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  #1  
Old 02-12-2019, 11:26 AM
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Misery Misery is offline
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Game NameShift
Game SystemOther Roleplaying Games
ThemeMoving between worlds, learning that things aren't as they seem
FlavourRules-lite collaborative storytelling
Plot Summary

EDIT: The game has been approved and can be found here:
https://www.rpgcrossing.com/forumdisplay.php?f=17719

What’s the setting and premise?

This game takes place in a modern-day setting and revolves around characters who find themselves strangely unhappy or dissatisfied with their lives. Some are facing clear struggles -- illness, loss, some circumstance that seems impossible to escape -- while others suffer from a general sense of malaise and suspicion that life simply isn’t as it’s supposed to be.

Each of the characters unexpectedly shifts to something that resembles another universe or world. The world is similar to the characters’ own, but hangs on the surreal and seems partially composed out of memories and moments from the characters’ lives. The characters find themselves shifting back and forth between worlds, and as they further explore the alternate world, they find that it might offer the opportunity to solve their problems in their own world. However, the constant shifts pose a risk to their sanity, and the alternate world carries a sinister undertone, a mystery the characters can seek to uncover.

What’s the gameplay like?

Unlike most systems, this game has almost no rigid rules or mechanics. Players simply describe what they’re doing and I’ll respond to it, no dice rolling necessary. Notably, players are free to creatively introduce story elements, events, or universe backstory. This means that players shape scenarios as they’re introduced, making things a kind of back-and-forth storytelling where everyone is both working within the story and contributing new content.

While this system is unconventional, it’s much more about making a collaborative story than about focusing on specific game mechanics. Sometimes some minor rules or general conventions of arbitration will be introduced if necessary; that’s something we can all figure out together as we go along.

One cool element of this style is that players get to have almost as much creative control as the GM. These sorts of games typically end up being a really interesting collaborative experience, where everyone is actively making things happen and creating new elements, rather than having one person control the world and everyone else just acting within its constraints. If you’re still feeling a bit skeptical about this style (and I wouldn’t blame you), you can see some similar previous games I ran below.

All that said, there is one gameplay mechanic in which characters all have a player-dictated agenda. This agenda is made up of several specific goals for the character to accomplish, both short - and long-term. This agenda is fluid and can be modified at any time in order to reflect changes in the character’s motivation. Upon accomplishing a goal, the character will gain more insight into the world around them and the ongoing mystery.

This mechanic is mostly present in order to give players something clear to work towards, especially in the earlier portions of the game when characters haven’t grouped up. Hopefully this should provide a driving force to keep the game rolling.

What have previous games in this style looked like?

I’ve run three previous games here with the same rules-lite style. The first and most successful, Quantum, was a complete game and can be found here:
https://www.rpgcrossing.com/forumdisplay.php?f=11785

The second, Reality, ended up petering out eventually (partially due to the fact that I was absent a lot more often than I should have been), but can be found here:
https://www.rpgcrossing.com/forumdisplay.php?f=12791

The third and most recent, Delta, can be found here:
https://www.rpgcrossing.com/forumdisplay.php?f=16682

Feel free to look through those games to get a feel for how this style worked out and if it’s something you might like.

What’s the expected posting rate?

At least once every 2-3 days would be ideal (you’re of course welcome to post more frequently if you have time). However, this style of game makes it easy to sideline characters for a bit if you have something pressing or plan on being on vacation for a while, etc. Just let others know if you’re likely to be unable to post for a while.

How do I join?

Just let me know in this thread that you want to and then post your character idea in the game space once it’s approved (there’ll be a thread for it). If you’d like, you can also feel free to post your character idea here early. Also note that you’re welcome to play more than one character at a time if you’d like!

I would like to ask that you only create a character and start posting if you intend to keep playing. It’s frustrating when players initially get involved and then quietly abandon the game not long after, because it can be difficult to keep the game running with fewer players. I completely understand that sometimes life happens, and players who had every intention of participating are unexpectedly pulled away. That’s not something one can really anticipate. However, if you’re on the fence about the game, please just observe and don’t start playing until you’ve really decided that the game is something that will hold your interest.

(If you’ve posted in this thread but I haven’t responded to you, you can also contact me via PM to let me know you want to play.)

Is there a limit to the number of players?

Nope! Any number of players is fine. You can also join at any time, so even if the game’s been ongoing for a while, you’re always welcome to jump in!

Anything important to know about character creation?

Since there aren’t any significant rules, you’re free to do more or less anything you want with your character. As mentioned above, if you’ve got ideas for more than one character, you can also play several at once (keep in mind that this gets weird if several characters you control are supposed to spend time interacting with each other, though).

One thing to keep in mind, though, is to communicate what your character is good at and what they’re interested in. Since there’s no dice rolling, on the occasions where I decide whether a character succeeds at something, I’ll take into account how good a character is meant to be at a particular task.

The second (and probably most important) guideline is to provide some personal problem your character is facing. This can be a regret, an illness, a loss, a particularly long-term circumstance, or whatever else you come up with. Ensure that it’s something that you could actually classify as a problem or struggle, though, rather than a single minor annoyance that could be easily solved in a couple of hours.

Last edited by Misery; 02-17-2019 at 06:48 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-12-2019, 04:19 PM
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sageheart sageheart is offline
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Really really interesting game style. Thinking if I have something for you.
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  #3  
Old 02-12-2019, 06:41 PM
Roekahs Roekahs is offline
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This is definitely intriguing ... now I just need to decide if I have the time
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  #4  
Old 02-12-2019, 09:48 PM
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A little placeholder as I see if my brain has anything on hand. An interesting way to do things and something I wish the site had more of
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Old 02-12-2019, 09:59 PM
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I'm interested, and already thinking of a character... although struggling somewhat in a vacuum. Are there any more details of the story to inform my character?
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  #6  
Old 02-13-2019, 08:11 AM
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Nice to see that there's some interest. I'd say we probably need at least four players to get started, and then more are always welcome to join. Once we've got that core, I'll provide a link to the game thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Snek View Post
I'm interested, and already thinking of a character... although struggling somewhat in a vacuum. Are there any more details of the story to inform my character?
Well, one theme is that the alternate world seems to offer the opportunity to overcome personal problems that seem insurmountable to the characters -- but at the risk of their sanity (or lives). There are two elements you might want to consider:

-What issue do they have that would make them unhappy more often than not? What is it that's bad enough that they'd be willing to risk so much just to escape it? (Or would they realize that maybe they're not willing to risk that much after all?)

-What do they want? In addition to being fixated on their problems, I'd say it's fair to say that these characters would be likely to be frequently attached to some idyllic vision of their lives. If your character could have what they wanted, what would that be? What would they be willing to risk to gain that?

Additionally, it is a modern-day setting, and there's nothing saying your character has to be anyone remarkable; maybe they struggle with the total mundanity of everything they do. That can be just as interesting as someone with more outlandish struggles.

Last edited by Misery; 02-13-2019 at 08:14 AM.
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  #7  
Old 02-13-2019, 11:29 AM
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Nyst Nyst is offline
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Definitely intrigued and considering character possibilities. Regarding the player-dictated agenda, is this something we would work out with you to design or develop in an OOC thread?
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:46 AM
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Misery Misery is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyst View Post
Definitely intrigued and considering character possibilities. Regarding the player-dictated agenda, is this something we would work out with you to design or develop in an OOC thread?
Hmm...I think the easiest way would be to have a dedicated thread in which each player posts an agenda for each of their characters. They're then free to go back and modify that post at any time to indicate that a goal has changed or that a new goal has been added. They could also keep track of the goals they've achieved and the amount of insight they've gained as a result. That would probably be the easiest way to make it simple to modify the agenda whenever it makes sense.

That said, I'm totally open to suggestions on other ways to implement this that might be smoother, and I'm happy to change things up if they don't seem to be working.
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Old 02-13-2019, 03:59 PM
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Misery, glancing over material from some of the other games, I'm definitely interested. I have a few potential ideas for characters, but still feel a little confused by the goal setting mechanic. That said, I'm more than happy to learn along the way!

Let me know if you get the game started and unless I've jumped into something else before then, count me in.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:11 PM
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Here's a first pass at a character idea I have. Maybe it'll inspire some other players with their own ideas. I'm open to working with others, though at the start, this character would naturally be a bit of a loner.


Sofia the Illegal Immigrant
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Name: Sofia Lipka
Age: 16
Nation of Origin: Ukraine
Ethnicity: Caucasian

Education level: Sevastopol Dance Academy; some high school.
Occupation: none.

Skillset: dance, cooking, running. Speaks Ukrainian and Russian.
Skill deficits: language (English), computers.

Backstory: Sofia was a typical teenager, growing up in Sevastopol, Ukraine, when Russian forces annexed Crimea. Her peaceful existence of school and dancing and socializing were all interrupted by the chaos and fear that followed. Unfortunately for her, Sofia's parents (Yurchik and Nadie) were outspoken critics of the 'Russian invasion' and highly active demonstrators. This got them arrested for inciting disharmony. Fearing that she would be next, Sofia sought out assistance and was put in touch with a mafia smuggler named Fyodor who promised to be able to help her get out of the country. He told her that he knew of a sponsor in the USA that could help her emigrate there.

Three weeks later, she was on American soil and introduced to a wealthy, American, business owner named Ryan Foster. While she was told that he would be her sponsor in the US and give her a place to live as long as she worked for him, the truth was that Sofia was supposed to be his mail-order bride. Fortunately, Ryan figured out in less than an hour that Sofia was only 16 years old and he drew a moral line at having an underage bride. Wanting to wash his hands entirely of the deal, he took Sofia to a park and abandoned her.

Since then, Sofia has been living on the streets, afraid that the mafia that brought her to this country is looking for her and too afraid to go to the legitimate authorities and risk being deported. Going back to the Ukraine would certainly mean imprisonment - both for being related to anti-Russian activists and for leaving the country illegally. She's homeless and a fish-out-of-water in the worst way without much more than the clothes on her back.

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Last edited by girlplay; 02-13-2019 at 09:14 PM.
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  #11  
Old 02-14-2019, 08:07 AM
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Misery Misery is offline
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Looks like we've got two players locked in now -- a couple more and we can get started, and maybe more will trickle in.
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:31 AM
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This could be interesting. I have an idea, that's based a little on a past version of me, with just enough fictionalization to make it not too personal - and a little side inspiration from "Time" by Pink Floyd.

Name: Rachel Berkland
Age: 27
Nation of Origin: USA (Piedmont, CA)
Ethnicity: Mixed race (caucasian mother, Haitian-American father)

Education level: College graduate (UC Berkeley, B.A. in English)
Religion: Wiccan
Occupation: Barista

Skillset: Moxie. Rachel is a fast learner and has had a relatively wide range of life experiences, resulting in above-minimum competence in a wide variety of contexts. Her mom was a teacher and her academics are excellent. Her dad was a mechanic and she knows her way around a garage.
Skill deficits: Followthrough. Although Rachel tends to be "okay" at just about anything she tries, she never focuses enough to get actually good at anything. In particular, she's never been particularly athletic.

Backstory:
Rachel grew up in a good family in a good neighborhood, got good grades and good SAT scores, and her parents always told her she could be anything she wanted to be. Astronaut? Engineer? Geologist? Police officer? Writer? There was nothing she didn't seem to have at least some kind of aptitude for... and that was the problem. In high school and college her friends and peers gradually found vocations or inspirations that called to them. Rachel... dabbled.

She studied German in high school, took just enough of it to skip the language requirement in college, but then promptly forgot most of it. She went to college thinking she'd be a lawyer, and did fine on the LSAT, but when both of the schools she applied to said "no," she gave up on it. She took up Wicca after reading the Dresden Files novels, but no amount of meditation ever gave her any answers, and one day she realized that she had boxed up all her ritual stuff when she moved into a new apartment, and hadn't opened it in six months.

The closest thing she had to a real job, so far, was three years as a content writer for video games. But when the WorldQuest servers went dark, she found that "making up stories" wasn't the most marketable skill in the world. She took a job as a barista, strictly to cover the rent and feed her cat. She keeps seeing those ads, where you can go to school for nine months and get a second-rate job as an assistant to someone with a real career, and dying a little inside. What happened to the girl who could do anything? Did opportunity knock while she wasn't listening?
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Old 02-17-2019, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auntmousie View Post
This could be interesting. I have an idea, that's based a little on a past version of me, with just enough fictionalization to make it not too personal - and a little side inspiration from "Time" by Pink Floyd.

Name: Rachel Berkland
Age: 27
Nation of Origin: USA (Piedmont, CA)
Ethnicity: Mixed race (caucasian mother, Haitian-American father)

Education level: College graduate (UC Berkeley, B.A. in English)
Religion: Wiccan
Occupation: Barista

Skillset: Moxie. Rachel is a fast learner and has had a relatively wide range of life experiences, resulting in above-minimum competence in a wide variety of contexts. Her mom was a teacher and her academics are excellent. Her dad was a mechanic and she knows her way around a garage.
Skill deficits: Followthrough. Although Rachel tends to be "okay" at just about anything she tries, she never focuses enough to get actually good at anything. In particular, she's never been particularly athletic.

Backstory:
Rachel grew up in a good family in a good neighborhood, got good grades and good SAT scores, and her parents always told her she could be anything she wanted to be. Astronaut? Engineer? Geologist? Police officer? Writer? There was nothing she didn't seem to have at least some kind of aptitude for... and that was the problem. In high school and college her friends and peers gradually found vocations or inspirations that called to them. Rachel... dabbled.

She studied German in high school, took just enough of it to skip the language requirement in college, but then promptly forgot most of it. She went to college thinking she'd be a lawyer, and did fine on the LSAT, but when both of the schools she applied to said "no," she gave up on it. She took up Wicca after reading the Dresden Files novels, but no amount of meditation ever gave her any answers, and one day she realized that she had boxed up all her ritual stuff when she moved into a new apartment, and hadn't opened it in six months.

The closest thing she had to a real job, so far, was three years as a content writer for video games. But when the WorldQuest servers went dark, she found that "making up stories" wasn't the most marketable skill in the world. She took a job as a barista, strictly to cover the rent and feed her cat. She keeps seeing those ads, where you can go to school for nine months and get a second-rate job as an assistant to someone with a real career, and dying a little inside. What happened to the girl who could do anything? Did opportunity knock while she wasn't listening?

Another character joins the ranks! Welcome! It'd probably be ideal to get one more person involved, so I'll give the ad a few more days for that. If that doesn't happen, it's probably possible to at least start with three.
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:34 PM
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Simon AbagnaleName: Simon Abangale
Age: 20
Nation of Origin: U.S. (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Ethnicity: Creole (French and West Indies ancestry)

Education level: High school dropout.
Religion: None.
Occupation: Con Artist, Thief

Skills: Silver-tongued, and perceptive. Simon makes a living talking is way into precarious situations and then back out again. He is constantly required to think on his feet and improvise, and is fantastic at reading others' body language and facial expression to find out what they're thinking.

On the other hand, his academic knowledge is poor, and having gotten by in life on others' efforts, he isn't particularly strong or fast. He has no trade skills whatsoever, and can only blend in with workers of a field by quickly picking up their lingo... even if he has no idea what it actually means.

Backstory: At 15, Simon left his home with his dad's pickup and credit card. He drove as far north as he could, traded all the money on the card for car parts, and sold them to a mechanic for cash. It was a poor con, but it worked, leaving his dead a couple thousand in debt and Simon in the wind.

Simon's schemes only got better and better. He stole a pilot's uniform and talked his way onto airlines, traveling around the country without ever buying a ticket. He ate and lived on the airline's dime, having the food and hotel rooms charged to an employee account that didn't exist. For years, Simon lived rather well, but when you steal for a living, your debt always comes due.

The FBI almost caught Simon once. Now, he's on the run, his lifestyle ruined, surviving on petty cons and living as a squatter. Any time he tries to improve his quality of life, the law comes within an inch of catching him.

Simon needs a way to get out of the country, get the FBI to forget about him, something! He refuses to go to prison.
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:39 PM
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Here's an idea for a character I've been drafting. Open to any thoughts.

Laura RandolphName: Laura Randolph
Age: 34
Nation of Origin: USA (Iowa City, Iowa)
Ethnicity: Caucasian

Education level: BA English; MA Library & Information Science (University of Iowa)
Occupation: Reference Librarian

Skillset: Research, critical thinking/highly analytical
Skill deficits: ambition, anything mechanical & computer hardware

Backstory: Laura grew up in a typical midwestern home in Iowa City. She always excelled in school, and after high school went to the local university for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She always had a decent number of friends to grab the occasional coffee or lunch with, see a movie, or discuss a favorite book. She dated occasionally but has never been in a very serious relationship.

While working on her master’s, Laura began working part-time at a public library, and was given a fulltime position when she finished her degree. This seemed like a good fit and Laura had no ambitions to advance as a supervisor or in any sort of administrative role. She believed herself content living in a single bedroom apartment with her cat, attending a monthly book club, and working.

Several years ago, Laura’s father died from a heart attack. Laura moved in with her mother, who had early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and began caring for her. A year ago, Laura had to place her mother in an assisted living center due to her mother’s need for constant care. Laura visits her mother once or twice a week, and otherwise spends her time off work reading at home.

With her mother’s condition and no clear ambitions, Laura now questions her life. She has coffee or lunch with a friend once or twice a month, but otherwise spends her days alone. She is only satisfied when enveloped in a book, and everything else feels mundane and meaningless.

Last edited by Nyst; 02-17-2019 at 01:45 PM.
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