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Subject: What exactly is going on in some of the plots? rss

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Chris J Davis
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Hi there,

I'm trying to come up with some variant plots for the characters. I don't want to change the storylines - I just want to change the mechanics behind the plots to make them feel a little more thematic. Things like "spend 2 Time" and "sacrifice any 1 favour" don't really make me feel like I'm doing anything that relates to my character in the game, so I'm trying to come up with things that are a little more interesting. The plot where Louis has to move testimony leads out of the blue district is a good example of what I consider to be an "interesting" plot mechanic, and I am going to try to make the rest of the plots a lot more like this one.

However, in order to do this, I need to understand what's actually supposed to be happening in the plots, and also why the good/bad baggage conditions are what they currently are so I can think of something relevant. So could anyone please clue me in?

The main one I'm having trouble with at the moment is Rachel's "A Friend in Need" plot. To be honest, I haven't really got a clue about what the whole thing is about. Can anyone explain it to me, please?

I'll have to look through the other plot cards individually and come back here once I have some more questions, so if anyone who would be interested in helping would subscribe to this thread, it would be appreciated!

Cheers,

Chris.
 
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In general, Rachel's good baggage and light cards relate to her becoming more financially secure while her bad baggage/cards are the opposite. That's what I think of when I try to fit mechanics to theme for her.

Here's what I think when I read that plot:

At the beginning of the plot, Oliver is telling Rachel about a big risky bounty. If she earns enough money or plays enough light cards (representing other, smaller bounties) then she decides to "sit this one out". But she realizes that Oliver doesn't have that financial security. If she follows up on enough other bounties, she is able to adopt Oliver, but if she ignores the opportunities (discards the bounty cards for another cost) then Oliver abandons her for more profitable and more seedy partners. Since Oliver is the one who helps find all her marks, his presence or absence makes her future bounties easier or harder (the final bonuses on the terminal plots).

On the other hand, if Rachel decides she needs to take that big McManus plot things can go good or bad. (This is my favorite plot in the game, by the way, because it has a real choice between money or VPs.) If she spends enough Time scoping out her mark instead of working on the murder case, she is successful and earns $10,000. But she's not the only one doing legwork. Oliver is sniffing around seedy locations, and if he crosses enough paths with the actual murder investigation then he's going to see something he shouldn't have and get whacked.

Your mileage may vary. There are probably other ways to interpret these plots. In general, I am pretty forgiving when I try to fit mechanics to theme; I don't look for a strict interpretation. The same element can have different interpretations, depending on the circumstances. It's like Magic--sometimes boosting a creature's strength means it's more ferocious or magically enlarged, and sometimes it just means you gave it an extra arm.

This was fun. I am happy to look through any other plots and come up with flavor justifications the next time you want something cleared up.
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Chris J Davis
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Thanks for that! That's a huge help and actually makes a bit of sense now! One of the mian parts I was confused about was the move a lead to a seedy location = bad baggage bit. I thought it was something like the fact that there was all this evidence that Rachel was supposed to be following up relating to her bounty (which was also related to the murder), and this represented the fact that all the leads were piling up and getting away from her, or something. But your explanation makes much more thematic sense.

One of the things I'm trying to eliminate in my variant plots is the indistiction between player actions and character actions. Too many of the plots rely on opponent actions that directly impact the status of their detective (character actions) in order to place bad baggage on a plot. Things like "sacrifice 2 Time" or "sacrifice 1 favour" are examples of this; thematically, it is not supposed to be your detective's character who is arranging the downfall of the other detectives - it is supposed to be some other "outside force" that is acting (the mob, the conspirators, the bounty, whatever) and this is represented in the game through expenditure of Time/favours/etc. This, IMO, is "bad" as it detracts from the feeling of thematic immersion in the game. Your detective hasn't actually, thematically "done" anything, yet for some reason this turn he has 2 less time to spend...

The "move a lead to a seedy location" mechanic above is a good example of what I consider a "player action". The detective isn't supposed to be moving the lead - it is just an abstracted mechanic performed by the player which can affect the evolution of the story (in this case, the plots). "Sacrifice 2 dark cards" is also another example of a player action (though in this case I consider this mechanic too abstracted and will be eliminating these also). A lot (if not all) if the plot mechanics in my variants will be based on this design philosophy.
 
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Chris J Davis
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Question 2:

In Louis' "Sara" plot, why is he trying to move suspects out of the *blue* district? I'd have thought that Louis is supposed to be clearing the streets around their apartment to make Sara happy (back to good ol' policing work), but their apartment from what I can tell is Gila Highlands in the *red* district.

Thoughts?
 
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David Klempa
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Question 2:

In Louis' "Sara" plot, why is he trying to move suspects out of the *blue* district? I'd have thought that Louis is supposed to be clearing the streets around their apartment to make Sara happy (back to good ol' policing work), but their apartment from what I can tell is Gila Highlands in the *red* district.

Thoughts?


But that is after she "got her own place". I figured she lived in the blue district now and Louis is trying to keep her safe. I believe if he fails that plot path, she dies, right.
 
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Joe Niezelski
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Red is residential.
 
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Blue district refers to an area of the board, not a location type.
 
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R. Frazier
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/\

That's correct, and also a really confusing kind of poorly done aspect of the game. The districts, favors and location types use basically the same colors, but they use them to represent really different things.
 
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rylfrazier wrote:
/\

That's correct, and also a really confusing kind of poorly done aspect of the game. The districts, favors and location types use basically the same colors, but they use them to represent really different things.


What's more, they chose one of the backside colors (red) to be the main color on the front side of physical leads. shake
 
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Chris J Davis
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Dave Klempa wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
Question 2:

In Louis' "Sara" plot, why is he trying to move suspects out of the *blue* district? I'd have thought that Louis is supposed to be clearing the streets around their apartment to make Sara happy (back to good ol' policing work), but their apartment from what I can tell is Gila Highlands in the *red* district.

Thoughts?


But that is after she "got her own place". I figured she lived in the blue district now and Louis is trying to keep her safe. I believe if he fails that plot path, she dies, right.


Ah, yeah - thanks. After reading the whole plot through again, I came to the same conclusion! Many thanks again.
 
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Jeremy Diachuk
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Thanks for that! That's a huge help and actually makes a bit of sense now! One of the mian parts I was confused about was the move a lead to a seedy location = bad baggage bit. I thought it was something like the fact that there was all this evidence that Rachel was supposed to be following up relating to her bounty (which was also related to the murder), and this represented the fact that all the leads were piling up and getting away from her, or something. But your explanation makes much more thematic sense.

One of the things I'm trying to eliminate in my variant plots is the indistiction between player actions and character actions. Too many of the plots rely on opponent actions that directly impact the status of their detective (character actions) in order to place bad baggage on a plot. Things like "sacrifice 2 Time" or "sacrifice 1 favour" are examples of this; thematically, it is not supposed to be your detective's character who is arranging the downfall of the other detectives - it is supposed to be some other "outside force" that is acting (the mob, the conspirators, the bounty, whatever) and this is represented in the game through expenditure of Time/favours/etc. This, IMO, is "bad" as it detracts from the feeling of thematic immersion in the game. Your detective hasn't actually, thematically "done" anything, yet for some reason this turn he has 2 less time to spend...

The "move a lead to a seedy location" mechanic above is a good example of what I consider a "player action". The detective isn't supposed to be moving the lead - it is just an abstracted mechanic performed by the player which can affect the evolution of the story (in this case, the plots). "Sacrifice 2 dark cards" is also another example of a player action (though in this case I consider this mechanic too abstracted and will be eliminating these also). A lot (if not all) if the plot mechanics in my variants will be based on this design philosophy.


Keep in mind that another player's sacrificing in order to affect your plot's baggage could very well just be that character doing something that inadvertently affects your character's plot.

For example, if someone sacrifices a street favor, it could very well represent that they tried to pull some favors off the street in order to further their own ends. However, it wasn't a very profitable or helpful result, so they got no tangible benefit from it. Except that, perhaps, the favor they pulled ended up hindering one of the other detectives, giving them more bad baggage and risking a negative plot outcome on their end of things.

Yes, it's a bit abstract, just like the dark card discards. But keep in mind that the idea of the dark cards is merely to give people negative effects in intelligent ways. In general, people are GOING to play dark cards on you, just because they want to be able to play light cards on themselves. This replaces some random negative-effect-card-pile that could be drawn from instead, since the game is supposed to have negative things happening to players all the time. Since these negative effects are controlled by other players, it makes it possible to have "smart" negative effects (ie avoidable ones!) that can happen as a result to specific actions being taken. As such, the sacrifice of another player to discard two dark cards in order to give you baggage... it's a balancing mechanism. If they do that, they can't play those dark cards on you. It's sort of the game's way of saying "Well, effectively, this dark card is just that bad stuff happens and you have more baggage now"

On top of that, it's a balancing mechanism since it gives other players some control over your plots. Without their influence, it would be (usually) too easy to control your own plots and end up with the endings you wanted.

The only way I'd see it possible to eliminate these types of baggage-generation would be to replace them with things other players can still perform. That way, other players would still be able to interfere with plots. You could make them trickier to perform, perhaps. Like, as an example, "Whenever another player spends 1 Time to draw a Light card at a religious location they moved to this turn" instead of "Another player sacrifices 2 time". Since it might take them more than a couple time to GET to a religious location, or something like that. I dunno, it'd have to be balanced right..
 
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Kamil Kyrš
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I don't understand the Floyd's plot "Property of Haas".
1) "I will do as you say" .... why is that a cowardice? It seems to me the Floyd resisted Mrs. Haas and was punished for that with an insurance update "Komissar". I definitely don't see this as a cowardice...
2) "Let's see how long you last"...again, why is that a cowardice? Floyd somehow lost the trust of Mrs. Haas and was kicked off the Haas-Bioroid for this. As I suppose he was acting honestly, why is that a cowardice?

I guess I don't understand the plot at all....could you give me a hand on this?
 
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Calavera Despierta
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kyrsk wrote:
I don't understand the Floyd's plot "Property of Haas".
1) "I will do as you say" .... why is that a cowardice? It seems to me the Floyd resisted Mrs. Haas and was punished for that with an insurance update "Komissar". I definitely don't see this as a cowardice...
2) "Let's see how long you last"...again, why is that a cowardice? Floyd somehow lost the trust of Mrs. Haas and was kicked off the Haas-Bioroid for this. As I suppose he was acting honestly, why is that a cowardice?

I guess I don't understand the plot at all....could you give me a hand on this?


I see Floyd's plot here as a thematic choice between autonomy and duty. If Floyd chooses autonomy he gains a kind of humanity, but with that newfound humanity comes suffering; to be human is to suffer. If Floyd chooses duty, he, tragically, never discovers his own humanity, but also avoids any suffering.

That's where the cowardice comes in. I think Floyd is smart enough to see the outcomes of each choice, and the idea of suffering must be especially terrifying for him. A robot should not, by design, feel anything, but especially should not feel suffering, existential angst, or fear of his own death. But as he strips himself of the programming that limits his understanding of these things, this is exactly what he begins to feel. And that must be especially and uniquely terrifying. I think we humans grow into our suffering. The change we go through in adolescence is not just a physical one. We are adjusting to our own self-awareness and autonomy. This is a slow adjustment, and while most teenagers do experience a kind of angst, most of them go on to participate in their cultures and societies in a way that overcomes any cowardice and its paralyzing or debilitating dread. But if all of this adjustment were to happen over the course of a week or two - only seven or eight days to adjust to the idea of ones freedom to act, and the horrible burden that places on one, one might rightfully feel terrified, and so one might also reject, in cowardice, any option that leads one toward that terror.

In that sense, I read Floyd's plot as the most profoundly metaphorical of all the plots. This is the very existential choice that most American face in the course of their lifetime. Do I wake up to my own power, mind, and ability and freedom to choose for myself, even if it means I will be frequently miserable and heartbroken? Or do I choose to give up a degree of my autonomy and stay metaphorically asleep--let the world pass by me in a dazed, robotic detachment created by depression medications, entertainment addictions, and mindless self-indulgence.
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Kamil Kyrš
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Thank you very much for your opinion.
 
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