Friday, December 30, 2016

Day 52: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 52 - Lens 89: The Lens of The Character Web
To better flesh out your characters' relationships, make a list of all your characters, and ask yourself these questions:

How, specifically does each character feel about each of the others?
So... there are the players, the fictional players within the context of the games fiction, the tribal leaders they represent and the fictional Teller that is the voice of the rules. All three of those groups exist on distinct layers of the game fiction.

The innermost layer would be the tribal leader characters that the player are portraying. Those characters have no defined relationships with each other, but will develope them whether or not the players are roleplaying their characters or just engaging with the game mechanics. The tribe leaders have an antagonistic relationship with the City and it's leaders. They were all once citizens of the city, or their parents were.  They are of course unaware of the Teller who exists on the next layer of fiction.

In the next layer of fiction the Teller owns the game. It was taught to him by the previous Teller and is an allegory for the actual fall of civilization. He is of course dead and the fictional players of the game that the players are embodying have discovered his game and are reading the instructions he has left behind.  He has been written to be a little comical but also a mentor figure. He interacts with the players through the 'Last words of the Teller' document which is a tutorial on how to play the game, through the game rules themselves, and through a letter that only the winner of the game reads.

In the topmost layer are the actual players. Their relationships are undefined, though they may be pre-existing if the players know each other. They will certainly be affected by the game play, at least in terms of their actions within the game.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the game mechanics help shape and define those relationships. Players can act against each other by attacking bases of course, but they can also challenge to ally or betray. That is a limited vocabulary, but it forces their relationships to become clearly defined and to tell the story that I want the game to tell.

Are there any connections unaccounted for? How can I use those?
The relationship of the tribe leaders and the teller does not exist, but could. He might for instance have letters that he had gathered from each of the leaders of the actual tribes that fought over the city. Letters given to the First Teller. Now those letters might or might not be real, or things created by previous tellers to underline the lesson they were trying to teach with the game.

Are there too many similar connections? How can they be more different?
There might be more ways for players to interact... lending aid to each other? I had tried that and it mostly just added complexity.

Trading warriors? Leaving warriors of your color on allied bases? That might be interesting, whoever has the most controls the base, ties mean neither recruits or gets points for it? Or it counts as a base for both players... I kind of like it in that it is just an application of the basic rule of picking up and putting down guards. Maybe it's no one gets the points for a tie with an enemy base and both get it if it's an allied base?

Sending recruits to an ally?

I don't know if those constitute different kinds of relationships, but maybe by raising the ways players can interact I can increase the resonance of their connections?