Something Old, Something New…

My RFL has suggested something that prompts this entry. She knows I need to keep some portion of my mind busy creating things. (While I hope to be employed soon, I have a lot of time on my hands and gray skies overhead. This is not a good combination.)
I am now toying with building a game background/framework to show to Guardians of Order. This game would be a romance/sex goulash with a modern urban mystical backdrop. It would be diceless and narrative driven, with a healthy parallel to the system Ginger and Michael are using for House of Cards. It would take place in a variety of backdrops from gleaming cities to starkly beautiful mountain retreats.

So comment here as you may regarding what you think a romance drama game would provide and/or would skip. Of particular interest, of course, is the idea that success and such of seduction and social interaction requires resource management in addition to roleplay of Player Character.
How does one best “resource manage” romantic conflict drama? How to provide an interesting ‘yardstick’ to guide the roleplay?
While I have my own ideas, I think it would be foolish to dive in without asking for input from the good readers here.



  1. Heh. I am suddenly seeing a two-sided playblook, like the novellas they used to produce… One side is the Romance game, and the flip side? Heh. Well. More along the lines of the Grand Affair.
    Impractical, but amusing.

  2. One way (and one I quite like) is to treat all conflicts the same, just change the resources. Thus, as in Lace and Steel (a wonderful RPG in its own right), we have the same system used for Repartee as for Duels. High/Mid/Low-line sword strokes are replaced with High/Mid/Low-brow remarks, strength and dexterity are replaced by willpower and wittiness, wounds are replaced by social status/confidence undermining.
    Similarly, one can look at HeroQuest and see almost exactly the same concept at work, with the only mechanic change being the inputs (the abilities brought to bear) and the nature of the after-effects (penalties to social interaction or self-confidence rather than physical injury).
    Many of the more theoretical Narrativist systems suggest a conflict resolution with not only player-stated goals but also player-stated risks for failure. This sort of system is very flexible and capable of changing the stage and stakes of a scene with near-infinite flexibility. For example, see this link…
    One important thing to avoid, IMO, is forcing player choices. There’s a world of difference between “she successfully Seduced your character, you must do what she says” and “she successfully Seduced your character, you’re at [certain penalty] to do anything except what she says until you get over it”. Much like you don’t say “You lost the fight, so you have to retreat” but rather “You lost the fight, so you’re at [wound penalty] until you get healed.” The player then chooses what to do, with giving in or retreating being the respective “easy” paths, but all others still open (albeit penalized).
    [edited for brackets]

  3. We are on the same wavelength–in fact, I was thinking that all result advantage/penalties would be per Gulick Scale shifts.
    Winning, this may be revisited shortly.
    Losing, give in quickly or penalty results will be shift up the scale.

  4. Another idea from Lace and Steel…
    In a closely-linked set of rules, L&S offers “Self-Confidence”, “Ties”, and “Antipathies”.
    Self-Confidence is a general modifier to character actions. When you’re riding high, things go well, and when you’re down, things go poorly. The biggest exception to this rolls to maintain a non-zero Self-Confidence… there, a high rank hurts you and a low rank helps. Thus, it’s hard to stay on the top, but easy to sink into a self-perpetuating funk. Very nice for melodramatic drama, no?
    Ties and Antipathies are things/concepts/people you love or hate. Every character has some, usually some of each. They work with Self-Confidence, so doing something to benefit a Tie or harm an Antipathy causes a boost to Confidence and doing something to harm a Tie or help an Antipathy causes a loss of Confidence. This includes failing to help as “harm”, so watching your Nemesis kidnap your True Love while you struggle in vain to loosen your bonds means a BIG hit to your Self-Confidence score.
    Possibilities to expand on this concept abound… One mechanical effect of a successful social interaction could be moving the target one step up in their Tie to you (or a cause you espouse), or at least one step less in their Antipathy. One way out of a Self-Confidence “funk” could be to “burn” a Tie (a big emotional scene where you give up on your great, unachievable passion and resolve to start anew).
    Why get this “crunchy” about it all? Well, if the main conflicts of the game are to be relationship-focused, you need some sort of yardstick to measure relations on.

  5. Thinking. Thinking….
    Yes, there has to be a ‘yardstick’. I’ve been assembling the kinds of romance/sex/seduction approaches so I can see what the arenas of conflict ought to be.
    Like in Amber diceless, I’m trying to anticipate four or five arenas.

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