Something Awful startade en tråd om megadungeons som i stort sett blev hens egen devlog. Menmen, där satte hen in mysterier, som kanske inte riktigt är techtrees men närliggande.
(Om utredda mysterier låser upp nya så blir det ju ett träd ändå?)

aldantefax said:
I should probably go a little bit into the feedback loop that is actually causing players to get real excited in the current games, which is to talk about "Mysteries".

Mysteries = Loresheets = Player-driven things to invest in

I mentioned before that "Mysteries" are a custom subsystem which was originally inspired from one of my personal favorite games, Weapons of the Gods as well as Legends of the Wulin. Both of them presented a concept where the game was developed by awarded experience points (in the form of 'Destiny') to players to spend on what they found interesting and cool about the system from a narrative aspect. This could be almost anything in the book since many headings including mechanical system topics had a Destiny cost associated with them, representing not just the character's knowledge, but the player's meta-knowledge and interest in the subject. They could also spend their Destiny on Entanglements, which were players raising a narrative flag that said "I want this to be part of the game".

This had some upside and downsides, namely, most players in a dungeon crawl will just raise a flag to say "I want every benefit to be part of the game and none of the drawbacks", which is fair and by design, but also not directly appropriate for what I was envisioning.

Instead, after multiple years and many gaming groups of experimentation, I landed on this thematic system by using keywords that made sense:

1. Mysteries. As in, there are multiple, and they are big ones, some of which may go unsolved. This represents a large bucket of point investment, but is not a black hole - players investing into these can effectively amplify the amount of points they get by shoveling their individual points into a shared bank.

2. Thresholds. These are specific thresholds during a Mystery that, when reached after a certain investment of character points, provides a minor benefit and usually one or two paragraphs of lore about the topic. This is a drip feed of information that builds off of the previous milestones, which also means if you don't know what the next milestone is, you can wing it or think on the previous ones for inspiration.

3. Major Revelation. This is a big thing which may challenge a fundamental understanding of the setting and gameplay. It may unlock major subsystems that have their own goofy-ass rules and also major narrative things which may cause players to view the world in a new light.

4. Conclusion. Once there has been sufficient investment of points into a Mystery, it is solved in some way, which is in and of itself a Major Revelation, and also a game-altering thing. Additionally, this represents a massive amount of points that will be redistributed to all groups participating in the Mystery, which means that everybody gets a big bonus of points beyond what they would normally get per session. I'm talking about game systems potentially changing and doing things like bumping up Tech Level (a pretty major deal in GURPS), or introducing new sourcebooks into play, or completely importing weird shit from video games in, like save points or soul transmigration to "reincarnate" the character with better stats, or Demon's Souls "World Tendency", big stuff like that.

One really only needs to start with step 1. By defining the Mystery implies that there is something to be discovered, which is a system that serves the aesthetics that I'm looking for. I don't know as the GM what that might be quite just yet, but I do know enough to create a small seed of inspiration.

Example:

---

The Mystery of the Cartographer's Lore

The delving crews have encountered strange symbols left by other delving companies past. What secrets do these symbols hold?

Threshold: 5 points (per milestone)
Major Revelation: 25 points
Conclusion: 50 points

All crews may now begin contributing to this Mystery.

Current spend: 11/22/2020 - 39 points

---

Given that players receive an average of 2 to 3 points per session but may not necessarily have the funds or capacity to spend those points in town, they have a new thing to invest their points into knowing that they'll get a major reward in the future. However, it's important to give them minor rewards as well, so let's take a look at the first milestone that I created for this Mystery:

---

You have reached the first milestone of the Cartographer's Mystery.

1: In ages past, the Megastrata was much easier to navigate. There was a common library of symbols which all delvers used in the spirit of jolly cooperation. However, greed, corruption, and hostility ruined it for everybody, and the Adventurer's Guild put a ban on all but the most rudimentary symbols that even a trainee would know.

Minor Effect: You can now send and receive encrypted dungeon messages in the Megastrata if you have access to marking tools (chalk, paint, chisels, etc).

---

Given that this is an explicit invitation for players to go "do shit in a special way" that they didn't before in the Megastrata, it gives them further impetus to experiment with the wackiness that is in the megadungeon. There's just enough there to give them further encouragement to keep exploring this - if they didn't, then that's fine too.

Technically the minor effect can end up snowballing if there's an explicit mechanical thing they can do in the context of the rules they're nudging one way or another. Not a huge deal (for now), but also gives a player a new option to look over when theorycrafting, which is a hallowed pastime of delvers.

There is some fun to be had with a Major Revelation, because this is intentionally pulling the curtain back just enough to provide something to the players that can (and should) subvert their expectations. It may actually support their suspicions, which is immensely rewarded when they have a lightbulb moment about the setting or the mechanics; or, it may raise further questions for the inevitable payoff.

Some Mysteries lead to other Mysteries. This is intentional, but there's no specific logic for it other than "does it make sense narratively to do so"?

One can gauge the success of an experimental subsystem like this by seeing how players react. In older iterations of this I had Trello boards and other shit like that which was great if you sat at a computer for eight hours a day, but some of my players from the older prototypes didn't have computers. Not great! I had to make a conscious decision to change how this information was presented so it could be more easily recorded and recalled.

Discord has proven to be useful for this because it's widely accessible and all players have a phone they can use. Not only does this work for a rolling documentation, it also invites players to collaborate and chat, something that I find to be very exciting because I get some level of validation that I'm on the right track with an experiment based on how much the players are talking to each other outside of the game. This is, I think, part of the secret sauce that Colville talks about when trying to add some level of immersiveness to the game world. People want to interact with this stuff.
 

Hellzon

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Hela rymdes inte inom 10000 tecken, här är snubbens slutsatser:

Takeaways of Mysteries

There are some major revelations (heh) that I had while designing this subsystem.

1. Players need a positive reinforcement loop. If you put purely a mechanical or purely narrative thing in front of players, not all players will engage with the systems, and some may even push back at such a thing. However, they need some level of encouragement to keep interacting with the thing. Otherwise, you might have a cool idea but it might not have sea legs because it doesn't encourage further interaction with it.

2. Players need to be able to communicate to the GM when they are interested in something. It was very eye-opening to see players clearly "vote with their resources" on what Mysteries they wanted to pursue, because multiple were presented and there was one that clearly won out for now. They bartered with each other and said "if we can invest just a couple more points into this we can get the next milestone..." or "can you wait until after we get this Revelation before you buy your abilities in town". This means that they're taking the system put in front of them seriously, and having a good time doing it.

Edit and sub-point here: Players need to be able to explicitly have a method to do point 2. Sometimes people need a defined procedural method to communicate something that people aren't normally used to doing. Players used to a more passive way of playing suddenly become way more engaged when they realize not only they are expressly capable of doing this, but encouraged to do so. They are also able to communicate to other players on a meta-level out of the game because of this system as well.

3. Players need minor and major narrative and procedural rewards. This goes back to the positive feedback loop but specifically with "rewards" means you need to give players something for their trouble since it's quite a big deal for even a single point to be invested into an experimental subsystem instead of buying a new skill or a new Advantage in GURPS. They might also be saving up for something that requires a major investment in points.

A sub-point of this is that players want to make progress towards something big. Major rewards do not come easily or often, and so it must feel earned rather than given. By giving players the ability to spend resources on their terms, it also feeds back into point 1.

4. Players want experience points. This is highly controversial, I'm sure, for some people, but even indie games have some level of reward on this layer. The key difference between something like the classic level treadmill that D&D, World of Warcraft, and every JRPG under the sun does is that experience point gain is linear and only serves a single purpose. However, after running without experience points in other experiments, I discovered that players want this as a form of "loot" and they also want to be able to "spend the loot". Getting experience points in D&D means that you are X closer to having more fun. Getting experience points in GURPS means you can meaningfully improve your character - provided you can make it back to town alive!

*

All in all, things seem pretty good, so I'm going to keep on developing this as a "core subsystem" for play. There's other stuff of course but this is a mostly self perpetuating fun engine. Also, I have put something special into the first Major Revelation that the players have received, but they might not even discover what that special thing is until the conclusion of the Mystery, heh heh heh.
Edit: Länk till inlägget och tråden. Inte säker på om man kommer in utan konto dock.
 
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