This post is one of a series describing the design of a prospective RPG called the Wall. You can find more posts here.
Let’s start with the characters. Here’s PC1:
For resolution, dice are provide from Tools and Approaches. Only one Tool and one Approach can be used. A character always uses a Tool and an Approach. The character cannot avoid these – they are necessary mechanical explanations of how the character is addressing resolution.
(I’m not saying conflict resolution because it’s not necessarily conflict. It’s situational. Each scene has a single resolution, so I’m seeking a better term. For now, I’m just calling it resolution)
Concept is a general description of the character’s role in the story. If the character’s conflict applies, the player can shift one die being used in resolution either down or up (so a d6 can become a d4 or a d8)
Tools: This relates to the character is addressing the problem. What format is the character using? Fist relates to using force, either physical, political, or interpersonal. It’s basically compelling someone to do something. Eyes relates to planning and manipulation of outside forces (though not manipulation of the party involved in the resolution). Heart uses charm and persuasion (this would be manipulating a party involved in the resolution)
Approaches: This relates to how the character is applying the Tool. Open is overt, in the open. Those parties not involved in the resolution will know this is happening. Subtle isn’t in the open, but it’s also not trying to hide that this is being done. If someone is not watching carefully or is not part of the resolution, they might not know this is happening. Hidden means that the character is trying to covertly effect the situation. If successful, not even other parties in the resolution will know the characters is involved.
Additions aren’t always used in resolution. If the characters are wearing their uniforms, they gain the Authority die for free. One Element can be used in resolution if the player can explain how it applies.
Relationships score the character’s relationship with the locals and provide difficulty ratings for resolution. Distance is the general cultural distance between the Occupiers (the PCs, who are part of an occupying force), Sympathy is the relationship the PC has with the Dispossessed – the have-nots in the setting, and Influence is the relationship with the Elite – those locals who rule the city for the Occupiers’ master.
The city also has a character sheet of sorts. The city has scores for Peace, Order, and Harmony, and these can affect how the PCs can resolve situations.
How all these are used and interact will be illustrated in the first test scenario, which I’ll post next.
Each session (or perhaps couple of sessions) is an Episode. Think of this kind of like a “module” or “adventure.” It’s a self-encapsulated story that can be part of a wider campaign but has a beginning and an end. Each Episode indicates what is at stake, and while this is provided narratively, it has mechanical repercussions.
For the test sessions, we’re going with:
Food riots have begun in the Fifth Quarter, one of the middle class sections near the river. Order is threatened and the Company’s influence among the Elites is at stake.
So, at the end of this Episode, the PCs will either have improved or degraded the city’s Order and their Influence with the Elite.
Each Episode is broken into Scenes. For the first test, that Scene’s goal will be: Gain a basic knowledge of how the riot started.
Using that goal, the players will give specifics to the Scene, then complete resolution, and knowing the result, will provide the narrative for how the Scene unfolds.
Those are the basic rules right now. These will evolve and change as the examples of play outline strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.
Next, let’s see how these rules might work in an example of play.