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Subject: A sense of "family"? rss

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George Krubski
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Although I totally dig this game, charlest's review here - http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1469138/not-quite-verse-... - reminded me of one of the elements that I would love to see tweaked and improved upon:

Quote:
The heart of [Firefly] is the friendship and sense of family forged in the heat of crisis. It’s the bond of the crew, one small leap from the beloved Millenium Falcon, and camaraderie and virtue triumphing in the face of ugliness is woven throughout the series. Undoubtedly the focus should be on the crew and they should be the center of the game.


The review points out that the Disgruntled system reflects this in an abstract way, but doesn't go far enough, and centers things on money.

Personally, I agree with this, and I'm curious what other folks think. Is there a way to add this dimension? Personally, I've toyed with both Loyalty tokens and the idea of Crew Relationships, but I find that these mechanics often either fall to the wayside fairly quickly or become about money (eg, Loyalty just becomes a way not to play your Crew).

What do folks think? I mean, when I play Firefly, I often do try to imagine if maybe Elder Gommen and Shepherd Book are having heated religious debates, or if The Patron is taking that wayward Gunhand under his wing, or if Jesse is playing Billy and Bree against one another as romantic rivals... but is there a way to integrate it into the mechanics of the game?
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Damo
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Perhaps this:

For each successful job a crewman does with the Captain, they gain a loyalty token.

5 loyalty tokens may be exchanged for a once off +1 on a skill check in a skill or specialty that the crew has. This exchange may only occur once per test.

E.g.
Simon Tam may exchange 5 LTs for a once off +1 bonus to a Medic roll or a tech test.


If a crewman has a few LTs and they get eaten by reavers, it's going to hurt.

On the other hand, this does make a late game crew a bit powerful.


 
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Sandy Wilson
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I'm not sure it's needed.

Admittedly, the sense of family that the show gives us is one of it's major success stories, and is a feature of almost all of Joss Weadon's work. However, in this game I don't think that every character will have the same sense of camaraderie that the crew of Serenity have developed. Can you imagine Womack treating his crew like family? Or Burgess? Or Atherton?

I think if you really want to get into the feel of a single ship, with a tight knit crew, surviving against all the odds, then you need a specific Story Card to give you that as a Plot point.

Maybe you all select 3 crew members at the start of the game (that you pay for as normal) and then have to do some specific Goals rather than play until you have a certain sum of money?

Maybe there is something that drains your resources every turn, so that you are running at the very edge of staying afloat - having to spend a part in addition to a fuel to Full Burn would be one way of doing it but would clog up the hold of every ship (except the Walden) very fast.

Maybe have one ship controlled by an NPC mechanic that goes after the players - like Womack in The Message - either for Piracy or for Bounty Hunting?

There are lots of ways to portray the "we're all on our own" feeling of the show, but unless a full Roleplaying supplement* is developed and run with a GM then you're not going to get the same feelings for your characters as you are with watching the show.



*though that is an intriguing idea!!!
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Carl Hanson
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In all honesty, it would take a completely new game to capture that fully. We could develop a set of house rules to try and tack the interpersonal dynamics between the crew onto this game, but in the end that is not what the foundation of this game was built to do.

I'm seeing more of a semi-cooperative game where each player is a member of the crew and they are working to finish missions and keep the ship flying, but every player also has their own hidden agenda (not necessarily traitorous) that will occasionally run against the wishes of the rest of the crew.

I would play the hell out of that game, but I have concerns that any attempt to tack that onto this game would just be cumbersome and tedious.
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That may not need to be a separate game in itself.

If a group of players took on a single crew position (or crew drawn at random) to play (rolling for the tests that they have the skill set for) then it would be an enlarged variant of the Solo Game.

Lots of options there for players taking on ship positions, hiring extra crew as normal.

Skill development would need to be balanced a bit.

Hmmm... the possibilities.
 
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Bill Saunders
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You could assign each crew member from the game into sets, and based on how many from a set you have on your ship, there could be perks and drawbacks based on other crew.
 
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George Krubski
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Sandals wrote:
Can you imagine Womack treating his crew like family? Or Burgess? Or Atherton?


I CAN picture it, actually, and therein lies some of the fun to me!

Both Womack's and Sash's groups operate with a high degree of efficiency that clearly indicates some familiarity, if not outright "familial bonds."

Any group that works together on a regular basis is going to develop certain group dynamics. We see it in all of Joss's shows, as well as "darker reflections," like, say, PRISON BREAK or DARK MATTER.

I've taken various stabs at the idea, including LOYALTY TOKENS (which were sort of the opposite of being Disgruntled) and RELATIONSHIPS or BACKGROUNDS that came in a variety of flavors, including:

* Romance (ie, Zoe/Wash, Kaylee/Simon)
* Rivalry (ie, Simon/Jayne)
* Mentorship (ie, Simon/River or maybe Mal/River... we see this more in Buffy and Angel)
* Secret (ie, Book, Inara)

There's no reason this can't be applied to deadlier Crews. Imagine, for example, Atherton earning the loyalty of Crow and Stitch, who develop a Rivalry with one another. Meanwhile, Jesse and Tracey are in a Romance, and Atherton has taken Tracey under his win to class up the boy (Mentor).
 
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Carl Hanson
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Damjon wrote:
That may not need to be a separate game in itself.

If a group of players took on a single crew position (or crew drawn at random) to play (rolling for the tests that they have the skill set for) then it would be an enlarged variant of the Solo Game.

Lots of options there for players taking on ship positions, hiring extra crew as normal.

Skill development would need to be balanced a bit.

Hmmm... the possibilities.


But isn't that a whole new game, just one that uses many of the same components?
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turambur wrote:
Damjon wrote:
That may not need to be a separate game in itself.

If a group of players took on a single crew position (or crew drawn at random) to play (rolling for the tests that they have the skill set for) then it would be an enlarged variant of the Solo Game.

Lots of options there for players taking on ship positions, hiring extra crew as normal.

Skill development would need to be balanced a bit.

Hmmm... the possibilities.


But isn't that a whole new game, just one that uses many of the same components?


That would make it a variant. A whole new game wouldn't use anything of the old one.

Either way, just fooling about with the idea.
 
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Lance McMillan
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The way the current system implements a sense of crew comeraderie is both indirect and very simplistic (two-tier "happy"/"disgruntled" approach), and has minimal impact on the flow of the game. Individual characters are either "part of the crew" (and thus, presumably, all happy and hunky-dory with one another) or they're "disgruntled." And getting a crew member "disgruntled" is fairly uncommon and even easier to get rid of.

What's missing is the sense of unique love/hate relationships which both bound the crew together and created tension in the series. For example, the unrequited attraction between Mal and Inara, Wash & Zoe being married, or Jayne's innate suspicion of River & Simon are all aspect of crew inter-relationships that could be addressed -- the question is whether the additional rules and effects would be worth th effort involved in implementing them.

The easiest approach would be to institute a new "happy" crew state -- think of it as sort of the antithesis of "disgruntled." In effect, the current normal status would become the default, affording your crew no advantages but also not imposing any limitations. How you get a crew member to become "happy," and what the possible in-game benefits of being "happy" would need to be determined.

Just off the top of my head, one of the simpler ways of making a "happy" crew member might be to have any Moral crew onboad when you complete a non-Misbehave job automatically receive the "happy" status (they're pleased to be doing legitimate legal work, rather than questionable activities). Another option might to to have any crewman on a job who uses a code-word to complete that job without a die roll automatically become "happy" (they've been given an opportunity to showcase their unique talents, proving what a valuable member of the team they are).

Along the same lines, the effects of being "happy" could be something as simple as a +1 bonus or re-roll for a Misbehave check (which would then cause that crew member's "happy" status to be removed -- you're asking that crewman to put themselves at exceptional risk to help the group).

I think the key to making this work is to keep the system as clean and simple as possible. "Firefly: the Game" already has a lot of details and administrative overhead, so I think it's vital that whatever system is used avoid adding to that burden.
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George Krubski
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Rather than Happy, I called it Loyalty:

I've fiddled with this and done some playtesting. Here's the current, slightly tweaked, version:

Loyalty Tokens

A Crew member can only have 1 Loyalty token -- they're loyal or they're not.

Unallocated Loyalty tokens are placed on your Leader, who can never have more than 3 Loyalty tokens at a given time.

When you:

• Complete a Job
• Take Shore Leave or participate in some activity that can remove Disgruntled from your entire Crew*
• Complete a Goal

You may:

• Add a Loyalty token to your leader
• Move a Loyalty token to one Crew (if moved from another Crew, they become Disgruntled)

Rescued Crew are Loyal.

* If you participate in Shore Leave or similar activity when it is not necessary (eg, Shore Leave when no one is Disgruntled), you may choose to 1) add a number of Loyalty tokens to your leader to bring him to max OR 2) move all Loyalty tokens currently on your leader to other Crew members).

Benefits

Loyal Crew cannot be hired by another Leader, even if they are Disgruntled.

If your Leader fires the Crew, Loyal Crew are not Fired, but they discard their Loyalty tokens.

Discard a Loyalty token to avoid taking a Disgruntled token at any time.

If a Loyal Crew member leaves the Crew for any reason, the Loyalty token is discarded, not returned to the Leader.

From this thread: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1278954/loyalty-tokens-...
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C David Dent
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Using a red, green and Blue marker make little marks on the left or right border of your cards to indicate "traits"
Left Edge(+1) Right Edge(-1)
(red) Serious Whimsical
(blue) Focused Addlepated
(green)Religious Blasphemous

When a crewman joins if there is a slant one direction or another (lefts vs rights) then apply the appropriate Crew modifier indicated by the balance.

If they balance out exactly then there is no bonus.

So Jayne (Serious, Focused, Religious)
and Wash (Whimsical, Focused, no green marks)
and Kaylee (Serious, Addlepated, no green marks)

Gives you a net of +1 Red, +1 Blue and +1 Green because they are compatible and so therefore work well together.

But Simon (Serious, Focused, no green)
and Mal (Serious, Focused, Blasphemous)
and Book (Serious, Addlepated, Religious)
and River (Whimsical, Addlepated, no green)
Tend to cancel each other out (+0 red, +0 Blue, +0 Green) in spite of their individual strengths.

Regardless of how many of a single trait stack up, the maximum bonus should be +1 and they would be re-calculated when a crew joins the ship and irrespective of how many crew are on a job.
 
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Brett Lamb

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In the words of Capt. Mal: "You're on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?"

Of course that doesn't really cover the topic, but for Mal being on the crew is not just the distinction about who's paying to be there (passengers) and who he's paying (actual crew).

For instance, Inara was not crew but a tenant, although presumably she was family. Book didn't feel like he was crew, though it's not clear he was still paying to be a passenger either, but presumably he felt like family. River started as cargo and though she never quite became crew until the Serenity feature film, she was certainly family.

My point is there's blurred lines (which Whedon loves to do).

So here's a thought:

I do like the Romance/Rival/Mentor system that George has talked about, in as far as it covers a substantial range of the relationships that might exist. The trick is to add a game-play benefit to creating those relationships and an equivalent game-play cost to destroying them.

For instance, in a romance, the benefit could be that if one of them dies, they could get an extra medic-like check to see if they REALLY die, representing the greater lengths that a loved one would go though to save them. Further, if one does die the other is disgruntled (at least). This relationship can only end in death or someone leaving the ship.

A mentor relationship could bestow an appropriate skill bonus whenever both parties are on a job together. Possibly this could eventually become a permanent bonus. I'm not sure what sort of downside this might have, but this relationship could maybe end by converting it into a rivalry.

In a rivalry, one or the other of the parties will always be disgruntled. The offset is that the other will have a bonus to one of their skills. Removing the disgruntle from one simply moves it to the other. If both are ever disgruntled at the same time, neither gets a bonus and the Captain can choose who stays disgruntled after a Shore Leave. A rivalry can end if one of them leaves the ship or dies, obviously, but can be ended peacefully after any successful Skill test where both parties contribute (representing a new-found mutual respect).

Successfully keeping a secret is a benefit to the person with the secret, but would probably only make a gameplay impact once the secret was revealed. And that's the key: a character has a secret that can be revealed right before any skill check (these things always come out at the best or worst possible times) but the consequences could be helpful or disasterous: On the roll of a die: 1) Kill a crew 2) Fail the skill test 3-4) nothing happens 5) Auto succeed the skill test 6) Ace one Misbehave of your choice.

But how do these relationships form? I have no real idea except they could be pre-determined pairs or sets of characters that go into effect as soon as they are on the same crew. I.E. if you have both Zoe and Wash, there's a romance relationship. This system has plusses and minuses clearly, but it could work.

Feel free to iron out whatever wrinkles you find... most of this was straight off the top of my head.
 
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alec lynch
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Just to suggest an alternative strategy...

Rather than change any rules, what about building a story card around the idea of friendship? I'm thinking of the storycard where you have to spring your captured crew from the alliance, but taken further.

I bet we could come up with goals and maybe a couple game conditions that would build that sense of friendship.

One slant could be that everyone starts with a crew (turn over five crew/per player and do a schoolyard pick) with the rule that no new crew can be hired. Building your crew from the start, only having them for the game, and the fact that crew death would suddenly become a big deal would by itself give that sense of attachment and camaraderie. Just brainstorming of course, I'm sure there'd be any number of story card ways to do it.


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Thorfinn Skullsplitter
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Firinneach wrote:

Just to suggest an alternative strategy...

Rather than change any rules, what about building a story card around the idea of friendship? I'm thinking of the storycard where you have to spring your captured crew from the alliance, but taken further.

I bet we could come up with goals and maybe a couple game conditions that would build that sense of friendship.

One slant could be that everyone starts with a crew (turn over five crew/per player and do a schoolyard pick) with the rule that no new crew can be hired. Building your crew from the start, only having them for the game, and the fact that crew death would suddenly become a big deal would by itself give that sense of attachment and camaraderie. Just brainstorming of course, I'm sure there'd be any number of story card ways to do it.




Not bad. I also think the best way to keep it simple is to do it as a story card. Maybe one story card focuses on a rivalry, another on a romance, etc..

The thing is that the game is purposely abstract. It's difficult sometimes to not try to modify this into an RPG. To that end, I think you could add part of this to the game without bogging it down much, but I don't think you can do everything.

You could come up with a marriage/relationship rule, where you take a shore leave (and probably pay an extra amount) and "join" 2 characters. Once joined in this way, they only take up one crew slot (shared quarters). So that's the bonus. There must be a balancing downside. If one of them becomes disgruntled, they both do. If one dies, or otherwise leaves the crew in any way, the other becomes disgruntled.

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George Krubski
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No offense to you guys, but a Story Card is exactly what I don't want to do. That's just me, though.

One thing I've been toying with is the idea of establishing various relationship ideas (eg, Romance, Mentor/Protege, Loyalty to the Captain, Rivalry) in steps.

Some steps have a trigger that can happen in game, but if no trigger happens on your turn, you can take a "relationship action." So, something is ALWAYS happening with the crew, every turn, just like the characters evolve week to week in a Whedon show.

Given that the average game lasts about 20 turns, that's enough time to evolve a few crew dynamics through the course of a game.
 
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George Krubski
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Okay, I've given this a little more thought. What if... let's call them "Crew Effects" are sort of a "mini-game" grafted onto the main game?

If you play, you might benefit greatly, but you might also put your Crew at additional risk.

Perhaps it works something like this:

Every turn, you can take 1, and only 1, Crew Action. Unless it triggers during your turn, it happens at the end of the turn... think of it as the "character moment" at the end of the episode: Mal talking to Simon, Mal and Inara having a heartfelt conversation, etc.

Some Crew Actions are generic and can be done whenever you want. Some have requirements (you can only take these if you met the requirements during your turn). Some are "triggered" (and occur during your turn rather at the end, but prevent you from taking a Crew Action at the end).

For example, some actions might be:

LOYALTY: Requirement: Must have taken Shore Leave or successfully completed a Job. Pick one non-Disgruntled Crew. That Crew becomes Loyal (see below) to your leader.

SECRET REVEALED (a triggered action): Trigger: You roll a 1 on a test while Misbehaving. Select one Crew. That Crew becomes Disgruntled but you may re-roll the test.

ROMANTIC ENTANGLEMENT: Select two Crew. Those Crew now have a Romance.

Actions would allow you to create, or perhaps modify, things like crew loyalty, romances, mentor/protege relationships, rivalries, etc. Each of these elements would probably have a bonus and a risk.

For example, maybe a Romance looks like this:

Romance: Pick two characters. Until the Romance ends, you may take the "Holding Hands" Character Action: Spend $100 and remove Disgruntled from these two Crew. If you must Kill a Crew, you must Kill one of these Crew first. (Ah, Joss!)

So a game might go something like this. Let's say I'm playing Captain Zoe. I start at the Space Bazaar and...

Turn One: I shop and luck into Tracey and Wash, then Deal with Amnon Duul. For my Character Action, I create a Romance between Zoe and Wash.

Turn Two, I repeat the actions. Let's say I hire a Merchant. For my Character Action, maybe I create a Rivalry between Wash and Tracey.

Turn Three, I work a Job and Fly toward the Drop-off Destination, but don't arrive. For my Character Action, I declare Zoe and Wash "Hitched" (which is different than just a Romance; now, they're sharing a bunk).

Turn Four, I arrive at my destination and complete the job. Having met the requirement, I can now make one of my crew Loyal. Wash seems like a good idea!

It's a little complex and I'm trying to get my head around it, but I feel like it could be fun.






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Brett Lamb

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It's not a horrible idea Gwek, but I think if you look back at Whedon's shows in general, relationships progress much more slowly than every episode. More like every season. Simon and Kaylee took a season plus a feature film.

Not sure what that means in a game with only 20 turns, though. Maybe each kind of relationship has several moments that can be triggered, and at the end of the game you have completed enough to have one or more solid relationships.

As a (very flimsy) example, for a Romance to develop, all of the following has to happen more or less in order:
1) Two characters are on the same crew.
2) They share a common Morality
3) They go on Shore Leave together.
4) They are in a few tough scrapes together.
5) Neither of them has revealed a secret that would ruin things between them.
6) They are both still alive at the end of the game.

In this way having a Romance (or any of the other Relationship types) on board can become a Goal, aka a pre-requisite to winning, rather than a sideshow....

Again... just brainstorming here, use as your own risk.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Harbinjer wrote:
It's not a horrible idea Gwek, but I think if you look back at Whedon's shows in general, relationships progress much more slowly than every episode. More like every season. Simon and Kaylee took a season plus a feature film.


Individual relationships, sure, but with 9 characters, there are 36 2-person relationships to consider. For example, while Simon and Kaylee took their sweet time hooking up, Simon and Mal had that moment in Safe ("You're on my crew. Why're we still talking about this?"), Simon and Jayne in Trash ("You're on this table, you're safe.") and so on.
 
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George Krubski
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rmsgrey wrote:
Harbinjer wrote:
It's not a horrible idea Gwek, but I think if you look back at Whedon's shows in general, relationships progress much more slowly than every episode. More like every season. Simon and Kaylee took a season plus a feature film.


Individual relationships, sure, but with 9 characters, there are 36 2-person relationships to consider. For example, while Simon and Kaylee took their sweet time hooking up, Simon and Mal had that moment in Safe ("You're on my crew. Why're we still talking about this?"), Simon and Jayne in Trash ("You're on this table, you're safe.") and so on.


Exactly! In Firefly, each pair of characters has SOME dynamic, although they don't all amount to much. Let's take Simon, for example. Although he has no relationship to speak of with, say, Zoe or Wash, and a friendship with Inara that remains largely static, he has relationships that evolve with at least four Crew members: Mal, Jayne, Kaylee, and, of course, River.

Simon is actually a great example because he covers almost every relationship type (Loyalty with Mal, Rivalry with Jayne, Romance with Kaylee, and Mentor/Protege with River... heck, he every comes aboard with a Secret that is rather quickly revealed).

Trust me, folks, having been head writer for a Firefly Virtual Series that clocked more episodes than the original, I'm acutely aware of how Joss evolves his relationships. Although something dramatic may not happen in every episode, SOMETHING almost always does.

I must admit that I was starting to lose steam as I was writing up my idea, so I may not have fully conveyed it. Taking out specific examples, the core of it would like like this:

Every turn, you may take one "Crew Action." A Crew Action will generally do one of three things:

1) Create a new Crew Relationship (such as Loyalty or Romance). Crew Relationships are often a double-edged sword, but may also allow you to access other, new Crew Actions.

2) Evolve a Crew Relationship. For example, Romance might evolve into Hitched, or maybe there's a negative route where it becomes Obsession or even Rivalry. A Rivalry could worsen or be resolved. A Loyal Crew member might become "Captain's Right Hand."

3) Allow you to take advantage of an existing Crew Relationship for some sort of benefit (and isn't that the point, after all?). For example, two characters in a relationship can "go on a date," allowing them to remove Disgruntled for free. Basically, these are new (and potentially powerful) actions that open up after you invest in your Crew.


Assuming we're looking at a game as lasting roughly 20 rounds (say, 17 to 25), you're clearly going to be somewhat limited in what you can do. You can certainly create multiple relationships, but you may find yourself faced with the idea of creating more relationships or creating fewer that you evolve and develop.

With 20 actions and Crew of 6, it's likely that at least 5 of those actions will be spent on gaining crew Loyalty (if Loyalty can be gained and lost, it may be more than 5 actions), with another one to make one of those Loyal Crew the captain's right hand/first mate.




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George Krubski
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Harbinjer wrote:
It's not a horrible idea Gwek, but I think if you look back at Whedon's shows in general, relationships progress much more slowly than every episode. More like every season. Simon and Kaylee took a season plus a feature film.

Not sure what that means in a game with only 20 turns, though. Maybe each kind of relationship has several moments that can be triggered, and at the end of the game you have completed enough to have one or more solid relationships.

As a (very flimsy) example, for a Romance to develop, all of the following has to happen more or less in order:
1) Two characters are on the same crew.
2) They share a common Morality
3) They go on Shore Leave together.
4) They are in a few tough scrapes together.
5) Neither of them has revealed a secret that would ruin things between them.
6) They are both still alive at the end of the game.

In this way having a Romance (or any of the other Relationship types) on board can become a Goal, aka a pre-requisite to winning, rather than a sideshow....

Again... just brainstorming here, use as your own risk.


Although we don't necessarily agree on pacing, I do like you're idea about making some sort of "relationship goal." Maybe THAT'S the cost for participating. The idea does, after all, add a number of potential bonuses, but maybe there's the huge sword of Damocles hanging over you that you need to meet certain Crew criteria to win.
 
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Thorfinn Skullsplitter
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What about implementing this as part of a campaign?
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Mudd Grizzly

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Wait, George, can you go back to the bit about the Firefly Virtual Series? How do I learn more?
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George Krubski
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Scarbuck wrote:
What about implementing this as part of a campaign?


Definitely. It's always been part of the game plan that if I could get the concept to work, it would be part of "campaign play." But that's now mixing two complicated abstract ideas, so my head hurts.
 
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George Krubski
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Mudd Grizzly wrote:
Wait, George, can you go back to the bit about the Firefly Virtual Series? How do I learn more?


I think you can get all 29 episodes here:

http://www.mzp-tv.co.uk/firefly-still-flying-complete-series...

I gave up our original web site years ago.

Basically, the idea grew out of a conversation on Fireflyfans.net about "What would the movie have looked like if it were 22 episodes instead of 2 hours?"... So some of us decided to give it a shot. And to wrap up Season One while we were at it. You'll find somewhat different takes on some familiar stories. Our Season One finale, for example, is largely adapted from "Those Left Behind" (which would have made a great Season One finale!) and Season Two portions out most of the movie while introducing a number of new ideas and characters, especially in the first half.

If I may toot the project's horn, our take on Shepherd Book's secret history (which predates the release of Shepherd's Tale, is a tour de force that, I believe, is a better story than the official one. That's late in Season Two. Episode 17, I think?

We had big plans for Season Three, and had much of it plotted out (mirroring some of the elements of "Leaves on the Wind," the finale would have centered on an assault on River's Academy, and would have included Zoe giving birth, Simon killing a major character in cold blood, and Saffron - who would have become a recurring character - stealing Serenity), but most of the writing staff drifted away before we were able to implement it.
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