RPG experimentation post

Last night, +Emily Care Boss and +Epidiah Ravachol came over and with +Meguey Baker and me we tried out my newest, Midsummer Wood. It's a roleplaying game about a mortal person sneaking into a masked ball in fairyland, hoping to win or steal magical gifts from the fairy court. I'm making it for a challenge by +Asbjørn Olsen. It's a competitive rpg, with winning, losing, and some mixed outcomes. It's got no randomization and no GM. I'm quite happy with how it worked. (But don't pin your hopes on this one either, +J. Walton! It's also not the game you're envisioning.)

What I want to talk a little about is this. The way the game works is, it gives you three things: a goal outcome you want, an assortment of partial outcomes, and tools and procedural rules for bringing the partial outcomes into play. Gameplay, then, means getting a good set of partial outcomes into play to building your goal outcome out of them.

The partial outcomes the game provides are flexible and a little ambiguous, so any given partial outcome can contribute to multiple possible goal outcomes. They also make some of the goal outcomes easier and some harder, so you can shoot for a harder and better one, but fall back on an easier but less good one. Hedge your bets or go big, win with a concealed hand, shoot the moon.

For instance, last night, my goal was to catch the mortal person and keep her for my own. However, on her side:
- She has a mask, and while she wears it, we all must treat her as a fellow fairy.
- She has dropped fairy poison into her eyes, which brought her to fairyland. If she weeps, it will wash the poison out and she'll return to earthly life.
- She has shoes that, if she but follows her feet, will take her where she should go.

On my side:
- The magical gift she could win or steal from me is to know only unending joy.

You can see how my gift, if I gave it to her, would counter her ability to weep and thereby escape fairyland. I'm prepared to give her my gift, if it means catching and keeping her, but this is a bit of a gamble. Once she has my gift it's not only in her interests to escape, but it's in my fellow fairies' interests to turn on me:
- If a fairy catches the mortal, that fairy is the winner, and everyone else loses.
- If the mortal steals the gifts from all the fairies and escapes, the mortal is the winner, and everyone else loses.
- If the mortal steals one fairy's gift and escapes, that fairy is the loser, and the mortal and the other fairies share the win.

(Plus there's a small selection of outcomes where nobody's the loser, but everybody shares the loss.)

The danger is worst while she's wearing her magic shoes. One of their powers is to take her to the fairy who will help her. However, in the midgame, by inadvertant poor grace, the mortal person came to owe a forfeit: whoever next asked her for a gift, she must give it, whatever they ask.

So if I could ask her for the gift of her magic shoes, then give her my gift so that she knows no grief and thus never weeps, I'd have a shot at keeping her as mine forever. The game's procedural rules make this possible, but not easy, and definitely not straightforward. If I reveal my plan or jump too soon, my fellow players will be able to slap me down.

In fact what happened was, I came on too strong, spooked the mortal person, and she ditched out, opting to share the loss instead of taking the risk and trying to turn it around into a win.

Anyhow, can you see what I mean about trying to build a goal outcome out of partial outcomes?
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