Project P – OR – The big questions

So last week I explained my process for designing the mechanics HERE but now we need to get into story.

And I’m using a very simple concept to do this… what story do I wish to let the players tell?

WARNING, this is very close to rail-roading so the next week will be the fine line and how to avoid crossing it.

Now recently, I have assisted with a Megagame known as “The Shot Heard around the Universe” and bar an extreme case of rage quitting (where someone drew all their money out of a group and walked off taking the money out of the system) it was a great game.  The game effectively boiled down to one key theme; dealing with an Empire that has over-expanded and now dealing with the consequences.

You could ask a large number of questions concerning this game.

  • Is it possible to administrate the Sector without upsetting everyone in the Sector? (Short and long answer no)
  • Is it possible to get a large number of people and factions with differing opinions and agendas to agree? (50/50 result on that one).
  • Is it possible to handle a rebellion without damaging the very structure that provides the resources to grow? (Yes and No, especially if someone is willing to bomb their own planet to get them off)

While these are after action questions, you can actually reverse it and ask the questions in advance.  I’m not meaning throwing one question after the other until they get buried under a set of them but I mean…

… well here’s an example.  Suppose there is a war going on in-game and you ask, how complicated is it to command the forces, the obvious stuff.  Then you get the question:

“Where are they going to get these resources from and what effect will that have on the local area?”

This is actually a common question in military games but from here you gain another question:

“Where do we get the people to fight this war?”

This isn’t a problem in a military scenario, you have a standard group of units.  However if you look at something like a 14th Century War or earlier, there were very few standing armies so they had to be pulled from the populace.  The Hundred years war required Mercenaries that had to be paid so they had to find money in some cases through looting and pillaging… and there’s where the interesting question that comes out.

“What lengths are you willing to go to fight and win this war?”

From here you can ask other questions like:

  • “Do you steal resources from the local populace?”
  • “Do you offer ransoms for prisoners?”
  • “Do you slash and burn your territories so the enemy can’t get it?”

And then you bounce back to your mechanics for a second and see if they can be handled by the game and if not, what is required to make it work and does it make the game too complex?

Story always comes into a mega-game but the idea of a crafted story for a mega-game is too much like rail-roading.

Instead you need to hook players into the game so that they can create their own story and make sure the options are there for them to be used.

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