Setting Contest 3: Red Star, White Sun

2006 Dec 24

me: yo, can i dork out some ideas at you?
Shreyas: yeah sure
me: so I’m thinking about bailing on Gridiron Gods for now and writing the Chinese Civil War game for the setting contest
Shreyas: uh huh
me: because it’ll be short and sweet and it’ll continue the chain of Short Games About China that I’ve done for contests. because, like Heavenly Kingdoms, 5K, and Waiting/Tea it has pregenerated chars, strongly constrained input methods, pre-established situation, plays in 2 hours, and is basically an effort to build a vocabulary for casual roleplaying games
Shreyas: i like short games about china, in general
me: okay, so here’s the premise. i think the game’s called “Red Star, White Sun” and the plot goes like this: there are four people from the same village, two men and two women. they have preestablished relationships
Shreyas: mhm
me: maybe they’re married or siblings or lovers or relatives of some kind. and the Nationalists come through and draft the two men to fight on their side. and then, months later, the Communists roll through and draft the women into their Female Soldiers Detachment. and, eventually, both sides learn of this and are sorta trying to rescue each other, despite being on opposite sides. and the game ends with some sort of dramatic showdown where several of the characters probably die in trainwreck heartbreak fashion. and the ending moment is the announcement of the Second United Front, which means the Nationalists and Communists are going to work together to fight the Japanese
Shreyas: cool, i like it.
me: so it kinda renders any violence that preempts that sorta ironic and meaningless. so let me tell you how this is gonna work, because that’s the cool part
Shreyas: kay
me: so imagine a bizarre cross between Exalted charm trees and Waiting/Tea’s action trees and the somewhat tree-like loresheets from WotG. each player has a list of what are basically scene concepts. and these concepts are arranged in trees. and the trees interconnect with each other and are conditional with related scenes and the like. but there are clearly branches of the trees that share similar themes or plot certain paths. like, maybe there’s a branch where one of the women is pregnant and there’s all sorts of complications related to that. or maybe one character becomes a spy for the opposite side or the Japanese and that leads to all sorts of things
Shreyas: mhm, so it’s got all these alternative paths plotted out
me: but then what if she’s a PREGNANT SPY! then there are all sorts of possibilities in the middle that interconnect them
Shreyas: with complications and so on
me: right, but you don’t have to head down any particular path. you can sort of work partway down one branch and fork off to the side. or you could do a little bit of several branches
Shreyas: mhm
me: so there are a limited number of options, but near infinite combinations, especially when you’re playing with all four characters. and so the scenes are sorta like Keys. you do one and that opens up future possibilities. but it also puts limitations on things or maybe gives you abilities or takes abilities away. so there could be like a Sniper branch that you progress down to increase your skills as a sniper. but it requires bad things to happen along the way. or just things that are not necessarily good. they’re sorta like fixed keychains in that way.
Shreyas: that sounds pretty fun
me: but they form a web that you can travel as you please. yeah, and it sounds really close to the way we might want to present 4N. or at least one possibility. a web of predetermined choices. or at least steal the structure but allow more madlib stuff where the players can have creative input. “Write down your greatest desire here.” and then, several scenes later… “To advance to this stage, sacrifice your greatest desire.”
Shreyas: oh yes, variables. i love variables
me: anyway, that’s the plan. and the hardest part sounds like actually writing the web
Shreyas: yes
me: i guess I should just start with something simple and complicate it.
Shreyas: yeah, if you design it so it’s modular
me: like how they write Choose Your Own Adventure books or Lone Wolf
Shreyas: then you can just attach new bits to it as they come to you
me: which is something else this is very reminiscent of. so here’s my next problem. what system do I use for this? :)
Shreyas: haha

One Response to “Setting Contest 3: Red Star, White Sun”

  1. Annie Says:

    Is a system necessary? xD

    Writing the trees sounds like a Big Task. I wish you well, and really want to hear about the process/progress.

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