The Rules.   Posted by The Signal.Group: 0
The Signal
 GM, 1 post
Sun 26 May 2019
at 13:24
The Rules
The system we'll be using is based heavily on the Hillfolk system by Pelgrane Press, simplified and streamlined for a play-by-post environment. This is a system entirely based around PC interaction, with minimal interference by the GM. It is a game system intended to produce stories in the vein of serialized TV dramas, with most of the conflict being internal and interpersonal, rather than with an epic adventure where the conflict is primarily external.

Some expectations before we go any further: if you apply to this game and are accepted, I expect you to post quickly and consistently, at least a couple times a week, preferably more. This system structures most scenes as a conversation between two or three characters, and if one player simply isn't responding it will cause the whole experience to crash. I understand that there are real-life issues to worry about that can cause slowdowns, but please, if such situations are common in your life, and might often unpredictably cause you to stop posting for weeks on end, do not apply to this game.

Additionally, if the premise or game system don't appeal, please don't apply then either. In situations where players are unenthusiastic, they can quickly stop logging in, and that presents the same problem.

All that being said, here's a quick run-down of the rules:
The Signal
 GM, 2 posts
Sun 26 May 2019
at 14:27
The Rules
Party Creation: Party creation will begin after everyone has joined the game, the last submissions have been processed, and the doors have closed. By this point, we should have 5 to 7 players - 7 being optimal because I actually want 5 and I always assume that at least 2 will drop out early in spite of my warnings and up-front expectations. (Let me reiterate, do not apply if you think you might do this!)

Party creation follows a step process:

1. Establish player order. You can decide amongst yourselves what the order will be, if somebody wants to be first or last they can request that and I'll try to create a list that everyone's satisfied with. For those who have no preference, I'll just start rolling dice and sort you that way.

2. Each player in order declares their character's name, role in the group, and relationship to all previously declared characters. In this campaign's case, names can be drawn from any Earth culture for reasons that will be obvious when you get to the setting summary. "Role in the group" refers to what type of character you are. What are you good at? When other characters think of you with regards to the mission, what words do they think of?

See "Setting Summary" for a list of possible roles; also feel free to make your own, as long as you run it by me.

As for "relationship to all previously declared characters," part of the conceit of this game system is that everyone in the main cast already knows each other at the beginning, and has for some time. In this campaign's case, this is because you are all crew on the same spaceship. You trained together for years in preparation for this mission, and got to know each other rather well in that time. Relationships should be short but specific. "Friend" is not a good relationship descriptor; "Friendly Rival," "Drinking Buddy" or "Begrudging Respect" is. This is essentially a question of what sort of relationship developed during training. It's also possible that we have some familial or romantic relationships amongst the crew. If you want to do that, give it a shot and we'll see how it pans out.

If somebody declares a relationship to your character that makes you uncomfortable - maybe you don't want to play a romantic relationship and somebody declares you their husband, for example - you can talk to them by PM and work it out that way. A general rule of thumb for anyone on the other end of this interaction: if something you're doing is making somebody uncomfortable, don't do that thing.

3. Each player in order declares their character's driving goal. What resulted in you boarding Hypatia and setting out for parts unknown, with no promise that you would ever be coming back? What do you think is out there in the stars waiting for you? Alternatively, what are you running from back on Earth?

These should be emotional goals rather than practical ones. "I want to be respected," rather than "I want to be the head scientist." Emotional goals lead to practical ones, of course, but emotional goals drive characters throughout the whole story, while practical ones can be accomplished quickly and thus don't make for good ongoing narrative stakes.

4. Each player in order declares their dramatic poles. These are the two extremes of a character's story; essentially, two different ways the character could turn out, both pulling at them in different directions. Usually one of these is presented as "the good option," but not always. Some examples could help:

Walter White: Antisocial power or virtuous weakness?
Aragorn: King or ranger?
Zuko: Self-worth given by father, or self-worth coming from within the self?
Rick Blaine: Selfishness or altruism?


These poles will drive your character's personal story. They are by far the hardest part of creating a character in this system, so, by all means, message me for help if you get stuck here.

5. Each player declares a specific emotional desire that their character has of any other character. The targeted player defines why they can't get it. Some examples to get you thinking:

"I want you to respect me." / "I can't respect you until you've proven that you've improved since training."

"I want to be able to just hang out and have fun with you." / "I'm shy, and I find you intimidating."

"I want the captain's approval." / "I withhold my approval because I want you to keep striving and improving."

"I want you to love me romantically." / "I'm gay."

6. Determine stats. In private on their character sheet, each character assigns three of the following seven stats as Strong, two as Weak, and the remaining two as Average. For each Strong stat, they also choose a specialization within the descriptor of that stat. If a conflict involves that specialization, the person with that specialization will have an advantage beyond even other Strong characters in that stat.

The stats:

Biology
Electronics
Fighting
History
Machinery
Physics
Programming


7. Finally, each player in order summarizes their character in the form of a statement "My character's story is of a person who -"

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:59, Sun 26 May 2019.

The Signal
 GM, 3 posts
Sun 26 May 2019
at 15:07
The Rules
Episodes

At the beginning of the game and at certain points as it goes forward, a new episode title will be declared. That episode title will serve as a thematic throughline for that portion of the story. It is suggested but not required that when declaring a scene you should, at least sometimes, consider declaring a scene which has the potential to tie into that episode title.

Standard Play

The sequence of play goes like this:

An order is established. Again, if have a preference for where you want to be in the order say so, and then the rest will be determined by die rolls. This time, the GM is included in the order.

Then the first player declares a scene.

Declaring a scene involves deciding on the location (describe a place on the ship or, if it's a flashback to a scene on Earth, describe a location in some training facility or somesuch back planetside) and declaring who you're meeting there. This can be a PC or an NPC, though you are encouraged to engage with other PCs as much as possible.

If you declare a new NPC, describe them and I'll play that character. You can also, of course, declare a recurring NPC who's shown up before.

Each player sends a PM to me with their character's emotional goal for the scene. ("I want him to admit what he's done;" "I want her to acknowledge my authority;" "I want to be forgiven for my screw-up," etc.) If what you present doesn't really take the form of an emotional goal, I'll help you adjust it until it does. After that, the scene begins, and it runs until both players agree that it's done.

Once that scene is underway, the second player declares a scene in a way that won't interfere with other scenes (not using the same location at the same time; not in, repeating the above process. Be mindful that each player has limited time; unless they ask you to, try not to declare a scene with somebody if they're already heavily engaged in multiple other scenes. This continues around until everyone has declared a scene, including me.

My job is to set up scenes that continue to push forward the narrative. For this reason, I will sometimes declare scenes between two PCs, not involving myself, or declare a scene which includes one or more PCs and one or more NPCs. In such situations, still, send me a basic summary of what your character wants to achieve by the end of that scene.

Procedural scenes:

If at any point a scene results in a procedural challenge - one that causes your stats to come into play - each player involved in the challenge rolls a D6. If they're Weak in the appropriate stat, they add nothing. Average adds 2; Strong adds 3; and if it falls into your specialization, add 5. If it's an opposed check, it's simple: highest roll succeeds. If it's against an environmental phenomenon or an NPC, please wait for me to make a ruling.

Drama Points

At the end of each scene, ask yourself the question: did my character accomplish their goal in that scene? If they did, good for you! If not, you gain a Drama point.

Drama points represent the flow of the story. They are this game's way of ensuring that every character's arc gets to progress, as they allow characters who have been failing in a lot of their scenes to start spending points to cause

Drama points can be spent in a number of ways:

Crash a scene to which you are not invited (make a post describing your character entering the scene, and make it clear you're spending a point to be there)

Force a scene outcome to result in your character achieving their goal (you can say at any point in a scene OOC: I'm spending a Drama token, and then declare your character's scene goal; if somebody forces a scene you're involved in, find some way to give them what they want, although it doesn't have to be exactly the way they want it.)

Duck a scene (Simply say "no, I'm spending a point to duck that" when somebody declares a scene involving you; they must declare a different scene, this time not involving your character)

In all three of these situations, the point is not destroyed, but instead goes to the caller of the scene. In this way, an odd sort of Drama economy develops. as the game goes on.

A point can also be spent to cancel the effect of another Drama Point, such as preventing somebody from crashing a scene.

Finally, spending a point can allow you to call strange scenes, such as calling a scene out of order, or calling a scene which doesn't involve your character. ("I'm really interested in the subplot between Kevin and Zhao and it's been a while since we've done anything with that. Kevin, Zhao, you're in a scene together; you come across each other in the ship's cafeteria late at night.")

Bennies:

When it's decided to be dramatically appropriate (generally after ~3 times around the table) the episode comes to an end. At the end of an episode, whoever has the highest number of Drama Points gets a Bennie (benefit token.) One additional Bennie is granted by me to whoever best played to the theme of the episode, and one more is granted to somebody who made important and interesting contributions to the campaign's story or who did interesting things with their character's personal arc.

A Bennie can be used in the following ways:

- It can be spent or passed to someone else as if it were an unblockable Drama Point.
- It can be spent to automatically succeed in a Procedural check.
- Burn a token held by another player.
- Force someone else to either succeed or fail at a Procedural check, even if you aren't involved in the scene.

This message was last edited by the GM at 16:03, Sun 26 May 2019.

The Signal
 GM, 108 posts
Tue 13 Aug 2019
at 04:32
The Rules
Quick request before we start: please keep your posts fairly short unless you are introducing a new scene. As most scenes in this game will be dialogue, it's best to give other people in the scene as many chances as possible to respond. Long dialogue blocks feel stilted and unnatural, and they're also harder to write.

Similarly, please keep your scenes on the shorter side. Have fun with character stuff and dialogue, play to your motivations, but when it becomes clear how the scene is going to end, let it happen. There are plenty more people waiting in the queue. And don't lengthen a scene in an attempt to achieve your in-character goals. Keep in mind, for the sake of a good story, all characters have to fail or be challenged at least some of the time. Also, in this game, when you don't achieve your goals, you get a drama token for your trouble, so don't stress. You're getting something either way.
The Signal
 GM, 115 posts
Wed 14 Aug 2019
at 18:03
The Rules
A quick clarification: you don't need to send me a goal for a Full Cast scene unless you have one that seems obvious to you and you think would make the scene better. Such scenes will be fairly short and primarily will serve to drive the Signal plot forward, rather than to advance any particular character arc. Having seven-plus characters trying to accomplish a goal in a single scene would make things difficult and confusing, especially given the text format.