2 for Tuesday #5: Social Conflict & Health Recovery Systems

2-for-Tuesday-logoWow, it’s Tuesday again! These weeks have been flying by whether fun or not. Fortunately, I’ve been up to a good dose of fun lately! I’ve been hard at work both on the Cosmothea Blended-Genre RPG and preparing for our upcoming Kickstarter. Today, I thought I’d talk a little about two things (of course). Today I’ll provide an overview of the social conflict resolution system under development (heck, everything is under development – we are still fairly early on in our 5th edition of Cosmothea. Have I said it’s lookin’ really good so far? Hm… probably have. Anyway, nothing’s carved in stone yet, but that’s where we’re at. For Part 2, I’ll give an overview of our Health Recovery System. Sound good? Here we go!

Part 1: Social Conflict Resolution Basics
Most social interactions don’t amount to much in real life. No resolution is needed. It just happens. Someone says a casual comment as they pass by another, a harsh word might be spoken or a brief attempt made at bluffing or persuading someone in the course of the day. For more significant uses, a simple Diplomacy check is needed. For more complicated conflict, each character picks the stakes prior to resolution and roleplays it out, uses the mechanical system or a combination of the two. This way, there are no hard feelings and no scary surprises, but it can still be quite intense and exciting. (I also have awards for a player choosing for their character to do poorly, so as to help with the story, character growth, etc… no one has actually taken the award yet, but it’s still in early playtests.)

For prolonged social conflicts, characters can choose to rely on their Mink Rank, which is slowly whittled down, not like Hit Points in D&D though. When they run out of their Mind Rank, they can no longer effectively engage someone in an argument, persuasion, etc. They don’t admit their wrong, give up, change religions, etc. they just aren’t going to get anywhere. They can’t continue effectively defending their own agenda, nor make good points. They can try, but it won’t help. There is also a Social Track that each character is on and they might get stressed or flustered, etc. as they lose their cool, etc. When you are stressed out, you can’t be as effective at trying to dominate a social interaction. It affects everything you do, and I think Cosmothea models that fairly well. It’s just a game after all, but I tried to cover the bases pretty well and give several options on how to handle things. I wanted something that was neither a mini game, nor hyper-complicated like some games have (and I know some of those are pretty popular, but I think you also lose immersion in both cases).

Characters are never forced to do anything the player isn’t willing for them to do, but the system still allows for the possibility of the character failing to be successful. There’s more to it all, but it would take longer than this blog post to discuss, and I’m just trying to give you a sense for things. I know that some players hate mechanical social resolution systems, but some are clunky or overly complicated, or feel too much like some kind of hit point system. This isn’t like that. I have provided many options, so it should cover most players’ tastes. (Of course, as with all RPG’s there are some who will hate it no matter what, and others who will love the very same thing no matter what.) It’s looking pretty solid so far, but we’ll do a lot more playtesting before we carve it in stone.

Part 2: Health Recovery System
For a little over 30 years now, Cosmothea has used an unusual health system (Well, it was way more unusual back then, but other games have since came up with similar health designs – no, I don’t think they copied me, I think the phenomenon is called Parallel Design, or something. Well, I believe mine came first, but it’s still probably called something like that. Anyway, Cosmothea does not use a hit point system. We had a system that included the term, hit points, but it worked way differently than how D&D uses it). Regardless, Cosmothea also uses a Health Track. As you get clobbered in combat or otherwise, you start to move down the track and struggle with the effects of being clobbered. It’s nice and easy. I try to avoid heavy clutter and over-complication.

These days, I think you can find most of Cosmothea’s health concepts in some form or another elsewhere, perhaps somewhat different, but whatever innovation we may have had in the above at one point, when the time is right for an idea, the time is right, so more than one person invents the same thing, or in Cosmothea’s case, something similar. Where I think our Health Recovery System takes a path different than most, if not all games, is in how we handle recovery (both mentally and physically).

Whether a character is resting, or being treated for injuries, there is a simple mechanic for determining whether the conditions for healing are positive (clean environment, free of conflict and stress, etc.) or negative (monster on the other side of the door, filthy environment, etc.) and this either slows down or speeds up mental and physical healing. Even faith comes into play, just as in real life. Doctors have found that people heal faster when they believe they can be healed, and some like myself believe that faith can go even deeper than that at times. Regardless, all of these various factors neatly go into determining how fast you heal. It’s worked very well so far with no complaints, and I think it models real life as well as an RPG should be expected to, without tacking on piles of rules. That’s all for today. I’d love to hear your thoughts either here or over at our QT Games Forums, where we discuss all things Cosmothea and where we are having a good time in a PlaybyPost Cosmothea adventure (you are welcome to join, btw!) Till next Tuesday, have a good one all! Cheers!

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About Bob Whitely/QT Games

Welcome to QT Games! Mission Never publish junk or waste people's time. Publish only high-quality fiction and games. 'Nuff said. Company Overview QT Games LLC was created to publish blended-genre (fantasy blended with sci-fi, etc.) fiction, board, card and roleplaying games for a discerning gaming community. Unlike most small press, we have very strict standards: Only pro writing, pro editing and pro art. That means that if we can't get it right, we find someone who can. We pay well for what we don't do in-house. We don't cut corners on quality. This means we stand to make less money than other small publishers, but that's okay with us. We value your time and money, so we're willing to take the bullet. We've designed a large number of games and written a pile of stories. Now we're polishing some of them and getting them out the door. 'Bout time, we know. Good stuff ahead!
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