Thursday, June 4, 2015

Narrative Roleplaying Mechanics Early Alpha Outline

Inertia: The defining aspect of all conflicts, something’s Inertia is counted against that of its target in order to determine outcomes. This applies on both metaphoric and literal scales.
In both cases, an entity’s Inertia is its Acceleration times its Presence, and while something without much Presence may gain Acceleration rapidly, it requires much more Acceleration to achieve the same effect. Inversely, something or someone with great Presence requires enormous effort to have their Acceleration changed by an external source.
Inertia is preserved between conflicts unless it is directly resolved, and
On a personal scale, someone who charges into a conflict against unsuspecting opponents may win despite a disadvantage in skill, equipment, or numbers.
On a larger scale, if an organization has one decisive victory, they have a significant advantage in the following conflicts, with one side often being able to turn a small, hard won triumph into the beginning of a major offensive.

Presence: Also known as Personality. Presence determines what a character or object is capable of, within their accepted roles. It also determines how much of the Narrative they are allowed to affect, and in what ways. Presence accrues naturally with Development.
Presence is not restricted to single characters or items. Organizations, types of equipment, and even settings all have Presence and can gain more - this is why an anonymous man shooting the leader of the local country can be used to start a plot, but if it causes a major paradigm shift in a well established setting, at least one of the parties involved
must have a compelling reason for it to happen.

Development: The standard way to gain Presence, Development happens as something changes, shows more of itself, achieves goals, and reacts to events. Archetypes allow shortcuts for this, providing Presence in exchange for roles that must be adhered to, although sufficient Development can let a character grow out of them. Archetypes also create a liability, as one of the only ways to lose Presence is to act contrary established character without good reason, and the wrong Archetypes may force a character into choices that are counterproductive to their goals.

Foreshadowing: Essentially, Development for an action, increasing the action’s Presence. Foreshadowing is when earlier events hint at a conclusion, giving bonuses to a later action. Bonuses are based on subtlety, correlation, and number of events used, but Foreshadowing may also cause an action difficulty, such as when a plan is revealed before its execution.
Depending on the form, a single event may be used as Foreshadowing repeatedly or only once; for example a bomb is mentioned as missing as opposed to a line of poetry one character quotes obsessively, although this is obviously somewhat flexible.
not fulfilled, Foreshadowing becomes Loose Threads and counted against Inertia if not properly converted to Plot Hooks first.

Archetypes: Characters, objects, organizations, and settings that fit certain archetypes get a Presence bonus dependant on , such as Big Guys being able to survive more damage and hit harder, or Lovable Losers being able to survive risky situations mostly on luck, although not necessarily unharmed. Characters who act against their archetypes get a Presence penalty, unless they Develop out of it naturally, although some archetype breaking actions are themselves archetypes.
The assembled Character Archetypes are far too numerous to list here, and have their own section.

Backstory: Technically a subset of Archetype, it allows the use of prior Development for extra Presence, albeit in a reduced form until properly explained.

Person Type: First Person Characters are the most directly powerful, often being practically invincible when reasonably clever, but are the most vulnerable to blindsiding or missing important details, making them particularly susceptible to Retroactive Actions.
Second Person Characters are quite rare, mainly due to the difficulty involved, but are easy to develop very quickly, making them popular for introducing a character or establishing a significant change in their abilities. Otherwise, they carry most of the same advantages and disadvantages as First Person Characters.
Third Person Characters are the second most common, and allow the best sensory and foreshadowing abilities, at some cost to ease of Development. Very popular for large groups, as first person can be difficult to keep track of with more than two viewpoints in one area.

Retroactive Action: A way to avoid Foreshadowing penalties, instantly gain Inertia, or simply provide Consistency bonuses, Retroactive Action is the term for declaring events that have happened but not been described. It cannot contradict established facts, although it may contradict a character’s beliefs, so long as the sequence of events stays plausible. Should not be confused with Time Manipulation or Memory Manipulation, whose effects and presence vary by setting, although overlap is frequent.

Retroactive Trap Setting: So long as a character has plausibly had the time and appropriate resources to do so, they may declare that they set a trap somewhere they have been. This is only possible if they have not used those resources since then, the trap has not been noticed by the target, and the resources presence has not been noted, although mentioning their lack allows a Foreshadowing bonus. Significant bonuses for First Person characters, but frequent use degrades success rate until a cooldown period has passed. Despite this, it combos pretty well, as individual traps are not counted as uses of this ability, just periods where they’re set up since the last set was revealed.
Primarily used by Analytical Geniuses, as one of the hallmarks of the class, although it often synergises well with High Speed Improvisers. Subset of Retroactive Action.

Retroactive Communication: A character may reference communications that happened offscreen, often to request support or alter the environment (such as warning civilians to evacuate an area) or to provide Development, so long as there was a plausible period where the character could have done so. Subset of Retroactive Action, favored by Leaders or almost any kind of Pragmatist, but not uncommon elsewhere.

Retroactive Planning: A character may retroactively announce a set of action to be part of a plan, so long as they had a plausible opportunity to make it, that allows them to collect a significant Foreshadowing bonus as long as the plan is followed. As with normal Foreshadowing, however, announcing a plan too early acts as Foreshadowing of heavy opposition, if not outright failure, and explaining a trap before an opponent is fully subdued may allow them to break free.

Retroactive Skill Development: If a character has room in his backstory or recent past, they may spend unused Development to retroactively gain a skill or other ability, appropriate to the character and circumstances. While skipping the potential Development opportunities to retain Inertia carries no inherent penalty, poor Foreshadowing will lead it to be counted against Development cost, severely penalizing the acquisition of skills that should already have been used.

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