Galactic: the power 19
1) What is your game about?
Epic-level galaxy-spanning adventure, where the players confront risk and sacrifice in terms of human welfare. Will you risk the lives of your crew, or the fate of this world? Do you think you need to?
2.) What do the characters do?
They travel the galaxy attempting to amass resources with which to fight off the Scourge.
3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do?
Players: Create a ship captain, a “main” character, who travels to worlds, gets in the middle of big conflicts, and makes tough choices. Then create major crewmembers for each captain who either oppose or support various decisions made by the main character. Provide elements of crisis to help the director when it’s another player’s turn.
Directors: Provide the adversity, create and portray NPCs.
4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
The setting is a post-apocalyptic galaxy in crisis. Like the tribes and cryptic alliances of Gamma World, Galactic presents a setting where everyone is out for themselves, but in this case there’s a looming enemy that can crush them as individuals.
5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
Character creation is in two parts: Main characters have a pair of issue-like traits that the other players can use as flags in play. Supporting characters are meant to put pressure on the main characters and make decisions even harder. So when creating both, you have to look for interesting conflicts that may arise between them.
6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward?
Galactic rewards players for putting their characters in jeopardy, for placing them in conflicts where they stand a great chance of losing.
7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
If you “strategize” too much and try to set up conflicts where you make it through unscathed, you won’t gain resources. As a player, you constantly have to balance the idea of what you might gain, resource-wise, with what you stand to lose, story-wise.
8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game?
Each player is responsible for the portrayal of a main character and multiple supporting characters. Decision making and “what my guy would do” stops with that player. Likewise, the director is responsible for the portrayal of NPCs. Players will provide the director with NPC concepts and motivations during play, but the buck stops with the director as to what action the NPC actually takes. As with PTA, narration will change during conflict.
9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation?
Play happens in turns, with each turn focused on a specific main character. When it’s not your turn, you’re taking part in that character’s adventure on a supporting level, helping to create the crisis and NPCs and so on. Everything that happens in play has the input of all players.
10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
Conflict happens when the player or director narrates action that the other doesn’t like. In other words, when you narrate something I’m opposed to, we have conflict. Stakes must include two outcomes that progress the action, rather than halt it. Your opposition can’t simply be “no.” It must be “no, instead…”
11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
Conflict gives a the active player – the one whose turn it is — many different resources to bring to bear, and they all have a certain kind of risk associated with them. You can avoid loss by causing minor crewmembers to suffer. You can force re-rolls by involving larger factions, which may cause suffering among the local population. And you may feel pressure to make unscrupulous choices in order to keep supporting characters on your side. Supporting players can roll for or against the active player, depending on how their supporting character feels.
12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how?
Some advancement is possible, but it’s fairly minimal.
13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about?
Improving the character means that the player has ignored other situations that may have benefitted from that resource. That makes its own statement.
14.) What sort of effect do you want your game to produce for the players?
It’d be cool if it provoked some discussion on the value of human life, in terms of individuals and the species as a whole. And of course the conflict itself should be edge-of-seat dice-rolling fun.
15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
Oh, umm... I'm actually trying really hard not to push the color too much. This is my attempt at providing just enough setting, and enough of the right kind of setting. It may be the hardest thing I'm doing.
16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
I'm pretty excited about the relationship between the characters and the map. I dunno how well it'll work, but I think it'd be cool to have a game where the characters change the landscape and you can see its effects in terms of game resources.
17.) Where does your game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
There's some eps of the West Wing that I really like, where the president is agonizing over the decision of whether or not to send troops in someplace, knowing that it's really likely some will be killed. I think this game can take players to that place in a potentially complex, not-black-and-white way.
18.) What are your publishing goals for your game?
To get it done someday. To actually playtest it someday.
19.) Who is your target audience?
People who have found various sci fi games too thick, or too klunky, or too unstructured. Fans of the new Battlestar Galactica. People who liked the relationships between the crew on Firefly. People who think The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the bunch. People who aren't really so much into the science.