It’s surprising how fast one can design the basics for an RPG system once one gets the fire. The game has deviated from intention but not too dramatically. I got some further inspiration, did some thinking about the definition I provided for Sword Noir and how it linked to the mechanics, and tinkered away.
I wanted to answer a few more questions from the “Power 19” and honestly admit to being unable to answer others.
4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
I am uncertain about providing a setting. I think, were this game to go to publication—and I am certainly interested in something along those lines right now—it would need a setting.
Were I to include a setting, it would be a single city, a large city. The city would be run by a bunch of corrupt oligarchs who basically have a “live and let live” deal with the criminal underworld—that is as long as they stay out of certain parts of the city and leave certain people alone. What order is enforced is more about keeping order and control and absolutely not about justice.
This is based on the sword noir definition, specifically: “The atmosphere is dark and hope is frail or completely absent. . . .Grim leaders weave labyrinthine plots which entangle innocents.”
5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
When I was working on character creation, I originally had an issue with linking it to “The characters are good at what they do, but they are specialists.” This led to the aspect “Concept,” which is a quick, succinct definition of the character. Also, qualities got linked to traits. Taking all this together, there is a meta-gaming consideration to creating a character that matches the Concept and ties many qualities to a select number of traits.
Since qualities, concepts and traits can stack and increase the modifiers a character can gain, this helps to drive players to create specialists characters, or at least focused characters.
6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
Within the game, Pivots are set up specifically as reward mechanisms that the player as the character has control over. It allows the player to decide what behaviour and style will be rewarded. The player can decide what is important to the character, and then use that.
7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
Using the Pivots as a guide, the player is rewarded by Advancements for the character, which can increase existing aspects and qualities, or create new qualities.
8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
In general, the control of the world and the NPCs is left to the GM, but players have limited narrative control through the use of the fortune point mechanic.
The game is pretty traditional when it comes to narrative control.
9.) What does your game do to command the players’ attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
This one is a tough one. It’s one I hadn’t really considered. I mean, the idea is that with the character generation, the players will have characters about whom they care. Also, given that the game has a very specific genre, I would hope that those playing would be interested in replicating that kind of genre in game.
I think the main reason why I find this question so jarring is that I haven’t deeply thought about game design in this fashion. Did I mention that already? Things like player attention, engagement and participation, I think of as the GM’s job—among many others. I tend to believe that no matter what the mechanics, no matter what the rules, that if the GM is not arresting, the game cannot command any of those.
Also, in case I didn’t mention it, I haven’t really thought about it.
I’ll answer more of the questions later. They are helpful in getting me to think about the game.
The first draft is pretty much done, and you can have a look here.